Fellow anime fans, heed my words- never, ever let a massive backlog build up, for it will crush your very soul. Sadly, there is still much I have to catch up on, but in the meantime enjoy my coverage of what I have managed to get through since mid-December.
Reviewed this week: Aria the Origination 1, Baccano! 13, Clannad 8-12, Dennou Coil 21-6, Genshiken 2 7-12, Himawari!! 1, Kaiji 7-13, Minami-ke 7-13, Oh! Edo Rocket 21-6, SaiMono II 27-31, Spice and Wolf 1, Tsubasa OVA 1
…and in manga: .hack//Link 1, Akagi 7-8+108-9, Chokotto Sister 48, Clannad 5, Claymore 75-6, Elfen Lied 79-81, HxH 267-70, Kaiji 1, MariMite 23-4, Meine Liebe 7-8, Nodame 94-9, Oniisama E… 10, REC 34-6, Risky Safety 2-3, Solanin 10-28, Spiral Alive 11-16, Spiral 60-66, Tsubasa 172-7, Yotsuba& 49-50
CURRENT SERIES RANKINGS
- Dennou Coil (1) – a great series from start to finish <- complete!
- Aria the Origination (-) – PUNYU! <-new!
- Oh! Edo Rocket (2) – I love this show! <- complete!
- SaiMono II (4) – Jyuusan-hime rocks!
- Kaiji (3) – human racing
- Minami-ke (6) – Ichigo Mashimaro II <- complete!
- Baccano! (5) – the end of the line <- complete!
- Spice and Wolf (-) –spicy wolves make for interesting chilli <-new!
- Genshiken 2 (7) – graduation <- complete!
- Moyashimon (8) – cute microbes
- Shion no Ou (9) – it’s a trap
- Sketchbook ~full color’S~ (11) – lots of cats
- Clannad (12) – sad girls in springtime
- Mokke (10)- magical cat
- Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei (1) – I’m in despair!
- Tetsuko no Tabi (2)- is this ever going to be subbed?
- Sisters of Wellber (3) – predictable but fun
- Himawari!! – needs less plot <- new!
- Koutetsu Sangokushi (4) – pure HARD GAY
- Shounen Onmyouji (5)- mediocre
- Love GetChu! (6)- light entertainment
- Romeo X Juliet (7) – WOOD
*NEW* Aria the Origination 1: Having a new season to watch is so great that I just want to roll around like President Aria, but instead I will try to put those feelings into words. Spring is coming to Neo Venezia, and even though the snow hasn’t quite melted yet, Alicia gets a gift of sakura tea and jam which she decides to share with everyone. Cue a nice, fluffy tea party in which the amazing feats of the three Primas are discussed, from stopping an idiot falling overboard to cheering up a baby with funny faces. And as the icing on the cake, President Aria is up to his usual antics, although his poor flabby stomach has already been bitten twice.
Remember, don’t eat too fast.
*COMPLETE* Baccano! 13: The tale of immortality and numerous characters in the 1930s finally draws to a close in this episode, which ties up the insane number of plot strands in the best way it can, sees justice served to certain characters, and ends on a high in the way only Isaac and Miria can manage. Yes, it was confusing along the way, but with so much packed in it was also highly entertaining- I can’t request a second season enough times.
Clannad 8-12: Episodes 8-9 see the conclusion of the Fuko arc, with everyone slowly forgetting about her in the run-up to the wedding- can they remember in time to show up? Whilst it was hardly enough to make me cry, I did feel a pang of emotion at this arc, which made going into the next one a bit of an anticlimax to start. This time around, the focus is on genius girl Ichinose Kotomi, who seems almost unbelievably socially ill-adapted to start with, but whose story is slowly picking up now. It does seem a bit of a sci-fi
*COMPLETE* Dennou Coil 21-6: I already reviewed Dennou Coil in its entirety, so all that’s left to put here is how satisfying the ending turned out to be. Yes, if there was more time some elements could have been expanded upon, but the later revelations were still a lot more substantial than many other series, and overall there was a feeling of satisfied completion rather than a need for more. A most excellent series indeed.
*COMPLETE* Genshiken 2 7-12: Genshiken 2 is over, and it’s something of a bittersweet ending- practically everyone has settled on their future career and is ready to commence life in the ‘real world’, although of course they’ll never forget their otaku roots. There’s still content here for those looking for comedy, but an almost Honey and Clover-esque feel crept into this season- university graduates should be able to identify with it.
