Reviewed this week: Aria the Origination 4, Gunslinger Girl- Il Teatrino 3, Kaiji 16, Koutetsu 19-20, Minami-ke Okawari 2-4, Mokke 11-13, Persona 4, RxJ 24, SaiMono II 33, Shigofumi 3, Shion no Ou 12-13, Sketchbook 11, Spice and Wolf 4, Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei 3
…and in manga: Nodame 100-106, Sketchbook 1-5, Three 1, Tsubasa 181
CURRENT SERIES RANKINGS
- Aria the Origination (1) – the Single life
- Spice and Wolf (2) –wolf at the door
- Shigofumi (3) – felt like jumping
- SaiMono II (4) – too many characters
- Kaiji (5) – zawa, zawa
- Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei (7) – mind-altering drug
- Minami-ke Okawari (9)- not quite the same
- Persona Trinity Soul (10)- Mushi-Uta’s successor
- Sketchbook ~full color’S~ (8) – lots of cats
- Gunslinger Girl- Il teatrino (11)- Pinocchio
- Clannad (12) – the world is made of invisible harps
- Shion no Ou (13) – tournament time
- Mokke (14)- magical cat
- Tetsuko no Tabi (2)- is this ever going to be subbed?
- Sisters of Wellber (3) – predictable but fun
- Himawari!! (4) – needs less plot
- Koutetsu Sangokushi (5) – pure HARD GAY
- Shounen Onmyouji (6)- mediocre
- Love GetChu! (7)- light entertainment
- Romeo X Juliet (8) – WOOD <- complete!
Aria the Origination 4: I think we’ve already established that I love Aria, but once again this episode affirms that love. Since Alice and Aika are busy, Akari has a day off from her usual schedule, and so Alicia suggests that she try her skills at the Traghetto, an event where Singles can pair up and take people out. To that end, Akari meets three one-shot Singles who show us just how hard it is to make it all the way to Prima, although it seems as if our lead might just have the skills to do it. I love Aria even when it goes nowhere, but to see Akari slowly growing up is an especial treat- much as I never want this to end, it will be great to see her come into her own and presumably become a great Prima at the end.
Gunslinger Girl- Il Teatrino 3: As the Pinocchio arc continues, I’m left with mixed feelings- there are times when I can see through to the original brilliance of the manga, but then the anime goes and throws it away with its poor production values and inexpert presentation. I feel that this is the point where I must accept that it will never live up to either the manga or the first anime season and just try to watch it as if it was a separate entity of bronze level.
Kaiji 16: E-card starts to get underway in this episode, as Tonegawa explains the rules and plays his first couple of hands against Kaiji. The game is simple enough but with an element of psychological strategy that should make the arc as gripping as ever- especially when Kaiji must bet his eye or ear if he wants to rake in the big money. I’m sure this game will be a big hit with the kids.
Koutetsu Sangokushi 19-20: I really didn’t think this series could get any more ridiculous, but I had to quickly revise my position after the events of these two episodes, in which an excess of HARD GAY power turns Guan Yu into a giant mechanical horse monster which then goes on a rampage after our heroes. I think we can safely say that all pretence of a plot has long since gone out of the window- in its plce, we can laugh at the new heights of ridiculousness this series is prepared to go to.
Minami-ke Okawari 2-4: Although the changes in tone still feel a little jarring, I’m settling into the second season of Minami-ke a little more- underneath the cosmetic changes and breast enhancements for Haruka, the same quality of amusement is there. In these three episodes, we see the Minami sisters and their friends visit a bathhouse, enjoy a ‘pyjama festival’ and unwillingly participate
Mokke 11-13: With three more episodes under my belt, I can now clearly see my problem with Mokke- it just makes the supernatural so unappealing. Instead of being able to enjoy these phenomena, they’re wreathed in doom and gloom, whilst Grandpa is basically a miserable old bastard 95% of the time. Anyway, within those restrictions, this trio of episodes bring us more one-off stories- first Mizuki and Shizuru encounter a one-eyed demon of bad luck, then Mizuki is inconvenienced by a possessed bridge, before finally one of Shizuru’s classmates takes a romantic interest in her and ends up gaining the assistance of a perverted little man-creature. It’s all very standard, and whilst not especially poor, it is the weakest of the non-slow series I’m following right now.
Persona Trinity Soul 4: Ah, Persona, I’m drawn to you despite not knowing what’s going on, although my suspicions about Jun being possessed by the spirit of his dead twin seem to be correct. Compared to previous episodes, this one slows down the pace a lot, preferring to focus on mystery and character introspection than action and Shadow-stripping, but it’s all good.
