Rolling Review – Little Witch Academia (21)

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Episode Synopsis:

The sixth word is here; “Lyonne”. Lyonne seems to hold special meaning for Chariot and Croix. When Croix deceives Akko into climbing the forever tree Wagandea close to the time of magic stealing pollen, Akko’s faith in Ursula-sensei is pushed to an upper limit.

Episode Review:

Wait….
Wait a minute….

There were TWO episodes all about Diana and I missed BOTH OF THEM?!?!

Life is simply unfair…

We are back to word hunting, and it’s about time too because we are nearing the end of the show. Episode 21 does a nice job of cementing Ursula-sensei’s relationship with Akko, giving Croix some character development goodness, and bringing us towards Croix’s final plan for Grand Triskellion domination.

This episode is also riddled with problems, and that’s saying a lot coming from me. This show makes me really happy each week and I generally forgive a lot.

To start the episode off, Akko learns of the sixth word, “Lyonne”. It’s nice to see Ursula-sensei get slightly miffed with Akko as she asks for the word’s meaning and later when she’s hellbent on climbing the sacred tree Wagandea. Akko’s “brattery” seems to have hit a whole new level. She blindly accepts Croix’s advice (even though it’s led her to trouble before) and takes off for the tree to fulfill her selfish wish of meeting Shiny Chariot. Little does she know, the tree is ready to produce a pollen that will strip a witch of all magic abilities.

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So trustworthy….

 

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Akko get with the program already!

At this point in the show…I really feel like Akko needs to grow up. I certainly understand that she is the Chariot to Diana’s “Croix”, so she’s supposed to be a tad immature, but her desire to meet Shiny Chariot is a selfishness that borderlines on infuriating.  There’s a moment in the school library where Diana’s little toadies thank Akko for returning Diana to the school.  It was great and I finally felt like Akko was maturing not just as a wtich, but as a person.

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Bask in it Akko…this will never happen again…

Later on in the episode, when she resists Ursula’s help as she climbs the tree to her “almost” doom I couldn’t help but pull at my hair a little. Do you not notice that Croix has led you into danger before? Have you not realized that you are on a mission for something more important than your whiny little wants and desires?

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Brat Mode: ACTIVATE!
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I’m compaining RIGHT NOW!

While I’ve compained a bunch about Akko this episode, this really isn’t Akko’s episode; It’s Chariot and Croix’s. We get a flashback of when they stated their heart’s desires to Professor Woodward and the moment Chariot was chosen over Croix to receive the staff. We get to understand the rage Croix feels but later in the episode when Chariot (present day) is in danger, Croix cannot bear to actually harm her. This is incredibly touching but also bizarrely off tone.  Croix saving her best friend makes her look like she hasn’t completely gone off the deep end.  On the flip side, she’s willing to send a younger girl into a mysterious pollen fog that will completely strip her of magic.

Before I come to the end of the review I want to touch on this:

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Oh snap Brendan!  What now?!? 😛

Just because Brendan made a comment about the soccer game side discussion when it came up in his episode. This ends up getting used as a segway into the fact that Croix has created an app that everyone is using that “removes tension”, or more than likely is stripping out people’s anger to fuel to her doomsday device.

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I want to talk about the word of the episode itself as my final note. Many of the words thus far in the show have been your run-of-the-mill protagonist words, “patience, determination, etc”. “Lyonne” is something beautiful because it is “acceptance”. This means acceptance of yourself and the destiny that has been placed upon you.  It is through this word that Akko and Ursula-sensei accept each other, and through this word that Croix and Chariot could progress no further. The meaning of this word adds weight to Croix and Chariot’s fued and hopefully gets Akko motivated to look beyond her own desires.

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Episode Summary:

As per usual, the art and sound are quite good in this epsiode.  The crowd scenes continue to be kinda ugly but if something has to give, I’m fine with it being a two second crowd scene.

Akko really needs to stop being so full of herself and with the addition of Lyonne, here’s to hoping some of the good qualites she displayed before actually stick.  Because we seriously need an awesome protagonist to contend with…this….

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Oh dear…

 


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Rolling Review – Little Witch Academia (17)

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Episode Synopsis:

Akko is now on a mission to get all the words and restore magic!  She must read, she must find strength, and she must persevere.  Before all that though, Amanda O’Neil is really bored and wants to cause some mischief before she gets expelled from Luna Nova.  She also totally doesn’t feel like this everyday….today is definitely the day she’s gonna quit school…definitely….

Deceived into going after the Holy Grail at Appleton Academy, Akko and Amanda get caught up in a “Knight” of trouble together (*snicker*).  It turns out that Andrew is a student at Appleton.  Will he aid Akko and Amanda, or will he stand behind Appleton’s tranditions regarding hatred towards witches?

