May has arrived, and that can only mean that the time for pruning many of the series picked up in April is at hand. In the meantime, visit this thread to learn about the world’s most hilariously awful book.
Reviewed this week: Bokurano 3, Cazador 4, Chevalier 22-4, Claymore 5, Darker than Black 4, Heroic Age 5, Nanoha StrikerS 4, Murder Princess 2, Nodame 14, ROTK 44, SaiMono II 4, Seirei no Moribito 2-4, Sisters of Wellber 1
…and in manga: Nothing this week!
Bokurano 3: Just as I feared, Bokurano is beginning to feel slow-paced compared to the manga (although truthfully I have to reread the earlier chapters to refresh my memory), and so whilst there is nothing really wrong with this episode, it just couldn’t grab my attention as much as I would like. The episode deals with the aftermath of the first battle in Zearth and Waku’s subsequent death, and as with Death Note I can feel myself thinking “well, it’s a bit slow now, but the next arc will surely be good”. Yes, it’s the same old reaction, but will it be the same outcome of dropping the series partway through?
El Cazador de la Bruja 4: Every episode I hold out hope that the irritating cross-dressers will not return, and each time they dash my hopes by showing up once more for no better reason than that Bee Train doesn’t seem to have come up with any better minor antagonists. This week, Nadie and Ellis take shelter from the cross-dressing bounty hunters in a convent, whilst Rosenberg acts evil and Blue Eyes provides more exposition scenes than are healthy for a single episode. I suppose the best thing that can be said about it is that the episode is more tolerable than the first three, but it still isn’t great.
*COMPLETE* Le Chevalier d’Eon 22-4: I’d already watched these three episodes in raw, but the chance to pick up on any little scraps of information I missed first time around could hardly be ignored as one of my favourite series of recent times officially draws to a close. It may have been far from perfect, and it certainly teetered on the edge of cheese more than once, but at the same time Chevalier was a compelling and addictive experience, weaving a tale of dark mysteries set in an appealing historical setting. Now, if only there could have been more arcs…
Claymore 5: As I’d hoped, Claymore takes a turn for the better as we finally begin the patented Flashback Mode arc, in which we learn how a Claymore named Teresa once found herself reluctantly taking a girl named Clare under her protection. If I was ever to break out words like “1337”, “w1n” and “awesome”, it would surely have to be for Teresa, for whilst she is hardly the most appealing or complex of characters ever to grace an anime, her cool personality and prowess in battle wins her many points for sheer style.
Darker than Black 4: Darker than Black continues to rank highly as the second two-part story draws to a close, in which we learn that Mai is a Contractor ‘in moratorium’ (a state in which the Contractor does not have to fulfil their contract, but cannot control their power), a condition that is a result of her father’s research into suppressing a Contractor’s powers. Once again, the story is an absorbing mix that perfectly blends action and exposition, whilst protagonist Li/Hei seems ever more like Seishirou as he switches between friendly ‘student’ and calculating Contractor.
Heroic Age 5: There’s only so long something can remain inoffensive before it becomes downright boring, and it seems that Heroic Age has finally reached that point. Whilst Age (now oddly endowed with girly eyelashes) fights another Nodos, the Argonaut is kept occupied with a space insect attack and the declining animation proves that the budget is being spent on Age’s transformation sequence. I don’t even know if I’ll watch next week’s episode, but I’ll leave the option open for now.
Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS 4: If ever proof was needed that Nanoha is not a series that should be given 26 episodes for a season, then it was this episode, in which it takes no less than twenty minutes just to give the new characters their weapons (I hear that next episode is all about transformation scenes). Why are we subjected to these pointless new characters? This was supposed to be about Nanoha all grown up, not Nanoha all grown up and taking new underage lovers.
In other news, hilariously Nanoha, Fate, Hayate, Vita and Signum all have limiters on their power to stop them owning the enemy too quickly (the excuse being that so many high level mages wouldn’t be allowed in the same unit otherwise), whilst the new characters have special limiters that give them a smooth levelling up curve. Why not just define a nice levelling up curve in RPG Maker and be done with it?
*DROPPED* Murder Princess 2: You know how it is with OVAs- you tell yourself that since the episodes will be released more slowly than a TV series, you’ll be able to handle even a mediocre series by virtue of watching it slowly. Unfortunately, this is simply not always enough to erase the waste of time that some OVAs end up being, and whilst Murder Princess isn’t wholly awful, I just don’t fancy devoting another two hours of my life to watching the last four episodes.
In this instalment, we are subjected to some twenty or so minutes of dull non-events as Faris takes the place of Alita and prepares for her coronation, whilst the real Alita adopts the role of her maid Milano. Only at the very end are we given some action, and whilst it may be good when compared to the rest of the episode and Bee Train’s usual standard of action scenes, it cannot be said to be more than mediocre in the general scheme of things (and it is rather disheartening to see Doctor Dull and his two loli-robots back again). The only good point about this episode is that Faris actually respects and listens to Alita- based on the first episode I expected her to just do whatever she liked and force poor Alita to desperately make herself heard.
Nodame Cantabile 14: Graduation is over, but Chiaki’s troubles are only just beginning when his uncle calls him back to the family home- once a place of music and enjoyment, but now pervaded by a tense and stale atmosphere. Whilst not an episode that is particularly imbued with the things I like best about Nodame, nor does it contain any of the elements I tend to complain about, resulting in a solid if not outstanding effort.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms 44: It’s just as well that ROTK is coming to an end soon, because now it’s beginning to drag. With only three episodes left, it hardly seems as if the Chi Bi arc can be done justice, although expecting a series where Liu Bei is good and Zhou Yu has a twitching eye to do anything justice may be pushing it a little. Let’s just get it over with and learn a valuable lesson- no more watching this sort of retro cheese.
Saiunkoku Monogatari II 4: This week on SaiMono, oranges take on a heretofore unseen plot importance, whilst Kurou gets more lines than ever before and Reishin continues to skulk around in the background. Although solid, this wasn’t my favourite episode of the season so far, although it was entirely worth it for Hyou Riou’s first meeting with Shuurei at the end- he was immediately compelling and terrifying in equal measure.
On another note, I’d also like to see Reishin finally reveal himself to Shuurei since his skulking is getting a bit old now, although at the same time that would be an additional plot thread to deal with when there’s already plenty going on right now.
Seirei no Moribito 2-4: From its solid beginnings, SnM has turned out to be one of the strongest picks of the season, weaving an interesting story into its beautiful setting. From the hints of magic, mystery and intrigue, to action scenes so well-executed that they set a new standard for animated action, SnM has proven to be far more than it first appeared, and I’m all too eager to be taken along for the ride.
In related news, the SnM parodies will be on hiatus, since I feel there are other series in more urgent need of immediate parody attention.
*NEW* Wellber no Monogatari ~Sisters of Wellber 1: Although I wasn’t particularly planning to watch this, I ended up thinking ‘what the hell’ and trying it anyway, although I can sense that my relationship with the series may not be a long one. It’s not that the series is particularly bad, just that I already cannot bring myself to care much about what’s happening on screen as our fugitive princess and female thief set off on their journey.