Saturday, May 17, 2008

Death Note 11

According to KIT, it's been four months since the events of episode seven, where Light made Ray Penbar's fiancee, Misora Naomi, kill herself offscreen. She did such a good job of carrying out Light's instructions that they still haven't found her body. Light's the only one who knows she's dead.

As we watch L and the Kira Investigation Team look befuddled, they turn on Sakura TV to see a live report from... Kira? The rough equivalent of Fox News in Japan, Sakura TV is happily held hostage by "Kira," forced into airing taped messages the same wave a dominatrix forces a submissive to accept his punishment. "Kira" proves his identity by offing a couple captive criminals, then the video airs, and newscasters start dropping. Not the ones on Sakura TV, they're Kira's buddies! The ones who've denounced Kira, though, as the evil bastard that he is, they die. L decides they have to stop the broadcast. Calling doesn't help, so Ukita takes off for the station itself.

"I hate evil and love justice," says prerecorded Kira. He calls the police his allies and pleads for an end to this silly business of trying to arrest him. Let him go about the business of creating a perfect world, free of crime. Yay! Let's all bonk evil on the head and hug the god of death. The best part is when he asks dissenters to keep it to themselves, a reaction typical of a spoiled brat. If you have nothing nice to say about your murderous overlord, don't say anything at all. Speak up and die.

Ukita gets to the TV station and, naturally, the door's locked. He pounds on it and shouts to be let in, but the security guard refuses. Just as Ukita pulls out his gun to force his way in, he suffers a lethal heart attack. What? Kira can't do that! Aizawa is pissed right off and determined to rush after Ukita, but L stops him. He doesn't want Aizawa to die, too. Aww, L's cute when he cares. "Kira" delivers an ultimatum. The police have four days to announce which side they're fighting on, or he'll... show another tape! He'll do that anyways, but there's one for "yes" and one for "no." Not much of a threat, since he obviously can't schedule killings if he thinks they might say yes. Hrm.

It's time for a badass Soichiro moment. Chief Yagami's wife goes to check on him at the hospital, where he was watching the live broadcast. Where he saw Ukita struck down. He's not there. He's crashing through the doors to Sakura TV in a commandeered bus. Hell yes! Once inside, he pops out of the bus in a hoodie, looking like the "You Gonna Get Raped" guy, and unleashes his badass voice on the security guard to ply the location of the studio from him. The scheming producer tries to worm his way out of stopping the broadcast, insisting that "Kira will kill us. Wah wah wah," so Soichiro pulls a gun. Die now or die later, but stop the broadcast. Muahahaha!

Two policemen show up to help, the poor fools. L calls the Deputy Chief, asking him to take control so a bunch of well-meaning police don't wind up dead. He's a little late, as the two on the scene drop dead while they're talking. L dramatically juggles conversations with the Chief and the Deputy Chief, adding cellphones to the list of mundane objects transformed into lively props, along with potato chips and pens. The phone bit's a touch silly, but I can't get enough of Death Note's arguably contrived dramatic scenes. L instructs Soichiro to walk right out of the station, casual-like. Instead of having him sneak out the back, or maybe take the bus back, L arranges for the entire police force to show up in riot gear, surrounding the building, shielding their faces and Soichiro's so he can, indeed, walk casually out, get in a car, and drive away safely. What'shisname from earlier, the KIT member who quit to hunt Kira as part of the regular police force? He's there, and it's all touching reunion styles. They almost hug, but they are manly men, so they don't.

One newscaster comes out in support of the police, inspired by their awesome display to... Well, commit suicide, basically. I couldn't do that. Someone's killing newscasters, and all they need is your name, your face, and a spare moment to end you? That's too much. Maybe I could do the weather instead? Partly cloudy with a chance of death from above. Fortunately, the lone newscaster's courage doesn't lead to a scene where people all over the world stand up to say their names, denouncing Kira and daring him to kill them all. It might work, but god damn would it be trite. So Kira will continue to crusade for "justice," killing many more people for the sake of our entertainment.

Soichiro returns with the Kira tapes, which L has Aizawa analyze. Then he watches them, and we learn what the "yes" and "no" tapes contained. "Yes" is full of childish demands, nothing like the chess moves Light makes. The police cooperate by feeding Kira information on criminals, he may or may not deign to punish said criminals, and L and KIT show their faces on TV. Even if you agreed with Kira, you'd have to be retarded to concede to that. "No" is basically the same thing in different words, which figures. Light hates to lose, but he's only this pathetic when he's backed into a corner. Makes you wonder what his version would've been like, had he been stupid enough to pull such a stunt.

