Reviewed this week: Busou Renkin 24, Corda 10, Kanon 24, Nodame Cantabile 9, Red Garden 20-22, SaiMono 35
…and in manga: Chevalier 2, Chokotto Sister 39, Clannad 1-4, Gunslinger Girl 23, School Rumble 217, Spiral 28-31, Spiral Alive 4, Tenshi Nanka Janai, Tsubasa 147, Yotsuba&! 45
Busou Renkin 24: The laws of narrative and the “I read spoilers on wikipedia” factor dictate that only Kazuki can defeat Victor, but never let it be said that the secondary characters shouldn’t all continue to take pot shots at him anyway. This episode continues the fight between the alchemic warrior team and the by-now hideously evolved Victor (if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that immense power and ugliness go hand in hand). A fairly average episode overall, but one that makes every that has occurred so far seem sensible when Kazuki and Victor end up on the moon. Clearly problems like escape velocity and lack of air to breathe are merely minor issues to be disregarded.
La Corda d’Oro 10: It’s time for the second round of the concours, but even as Hino goes out to play Pachelbel’s Canon, poor Tsukimori gets locked in a cupboard by some generics in a rather contrived effort to prevent him from retaining his lead in the competition. Overall, this is a rather dull episode, lacking even more substance than the average Corda episode, whilst it’s hard to believe the generics would even hate Tsukimori enough to lock him in a cupboard.
*COMPLETE* Kanon 24: Well, Kanon is finally over, and with it all the issues of the series are magically wrapped up without any real explanation. Shiori magically gets better despite being on her deathbed not too long ago, everyone else somehow automatically becomes happy regardless of whether they have worked out their issues, and Yuuichi obsesses over Ayu’s comatose body until the power of giving her a headband in flashback causes her to wake up. A somewhat lazy ending that sacrificed logical explanations as to how the characters ended up where they did in a favour of just showing them all moving on with their lives. Also, was I the only one who found it creepy when everyone was pawing all over comatose Ayu as if she was just a doll? Where were the nurses, or her family?
Nodame Cantabile 9: Chiaki and the others are off to a music festival in this episode, but whilst Chiaki trails after Stresemann and Nodame fails to impress her teacher in the piano master class, Ryutaro is worried that he too is not up to scratch. More than any of the others so far, this illustrates both the Nodame’s potential and the problems I have with it- the character drama is very good, but the jarringly off-kilter humour continues to get in the way of my enjoyment. Nonetheless, I have to admit that I have come to like the perfectionist Chiaki, especially as he has magically learned how to better interact with the orchestras he conducts.
*COMPLETE* Red Garden 20-22: Even television itself could not handle 24 episodes of Red Garden, and so with two episodes shifted over to make an OVA in August, Red Garden reaches the end of its run even earlier than expected. For such a dull series, of course, this is no bad thing, and in these last three episodes Red Garden (or as it should be named based on the final scene, Pink Garden) manages to encompass everything from the laughably stupid to the “excuse me while I play Go now” tedious.
Episode 20 kicks off the triple-bill as our heroines prepare to rescue Kate, an excursion that also reveals that pretty much everything the Doral have been doing for the last episode has been entirely pointless. With that in mind, they decide to go after the Animus’ Cursed Tome (aka the magical book that can resolve the plot). 21 is then the obligatory ‘calm before the storm’, with everyone putting the angst aside to spend time with loved ones prior to the final boss battle. Unfortunately, once said battle rolls around in 22, it turns out to be as disappointing as expected, with numerous generics fighting in order to keep each other occupied, whilst the expected boss battle with Hervé is replaced by what looks more like a kinky sex scene between him and his sister. All in all, a dull series with a plot that seems to have been created by pulling story ideas out of a hat- worse yet, said story ideas were written down after the writers got blind drunk.
Saiunkoku Monogatari 35: Seiran and Sakujun get down to their little drinking game in this episode, but who will take up the poisoned cup? No matter how easy it may be to guess the general outcome of the episode, the specifics may still hold some surprises, but the true strength of the episode comes in its excellent characterisation. A far cry from the usual “sit in a chair and watch the heroes on magic CCTV” villain, Sakujun represents the next step in antagonist evolution- a character who has committed deplorable acts and yet still engender audience sympathy. Better still are the intricacies of his relationship with Shuurei- a woman who was ultimately able to hold her own against him due to her own unique strength. It’s just as well there’s a second season of SaiMono, for four more episodes could never be enough.
