Reviewed this week: Baccano 9-10, Dennou Coil 19, Genshiken 2-4, Kaiji 4-5, Minami-ke 3-4, Mokke 4, Moyashimon 2, Rental Magica 3, SaiMono II 22-4, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei 9, Shion no Ou 2, Sketchbook 2-3
…and in manga: HxH 263-4, Nodame 89-93, Tsubasa 170-1
CURRENT SERIES RANKINGS
- Dennou Coil (1) – they’re coming to get you!
- Oh! Edo Rocket (2) – I love this show!
- Kaiji (3) – nice gambling boat
- SaiMono II (4) – art thief
- Baccano! (5) – eternal life
- Genshiken 2 (6) – how to get an otagirl
- Minami-ke (7) – Ichigo Mashimaro II
- Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei (8) – I’m in despair!
- Shion no Ou (9) – it’s a trap
- Moyashimon (10) – cute microbes
- Mokke (11)- magical cat
- Sketchbook ~full color’S~ (12) – lots of cats
- Clannad (13) – sad girls in springtime
- Rental Magica (15)- episode seemed to go on forever
- Koutetsu Sangokushi (16) – pure HARD GAY
- Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai (17) – Takano meets Hitler
- Romeo X Juliet (20) – what’s the point anymore?
Baccano! 9-10: It’s back to the train for another two episodes of Baccano, and at long last the tangled web of events and characters is beginning to make sense as individual strands are teased out. Amidst a veritable buffet of bloody violence and surprisingly worthy action scenes, we see the origin of Rail Tracer, watch Dallas and his buddies get a taste of immortality, catch up on everyone’s favourites Isaac and Miria, and generally learn just what everyone was trying to achieve on the train in the first place.
Dennou Coil 19: Have I mentioned how much I love Dennou Coil lately? I don’t really care if I have, because I want to declare my devotion to the series once more (if it keeps this up, it’s going to be my favourite anime of all time, bar none). Now that the series has taken a darker turn, it reminds me a lot of Fantastic Children, with all the quality that that implies. I got shivers down my spine as Yasako and Fumie ran from the humanoid Illegals, carrying Kyoko’s data-less body with them; I cheered for Kyoko as Densuke carried her to safety on his back, and overall, I had a great time watching this episode. I also need to praise the excellent soundtrack, since I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it before.
Genshiken 2 4: To everyone else in Genshiken, it seems as Tanaka and Ohno must be going out- but are they really an item? Ohno certainly wishes they were, but what will it take for two shy otaku to overcome their inhibitions and actually get together? It’s nice to see the series boldly take some steps forward in terms of story and character development, and even though I knew what was coming from manga spoilers, this was still an entertaining episode. Keep it up, Genshiken, you haven’t failed me yet.
Kaiji 4-5: Life sucks- you think you’ve got the perfect winning strategy for Rock-Paper-Scissors, then someone beats you to it and before you know it, you’re backed into a corner. That’s just what happens to Kaiji in this episode, as his perfect plan is foiled by a man who seems to be his long lost blonde brother. It’s a shame, as Kaiji had a worthy plan, but the cliff-hanger ending leaves me desperate to see how he’ll escape this latest twist.
Fortunately, Triad came up with the goods with a super-fast job on episode five, resolving Kaiji’s latest showdown with blonde clone Kitami. Like Akagi before him, Kaiji doesn’t just figure out how to play the game- he also has an intuitive handle on his opponent’s psychology, and it is this that makes the series about more than just ‘trusting in the heart of the cards’ and winning because you happen to be the main character. Such a climactic showdown could easily have been the end of the arc, but there’s still more to come on the ‘nice boat’, as our intrepid hero and his friends aim for three more stars to complete their required amounts.
Minami-ke 3-4: It’s time for another double bill of Minami-ke, and the Ichigo Mashimaro vibes are still going strong, ensuring that the everyday lives of the Minami sisters are entertaining rather than dull (*cough* Lucky Star). Episode three mainly focuses on Kana, who must not only deal with less than ideal test scores, but is still subject to being misled about classmate Fujioka’s feelings for her; meanwhile, episode four carries the relationship theme along a bit with Haruka getting an admirer, another girl in Kana’s class planning what to do about her own feelings for Fujioka and a random friend of the family turning up at the Minami house when his girlfriend dumps him. There are plenty of amusing moments to be found in all this, from Kana’s attempts at cooking to a TV-drama based videogame that turns out to be a beat-‘em-up.