I'm not sure why it was so vital that the original broadcast be stopped. Yes, illegal hijacking of the airwaves in a way. Yes, public executions. The police showing up to stop Kira was very inspirational, and more importantly, exciting. But doing so cause more people to die than allowing the broadcast to finish would have. You'd think the idea was to shut Kira out, to send a message to him that no, this is not OK. You don't get to air your stupid tapes. But then L gives the "no" tape back to Sakura TV and lets them air it. On it is the threat to kill either the Chief of Police, Soichiro's superior, whose identity is surely public knowledge, or L. Poor Chiefy, we hardly knew ya. Should've threatened the whole police force instead, or thrown in some politicians. One for one leaves them with a decision. Start holding phonebooks hostage and you'll smoke out L right quick.

Light is oddly happy about this turn of events. It creates confusion and might lead to L's death. Plus, everyone loves to have fans. But these lowbrow tactics besmirch the name of Kira, and he can't forgive that! He decides to find out what Kira 2 is up to by helping out with the investigation. Confusion's great and all, but this second Kira's clearly not as smart as Light, and anything the police learn from him could lead to Light's capture.

Light surmises that Kira 2 bargained for the eyes of a Death God, which is why he can kill without a name. Don't have to be a genius to figure that out, given what Light already knew. It takes more doing for L to figure out that this is a new Kira, but it's fairly obvious. His deduction would look less convenient if he didn't follow it up by asking Soichiro if Light can join KIT. It's all a bit pat the way Light and L figure things out near simultaneously and do the exact things one is hoping the other will. This one's not even a "three steps ahead" predicted move. It's just Light wanting to join KIT and L wanting him to join. Supposedly, L wants to get Light's untarnished opinion on the "Kira" tapes, so they're not telling him about L's conclusions. Why that requires pulling him officially into the investigation, I don't know. He's already met L and, of course, he knows his own father, but why endanger the rest of KIT? I suppose he figures they're not at immediate risk, since Kira only wants the supercompetent L, and Light can't kill him without incriminating himself.

We finally meet Kira 2 at the end of the episode, and he turns out to be a lovely young woman named Misa, who wants very much to meet Kira. And kill him, if it comes to that. Not too bright, this one. She's stronger, she says, because she has the eyes. That's true, but she still has to write down his name and wait forty seconds. Her advantage only lasts as long as Light doesn't know her real name. She'd be well advised to hedge her bets by carrying a gun.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bleach 168

So I usually write these reviews with the episode running in the background, but I’m think I’m going to forego that right now and just tell you what I remember happening. This may work or it may not. I figure that a filler episode deserves no less.

The episode begins, as all great anime should begin, with breasts. Rangiku’s breasts to be precise, then followed by her face, and she shouts at Captain Hitsugaya that they’ve found a new captain for one of the squads. She gives the squad’s number, but I can’t remember it. It’s the squad that Ichimaru Gin ran, before he turned traitor and left. Hitsugaya knows this already, because he’s a captain. Rangiku says something cute or obnoxious or both, like she always does.

I think we cut right to a big captain’s meeting next. Captain Commander Yamamoto announces the new captain, some guy whose name I completely can’t remember. He’s got tousled hair, a nice smile, a whole joie de vivre thing going on. The captain commander explains that the new guy’s been on an extended patrol hunting Hollows, and he’s returned without losing a single man. I suppose that’s impressive because every other shinigami seems to die right after being introduced. Everyone eventually all splits up and the captains stand around, posing, asking each other who supervised the new guy’s captain’s examination. Seems no one knows. Quite the mystery.

Now we cut to the house of the captain-less squad. Kira, the hapless lieutenant, is trying to tell his men that a new captain will be arriving soon, but, predictably, some of the guys are pretty resistant to the idea. They’ve gotten along fine without a captain so far, right. I sort of get the impression that Kira hasn’t really been doing much, almost as if Gin kept him deliberately hapless. Gin doesn’t seem like he would have been the best mentor.

The new captain shows up, and he has a purple eyeglasses guy with him, who is now going to be the third seat of the squad. There is mumbling and murmuring, and some big meat-headed guy says aloud that they don’t need a captain. The new captain ignores him, says that his only goal is to protect all of his men.

Then something happens that I don’t quite remember. I think Kira goes to visit Rangiku and he’s moaning about how badly things are going. She suggests that they have a drink and reveals that she’s been hiding booze in Hitsugaya’s office. Naturally, he catches them and yells at her.

Kira, inspired, decides to throw a party for the new captain. Everyone is sitting around little low tables, like they do in Japan, and the new captain enters. Kira explains the party, it’s going to be good for morale, see? It’s pretty tense. Awkward, even. Everyone looks to the captain as he mulls over a little cup of saki, hesitating, but he finally drinks it and everything seems to be going fine, until he passes out. Purple eyeglasses guy explains that the captain can’t hold his liquor.

