My Hero Academia Simuldub Enters Two Week Delay

Sad news for those of us who are watching the simuldub of My Hero Academia on Funimation. Earlier this weekend it was revealed that the simuldub is undergoing a bit of a timing change.

While up to this point Funimation has been fantastic about releasing the new dubbed episodes the same day as the subbed episodes, this streak is now coming to an end.

According to the announcement, My Hero Academia will now be released on a two-week delay starting with episode 50. That means that the next episode of My Hero Academia won’t be hitting the website until July 7 with future episodes being posted weekly after that. Womp womp.

This is understandable but still a kick to the gut for those of us who have been watching this series week to week on Funimation. I’d like to say that hopefully, Funimation will be able to get back on track for same day release but that doesn’t appear to be happening at any point in the near future so I guess the rest of us will just have to tiptoe through the wilds of the internet to avoid spoilers from here on out. How sad for us.

Food Wars! The Third Plate, Episode 23

To be frank, I was a bit disappointed in this one. After the reveal that Issiki has God-tier chef skills, I wanted to see him cook with magical powers: slice an onion instantaneously, juggle shrimp while devaning them, boil water with telekinesis, that sort of thing. The fact that he just sort of cooks efficiently and blends flavors well is a bit of a let-down, but I guess there’s always dojinshi.

Nevertheless, the kids find it hard to believe that the goofy dude who was always running around naked save for an apron is such a skilled chef, which intrigues Alice. As a non-Polar Star resident, the fact that the former Seventh Seat hates wearing clothes is new to her. I like this little reminder that the rebels aren’t just Polar Star people; it’s a mixed alliance.

“At your place, the male seniors run around naked? Is it too late in the semester to move into your dorm after I get myself un-expelled?”

In an example of art improving upon life, this episode introduces the World Gourmet Association, this word’s equivalent to the Michelin Guide. I wish the WGO existed in real life, because even though I understand why it evolved that way, it’s still weird that the preeminent ranking system for fine restaurants is managed by a subsidiary of a tire company. It’s not often that I look at real life and say “Hmm, the Food Wars! version of this makes much more sense,” but there’s a first time for everything.

The judges are named Anne, Charme, and Histoire; I don’t know what to make of that. Histoire happens to be a black guy, so you can reset the “It has been X days since we’ve seen a black person in anime” clock.

Tires? What tires?

The match between Isshiki and Jurio is centered on eel, and I, uh…I have a really bad association with eel. Have you ever heard of The Tin Drum, by Günter Grass? Never read that book with an upset stomach; don’t read German literature in general with an upset stomach, come to think of it, but that one in particular. In any case, this is one time I’m not tempted by the dishes on display at all.

Jurio makes a fairly boring looking eel dish, which is only made interesting by the over-the-top reaction shots it provokes; I thought they had been pretty tame with the lewd foodgasms lately, but apparently they were just saving all the lewdness for this one episode.

I like these better when they’re naughty in a surreal way (like with tiny chick-Somas attacking Erina), rather than outright porny looking. That could just be me though.

Isshiki counters by making a dish that includes ingredients created by his juniors at Polar Star and I’m…somewhat underwhelmed. I get that it shows great cooking genius that he took these relatively unrefined ingredients and was able to blend them into one cohesive dish, but why was he out to prove Polar Star’s reputation in the first place? Did he anticipate that someone was going to insult the honor of his dorm, thus he prepared for that far in advance? Until further notice, I’m going to have to assume that in  addition to his near-supernatural cooking skills, Isshiki can also see the future because he is a witch. He must run around naked all the time because he communes with his forest gods through his skin or something.

Today’s Food Porn: Hitsumabushi, Polar Star Style. Eel and cheese? That sounds really unappetizing; this dish is only getting the “food porn” designation on a technicality.

Oh, and after Jurio gets eliminated, Rindou promises to take over for him. Oh, Food Wars! Do you really think I’m going to believe that we have a snowball’s chance in hell of seeing Rindou cook before the end of the season? Don’t make me laugh, no one’s buying it.

Picture of Rindou, for no reason at all. RINDOU~~~~~~~~~

So Isshiki wins, which upsets Nene, since she has a beef with Ishiki going back to childhood. I feel for her here; it’s not easy to be a normally-talented person who’s always in close proximity to a total genius. However, she’s a total snob, so my sympathy only extends so far.

Enjoy little Nene’s look of wonder before she decided to adopt a permanent Resting Bitch Face for the rest of her life.

Soma then reveals the next step of his evil soba plan, which is to stir fry the noodles in a giant wok. Apparently this is a horrible idea, since frying burns the shit out of the noodles and destroys the subtle nuances of flavor that the judges will be looking for. I think Soma has decided that there’s no way he’s going to compete with Nene on the noodles themselves (which is logical), so he’s basically throwing that aspect while he makes the rest of the dish as delicious as humanly possible. I can’t see WGO-type judges going for this though; even if his dish does taste better overall, you can’t de-emphasize the soba noodles in a soba challenge and expect to win. I’m hoping that whatever workaround they come up with to have Soma pull this out isn’t too unbelievable.

