Reviewed this week: Aria the Origination 3, Clannad 14, Gunslinger Girl- Il Teatrino 2, Kaiji 15, KgNE Next Season 1, Minami-ke Okawari 1, Mokke 8-10, Moyashimon 7-11, Persona 1-3, Shigofumi 1-2, Sketchbook 7-10, Spice and Wolf 3, Aquarion OVA 2, Tokyo Marble Chocolate, Tsubasa Tokyo Revelations 2, Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei 2
…and in manga: Bokurano 43-7, Mushishi 12, Spice and Wolf 1-4, Tenshi Nanka Janai 30-1, Tsubasa 180, Yotsuba& 51-2
CURRENT SERIES RANKINGS
- Aria the Origination (1) – the Single life
- Spice and Wolf (2) –invest in apples, trade silver coins
- Shigofumi (-) – the dead never lie <- new!
- SaiMono II (3) – close those eyes!
- Kaiji (4) – zawa, zawa
- Moyashimon (5) – cute microbes <-complete!
- Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei (6) – first rumba, then tango
- Sketchbook ~full color’S~ (7) – lots of cats
- Minami-ke Okawari (-)- not quite the same <-new!
- Persona Trinity Soul (-)- Mushi-Uta’s successor <- new!
- Gunslinger Girl- Il teatrino (8)- Pinocchio
- Clannad (9) – the world is made of invisible harps
- Shion no Ou (10) – tournament time
- Mokke (11)- magical cat
Aria the Origination 3: I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but I adore Aria and I want to go and live in Neo Venezia immediately. Okay, now that the ritual is over, I have to admire how the series made a good episode out of heart-shaped chocolates and a one-off character, but somehow it managed it, transporting me to the far-off world of Aqua for a lesson on the packaging of chocolates (don’t use glass, boys and girls). In the meantime, President Aria seems to be taking his role as a Dragon more seriously when he starts reading the newspaper and taking an interest in construction, whilst Akari is growing up and new undines are set to appear next week.
Clannad 14: Kotomi’s arc comes to an end in this episode, and despite promising us a ‘theory of everything’ in the title (which I was hoping to steal and submit as a PhD thesis), it turns out that her parents had actually bought her a teddy bear. Anyway, after helping out with yard work, Tomoya and the others try to make Kotomi’s miserable life a bit more bearable so that they can put her aside and move onto the next arc. I’m sure I’m supposed to feel more emotional about all this, but all I could think was that Kotomi didn’t really the teddy bear in the first place.
Gunslinger Girl- Il Teatrino 2: After last week’s disappointment, this episode, whilst still not up to the level of the first season, is at least something of an improvement. Sadly, this may just be because the episode was almost entirely devoted to starting Pinocchio’s arc, and therefore had just a single scene with the girls at the end. I’m still highly disappointed by the animation, but the background music is beginning to grow on me, and this arc should provide plenty of story to distract from the presentation.
Kaiji 15: The long trek across the beam has come to an end, but unfortunately only Kaiji survived it, and thanks to his plea for the power to be switched off a couple of episodes ago, he won’t be getting any money. Instead, he must enter the next gamble, another card game involving three different types of card, in the hopes of finally making enough money to clear his debt. It’s strange- at this point in the series I still love the GAR MANLY w1n of it all, but at the same time the games themselves are pretty simplistic, and all this talk of cards puts me in mind of Yu-Gi-Oh (albeit a more badass Yu-Gi-Oh) once again.
*NEW* Kimi ga Nozomu Eien ~Next Season~ 1: As a Mitsuki fan, I was happy with the way KgNE ended, but by putting aside my irrational love for the TV series, I was finally able to watch and enjoy the first episode of the OVA. Under these conditions, the episode was quite enjoyable- Haruka seems a little more ‘with it’ than before, the visuals are nice and the runtime is pitched at the right length to prevent boredom. I’m actually looking forward to the next episode.
