This was an odd little episode of Yozakura Quartet, the series where even the eyecatches have panty shots.
We’re only two weeks away from the finale of this series, but Ryo-timo took the time to give us a slice-of-life episode with very little that was relevant to the future plot until the 30-second post ED sequence. This seems to synch with the notion that the aim is to have the end of Hana no Uta synch up with the start of the Tsuki no Naku OVA series – which actually premiered in October. Watching this series has never been less than a complicated undertaking.
If you like the whimsical, moe-driven side of Yozakura Quartet this episode was certainly right up your alley, not straying far from the basic formula we’ve seen utilized over and over. The first half focused on Hime recovering from a cold with Ao watching over her and her trio of school friends rambunctiously making noise. It was basically an opportunity for the five of them to vamp, flash the audience and the Vice-principal of the school to show up and say how wonderful Hime was despite the Elders wanting her to resign. I must say being show over and over just how much everyone adores Hime is getting a little wearisome at this stage – we got the point a long time ago.
B-Part is the backstory of Juli, the doctor with the world’s shortest skirt (Ao probably finishes second, but she’s cuter). Did I need to see it? No, but it was modestly interesting (and the timing was relevant given the epilogue, though I won’t expound on that). Juli, it happens, is a descendant of Dr. Frankenstein – yes, that one – who came to Sakura Newtown many generations earlier to open a clinic after being hounded out of Europe. Of note here is seeing Yuhi and Yae in a sort of photo-negative of how we’re used to seeing them – the two of them never fail to entertain me, whichever body form (why do I suspect Yuhi switched because he figured he could get away with being more ecchi as a shota?) they happen to be choosing at the moment.
Kingdom 2 – 27
I noted last week how epic war stories like Kingdom bear a certain narrative similarity to sports anime, and it’s no less apparent here. We had our buildup episode, now we have the “game”, with the ultimate stakes – and as with a really gripping event ep of a sports anime, it’s torture when those closing credits start to roll and you know it’s seven long days of waiting ahead.
It’s hard not to conclude in watching this battle play out (no, the CGI isn’t especially horrible this week) that the army of Wei is simply better when it comes to tactics and strategy. The issue, as I see it, is that the Lian Po army is stocked with brilliant minds at the peak of their powers – including the Supreme Commander himself – and the Qin army is ill-equipped to counter. They’re fighting this war at a bad time – the last of their truly great Generals has died, and while the three young wolves have the potential, they’re just too young and lacking in experience to be able to match up with the likes of Lun Hu. Meng Ao has his Vice-generals but they’re each deeply flawed in spite of their brilliance, and the White Elder himself just lacks that spark of brilliance that truly great military commanders have. Ten years earlier or ten years later, and this would have been a much more formidable fighting force.
That said, they are the good guys here (though Kingdom does a good job of demonstrating that there isn’t really a moral difference between the sides in these conflicts, and soldiers are never more motivated than when fighting to defend their homes) and as such, one might reasonably expect them to win – or at least draw. It doesn’t look good at the moment, as Meng Ao is caught between Scylla and Charybdis – Lun Hu is charging towards his headquarters with only the depleted Feixin Unit (left behind in reserve along with the Yufeng and Yueha Units, on the opposite flank, as punishment for their adventurism) in the way, and Lian Po himself has snuck up from behind – the less steep side of the hill on which Meng Ao has set up shop. This was surely coordinated between he and Lun Hu, and even if the White Elder is smart enough not to take Lian Po’s bait and duel him one-on-one, it was he who surely intended all along to be the one to take that silver head.
It’s now that we truly see the damage Wang Jian’s cowardly retreat has done the Qin cause – Lian Po can comfortably execute his plan without Jian Lian, but with Wang Jian bottled up in his hilltop rat’s nest he’s useless to his commander. Obviously the Xin-Lun Hu battle is going to be a resounding one, and the Feixin will sharply slow Lun Hu down at the very least. But the other side of the hill looks bleak indeed. There’s one wild card still out there, and that’s Huan Ji, the Thief-General who took Xuan Feng’s head. He may still be tied up with Jie Zifang’s army – though we know Lun Hu had Jie send some of his men to replace the ones the young lions managed to take from him – but last we heard he’d disappeared into the woodwork as usual, presumably to pop up at an opportune time to thwart the enemy. Hopefully he proves more reliable and useful to his commander than his fellow Vice-general, the aristocratic military scion content to guard his own ass rather than risk it in a battle he’s not sure to win.
In any event, the front-page story for now is still Lun Hu vs. Xin. Lun Hu continues to earn his “magnificent bastard” stripes – though he gets a little help from a Wei commander whose troops he’s sold a little short. He uses the very complex and difficult wheel manouver to slice through Meng Ao’s horizontal formation like a rotary saw through plywood, taking out the flatulent but courageous – and a bit dim – General Rong Bei in the process. It’s only the resolution of the Feixin (and, one suspects, the absence of so many of Lun Hu’s best men) that halts his charge, leading to the resumption and presumably conclusion of Xin’s personal battle with Lun Hu. But the Feixin are weakened from yesterday’s fierce fighting, and Xin has been ordered to leave 200 behind as a reserve of the reserve – and along with them his strongest fighter in Qian Lei, who he’s seen is seriously wounded and not at all at her best. All in all things are looking pretty grim on what we’re promised is the last day of this battle, but that stormy day may be a long one – and I suspect we’re going to get a few more surprising twists and turns before it’s over.