Oh my, is the next episode the season finale already? It seems like they have an awful lot to wrap up in one episode, but maybe something unexpected will happen that will call the competition to a sudden halt. Like, maybe Azami will realize in the middle of the Shokugeki that his ideals make no sense, and all he ever wanted was for Saiba-sempai to tell him that his dumplings were tasty or something.

Funimation Announces First Round of Summer Simuldubs!

Funimation summons a demon lord this summer!

Following up on yesterday’s simulcast news, Funimation is stepping up next to follow up with their own huge list of simuldubs, which will be hitting their website this summer. While many of these titles were obviously going to be there (Attack on Titan and Overlord III for instance), there are some surprises hidden within the announcements that will please plenty of fans.

Keep in mind that most of these titles do not have streaming premiere dates as of yet (I have listed the Japanese air dates, however, along with information on how fans can see these series as soon as possible such as via theatrical or convention screenings) but as soon as more details emerge, we’ll do our best to report on them here.

Starting things off, we’re going to go through the sequels and continuing series that have been announced along with their plot synopsis:

Attack on Titan Season 3

After recovering Eren and Historia, the recruits are put under the care of Levi. Stuck out in the middle of nowhere, Hange subjects Eren to a series of experiments in an attempt to find out more about his ability. But when their link to the secrets behind the wall is murdered, the squad must move out and find a new refuge. Except, a figure from Levi’s past has his own plans to stop them.

It premieres in Japan on July 22 but Funimation has already announced that they will be premiering the first episode of the new season along with the second season recap movie in early July so be sure to check your local listings if you want to be among the first to see it!

My Hero Academia Season 3

Summer is here, and the heroes of Class 1-A and 1-B are in for the toughest training camp of their lives! A group of seasoned pros pushes everyone’s Quirks to new heights as the students face one overwhelming challenge after another. Braving the elements in this secret location becomes the least of their worries when routine training turns into a critical struggle for survival.

Black Clover

Asta and Yuno live in a world where magic is everything. While Yuno excels with powers, Asta is completely powerless. But when they receive their grimoires, the outcome shocks everyone! Who will become the next Wizard King?

Steins;Gate 0

A divergent continuation of the original Steins;Gate ending, Steins;Gate 0 explores an alternate worldline where Okabe abandons time travel. While attempting to forget past traumas and get his life back on track, he meets an AI that re-opens old wounds.

Overlord III –

A continuation of this fantasy series about a man trapped in an MMO that was supposed to be shut down.

No premiere date has been listed for this one beyond “July,” but fans who are attending Anime Expo will be able to check out an advanced screening.

Kakuriyo – Bed & Breakfast for Spirits

A young girl is kidnapped by an ogre who tells her that she has been promised to him as a bride by her now deceased grandfather in order to settle a huge debt.

Now… what about the new stuff? Funimation has you covered!

How NOT to Summer a Demon Lord – Based off the light novel series (licensed by J-Novel Club), the story is described as:

In the MMORPG Cross Reverie, Takuma Sakamoto is so powerful that he is lauded as the “Demon Lord” by other players. One day, he is summoned to a world outside his own– but with the same appearance he had in the game! There, he meets two girls who both proclaim themselves to be his Summoner. They perform an Enslavement Ritual to turn him into their Summon… but that’s when Takuma’s passive ability <> activates! Instead, it is the girls who become enslaved! Though Takuma may be the strongest Sorcerer there is, he has no idea how to talk with other people. It is here he makes his choice: to act based on his persona from the game! “Amazing? But of course… I am Diablo, the being known and feared as the Demon Lord!” So begins a tale of adventure with an earth-shakingly powerful Demon Lord (or at least someone who acts like one) taking on another world!

This one premieres in Japan on July 5.

The Master Ragnarok & Blesser of Einherjar – Another adaptation of a light novel series (also licensed by J-Novel Club), it is described as:

Some urban legends are best left untested! Yuuto Suoh gets more than he bargained for when he joins his childhood friend Mitsuki Shimoya in testing out an urban legend. When he uses his phone to take a picture of himself with the local shrine’s divine mirror, he is whisked off into another world – one heavily steeped in the lore of the old Norse myths. Using his knowledge gained from school and from his solar-powered smartphone, he has the chance to bring the Wolf Clan, the same people who cared for him, to prominence, all while earning the adoration of a group of magic-wielding warrior maidens known as the Einherjar.

The Japanese premiere date for this title is listed as July 7.

