Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Lovely Idol 3

This episode dives right into the action: a pajama party! The girls are dancing around on the bed, falling off, thinking about how they’ll soon be Lovedols and famous and singing their little animated hearts out. Ruri, Tomohiro’s sister, has just joined, and pretty much admits that she’s completely talentless, and her only goal is to help her bother be a good manager. The other girls don’t seem at all bothered by this. They just want Mizuki to come hurry up and join them, so they can have their damn debut.

Mizuki, meanwhile, goes home. I originally thought that maybe she was homeless, but she actually lives in a tiny one-room apartment, sans decoration or personality, where I bet she plans all her revenge. She keeps thinking about what Tomohiro offered her: to help her achieve that same revenge. She should definitely take him up on that offer.

The next day the five girls go to a pastry shop to meet Chocorat, two members of the first generation of the Lovedols. Chocorat, to tell the truth, is actually two girls, and they seem to dance around as Twin Maid Unit or something, and Hina, one of the new girls, is their little sister. Chocorat give the new girls general advice on being famous, like “don’t shave your hair off to avoid drug tests,” and “don’t swing umbrellas at cars.” Then they invite them to a special “secret concert.” Simultaneously, Mizuki is at home practicing her songs, but she’s still thinking about what Tomohiro said to her. Or maybe she’s constipated. Anyway, as I mentioned last time, everyone can tell that there’s someone (or something?) that she wants to receive her music, and Tomohiro can help her achieve that. She walks to her desk, where his card is resting, but she throws it away. I’m sure it’s only because her own plans for revenge are so far along that any interference would be ruinous.

The next scene shows a line of people holding tickets to get into a little concert hall. Inside, the girls are watching Chocorat practice and clap politely when they finish. Chocorat and their manager (Aneki) go backstage to get ready, and the new girls look wistfully at the stage. Tomohiro promises them that one day they will get a stage of their own, but everyone knows that he’s lying.

Back to Mizuki, who’s just recling on her bed. I don’t imagine that she has much of a life. She sleeps, wakes up, practices, plots her revenge, and then sings about it. She finally notices the bag that Tomohiro gave her and dumps everything out on her bed. Inside there’s a ticket to the Chocorat concert. Dumbfouned, Mizuki stares at it. Will this help her achieve revenge?

Backstage at the theater, Chocorat are getting dressed, but Aneki is freaking out because she forgot their maid costumes! Some old guy offers to go collect them from the warehouse (because who wants to see girls sing and dance in their normal clothes?) but that will delay the show, which everyone knows in Japan is completely unacceptable. It’s true.

And Mizuki lays on her bed and stares at the ticket.

Aneki runs at Tomohiro and demands that he think of something to stall the crowd whilst Chocorat get their costumes and get dressed. They toss about various ideas until someone suggests: hey, let the new girls sing to warm up the crowd! The girls suddenly get shy and start to hesitate, but Hina says that she just wants to help her sisters and asks the other girls to lend her their strength. This part makes me feel strange and uncomfortable and I don’t want to write about it any more, so let’s just say that the girls are going to sing some songs from the first batch of Lovedols, but another problem comes up. The songs were written for six girls, but they are only five. Tomohiro looks worried, but he suddenly slaps his forehead and runs down the hall. Naturally, he runs into Mizuki, who’s descending the stairs to the theater. She angrily says that she only came to return the ticket, but Tomohiro isn’t standing for that, and he grabs her hand and yanks her after him.

In the theater, the lights go dark, and everyone starts clapping. We see some of the girls standing nervously, but they turn around and see two more dragging Mizuki after them. Watching this, I’m flabbergasted. Why did Tomohiro and the rest waste so much time trying to convince her to join, since all it apparently would have taken was force?

The girls stand on stage, the lights go up, and everyone starts to boo, as one can expect. I mean, if you pay money to see two girls singing dressed up as maids, you better fucking well see two girls singing dressed up as maids. Nevertheless, they start singing, and the boos begin to turn into cheers. The girls start to smile, and even Mizuki, who looks pretty reluctant, begins to surrender to the sweet siren call of pop stardom.

Afterward, they’re sitting in a dressing room, still feeling pretty good about their performance. Mizuki is sitting off by herself, but the girls all stand up and start to ruminate on how wonderful it would be to have her join them. Aneki comes in and says that Chocorat want the girls to come back to the stage. Mizuki, being hateful or something, hangs back, but the other girls just grab her and they all run out. Tomohiro is left all by himself, but Ruri comes back and says something cute.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Bleach 125

So, last we left Ichigo, Reverse Ichigo had just stabbed him a little bit. I’m really not too worried, since people get stabbed every other episode on this show and nothing bad ever happens to them, but I suppose I’ll play along just this once and pretend that I’m dreadfully worried.

Ichigo, the stabbed one, zones out into another vision, and immediately Zaraki Kenpachi attacks him. I have to admit that Zaraki is one of my favorite characters, what with the unmitigated love for battle. The problem is that Ichigo already defeated him a while back, and that without having a bankai. This naturally means that Zaraki can’t take on any of the new powerful arrancar because he’s just too weak, which pretty much guarantees that he will gain a bankai later in the show, and that’s going to be pretty freakin’ sweet. I can imagine it now: he’ll try fighting the arrancar but get well trounced, and the arrancar will laugh at him or turn its back and say something like, “We know you don’t have a bankai. Just die now, okay?” And then Zaraki will say, “Ha!” and then kill him with his amazing new bankai.

