Reviewed this week: Clannad 2, ef 2, Genshiken 2 1-2, Gundam 00 2, Hero Tales 1, Higurashi Kai 14, Kaiji 2, Minami-ke 1-2, Mononoke 12, Moyashimon 1, Mushi-Uta 12, Rental Magica 2, SaiMono II 21, Seirei no Moribito 25-6, Shana II 2, Sketchbook 1
..and in manga: Elfen Lied 78, HxH 262, Tsubasa 169
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) – art thief
- Baccano! (4) – eternal life
- Kaiji (5) – nice gambling boat
- Mononoke (7) – bake-neko <-complete!
- Mushi-Uta (6) – big bugs <- complete!
- Minami-ke (-) – Ichigo Mashimaro II <-new!
- Genshiken 2 (-) – Comi-Fes <-new!
- Mokke (8)- seven flowers of autumn
- Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei (9) – I’m in despair
- Moyashimon (-) – cute microbes <- new!
- Sketchbook ~full color’S~ (-) – lots of cats <-new!
- Clannad (10) – sad girls in springtime
- Gundam 00 (11) – double balls
- ef- a tale of memories (14)- tomorrow’s me won’t be the same
- Rental Magica (13)- episode seemed to go on forever
- Koutetsu Sangokushi (15) – pure HARD GAY
- Shakugan no Shana II (16)- harem+1
- Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai (17) – Takano meets Hitler
- Hero Tales (-) – generic and dull <- new!
- Seirei no Moribito (18) – the end at last <-complete!
- Romeo X Juliet (19) – what’s the point anymore?
- El Cazador de la Bruja (20) – the end is in sight
Clannad 2: Two more characters are introduced in this second episode- Kotomi, a genius who spends her time in the library cutting up books, and Fuko, who likes to carve wooden stars (I know there’s a plot reason for this but I forget what it is). Meanwhile the series continues to combine the amusing (such as sidekick falling down a chute and Tomoya announcing to his class that Kyou is BI) and the dramatic (the whole issue with Tomoya and his father) and whilst watching it raw means I can’t get the most out of it directly, it remains solid enough. Don’t ask why I’m even watching it raw when it’s being subbed so quickly, I just took it into my head to make it a ‘raw project’ to assess my understanding level.
ef- a tale of memories 2: I really wish SHAFT could stop taking the mind enhancing substances for a moment and try animating something without a lots of jumps, cuts and random imagery- yes, it works for their peculiar brand of comedy, but in a more serious show like this, it isn’t doing the audience many favours. Anyway, this time around our mangaka is dragged to school purely to skip class and meet the girl from last episode, whilst Renji spends more time with Chihiro and learns that she has Sick Girl Syndrome, which in this case manifests in some kind of persistent short-term memory loss (for whatever reason, she can’t remember anything that happened more than thirteen hours ago). Yes, it’s an illness that raises many questions, but as with so many anime ailments we just have to take it at face value and not poke at the plot holes.
*NEW* Genshiken 2 1-2: I have to admit that I still haven’t got around to watching the Genshiken OVA, but never mind, I’ll get my hands on that soon and just start on the second season in the meantime. Anyway, the new season opens with Genshiken getting a place at Comiket, but now the heat is on to produce a doujin to sell there. Although it lacked some of the humour in favour of moving the story on, this was a solid enough first episode, only marred by the appearance of the irritating manga club guy and his manipulations. At least the mess he made was easily undone.
Episode two jumps ahead a month, and despite the best of intentions, neither Sasahara nor Kugayama has made any progress on the doujin- and they are both quick to blame each other. With just three days left, can Genshiken pull together and actually produce something? Even though over half this episode is basically sitting and talking, it still manages to be entertaining, but it seems that episode three will be where the story really heats up, with the doujin finally going on sale.
Gundam 00 2: Oh Sunrise, why do you even bother with all this political setup when we all know that by the end you’ll get bored and the series will turn into Gundams vs. Final Boss? Anyway, this time around Celestial Being decide to pursue their agenda of peace on earth and goodwill to all men by, er, intervening in a civil war and murdering numerous generics- surely a good example to set. In the meantime, our lead seems to be undergoing the first stages of SEED mode, whilst Haro steals the show with his “short straw!” line.
*NEW* Hero Tales 1: Even though all the promotional material indicated that it wouldn’t be any good, I knew I had to give Hero Tales a try, if only out of loyalty to FMA. Unfortunately, as expected, it was rather generic and boring, featuring a villain who wants to rule the world for some reason, and the Seven Destined Heroes led by Generic Shounen Lead. I’m not sure whether to stick with this for the sake of parody and general mockery, or whether such a thing will be too draining on the schedule.
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai 14: It’s Takano’s turn on “Villains: the Early Years” this time around, as we learn of the depressing childhood that put her on the path to evil- spanning everything from the death of her father, time spent in the world’s most miserable Generic Cruel Orphanage and the meeting with Adolf Hitler that led her to pursue a similar path of evil. Yes, I do feel sorry for her and regard her as more than the mere ‘gwakaka’ class of villain that she was before, but it did seem that there were some gaps in the story (is there more to be told), and just because this was more interesting than the bulk of episodes this season does not make it more than mediocre in the grand scheme of things.
“…and I am also Hitler!”
