Yuri Kuma Arashi: Act 2

Sure, Hunnylingus is a word.

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Let’s embark on a tour of plot entering this series.

Episode 4 begins as a backstory episode.  It’s rather cute, with the Judges narrating Lulu’s life.  She was nobility, apparently royalty if the tale is to be believed as 100% accurate, but again, you can’t trust everything you see as is. She was doted on by her parents. But as soon as her little brother is born (see: the new heir is born) she begins to miss her old life of privilege as everyone’s attention turns to the young prince.

And credit where it’s due, this little story takes on the form of a western fairy tale, even incorporating the “trial of three”, something modern retellings generally abandon.

Speaking of our trial of three, it comes in the form of Lulu putting her little brother in a box and kicking him down a cliff to his death. From which he returns almost completely unharmed.  He does this to earn Lulu’s “promise kiss”, because he wants to marry his big sister (he is like, three).  This is the first mention, but it will recur many times from now on, and it seems to be something within Bear lore similar to “true love’s first kiss”.  And yet, the choice the judges present her is the following.

“Will you give up on love? Or will you give up on kisses?”

So is the kiss PERSONAL love, while love in general is just the concept? Or what? Who knows, still up for debate.

Lulu’s little brother dies trying to bring her a pot of pure honey.  Ginko, however, is the one who returns it to her.  She is a “criminal bear”, and is off to the other side of the Wall of Severance. Lulu, feeling a combination that she owes Ginko a debt and that she must repay the favor of a promise kiss by helping Ginko claim hers, will join her. Continue reading

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Death Parade: Episode 4

Being a dick, because it’s god’s work.

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Cutting out the middle man, we’re already at the part where the couple are trying to break open the doors.  It fails, obviously, but we’re quickly shown our characters.

On the whole I must compliment Death Parade’s establishment of character. They are rather predictable, but at least they’re done strongly.

So our pair, Yousuke and Misaki, seem to be unrelated completely. Misaki is a reality TV star. with all the arrogance and presumption that comes with it, and Yousuke seems to be a nervous office type, or possibly some kind of computer programmer.

Misaki is convinced they’re on a reality, hidden camera show. Candid camera, she basically means.

…Which, to her credit, isn’t entirely off base.  They ARE being watched for specific reactions to unusual circumstances. So good call on that one.

..I like the bar’s transformation sequences.

It’s video game time! In an amusing bit, each character is on the “character select” screen, and it’s entirely themselves.  The afterlife is nothing if not amusing itself at humans’ expense. Continue reading

Madan no Ou to Vanadis: Act 2

Boobs are one hell of a drug.

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Catch up continues here on DDA.  And it opens with Wonder Woman mounting Green Arrow…

No, bad Doll, play nice. This is the series that at least pretends it has aspirations.

So after a bit of “how AWESOME is Tigre?” from the girls, we actually get consequences for what’s occurred so far.

Yes, you do have permission to take a breath. We might not be so lucky in the future.

Both Tigre and Ellen are on the Thernadier radar now.  And as bad guys would have it, they’re no longer considering Tigre “warm up” practice for the inexperienced men.  He’s now a legitimate military target, as is Zchted. To counter Ellen’s power as a battle maiden, Thernadier will be sending its own Battle Maiden. Escalation!

Unfortunately for the bad guys, they don’t have the self-awareness to realize they’re in a harem series. Sending anything with a vagina to take care of the protagonist is like trying to send a twelve year old girl into a mall alone to go to church.  If you’re lucky, she comes within sight of the target before being distracted by the cutest plushie in Build-a-Bear.

Ellen’s having a hearing with her king.  Yes king. This is unexpected. How is Tigre going to win a GUY over with the power of his dick? And not an attractive one, at that.  This is ruining all of my immersion. Continue reading

Inou-Battle: Act 2

 

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Yes we’re playing catch up. This seems like the best compromise because I don’t have the hours to throw at this stuff right now.

Episode 4 begins well enough, focusing on Chifuyu. And as you’ll recall, she is one of only two actually funny characters here.

This episode starts off rather silly. It has a good “Chifuyu abuses Andou with superior intellect” gag, passable cosplay humor (but nothing really funny), and some interesting character study emerges about Chifuyu. There’s some shots fired at socially-directed peer groups, and a good examination of jealousy and friendship.

