Reviewed this week: Cazador 15-16, Darker than Black 15-16, Doujin Work 3, Higurashi Kai 3, Mushi-Uta 1-2, RxJ 15, SaiMono II 15, Seirei no Moribito 15, Tetsuko no Tabi 1
…and in manga: Homunculus volume 8, Spiral 41, Tsubasa 161, Yotsuba&! 48
Zombie-Loan has been unceremoniously dropped, much like Liu Bei’s son was after Zhao Yun risked his life to rescue him.
To enhance the rankings, there will now be colour coding to indicate whether a series has improved or worsened since its last episode- regardless of whether its ranking relative to other series has changed. Blue indicates improvement, black means no change has occurred and red means the series has gone downhill in some way.
CURRENT SERIES RANKINGS
- Dennou Coil (1) – S-class anime
- Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei (2) – dark yet random humour = w1n
- SaiMono II (4) – the arc surges forward again
- Darker than Black (3) – say it’s 50 episodes, please
- Mushi-Uta (-) – a mixed bag of bugs <-new!
- Tetsuko no Tabi (-)- train adventures <-new!
- Romeo X Juliet (6) – by the book adventures
- Doujin Work (7) – predictable but amusing
- Seirei no Moribito (5) – sitting and talking
- Sisters of Wellber (8) – needs more subbing
- Koutetsu Sangokushi (9) – HARD GAY
- Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai (10) – inoffensive
- El Cazador de la Bruja (11) – end this boredom now!
El Cazador de la Bruja 15-16: I truly thought that El Cazador had plumbed the depths that monotony can take us to, but as always, it seems determined to prove me wrong. In episode 15, most named characters randomly show up at a Japanese-style hot spring in the middle of nowhere, whilst Rosenberg is sent on holiday and Ricardo and Nadie both find their contracts terminated. Whilst this might make it sound like the plot is going somewhere, don’t be fooled- the episode is slower than treacle and duller than ashes.
Similarly, episode 16 is another exercise in tedium, as Nadie declines taking on a bounty job (isn’t she a bounty hunter?) in favour of earning money by working at an Amigo Tacos restaurant. It’s both hilarious and depressing how Amigo Tacos offers more of a plot than anything else in the series, whilst LA’s confrontation with Ellis marks an unwelcome change from boredom by being both creepy and disturbing.
Darker than Black 15-16: Another fortnight, and another arc of DtB has come and gone, whilst we remain none the wiser as to what this is all leading up to. This time around, the focus is on the returning November 11 and his team, alongside CC clone Amber and her allies- with Hei naturally getting into the thick of things and even defying Huang at one point. Whilst these episodes are by no means bad, the fact that we now only have ten episodes left is a source of concern to me, since it puts a lot of pressure those episodes to tie up the story and provide the answers we’ve all been craving from the start. If the series were going to be 52 episodes, I would feel a lot happier about the pacing, but as it is, I’m not confident about the writers’ ability to bring everything to a satisfactory conclusion.
Doujin Work 3: It has to be said that episode three of Doujin Work is very much like episodes one and two- both highly predictable, and yet (in places) somehow amusing. This time around, Najimi makes and sells her first doujin, but predictably the quality is so bad (not that we ever get to see it) that its reception is somewhat lukewarm. Although the actual sale of the doujin was a bit too bland to be interesting, a scene in which crossed wires result in Justice thinking that Najimi is talking about her nonexistent unborn child rather than her doujin is good for a chuckle.
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai 3: Something’s up with Rika, and Satoko can’t help but notice that her usual attitude seems to be a bit forced, as if covering something deeper. Aside from noting how poorly the villagers treat Satoko and how much regard they have for Rika in comparison, this episode is so standard that it becomes inoffensive in a way that makes it hard to praise, criticise or even remember particularly well.
