Thursday, June 21, 2007

Death Note 8 - Now With Pictures!

Ice cream is a valuable crimesolving tool. Also, it's delicious. L does his "uncanny hypotheses" routine again, surmising that Kira targeted Ray Penbar specifically, and that he "may" have been on the train when Penbar died. Then, upon learning that Misora Naomi is missing, L guesses virtually everything that happened last episode and focuses the entire investigation on the people Ray Penbar was investigating. Namely the Yagami and Kitamura families. So, Light is one of maybe a dozen remaining suspects, everyone else all but exonerated. Oh, and they're bugging his house. Cameras everywhere.

Secure in the brilliance of his needless killing spree, Light works around the clock to ensure that criminals will keep dying for months to come even if something happens to him. Carpel tunnel for instance. There's a fun conversation about magic fingers and Ryuk's luck with the ladies, then it's back to KIT for the ethical, legal, and "eww, even in the toilets?" debate about sticking cameras in private residences. Chief Yagami flips out like a ninja, minus the killing, and insists they bug the hell out of his house. For justice!

Light explains to Ryuk his clever, if neurotic, intruder detection system after it does its job and reveals that someone's been snooping in his room. Showing that he can play at uncanny hypothesizing, too, he assumes bugs have been planted and avoids talking to the scary flying man that only he can see. Using scary fly- Ryuk's love of apples (turns out he's addicted), Light manipulates him into finding all the cameras and what, if any, blindspots there are. Since he can't help look, Light peruses naughty magazines that he bought for the express purpose of appearing to be someone who peruses naughty magazines, i.e. a normal teenage boy. L sees through it, but Light gets him back by figuring out that KIT has narrowed the list of suspects to, at best, the people Ray Penbar was investigating, and at worst, that he's the only suspect.

A bit of trivia. In this episode, Light's sister Sayu is seen watching actor Ryuga Hideki on TV. L later uses Ryuga Hideki as a pseudonym, presumably inspired by watching Sayu watch him. In the same scene, L finally gets around to announcing the fake mass cop invasion that was brought up two episodes ago. Light sees through it and boldly announces that "he thinks" Kira sees right through it, too. Then we're treated to one of the best moments in the entire series: Light eating potato chips. More accurately, Light hiding a tiny television set in a bag of potato chips, somehow managing to get news from it unseen by the sixty-four cameras in his room, and killing a person for each chip he eats. As with the ecchi babes, though, Light tries too hard to appear above suspicion, setting off L's "hey, wait..." sense. The episode ends with Light calmly throwing away the expensive mini-TV after one day of use. Now what does he do to appear to have no access to the news while using said access to kill people he wouldn't know about if he didn't have access, which he does, but L doesn't know that, though he does suspect, and where was I going with this?

Mmm, murdery!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Bleach 127

So another week, and another episode of Bleach, and, for sure, this is the best episode ever! Why? Because nothing happens!

When we left off last week, sexy, sexy Yoruichi appeared before Orihime and told her that Kisuke wanted to talk to her. We don’t follow them, because that would be pretty dull, but instead visit Ikkaku, Yumichiki, and Rangiku at Keigo’s house. Ikkaku is wearing some cute pink shirt, and the other shinigami are rightfully mocking him. Keigo and his sister appear and we have some human-shinigami wackiness.

When Orihime finally reaches Kisuke’s vast underground training room, she watches Chad training with Renji. Renji slams Chad into a mountain with his bankai, and Orihime, uncaring, just turns away and asks Kisuke what he wants with her. He makes some prefatory remarks, about how the upcoming battle will be bloody and dangerous, and everyone needs to train to become stronger. Orihime predictably blubbers that she wants to become stronger, too, but Kisuki tells her that he wants her to sit out this one.

He points out that Tsubaki, Orihime’s little battle fairy, was destroyed in her last fight with the arrancar. She admits that he was totally vaporized, and she can’t even find a bit of him to heal. Kisuke logically states that, without Tsubaki, she really is pretty useless in battle. Just useless, in any sense. Sado suddenly becomes indignant and sputters something about how Orihime fought alongside them in Soul Society. She has, he says, powerful defensive and healing abilities.

Kisuke sighs (along with me). Orihime’s shield will probably be useless, and Soul Society has pretty handy healers of its own. No, she’s indeed completely and truly useless, which I stated above. Might as well kill herself. Orihime agrees and runs off. Sado starts to run after her, but Renji stops him and says that Kisuke is right. Orihime isn’t cut out for fighting.

