Birdie Wing: Golf Girls’ Story – 22 – Wounded Beast

Eve uses her Rainbow Bullet Burst to salvage her Europe Women’s Open by going 5-under on the third day to claim second place at 6-under, but pays the price. Burst causes considerable strain to her body, something Ichina didn’t notice because Eve didn’t let her or anyone else see her pain.

Alan Harvey, who is a butler and a certified acupuncturist (love that) manages to get her in a position to play on the fourth and final day, but warns Ichina in no uncertain terms not to allow Eve to use Burst again. To do so would jeopardize Eve’s future as a pro.

Aoi, who is already a pro, is busy doing promotional work she hates, but not too busy to keep abreast of Eve’s progress. She, like Vipere and everyone else is concerned when Eve walks out on the second day covered in bandages. Leo tells her there’s no shame in forfeiting.

But Eve prefers her “candles” short, fat, and fast-burning (holy-moley that’s a lot of double entendres!) and is committed to finishing the tournament. When Ichina withholds her driver and warns her not to use the burst, but instead adopt a defensive stance for the round, Eve decides to trust her caddy. These two have come such a long way.

Aisha continues her consistently wild shelling of the course, showing no signs of tiring. The pro leader runs out of gas and falls to fifth place, and Aisha ties Eve with one hole to play. But Aisha doesn’t consider Eve an easy opponent. In fact, she smells dangerous to her—like a wounded beast.

When Aisha sets up a birdie that will trigger a playoff if Eve matches it, both she and Ichina know what must be done. It’s time for the Rainbow Bullet Burst, but that doesn’t make it any easier for a tearful Ichina to hand Eve her driver.

Even so, she heard Eve talk about not caring about words like “limits” or “impossible”, which she believes to be the excuses of cowards. Eve trusted Ichina, so now Ichina will trust in Eve. So she pushes the driver into her chest and tells her to prove that she can go beyond her limits.

Eve uses Burst to launch her ball nearly 290 yards—further than Aisha—and her driver cracks and shatters, apparently sacrificing itself to prevent her arms from breaking. Yes folks, the clubs are sentient. Why wouldn’t they be?! But the Burst isn’t even Eve’s final salvo.

With a fresh club, Eve whips out an even newer, even less tested shot—Over the Rainbow. The ball is shot straight up into the air, then majestically arcs across the green and straight into the cup. With an eagle on 18th, Eve defeats Aisha, wins the Europe Open, and becomes a pro.

But again, everything has a cost. And even though she held back for most of the final round, the final Burst and OTR ended up doing yet another number on her teenaged body. After the award ceremony, Ichina and Alan are helping Eve back to her cabin when she straight-up loses consciousness.

Our golf girl Eve has made a living killing people…in golf, but now she’s as close as ever to killing herself with golf—along with any chance of facing off against her beloved Aoi. And this time Alan’s needles might not be enough to help her.

Birdie Wing: Golf Girls’ Story – 21 – The Worst Course

Following Aoi’s stunning victory that unlocks her path to the pros, her biological father Reiya finally confirms her suspicions. Rather than mad or hurt, Aoi is filled with happiness, and remains committed to enjoying golf. She and Ichina take leaves of absence from school in preparation to focus on the tour.

Meanwhile, it’s now Eve’s turn to struggle, as the Women’s Europe Open is being held at the absolute worst course for someone with a game as aggressive as hers. She keeps shooting herself in the foot with her bullets, going from trap to trap and bogey to bogey, all while Leo’s new student Aisha Khambatta Vrooms and Booms her way to a comfortable lead.

In keeping with Birdie Wing being as dumb as possible while still being both endearing and amazing, Aisha runs up to the tee before smashing it like a cannon. And as Leo points out, a bullet can’t beat a cannon shell.

Aoi is excited to see Eve in an open, but disappointed she’s so far back in the rankings. She also leaves President Junguuji in her father’s care, and even gives her her blessing. Could the Prez end up being Aoi’s stepmom? Maybe! Meanwhile, after the first day Eve decides that her current Rainbow Bullet isn’t enough.

She has to further hone it into her own rainbow bullet. After the second day she’s made up a little of the gap between her and Aisha, and then that night she finally nails it: a Rainbow Bullet Burst so powerful that Ichina is thrown back by the sheer rainbow-smashing force.

On the third day, Eve wastes no time breaking out her new swing, which Leo initially thinks is just a rehash of her father’s, but is then actually encouraged to see that it’s an evolution of what both he and her father taught her. Her drive goes over 300 yards, and she uses the standard Rainbow Bullet in a bunker to score an eagle.

