Double Feature: Death Parade 8+9

If I ran the toll booth at the River Styx…

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I am dreading how long this review will get.  Because we still have a lot of unfinished business with this series that the show seems to want to move away from.

Central to this story, beyond the characters that are introduced, is the function and facilitation of judgments.

In the past weeks, we’ve tried to discern what the “rules” are supposed to be.  For example, why does Machiko get sent to the eternal dark for sleeping with someone who wasn’t her BOYFRIEND (remember, they weren’t married yet, they had no “sacred vows” or anything), yet her husband, Takashi, is given a pass to reincarnate because he wants to throttle his WIFE.

Why does Miura and Mai’s game not feature any Arbiter dickery?

Why does Yousuke get reincarnated yet Misaki get eternal dark, when both were as sorrowful and regretful over their lives? Because Misaki hit Yousuke during the game? How is that different from Takashi literally BEGGING Decim to release him so he can “hit the bitch”? Maybe it’s because Misaki did it during the game, and the game is the only part that counts?  No, wait, we see from this week that isn’t true either.

In short the judgments so far have been very confounding. Perhaps that is the point, but this set of episodes is going to behave like there are ACTUAL rules here.  Rules that we REALLY should have an understanding of before the characters begin picking them apart.

Now we’ve understood the part about “drawing out the darkness” for some time.

But I always figured that it was a sort of “you don’t truly know someone until you fight them” motif.  Lots of people hate that phrase, but I subscribe to it. Perhaps more eloquently, “you don’t understand the content of a person’s character until they are your enemy”. The difference between the “good ex” who parts amicably and you still talk to, vs. “the bad ex” who texts you death threats for weeks and weeks following your break up. That sort of thing.

I always felt that was what was at play here.  Break someone down without social constraints restraining them, and see the true content of their soul when they have nothing to hide behind, no excuses to make.  See what a person must do when they are entirely self-contained emotionally and see their sides emerge.

But this story seems intent that, no, the darkness itself IS the scale we’re using. Which is an entirely different animal. Not only is that the opposite of a method that exposes someone’s base nature, it obfuscates everything about their personality.

Even Mr. Rogers on his worst day might not pass this test. WHATEVER THE HELL IT’S MEASURING.

There’s a lot more to say, but I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. Let’s examine the episode properly. Continue reading

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Madan no Ou to Vanadis: Act 3

AT&T sucks.

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Our blurb has nothing to do with anime today. Just expressing the past week of dealing with the internet.

Our cliffhanger was so many lies. The new priestess Battle Maiden almost instantly retreats.  Her “badass exchange” with Roland isn’t anything to really preen about either. (“Is this wall of light magic?” No shit, Roland.)

But it’s okay, honestly, as this plays into her archetype, as she was just buying time before vanishing like a ninja. Two things of story signifiance then happen (right?), we flashback that Roland is oh-so-obviously being misled about his King’s intentions. Seems the old guy’s been sick for a while, so his evil viziers are basically running the show. Coming on the heels of this is that a new minor lord has joined the fight on Tigre’s side, outflanking Roland and forcing him to pull back.

Seems our new lord, Mashas, met Sophia, the preistess Maiden, when she saved him from assassins.  They came here as a unit to tell us “the king’s off his rocker”.  Tigre is not recovering well from his wound. Follow this up with some harem nonsense.

Roland is having second thoughts. He’s clearly a cautious man, demonstrated by his tactics.  Studying the political landscape more thoroughly, he is told Tigre has no real affiliation to Zchted beyond their recent alliance. This raises his eyebrow, as does the information that Thernadier is moving troops against Tigre’s lands in his absence dealing with Roland. We all see where this going, but at least to mix it up, Roland is consistent with his position as a landless general in that he is more concerned of the presence of a foreign army in his kingdom than he gives a shit about the nobles’ game of thrones nonsense.

Tigre, meanwhile, has arisen from his bed, compelled by his weapon to find this…misty temple thing. The resident goddess possesses Titties, because sure. Even goddesses want Tigre’s dick.

