Weekly Round-Up: March 16th


I need to take a moment to discuss this figure of Eri. It’s not a figure I like, and I wouldn’t have given it a second thought had ANN not written a surprisingly positive review about it. Am I the only one who dislikes this figure? It doesn’t capture the essence of Eri for me at all, and even if I had no idea who she was, the only thing I would like about it is the skirt.

Reviewed this week: Aria 20-21, Iroha 16, Busou Renkin 23, Chevalier 15-16, Deltora 4, Gargoyle 10, Ichigo Mashimaro OVA 1, Kanon 23, Nodame 8, SaiMono 34

…and in manga: MariMite 22, School Rumble 216, Tsubasa 146, xxxHOLiC 10.3

ANIME

Aria the Natural 20-21: It’s been far too long since I last visited the charming and addictive world of Aria, and these two episodes serve to reawaken my love of the series and remind me of everything I’ve missed in the months without it. Whilst episode twenty sees the tale of an eerie woman who spirits away undines seem about to come true for Akari, she gets a rather more pleasant surprise in twenty-one when Cait Sith sends her a ticket for the mystical Galaxy Railway. Despite the long wait for these episodes, the power of Aria has in no way diminished, and it is a pleasure to once again feel the old longing to visit Aqua for oneself (if only that were possible).


Aika begins to worry that Akari has a crush on President Aria.

Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto 16: Having praised the series so consistently for weeks, it is an unfortunate turn of events to admit that this is one of the weakest episodes so far, featuring as it does a largely throwaway story that has little point to its existence. Akidzuki and Kakunojo’s party is doubled in size when they pick up not only the historically well known Hijikata, but also a young man named Sounosuke, who proves to not only be the standard rookie personality, but also a one shot character whose final fate most viewers will probably care less about. Meanwhile, Kakunojo slips back into the disappointing weak and useless female role, with her only merit coming from the times when she is possessed by her Moontear sword. Add in a poorly chosen order of scenes which makes the story feel as if it is erratically jumping from one point to the next, and this episode’s chief worth lies in its parody potential.

Busou Renkin 23: These days, it seems that getting towards the end of the series means that you have to have an ‘episode off’ from the main storyline before you enter the final arc, and this is that episode. Kazuki and Tokiko return to school after the summer vacation, the supporting characters get some screen time, budget saving stills are used, and the Tokiko x Kazuki angle is finally pushed- all in all, a somewhat dull selection. Still, next episode we’ll be going to the moon, so whatever happens before that can only seem sensible and grounded in comparison.

Le Chevalier d’Eon 15-16: Having watched the end of the series in raw, it’s slightly strange to go back to the England arc, but nonetheless, Chevalier is good enough to merit such treatment. Although the best is yet to come, this pair of episodes is solid enough, featuring the end of the creepy if undeveloped Whitehead and the effective separation of Durand from his comrades as it becomes clear that those in power have darker agendas than initially assumed.

Deltora Quest 4: After yet another lacklustre budget saving episode, I’ve decided to put this show on hiatus until I start parodying it, so don’t expect any sort of promptness of reviews from now on. In this episode, our party starts making their way to Witch Tegan (the next boss), only to be stopped at a bridge by an ogre. At this point, you might expect a fight, but even swinging a sword a few times is beyond this series, so instead the ogre poses everyone a riddle- cue a rather boring and poorly translated twenty-five minutes.


I hear you, brother.

Gargoyle of the Yoshinagas 10: Despite its formulaic nature, I’ve enjoyed Gargoyle so far, but unfortunately episode ten brings us a blip in quality. A tale of the Yoshinaga’s attempts to help revitalise the local shopping district, this episode generally failed to engage, and the chaotic melee it descended into in the second half did little to redeem it. An uncharacteristically weak episode, but at least the preview keeps my hopes high for the next instalment.

Ichigo Mashimaro OVA 1: Ah, Ichigo Mashimaro, your talent at making a story about nothing in particular has in no way diminished since the original TV series, and so this effective episode 13 is entirely satisfying- even if you aren’t into lolis. Like the TV series, there really isn’t anything you could call a plot, but if you liked the amusing antics and observations of the simpler things in life that characterise the series, you won’t go wrong by indulging in another dose of it.

Kanon 23: After all the weeks of dullness and disappointment, at long last an episode has appeared that actually has some measure of power. It’s not that the content has significantly improved, but rather the effect of some well-placed background music, adding emotion to the scenes in which Yuuichi is unwilling to accept the loss of Ayu. I have to admit, though, that I wasn’t expecting to see the real Sawatari Makoto randomly show up at this point- or rather, I wouldn’t have been expecting it if Hinano hadn’t already mentioned it.

Nodame Cantabile 8: It’s another off-kilter visit to the world of Nodame in this episode, and unfortunately for me, the story revolves around Stresemann, who remains by far my least favourite character. Although there are moments when the series becomes interesting or entertaining, the bulk of it just fails to hit the mark for me due to the irritation I feel every time the womanising and inconsistent Stresemann appears onscreen.

Saiunkoku Monogatari 34: The selection ceremony for the head of the Sa clan is here, and that means it’s time for Kokujun to step up to the plate and fulfil the purpose of his character. This is certainly an interesting enough episode in terms of his character, but in return the once manipulative Sakujun seems to have lost most of his strength in one fell swoop- although the ‘shadow game’ he starts with Seiran is interesting in spite of its resemblance to early Yu-Gi-Oh.

MANGA

Higurashi Onisarashi-hen will be covered next week (if at all). Does anyone else even read the Higurashi manga anyway?

Maria-sama ga Miteru 22: A new volume begins with this chapter, which skips ahead to the New Year story that commenced the second season, and sees Sei invite herself and Yumi over to Sachiko’s house. That’s pretty much all that happens in this set-up chapter, but hopefully events will pick up soon.

School Rumble 216: What’s this? Did something just happen in School Rumble? Whilst Harima seems resigned to the fact that he cannot recover from losing his manuscript (for five minutes, anyway) and the ever oblivious Tenma tries to redraw it for him, Yakumo decides to go out and look for him- only to end up admitting out loud that Eri is in love with him. For the second chapter in a row, it actually feels as if the story is going somewhere, with Yakumo acknowledging that she and Harima will never be a couple and paving the way for an Eri X Harima ending.

Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle 146: Whilst the fight between Syaoran and Hikaru continues, Fye gets a message from Chii warning him about the danger from Ashura if he stays in one world too long. After the various revelations of last chapter, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to learn that this one is mostly about CLAMP illustrating action scenes- after all, they wouldn’t want the pace to pick up too much. Apparently in the next chapter we will learn who wins the Syaoran vs. Hikaru bout- now, I wonder who it could possibly be.

xxxHOLiC vol 10, chapter 3: As Watanuki seems to be gradually realising that Yuuko’s warning about Himawari was more than mere jest, he receives a visit from the spirit of Doumeki’s grandfather- but just as the plot (such as it is) seems about to go somewhere, the chapter derails into a lunch date with Kohane, the girl with mystical powers from volume nine. There is a cliff-hanger ending, however, so I should probably get on and catch up with the latest chapters.

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