At that point, Vipere takes her leave, because she’s not only confident that Eve has this in the bag, but that no one can stop her. Not Aisha, at least, who seems thrown off her game by the force of Eve’s drive. And if she can win on this, the most anti-Eve of courses, she can really clean up on less difficult ones.

Of course, the main goal here is to go head-to-head with Aoi in a pro tournament, and now they’re both a lot closer than they were last week. Better still, they’re not related by blood, so the romance angle is still on the table!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Birdie Wing: Golf Girls’ Story – 20 – Rain of Blessings

When we check in with Aoi, she’s got some catching up to do to have a chance to catch up to the Prize Queen Shikishima Reika. Amane recalls her early days as Aoi’s caddie, when she asked her if it was hard being forced to do it. Aoi simply said yes, they’re forcing her to play a fun game. Now, in order to win that fun game against the top pro in Japan, she’ll have to play nine under par.

Reiya, whom Aoi strongly suspects to be her real father, tells her not to worry about the pressure, but simply have fun out there. Amane, meanwhile, is waiting for their trump card to arrive in the form of a rainstorm that evens the odds. Amane made sure Aoi was prepared to play in the mud.

We watch Aoi’s former opponents, her mother, and her father and Jinguugi watch her on TV as she draws closer and closer to Reika. Thanks to the state of the greens due to the rain, not only is Reika unable to make par on one hole, she makes a bogey, while Aoi uses her Shining Wings to make up a five-stroke deficit in just two holes, scoring back-to-back eagles.

Not only does the rain arrive when Amane and Aoi need it to, it stops just before play is suspended by the stewards, which closes Reika’s only door to victory: a postponement. On the last hole, Aoi only needs to score a birdie, and she does so. Reika is defeated fair and square, and the 15-year-old high school freshman Amawashi Aoi makes history and becomes a pro.

After Amane give her a big celebratory hug, they enter a gauntlet of interviews, during which Aoi makes sure Amane gets her fair share of credit for the victory. Without her, Aoi would have surely lost, and her goal of becoming a pro set back. As for Reika, she’s not only gracious in defeat, but shows off Aoi’s autograph and declares herself Aoi’s first fan.

That night in their hotel room, Aoi and Amane are exhausted from all the interviews. Aoi informs Amane that everyone on social media thinks the girl in glasses is cute. Aoi also tells Amane that she’s free of her servitude now that she’s a pro. But Amane isn’t ready to part ways with Aoi.

If she really thinks she ruined her life, Amane tells Aoi to take responsibility by hiring her as her personal professional caddie, entitled to 30% of her prize money. Aoi agrees, sealing the deal with a big hug and telling Amane she loves her. Amane was once a servant, but now she’s a true partner in Aoi’s success. Together, they have nowhere to go but up.

Meanwhile, in Scotland, Eve is locked into the European Women’s Open when Ichina reports that Aoi has won and become a pro before her. Eve isn’t discouraged; there’s nothing for it but to become a pro herself and face of against Aoi in a decisive golf battle.

But she has a new challenger breathing down her neck, in the form of her mentor Leo Millafoden’s newest pupil, Aisha Khambatta, who is capable of hitting a ball 280 yards perfectly onto the fairway even in the soupy Scottish fog. Before Eve can get to Aoi, she’ll have to defea Aisha, who has at least one color bullet in her arsenal.

Saving 80,000 Gold in Another World – 12 (Fin) – Dragonslayer Mitsuha

The dragon that shows up at the end of last week isn’t just a dragon, but a great ancient dragon, who is the force behind the Empire’s invasion. When talking with the dragon (with a giant drone-projected image of herself) fails, Mitsuha and her military contractors let him have it.

Small arms fire doesn’t do much, but heavy machine gun fire and a bazooka to the mouth does. Once sufficiently beaten up, the dragon flies off with its tail between its legs, and the imperial army retreats. It’s an unqualified victory for the Messenger of Lightning.

Because of her contribution to that victory, the king and nobles are very generous when it comes to providing recompence for Mitsuha’s use of soldiers from her homeland. She makes up a story about them fighting against the laws of their land, and sits back and waits for each and every noble to contribute enough.

The thing is, Wolf Fang didn’t even need Mitsuha to pay them anything, because the dragon fang they’re allowed to take home, along with the patent rights from Harvard research, fetch a more than hefty enough sum for their services.

Mitsuha and Alexis (who makes a “miraculous” recovery thanks to modern medicine) are both bestowed the title of viscountess and viscount, respectively. Her new lands happen to be just a half-day’s walk from Colette’s village, and Mitsuha pays her a visit to invite her to work as her retainer.

