Reviewed this week: Baccano! 2, El Cazador 19, Darker than Black 19, Dennou Coil 12-13, Doujin Work 5, Higurashi Kai 6, Koutetsu Sangokushi 9-10, Mononoke 3, Mushi-Uta 6, RxJ 17, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei 5, Seirei no Moribito 18
…and in manga: Elfen Lied 77, Gunslinger Girl 32, Mozart Doesn’t Sing Lullabies 5-8, Spiral 46-7, Tennai 28, xxxHOLiC 10.6, 11.1-2
CURRENT SERIES RANKINGS
- Dennou Coil (1) – no more until the 25th? Don’t make me wait!
- SaiMono II (2) – who will win Eigetsu’s heart?
- Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei (3) – mail mail
- Darker than Black (4) – promising arc
- Baccano! (5) – flying pussyfoot
- Mononoke (6) – a new arc
- Mushi-Uta (7) – stabilising in the pretty good zone
- Tetsuko no Tabi (8)- train adventures
- Doujin Work (9) – this is becoming a guilty pleasure
- Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai (12) – Hanyu makes it all better
- Koutetsu Sangokushi (11) – not what I was expecting
- Romeo X Juliet (10) – mother died, and Father is Montague
- Seirei no Moribito (13) – an exercise in monotony
- El Cazador de la Bruja (14) – am I building up an immunity?
Baccano! 2: Baccano is turning into another of those series where you can’t really get to grips with the massive cast or even what’s going on, but nonetheless, you find yourself enjoying it anyway. This episode begins with Isaac and Miria questing for gold, only to give up after nine months and settle for a robbery instead. As part of their getaway, they (and numerous other named characters) board the ill-fated train amusingly known as the Flying Pussyfoot, but with so many hidden agendas for the various characters to carry out, it is going to be anything but a dull ride.
El Cazador de la Bruja 19: Maybe I’m just building up an immunity, but even though there was hardly anything good about this episode of El Cazador, it didn’t feel as deathly boring as usual. When Ricardo and Lirio’s car breaks down, Nadie and Ellis tow them in for repairs, before the quartet ends up going to a restaurant for dinner- all part of a plan by Blue-Eyes’ fickle superiors to catch Ellis. Apart from a moment where Nadie actually manages to defeat an opponent with some fancy kicks, the vast majority of this episode is throwaway, but I’m so used to this twenty-five minute dose of dullness that I can now sit through it without being in danger of boredom-induced death.
Darker than Black 19: Yet another new arc begins, and this time around, Hei is asked to infiltrate a religious order headed up by a Contractor, whilst Huang’s back story is finally brought out into the light. Although it would have been better to include this earlier in the series, this is at least a stronger and more enjoyable arc than the previous one, even if (like me), you don’t hold Huang in particularly high regard. Sadly, however, a good episode is let down by a rather poor ending, in which all the preparation is blown by an unprofessional mistake.
Dennou Coil 12-13: Dennou Coil, I forswear all other things to worship at your feet, for you are the anime I have spent my life waiting for. In episode twelve, Daichi’s hunt for illegals ends up with he and the others getting covered in virtual ‘beards’ that turn out to be rapidly evolving civilisations. We’ve all seen that “life evolves in a pot of yoghurt and the human creator becomes its god” before, but Dennou Coil breathes new life into the concept, making it simultaneously humorous and thought-provoking. Thirteen continues the excellence, as Denpa begins taking care of an Illegal, in yet another thought-provoking story with a heart-wrenching ending. It’s good to see a series that is brave enough not to cop out with a happy ending, whilst slowly building up the complexity of the Illegals. I need this series to go on forever.
Doujin Work 5: When Najimi feels that something is missing from her life, she comes to the conclusion that what she needs is a rival to compete against- and naturally, the plot is by no means slack in providing one. Meanwhile, Justice begins to get paranoid after hearing that Najimi and Hoshi went to a hotel room together- did they really go all the way? Once again, this is an amusing episode that maintains the series’ reputation for ‘easy watching’.
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai 6: After struggling through the first five episodes, I feel that I’ve finally been rewarded with one that I actually enjoyed, as a new arc begins and Rika finally explains what’s been going on with regards to the repeating sequence of events. We also get our first proper encounter with Rika’s previously invisible friend Hanyu, and with renewed effort now being made to change the course of events, my interest has been rekindled.
Koutetsu Sangokushi 9-10: It’s been a while since I saw any Koutetsu Sangokushi, but upon getting back to it, I can’t say I was really expecting what was going to come next. First up we have episode nine, a somewhat pointless training episode in which our named characters fulfil the usual shounen series training tasks (I’m not entirely sure why as two of them wanted to be civil servants anyway), before the ‘plot’ moves ahead again in episode ten as Zhou Yu ignores Wu’s trained military might in order to assign vital missions to our named newbies. I’m not entirely sure the series itself knows where it’s going since it continually meanders around in the realms of the ridiculous and implausible, but it’s always good parody material.