Angels of Death – An adaptation of the manga series (licensed by Yen Press), the story for this one is described as:

When Rachel Gardner wakes up in the basement of an unfamiliar building, she finds herself face-to-face with Zack, a serial killer wrapped from head to toe in bandages. Narrowly escaping his bloody scythe, she makes it to the next floor, where she meets a man named Danny who claims to be her doctor. Rachel breathes a sigh of relief, but she can’t help noticing that Danny’s got a strange look in his eyes…

Japan will be getting its first glimpse of this series on July 6.

Magical Girl Raising Project – Now we come to the final addition to the list, which originally premiered a few seasons ago, but is finally getting a dub this summer. Funimation describes it as:

For the girls of N-City, being a magical girl is a dream come true! At least, online it is. When a lucky few are given the chance to be real-life magical heroines, their lives go from sweet to deadly. And after the city decides to halve the magical girl numbers, what once seemed like a race for glory becomes a desperate fight for survival. Cute turns wicked in the prettiest death game around.

This series originally premiered in the fall of 2016, so it’s a couple of years old now, but that doesn’t make it any less valuable than anything else on this list!

Are you excited to check out anything on this list after it premieres? Sound off in the comments!

Aniplex of America Announces Two Summer Simulcasts

Don’t miss this spiritual comedy this summer!

It’s that time of year again! The time of year when journalists like myself scramble to keep up with the deluge of press releases as companies announce their seasonal simulcast plans. Joy!

According to the press releases that I just received, Aniplex of America are the first ones up to the plate. Here’s the wind-up… and the pitch… Bam! Two series announcements in one shot!

The first to be revealed is the comedy series Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs. Premiering in Japan and the US on July 14 (though the specific time for the simulcast premiere is TBA), this series from XEBEC and director Tsuyoshi Nagasawa is based on the manga of the same name which is currently available in English from Seven Seas Entertainment. They describe the series as:

Homeless and haunted by ghosts, high schooler Kogarashi thinks his luck has finally turned when he finds Yuragi-sou—a cheap boarding house that was formerly a hot springs inn, now full of super sexy, scantily clad female tenants. If Kogarashi can use his spirit abilities to banish the ghost that haunts the inn, he can even live there rent-free! But when the ghost, a beautiful teenage girl named Yuuna, appears before him, Kogarashi takes pity on her and is suddenly not so sure about the exorcism. Will he help save Yuuna from becoming an evil spirit? And what supernatural secrets do the other boarders hold?

Second up we have another comedy series in the form of Cells at Work!. In this series from David Production and director Kenichi Suzuki, the story is, once again, based off a manga of the same name available in English from Kodansha. They describe the story as:

Strep throat! Hay fever! Influenza! The world is a dangerous place for a red blood cell just trying to get her deliveries finished. Fortunately, she’s not alone … She’s got a whole human body’s worth of cells ready to help out! The mysterious white blood cell, the buff and brash killer T cell, the nerdy neuron, even the cute little platelets—everyone’s got to come together if they want to keep you healthy!

This series will premiere in Japan on July 7 but a specific simulcast release date and time have yet to be revealed.

Sword Art Online Alternative, Episode 10

I love how Fuka throws a giant monkey wrench into the drama of this show. LLENN thinks that the situation with Pito and M is something she must silently bear alone, her personal burden, yet Fuka will just blab to anyone they bump into “Yeah Pito is going to kill herself after the game, lol who does that?” So against LLENN’s wishes, the world’s most rockin’ Rhythmic Gymnastics team has been pulled into Operation Don’t Let Pito Die Until We Kill Her.

Post opening, there’s a scene where a team tries to ally with Pito’s team, she refuses, an then they agree to have a cease-fire until both teams are properly separated. Pito naturally breaks the ceasefire immediately and shoots the other team in the back, leaving just one survivor. If this is supposed to be another example of how crazy Pito is, it doesn’t really work, since I kind of agree with her here. If the other team knew enough about Pito’s reputation to want to team up with her, yet didn’t see this coming, they kind of did this to themselves.

I appreciate Pito and M’s silent communication. “Honey, will you please lend me your handgun? I gotta shoot these stupid doofuses in the back.” “Yes, of course dear.”

This is another time when actually playing MMOs would probably give me a different perspective on this, since I have no idea how popular and commonplace this kind of “gentleman’s agreement” is in competitive shooters. However, it’s been pretty clear from the start that GGO is a “kill or be killed” sort of culture, and once the game starts, all bets are off. Maybe that sort of “let’s all be honorable combatants” thing would work in ALO, but it seems like it’s just foolish here.

Pito does let the last survivor get away, since the girl supposedly doesn’t shoot, and she’s not going to bother killing a non-combatant. It’s clear Pito does have her own brand of personal honor, for whatever it’s worth; it’s just inexplicable to everyone else.

“What are we gonna do?” “Destroy Team PM4 with an anti-tank rifle!” “What are we NOT going to do?” “Gymnastics, LOL!”

