Weekly Round-Up: November 3rd

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It’s all change behind the scenes this week, as WordPress brings out a new dashboard; I think it’s supposed to be an improvement, but I have to admit that as far as actually managing the blog goes, I prefer the old one.

Hataraki Man has been put on hiatus until I feel motivated to watch it again.

Reviewed this week: Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto 2, Busou Renkin 4, Chevalier 8, Code Geass 3, Death Note 4, Kanon 4, Keroro 62, Red Garden 3, ROTK 28, YoakeNa 4

…and in manga: Bartender 1, Hataraki Man 1, Mozart Doesn’t Sing Lullabies 2-4, Phantom Dream 2, Solanin 6, Tactics 7b, YoakeNa 2

ANIME

Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto 2: Bakumatsu is an odd series; I don’t really know what’s going on, but I’m still able to derive some enjoyment from it anyway. This time around, our destined lead aids the acting troupe in their quest to get revenge on production line bad guy Genba Hario. It’s a reasonable episode with some good (if brief) combat scenes.

Busou Renkin 4: The earlier generals of evil were dispatched quickly, but the pace slows down here as Kazuki and Tokiko’s search for the papillon mask creator leads into final boss confrontation part one, followed by a lengthy exposition scene and the return of the third general of evil. As always it’s nothing special, but for now it continues to be averagely entertaining.

Le Chevalier d’Eon 8: Russia has finally been reached, and it seems as if everyone there is plotting some scheme or another. Whilst the series justifies its parody fodder status by including a special cross-dressing masquerade ball, various threads are set in motion for what will hopefully be a top quality story arc.

Code Geass- Lelouch of the Rebellion 3: Killing his half-brother Prince Clovis is all in a day’s work for “I have a special eye” Lelouch, and so he goes back to school to continue his normal life- albeit with a familiar-looking new student in his class. Focussing more on the characters than mecha battles, this is the best episode so far, making me actually want to watch the series instead of merely thinking that I must see the next episode at some point in order to find out what’s going on.

Death Note 4: My earlier comments about the Death Note anime still stand, but nonetheless I’m continuing to watch; where NHK was “how could they do this to the story?”, Death Note is more of a case of “it’s a good series, it just doesn’t need to be animated.” This episode sees Light enact a plan to snare the agent who has been following him of late; ideally I’d like to see the series move onto the events of around volume three, but for now I’ll take each episode as it comes.

Kanon 4: Much as I want to enjoy Kanon, episode four follows three’s trend of just not hitting the right notes for me. Once again, the series seems to be switching between too many girls for me to really care about any of them; Makoto is irritating, Ayu is lolimoe overload, and the other girls haven’t had enough development yet. I do feel slightly sorry for Nayuki, however, for being the default “only concentrate on when no one better is around” character.

Keroro Gunso 62: The ‘slightly better than before’ trend continues in episode 62, as Keroro’s second season moves ever forward. In the first half, Momoka, Natsumi and Mois attempt to steal a painting being guarded by Fuyuki, Keroro, Tamama and Giroro, whilst the second half sees Keroro fill the house with a breathable water atmosphere for some swimming fun. It’s nothing special, but it is reasonably entertaining.

Red Garden 3: Red Garden becomes slightly more interesting this week, as the girls discover more about the true nature of their predicament. I’m still not feeling much for any of the characters, but the story continues to leave unanswered questions that compel me to continue watching.

Romance of the Three Kingdoms 28: Those who have read the novels or played “Guan Yu’s escape” in Dynasty Warriors will already be familiar with the content of this episode, which sees Guan Yu chop his way through several gates guarded by Cao Cao’s minor generals in order to make his way back to Liu Bei. Whilst not up to the level of episode 27, this is nonetheless an amusing instalment that continues to make the series watchable.

Yoake Mae Yori Ruriiro Na 4: I want to continue saying that this series is light fun, but unfortunately “light nap” would be a more apt way of describing my feelings after episode 4. The episode begins with a tiresomely predictable sequence in which Feena attempts to rescue a drowning dog, before moving on to a bizarre and ridiculous section in which the leads overreact to a few bugs flying around in Tatsuya’s father’s study. At least the animation has stabilised a little; an increased use of chibi mode means that the characters can at least look decent in their normal forms.

MANGA
To demonstrate how astute and on the ball I am, I have to admit that I went to Entropy-manga’s site the other day and realised that not only had I completely overlooked chapter 2 of Mozart Doesn’t Sing Lullabies (released in August) but that Caramel Milk Tea only has four chapters, and that I have been waiting in vain for the nonexistent chapter five. Ah well, live and learn (or in my case, live and continue to make the same mistakes).

*NEW* Bartender 1: The first episode of the Bartender anime was marred somewhat by its oddly staged presentation, but fortunately the first chapter of the manga brings us the story of that episode as it was meant to be. In this version of the tale, not only does the eponymous bartender have an actual personality, but rather than serving at a legendary bar, he is looking for a job just after returning to Japan. When combined with the faster pacing of the manga, these little changes help to make the series more effective and enjoyable in manga form.

*NEW* Hataraki Man 1: If I enjoy an anime, I want to read the manga, and if I don’t enjoy an anime, I want to read the manga anyway (after all, it may be better). Since Hataraki Man falls into the latter category, it is fortunate that the manga does improve on the anime a little bit; the lead seems like a slightly stronger personality, and Tanaka gets more exposure. Nonetheless, many of the flaws seen in the anime remain, but I’ll give the series a little longer in which to prove itself.

Mozart Doesn’t Sing Lullabies 2-4: Following the death of a local sheet music shop owner, Beethoven and his student Czerny find themselves drawn deeper into the mystery surrounding ‘Mozart’s Lullaby’, but just what kind of sinister secrets lurk beneath the serene surface of the world of music? Building on the strong start made in chapter one, Mozart Doesn’t Sing Lullabies offers an absorbing blend of music, mystery and character drama, not to mention the appealing historical setting and aesthetically pleasing artwork. It’s hard to say when the next chapters will be available, but I’m eagerly looking forward to reading more.

Phantom Dream 2: When Tamaki and Asahi meet a boy with a strange affinity for butterflies, they realise that he is gradually being overcome by an evil spirit- but exorcising it could kill him. As an early work from the Furuba mangaka, Phantom Dream isn’t short on drama and emotion, but unfortunately it is also a bit rough and confusing in places, especially as the character designs show little variation. A promising series, but not up to the level of pre-decline Furuba.

Solanin 6: The leads take a backseat in this chapter as the focus moves to their friend Ayugawa. Now in his sixth year at university (shades of Mayama, anyone?), he ends up on a dinner date with a fellow student where they discuss their shared love of music. It may be short and simple, but it’s an enjoyable tale nonetheless, although it’s now hard to see where this series is headed.

Tactics 7b: It’s been a while since I read the first half of this chapter, but finally the conclusion to the tale of a sick fortune teller and her sister is available. Whilst the ending is a little rushed, and Kantarou is as dislikeable as ever, this is an enjoyable chapter overall; it’s refreshing that the anime and manga have the same premise, but different individual stories.

Yoake Mae Yori Ruriiro Na 2: Whilst still not particularly good, the second chapter of YoakeNa seems to be slightly better than the first in terms of artwork and content, covering Feena and Mia’s arrival at Tatsuya’s home. Hopefully the series will pick up further once the story actually gets going.