Annual Round-Up 2007

A normal day at Azure Flame.

It’s been a year of ups and downs, of anime gems and utter disappointments- a year when I’ve alternated between craving more and feeling utterly fed up with the continuing deluge of episodes that take no account of the fact that people might have other things to do than stay in and watch all day. Nonetheless, in true years-end tradition, we must review all the new series in an Annual Round-Up, a project which I meant to periodically update through the year but ended up writing at the last minute again.

As always, red titles are those which were dropped, and blues are the picks of the year. Come back on Tuesday for the New Year Rumble, in which we take a look at the year in the life of Azure Flame.

Continue reading “Annual Round-Up 2007”

Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A’s: the manga

Long before StrikerS came along and irretrievably damaged the reputation of the Nanoha franchise, I decided to acquire the eight chapters that comprised the Nanoha A’s manga. By the time I came to read it, I wasn’t even sure if I still wanted to, but since it was a) bearably short and b) sitting on my hard drive with a silent determination to be addressed one day, I decided that I might as well go ahead and get it out of the way.

Continue reading “Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A’s: the manga”

Weekly Round-Up: May 18th

Wanting eight hands on your ‘sword’ is just greedy.

Whilst the new domain picks up steam, what are people looking at over on the old WordPress blog? Naturally, the Uta game FAQs remain popular (you’d think everyone who wanted to would have played the games by now), but Winter Cicada is also getting a lot of views. Does hard yaoi have the staying power over mere HARD GAY?

In other news, my new laptop has arrived; not only is it the laptop of the gods but it’s also one of the few that doesn’t force Vista on you straight out of the box.

Reviewed this week: Aria 24, Iroha 25-6, Bokurano 4, Cazador 6, Ichigo Mashimaro OVA 2, KouSang 5, StrikerS 6, Nodame 16, SaiMono II 6, Seirei 6, Emma II 2-3

…and in manga: Bokurano 42

Continue reading “Weekly Round-Up: May 18th”

Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha: Why I gave up on StrikerS after just six episodes

Although I will invoke the wrath of a million fanboys, the first two seasons of Nanoha were not particularly good. Oh, they were enjoyable enough in their own way, and I certainly do not regret watching them, but let’s face it- outside the boundaries of that deadly category known as light entertainment, they could hardly aspire to being picks of the year or all-time classics. Even so, they managed to get right what StrikerS has so far got horribly wrong- but just where did it all fall apart? Continue reading “Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha: Why I gave up on StrikerS after just six episodes”

Tuesday Rumble: May 15th


For months I have been going on about the impending demise of my laptop, and it seems that the poor thing has finally demanded retirement, forcing me to order an expensive but hopefully eminently worthy “laptop of the gods2 that must last at least five years.

What we want to happen to Raki in Claymore
Even though I’m assured Raki’s role will be cut back in the future, I was already inspired by last week’s comments to create a special section detailing how Raki could have already been written out in the first four episodes of Claymore. Continue reading “Tuesday Rumble: May 15th”

Weekly Round-Up: May 11th

That damned patch worker should die for everything he”s done to us…wait, who is he anyway?

So there I was, with plenty to do on Thursday evening, when I managed to add even more tasks to the list by deciding to move to At the same time, I’m also dealing with a new Phantom Brave addiction- will there ever be enough time to get everything done and work on the HiME RPG?

Reviewed this week: Iroha 23-4, Cazador 5, Claymore 6, DtB 5, Koutetsu 4, Nanoha StrikerS 5, Nodame 15, RxJ 4-5, SaiMono II 5, SKULLMAN 1

…and in manga: Chevalier 3, Mai-Otome Arashi 1, Solanin 7, Tsubasa 152

It should come as no surprise that Heroic Age has been officially dropped.


Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto 23-4: Iroha draws even closer to its finale with this duet of episodes, which sees the end of the English chess piece team and the fruition of Soutetsu and Enomoto’s evil plans- complete with floating final boss castle. To be honest, by this point in the series, it’s become less about what it actually delivers and more about the hilarious parody interpretation, in which Akidzuki fights for a world of HARD GAY even as Enomoto and Soutetsu try to convert everyone to BI.

