Listeners #4 – Echo and Mu fetch up at a high school full of students with Player potential, and discover that, just like any place full of rock stars, it has a drug problem. Getting to the bottom of it brings them to a depressed, disconnected student named Nir(vana) and her manipulative handler who thinks he sees an easy way out of being drafted to fight the Earless.
On the one hand, this episode feels like someone overdosed on afterschool specials— Drugs aren’t a substitute for friendship, kids! Get high on math instead!— and on the other, beneath all the weird and hilarious rock references, it reveals a grim reality for Players. Most of them aren’t, it seems, doing what they’re doing out of the goodness of their hearts, but because they’ve been forced into it. The drugs are a way of keeping going because they aren’t allowed to quit.
Anyway, I think the real point of this episode was that Kurt Cobain needed to lighten up and maybe get a different manager. Next time, it looks like we get Prince and some potentially awkward Thoughts on Gender.
Appare-Ranman! #3 – The next challenger to appear is a European corporate prince complete with his own personal court, ready to turf out our heroes until Appare challenges him to a race which showcases Appare’s own brilliance in rules-lawyering. Luckily the prince is a good sport. Meanwhile, Kosame continues trying to talk all the insane people around him out of doing insane things and somehow winds up helping achieve their insane goals instead.
Finally, it’s time for some racing! And we see that Appare approaches the problem as purely an engineering one: get a person to a location using a machine, it doesn’t matter if the machine looks beautiful or can be reused or nearly kills the person, as long as it technically fulfills the requirements of the contest.
As for Hototo’s subplot, um, well, points for trying. Someone has clearly read at least an article which mentioned the mass relocation of Native American peoples, but making Hototo’s grudge about one apparent random gunslinger feels like it has missed the point, as does having him go straight from talking about land theft to advising Appare of the best way to drive a machine across it. I get that resolving a grievance against the entire US Army and the governmental machinery behind it is a bit much to tackle within the scope of a three-month anime, but illustrating what his people were really up against would have been nice.
My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! #4 – Settling in at the magic school, Catarina’s anxiety about the arrival of the otome game heroine leads her right back to acting as the jealous, controlling rival she was in the game. But then another path opens up as she accidentally takes over the role of one of Maria’s suitors.
Despite all her preparations for averting death regardless of who Maria chooses, Catarina has gotten fixated on making sure the story doesn’t get anywhere near those endings by keeping Maria away from all four potential boyfriends. And what could achieve that better than becoming Maria’s romantic partner herself? Unless Maria turns out to be into polyamory, of course.
As Catarina notes, Maria is very much a stock otome game heroine. She’s beautiful and gifted, but also passive, out of her depth, and very much at the mercy of events as a result. Which means that Catarina has a lot of room to manipulate the outcome of this story, as long as she can keep her evil tendencies in check.
Tower of God #4 – Aguero convinces his teammates to wait another round before going for the crown, leaving the game to be played by a bunch of other contenders, almost any one of whom has more personality than our trio of heroes combined so far. Seriously, I’m rooting for Team Shibisu, and I hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of them.
The princesses of Jahad get another piece filled in here as Bam learns a little more about the weapon he carries. Anaak swears to take it from him on the grounds that he has no right to it, but she in turn is accused of being an imposter and thus unworthy to carry her own sword. Which would mean that so far we’re two for two on the magic swords not being carried by the right people, and implies that Yuri is not alone among the princesses in being careless.
Welp, since we are stuck with him as the hero, a note about Bam. Sharp-eared viewers may have noticed that in the audio, everyone calls him Yoru, not Bam. His name in the original Korean translates as “Twenty-Fifth Night”, where bam means night. The Japanese translation simply uses the Japanese word for night. Similarly, what is called Shinsu in the subtitles is kami no mizu, “spirit water”, in the Japanese dialogue. Why these were left untranslated when, for instance, the sword names were translated is a mystery that will probably never be explained.