DanMachi II – 04 – The Lightning Rises

With Liliruca successfully rescued and Bell sufficiently trained up, he arrives home to find his familia has grown by three, with Lili, Welf, and Mikoto official Hestians. Ryu, merely a helper and not a familia member, keeps her distance, but is with them all the way.

The night before the siege, Cassandra relays to Daphnie what many a Star Wars character would call “a bad feeling about this,” particularly when she sees their pint-sized ally Luan entering the fortress at the last minute and pulling a wagon carrying a massive cargo. Who do we know who’s that small and can lug that much?

Cassandra calls this a Trojan Horse, and that it will seal their defeat. Who am I to argue with her?!

Every eye (and a good chunk of cash) in Orario is trained upon the magical viewscreens transmitting the War Game, from the adventurers in the tavern to the gods in their meeting place. Outnumbered 100-5, Hestia gets off to a rousing start, with their elven masked mercenary Ryu rushing the walls wielding not one but two of Welf’s magical swords, one fire, one lightning.

Ryu expends every drop of magical power in both those swords carving through as many Apollos as possible, including a fellow elf who is outraged by her use of the same swords that burned through their villages. Ryu feels helping a friend in need is more important than keeping the fires of hatred burning. She also makes such a rukus that Mikoto easily dashes right through the lines and into the castle courtyard.

There, she repels dozens of arrows and lets herself get surrounded by as many Apollos as possible before unleashing a spell that took a few minutes of incantation to cast, but is well worth it from a tactical perspective: it’s high-level gravity magic that immobilizes everyone who pursued her, taking still more Apollos off the board.

Proving each one of the five party members is worth at least ten Apollos, and that big, bold moves by every one of them is absolutely essential to snatch victory from such lopsided numbers, “Luan” “betrays his god and opens the front gate for Bell and Welf. Turns out he’s not Luan at all, but Lilisuke in disguise, who snuck in the night before. The huge wagon wasn’t the Trojan Horse, she was.

Welf covers Bell as he rushes to the central tower where Hyakinthos has so far been comfortably watching. Daphnie holds Welf up, but as one of the two main DanMachi themes blares (“Heroic Desire,” an all-timer that always gives me chills) Bell slides right in and blasts a massive Firebolt straight up, reducing the tower to a pile of rubble and bringing Hyakinthos right to him. He also wastes no time snapping his prized sword.

Cassandra almost spoils the upset when she tackles Bell, letting Hyakinthos unleash his special attack, but Lili tackles her just in time to let Bell dodge it enough to survive. Bell also got some help from that pendant Syr gave him before he went off to battle—one bearing the symbol of Freya Familia.

That moment, when he is so close to defeat and Hyakinthos so close to victory, is what Ais drilled into his head was the moment to wait for. When it comes, Bell doesn’t waste it. He knows Hyakinthos is about to finish him, so his opponent is basically opening himself up. Bell evades his dagger, kicks him off his feet, then delivers a knockout punch.

War Game Over: Hestia Familia is the winner.

Those who voted for the ultimate underdog get one hell of a payday while all of Bell’s friends who cheered him on rejoice, from Ais to Syr and even Freya. Even better, Hestia does NOT go easy on Apollo, who tries to backtrack and pretend he was just messing around because he found Bell cute.

Hestia confiscates all of Apollos property, declares his familia disbanded, and banishes him from Orario forever. She then takes her newly-expanded familia to the front gates of their new palatial home, and scrawls a new symbol to represent them: the guardian flame of Hestia, combined with the bell of…well, Bell.

I’m duly impressed by the speed with which DanMachi II has gotten things done. Here I was loathing a long, drawn out, multi-episode arc involving just the war game with Apollo, complete with constant reaction shots from the assembled spectators, changes in momentum, and cliffhangers.

Instead, the show understood that, outnumbered 100-5, the Hestians had to get shit done in a hurry if they wanted to win. And they did, in a superbly breathless battle helped in no small part by a cinematic orchestral soundtrack by Inai Keiji that absolutely fucking OWNS. Nice to see the little guys win one going away.

DanMachi II – 03 – Finding an Opening

Soma’s commander, Zanis, claims that the whole point of helping Apollo attack Hestia Familia was to bring Liliruca back into the family, but all he really cares about is her transformation magic, with which he intends to make a fortune. Lili’s prison guard, Chandra, snorts at Zanis’ arrogance; portending his giving a helping hand to Lili later.

Hestia meets with Welf, Takemikazuchi, Ouka, Mikoto, Chigusa, Miach, and Naza to arrange a rescue mission. When they ask whether the upcoming War Game with Apollo Familia should be her priority, Hestia retorts that all she has against Apollo is Bell, but he can’t fight 100% as long as he’s worried about his supporter, so Lili must come first.