It’s time for some manga spring cleaning, so I’m going to drop Fate, Shana, Haruka 8 and Higurashi.
Chevalier 2: In the second chapter of L’Otome d’Eon, our bold cross-dresser learns that the Psalms are having an effect on Lady Sophia (one of the daughters of a decidedly younger Louis XV than the one we saw in the anime) and is duly dispatched to combat the Poet of the Week. I’m still not particularly won over by this manga, but it is sufficiently different from the anime that I want to pursue it in order to find out how the story turns out.
Chokotto Sister 39: Despite what I said in Tuesday Rumble, this is actually a fanservice-free chapter in which Chitose invites Harima, Choko and Makoto to go to the amusement park with her. From thereon in, it’s just a standard theme park visit all the way, with little to really distinguish it from the crowd.
*NEW* Clannad 1-4: With the news of Clannad TV bringing it to the forefront of everyone’s attention, I thought I may as well jump on the bandwagon and at least try the manga. So far, however, it’s hard to know what to make of it- both the lead and the various girls all seem a little strange, so whilst there is potential there, it is often obscured by sheer bizarreness. Whilst chapters 1-3 see lead Okazaki and the strange Nagisa become friends and try to revive the school’s drama club, chapter 4 takes things in a new direction by introducing a girl who randomly gives out wooden starfish to named characters.
Gunslinger Girl 23: Volume five of Gunslinger Girl kicks off with this chapter, which sees Marco’s ex-girlfriend reluctantly team up with a reporter seeking to expose the truth behind the Social Welfare Agency- but in an increasingly complex web of politics and deceit, just what is the truth anyway? Meanwhile, Angelica seems to be in better shape than she has been in a while, but her handler is well aware that it is only due to an increased dose of the medication that will shorten her life. Whilst this isn’t as character-focused as the best of Gunslinger Girl’s chapters, this is nonetheless a solid instalment in a worthy series.
School Rumble 217: Did I say the manga might be ending soon? Silly me, I should have known a partial reset was around the corner. In the wake of Yakumo’s revelation, Harima discovers that Eri didn’t actually rip up his manuscript, but he is more interested in the fact that Tenma is drawing a replacement manga for him (which she eventually decides to publish under her own name anyway). Filled with renewed hope with his relationship for Tenma, Harima tells Eri to forget about him, she pretends not to have any feelings for him in the first place, and Sarah attempts to persuade Yakumo not to give up on Harima. Well done, Jin- that should keep you going for another few years.
Spiral 28-31: This quartet of chapters brings volume six to an end with Kanone making his next moves- first by approaching Ayumu and trying to persuade him to join the quest to annihilate the Blade Children, before heading to the hospital to put an end to Rio. It’s a line-up of the tense stand-offs and plays within plays that Spiral does so well, not to mention an indication of how much better paced this arc is as compared to the rushed ending of the anime.
Spiral Alive 4: When Imari tries to convince Sawamura to two-time Amanae so that he can go out with her, Sawamura tells her that as long as he is aiming for Kiyotaka, he doesn’t have time for love- but unlike him, not everyone is happy at the prospect of ‘Great Detective’ Narumi being called in on the case. Compared to the preceding chapters, this one is rather short and uneventful, but it’s still a solid enough read with the usual healthy dose of beautiful character designs.
*CATCH-UP* Tenshi Nanka Janai 1-23: After having it sitting on my computer ever since the brief Ai Yazawa obsession that caused me to download both this series and Kagen no Tsuki, I’ve finally got around to catching up with this series. A typical shoujo tale of high school romance, unrequited feelings and love polygons, Tenshi Nanka Janai (not to be confused with Tenshi Ja Nai) is a standard shoujo story, but by the same token it’s a decent enough read provided you don’t expect much in the way of originality.
Tsubasa Chronicle 147: To no one’s surprise, Syaoran wins against Hikaru, but just as I thought we needed Fye and Kurogane to fight in order to complete the championship, a version of Chii appears to take Sakura to another world, and although it isn’t entirely clear what happens after that, she seems to be connecting to the Chii of Fye’s world. Hopefully it will start to make sense in the next chapter.
Yotsuba&! 45: In preparation for baking cakes for the school festival, Fuuka and her friend Shimau (a.k.a. “Miss Stake) decide to whip up a strawberry shortcake. Naturally, Yotsuba just has to join in, but will these first time patissiers have any luck in the kitchen? Even after all this time, Yotsuba& still hasn’t lost its touch, and so this is another entertaining chapter in the vein of all the others.