Just then, everyone gets an alert that a clump of Gillian (yes, a group of Gillian is a clump) is heading toward Soul Society through some weird tunnel thing. I’m sure it’s been mentioned before. The new captain’s squad has been assigned to clear them out! But the captain?! Purple eyeglasses says they’ll have to do without him. They have their orders. So Kira and purple eyeglasses and a bunch of other guys head off to the weird tunnel place to fight the Gillian. It’s going pretty well. The Gillian just sort of stand there. One does manage to fire off a cero, but purple eyeglasses deflects it. However, everything turns bad when the giant train monster thing that roams the weird tunnel place shows up. Normally, the train monster would have been turned off, but it’s still on! Why? It’s a mystery!

Kira and the men try to run away, but they can’t outrace the train monster. That’s when the new captain shows up. He whips out his zanpaktou, it turns into some kind of energy cloud, and the train monster is destroyed. The men are charmed by him. Even the big meat headed guy loves his new captain now. He, too, wonders about why it wasn’t turned off, and promptly passes out again.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Code Geass - Lelouch of the Rebellion: Stage 1

The sound of locusts, a girl with green hair, sunflowers, young boys with giant eyes... I'm unconvinced it's anime until I see the giant robots. Two boys climb a small hill out in the middle of nowhere, and so far, there's only the sound of locusts. But as they get to the top, the soundtrack jumps to attention, and they both look towards the camera, surprised at the ominous music.

"2010 a.t.b., August 10th. The New Britannia Empire declared war on Japan." Okay. Evidently, them Englishes took over the entire world, except for most of Asia. The map we're shown has the Britannia attack leaving the US. Either someone was as bad at geography as I am, or there is no United States. At this point, I'm pretty okay with either option. During the attack on Japan, Britannia breaks out their 'Mobile Humanoid Armor Vehicles,' or "Nightmares." We've hit anime! With the Nightmares, the British Empire easily takes over Japan, which has 'its freedom, rights, and name taken away." That's right, just to make sure Japan knows it's been utterly defeated, the Empire takes away the name "Japan," and instead calls the whole country, Area 11. One of the boys from a minute ago is sitting by an army vehicle, while dead bodies are set ablaze nearby. The other boy, a purple-eyed fellow, stands up and says, "Suzaku, I'm going to destroy Britannia!" So, a minute and a half in, Japan has been taken over by tea-drinking, robot-wearing fops; a pile of bodies has been set on fire; and a young boy has set out on a life of revenge. Not that it stops the show from having a typical anime opening theme song that sounds cheery and upbeat, but is probably about isolation and suicide and dead puppies.

It's now seven years after the war, or 'freedoming,' and we're in the Britannia Suburb of Tokyo City. It's very shiny. A flying police thingie chases after a truck. Inside a nearby building, a TV reporter shows us images of a terrorist bombing from the week before. We pan out to see two men playing chess. A chess clock beeps, and one of the players, a scared, old man, is about to explode. He's playing against a noble who is calmly filing his nails. The old man's 'substitute' arrives through the door behind him, only to find it's a student. A purple-eyed student, in fact. "Lelouch Lamperouge," is his name. I hear he's of some rebellion. Lelouch's buddy, Rival, looks at the chess board, and exclaims that there's no way to win. I guess they aren't starting over. There's some banter to show how cocky Lelouch is, then he sits down and makes his first move with his king. The noble laughs, Lelouch smiles, and we're whisked away to a school to see girls talking about their "Lulu-chan." They think he's smart, stupid, and cute. The animators quickly get bored, and take us back to the stolen truck. But after a few seconds where we learn nothing, we get back to Lelouch, just as he's beaten the noble at exciting chess. Rival and Lulu leave the noble's place to see a public address by His Majesty Clovis, the Third Prince of the Britannian Empire, starting on the giant TV that just happens to be on the building across the street. He pretends to be heartbroken over the fighting and terrorist attacks. Blah, blah. Rival and Lulu chat about not crying over the dead, with Lelouch shoe-horning in the line, "No matter how hard you stretch, the world won't change." A slam against yoga, I'm pretty sure.

A camera shuts off, and Clovis walks down from where he gave his speech to rejoin a flippin' party. Very heartbroken. A military dude walks in to give Clovis some information. We don't hear what it is, but it pisses Clovis off. Military Dude tells him, "We've told the police that it was just some medical equipment." So, it's probably not. Clovis orders in some troops and alerts the Nightmares. A few horribly skinny people hop into their robots, and start them up with their ignition USB sticks by Lexar.