As for the meeting of the gods in which the terms of the War Game are set out, Hestia by way of Hermes draws the worst possible lot: a siege. When Hermes says that the situation is just too unfair unless Hestia is allowed helpers, and Freya mocks Apollo for being afraid of allowing them, Apollo caves to the crowd and declares that Hestia Familia shall be allowed *one* helper, but they can’t be from Orario.

Meanwhile, Zanis reveals his true nature by dropping the whole “family” bit with Lili: she’s a resource he’ll use up and discard for his own gain. Once Zanis leaves, Chandra tosses the keys to Lili to do as she will; he can’t stand that guy! Once free, Lili finds a rescue raid in progress that she doesn’t even want. When she tells Hestia and the others to leave her, Hestia tells her how important she is to Bell—to all of them—and that they’re not leaving without her.

Lili tries one more time to get Soma to take a break from his winemaking and do something, but typically he’s left everything to the corrupt Zanis. This time, he offers some wine to Lili, and if she is still able to ask him for help, he’ll do as she asks.

To Soma’s surprise, Lili does not become a drunk slave, and still has the lucidity to beg him to stop the battle, which he does, even allowing Welf to zipline in and sword-slap Zanis in his shitty face.

With Lili safely rescued, she promptly officially transfers from Soma to Hestia Familia, and she’s not the only one. Mikoto asks Takemikazuchi for a transfer to Hestia, and wanting to help Hestia, he agrees. Welf also gets Hephaistios to let him transfer, while Hermes and Syl convince Ryu Lion to be the one helper that Hestia is allowed to recruit.

With Hestia Familia appointed the attacker in the War Game siege, and Bell training hard with Ais and Tiona, the odds of a Hestia victory are starting to look a lot less hopeless!

DanMachi II – 02 – White Rabbit Howl

Apparently, Apollo’s sole reason for challenging Hestia to a War Game between their familias is his infatuation with Bell, but Hestia flatly refuses and storms out of the banquet with Bell. Of course, the matter is far from over, as Bell and Hestia wake up to a full scale ambush of their home.

Woefully outnumbered and without the high ground, they only have one choice: run. If there’s a silver lining in this chase for Hestia, it’s that she gets to be princess-carried by Bell for most of it.

Their destination is the neutral guild, though Eina and her boss lament that no amount of fines will deter the ridiculously wealthy Apollo from doing what he wants. Daphne warns Bell that Apollo will never stop pursuing that which he wants, while one of his strongest lieutenants in Hyakinthos has added incentive to capture Bell, believing Bell stole his god’s affections.

Even Ais’ hands are also tied for the duration of the chase, as it would not be proper for her to be seen as assisting the Hestia Familia (plus Finn plain won’t allow it). Bell is no match for Hyakinthos, and gets severely slashed up.

He’s only saved from having a limb removed by the scornful Hyakinthos by sniper arrows from Miach Familia’s Naaza, along with last-minute backup by the Takemikazuchi Familia and the arrival of Welf, Lili, and Miach, who heals Bell’s wounds. Able to run again, Bell takes Hestia and continues to flee while their allies fight Apollo’s forces.

But there’s something strange going on: some of the fighters are wearing Soma Familia’s emblem, and when Welf and Lili are briefly separated, we learn why: Zanis has come to bring her back into the fold, and either due to brainwashing or some other psychological trauma (why not both?), Lili obeys him, leaving Welf behind.

As Bell and Hestia stop to rest under a bridge, still far from the guild, Hyakinthos announces from the rooftops that no matter what happens, Apollo won’t stop until he has Bell.

Hestia tries to get Bell to return her romantic feelings for him, but when he says he “respects” instead of “likes”, she gives away their position by screaming her displeasure, and they’re nearly blasted away by Apollo mages.

Rather than keep going for the guild, Hestia has Bell turn southwest, and they arrive at Apollo’s palace. There, she throws Prum’s glove in Apollo’s face and officially accepts the war game. Apollo calls off his attack forces and declares that the details will be forthcoming as adventurers come out of the woodwork to celebrate the first War Game in a long time.

Bell is going to have a tough time fighting all of Apollo on his own, but knows where he can receive the training he needs to get stronger. When he’s turned away at Loki’s gate by Tione, but not before she mutters something to him under her breath.

Those words lead him to a more secluded spot where Ais and Tiona are waiting. Neither are able to be seen with him in public, but in the interests of a fairer fight against Apollo Familia, both are eager to help train him. With the added need to rescue Lili from Soma before the War Game begins, Bell suddenly has a lot on his place, and will need all the help he can get.

