Under the new, harsher regime, I’ve decided to drop a few more series that I haven’t watched lately, but have no desire to get back to. This means that Chocotto Sister and FLAG are gone from the anime line-up (I hadn’t even realised that FLAG 3 was released last month, which shows how closely I’ve been following the series), and Melty Blood is dropped from the reading list.
With the influx of new anime, I’ve largely given up on the OP/ED impressions section for now, simply because they all seem to be so similar and dull. I’ll probably phase it back in when I hear something I like, or alternatively, something so awful that is has to be pointed out.
Reviewed this week: Busou Renkin, Chevalier, D.Gray-man, Death Note, Gargoyle of the Yoshinagas, Kanon, Keroro, Negima!?, Red Garden, ROTK, SaiMono, Shounen Onmyouji, Tokimeki Memorial, Tsubasa, xxxHOLiC
…and in manga: Chokotto Sister, Nanoha A’s to StrikerS, Tsubasa, Utawarerumono
*NEW* Busou Renkin 1: Oh look, another spiky-haired hero discovers destined powers…why do I even watch these generic shounen series? In Busou Renkin’s case, my interest was purely motivated by the fact that it was from the creator of Kenshin, but that really isn’t enough to elevate it into the ranks of worthiness. I predict this will be another series I’ll watch for a few episodes of ‘fun’ before the inevitable drop phase.
Le Chevalier d’Eon 5: With Callon out of the way, the hero party continues their pursuit of the ‘evil Russian’ Volonzoff, but can d’Eon catch up to him and still have time to attend confession? Although not the strongest of episodes, this instalment is nonetheless a solid effort which picks up towards the end.
D.Gray-man 2: The FMA rejects are out in force as Allen makes his way to the creatively named Dark Religious Organisation and takes up his destined main character duty of collecting 109 pieces of a golden cube. This somewhat disheartening news could see the anime stretch on forever, but for now it remains the one shounen series of the season that I may follow for more than two episodes.
*NEW* Death Note 1-2: Given the popularity of the manga, Death Note has been a highly anticipated title, but I have to admit that I had my reservations as to whether the series was really suited for an anime adaptation. The episode, which covers high school student Light Yagami’s discovery of a notebook that kills anyone whose name is written it, is something of a mixed effort, but fortunately things take a distinct turn for the better in episode 2. There’s always going to be an element of impatience when you know exactly what’s going to happen, but by the second episode the anime seems a lot more confident in its presentation of the story. My main complaint is Light’s attitude; at this stage in the manga, he still seemed quite calm, but here he is already coming across as more overtly unbalanced.
The Gargoyle of the Yoshinagas 2: I’d almost lost hope that I would ever get to see another subbed episode of Gargoyle (I’ve been hesitant to watch the raws since it looks it will be beyond my meagre abilities) but finally the second instalment is here. This time around, Futaba ends up staying at the home of a rich company president whose true goal is to lure out Gargoyle and test his abilities. It’s nothing outstanding, but it is well animated and thoroughly entertaining.
OP impressions: Far too saccharin and cheerful, but the video is bright and colourful.
ED: Another cheerful number, slightly amusing video.
Or, to quote the Yu-Gi-Oh abridged versions, “screw you, I have money”.
*NEW* Kanon 1: Having neither played the game nor seen the Toei version of Kanon, my only prior experience with the title has been through reading the excited ravings of the fans. With that in mind, it is hard not to have high expectations for the series, but even neglecting the outside influence, this was quite an enjoyable episode, featuring the obligatory return of a male lead to a hometown filled with attractive girls. My impressions right now are of “Air: winter version”, and so I’m hoping the series will manage to achieve the same oddly addictive effect that Air had.
Visually, the animation is just as impressive as advertised (this will be one series where I’ll be keeping my finger on the screencap button), although the background music does sound like it’s been ripped straight from the game. Having Kyon’s VA as Yuuichi is a bit disappointing, though, since it brings back unwelcome memories from Haruhi.
OP: gently atmospheric, but I kept wanting the Air OP to play.
ED: Cheerful and upbeat in a worthy rather than cloying sense.
Keroro Gunso 59-60: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- Keroro’s second season isn’t as good as the first, and episode 59 only seems to prove that point. Whilst the first half, in which Keroro feeds items to a model castle in order to make it grow, was fairly inoffensive, I could barely concentrate on part B, in which the castle heads off to Kyoto under its own steam and threatens the Gunpla factory.
Episode 60 starts a little more promisingly with everyone getting miniaturised and using household items to stage a high speed race. Unfortunately, the jokes get a little too worn towards the end, whilst the Mois-centred second half is the latest in a long line of weak B-sides.
*NEW* Negima!? 1: My familiarity with the Negima franchise extends as far as having read a single volume of the manga, so without the “omg it’s so much better than the last anime series” factor, Negima!? doesn’t do a great deal for me. The character designs are easy on the eye, but whilst the story has potential, it hasn’t really gone anywhere in this first episode, which just sees Negi get his assignment to teach in Japan, and meet the 31 girls under his tutelage. Hopefully things will pick up in the next couple of episodes- at the least, we should see some well-animated action scenes.