The rest of the episode primarily focuses on Team Rhythmic Gymnastics executing their plan to break M’s shield, taking away PM4’s defensive advantage, which they do. It’s a pretty neat plan too, although I wouldn’t be surprised if the rules in GGO change to stop bodies from being considered “immortal objects” for 10 minutes, because man, players are getting a LOT of mileage out of that rule.

In the next patch, dead bodies will not function as immortal objects, and will instead disappear immediately, like fairy dust. Thanks a lot, LLENN and SHINC.

As an aside, I like the fact that the Machine Gun Lovers got taken out offscreen with no fanfare. Being a gun fetishist is kind of a bad thing in GGO, because using a weapon because it’s cool probably means you don’t have a strategy beyond that. Look at Pito; I think she uses about 12 different weapons, depending on range and the terrain.

After M’s shield is broken, LLENN moves in to take out Pito, except Pito gets sniped in the head by the one girl she let escape earlier, yet survives. I’m on the fence about whether or not this annoys me; on one hand, Pito was shot in the head (through the eye no less), and she really should be dead. Then again, they are inside a video game, where missing limbs grow back after ten minutes and dead bodies become impenetrable titanium shields; real-life rules only apply intermittently.

We learn that Pito must be using a Nerve Gear, which is probably better proof of how insane Pito is than anything we’ve been shown so far. “You know all those critical safety protocols that VR games added after Sword Art Online? Yeah, I don’t want those.” While she recovers, the rest of PM4 fends off another team, but it’s all for naught; the team has infiltrated the log cabin where Pito is recovering! Oh noes, how will Pito and M ever get out of this conundrum???

Pito picked up a version of the Photon Sword that Kirito made famous, so it’s all good. I know some people groan at the references to Kirito and Sinon on this show (especially Sinon, who’s been mentioned at least three times), but personally I like it; I like the fact that SAO S2 is acknowledged and in continuity here. The fact that players actually learned things from the last Ballet of Bullets and adopted new weapons/tactics makes the whole situation more credible.

So with the rest of the opposition further whittled down, it looks like our Pito/LLENN face off is finally about to happen. If LLENN ends up perching on the top of Pito’s photon sword and then backflips off at some point, I will do a dance in my chair. I’m not proud of that, I’m just saying that it’s going to happen.

Last thing I’ll mention is how I love how LLENN and the gymnasts have decided that they’ll team up in exchange for lots of yummy sweets next time they meet. Who says that girls using submachine guns and anti-tank rifles can’t be feminine when they feel like it?

“Look, lives are on the line here, but I think we can all agree that what’s really important is CAKE. Are you prepared to give us more cake?”

Amanchu!~Advance~, Episode 11

Normally I don’t like to say things like “this episode was a giant trash fire,” because that’s harsh. No matter how much I didn’t like something, using that kind of language is unnecessarily cruel to the people who made the show, and the fans who enjoyed it. In general, I think people are way too quick to compare things to trash and/or excrement just because they didn’t happen to like them.

That said, this entire episode revolved around burning dead grass, so I feel comfortable saying that it was a giant burning grass fire of an episode; that’s just a statement of fact.

Before we go any further, your Weekly Pikari Troll Face: honestly, none of the Pikari faces were that choice this time around, so here’s a version of Pikari Entire Family Troll Face.

The sheer size of Grandpa continues to be an odd mix of adorable and terrifying.

After last episode’s neat flashback to the early days of scuba diving, this episode has the show returning to entirely land-based antics that mainly feel like a time-filling exercise. Pikari gets sick on her birthday, and everybody brings her cake; later on, they all go to a traditional dead grass fire burning ceremony on a mountain, and we learn that Kokoro is a boy. Whooop.

It had occurred to me that Kokoro might be a feminine-looking boy rather than a masculine-sounding girl, but I never mentioned it in any of these posts because I honestly didn’t care. Other than being mildly surprised, it seems like Pikari and Teko don’t care that much either, so I’m kind of flummoxed as to what the point here is. I think Pikari realizes that she’s probably his first crush, and treats that with the gravity it deserves (whereas in the past, she probably assumed it was just a kind of hero-worship on Kokoro’s part), but that’s really the only good part of this episode; the rare opportunity to see Pikari be the mature one.

Oh honey, are you ever on the wrong show. You have no idea.

While we’re talking about gender on Amanchu! here for a moment, maybe this a good time to talk about how Pikari and Teko’s relationship has been portrayed. I think during the first season, you could choose to see their feelings for one another as “just friends” if you wanted to, but it’s become increasingly difficult to do that. The imagery with the two of them has gotten more and more romantic. Still, they never refer to themselves as lesbians, are never referred to that way by anyone else, and it’s never made explicit that their love has a sexual aspect.