Colette is not only over the moon to see Mitsuha is safe and sound from the war, but delighted to come live with her in her territory; her parents are also fine with it. And so now Mitsuha finds herself a powerful viscountess in another world, responsible for the upkeep and development of a large swath of fertile land.

That means there will be quite a few more expenses involved than maintaining a small general store in the capital. As they say, more money, more problems. Mitsuha is now well on her way to that 80,000 gold she needs for retirement. Despite her new station in life and the riches that may lend, she seems determined to stick with that relatively humble goal.

There’s no news of whether there will be a second season of 80,000 Gold, and due to its animation and character shortcomings (Mitsuha’s a little too perfect), it’s not a given that I’ll be tuning back in if one were to be announced. That said, it wasn’t a bad show for what it was: an exploration of the economic and social intricacies one would face in a new world.

DanMachi IV – 22 (Fin) – More Beautiful than Before

DanMachi didn’t seem like the kind of show that would kill off one of its more endearing characters, but in the final episode of its fourth season, anything could happen. Thankfully, it didn’t go that route, and with good reason: Ryuu Lion has too much left to do in the world of the living.

Her familia tells her as much as she wanders towards them on the etheral plane. There’s still hope in her heart, and they know she wants to save Bell and go to back home with him. So she wakes up, stands up, and joins the fight against the Juggernaut.

Ol’ Juggyshit may have added a bunch of tricks to its repertoire, but in doing so it sacrificed its most devastating advantage—its speed. Now it’s slow enough that Bell can not only dodge (most) of its attacks, but actually land damaging blows on its weak points. A Fire Bolt-infused dagger and an Argo Vesta spell later, and Juggernaut is officially on the ropes.

That’s where Ryuu comes in, chanting an incantation not just for Luminous Wind, but to summon the spirits of her dearly departed Astrea family, if only long enough to deliver an attack or two by her side. You could say they’ve been waiting all this time not for her to join them, but to forgive herself so she can call upon them when she needs them most.

After a decisive Luvia right to its kisser, the long nightmare that is Juggernaut is finally, satisfyingly ended. Bell and Ryuu managed to do it all by themselves, fueled by each others’ determination, refusal to give up, and digging deep into their abilities. Neither could have won alone, but as a party of two, they achieved the impossible.

This leaves them in an exhausted, critically wounded heap on the ground, still on the 37th floor. But they managed to survive just long enough for Wiene and the Xenos to find them. They administer Marie’s healing mermaid blood to both of them, then make themselves scarce before Lili’s team shows up (since not everyone among them know the Xenos are good guys).

Once Lili and the others do arrive, the elation and celebration begins. It’s just such an enormous relief that Bell and Ryuu can finally stop fighting and worrying about dying every waking moment and see the damn sun again. When Ryuu comes to in the hospital after three days, she’s so concerned about Bell she leaps out of her bed and runs to his room.

When he finds him, flanked by Hestia and Lili, their faces make her realize she’s wearing nothing but a skimpy pink hospital gown…that thanks to her alacrity becomes undone and allows Bell to see the sun, moon, stars…all of it. Hestia and Lili reflexively slap him, forgetting that he’s critically wounded. Thankfully a doctor gives them a stern talking-to.

As their convalescence continues, Bell tells Hestia by his bedside that he wouldn’t be there without Ryuu. Bell’s friends thank Ryuu for saving him, but she tells them they’ve got it backwards: it was Bell who saved her from her own despair. She also learns that as far as the Guild is concerned, “Gale Wind” is dead.

Taking the new lease on life she’s been given and running with it, Ryuu borrows a gorgeous white dress from Syr and meets Bell on a date when they’re both discharged from the hospital on the same day. Rather than be cooped up indoors, they decide to have a walk around the city, under the blessed sky.

At the peak of their adorable date, Ryuu takes Bell to a breathtaking view from an ornate stone balcony where she and Alise used to spend time. That she’s shared both the story of her familia and this space to Bell shows how far she’s come in opening up to him. He notes that the way she smiles at him “from her heart” makes her more beautiful than before.

Bell, unfortunately, isn’t aware of the critical damage such comments make, and Ryuu, suddenly unable to look him in the eye anymore, turns around and makes a break for it. As she runs, she clutches that heart of hers, now released from all that guilt and regret. In its place, love now resides, and Ryuu finds herself asking Alise what the heck she should do with it.

Alise’s reply, and the parting words of the fourth season, are “don’t let him get away.” Bell has his share of suitors—from Ais to Ryuu’s bestie Syr—but no one but Ryuu can claim to have been to hell and back with him. But for now, All Hail Ryuu Lion, the Champion of Justice, and absolute legend Hayami Saori for yet another phenomenal vocal performance.

