Thanks, I’ll take two.
Reviewed this week: Allison and Lillia 13, Antique Bakery 2, Blade of the Immortal 1, Hidamari Sketch x365 2, Itazura na Kiss 14, Koihime Musou 2, Natsume Yuujinchou 2, Persona 13-17, Ryoko’s Case File 1, Someday’s Dreamers ~Summer Skies~ 2, Telepathy Shoujo Ran 4, Wagaya no Oinari-sama 12-13
…and in manga: Ayu and Mayu 1, Bartender 4-6, Claymore 81, Elfen Lied 86-8, Gunslinger Girl 51-6, Minami-ke 32-3, Nodame Cantabile 120, Sketchbook 8-12, Tsubasa Chronicle 193
CURRENT SERIES RANKINGS
- Chi’s Sweet Home (1)- Chi plays
- Kaiba (2) – who am I?
- Soul Eater (3) – best exam ep ever
- Hidamari Sketch x365 (4) – 365 times the fun
- xxxHOLiC Kei (6) – typhoid Himawari
- Natsume Yuujinchou (5) – Book of Friends
- Nabari no Ou (7) – change of side
- Wagaya no Oinari-sama (8) – hot springs
- Slayers Revolution (10) – Dragon Slave
- Persona Trinity Soul (9) – catch-up, start!
- Koihime Musou (11) – Guan Yu has more breasts and less beard
- World Destruction (12) – cats
- Real Drive (13) – chat program
- Someday’s Dreamers ~Summer Skies~ (15) – slooowww start
- Ryoko’s Case File (-) – superintendant <-new!
- Amatsuki (14) – Kuchiha
- Antique Bakery (16) – super gay demon
- Telepathy Shoujo Ran (17) – predictable
- Himitsu (18) – faceless
- Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu (-) – secret otaku
- Blade of the Immortal (-) – immortal worms <- new!
- Kyouran Kazoku Nikki (19) – kyouran kaizoku
- Itazura na Kiss (20) – dislikeable cast
- Allison and Lillia (21) – Travas-ty (sorry, Hanners)
- Chocolate Underground (22) – chocolate is forbidden
Allison and Lillia 13: Maybe I’m just getting old, but between this and Itazura na Kiss, romance and its recent depiction in anime has really angried up the blood. Hardly the bastion of worth at the best of times, the final episode of the Allison arc rejoins our protagonists now that they are living together- although aside from the wedding rings you’d be hard-pressed to realise they actually had a relationship. Still, Allison and Wil seem happy enough, until Major Stork (or whatever his name is this week) decides that Wil should join his intelligence agency, which will necessitate leaving Allison and changing his very identity. What’s a guy to do when a suspicious mass murderer with lax parenting values tells you to leave the love of your life? Apparently, you should go along with it- and worse yet, Allison supports Wil’s decision, even failing to tell him that she’s just found out she’s pregnant.
So, after saying “I love you” for the first time as he leaves on the train, we flash forward fifteen years, where Allison is now living with her daughter Lillia, and going out with one Major Travas- who happens to be Wil with different coloured hair. So, if he could be Allison’s boyfriend, why did he have to leave forever? Why couldn’t he have just said no and got an academic job at the university or something? It took Allison long enough to get Wil to go out with her, so why did he have to be taken away? Or was such an emotionally stunted man even worth it in the first place?
Antique Bakery 2: The strawberries of doom seem to have taken a backseat this week as former boxer Eiji joins the Antique team- but despite being hired as a receptionist, his love of cake sees him train under HARD GAY chef. Although not quite as parody-worthy as the opening instalment, there’s still potential amidst the banter, not to mention a scene in which our protagonists pipe cream into holes in choux pastry.
*NEW* Blade of the Immortal 1: Giving an action series to Bee Train is like asking a three-year-old to paint the Mona Lisa- you just know that what you’re going to end up with will be a mess that bears very little resemblance to what you asked for. Anyway, in this series we meet a man who has worms inside him that grant immortality (no guffawing, please), but due to his past as a killer, practically everyone is after him- forcing him to kill again and again. Unfortunately, since straightforward action might strain the animation team at Bee Train, everything has to take place either off screen between still shots, or in a darkened room so that a minimum of detail needs to be shown. It’s not terribly interesting, but the series is short enough that it shouldn’t become another El Cazador de la Roots.
Hidamari Sketch x365 2: After last episode’s prequel to season one, we jump ahead to the end of the school year, with Sae’s sister Chika taking entrance exams and everyone else reflecting on how much has happened since they first came to the Hidamari Apartments. It’s another worthy dose of slice-of-life, although I wonder whether we’ll be jumping back to familiar old territory next episode or seeing everyone moving up to the next school year.
