Witch Craft Works follows Noragami with a similarly tepid ending; wrapping up the Weekend arc with a load of miscellaneous magical mumbo-jumbo, while frantically jumping from one place to another tying up loose ends. We got way more tell and not enough show, but in the end, the show had kinda backed itself into a corner where technicalities had to be employed to explain why both Honoka and Kagari survive and save the day.
We will say we liked the effect of the city and its people being restored all in one fell swoop after Honoka agrees to sacrifice his life in exchange for Evermillion’s power. Turns out she merely transferred the power Ayaka had been using back to Honoka by annulling their contract. But it’s hastily restored and Ayaka is revived. It’s a reiteration of a problem this show had for its entire run: a lack of palpable danger and risk.
Meanwhile, Weekend is out of mana and defeated, and gets captured by Chronoire on her way out. Then Chronoire and Kazane (who healed up much faster than Weekend predicted) fight it out, because they have a past, or something, and everything returns to normal, including Tanpopo’s gang challenging Ayaka to fights that they then lose badly. Presumably it also means more of Kasumi fighting Ayaka for bro-time.
This was a case where the buildup of the last couple weeks was better than the payoff, but we were kinda expecting that, so we don’t feel particularly ripped off. The lush, whimsical visual style and guy-as-the-damsel dynamic sustained us till the end, but Witch Craft Works never really got better than its first couple episodes, due to ultimately lame villains and way too many extraneous side characters.
Rating: 6 (Good)
Average Rating: 7.167
MyAnimeList Score: 7.43
Ah, the Penultimate Final Battle Buildup Episode…we know them well. If there’s still a fair amount of information to convey to the audience, a PFBBE is the time to do it, so that there’s time for both the resolution of said final battle and a proper cool-down period that checks in on everyone one last time. Cram too much into the end, and the end can feel rushed and unsatisfying. We still consider the second episode to be the best of this series, and we’ve been legging it out in hope of a strong ending.
After this week, we’d have to say there’s still a good chance of WCW pulling it off, since this PFBBE packs a lot of setup and exposition, identifying the final threat—Weekend will blow up all the people in the city if she doesn’t get Honoka—and fielding the force that aims to thwart her: Ayaka, drawing from Honoka’s power. Honoka’s little dreamworld excursion is suitably trippy, and Mikage-sensei provides enough info for us to get the jist.
While there’s a lot of talking, there’s also a lot of fighting, first between Kasumi and one of Weekend’s underlings in another giant teddy battle, and we will state for the record we have officially seen enough giant teddy-fighting. We’re also a bit astounded at how ineffective Tanpopo’s crew is this week; they literally just stand around. Fortunately for them their master Medusa managed to escape from her captors and takes the enemy out with some badass petrification.
As Honoka convalesces, Ayaka leaves him in Atori’s care (she talks through a puppet…HOW KOOKY.) and tries to take her “prey” Weekend on alone, but Weekend has been planning this op for more than a year, and has more than enough magic stowed away to repel her. It takes a feverish Honoka voluntarily going to Ayaka’s side (showing he’s been practicing his broomflying) to charge her back up. So the stage is set for the final battle. We wonder if the powerful Chronoire and/or Kazane will have anything to contribute to it, or if it’ll be strictly an Ayaka/Honoka-vs.-Weekend affair.
Rating:7 (Very Good)
One of the many great things about Kill la Kill is its soundtrack, which is just as over-the-top and bombastic as the visuals. One of our favorite tracks is Ragyo Kiryuin’s theme, which is sung in German.
We asked last week if Weekend could keep the good guys on their toes for more than an episode, something no other villain in the show has been able to do as of yet. After the events of this week, the answer seems to be yes. This is an episode bustling with activity in which pretty much everyone is out of their comfort zone and has to improvise in the midst of all the chaos Weekend has caused.
You have Rinon and the workshop witches trying to pick up the pieces and negotiate with Weekend, who has wrecked the city, injured several witches, and strapped bombs to others that will go off in a half-hour if they don’t bring Honoka to her. Kasumi has enlisted the aid of the Tower witches living in her house (who can still use magic, since they’re not Workshop), while Chronoire is pissed that her house is wrecked but intrigued by Weekend’s power and gets ready to face her.
Meanwhile, after witnessing Weekends handiwork (for which Honoka briefly freaks out but then composes himself) Ayaka leads Honoka further below the city to its very core, which kinda resembles the Forest of the Deer God. In order to restore the good guys’ ability to use magic, Honoka himself must form a new contract with the city. On the way to the core (a pretty epic journey in its own right), they meet the stone golem witch Gibraltar, but Ayaka deals with her, not with magic, but with muscle, showing her mother taught her well.
Honoka gets the magic flowing again just in time for Rinon & Co. to save the hostages, punch Weekend in the face, and capture her, and it looks like another bad guy has been foiled. But then Weekend reveals that, like Ayaka, she doesn’t rely on magic alone, using conventional grenades to blast her way out of her cell. She lost this week’s battle, but the war is still on, with both Kazane and Chronoire likely to enter the fray in the near future. This show’s in good shape to have a strong finish.
Rating: 8 (Great)
Koko tells Jonah killing her won’t stop Jormungand, so he jumps off the pier and swims away. Kasper picks him up and hires him on the spot. As the plans to shrink the quantum computer commence, Minami informs Koko about Scarecrow and Plame digging into her finances. She decides to summon Bookman to Africa, and when he arrives he is attacked by an armed group that is killed by a platoon of marines who escort him out of danger. Back in America, Plame is arrested by the NSA for breaching the FISA, as Koko made it look like he sent the armed group instructions to assassinate Bookman.
