Damn you anime, I want to live! Due to an unmanageable amount of releases this week, some titles have been postponed until next round-up.
Reviewed this week: Baccano! 8, Doujin Work 8-12, ef- a tale of memories 1, Gundam 00 1, Kaiji 1, Koutetsu Sangokushi 14-15, MariMite OVA 5, Mokke 1, Mononoke 10-11, Oh! Edo Rocket 19-20, Rental Magica 1, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei 8, Shana II 1, Shounen Onmyouji 19, Sisters of Wellber 10
…and in manga: Chokotto Sister 46, Claymore ES 4, Spiral 58-9
CURRENT SERIES RANKINGS
- Dennou Coil (1) – the best of the best of the best, sir!
- Oh! Edo Rocket (2) – I love this show!
- SaiMono II (3) – four men in a closet
- Baccano! (4) – eternal life
- Kaiji (-) – gambling boat <-new!
- Mushi-Uta (5) – best episode yet
- Mononoke (7) – bake-neko
- Mokke (-)- seven flowers of autumn <-new!
- Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei (6) – I’m in despair!
- Clannad (9) – sad girls in springtime
- Gundam 00 (-) – double balls <-new!
- Doujin Work (10) – light entertainment that was actually entertaining <- complete!
- Rental Magica (-)- generic but new light fun <-new!
- ef- a tale of memories (-)- three shows in one? <-new!
- Koutetsu Sangokushi (11) – pure HARD GAY
- Shakugan no Shana II (-)- way to reuse old events <-new!
- Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai (12) – Takano meets Hitler
- Seirei no Moribito (13) – the egg must hatch
- Romeo X Juliet (14) – what’s the point anymore?
- El Cazador de la Bruja (15) – the end is in sight
- Tetsuko no Tabi (1)- is this ever going to be subbed?
- Sisters of Wellber (2) – predictable but fun
- Shounen Onmyouji (3)- mediocre
- Love GetChu! (4)- light entertainment
Baccano! 8: It’s back to the train as the main focus in this episode, although there’s also plenty more going on as usual. This time around, we get another look into the exploits of the delightfully eccentric Isaac and Miria, who among other things, once robbed the Genoard house. I’m probably speaking too soon, but I’m slowly getting a handle on what’s going on, and happily, it still remains as enjoyable as ever. I want more right away, and more than that, I’d love to read the original novels, which look delightfully complex in their mix of characters and timelines.
*COMPLETE* Doujin Work 8-12: The light fun continues apace in this unprecedented five episode spree that brings this short summer series to a close. First up is an episode which sees Najimi and Nidou compete once again to sell the most copies, before everyone heads to the beach for a spot of relaxation that swiftly turns into an unproductive doujinshi drawing camp. Meanwhile, the final three episodes set up a short arc of sorts, in which Hoshi’s manga editor brother shows up, causing Hoshi to persuade him that Najimi should be given a chance to debut as a professional artist. As always, it’s on the rails stuff with a predictable outcome, but unlike most series that try to offer light comedy, Doujin Work has actually been funny. I wouldn’t actually mind a second series of this.
*NEW* ef- a tale of memories 1: I should have known it was a mistake to look forward to this one too much, for although I didn’t dislike it as much as I feared after reading Hinano’s write-up, but even so, what the hell is going on? I feel like I’m watching three different shows here, each of them populated with rip-offs from Air, Kanon, Tsukihime and Polyphonica. The animation is also rather strange; not just because of the odd visual quirks that are SHAFT’s stock-in trade, but because everyone seems to have massive eyes (even by anime standards) stuck onto thin faces. Anyway, from what I can gather, there’s a girl who hangs out at an abandoned station and randomly meets a guy there, and her two older siblings, one of whom is a secret manga artist. He too randomly meets a girl, and so the stage is set for our various story threads, wherever they may lead. And what was up with the random Touhou playing?
