Ushio to Tora – 38

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Despite the title “The End”, this week is not the end; just the beginning of it for Hakumen. The united counterattack is now in full swing, with supernatural and military forces working in concert to make Hakumen’s life increasingly difficult. Even better, the battle is being broadcast to Japan from a news chopper, lessening the fear of those who didn’t evacuate (like Asako and her fam).

I must say, after so much darkness and dread, I was glad to see the mood of the show brightening along with the skies around the battle. The irreverent chatter between Ushio and Tora flies as furiously as the cameos, which, to be honest, are a bit out of control; but are to be expected, as the end, titles aside, is very quickly approaching.

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Hakumen is a little slow on the uptake, and in assessing exactly why things are going so bad, determines that Ushio and Tora are the cause. If they can be smitten once and for all, Hakumen can crush everyone else’s spirits and get back to wreaking havoc. So Hakumen unleashes a Malboro-esque poison cloud, isolating and trapping the duo.

All everyone else can do, from Asako to Mayuko to Hinowa and the Moritsuna siblings, is keep fighing; keep doing their part; and trust Ushio and Tora will be okay.

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And they do do okay. Ushio’s armor is shattered and he comes close to his soul shattering as well, but he’s not like the other wielders who turned into azafuse, and both he and the spear are able to calm themselves, buoyed by the knowledge, and Tora’s confirmation, that Hakumen is not only terrified of his adversaries (for their ability to unite humans and youkai, among other things)—he’s also insanely jealous.

Hatred, pain, fear, and death are the only things Hakumen has ever known, and perhaps believes they’re the only things in the world. But seeing what Ushio and Tora have been able to accomplish; watching all the assembled friends and allies fight with everything they have for their sake; even watching the beast spear reassemble itself to fight again; it’s no surprise the increasingly puny bastard would be a bit envious.

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Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun – 13 (Fin)

Shizuku is home alone studying when Haru bursts in asking if she’s “seen him”. Before she can find out what he’s talking about, he’s gone, and left his phone behind. He does the same thing to Natsume (his net), Sasayan (his goggles) and Yamaken (his gloves and keys). Yuu comes across a rooster and sends a photo to Ooshima, who tells her it’s Haru’s. Shizuku crosses paths with her while on a rice run, and they go to the closed batting center, where Natsume, Sasayan, and Yamaken are assembled. On her way home, Shizuku bumps into Haru on the steps, where he tells her he’s looking for a firefly. Sure enough, both of them spot it as it flies off into the night.

This finale takes pretty much every character and shuffles them around here and there, all motivated by Haru’s strange (even for him) behavior and penchant for shedding belongings. It’s a clever way to say farewell to everyone, although as narrator Shizuku laments, there’s a lot more she wanted to say about them: Natsume, Sasayan, Yamaken, Ooshima, Nagoya…and Haru, who she still can’t quite come to terms with her feelings for him. She doesn’t mind being with him, but isn’t sure she could ever match his intense innocence and sincerity. To which we’d respond, why try to? Haru isn’t looking for a more peppy Shizuku; he’s fine with her the way she is (as long as she stays away from Yamaken, of course.)

She should be fine with the way she is too. She is working hard, but is still able to occasionally spend time with not only Haru, but her other friends who legitimately care about her. Why is she so obsessed with understanding why they care about her, or why he loves her, or matching those feelings precisely? This whole series she’s been fretting so much about how to proceed with a relationship with Haru, she’s overlooked the fact that she’s already in one. She’s his handler; his tamer; the one who makes his life more fun when she’s around. He’s her release valve from a dour, tedious life of study and work; someone who makes her heart beat faster. Quit over-analyzing everything and just enjoy the ride, Missy!


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Black Rock Shooter – 06

Black Rock Shooter duels with Black Gold Saw as Strength drags Dead Master away. Yomi wakes up feeling much better, but when Mato doesn’t regain consciousness, Yuu panics and visits Saya for help. Saya tries to reach Mato through Black Gold Saw, but Black Rock Shooter only attacks her. Saya tells Yuu the story of a girl she was friends with (who looks just like Yuu) who first told her about the “other her” who took the brunt of the pain from her life. Strength saves Black Gold Saw and pummels Black Rock Shooter.

The two worlds cross over more than ever this week, with normal selves inhabiting their warriorlike counterparts to achieve various goals. Mato wants to save Yomi from despair, and it would seem she was successful, but she got lost in Black Rock Shooter as a result. Yuu, who put her up to this and used her power to send her to the other world, naturally feels guilty. As for Saya, her antagonistic, even sadist attitude from previous episodes fade away as she recounts her story of an outcast girl who had a really awful life, but whom she promised to protect at any cost.

Which brings us to this girl she knew in high school, whose name is Yuu. Like Mato’s friend Yuu. They look and sound alike. We can only surmise they’re the same Yuu. Is Mato fuzzy about her memories with Yuu because Yuu is something more or less than a regular girl? She appears to be the same age as the Yuu Saya befriended, so it’s likely she’s just different. Yomi seems more cheerful, which pisses off Kagari, and she even deletes all her messages to/from Mato. Perhaps Mato took Yuu’s place as a forgotten friend who took her pain away? We have to be honest: it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and we kind of feel silly for obsess about it too much.


Rating: 3.5

Black Rock Shooter – 05

Mato and Yuu realize Yomi is acting more and more unusually, culminating in her uncontrollably cutting her hair in class; her mother takes her home. Yuu confronts Saki, blaming her for Yomi’s state; Saya tells her hearts have to be wounded so they can heal and become stronger. Later Saya tells Mato if she wants to save Yuu, she nees to die for her, and puts her hands around her neck. When Mato can’t find anyone who remembers Yuu, she runs out to the river, where Yuu is there, and uses some kind of power that connects Mato with Black Rock Shooter, who has already stabbed Yomi’s counterpart.