Mononoke 3: I must not have been paying sufficient attention last week, because I didn’t realise that the arc was supposed to have been concluded, but no matter, for this episode begins a new story, and one that I’m enjoying more than the last. Featuring the return of the girl from Ayakashi’s Bake Neko arc, this episode sees a new disparate bunch board a ship together, only for a sabotage compass to lead it off course and right into the middle of a bunch of deadly ayakashi. Who was it who led the ship astray, and will even the medicine seller be able to get them out alive? Compared to the first arc, the pacing feels a lot better, and this time around I’m actually interested in the story instead of struggling to understand what the hell is going on.
The medicine seller shares my opinion on Ayakashi.
Mushi-Uta 6: I’m not entirely sure what to make of this episode (although the same could be said of the entire series so far); there are elements I like, such as the growing friendship between Shiika and Rina, but then there are other parts where minor characters randomly appear and I have no idea what’s even meant to be going on. It may well be worth rewatching it all in one go once the whole series has been released, although of course I know that I will never get around to doing that.
Romeo X Juliet 17: There are plenty of revelations this episode, as Tybalt and Montague have their pasts revealed, and one unimportant character loses their life. It’s better than the last few episodes in terms of content, but that still doesn’t make it particularly good, whilst the threat that Tybalt could lose everything that makes him worthy in favour of becoming a standard anti-hero is all too present. This shouldn’t be Romeo X Juliet, this should be Tybalt X Horse.
Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei 5: All the players have been introduced, and now it’s time for Sensei to get on with the story (such as it is), in the random segment fashion we’ve come to know from the likes of Pani Poni Dash! The first half of the episode sees Sensei fall into despair at the number-crunching world, prompting him to assign his own measure of a person’s status via how much money they would be willing to lend him; whilst the second half features a hot spring visit that causes everyone to be “detoxified” of their personality problems. As always, the series takes a concept and runs with it, ending up in strange but amusing new places; I almost feel as if it was designed to appeal to my quirky and random side.
Seirei no Moribito 18: As a change from sitting and talking, in this episode our characters hold conversations and discussions from a seated position. Whilst Balsa and the others visit a Yakue village in the hopes of finding out more about the Nyunga Ro Chaga, Shuga and the Eight Evil Men decide to have a nice sit down to discuss their next move. As always, this is a dull and monotonous episode that could give El Cazador a run for its money, and chances of improvement are slim at best.
Elfen Lied 77: As the latest confrontation between Bandou and Lucy heats up, Nana arrives to help take Lucy down in a blood drenched chapter that sees one character lose an arm and another apparently die. It’s chapters like these that give the series its bloodthirsty reputation, but ultimately it’s a confrontation that’s been repeated many times without a proper conclusion, and so some sort of proper plot advancement would be more welcome.
Gunslinger Girl 32: Volume six concludes in this chapter, in which the newly renamed Petrushka must adjust to her life as a cyborg. The memory of her past life is gone and in its place is the conditioning, but how will she develop under Alessandro’s unique method of training? As always, the series remains as good as ever, so much so that you don’t even notice that it’s been a while since we caught up with Henrietta and the others. Roll on, volume seven.
Mozart Doesn’t Sing Lullabies 5-8: I’m not sure how I let myself get four chapters behind, but once I realised what had happened, the time for a catch-up was at hand. In these four chapters, Beethoven continues to probe into the deaths of Mozart and Flies, but even as more people connected to the case die in unnatural ways, our lead finds himself the target of a malicious poisoner. Just who is behind this, and what secret is so great that someone has to kill to protect it? As always, the series remains solid in both the content and artwork department, and hopefully more will be forthcoming soon.
Spiral 46-7: After much discussion, Ayumu and the others finally put their plan into motion, and whilst things are now going at a pace slow enough to ensure nothing really happens in these two chapters, it still remains interesting. Has Ayumu managed to defy the scenario Kiyotaka set up, or is this what his big brother planned all along? The only way to find out is to keep reading.
Tenshi Nanka Janai 28: Just as it seems Mamirin and Takigawa can get together and put aside one lot of angst, more arises in the tangled ‘other woman’ situation with Shino- she may have broken up with Takigawa, but how will she react to someone else getting together with the guy she likes so soon after she let him go? Meanwhile, Midori gets her angel wing pendant back, but just when will the wayward Akira return to her?
xxxHOLiC 10.6, 11.1-2: Whilst Watanuki recovers from his injuries, Yuuko gives him a very special egg- one that can hatch into anything he wants. In return for all she has done for him, Watanuki hatches it out into a bird for Himawari, but what he doesn’t know is that this is the egg that Sakura sent to Yuuko, and that there is a second magic-less egg still with her. Visually, xxxHOLiC is as stylish as ever, but with nothing really happening other than some Tsubasa references in these chapters, we’ll have to wait a bit longer to see another plot arc.