Rival and Lelouch are heading back to school in Rival's sort of femmy motorcycle - Lulu in the bitch seat - and talk more about chess. Rival is curious as to why Lelouch started by moving the king. "If the King doesn't move, then his subjects won't follow," Lulu says while reading. The stolen truck comes up behind them too quickly, and veers off into an abandoned building. The two stop to check it out, and Lelouch sees a green mist leak out from the top of the truck. Lelouch sees a crowd form to take pictures with their phones and talk about how someone should help the drivers. Seeing that they're just going to talk about helping, Lelouch runs in to help by himself. A woman with her cell phone out even asks if someone 'could at least call the cops.' Take THAT, modern society! The drivers are fine, but Lelouch can't get to them through the rubble, so he has to climb onto the back. He calls out to them, but the animation shimmers and all he hears is a disembodied voice say, "I found him." As he looks around to investigate the new voice, the truck starts back up, and Lelouch falls inside. The flying military thingies open fire on the truck, prompting one of the drivers to remove her hat. In the back of the truck, Lelouch is stuck with a big contraption that sort of looks like a giant, robotic Easter egg. He's about to pull out his phone to call for help, when the female driver, Karen (or "Kallen" as she's even called in the American dubbed version), walks in and over to a step ladder.

Somewhere, Rival is looking for Lelouch.

Just as the military is about to open fire again, a "smash hawk" flies out and blows up one of the flying thingies. It's basically a big rope dart, but it was shot out of the Nightmare that was hidden in the back of the truck. Karen blows up another flying thingie, just as the Britannian Nightmares arrive. They're using the Sutherland model of killer robot, while Karen is using a piddly Glasglow. Karen's Glasglow loses an arm during her retreat. It's looking bad for the terrorists (aw), but Lelouch got himself a transmitter (yay).

A doctorly-looking guy with purply/grey hair is talking to Military Dude about how they lost something secret to the terrorists. Military Dude is ready to pay off Doctorly for keeping quiet, but it turns out he's there to help. But it'd be nice if they told Doctorly what was stolen. He tells him and Woman Behind Doctorly that it was some poison gas. Of course, he tells them this in a voice-over while we see Lelouch sitting right next to the container.


The military sends out orders to infantrymen to find the container, but not try to retrieve it themselves. Then they bitch at them cause they're all Elevens looking for Britannian citizenship. Lousy Elevens. The other driver has been hurt, but is still trying to drive. And does so, right into a hole. He opens the back of the truck, revealing Lelouch and the container to an infantryman, who quickly jumps inside. After a quick fight, the infantryman is revealed to be Suzaku from the opening. Evidently, Suzaku is Japanese, working for the Empire, and Lelouch is Britannian, looking like a terrorist. They try to figure out why anything's anything, but don't get far. The container opens itself. Suzaku throws Lelouch to the floor, covering his mouth from the gas he expects to bellow out. However, inside is just the green haired girl we briefly saw in the opening. Lelouch tries to help the girl, but the military bursts in to call Suzaku a monkey then order him to kill Lelouch. He refuses, saying he can't shoot a civilian, and is promptly shot in the back by the commanding officer. As the rest of the military officers close in on Lelouch, the driver reaches for a switch that blows up the front of the truck. Nobody's happy about this. Especially Clovis, who orders the Shinjuku Ghetto destroyed. Nobody can know about... the girl? How badly they all just fucked up? At least one of those. More Nightmares are released, and they start to open fire on anyone they see. Soldiers go door-to-door, murdering people.

Lelouch sort of freaks out. Rightly so. Doctorly complains that since the 'gas' was already released, there's no use for his "Lancelot" and is bummed they don't get to collect data on it. Lelouch is trying to help the green-haired girl out, but runs into the military shooting children. Before he can give a flowery monologue, his phone rings, giving away his position. The man in charge of the local murdering goes to shoot Lulu, but the green-haired girl yells out and runs in front of the bullet, getting shot in the head. Lulu gets shaky anime eyed over the girl's body, and before he can get shot or fully go insane, she grabs his arm. During a vision of some sort, filled with production art, she offers him a contract; "In return for power, I want you to grant one of my wishes. If you agree to the contract, you will live as a human, but differ from other humans. A different source, a different time, a different life. The power of the King will make you isolated." Either as a part of the vision or as a cutaway, a man with his back to the audience says, "The union of Ragnarok." Lelouch binds the contract, stands up over the still dead girl, and addresses the military, a hand over his left eye. "Aren't you going to shoot? Or have you realized it? That those who are allowed to shoot are only those who are prepared to shoot?" He removes his hand to reveal his eye has changed, and grown more anime-like.

The guy in charge shakes, unable to shoot. "Lelouch orders those of Britannia, you guys... to die." The reply from each man is "Yes, Your Highness!" They each put their gun to their own head, and fire. Lelouch takes a moment to pontificate about how stuff sucks. But now, he has power. And he smiles over the bodies.

Welcome to the show.