Anyway, the illusory Zaraki attacks Ichigo, and Ichigo jumps away. Ichigo yells that they’ve finished their fight, and Zaraki replies that the fight continues for as long as you live. Ichigo then counters that they have no reason to fight, but Zaraki, in true Lincoln-Douglas debate style, ripostes that they don’t need a reason to fight. I can live with that, but Zaraki isn’t done yet: one who desires power (like Ichigo) desires fights! Ichigo will only gain the power he needs in the hot crucible of battle. Now the Japanese symbol (kanji? someone?) for “battle” flashes across the screen and Ichigo thinks back to past battle. I feel something dramatic coming on.

Ichigo’s vision ends and he returns to battle with Richigo. He takes the sword poking out of his stomach and poses a bit and taiko drum music starts playing. He glowers at Richigo and flies straight at him. Seems that he’s accepted his destiny, which is to fight, and fight, and then fight some more.

We cut to the real world, where the Vizard have been busy distracting Ichigo’s body. By now it’s fully transformed into a very powerful and impressive Hollow, complete with mask and Ichigo’s sword. Hollow Ichigo starts to fire a cero, and Love, the Vizard fighting him, begins to put on his own mask to counter it. That’s when Hollow Ichigo pauses, and his skin starts to crack open, complete with spurting red blood. Hiyori has Love pulled out of the little protective square where they’ve been fighting Hollow Ichigo. We return to Ichigo’s inner world. He’s stabbed Richigo, who starts dissolving away into the air. Richigo admits defeat but leaves behind a vague threat, which is basically all he has left at this point, but somehow, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of him!

We go back to the real world. The Hollow skin falls off of Ichigo and all that’s left is his new, nifty mask, complete with Hollow™ powers. Everyone smiles a lot.

Change of scene. Inoue Orihime is walking down the street moping about Ichigo. She can still sense his reiatsu, but knows to leave well enough alone. She suddenly realizes how pathetic she’s being and tries to think happy thoughts, but fails miserably at that, too. Before Orihime can commit suicide her neighbor accosts her and demands to know what’s up with her new roommates.

Orihime runs up to her room to find that Captain Hitsugaya and Matsumoto have installed a big widescreen TV. I’d be pleased, and not just because Matsumoto was living with me, but Orihime flips out. That’s when the TV thing turns on to show the Captain-Commander of the Thirteen Protection Squads, and we enter Exposition Mode, and we finally find out the evil Aizen’s True Goal.

It turns out that Soul Society, like any decent and just society, has a King. He’s a mere figurehead, he leaves the rest of Soul Society to run itself, and he lives in his own separate dimension and everything seems to run pretty well. The only way to reach the King’s dimension is by using the King’s Key, and before he left Aizen was busy researching how to make such a key. This process involves the sacrifice of one hundred thousand souls, and in this case those souls will come from Karakura Town, where Ichigo and Orihime live! Gasp!

Now I had to stop to wonder: how did the Soul Society people make their first key? Did they sacrifice an earlier bunch of people? Maybe not, but they do seem like the kind of society that justifies means with ends and all that. In any case, they can’t let Aizen make his own King’s Key, because then he could presumably kill the King, which I further presume would be catastrophic.

Orihime starts blubbering something about not letting all this happen, and the Captain-Commander assures that it won’t, because the Thirteen Protection Squads are hard core and dedicated. Matsumoto looks over her shoulder at Orihime and smirks. I think it’s supposed to be reassuring, but I’m not unconvinced that she’s hoping that Orihime will be the first to die horribly. The Captain-Commander sends Orihime off to tell Ichigo everything. Matsumoto jiggles off as well, and Captain Hitsugaya is left alone with the Captain Commander. The old guy steps aside and reveals Hinamori Momo, Toshiro’s best buddy and Aizen’s former lieutenant, who he stabbed, because he’s evil.

We leave their dramatic conversation until the next episode, for we suddenly cut to Yasutora Sado fighting Renji’s bankai. They’re training, naturally, and we cut to Ishida dodging his father’s arrows. They’re training too. Orihime is the only one not training, but she’s running desperately down an alley to find Ichigo.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Death Note 5

No snippets from last episode, as we dive right into the action in episode five. Or rather, the aftermath of the action. Ray Penbar conveniently asks Light not to tell anyone that a super secret FBI agent was present during the bus hijacking. Light's beard, who was also privy to this info, is conveniently forgotten, or perhaps dealt with offscreen. Penbar goes home to his wife, who raises questions about his presence coinciding with what I'm fairly sure is a rare crime (who robs a bus?). Turns out she's ex-FBI herself, and the bureau got the short end of the Penbar exchange. In an astounding display of chauvinism, Ray puts her in her place, assuring her that he's the supercool FBI agent in this family, that he would know if he'd just shared a bus with Kira, and all but tells her "soon you'll be so busy making babies and sammiches, you'll forget you'd ever done anything else." I have now forgotten why I felt any sympathy for this guy before. I want to shower him with hatorade™.

And now, dramatic reveal! Light, cleverly disguised as "Light in a hoodie," ambushes Penbar and makes the dangerous gamble of revealing that he is Kira. It works, and believably so. If you were in this anime, and someone came up behind you claiming that they were Kira and would kill you if you turned around, would you? Hell no. At this point in the anime, no one knows how Light kills. He could have a death gaze, or think you dead, or telekinetically crush your heart. Even if you apprehended him, how could you be sure to prevent him from killing you? The only defense is to keep your face and/or name secret, and Penbar was hardly walking around with a mask on. Heh, the best part of this scene is that it all happens in a public train station. Light talks out loud to Ryuk about his experiments in murder, then accosts and threatens Penbar. And, of course, he has to prove his power, so he kills someone on the platform. Light kinda sucks at bluffing, really, but then how good do you have to be when you're holding a royal flush? We're seeing a pattern, though. Light easily becomes complacent, thinking power is all he needs, and doesn't utilize his intellect to its full potential.

