To everyone who has commented on Mai-Otome Zwei episode 2 to say how complex it is, I give you this– episode three’s topless scene.
Reviewed this week: Cazador 7, Claymore 7-8, Darker than Black 6, KouSang 6, Moonlight Mile 1, Nodame 17, RxJ 6-7, Emma II 4
…and in manga: Elfen Lied 76, Spiral vol 7
Bokurano is not technically dropped, but it is on a long hiatus. To make up for the recent spate of drops I’m catching up with Moonlight Mile and may start Polyphonica.
El Cazador de la Bruja 7: Poor Cazador, when you stick to the formula, I complain, but when you try something different, I still complain- because it’s all just so insufferably dull (albeit better than last year’s .hack//Roots). In this episode, Nadie and Ellis stop off at an expensive hotel and run into Ririo (complete with swimsuit service), whilst Ricardo is sent out to teach LA a lesson; there’s not much else to say except that this was one twenty-five minute episode that felt more like three hours.
Claymore 7-8: Since I accidentally forgot to watch episode 7 last week, I ended up with a double bill of Claymore this week, which brings Teresa’s arc to an end whilst introducing a final boss character to aspire to. Unfortunately, after enjoying episodes 5-6, 7-8 just didn’t have the same impact, abruptly introducing characters I couldn’t care less about, and doing such a good job at replacing action scenes with DBZ-esque stills, gasps and flurries of blows that the sword fights were laughably poor instead of well executed and engaging.
Darker than Black 6: Darker than Black never fails to come up with the goods, and as this episode seems to attest, it can only go from strength to strength. Although it doesn’t fill in as many blanks as I might have hoped, the episode is brought to life as vividly as Havoc’s hair thanks to both Havoc herself and Li/Hei, a combination whose words and actions elevate the series to new heights. In contrast to the building tension, however, the next arc appears to take a lighter tone- I’m approaching it with a bit more caution than usual, but hopefully the general excellence of the series and the presence of some darker than black cats will make it worthwhile.
Koutetsu Sangokushi 6: Our heroes finally trigger a boss battle against Huang Zu (Kouso) in this episode, which sees Gan Ning angst over accepting his place as an OP character, whilst the other named heroes take turns at fighting the enemy before giving Lu Xun a turn. As before, whilst hardly of the best quality, Koutetsu is becoming more enjoyable now, and although it will never reach the heights I hoped for prior to the airing of the series, it is at least entertaining.
*NEW/SLOW CATCH-UP* Moonlight Mile 1: I meant to watch more of this week, but for now I’m still woefully behind. Although I came to this in search of something in the spirit of Planetes, the first episode doesn’t have me entirely convinced- the only reason I found it watchable rather than tiresome was because I didn’t really know who anyone was or what was going on- therefore I need to watch more episodes just to establish the basics. I’m hoping we’ll get a story of the more realistic side of space travel, but if it becomes too mundane or aesthetically displeasing, I may have to drop it.
Nodame Cantabile 17: With competitions filling up everyone’s schedules, it becomes clear that The Strongest Orchestra must come second, and although he tries to be mature about it, it is clear that Chiaki wants himself and everyone else to put their all into it. Meanwhile, Nodame and her teacher start getting along thanks to the agreement they struck, but can he really tap into her potential. Following on the heels of 16, this is another solid instalment, and it seems hard to believe that this series will only run to 23 episodes- the story feels like it has barely begun.
Romeo X Juliet 6-7: There’s a new reason to keep watching RxJ, and his name is Tybalt. Appearing at the end of episode six, the man who was Juliet’s cousin in the original has got it all- looks, fighting ability, and immense character potential. Unfortunately, he has so much of it that the main characters actually become less interesting in comparison to him, which makes their story somewhat less engaging. Nonetheless, whilst they angst over their respective positions, Benvolio and his father run afoul of Montague, the amazingly cheerful downtrodden masses hold a flower festival and poor Hermione is left in the lurch whilst Romeo kisses Juliet. It may not be top quality stuff, but it’s still solid enough, although the animation takes enough of a downturn in episode seven that everyone appears to have misaligned eyes.
“My name is Tybalt, and I am 1337.”
Victorian Romance Emma Second Act 4: Episode three may have been the pinnacle of brilliance for Emma, but whilst this instalment cannot quite match its predecessor, it should still be rated highly. Whilst Emma is given the unwelcome news that she is accompanying her mistress to London, William decides to play the role of the perfect gentleman, and Eleanor’s sister pays a visit- a ripe setting for some dramatic upheavals. Although I was a little worried after the opening filler episode, the series has really picked up the pace, so much so that it now seems to be positively flying through the manga. I can’t wait for my next dose of Emma.
In case you”re wondering, these are Eleanor”s bathing clothes- no revealing swimsuits in those days.
Elfen Lied 76: It’s been a while since there were new Elfen Lied chapters, but happily almost the week I catch up, volume nine is started. After the almost idyllic (as much as this series can ever be idyllic) interlude, events start moving again when Bandou shows up at Kohta’s house- an encounter which triggers the reawakening of Lucy. Bandou has planned meticulously for a rematch with Lucy, but can his plans really ensure victory against such a powerful Diclonius? As with last volume, the chapters are a lot longer than they used to be, and so this has quite a bit of content, but the ending is a little frustrating- is Bandou going to be finished off at last, or he is going to survive yet again?
Spiral volume 7: In the old days, a chapter of Spiral was akin to gold dust, but now the veritable windfall of an entire volume has come our way. I have to admit that this isn’t the strongest volume of the series, with the first half taking quite a slow pace as it goes through the exposition and setup necessary for the next confrontation, but once Kanone makes his move, it becomes as good as ever, with Eyes waking up from his coma and Kanone taking Ayumu hostage at the school. It’s clearer than ever that Kanone was horribly short-changed in the anime, and at long last we can see his character as it was meant to be- memorably showcased in a scene in which he graphically demonstrates how logic is not always a match for plain and simple violence.