Megalobox #11 – So you know that stereotype we still get sometimes in Western media, where black men are portrayed as inherently violent, incredibly strong, almost bestial? Well, Japan has that stereotype too— except it’s about white men. This is why even Japanese thugs, gangsters, and juvenile delinquents are often shown with “white” characteristics such as bleached or blond hair (like, say, Ryūji in Persona5). And it’s why the huge, animalistic damage machine Joe has to fight his way through next is the whitest dude you’re going to be seeing on this show.
I would have guessed at first that putting the Gear back on was a ploy to give Burroughs a false sense of confidence. But no, it’s Joe almost submitting to the idea that his life is going back to what it was, an endless circuit of unchallenging fixed matches. And then Fujimaki opens his wrecks his own scheme by saying exactly the thing necessary to push both Joe and Nambu into their own forms of rebellion.
The cross that’s been hanging in Nambu’s truck reads Dios apierta pero no ahoga: “God presses, but He does not crush.” (An allusion to this verse, I guess?) When he throws it away, it seems to say that he’s finally reached his breaking point. He’s lost his faith that things will get better eventually if he can just endure them. But Joe has brought it back. And, it seems a shame to mess up a great character moment by mentioning this, but with it being the future, with integrated cybernetic body parts and all, it really should be no big deal for the Shirato company to whip up a bionic eye or two for him when all this is over.
Hakyu Hoshin Engi #21 – I still prefer the more enigmatic presentation of Fugen’s sacrifice at the end of last week’s episode, but we were promised Kingo Island in ruins and a big lava pit for Taikōbō and Bunchū to hover over. So there, at last, is the earth-shattering kaboom. And for all that, all the effect on Bunchū is just a flesh wound.
It is now time for the aged teacher to show just how badass he is before his inevitable death, and Genshi Tenson does not disappoint. Neither does the visual work. Neither does Bunchū, who has now not only shrugged off a fusion bomb, and whatever worse thing Fugen unleashed, but an actual freaking black hole.
At this point, it is worth noticing that the massive cast shown in the opener has been whittled down almost to the point where you can count them on your fingers. There are only two or three remaining inhabitants of Kongrong Mountain alive besides Taikōbō and the suddenly grown-up Sūpūshan. Everyone from Kingo Island is gone besides Bunchū and, now confirmed, Ōtenkun. Dakki and her sisters are just fine, Hiko and Tenka have survived, and I’d like to think the three Sennin sisters are still out there somewhere.
Even the emperor of Yin is dead now, fading away like his kingdom. Whatever Bunchū has convinced himself he’s achieving, it’s pointless now, and the army of Shō is bound to be victorious. But again, if that was part of Joka’s plan to recreate her planet’s history all along, what can Taikōbō do to change that history?
Cute High Earth Defense Club HAPPY KISS! #10 – Cute High shakes up the formula a little this week, and it works! The endless aimless conversation of the bathhouse morphs seamlessly into the endless nattering of old men as the boys are attacked without knowing it. (I thought for a minute there they might reveal that Kyōtarō actually is an old man, stuck in a time loop or reversed back to his youth somehow.) The updates to the standard transformation and defeat scenes are good for a chuckle. And nothing at all is lost by moving the monster of the week’s complaint monologue to later in the episode and skipping his initial transformation.
And then Ata finally reaches his breaking point. An simple invitation to hang out doesn’t begin to measure up to the grudge he’s apparently been carrying since he was little and Kyōtarō decided to be friends with Ryōma instead. That concentrated hate and anger now looks like what Fennec wanted to build up all along. Now Ata is set up to be the next monster.
The preview says next week is the next-to-last episode, so I guess they’ll find a way to squeeze that last one into July after all. So much for a nice clean season transition!
Persona5 the Animation #11 – This show has settled into a workmanlike groove where you know pretty much what’s coming and it does a decent job of delivering. The opening and closing sequences have long since removed any mystery about the ultimate composition of the gang, so we know it’s time for Makoto to join and reveal her Persona. I’m at a loss to name a famous thief or rogue named Johanna, but fannish sources suggest it’s a reference to the apocryphal Pope Joan.
On the other hand, it’s a complete surprise that Makoto is the younger sister of the same person who’s interrogating Ren a few months later. That starts to explain why Sae takes the case and is so urgently pressing Ren for answers. She seems to like her sister enough to want to save Makoto from whatever criminal scheme she’s gotten mixed up in, and there’s probably not a little guilt about pulling away from her just as she joined the Phantoms.
It’s a little disappointing that the second girl to join the gang with a connection to an enemy also gets threatened with sexual violence. On the other hand, the story is giving Makoto plenty of chances to show off her brains. It’s also doing an excellent job of leveraging its metaphors once again, as she figures out how to access the bank. Now for the Treasure, which is going to need a good old-fashioned vault-breaking, I expect.
Steins;Gate 0 #10 – Once again, the unfortunate otaku-bait side of Steins;Gate rears its head in what I hope is a brief interlude before the plot gets heavy again. We get a nice comic scene ruined by creeping on the little girl, and then later some standard supposed-to-be-hilarious misdemeanor sexual assault. For the last time, people, just because it happens between characters of the same gender does not make it not harassment.
The last part does at least lead to a nice moment where Moeka reveals her attempt to write a novel (not ever mentioned before), and Hiyajō has a moment of realization about her envy of Kurisu. But there were so many other way to have gotten there.
But we do get one big new revelation: that the McGuffin the unknown forces are chasing after actually exists, and Hiyajō has it. Or had it, before she turned it over to her “trusted” source. With a bit of luck, that might be Suzuha’s alter ego John Titor, who made a name for himself commenting about time travel online in the first Steins;Gate. If it’s anyone else, the world is, once again, screwed. And when lately has Okabe had any luck…