Weekly Round-Up: May 18th


Wanting eight hands on your ‘sword’ is just greedy.

Whilst the new domain picks up steam, what are people looking at over on the old WordPress blog? Naturally, the Uta game FAQs remain popular (you’d think everyone who wanted to would have played the games by now), but Winter Cicada is also getting a lot of views. Does hard yaoi have the staying power over mere HARD GAY?

In other news, my new laptop has arrived; not only is it the laptop of the gods but it’s also one of the few that doesn’t force Vista on you straight out of the box.

Reviewed this week: Aria 24, Iroha 25-6, Bokurano 4, Cazador 6, Ichigo Mashimaro OVA 2, KouSang 5, StrikerS 6, Nodame 16, SaiMono II 6, Seirei 6, Emma II 2-3

…and in manga: Bokurano 42

ANIME

Aria the Natural 24: It’s a rainy day episode of Aria this time around, as our three undines to be hold a study session in Aika’s room, and learn a few unpleasant truths about how generics can become jealous of accomplished named characters. Whilst hardly the most exciting or memorable episode of Aria, this instalment is still as soothing and sweet as it should be, with some nice President Aria moments.


*COMPLETE* Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto 25-6: After many erratic bursts, the subbing of Iroha is finally complete, and we can look back on a series that started out as incomprehensible, before turning compelling and then throwing it all away in a somewhat laughably ridiculous denouement. In these final two episodes, Akidzuki enters the contrived and senseless final boss castle to face Kakunojo and Soutetsu. It is certainly gold in the parody arena, but unintentionally amusing as the finale was, it does bring into question the point of the entire series. Oh well, it was a fun ride, if a far from perfect one.

Bokurano 4: Zearth’s second pilot, Masaru Kodama, is a pragmatic boy- his father is a corporate tycoon, and he has learned from him that life is divided into the chosen ‘haves’ and the unimportant ‘have nots’, whose very lives are unimportant. And when the time comes to step into battle against the latest enemy, this perspective is surely going to colour the way he fights.

At the risk of repeating myself, I have to admit that the pace remained slow in the first half, and it was only in the second half that it truly picked up and became gripping instead of feeling like a slow recap of what I’ve already experienced. Of course, as a reader of the manga the big reveal at the end wasn’t news to me, but knowing what I know now about the true nature of the enemy made certain parts of the episode more poignant than they would have been to the uninitiated. Nonetheless, I may put the anime on hiatus for a while, as it doesn’t bring me anything the manga cannot offer in less time and with more impact.

El Cazador de la Bruja 6: In principle, it should be a welcome change to have an episode that differs from the normal routine, but when it comes to trying a new story, Cazador somehow manages to mess it up even more. In this episode, Nadie runs into Miguel, an ex-boyfriend of sorts who once double-crossed her, and having learned her lesson in the past…she promptly lets herself get tricked by him again. Unfortunately, what the writers have failed to grasp is that in order for such a story to be believable, you have to build up a strong relationship between the people involved, whereas Miguel and Nadie seemed to be barely acquaintances, and I certainly couldn’t swallow that she had deep feelings for such a one-dimensional sleaze ball. In short, it was a disappointingly out of character episode for Nadie, and like Kanon, I probably wouldn’t still be watching this if not for parody.

On a more positive note, however, the animation actually looked a lot better this week, although that may be because I’ve switched to a monitor that isn’t breaking down.

Ichigo Mashimaro OVA 2: It’s time for another round of pointless yet somehow addictive antics with the IM gang, and whilst this episode seemed even more random and slightly less compelling than usual, it was still another dose of inexplicably enjoyable entertainment. I was hoping the salesman segment from manga chapter 31 (my favourite chapter) would feature, but hopefully this will feature in the next OVA episode.

Koutetsu Sangokushi 5: It’s time for another round of Three Kingdoms style cheese in this episode, although at least some of the worst elements like arrows from nowhere and generic purposeless enemies are gone, ensuring that this episode is at least an improvement on its predecessors. Unfortunately, there are still some questionable decisions going on (why does Liu Bei look like a little girl with a pink afro, for example), but the series has at least settled down now, and I’m quite looking forward to seeing what happens next.

*DROPPED* Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS 6: In this laughably pointless episode of Nanoha, the New Characters undergo some more training, Evil Scientist does some vaguely evil things and an infinite array of side characters appears for no real reason. To be fair, it was less excruciatingly dull than some of the earlier episodes, but then again, so is waiting for a bus.

Nodame Cantabile 16: Whilst Chiaki and his orchestra practise an oboe concerto, Nodame’s teacher desperately tries to get her to stop skipping his classes- but can these two conflicting personalities ever get along? Whilst there were a few too many magical changes of heart in this episode, overall it was a solid instalment, and I hope that we’ll see Nodame learn and grow as a pianist from now on.

Saiunkoku Monogatari II 6: It’s conversation heavy episode even by SaiMono standards this week, as Shuurei meets up with Kai You, and Eigetsu visits Hei Taishi to discuss a method of preventing the mysterious illness. It is clear that Eigetsu’s time draws near, and although I have basked in spoilers this past week, there is still more I need to know and see in anime form. In other revelations, it turns out that Doushu was actually a genius doctor, but he gave that up to go and work ‘in the field’, so to speak, whilst Kai You was Eigetsu’s guardian for a time. Kai You has turned out to be something of an amiable ladies’ man- I have to admit I had anticipated him being more cunning and disagreeable, so this was a pleasant surprise.

Seirei no Moribito 6: Seirei continues to draw me in with its lush settings, although luckily it’s still proving that it has the content to back up the visuals. In this episode, Balsa and Chagum begin their flight from the Emperor’s search teams, but with the Eight Evil Men chasing after them, how far can they get? All in all, this another strong instalment that seems to indicate that Seirei will easily be making it into the picks of the season.

Victorian Romance Emma Second Act 2-3: Although it initially sounded unfamiliar, at least some (and perhaps all) of the scenes in episode two proved to be from the manga, as we see Eleanor and the Jones family visit the Crystal Palace, whilst Emma continues to settle into her life at Molders’ House. Even though episode one was hardly bad, this still managed to be several degrees above it; at the point where Emma started crying over William and the life she left behind, I couldn’t help but feel for her in a way much more genuine than the level of emotion most series are able to invoke.

Even so, episode three manages to raise the bar yet again, using some superbly placed music and sound effects (I always notice and love the sound effects in the best series) to really bring the world of Emma to life. In this instalment, Emma and her mistress go to visit a certain ‘Mrs. Trollope’, who also happens to be William’s mother, whilst William himself is finding it hard to get on with his life with the memory of Emma so fresh in his mind. Any lingering doubts I may have had about whether the series would succumb to ‘second season syndrome’ are totally erased in this episode, which perfectly drew me into its world and left me desperate for more- despite having already read the manga. Bokurano, Death Note and the rest take heed- this is how you do an anime adaptation.

MANGA

Bokurano 42: The anime may still be near the beginning, but at the cutting edge of the Bokurano story, Anko’s tale is coming to an end. In this poignant wrap up to the arc, the fight with the enemy is concluded, even as we see the distance between Anko and her father, and how desperately she wanted to close the gap. This is the point I hate, however- the wait for the next chapter, and ultimately for the ending, whatever it will be.