There still seems to be too much anime to keep on top of, with only dull and infrequently released OVAs thus far being worth the chop. Still, I must try to keep on top of it, for matters will only get worse if I get horribly behind.
Reviewed this week: Bokurano 2, Cazador 3, Chevalier 21, Claymore 4, Darker than Black 3, Heroic Age 4, Koutetsu Sangokushi 2-3, Nanoha StrikerS 3, MariMite OVA 3, Nodame 11-13, Romeo X Juliet 3, SaiMono II 3, Sakura Taisen NY 2, Emma II 1
…and in manga: Bokurano 41, Cazador 1, Meine Liebe omake, REC 29, SaiMono 6, Tennai 25, Tsubasa 151 (I successfully resisted the urge to download School Rumble)
Since I’m lazy when it comes to text parody, Seirei no Moribito 2-3 will appear next week.
Bokurano 2: One problem with watching any anime adaptation of a well-loved manga is the inevitable impatience, you want it to get to the ‘good stuff’ now, but the ‘good stuff’ always seems to be the next arc. This is just a general comment, but it should be noted that it may affect my impressions of the Bokurano anime in the future.
Getting back to this episode, I’m still torn between wanting to enjoy it and being scared to be too optimistic, with this instalment offering evidence for both sides. The first half seems a little slow paced, and Dung Beetle’s voice isn’t what I imagined it would be (although I can and will adapt to his actual voice), but once the action kicks in and the children fight their first proper opponent, the lure of the original manga becomes evident- and this is only the least developed character’s turn at the robot. Hopefully pacing issues won’t mar my future enjoyment of the series.
El Cazador de la Bruja 3: Cazador continues onwards in its own spectacularly dull way in this episode, which sees Nadie and Ellis stop off at an abandoned house during a rainstorm, with bounty hunters and the mysterious L.A. on their tail all the while. Much like Roots, this series seems to be more about promising that something will happen in the future than ensuring that it happens in the present, and so my interest remains low.
Le Chevalier d’Eon 21: When Teillagory reveals his true allegiance and supervises the capture of d’Eon for Orleans, it is left to Robin to rescue him, but with almost everyone now following their own secret agenda, his task will be far from easy. Despite some inconsistencies in the goals of the various antagonists, this is a solid enough episode which delivers on the action whilst setting up various threads for the finale.
Claymore 4: After leaving Claire in critical condition, the Yoma decides to withdraw until later in the episode, allowing our lead to scan everyone in the cathedral in case the Yoma is within them (why wasn’t this done in the first place?). Naturally, the beast shows up later on and battle begins, resulting in an episode that felt more contrived than it was interesting- although next time Claire’s back story arc begins, which will hopefully see an upsurge in quality. I’m starting to think about parodying Claymore- feedback on this decision would be appreciated (as in “yeah, do it” or “don’t bother, it won’t be funny”).
Darker than Black 3: Darker than Black turns in another compelling instalment in this episode, which starts a new two-part story which sees Li encounter a girl and her estranged father. Of course, there is much more to it than that, and in short order we are drawn back into the world of Contractors, mysterious powers and darker than black talking cats. Apart from SaiMono, which resides in a class of its own, this must surely be the best entry of the season.
In DtB, as in life, cats are in charge.
Heroic Age 4: As Heroic Age continues on its own inoffensive way, I don’t really care much about wherever the story is going (although I am glad to see Age wearing actual clothes even if his shirt remains open), and so apart from the emergence of some potential generals of evil, there isn’t much to say about this episode. In the future, I may look back and wonder why I wasted my time with this, but as with last week it remains watchable for now.
Koutetsu Sangokushi 2-3: Our hero of destiny Lu Xun is back for two more episodes, starting with an instalment that somehow manages to combine the monotonously dull with the utterly ridiculous. If we’re not stuck in a tedious conversation scene about minor plot trivialities, then we’re watching Lu Xun somehow magically fly through the air setting fire to thousands of physically improbable arrows. Meanwhile, episode three follows plot conventions by having the named characters undergo a trial of strength against Taishi Ci before being allowed to join the Wu army, whilst the duty of forwarding the plot is left to Zhuge Liang. Many of my early hopes for the series have already been dashed, but thanks to its parody potential it must continue to be watched.
Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS 3: Although it still can’t be said to be particularly worthy, the third episode of StrikerS is at least free of the complete and utter monotony that permeated its predecessor. This time around, we have a fairly standard instalment that sees the dull and pointless new characters begin their training whilst the more interesting returning personalities are sidelined yet again. The action is at least more like what I want from Nanoha, although the animation has taken an unwelcome downturn, and I’m annoyed that the characters I actually like are clearly never going to get the development they need.
Maria-sama ga Miteru OVA 3: Ah, another fifty minutes of blatant HARD YURI (it may have been implied in the TV series, but no longer) – who could resist? I have to say that whatever attracted me to the TV series is long gone by now, with this episode split between Yumi getting followed by an obsessive first year who thinks men are more dangerous than lesbian stalkers and a visit to the terrifyingly bizarre Hanadera Boys’ School culture festival. In fact, aside from some unintentionally hilarious moments such as Sachiko running towards Yumi in a panda suit, this is all about as subtle and enjoyable as getting hit with a sledgehammer.
