Okay, the title’s misleading: Mayuri isn’t necessarily an evil mastermind. But she’s definitely a mastermind, alignment pending.
While contemplating my favorite show this season that’s not about underage succubi princesses and cognitively-impaired mutants, I got to wondering: what purpose does Mayuri serve on Steins;Gate, exactly? She’s just kind of there. The more I thought about it, however, the more I realized that not only is everything about Mayuri, but she must be a genius the likes of which Okarin and “Christina” can only imagine.
Here are just some of the reason why Mayuri must be the key to the kind-of-sort-of puzzle that is S;G.
Summary: X-Men takes a turn for the better this week as they’re all far too busy fighting insane Resident Evil bosses to have the time to say all of the stupid, contradictory nonsense they normally say. Also, Storm does something! Wolverine does something! Cyclops gets punched in the face! What can I say, it’s kind of a winner.
Summary: The X-Men spend an awfully long time sitting on the couch chatting, Sasaki Yui and Prof. X have one of the most patently ridiculous conversations I’ve ever seen in my life, and Wolverine takes a page out of Storm’s book and forgets what his powers do. I would say things are deteriorating fast, but they’ve kind of been deteriorating at a real steady rate all along, honestly.
Summary: What is this, I don’t even…okay, this episode. Hisako continues to mostly outperform Storm and Wolverine in combat for no reason, the X-Men continue to have great difficulty with the “the U-Men have analyzed your powers and are using them against you” concept, and everything I thought I understood about the whole secondary mutation/DHS thing is kind of thrown out the nearest window and into the snow. Lots of snow. On the plus side, Beast does stuff.
This episode certainly turned out differently from what I was anticipating. After the teaser from Episode #7 mentioned that the last episode was going to take place in Japan, I kind of assumed that Stu and the Otaku 6 were going to descend on the island nation, Team Mangaloids’ short-shorts and Dre’s unbelievable eyewear collection in tow. However, after saying a brief goodbye to the group early in the episode, we’re introduced the judges of the competition- whom I didn’t know existed until this point- and then it briefly became the Chris Wanamaker Show as America’s official Greatest Otaku toured Japan.
Chris was clearly a good choice (and he should totally host AGO Season 2 if they make one), but like everything else about this show, the final episode was split between the genuinely interesting and the baffling. Hit the jump for my final (sniff) AGO Season 1 rant.
Summary: This week, I would say Armor kicks ass and takes names, only Armor doesn’t care what your name is unless your name happens to be Emma Frost. A pretty decent breather episode is marred by some poorly animated, bafflingly dark action scenes, but on the plus side, we get to see Beast do some more SCIENCE!, and the X-Men have a pretty bitchin’ coffee machine.
I do apologize for bringing up Evangelion AGAIN, but you know, there are some areas where the two shows are opposites: in Evangelion, there’s a ton of symbolism relating to the Abrahamic faiths, but the show isn’t really about any of that; Madoka doesn’t bother with much religious symbolism (in fact, most of the symbolism is about other things entirely), but the show is literally about a girl who dies for our sins. Evangelion uses religious trappings, Madoka uses actual religion.
However, one thing they have in common is that while at first the Christian parallels on both shows jump out at you, to me the real substance of the religious material in both shows has more to do with Jewish mysticism and/or ideas that predate Christianity. Rather than being a token similarity, or the fact that one show was influenced by the other, I think it’s because both shows want to deal with religion (to the extent that Eva deals with it at all) on a more primal level, and if you want to go truly primal with religion, the year 0 is just too recent.
I said all along that the reason I wasn’t recapping Madoka was because I was too shocked after each episode to write anything, and that’s partially true, but there was another reason; it’s because I didn’t feel a need to. It’s fun to take a show that maybe isn’t appreciated as much as you think it should be and point out its nuances, but Madoka wears so much of it’s greatness right on its sleeve, I didn’t think anyone needed me to explain to them what the show was doing, or why it was so good.
For the same reason, while I did want to chime in with a few thoughts on the finale, I’m not going to go into too many specifics, because everyone else is doing a great job already- the show seems to have brought out the best in the anime community online, because I can’t remember the last time so many blog entries and response posts I read about a show were this insightful.
So if I spend a lot of this post comparing Madoka to other landmark anime, or talking about the show’s handling of religious ideas, rather than the actual plot and characters, you can go elsewhere for discussion of those things very easily- seriously, pick a website that deals with anime, someone will be saying something about this show that’s worth reading. But you’re certainly welcome to hit the jump for my personal and slightly-loopy take on it.
Summary: On the plus side, this was the most watchable episode yet, largely thanks to the infusion of Hisako and Emma Frost, who have actual character and motivations and thingys. On the minus, this has got to be the dumbest team of X-Men I’ve ever seen.
Streaming: Nowhere? Let me know if I’m wrong, please.
Alternate Title Suggestions: Afternoon Tea Tennis, Light Tennis Club with Cows, Tennis and Raquet With PantyShot
I don’t usually like doing the whole “it’s just like [insert name of popular show] with [insert different activity]” thing, but in this instance, calling Soft Tennis “Like K-ON!! with Tennis” isn’t that far off. If you like K-ON!! and you have a healthy tolerance for double-entendre, you may enjoy this show; if you’re one of those people who watched K-ON!! and went “But where’s the PLOT?”, stay far away.