Of course this is wrapped up in several layers of pedophilia jokes so take what you can.

Chifuyu’s reactions are pretty good.  Slightly flanderized, but this can be attributed to her age and her well established personality. The way she hides behind her plushie on paper sounds like too much, but as played across from the blunt and intimidating Satomi, it feels incredibly natural. So good on that high water mark.

In all, not an offensive episode. Probably because this managed to focus on Chifuyu’s personal drama and not how she was a harem hen. Let’s see if they can go another 22 minutes without fucking this up. Continue reading

Double Feature: Knights of Sidonia 4+5

It cures what ails ya.

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Sidonia begins with one of its huge recaps.  This is becoming a hallmark of the series, and it really confuses me when so much of the exposition is being handled in your imagination.  We could have Shinsekai Yori style flashbacks for the introductions of these episodes, showing us the history between Humanity and Gauna before the credits…I dunno, it just feels like the biggest waste.

So, if you’ll remember last time, the Gauna has dodged the mass driver.  So in order to avoid it, the commander orders uneven acceleration.  This is terrifying.  But more terrifying is the idea that a Gauna will smash into Sidonia, and if you’ll recall, only two Gauna were involved in the last “war”, and that nearly destroyed Sidonia.  Sure, they will probably beat it, but it will be a Pyrrhic victory.  So the alarms go off, time to use those gravity harnesses!

Unfortunately, this seems to be something that Sidonia was ill-prepared for. Buildings are ripping apart from the stresses involved, and people are falling out buildings to their deaths, splattering into little puddles of blood.  That’s a little much, guys, don’t you think?  It’s almost comical in how the Humans just…vanish to be replaced by blood splatter.  Kind of undermines the horror of this scene.  Another issue is, while there may be enough harnesses for the inhabitants of Sidonia from the pure mathematics…no one seemed to take into account some areas will be high traffic, so our heroes spend a pants-soilingly long time looking for a brace.

But they come through more or less unharmed, though even with the harnesses, some people are badly bloodied and bruised.

All hands are launched, every available GARDES is being deployed to block the Gauna.  The trainee squad, that is the ones on the ice-mission (seems they’re considered skill enough to be full pilots, of a sort) will be retrieving the spears lost to the Akai squad’s death.

Tanikaze is having a flashback to Akai and the others…but am I the only one who really hates these kind of flashbacks?  You’ve met the guy TWICE, so to fill out any meaningful memory of ALL of them, you’re just going to use the SINGLE time you interacted with them. It just bothers me.  It should either be ONE image in his head, something he latches onto as “symbolizing” Akai, to him.  Or you need to only pull these out in characters with long histories.  But a montage of the three hours you spent with them?  That’s just silly in all the wrong ways.

Meanwhile, the full-fledged pilots are forming a defensive screen with their GARDES. This is a pretty visually impressive scene, and we meet the new field commander, rank 5, Samari.  I like her, she emotes, and in just the few seconds we see of her, watch her deal with the responsibility of keeping morale up, and yet harboring doubts about their capability.  In just twenty seconds she is way, way more interesting than most of Tanikaze’s classmates have gotten in three full episodes.   Continue reading

Double Feature: Gokukoku no Brynhildr 3+4

There isn’t a word in English to express the manufactured conflict this time.

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We’re off to a bad start. Kuroha walks into school all bandaged up.  Why? Well we’re supposed to get one impression, but from what we see that impression isn’t true.  Either way, Ryota is rightly concerned, so he goes to the girls’ home to find Kuroha bleeding from her…everywhere, and curled up on the floor.  She asks him to bring her to the kitchen, where she takes a pill.  She may be suffering horribly, but she can exposit that these are what I am going to call “death pills”, if they aren’t taken every day, the witch’s body breaks down.  And since we saw one melt from losing her implant, it’s a safe bet to say that’s in play here.

Kuroha laments she doesn’t have enough to get her to the ocean.  Oh, wow, how touching. Faced with imminent death, the only thing she wants is an innocent trip to the beach…

Cue Ryota, “She’s pushing herself all because I invited her to the ocean”.  Yeah, everything’s about you, asshole.

