Reviewed this week: Aria 7, Clannad 18, Kaiji 19, Mai-Otome 0 S.ifr 1, Minami-ke Okawari 7, SaiMono II 36, Shigofumi 6-7, Shion no Ou 16, Shounen Onmyouji 20, Sketchbook 13, Sisters of Wellber 11, Zoku SZS 4
…and in manga: Doujin Work 1-19, Minami-ke 1-21
CURRENT SERIES RANKINGS
- Aria the Origination (1) – the Single life
- Spice and Wolf (2) – wolf in the sewers
- Kaiji (5) – ざわ, ざわ…
- SaiMono II (4) – Ran clan
- Shigofumi (3) – Schrödinger the cat
- Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei (6) – mind-altering drug
- Persona Trinity Soul (8)- Mushi-Uta’s successor
- Shion no Ou (12) – die, Satoru!
- Minami-ke Okawari (7)- not quite the same
- Gunslinger Girl- Il teatrino (10)- Marco
- Clannad (11) – drop kick
- Mokke (13)- rainy season
- Sketchbook ~full color’S~ (1) – lots of cats <- complete!
- Tetsuko no Tabi (2)- is this ever going to be subbed?
- Sisters of Wellber (3) – predictable but fun
- Himawari!! (4) – needs less plot
- Shounen Onmyouji (5)- mediocre
- Love GetChu! (6)- light entertainment
Aria the Origination 7: If you’ve ever wondered about the humble beginnings of the mighty President Aria, then this is the episode for you. Before he built up his multi-million pound empire he was just a naked cat looking out to sea- until the fateful day he met with a young Himeya undine known as Akino (known to us as Grandma). Alongside this flashback, we also meet Alicia’s senpai Anna, who worked for Aria Company until she got married and had a child, and just like Akari, I can’t help realising how much there is I still don’t know about Neo Venezia, and how much I just want to stay there forever. In some ways, this is my favourite season of all, and I shall unashamedly bask in fangirlish emotion about it.
Clannad 18: It only just began, but Tomoyo’s arc is wrapped up in this episode, whilst Ryou gets “friends” compatibility with Tomoya and even Kyou bursts into tears. I can’t help feeling it was a bit pointless setting everything up with an air of importance in the last episode just to arbitrarily wrap it all up here, whilst the baseball challenge felt like the biggest plot cop-out ever. How are we supposed to care about these generic, overly fast-paced events?
Kaiji 19: There are four rounds left, and three more millimetres for Kaiji to wager; if he wants to keep his eardrum, he’ll have to win at least once, but how can he beat the ‘invincible’ Tonegawa? Fortunately, all is not as it seems, and even though the explanation behind what’s going on seems a touch farfetched, who can’t love the prospect of Kaiji making a comeback? And even though the preview shows the side of his face bleeding, we can assume that’s deliberate misdirection.
“With it, he could tell the time!”
*NEW* Mai-Otome 0 S.ifr 1: I don’t know why, but I’m feeling benevolent towards Mai-Otome at the moment, and so despite this new OVA’s lack of fat cats or any real story, it somehow didn’t seem as bad as the forgettable Zwei. A prequel to all previous Otome stories, S.ifr focuses on a new set of characters, including the titular Sifr/Sifuru, various Otome, King Bruce of Windbloom and a young Rena. For antagonists, we have the younger John Smith and his Schwarz allies up to their usual tricks, plus a brand new android for our heroines to fight. I can’t say it’s good, but it’s still the best thing the franchise has offered in a while.
Minami-ke Okawari 7: Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and so our named characters all decide to get together at the Minami house and make chocolate. Again, this is a rather standard piece in the grand scheme of episodes, making it mildly entertaining in the way of most episodes this season- although the sight of Mako-chan in a maid costume cannot be missed.
Saiunkoku Monogatari II 36: Three episodes before the series ends for good, and sadly we are unfortunate enough to be landed with the season’s third recap episode. Worse yet, this is a recap that goes right back to the first season, covering Ryuuki’s experiences of being Emperor ever since we first met him. Yes, there are some cute pandas for him to talk to, but come on, let’s end the series on a bang rather than a whimper.
Shigofumi 6-7: Episode six seemed to promise a return to form for Shigofumi, with a story about bullying and abuse that is actually quite difficult to watch (although that may be because of my feelings on the subject). Unfortunately, whilst episode seven promises further unravelling of Mikawa’s past, it is let down by her over-the-top father, a character obsessed with beauty and perfection. I must admit to feeling for his newly-appointed editor, however, simply because her bosses think she’s useless.
Wait, didn’t we have this game in Kaiji?
Shion no Ou 16: Ayumi’s mother has died, and with her passing there is no further need from him to cross-dress, but will he still keep up the shougi? I’ve been wanting Ayumi to come clean for a while now, and so a change that will let him play honestly is most welcome, even though he looked good as a trap.
Shounen Onmyouji 20: I’ve finally managed to fit in another episode of this series, and it must be said that it was as underwhelming as ever. This time around, we learn that the main villain has an entirely predictable past connection with Seimei, but that skeletons in the old family closet mean that he has, of course, turned mindlessly evil. Now to resolve the confrontation with him in the next six episodes.
*COMPLETE* Sketchbook ~full color’S~ 13: Sketchbook has finally come to an end, with a reflective episode in which Sora spends an afternoon alone in the afternoon, painting her friends whilst they pass through. I know I have accused the series of trying too hard throughout its run, but nonetheless this was a worthy conclusion to the series, with Sora finding the strength to grow a notch or two at the end. I guess I wouldn’t be averse to a second season after all, especially if it has cats.
Wellber no Monogatari ~Sisters of Wellber~ 11: Months after my last Wellber experience, we come to this episode, which tells the past story of Galahad and Jamille in what is probably meant to be a touching build-up to their inevitable confrontation in a duel. What a shame, then, that it is all so predictable and on the rails that no one could really care- all I can say is that it’s a good way to waste an episode.
Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei 4: There seems to have been an element of randomness missing from my week of late, but luckily it’s back for the moment, with another instalment in the crazy life of one Itoshiki Nozomu and his off-kilter class. This time around we meet a couple more new characters (including one who can read anything- even hearts) and learn what happens when you diverge from the main point. There are no laugh out loud moments this time, but there is consistent entertainment, and that will do for me.
*CATCH-UP* Doujin Work 1-19: My experience with 4-koma has been a bit hit-and-miss so far, but happily Doujin Work is proving to be one of the better ones of the bunch. Although it takes much the same overall course as the anime, some of the specifics are different, with the overall effect being to replicate the feeling of light entertainment without seeming stale.
*CATCH-UP* Minami-ke 1-21: Whilst not a 4Koma, Minami-ke does go for the short chapter approach that many comedy series use, and this time it is just like the anime- or at least season one of the anime. So far, then, it is proving to be just as entertaining, but many more chapters will be needed.