Nodame Cantabile 11-13: Since I didn’t realise that episode 11 was out until the amusingly named “HARD GAY fansubs” released episodes 12-13, it’s been a Nodame triple bill this week, which perfectly illustrates both the strengths and weaknesses of the series. Starting with Chiaki’s performance in the school festival concerto and Stresemann’s subsequent departure, Nodame turns in a rollercoaster ride of both good and bad moments, much like the rest of the series so far. There are times when I’m utterly captivated by the flashes of brilliance in the character insights and development, but unfortunately there are also moments when an irritating supporting character or an over the top piece of attempted humour will just ruin the mood. I’m also oddly distracted by the CG hands seen when Nodame and Chiaki play the piano- there’s just something fundamentally wrong about them.
Romeo X Juliet 3: RxJ shows previously untapped parody potential this week, as Romeo tries to get some quiet HORSE above the city, only to be interrupted by everything from his father crushing grapes to Juliet appearing in various guises. The series still remains entertaining, but now more than ever it seems to be begging to be put on the parody backburner.
Saiunkoku Monogatari II 3: Whilst Shuurei awaits the arrival of governor Kai You (and getting exasperated with Ryuuren in the mean time), back in Sa Province, Eigetsu is having difficulties of his own- there’s a mysterious cult who counts Lin Senya amongst its members (probably the real one rather than Sakujun), a plague, and if Yougetsu is to be believed, Eigetsu’s own time is short. As always, SaiMono delivers an episode that proves to be absorbing even when I barely know what is going on, although this week I have wonder how someone with a wanderlust as strong as Ryuuren’s can ever be expected to be a stable clan leader. Hyou Riou’s actions must also be closely observed- could he even be responsible for the snow fox that seems to be spreading the plague?
*DROPPED* Sakura Taisen New York 2: Even with franchise completion nipping at my heels, I couldn’t make it past the halfway mark with this episode, which throws the light entertainment of ST out of the window in favour of throwaway harem style fun with hideously insipid characters. Let us never speak of this dire OVA again.
No, Gemini, men can’t get pregnant outside of parody and Star Trek Enterprise.
*NEW* Victorian Romance Emma Second Act 1: Finally, what all Emma fans have been waiting for is here- a continuation of this excellent series in anime form. At the end of season one, Kelly’s death saw Emma take the train back to her hometown in an attempt to leave William and their impossible romance behind forever; now, a month has passed and she has found employment as a maid for the Molders family. Oddly enough, although this season has up to five volumes of manga material to cover (the first season managed only two), it chooses to begin with a filler episode about the ladies’ maid of the house stealing items in order to keep her boyfriend interested in her- only to pin the blame on new girl Emma when she is in danger of being caught. Although it didn’t seem quite up to Emma’s usual incredibly high standards, this was still an enjoyable episode, and a solid start to the new season.
Bokurano 41: The cameras are rolling on Zearth’s latest battle, but Anko finds it hard to put on a good show against this enemy- not only do they have the ability to fire acid filled darts, but the lasers just aren’t responding. When it proves to be all Anko can do just to defend against her opponent’s attacks, it seems as if Zearth’s hopes of winning this battle are slim indeed. As always, Bokurano delivers another gripping chapter that makes me want to have the rest of the series here with me right now.
*NEW* El Cazador 1: I don’t know how diligently I’ll follow this manga, but it must be said that only for a Bee Train series can static black and white images have more action and movement than the animated version. A compressed version of episode one, this chapter features all the blood, action and fanservice that the anime couldn’t show (Nadie even gets naked at one point), whilst taking significantly less than twenty-five minutes to get through.
Meine Liebe vol 2 extra: Concluding the second volume of Meine Liebe is this extra chapter which sees Orphe take Erika out for the day whilst the other bishies prepare a birthday surprise. Somehow, Erika fails to realise that it is for her own birthday, and assumes the surprise is for Orphe, and although it all works out in the end, I do have to question her intelligence after that. Also, since I selfishly want this manga to be finished, I must point out that Kagami need scans and a new translator in order to continue this project.
REC 29: Matsumaru has a new Nekoki picture book to show Aka, but when he gets caught short on the train and there’s no toilet paper available, he is forced to rip out the last page in order to use instead (I’m not joking here). Naturally, Aka finds the torn up picture book in the park the next day and starts reading it to a conveniently placed crying child, but what will she do when she gets to the ending? I guess you have to give the mangaka points for coming up with a storyline that you don’t see every day, but seriously, is this series ever going to swap the lowbrow and near-hentai moments for some actual story development?
Saiunkoku Monogatari 6: It feels somewhat odd to go back to the very first arc of the series at this stage, but even so, who cannot help but love SaiMono just as much the second time around? This chapter sees Seiran confront Sa Taiho whilst Ryuuki heads off to rescue Shuurei, with the only real complaint being that the artwork seems a little rushed in places.
Tenshi Nanka Janai 25: In the world of shoujo, what happens after you break up with your One True Love and try to go out with your Childhood Friend? Naturally, even though Childhood Friend is devoted to you and completely devoid of the troublesome secrets and emotional baggage that One True Love carries around, you just can’t develop feelings for him, and so it is that in this chapter, Midori breaks up with Ken shortly after developing a bad reputation at school for two-timing Akira. As before, it’s all standard stuff, but it’s still enjoyable in an easy on the brain fashion.
Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle 151: Thought Tsubasa was pointlessly convoluted enough already? Welcome to chapter 151, in which the group learns that Sakura went into the dream to find feathers in order to avoid collecting the ones in Fye’s home world Celes, and that Syaoran-clone will be joining her to assist in the search. Meanwhile, Fye decides to offer Yuuko the sight in his right eye in exchange for being sent back to the very world he spent 151 chapters running away from, effectively rendering him blind until his left eye is recovered. Poor Fye, he’s now a blind cursed vampire…can things get any worse for him?