Kuroha lies down, and this is where the intro runs straight into a brick wall, as when she wakes up a couple minutes later she’s completely healed.  It took far less time for her wounds to close and wash the blood away than it would have to bandage herself up in such an attention-grabbing manner.

So the beach trip is in about a week.  This leaves Kuroha with, what, five pills?  So naturally, she has to burn the house down boiling water.  Yes, really.  So NOW it’s drama!  Because five days to live isn’t enough of a ticking clock.  And Kana’s already starting to bleed, she has HOURS TO LIVE! We must find replacements!

…Jack Bauer has more time than this. Continue reading

Akuma no Riddle: Episode 4

One little, two little, three little Indians…

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It’s time for mid-terms on Akuma no Riddle!  All the girls are studying (well, all of them except Isuke I’m sure).  Of note is that Kouko steps forward to help out Haru with a math problem.  We notice she’s carrying one of Haru’s lucky charms.

Later that night we get treated to her flashback, so clearly, she’s going to be the one who tries to kill Haru this time.

With the benefit of hindsight after Episode 6, we know that this Danganronpa plot is being pushed aside for…something.  Whatever that is is unclear, but quite frankly this has been a very weak middle section so far primarily for this reason.  The pattern is obvious and knowing that any attempt on Haru’s life is final (because of the 48 hour rule), seeing Kouko talk about how she “mustn’t fail” we know she’s going to try. And because it’s episode 4, we know she’s going to fail and leave forever.  This makes it hard to, frankly, give a fuck.  We’re seeing her backstory here, about how she was raised to be a killer and the kids made fun of her for being a bad assassin…but why do I care?

Arguably, it’s harder to sell me on this point since…well…she’s GOING TO FAIL, kind of justifying all that shit people talked about her, right?

I’m going to spoil this for you ahead of time, Kouko’s prize, should she win, is that she gets to walk away from the underworld forever. That is her dream.  Do you see the problem?  Not only is there nothing compelling me to root for her to kill Haru, to say “Yeah, you show them, you really CAN be an assassin!” the fact that, if she did fail, it would only be because she, judging by what we see, couldn’t hack it as a killer.  That…that is not inspiring.  As such, of the girls who go up against Haru, Kouko has been the weakest.  Which is a shame because there was lots of room to maneuver here, and her actual attempts on Haru’s life themselves were some of the more intricate and clever on the show.

We see the class doing their mid-terms, and a brief bit of development for Kirigaya and Chitaru, who are still holding hands, Chitaru explaining that she doesn’t want Kirigaya to get lost.  She also explains she isn’t here for Haru, but for a different reason.

Later in the study we have a very cute scene of Nio bonding with Haru.  I like to think this isn’t Nio being completely manipulative, though it very well could be, but I like to imagine it’s just her natural personality that she uses to her advantage, because frankly…she’s just so cute when she gets all buddy-comedy with Haru. What’s being shared is that in a super secret room in the library is a super secret book that if you write your name in the check out line, eternal happiness will be yours. Continue reading

Blade and Soul: Episode 4

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We open on the excitement of flashback. It’s really a visual narration of some words Alka’s master offered her once upon a time.  It’s, as I gather, some “meaning of life” stage of her training.

She’s unconscious, and being tended to by some orphans.  Her tattoo is completely dark.  We are then treated to orphans being orphans, stealing food from tall, fat street vendors, you’ve seen Aladdin, you know the drill.

Fortunately, upon waking up the first thing Alka does is NOT kill them, which has been how she’s greeted everyone else up to this point who got the jump on her.

Cutting to the inn, Loana is injured and in bed.  She isn’t exactly sure why she’s here, so she puts on her clothes and walks downstairs.  Luckily, Of Mice and Men survived the massacre.  But only them.  Joy.   She recognizes Karen’s name, but we don’t get any details.  This is the start of Blade and Soul tipping its hand too heavily with Karen.  From this point on, the series will be REALLY in your face about “Oooo look how special snowflake she is!” while refusing to give you details because that equals drama to the simple minds who wrote this show.

The incident with Alka seems to have shaken Jin, and she’s quietly contemplating her “Impurity”.  But Femme Fatale is there and…you know what, fuck it. Embrace the Lesbians Are Evil trope! I’ll take it at this point, ANYTHING is a welcome distraction. Continue reading

Double Feature: Black Bullet 3+4

Holes, more holes in your body, which is totally not a yaoi joke.

