Btooom! – 11
I have to tell myself that Madhouse is getting all the Btooom out of their system before Chihayafuru starts up – kind of like a karmic colon cleanse. Otherwise episodes like this one would make me succumb to despair for sure.
I think pretty much everything you need to know about this show can be summed up in the BIM bouncing off Himiko’s boob in slow motion (as she’s resigning herself to die virginal without a fight – again). But we also got a completely extraneous shower scene along with an incredibly lame peeping gag afterwards, just in case. It’s all very silly but with Btooom, there’s good silly and bad silly and I mostly found this ep pretty hard to take. I found the resolution to Shiki and Date’s situation especially preposterous.
The most interesting development to come out of this is the likelihood that Taira has been sneaking chips behind Sakamoto-han’s back – though he’s been incapacitated for so long that I find it hard to see how he’s much of a threat now. It was always a strong possibility that he’d betray the others, but I was hoping against hope we wouldn’t go that route. How in the world is Madhouse going to wrap this up in one more episode?
Magi – 11
That episode was definitely a tale of two halves, which at least shows that this is a series that has the dexterity to switch modes on a dime. Really good action and Byzantine politics is a potentially rewarding combination, too.
The cavalcade of new characters and big-name seiyuu continues, with Hanazawa Kana taking the headline as Kougyoku Ren, another Princess of the Kou Empire. KanaHana isn’t the most versatile seiyuu but she’s certainly distinctive, and she seems to be in full-on tsundere mode with this one. With her djinn Vinea she rescues Judal, then takes out Ugo in a spectacular fracas before Sinbad steps up and restores order (I can’t wait to see him fully powered-up). In the process Aladdin tuckers himself out by using all his own personal magoi to try and help Ugo, leaving himself comatose in the wake of the battle.
Switching gears in a flash, the focus turns to the internal politics of Balabadd, and when the King’s brother Sabhmad (Nojima Hirofumi – always a thrill when a Seirei no Moribito cast member shows up) arrives to talk with Alibaba the stakes become clear. In effect, what we get is a two-minute crash course in economics – and just perhaps, a scathing attack on the merits of easing monetary policy. Whether this is really intended as a commentary on RL politics I can’t say, but there’s no doubt that the banker Markkio has taken the King of Balabadd for a ride big-time, getting him hooked on paper money like a heroin addict and miring Balabadd in an ocean of debt it can never repay. His solution? Use the people as collateral to borrow even more – sell them as slaves to rival nations. Again – there may or may nor be political commentary happening here, but it certainly makes for an interesting plot development.
With Aladdin incapacitated it seems even more likely that the focus is going to turn to Alibaba for now, as the politics of Balabadd take center stage. In addition to the Deputy King he also has an ally in General Barlak (Matsumoto Yasunori), and it appears things in Balabadd could easily turn into full-scale civil war. It’s an interesting tale this series is weaving, and I enjoy the many faces of Magi – including the occasional bouts of extremely quirky humor like this one, all the more impactful as they often arrive completely out of context. It’s an interesting mix, and I’m looking forward to more.