Episode Review:

Akko is certainly determined to get the sacred words and help with the restoration of all magic, but that doesn’t mean Trigger isn’t gonna take a pit stop to throw a party.

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Episode 16 brings Andrew back into the equation, and instead of meeting him like a one-off character, we get to see him in a more natural setting.  Like Episode 15, this one is…more or less “filler” but it does some good things.

Firstly, it re-establishes the fact that witches are thought of as vermin to the outside world.  The show needs this reminder because otherwise it would feel like Croix is just a boring old villian.  It’s not hard to see why she and Chariot have disparaging viewpoints about the future of magic, nor why Croix would choose a path that’s 100% divergent from traditional magic.  If I was a Witch that was actively being persecuted and thrown into iron maidens, I’d totally invent a magic storing, tablet controlled thingamabob and smack everyone around with my Wand Justice!

Dude…you need some serious Wand Justice right about now

The second critical piece of this episode is Amanda.  If you count this out, there are seven sacred words for Shiny Rod.  There are also seven important characters (including Akko) that have been a part of our LWA journey.  They aren’t always working together, but in their own way, they all love magic, and have aided Akko at various stages in the journey to her inevitable destiny.  The show seems to understand this and takes the time in this episode to give the spotlight to someone other than the core-three.  Amanda is notoriously a troublemaker, but through Ep. 16 you realize it’s not out of malicious intent.  It’s out of the undending desire to experience adventure.

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Pictured Above: Adventurous Spirit.
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Pictured Above: The best way to go out with a bang; Dress like a man and sneak a magic rat into an all boys school on a quest for the Holy Grail!

Amanda  and Akko’s journey through Appleton is not terribly interesting aside from you the viewer getting to look at pretty architecture. Akko and Andrew have an important chat where she digs deeper into his emotional armor by once again asking the question, “What is is that YOU want to do with YOUR life”.  While this isn’t central to the plot about destiny and magic restoration, I really love this angle.  Akko is the representation of straightforward bullheadedness. Whether or not you agree with the way she does things, she does it her own way, in her own time, with her own sense of flair.  To some degree we are all Andrew Hanbridges.  Trapped within our own confines and constraints, and it’s important for us (and Andrew, of course), to be challenged in our way of thinking about life.

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Where things get exciting for this episode is during the duel.  Akko and Amanda inevitably find the Holy Grail hidden in Appleton, but they are captured and almost tortured by the douchey Louis Blackwell.  Andrew comes to their rescue (because Akko couldn’t rescue the broadside of a barn) and reminds Louis that Appleton has a way of settling desputes, and that way, is sword duels.

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You were thinking I made that line about Iron Maidens up, weren’t you?

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The duel sequence is epic, and got my blood pumping with its Revolutionary Girl Utena-like speed and camera work.  When the grail is broken and its secret is revealed, Trigger cracks its knuckles and pulls out some radical artistry for demon armor and the battle that follows.

Episode Summary:

Like last episode, this episode is mostly a distraction.  Croix is clearly gathering data, so the wild goose chase that Amanda and Akko go on is aiding her.  Since we don’t know the endgame, this all just feels like a one-off affair.  That being said, it’s a fun on-off affair. Amanda gets a moment in the sun, the artistry is top notch for the fight scenes and architecture (but suffers in terms of facial expressions and crowd scenes), and maybe good old Andrew is starting to come around.

If I had to complain about something this episode, it would be that Amanda goes from wanting to be kicked out of school, to being apologetic and wanting to go back, in the span of this episode.  It makes the whole thing feel a touch contrived.

My other complaint is of course…that Diana is not present, and may in fact be in need of aid.

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What do you MEAN Diana is in trouble?!?! NOOOOOO!!!

I’ll leave you with a parting gift.  The best villian face ever.

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Shuumatsu no Izetta – Final Thoughts

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The Con Artists sit down to discuss their thoughts on Shuumatsu no Izetta. This show was so disappointing, that we needed a solid 45 minutes to tell you why. Between the poor pacing, bad science, bad history, and all the nonsense at the end, we couldn’t stop discussing why this show wasted every ounce of its potential.

At least we can walk away and imagine a better show…starring a corgi…

Listen and enjoy.

Rolling Review – Little Witch Academia (13)

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Episode Synopsis:

The Samhain festival is here! After Akko’s trip to the Fountain of Polaris she is determined to do what she and she alone can do. This means that she is not interested in becoming ghost bowel excrement. Instead she riles Suzy and Lotte to help her with an elaborate plan that’s 100% friendship! Perhaps even the ever stoic Diana will be moved!!

Episode Review:

This is it people! The mid-season is here and we are ready for ultimate magic and ultimate FRIENDSHIP!!! Because Friendship is the real magic, ya know?!

