There’s going to be a bit of a parody break for the next few days; not just because of the Jyu-oh-sei HDTV incident, but because I’ve been spending a lot of time on the Mai-HiME RPG (despite a tendency for the victory music to play in unwanted places, episode three is generally going well). If you’re a parody fan, however, don’t worry, because they will be returning soon.
Due to a general apathy towards the series, I have yet to watch Keroro Gunso 62 and will be leaving that to next week. Also, there are some pretty big spoilers for the Tsubasa manga towards the end, so don’t read if you’re not up to date and want to maintain the element of surprise.
Reviewed this week: Aria the Natural 15-16, Asatte no Houkou 1-3, Ayakashi Ayashi 1, Bakumatsu 1, Busou Renkin 3, Chevalier 7, Code Geass 2, Death Note 3, Gargoyle of the Yoshinagas 3, Kanon 3, Keroro 61, Negima!? 3, ROTK 26-7, YoakeNa 3
…and in manga: Emma Bangaihen 1-3, Higurashi Onikakushi-hen 1, H&C 12, Otome 32, MariMite 20, Tsubasa 133, NHK 31, xxxHOLiC 9.7, YoakeNa 1, Haruhi Suzumiya novel 4.3
Aria the Natural 15-16: After such a long wait, any new Aria is gratefully received, but unfortunately, episode 15 was not one of the series’ stronger moments. The episode sees Al and Akatsuki join Akari at a café and relate an event from their childhood on the Floating Island; however, whilst the flashback is worthy enough, the framing scenes fall too far on the side of the saccharin sentimentality that Aria usually manages to avoid. Perhaps it was simply due to the lack of Aika keeping things down to earth with her “embarrassing lines are prohibited”.
Fortunately, episode 16 is a far more satisfying instalment, as Akari makes one last outing with her gondola prior to getting a new one. A quiet and gentle segment even by Aria standards, this is one of those episodes that ensures that Aria continues to outshine the competition.
*NEW* Asatte no Houkou 1-3: Although it didn’t penetrate at first, at long last the fanboying about AnH has come to my attention, and I duly decided that I might as well investigate the first two episodes. The series sees lead Hiro leave his girlfriend Shouko for some siscon to look after his little sister Karada, only for Shouko to turn up years later. Now, through a wish on a magical stone, Karada becomes an adult, whilst Shouko reverts to a little girl; it may sound like the perfect excuse some loli ‘fun’, but actually this is a rewarding character drama that has swiftly become one of my top picks for the season.
*NEW/DROPPED* Tenpou Ibun Ayakashi Ayashi 1: I really should know better than to trust any series with the name ‘Ayakashi’ in the title, but I convinced myself that this might have some parody worth. Apart from the historical setting, however, Ayakashi Ayashi really doesn’t have much going for it. The series seemingly consists of two types of scene- the ultra-boring and the incredibly scary (it’s not so much horror as “how long do we have to look at fat naked men in the bathhouse”). Even the monster at the end has a head that looks like a giant penis; I may joke about HARD GAY, but that is going a bit too far.
*NEW* Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto 1: After dismissing Ayakashi Ayashi, the next stop was ‘that other samurai series with the long name’, featuring a lone ronin who inadvertently ends up as part of a performing troupe. It’s not particularly worthy, but it’s good enough to keep watching for the time being.
Busou Renkin 3: Another week, another episode of mostly generic but somehow entertaining adventures. With seven days to go until Tokiko becomes a Homunculus, Kazuki enters the training phase, and is fortunate enough to discover his destined battle during a battle with one of the generals of evil. It’s nothing special, but the episode earns points for the speed at which the generals of evil are defeated, and of course for Tokiko, the number one reason to watch the series in the first place.
Le Chevalier d’Eon 7: Russia is still some way off as our intrepid team stops off in Cologne and runs into some minor agents of evil. It’s an entertaining and action-packed episode, as well as the easiest one to parody so far. Russia is taking longer to reach than I anticipated, but I’m looking forward to actually getting there next week.
Code Geass- Lelouch of the Rebellion 2: With his new powers and an almost irrational hatred of tea, Athrun Lelouche uses his Eternal Sabbath powers to coordinate the rebellion against Brittania, whilst Kira Suzaku is picked to pilot the destined mecha that fights against him. Already the vague promise that the first episode offered is beginning to fade away, and if not for the fluidity of the sequence which the Lancelot mecha launched its attack, I probably wouldn’t be inclined to watch any more.
Death Note 3: Upon watching the recap of episode two, I couldn’t help wondering why I hadn’t laughed at Light proclaiming “I am Justice!”. Nonetheless, as the episode moved into new material, it settled down into the realms of “solid enough”, as Light and L move into the first stage of their battle of wits. To be perfectly honest, Death Note isn’t really the kind of series that needs to be animated (I’m sure I could get just as much out of the story if it were a visual novel) but it’s still entertaining enough within the limitations of the medium.
The Gargoyle of the Yoshinagas 3: There’s a new rival for Gar-san when the phantom thief Hyakushiki puts in an appearance and challenges the gatekeeper to guard against him; matters soon become more complex, however, when Hyakushiki makes the acquaintance of Lily, a little girl with psychic powers. Putting aside the joy of getting another Gargoyle episode less than five months after the last one, this instalment isn’t quite up to the level set by episode two, but it nonetheless proves to be entertaining.
Kanon 3: There’s something of an uguu~ and auu~ overload in this episode as the energetic Makoto comes to stay with Yuuichi, bringing a new sound bite and a large appetite. Whilst not a bad episode by any means, this one felt a little too overloaded to attain the oddly enjoyable quality of the first two episodes- I’d rather see fewer girls covered in more detail for a given episode than have a large chunk of them paraded out for a token scene.
