A moment of silence, please. Death Note is dead. Long live Death Note. Although it's still dead. So that doesn't really work.
On a series with the sort of tension that Note excelled at–screw-turning, pulse-pounding, scrotum-squeezing drama that pushes forward by constantly threatening collapse–it's inevitable that the final release isn't going to live up to expectations. How could it? Unless my television had actually exploded last night, it wouldn't have been enough. And even if it had, I'd still be a little let down, since, hey, one TV? That's it? Just a black spot on the carpet and the charred remains of that stupid free Lethal Weapon 4 DVD that I hide because I can't bring myself to throw stuff away. No cataclysm. No dancing demons. Just one last, moderate boom.
It's important to keep expectations in check, is what I'm saying. And with that in mind, "New World" was a decent capper. It had some flaws, I think, which we'll get to in a moment, but at the very least, it did what a climax is supposed to do; the loose ends are resolved, the losers punished, and there's a lovely bit of death to wrap things together nicely.
But before we get into that, first things first: "Episode 71" of Bleach is dangerously close to putting together a storyline. During the conflict with Ryo, a male Bount with a serpentine companion who can turn inanimate objects into snake attackers, the gang learns the Bounts have a particular yen for Uryu's soul; not only was he rendered powerless during last arc's adventures, making him the weakest link in Ichigo's team, a Quincy is a rare delicacy that immediately draws Ryo's attention. Uryu exchanges himself for a human hostage, but before he gets et, Yoshino, the female Bount who the other two briefly imprisoned, arrives and snatches Uryu away. After Ichigo and the others return once more to Urahara's shop to worry about their friend, they get a call from the hospital; turns out Uryu's fine, and he's got news. The Bounts are forbidden from taking living souls, but this new group is determined to try and exploit the tremendous power that would result from such a transference.
Things are picking up a bit, which is a relief. Filler arcs aside, there's at least a sense of danger here; the idea that a Bount's actions could somehow create a gateway between the "real" world and the home of the Hollows makes their defeat more than a matter of saving innocent lives. Uryu's conversation with Yoshino was a nice twist on expectations; I'm still not completely ready to call her a good guy, but I like having the first threat we see actually turn out to be the least dangerous of the lot. Uryu's final memory of her is curious as well–-her expression reminds him of how his mother looked when she was about to smile and cry at the same time. Whether this implies some sort of familial connection between Uryu and Yoshino, or it's simply a brief character moment, it made for a good contrast with the hideously unfunny fart joke earlier in the show.
So, "New World," then. Quick plot recap: last week left off with Near and the rest apparently done for, and Light finally giving in and gloating before the final moment. Unfortunately for Light, Near is once again ahead of him–-Mello kidnapping Takada earlier was a deliberate attempt to find out whether Mikami's notebook was the real one. By sacrificing himself, Mello managed to help Near finally accomplish what the original L could not: Kira's defeat. Also worth noting is that Mikami's involvement with Kira was, ultimately, what brought about Light's downfall. Mikami's insane devotion, untempered by common sense or a survival instinct, led to a mistake that Light would never have made, a mistake that allowed Near to replace the pages in the real notebook, saving the lives of the SPK and Light's team, and finally forcing Kira into the open.
As super-villain breakdowns go, Light's is pretty spectacular. He hits all the standard notes: lots of screaming, insane laughter, bargaining, arrogance, and a couple desperate attempts to save himself that end in bullet-riddled failure. When Mikami kills himself, Light takes the distraction as an opportunity to escape, but he's such a non-threat that Near actually tells Aizawa to let him go. Where can he run to? His power is gone, and finally, he bleeds out on a stairwell as Ryuk writes his name in the final book.
My biggest issue with "New World" is ends too soon. Light is inarguably the series' central character, but I felt cheated by not getting to see the ramifications his death would have on society. As he says near the end, he's been Kira for six years–-he's stopped wars and crime has dropped precipitously. Who's going to fill the void he leaves behind? How will the world deal with a dead god? We'll never know; instead, we get one last haunting image of the original L, and Ryuk grinning in the setting sun. It's fittingly eerie, but not entirely satisfying. Good to see Light finally get his, though.
In "Battle for Narita," Lelouch runs into a bit of a setback himself, although without anywhere near the same consequences. Things seem to be running smoothly at first; the landslide initiated by the Guren Mk-II took out the majority of the Britannian forces, and the sudden arrival of the Japanese Liberation Front's special fighting robots, the Four Holy Swords, gives the Black Knights a chance to strike directly at Cornelia. The attack nearly works, but Suzaku shows up in his Lancelot and pushes back Kallen's Guren, allowing Cornelia the chance to escape. Suzaku then corners Zero, but C2 arrives and puts a mind-whammy on him and, inadvertently, Lelouch. C2 is injured in the fall-out, and Lelouch spirits her off to a cave to recuperate. There, Lelouch calls C2 by her real name–-only we don't get to hear it.
Lots of excellent robot on robot action in "Battle," with a nicely trippy hallucination sequence that teases at a good deal of things (Suzaku's tortured relationship with his father, some signs that C2 has a past after all) without explicitly revealing any of them. Lelouch hasn't used the Geass powers in a while, and given the amount of exploding going on, it's easy to forget that our hero has abilities that can't be entirely explained even in the context of his world. It would be nice to get some answers as to what drives those abilities. Oh, and once again, the conflict between Zero and Suzaku gets raised; given how angry Zero is at his so-called friend's interference, I can't imagine that conflict staying unresolved forever.
But enough of all this complicated character and story dissection! It's time for penis puns. The first segment of Shin Chan, "Wrestlewomania," finds the Nahara family at a ladies wrestling match. When Shin wanders off to the bathroom, he finds Encho from school hiding in the audience; once discovered, he spirits Shin to a restroom stall to explain his tale of woe–-a tale of cock-fighting, and the spunky little girl who got away. (Like Shin says, "You could say rooster, but it wouldn't be as funny.") After Encho suffers the inevitable humiliation at the hands of his beautiful former protégé, we move on to "Wet Dreams May Come," the epic adventure of one man (ie, Shin) and his desperate struggles to bring his dreams of hottiness and boob fondling to fruition. It doesn't go well.
The last segment is a curious departure from the norm; where once we had a "flash back" style episode of the Nahara's original digs and geeky neighbor, this time out, we jump ten years into the future to follow Shin and the gang's adventures in high school in "Shin-derella-Chan." Again, I'd be curious to know how the original ep played–-here, we get a lot of so-so self-referential jokes, but a parody story that actually builds into something somewhat interesting. There's even enough plot to justify dragging every thing out till next week.
Bleach, "Episode 71": B
Death Note, "New World": B+
Code Geass, "Battle For Narita": A-
Shin Chan, "Wrestlewomania," "Wet Dreams May Come," "Shin-derella-Chan": B
—I dug the UFOs and pterodactyls in Shin's dream; even given his boob obsession, he's still a little kid.
—So, ten years in the future, all the kids in Shin Chan will be the same height, and Shin will be a boxer. Huh.