Actually she’s presenting him with a test. Shoot Titties, gain unfathomable power.

Well rather than just NOT shoot her, Tigre has to kaio-ken his arrow to explode JUST as it reaches Titties, blowing away all of her clothes. Of course, of COURSE that’s what would happen. For whatever reason, Tigre passes her test.

Why? What did THAT show that just NOT shooting her would?  Unless she was specifically testing if he HAD that ability to control his power so delicately. But if it’s, as she says, just showing his resolve, how is shooting an arrow KNOWING it won’t kill Titties any different morally from just not shooting Titties? Continue reading

Inou -Battle: Act 3

I already told you, I don’t have any money! 

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So, Andou has a sister. I adore her because she kicks him. We need more of that in this series to offset the awfully cliche harem.

We’re getting some insights into Hatoko’s relationship with Andou this episode. They’ve been close for a very long time, arguably best friends, though we have had no inclination of this prior to this episode. Yeah, that’s what I’ve come to expect from you, Inou-Battle, just raise a plot point you never bothered to work on, and expect us to give a damn.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the Tomoyo stuff is actually MORE interesting because at least that stuff has something resembling a dramatic backstory. Tomoyo’s constant bitching about Andou’s fantasy-oriented head and the reveal she was an aspiring author, that’s what we call development, such as it is.

But the Hatoko stuff? It’s weighing this episode down like an anchor.

And THEN she goes crazy, because wimminz, Amirite?

No, I’m gonna count. Three minutes. That’s 180 seconds. Of Hatoko screaming her crazy pet peeves about how Andou doesn’t appreciate her company.

We then follow it up by showing us the foreshadowing to this meltdown….after the meltdown.

Tomoyo? You’re fucking doomed if you’re being taught to write by the people who wrote this shit.

And more cliche harem drama. You know how it is.  Andou thinks for a moment that he was a bother to one of his harem hens, and the other harem hens slap him out of it, because no, NO harem hen could be unhappy with Andou’s penis!

The one saving grace of this episode is the return of Vampire-senpai.

This is, quite literally, the worst episode we’ve had. At least we’re more than halfway through this crap. Continue reading

Knights of Sidonia: Episode 9

I will protect Izana’s frog face!

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Opening this week’s recap, I have to say the recap does something good. Right? But the way the sequence is fitted together, it establishes the Benisizume (the elite Gauna Hoshijiro that killed six people) as Tanikaze’s opposite and equal, a rather elegant framing of this dynamic, to be sure. And looking at it that way, it just might be the reason this fight happened. Benisizume retreats after making a statement, and this was a good recap that didn’t just feel like rehash.

Tanikaze has been summoned.  The specimen portion of the Hoshijiro frame he killed has been calling his name, unfortunately their first session is terminated after she strikes at the glass separating them. But, as Numi, the scientist studying her, points out, they still don’t actually know enough about the Gauna to be sure it was her trying to attack, and not trying to satisfy curiosity.   But in the bar, Tanikaze is despondent, not really getting into the chat the other pilots are holding, saying they’ll need to redress their tactics if the Gauna can fight like Humans now.

Kunato is taking a leave of absence, probably after wetting his pants at his dead squadmate tormenting him. And wouldn’t you know it Ochiai’s brain is housed beneath his family’s manor. The captain’s entourage is here.

And, oh snap, Ochiai’s brain isn’t being stored somewhere safe, his body is actually allowed to walk around.  They just strap him in and blast him with this device that looks like a Rube Goldberg Tesla coil.

Speaking of things begging to end in tears, the Emigration movement was successful, some 100,000 people wish to embark Sidonia and take their chances.  Apparently, despite the fact they all know they are in a region of heavy Gauna activity, the Emigrants think that if they forego the Kabizashi that the Gauna won’t attack them.

Sure. Because that’s totally why they destroyed Humanity in the first place, right? No, wait, we didn’t find the Kabi substance until 400 years after that.