*NEW* Gundam 00 1: Ah, good old Gundam Double Balls, I was determined not to like you, but I have to admit the first third or so of this episode at least was actually rather good. Then of course it degenerated into the usual confusing mass of factions, mobile suit battles and an organisation who wishes to put a stop to war- by beating everyone to a pulp with their mobile suits. Still, overall this opening episode wasn’t too bad when compared to expectations, but I have to ask- does anyone else experience what I have decided to call “mecha blindness”? For sufferers of this condition, it becomes nigh impossible to understand the convoluted underlying plots of mecha series such as Gundam due to character and faction overload.
Kaiji 1: Akagi was legendary, awesome, MANLY and GAR, and now that it has long concluded we have its brother series to enjoy- Kaiji, another Madhouse production originally created by the same mangaka. This time around, our lead is Itou Kaiji, and unemployed, disillusioned bum who amuses himself by vandalising cars- at least until he gets saddled with a 3.8 million yet debt from acting as guarantor for a friend’s loan. Desperate to get it paid off quickly, Kaiji agrees to board a special boat where he can gamble against other debtors in the hopes of winning the money he needs- but what kind of unpleasant surprises await him on board? It’s obvious that this is going to be slow-paced like its predecessor, and I do hope that the entire series isn’t about this boat, but this was nonetheless a good opening episode, and I’m confident this will be one of my favourites of the season.
Koutetsu Sangokushi 14-15: It’s a double bill of HARD GAY this time around, and somehow the series is still managing to break new boundaries without ever becoming true yaoi. In episode fourteen, everyone mopes over Zhou Yu’s death and the fact that he is only good for CORPSE now, whilst fifteen sees Zhuge Liang set up the country of Shu with Liu Bei et al, whilst Lu Su plans to steal the Lord’s Cube in order to earn his idol’s affection. I guess there is a vague adherence to the broadest of historical events, but the amazing HARD GAY-ness of this show has to be seen to be believed- what other show could make Loveless, Meine Liebe and even Busou Renkin look STRAIGHT?
*COMPLETE* Maria-sama ga Miteru OVA 5: Well, this has been out for ages already, but thanks to my completely failing to notice, I’ve only just got around to subjecting myself to the final fifty minutes of HARD YURI antics from the girls of Lilian. This time around, the second-years are off for a school trip to Italy, and whilst it lacks the out-and-out bizarre-ness of the school festivals, I never realised it was possible to make a visit to Italy so boring. In between all the angst, HARD YURI and hotel room scenes (not as corrupt as they sound), however, it is quite a tedious fifty minutes, with the only consolation being that this marks the end of this long and drawn out OVA. I only hope the return to TV series format in the fourth season will help this series return to form.
*NEW* Mokke 1: When I heard that Mokke was a series about a girl who can see spirits and her sister who gets possessed by them, I had high hopes for it- surely it would another Someday’s Dreamers. In retrospect, it could easily have turned out to be as awful as Yume Tsukai, but if this first episode is anything to go by, it is closer to the worthy end of the scale. In this episode, the younger sister is desperate to collect the ‘seven flowers of autumn’ for her grandma before the imminent harvest moon viewing, but in order to get the last one, she will have to venture into the mountains, home to a dark force that can suck away the life of the unwary. It’s too early to assess Mokke’s full potential, but this is a promising first episode, and if the series continues in this vein, it should be another charming magical outing. It also helps that Grandpa reminds me a lot of an older version of Mushishi’s Ginko for some reason.
Mononoke 10-11: The final arc of Mononoke begins here, and in an homage to Ayakashi, the Bake Neko is back. This time around, the feline strikes on a train journey, isolating six passengers who all have a connection to a mysterious suicide- can the medicine seller figure out the truth behind it? Although this won’t rank as my favourite arc, this has the right level of mystery and creepiness, and will ensure that I want a second season of this series as well.
Oh! Edo Rocket 19-20: Oh! Edo, in my eyes you can do no wrong- after all, who can’t love a series that’s joking around with pop culture references one minute, and then showing the villainess casually ripping out someone’s eye the next? Anyway, in this double bill, Akai’s actions are exposed and we learn the truth about the blue beast’s crimes, before that particular storyline is resolved in an appropriately flashy and completely-out-of-place-for –a-historical-drama fashion. Now all that remains is to send Sora home, but are Seikichi and his friends up to the task? In a series where even bullet-proof vests can show up, anything’s possible.
