If there’s one thing I’m not too keen on when watching fansubs, it’s mkv format. According to its proponents, mkv is new and ‘1337’ whilst avi is old and outdated, but the fact remains that mkv is a pain to play. The picture gets stuck, it uses up more CPU resources than I’m willing to give it (I like to run a lot of programs simultaneously), the softsubs can be problematic, and VLC media player doesn’t like them. I may get comments here telling me that mkv is good or to use a different media player, but that’s not going to stop me ranting about how annoying it can be.
Aria, Death Note, Emma Bangaihen and possibly Ayakashi Ayashi will be covered next week.
Reviewed this week: Bartender, Busou Renkin, Chevalier, Code Geass, Corda d’Oro, D.Gray-man, Ghost Hunt, Hataraki Man, Kanon, Mushishi, Negima, Otogi-jushi Akazukin, Red Garden, Yoake Mae Yori Ruriiro Na
…and in manga: Mai-Otome, NHK, REC, Tsubasa, xxxHOLiC
*NEW* Bartender 1: When I first learned of the existence of an anime about a bartender, my initial thoughts were, “hmm, I can probably give that a miss”. Nonetheless, as often happens, the title got stuck in my head, and over time I began to wonder if it might actually be quite interesting. Fortunately, episode one did indeed prove to be worthy, as the eponymous bartender helped a weary businessman past his hatred of bars. The presentation wasn’t perfect, and I could have done without the sections where the protagonists sit by themselves and talk directly to the audience, but this could be an interesting customer-of-the-week style show. Then again, it could equally turn into a Jigoku Shoujo, “same story every week” series, but for now I’m content to keep watching.
Busou Renkin 2: Under the new, harsher regime, I probably should be dropping this about now, but Busou Renkin was actually a big improvement on the first episode, in that I actually felt compelled to pay attention to it instead of playing Go whilst leaving the episode running (yes, my dark secret is out- I often do this during a boring episode). Even so, I have to admit that Tokiko is the main reason I am watching, so I am less enthused to see that she’s going to be out of action whilst spiky-haired lead trains and presumably defeats the arc one enemies.
Le Chevalier d’Eon 6: Although I had assumed our heroes would be heading to Russia in this episode, I forgot that the obligatory ‘nothing happens but we’ll file it under character development’ episode had to come first. In that vein, it can hardly be said that this was Chevalier’s finest moment, but I’m confident that things will get back on track once Russia is actually reached.
*NEW* Code Geass- Lelouch of the Rebellion 1: CLAMP character designs and mecha- even with Sunrise and their sweet potato dango getting involved, it seemed worth a try. The series sees noble Japan invaded by the cruel, tea-sipping Britannia Empire as led by Mars Cubehart Prince Clovis. Naturally, there is a terrorist group fighting against the oppressors, and in due course our hero, now imbued with special powers, will no doubt join them. Not a particularly outstanding episode in and of itself, but there are enough interesting threads set up to make watching episode two a necessity.
*NEW* La Corda d’Oro 1: Since this is yet another series based on a Neoromance game (albeit one that was itself based on a manga), it isn’t surprising that it features a girl who meets lots of bishies. What is different, however, is that Corda d’Oro not only takes place in a music school, but it also has something in the way of a plot. The first episode sees non-musical lead get chosen to participate in the school’s music contest- now the next stop is to actually learn to play. An enjoyable opening episode for a series that will hopefully not be obscured by angst later on.
*DROPPED* D.Gray-man 3: After episode two, I thought that D.Gray-man would prove an interesting diversion for at least four or five episodes, but when I found that I could barely concentrate on this one, I knew it was time to put at end to any further pain. Allen’s FMA: Shounen Lite adventures have outstayed their welcome, and it is time to put them on the drop pile where they belong.
*NEW* Ghost Hunt 1: In case you can’t guess from the title, Ghost Hunt is about hunting ghosts, not that much of that happens in the first episode. This opening instalment is basically about introducing us to more characters than we can possibly hope to remember, and setting up something for them to do next time. I can’t say that it was particularly interesting, but as the plot hasn’t really got going yet I’m going to stick with it for now.
*NEW* Hataraki Man 1: Damn you, tj han for making this sound like something I would really enjoy, because in actual fact this didn’t do a lot for me. Oh look, another angsty shoujo heroine who pretends to be strong and masculine whilst being frail, weak and in need of a REAL MAN deep down. Even better, another group of generic office workers borrowed from the supporting character cloning factory. I’m just not connecting with any of the characters here, and because of that, the entire thing falls down for me.