So, what happens to Penbar? He dies, of course. It was him or Light, and it's pretty rare that the main character dies at all, let alone this early. I'd spill the details, but it's such an amazing scene that you really have to see it for yourself. It's worth buying the DVD, whenever that comes out, for this scene alone. I mean, assuming you pay less than $20 for it. No anime is worth $30 for 3-4 episodes. Feh. Anyways, I'll probably mention it again in a future review, as the specifics of his death tie into a couple running themes. So if you're deadset on "watching" this series solely in recaps, you won't miss too much.

The L/Police conflict comes to a head after the director of the FBI rats out L for investigating his so-called allies. This revelation doesn't appear to be delivered with malicious intent, but you have to wonder why he does it. Professional courtesy? I suppose they would've found out eventually, what with all the snappily-dressed bodies lying around. L's being thwarted at every turn, and Light's hardly trying. The FBI investigation is over, the cops are pissed at L and quitting in droves to avoid death by Kira, everything's going swimmingly. Light's dad makes like a paladin, vowing to hunt down and punish naughty ol' Kira regardless of the very real threat to his own life. Light echoes Dad's sentiments, though they don't sound as impressive on the rebound. "If anything happens to you, I'll catch me and send me to my execution personally!" Uh huh, sure. Sir Yagami challenges the rest of the police to stand up to Kira in classic paladin style. The penalty for backing down? Nothing. The reward for continuing to pursue Kira and probably dying as a result? Um, honor! Yeah, for honor. Do the right thing. Throw a trash can through a window. Huzzah! The Yagami Challenge, which at some point was probably a Japanese gameshow involving octopi and genital shocks, reduces the Kira Investigation Team (Go, KIT!) to six, just enough for a Baldur's Gate party. Aw, yeah! Light: Lawful Evil, likes to solo. L: Chaotic Good, hates godmoders.

Penbar's widow gets her investigate on, figuring out in, like, two seconds that Kira was on that bus and has to be along the bus route somewhere. More from her next episode. Another cop quits, and L meets with the diminished KIT, revealing his identity in a gentler and arguably less risky way. Now is time for pseudo-psychological profiling! L is predisposed toward pleasure without shame, a subservient personality who pushes people away with blunt honesty lest they get too close. He'd be an awesome friend (or more, if he's your type), but it's an uphill battle getting past his defenses. Light is a control freak, corruptible in the extreme. Give him power and he goes mad. He's all about pain and dominating, and isn't interested in a relationship that doesn't involve the other person serving him. It's possible he's asexual, believing himself above such concerns. If anything's scarier than a guy who can kill you with a notebook, it's a guy who isn't interested in sex. Talk about twisted. Next episode: ZOMG, it's L!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Eureka 7: Episode 1

You know how some people cut themselves? Well, I watch Eureka 7. Basically the same principle.

The series starts in the sky. LFOs (mechs) fly through it for no apparent reason, and after a little babble from a character named, Stoner, missiles follow them. The team's leader, Holland, makes short work of the shooter, cutting him in half with a sword. That's right, the giant, flying machines use swords instead of lasers or missiles. If you have to know why, stop watching now. The show makes stabs at explaining it's mythos throughout the series, but none of it makes sense. "The adjective nouns employ almost-science-word to verb some other noun, in order to verb the bad things." I foresee myself skipping entire scenes just so I don't get bogged down in the logistics of pure bullshit.

Next, we meet our pubescenty hero, Renton. And I really wish we didn't have to. By episode 13, we'll all want him dead. His room is full of posters. Not of hot women-folk, but of people snowboarding in the sky. His radio talks of more verbs and nouns, which excites the young boy of 14. He's jump-cutted outside onto a little motor-bike, and takes off. Some dude fixes up his airboard and tells Renton that a 'cut-back-drop-turn,' a super-cool move one does on an airboard, is impossible for someone of Renton's age and basic intelligence. Here, we learn that Renton has a boy-crush on Holland, a famous airboard guy and a character from the first scene. One day, Renton hopes to be just like Holland. Which means in a few episodes, Holland will be revealed to be a total dick. I've seen anime before.

At school, a teacher attempts to explain something. The important thing is, Renton's dad was someone famous. A big guy in the field of bullshit science. A while back, bad things happened. Today, they call the badness period, "The Summer of Love." 'Cause it's ironical. The one who ended the Summer of Love? Renton's dad. Then something explodes next to the classroom. What? Why? Got me. Renton hits a kid for making fun of his father, and we cut to a new scene.

On the roof, Renton flashbacks to a few years ago when his sister left him to look for their father. She tells him, "If you can really believe, then the power of your belief will become reality. That means you can fly, save the people you love, and meet me whenever you want." She then gives Renton a compact drive; a vibrator looking device that glows green. It makes Renton smile.

Later, back in class, Renton's teacher tells Renton's grandfather, that Renton is kinda dumb. Despite his father being a great war hero, they'll probably have to kick him out for being too stupid. Over dinner, Grandpa weeps for having to take care of his orphaned, idiot grandson.

Renton bikes to a spot to airboard, or "Lift" as the show calls it. "As long as I can lift, there's no problem." So, of course, the only place in town to lift explodes just as he arrives. Litterally, it blows up. It's been fenced in and put aside for military training. Renton should really just kill himself.

As Renton and his grandfather fight over how useless Renton is, a little pilot in her LFO begins to crash over their home. The fight continues outside as the LFO does that cut-back-drop-turn thing, just before slamming into the house, next to the garage the family runs. We learn that this LFO is the 'ultimate' version, "Nirvash Type Zero." The pilot slowly gets out of her cockpit (giggle) and asks that someone fixes her LFO. Apparently, they aren't supposed to crash into houses.