*NEW* Minami-ke Okawari 1: The time to move onto the second season has arrived, and as with so many things, it has proven to be a little difficult to adapt to the changes in visuals and atmosphere, so that whilst there are still moments when I laugh out loud, it just doesn’t feel quite the same. Even so, some Minami-ke is better than none, and I don’t have any intention of giving up just because of these alterations.
Mokke 8-10: The Mokke catch-up continues with three more episodes completed; first Mizuki must cope without her sister and grandpa on a field trip, then Shizuru befriends a girl who is obsessed with the other world, and finally Mizuki spends time with a weasel who is trying to learn how to use the sickle power of his clan. There’s nothing particularly wrong with these three episodes, and indeed they are enjoyable enough, but I can’t help feeling that this series is just a poorly disguised rehash of stories I’ve seen before- it really doesn’t offer anything unique or interesting enough to differentiate it from the bronze tier crowd.
*COMPLETE* Moyashimon 7-11: Moyashimon is finally complete, and what a strange, microbe-filled journey it has been. The series certainly had its fair share of enjoyable, thoughtful and even crazy moments, and yet overall something didn’t quite click for me- for all that I wanted to, I couldn’t quite connect with the characters. Even so, the microbes were fun, and a more detailed review will follow in due course.
*NEW* Persona Trinity Soul 1-3: Even though I intend to someday, I haven’t played Persona 3 yet, which puts me at something of a disadvantage when watching this sequel anime. Nonetheless, and in spite of the fact that most RPG adaptations are completely awful, Persona is actually proving to be enjoyable, offering as it does a Mushi-Uta mix of high school life and a bizarre alternate world of battles, monsters and secret organisations. There’s also some solid parody potential here- look out for a dedicated post soon.
*NEW* Shigofumi 1-2: When I first previewed it, I said that Shigofumi felt as if it would be the new Shinigami no Ballad- and as it turns out, I wasn’t far wrong. Instead of a shinigami and her cat visiting people, we now have mail carrier Fumika and her talking staff delivering letters from the dead (the titular Shigofumi), and so far, this new combination has proved to be more enjoyable than SnB was in animated form. The first two episodes cover an arc which begins when a girl’s father dies and Fumika is instructed to deliver a shigofumi to her lover, a role which her best male friend decides that he must fill. What looks to be a sweet tale of friendship and romance is soon turned on its head by the end of episode one, however, as the tale takes a darker and more twisting turn that proves you shouldn’t assume anything. Even though episode three has been altered for TV broadcast in case the evils of anime corrupt more innocent young minds, I’m looking forward to seeing more.
Sketchbook ~full color’S~ 7-10: The eternal process of catch-up has finally brought me to Sketchbook, with four more cat and art filled episodes bringing me up to date with the subtitled releases. Although there is still that air of trying too hard to accomplish what Aria and the like can achieve effortlessly, Sketchbook is still enjoyable enough in its own tranquil way, even weathering the introduction of the typical blonde foreign girl. And with episode eleven promising another feline bonanza, there is all the more reason to keep watching.
Spice and Wolf 3: I hope no one will mind if I fangirl about Spice and Wolf every week from now on; after all, if you’ve been reading this blog for any significant length of time you should be used to the fangirling by now. Anyway, I cannot help but love this series, from the atmospheric OP, through the beautiful setting, likable characters and story filled with financial twists and turns (don’t ask why, but I’ve had a taste for this sort of thing ever since I took a course in financial physics at uni), all the way to the delightfully nonsensical Engrish ED. This week, Horo gains a taste for apples and negotiation, whilst Lawrence continues to pursue the potential for profit when the silver purity of a particular currency is altered. I think I’ll have to send both of them into the Tuesday Rumble Dragons’ Den at some point.