El Cazador de la Bruja 5: If there’s one thing that can be said about El Cazador, it’s that it’s amazingly consistent; which, when cast in a more negative light, means that every episode follows the exact same pattern. First, Nadie and Ellis stop off at a building or town that contains generics (who assist them for no other reason than that they are the main character), then some semi-generic bounty hunters come after them and the whole thing culminates in a care chase whilst Ellis uses plot powers and L.A. films it all. Meanwhile, back at the base of evil, Rosenberg enters chat rooms to ask for cybersex, and Blue Eyes gets a line or two of dialogue along the lines of “Gwakaka, Rosenberg, your plans are sure to fail!”. Sadly, it was dull the firs time, and it only gets worse with each subsequent replay- would it be too much to ask that something happened, or that the irritating generics actually died for once?

Claymore 6: Teresa’s story continues in this episode of Claymore, which continues to feature a refreshing lack of Raki, but is somehow not quite as satisfying as last week’s instalment. Teresa is still “1337”, “awesome” and “w1n”, but the bandit situation in the face of the “Claymores can’t kill humans” rule seems overly contrived. I can understood the Claymore organisation not wanting these powerful women abusing their powers against normal humans, but surely there must be provisos that allow them to defend themselves against the various bad guys out there, or at least some sort of “court martial” if their powers are used against humans, to decide whether it was justified or not?

Darker than Black 5: Even when I’m watching it right before bed and partially falling asleep in the process, Darker than Black still proves to be a worthy experience. The opening episode of the latest two part arc slips in some not so subtle references to Alias and Lost as it focuses on Havoc, a “Lost” contractor who can no longer use her once deadly powers. As always, the series skilfully blends action and exposition, and it soon becomes clear that Havoc is the key to understanding a good portion of the workings of the DtB world, as well as providing some insight into Li/Hei’s character.

Koutetsu Sangokushi 4: Although I would like to one day see an ROTK related series that is actually good, Koutetsu Sangokushi seems to prove that all they are good for is unintentional hilarity. This episode sees a boss battle of sorts between the Wu generals and the evil not-quite-generics who murdered Sun Ce in episode one, with even “I want to be a civil servant” Lu Meng and “I don’t want to be on the front lines” Zhuge Jin getting in on the action. If there’s one thing that can be said for it, it’s that this series is consistent parody white gold.

Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS 5: Nanoha, how long can I continue to watch your dullness before admitting that challenging you to do your worst in the spring preview was not the nest of ideas? Even though the end of last episode saw our heroines about to attack the enemy, it takes thirteen minutes and no fewer than six transformation scenes (five naked, nipple-less girls and one clothed shota) before the fight actually begins, and by the time it does, it’s hard to actually care about the New Characters and their Engrish speaking weapons. Even the Evil Scientist revealed at the end of the episode is depressingly generic, although his magic CCTV set up puts many of his contemporaries to shame.

Nodame Cantabile 15: Although it make a slow start, Nodame 15 soon kicks into gear when Chiaki and Nodame return to college- but whilst Chiaki is busy organising The Strongest Orchestra, Nodame runs into difficulties when she is assigned a new instructor. With this episode, we finally get a glimpse into Nodame’s past, and, brief as it is, it quickly becomes clear that the relentless ambition of her father(?) is most likely what turned her away from studying music seriously.

Romeo X Juliet 4-5: The course of true love never runs smooth, especially when you’re hopelessly enamoured with your flying horse- a fact that Romeo and Juliet soon discover in episode four. As before the series remains solidly entertaining, not to mention drenched in stunningly beautiful architecture and odd blushes whenever our lead couple gets anywhere near the horse; amusing as this is, however, the plot takes a more serious turn in episode five, as the generic Montague soldiers of evil menace evil citizens in an attempt to track down the Red Whirlwind. It’s actually rather enjoyable in its own way, although it would be even more so if the irritating Conrad didn’t exist.

Saiunkoku Monogatari II 5: Before I discuss the episode itself, I should say that everyone who is hungry for SaiMono details should try either usagijen’s superlative season two summaries, the SaiMono LJ community or these novel summaries. Anyway, getting back to this episode, Hyou Riou has finally stepped forward into the plot, with a confrontation with Shouka that stretches back to the past, when Shouka took Riou’s “bara-hime” (Shuurei’s mother) from him. Meanwhile, after thinking it through, Kouyuu is finally able to put aside his stress about being told to marry Shuurei by not letting himself be rushed into a decision, and Eigetsu and Kourin finally admit their feelings for each- right before Eigetsu leaves to do something meaningful with his last days. It seems that Yougetsu was once a separate person who went into Eigetsu’s body to save his life, whilst apparently Doushu had half of Eigetsu’s soul- I’m not sure how this latter works or fits in with everything else, but it seems that Doushu’s death is an indication that Eigetsu’s time is near. I hope that there’s a way for him to live on, since whilst he isn’t my favourite character, that’s no reason to want him to die, especially just as he’s making some progress with both his career and his love life.

