Anime roundup 8/12/2021: You Can’t Even Quit the Game

In this week’s viewing: Magia Record reminds us that everything is really applied physics, Welcome to Demon School knows what big piles of energy are for, and more!

Sonny Boy #4 – Word travels fast around the class about Nagara’s ability, and so everyone expects that he can simply take them home. He can’t, as it turns out, but what he can do is pop some of them momentarily into a dimension where other primates take up baseball and develop their own storied league.

Aside from demonstrating that Japan really, really, really likes baseball, this episode does give us our first glimpse into Nagara’s worldview. When everyone else thinks the referee in Blue’s big game should have bent the rules for the sake of a good story, Nagara approves of the ref’s courage in enforcing them fairly.

That raises the possibility that while Nagara can’t consciously control where the portals go, he might be choosing unconsciously. If he yearns for rules to be applied without bias, of course he would drop the school into spaces where rules are absolutely rigid. It also means the can’t go home if he doesn’t really want to, and given his lack of concern about the school initially leaving Earth, he probably doesn’t really want to.

The focus on baseball also provides a chance to humanize Cap, who we only knew so far as the would-be dictator of episode 1. He’s a guy who loves baseball so much that his entire identity is based on it, but he’s self-aware enough to understand that he has no chance to make it in the big leagues and that he’s really playing it just for fun.

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Peach Boy Riverside #6 – While Frau recovers from her death, Mikoto rescues an amnesiac nun, only to find out that she’s an ogre, only to further find out that she’s ready to not be an ogre anymore.

We also find out that Kibitsu Mikoto is an assumed name. The original Mikoto gave the one we know not just his name but also his dog. So there’s one departure from the Momotarō legend; in the traditional version, the dog joins on his own, in exchange for, depending on the source, either a dumpling or a rice ball. Also there are supposed to be a monkey and a pheasant with him. So is the original Kibitsu Mikoto also the original Momotarō?

At any rate, the dog is serving as the voice of Mikoto’s conscience. He was able to see the real reason that Mikoto spared the ogre now known as Carrot, and here he talks Mikoto out of killing Millia, giving Millia the chance to choose her own fate. Like Carrot, Millia then decides that living among humans is preferable to not living at all, which explains how she’s hanging out with Mikoto later in the timeline.

It is time to note that Peach Boy Riverside is incorporating an unusual amount of Christian imagery. I mean, random nuns are par for the course in anime, because anime loves nun habits, but we also have the chief villain masquerading as a priest of some sort, an afterlife with angels (but also reincarnation, so not strictly Christian), and now hints that Frau is a fallen angel. Where is it going with all this? Given the overall record of fantasy works making use of religions that are foreign to their authors, possibly somewhere awkward and cringe-inducing. But it’s worth waiting and seeing.

(CrunchyrollBahamut Anime CrazyLaftel)

Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story season 2 #2 – Yachiyo, convinced that Iroha’s disappearance is the latest side effect of the wish that provided her magical girl powers, redoubles her efforts to track down the leadership of Magius. She learns how the Doppels work and a little more about Magius’s goals, but her whole world is about to be upended by the return of Iroha, delivered back by someone at the heart of Magius itself.

So, the little girl we saw last week isn’t Ui, but her hospital friend Nemu. And Nemu is the one (or one of the people) creating the Uwasa, whose purpose for Magius is to trap people. But Nemu is able to harness the power of beliefs coming true by creating an Uwasa whose purpose is to return Iroha from wherever it is the Uwasas’ victims are stored, in memory of Iroha’s kindness to her.

Last episode we got a reminder about why Kyubey’s kind created the whole magical girl system. It’s an attempt to harness energy that breaks the laws of thermodynamics, in order to stave off the heat death of the universe. The business of the Doppels now turns out to have its own twisted underlying physics. It recaptures the energy of the witch transformation and instead tries to use that for a perpetual motion machine. The witch side— the Doppel— endlessly cleanses a magical girl’s Soul Gem, allowing her to break free of the cycle of witch-killing and become essentially immortal.

There are two obvious problems with this, one of them being the heat death of the universe, and the other being that free energy rarely turns out to be free. Why does Magius need a steady supply of captives, if not because that’s somehow tied into how the Doppels are created and maintained? And Magius was certainly been laying down an ideological justification for that last season, in the rally with the speech about how magical girls are superior beings.

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Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun season 2 #17 – The final monster battle comes down to Asmodeus and Sabnock having to distract the enemy while the others try to rescue the kids from the daycare center and Iruma has a sudden realization about his poor choices. And then the final final monster battle comes down to Balam, Opera, and Kalego laying some glorious smackdown on the recombined monster. And then it comes down to something entirely different as they realize they’ve basically been fighting a giant mana bomb.

Points to Kalego for being involved in three of the four monster battles in some way, even if he forced to spend the last one in his floofy familiar form. Last week he took out one monster singlehandedly, and this week it’s his voice reminding Iruma that Iruma was warned about his tendency to rush headlong into danger and force people to rescue him.

The botched fight isn’t just good for educating Iruma, either. Asmodeus winds up being lectured by Sabnock, of all people, about picking a goal and sticking to it. If Asmodeus’s goal is to serve Iruma faithfully, he does need to stay alive first.

(CrunchyrollShahiid AnimeBahamut Anime Crazy)

Higurashi: When They Cry – SOTSU #7 – Satoko and Rika return to their corners, talk to their respective patrons, and dive into the time loop again. This time, Satoko’s uncle Teppei makes a poorly chosen remark about what lengths he’d go to for her, and Satoko decides that having him die for her is just the thing.

Satoko also takes the opportunity to speak to Rika’s dreams and try to talk her out of them directly, using the belief in Oyashiro’s curse as a lever. Which means Satoko is unaware that the person Rika talks to between loops is the original Oyashiro. This must be where Rika begins to suspect that Satoko is responsible for dragging her back to June 1983.

But the main event here is Satoko persuading Teppei to move back to Hinamizawa, using the excuse of being ostracized by the rest of the village, so that she can then pretend Teppei is abusing her. I feared the worst when we got back to the arc where the village comes together to save Satoko, but Higurashi has managed to outdo even that, giving us two false abuse narratives for the price of one. It has undone some of its best work of the previous season, all for a twist that is becoming painfully cliché this year. After SOTSU ends I don’t think I’ll ever want to have anything to do with this franchise again.

(FunimationWakanimBahamut Anime CrazyLaftel)

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