It’s a week of improvement in the anime world, as the good series remain good, and the poor ones struggle all the way up to mediocre. Can this upward trend continue, or will it all go downhill again soon? Either way, some new series should be joining us soon when the summer season gets underway.
Oh, and Dennou Coil needs more love- if you aren’t already watching it, start now or face the wrath of obese felines.
Reviewed this week: Darker than Black 9-10, Dennou Coil 5, Cazador 11, Love GetChu 8, MariMite OVA 4, Nodame 20, RxJ 10-11, SaiMono II 11, Seirei 10-11
…and in manga: Akagi 1-3, Chokotto Sister 40-1, Tsubasa 157
Darker than Black 9-10: Going without any DtB for a while has been a struggle, but maybe it was worth it to be able to watch both episodes of an arc back-to-back. Unsurprisingly, the series remains on top form in this double bill, which focuses on police chief Kirihara Misaki as she investigates the murders of members of Wang Shaotan’s criminal syndicate- an investigation that leads to a reunion with Alice Wang, a high school friend and Shaotan’s daughter. Once again, the story is solid, the action is superlative and the characters are interesting- especially the reinforcement of how Contractors can seem like normal people one minute, only to turn into cold-blooded killers the next.
It may be false advertising, but the next arc seems set to deal more with the mysterious Gate that precipitated all these events- I can’t wait to delve deeper into the mystery.
Dennou Coil 5: Dennou Coil remains as good as ever in this episode, which sees Isako take Daichi’s group out to find metabugs (naturally she has some ulterior motives), whilst Yasako, Fumie and a surprisingly interesting new character decide to trail them and find out just what they are up to. The mix of real and virtual worlds is just as compelling as ever, with such interesting points as the boys’ virtual bodies starting to break down when they lose wireless signal, and a bus that has decayed in the real world, but still looks pristine in the virtual world because its status hasn’t been updated. Even the jewel-like glow of metabugs (which can contain images and sounds) prove absorbing in this world- let’s face it, I’ve become a complete Dennou Coil addict.
El Cazador de la Bruja 11: After the intense boredom brought on by the last few episodes, I was hardly expecting much from this week’s instalment, but to my surprise, it was much improved over its predecessors. Whilst it would have been mediocre in any other series, the hints of main plot turn this episode into something far superior to its peers, making the tale of yet another generic village and its issues reasonable rather than hellish torture by utter monotony.
Love GetChu! 8: It’s Amane’s turn to get the character spotlight in this episode, as her father decides to forcibly remove her from voice acting so that she can play his on-screen daughter in an upcoming movie. Sadly, this turns out to be another of those irritating ‘eccentric family’ episodes, which sees our heroines running around in a house filled with traps and ninja guards in an attempt to rescue Amane from the house’s basement prison. The jokes are weak, the story has been done before, and unlike earlier episodes, the aura of light enjoyment is completely absent. Even so, I’m reasonably confident that this is just a blip in a largely enjoyable series.
Maria-sama ga Miteru OVA 4: After the bizarre ridiculousness of episode three, the fourth episode of this OVA could only be an improvement, and whilst it is hardly good, it is at an easier fifty-four minutes to sit through. Since the Lillian girls never seem to actually do any schoolwork these days, they come right off the back of the Hanadera festival and go into their own sports festival- although it isn’t like any sports day (Japanese or otherwise) that I’m familiar with. Instead of the usual range of track and field events that one might associate with a sports festival, at Lillian, sports day mainly consists of throwing balls around (possibly because of a lack of balls on normal school days), as well as strange events such as the centipede race and borrowing race.
On the character side of thing, whilst the HARD YURI continues to become more overt, Yumi tries to arrange a reconciliation with the fickle Kanako, whilst Touko is clearly repressing her own desires for Yumi. Who will end up as Yumi’s petite soeur?
Nodame Cantabile 20: After a couple of lacklustre episodes, Nodame is back on form in this instalment, which sees the Rising Star orchestra put on another performance, whilst Nodame concentrates on the preliminaries of the competition she has entered. As befits her type of genius, Nodame’s playing can transcend that of her peers when she is in the right mood, but when the harsh memories of her past haunt her, it all goes off balance. I love the deeper undertones that can be read into Nodame’s character in situations like this, and for the first time I am actually regretful that there are only three episodes left- it feels as if we’ve barely got started.
Romeo X Juliet 10-11: Juliet gets to prove just how low-level she is in episode ten after Tybalt leaves her to her own devices, causing her to lose HP from a slap, a cat and even rain. After realising how useless she is, a convenient rescue sets her on the path to running away with Romeo in episode eleven, which offers us a nice tour of the local scenery, but little else in terms of interesting material. Worse yet, Romeo lets Cielo go to be with a wild female Pegasus- how can the series proceed without HORSE?
Saiunkoku Monogatari II 11: Dangerous as it would be to catch up with the novel at this point in the series, my impatience at wanting to see what spoilers couldn’t tell me wants me to urge the story on, even as the pace slows down to prevent that from happening. In this episode, Shuurei confronts the men who want to kill her for causing the disease, whilst in a nice touch the women are busy getting everything done behind their backs anyway. It’s nice to see Ensei continue to come into his own in his role of protecting Shuurei, whilst the young girl Shuuran not only reflects Shuurei herself as a child, but shows that Shuurei has finally come far enough to help people, just as she always wished. Sadly, the slow pacing means that this episode is a little weaker than its predecessors, however, and to add insult to injury, there’s no new episode this weekend.
Seirei no Moribito 10-11: There’s been a lot of sitting and talking in Seirei lately, and to no one’s surprise, there’s even more of it in episode ten. With Chagum still acting too polite and reserved to pass as a commoner, Balsa decides to send him to spend the day with “ugly teeth” Tohya, who teaches him how to haggle at food stalls, as well as introducing him to a gambling game. After Tohya loses his money, Chagum notices that the game may be fixed, and decides to do the heroic thing and confront the man in charge. Oddly enough, even though much of this episode’s action revolves around sitting down and waiting for coins to come up heads or tails, it is somehow more interesting than the last couple of instalments, with Chagum continuing to prove himself likable and intelligent.
Sadly, however, eleven plunges everything back down again, as Saya’s soul goes on walkabout after learning of an arranged marriage to a merchant’s son (how many times have we seen that sort of story before?), forcing Tanda to attempt the risky procedure of sending his own soul out after her. Aside from a few dramatic and atmospheric moments as Tanda tries to get back to his body, the episode feels generally dull and unnecessary, with a resolution that feels all too convenient.
*NEW* Akagi 1-3: Ever since watching the anime, I’ve wanted to try Akagi in manga form, and finally that chance has come. Although the artwork lacks the technical accomplishment of the anime (leaving only ugliness), the anime was clearly very faithful to the original material, and so this is another chance to relive the beginning of Akagi’s legend- even if these three chapters do not get very far. Hopefully more will be forthcoming soon.
Chokotto Sister 40-1: Volume five comes to an end with these two chapters, in which winner of the Mew Mew Dance contest and newbie idol Odaeri decides to skip out on a TV appearance, instead ending up in Choko’s neighbourhood. I’m getting a little tired of this whole Mew Mew Dance arc, but the dullness of chapter 40 is saved by some character development for Makoto in 41.
Tsubasa Chronicle 157: The event from some chapters ago finally makes sense, as we see that the Fye in the tower was approached by Fei Wong’s magic CCTV projection and told that he could save one of the twins from their wretched existence. He chooses Yuui (does this mean my suspicions that the Fye we know isn’t Fye are correct), but once again, we must wonder why, if Fei Wong already has such powers, he needs the ability to cross dimensions.