To Your Eternity – S2 20 (Fin) – Peace Taking Root

Fushi, still borrowing Bon’s body until he gets all his vessels back, per Bon’s wishes, enjoys one final meal with his friends and comrades old and new. After everyone discusses their dreams going forward, he declares that Eko has died, and she soon joins Ghost Bon in ghost form. Fushi isn’t ready to bring her or others back until the world is free of Nokkers.

March is understandably upset to be losing her child once again, but Fushi cannot continue spreading his roots to every corner of the world and defeat all the Nokkers without ceasing to be an individual person during that time. March still won’t leave his side, and is ultimately euthanized, which seems damned extreme if you ask me!

That said, March was on borrowed time and was resurrected by accident in the first place. It’s also not goodbye if she passes here and now, because one day Fushi will be back and so will anyone or everyone he loved, if he so wishes.

Another who cannot live without the being he was literally bred to love is Kahaku, who manages to off himself by jumping into the Bennett equivalent of Mount Doom and kill the Nokker living within him, releasing the vessels it stole back to Fushi.

Some time passes, and Fushi’s roots continue to spread throughout the world, becoming an omnipresent part of everyday life. Then one day, without warning, Prince Bonchien Nikolai La Tasty Peach Uralis returns to his family, who immediately glom onto him and shower him with love. Then, one by one, the Beholder describes how all of Fushi’s immortal allies die, each of them for better or worse living the lives they wanted to live.

Time passes…a lot of time. The days of Prince Bon, Uralis, and Renril represented a high renaissance-like era. But when he finally awakens as the Boy (at his original age), he finds himself in a modern metroplolis of skyscrapers, cars, cafés…and his roots.

In this age, the Nokkers are (presumably) all gone, and Fushi is everywhere. His eyes turn from yellow to purple, likely for good. As for what he’ll do in this age, who (if anyone) he’ll bring back, and who he’ll meet, we’ll have to wait for a confirmed Season 3. Until then, mata ne, Pink Blood.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

To Your Eternity – S2 19 – Old Dog, New Tricks

When Bon stabs himself and his blood spills on the Fushi orb, Fushi wakes up as Bon, which means now he can see ghosts, including the ghost of Bon, along with his two ever-present ghost buddies. Bon then presents Fushi with Tonari and Ligard, Gugu, Oniguma and March, telling him he can resurrect them all like he’s done with Kai, Hylo, and Messar (who are also present).

Having Fushi (albeit in Bon form) finally be reunited with old friends thought long dead is the highlight of an episode that will have a lot more positive developments come. Fushi almost calling March “Mama”, Gugu’s big bear hug, Horse pushing Tonari into the group hug, Messar freaking out over the actual giant white bear…it’s all great stuff.

Needless to say, it’s also great to see these folks alive and in the flesh (and indeed, the ED has been previewing the return of this particular group). Because they’re all back with their various skills and also immortal like the three warriors, they start to turn the tide of a battle that was quickly going sideways. Forget a gamble; if Bon hadn’t passed his ghost-seeing ability to Fushi, Renril would have surely fallen to the Nokkers.

I was a little confused by what was going on last week, but the Nokker in Eko’s arm (formerly in Kahaku’s arm) saved her from jumping off the tower so it could save itself. Kahaku tracks it down, and it sprouts Nokker flesh zombies of all of the vessels it stole from Fushi. After a brief tussle, Kahaku convinces the Nokker to return to his body, and he’ll promise to keep it alive by continuing the Guardians’ breeding program…only in isolation.

That necessarily means that Kahaku must part ways with his beloved Fushi, regretting that he and his descendants couldn’t do more for him in the past two hundred years. I think he’s selling himself short, as if nothing else, had his arm Nokker not taken all of Fushi’s remaining vessels, the circumstances might not have coalesced to allow Fushi to not only ressurect a bunch of his old friends and allies, but Renril’s soldiers and citizens as well.

Further realization of Fushi’s powers results in an accelerated expansion of his body, and the more people he resurrects, the further back the Nokkers are pushed, until by the time dawn arrives, not a single Nokker remains in the city or within Fushi’s senses. With the great battle won thanks to Fushi reaching more of his possibly boundless potential, the final episode can be about both celebration of victory, and those he brought back deciding how they’ll all move forward.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

The Eminence in Shadow – 19 – Fear Is the Mind-Killer

Prior to her match with Mundane Mann, Iris practices her swordsmanship alone in the dark rain, all the while remembering all the times she was praised and admired throughout her life for her strength and ability. She has been both fueled and burdened by the collective wishes of the people of Midgar: as long as they have her, everything will be fine. She intends to maintain that narrative by beating Mann.

