“Excuse me, but are those really the only options?”
There seemed to be altogether too much anime to watch this week, but somehow I made it through it all- with the exception of Koutetsu 2, which needs to be given full parody treatment.
Reviewed this week: Iroha 20-22, Cazador 2, Chevalier 19-20, Claymore 3, Darker than Black 2, Heroic Age 2-3, Nanoha StrikerS 2, Romeo X Juliet 2, SaiMono II 2, Shining Tears 1-2, Winter Cicada 2
…and in manga: School Rumble 221, Tsubasa 150
Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto 20-22: After the promised improvement, we have a rather dull episode of Iroha, which has Gold worth in parody, but only minor merit for serious viewing. Featuring the obligatory one-shot characters that exist only to rescue Akidzuki, question his purpose and ultimately see him on the right path for the final arc, episode 20 is tiresome in its mediocrity, and even Enomoto and Hijikata’s re-enactment of Hu Lao Gate cannot save it.
Unfortunately, episode 21 continues the trend of dullness, offering what is little more than a procession of minor historical characters discussing where the plot should go next. Eventually, episode 22 enables us to move onto the next phase of the series, which discards the monotony for the first hints of the over-the-top theatrics that will permeate the final episodes. At this stage, I have to admit that I don’t know what to make of Iroha overall- the series has changed in tone and content quite a lot from the early days, and I can’t say that I’m watching it for its current merit as much as the promise it once held.
El Cazador de la Bruja 2: If episode one of Cazador seemed vaguely promising, then episode two has lost all promise in favour of a dull twenty-five minutes that feels more like three hours. Having broken down in the middle of nowhere, our heroines stop off in a conveniently placed diner run by a former bounty hunter who quit her profession when it caused her daughter to leave her. Perhaps we should care, but since I have an aversion to dingy desert diners whenever they appear on television, I just wanted the whole to be over, and eventually it was.
Le Chevalier d’Eon 19-20: For once, knowing exactly what was coming and having to write a parody at the same time did not affect my love of Chevalier, with these two episodes offering the excellence that the series has so often proved capable of. First up, episode nineteen sees Durand attempt to set some machinations in progress, only for him to fall prey to a rather unpleasant end; afterwards, episode twenty wraps up all the loose ends in the England arc (arguably a little too conveniently, but we are getting low on time here), before sending our heroes back to France for fresh machinations and betrayals. It’s times like this that I just wish Chevalier was longer- imagine where it could have gone with some additional arcs.
Claymore 3: Claymore graduates from monster of the week to monster of the fortnight in this episode, when a Yoma attacks the Holy City. Unsurprisingly, non-human beings like Claymores are strictly not allowed to enter such a city, so veen though Clare has been hired by priests, she has to sneak in undercover by taking special pills that temporarily suppress her abilities. It’s a pretty standard story as this sort of thing goes, but nonetheless it remains entertaining in its own way- although the desire to get rid of Raki remains strong.
Darker than Black 2: As the first two-part story comes to an end, Darker than Black shows no sign of losing the quality that characterised the first episode, with an intriguing tale that skilfully weaves action and exposition to such an extent that even the dropping of a plate is somehow absorbing. As our lead goes on the run with his neighbour, pursuit from all sides heats up, but who will win in a battle of Contractors?
Rising food prices force one man to start eating flowers.
Heroic Age 2-3: For some reason, I felt a strong aversion towards watching the next two episodes of Heroic Age, so when the time came to actually tackle them, they weren’t as bad as I had built them up in my mind to be. Whilst the lead remains an irritatingly inferior version of the dislikeable Apollo from Aquarion, and I couldn’t really care less about the various tribes, these two episodes are somehow inoffensive, neither particularly engaging the interest nor causing time to drag. I’m content to keep watching for now, although it’s anyone’s guess how long my interest will last. Oh, and if you’re wondering why I haven’t said anything about the plot, it’s because there hasn’t been one so far- hopefully this will change soon.
Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS 2: Where the first episode at least pacified me a little with its action, this second episode seems to exemplify just why Nanoha shouldn’t attempt a 26 episode run. Even though we get some needed glimpses of Vita et al, the new girls are still taking up too much screen time, and in a predominantly exposition focused episode, it just doesn’t fly. Let’s have some ridiculously overpowered magical battles, not ridiculously dull waves of generic new characters.
Romeo X Juliet 2: Our star-crossed lovers return for another episode of aerial cities and flying horses (I’m quite taken with those horses, so I’m going to keep going on about them). Juliet has reached her sixteenth birthday, which means she can stop dressing a boy and find out about her Capulet heritage, not to mention start becoming infatuated with Romeo. I’m trying to divorce this in my mind from the original play, which helps to make it quite watchable and enjoyable in terms of light entertainment, although like some other entries from this season, it is currently uncertain how long I’ll continue to want to watch them.
Saiunkoku Monogatari II 2: Whilst Shuurei does her best to get the plan for Sa Province approved by the necessary people, Kouyuu is unsuccessfully trying to adjust to the idea that she might end up becoming his wife; meanwhile, back in Sa Province, Eigetsu reflects on his past and the mentor who helped him become the man he is today. Whilst it is good in principle to get some back story on Eigetsu, I have to admit that it wasn’t the most gripping part of the episode since I’m far more interested in the Kouyuu/Shuurei marriage situation. Shuurei has already admitted that there things she won’t give up for love, but nor does she seem like the sort of person who would accept marriage for purely political reasons, so how will the situation pan out? If she does get married at this point, will it jeopardise her credibility, with the general opinion being that she ‘played’ at being a government official before settling down and doing what all good women should do in getting a man? Meanwhile, the white bishounen has been revealed to be the head of the Hyou clan, Hyou Riou; it will be interesting to see his role in the story, especially as this clan is noted for having special powers.
*NEW/DROPPED* Shining Tears X Wind 1-2: Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new candidate for Worst Anime Ever! Well, okay, I can think of a couple of series that seemed worse at the time, but with the passage of time having taken the sting out of their memory. A dire fantasy romp that makes Eragon look original, ST sees students who resemble Haseo and Mahiro meet up with a girl who looks like Tabby and then go to a fantasy world of randomness, furries and swords. For no reason whatsoever, ‘Mahiro’ pulls a sword out of herself for ‘Haseo’ to fight the enemies with, before they go to a kingdom of talking animals and end up fighting an elf army that their friends just happen to have joined. Perhaps it was wrong to watch an anime just to see how bad an adaptation could be made of the so-called ‘worst RPG ever’, and with the character designs looking much less appealing than they did in the promo artwork, this must be put in the Recycle Bin forever.
Winter Cicada 2: When I started this OVA, I took the yaoi warnings a little too lightly, thinking it would just be angst and kissing level- only in this episode was I to discover that there was an actual sex scene involved. Even seeing our heroes getting hot and heavy over each other (assuming you like that sort of thing, which I can’t say I do) cannot save this episode from the monotony that has now gripped it. Why did I even start watching this series?
*DROPPED* School Rumble 221: Farewell, School Rumble, I no longer know or care what happens in you. For those who are interested, however, this chapter sees Hanai prepare to give a speech prior to the student council elections, but after Mikoto gives him the confidence he needs with a stone striker, she manages to light Tougou’s poster on fire, thus delaying the speeches anyway. Everyone must know of my growing dissatisfaction with SR by now, and although I tried to struggle on, why bother?
Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle 150: Following her stabbing, Sakura’s body and soul have separated, with her body going to Ceres, and her soul ending up in a tube owned by Yuuko. Apparently, this is all part of Sakura’s attempt to change the future and save her friends, a move that smacks of X/1999 but without the benefit of originality.