She runs and runs, right up the stairs to the shop and through it and then out the door, where she runs directly into Rukia. Rukia feels uncomfortable, just like the viewers, as Orihime starts sobbing uncontrollably. They go sit on the roof of the school to talk—how did they get up there, I’m wondering—and Rukia is indignant because she respects the fact that Orihime came to Soul Society to help try to save her. She grabs Orihime’s shirt and demands to know if Orihime is frustrated about being told to go away and die. Orihime denies it twice, but admits that she’s sad that she can’t fight with everyone else. Fighting and risking death is what all the cool kids are doing. Tender music starts playing and Orihime finally shows some sense as she says that she’d rather be alone and sad than get in the way of everyone else fighting. Really, all she does is get in the way. Doesn’t she realize this yet?

Rukia, anyway, tries to cheer her up. She says that she owes her life to all of them. She’ll help Orihime find some way to help in the upcoming battle.

The tender music ends, and, suddenly, and quite out of nowhere, Hiyori (l’il Vizard) appears. She crash lands on the roof and her shirt flies dangerously into the air and this almost becomes hentai, but things settle down. She grabs Orihime and tells her that Hacchi wants to talk to her. They fly away, and Rukia doesn’t even try to stop her.

At the Vizard’s hideout, Hacchi looks Orihime over and points out that her little hairpins are like a zanpaktou, and that they’re broken. He tells Orihime that he can fix them and bring Tsubaki back. Things suddenly get strange when one of the Vizard, Mashiro (the girl with green hair and the goggles), starts rolling around on the ground and shouting that she hates Orihime. I’m really stunned by all this, and perturbed, as it makes no sense whatsoever. Hacchi finally heals Tsubaki, and then even he says that Orihime shouldn’t bother fighting. She keeps insisting that she wants to fight, so I guess that he sort of just lets her go. No use trying to argue with her at this point.

Orihime leaves the hideout, and Rukia is waiting for her. She tracked Ichigo’s reiatsu, but says that she doesn’t need to know what’s going on inside there. Orihime vows that, the next time she sees Ichigo, she’ll be able to fight alongside him. Whatever.

I almost think that the show is over, but we suddenly find ourselves in Hueco Mundo. Ulquiorra walks in on Yammy, who’s having his arm reattached by a cute little doctor arrancar. We see a big “10” tattooed on Yammy’s shoulder, which means that he’s merely the weakest of the Espada. The doctor finishes and asks if the arm is ok, and Yammy answers by smashing her against the wall and killing her. He’s pissed because he wanted to send her right through, which means that his arm still isn’t at full strength. Ulquiorra looks at him like he’s a moron.

Finally, we cut to Aizen. He’s watching images of Orihime putting up her shield and then healing Sado in her first fight with the arrancar. I sense something ominous.

Next week: Filler!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Death Note 7

"Justice will prevail!" So says KIT (Kira Investigation Team). Meanwhile, Justice is off falling in love with Sidney Poitier, who she firmly believes will rescue her from a dreary life of selling handmade bead necklaces. How convenient! Now there's no one to stop Light but Light himself. And that would just be silly. L, oblivious to the Light/Penbar subplot, conducts his little test, clearing all members of KIT from suspicion of being Kira. Sorry, no "Is Afro Dude Kira?" subplot. That's one of the drawbacks of revealing things like "Light is Kira" and "this guy is L" to the audience. Even if your characters would logically jump to wrong conclusions - not that L would in this case - taking them down that path would bore anyone who knows it's a dead end. So we get no innocent suspects, and the investigation moves that much closer to Light.

Thirty Death Gods agree: watching Light try to kill someone who's given him a fake name is high-larious. Light is confused when Miss Penbar resists his Awesome Death Powahs, but quickly puts two and two together to suss out why. Problem is, how the hell does he get her to give up her real name now? As if asking for it the first time wasn't suspicious enough. If he didn't have the Death Note, he'd have no reason to suspect she hadn't been honest with him, so he has to think up a convincing cover story. At this point, if L had made public the fact that Kira needs a name and face to kill, Light would be sunk. Of course, that was indirectly covered last episode under "if news outlets stopped reporting actual names/faces of criminals, Kira would kill innocent people." Still, he might've told the FBI, saving all those agents and preventing us from ever meeting Miss Penbar, precluding our caring what happens to her. Ow, paradox.

