Ranking of Kings #3 – Bojji now begins to lose everything remaining that he cherished: his father dies, Kage is made to disappear, Daida is given the throne, and Bojji can’t even go on a little quest. But he still has some remaining allies, more than it may first appear.
The big surprise of this episode, aside from how fast it’s pushing up the body count, is that Queen Mother Hiling isn’t an evil stepmother after all. She’s a genuinely kind person who, like Dōmas, cares about Bojji but can’t conceive of him succeeding at anything useful. We also get to see that Bebin isn’t entirely bad.
Daida and his magic mirror, on the other hand, are still shaping up as outright villains. They’re ready to defy Bosse’s clearly stated wishes, his written will, and the demonic manifestation on his deathbed, which all call for Bojji to be king. So far it’s worked, with only two members of the king’s council willing to support Bojji and both of them out of the way for now.
It looks for a moment like Apeas has started to even the score by offing Bebin, but then Bebin’s body is claimed by something under the ground, and so I think we’ll see him resurrected or reanimated soon. Hiling, meanwhile, has an ominous feeling about never seeing Bojji again, which means either he’s off on a grander quest than anyone expects, or she’s the next one to be purged. Or both, I think I’ll guess both.
The Faraway Paladin #4 – The payment for Blood, Gus, and Mary’s extended lives comes due, but Will determines that he’s going to block it. All he has to do is defeat the avatar of a god and an entire risen army undead. Simple, when he can bring in a god on his own side!
Here we finally see why The Faraway Paladin has avoided the video game feel of so many other medieval-ish portal fantasies: it’s not working from video game tropes. It’s hearkening back to the older paladin template of tabletop games. The D&D paladin isn’t just another damage-dealing machine; they have a relationship with a patron deity that must be maintained. They have to take actions which keep them in the deity’s grace, and in turn they are granted magical powers, with an emphasis on healing and on destroying the undead.
Unlike the early D&D paladin, Will can use edged weapons and can justify using a demonic weapon if it’s in a righteous cause, which together with undead-turning powers actually let him defeat Stagnate for now. (Soon we will probably learn more about how often gods can generate avatars.) But like the traditional paladin, he forms a bond with Gracefeel through sincere prayer. His reincarnation finally plays into the story because it allows him to keep carrying the regret that he wasted his previous life, and beg to have the chance to do better in this one.
Rumble Garanndoll #4 – With Rin drained by the epic fight, an urgent search is carried out for a new battery girl. The latest candidate is Aoba Yuki, the last member of an up-and-coming idol group not captured by True Country forces. Now Hosomichi has to learn to connect with and support someone in a whole new way.
Yuki is a refreshing take on the anime idol. Her onstage persona is like the heroine of every idol show ever, but it’s just a persona. And she recognizes immediately that Hosomichi’s host routine is just as much a performance, and allows him to turn it off when they’re not in public. Offstage, Yuki is focused on the practical side of the idol life: scheduling appearances, generating publicity, making money. She seems much likelier to succeed in the business than many of those other heroines, actually, provided the occupation allows her to survive long enough.
Unfortunately, though, not only has the occupation destroyed everything fun, social media still exists in this timeline, and Yuki takes it a little too much to heart. Rumble Garanndoll manages a better critique of social media in under a minute than some shows that want to say something about it have managed in their entire runs. First Yuki is enjoying the downfall of a rival, then she’s reading messages which undercut her own confidence. Now Hosomichi has to fight the power of “Yamitter” to get Yuki into fighting shape.
Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut #5 – Irina outdoes everyone in the anechoic chamber, faces her fear of heights, and makes it through her first untethered parachute jump. But there are reminders everywhere that she is surrounded by people who want her disposed of, and that she may not even survive long enough for that.
We learn now that Irina’s parents died in the massacre of her village, at the hands (or flamethrowers) of an army which is not named. (If she is from the equivalent of Transylvania, that was Romanian territory before World War II. Romania was allied with the Axis and massacred or sent away many of its “undesirables” before being invaded by the USSR, so those soldiers could have been either Nazi-equivalents or Soviet-equivalents.) That memory is brought back by the fiery demise of yet another test vehicle, conveniently crashing nearby just when Irina starts to think she has all this handled.
Still, despite some occasional plot convenience, Irina is a joy to behold in scenes like parachute jump, with some of the best animation this season. And every revelation makes you want to pull for her more against the system which has already condemned her.
Sakugan #4 – Grounded by the authorities in Jolly-Jolly, Memempu and Gagumber are forced to play tourist for a day amongst the relics of ancient surface Rome. Jolly-Jolly is the city of “passion” which turns out in practical terms to mean (1) an old man thinking it’s cute to talk about a nine-year-old like she’s a grown woman, (2) a long uncomfortable stretch of Gagumber striking out in a bar, and (3) and even longer, more uncomfortable stretch of Gagumber (and just about every other man in this episode) being threatened by a stock rapey queer character.
You know how I said last week that Gagumber had been toned down enough to make this show enjoyable? I was wrong, and I’m sorry. With Memempu’s quest on hold and Gagumber back at center stage, this is all the worst parts of Sakugan before it even throws in the world’s rapiest mafia don. And, you know, the lineup only just got set, so there’s no extra catch-up if I admit my mistake now and boot this show for something else. So let’s drop this and continue instead with…
Muteking the Dancing Hero #5 – Muteki is finally on a real date with his crush until an awkward pratfall seems to ruin it and send her running. And then, on top of everything else, a new monster appears which is immune to the usual Muteking routine!
My money was on Aida being an android with no existence outside of the diner and being Aurora, but no, she’s able to take a break from work to hang out more or less like a normal teenager. Although she still may be an android, given how the CEO is able to control her.
As for the ending fight, it’s right about time for Muteking to switch up its formula. While the convenient awkward moment has managed to keep Muteki from noticing that Aurora only shows up after Aida disappears, it’s time for him to learn more about why DJ and Suteking keep turning up everywhere just before the monsters do. And also maybe why DJ was so disturbed about the relative positions of Grandma’s house, OctiNQ headquarters, and the amusement park.