Little does she know that the real Mundane Mann is Claire’s mundane little brother, who happens to know his stuff when it comes to countering the bitterness of coffee. When her honored guest War Goddess Beatrix, the Legentary Swordmaster, arrives, Cid relishes a chance to be a background character, as he and other NPCs visually frame the Beatrix and Iris.

Lord Asshat doesn’t even notice Cid is sitting beside Iris until he shuffles of to the restrooms. He’s too busy helpfully letting us in on his, or rather Diabolos’, plan to use the drugged King of Oriana to assassinate the King of Midgar, throwing both kingdoms into chaos so the cult can swoop in and reign. Beatrix, who has shown she has keen insights, says both Asshat and the king “stink” as they pass by. They do stink!

Asshat is confident Rose will return with her drill tails between her legs out of love for her father. His marriage to her will give his rule legitimacy, while her possessed condition will also make her a prime subject for the cult’s experiments. Only one problem: Rose has been cured of her curse. As she sneaks into the arena, she encounters Diabolos corpses everywhere, along with Shadow Garden. They tell her to move forward “fulfill her mission”, unaware Cid didn’t give her one, confident she’d make the right choices.

I’m glad we got some time inside Iris’ head earlier to show that she isn’t this invincible warrior, like her subjects even her sister believe but someone full of insecurities and fears. It lends necessary context to her duel with Mundane Mann, which is more psychological than anything else. Just a slight movement from Mann causes her to hallucinate that he’s lopped off her head, her arm, or leg.

Ultimately, while she has the potential to be far more than she is, Iris could not unlock that potential against Mann. She still has a long way to go. And as I suspected, unlike Annerose, who took her defeat in stride but thanked Mann for showing her how far she had yet to go, Iris’ loss is devastating as it not only shatters where she thought she was (at or near the top of the pile) but what the people thought of her.

But if Mundane Mann is assassinating Iris’ reputation in the arena, it’s Rose who does the actual assassinating. When she arrives at the boxes where her father and Asshat are, she gives a beautiful and heartbreaking speech about following her own path, even if it means making one more mistake. It even rouses the king into a moment of lucidity, in which he forgives her all her sins.

This, of course, makes her weep, because it means there’s nothing holding her back from Doing What Must Be Done…nothing but her own fear. She lunges at Asshat, who uses the king as a shield (as she likely suspected). His last words are used to tell Rose he loves her. Asshat has now lost the weapon he aimed to use against Midgar, and when Rose puts her blade to her own neck, is about to lose his future wife—and the cult’s newest research subject.

That’s when Mundane Mann crashes through the window to stop Rose, asking her if this is really the choice she’s made. He transforms into Shadow and switches his voice to Shadow Mode, but it’s a third identity Rose immediately recognizes: that of the Stylish Bandit Slayer Rose watched from a shack where she’d been bound by said bandits.

If anything were to return a smile to Rose’s face, it would be the arrival of Cid/Shadow/Stylish Bandit Slayer. And the third one is most definitely her favorite, since he’s the one who inspired her to become a fencer to begin with. In that regard, Cid was influencing the geopolitical landscape of this world before he was even aware of it!

When Rose tells Shadow how she had despaired and tried to take her life because while she had the power to fight, it was still difficult to do so, and the consequences of any actions she might take terrified her. Shadow tells her to raise her head, saying her fight has not yet ended. Rose gets the picture and flees. After defeating all of Asshat’s cult bodyguards, he holds a sword to Asshat’s neck. He calls for backup, but Shadow Garden has taken out all of it.

The only one who answers Asshat’s call for help…is Beatrix. Now, I’m not under any illusions that she gives two shits about Perv Asshat, or either of the two kingdoms he’s planning to screw over. She’s not taking Asshat’s side, and may well not even know what that side is.

No, War Goddess Beatrix answered the call, because after watching how Mundane Man / Shadow defeated Iris, she wants to cross blades with the man herself. She’s a legendary swordmaster, after all—other than finding her niece, finding a strong and worthy opponent and fighting them is all that matters.

The Eminence in Shadow – 18 – Absolute Confidence

As her forced smile at his front door suggested, Claire is not here on a friendly visit. She’s there to choke Cid out on his bed for breaking every one of his promises thus far to hang out with her. She presents an extremely exclusive box ticket to the Bushin Festival, and he’d better be there to watch her fight and win, or he’s a dead little brother.

