Watashi ga Motete Dousunda – 10
This has all gotten rather dark, hasn’t it? For the most part Watamodou has been content to immerse itself in silliness (with no small degree of success). But while Kazuma is a pretty silly character, he’s also the kind of actual antagonist this series hasn’t dealt with up to this point. I haven’t quite figured out if his main role is to thrust his brother into pole position, or to actually be a contender himself.
One thing I am sure about – Kazuma is a classic bully and a bastard, and not a magnificent one either. Never mind that he’s a teacher (he can shove that “student” excuse up his ass) putting the moves on Kae and using sexual innuendo as a weapon in his classroom, or that he uses blackmail and rumor-mongering. The stuff he pulls on his brother is pretty despicable too, culminating in locking him in a- well, locker. Considering that Asuma is afraid of dark places and that Kazuma is responsible for that in the first place, it’s kind of a bullying double-whammy.
Irrespective of that, whether intentionally or not Kazuma has certainly forced his brother off the sidelines and into the battle for Kae. That culminates in a duel at “Castle Guard” (which seems to be the uncool, nerdy kids version of Pokemon) which, being castle otaku, both brothers have some experience with. The battle itself is the funniest scene of a rather serious episode, with the students in attendance getting into it despite having no clue what’s happening either in text or subtext, and Shima pulling out all her BL-in-training props to lead the rest of the suitors in a cheering section.
The fact that Asuma won by using trickery is not coincidental, of course – this experience has changed him, and while the others were right to be rooting for him, he’s obviously the much greater long-term threat than Kazuma. He’s also the only one of the boys (or Shima) who’s actually come right out and denounced the idea that Kae is a thing to be fought over and “taken”, and that alone gives him a leg up in my book. We won’t find out in anime form of course, and who knows if the manga will even give readers a conclusive answer – but if this actually were a horse race, I’d be putting my money on Asuma and Nozomu.
Drifters – 11
Truthfully, there are large parts of this episode about which the less is said, the better. I’m not going to drop a series a week from the end, but there are times when Drifters really makes me want to (and that will certainly weigh on my decision whether or not to cover or even watch the likely second season).
For now, I hope the finale focuses as much on the geopolitic and as little on the stone-aged homophobia as possible. That part of the series is genuinely interesting, as is watching Oda try and wrap his mind around this era that he finds himself in. That’s fascinating because Oda was an almost unbelievably modern man for his time and place, and you can see the moments where his towering intellect collides head-in with his limited experiences. He can see the future he’s unleashing by beginning this arms race, and being Oda he’s not especially bothered by it. Toyohisa and Yoichi continue to do their thing in more or less straightforward fashion, but Oda always tries and grasp the big picture.
Orte is starting to look pretty irrelevant here. Both St. Germin and the Black King (with Rasputin and Hijikata on point) had notions of taking over the empire and using it as a puppet, but with the arrival of the Drifters the Black King seems more than willing to change his plan to simply destroying it. Orte seems to have been something of a misdirection, with the real battle to come after it’s fallen. That one will apparently see the fate of human civilization in this world hang in the balance.