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Black Bullet is a pleasant surprise that is quickly becoming the series I look forward to most.  With a few caveats, but we’ll get into those at the very end.  Because while there’s a few logical hiccups so far, it’s a good action series that carries you along without much complaint.

Rentaro is venting to our cute doctor, but she’s just bored, calling his problems average. She says all this to get him motivated and understand he is Enju’s family.

Nice feel good, but did we miss a scene? Why is this necessary when he said he’d search every block for her?

Enju shows up at her school, trying to force her peers to accept her humanity….but you didn’t honestly expect that to work, did you?  Ordinary Humans seem to regard Cursed Children as full Gastrea, and as we’ll later learn, they are indeed in danger of turning if their “blood toxicity” rises above a certain threshold.  It does seem a -little- harsh that not one of them is sympathetic, though maybe the ones on the fence are staying out of it, letting the loud obnoxious ones block her way.

In some good news, the case has been found.  Enju just dives right in, and relentlessly beat the flying spider thing like a boxing champion fighting a fat kid.

But her bravado turns out to be compensation, and she’s on the verge of tears, lamenting that she killed it in order to protect those she considered her friends at school, and she breaks down. Continue reading

Playing Catch Up: Noragami: Episodes 3 + 4

Nora…I’m going to look away for thirty seconds, and if things just happen to my body nobody will be to blame…please?

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Noragami begins its universe building this episode.  And it’s quite welcome.  The whole series has basically spent its collateral of gushy fun fun time.  But now it’s time to get into something so this doesn’t quickly become a forgettable piece.

While Yukine is learning about the harsh life he’ll be living with Yato, that is, hungry and cold all the time.  Yato resolves to settle the matter, and soon the pair are with Hiyori in a restaurant, the latter still demanding to know when Yato will handle her problem now that he has a regalia weapon. We learn here that Yato CAN be seen by Humans, but there is, to borrow Doctor Who terminology, a perception filter at work for the kami and their regalia (and presumably phantoms).  Your eyes naturally avoid them, but if they draw you to their presence, they will notice.

Yato is called in for a job.  He needs to whack a guy. Or several.

Cue the kami of knowledge, Tenjin.  There are a lot of good gags here with Yukine and Hiyori treating Tenjin like a REAL god and snubbing Yato.  Importantly, Tenjin informs Yukine that, as a regalia, he does not need to kneel. We’re starting to see the hierarchy here, how regalia are considered a “part” of their master, and are thus considered part of the same “social strata” if you will.

We also meet Mayu. Or, wasn’t her name Tomone? Yes, the regalia who quit Yato’s employ is now…a pipe? For Tenjin.  Tenjin of course uses all female regalia, the dirty, dirty old man.  But by taking on a new master, she acquires a new given name.

Tenjin actually has a job for Yato.  Mayu leads him to it, and it turns out it is just…killing phantoms.  Yato outright refuses, and we see some of his philosophy shine through. People who chose to die deserve what they get. But he gives in when Hiyori jumps in and Mayu points out Yato accepted payment in advance.

While we’ve toyed with the idea that Yato has a harder side, it really has come across mostly as “competent” than “hard”.  But this is the first time we have seen Yato’s lack of compassion, for lack of a better way to describe it.  But that’s not really what it is.  I’ll be explaining this more later.  But this is the first where Yato has seemed “apart” from Hiyori, and us the audience as fellow human beings.  His utter lack of pity here speaks to how deeply this strikes him.  Suicide corrupts the soul by acknowledging despair.

I am want to point out that we often hate the things in others we see in ourselves.  While suicide seems impossible for a kami…perhaps something that Yato was accessory to?

Yato explains that he couldn’t let people throw their lives away in front of the regalia.  Hiyori deduces that this means none of the regalia wanted to die at all. That they probably struggled until the bitter end.  Combined with what Yato may have seen in Yukine’s memory, it seems quite plausible that all regalia suffer from some bitter life that they still manage to hold out hope in.

I also like that Hiyori is able to piece this together without being blatantly told.  It would be very tiresome for her to just be the naive girl who kicks over the hornet’s nest with poignant observation.  But in being able to put this together, she shows promise that she will grow with this world. Continue reading