Reviewed this week: Asatte no Houkou 11, Busou Renkin 15-16, Chevalier 13, Corda 7-8, Death Note 14, Deltora 1, Manabi 1, Gargoyle 7, Kanon 16, Nodame 2, ROTK 39, SaiMono 26
…and in manga: Fate/Stay Night 5, Higurashi Oni Sarashi 1, Tsubasa 141, Yotsuba& 43
Asatte no Houkou 11: After the slightly disappointing episode ten, my enthusiasm for Asatte no Houkou was somewhat dampened, but fortunately, the series is back on form for this, the penultimate episode. Focusing mainly on Karada and Tetsu, the episode sees her attempts to confess that she is they very girl he has been looking for; all in all, an apparently gentle yet actually emotionally charged episode that reaffirms the series’ place in the Someday’s Dreamers/Koi Kaze bracket.
Hiro’s hair continues its insidious plan to take over his mind by robbing him of his vision.
Busou Renkin 15-16: Busou Renkin has never been afraid to breach new boundaries of crudeness, but for some reason, episode fifteen was the most stomach churning of them all. From the sight of tanned green-hair Kazuki to the hideousness of Moonface’s moon face, everything in this episode seems designed to leave the viewer feeling a little queasy. After tying up the initial fight with Victor, the action moves to the beach, where we are saddled with some rather disturbing scenes involving Kazuki and his friends in trunks- all in preparation for a new turn of events in which Bravo is ordered to kill Kazuki before he gets permanently stuck in Victor Mode. Unfortunately, even when it gets down to the fighting, episode sixteen cannot hope to impress- not only has a new regular been introduced in the form of the chakra user from the OP, but Tokiko is now little more than a cheerleader.
These episodes also sport a new Papillon centred ED; the song is a little cringe-worthy but I have to admit I prefer the video to the first ED. That won’t stop me skipping it from now on, however.
Le Chevalier d’Eon 13: It may seem hard to take a series I parodied in raw all that seriously, but Chevalier is so good that subbed episodes are always welcome. This episode begins the worthy England arc, seeing our heroes arrive on the tea-sipping isle and make the acquaintance of French Ambassador Guercy. It’s an interesting episode, but I’m all too impatient to see the rest of the arc translated so that I can fully understand it.
La Corda d’Oro 7-8: For the first half of episode seven, I couldn’t help wondering whether the dreaded training villa arc would ever end, but just as I was losing all hope, the series changed tack to focus on Tsukimori. Not only does his personality completely change from ‘heartless jerk’ to ‘you know what, I’m not so bad after all’ within the space of a single episode, but we now discover that his parents are famous musicians- so famous, in fact, that no one ever bothered to mention this fact until it became relevant to the plot.
Unfortunately, by the time episode eight rolled around, the writers temporarily forgot about the whole Tsukimori setup, and chose to randomly insert an episode in which Hino has a brief falling out with her two generic friends. It is always a bad sign when a series diverges from a dull and predictable plot in order to present an even more dull and predictable episode, making it ever clearer that this series truly is the sister of the dull Haruka and the plotless Angelique.
Death Note 14: It’s another day in the life of Justice Light, only now he has a whole new underling in the form of Misa. As Light decides how best to put this new resource to use, the series defaults to its usual exposition heavy mode, moving slowly but at least refreshing my memory as to the events I read about in the manga all those months ago.
*NEW* Deltora Quest 1: I love Deltora Quest; not because it is in any way good, but because I had good laugh at how utterly predictable a fantasy series it is. With a story ripped from any classic RPG you care to name, Deltora’s complete lack of originality is exactly what makes it so watchable; each and every minute is utterly cheesy and thus open to a mocking more intense than that of any parody I have ever posted on here. I’m going to keep watching this series for as long as it can entertain me in this way.
*NEW/DROPPED* Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight 1: I only chose to watch this because it looked like it could be Pani Poni Dash: Ichigo Mashimaro edition with a touch of Futakoi Alternative, but as it turned, Manabi Straight is in the Kiba/Tokyo Underground class of series that make a hash of ripping off many others. This first episode sees an apparently extraterrestrial girl transfer into an Earth school and manage to become Student Council President in the space of an episode- unfortunately, I was barely able to concentrate it on it, and that was only partly due to the uncooperative mkv format.