*NEW* Himawari!! 1: At long last, the second season of Himawari!! is being subbed (yes, I could watch the raws but I’m being lazy), and although I have little hope of it proceeding at any speed, it can fill a gap here and there. Unfortunately, whilst meeting up with the characters is like slipping back into a comfortable old set of clothes, the fact that this season seems to contain a main villain with his underling monsters of the week does not fill me with optimism. I like Himawari when it’s just episodic light entertainment, but introducing low-budget enemies such as this episode’s gum-chewing boy adds an air of tedium to the whole thing.
Kaiji 7-13: The Espoir arc finally concludes in episodes 7-9, with Kaiji suffering both betrayal and the Room of Naked Men before finally coming out on top- at least until he realises the whole thing has left him with twice as much debt as before (poor guy). Then, after an episode of trying and failing to fit in with normal life, our hero is whisked off for another night of gambling, only this time he is the horse in a ‘Human Derby’. The even sees Kaiji and other debt-ridden young men walk across a thin beam suspended over a twelve foot drop, but even if you manage to get across without being pushed off, there’s worse to come when they have to do the same again across and electrified beam suspended between the twenty-second floors of two high-rise buildings. It’s addictive, MANLY stuff, but are we really halfway through already?
*COMPLETE* Minami-ke 7-13: I finally found the time to watch the second half of Minami-ke’s first season, and happily, it was everything I expected it to be. As the adventures of the Minami sisters continue, more amusing everyday antics ensue, more friends get drawn in, and they even meet another Minami family consisting of three brothers and a younger sister who Chiaki adopts as her little ‘brother’. Not since the days of Ichigo Mashimaro has everyday life been so entertaining, but I’m approaching the second season with trepidation- how will the staff changes affect the tone of the series?
*COMPLETE* Oh! Edo Rocket 21-6: Another excellent series goes out with a bang (no pun intended) as Oh! Edo Rocket draws to a close with a packed final stretch that showcases everything that is so great about the series. From comedy and hilariously out of place pop culture references to darker and more serious storylines, Oh! Edo Rocket somehow manages to have everything, and it even achieves an ending entirely appropriate to the tone of the series. Move over FLCL and Pani Poni Dash- this is how it’s done.
Saiunkoku Monogatari II 27-31: The overload of new characters arc has finally come to an end as the anime moves into new territory with the arrival of Shuuei’s sister Jyuusan-hime. Jyuusan-hime has been sent to become Ryuuki’s concubine, but with assassins after her life, Shuurei ends up becoming her body double (sometimes even main characters get the short straw). Despite my aversion to having so many new characters dumped on us of late, Jyuusan-hime is a most welcome addition to the cast- she’s beautiful, tough and more mature than the still naïve Shuurei, and since she’s also adopted, her apparent feelings for Shuuei aren’t as incestuous as I first thought. Meanwhile, poor Shusui seems to have fallen under the influence of the voices in her head- what will become of her? Whatever the case, the anime is not only almost at an end but has also drawn level with the novels- so we’ll either have to have a huge break before any potential third season, or move into the realm of occasional OVAs.
SaiMono goes all Dynasty Warriors.
*NEW* Spice and Wolf 1: For a multitude of shallow and tenuous reasons, I loved this series before I even watched it, and happily I still feel the same way after episode one. Having completed Okami the night before I watched this, I was all too ready for more content about wolf goddesses, and so when trader Lawrence Craft found one in his cart, it made for interesting viewing (even with the random fanservice). Provided it doesn’t turn into the new Sisters of Wellber, this should be a great series, and since the original material is apparently about economics, it’s like entertainment’s next step from Dragons’ Den.
*NEW* Tsubasa Chronicle Tokyo Revelations 1: My relationship with the Tsubasa TV series ended in a filler fest of pain and suffering, but with Production I.G. taking over the reins for this three episode OVA covering the X-Tokyo arc, I figured it wouldn’t be so bad (let’s forget that they did that pointless movie). Happily, unlike Bee Train’s efforts, this version of Tsubasa actually has revolutionary new concepts like proper movement and animation, and whilst the story is essentially flawed, this is the fault of the original manga and not really something the studio can do much about. If the rest of Tsubasa must be animated, let’s keep it to OVA format (I notice that the final image in the closing appears to be from the Infinity arc- a sign of things to come?).
In the latest manga chapters, Mokonas’ earrings actually have previously unmentioned plot importance.