I can certainly understand the theory of “safer”.  But planting an immobile colony on the Gauna’s doorstep? There must be a better alternative to this nonsense. I just see this going down like the Crystalline Entity in Star Trek, Gauna just swallowing a defenseless planet of farmers and nothing anyone can do about it.

But like it or not, it IS Sidonia law that any request greater than 50,000 people must be accommodated. And I do like that there’s SOME democratic process on the Sidonia.  It may be martial law most of the time, but they still have their principles.

But Tanikaze doesn’t give a fuck. Not about current events, not about training, not even about FOOD. Holy shit, anime protagonist not caring about food? We’re off the edge of the map here, people. Anything could happen. Continue reading

Blade and Soul: Episode 9

Oh, the irony.

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This will likely be the last time I discuss this series, but I did want to make mention of something here in light of how things have fallen elsewhere. Sure, there’s some plot and drama before and after this, but it is so generic Blade and Soul Bad that it really isn’t worth belaboring.

No, here, we have praise to discuss yet again. I know! Twice  in a single series, amazeballs.

The teaser is simple. Karen is in her room getting laid, but it is a very subdued, even cold affair.  The camera lingers over a wedding photo…wait that’s a pretty photo-realistic picture. You lose points from the Butterfly wanted poster, show.  Whatever man she’s using for sex shyly leaves with Karen staring out the window, very aloof. It all lasts maybe 20 seconds but it establishes Karen’s mood quite well, as this episode evolves her character quite a bit.

A lot has actually happened in the previous episode from the plot side of things. Alka met up with Yuu, the little furry sage boy? And he seems to have found a way to penetrate her hard shell. She isn’t exactly the milk of human kindness yet, but the person who pissed Loana off by not alluding to emotion doesn’t exist anymore.  Yuu, also, may have been a boy, but as we’ve established that is not armoring against this show’s Reverse Refrigerator Syndrome, so he did die. Alka managed to kill Jin in revenge, but has struck out on her own.

We catch up with her getting a new job, but now, as opposed to earlier in the series when she would just take the contract because that was her code, now she’s probing for information about the job, and unsatisfied, leaves it on the table, so to speak. The old man who wants to hire her is shocked. A Sword Clan who won’t kill is useless.  She eventually meets up with Karen, who offers her a job.  Suspicious, but at this point, with Jin (apparently) dead it doesn’t raise too many questions now that the main heat is off, as opposed to her stance that trouble not be brought to her inn earlier in the series. Continue reading

Akuma no Riddle: Episode 9

Getting better, I’ll grant you that.

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With the KILL la KILL post RIGHT there, this is an auspicious time to approach this episode.  Because strangely, we find ourselves with parallels between Tokaku and Ryuko. And with about the same level of warm feelings coming from me.

We flashback to Tokaku’s birth, seeing her receive her name from her grandmother.  It apparently means “impossible”, referring to the sensation she is to instill in her enemies when they see her strength. Tokaku’s mother and aunt are sharing how they want Tokaku to be free from the curse of the Azuma clan.  They don’t want the next generation to be murderers like themselves, and we flashforward a few years to that scene we’ve seen so often about how “whenever you want to kill, think of this place”.

Back in the real world, Haru escapes Banba by…throwing her phone? Really? That’s what catches her off balance? I guess, if we want to be generous, we could say Banba isn’t really trying. She’s drawing this out as long as she can. And to her credit, Banba is laughing her ass off every time Haru manages to sneak by.  It’s a very cat-and-mouse attitude towards this “assassination”.  And, having seen through to episode 11, there may be other reasons that we’ll get to then. >.>  But for now it’s still working.

But the good bit is that Banba’s taunting is matched with flashbacks of herself (supposedly the Mahiru personality) as a child pounding on a huge metal door to be let out, all with Shinya saying “You’ll never ever escape,” to Haru.  Banba’s story isn’t going to be addressed directly, rather through these flashbacks, where we get to fill in the details. Admittedly, it does seem a little dark, very likely the child porn route.  Eventually, Banba escapes, which is where she gets that scar across her face, by killing one of the men who was taking pictures of her.

