Yep, this will be the other series I’m picking up, although I can’t guarantee being able to hold onto it.

But hey, it makes a pretty amusing mood whiplash alongside Free! and Love Stage!!, so.

Although the explosion at the tower didn’t cause any fatalities, the police force are quite worried – and moreso when the two culprits upload a strange video to youtube acting as the calling card for their next act. Calling themselves ‘Sphinx’, the two present a riddle with the answer being the location of the next bomb, giving the police the chance of finding it before it explodes. Arata disguises himself as a ramen delivery-man and plants the bomb in the Roppongi Police Station.

On the trail of the terrorists is detective Shibazaki, who is able to analyze the video message and pick up on the clues.  Meanwhile, Lisa continues to deal with her overbearing mother, and finds herself drawn to Arata and Toji. However, Toji is very upfront in letting her know that even if he did call her an ‘accomplice’, she is no companion of theirs and is not welcome.

Sometimes Arata looks like he escaped a shojo manga.

Shibazaki definitely has the potential to be a great character.

Well, damn. I know what’s going to be difficult to write episode summaries for (hint=this.) There was so much information in this episode that I was having to take notes while I watched it in order to remember everything.  Some of my questions from the first episode were answered – the ‘facility’ was a nuclear fuel reprocessing facility, and what Toji and Arata did there was steal plutonium, and the event took place six months beforehand.
Some more of Lisa’s mother is shown – and we can now see that she’s very frantic, possessive and possibly even deranged. We don’t, however, get much more in the way of info on Toji or Harata.

I know I was generally pretty pleased with the first episode, but to be honest this second one did give me some concerns. Mostly it’s because I honestly have no idea what kind of story Watanabe is going for with this. I know it’s premature to worry about that at the moment, but there were moments that really made me wonder. For one…well, this show is rather uncomfortable. It’s not an easy watch. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, it’s just rather hard to swallow at times: the theme of terrorism is one thing (although we still don’t know Toji and Arata’s motives, and they don’t seem to want to harm anyone – yet) but honestly the most confronting parts of the episode are still the ones about Lisa. Her bullying is – again – difficult to watch – and the scenes of her and her mother honestly gave me chills. Her mother seems to have been driven somewhat mad by her husband leaving her and she fears Lisa may do the same – and Lisa certainly seems on the brink of doing so.  All the same, I can’t help but be interested in the story between them and hope that it’s something fleshed out more.
My other main concern is the fact that with some ‘mystery’ kids conducting dramatic crimes, a police force trying to uncover their identity and a seasoned detective at the lead…I couldn’t help but feel now and again that this is an awful lot like a more mature Death Note. I’m gonna say right now that if it gets even close to that level of aggravating pretentiousness I’m dropping the show like a hot brick, but I’m going to remain hopeful that Watanabe has something more interesting up his sleeve.

The show is certainly intriguing so for better or worse I would like to know where it’s all going. But at this point I’m a lot more interested in Shibazaki and Lisa than Toji and Arata.

I’m also kind of well and truly over the ‘childish sociopath’ character trope so I also hope there’s a lot more to these two than what’s initially apparent.

…I do like his character design though, creepy little git he may be.

Out of 5,
melonmelonmelon

Episode 3

I kinda like the guy who works with Shibazaki. Comic relief without being too annoying.

Detective Shibazaki has been brought back on the front lines after having been apparently demoted for some time, which is just as well because Sphinx are already planning their next attack. Shibazaki’s sleuthing unearths some important details – he believes the nuclear plant incident is connected to Sphinx, and discovers that the culprit who stole the plutonium (ie, Arata) is a person with a fake identity who had only worked at the plant a few months. The photo of him from the database had been mysteriously deleted, but there was an artist mockup which gives Shibazaki a vital clue – he looks quite young. He also manages to confirm that the power outage in the first episode was deliberate, and orchestrated by a third party who was bribed by the culprits.

As the police rush to solve the newest riddle from Sphinx to find the location of the bomb (this time hidden in a building next to a shrine), we get some insight – however brief – into the pasts of not only Sphinx themselves but Shibazaki too. While Toji and Arata’s fleeting flashbacks of life in some kind of sterile, foreboding facility full of children creates more questions than it answers, Shibazaki’s, concerning the reason he was  demoted, is a little more concise. When investigating the alleged suicide of a politician, he insisted that it was part of a larger conspiracy…however the head of the political party said conspiracy concerned just happened to have connections to the police department, and that was that.

Meanwhile, Lisa packs her bags and runs away from her mother…but to where?

They sure are cute kids.

Ah yes, that established anime rule: ‘Where there be white-haired boy, angst is sure to follow.’

This episode sure was a mixed bag, and a big one too. There were a lot of details – even more than the last episode, and it was almost impressive exactly how much information was squeezed in. Shibazaki’s continuing to be interesting – and I’m somewhat glad that details of his past are being brought to light so early. Having the two main characters (if thats what they are) Toji and Arata be super mysterious and vague is one thing, so it’s good that the other characters aren’t all like that or it would quickly become unbearable. And yet, this doesn’t make Shibazaki seem like a simple or ‘easy to read’ character, which is also good.

For the first half of this episode, I was concerned about the way he and the police force solved the riddles. Shibazaki’s a good character…but he always seems to know everything. Someone will notice a clue in the video and correctly infer what it means, and something about the writing here just didn’t particularly feel like detective work. There’s a bit where Shibazaki suddenly gets an epiphany from seeing a dragon in a game his co-worker was playing, and..well, I dunno. The method in which they solved the riddle just seemed a little sloppy and unbelievable to me, and I couldn’t help have doubts about the series again. To be blatantly honest, the whole riddle thing is a little bit silly to me in general.

However, the second half was a lot better and succeeded in engaging me again. Arata and Toji had until now been portrayed as sociopaths, but seeing their surreal flashback made me interested in who they are – an interest I actually nearly lost in the second episode. We can infer from these cryptic scenes that the children had been abandoned, and were possibly even experimented on, and that Arata and Toji managed to escape whilst another kid did not – something that gives Arata in particular traumatic flashbacks to this day. Also, Toji mentions Lisa again…and although he threatened to kill her in the previous episode, there’s a sense here that he was actually trying to scare her off to stop her getting involved with them. The sad way in which he told Arata this made him seem a good deal more human that he ever had before.

Basically, I’m still not sure what to make of this show, but it may be succeeding in winning me over again. Let’s see what the next episode brings.

What did I tell you.

And there we have the direct challenge.

Out of 5,
melonmelonmelon1/2

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