Mokke 4: Poor Mizuki’s role in life seems to be to get possessed, and this time around she ends up at the mercy of the ‘Laughing Darkness’, a continual sound of laughter that taunts her every time she makes a mistake. Grandpa insists that she and Shizuru find a way out of this by themselves, but will Mizuki ever be free of this irritating laughter? This is another solid episode, if nothing outstanding, cementing Mokke’s middle of the table position.
Moyashimon 2: It’s a hard life when you can see microbes, but it looks like our lead might be able to make some money when a pair of second-years approach him with a business proposition- if he can use his ability to cultivate pure samples of certain microbes, they can sell it for a high price. I have to admit that two episodes in, the supporting characters are generally tiresome, but it is the cute inventiveness of the microbes that keeps me interested.
The long-haired naked guy scares me.
*HIATUS* Rental Magica 3: The latest series to be pushed aside until some unknown later, Rental Magica’s offence was a third episode so unexciting that I could barely bring myself to pay attention to it. Featuring a boy who was put into an ageless sleep when he tried to summon a god and the obligatory sister who wants to put things right, the episode seemed to meander about a lot without ever really proving anything. Characters set out to prove themselves only to need deus ex machina, generic looking gods come down to be exorcised, and other things happen in the spaces when you can’t be bothered to pay attention.
Saiunkoku Monogatari II 22-4: I’ve been incredibly slack with SaiMono lately, but I bit the bullet and sat through a triple bill of raws before heading over to THAT to get a better handle of what was going on. Anyway, episode 22 concludes the art thief arc, with Santa going off and promising to become a man worthy of a marriage proposal (hard to care when he’s so new to the cast) and Karin revealing her identity as a member (and next head) of the Heki family.
23-4 kick us off into a new and better arc, albeit one with even more new characters to keep track of- some bishie, others less so. Together with Suou and new character Riku Seiga, Shuurei has been put in charge of the no-hopers of the officials, the usual group of losers that a plucky lead has to whip into ship. Can Shuurei manage it, however- after all, even those closest to her have to admit that she is somewhat too naïve for the capital. I really hope that Shuurei can come through on her own strength, but what will this coming of age spell for her personality?
City of the Ran clan, or Neo Venezia?
Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei 9: I have to admit that Sensei has not returned to the early heights as I had hoped, meaning that this episode was part-bland, part-entertaining. The first half, in which Sensei encourages the class to list all their mistakes, seemed like a throwaway rehash of a joke that is getting stale, but things picked up in the second half as Sensei became paranoid as to whether anyone in his class was who they claimed to be.
Shion no Ou 2: Shion is ready to step into the world of female pros, but there are those who want her taken out- permanently. I have to admit that I find the creepy stalker guy who seems to be the one who murdered Shion’s parents quite disturbing, so much so that I don’t want him to spend the whole series menacing our heroine. Meanwhile, Saori realises that her shougi is too ‘kind’ and instantly corrects that in a single off screen match, whilst our resident trap is still in it for the money. I’m still not sure what to think overall, although I need to stop expecting ‘Hikaru no Go 2’ from this series.
Rosenberg returns in his latest role.
Sketchbook ~full color’S~ 2-3: It may not be Aria or even Binchou-tan quality, but Sketchbook delivers another instalment of gentle charm in this double bill. First up, Sora sees what happens when she doesn’t follow quite her usual routine for the day, followed by a summer festival episode that will surprise no one. Despite the almost spaced-out “my pace” nature of the lead and the general lack of originality in content, this cat-filled series continues to offer a burst of tranquillity- it won’t blow your mind, but nor will it bore.
Hunter X Hunter 263-4: Another short and unfulfilling pair of chapters this time around, in which god mode Netero descends from above to rain shining dragons down on the palace. Not much else to say, really, except to start waiting for Togashi’s next effort.
Nodame Cantabile 89-93: It’s déjà vu all over again as Chiaki rubs the Roux-Marlet Orchestra the wrong way with his demands for perfection- when is he ever going to learn? Meanwhile, Tanya makes a decision about her future; ultimately it’s an enjoyable few chapters that don’t advance the story a great deal but make you want to read onwards.
Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle 170-1: Seishirou is here, but whilst he and Syaoran start fighting over who gets possession of his feather, there are more pointless revelations to be made. Apparently, between Fye and Tomoyo paid the price for letting the group go to the relative safety of Nihon country after Celes, all part of the Great Plot Contrivance that is hopefully going somewhere, someday.