Kaiji 2: It’s time for that all-important game of Restricted Rock-Paper-Scissors to begin, but in a game that’s mainly about luck, some people will take any measures to win- and our naïve young hero manages to get himself conned by one. Now backed into a corner, Kaiji must search for a way out, because if he doesn’t, then we’ll have to watch him toil away in a forced labour camp for the rest of the series. Once again (and I suspect I’ll be saying this every week), it’s very GAR and MANLY, but also highly enjoyable. Unlike Akagi, however, I don’t have the luxury of being able to watch the whole thing in one long marathon to compensate for the measured pace.
*NEW* Minami-ke 1-2: I was initially reluctant to try Minami-ke- as a tale of three school-age sisters living together, it could either turn out to be good Azumanga/Ichigo Mashimaro league, or poor Binbou/Lucky Star style. Fortunately, it turned out to be the former- an enjoyable slice-of-life tale instead of a merely dull attempt. Aside from little oddities like the drop-shaped mouths of the three leads, this series has made an amusing and entertaining start with nothing more than short sketches about the daily lives of the characters- I must write about what makes series of this type work as opposed to those that fail miserably.
*COMPLETE* Mononoke 12: The medicine seller’s journey has finally come to an end with the unravelling of the mystery behind the dead reporter who triggered this series of events. All-in-all, this was a solid arc and a nice conclusion to a series that managed to deliver overall, but it just seems a shame to cut it short here- if only we could have both a second season and some insight into the character of the medicine seller himself.
*NEW* Moyashimon 1: The latest anime to air in the legendary noitaminA block, Moyashimon tells the tale of a boy who can see microbes with his naked eyes (they look like cute little chibi shapes) as he starts studying at an agricultural college in Tokyo. Naturally, his teachers are very interested in his apparent ability, but whilst one of them is ready to believe him, the other will take some convincing- and how much time does he want to spend with a pair of professors who have a taste for raw and rotting meat? Although the premise does seem a little strange, the microbes are so cute and well done that it is worth watching for them alone.
*COMPLETE* Mushi-Uta 12: It’s a CG bug extravanganza as the first season of Mushi-Uta comes to an end, complete with Kakkou facing off against Nanahoshi is giant final boss form, Shiika trying to survive being stabbed and the legendary Voracious Eater watching from the sidelines. It did seem as if they tried to pack in a few too many story threads into what turned out to be an extended final boss confrontation, but overall this has been an enjoyable series despite its tendency to cover everything from normal high school interaction to giant bug fights. Bring on season two.
Rental Magica 2: Even though it wasn’t particularly slow-paced or dull, this week’s episode of Rental Magica just seemed to drag on forever, and it certainly puts my long-term relationship with the series in doubt. This time around we seemed to jump back in time to the days when Itsuki was angsting over whether to become Astral’s president, during which time we see his first meeting with Adilisia and learn about a past connection with Honami. The hints about how he got his demonic eye were at least interesting, but the rest was a bit too standard to enthral. I must also note Gintama as an influence since the cat-user Nekoyashiki looks a lot like Gintoki.
Saiunkoku Monogatari II 21: Yes, I know I’m a week behind (totally unacceptable for a series I profess to like so much), but these things happen so bear with me. In this episode, Shuurei and the others continue to investigate the art forgeries, with Santa’s laid back attitude getting on both Shuurei’s nerves and that of the audience. I must admit I’m somewhat put off by the number of new and minor characters that have taken precedence in this arc, but apparently it’s building into something worth sticking around for.
*COMPLETE* Seirei no Moribito 25-6: At last the long slog is over- the egg has hatched safely, Chagum is back in the palace, and Balsa has gone on her way for now. I have to admit that episode 25 was one of the best instalments in a way, with a tense action scene as the Eight Evil Men fight off a mass of La Lunga, but whilst it is usually welcome to have some sort of epilogue for a series, in this case it only meant that 26 was more on the dull side that we’ve come to expect (although Chagum and Balsa’s parting did raise a tiny bit of emotion).
Shakugan no Shana II 2: The raw project begins this week with the second episode of Shana II, which includes the usual harem elements, action and disappointing villain, as well as a rare chance to see a bento box entirely stuffed with melon bread. After dreading how bad this was going to be, it was actually quite a manageable episode, although the appearance of Hecate (?) in school at the end seems to indicate that the tiresome harem-go-round will only escalate.
*NEW* Sketchbook ~full color’S~ 1: Quirky capitalisation aside, Sketchbook offers a first episode that can only be called ‘nice’- as slice-of-life goes, it isn’t particularly outstanding, but it is so gentle and filled with cats that one cannot be offended by it. The series follows various members of an art club, with the lead, Sora, being the typical thoughtful and not very talkative type- she may be perfectly erudite in her head, but she does come across as somewhat bizarre thanks to her lack of communication skills. Even so, I must stick with it to see the promised glut of felines.
Elfen Lied 78: Bandou finally meets his long-delayed end in this chapter, which is basically a tearful goodbye between him and Mayu. It should be an emotional moment, but since he’s cheated death so many times, it’s more a case of relief that he’s gone now.
Hunter X Hunter 262: It’s been over eighteen months, but Togashi has finally produced a new chapter of HxH- the question is, was it worth the wait? Sadly, not really, for whilst the artwork is better than before, backgrounds are still completely nonexistent and the story has yet to go anywhere- let’s just start end the preparations and start the attack on King before Togashi gets ‘ill’ again.
Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle 169: CLAMP must have been reading FMA of late, because this time around Fuuma shows up with an artificial arm for Kurogane, the payment for which is the last of Fye’s magic. That aside, the time all the fanboys have been waiting for is here- after many, many volumes, Seishirou is finally back, but it remains to be seen just what he is after this time (possible Fye since he is now a vampire).