Kanon 2: As Yuuichi settles in and prepares for his first day at his new school, Kanon proves to be highly enjoyable in its second episode- it’s still lagging a little way behind Air, but the slow and sweet storyline is proving to have the same oddly addictive quality. There have been complaints about the pace dragging a little, but I’m content with the way it’s going so far.
*COMPLETE* Mushishi 26: Although it is with a pang of sadness that I realise that there will be no more Mushishi, I’m also glad to finally be able to put the series on ‘complete’ status. Mushishi is always good, but this episode is one of the series’ stronger offerings, telling the tale of the developing friendship between the heir to a mountain and a young traveller. Ginko barely appears this time around, but his scenes as both a little boy and a full grown man provide a nice resolution to the story. A worthy ending to an excellent series.
Negima!? 2: At this stage, I’ve come to realise that I couldn’t really care less about the plot of this series- I barely know a handful of the girls, and the storyline doesn’t exactly inspire me with its originality. The only reason I’m watching is because I really love the character designs; it’s just a shame that a good portion of the animation budget is concentrated on just a handful of scenes, meaning that the rest has to make does with stills and simplistic sequences.
Otogi-jushi Akazukin 12-14: Yes, the triple bill situation has occurred again, although this time it was somewhat to the detriment of my enjoyment. Episode 12 sees Randagio forced to summon a mediocre monster of the week after an alliance with the Lycans (werewolves) fails to emerge- observant viewers will notice that the former king of the Lycans was called Valhan, and realise that this can surely be none other than Val.
13 is the weakest of the trio, featuring some annoying villagers who worship a dragon god, complete with yet another monster of the week and the destined powers needed to defeat it. Fortunately, 14 proves to be slightly more interesting, covering Gretel’s ill-fated attempts to defy the plot and defect to the side of good.
Red Garden 2: Our four leads were living normal teenage lives- right up to the point where they found out they were dead and that their continued existence depended on fighting slavering men at night. Unfortunately (if not unpredictably) this could only mean an excess of angst and screaming, although Claire wins points for keeping her cool. I can’t say that I particularly like any of the characters here, but it’s the kind of thing that keeps you watching just to find out what the hell is going on.
*NEW* Yoake Mae Yori Ruriiro Na ~Crescent Love~ 1-2: The only reason I wanted to watch this series was because I liked the promo artwork, but as it turned out, this H-game adaptation proves to be a refreshing dose of light-hearted fun. The series follows the adventures of Feena, princess of the Moon, after she comes to live with lead Tatsuya and his two sisters on Earth. Both setting and characters are a fairly predictable high school/harem/comedy mix, but the series is nonetheless entertaining, and I’m looking forward to the promised cooking showdown in episode three.
Not that I’ve ever mentioned it on this blog before, but I’m dropping Future Hero Retro Story (a prequel of sorts to Outlaw Star). It’s the kind of manga where you don’t really know what’s going on, and nor do you care.
Mai-Otome 31: The death of Nagi has been a long-awaited event in the Mai- universe, and this time it finally seems to have happened (hopefully he won’t return like he did in the HiME manga), freeing up Nina to make a contract with Manshiro and rejoin his harem. Amazingly, Nagi is actually likable for the few panels before he breathes his last, whilst the Otome robes remain more aesthetically pleasing than their anime counterparts- apart from that, this is an average chapter which spells the opening of the Dark HiME arc.
Welcome to the NHK 27-30: It seems as if every named character is now descending into the pit of their own fear and depression as NHK leaves black humour behind in an attempt to see just what kind of hell it can put its protagonists through. With so many threads now being followed, the breakneck pace is slowing up now, almost as if the creator is stalling for time before deciding whether or not to bring Satou and the others out of the abyss they have fallen into.
REC 17: REC seems to have reached the point where it isn’t really going anywhere- I want to see Matsumaru and Aka’s life together continue to develop, but instead the series seems to be stuck in a cyclic rut. This time around, rumours are flying about Aka having an affair with a colleague, prompting her to wonder (for the fiftieth time) if she should reveal her real relationship with Matsumaru.
Tsubasa Chronicle 132: Whilst Fye argues with the others about heading out to back up Sakura, our heroine manages to make it all the way back by herself- and that’s about the sum total of what happens in this chapter. Unfortunately, the scanlators only seem to have a limited grasp of English, so the tone of the characters’ “voices” is obscured by a complete lack of grammar.
xxxHOLiC vol 9, chapter 6: I know that another group has released more up to date chapters of xxxHOLiC, but since the chapter numbers are different in the magazine and tankoubon releases, I thought I’d just stick with the BWYS release and avoid any potential confusion. Anyway, this is another brief chapter which sees the real Syaoran stop by and have Yuuko send him to meet with the Tsubasa party.