No question, this was the best Shana episode of the season so far for me. I’m that rare specimen that actually likes Yoshida, so it was nice to see her get some development at last. The show looked terrific – clearly some of the best production values we’ve seen from the normally pedestrian JC Staff in many a season. We got some very interesting Shana x Yuji interaction. Best of all for me, though, was that the unexpected person Yoshida met was who I suspected last week – Khamsin Nbh’w (Minagawa Junko, still one of the best women at playing boys – even ones that are thousands of years old). Along with his contractor Behemoth (Houki Katsuhisa) he’s on his way to the Crimson Realm to join the battle, but he stops in Misaki to give Yoshida a chance to plead for Yuji’s life. When she surprises him by not doing so, they have a fascinating conversation about the reasons, which touches on the treasure tool Pheles gave her. This prompts Khamsin to share his origin story at last, and it’s a powerful one. I enjoy the tragic side of Yoshida’s arc, and Khamsin just packs a massive aura of power and GAR wherever he goes, so their scenes were pure win.
It appears that the setup faze is about finished, and the war is about to begin. As SotF/Yuji and his inner circle head off into the void to try and recover his original body, the battle for the Crimson Realm is apparently about to play out in their absence. Yuji was especially schizoid this week, lapsing between voices from sentence to sentence, and it’s interesting to speculate on the complicated nature of his character. Obviously the God of Creation feels he’s doing the right thing for the universe, but I’m not sure sure myself that he’s wrong – I don’t feel an obvious sense that the flame haze are the good guys and the Crimson Denizens the baddies as I did in the first two seasons. Is the world the flame haze are protecting really all that perfect that it couldn’t stand some serious improving? It’s also interesting that Lamies has allied himself with SotF, as I see his role as technically neutral, but generally seeking the path of least collateral damage to the universe and its inhabitants.
Mobile Suit Gundam AGE – 07
A pretty rousing episode this week, with even the neighborhood urchins managing to thrust themselves into the midst of battle. As it turns out Don
Karnage Boyage isn’t really interested in having Flit under arrest – he just can’t release him too quickly or the dreaded Euba will think he’s weak. Boyage is interested in the Gundam, however, but even with the carrot of his requested warships dangled in front of his eyes, Grodek isn’t ready to sell Flit out and give up the Gundam (not to mention he probably thinks he’ll need it to crush the UE). Of course the themes here are about as broad as you can get – “let’s all stop this petty bickering and fight against the common enemy!” – but even a Gundam noob like me knows this is a very old conflict and not easy to dismiss. In the end Flit ends up leaving the squabbling combatants to settle matters on their own as he deals with the UE, but the UE are proving adaptive, and the DODS Rifle no longer works. Fortunately Vargas and crew are remarkably adept at doing things like fleeing back to the Diva and retrofitting the Gundam with new AGE weapons in what appears to be seconds – this is about the fourth time it’s happened – and Flit’s mobile suit is ready to go out and face the world (and the UE) with a very spiffy-looking power up…
Maji de Watashi ni Koshinasai – 08
OK, this show is getting really, really weird. Mystical self-healing properties, Cookie as a military combat droid, cyborg JSDF babes, and politics. Lots of politics, in fact. There’s been quite a bit of nationalism showing up in various anime this season, but I really didn’t expect to see it with Majikoi. But there was a heavy dose of it this week, long speeches about the military fighting with defective weaponry because of corrupt civilian government officials and such, with the Wakamoto character with the bandaged face obviously tied into that. The message about corruption on Japanese public life certainly isn’t misplaced, nor the one about supporting the troops with proper equipment, but it’s a short trip from there to some fairly dangerous, Yasukini Shrine-type territory. In any case, this was another ep that really felt aimed squarely at the viewers who know the material well, as the “Four Devas” storyline pretty much jumped in with no exposition though I don’t recall it even being mentioned before this week. In any case, at least Momoyo has found herself someone to fight on her own level, the cyborg Tachibana Takae, and Yamato is caught in the crossfire of their battle and ends up in a coma, so I gather that’s the source of next week’s drama. I hate to repeat myself, but I really like this series a lot better with a healthy dose of humor mixed in, and there’ wasn’t a sniff of it this week.