Plot points, anyone?

Well…plot points can be found in some, but there’s none in others. Or rather, the plot points went that way *points*

It’s so good to see Sangatsu no Lion back, although having to watch the musical shogi cat tutorial again got seriously annoying. Some good progress was made in the space of 25 minutes though. Harunobu decides to do the decent thing and tries to cheer Rei up, by moving in with him, only for Rei to feel even more disgusted with himself when he hears that his televised plea in the last episode left him with anaemia. Also, Hina is even more eager to learn shogi. I think it’s a good thing that all of these people (the Kawamoto sisters, Harunobu, others at the shogi hall) are doing what they can to better his life, but from what I can see, it only brings him down even more and makes him feel even more disgusted at how he has painted his present and his future.

I’ve mentioned in the past that shogi has become both his life and his prison. He is still in self-pity after his losing streak, and it dawns on him now that he is that close to demotion. In shogi, it can be incredibly hard to get back to your original level once demoted. His next match is to be with a long-standing professional who plans to retire soon, but it’s a match he needs to win if he has any chance of keeping his current level.

Now was the right time to introduce Kyouko properly, when Rei has his only chance to stop going backwards (ie. getting demoted). She is exactly how I had pictured her: beautiful, hot-tempered, manipulative and independent. I think her grudge against Rei has all but gone, but she can’t resist poking at all of his weak spots, even though she is adult enough to know that violence between foster siblings is unacceptable. Strangely, despite her past with Rei, I don’t see her as some kind of antagonist. Sangatsu no Lion is a coming-of-age show, and while the Kawamoto sisters and Harunobu can help Rei see the positives in life, someone like Kyouko can help Rei understand (subtly, not directly) that not everything is all rosy, and that he must gain the strength to stand up to whatever gets in his way.

Initially, I didn’t think I’d like Kyouko, but as I already know that she won’t be a regular occurrence in the show (and will only pop up every now and then), I genuinely do see her as someone who can help Rei. She still plays the manipulative wild girl, and lives a life completely independent from her father’s (Rei’s guardian), but age has changed her. Here she is, speaking to a third-year high-schooler, treating him almost like an equal and even getting relieved when she gets close up to him and sees that her boyfriend (who is 20 years older than her) didn’t leave a scar when he struck him. She knows he is smart; he’s only clueless when it comes to social behaviour. Are the two polar opposites? Not quite. Is Kyouko the Yin to Rei’s Yang? Hardly. I shouldn’t say that Rei ought to ‘man up’ against someone like Kyouko (or people worse than her), but he needs people like the Kawamoto sisters to become stronger (when it comes to self-esteem), and he needs people like Kyouko to become stronger too (when it comes to self-worth). They won’t ever kiss and make up; neither would gain anything by doing so.

Moving onto something more positive, and way less thought-provoking, Long Riders! has shown us now that it doesn’t even care anymore about a outstanding story. Now that they’ve reached the stage that they are all now one cycling team (Team Fortuna), they can’t really go much further. They can’t take part in the fleche, as only people over 20 are allowed (apparently), but Hinako mentions an event coming soon. I think it’ll be that event that will mark the end of the show. Boring I know…in fact, if anything, this episode has been more of an educational episode, for how to do maintenance on road bikes (checking brakes, cleaning the chain, etc.) As I said before, it no longer bothers me. Despite the 2 delays and the extremely bad episode, the very slow pace in Long Riders! just doesn’t bother me at all anymore. It’s a show where I can just switch off. Nothing more.

Considering that I had this sneaking suspicion that something major was going to happen, plus the fact that I had forgotten a good portion of what actually happened so far, I chose to re-watch Occultic;Nine from the start, and a crapload of more notes. I don’t think I got very far though, although I have determined (I think) who is actually dead and who is still alive. Kiryuu, Asuna and Ryouka (I think) are the only ones who are still kicking…everyone else is either dead or missing. Time travel seems to have become possible now, though, so for all we know, the people who are dead could turn out to be still alive, in an alternate reality. Also this so-called ‘Wardenclyffe Gun’ that is also mentioned a lot is a reference (via research on Reddit) to the Tesla Tower in New York that was built in the early 20th-century. Oh yeah and, unsurprisingly, the writers couldn’t resist giving a nod to Steins;Gate.

*heavy sigh* There have been so many ideas and theories bouncing around all over the place in this show, that it gets too complicated for its own good. It’s a shame because if the show was edited so that only the few major ideas and theories came to light, Occultic;Nine would be an okay show. It doesn’t help that the animation isn’t all that. I have watched more complicated shows, so don’t get me wrong, some sense can be made in this, in many many rewatches. Of course I have other better shows to watch, plus I have a social life that exists outside of anime (surprisingly).

I decided to make a separate post for this week’s offering of Hibike! Euphonium 2. It’s been one of the best episodes of this entire year in terms of story, character and animation, so I felt it needed its own coverage. Kumiko uses her invisible super powers to pick Asuka apart and get her to spill the beans…finally. Asuka has been quite possibly the most mysterious character in the history of KyoAni. Regardless of what your opinion is of her, you can see that she really is struggling in this show.

Ending with Brave Witches, we had the opportunity to catch Waltrud, who isn’t as ditzy as we think she is. She’s smart, experienced, and eager to teach cute girls the things she learned when she was in past battles. Now she’s considerably older and more jaded, perhaps she is using this mission to escort something top-secret as some kind of ‘send-off’ before she’s grounded…if Witches are ever grounded. This episode also brings about Naoe’s very short temper, and how it can get the better of her…and I believe this will go into more detail next week. We actually have a plot point for once, when a Neuroi unit picks up a Strike Unit from the ocean. In addition to that, a couple of weeks ago, I also addressed the possibility of a Waltrud x Edytha couple, well this week confirmed it, with the ad card of artwork of them sharing a bed.

It mirrors the Gertrud x Erica couple of Strike Witches in every way, just as the Aleksandra x Nikka couple mirrors Sanya x Eila. Plenty of people tell me the Sasha x Nipa couple doesn’t exist…umm, please. Yes it does.

I quite like how most of this week is wrapping up already (with the exception of Sangatsu no Lion, of course). While Brave Witches had its silly episode that tried to celebrate Christmas, Yule, and other festivals all-in-one, Hibike! Euphonium seems itching to get Asuka and Mamiko’s arc complete, and for both Long Riders! and Occultic;Nine to just end, regardless of how bad the ending could be.