Who on earth would want to hack Anime News Network?

When I heard the news, it really baffled me. They haven’t done anything…out of the ordinary, as far as I know. Well, they switched domain and managed to restore their social media, so go them.

Beginning this column with Sakura Quest, they manage to find the shrine float drum, straightaway after looking into the warehouse of an abandoned elementary school. It’s here where Maki clashes with her father, who is a member of the local Board of Education. Turns out that he never forgave her for quitting college to be an actress in Tokyo, although like a lot of parents who secretly care for their rebellious children, he encourages her to keep doing the one thing she loves the most.

This is something that separates Yoshino and Maki. Yoshino has been in and out of all sorts of jobs, not really knowing what she has wanted to do for the long run; Maki has wanted to be an actress ever since she was little, and it was only her own disappointment in playing a bit part in an obscure TV show that made her quit and keep on doing odd jobs, leading to where she is now in Manoyama. When her brother discovers that an acting audition was mailed to her, and after hearing from her father, Yoshino and Sanae, she hauls herself off to Tokyo for the audition while the drum is off being repaired.

For the fans of the show, I don’t think this week delivered much for them; they like to pick up on the tiny things here (what Sandal does, what Erika does, all the various outfits the girls all wear, etc.). Instead, this week looks like a precursor on what Maki could potentially do once Yoshino’s contract is up.

Moving onto Love & Lies and…wow…they didn’t mess around this week! Ririna is starting to have her own private thoughts about being with Yukari, which begin to frighten her, since despite having no problem hanging out with him, she can’t see him in that way. Well this is just all timed for a scheduled day-long session run by the government that the two of them have to attend. In the disguise of a formal lecture, Yukari and Ririna meet up with others their age who look more than happy with being paired up – it’s as if it’s only those two who are nervous about it all. Then after a really passionate speech and an educational (and explicit) video, they are all whisked off to a love hotel.

No really.

For the first time, I’m not really sure what will happen next in this show. We have essentially reached the halfway point in the show and so far we know that Misaki is beginning to give Yukari the cold shoulder (for reasons unknown), Yuusuke is playing some kind of undercover role (also for reasons unknown), a former classmate of Yukari and Misaki turns out to be employed by the government, and Yukari and Ririna are both panicking over whether they should go past third base in the short amount of time they’ve known each other.

My best character this week was government employee Ichijou, hands down. She just looks so passionate and rather comical, where she gives these confused teenagers a highly passionate lecture about what happens when a man and a woman love each other very much. Ichijou’s now fallen into that hole of “secondary characters I love”, along with Haruka (Hibike! Euphonium) and Utsutsu (Gatchaman Crowds). There’s definitely more to this assigned partner system than we all think, and of course Ichijou knows all about it, but she doesn’t have an antagonistic bone in her body. Here she is this week, encouraging these kids to go at it like bunnies “because it’s only natural”. A part of me wishes I had a sex-ed teacher like her when I was still at school…only without the distribution of condoms and the night at a love hotel…

Not much change when it comes to New Game!! although I can say that I’m tolerating it a lot more than I did a couple of weeks ago. The crippling anxiety and depression in past episodes has all but disappeared now, but instead we are given scenarios that are much more commonplace in any work environment…and that’s saying something for this show.

Hifumi is slowly getting used to her new role, and her attempts to be authoritative to the other two (Aoba and Yun) are actually very good; being a cosplayer outside of work hours pays off somewhat. Watching her seriously get into character (albeit for the briefest of times) is the highlight of this episode.

Just a bit weird on how Hajime effectively turns half of episode 5 into some kind of “how to share ideas with your work colleagues” motivational video when she gets stuck with a character design flaw. Okay, so perhaps that’s just me sounding very pessimistic. In fact, I seem to be finding all sorts of problems with season 2, and I know I shouldn’t, since it is essentially going along with the events of the manga and not deviating on its own. New Game!! is simply all of the girls growing up by a year, developing new skills and working on a new project (which actually looks rather cute). I really shouldn’t complain…but I’m a critic…we’re meant to complain. We’d be out-of-the-job otherwise.

For some reason, Crunchyroll is not being nice to my stream of Squid Girl this week; every time I’ve tried to load episode 6, the page kind of implodes. So my review on that, along with episode 7, will have to wait.

Also next week, Monogatari returns, and it’s the first time where I’m not totally bothered, or even anticipating its return. Owarimonogatari Ge plans to tell the three remaining chapters in the Owarimonogatari LN, highlighting Mayoi, Hitagi and, once again, Ougi. This lack of care coming from me could be down to the fact that it’s only going to be told in a few episodes, but it’s also likely down to the fact that the Monogatari franchise has been going on for a long time (Bakemonogatari came out in 2009!) and as much as I love it, it needs to end.

All great shows know the right time to end.