Series ripped off by Manabi Straight: Pani Poni Dash, Futakoi Alternative, Gokujou Seitokai, Azumanga, Keroro Gunso, Binchou-tan, Ichigo Mashimaro, Tsuyokiss, Excel Saga
Gargoyle of the Yoshinagas 7: No matter what other anime-related disappointments I suffer during the week, Gargoyle is always bound to bring a smile to my face, and this episode, in which Dullahan arrives to live with Lily, is no exception. The colours are bright, the stories are entertaining, the voice acting is good, and Gar-san is the icing on the cake. I can’t say much more except to exhort more people to pick up the series.
Kanon 16: The longer I plough through Kanon, the more I get bored with it (and I apologise if this reflects in my parodies). As a new arc begins, it becomes ever more blatantly obvious that the series is a case of Yuuichi systematically going through every girl he can lay his hands on, whilst they abandon any other friends, relatives and confidantes in order to confide in him- simply because he is the main character. This week sees him turn to Shiori, who, surprise, surprise, is not suffering from a common cold, but rather from Sick Anime Girl Syndrome, an unspecified illness that forces her to wander around in the cold with a loose scarf on rather than braving the harsh environment of a seat in a heated classroom.
Nodame Cantabile 2: Whilst I enjoyed this episode a little more than the first one, something about Nodame still isn’t clicking for me, and most likely it lies in the characters. This episode introduces Mine, a student who prefers rock but for some reason plays violin at a classical music school anyway. With his violin jury upcoming, Mine is in need of a piano accompanist, and predictably enough, he ends up with Nodame. As before, I just cannot connect or care much about this bizarre and off-kilter cast, and until I do, Nodame can never provide much entertainment for me.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms 39: The Chi Bi/Red Cliffs arc finally begins in this episode, which gives us a long overdue look at Wu when God’s Emissary Zhuge Liang makes his way there to convince Sun Quan to ally with Liu Bei against Cao Cao. Cue some rather specious arguments between Zhuge Liang and the Wu underlings in what is laughingly called a debate.
Saiunkoku Monogatari 26: As mere mid-bosses, Soujun and Meishou find that their time is up in this episode, which reveals the true villain of the piece to be a certain pink-haired bishie. Whilst Sakujun continues to be deliciously evil, this is of a regrouping episode for our heroes as they come together in preparation for facing the next obstacle. There are few amusing moments, such as when Meishou’s generics stand around motionlessly waiting for Yougetsu to beat them up, but unintentional amusement or not, SaiMono remains on top of the pack- and as I’ve said ad nauseam, each episode only serves to leave me hungry for the next.
Fate/Stay Night 5: I’ve stuck with this manga in the hopes of finding some worth in the story, but if chapter five is any indication, it isn’t exactly improving on the anime version. This chapter covers the aftermath of the first encounter with Berserker, whilst also fitting in a little about Rin’s botched summoning of Archer. I still feel sorry for Rin- she deserved to be the main character.
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Oni Sarashi-hen 1: A manga-only arc that features on Natsumi (a character living outside of Hinamizawa who wasn’t seen in the anime), this chapter left me wondering why it even existed at all. Right now it seems like a pointless add-on to an already flawed story, throwing in another character and story thread just for the sake of it.
Tsubasa Chronicle 141: In this chapter of Tsubasa Chronicle…nothing happens. Well, to be perfectly honest, I could have said that about many of the chapters I’ve read, but up until now I’ve at least been able to find some small shred of plot or action. Unfortunately, that phase has now passed, and we’re still no closer to properly understanding why Sakura has undergone such a radical personality change, other than that CLAMP felt like doing it. All we can do is vainly hope that the plot can pick up speed and move from glacial to its usual treacle level.
Yotsuba&! 43: It’s time for another day in the life of the perpetually clueless Yotsuba, starting with her phoning her grandmother as part of ‘Respect for the Aged’ day, before taking a trip to the park with Ena. As always, the series remains simple, sweet and entertaining- it may go on forever, but for once, I don’t mind.