For me personally, it really doesn’t matter whether the two girls have sexual feelings for each other; they obviously love each other, and that’s what matters. However, if you’re watching from the vantage point of looking for an increase in LGBT representation in anime, then the fact that Teko and Pikari are strongly hinted to be lesbians without that ever being confirmed is probably annoying. I don’t really know what to make of that, by the way, I’m just noticing it.

Anyway, this show has really been trying my patience lately. The first half of the show was pretty nicely front-loaded with scuba scenes, but then spent much of the second half goofing off. I mean, I don’t even need the show to focus that heavily on the diving– I know it’s a slice-of-life series as well– but if they’re not going to do a diving plot, it would be nice if the story they did tell felt like it had a purpose. It looks like the final episode will return to diving, but unless that ends up being one hell of an episode, it feels like too-little-too-late at this point.

Oh, and would just like to point out that Mato-chan-sensei is once again hanging out with her teenaged students and blowing off the love of her life; I’m beginning to seriously worry about this woman. Oh, and they brought back Kotori, Teko’s dream buddy from the first “lucid dreaming” episode, and that’s not right! Please, I’m trying so hard to forget that those episodes happened or that I ever liked any of them in the first place!

*sigh* This episode, man. This episode.

Anime Expo Announces Screening of Kase-san and Morning Glories

Don’t miss this premiere at AX!

Anime Expo keeps up the momentum with another big announcement!

Earlier today on their official website, AX announced that they will be premiering the anime Kase-san and Morning Glories at a special screening,  attended by director Takuya Sato and producer Yusuke Terada. The anime will be shown on Sunday, June 8 at 12:30 pm in room LP2.

Based on the original work from Hiromi Takashima, this release will feature animation produced by ZEXCS (Say “I love you”, Rental Magica, Sister Princess). The series is currently licensed in North America by Seven Seas Entertainment who describe the series as:

Kase-san and Morning Glories is the debut release of Hiromi Takashima’s ongoing yuri series about a high school romance between the clumsy, flower-adoring Yamada and the exuberant Kase-san, the school’s track and field star.

Regardless of how you feel about yuri content, this looks like a movie that plans to play it right down the middle and tell an honest, coming-of-age story, much like other important titles such as Wandering Son.

It’s always great to see something progressive come out of Japan, and I’m certain that this title will be no exception.

Funimation Announces June 30 License Expiration for Shiki

Shiki Leaves the Funi Catalog This Month

This is news that a few of us already knew about but wasn’t widely reported on until Funimation made it official yesterday via social media. If you’ve never seen the vampire horror series Shiki, you have until June 30 before it disappears off Funimation’s catalog.

The series first premiered in Summer 2010 and was licensed by Funimation a few days before it premiered. While it rarely gets brought up as one of the best horror series ever, those who have seen it know that they watched something special even if they didn’t truly appreciate it at the time.

Funimation describes it as:

As citizens of a secluded village die off in alarming numbers, the head doctor tries desperately to save them—but his efforts are in vain. Panic and disillusionment run rampant as loved ones’ corpses rise from the grave with an insatiable thirst for human blood. Haunting and hallucinogenic, Shiki stares into the hearts of both the hunter and the hunted—and blurs the line between man and monster.

This just serves as a reminder that licenses don’t last forever so if you want to watch something or buy something, strike while the iron is hot. Remember Baccano? It goes for over $200 on Amazon right now. Black Butler? Almost $100.

Shiki is about to join an elite group of series that never got their time in the spotlight. Series such as FLAG, Petite Princess Yucie, Now and Then Here and There, and others are part of this special club and sadly Shiki is becoming one of them. At least it’s still up on Crunchyroll.

DARLING in the FRANXX, Episode 21

A lot of stories don’t commit to their themes, in my opinion. They’ll mention them from time to time, do some tapdancing around them, but then hold them at arm’s length when it’s convenient; when the theme calls for a gesture too big, too bold, for them to convincingly sell to the audience. DARLING in the FRANXX committed, has always been committed really, and I love it for that.

Let’s go through this in some detail, since that seemed to work pretty well last time. VIRM assimilates the last of the human APE members, and an indeterminate number of other humans, into their collective. The way they define their way of life is intriguing: “There is a form of pleasure that is gentle and perpetual.” Gentle and perpetual…so pretty much the opposite of an orgasm, then? As the ultimate enemy on a show all about sex, VIRM is thoroughly anti-conception; it even pulls life in, instead of pushing it out.

Left with no other options, Hiro uses Strelizia to bond with the Klaxosaur Princess and sees inside her mind; in theory, this should probably drive him insane, but I like this episode so much I’m not going to make an issue out of it. Somehow, he processes the eons of time that the princess spent alone, before humans were there. It’s pretty similar to what his own life was like before he met Zero Two, only much, much longer.