This was a thrilling chase episode, starting with a bang and continuing to escalatie until poor Hestia had no choice but to give in. The weather turned from a morose cloudy gray to a more hopeful golden sunset as the chase ended, with Inai Keiji’s stirring score lending both urgency and majesty to the proceedings. I can’t wait to how Bell avoids becoming the latest part of Apollo’s collection—and who else pitches in to help him.

Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3 – 02

Hatsuse Karila, Kashima Sonora, Hinata Yachiyo, Mutsu Honoka, Kirishima Rento, Yamato Yura

Yura meets her senpai and roommate, senior Kashima Sonora, who has returned from sharpshooting in America. Meanwhile, the C3 Club continues its attempts to recruit Yura, who remains unsure of what to do. Karila proposes a battle, and “escort mission” with Yura as Sonora’s bodyguard against the other four members. Sonora guides Yura throughout the mission, and they end up winning, meaning Yura doesn’t have to join the club. But having had so much fun, she decides to join anyway.

As soon as they meet, the tomboyish Sonora intimidates Yura – she first encounters her butt-naked, fresh from the bath after a jog after a transpacific flight. But when Sonora tries one of Yura’s onigiri, she knows she could well be dealing with a natural marksman. You see, the perfect rice ball is one that is firm but not stiff, which apparently is also the best way to hold a gun. It’s a connection made by someone whose marksmanship master made her make onigiri again and again until she got it right. That master, by the way, used an airsoft gun to casually prune his bonsai, which just might be the best fucking thing we have ever witnessed.

In any case, while the rest of the club falls over themselves trying all-too-obvious and high pressure methods to get Yura to join up, Sonora, having gleaned Yura’s potential, sits back and lets whatever will happen happen. If Yura is meant to join, she will join, even if she wins the battle that will settle the issue. It’s an awesome battle, just like last weeks, too, albeit a totally different kind of battle, one in which Yura is the hero who must lead Sonora, her VIP charge, to safety from the four others. Just by being the badass she is, Sonora shows her just how fun the club can be, and shows her that she’s welcome and has a place there if she wants it.

Ultimately Yura decides being in the club is preferable to continuing to eat her lunch on the toilet, which is a no-brainer if you ask us, but teens are weird.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3 – 01

c31

Yamato Yura is excited to be starting her sophomore year of high school at Stella Women’s Academy, but has troulbe making friends and doesn’t like big groups. However, when she’s walked in on by a member of the “C3” club, they take an instant interest in her. She meets Hatsuse Karila, Hinata Yachiyo, Kirishima Rento, and Mutsu Honoka, who participate in mock battles akin to war games using airsoft rifles and pistols. She’s initially weary of joining, but Kirishima insists. She participates in a “Rambo”-style battle with Karila as Rambo and the other four as sheriffs. As the battle heats up, Yura starts to get it, and “steps in to a new world.”

Ahh, Girls With Guns. For some people, it will never get old. We’re some people. Especially since they’re not real guns; it’s all good clean fun with “airsoft” weapons (and candy bars for knives), while the club drinks tea and eats cake when not going to war. Parallels to Girls und Panzer are inevitable, but this episode felt a lot less “aw shucksy” and earnest than that series, with more of a chip on its shoulder and a potential for more comedy. We’re still learning the girls’ names (and their guns of choice), but the C3 club has a looser vibe to it; no one’s getting disowned and the fate of the school isn’t on their shoulders.

And yet, once the battle begins, the girls are all business, with Karila operating as a one-woman wrecking crew and the others working together like a well-oiled machine. Yura, who is searching for somewhere to fit in, knowing it’s not with the cliques of chatty, gossipy “normal girls”, is in awe of the spectacle before her, and the moment she gets into the swing of things, triggering her vivid imagination, is the moment she realizes she may have just found that place where she’s accepted for herself. She only has to embrace the weirdness…and learn to hold her gun correctly!

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Stray Observations:

  • Yamato Yura’s roommate, senior Kashima Sonora, only appears at the very end, showing great proficiency with the always menacing Desert Eagle .50. They’ll meet next week; the others warning that she’s the biggest weirdo out of all of them.
  • Yes, all six members have famous Japanese battleship family names. Those Japanese love their battleships. So do Americans, for that matter…we named most of our states after them! :D
  • Everyone has their own pet name for Yura: Karila calls her “Lil’ Yura”, Yachiyo calls her “Yuracchi”, Honoka calls her “Yurara”, and Reno calls her “Yurapyon.”
  • We’re not familiar with Kirishima’s rookie seiyu Nishizaki Rima or Yamato’s seiyu Makino Yui, but the other girls: Kayano Ai (Karila), Yonezawa Madoka (Yachiyo), Saito Chiwa (Honoka), and Sawashiro Miyuki (Sonora).