This is a more subdued element of backstory. It is the halfway point between what we are used to, and the way Kirigaya exited the show with no insight into her life. And really these exist as a Chekov’s Gun towards the end of the episode. Continue reading

Sakura Trick: Episode 9

All of my warm fuzzies.

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I originally hit the “play” button on Sakura Trick this week mostly out of obligation, but leave it to this show to fix my bad mood.  Well, lifting my spirits for a time, I can’t say it cures all of my cynicism. But then again no weapon could ever do that.

This show messes with the established format this week, in more ways than one. The first is it is divided into three, rather than two parts.  Not exactly groundbreaking but it did catch me off guard.

The second is that none of these little stories is exactly what we’ve come to regard as normal. The first part more so than the rest and it really shows.

It’s New Year’s Eve and Haruka calls Yuu on her cell to chat with her.  Just to hear her voice, she says.  Though her subversive goal becomes clear that she wants to be the very first person Yuu wishes a “Happy New Year” to.  This is one of those Japanese holiday customs that is slightly off-base, but whereas this might normally be a source of confusion, since it is not the focus it isn’t distracting at all and there is plenty to latch onto to understand why this is important to Haruka without needing the exact details of the past 100 years of Japanese cultural identity to get the point.

And the surprise: That’s all this episode is.  It is the pair on the phone with each other one night before a big holiday, just a day in the life.  While that sounds boring on paper, the camera cutting between the two, and Mitsuki’s interruptions, with POV shifting at just the right times, makes two high school girls on the phone really damn engaging, when usually having to listen to such might make you want to reconsider your opinion on whether or not we should classify murder as a misdemeanor.

I even recommend this if your experience with the series is light because it is a great microcosm of the Yuu-Haruka relationship, which has to be the thing that carries this part of the show, the chemistry between these two (and later, Mitsuki’s dynamic thrown in).

There is a concept in metaphysics about the division of your actions.  The two sides (much like Yin and Yang) are the Sei and the Do.  Sei is your rational brain. Sei can see the red hot burner on your stove, and knows what that means. It is a trained process you have.  Military color guards are exhibiting immense Sei energy, they are calculating exactly their movements and pin-point precision to pull them off because it is the object of their undivided attention.  Do, on the other hand, is when your hand brushes over the burner and the sensation of the heat causes you to recoil instinctively.  It is reflex, your gut.  A person who, despite having no training, can pick up a tennis racket and beat his instructor in his very first practice match is exhibiting Do energy.

And that is very much the relationship our main couple has found themselves in.  This has always been apparent, but this week it is almost an exhibition in this dynamic, rather than being an underlying theme.  Yuu asks why Haruka called, thinking there is a process. Haruka answers she wanted to hear Yuu’s voice, an impulse.

Now, the whole “conflict” this episode is, Yuu is being summoned by her parents to spend the last half hour of the year (before midnight and Jan 1) with her family and share their traditional yearly meal (Haruka responds her family just finishes the leftovers from Christmas.  While a cute line, it says a lot about where Haruka got her “go with the flow” attitude, and also reinforces the point of structure vs. impulse).  Haruka wants to be the first person Yuu says “Happy New Year” to and refuses (mostly) to acknowledge that Yuu’s family unit isn’t primarily…well…her.

Which is perfect in casting Haruka as the Do personality.  More than just impulse, it demonstrates Haruka’s baser nature.  Yuu has, despite her ditzy personality and rather thick skull, been the level headed one here.  If Haruka had been the safety manager in this relationship, they’d have been discovered months ago (and judging by the timing here, it has been nine months since they got together.)  But even more than that, Haruka is exhibiting a nature as base instinct.  She is very much, and I mean no disrespect or insult here, like an animal with her impulses. My needs, my desires, my status.  She barely even acknowledges Yuu’s family exists, let alone that they might have some “claim” to her over some girl who, as far Yuu’s family is concerned, is just a kid she goes to school with. Continue reading

Noragami: Episode 9

Foul, I call foul.