Renton pokes around the Nirvash, spouting techno-nonsense, as Eureka, the little pilot, walks up and asks for a flamethrower. Renton shakes the blushing out of his cheeks, and asks her what's wrong. She explains that since she wrecked the place, she thought she should help out. [more bullshit goes here] Eureka walks away to get the flamethrower, and Renton finally figures out that that's an odd thing to ask for. He runs outside to find Eureka has gathered his belongings from his crushed room in a pile to burn them. Wackiness does in fact ensue.

Near by, the pilots we saw in the opening scene watch the wackiness as it ensues. We learn that Holland knows Renton's grandpa, but they don't really want to talk. So, they spy, as is normal when you don't want to talk to someone. Apparently, they sent Eureka in to avoid unpleasantness. I'm not really paying attention at this point. Probably shouldn't have admitted that... anyway.

Grandpa is all hip to the game, though. He produces a device, saying that it must be why Eureka's here. Afterwards, he orders her to leave and never come back. As soon as he's done, missiles fly for the shop. Eureka grabs the controls and drives off. Yeah, they drive, too. So, the military is attacking Eureka, because her and Holland are a part of this group called, "Gekko State." They're a little Robin-Hood-and-his-Merry-Men, but with more killing and flying through the sky.

As the Nirvash defends itself in the sky, Grandpa hands the device to Renton. It's something called an "Amita Drive," and Renton is to somehow get it to Eureka. The amita drive will "awaken the LFO to its true abilities." That's the most straight-forward explanation of things we may ever get in this show.

Renton bikes as fast as he can towards a cliff, monologuing to his sister about belief and stuff and how he's going to fly. Once over the cliff, Renton realizes he's an idiot and falls to a jaggedy death. Well, I wish. It's like those old film serials where death is eminent at the end of each one, only to have everyone smiling and joking at the start of the next. Sadly, he'll be fine.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bleach 124

Ichigo is inside his soul, or spirit, or just somewhere dark and dank, and Reverse Ichigo attacks him and says that he's now Zangetsu, the personification of Ichigo's sword. Ichigo isn't having that, see, and he releases his bankai. Reverse Ichigo (Richigo?) surprises everyone by releasing his own bankai, and he seems to use it pretty well. Ichigo is incredulous. Where did Richigo learn to use bankai? Ichigo must assume that Richigo sits around in his soul all day reading manga and eating Hot Pockets. Richigo answers that he learned to use bankai at the same time Ichigo did.

Now things get weird, and that's to be somewhat expected because we're inside Ichigo's soul, after all. But there's good weird and there's just okay weird, and this unfortunately is just okay weird, and then later on becomes bad weird. I'll explain in a bit.

Ichigo deflects a big attack from Richigo. He closes his eyes (in fear!) and reopens them to see that he's back in Soul Society. Beautiful pink blossoms float gently by his face, and he whirls about to see Kuchiki Byakuya, one of Soul Society's most powerful captains. I like to call him the Captain of Nonchalance, which makes him the Captain of My Heart. I'd put a little heart symbol there, but I can't. Anyway, Byakuya makes a few cryptic remarks about how confused Ichigo seems and releases his own bankai. This all looks like a much earlier episode: same characters, same location, same fight, but the animation isn't recycled. It's new and shiny. Byakuya cuts the mountain in half on top of Ichigo and tells him that he isn't really using bankai. Ichigo naturally can't make any sense of this. He's just that dense, even though I'm yelling something at the screen that I can't quite remember now. Why can't TV characters ever hear me?

So Ichigo is falling toward some jagged rocks (with their jags) when Byakuya appears under him. He prepares for his final attack, cracks the earth under him with the force of his insouciance, and flies up to stick Ichigo with his sword!

We never see the attack. Ichigo deflects Richigo's blade instead. Richigo seems to be enjoying himself, but Ichigo wants to end the fight quickly and fires off getsuga tenshou. To everyone's (no one's?) surprise, Richigo blocks it with one hand. He then comes up real close to Ichigo and releases his own getsuga tenshou, and everything blows up. Rocks fly up into the air and the screen turns red, and I think that's what happened when the dinosaurs died.

New scene, back in the real world. Lisa, the best Vizard, leaps into a spinning handstand and delivers a series of wicked kicks to Hollow Ichigo's head. Follow all the Ichigos? There's real Ichigo. There's Reverse Ichigo, who I assume is his id, and then there's Hollow Ichigo, who just appears to be a mindless shell whilst Ichigo and Richigo battle for control. Hollow Ichigo also howls and screeches a lot. It's spooky. So Lisa kicks him a few times until he blocks her and then goes on the attack, but she's cool, so she easily evades and counter-attacks.

Another Vizard, Kensei, replaces her. He has short gray hair, cargo pants, and his zanpaktou looks like a little knife. Maybe he has some matches and a fishing line in there.

Back inside Ichigo, Richigo explains that he was the one who first used getsuga tenshou, and Ichigo has just been copying him, and badly at that. He grabs Ichigo's sword and it changes color, falls apart. Ichigo gasps, and then he spaces out again. He turns around to see, of all people, Kariya Jin. I don't really want to talk about this part. Jin, if you simply must know, was the leader of the Bounto, during the terrible filler arc a while back. I'll just say that Jin tells Ichigo that all battles are futile because they only leads to more battles. Ichigo also realizes that his sword, Zangetsu, has been inside of him this whole time.

