Oh Infinite Stratos. You are such a rewarding guilty pleasure. Which is good, because Madoka Magica is dripping with despair and dread.
This episode was all about the harem. Which makes sense because with the transfer of another ‘male’ student to the school all the girls are going crazy. Hormone overdrive.
It started off very well, with Ichika visiting his friend on a short vacation home. His friend’s sister barges in, and she too likes Ichika. His friend is all too well aware, and when Ichika questions why his sister changed into some nice clothes and is confused when she loudly refuses that she’s going on a date, his friend replies “you must be like that at school too.” Funny lampshading here.
Anyway with the new male student Houki no longer has to room with Ichika. When Ichika doesn’t try to defend Houki staying with him, she barges out, only to come back later to ask Ichika to go out with her if she wins the intergrade championship. Which is spread as a rumour, except changed to the winner of the championship, Houki or not, gets to date Ichika.
Much of the rest of the episode has Houki getting the upperhand on the other two girls fighting for Ichika’s affection. First she gets to be carried in Ichika’s arms (in his IS), then she makes the best bento out of the three for Ichika to eat, then Ichika feeds her with his chopsticks. On the small chance Ichika ends up with someone, I really hope it’s Houki.
Another delight of this episode was when Chifuyu revealed she was all to knowing of Rin and Cecilia’s hots for her brother.
There was also accidental groping of Yamada-sensei by Ichika, which lead to a funny train of thought.
The other focus of this episode (yes, besides all that) was the male transfer, of course. Charles, from France, with the voice of a girl. Not only that, he changes really fast when sharing a change room with Ichika. I think there’s a lot of evidence suggesting Charles is more than meets the eye. But seeing as no-one has noticed this, he still gets swamped with girls.
And the episode ends on a cliffhanger! Another transfer student enters the class, and it’s a girl from Germany who calls Ichika’s sister instructor. Not only that, she delivers a heck of a slap to Ichika and says she can’t accept that Ichika is Chifuyu’s brother. What does it mean? What is Charles? Will Houki get to date Ichika? Who cares, this is just fun to watch.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica
After Mami’s death, all I keep thinking now while watching is that whatever is happening will go bad. Which there is a 50% chance of being true.
Sayaka’s friend regains feeling in his hands as a result of Sayaka’s wish, and he finally gets to play the violin once again. See, this is where I kept thinking something would go wrong. Damn, you start seeing the darkness in even the happiest of situations. And there is something dark in this one considering Sayaka must become a Puella Magi as a result.
Meanwhile Madoka is still not a Puella Magi. She is very worried about Sayaka, even asking Homura to help. Which is nice, since the scene reinforces the notion that Homura isn’t evil, she’s just given up on hope and fights to atone for her sin of making a contract and failing to prevent Sayaka contracting.
Finally, in the climax a new Puella Magi shows up. One with no sense of justice or ideals, just one in it for the money (or grief seeds, as it may be). Surprisingly, she’s voiced by Ai Nonoka (Fuuko Ibuki from Clannad and Kafuka Fuura from Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei). Anyway, she fights Sayaka and gets the upper hand despite spirited resistance from the idealistic Sayaka.
Luckily Homura intervenes at the last second, leaving us on a cliffhanger.
On one last note, Kyubei is EVIL.
On a similar note, Merry got a little darker this episode (though still not dreadfully dark). The episode started off light, Merry playing games and going shopping for the first time, and Isana in total despair when her favourite singer announced he would be going on hiatus.
But as always they run into a Dream Demon, though this time it’s one that has a similar objective as Merry to rid reality of Dream Demons. While a scene setting up this demon’s backstory (her sister left for reality and never came back) made me feel sad that the two had to fight, the bombshell was the Demon’s assertion that the Demon’s Merry ‘sends back’ actually die, as there is no way for a Dream Demon in reality to return to the Dream World.
Finally, in another cliffhanger this week, Yumeji steps in before the Demon delivers a finishing blow to Merry, presumably leaving him catatonic for the next episode.
At first I though this was going to be a reverse Brave New World, where the idealistic lifestyle granted by the Fractale system would be shown as the good thing while the Lost Millennium group trying to restore the old way of life would be shown as bad. Turns out that both of them are bad in their own way. But they have their good points too. Meaning no-one is perfect and confusing the hell out of Clain.
But the episode also had some character development too, with the return of Phryne. Doppel Nessa (as opposed to her real-life version, who is Phryne’s sister) really, really hates Phryne. She also really, really likes Clain. Clain seems to like Phryne, meaning we have a complicated triangle that will hopefully untangle itself in the coming episodes.
Still, it was a good episode. It actually reminded me of Code Geass, what with the Fractale Church coming in an advanced airship and invading the village of the Lost Millennium. They didn’t show innocents being killed, but the leader of the Church soldiers did imply it. Then again, he did say that they would spare innocent lives. I don’t know what’s true, and I don’t know who I’d rather be with.