Itazura na Kiss 14: And now to the second romance fiasco of the week- the legendary wedding episode of Itazura na Kiss, in which all the development that didn’t happen in the first half of the series is crammed into one episode. Despite having been a complete bastard who treated her like dirt for half a series, Naoki can’t bear the thought of Kotoko marrying Kin-chan (and who could, really), and so he takes it upon himself to propose to her- because despite a large body of evidence to the contrary, he actually does have feelings for her. I assume I’m supposed to sigh and say ‘how romantic’, but come on- shouldn’t they at least go out for a while before getting engaged?
As if that wasn’t enough, however, Naoki’s mother decides it’s too dangerous for them not to get hitched straightaway, and even though a wedding costs about £20-30,000 on average, it somehow all gets arranged within the space of a week. Unreality aside, what happened to “marry in haste, repent at leisure”? Shouldn’t people get married because they want to, rather than because their mother forced them into it before they changed their mind? How can we enjoy such a poorly paced relationship? Isn’t Naoki just a bastard no matter how you look at it?
Oh, for goodness sake- get over yourself.
Koihime Musou 2: The great thing about Koihime Musou is that even though nothing momentous is ever going to happen, I love the Three Kingdoms and the character designs, I can have a fun time spotting them. This week, our heroines link up with the slightly HARD YURI Zhao Yun and Gongsun Zan in order to bust yet another den of generic looking bandits. I get the feeling that this will be the pattern for the series, but if we get to see all the Three Kingdoms favourites as beautiful women, who cares?
Natsume Yuujinchou 2: The returning of contracts is going well enough until a tiny shrine gods shows up to ask for his back, only for Natsume to realise it is stuck to another page in the Book of Friends. Since ripping the pages apart would be damaging to the spirits named within, Natsume and Nyanko-sensei must instead track down the other spirit so that they can both be released at the same time. There’s still a feeling of ‘why does it have to be this way?’ about the whole series, since it seems there must be easier ways for Natsume and Nyanko-sensei to achieve their goals, but the episode is nonetheless a solid one that builds to a decent conclusion- and let’s face it, Nyanko-sensei in cat form is worth the price of admission any day.
*NEW* Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu 1: Although it sounds a lot like Kare Kano, I was immediately drawn to the idea of a ‘perfect girl’ who is a secret otaku- is it something I can identify with (well, apart from the fact that I’m far from perfect and my love of anime isn’t a secret)? Unfortunately, this episode isn’t really as exciting as I hoped, featuring a male lead who cooks for his two slobbish female flatmates for some reason, and naturally ends up discovering the perfect Nogizaka Haruka’s secret. His first job as her ‘accomplice’ is to return a manga magazine to the library after hours- hardly a terribly interesting start.
Persona Trinity Soul 13-17: During the first half of the series, I was fully prepared to accept that Persona would improve later on, but now that I’ve made inroads into the later episodes, I can’t say I’m entirely convinced. Although I admit that there are little details that would probably stand out as foreshadowing were I to go back and watch earlier episodes again, apart from Ryou’s undisclosed fate, not a great deal has actually happened. It just all feels too bland to care about- I’m more interested in buying the original game than anything this anime can offer.
*NEW* Ryoko’s Case File 1: Meet the typical detective odd couple- the beautiful and near flawless woman with a harsh personality and her loyal, long-suffering male aide. Together, they solve supernatural cases, and although there’s a lot of visual style to their antics, so far there has been little substance. In fact, aside from a humorous exchange between Ryoko and her rival, this episode wasn’t terribly interesting in terms of content- it’s only the characters that’s going to keep me watching for now.
Someday’s Dreamers ~Summer Skies~ 2: I have to admit that this is an improvement on the treacle slow first episode, but even so, there’s a lot of padding in this new series of Someday’s Dreamers- let’s face it, I don’t need to look at Photoshopped landscapes and listen to insert songs. When it gets to the story, however, this season is decent enough, with Sora attending her first magic class and meeting the usual line-up of characters- seemingly uncaring young man who probably has an ill sister, dead parents or some other family tragedy; rival magic user who aims to be class rep and top of the class and of course the amiable best friend type. There’s nothing her we haven’t seen before, but if the series can provide actual content, it should be solid enough, if not a patch on the original.
Telepathy Shoujo Ran 4: I’m beginning to think about parodying this series, and only the fact that the queue already contains several other series is putting me off. This time around, our heroes go on holiday to a village where something seems amiss- indeed, they even comment that something doesn’t seem right after the villagers threaten them with pitchforks (you think?). Unfortunately, this is only the beginning of the suspicious village arc, so we’ll have to wait until next week to see the thrilling conclusion.