Watari revealed! L's mysterious liason shows up unmasked (what does he wear that so shields his face? It just looks like he's in shadow all the time, but that's not it), and presents KIT with shiny new police badges. Complete with shiny new names. Somewhat belatedly, L decides his operatives need some sort of protection from a guy who can kill you, as far as they know, with a look and a name. L's chosen few are so moral that they take a moment to debate whether it's ok to use fake names. It's a short debate, but damn, these guys are by the book. "Gee, do we really have to deceive people just to avoid having our hearts asploded by Kira?" Yes! Yes, you do! Oh, they also get high-tech belt buckles. Matsuda approves!

Miss Penbar decides they'd better head back to police headquarters in case someone has shown up. So, wait, they were just going for a walk? Um... ok. Light's panicking, and when Light panics he gets really, really dumb. Mesomorph dumb. He has to think before concluding that turning his cellphone off would prevent having to let her talk to his dad should the elder Yagami suddenly decide to call. His next thought is to use physical violence to acquire his would be victim's legal name. Because that wouldn't have any consequences. With Light cycling through his options, desperately searching for one that doesn't suck, Ryuk brings up the eye swap again, apparently because it amuses him. Light isn't so desperate that he'll consider it, a point in his favor. And then the person who's about to unwittingly expose Light as Kira tells him she can make it the rest of the way on her own. D'oh! Now, not only does he need to explain how he knows her name is fake and why he needs her real one, he has to make up a reason to keep following her. After panicking a bit more, Light's confidence returns. And with it, a plan.

Knowing that he can't allow her to reach headquarters, he endeavors to change her mind about going, using lies that are closer to the truth than he knows. He tells her KIT's membership is secret, that they can't be found at HQ, and that he knows because... dun dun dun! He's part of the team. She seems to buy it, but continues on to HQ nonetheless. As if psychic, L chooses now to suggest that someone from KIT be present at HQ at all times. Then we cut back to Miss Penbar, who reveals she worked with (and is a huge fan of) L before. Light flatters her, invites her to join KIT, flatters her some more, and through a surprisingly simple ruse, gets her real name, Misora Naomi. It's disappointing that he panicked so much when the solution was 90% smooth talk, but the ending makes up for it. Right up there with the Ray Penbar scene. In seven episodes, Light has cemented himself as a legendary villain. And there's plenty more to come. Next episode: Voyeurism and the potato chip as an accessory to murder.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Bleach 126

Last we left, Captain Hitsugaya turned to see Momo, his childhood friend and Aizen’s betrayed lieutenant, on the big Soul Society computer screen. After a little banter, we get straight to the point, which is that Momo is still crazy about Aizen. In fact, she’s just plain crazy. She insists that the other renegade captains must have put him up to whatever it is that he’s doing and begs Hitsugaya not to kill him. The Captain-Commander puts Momo to sleep and abruptly ends the transmission. Hitsugaya makes a fist and curses Aizen’s name, which is about all he can do since last time Aizen stabbed him but good.

Our next scene suddenly shows Sado fighting Renji and his bankai. A flashback takes us into Urahara Kisuke’s modest little shop. Renji sits, wearing a “RED PINEAPPLE” shirt (can I have one?), and Kisuke approaches and asks him to train Sado, who is waiting outside. Renji refuses, but Kisuke says that, if Renji becomes his handyman for three months, then he’ll answer any question that Renji wants to ask him. Renji can’t resist this, so agrees to help train Sado as part of his handyman duties. One interesting tidbit we pick up through this painfully hilarious exchange is that Kisuke’s bankai isn’t useful at training people or lending them strength. So what good is it then? Killing, probably.

Back to the training. Sado runs around, trying to avoid Renji’s big snake-thing bankai. He’s really sort of overmatched, but Kisuke, watching, thinks that Sado surely has plenty of room to grow. He also ruminates that Sado’s power is unlike that of a shinigami or a Quincy. Kisuki thinks, “Your power is just like…” and doesn’t bother to finish the thought, that bastard. I want to know, although I have a good guess.

Next we see Ichigo training with Hiyori. She keeps kicking him the face, and the other Vizard comment that they seem to get along really well. I suppose if she were kicking him in the groin things would be different. Outside, Orihime has located the secret Vizard hideout. She notes the powerful shield, so effective at just eliminating the presence of the hideout that cats, birds, and ants all walk or fly around it like a big hole in the ground. Orihime goes up the shield and touches it and thinks that it reminds her of her own shield. She just pushes through.

In the underground hideout, Ichigo keeps training, and Hiyori keeps kicking him in the face. The other Vizard helpfully talk amongst themselves and say that Ichigo needs to train in order to keep his Hollow mask on for long periods of time. The big guy, Hachi, suddenly tenses up and says that someone has just slipped through his barrier. The other Vizard all gather around and watch as Orihime comes down the stairs. She says something cute about have to use the restroom, but then Ichigo crashes into the scene and all is well.

