Weekly Round-Up: April 6th

Mother died, and father disappeared…why do I feel I’ve heard this somewhere before?

It’s funny how obsessions come and go- earlier this week I was briefly addicted to the children’s Flash site Club Penguin, but a mere two days later I had exhausted all its possibilities and found it quite boring. What will next week’s obsession be?

Reviewed this week: Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto 19, Busou Renkin 26, Chevalier 18, Claymore 1, Gargoyle 13, Heroic Age 1, Hitohira 1, Nanoha StrikerS 1, Nodame 10, ROTK 43, SaiMono 37-8, Shounen Onmyouji 15

…and in manga: Bokurano 39-40, Lucky Star 1-4, School Rumble 219, Shirley Madison 1-2, Tsubasa 148-9

Murder Princess, Winter Cicada and Gunslinger Girl vol 5 will be covered next week.


Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto 19: After the last two episodes, Iroha couldn’t really have got much worse, and fortunately, things do begin to pick up in this episode, as Enomoto’s plans move forward and Soutetsu pioneers a new style of villainy. Yes, there are still long stretches of dullness and some laughably clichéd elements (oh look, Akidzuki washed up on a beach and a dog found him), but there are also some good parts creeping back in, such as Kakunojo’s fast and fluid sword work, and a cameo from Tesunosuke (last seen in Peacemaker). Here’s to a general improvement from now on.

*COMPLETE* Busou Renkin 26: At long last we can bid goodbye to Busou Renkin, the series that took crudeness to new levels, and completely ruined the opinion I had of Nobuhiro Watsuki’s work. This episode basically wraps up all the loose ends without ever showing the actual month long fight between Victor and Kazuki, bringing our hero home to Earth after some space STRAIGHT with Tokiko

Le Chevalier d’Eon 18: In the wake of Robespierre’s death, our heroes preparation to storm the abbey and force a confrontation with Dashwood, but is Robespierre truly out of the picture just yet? If last episode seemed a little disappointing, then this episode certainly makes up for it by packing in plenty of top notch action and story development, but it is over all too soon- even though I know exactly what happens in 19, I still want to see it in subbed form as soon as possible.

*NEW* Claymore 1: In a world where demonic Yoma menace humans, the Claymore, an all-female group of human/Yoma hybrids, are the only line of defence against them. In this episode, our cool and distant heroine Clare (it’s almost refreshing that she has so little personality since she just gets on with the job with giving any reason to any) protects a village from a Yoma and picks up a sidekick, Raki, along the way. Whilst Raki is presumably there to add a little humanity to the show, he seems like he’ll be an annoyingly chirpy presence, and so ideally I could do without him. Overall, however, despite the rather generic nature of this first episode, I’m oddly drawn to the series, and want to watch more- in the meantime, the manga can be acquired.

*COMPLETE* The Gargoyle of the Yoshinagas 13: Alas, despite waiting so long for it to be subbed, it seemed almost inevitable that the finale of Gargoyle could be nothing other than a disappointment. Whilst the ‘war’ between the shopping district and the department store heats up, various villains emerge for their final appearances, and Osiris turns into a final boss, before everything magically goes back to normal with little effort on the part of our heroes. Gargoyle started well enough, but it’s a sad fact that the story and setting weren’t even enough to keep me entertained for a mere thirteen episodes.

*NEW* Heroic Age 1: Ah, the heroic age, an age of heroes…or at least one hero, a feral boy living on a planet with a computer for a ‘mother’. In this episode, various members of a spaceship are sent down to find him, only for disaster to strike when a giant monster attacks. To be honest, in general it was hard to know (or care) exactly what was going on in this episode, but for that reason there’s a slight compulsion to watch episode two in order to get some handle on events. That being said, if it takes a long time to be subbed, my enthusiasm for the show will probably have long dissipated.

*NEW* Hitohira 1: I had low hopes for what seemed to be the HARD YURI Tsuyokiss of the season, but having watched the first episode I can say that while it is by no means particularly good, it wasn’t as awful as I was expecting. The series sees our lead, a girl so nervous she is unable to speak sometimes, end up joining the drama club after she reveals that on occasion, she can project with an extremely loud voice. Although there is clearly HARD YURI and angst in the works, it wasn’t to the level of painfulness that I had braced myself for, and so this was a rather inoffensive twenty-five minutes. I don’t know how long I’ll continue with the series, but for now it can stay.

