Everything you need to know about this week:
Okay, all right, there was a bunch of other shows too. But none of them had Karen treating Suzaku as a punching bag! Mind the spoilers if you click below.
Code Geass (episode 16)
Ooooooh it’s getting good.
As the Emperor asserts, the world of Code Geass is now squarely divided between Britannia (America, Russia, and parts of Africa and Europe) and the U.N.F., Zero’s puppet government (East Asia, Middle East, and also parts of Europe and Africa). It is the same with the characters. Allegiances have been crystallized; protagonists have made their choice. Except for Suzaku.
He is the wild card. I fucking cringed when Lelouch called him after C.C.’s speech on friends (more on her below). Yet it was a return to what I believe was Code Geass‘s original motif: how can a friendship between two people with vastly different outlooks on life and abilities manage to survive an era of strife and betrayal? We will know soon enough… as in, next episode. This is Suzaku’s last chance to decide which camp he’s in; if he screws Lelouch now Lulu’s gonna go berserk and forget the humanity he has come to develop over the course of the series. But if Suzaku extends his hand… Ah, what can’t these two accomplish together? (Mao found out the answer to that question the hard way.)
As for C.C. she has turned into a mystery. What exactly happened to her? Did the loss of her immortality steal her memory too? Did the Emperor and his former Geass have anything to do with it? Most importantly, what will be her role from now on? So far she’s playing Lelouch’s unwitting sideline cheerleader, but I wonder if Code Geass will be content to leave her in such a secondary role after she had top billing for one and a half season.
P.S. Please save Karen already etc.
P.P.S. NIPPON BANZAI!!!
Antique Bakery (episode 03)
I never thought I’d still be watching (and liking!) a show whose premise can essentially be distilled into “four gay guys in a cake shop” but here’s my contrite, blindsided self apologizing.
To be fair Antique Bakery has its flaws. The most serious one is that it loves to switch gears between comedy and drama, but does it so fast that I, an anime watcher raised on stereotypes, often stay stuck in “haha” mode while the show has already moved on to “zomg serious gay love” mode. Ono’s moment in the rain with Chikage was a perfect example of this: I kept chuckling at Ono’s silliness (“His face! He’s just my type!”) but before I realized, I was watching a scene that had turned the corner and moved from comedy to a disguised declaration of love between two grown men in their thirties, dancing in the rain, not caring who sees them. Still was a beautiful moment in a season filled with crappy fanservice shows.
Speaking of which…
Strike Witches (episode 05)
It’s hard to believe after seeing the above picture, but I might be done with Strike Witches.
I mean, what else can I say after an episode that starts with Miyafuji waking up from a sex dream about Lynne and ends with the above-pictured groping at sea? Gonzo’s not even pretending anymore; the Neuroi was on screen for a whole, uh, ten seconds or so? And the plot’s been jettisoned along with everything else that made Miyafuji a compelling lead for the first couple of episodes. Now she’s turned into a boob fiend. How the mighty have fallen.
Therefore, in case I never discuss Strike Witches again, let’s use the occasion to whack it upside the head with the bazillion plot holes I have so generously overlooked thus far.
- NO PANTS. I’m all for alternate universes where the Nazis won WW2 or the Roman Empire didn’t crumble or JFK wasn’t shot, but man, when an article of clothing goes missing from the annals of history for no good reason, I call shenanigans. It’s not even as if the girls of Strike Witches wear skirts or dresses to compensate: no, they think they’re fashionable when they go out in crotch-hugging panties and a shirt! Maybe men are nowhere to be seen in the show because they’re all in jail for statutory rape.
- WHY WITCHES? Aren’t we dealing with a vast army of mechanical flying aliens who overwhelmed mainland Europe’s armies? You’re telling me that a dozen flying foxgirls wielding machine guns (and in one case, a bloody katana) are our only hope? I can’t find a hook enormous enough on which to suspend my disbelief for this one.
- NEUROI. Faceless mechanical alien airplanes with an easily exposed “core”. And a schedule. Wait, a schedule? Forget the strategic flaw in a predictable attack routine, I keep imagining Commander Minna on the phone with them, PDA in hand, mumbling, “No, no, Tuesday afternoon’s no good, we have a party at the beach… Can you make Thursday evening? Yes? All right we’ll be there!”
- WHY PREPUBESCENT WITCHES? Miyafuji’s mother and grandmother can use magic, and better than her too. So obviously magic skill is refined with age — as are judgement, physical ability, and so on and so forth. If that’s the case… then why are humanity’s top aces fifteen-year-olds? There has to be a reason for it, it couldn’t just be that Gonzo’s milking the loli trend for all it’s worth. Riiiight? (“Milking the loli”… Egads, I wonder what kind of Google traffic this will send my way.)
- THE STRIKER UNIT. In this week episode we learn that Shirley the American Witch is a speed freak who loves to tune her Striker Unit for maximum speed and acceleration. After she breaks the 800 km/h barrier she returns her Strike Unit to the hangar, at which point Lucchini, the not-too bright Italian Witch, accidentally trashes it then attempts to rebuild it by putting parts together randomly. And this somehow allows Shirley to break the speed of sound. Yeaaaaaaah.
Kaiba (episode 10)
Given my love for it, I should really discuss Kaiba more often, but it’s incredibly difficult to put into the words the experience of watching such a show. I’ll try my best.
Although anime viewers will remember the show for its off-kilter animation and emotional weight, what made me fall in love with Kaiba was its music. Both the OP and ED themes are virtual masterpieces: haunting, mournful, yearning melodies that speak of love, loss, and hope, sung with an ethereal languor that approaches spoken word. I don’t like to link to YouTube videos, but you have to watch and listen or else you’ll never begin to understand. OP theme is here and ED theme is here. I dare you not to shiver once.
Episode 10 (which is the latest available fansub) explores the events prior to Episode 01: how our protagonist, Kaiba/Warp, lost his memory and why he awakened alone with Popo-san watching over him. Even the mystery of why a blurry picture of a growling Neiro is inside Kaiba’s locket is finally explained.
The series is slowly moving towards its conclusion, and for once, I want a show I love to end — not because Kaiba is terrible or because it’s run out of steam, but because I want to know. I want to find out about Issoudan, about Warp(s), and about Kaiba, the plant that tried to devour everything and which was banished by the last king ages ago. I want to know if Neiro will find a way to atone for her sin. I want to know if Vanilla’s sacrifice was in vain or not. I want to know if Kaiba/Warp is still human after all this time, capable of love and compassion, or if his heavy burden has robbed him of his emotions.
And because I know I won’t be disappointed.
Today’s Karen is: KICKING ASS