This week on Aria: citizens warned to watch out for giant cat.
It’s been a comparatively slow week, particularly for the rather sparse manga section, which blows my tentative plan for making the round-up twice weekly out of the water for now. In the meantime, I’ve cobbled together a pathetic excuse for a poll which can be accessed from the sidebar- if you enjoyed my Weed parodies and want me to do the same for the prequel series Gin (or alternatively, if you want to stop me from doing anything of the sort), then be sure to vote. Poll removed due to lack of functionality and interest.
Reviewed this week: Aria, Higurashi, H&C II, Keroro, ROTK, School Rumble, NHK, xxxHOLiC, Innocent Venus (Ouran will be back next week for double, or possibly even triple fun, along with some new additions to the roster)
…and in manga: Fruits Basket, Solanin
Aria the Natural 14: It’s all gondolas, all the time! The latest visit to Aqua sees Akari attempting to design a palina (think a patterned mooring pole) for Aria Company. As always, the sweet simplicity of Akari and President Aria’s actions brought a smile to my face- no matter how simple or trivial an event may be, Aria always manages to turn it into something fascinating. And similarly, no matter how many times the same handful of tracks are used, I may never tire of the gentle and soothing tones of the background music.
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni 19: It’s “enter psycho Shion” this week, complete with whip, taser and fully established alternate personality. An absorbing and oddly cathartic episode that keeps the series close to the top of the pile (oddly I’ve only just realised that the anime has just two of the four ‘answer’ arcs).
Honey and Clover II 7: Another excellent episode of H&C, a ‘past chapter’ focussing on Morita’s father and the demise of his company. Coincidentally, the episode touched on a concept I’ve been thinking about lately, that of those without natural talent eternally trying to catch up with those who have; as always, H&C hits the right emotional chords and manages the rare feat of giving the viewer something to think about.
And then, at the end…what happened to Hagu?
Keroro Gunso 50-52: Fifty is not up to the level of 48-9, but is a solid and entertaining episode nonetheless. Inspired by a video of their pre-invasion press conference, Giroro gets fired up and convinces the platoon to secure their hold on the Hinata home; unfortunately, this leads to problems when Natsumi comes down with a fever shortly after the Kerons smash all the telephones and erect an electric barrier around the house. Naturally, Giroro is the one to force his way through the barrier in search of a cure for his beloved, whilst Keroro and the others attempt to clear up their latest mess.
Sunrise and sweet potato dango- I’m not imagining it when I say there’s a link.
51 marks the end…of the first season, at least, and even though the existence of over sixty more episodes obviously meant that everything would turn out okay in the end, I couldn’t help feeling a pang of emotion when Keroro and his platoon said goodbye to their Earth-bound friends.
Season two kicks off with episode 52, which felt oddly like returning home and finding the furniture rearranged- it’s familiar, but not quite the same as before. After the obligatory series recap, Keroro seems to have returned to his old ways after retrieving the Kero Ball, whilst the second half sees Fuyuki attempt to rescue Momoka from the clutches of ‘black Tamama’. A few laughs here, but not a particularly strong episode overall.
OP2 impressions: I like the character montage but the song is awful- gravel-voiced Japanese singers have never been among my favourites.
ED2 impressions: The spiritual successor to ‘Afro Gunso’ (but without the catchiness), this should have been left in the days when disco was ‘in’.
Gym Ghingnham forsees a promising outlook if his application to join the Keroro platoon is successful.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms 17: Cao Cao manages to get the better of Lu Bu, but when Lu Bu goes to Liu Bei for assistance, the righteous lord of justice and destiny cannot say no. Can the evil and grasping Cao Cao hope to undermine Liu Bei and Lu Bu’s alliance? I was worried that the hilarity of the last episode meant we were in for another dull patch, but this instalment was a consistently amusing outin
School Rumble 2nd Term 19: Somehow, Harima has finally managed to finish his script, but before he hands it in to his editor, he wants to let Tenma read it. Cue a lot of running around, and the usual brand of misunderstandings, but once again, I have to admit that it was a weak instalment- to the point of being painful in places. Oh look, Tenma has just forgiven Harima for one misunderstanding, but now he’s just messed up in some other way- didn’t we see this kind of thing in Love Hina?
Welcome to the NHK 5: I wouldn’t say I’m happy with this by any stretch, but somehow this instalment was inoffensive enough to grant NHK a stay of execution. The episode covers Satou’s brief reunion with his old sempai (now accompanied by her own personal pharmacy) and his acceptance of Misaki’s contract; it can’t be said that a great deal happens, but at least the anime didn’t mess up any significant jokes this time, and I even found myself chuckling at the “robust serpent” scene. The animation seems to have stabilised from “full drug trip” to “mild aftereffects”, although in place of the distorted shapes we’re gifted with an overabundance of stills. The series remains in the red zone, but contrary to my expectations, I will be sampling episode six.
xxxHOLiC 18: Much like NHK, xxxHOLiC manages to effect something of a comeback this week, moving from utterly awful to tolerably average. This instalment covers the Demon Parade chapter from the manga, and whilst the story has been stretched a little to fit the full episode, it nonetheless manages to be many times more entertaining than the previous episode. Unfortunately, the animation is still weak; close-ups are looking better now, but most of the scenes from the parade look as if they were doodled by elementary school students.
Believe it or not, this is a screencap from xxxHOLiC. Watanuki and Domeki are at the centre.
Innocent Venus: I tried my utmost to give this a fair chance, but in the end I had to accept that a) I didn’t have a clue what was going on, and b) I didn’t particularly care about what was going on anyway. This time around, Jo gets emo, annoyingly stereotypical pirates show up, ugly mecha deploy, and army officers of evil make villainous plans. Possibly the biggest collection of stereotypes since Kiba, hence the bonus section below.
Special bonus- series ripped off by IV: Last Exile, Wolf’s Rain, Kurau, Hunter X Hunter, Burst Angel, Mahou Shoujotai, Arc- Twilight of the Spirits, Stand Alone Complex, Gasaraki, .hack//Roots, RahXephon
Fruits Basket 131: When I opened this in CDisplay, a “Warning! Garbage at the end of the zip file” message popped up, which I took to be related to the content of this chapter. In all seriousness, this wasn’t too bad a chapter, covering the story of the first juunishi banquet and the fact that everyone is free, although typically now they are angsting over the fact that the curse is gone. Apparently Takaya plans to end the series “within the year”, by which I hope she means the year 2006.
Solanin 5: Given the low page count per chapter, instalments of Solanin feel especially few and far between, but they are rewarding in the main. This time around, we get a glimpse into the life of Meiko’s friend “Billy” as he works in the local shop; recommended for all fans of Honey & Clover.