*NEW* Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS 1: Nanoha, Fate and the rest are back, only this time they’re no longer nine years old, ensuring that the fanboys must abandon the loli factor and focus exclusively on the HARD YURI elements. In this episode, our usual heroines take a step back from the action, which instead spotlights up and coming mages Subaru and Teana as they take the class B mage test. Although the battle scenes aren’t bad, it’s somewhat like watching a tutorial and wanting to get onto the game proper. Unfortunately next episode seems to be a rather slow-paced HARD YURI piece, so it may be a while before we actually get to the good stuff (good being relative since I’m not a drooling fanboy).

Nodame Cantabile 10: It’s a relatively inoffensive episode this time around, with Chiaki preparing to play a Rachmaninoff piece under Stresemann, whilst Nodame and the others decide to put on a costume orchestra for the upcoming music festival. Happily, Stresemann should be leaving Japan for a while after this, whilst the mystery of why Nodame wears an animal costume in the ED is finally answered when she dresses up as a mongoose for the festival.

Romance of the Three Kingdoms 43: After a gruelling absence, everyone’s favourite (soon to be second favourite) Three Kingdoms series is back, and this time the cunning and crafty Zhou Yu (now given an odd eye twitch due to the poor animation) tries to kill the noble and righteous Zhuge Liang by getting him to bet his life on whether he can assemble 100,000 arrows in three days. Can the omniscient Zhuge meet this challenge? Of course he can! I was worried HARD GAY had evolved too much since I last watched the series for it to be funny, but fortunately this was one of the more hilarious instalments.

Saiunkoku Monogatari 37-8: As SaiMono nears its end, I find myself both sad that it will soon be over, and happy that season 2 will quickly erase any possibility of withdrawal. In these two episodes, Shuurei and Ensei try to figure out a sustainable industry for the province, before Shuurei goes home as the representative for the New Year festival. Although these two episodes aren’t the most eventful we’ve seen, they are still as addictive as ever, with a satisfying scene in which Shuurei presents herself to the emperor as the governor- a reminder of how far she’s come since we first met her way back in episode one.

Shounen Onmyouji 15: Contrary to my expectations, the evil onryou actually gets exorcised in this episode, which starts off as a budget saving exposition and recap piece before actually showing us some action. Meanwhile, the plans of the inexplicably evil woman move forward, but who is she and what does she want?


Bokurano 39-40: Anko’s story continues in these two chapters, which sees the team in charge of Zearth try to counter the information leaked to the press, only for someone to get the scoop in before them by putting a fake pilot on TV. Now the only option may be to let a camera crew into Zearth’s cockpit for the latest battle, but how can they disguise the fact the pilot dies after the enemy has been defeated? Another excellent pair of chapters from this consistently good series, but as always the painful part is waiting for more.

*NEW/DROPPED* Lucky Star 1-4: With everyone getting excited about KyoAni’s adaptation of this, I thought I’d take a look at what this 4Koma is all about, but unfortunately, it is not to my tastes. A poor man’s Ichigo Mashimaro, Lucky Star lacks the appeal of that series, with its jokes having potential but losing much in the delivery, whilst the artwork is all too reminiscent of the Shana manga. And no, there isn’t any crazy wild loli yuri sex in it.

School Rumble 219: The end of the second year may be in sight, but the end of School Rumble has gone far away by this point, as Hanai and Tougou run for student council president, and little else happens. I keep reading because I feel that someone has to find out what happens, but these latest chapters are making the content that went into anime season two look good.

*NEW* Shirley Madison 1-2: After Sasa kindly pointed out its existence, I’ve been able to get my hands on the first two chapters of this sequel to Kaoru Mori’s Shirley, which tells the continuing adventures of Cranry Bennett and her thirteen year old maid Shirley. In these two chapters, Cranry and Shirley discover some old records and stay up all night dancing, before having to deal with a stubborn old window that won’t shut on a particularly stormy day. It may sound simplistic, but if Shirley left you with a desire for a more, you’ll want to pick up this gentle and charming story.

Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle 148-9: After Syaoran tries to stop Sakura from going to another world by herself, we cut to a mysterious long-haired woman trapped in a tower as she is given the choice to save either herself or her ‘other self’. Upon choosing herself, Ashura comes to save her, whilst back in Infinity, Fye stabs Sakura due to a curse that causes him to attack anyone who is stronger than he is (remember that his magic was halved when Syaoran-clone took his eye, so the feather Sakura just got was enough to tip the balance). Even so, the blood spurting out of her doesn’t seem to be fatal, as she is about to go to another world via Chi’s power.