*NEW* .hack//Link 1: Although it might sound like a .hack/Legend of Zelda crossover, the franchise’s latest cash-in manga is set in a brand new iteration of The World- R:X. Tokio is the typical annoying shounen hero who has cleared every other game around and wants to play the newly relaunched The World, but since access is restricted, he can’t get his hands on a copy of the game. Fortunately, a new transfer student at school lets him use her copy- but it proves to be an edition of the game that transfers him into The World itself! I don’t see this offering anything new, but it should be interesting enough to follow.
Akagi 7-8, 108-9: Like the anime, the Akagi manga doesn’t seem to feel the need to rush anywhere, and so we’re still on Akagi’s first match- although we’ve just reached the point when Akagi is playing rep player Yagi with their fingers at stake. For a beginner at Mah-jongg, watching this sort of thing in animated form is easier than slogging through explanatory text for each match, but even so it’s still an enjoyable manga.
Meanwhile, an anonymous scanlator has decided to pick up where the anime has left off, so I’ll be covering that as well. 108-9 commence volume 13 and cover the last part of the anime, where Akagi throws away his blood and challenges Washizu to play for the last part of his fortune. Having waited so long to see what happens next, we are now on the verge of this exciting new territory, and hopefully it will be as good as ever.
Chokotto Sister 48: When Konatsu catches mumps and falls in, it becomes a perfect opportunity for her to slip into a Flashback Mode, in which she relates a typical tragic past of being abandoned by her parents and Haruma promising to always be by her side (which she takes to be one of those standard childhood marriage proposals that have so much more meaning in fiction than real life). Everything is proceeding along the rails for the moment, but I’m becoming increasingly disturbed about Choko’s origin- just where did she come from? (Smart alecks need not respond).
Clannad 5: When I read the first four chapters of Clannad, the anime was months away from airing, but to go back and try another chapter in the middle of it run is a slightly strange experience. Fortunately, whilst Clannad the anime is nothing special to me, watching it seemed to make this chapter seem better than its predecessors, even though it only covers the early anime content of Tomoya trying to help get the drama club off the ground.
Claymore 75-6: As it turns out, the blinded Galatea wasn’t hiding from the organisation- she wanted them to send Claymores out to her so that they could help her defeat the latest Awakened Being- former number 2 Claymore Agatha. As the battle begins, however, it remains to be seen if they will offer assistance or just blindly follow orders, culminating in a cliff-hanger ending for chapter 76. As always, I’m not particularly impressed by the action scenes, but I’m still interested in seeing what happens next, and oddly having just one chapter a month helps to enjoy the series since I’m always hungry for more.
Elfen Lied 79-81: We may be getting close to the end of the series, but the story is still ready to throw us a few more twists and turns- not to mention some fresh characters. Whilst Kouta laments the loss of his harem due to the disappearance of Lucy/Nyu, Nana and Mayu, elsewhere yet more plans are being made to recapture Lucy- using obedient clones of Mariko. In charge of them is the latest eccentric scientist and his tough-as-nails bodyguard- it’s a familiar formula but hopefully this is all slowly building towards a conclusion.
Hunter X Hunter 267-70: Having put all his efforts into getting the chapter count up to a nice round number, Togashi has retired to his deathbed once again, leaving the series on yet another indefinite hiatus. Perhaps it’s just as well, as the excruciatingly slow pace and intensely detailed narration of the first phase of the attack on King has really put me off this arc, to the extent where I have to wonder if I even care any more. All I want now is for the series to properly end, but at the current rate I could be in my thirties before that happens (a scary thought indeed).
*NEW* Kaiji 1: As with Akagi, the Kaiji anime has basically followed the manga word for word, so all this first chapter provides is a recounting of how Kaiji came to be offered a place aboard the Espoir, with less technically accomplished art. Even so, it’s an enjoyable enough way to relive the series, and hopefully more chapters will be available soon.
Maria-sama ga Miteru 23-4: We’re already at the start of season two, with Yumi, Yuuki and Rosa Gigantea spending the night at Sachiko’s house for the new year, complete with some “Kashiwagi is HARD GAY” and Sei teasing Yumi scenes that never made it into the anime. As always, this manga complements the anime nicely, but I’m increasingly noticing the poor standard of the artwork compared to the anime character designs, whilst for some reason Yuuki has black hair in this version.
