Reviewed this week: Aria OVA, Darker than Black 22-3, Dennou Coil 14, Higurashi Kai 10-11, Koutetsu Sangokushi 13, Mushi Uta 9, Oh! Edo Rocket 7-15, SaiMono II 18, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei 6, Seirei no Moribito 22
…and in manga: Aria 26, REC 33, Shinigami no Ballad 3
CURRENT SERIES RANKINGS
- Dennou Coil (1) – recap, but still good
- SaiMono II (2) – recap, damn it
- Oh! Edo Rocket (5) – bizarre yet fun
- Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei (3) – I’m in despair!
- Baccano! (4) – I don’t know what’s going on, but I like it
- Mushi-Uta (6) – best episode yet
- Mononoke (7) – masks, and lots of them
- Darker than Black (8) – caring at minimum
- Doujin Work (9) – this is becoming a guilty pleasure
- Koutetsu Sangokushi (10) – pure HARD GAY
- Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai (11) – evil uncle
- Seirei no Moribito (12) – Flashback Mode
- Romeo X Juliet (13) – what’s the point anymore?
- El Cazador de la Bruja (14) – useless Nadie
*ONE-OFF* Aria the OVA ~Arietta~: Although OVA sequels to TV series are usually a disappointment, I had every faith the Aria would be different, and indeed, as usual it came up with the goods. A quietly introspective tale which sees Akari worrying about the day she will head Aria Company, and Alicia thinking back to her early days as a prima, Arietta is basically like a TV series with higher production values, so enjoyable and good looking that although I wanted to hammer the screencap key, I could do more than just sit and drink it all in.
Darker than Black 22-3: Whilst episode 22 rounds off the penultimate arc with Mao getting captured by Evening Primrose (prompting a most illogical resuce from Hei), episode 23 pushes forth into the final arc with a look into Hei’s past and various motivations revealed. The trouble is that it now feels as if all the layers of depth and mystery that once made the series seem so good have all been abandoned in favour of a conventional ending that seemingly wraps everything up without really answering anything.
Dennou Coil 14: I’m no fan of recap, and indeed I was longing for something a little more exciting after waiting so long for the series’ return, but it’s a credit to the sheer brilliance of Dennou Coil that this is by far and away the best recap episode I’ve ever seen, and is also a lot better than non-recap episodes of many series. Anyway, this episode is framed by Fumie’s brother Akira as he collects data on his sister and her friends via his miniature cyberpet Mizzet (such a cute little cat), finishing up with some story development as Haraken encounters a mysterious boy who may well be 4423. Now roll on episode fifteen, for never again must I go without Dennou Coil for so long.
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai 10-11: After yet more campaigning, Satoko finally finds the courage to ask for help and is saved from Evil Uncle Teppei, but even though it seems as if fate has been cheated, disaster is just around the corner as Takano finally reveals her evil nature. Since I knew this was coming, I can’t say I really care, although I do find the whole ‘Hinamizawa Syndrome’ element of the story disappointingly ridiculous, whilst Satoko’s abuse storyline continues to annoy.
Koutetsu Sangokushi 13: There’s even more jealousy, HARD GAY love and pure cheesiness in the latest episode of Koutetsu, which sees Wu’s army idle around and do nothing whilst Zhou Yu and the Pleasure Rangers head off to fight Wei (that’s seven people against an entire army). Meanwhile, Lu Xun is having some teenage tantrums because Zhou Yu had sex with Zhuge Liang ordered Zhuge’s death, but after a whole episode of his petulant attitude, he ultimately has to accept that Zhou Yu is a destined main character when he too gains the power of the Pleasure Rangers. As you can tell, there’s no point even reviewing this series seriously- when you’ve got sentai teams in ancient China, it’s clear no one is meant to watch it with a straight face.
Mushi-Uta 9: Mushi-Uta is back, and whilst its two week hiatus has thrown the momentum off for me, this is still an enjoyable enough “it had to happen eventually” episode. Yes, Shiika has finally plucked up the courage to go out on a date with Lead, which inevitably leads not only to Rina finding out about their relationship, but sees Lead discovering that the two lead girls are both Hosts.
*CATCH-UP* Oh! Edo Rocket 7-15: Nine episodes later, and I absolutely love Oh! Edo; this is the show that has everything- comedy and craziness nestle alongside action, darker elements and surprisingly, an actual plot. From an episode where several characters accidentally get turned into cats to an enemy with a penchant for draining the blood of young women, everything about this series is memorable, enjoyable and addictive- why did I take so long to watch this series? If anyone hasn’t started this yet, clear a space in your schedule.
It’s nice to know they’re thinking of us.
Saiunkoku Monogatari II 18: I waited for weeks whilst SaiMono went on hiatus and showed recaps, and now we get back to the main series just in time for a –recap episode? I thought I must have read it wrong, but even though this counts as part of the main series, it is indeed a recap, framed by Ryuuki, Shuuei and Kouyuu discussing recent events in Sa Province. I’m a little sad to see Ryuuki so completely reduced to a comic relief character here, although for the most part I just let my brain go into idle mode as the flashbacks played. At least next episode looks to be introducing Suou and Seiga, even if the ‘golden tanuki statue’ seen in the preview looks a bit fillerific.
Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei 6: At long last, another episode of Sensei is available, and whilst it isn’t up to the level of the first few, it is still very welcome. In the first half, Kafka visits the doctor, only to discover that he is Nozomu’s brother, which somehow leads to all the girls visiting the Itoshiki family home during a rather bizarre arranged marriage ceremony in which mere eye contact corresponds to tying the knot. It’s delightfully random, but somehow it just didn’t take my fancy as much as the earlier episodes.
Seirei no Moribito 22: After a touch more action in the flashback arc, Seirei returns to Sitting and Talking for the remainder of the episode, with Balsa having a nice long chat with Chagum, before Chagum almost gets trapped in a vision of Nayug and Tanda steps in to effectively confess his feelings to Balsa- oh yes, and there’s also a Chagum training montage with obligatory insert song. Unfortunately, I’m past the point of really caring, and much as I hate to admit to sloppiness, I did end up scrolling through a Makai Kingdom FAQ whilst the mid-section of the episode was playing.
Aria 26: The sixth volume of Aria commences in style, with another segment I recall from the anime in which Alicia and Athena relate how the three senior unidines met and trained together just as their juniors do now. It’s getting hard to review Aria now, though, because what can I do every week except gush over how much I love it? The artwork is beautiful, the stories are charming, touching and all sorts of other complimentary adjectives- in short, it’s one of my favourites,
REC 33: The nascent love triangle heats up in this chapter, in which Matsumaru collapses from exhaustion in the middle of an errand for the animation studio, causing Aka to take over for him- even if this means confronting her sister Ao. Naturally, as typically happens in this situation, Ao is willing to forgive her estranged sister- but only if she hands over her boyfriend. As always, it’s a formulaic and predictable story, but just worthy enough for me to keep reading.
Shinigami no Ballad 3: The first volume of SnB’s manga incarnation comes to an end here (and yes, the chapters are extra long), as Momo visits a dying grandmother who wishes to relate a tale of a young girl who waited six years for her first love to return, only to find that in the process of growing up the reality had become very different from her dream guy. It’s a storyline that’s been used before, but somehow this manga makes it good nonetheless- in fact, I think I appreciate this series and its healing qualities much more as a manga than in animated form. Hopefully the novels are even better.