Our kiddos in Squad 13 are smart enough to realize that the battle between the Klaxosaurs and VIRM is no longer about them, and there’s no point in wasting their energy fighting either of them. This is why Werner Franxx raised them this way, allowed them to value their own lives; so when this day came, when it was no longer clear why they were fighting, they’d ask the right questions. Okay, it’s mainly Ichigo who catches on fast here, but the other kids don’t take much convincing to see things her way. I bet all those people who said mean things about Ichigo and her voice actress earlier in the series feel really stupid now, as they should.

It’s kind of funny how the Klaxosaurs basically ignore the Franxx at this point. Everybody’s got better things to do.

Kokoro says that no matter who the enemy is, all she can do is fight. Amidst all the craziness of this episode, there’s a great little moment where Mitsuru seems to know what she’s saying is ironic somehow, but doesn’t know why. He doesn’t remember, but he viscerally knows that there’s something else that she can do.

Dr. Franxx helpfully informs us why the world hasn’t already ended: the self-destruct program was meant to work on Strelizia in Stampede Mode (what happens when a pistil, usually Zero Two in the past, operates a Franxx by themselves), but now that Hiro’s there, Strelizia is still in “normal” mode, whatever that is. Union is currently saving the world; if the princess hadn’t taken Hiro with her more or less on a whim, the planet would be gone already.

Zero Two reaches the area where Franxx and Hachi are monitoring the situation, and promptly faints. Well, it looked like she lost about 50 gallons of blood on the way there, so I guess it’s be expected. When she regains consciousness, she asks Dr. Franxx why the princess called her a “fake,” and here’s where I start to get a little confused. Because I was 99% sure, based on what we’ve seen so far, that Franxx made Zero Two by combining the princess’ DNA with his own, making her their daughter. However, here Franxx says that Zero Two is just “a clone” of the princess, with no mention of his own genes playing any role. He could just be being vague, but considering that Franxx has pretty much been telling the truth about everything lately, it seems odd that he would lie to her now.

I like the idea of Zero Two being a child of Franxx and the Princess a lot more than her being a clone; it works better with the themes of the series, and it also helps explain why Zero Two doesn’t look all that much like the princess. However, I suppose the specific way Franxx created her is really a minor detail at this point.

The Princess gives us a little more background on how the Klaxo Sapiens evolved to fight VIRM, with one curious detail. Last time, she said that the male Klaxo Sapiens evolved into magma, and the females evolved into weapons. This time, she says that the “weak” evolved into magma and the strong became weapons. An inconsistency, or insight into the Klaxo Sapien worldview? If they were a matriarchal society, they might consider men to be “the weak.”

The Nines turn out to be clones of 02, which is maybe another clue that when the doctor says “clone,” he doesn’t mean creating a literal copy. The Nines all have different appearances and don’t look like Zero Two much, so I think his version of cloning may involve mixing in whatever DNA he has on hand just for the hell of it. Speaking of the Nines, they’re busy fighting the last war; they were raised to fight the Klaxosaurs, and that’s what they’re going to do, even if it no longer makes any sense, because they weren’t raised to think.

There’s a gruesome moment where one of the Nines’ mechs is brutally ripped about by VIRM drones, killing her. This is one of those times that the show is again referencing something from the past, because the scene is very reminiscent of what happens to Asuka and her mech (also called Zero Two, come to think of it) in The End of Evangelion. What’s interesting is, making that connection to Evangelion kind of put up a barrier between me and what was being shown. When it started happening, I thought “Oh, this is an obvious homage to that one scene in EOE,” so I wasn’t thinking about the person being ripped to shreds inside the mech.

Hmm…where have I seen this before…it’ll come to me, I’m sure. Something about people turning into Tang?

I wonder; people have been talking about this show’s frequent homages to Eva and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, and some have concluded that Darling is a ripoff because of that. I wonder if the purpose of these homages the whole time was to create the kind of distance I experienced above. Not to save my delicate sensibilities from violence and gore (although I appreciate it), but to call our attention to the fact that we’re actually watching a play.

This may seem like a strange connection to make, but please stay with me here for a moment: it’s like watching the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 2010 film version of Hamlet, with David Tennant as the lead. You’re not really paying that much attention to the story, because it’s freakin’ Hamlet; if you care enough to watch an RSC production in the first place, you likely know the story backwards and forwards already. What you really pay attention to is what’s been changed; the modern clothes, the way technology is utilized, the way Tennant is playing the most batshit insane Hamlet you’ve ever seen, and it might be over the top, but it might also be closer to Shakespeare’s actual intent with the character.

We know the beats in these mecha stories: Eva and it’s legion of copies taught us, Gurren Lagann further refined the formula. This is the latest iteration of that same kind of story and we’re not supposed to be watching expecting a brand new play. We’re supposed to be paying attention to what’s changed; What’s different now from 20 years ago in Eva? What’s different now from 10 years ago in Gurren Lagann?