This episode tried to provide a lot of answers, but it just left us with more questions. Even if Mato didn’t believe it until the end, we were pretty good on the whole existence of a parallel world where badass avatars duke it out and shoulder all the grief and suffering of the angsty girls on the other side. Thanks to Yuu, we also know that Kagari and Kohata’s avatars were destroyed, freeing them from all that suffering. The result was like a reset button: they’re almost different people, with holes in their memories.

There are still a few things we have yet to work out: like what the real deal is with Yuu, for instance. Is she some kind of part-imaginary friend who freaked out Yomi? The clues point somewhere around there: identical bracelets, Mato’s her only friend…their builds…and Yuu serves as a medium between Mato and BRS, actually putting one in the other’s skin. Clearly she’s no ordinary girl. As for Saya, she shows her true colors like it’s nothing. Was she just bored pretending to be nice? What’s her plan?


Rating: 3.5

P.S.: 1000th Post! WOOT! Also, the opening theme is growing on us. Call us ig’nant bitches if you must, but we just recently learned the vocals are by Hatsune Miku. No wonder they sound so artificial and precise!

Black Rock Shooter – 04

Kagari returns to school and instantly finds a clique of friends, further frustrating Yomi, who is now feeling ignored and unused by everyone – Mato because of Yuu, and Kagari because of all her new friends. In the dream world, Yomi becomes enveloped in a mass of metal chains. Kohata’s admiree stops by practice to apologize for the love letter incident and to reciprocate his feelings, but she has no memory of him. Yomi holes up in her house, and when she finally recieves her, Kagari tells her exactly everything she doesn’t need, and in the dream world Yomi’s chain nest explodes, revealing an immense boss for Black Rock Shooter.

Well, Kagari seems to be adjusting nicely to normal high school life, and all but discards Yomi by the episode’s end. This is troubling to Yomi, because as it turns out she was just as dependent on Kagari as she was on her; moreso, in fact. Kagari is not one to mince worlds and in fact seems to go out of the way to state things as nastily as she possibly can – and already teetering on the edge, Yomi seems to crack. It’s her turn to be saved, and it’s up to Black Rock Shooter to defeat her very nasty evolved form.

As for the whole deal with Saya, well, the woman is clearly a bit of a sadist, happily contributing to Yomi’s instability by saying the magic words: “Nobody really needs you.” She also really likes her coffee. It’s our experience that whenever an anime series with fantasy elements has a character who believes she is useles and the world wouldn’t even bat an eye if they never existed, that character goes on some kind of rampage, followed by a catharsis. It will be fun to watch Mato snap her out of it, if she can. As for Kotoha, we’re not sure what’s up with that yet.


Rating: 4

Persona 4: The Animation – 02

Another girl dies, and this time it’s Yosuke’s crush Konishi, after he sees her on the Midnight Channel. Yosuke and Yuu go back to the otherworld in the TV at Junes, where Yosuke meets a doppelganger containing a side of him he’s been trying to suppress, who he then defeats with help from Yuu and Izanagi. Yosuke then gains a persona ability, and the two promise to solve the murders and find the culprit responsible.

We’ll be frank: we’re not big fans of the crazy-ass bear thing who’s always including bear puns with his lines. He had too much to say this week, and we hope to see him as little as possible in the future. Why would an otherwise classy-and-cool looking series decide to design something so…silly? We would have preferred a more lifelike talking bear to him. Like Gentle Ben.

Other than the bear-thing, this was a great episode, following up the developments of last week by making the week’s victim not only everyone is familiar with, but someone Yosuke’s in love with, making him face his inner turmoil. Death is very quiet and sudden in this show; there’s no blood or gore to announce it, it happens off-screen, in the shadows, which while less viseral, makes it more mysterious. Naturally, we can’t have Yuu the only one who can wield power, so Yosuke gets his own persona, and Chie probably isn’t far off from getting hers.


Rating: 3.5

Persona 4: The Animation – 01



Narukami Yu arrives in a new town to attend school while his parents are working abroad and live with his uncle, a local detective. He meets his new classmates, Chie, Yosuke and Yukiko, who go on about the “midnight channel”, in which staring at a TV on a rainy midnight will reveal one’s soul mate. Yu tries it and is nearly sucked in. He does it again with Chie and Yosuke watching, and all three enter an alternate plane where they’re met by a frekish bear thing and foes called shadows. Yu then beseeches the voice that had been in his head all along and releases a persona to fight off the baddies.

Our only previous exposure to the Persona franchise was the Trinity Soul video game for PS2, which we’ve never played, but have watched a friend play. Fortunately, one doesn’t have to know anything ahead of time to enjoy this series, which we did, quite a bit. It lulled a bit from the cryptic teaser to the introductions of the cast, but as the episode progressed it got far more interesting, dense and entertaining. It had a lot of video game-like qualities, is kinda scored like one, and features transitions of the date and weather whenever the day changes. The alternate plane has a nice slick whimsy, with just a touch of peril so it isn’t just silly.

This series is being directed by Seiji Kishi, who was also at the helm of Angel Beats! and Kamisama Dolls, while Yui Horie (Yuki-onna) lends her lively, expressive voice to Chie. A word on uniforms: they’re pretty off-the-wall. Black with contrast stitching resembling tailor’s marks and houndstooth collars and skirts. The character design is simple but has a nice edge to it, to go with the certain je nais sais qoui appeal of the overall aesthetic of the show. The opening and ending sequences also rock, there’s great budding chemistry amongst the lead cast and a sense of impending adventure afoot. Let’s see where this goes, shall we?


Rating: 4