Koko Hekmatyar may be a dyed-in-the-wool supervillain with designs on starting a new world at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives, but when she kicks as much ass and takes as many names as she has of late, we can’t help but root for her. She also seems to have the support of her team: only Jonah and Lutz are conflicted (it’s probably not a coincidence they’re the youngest members of her team), and only Jonah outright resigns his commission over it, only to be ensnared by Kasper. It looks like Jonah’s going to cling to the status quo as long as he can, but Minami thinks he’ll ultimately come back to Koko.
The main attraction of this episode isn’t even the standoff betwen Koko and Jonah, in which Koko delivers one villainously awesome speech (“I hate the world, but it’s lucky I’m going to reform and not destroy it”). It’s yet another demonstration of Jormungand’s formidable, virtually inviolable power over information.It’s essentially carried out to prove a point to Bookman about just how screwed the rest of the world is against her might (and Koko orchestrates it while lying naked in a hot spring.Boss.) Far from taking up the challenge to defeat her plans, Bookman, eager to see the new world Koko wants to build, decides he’ll let her use him however she wants. Can you blame him? In a world where she’s the new god of information, blasphemy will get you nowhere.
Rating: 8 (Great)
Tiger & Bunny have to dodge the H-01’s attacks until their powers return, and even when they do, it has little effect on the ultra-powerful android. Rotwang tortures the other heroes by making them decide whether they should save only themselves or risk everyone dying. Kaede manages to escape her captors and take Rotwang out, but by then Bunny has already used the H-01’s weapon to destroy him while Tiger holds him down. The blast mortally injures Tiger in the process, or so it seems.
By the end of last week we were left with the questions: with the heroes’ bonds of friendship outlast their own desire for survival? Will Tiger & Bunny defeat the big bad android? Will Kaede be made safe? The answer to all three is yes. Duh. The execution of these objectives wasn’t the most elegant or innovative process it the world, but it got the job done. Rotwang’s typical villain-gloating and watching everyone’s reactions in the cells got awfully repetetive though.
So did what should have been epic climactic battle with the H-01, which consisted mostly of the two heroes releasing battle cry after battle cry, then bouncing off of him. But the one thing I didn’t expect was for Tiger to be killed in this last episode. Or was he? He certainly lost consciousness. It’s a big city; get him to a hospital already. If he is dead, it wasn’t the most necessary death in the world. It didn’t even make that much sense. Why is Tiger suddenly strong enough to hold the android? Why didn’t it simply contort its way out of his hold? We’ll never know.
Last week devious covert über-villain Albert Maverick successfully purged any inconvenient memories from Barnaby, but turns out he wasn’t done yet; not by a long shot. Two people either still knew the truth about Barnaby’s parents, or could potentially learn the truth if they kept digging – namely Tiger and Samantha. They would be Mav’s next victims.
But the ol’ poison coffee trick doesn’t work, as Kotetsu just never puts the cup to his lips before he’s called away. No matter, Mav hatches a dastardly plan that totally turns the climate of the series upside down: having failed to alter Kotetsu’s memory, he instead alters the memories of all the other heroes, and Hero TV staff. The result of this is, no one remembers who Tiger is. Even his security clearence is revoked.
Maverick then sets Tiger up for the murder of Samantha (who he earlier imprisoned). All heroes are now his enemy, and he is a wanted man. Barnaby in particular has the same rage and thirst for justice he had when pursuing his parents’ killers; it’s not unrealistic to assume he’d kill Tiger to avenge his auntie maid. And as usual, Tiger has the worst luck imaginable…though entering Samantha’s house and getting his fingerprints everywhere wasn’t such a good idea.
After a phenomenal start and a rather less inspiring middle, the final third of this first season of Hanasaku Iroha is really ‘festing it up’, to borrow a phrase from Ohana. This week picks up where we left off; Ohana plucked off the street by Tohru and Minko. They spend the night in a hotel room, Tohru and Ohana have a late-night chat about Ko, which Minko listens in on. The next morning, Ohana wants them to help her kidnap her mother. Tohru agrees, but only if they bring Ko too.
Before that though, Tohru takes Minko on a dizzying culinary tour of Tokyo and makes her eat way too much. At times she considers this a date, but the fact of the matter is, Tohru may just be doing it to get her acquainted with famous tastes, without an ulterior motive. As Ohana said last night, he is kind, but his manner with women leaves too much to said womens’ imaginations. I feel pretty bad for Minko, since she (and we) know for sure that a part of him likes Ohana, but he won’t make a move. That said, Minko could be a little more forward with him regarding her feelings.
While in Tokyo, Ohana learns that she’s been acting selfishly, without regard to anyone else’s thoughts or motives. This is hammered home for her when Ko tells her he went to visit her but came up empty. This episode marked an even lower mark than was reached last week as far as their future together is concerned. They may both like each other, but they remain firmly lodged in a holding pattern, at best, while both of them have other potentials (Tohru in Ohana’s case; Igarashi in Ko’s). This is probably it for their story, until next season.
I was as surprised as Ohana when her mother had packed to come back with them to Kissuiso. Something finally clicked in her; perhaps the same thing that clicked in Ohana. At times, both of them play the villain in the lives of others (“Deferring her answer for a later time” is pretty villainous). Ohana had so much to yell at her mom for, but chose her bad review of the inn. When she heard the indignation in Ohana’s voice, it reminded her of the arguments she once had with her mother. Now for good or ill, there’s going to be a family reunion. Rating: 4