Sorry for the lateness in posting this, it will probably won’t happen again.
Reviewed this week: Baccano 1, Cazador 17, Darker than Black 17, Dennou Coil 8-11, Doujin Work 4, Higurashi Kai 4, Ichigo Mashimaro OVA 3, Mononoke 1, Mushi-Uta 3-4, Romeo X Juliet 16, SaiMono 16, Zetsubou 3, Seirei 16
…and in manga: Emma Bangaihen 10, Shinigami no Ballad 2, Solanin 8-9, Spiral 42-3, Spiral Alive 7, Tennai 26-7, Tsubasa 162
CURRENT SERIES RANKINGS
- Dennou Coil (1) – to infinite 1337, and beyond!
- Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei (2) – needs more Sensei
- SaiMono II (3) – the arc surges forward again
- Darker than Black (4) – we can’t afford a plotless arc!
- Baccano! (-) – intriguing <- new!
- Mononoke (-) – middling fare <- new!
- Tetsuko no Tabi (6)- train adventures
- Romeo X Juliet (7) – Hermione comes, Hermione goes
- Doujin Work (8) – this is becoming a guilty pleasure
- Mushi-Uta (5) – senseless but watchable
- Seirei no Moribito (9) – an exercise in monotony
- Koutetsu Sangokushi (11) – HARD GAY
- Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai (12) – inoffensive
- El Cazador de la Bruja (13) – redefining dull
- Shounen Onmyouji (1)- a new episode after so long
- Sisters of Wellber (-) – demoted to slow
- Love GetChu! (2)- light entertainment
- ROTK (3)- hilariously bad
- Ichigo Mashimaro (1)- a slice of enjoyment <-complete!
- MariMite (2)- more HARD YURI than ever
- Mai-Otome Zwei (3)- more fat cats, less nipples please
*NEW* Baccano! 1: I’ve been looking forward to Baccano for a while, in the hopes that it would be parody material, Chevalier US, or both, and whilst this isn’t the best of starts, I am still intrigued. The first half of the episode sees the Vice Director (whoever he is) and his assistant try to pinpoint where the story began and who the main character is, before we enter the gangland wars of 1930’s America, complete with too many named characters to get a handle on, at least some of whom have superhuman healing abilities. I’m not entirely sure where all this is going, but like early Iroha, it’s well directed enough to make you want to continue with the series and see where it ends up.
El Cazador de la Bruja 17: Once, I thought I understood the meaning of the word dull, but then I watched El Cazador de la Bruja, and I came to realise that I had but the vaguest understanding of the sheer grey monotony the world is capable of. With this in mind, this particular episode, which I would once have considered boring, doesn’t actually seem too bad, offering a change of pace by letting bounty hunter Nadie actually pursue a bounty for once. Of course, every named character randomly shows up, and Nadie is revealed to be so useless that even the generics Mireille and Kirika killed every week could beat her, but the point is that this is an ever so slight change from the tedious formula that brought us the infamous Amigo Tacos episode.
Darker than Black 17: At the risk of being overly informal, what the hell is going on with this series? Once it was one of the Best Things Ever, but ever since Havoc breathed her last, the whole thing has been in a slow decline, resulting in this “break from the plot that never was” episode, in which Hei befriends a Benign Yakuza and eats dinner with his generic neighbours. I’d like to say more, but aside from disturbing Doll-service, that’s all that really happens here- all in all, this series seems to have followed Iroha in starting out by oozing masses of potential, only for it all to slowly leach away into the soil.
“Here’s your free naked apron girl!”
