Mirai Nikki Episode 5

November 7, 2011

After a short period of downtime, Anime-Planet (the site where I keep a record of everything I watch) returned along with an upgraded friend activity feature (now called friend feed), which tells me what everyone I’ve added on the site is watching, how far into the series they are, and how they rate it. Makes starting discussions about anime a lot easier! In the few hours it has been back, I’ve already seen a lot of ratings very different to my own, which I’ll be sure to raise with them when the opportunity arises. 😛

In the previous episode, Yuno gave Yuki the choice of fleeing with her, or staying with Tsubaki and being caught up in Twelfth’s insane plans. But Yuki is a good person at heart, and can’t easily abandon a virtually blind girl he’s agreed to protect. While he thinks things through, despairing at his own uselessness, Yuno continues to kill the now resurrected followers of the cult.

After the awesome OP, however, its flashback time as we get to see Tsubaki’s backstory! It starts with her parents setting up the cult to begin with, proclaiming her to be an oracle possessing the ability to see further than god… which is a lie. In reality, she’s just serves as a figurehead while her parents presumably profit from donations. But after they die in a car crash, the cult takes a new direction.

The cult pretty much becomes a gang rape club, with every (male) member taking part in ‘sharing their sins’. Don’t know what the female followers make of this, assuming they’re even aware. This is a pretty grim situation for Tsubaki, but she’s kept sane by a small hand ball, a memento from her mother… until one day, when it leaves her small field of vision. Understandably, she begins to hate this ‘unseen world’ that seems to take everything good away from her and make life hell.

Back in the present, the three diary users escape the hall outside the confinement room, Yuno dragging Yuki by the arm, and him dragging Tsubaki. Kurusu finally phones Yuki, and upon hearing of their situation sends for police backup, while he himself continues the search for Minene. Who is still in the dungeon, putting up with Twelfth’s monologues.

He explains that his diary helps him find evildoers, and innocents who need saving. After hearing that the cult performs evil deeds (which we now know to be true), he infiltrated them and captured Minene to prove his loyalty.

Static sounds are heard coming from his diary, suggesting that his future has changed. After hearing the new entries, for the first time he seems reluctant to tell Minene what he’s planning next, but he takes the mini bomb she was carrying. He then passes her the keys to the cell, telling her to escape – clearly his diary hasn’t informed him of the evil deeds SHE’S committed… that, or his sense of justice doesn’t consider them to be wrong.

Still dragging the other two behind her, Yuno runs towards the front gate and freedom… but all of a sudden she doesn’t look very well. Around them, the members of the cult seem to be snapping out of their hypnotism, but don’t do much besides stand there and mumble ‘its the Sacred Eye!’ as Tsubaki passes, so they may as well still be brainwashed. Suddenly, Tsubaki stops running and pulls the other two to a halt, suggesting they stand and fight now that her followers have ‘recovered’. Yuno doesn’t like this idea, and (still holding an axe, and looking a bit feverish) walks towards the other girl, accusing her of deceiving Yuki.

Just when things are about to turn nasty, Yuki’s phone rings: Kurusu warns him that Twelfth is approaching them! He also tells them Twelfth is blind, and carrying a bomb… all info he was able to extract from Minene, who he has finally found and is holding at gunpoint. Then, Yuno spots something on a nearby roof:

Twelfth’s newly formed sentai team appears before Yuki and Co., and (after first telling him off for not responding to their elaborate entrance), ‘Twelfth Red’ gives him the same warning that Yuno has been giving him from the start:

The team take it in turns explaining that the cult has a dark initiation process and shares their sins among each other to prevent betrayal (which we know to be true from the flashbacks). Despite the overwhelming evidence that Twelfth is mad as a march hare, the seed of doubt has now been planted in Yuki. They then reveal that the real Twelfth has swallowed the time bomb, and intends to kill Tsubaki by blowing her up along with himself. The way he talks, you’d think she was the root of all evil or something! Finally, Red explains that (obviously) only one of the team is the real Twelfth, and the others are hypnotized decoys. Since Twelfth’s own diary has come up with a Dead End flag, he needs to take desperate measures in order to succeed.

Faced again with the option of fleeing with Yuno or fighting to save Tsubaki, Yuki bravely picks the latter. Using his diary, he predicts that the second Twelfth from the left is the real one. But his opponent has foreseen (foreheard?) this, and the team shuffles their positions while advancing forwards! But Yuno once again puts her quick thinking, Yuki-devoted mind to good use, and throws a stone to the right while making it look as though she threw it to the left. A pretty awesome trick, which leaves the fake, sighted Twelfths turning to the left, while the real one (who happens to be second from the left at that moment) turns towards the sound of the stone crashing against the floor.

If the above blow to the neck wasn’t enough to finish Twelfth off, the explosion that followed seconds later was. The reverberations are felt underground, where Minene and Kurusu are currently escaping the dungeon. Fearing trouble, Minene (currently handcuffed to the detective) demands her diary be returned so that they can escape safely. Which will certainly come in useful, now that Tsubaki has decided to show her true colours:

She reveals that her original plan was to capture Minene and use her as bait to kill Yuki, Yuno and Kurusu in one go… which she would have gotten away with if it weren’t for that meddling… weirdo. Then, she kisses Yuki. Presumably to annoy Yuno. But as the past few eps have made very clear, that’s not something you should ever do.