Anyway, Zero Two could give a rat’s ass about the finer points of the situation, because she’s loaded up on fluids now and ready to go rescue her Darling. Since cementing her bond with Hiro, she seems to have reached this evolved state where she knows exactly what’s worth caring about and what isn’t; perhaps it’s the clarity one can achieve before death. She’s so fearless and beautiful here, and you kind of wish everyone in the world had their own Zero Two to come rescue them when things got bad; then again, if everyone had their own Zero Two, things wouldn’t get bad in the first place.

Surprisingly, Dr. Franxx decides to go with 02 to save Hiro, and Ichigo’s team shows up just in time to get them where they need to be. I’d say that was awfully convenient timing, but let’s face it; it’s not like Squad 13 had anywhere else to go at this point, so it’s pretty plausible that they’d show up around now. Dr. Franxx jostles, but does not break, the fourth wall, in an attempt to make us all like him at the last minute. It’s pretty damn effective.

Squad 13 has to deal with some VIRM vermin and physical obstacles on their way to Star Entity; it didn’t feel tedious at all while I was watching it, but going over it in detail feels unnecessary. Basically, Ikuno seemingly uses up her life force in one desperate move to clear Zero Two’s path, and Ichigo and Goro appear to die in the process of taking out the last invader. I wouldn’t count those two out just yet, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they actually were dead; I think this show has been signalling for a long time that the only two lives that really NEED to continue in this story are Mitsuru and Kokoro (and I’m not even sure about Mitsuru.)

Then we get a scene which seems ridiculous on the face of it, which is Hiro explaining to the Klaxosaur Princess the concepts of love and friendship. Yes Hiro, I’m sure this 60-million-plus year old being really needs to know what your 15-year-old self just learned in the past two months. I think it makes sense if you keep in mind that the Princess probably knew this, but between the Klaxo Sapiens warlike evolution and millennia of solitude, she’s forgotten. So Hiro’s not really telling her anything she doesn’t know; she’s being reminded of things she’s been afraid to remember.

Hringhorni, the giant spear made of Klaxosaurs by APE, is being stolen by VIRM; I know it’s a Checkov’s Gun situation and that thing is probably going to be very important in the last three episodes, but I kind of wish it would just fly off into space and we never see it again. Go to the moon, keep the Lance of Longinus company.

Franxx has some of the princess’ cells on his person, so he’s able to bypass the “Only Klaxosuar Princess Can Use This Door” rule at Star Entity. Those crazy scientists; give one of them a sexy look, next thing you know they’re running around with your DNA for decades and copying it all over the place. Franxx then all but confirms that he took Zero Two to Plantation 13 deliberately to reunite her with Hiro, which does a lot to redeem Zero Two and Hiro’s all-too-convenient backstory for me. It’s one thing if Zero Two and Hiro met as children and were lucky enough to stumble into each other again years later, quite different if the person in charge was deliberately manipulating events.

Franxx apologizes to Zero Two, expecting her to hate him. Instead she thanks him for creating her, and allowing her to meet her Darling. Franxx then muses that she’s become very human, which rings a bit ironic to me; how often does a human child say to their parent “Thank you for making me?” No kid does that. The giant Klaxosaur the princess was using as a ride takes Zero Two to the center of Star Entity, sacrificing itself in the process.

You have to wonder what this lady’s story is; just another tiny piece of the puzzle that we’ll never know.

Zero Two reaches the cockpit of Strelizia to find an either already dead, or nearly-dead Hiro, and reverts to her full-on Klaxosaur form. Having seen Zero Two in Hiro’s mind, the princess is now ready to accept her as a successor. Their horns join, another form of union, and whatever’s left of the princess merges with Zero Two; she kisses her Darling.

How does a kiss stop the self-destruct sequence? Because love changes you. When Zero Two and Hiro kissed, Strelizia shed it’s skin like a caterpillar and became something new. The self-destruct sequence no longer applied, because that was a condition placed on the old version of Strelizia, who’s been obliterated. I know this idea that love can change you may seem hard to believe if you haven’t experienced it, but it’s true; I can hardly recognize myself from ten years ago. Maybe it’s an awfully convenient way to stop a cataclysmic explosion, but if you don’t buy that a kiss can save the world, I don’t think you’ve been on board with the story Trigger’s been trying to tell all along. From the first moment, it’s all been about the two birds that can only fly together.

Hiro and Zero Two have a meeting of the minds, returning to the snowy glen where they bonded as children. Hiro says he missed her, and it’s like dude, you just saw her like three hours ago. But what can you do? That’s how young lovers are. Plus, Hiro has just experienced eternity via the Princess’ mind, so for him, I guess it really has been a long time.

