After all the oblique references to real life, interviews and the like, it turned out that my application to a research degree that I thought was a sure thing turned out to have been rejected. Oh well, this must be what they call a ‘character building’ experience. Now off to learn about teamwork and problem solving…
Reviewed this week: Asatte no Houkou 12, Busou Renkin 20, Gargoyle 9, Kanon 20, Les Miserables 2, Nodame 5-6, SaiMono 31-3
…and in manga: REC 27, Spiral 27, Tsubasa 143-4
Death Note has been dropped; I’m not getting anything out of either watching or blogging the series, so it may as well go.
*COMPLETE* Asatte no Houkou 12: It took a while to be subbed (and the interim I already read about the ending anyway) but at long last Asatte no Houkou can be moved off the active list with a convenient ending that sees the status quo restored. Hopefully I’ve already posted my full review on this series, but I have to admit I’ve been left with mixed feelings- some episodes made it seem like the next Someday’s Dreamers in terms of quality, but others just seemed a bit too dull and contrived. If only the manga wasn’t skewed towards more adult themes, I would give it a try.
Busou Renkin 20: Busou Renkin goes into Dragonball Z mode this week, with an episode that consists mainly of ‘that SJ fight we’ve all seen before’ between Kazuki and Bravo. Apart from a lot of posturing and lance action, this is a rather sparse episode in terms of content, and worse yet, Tokiko is becoming even more useless than ever. Those who care little for fights and completion could easily skip this episode.
Gargoyle of the Yoshinagas 9: Whilst Hyakushiki finds himself bedridden from a cold, Lily decides that she wants to follow in his footsteps as a “Kaitou” (Phantom Thief), even going so far as to attempt a job in his place. Whilst this is an enjoyable episode for the most part, it does lose something at the end thanks to some last minute “and by the way, here’s a mission I went on earlier” exposition from Hyakushiki.
Kanon 20: So here it is, the potentially most heart-wrenching part of the story in which we discover the truth about Ayu- only even this cannot move my heart of stone. Is it because I know the critical points of what’s coming, or the accumulated effects of the treacle slow pace? Whatever the case, getting into Kanon has been impossible, and all I really enjoy now are the beautifully drawn settings.
Les Miserables Shoujo Cosette 2: Continuing on from the first episode, the second instalment of Les Mis sees poor Cosette continue her Cinderella-like existence with the evil innkeepers, whilst Madeleine indulges in a flashback mode about the good old Jean Valjean days. Apart from a degree of predictability and some unintentional hilarity (such as Alain telling Madeleine “you don’t seem like yourself today” twenty-four hours after first getting to know him), this is another solid episode.
Mai-Otome Zwei 2: If ever we needed more evidence to prove that Sunrise just makes up Otome as they go along, this episode was it. Instead of focusing on whatever the main plot involving the Shadow Otome is supposed to be, most of this episode concentrates on a generic bus-jacking and the subsequent talking that accompanies it. Although there are a few highlights, such as some airtime for Sarah and the appearance of fat cat Mikoto, the point of this episode escapes me. Expect a dedicated blog post next week.
Nodame Cantabile 5-6: The love I began to feel for the series in episode three still hasn’t returned, in spite of this week’s double bill. The irritating skirt-chaser Streseman has set up a new orchestra, only to leave Chiaki in charge of conducting it with predictably mixed results (I’m now waiting for a training montage). Meanwhile, double bass player Saku Sakura is the latest name character to be introduced, although the fact that her family is penniless is resolved within the space of an episode- how am I supposed to care for the characters when their situations are dealt with so flippantly? I also have to admit that I agree with ANN’s Right Turn Only writer when he says that Nodame reminds him of a shounen series sometimes, even though it is not meant to be.
Saiunkoku Monogatari 31-3: Much as I like SaiMono, sometimes an episode comes along that makes me fall in love with it all over again, and episode was one of them. As Shuurei puts herself in danger by accompanying Sakujun to the Sa manor, the others try to coordinate a plan to foil the Sa clan’s ambitions; whilst the content isn’t particularly outstanding when compared to other episodes, the background music, setting and character designs all come together to provide an entirely compelling instalment.
Whilst not up to level of their predecessor in terms of addictiveness, 32-3 are nonetheless another strong pair of episodes, advancing the Sa clan arc even further and even providing such delights as some airtime for Shunki, and a chance for Chuushou to finally get up out of his chair. Shuurei’s sparring with Sakujun also manages to remain fresh even after all this time thanks to the way their relationship continues to evolve- once, Sakujun held all the cards, but now Shuurei is certainly beginning to hold her own.
REC 27: I was on the verge of dropping REC after this chapter, but luckily it choose to put the increasingly tedious romance on the backburner in favour of focusing on Aka’s latest voiceover job- dubbing a US film. The cliff-hanger of the chapter has the director (yet another Aka obsessive, there’s a surprise) seemingly disappointed with the work- although there will no doubt be a twist to come, it’s worth reading onwards to find out what the aftermath of this recording session will be.
Spiral 27: Having stabbed Eyes, Kanone makes his next move by transferring to Ayumu’s school, and whilst he seems oddly reluctant to take anyone else on just yet, he is still committed to his role as a Hunter. This is really just a setup chapter, but it is still an interesting read nonetheless; kudos to the translators for keeping up a decent pace of releases- Spiral fans have never had it so good.
Tsubasa Chronicle 143-4: Picking up where we left off, chapter 143 sees Sakura admit that she needs the ability to cross worlds (even if it is only once and to a random world) in order to separate from the group and begin her own FFX-2 adventures (come on Sakura, you know you can’t strike out on your own- it’ll be a disaster). 144 takes us into the chess match final that Sakura must win in order to gain that ability, and after a few pages of meaningless posturing and nicely drawn panels, sees Syaoran about to take on Hikaru from Angelic Layer- might as well recycle as many character designs as possible, after all. Oddly enough, the match is prefaced by a segment in which Sakura talks to Syaoran-real as if this was their first conversation; having worked together for long enough to reach the final of the chess tournament, you’d have thought they might have had to communicate with each other already.