Shakugan no Shana III – 05
Shana is certainly testing my memory. All kinds of faces I haven’t seen for ages are turning up again, and it’s an effort to place them all in context as I frankly didn’t pay very close attention once the second season started to slide in quality. Lamies is a fellow I remember well – the “good” crimson denizen who only consumes torches that are about to die out anyway – Shiro took a minute or two, but then I recalled that flashback arc as one of the best in the series. As for Shana, she’s held prisoner by Yuji/Snake at his digs in the Crimson Realm, and fancy though they may be, it’s still a prison. He’s blocked her powers with a sealing bracelet and cut a deal with Alastor to give him a look inside Bal Masque in return for his cooperation. Margery is still out cold, Outlaw is not acknowledging Satou’s presence and things are generally a mess as Wilhelmina sets off to rescue Shana alone. I’m still not exactly sure where everyone’s motivation lies here, but it does seem as if the new Yuji is not evil per se – there’s definitely a higher purpose to his actions, possibly an “end justifies the means” scenario. I wonder if Yuji’s goodness has tempered the Snake’s megalomania and created a sort of altruistic fascist dictator of the Crimson Realm. The fact that Lamies is willing to work with him suggests his purpose may be fundamentally positive, perhaps some sort of “Let’s end this endless war with the flame hazes!” model, but it’s too early to say.
Gundam AGE – 05
This was the first episode of AGE that more or less focused on answering questions, rather than asking more of them. We know a few things we didn’t before and a few we already suspected: Emily is a total wet rag, Grodek is a sneaky son of a bitch and Yurin was most likely a “Dweller of Eden”, based on the similarity she bears to new character Decil Galette (Takagaki Ayahi). He’s the demon boy of the title – a red-haired imp who manufactures an “accident” with Flit a (riding a Segway, no less) after the Diva arrives on new colony Fardain. In short order Decil charms his way onto the Diva, into the hangar, and promptly steals the Gundam when two UE’s attack the colony, piloting it better than Flit ever did and toying with the UE. Just what these Eden folks are is still undetermined, but they seem to pack some sort of psychic charge in their touch and can obviously predict the future to some extent. Meanwhile Grodek is about to be arrested for stealing the Diva, but digs up some dirt on the local Governor and later informs Emily that the entire Federation has gone rotten to the core. And really, can Emily just go away? Her whining and fretting is really starting to grate on my nerves, though I know she’s likely destined to be Flit’s wife and isn’t going anywhere.
Hunter x Hunter 2011 – 06
So this is the trend I’ve discovered so far – the entertainment value of an episode seems directly correlated to the amount of Hisoka in an episode. Of course, that’s based on a pretty small sample size. But last week was clearly the most interesting ep of Hunter x Hunter in my view, and this one – largely Hisoka-free – was not nearly so good. I’m not weighed down with the bias of comparing this series to the 1999 one, but the tone this week definitely felt lighter and less substantial. The new characters – gourmet hunters Menchi (Hirano Aya) and Buhara (Kanemaru Junichi) and Exam Committee Chairman Netero (Nagai Ichiro) didn’t really make much of an impact. Their Iron Chef exam challenge was fairly predictable, and Netero’s intervention afterwards felt oddly stilted and artificial. We had our requisite contributions to the body count in the re-exam, the hunt for spider eagle eggs, which was somewhat more interesting. And I do respect the notion that gourmets are accorded the same respect as any other hunter. I just didn’t find the episode as entertaining as the last one. In a long series like this you’ll have peaks and valleys, and H x H is clearly no exception to the rule. Hopefully things pick up next week as Netero appears ready to step into a more direct role.