Convinced that defeating Twelfth will have removed her Dead End flag, Tsubaki checks her diary to make sure… good thing she did, as its still there! Then behind her, Yuno breaks free of the cultists restraining her, and runs towards her, still brandishing her axe! The wide open scroll that is Tsubaki’s diary provides a huge target, but since destruction of the diary means the loss of its user’s life, we get to see for the second time the lengths the’ll go to in order to protect them.

Still feverish, however, Yuno can barely move after this attack. She hands her diary to Yuki and pushes him over the side of the bridge, before collapsing. With cultists all over the place searching for him, Yuki has no choice but to run and hide.

On the roof, Kurusu and Minene look down at events. On one side, Yuno has been captured and Yuki is in hiding. One the other side, Kurusu’s backup find themselves unable to get through the barricaded gates. Minene doesn’t fancy the idea of dying pointlessly while chained to her enemy, and Kurusu agrees to take off the handcuffs… on one condition. Which we don’t get to find out yet.

Once her wounds have been treated to an extent, Tsubaki reveals her plans to the captive Yuno: since bad things always come from the ‘unseen world’, she plans to destroy that world by becoming god. Suddenly, Twelfth’s obsession with sacrificing himself just to kill her doesn’t seem so crazy.

Outside, Yuki is hiding underneath the temple (it is on stilts, like a lot of old-style Japanese buildings). Looking through Yuno’s diary, he once again realizes that despite her being a stalker who keeps dead bodies at home, Yuno truly loves him, and would do anything to protect him. He also spots something in the darkness of a corner:

Meanwhile, Tsubaki becomes even more evil, ordering the cultists to ‘eject their sins’ into Yuno and broadcasting the whole thing on loudspeaker in an attempt to lure Yuki out. Which works, as the boy runs from his hiding place and into the room, wielding yet another axe. He doesn’t actually kill anyone, but swings it around threateningly enough to scare them away.

Yuki then turns to face Tsubaki, this time opting for his usual weapon of choice: a dart. She tells him it is pointless – with so many followers in the room looking at him, she can predict his movements. But Yuki has a plan. He throws the hand ball into the air, the cultists all look at it, and Tsubaki’s diary entries change to show several accounts of the ball being thrown. Unable to quickly predict his next action, she bends down to fold up her huge diary… only to be reminded that she no longer has a right hand to do it with.

With a final sad look at the hand ball which reappeared too late, Tsubaki disappears the same way Third did, in a weird vortex.

With the main villain gone and little time left in the episode, the loose ends are quickly addressed. The police eventually gain access to the temple. Yuki kisses an unconscious Yuno, deciding once again to trust and stick with her. Finally, we see Minene (free, and resting on her motorbike), who reveals that the ‘one condition’ mentioned earlier was that she exchange email addresses with Kurusu… Now I’m definitely suspicious of him. But of course, Yuki and Yuno know nothing about this…

The main episode ended there, but Murmur’s segment deserves a mention. This one looked at Twelfth’s backstory, which isn’t weird seeing as last episode showed Tsubaki’s, and this is obviously the final episode he’ll feature in. What WAS weird was their choice to animate it in a hybrid of claymation and quirky anime styles… Worth going back and watching if you’re the type who switches off the moment the ED comes on!

Badge collecting!

November 27, 2010

So Anime-Planet now has a badge system, where you unlock badges by achieving different milestones (rating 100 anime, marking 10 characters as loved or watching all of Nuku Nuku are just some examples). But the badges that most caught my attention were the studio badges. Stuff like ‘watched 15 series produced by GAINAX’. I got some automatically when the system was introduced; I’ve seen enough to get the MADHOUSE badge twice over, and have watched my fair share of GONZO and Ghibli too. However, there were plenty of studio badges that I didn’t get. As a guy who’s been referred to as the ‘Encyclopaedia of Anime’, ‘Otaking’ and ‘Freak of Nature’ on more than one occasion, I could not allow such gaps in my knowledge to remain unfilled. So that’s what I’ve been doing for the past month instead of blogging – badge collecting!

Some badges required very little effort; one OVA got me Production I.G. (it was Girl from Phantasia, in case anyone was curious). SHAFT and KyoAni came purely by watching DVD specials and OVAs for series I’d already seen (seriously, you can’t watch 15 KyoAni titles without doing that). I had to start almost from scratch with Studio 4°C, but marathoning the many shorts and music videos they’re famous for didn’t take long. But then the difficulty level increased.

The badges for Toei and Studio DEEN each require having watched 50 series. While I’m over half way there with DEEN, I’m not their biggest fan, and marathoning ~20 series by them doesn’t appeal to me much. Toei seem fine, except that I’ve got nowhere near as big a head start on this badge. And finding 25 subbed series from Nippon Animation would take up more time than actually watching them. The studio I’m focusing on right now is Pierrot, which isn’t known for its short series and oneshot OVAs (though I’ve now watched the few they have produced :p:). Somehow I can’t see myself picking up Bleach or Naruto, even if their various movies and specials would contribute a lot. Urusei Yatsura I’d consider, but only if someone actually gave it to me, way too big for me to download it!

And so A-P badges have become one of the many factors now influencing my anime viewing. And I can see them remaining a major factor for a while, because they give me set goals to work towards. They make watching cartoons in a dark room seem productive. Last but not least, I’ve seen a lot of interesting series and OVAs over the course of the last month, stuff that I might not have found if I hadn’t started searching by studio.

Of course, everything comes at a price. Thanks to my badge quest taking priority, I’m way behind on my weekly series…