Keroro Gunso 61: Whilst Fuyuki meets a mysterious transfer student with amazingly bad luck, Natsumi’s fortunes seem on the rise after Saburo comes over- that is, until they get trapped in a rocket together. Before any Saburo fans get excited, however, I must warn you that he spends most of his time off screen; it’s hard to believe there was a time when I anticipated him being somewhat important to the story. Overall, the episode isn’t a bad way to spend twenty-five minutes, but it’s hardly outstanding.
Sunrise puts in a bulk order for dango.
Negima!? 3: I don’t really enjoy Negima, but I keep watching because for some reason I always think “next episode, it will all be worth it”. Hopefully, this will actually be the case next episode, as this week’s showdown between Negi and Evangeline was not terribly engaging.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms 26-7: When episode 26 introduced Zhuge Liang as a poorly disguised excuse to have a clip show (here’s what happened whilst Zhuge was growing up!), I was almost tempted to drop this show entirely, but fortunately the swift release of episode 27 proved to be a boon in keeping it alive. By getting back to Guan Yu’s stay with Cao Cao, the episode washed away the dull flashbacks with all the unintentional hilarity and HARD GAY references you could ask for- it now seems increasingly likely that I can see this through to the end.
Yoake Mae Yori Ruriiro Na ~Crescent Love~ 3: Cooking competitions can usually elevate even the worst series into the realms of entertainment, but unfortunately Yoake does better at the non-cooking scenes than the actual competition in this episode. What starts off as another enjoyable instalment of light fun deteriorates a little when the content gets started, mainly because the actual cooking part of it takes place off screen. The animation also seems weaker this episode, especially as I have now seen the quality of the game CGs.
*NEW* Emma Bangaihen 1-3: The main Emma manga is still locked in the legendary backlog pile, but nonetheless I made a random comment last week about including Bangaihen in this round-up, and thus thought I’d better come through. Fortunately, as the title indicates, this series is just about side stories; the first two chapters see a young Kelly and her husband save up for a trip to the Crystal Palace exhibition, whilst chapter three begins a new tale centring on Eleanor. If you enjoyed Emma, this is highly recommended.
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Onikakushi-hen 1: I haven’t even finished reading the Watanagashi and Tatarigoroshi volumes, but that’s not the kind of the thing that’s stopped me before. This opening chapter is basically an expanded version of the first anime episode, introducing Keiichi et al and setting up the mystery. The character designs look a bit off in some panels, but the content is still good.
Honey & Clover 12: A day out gives everyone a chance to meet a giraffe and get some fresh air, whilst Shuu tells Mayama about his past with Harada and Rika. There are some easy targets to make fun of in this chapter, but it’s still an enjoyable segment that manages to pack in everything from emotional drama to light-hearted comedy.
Rika is left out whilst Shuu and Harada enjoy some HARD GAY.
Mai-Otome 32: It’s HiME-service from hereon out as the real Mashiro summons Dark Mai to her side in order to fight Arika and Nina. There’s still no sign of anything resembling a coherent plot (and I doubt there ever will be) but there’s plenty of action and a look at Dark Kagutsuchi.
Maria-Sama ga Miteru 20: Corresponding to around episode ten of the anime’s first season, this chapter takes us a year into Sei’s past and relates the relationship she struck up with a first year girl, a relationship deemed inappropriate by Catholic standards (even if everyone at the school is clearly HARD YURI anyway). After a certain contact overhyped this arc in the anime, I wasn’t able to enjoy it as much as if I’d come to it with an unbiased mind; now that I can take the manga version at my own pace, I’m finding it a lot more heartfelt and emotional.
Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle 133: It’s taken 133 chapters, but a plot has finally appeared, albeit one that has as many holes and questions as the previous lack of plot. For reasons best left to CLAMP, Yuuko is suddenly able to enter exposition mode and explain that Fei Wong’s plan to gain the power of dimensional travel hinges on Sakura having journeyed to different worlds. For that very reason, he used his powers to turn Sakura’s memories into scattered feathers, killed Kurogane’s mother, made a clone of Syaoran (the original somehow knew his plans) and manipulated Fye; yet despite being able to do all this, the ability to freely go to another world still eludes him. Now all that remains are 600 more chapters of collecting feathers before the confrontation at Final Boss Castle.
Welcome to the NHK 31: Satou is now staying with Senpai in his old flat, but apart from that, everyone is as miserable as ever. Obviously recovering from the problems that beset our leads would be far from easy in real life, but at the same time, NHK is meant to be a form of entertainment, and if it continues in this rut for much longer, the readers themselves may end up suffering from depression.
xxxHOLiC vol 9 chapter 7: Yuuko, Watanuki, Doumeki and Mokona gather together to exorcise a spirit…by playing Mah-jong. As you can probably deduce from that statement, this is a slightly bizarre chapter, which also happens to be somewhat unrewarding.
This is actually from the previous chapter, but the implications are clear.
Yoake Mae Yori Ruriiro Na 1: Yoake completes the set by getting its own manga version, but whilst this first episode seems a little more detailed than the beginning of the anime (see last week for synopsis), the artwork leaves a lot to be desired- even the animation drop in the latest anime episode cannot compare to the simplistic nature of these designs. Given the beauty of the original game art, it’s a shame (if not unexpected) that this manga series cannot do it justice.
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya vol 4, chapter 3: A world free of SOS Brigade randomness sounds like a pretty good thing to me, but Kyon is determined to get the universe back to the way it used to be. To that end, he goes on a mission to find Haruhi in this reality…and actually succeeds. Another entertaining chapter from the series’ best volume so far.