The ticket gives Cid access to a section where only royalty and nobles sit, including Princess Iris, who is seated right next to him. Cid has succeeded thus far as a background character insomuch as Iris only knows him because he’s Claire’s brother, and Alexia’s friend (though Cid disputes that label). Iris’ lickspittles also look down on Cid as an unexceptional irrelevancy just how he likes it!

While heading to the dressing room for his next match, Cid once again encounters the ethereal Lady Beatrix, who like him has a MgRonald bag. Unlike him, it’s filled with burgers, not his Mundane Mann disguise. While she’s apparently here to find her niece (i.e. Alpha), she’s also powerful wild card in a tinderbox of conflicting political interests.

Speaking of which, Perv Asshat helps himself to Cid’s seat while he’s gone, and Hayami Show does his usual good work making even idle chitchat sound incredibly menacing. When he asks who Iris thinks will win the next match: Annerose or Mundane Mann, she gives Mann one thing: his eyes have the look of absolute confidence, like he sees the path of total victory.

Obviously, we knew Cid was going to mop the floor with Annerose, it was just a matter of how he’d do it and how fast. She actually hangs in there longer than any previous opponent, even with his weighted armguards off. She tries to beat his speed with hers, but finds out his speed is far greater than she imagined. When she tries to get him to charge her so she can counterattack, he simply counters her counter.

After that barnburner of a fight, Iris excuses herself from Perv’s charming presence in order to prepare for her match. Perv tells his attendant to find out everything he can about Mundane Mann, since could well represent an unchecked and troublesome threat to his (and Diabolos’) plans for world domination. Ironically, he rules out Mann’s possible affiliation with Shadow Garden, siting its all-female composition and the lack of any motive for Garden to intervene at the Festival.

This reasoning fails to take into the account that while the Garden may not have any reason to participate, its leader does, since it’s his opportunity to be a more public Eminence in Shadow, and show off moves Lord Shadow never would (since he’s in the shadows). But as Mundane Mann he’s snagged one more admirer in Annerose, who accepts her defeat and thanks him for showing her heights she never knew, which she will now aspire to attain herself.

If Annerose has any other designs on Mr. Mann, she’ll have to get in line. Now that she’s cured of the Curse, Rose prepares to do what must be done to save her kingdom and her people from Asshat’s treachery. She still holds the wrapper of the MgRonald burger Cid gave her as a token of what she now knows to be a doomed love and impossible future with him.

With just two episodes remaining, and Rose, Iris, Beatrix, and however many of the Shades show up later in play, the Bushin Festival final is sure to be one for the ages. I just hope that Perv Asshat is put in his place, the poor king is freed from his mind prison, and Mundane Mann shows Iris what true strength is before peace-ing out!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

DanMachi IV – 14 – Towards the Sunrise

As she and Bell take turns keeping watch, Ryuu begins to experience flashbacks to when she met Alise and was part of Astraea Familia. It’s a reminder of all the people she’s lost, but also a rallying point for her: she’s going to make sure Bell survives this, even if it costs her her life. It very nearly does too soon when three beasts attack, but Bell wakes up in time to kill the one Ryuu isn’t able to.

Meanwhile, much further up, both Mikoto and Haruhime announce that not only are they not dead, but their spells give their comrades the opportunity and power boost they need to finish of Amphisbaena. Mikoto demonstrates what a fool I was to think being underwater and surrounded by piranhas would be enough to do her in, by casting her biggest spell yet: Futsu no Mitama, which freezes the boss in place.

While it’s not clear how Haruhime survived the brunt of the boss’ breath attack, she’s able to dig deep and cast Uchide no Kozuchi. Ouka, who had used an ice ramp created with the last Welf’s magic sword to climb up into the ceiling of the chamber, brings his axes down on one of the boss’ heads and slices it clean off with Kokuu, while Aisha leaps right up to the remaining head’s mouth and unleashes a mega-Hell Kaios.

Cue victory fanfare…or rather a few blessed moments when the party is able to catch their breath. Aisha tends to Haruhime and Chigusa and Ouka tend to Mikoto, who are unable to walk. Then tremors begin, and the entire cavern threatens to collapse on top of them: the “coffin” from Cassandra’s premonition is still in play. Aisha and Daphne urge the party to flee up to the 24th floor like Turk and his team.

Cassandra, however figures out that “towards the life-giving sun” doesn’t mean a person or a place, but a cardinal direction: East, the direction of the sunrise. That happens to be through a recently opened tunnel down to the 26th floor. Daphne doesn’t believe Cassandra’s premonitions, but after Cassandra pleads with her and sheds tears, Daphne decides to believe Cassandra, the person.