Meanwhile, Kensei is fighting Hollow Ichigo. Hollow Ichigo really is turning into a Hollow, what with the mask and the weird arm and even weirder attacking mouth-thing that flies out to bite Kensei. Kensei blows it away, and outside the shield Lisa extemporizes that Ichigo must surpress his inner Hollow within an hour. If he doesn't, then it will be her turn to fight him again. She looks pretty good, determined, in her glasses, with the wind blowing her hair about.

Moving quickly past the Jin scene, Richigo tells the stunned Ichigo about an adorable king and his horse. See, all things being equal, the only factor that determines whether one is the king, or whether one is the horse, is instinct. The stronger person seeks more battle to gain more power (sort of like leveling up, right?). The stronger person lives to destroy their enemies (now it's like my workplace). Richigo has that instinct. Ichigo does not. He tries to think his way through battles, and then he feels bad afterwards and sends the loser a "get well" card, I bet.

To prove the point Richigo throws his sword right through Ichigo. He simply isn't going to stand being the horse anymore. He starts to pull out his sword, but Ichigo suddenly has an epiphany and grabs the sword. It changes color and Richigo jumps away. Ichigo's eyes start to glow and he mutters, "Instinct." What could this mean?

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Elfen Lied: Episode 6

Bando opens his new eyes, to a yellow hue on everything. He twitches the fingers on his new robotic hand, and hasn't attempted to murder anyone yet. A personal best. A doctor hands him some pain pills in a blister pack, explaining, "After this, you'll be undergoing the sterilization procedure." So, they went with my microwave idea. Bando asks the doctor how much his new hand can withstand, learning it can hold about 110 lbs. and is otherwise pretty sturdy, too. So, of course, Bando knocks the living fuck out of him. Not that I've dealt with many murdering psychopaths before, but I'd have stuck him the microwave first. Bando then jumps out a window to make his escape. Stairs may have taken longer, but would've been way less conspicuous. Guys jumping from windows a few stories up are never up to any good.

Kouta heads out, looking to find Nyuu at the school. He's worried. I think. We can't see his face for some reason. Yuka calls him an idiot after the door closes.

At school, Lab Assistant walks in looking for Kak. She mentions she hasn't bathed in a while to no one. I don't know why. Kouta opens the door, scaring poor character-whose-name-I-don't-bother-to-find-out. She recovers quickly when she learns that Kouta is looking for Kak, and leads him to lab 103b. On the stairs, Kouta tells assistant about Nyuu, only to learn that Kak has no niece or even a brother to have sprungforth such a niece.

Under Transition Underpass, some girl walks out complaining that her job blows. Her boss is always staring at her ass. She gets embarrassed when she notices Lucy walking towards her. After they pass each other, and then walk off screen, Lucy's vectors fly back towards the girl, as if to say, "Oh, yeah! I forget to tell you something." That's probably not what they're really saying, though.

Assistant exposits that Kak is working on a vaccine to help fight the disease that causes horns to grow, and that normally, people with hornitis are quarantined immediately... "and after that..." assistant stops talking.

Lucy pulls a vector out of the girl's head, leaving her with that gradient, anime stare that characters get when they're brain dead. Lucy simply says, "Still not good..." What's no good? I'unno. But I'll believe anything Lucy wants as long as I survive.

Assistant and Kouta find that 103b is a bloody mess. Nyuu is, of course, no where to be seen, but Kak's head is laying a few feet from his body. They freak out a little, and assistant says that that 'this style' of killing is just like "..." and that people with horns who aren't quarantined right away, end up like Kak. Upon hearing some of this, Kouta has a little 'Nam flashback of a girl standing in blood, then spaces out completely. When assistant tells him to leave and not tell anyone, he agrees and stumbles away without complaint.

Back home, Yuka has been waiting for Kouta to come back. Aw. At the dinner table, Kouta has another flashback when he tries to tell Yuka that Kak is dead. He forgets what he was about to say, then zombie-walks to bed.

At Diclonius Central, Kak Senior berates Glasses a little, what with his prey having killed his son and all. Nana's name comes up, and I think I should've felt something, but I didn't. It was a lot like every other scene that's taken place in Daddy Kak's big room.

Outside the big room, Glasses admits to his assistant that he killed his own baby with his bare hands, and when his wife saw, she killed herself. He asks if she has any questions, but she's too shaken to make a 'this is your brain on Diclonius' joke.

As Mayu walks to school, she sees Bando standing on the beach, and recognizes him as that mostly-armless guy she tried to save a few episodes back. She goes down to talk, and Bando gets offended that someone so small saved him. Still, he gives her his cell number in case she's ever in trouble, and he'll come running in like a knight who beats up women and children. He asks about a woman with horns, and when Mayu asks if he means Nyuu, he jump cut to a new scene.

In the rain, Yuka and Kouta take cover in a shrine. Yuka is shivering from the cold, so Kouta sits her on his lap. I'll take a moment here to remind everyone that they're cousins. They hold each other tight and blush and Yuka's nether-region gets a tingle. She asks Kouta if she likes him, and Kouta talks about how he doesn't remember much of his childhood with her. As he rambles on, Yuka pulls him in for a passionate kiss.

Beach: Bando lifts Mayu up by her school uniform and demands answers about Nyuu. She refuses, and even offers up a lie about a brother saying he saw a girl with horns at school. Not wasting any time on paying off a plot device, Mayu immediately pulls out the piece of paper Bando used to write his number on. "Right now, I'm in big trouble..." Reluctantly, he lets her go, saying that he doesn't want to ever see her face again. He's a bad guy, you know?