Dennou Coil 8-11: Is it my birthday? Is it Christmas? No, it’s something even better- four consecutive releases of Dennou Coil to make up for those empty weeks without it. Happily, unlike certain other series, Dennou Coil shows absolutely no signs of getting dull in its middle episodes; in fact, if anything, it seems to be going from strength to strength. Between them, these four episodes cover the local summer festival, a test of courage during an overnight stay at the school, a ‘treasure hunt’ following a map Haraken sees in a dream, and finally the disastrous sequence of events that occur when Daichi tries to raise an Illegal in the hope of getting metabugs from it. As well as proving highly entertaining in themselves, these episodes continue to flesh out both the characters and the world they live in, with Daichi especially growing beyond the “annoying antagonist” he started off as. Also of note is that Illegals come in more than one type- up until now, we’ve only seen ones that devour metabugs, but the one Daichi raises is more interested in eating textures. I could ramble on for a while longer, but only one thing really needs to be said- and that’s how much I love this series.
Doujin Work 4: There wasn’t as much laughing (or even chuckling) out loud in this episode, but somehow Doujin Work continues to entertain- and with such light content, 14 minutes is the perfect length to ensure that it doesn’t outstay its welcome. In this episode, Najimi reveals that, far from earning her fortune, making doujins has forced her to take on a part-time job just to cover the cost of printing- and upon following her, her friends discover that her place of work is actually a catgirl café. Naturally, things proceed predictably from there, but it still proves to be enjoyable- this series may well turn out to be the season’s guilty pleasure.
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai 4: Watanagashi is here (again), and whilst Rika worries that the same tragic events will occur and bore the audience in their repetition, Satoko continues to suspect that something is up with her best friend- even if everyone else thinks the problem is with her. Once again, there are no extremes of good and bad to point out in this series, and so it remains watchable in its inoffensiveness.
*COMPLETE* Ichigo Mashimaro OVA 3: The Ichigo Mashimaro OVA comes to an end with this anime-original episode that sees the girls take a trip to Izu so that Nobue can violate them in the woods spend good, wholesome time with them. After the slightly below expectations middle episode, this one is back on form in terms of humour, whilst Miu haters will be pleased to hear that she spends eight hours stuck in the boot of the car when Nobue takes a wrong turn. It’s just a shame that the OVA has to end here, because I’m suddenly ready for more of the same.
*NEW* Mononoke 1: Ayakashi may have been dull, but even so, this spin-off featuring the medicine seller seemed worth trying- and indeed, whilst it isn’t overly engaging, nor is it too bad so far. In this episode, medicine seller stays at a inn where all is not as it seems, and when a pregnant woman starts seeing a talking doll, it seems like time for the main character to step in. In all honesty, it would have been better for the pacing if they had chosen to make this a self-contained single episode story instead of leaving the conclusion until next time (or maybe even the time afterwards), but for now I am content to keep watching in the hopes that it will fulfil my need episodic supernatural horror stories.
Mushi-Uta 3-4: With four episodes under my belt, I have to admit that Mushi-Uta’s fusion of regular high school antics and bug brawling is generally senseless, but it’s because of this that I can continue watching it. Since I don’t really have much of an idea of what’s going, it makes the series easier to watch than if it was entirely transparent, and for that reason, even though I feel I should drop it, I’m going to continue with the series. At least the character designs are nice to look at.
First this guy was Hakuoro, and now he’s Yuuichi.
Romeo X Juliet 16: Sick and tired of Romeo’s adventures down the mine shaft? Then you’ll be glad to hear that this episode swings more towards Juliet’s side of the story- at least until I fill in a few more details. For whilst Juliet is angsting over news that there was an accident at the mines, Hermione decides to muscle her way into the plot by confronting the wicked hussy who stole her fiancé’s heart- only to go home again the next morning, having accomplished precisely nothing. It’s hard to say what the plot is aiming for other than wasting time before the final arc, but having come this far, I may as well keep going.
Saiunkoku Monogatari II 16: After half an episode of angst on Yougetsu and Kourin’s part, Eigetsu is brought back to life, although the cost is that Yougetsu is now dormant. With that over, it is time for the story to start moving forward again, and when the decision is made to hand over Sa Province’s governorship to Kai You, it ends with Shuurei being stripped of everything but her title as an official. Where will our lead go from here? Of course, having read spoilers I know, but whilst it was disappointingly plain from the start that the Sa Province position had to be temporary, it will still be interesting to move onto the next part of the story. Meanwhile, although I also knew that Eigetsu wouldn’t die, the way in which he magically comes back is not only overly convenient, but it also undermines the lengthy setup about his death- not that I’m not glad to have him back, of course, but I will miss Yougetsu.
Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei 3: After its flying start, Sensei lost a bit of steam for me in this episode, for whilst Nozomu and his bleak humour remained as entertaining as ever, far too much of the episode was spent on two underwhelming new characters- a foreigner with a split Japanese/gaijin personality (mildly amusing) and an illegal immigrant (somewhat irritating). I’m hoping this is just a temporary blip and that my wholehearted love for the series will be back next episode, but I’ve learned to be wary.
Seirei no Moribito 16: Thirteen episodes ago, the Eight Evil Men were sent after Balsa and Chagum, and now, after confirming that the prince is indeed still alive, Shuga decides to take the drastic and unprecedented action of, well, sending the Eight Evil Men after Balsa and Chagum. Seriously, though, why have we been messing around for half a series if all that’s going to happen is that we reset to where we were at the beginning? Okay, so Chagum has shorter hair now and some peasant friends, but ultimately, do we even care anymore? The monotony has surely dulled our senses long before this.
Emma Bangaihen 10: Minor maid Polly gets her turn in the spotlight in this chapter, as she and one of the German maids (I forget her name) go out on a shopping spree in London. Once again, this is an interesting chapter that shows that even the most minor characters in the Emma universe can be developed successfully.
Shinigami no Ballad 2: It’s lucky that each chapter of this manga is long enough to justify the endless wait between them, although as it turns out, this story is one that featured in the anime anyway. Still affected by the death of his older sister, Asano is a little too preoccupied with death, but can a new friend at school and a little encouragement from Momo help him to enjoy life again? This was far from my favourite episode of the anime, but whilst its manga isn’t outstanding, knowing what to expect actually makes it more enjoyable second time around. Roll on chapter three.
Solanin 8-9: It was Meiko who first had the idea of finding a new direction in life, but now Taneda is the one who has made the choice to quit the workaday world and pursue his dream of making it big with the band. Whether he will make it is as yet unknown, but after wrestling with self doubts, he seems ready to have a go at risking everything in order to attain what he truly wants. He at least has found a path worth following, but what about Meiko? She knows she doesn’t want to settle for just being an office lady, but what path will she choose?
Spiral 42-3: Ayumu is about to give up and conclude that killing Kanone is truly the only option remaining, but Hiyono isn’t having it- just because it’s what Kiyotaka planned cannot mean that there is no other way. With that in mind, Hiyono goes forth to buy Ayumu a little time, but can he come up with a plan in the minutes remaining to him? I have to say that I’m glad Ayumu wasn’t forced into dirtying his hands, and equally curious as to how this arc will pan out. It’s also good to see Hiyono taking action, something which bridges the gap between what we know about her now and what I’ve read in spoilers.
Spiral Alive 7: The second volume of Spiral Alive begins in this chapter, which re-introduces Kousuke and Ryouko as Kiyotaka draws them into the music box murder case. It’s good to get a glimpse into the past of these two characters (along with a glimpse of Kanone), and even better that the main plot hasn’t gone away just for the sake of cameos from some familiar faces. The next chapters can’t come soon enough.
Tenshi Nanka Janai 26-7: Akira has gone on a three month leave of absence, leaving Midori to pine for him and realise that he was The One after all; meanwhile, Akira’s mother reveals some details about his past and Mamiya and Takigawa finally get together. It’s all pretty standard shoujo fare as always, generally readable and mildly enjoyable, but with Yazawa’s trademark of including panels where it isn’t entirely clear what is going, or why we should care about the antics of the supporting characters.
Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle 162: As Fye and Kurogane continue to fight, a little more of the truth comes out, as Ashura reveals that Fye’s curse was a “one time only” deal that he wished to save for himself, presumably because he feels bad about being a psychopathic killer. Really, who cares anymore- this barely makes sense.