*NEW* Red Garden 1: Even after watching the first episode of Red Garden, I can’t say I know a great deal more about it than I did before I started- most of the episode was devoted to introducing the various dislikeable high school girls who will form the main cast, before a twist at the end turned the series into something a little more eerie and supernatural. This twist is the only thing keeping the episode off the red, since it leaves me curious to see what course the series is going to follow. Shallow as it may seem, however, I am greatly put off by the art style- those large noses and oversized lips do very little for me.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms 25: In the last few episodes, ROTK has become incredibly HARD GAY, and this latest instalment does nothing to alter the trend, as Cao Cao works to bring Guan Yu over to his side. This is one of the parts I remember well from the novel, so my interest is rising again, especially with the accompanying hilarity.
Saiunkoku Monogatari 19: Having proved her capability via a tough oral exam, Shuurei awaits her first proper assignment as a government official, but just where will she be sent? This episode may just be for the purposes of wrapping up the current arc and putting things in place for the next one, but nonetheless it remains as absorbing as ever, and it looks as if things are only going to get better. It is a little sad to think that we’re almost halfway through the series already- I want much, much more.
*NEW/POSSIBLY DROPPED* Shounen Onmyouji 1: I decided to watch this on the basis of it looking a little like Tactics, but unfortunately, it turned out to be Tactics-ultra poor version, consisting of typical shounen lead and a mascot/semi-bishie sidekick rolled into one. Our lead will no doubt want to defy his useless beginnings and become the best onmyouji around, with friends cheering from the sidelines and villains challenging him at every turn. Even so, I could probably derive some mild entertainment (if not parody potential) from the first few episodes, however the subs are so awful that they make the series seem that much worse. I may watch episode 2, but only if another group picks up the series.
*NEW/DROPPED* Tokimeki Memorial 1: As the respected senior of dating sims and target of a thousand parodies, it almost seemed wrong not to give this series a try, but now I wish I had left well enough alone. If this had been a sedate harem series, I probably could have derived some mild enjoyment from it, but unfortunately the first episode offers more of a nonsensical “wtf!?” story as our lead transfers to a bizarre new school, a place where teachers are picked from the local freak show and animal ears are the reward for good grades. In a series of out of sequence scenes, said lead is chased around the school by students desperate to relieve him of a pair of pink nekomimi. It’s all very over-the-top and pointless, and I can’t bring myself to watch any more.
*DROPPED* Tsubasa Chronicle 41-2: I thought I could at least stick it out until the end of the second season, but in the end I crumbled a long before the finish line. If season one and fellow Bee Train series .hack//SIGN were like swimming through treacle, then this series must surely be more akin to swimming through granite- certainly it was equally painful. These two episodes tie up the Rekord/Lecourt arc in preparation for another stretch of filler that I simply cannot face; the three insert songs in episode 42 alone seemed to indicate that now was a good time to extricate myself from the whole mess.
*COMPLETE* xxxHOLiC 24: It is with a profound sense of relief that I can finally announce that I have finished watching xxxHOLiC, and need never view it again. A while ago, I recall reading a very short chapter of the manga about a disembodied hand that spirited children away, and thinking that it couldn’t possibly be turned into an anime episode. With the addition of a flashback story about Watanuki making a friend (perhaps his first experience of HARD GAY), that very same hand chapter makes its anime debut here, and unsurprising, it proves to be as dull and mediocre as I’ve come to expect from the series. If there is aa second season of this, I can’t see myself having the will to watch it.
Chokotto Sister 35-6: A surprisingly fanservice-free pair of chapters this time around, which see Chitose forced to wear her old thick-rimmed glasses after breaking her current pair, and Choko running into a panther after deciding that she’d like her own pet. It may sound a little ridiculous, but in practice these are both the kind of sweet and simple chapter that keep me reading despite all the scarring fanservice.
Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A’s to StrikerS 1: A chapter set in the ‘six years later’ time that StrikerS is to take place in, this brief instalment reintroduces Nanoha, Fate and the rest, and sends them out to retrieve some more Lost Logia. It makes for a rather underwhelming start to whatever this manga is planning to cover, and even the artwork is far below the usual Nanoha standards, opting for a simplistic, low-contrast style. It is worth noting, however, that Chrono and Amy are now engaged.
Tsubasa Chronicle 131: Sakura: FFX-2 version takes on a hydra without any assistance from Syaoran or Mokona in this brief chapter; the action scenes were a little confusing here, and there’s an overwhelming need for CLAMP to just get on with the story.
*DROPPED* Utawarerumono 5: When I opened this chapter and saw how badly Karura was drawn, I knew that it was time to put the manga behind me. This chapter sees Eruruu angst over generic soldiers getting injured in practice battles, a pointless topic that somehow manages to be even less interesting than the prior chapters of the manga.