At the shrine, the kiss finally breaks. Yuka tells Kouta that she doesn't care how he treats her, as long as he never leaves her. She'd make a good enabling wife. This time, it's Kouta who leans in for the kiss. The rain stops, and the two continue their half-assed search. Half-way down a flight of steps, Kouta turns around to see Lucy, who he calls, 'Nyuu.' Lucy pushes Kouta away, prompting Yuka to come up and try to pull Kouta back, as she senses danger. Instead, Lucy pushes Yuka down a few steps. Lucy starts to walk away, but Kouta stops her. When she says she's going to her own place, Kouta calls the bluff, knowing that she has no where to go. She starts to go off about how she'll find a place, any place, and make it home. Kouta spins her around and tells her that the Maple Inn is her home. Lucy's eyes fill with anime-tears, and she shouts that she doesn't deserve to live with Kouta, because eight years ago... 'Nam flash backs happen to the both of them. After the flashbacks subside, Nyuu pops up and asks Kouta for a hug with the tears still flowing. Only, Nyuu seems to have a bit of the flashback this time. Begging the question; is Lucy pretending to be Nyuu, does Nyuu remember what Lucy does, or am I just reading too much into things? I decide to not care.

Back on the beach, a giant capsule spits out white smoke, revealing Nana, limbs and all, inside. After she sits up, a message from Glasses starts. It tells her that she should be able to move her new limbs. That he left her a bag of cash. And that she should be happy. She falls down pretty hard, not really knowing how to use her new limbs just yet as the recording said. She gets down the shoreline a bit before Bando pulls a gun on her...

Continued on side 2.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Death Note 4

Blah blah blah. "Last time on Death Note" runs longer than before. We get sizeable chunks of conversation this time. Then it's off to the Death God realm for... nothing of import, really. Not a complete waste of time, but all in all a slow start to the episode. But we ended on a cliffhanger last time, so let's see how that turns out... Light summarily declines. No Death God eyes, on account of he wants to live a good, long time. Okie doke. Things only start to get interesting when Light lectures Ryuk on the promptness with which he provides information, which further flags up the fact that Ryuk may have ulterior motives. That or his cluelessness isn't an act.

Light's still claiming to have humanity's best interests in mind, and encourages Ryuk to better his own world as Light is doing with Earth. I'm sure Light remembers that Death Gods can't kill each other using their Notes, so apparently he believes that what he's doing is akin to non-violent change. He's like Gandhi, only with killing instead of fasting. Same difference. After pontificating, Light goes back to his familiar, calculatingly evil ways. A test of his powers, and then, a trap. L sees what he's planning, generally, and moves to block him, but his suspicion of the police has not led him to take any measures to prevent an information leak, so Light's test succeeds and his trap, unforseen, proceeds as planned.

A curious thing happens this episode, and although there are followups in future episodes it is never definitively explained. Light makes one of his victims leave a note before he dies. Light claims the note is meaningless, yet it contains a secret message, which L finds. It begins "L, do you know," and in later episodes we get "Death Gods only eat apples." Not important information, or true (Death Gods eat more than just apples), but not exactly meaningless. So, is it, as Light claims, only there to mislead L? All signs point to yes, except... why reveal the existence of Death Gods at all? The notes themselves already mislead without the added message, and he could have chosen any number of less incriminating ways to lead him further astray. Of course, L takes much greater risks himself. I suppose Light considers this the sacrificing of a pawn to move closer to checkmate.

Light the ladies' man makes his first appearance, waking girls at the crack of dawn for a booty- er, innocuous date. Seriously, Light has no sex drive. He can get dates with ease, and if he couldn't, he could use the Note to manipulate women into liking him, loving him, or simply performing sexual favors for him. He wouldn't even have to kill them shortly after. There's no rule saying he can't write the time of death as "forty years from now" or further. In fact, I'm not sure he can't extend lifespans beyond their predestined endpoint. Smart as he is, he isn't very creative. His is a mathematical mind, as we see on Light's "date."

Special Agent Ray Penbar notes that Light isn't the least bit suspicious, thinks to himself "this'll be the last day I tail him," and then boards the same bus as Light, stepping into what is now a needless trap. Oops. I guess we shouldn't schedule Light vs. Deep Blue just yet. For a scant few seconds, I wish I were watching a romance show instead of this. In the former, the bus would actually make it to its destination, an amusement park called Spaceland, Light would actually want to be there, and there'd be lots of happy fun frolicking and cheery music. Instead we have a hijacking, a dangerous maniac, and lots of fear and cringing. Light's still happy to be there, but in a sick, twisted way.

I'm a little disappointed in how Light manipulates the hijacker to his death. He pushes the nutjob a little, but only so far as he has to in order for his directions to be fulfilled. The Death Note does all the work. Sure, it's perfectly believable this way, and safer for all but the hijacker, but it would've been nice to see Light win out using only his wits, rather than relying on godly power. Now Light has his shadow's name, but for the first time his shadow suspects something. One wonders how differently the series would've gone had Light not outguessed his opponent. Maybe the investigation would be resumed, since all other suspects would inevitably be cleared. But then couldn't Light act as unsuspicious as he usually does? And what if L went down a different avenue, finding this one bare, and the relief in pressure allowed Light to discover his opponent's name and face? Ah well, that's what you get with actions: consequences.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Eureka Seven Finale on Adult Swim

All longtime readers of this blog will know that we hate Eureka Seven. Adult Swim on Cartoon Network recently concluded the show's fifty episode run, but, that apparently being insufficient, this past Saturday night we were were fortunate enough to be subjected to the conclusion a second time. It turns out that Adult Swim's habit of truncating the show's opening and ending credits had the dual effect of omitting some of the show's vital plot points, those plot points being explicated during the time normally allotted to those selfsame credits. I'm frankly quite surprised that the [AS] folks didn't realize this, but it also confirms my suspicion that they stopped watching a long time ago. Because they hate the show too, you see. I can only imagine that there was some outcry over the cut material, which forced them to show the episode again, in its entirety.