This episode is a culmination of everything that Akko has achieved up until this point. The girl may be weird, but her magic has come a long way and she has a heart of gold that’s going to reinvigorate magic and show the world how fun it is!

The Samhain Festival gets underway and alumni witches from far and wide come for the spectacle. If you saw LWA: Enchanted Parade, you’ll notice that the introductory plot of that is stolen for this episode. Traditionally the Samhain Festival is…pretty darn lame…
It’s rooted too much in the traditions of old and features archaic magic from the dark ages like potion brewing and witch sacrifice.

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The Witch Counsel is not amused

Akko, Lotte and Suzy are team “Sacrifice”, but Akko has a plan to spice things up!

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Before we talk more about the episode, let’s look at the festivities of Luna Nova!

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Well…I suppose Diana did say to…look sharp *snickers*
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Ladies…what did you do to that statue?!
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Uh….I’m just gonna…leave this image…right here….

Much of this episode is devoted to helping you the viewer understand once again how weird Akko is in the world of magic. If Diana is the one whose intense knowledge, study and devotion is going to bring magic back on the scene, Akko is opposite end of that spectrum. She doesn’t do anything by the book, and her desire to make everyone love magic and have fun is a direct rebellion against all that is traditional.  Akko also forces everyone to ask a vital question; WHY.  This single thought spurns Ursula-sensei into action to look up an old curse for the sacrifice event that hasn’t been questioned in ages.

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Episode 13 is a lot of what made the original LWA a lot of fun to watch. Diana is fabulous and Akko, with assistance from Suzy and Lotte, does doofy stuff and makes everyone laugh. Her heartfelt attempts to do good result in something great happening, and there’s fantastic art direction and choreagraphy to go along with the whole package.

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Join Team Akko for Epic Assists and
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Epic Mushrooms

The critical piece here is that Akko is gaining more words for the staff and Diana is now coming to understand that skill and knowledge alone are not the only path to doing good things with magic. Heart is required and hers may not be strong enough for the job, so perhaps it’s time she shed her antagonistic stance with team Akko and joined forces.

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IT’S FRIENDSHIP!!!

Akko now posseses three magic words out of seven and we are on our way.  A fantastic episode indeed.  I continue to be excited for this how week after week.

Episode Summary:

Akko is finally coming along with her magic (but still kinda sucks) and she does something nobody but her could ever do at the Samhain festival. Even the stone faced Diana feels the force of her positive energy and might start coming around. Come on Diana! Be a gal pal!!  In other news, the final scene of the episode hints at a villian.  Oh no!

This episode was a full force action fest but injected a boatload of heart and set us up for the second half of the show. So exciting!!

Let’s end the midway point with a fabulous Diane shot!

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and of course…more frienship….

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Happy CLAMP Day (2017)

It’s April Fool’s everyone and that means it’s also CLAMP DAY!!! Whether or not you read and enjoyed the manga CLAMP has produced over the years, it’s hard to deny that they are one of the most influential Shōjo mangaka ever.

Let’s celebrate the day by talking about something in the CLAMP universe.

FOR YOUR EYE ONLY

If you’ve been a CLAMP fan for a while, or even if you’ve read some of their manga casually, you’ll notice characters tend to lose an eye or sport an eyepatch from the get-go.

This isn’t just an artistic signature of the group, it’s a tribute to a long standing member and functions as a metaphor for loneliness or great change.

Nanase Ohkawa, who is considered the leader of the group has a weak right eye.  She’s not totally blind in it but from my limited reading it seems it is impaired such that her eyesight isn’t as strong anymore.  In tribute to her, CLAMP likes to impose the right eye’s loss.  This article will discuss two characters with a missing right eye and how it affects them.

Warning: Spoilers ahead for Tokyo Babylon, X/1999 and Tsubasa RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE

Seishirou Sakurazuka

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Seishirou is likely the character many fans have a love-hate relationship with.  While he seems like a great character to begin with, he is by far one of the most emotionally destructive characters CLAMP has ever created.  He’s clearly a product of the group’s early beginnings in terms of having a love for tragic stories.  Seishirou is first introduced in Tokyo Babylon alongside another long standing character, Subaru.  Subaru is part of a pair of twins, the latter being his sister Hokuto.  Seishirou befriends Subaru and helps him out on his jobs as an onmyouji.  The two are playful with each other, as Seishirou really enjoys flirting with Subaru and it’s clear that Subaru enjoys the attention.  Later in the series Seishirou dives in the way of a deranged mother with a knife and has his right eye destroyed.  Subaru recognizes his love for Seishirou at this point, but it’s never meant to be as Seishirou’s dark and destructive personality comes seeping out.