*NEW* Rental Magica 1: In the first few minutes of Rental Magica, we see magicians-for-hire Astral hunt down a dog monster in an action-packed car, broomstick and other vehicle chase, and for those few moments, I thought that maybe this wouldn’t be too bad after all. Unfortunately, after a promising opening, the series lapses into something safer and more generic, with Astral taking on a new job on behalf of a girl who lost her grandfather. That’s not to say it isn’t watchable, but at the same time, everything about this series seems to have been derived from somewhere else, with such character types as the weak harem lead President of Astral, who is useless until he exposes his bizarre right eye (I’m guessing his dead father gave it to him). So far I count Ghost Hunt, Aria and Shrine of the Morning Mist amongst the show’s influences, although there must be more.
This guy uses cat shikigami.
Young Alicia from Aria lands a new role in this series.
Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei 8: Although this was certainly better than the last episode I watched, my relationship with this series seems to have cooled a bit- it remains entertaining, but I no longer feel any need to laugh out loud the way I did with the first few episodes. This time around, Sensei ends up in despair about how deeds can so easily be overshadowed- all the while failing to notice that one of his own students is so insignificant that no one ever notices him. The second half of the series focuses on ‘criticism training’- the idea of criticising someone so that they will get used to it. I have to admit that the first half was better, whilst the second seemed rather distasteful even for dark humour.
*NEW* Shakugan no Shana II 1: It’s a new season of Shana, which means more addictively excellent animation and a whole new wave of depressingly mediocre story- which isn’t even from the novels this time around. To kick off, we have a lacklustre introduction in which Yuji gets trapped in a world that repeats events from the first season (I once joked that Friagne would be back, but I never imagined that it would actually happen); also, depressingly enough the romantic situation has been reset, and will now be put on repeat for the entire series. I think I will watch this one raw- having to concentrate and not understanding it all should improve the experience.
The animation is the only thing I like.
Shounen Onmyouji 19: After the pointless episode we had last time, I was hoping for something of a return to the main plot here, but even though we get back to the antics of Kazane and her boss, it still isn’t very exciting. Whilst Seimei provides a bit of obligatory back story on this most heinous of villains, Kazane opens a gate to the underworld and Masahiro is left to protect everyone, despite only being a junior onmyouji. It looks like this episode is starting the slow build-up to the final confrontation of the series, but worryingly, we haven’t even met three of the Spirit Summons yet. Mediocre as this may be at times, I still want to see another season.
Wellber no Monogatari ~Sisters of Wellber~ 10: What happens after two lead characters decide to go their separate ways? If you answered “they angst about each other until a convenient series of events allows for forgiveness and reunion”, give yourself a gold star, because that’s exactly what happens in this episode. With the help of some returning characters from earlier episodes, Tina tries and fails to get on with her life doing honest work with another woman, whilst Rita learns that she mistakenly accused Tina- the only problem is, now they only have a single day to reach Greedom. Can they make it in time?
Chokotto Sister 46: The fanservice breaks new records in this chapter, despite the inclusion of a completely useless police tape censor on one double page spread. This time around, Choko and Konatsu apprehend a thief who had made off with Kakeru’s sister’s bag (it’s a small world), thus earning themselves a free trip to her family’s bathhouse- complete with all the nipple shots and gratuitous nudity you could hope for.
Claymore ES 4: At long last, it’s the story I’ve been waiting for- Claire’s life after she first joined the organisation. Here we get to see her both in training and on the day when she took the test to become a true Claymore, and as always, these side stories interest me far more than the main series.
Spiral 58-9: In a rather bizarre turn of events, Ayumu’s destined rival Hizumi actually comes to live with him at this point, leading to a chapter of him settling in before starting at Ayumu’s school. There, Hizumi quickly gains popularity with his generic classmates, and even the usually unpopular Ayumu is able to ride the wave and enjoy being in the limelight for once. It seems like an oddly light turn for the series, but the darker undercurrents thankfully remain.