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06 December 2005 @ 10:50 pm
Ultra Title Madlib! Ultra __(Day of the Week)___ ___(Time of Day)___ ____(Exciting Word)____  
That's right! We're here for the Ultra Monday Midafternoon Barmitzvah! (wow, these Madlibs really work) In our previous chapter I touched on how there's a balance to the 'standing the coin on the edge' act of writing Ultra, where one side of the coin is action, and one side of the coin is plot & character, where the coin often tips way or the other pretty dramatically and almost never lands on the exact edge.

This week's chapter, by John Evans, lands with the action side face up, but it did that little toilet bowl spin for awhile before it settled on it, to extend the analogy about a sentence or two too far. But seriously, while this was an action packed chapter with NINE total fights (though some had notable exceptions) everything fit very well with the framework that was given to it.

This chapter was VERY subtle, and I'll be blunt, I loved it. Tons of the existing plots of Ultra were touched on, however briefly, and many were pushed ahead. Kasumi, for once, seems to have a definitive objective, some reason for forming Ultra beyond what has been stated. She's pushing and pulling at all these threads ever so delicately... it's a beautiful scenario that John plays wonderfully. Kasumi is everywhere, politely prodding and pushing, and just being generally nice to everyone she comes into contact with.

Sakura gets a full-fledged arc or two with the developments of this chapter. Orochi continues his climb of trouncing heroes to become the ubervillain of Ultra. Team Hentai is well used twice in the same chapter, for God's sake. The love was spread around, and off hand I can't think of more than one or two combatants who didn't at least make an appearance as even people not fighting this episode chipped in a line or two.

The first fight, in my opinion was very strong and set a lot of the attitude for the latter fights. It had a strong sense of rhythm, speed, and intensity that was kept up for most of the chapter. It was full of action, but interjected with enough humor and jokes to keep it festive. Hiroshi and Daisuke were nailed dead on with their balances hyperactivity and apathy, without going over the top on either one, both here and through the rest of the chapter.

For a change of pace, despite not knowing who the hell he was, despite having read a couple of the L5R books, I really dug the guest announcer. He wouldn't have been as interesting if he was a regular, but for a change of pace a lot of the 'seer' jokes worked well, and kept the exchange with Hiroshi amusingly unpredictable.

Finally, the two cut away gags of the episode were hilarious. Both were paced differently, and normally I'd have a hard time swallowing the same gag twice in the same chapter, but these were set just right. The off camera seduction match while Kasumi and Nabiki talked, and then the cut away for the timing of the joke Dan loss, however bruising to my pride as a Dan Fan, were both set up quite humorously.

As far as my favorite character development this chapter, I think I'm going to have to give the nod to Sakura. I'm starting to wonder if I'm biased or if it's just the amount of scenes she's getting, but she's definitely the nod here for having the most hooks. From her struggling with her... uh.. sexual? Dark? I don't know side... to the secret admirer bit... to the play with David... and finally the unsure conversation with God, she just seemed to go through a whirlwind of development.

As far as additions? Touga & Tron didn't bug me at all, especially in comparison to the previous episodes' support staff add ons. Both were used quite sparingly and well throughtout the chapter. I was a bit hurt by 'Who the heck is Touga?' , but a quick google said Utena, and really, that explained it all if you've ever seen five seconds of Utena. Tron was a good idea, though she is heavily marred by the Mega Man headache she caused down the line... but that's an explanation for another day, and not in any way John's fault. Also, I think the idea of a somewhat competent security chief did cause problems in that writers often had to 'write around' Tron when it came to having in ring hijinks.

Overall, an excellent chapter, and aside from possibly the insane amount of fights in this segment, it is a perfect example on 'How to...' when it comes to Ultra.

Oh, and kudos for keeping all of the above and adding a few 'mark out' moments where a character just does something completely cool (at least if you're a fan of the character), like the moment where Goku appeared and stopped Orochi's deathblow to Lina. Things like that fit the 'Sports Entertainment' genre to a T, and were just as well executed as the rest of the chapter.
 
 
Mood: impressedimpressed
Fight Background Music: move - Blast My Desire