As conclusions go, the show was quite unsatisfactory. Random monsters attack for no reason, Eureka hangs upside down in a big red ball, and a giant heart attacks the moon. A more Neon Genesis Evangelion-esque ending would have been appropriate, possibly with Renton sitting by himself in a dark room and everyone yelling at him for half an hour. Then, at the very end, Eureka would have appeared to slap the shit out of him for a while. That would have had more of an impact on me, for this entire series generally had none.

Except for episode 26, where Eureka needs Renton so much that she flies off alone on her little surfboard thing and as she's hurtling to her death Renton plucks her out of the sky. That part wasn't so bad.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Romeo X Juliet 2

So, Romeo and Juliet attempt to fill their awkward pause with some gasps, but it doesn't work so well. Juliet holds a flower in her hands and Romeo's all, 'hey, cool flower,' and Juliet gasps some more. When Romeo asks what for Juliet's name, she... keeps gasping. Someone should be calling for help and giving her some Bayer. Before Juliet can come up with an alias, Benvolio calls for Romeo, giving her a chance to run away. In her escape, she yells out to no one, "Romeo! His name is Romeo!" Knowing what happens, her excitement is actually kind of sad.

Juliet runs into some guards at the exit, who close in like they want to stab her with spears, but Francisco, a character we don't really know yet, shows up to save her. He claims that Juliet is a distant relative of the Montagues from the Farnese family, and brandishes a crest which scares the guards away. She runs to the carriage and glances back, sending us back to the palace. Romeo asks if Benvolio knows which house Juliet came from, and, of course, he doesn't. Above the audience at the ball, the archduke announces that Romeo is to be wed to Hermione. Hermione beams and Romeo's eyes get really big.

Back in the carriage, Conrad yells at Juliet for going out, but Juliet just blushes with memories of Romeo before complaining about her entire life in just a few seconds. Conrad repeats that when Juliet turns sixteen everything will make sense. Then, just to remind everyone that this is an anime, Juliet's pupils get really small and she calls Conrad a stubborn fool under her breath, and he shouts back in a 'comical' way just before cutting to the next scene.

Romeo and Hermione dance, her blushing and happy, him possibly dead, until Romeo excuses himself, saying that the roses are overpowering him. I agree. I hope Juliet is our hero, because a guy who claims roses make him ill, even when lying, ain't my kind of hero. And so far, I'd rather watch a rose than him. While Juliet has been thought-out and recreated with a little care, Romeo seems to only be in the show because his name is in the title.

The next day, Juliet's birthday, Cordelia mentions that the ball must have been pretty cool, but with her "weathered hands," they'd never have let her in. Neo Verona is pretty strict about who they let dance unemotionally around flowers. She goes on to talk about how other people's lives suck much more than hers, then just walks off somewhere. At breakfast, Juliet-Odin asks Antonio where Conrad is. He's out, and that apparently means the Crimson Whirlwind and Tiny Friend are going to make an appearance.

In the Slums of Neo Verona, some douche bag takes a man's daughter as a payment unnamed man didn't make. She's loaded into a covered cart with five or six other girls, and they take off. Crimson jumps onto the top of the cart, and the douche bag's cronies join her up top for a fight. She kicks two of the thugs off the cart, but a third takes Crimson's sword and knocks her to the ground. As Tiny Friend frees the girls, Curio, another character we don't really know yet, falls from the Heavens to take out the man about to stab Crimson. Once the cart stops, Crimson makes douche bag pull out the contract, and she slices it up, Zorro-style. Clearly, that man will never kidnap anyone ever again. His papers may get ripped.

On their way home, Curio protests that the whole 'Whirlwind' thing is pretty pointless. Badguys will still be badguys. Besides, "there is something much more important," which only Juliet can do. He won't say what, leading her to yell about the whole 'when you're sixteen' thing. With her birthday being today, she gets a little upset. Curio and Antonio just walk off, though. People lose interest pretty easily in this show.

After the break, Conrad is yelling again. I'd go into detail, but you could just search this review and the last for 'Conrad,' and it'll pretty much be the same two sentences. When Cordelia walks by, Juliet gives her same hand cream in what should be a touching scene revolving around how the rightful heir to Neo Verona cares about the common man and/or woman, but feels a lot like... nothing. No emotion or an air of importance at all. I'm usually all for subtlety, but it's possible to be so subtle that nothing actually happens. Juliet and Antonio jump up and announce they're off to Willy's. Once alone, the three men glibly talk secrets. When Conrad muses that it's amazing they've lasted for so long, Francisco says it's because Juliet is being protected by Neo Verona itself. Ignoring the cryptic comment, Curio wonders aloud if Juliet is going to be the same after she learns 'The Truth' later on tonight. Ignoring that, too, Conrad asks if everyone's been told about tonight, and wonders how many will turn up.

With Willy, Odin asks what he's working on. It's "As You Like It," a play about a woman who's been living as a man, but after falling in love, turns back into a woman. It's a comedy. When Juliet asks if love could be possible between a noble and a commoner, he gives her the famous line, "All the world's a stage, and all the men and woman merely players." Adding, "Within a story, status has nothing to do with love." Which is kind of a nice touch. And I agree; love is blind, status is a plot-point.

Back in Noble Land, Hermione and Romeo walk together surrounded by rose bushes. She asks if Romeo's doing alright, what with the roses and all, and he says he's fine. Hermione is glad. She's a little slow. When Romeo sees an Iris flower, the one Juliet was holding, he pauses, then wanders off, leaving Hermione standing alone. I was staring at the rose bushes in the fuzzy background the entire time.