*NEW* Mushi-Uta 1-2: An odd mix of light high school material and more sinister goings-on, Mushi-Uta takes us to a world where named characters of importance are “Bug Masters” of sorts, controlling giant bugs and working for various different factions. Despite a resemblance to Kanon, Air and even Pokemon, Mushi-Uta simultaneously draws me in with its darker elements and puts me off with its lighter harem inclinations. Even so, overall I’m looking forward to seeing how this pans out, and I must of course mention my love of the character designs.
To emphasise the “Uta” part of the title, Hakuoro appears
Romeo X Juliet 15: Romeo is having a hard time at the mine, so much so that the generic miners start teasing him and playing keep-away with his handkerchief…will a crisis occur so that he can Prove Himself and Earn Their Respect? Of course it will, and even as his highly predictable adventures continue, Juliet finds herself wandering around the woods with no particular goal in mind. In the face of such unexciting content, enthusiasm for the series is at an all-time low, with promised future events hardly seeming enough to lift it out of its rut.
Saiunkoku Monogatari II 15: When confronted by so many main characters, few villains can endure, and certainly Ren and the Face of Doushu seem no match for even the dialogue of Shuurei and her allies as they confront him in the Jasenkyou base. Whilst this isn’t the most exciting of confrontations, it is good to have the arc moving again, even though that isn’t so good for poor Eigetsu.
Seirei no Moribito 15: Monotony seems to be a recurring theme this week, with Seirei once again delivering its trademark sitting and talking in place of any sort of action. Yes, the story does advance a bit as Shuga looks for proof that Chagum is alive, Torogai tells Tanda and Balsa that Chagum is in danger, and Sagum meets his final fate- but overall, it all happens at such a slow and painful pace that it is hard to muster even an ounce of enthusiasm for what is going on. It’s episodes like this that make me want to drop not only this series, but most of the anime I am watching right now.
*NEW* Tetsuko no Tabi 1: Another new series for this week, Tetsuko no Tabi is based on real life events which see a trio of people go on a train journey and visit stations so that they can make a manga out of it. Although I thought the whole series would be about the journey with the manga being made at the end, this episode actually covers one entire trip (with another one to come next episode)- and whilst train journeys hardly sound like the most exciting of material, it is the quirky characters and their interactions that make this amusing and fun to watch. Sadly, the poor quality of the subtitles detracted from my enjoyment, but even so, this seems like one to stick with.
Homunculus volume 8: Although I felt as if should savour this new volume and take it slowly, that naturally proved to be impossible, and so the eighth volume was devoured in one single session which was both satisfying and left me in despair when it was revealed that volume nine won’t be out until the winter. Anyway, getting on to the actual content, and this volume is basically nothing more than Nakoshi and Ito together in a room, discussing the nature of Ito’s homunculus- even so, Homunculus makes this simple situation engrossing to the point that one volume of it is not enough, leaving me desperate to continue delving into the secrets and psychology of these two characters.
Spiral 41: When Madoka steps in to help resolve the stand-off with Kanone, it seems as if the situation might just come to a close, but can it really be resolved unless Ayumu takes up a gun and kills Kanone- just as his brother planned? This is another absorbing chapter which gives Madoka and Kousuke the chance to shine, although it seems high time to start wrapping up the Kanone arc.
Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle 161: In confusing fashion, the fight between Fye and Kurogane is continually interrupted by further flashbacks about the magician’s life, as we see how he first learned magic and later decided to deal with a beast attacking people in Celes (correct me if I’m wrong, but this beast seems to be Ashura himself). I can’t say I have the faintest idea of what’s going on anymore, but I feel an odd compulsion to continue in the hopes of making sense of it all.
Yotsuba&! 48: In yet another chapter called “Yotsuba & the Farm”, we finally get to the promised farm, where Yotsuba proves as amusing as ever as she encounters sheep, cows and even a goat. I say this every time, but even after so many chapters, Yotsuba hasn’t lost its shine, and will hopefully continue in this vein for a good while yet.