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10 Responses to Weekly Round-Up: April 6th

  1. Neriya says:

    For me Claymore 1 failed at the “hook”. There was nothing in the episode that really drew me to watch the second. I will still be watching the second/next few, but only because of some of the stuff I’ve read about it, rather than the content of episode 1, as the case should ideally be.

    I’d also have preferred it if Clare hadn’t decided to take Raki along.

  2. Sonicbug says:

    After Syaoran tries to stop Sakura from going to another world by herself, we cut to a mysterious long-haired woman trapped in a tower as she is given the choice to save either herself or her ‘other self’.

    Wait…. so Fye is a girl now? *Hurray for flashbacks and gore!” I especially like the panel where little Fye’s fingernails are FALLING OFF.

  3. Karura says:

    Oh, it was Fye…with all the crossovers and similar character designs you can’t blame me for getting confused once in a while (at least that’s my excuse I’m sticking to it).

    Neriya: objectively I should have felt the same way about Claymore but there was just something about the setting and atmosphere that made me want more. Maybe it was just a fear of the fanboys coming after me if I didn’t give it a fair chance.

  4. jacobian says:

    If SR had an obvious direction to it, there wouldn’t be much fun in reading it. Plot twists usually happen when you least expect them.

    When Season 1 first came out, most people were too busy enjoying the interactions between the characters to care about deciphering which way the story was going. The more you sit back and let the story take its course, the more enjoyable the read.

  5. Karura says:

    Personally, I find that you can only dither about with no plot for so long (unless of course you’re talking about a really good slice of life series like Aria)…SR, on the other hand, has become a tedious cycle of non development which has outstayed its welcome. I will discuss this point further in a future editorial about the merits of the ‘static model’.

  6. jacobian says:

    Well, the idea of “development” is based on the assumption that there is some sort of end goal. In a romantic comedy, the author would first need to give some sort of signal as to who the designated couple is in order to establish that direction. Once you determine the direction, you can decide whether the author is just “treading water” or if he/she is actually going somewhere.

    In SR, we don’t have set direction, nor do we know if there is one (although there are no shortage of guesses from the readers). The only thing that we really know is that the opening line “Love – what a mysterious word”, sets the story up to be a commentary on love. It doesn’t matter who ends up with whom; what matters is how the characters grow and mature as they have their first romantic experiences. Every relationship seems to try to capture the experience from a slightly different angle.

    Personally, I feel that SR is at its best when it captures the silliness of adolescence – especially looking back at it in retrospect. There seems to be a lot of pressure from the reader base for SR to develop into a full fledged romance story (especially with the focus on Eri and Harima’s storyline), but I don’t see any real need for the series to stick too closely to the rules of the genre.

  7. Karura says:

    Isn’t a contradiction to say there’s no development and then say what matters is the characters grow and mature? Are they growing and maturing all that much? Eri and Yakumo may have fallen in love with Harima, but he is still on his chapter 1 obession with Tenma, she is still pining after the completely personality deficient Karasuma and many of the supporting characters are merely flat, one-joke types.
    At the end of the day, obviously enjoyment of a series is personal preference, but I find the fact that the series is stuck in the same rut and is milking the same ‘jokes’ after 220 chapters to be entirely dull. Even when Jin could have gone somewhere with Eri x Harima, he went for the disappointing partial reset in 217. Anyway, this post is a better place to read about and discuss my feelings on SR.

  8. jacobian says:

    I’ve read through your earlier posts – I just went with this one because it was the most recent. Did you want to continue this discussion there?

    The distinction that I’m making is between plot development and character development. In a slice of life, for example, while there need not be any “end goal”, the characters’ personalities and ideas can still be affected by their experiences (that’s not to suggest that SR necessarily is a slice of life, of course). Eri in volume 16 is quite a changed person from Eri in volume 1.

    Harima is a tricky case. If he is clearly shown to have feelings for Eri, then the plot has a definite direction and the story becomes predictable. While he retains his interest in Tenma, his views towards Eri have undergone some drastic changes as of late (to the point where it may be a source of inner conflict for him). It’s difficult to write off Ch.117 as a reset until we see the manner in which Harima comes out of his absence from school.