She tells Ichigo what’s going on with the Soul Society and the King’s Key and whatever. He’s nonplussed about it all, vowing simply to defeat Aizen because he can still get stronger. Orihime leaves, we see some Vizard wackiness, and then Orihime running away from the building. She doesn’t get very far, as that sexy master assassin Yoruichi appears. Kisuki wants to talk to Orihime. Maybe they’ll kiss on the way.

Our last scene finds Uryuu training in another underground room with his father. He’s pretty beat up, panting. His shirt is loose, which seems to be an important point to note. He still has some little silver tubes filled with spells, but he’s definitely on his last legs. His father refuses to let up, the bastard, and keeps firing arrows at his son. Dad, apparently, can fire multiple arrows at once, and can fire them at will, without the motion of drawing back the string from the bow and firing. This would be a pretty useful skill for Uryuu to pick up.

Uryuu tries one last attack, using his final silver tube to seal his father in a binding spell. The spell fails, and dad shoots Uryuu right through the chest with an arrow. Uryuu falls to the ground, and I’m sort of worried (“Is this the end for Zombie Uryuu?”) when his dad walks over. Force a former Quincy to his physical and mental limits, and hit him with an arrow in just the right place, and his powers will come back. Dad insults Uryuu some more, and I smile, satisfied that everything is going to be all right.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Death Note 6

Have I mentioned that L is one of my all-time favorite anime characters? All barefoot and google-eyed, all sitting legs-up on his chair constantly eating sweets. He's quirktastic! The Kira Investigation Team meets him this episode, and they're duly impressed. Well, more weirded out than impressed, but give it time, they'll come around. L gives KIT a fake name, Ryuzaki, and starts in with the psychoanalyzing. "Kira is childish and hates to lose," he says. "I'm childish and hate to lose, too. That's how I know." More deducing follows, then a plan. They'll fool Kira into thinking his murder of FBI agents prompted a massive intelligence invasion. Fifteen hundred officers enter Japan to track down Kira! Holy claustrophobia, Batman!

But first, L carefully exposits Kira's side of the past few episodes for the benefit of KIT and new viewers. It's like a recap without the recycled animation. And not entirely superfluous for regular viewers. L's breakdown invigorates the team and gains him the respect he'd more commanded than earned in anonymous voice mode. Dramatic reveal! What? Where? Ahh! Just as L and Light are thinking that one more clue would catch Kira, we jump to this episode's special guest star, Ray Penbar's fiancee. She knows a se-cret. And she's gonna tell! Or is she? Light offers to take his dad a change of clothes, claiming to have no ulterior motive. Uh huh, riiight. And conveniently retcons in the fact that he's started carrying around a page of the Death Note when he goes out, "just in case." It's all a bit pat, if not entirely unbelievable.

Light and Almost-Mrs. Penbar arrive at the police station around the same time, naturally, and we learn Light's something of an amateur detective, or was before he fell into mass murder and megalomania, one of your more demanding career paths. He plays it up in front of the quasi-widow, bragging that he's helping track Kira, too, and L better watch out or Light'll nab him first! Wouldn't that be something? Light gets so frustrated that he decides the only way to beat L is to catch himself first, so he does. Handcuffs himself, throws himself roughly into the back of a police car ("Watch your head! Hahaha!"), and beats a confession out of himself. Then at the trial... Er, right. Anyways, whatshername is so impressed by Light's braggadocio and really creepy (from the viewer's pov) cheerful act that she... gives him a fake name. Woot! Arguably the best female character in a series that's severely lacking in that area. Light leads her on, and she reveals what she plans to tell KIT. Busjacking: huge mistake. Light is... somehow... stunned that his brilliant plan to violently kill someone in front of the FBI agent who was tailing him has come back to bite him in the ass. He should've killed everyone on the bus, and everyone they know. That would've covered it up but good! Light doesn't agree, but figures one more death can't hurt, so it's time for the unformed Penbar family to be reunited. Maybe they can get married in Heaven. By a real Elvis, not one of those fakes.

Fittingly, Light plays devil's advocate, casting doubt on Miss Penbar's all-too-correct theories. Once he's smashed them, he builds them back up, all but claims them as his own, and gives widdle Miss Penbar a figurative pat on the head for making such an important contribution to the Kira case. Next episode: Light gives Miss Penbar a treat! Or kills her. One of those.