I’m glad the two of them get this moment together, this moment of happiness and perfect understanding. It makes what’s about to happen more tolerable, though still painful.

Strelizia takes over Star Entity and becomes a super-mech, easily devastating the VIRM forces; VIRM manages to get away with Hringhorni, but give up on assimilating the rest of Earth’s technology after losing so many of their forces. I wonder though; haven’t they already been successful? It seems like they absorbed an awful lot of humans early in the episode. Are the only remaining humans the parasites? It’s not clear if the human population even exists anymore. In any case, VIRM has been defeated for the day, but they’re coming back. With their entire army.

And now humanity is screwed, because only Strelizia Apus can fight VIRM, and only Zero Two can operate Strelizia Apus, and Zero Two appears to be dead from the strain of everything that’s just happened. I’m torn here; part of me wants Zero Two to be alive, because I like the character a lot. But I also feel like her dying here is something that needs to happen; I’m going to feel kind of cheated if next episode reveals that she’s only in a coma or something. Remember, in the second OP, Zero Two disappears a few seconds before Hiro does; the writing’s been on the wall.

So…now what? Whoever’s left from Squad 13 is going to have to try to save the world from the return of VIRM, but what’s even left of the world at this point? Does Hiro even think a world without Zero Two is worth saving?

VIRM said they’re coming back, but they seem to think in terms of geological time, so they may not actually return for eons. Therefore we could get a timeskip, just like Gurren Lagann, and as illustrated above, I think it’s more likely to happen because it was already done in Gurren Lagann. Maybe in episode 22, it will be thousands of years later, and we’ll be seeing the world created by Kokoro and Mitsuru’s children; there are worse things. It’s hard to imagine staying in the present, because there’s nothing left here; only Hiro and his grief.

I think I’ll still be thinking about this episode for a long time. It feels like Studio Trigger finally did what they’ve been trying to do for years; they got close with Space Patrol Luluco, but there was a limit to what that show could do as a comedic short. This is the emotional resonance that mostly eluded Kiznaiver, that only worked intermittently in Kill La Kill. I feel almost proud of Trigger for pulling this off, but it’s not a uniformly positive feeling; part of me wants them to go back to making shows about school uniforms from space shredding each other, because this was exhausting. Just as VIRM was completely out of their depth with Zero Two, I don’t know if I can handle a fully-awakened Studio Trigger.

Three New Summer Anime Promotional Videos Hit the Web

Three promotional videos hit the internet within the last day or so and we’re going to watch all three of them!

First up, we have the one that’s whole name is steeped in irony, Happy Sugar Life. This trailer is titled the “Painful” version for a reason. Yes, that’s right. This is 15 seconds of hot yandere action. Enjoy!

The series premieres on July 13 and features animation from studio Ezo’la while Nobuyoshi Nagayama is directing. The story is described as:

High-schooler Matsuzaka Satou has a reputation for being easy, but one day her lifestyle of sleeping with one boy after another comes to an end. It happens when she meets the child Shio, for whom she is convinced she feels true love for the first time. Satou may seem sweet and innocent, but there is nothing she won’t do to protect their life together, including committing murder. But from where did she acquire the little girl, and how long can their “Happy Sugar Life” together last?

Next up we have a trailer for one of the anticipated series of the season for many of you, Hi Score Girl. It’s another 15-second TV spot but it also features one of the theme songs in the background, so that’s something.

Premiering on July 13, this one features animation from J.C. Staff and has Yoshiki Yamakawa sitting in the director’s chair. The title is described as:

The year is 1991 and 6th grader Yaguchi Haruo only has video games to live for. He’s not popular in school and he’s neither handsome, funny, nice nor even friendly. The only thing he has going for him is that he is good at video games. One day at the local arcade, he plays Oono Akira, a fellow classmate but who’s popular, smart, pretty and a rich girl that absolutely destroys him at Street Fighter II. Not only does he lose to her 30 times in a row, he can’t beat her at any game. Haruo can’t seem to shake Akira off as she follows him from arcade to arcade everyday after school and beats him every time. As weird as it sounds, the odd pair begins a strange bond and friendship.

Finally, we come to the trailer that makes the least amount of sense to me because I’ve never played any of the “Tales” games. Apparently this show is based on a Japanese smartphone game and will be run in a 24-hour marathon loop at 8 pm local time in Japan on July 20, which doesn’t really matter to us because this series also received a global release that ended back in late May.

Regardless, if you’re a fan of the “Tales” RPG series you should absolutely be checking this one out.

If you’re wondering what it is you just watched, that would be 50 seconds of the title Tales of Rays Gekijou which, as mentioned, premieres in Japan later this summer.

And there you have it. We made it through all three videos! Any of these whet your appetite for seeing more? I definitely plan on checking out Happy Sugar Life, but we’ll see how far I make it before it creeps me out too much.

Via [1], [2], [3]