*COMPLETE* Romeo X Juliet 24: I’ve finally bothered to watch the final episode of RxJ, and it was as disappointing as expected- after some overtures towards the customary final boss battle, Romeo is killed and Juliet turns into WOOD, whilst all the supporting characters live happily ever after. Consider me unimpressed.
Saiunkoku Monogatari II 33: With Shuurei’s help, Shuuei manages to make it out of the city, but now all the supporting characters are getting worried about screen time, resulting in discussions, hints to conspiracies and Ryuuki’s inevitable attempts to avoid discussing marriage. Such a dialogue heavy episode can’t really be enjoyed raw by someone of my level (especially when I’m impatient to see more of the Ran family), but there are still some entertaining moments when Ryuuki, Seiran and Ensei get a look in (am I the only one struggling with all these new faces?).
“You cannot treat the main character in this way!”
Shigofumi 3: Although the last minute editing led to a rather jarring hostage situation in which the perpetrator spent all his time apparently unarmed and indeed lacking any body below the neck, I still enjoyed this episode of Shigofumi. Whilst the main story concerns a father desperate to find out why his son suddenly committed suicide, the ending also seems to probe into Fumika’s past, indicating that she may not have always been a mail-carrier. Bring on the next episode.
Shion no Ou 12-13: Even though it hasn’t particularly improved, I’m becoming oddly addicted to Shion no Ou- possibly in the same way that unappetising sweets can become more-ish if you eat enough of them. In this pair of episodes, the tournament continues with all three girls getting soundly defeated, only to get a convenient second chance in a later match against some generics. Whilst Satoru appears to be showing his colours as a creepy sadist with a penchant for stirring up trouble, episode thirteen ends on a cliff-hanger that might just see Ayumi’s trap status blown for good. Well, on balance it probably won’t be, but at least it provides an impetus to say “yay, episode fourteen! Now!”
No, not as yet.
Sketchbook ~full color’S~ 11: Another episode of Sketchbook is here, and happily it is as cat-filled as promised, as our feline heroes try to think of a way to convince Sora (who is sick at home with a cold) that cats really don’t want to eat expired food. A simple enough premise, perhaps, but with cats as cute and fluffy as these ones, one I’m willing to sit and watch.
Spice and Wolf 4: Be it action or character moments, Spice and Wolf keeps me deftly in the palm of its hand, and with the silver coin conspiracy heating up, there’s plenty of both in this episode- which ends with Horo on the verge of getting captured by a rival company and apparently recognising a familiar face. The highlight of the episode must surely be Horo’s speech on loneliness- a sure reminder that no matter how old and wise you are, it’s never pleasant to go it alone. Even I wanted to hug her at that point.
Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei 3: The pattern for this new season appears to be that the first eight minutes are where SHAFT has free rein to delve into their hallucinogenic stores and deliver utter craziness that only those with a particular mindset can enjoy, before settling back into more season one-like levels for the rest of the episode. After the aforementioned craziness, the episode moves into ‘duties that aren’t really duties’ (such as updating one’s blog with a weekly round-up every Friday) and the need to counter casual revelations of big events with momentous revelations of trivial ones. Enjoyable stuff indeed- if you take your magic mushrooms first.
Nodame Cantabile 100-106: Another volume down the line, and Nodame and Chiaki are being drawn apart by their respective work schedules, so much so that Chiaki decides to move out and rent a new place. Will they inevitably be drawn back together, or is it best for each of them to follow their own paths? In between the continuing development of our two leads, some time is also devoted to piano genius Rui, who must herself decide on her future- even if it isn’t what her mother wants for her.
*NEW* Sketchbook 1-5: As part of the ‘start new manga in 2008’ drive, Sketchbook has become one of the first titles to be delved into- the original manga, of course, from which the full color’S anime is adapted. In true 4-koma style this manga is a bit hit-and-miss- sometimes a joke or observation will hit its mark, but at other times either the timing is poor or something gets lost in translation and it falls a little flat. I think I prefer the anime overall, but I will continue to read the manga anyway.
*NEW* Three 1: I wasn’t actually intending to start this, but since the first chapter came zipped with Tennai 31, it seemed a waste not to read it. My second Fuyumi Soryo title (the first being Eternal Sabbath), Three introduces a young girl striving to become an idol, her brooding rock star cousin and a boy with the indefinable ‘magic’ needed to become a true star. So far, so cliché, but it should make for a solid read if not a particularly outstanding one.
Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle 181: A bit more exposition avoids the need for anything to really happen in this chapter, which reveals that Fei Wong is in Clow Country after all, whilst not really doing much else except show off CLAMP’s drawing skills. Apparently, however, the price for journeying further onwards has already been paid when someone gave up his memories- am I right in thinking this might be Watanuki? Perhaps I should get back to reading xxxHOLiC, if I can recall where I left off.