Lili and Welf were already prepared to descend in order to locate Bell, so now everyone is in agreement. And with absolutely no time to spare, either, as the party witnesses what would have happened if they had gone the way of Turk & Co. The branches they were climbing collapsed, and then they were buried in stone, crystal, and plant debris.

It’s the rare instance where the 26th floor is a lot safer than the 25th, because it’s the place where they’re all still alive. They’ll have to keep descending quite a bit to get close to where Bell and Ryuu are. Perhaps they can meet in the middle? But I don’t want to forget what an impressive boss victory the party managed to pull off without Bell.

That win should give them confidence that, even in their weakened, battered state, as long as they stick together, they have a chance to find Bell and Ryuu and make it out of there.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

To Your Eternity – S2 10 – Eko From the Beyond

Fushi has been hard at work training on the beached galleon, but is running into problems replicating something so big and complex. He’s able to summon forth each and every part of the ship, but not the ship in its entirety. The Beholder advises him to develop better “awareness” that the objects he creates “belong to him.”

Prince Bon and Kahaku are also hard at work, defeating Nokkers and warning the crown princess of Renril that a Nokker attack is coming. While the masked, obscured princess refuses to abandon the castle or town, she does agree to an alliance. Taking a break from training, Fushi discovers a town.

There he finds new fruits and vegetables at the market, and pays for them with money. He then finds poor and starving people and gives them the food he bought, but when he tries to give money to a woman and her kid he’s met with resentment and suspicion. The woman won’t let him “control” them with his money.

Fushi then senses intense pain coming from a filthy girl with big eyes who is trapped in a cage in a circus tent. He breaks her and her little brother out in the middle of the night and rides back to his galleon base, but on the way the boy dies and he buries him.

Back aboard the ship, Fushi ensures the girl doesn’t meet the same fate, as he feeds her, shows her his menagerie, sews her a dress, bathes her, and cuts her hair. Since the only word she says is “-eko” in response to the presence of a cat (neko), Fushi decides to address her as “Eko.” She stays aboard while he continues his training.

When she senses her falling after trying to plug a leak, he transforms into her brother, and is able to communicate with her through her clay pot, which is apparently a particular ability of her people. This experience helps him to better understand the Beholder’s advice, and he rejects the idea that he “controls” anyone or anything.

Rather, he has to look at things as having always been a part of him. Everything he sees or has ever seen is not merely a collection of possessions, but his very existence itself. He surrounds the ship with an elaborate tangle of vines from his body, and from his spot below deck is able to achieve a number of tasks remotely.

After a while without any contact, Kahaku and Bon decide to return to the beach to check on Fushi, and find that he’s essentially created his own little mini-world. His face covered and body constrained by vines, Fushi confirms that everything within a 3km radius of him…is him. 

He’s also able to teleport, after a fashion, by creating an ambulatory copy of himself through the network of vines. He prepares tea and pastries for his friends and introduces them to Eko, whose people Kahaku is aware of. Fushi communicates with her again as her brother, and learns she has no home to return to, so she’ll be accompanying him on their mission to protect Renril. She seems fine with that!

Bon heads to Uralis to try to find “Immortal allies” that will help them, while Fushi, Eko, Kahaku and Horse head to the beautiful and imposing palace city of Renril, where they’ll likely meet with the crown princess and some of her trusted officers.

Considering her prominent presence in the ED, I was looking forward to Eko’s introduction, and was not disappointed. She rivals March and Rynn for cutest character in TyE, and I feel both we and Fushi have only just scratched the surface of her clay pot abilities.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

To Your Eternity – S2 09 – A Horse of Course

The Nokkers attack the city, but as usual TYE has presentation issues when it comes to capturing the scale and complexity of the ensuing chaos. Events come down to Fushi in his various forms warning townsfolk to flee “east”, which seems somewhat arbitrary. People crowd and convene in the head church, only for that to be the location where the Nokkers appear. As Fushi battles, he loses his vessels one after the other.

By the time the sun rises and the dust clears, the Nokkers have been defeated, but untold people have been killed, while Fushi has lost Parona, Gugu, Uroy, Shin, and Ligurd. Bon and Kahaku are rightfully concerned: if he can lose five of his precious vessels in just one battle, he can scarcely afford to lose many more in the next. A kindly holy knight gives Fushi his blessing, but it’s not enough.

While Fushi has gotten a lot better at fighitng the Nokkers, we’ve arrived at a point where they’re a step ahead, hiding in quicksand and capitalizing on his lack of muscle (March can’t really fire arrows, for instance). The Beholder ends up bailing Fushi out with a Horse he created from a piece of Fushi’s flesh. The horse has a mind of its own, and keeps Fushi from rushing back into battle too soon.

