Weekly Round-Up: December 1st

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The cast of One Piece decide to search for the missing backgrounds.

With December now upon us and the festive season on its way, it occurs to me that I do something clever like an “Anime Advent Calendar” for the month; however, since I only just thought of that idea about ten minutes ago, it will have to be the necessarily basic idea of just posting a different image in the sidebar every day. Is there any point to doing this? Absolutely none whatsoever.

Reviewed this week: Asatte no Houkou 6, Busou Renkin 7-8, Chevalier 11, Code Geass 7-8, Death Note 8, Gargoyle 5, Kanon 8, Keroro 66, Akazukin 18, Red Garden 6-7, ROTK 32, Shounen Onmyouji 6-7

…and in manga: Nanoha StrikerS 2, REC 18-19, Haruhi Suzumiya vol 5-6

ANIME

Asatte no Houkou 6: Although it doesn’t quite reach the heights of the previous episode, Asatte no Houkou remains far ahead of the competition this week, in an episode which sees Amino meet the adult Karada (although he entirely fails to recognise her). Not only is this episode another touching and absorbing instalment, but there must be few series which can show you a pool of water and make you want to reach into the screen in order to dip your hands in it.

Busou Renkin 7-8: Whilst nothing in this episode matches the trauma of seeing Papillon reach around in his thong, Busou Renkin is degenerating ever further into allies vs. monster of the week, with the arrival of a whole host of new characters doing little to alleviate that. Aside from the curious attraction of the moon-faced Moon Face, the increasing vulgarity and generic nature of the series conspires to make it somewhat uninspiring to watch- only when Tokiko appears onscreen is my resolve renewed.

Le Chevalier d’Eon 11: If Peter’s reign was short historically, then it becomes even shorter in this episode of Chevalier, which can perhaps be said to not be the series finest moment. Whilst it is certainly enjoyable and ahead of most other series in terms of quality, the episode suffers from continually jumping between one set of characters and another, resulting in fast paced yet extremely short scenes. The animation is also somewhat inconsistent, but nonetheless episode twelve is highly anticipated.

Code Geass- Lelouch of the Rebellion 7-8: Upon watching this unexpected double bill of Code Geass, I realised that I couldn’t decide whether this series was laughably poor, or just plain bad. There’s a definite sense that the writers don’t really know where they’re going with this, and are just playing it by ear à la Mai-Otome; where episode seven has Lelouch attempting to go after Cordelia, eight suddenly throws in a hostage situation and a whole new anti-Brittanian faction for no apparent reason. I guess it’s to the series’ credit that it somehow manages to keep me interested to not to start playing Go, but I do feel that I’m watching it more to see how bad it can get rather than because I expect anything of merit.

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I can’t help thinking of Fye and Kurogane when I see this.

Death Note 8: The momentum begins to pick up again in this episode, which continues to take a good story and add some laughably theatrical touches that drag it down a little. The presentation remains top notch, and there’s no reason to stop watching, but the series does need to tone it down a little before it becomes too difficult to take it seriously.

The Gargoyle of the Yoshinagas 5: An enjoyable instalment even by Gargoyle standards, this episode sees Futaba accidentally get stuck with a helmet that enables her to talk to plants, opening up a whole new world of communication. Although the likes of Camus and Souta have made the idea of talking to flowers seem a little wimpy and desirable, Gargoyle turns that notion on its head and comes up with a hilarious and thoroughly entertaining episode; if you’re not already watching this series, start now.

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Kanon 8: After watching this episode, all I really feel like saying is ‘oh dear’. I’ve ranted a lot about Kanon lately, and this episode really isn’t making matters better; Yuuichi treats Makoto like an annoyance, Makoto’s tragic past is offhandedly revealed, and I struggle to care about anything other than how long I have to endure until the ending. I wanted to like Kanon, but this really isn’t working for me.

