Star Ocean has taken over my life; it seeps into all the cracks and leaves me with no time to do anything else. Nonetheless, I shall get on top of this addiction, even if it means playing all three games (four if you count Blue Sphere) to death. In the meantime, Bakumatsu 7-8 will be covered next week since my birthday cut into regular anime viewing time.
Reviewed this week: Asatte no Houkou 9, Code Geass 10, La Corda d’Oro 5, Death Note 11, Kanon 11, Keroro 70-73, Red Garden 10, ROTK 33-5
…and in manga: Bokurano 33-7, Chevalier 1, Chokotto Sister 37-8, MariMite 21, Pani Poni 1-7
Asatte no Houkou 9: Whilst Karada makes her way to the coast and gets a job at a small inn (anime destiny came through after all), Tetsu is finally pushed into going to look for her, with Kotomi just happening by in order to give her a hand. Although there were some excellent moments in this episode such as a confrontation between Shouko and Hiro in the café, it just felt a little lacking when compared to the overall standard of the series- certain events felt a little too contrived, and I found myself distracted by the ugliness of Tetsu’s costume. When will anime characters realise that the Heero Yui look is out of date?
*DROPPED* Code Geass 10: There comes a point in many series where you wonder what compelled you to start watching them in the first place, and Geass has finally reached that point. This episode sees Lelouch provoke a pointless fight just to increase his Ego Counter, all the while hoping to snag some Pizza Hut along the way- since I can no longer force myself to pay attention to what passes for a plot in this series, I feel no inclination to wade through any more episodes.
La Corda d’Oro 5: Corda’s plot is hardly what you’d call complex and unfathomable, but this must surely rank as one of the most predictable episodes ever to grace our screens. As the first round of the concours begins, Kaho’s accompanist seems strangely absent- could this possibly mean she is as evil as she looked in the closing shot of episode 3? Will our heroine finish in last place and have to struggle her way to the top in later rounds? Will secret piano genius Tsuchiura step up and do something unexpected like playing the piano? Far be it for me to give anything away, but if you can’t work out the answers to these, then you probably aren’t that interested in televised media anyway.
Death Note 11: After waving to some passing treacle, Death Note continues on its way, which finally sees events begin to move with the introduction of a second Kira. I keep saying that from hereon, things will get interesting, so I realise that now is the time to tone down my optimism- events may improve, but they may equally continue to plod along at the current pace.
Kanon 11: With Makoto’s story over, this week sees a shift towards Mai’s arc, whilst making sure to check up on all the other girls along the way. After such a heavy focus on Makoto, it is refreshing to see some of the more neglected characters return, but unfortunately that also means that Yuuichi is slipping back into his sarcastic and abusive mode. Overall, though, it’s a fairly average and inoffensive episode, although if not for the parodies I probably wouldn’t still be watching.
Keroro Gunso 70-73: A quadruple bill of Keroro was never going to show the series in the most flattering light, and unfortunately, it has forced me to make the oft-delayed decision of placing Keroro in the red (it was previously on ‘orange’). Admittedly, episode 73 was an entertaining trip to the past that prevented me from dropping the series entirely, but the preceding trio of episodes were all tired rehashes of overused ideas that could barely hold my attention. Perhaps this is simply the curse of episodic comedy- since the story and setting are bound to always return to the status quo, there reaches a point where you simply can’t do anything more with the format.
Red Garden 10: Angst phase two continues in this episode, as the girls train for future random encounters (Claire swings a baseball bat, Rachel orders an abs training machine, Kate fails to do one press-up and Rose, er, cooks meat). By this point, most of my hopes for the plot have been dashed by the fact that it makes little sense and seems unnecessarily convoluted; nonetheless, for now, it just manages to stay above the drop zone somehow.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms 33-5: The punishment for over a fortnight without ROTK was inevitably going to be a triple bill of episodes, but for once, I was able to get through them all with little fuss. At long last, the time for Liu Bei to meet Zhuge Liang and begin the destined HARD GAY that will found the Shu kingdom. In case you hadn’t already guessed, I’ve given up even trying to review this series seriously- you either watch it because it is unintentionally hilarious, or you don’t watch it at all.
Ironically, episode 36 was released just after I wrote this- here’s to another HARD GAY review next week.
Bokurano 33-7: I hadn’t realised that Kirie’s story actually ended with chapter 32, meaning that this sequence of five chapters is entirely devoted to the next pilot, Takami Komoda. The daughter of a military man, Komo must find the strength to step up to the plate and control Zearth, but events take an unexpected turn when the enemy pilot runs away- if he isn’t located within 48 hours, both sides lose. Bokurano is always excellent and these chapters are no exception; as always, however, I am eager for more.
*NEW* Chevalier 1: It would be no understatement to say that the Chevalier manga was not at all what I was expecting. A far cry from the animated version, the manga may share the same characters and basic ideas, but the execution is very different. The series revolves around D’Eon du Beaumont, a laid back bishie guard who pulls double time not only as an agent for the king, but as a cross-dressing vessel for his sister’s spirit in order to fight Poets of evil. Compared to the anime, this is more of a Chevalier-lite Otome/magical girl version, but I will continue to read out of curiosity.
Chokotto Sister 37-8: The fanservice may be in abeyance here, but Chokotto Sister still has a way of giving you a few pages that impress you with how good the series can be, only to drop back down to the level of a child’s reading book straight afterwards. This pair of chapters concludes the ‘Choko and the panther’ arc, but mars its surprisingly tragic ending with a trite reversion to ‘brother makes it all well again’. Perhaps I shouldn’t complain; the whole ‘Choko keeping a panther’ premise was a little bizarre, after all.
Gunslinger Girl 18-19: I never thought this day would come, but at long last, I have been able to start the fourth volume of Gunslinger Girl (damn you, ADV!). Chapter 18 covers a day in the life of Claes as she goes about her normal routine whilst showing hints of remembering the time she spent with her handler. 19, meanwhile, starts a new story in which Triela and Hilshier must act as bodyguards for the daughter of the mafia defector they protected in a previous chapter. Although 19 is the better of the two stories, both chapters are a very much welcome continuation of Gunslinger Girl’s trademark excellence. Apparently two new cyborgs will be introduced later on, so the need for more chapters is great.
Maria-sama ga Miteru 21: Sei’s past story and volume three conclude in this chapter, which sees the tragic separation of Sei and the girl she loved. I can’t say it was a particular tearjerker, but it was still a well executed ending to one of the series’ best arcs.
*CATCH-UP/DROPPED* Pani Poni 1-7: If Pani Poni has anything to tell us, it’s that oddball comedy series really need the vibrancy and motion of the animated medium in order to shine. Unfortunately, on paper, the series is little more than a poor man’s version of Azumanga- there are a couple of worthy jokes, but most of the content seems like random ramblings grouped together into mercifully short chapters. Even if you’re a fan of the anime, there’s not much to see here.