I won’t spoil more beyond this but the takeaway here is that Seishirou’s eye loss is the trigger for his sick and twisted personality.  After his eye is taken he emotionally ravages Subaru and murders Hokuto. Later work features him one-eyed to start with so he never reverts into the kind man from the start of Babylon.

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Oh…did you think we were done with this psychopath?  We aren’t….

He also makes an appearance in X/1999.  While it’s not necessary to read Tokyo Babylon before jumping into X, it does help you understand the character motivations for Seishirou and Subaru a hell of a lot more.

I won’t go into the whole plot of X/1999 (and in actuallity it’s impossible to go into the whole plot since CLAMP never finished it *raises fist in anger*), but I’ll need to feed you some of it to help understand the context of this article.  X/1999 is a story where 14 individuals are fated to meet in an apocalyptic battle that will decide the fate of the world.  Seven of these individuals are known as the “Dragons of Heaven” and seven are known as the “Dragons of Earth”.  The Dragons of Heaven, led by Kamui, wish for humanity to survive, while the Dragons of Earth, led by Fuuma, feel that humanity is not worth saving and should be purged.  Sounds cheery, right?!

Seishirou is one of the Dragons of Earth.  His role exists effectively to torment Subaru, as his existence allows the trauma of Hokuto’s death to stay ever close to poor Subaru.

Seishirou’s eye loss here isn’t really a trigger for change or anything, as he’s pretty much a manipulative jerk all the way through the manga. The fact that he never changes and his eye remains lost is reinforcement of the fact that the eye is a trigger for the loss of his innocent side.

Seishirou ALSO makes an appearance in CLAMP’s super insane crossover, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles (I am not going to spell it that stupid way every time…), but his lost eye here essentially functions the same as it does in X/1999.  

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Bonus Eye!  Subaru Sumeragi

Oh Subaru…even though Seishirou killed your sister, you can’t stop loving the guy, can you? No friends, he can’t, and so poor Subaru gets his right eye taken when Fuuma comes down and removes it for him.  It turns out, he wanted it that way because it made him feel closer to his beloved Seishirou.  Wow CLAMP…you really love to hate these two guys don’t you?!

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Subaru is a very different man that he was in Tokyo Babylon after his sisters death.  In many ways, his eye loss is more in line with being emotional acceptance.  That acceptance means pain of course because he’s hunting Seishirou out of anger but when exposed to his deepest desire his heart still can’t walk away from Seishirou.

Fai D. Flowright (or Flourite)

Fai is the goofball of the three man team (Syaoran, Kurogane, and himself) that is formed to help retrieve Sakura’s soul when it’s scattered across dimensions.  Guys…this is CLAMP…were you expecting something simple?!  The feathers that the guys seeks are hidden in various worlds that all pull from older CLAMP work.

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Pictured Left to Right: Kurogane, Syaoran, Fai

The journey eventually takes them to Acid Tokyo.  A.Tokyo is basically a messed up version of X/1999…you know..as if that place COULD get more messed up than in already is in the original. In A.Tokyo, there is literally acid falling from the sky and the only people left seem to be the 14 members of the Dragons of Heaven and Earth.

Oh yeah and uh..Subaru and Kamui are twins…

Twin…vampires…

Yeah…you read that right.

Fai eventually loses his eye to a clone version of Syaoran who comes and eats it.  Yeah I know, I get sick thinking about it too.  Fai spends the rest of his time running around with an eyepatch on, making him one of the sexy one-eyed dudes of the CLAMPverse.  I will mention that Fai is a bit of an anomaly as he loses his left eye, instead of the iconic right eye that most other characters lose.

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Fai’s eye loss turns him from happy-go-lucky magician man to brooding, guilt ridden vampire…magician man.  He eventually deals with it and goes back to being slightly more playful, but never quite to the point of the very first time we meet him.  When he loses his eye he does become more accepting of his existence and it allows him to make the emotional changes needed to deal with his past trauma and his affection for Kurogane.

In many ways CLAMP seems to have accepted that the whole “eye loss” affair is more of a signature than a dark metaphor as it was before.  Fai doesn’t go through NEARLY the type of dramatic change that Seishirou or Subaru do.  That being said, losing the “right eye” is an icon of CLAMPverse and it seems like it will continue to be used for change, emotional growth, and deep emotional pain.

There are other characters not mentioned here that lose an eye or are missing an eye to start with, in CLAMP works.  I’ll explore those in a different CLAMP Day Article!  Read some CLAMP manga with one eye closed today so you can feel the majesty of the manga.  Or don’t…and enjoy the wonders of depth perception!

Tokyo Babylon Omnibus 1 | Tokyo Babylon Omnibus 2

X/1999 (Amazon will link you to the other volumes)

Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle (Amazon will link you to the other volumes)