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In a Strike the Blood opening, we undo that last little scene from last episode with Daikoku letting Hiyori inside the barrier to be purified.  But for Yato, the situation is much more grim and saving him will require a complicated ritual of some kind, and he sets off to find two more regalia to help him with the purification.

He even threatens to kill Yukine if he takes a step. Yeah, you show him!

In one of the more pointless bits of fanservice, we see Kofuku filling a tub with her showerhead, which is fed from her sacred spring.  Then the next scene Hiyori is naked and using the showerhead directly because…because she has a great body and spirit clothing is easy to get off. I guess.

Doikoku’s first stop is Tenjin’s shrine, where Mayu offers her help.  She may have despised working for Yato, but she doesn’t want him dead.  But the others are afraid of the fact that a purification is a fatal procedure if done wrong.

Hiyori overhears this on the phone and…where did you find a payphone Daikoku? Sorry that’s just a weird moment…I mean we can’t find a third regalia, but we found a pay phone.  That’s like being able to find a leprechaun’s pot of gold, but not your car keys.

Anyway Hiyori naturally takes matters into her own hands.  Impressively, she doesn’t try to find Nora, knowing she’d probably just kill Yukine.  And Hiyori wants everyone to come through this alive.  A little bit of a parallel to Yato’s gamble with the schoolboy last episode.  It’s all or nothing, happy ending or bust.

Disregarding Kazuma’s warning, she heads for Bishamonten’s shrine, looking for him specifically.

Everyone has been insisting Yukine must be destroyed. And here Kazuma asks one last time for Yato to release Yukine from his bond, which Yato refuses. Continue reading

Nobunagun: Episode 9

Author’s note: The next few reviews have been delayed, but I can’t put them off anymore, because my life has been hectic and depressing of late.  Some of my sour mood will probably spill over.  So take these opines with a grain of salt.

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This weeks Nobunagun demonstrated the aspect of human nature that craves and idolizes that which it cannot have. A look into the psyche about not always getting what you want.

Yes I’m referring to the audience, why do you ask?

Nobunagun finally played the Asao-san card.  And…I know I’ve been yelling for this for weeks…but…in the end, I think Nobunagun was too certain of its own conclusions to actually get what they wanted out.  This isn’t even about the blow to our yuri-goggles this week, but that just compounds the frustration.

We begin with Shio waking in a hospital.  Apparently the Commander gave Shio one day in the hospital in her native country as a favor.  We know it’s only one day because St. Germain is here to tell Shio she’s back on active duty TOMORROW.

God I hope the plane fare was worth it.  Seems like you could have treated her on-site and she’d be fixed before the plane even landed if all she has is a sprained ankle.  Well at least DOGOO is as competent in its fiscal division as research or combat.

Now, in what are probably the first shots fired for the conclusion of the series, it seems that the Evos have been launching a total attack. Everywhere. All at once.   They know the jig is up on their main base, so in order to buy time they are throwing everything they can at Humanity.  DOGOO is holding, so there’s no critical disasters yet, but neither will Team1 and Team2 be receiving any backup when they launch their final attack on the tunnel-base. Things are just stretched to the limit right now.

It turns out what the Evos are guarding is very likely some version of stem-cells. Suddenly Evo evolution is completely synonymous with Earth evolution, which is how we determined this. See, Vidocq deduces that since the guard Evo was a squid type, and several of the kaiju they’ve sent at the mainland has been vertebrate, that there must be a source material that allows the Evos to go in either direction.  A sort of genetic forge where they turn out the latest and greatest models of cars, boats, AND planes.

Of course there are several explanations that might just as easily fit, say, Evos can reproduce down caste lines and evolve between generations, but we will give them the benefit of the doubt on this one that they actually know this based on dissection, and not just by looking at a picture and saying “must be.” Continue reading