Keroro Gunso 66: Keroro brings us another pair of mildly entertaining if unoriginal segments in this episode, which promises a busy time for Keroro, Giroro and Tamama as they first attempt to rescue the Hinatas from a space TV studio before spying on Natsumi as she goes on a shopping date with Koyuki. I haven’t gone so far as to want to stop watching Keroro, but each passing episode doesn’t really expose me to anything new.

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Otogi-jushi Akazukin 18: Even for a show like Akazukin, there’s a point where it can get a bit too ridiculous, and this episode marks that point. Featuring a musical pumpkin, the unwelcome return of the Bremen quartet and some budget-saving flashback/insert song combinations, this episode has very little to recommend it. Just a hint of a reminder that a vague plot exists would be nice.

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Red Garden 6-7: Instead of explaining anything (that’s being held in reserve for the final episode) Red Garden continues to throw in more mysteries, adding a hospital of evil, experimental combat life forms girls of some unknown purpose, and revealing that the girls can return to their original lives if Gantz gives them enough points. It’s like a mix of standard Gonzo ideas (sans the mecha) combined with record levels of angst and tedious insert songs, but I must keep watching for now.

Romance of the Three Kingdoms 32: It had to happen eventually; we’ve had so many hilarious episodes of ROTK that it was almost inevitable that a less entertaining one would come along eventually. To be fair, ROTK 32 starts off amusingly enough, but as events move into the infamous battle of Fan Castle, it all becomes a bit weak. Whether you watch this seriously (is there anyone who would do that?) or just for a laugh, this is not one of ROTK’s finer moments.

Shounen Onmyouji 6-7: I never thought I’d say this, but I’m actually enjoying Shounen Onmyouji- it may be entirely predictable and filled with characters who will probably never get the screen time they crave, but at the same time, it’s straightforward fun. These two episodes see monster of the month Kyuuki send out underlings in an attempt to kidnap Akiko- can Masahiro and Mokkun deal with him alone, or will they need to recruit new party members from Seimei’s stock of shikigami?

MANGA

Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS- A’s to StrikerS 2: Given the relatively large cast of Nanoha, it should perhaps come as no surprise that this chapter largely consists of characters talking whilst the plot (such as it is) advances at a crawl. I’m not entirely sure what is supposed to be going on, other than the fact that some generic enemies are going after artefacts whilst Vita struggles with the memory of some tragic past event.

REC 18-19: Every series needs a swimsuit segment, and chapter eighteen marks REC’s efforts in that area, offering the usual bikini service, romantic misunderstandings and a few panels that seem more suited to an adult series. After that short break, nineteen changes direction entirely by including a heist at a post office (to be honest, I was expecting the whole thing to be publicity stunt) before introducing yet another new character intent on breaking Aka and Matsumaru up. I can’t help feeling that another wave of angst is on the horizon.

NOVEL

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya 5.1-6.2: After the refreshing change that was volume four, Haruhi is back to standalone stories presented in no particular order. Volume five contains three longer stories- Endless Eight, the tale of a never-ending summer vacation; The Day of Sagittarius, a computer game showdown between the SOS Brigade and the Computer Club (as seen in the anime) and Snow Mountain Syndrome, in which our leads go on a skiing holiday, only to get trapped in a mysterious mansion. Unfortunately, all of these chapters suffer from the same problem- despite the relatively interesting setup, the resolution is always too swift and arbitrary to provide any real satisfaction.

Volume six marks a return to some shorter stories, with the first two chapters corresponding to anime episodes twelve (Live A Live) and one (Asahina Mikuru’s adventure Episode 0, aka the movie). Neither are particularly bad, but by the time you reach the sixth volume, you start to want a little more character and story development.

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One Response to Weekly Round-Up: December 1st

  1. Anga says:

    Hmm, I thought the Akazukin episode was one of best ones I have seen in the series and flashbacks didn’t bother me at all. And good plots are overrated anyway. =)

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