Just … wow. It is rare that I am correct when I guess where a series is heading regarding it’s storyline, but it seems the stars must have been aligned in my favor for a few minutes last week. I thought that in the upcoming band match between Criticrista and Plasmagica that Criticrista was going to lose, that when that happened Dagger Morse may have “no more use” for them, and would turn them into dark monsters, since he has to get his “fodder material” for the dark monsters from somewhere, right? Well … that is exactly what happened this week. But what I did not expect is how scary Dagger was “in person”! He showed up at Criticrista’s waiting room after the match results were announced in person (did he know ahead of time they would lose?), brainclawed Ogasawara before tossing him out the door, proceeded to transform in to a huge dark … something or other … and “disposed” of Criticrista in some way – presumably forcibly changing them into dark monsters. But man, if he outright killed them all (which I kinda doubt but of course we do not know for sure yet), then this show suddenly just got super serious.

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The episode (curiously named “Falling Star Dreamline” … hmm) opens up with Criticrista talking amongst themselves and essentially feeling wary about the upcoming match … and I must admit that even though Rosia is arrogant, overconfident and even vigorously ambitious (even inflicting a hair dryer torture technique on the band’s drummer – which in Jacqueline’s case results in instantaneous despondency) I kinda like all the band members of the group as a whole. Even Rosia is not so bad when taken as a whole, perhaps. But it becomes pretty clear throughout the episode as a whole that even though Rosia is confident in Criticrista’s (and her own) abilities, she is faintly uneasy and dimly disturbed about Dagger’s apparent “favoring” of Cyan’s skills – she responds with aggression to “rise to the challenge”, but the feeling never really vanishes, I think.

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One of the more interesting scenes shown in the episode is an exchange between Dagger and Grateful King … an exchange initiated by Grateful King himself; even Dagger is surprised and remarks how unusual it is for King wanting to talk to him. And when I say “interesting” I mean in the sense that I was not quite sure what was going on and what King was planning? Essentially he asks for the possibility to be let out to stretch his legs or some such, and, of course, Dagger is vague in answering the request, instead opting to think out loud and mull over possibilities for pursuing his goals. When King asks what in the world he is talking about Dagger mentions that his main goal is as it has always been – to gather the world’s best talent and use them to dominate. But in this case we are shown two other examples of people he has in mind for this other than Cyan – it includes Shu Zo of Trichronika and Darudayu of Tsurezurenaru. He also says that “eventually they will have no choice but to come to me”. Not quite sure what this means to be honest … does he plan to imprison or dark monster’ify the other members of their bands and give a requirement for releasing them the joining and working for him?

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The scene where Plasmagica are practicing in the BRR studio also has more hints dangled before our gaze, primarily in the conversation between President Maple and Angelica regarding the group. Maple feels they are making good progress and are working hard, like usual, but Angelica chimes in “that there are more things to worry about”, and when she says this the “camera” swings to Strawberry Heart and Cyan. I wonder if she is referring to Grateful King still being imprisoned, and perhaps being somewhat limited to act? She also asks whether or no they should “…seek the instruction of that personage?”, to which Maple agrees, saying “It’s about time, isn’t it?” This “personage” later turns out to be Darudayu of Tsurezurenaru, and indeed, while Angelica is meeting with Darudayu it is shown that the matter that is weighing heavily on her is related to Grateful King in some way.

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The battle of the bands comes off quite well, I thought. The new performance in particular by Plasmagica was quite enjoyable. It was a lovely arrangement of the song everyone sung in episode 6. More than that, from the opening moments of the song Rosia knew that something was different and that Criticrista could lose – by the end of the song she was convinced they had lost even before the votes were tallied. Even so, she could not accept losing, and unfortunately Dagger showed up right then and totally agreed (with some pretty effectively scary background music playing all the while, by the way), saying that they were now useless to him, saying that at the moment there is “no reason to have signed them at all” and “incompetent”, “utter trash”, and “scum”. Then, after forcibly removing their melodisian stones, Dagger turned them all red in an instant. They were all still alive though (!) and after that Dagger’s “third eye” opened (the green one in the middle of his head) and he said “time to say farewell” … scary stuff … I wonder how literal that was though? I would be very surprised if it were literal, if Dagger somehow “banished” them to another world (maybe Cyan’s original world?), but it could be – after all, Dagger had the power to bring Cyan to Sound World from there in the first place….

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While I was somewhat correct about the fate of Plasmagica, there seems to be another area in which my guesses were also spot on, and that seems to be the fate of Chuchu. We get hints in this episode that she is beginning to feel envy and frustrated not only with Cyan’s obvious talent, yes, but even more so with Cyan slowly moving naturally into the front figure of the band itself. Chuchu’s ideas to “jazz up their performance” were (rightly, I felt) shot down by Rom when they were practicing in the BRR studio mid-ep, and were shot down in such a way that reminded me that Rom has said the same thing previously to Chuchu – he even called the ideas superficial. Ouch. This is obviously eating away at here quietly inside, as evinced by her showing glowing red eyes that looked very, very similar to Aion’s in episode 8 when he was possessed by the dark monster embryo. As far as we know Chuchu has not come into contact with one, but if she should she seems to be heading down the path to being taken over very quickly – the previews for the next episode hint at the same possibilities. What happened to Criticrista was downright scary – I would not wish that on anyone, but for such a thing to happen to Chuchu as well? Someone save her from herself!

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Currently the “oji-san” of the staff members age wise (in his mid 40’s) yet the most recent addition, he is also a Japanophile from his teen years while not quite an “otaku” who lives in the United States. Came to actively following anime late in life (in 2008), but in general loves the traditional arts, history and culture of Japan as a whole, both ancient and modern.

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