  9. Karura says:

    It’s fine to continue it here- I just wasn’t sure whether you had read my other posts or not.
    For me, a good slice of life series can indeed get by without a plot, because it adds a sense of charm and wonder to even the most trivial of everyday events. School Rumble to me isn’t like that, in that a) it hints at an end goal but then frustratingly retracts that and b) it retreads the same ground and the same jokes, many of which are too shallow and ‘wacky’ for my tastes.
    As for character development, well, Tenma seems too stupid and out of it to ever change, and as for Harima, he seems to be actively trying to resist it. As for his latest absence from school, well, we had a similar thing ages ago when he realised Tenma wasn’t interested in him (until he re-convinced himself that she was). Admittedly Eri has changed, but I find that the differences have taken away a lot of what made me like her so much and made her into a simpering “I need a MAN” character (I hated that chapter where she pretends to be clumsy because she thinks that’s what Harima likes about Tenma). Yakumo was the best developed of them all, but just as she was going to move on from the hopeless love polygon/chain, Sarah convinced her not to give up.
    As I said above, ultimately it’s just a matter of opinions and we may well have to agree to differ on this one. Of course, arguably I should stop reading if I’m not enjoying it and probably one week soon I will, but I liked the series enough at the beginning to want to try to see it through even now.

  10. jacobian says:

    While a slice of life may “elevate” commonplace events, its primary function is to capture them as they are. Romance at that age often is frustrating, and it often is silly. SR takes a slightly different route in the fact that it doesn’t try to glorify or idealize love – it’s more of an ironic look back on high school life from a mature standpoint (especially from the standpoint of those side comments, which often point out the absurdity of the characters’ ideas).

    While Tenma is still very clueless, she has made some important changes. She’s mellowed out considerably from the start of the series, for one. There’s a rather significant scene around Ch.196 or so where she advises Eri to go after Harima, so that she doesn’t have to live with regrets. If you look back to the start of the series, that was exactly the sort of advice that Eri and the others had to push Tenma to follow to progress with Karasuma.

    Harima is actively trying to resist change, but it’s become somewhat of a downhill battle for him over the more recent chapters. His reactions to Eri in Ch.197, 210, 216, and the start of Ch.217 suggest that his tunnel vision is starting to crack. Of course, the manner of Harima’s reappearance will be important in deciding which way the story progresses. There’s tricky balance here between developing his character and running the risk of making him act out of character.

    Eri may have dropped most of her tsun side, but she never really had all that much tsun to begin with – she simply reciprocates Harima’s attitude towards her, throughout the series. She’s not after just any man (her encounter with Harima in the temple establishes that her interest in him is linked to his particular personality), and to have her play along with the tsundere archetype even after she decides that she likes him is very limiting on her character.

    When you look at it, Eri has shown more strength of character and maturity in the past few chapters than any other character in the series. She completely sets aside Yakumo’s outrageously immature behavior regarding the slap (which was quite a surprising role reversal), she shows a lot of compassion for her friends, and her clever test to gauge Harima’s feelings in Ch.214 was on the level of something that Akira might cook up. In most series, the hero has to learn to understand the weaknesses of the tsundere and like her in spite of them. In this series, Eri overcomes her own weaknesses and becomes a more likable person through her own efforts. The glowing commentary given in Ch.185 and 216 is just the byproduct of that.

    As for Yakumo, up until recently, she’s mainly been used as just a foil to explore Eri’s weaknesses and character development. The recent role reversal has made her much more human, and has allowed her to become more of a character in her own right. By changing her conflict with Eri from a one-sided one to a two-sided one, Yakumo’s character is more open for further character development.

    Incidentally, Sara didn’t convince Yakumo not to give up on Harima. Sara originally thought that Yakumo was giving up on him out of guilt, when the expression on Yakumo’s face convinced her that this was something that Yakumo genuinely wanted to do. I’d be extremely surprised if Yakumo suddenly takes back what she said in Ch.116 and 117 and starts going after Harima.

    As for reading SR – we can’t gauge if this is a reset or not until the next time Harima makes his appearance. If you still find yourself frustrated, try reading on a biweekly or monthly basis. I’m guessing that SR will be a much enjoyable read once it’s finished and people can marathon the entire series from start to finish without waiting on the next development.

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