Meine Liebe 7-8: First off, a big thank you to “Meine Liebe Project” for picking this up- it may not be the best manga in the world, but I at least want to read the second half of it. Anyway, chapter seven sees Erika get picked to be Orphe’s dance partner for his grandmother’s party, but much to my disappointment, no actual dancing was seen- surely a whisk or throwaway oversway wouldn’t have been too much to ask for? Wasted opportunities aside, as we go into chapter eight, it becomes clear that Erika’s feelings for Orphe are deepening, but with the likelihood that he may be her brother ever increasing, romance could turn to incest. In fact, since it’s being played so obviously, they probably aren’t related, but we’ll see in the coming chapters.
Nodame Cantabile 94-9: Chiaki’s goal is to move ever onwards and upwards, but when his father shows up at one of his performances, it puts him off guard- and proves that Chiaki isn’t as indifferent towards his parent as he might claim. Meanwhile, poor Nodame is beginning to feel like she is left behind- if Chiaki’s goal is his father, then her goal is Chiaki. Even though the “estranged parent” storyline is nothing new, I’m still intrigued by the continuing development of Chiaki and Nodame’s characters as they enter another growth phase. In particular, Chiaki seems determined to move far ahead in order to accomplish his goals, but at the same time he seems to expect Nodame to be waiting for him, even though she is busy with her own agendas. Are they just not destined to be together?
Oniisama E… 10: The second volume of the angst-driven manga continues as Kaoru gets injured during a basketball match and Nanako fangirls over Saint-Juste some more- it will all be familiar to anime viewers, but told in a much abbreviated form. Now to wait another year or so for the next chapter.
REC 34-6: If there’s one thing you can count on with REC, it’s that if something can go wrong, it will. Take Matsumaru, for example- all he wants to do is help Ao get through a cold, and the next thing he knows she’s undressed him whilst he’s asleep, taken a nude picture for Photoshop purposes, and left the door open so Aka can walk in. Naturally, Ao isn’t just your typical ‘other woman’- she has past issues, but it’s all so painfully predictable- and yet somehow I can’t just give up the series and walk away.
Risky Safety 2-3: I can’t even remember when I read the first chapter of this (memory supplies a date of around August 2006), but I’ve finally tracked down another two instalments of the series. Unlike the anime, the manga isn’t exclusively about Risky and Safety- in fact, they don’t appear at all in these two chapters. Instead, we get two stand-alone stories- one about a puppet girl named Fuzzy who will become a real human if she can just make one boy happy, the other about a mysterious new transfer student who may be attacking fellow classmates with demon blood. As short stories, they are both enjoyable (if much like various similar manga), but the chances of reading more any time soon seem slim.
*COMPLETE* Solanin 10-28: I’m happy to report that at long last I’ve been able to finish this manga, and that it was good enough to be worth the wait. With a spoilerific twist at the end of volume one that I can’t reveal, the second half of the series sees Meiko put in a position where she must make a decision about her future, but will she choose something constructive? I don’t want to give away too much here, but suffice to say that this is one series worth reading, and that a proper review to that effect will appear soon.
Spiral Alive 11-16: Whilst Kanone and Eyes step forth to make an appearance, the story continues to move on, and it all seems to be centred on a particular file that can disclose the identities of the hidden and dangerous Blade Children. It’s good stuff (although I wish Kousuke would let Ryoko help out instead of trying to protect her), even if there are a few too many feints and conflicting motives to get to grips with at the moment.
Spiral 60-66: This is the point I feared, where the series starts to lose its way, for whilst Hizumi makes a move by killing Kanone (NOOOOOO!!!!!!), the truth about Ayumu and Hizumi’s origin seems about to come to light, and it seems something of a cop out. Thanks to Hinano, I long knew it was coming, but even so it’s like that infamous spoiler from Star Ocean 3- you just don’t want to believe it until you’re confronted with it. Oh well, the artwork is still nice.
Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle 172-7: I don’t really know what’s going on in Tsubasa anymore, and the sad fact is that I can’t even say that I particularly care (but I must keep reading, for like Macbeth I’ve come too far to go back now). After randomly showing up, Syaoran-clone decides to pick a fight with the real deal, whilst Fei Wong decides he only wants Sakura for her body (understandable, since her mind isn’t up to much). It’s just a shame that CLAMP have got so into drawing epic fight scenes (large explosions, tiny characters) that they’ve forgotten about the concept of including a plot.
Yotsuba& 49-50: Fifty chapters in and I’m still far from tired of Yotsuba- after all, we still have to see her go to school. In these two chapters, we see Yotsuba still enchanted with the farm after coming home, before she and her father head out to a restaurant for lunch, with the usual hilarious consequences.