Juliet asks Cordelia to tell her where irises bloom after jumping into the doorway, scaring her for no reason. Cordelia demands to know why, and after a little while, she admits that it's because, "He said I smelled like irises." I don't remember that happening, which isn't to say it didn't, but shouldn't she want something that reminds her of Romeo, and not something that would remind Romeo of her? Wuv is confusing.

We cut to Romeo flying around on his horse as he finds a field of irises. He lands, takes a whiff, and spots Juliet holding an iris. Romeo asks for Juliet's name so he can call it out, but then just says it normally after he does. Dude can't follow through on anything. Juliet says she came to the field as a birthday present to herself, and blushing like mad, Romeo picks a flower, and hands it to her wishing her a happy birthday. Aw, I guess. They promise to meet at the field again tomorrow at the same time, but because a bell is ringing in the background, Juliet has to run off. At least, that's how I interpreted it. There was no other reason for her to run off.

At dinner, Juliet comes to the table in a dress, and Antonio has a nervous breakdown. Apparently, he had no idea he was a she. Juliet blows out the candles on her cake, and we're quickly rushed off to the next scene.

Storm clouds blow in as they enter a cemetery so we know serious things are about to happen and we should pay attention. Conrad gives a quick history lesson to Juliet about how the Capulet's once ruled Neo Verona and they were pretty cool. But fourteen years ago, Lord Montague killed the Capulet family, and this is where they're buried. He then reveals to her that she is Lord Capulet's daughter. She gasps, as she is want to do, then notices a few dozen townspeople closing in. She takes a few steps back, frightened, but since we all remember Conrad asking if 'they' were coming tonight, we just sit here watching. They kneel and, in unison, they say, "Your Highness Juliet Fimatte Arst Capulet." Then lightning bolts across the sky. Somewhere, Romeo lays on a couch. Seriously. We go out on Romeo about to take a nap. He'd better do something soon, or I quit.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Bleach 123

Last we looked, we deeply suspected that Ichigo was about to get beaten up by Hiyori, which is exactly what happens. He refuses to bring out his Hollow, and Hiyori handles him quite easily until he passes out. Naturally, this awakens that selfsame Hollow, which proceeds to grab the l'il Vizard by the neck so that it can choke the life out of her. Hiyori's fellow Vizards come to the rescue. She's left crying and shaking like a little girl, and Shinji says that they'll train Ichigo. Gosh, he should have just asked.

Back at Ichigo's house, his family is worried sick, even though some of them are trying to act all blasé about it. Rukia stands on the roof a bit, and even Kon, their stuffed animal mascot, starts to think that Ichigo is being a dick.

It turns out that Ichigo's training involves standing in a Nordic track kind of exercise machine for hours and hours, extending even unto days. The rest of the Vizard just stand around watching him and making small talk amongst themselves. We learn a few of their names. Frankly, I don't care who they are, except for Lisa, the dark-haired girl in the glasses, who I marked out last time as my favorite new character. Naturally, my choice was correct, as we see her staring intently at a magazine filled with swimsuit models (which by definition makes her the best Vizard ever) and counting out time for Ichigo. So, she's absent-mindedly saying "one, two, one, two" and reading her girly magazine, and I pretty much instantly fall in love. And if you're one of those people who prudishly say "You can't in love (wuv) with a cartoon character," then I really feel sorry for you.

Ichigo, taunted by the counting, frustrated beyond belief, decides that he's had enough and throws the exercise machine at Shinji. Hence begins one of Bleach's trademark goofy scenes, where characters just yell at each other for no reason. There's even circus music, and you expect clowns to start jumping out of little cars. Sometimes it's funny, usually not. This goofiness rates a "blah," and only because it features Hiyori repeatedly slapping Ichigo with her sandal.

Ichigo finally says that he isn't going to work on the machine anymore because it's useless. Apparently, it's designed to sap spiritual energy. Ichigo can tell that the Vizard want him completely drained and tired when they begin training him, but, see, he's so freakin' strong that he could ride the machine for days, and he doesn't have time to waste on crap like that. Then Shinji starts to yell. He reveals that he and the Vizard know all about Aizen and the arrancar, so Ichigo doesn't need to pout about "not having any time." Nevertheles, Shinji decides to accelerate the training anyway, since Ichigo seems able to speed up the normal training process anyway.

Clearly, Shinji and the others know a lot more than they're letting on. So we have to ask how? And why? And what are they going to do about it? Ichigo is rendered unconscious and everyone goes into a huge underground chamber. The pink-haired guy, Hachi, wraps Ichigo in some powerful binding spells. Then they all sit down to have some sandwiches.

Though unconscious and magically restrained in the real world, the spiritual Ichigo returns to his inner realm, where buildings stand on the side and sometimes it rains a little. But a little fall of rain can hardly hurt me now, right, Eponine? Ichigo looks around for the old man who lives in his sword, Zangetsu, but all he finds is Reverse Ichigo, his own inner Hollow. Ichigo asks where the old man--Zangetsu--is, but Reverse Ichigo explains that he is Zangetsu! And they start fighting. Zounds!

Back in the real world, Ichigo's body wakes up, easily breaking through the binding spells. He's wearing his Hollow mask and hissing a lot, so this must be pretty bad. Luckily, he's still in this little containment field. And that's when Lisa stands up. She volunteers to go inside. Shinji tells her not to kill him, but she's hoping that Ichigo don't kill her first. She enters the field, draws her sword and introduces herself, and Hollow Ichigo attacks! I hope Lisa is okay!

Real Ichigo is meanwhile fighting Reverse Ichigo and wants to end the fight quickly. He begins to summon his bankai, and that's when Reverse Ichigo begins to do the same.