*COMPLETE* Sousei no Aquarion OVA 2: After an uninspiring start, the Aquarion OVA makes up for its issues with a worthy second episode packed with action, story twists (that won’t surprise any TV series viewers) and an ending that means it does indeed tie into the original as a prequel. It could have perhaps done with a bit more orgasmic gattai with which to help us recall the original, but overall this turned out to be a worthy OVA that has reminded me why I love Aquarion so much.
*OVA* Tokyo Marble Chocolate 1-2: Many thanks to both Necromancer for recommending this and Hige for writing such a positive review about it, although to be honest this is the kind of thing I would have watched on the strength of the title alone. A double episode OVA that covers the same day from the perspective of its two protagonists, Tokyo Marble Chocolate tells the story of a young couple- each of them has had an unlucky time with the opposite sex and it may be that this relationship is about to go the same way, unless the intervention of a mini-donkey can change things for the better. A charming tale about romance with a whimsical and beautiful visual style, Tokyo Marble Chocolate scores another hit for Production I.G., whilst reviving my faith in the power of the OVA.
Tsubasa Chronicle ~Tokyo Revelations~ 2: It’s rare that I prefer an anime adaptation to the original manga, but I have to admit that this OVA episode actually cleared up some of the more confusing aspects of the manga, and even though various plot holes remain gaping open, at least I understand the whole clone Syaoran thing a bit better now. I could actually watch more of these OVAs.
Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei 2: The insanity continues in the second episode of Zoku SZS, starting with half an episode of complete randomness with puns, incoherent talk and a guy who likes opening things (stop opening it all! Some things must stay closed!), before moving onto a discussion of ostentatious decoration and the importance of the old- everything from old friends to Old Mother’s Day. It’s at times like this when I don’t know if I adore a series or have merely just had my brain fried by a cocktail of drugs and flashing images, but at the core of it, Zoku SZS seems to prove that there are people out there who can reach the same bizarre wavelengths that I sometimes tap into. I may be random and completely crazy at times, but I’m not alone!
Bokurano 43-7: At long last I have some more Bokurano to get my teeth into, although of course it is never enough. These chapters cover Kanji’s arc as he goes into battle against an enemy with long-range capabilities, forcing him to come up with a unique and painful strategy to overcome it. Meanwhile, more details on who signed the contract are revealed, alongside indications that one person may not be all they seem. Give me more, now!
Mushishi 12: At long last I have a new chapter of Mushishi to look at, and although it just covers the same material as episode eight (the tale of a man who cannot let go when he loses his wife at sea), Mushish is such a great series that I can be exposed to its stories over and over without complaining.
*NEW* Spice and Wolf 1-4: Having fallen in love with the anime, the logical next step was to immerse myself in the manga as well, and whilst these chapters cover much the same content as the first two episodes, I still enjoyed them immensely. With a beautiful art style and an improvement in the scene where Horo shows Lawrence her true form, it is clear that the manga has much to offer- all I need now are the original novels.
Tenshi Nanka Janai 30-1: The generic shoujo-ness of this series is pushing all my buttons at the moment, and not in a good way. Just as Midori angsts over Akira’s absence, he phones her up to say that he must settle things with Masashi before he can come home and live happily ever after. The predictability of it all has become so trite and sappy that I almost don’t care anymore; however, since I’m on the penultimate volume I shall see it through to the end.
Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle 180: Never before has Tsubasa stretched ahead into infinity like this, for apparently, unlike the Syaoran-clone, the Sakura-clone had a copy of the original’s heart as well as her body- and if she gets destroyed, Fei Wong can just make another one and start the whole feather scattering over again. Nonetheless, real Syaoran wants to save both real and clone Sakura, but Yuuko will once again require payment- hopefully her price will be the immediate cessation of the Tsubasa manga.
Yotsuba& 51-2: It’s time for the culture festival at Fuuka’s school, and Yotsuba is looking forward to sampling some cake- but will she be impressed with simple pound cake? And once that’s over, a typhoon sweeps into town- what better time to brave the rain and go outdoors? As always, all I can say about this is that it’s as amusing as ever- long may Yotsuba’s reign continue.