Wagaya no Oinari-sama 12-13: It’s another double bill of predictability for Wagaya, starting with the obligatory hot springs episode in which everyone kicks back and relaxes, leaving poor Tohru to get menaced by a demon, and then proceeding to the equally obligatory culture festival. Fortunately, in the latter episode we do at least meet up with a new fox- a silver one nicknamed Tama-san who I’ve been waiting to see ever since I glimpsed them in the OP- whilst Sakura’s obsession with being the only woman for Noboru continues to be highly entertaining.
*NEW* Ayu and Mayu 1: I think we all know by now that I pick up manga based on titles that have even the vaguest connection to things I’m familiar with, and indeed, this series was chosen because of Ayu and Mayu from Kimi ga Nozomu Eien (who have absolutely nothing to do with this manga, might I add). In fact, the series is more like Chokotto Sister II, featuring an older brother who tracks down two girls- one of whom is his long-lost little sister. Whilst he tries to figure out which is which, we’re treated to the usual rounds of fanservice and light entertainment, and whilst I can hardly call it good, this is a decent enough “brain lite” opening chapter.
Bartender 4-6: Although I feel I’m losing something through an imperfect translation, the Bartender manga continues to deliver what the anime couldn’t- tranquil enjoyment. First off, Ryu is asked to placate a foreign architect before he cancels an important job, but will even the promise of the oldest liquor in the world be enough after Ryu criticises the design of the bar? Next, Ryu’s friend decides to get close to the mysterious cabaret girl Akiko, but there is more to this strong and lonely young woman than meets the eye. Finally, a legendary bartender stops by Ryu’s bar, but will he be impressed with the young man’s talent? All of these chapters are calm, pleasant character pieces, with Ryu having far more personality than his more polished anime self did.
Claymore 81: Raki is back, and his newfound maturity has made him more likable, but why is he travelling with Priscilla? And what’s more, why has Priscilla forsaken eating humans to the point where her body has shrunk to that of a child, putting her at the very limits of hunger? Meanwhile, after encountering this strange pair, Claymore number six- Rene- heads off on her way, only to fall into a trap set by Awakened Beings. Thank goodness Claymore is improving all the time, whetting my appetite for more.
Elfen Lied 86-8: As volume ten ends and eleven begins, Nana is reunited with her Papa, but after Evil Scientist feels a rare moment of remorse and releases Barbara from his control, she turns on him and immediately heads off to dispatch both of them. Meanwhile, now that Main Villain has Lucy in his custody, he is free to do the obligatory explanation of his plans, telling her how the Diclonius are merely the resurgence of the powers his family once had- powers they lost and then attempted to regain by breeding near a radioactive lake where the mutation rate was high. He wants Lucy to bear his child and become the Eve of a new race, but all she wants is to go back and live with everyone. Now that the end is in sight, the pace is ramping up, but what will the outcome be? Whatever the case, there’s bound to be violence aplenty.
Gunslinger Girl 51-6: With Angelica gone, Triela knows that her time is running out- a fact that Hilshire is also well aware of. Desperate not to shorten her lifespan any longer, he takes on the next job alone, but when Triela finds out what she has done, she runs off into the night- and only the intervention of some old friends stop her from falling foul of the mafia. Now the time has come for Triela to finally learn of her connection to Hilshire’s past, but how will knowing the truth change their relationship? These are tragic times for one of my favourite characters, and it’s unlikely that there will be any sort of happy ending, but no matter how depressing it gets, Gunslinger Girl is still as excellent as ever.
Minami-ke 32-3: First up, we have the familiar segment in which Kana tries to get Chiaki to sleep in by making her stay up late, only to have them both babble for hours before falling asleep in the living room- it’s an amusing segment, but an uncomfortable reminder of how much I hate having my sleep interrupted. Next, Takeru comes over and manages to find all sorts of hidden items simply by dropping a pen in a straightforward yet utterly hilarious instalment. More of the same, please.
Nodame Cantabile 120: Whilst Chiaki spends his time practising with Rui for their upcoming performance, not being able to see him has hit Nodame hard- but at the same time, these feelings of despair might be just what she needs to bring out the best in her Beethoven. And with exams just around the corner, everyone’s going to have bring something special to their music if they want to stay in Paris- but who will succeed, and who will fail? Will this manga go on forever? Will I even mind if it does?
Sketchbook 8-12: Even though it doesn’t seem particularly long, these chapters complete the first volume of Sketchbook with more 4-koma goodness and plenty of cats; not only is this one of the most consistently funny 4-koma series I’ve read, but it also outmatches the anime by keeping things light and amusing instead of trying to inject some forced thoughtfulness. Here’s hoping for even more cats in the next volume.
Tsubasa Chronicle 193: It’s flashback extravaganza again this chapter, as Syaoran’s week with Sakura slowly draws to a close. What will happen when he goes back and Sakura finishes purification ceremony? Do we even care anymore?