While Kahaku shows that he can still fight the Nokkers off with his left arm, that arm Nokker relays a message from its fellow Nokkers who regard it as a traitor: they’ll be launching an attack on the largest human city in a year’s time. If Fushi wants his vessels back, he’ll go to that city and “play the game.”

Kahaku, Bon, and the forces of Uralis will aid the city in preparation and evacuation, while Fushi stays aboard a beached galleon from Uralis that Bon has designated his new base. There, he must learn how to create larger objects in order to gain a new advantage against the biggest Nokker threat yet.

Akiba Maid War – 09 – Raiders of the Lost Oink

Leave it to Akiba Maid War to infuse some alternate history into its alternate timeline, as it introduces Omoe, the first maid from the Meiji era, who inspired the Lady Omoe Climb, which to the present day remains the crowning event of the annual Akiba Maid Festival.

Now that Maidalien is no more, it’s a very special festival for Creatureland, the only game in town. Nagi wants everything to be perfect, which for her means the café she manages, Dazzlion, will win the climb. Her otaku errand boy assures her everything will be arranged.

Nagomi is pumped up for the festivities, but Yumechi and Shiipon tell her not to bother. For Oinky Doink, the festival is all about knowing their place, keeping their heads down, and simply getting through it.

The seriousness of working within the highly structured confines of the “ecosystem” Nagi has set out means the Pigs occupy the very bottom of the creature pecking order, even below the newbie Axolotls. The Otaku distributes the guidelines, which are in extremely small print, warning Tenchou that Oinky Doink will be disowned entirely if they deviate.

Meanwhile, Nagi’s head lion maid sits in her throne like a queen while other lion maid give her a mani-pedi. She assures the Otaku that they won’t need any help climbing to the top of Lady Omoe, where the king of beasts belongs.

None of these elites imagined that their carefully controlled narrative would be completely usurped by the end of the festival by one of the bottom-feeding pigs, namely Nagomi. She stays up all night to make their stall (which is next to the bathrooms) look nice.

As for the guidelines, since they were thrown out with the trash Tenchou never relays them to the others, and spends the entire episode apart from them, fishing and wondering if she’s even really needed (a fish tells her no). Ranko has a steamy little interaction with one of her regular (and age-appropriate) masters, while their other regulars sample pigs’ feet (the only fare they’re allowed to sell) for the first time.

But sales are slow, because everything has been done to make Oinky Doink fail and keep them at the bottom. Nagomi ain’t about that, and in keeping with her commitment to her late sister to be the best damn maid she can be, she decides to walk about the festival grounds, taking the pigs feet to the people. For this, the higher-ranked Cow, Cat, and Bear maids punish her and the others.

After prostrating themselves in deference to their bullying “betters”, Ranko asks why things are this way, when in her experience they’re all top-notch maids. Nagomi wonders the same thing, and believes that this is their chance to leave the truffles alone and climb higher.

The last straw comes when the starting gun fires for the Lady Omoe Climb, and because the Pigs are at the very end of the line they’re not even able to move. Zoya picks up Nagomi’s baton of rebellion and dashes into the street where she and her fellow pigs have a clear path to the front of the race. Are they butting in line? Yes. Do they not care? Also yes.

The Pigs employ teamwork, with Zoya clearing the way at the bottom while Yumechi, Shiipon, and Nagomi start their ascents. the latter two get all tangled up in fights of their own. Nagomi manages to evade the pouncing lions and ends up near the top with their boss, and everything we need to know about her we learned when she slapped the shit out of one of her own maids for no reason.

Nagomi tries to hold her own but is no match for her, but Ranko gives her a clutch assist, grabbing the lioness and leaping off the megamaid to enable Nagomi to grasp the victory she worked so hard to attain. She plants the pig “flag” in Lady Omoe’s head, and just like that Oinky Doink has prevailed.

At the victory ceremony, Nagi plays it cool rather than disemboweling Nagomi right on stage in front of thousands of citizens. She tells New Lady Omoe Nagomi that she has “plenty of promise”, but says only time will tell if she’s truly worthy of the honor. Interestingly, Ranko is way off to the side, and she and her former colleague don’t interact at all.

Nagi takes out her frustration over Dazzlion’s defeat in the shadows, by having Otaku guy killed. I’d say RIP, but this lackey has been nothing but a menace to our Oinky Doink girls, so to him I say good riddance to him and his stupid backpack. Unfortunately, I highly doubt Nagi will stop there.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

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