I am too bishie for most people to endure.”

*NEW/DROPPED* SKULLMAN 1: Have I mentioned before that Skullman has a skull for a head? It’s just that I’m not entirely sure that everyone is clear on that point yet, or how having a character with a skull for a head must immediately make a series dark and gritty. Unfortunately, where I was hoping that this series would therefore either be laughably cheesy or actually good, it turned out to be largely boring, following the unremarkable exploits of a flat-capped reporter as he tries to ferret out the truth behind Skullman. Accompanying him is a girl who has similarly poor taste in headwear, although unfortunately I’m not quite clear on whether she’s his little sister or just some unknown who tagged along to be the token female. Whatever the case, these two hardly make for fascinating viewing, with the only good part of the episode being Skullman’s appearance at the end (he spends most of the episode off polishing his skull). Even then, I cannot really hold out much hope for it, since it seems he’s meant to be a sadistic mutant who got burned to death in the original rather than the tortured yet honourable anti-hero I was hoping for.

Seirei no Moribito 5: It says a lot about the ambient quality of Seirei that I can sit and watch what is effectively a half-exposition, half-setup episode and enjoy it more than the best instalments of the average anime. In this episode, shaman Torogai gives us some detail on the exact nature of the water spirit living in Chagum, whilst Balsa is forced to plan her next few moves when the Emperor organises a large scale manhunt for the woman who supposedly burnt down the Second Palace- it may be straightforward, but it’s also strangely addictive.


Chevalier 3: When a formerly illiterate baker magically gains the ability to read and write, it is clear that something is amiss, and so it is that d’Eon is sent to investigate what seems to be the emergence of a new Poet. Unlike the lacklustre opening, this chapter is actually quite worthy, and whilst it is clear that the manga will never grab me in the way the anime did, I’m more enthused about reading it now.

*CATCH-UP* Elfen Lied 1-75: At long last, I’ve made the effort to get up to date with the translations of the Elfen Lied manga, although disappointingly it doesn’t hold the same appeal as the anime did for me- for where the anime used superior presentation to override my basic dislike of gratuitous violence and fanservice, the manga just drenches the whole thing in unpleasant bodily fluids. The only consolation is that by volume 8, we have finally gone beyond the anime, and so I remain interested to see where the manga version of the story will go from here.

*NEW* Mai-Otome Arashi 1: No matter how much I struggle, I can never be truly free of the monster that is Mai-Otome, and so it is that my long absence from its manga incarnation has come to an end with the first chapter of this sequel to the original manga. With evil Sergey long gone, Manshiro is enjoying a life of being pressed against his harem’s breasts at Garderobe, when Nagi’s previously unmentioned younger brother Arashi shows up to demand that he and “Queen Mashiro” get married- thus setting the stage for a whole new adventure packed with nudity and over the top fanservice that makes most other series look tame.

Solanin 7: After many months, we finally get a new chapter of Solanin, and it’s crunch time for our lead as she realises her dwindling finances mean she will have to make a decision about her life soon- but did she quit in the first place just to see how it would affect her relationship with her boyfriend? Although the last couple of chapters took a bit of an unexpected detour into the lives of side characters, the story is now back on track and as strong as ever, although I’ve suddenly come to notice how ugly the character designs can look at times.

Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle 152: Just as Fye is about to give up the sight in his remaining eye, the power of friendship kicks in, and Syaoran-real, Kurogane and Mokona all agree to come along with him and pay a quarter of the price as they head to Celes to recover Sakura’s body. In the meantime, the long absent Fei Wong stops watching Sky Movies to pay attention to his magic CCTV, in which he notes that the original course of events was to have Fye stab Syaoran-real, and that when Fye gets back to Celes, he will find himself bound by another curse (the first one having apparently been broken). I still don’t know where the story is going, but let’s hope it gets there soon- although it must be said that I’m hopeful this arc will be better than the last three.

Tuesday Rumble: May 8th

chibi-dii-blog.pngThis week, let’s begin with an amusing comment that sadly didn’t make it past the net of approval. Intended to appear on the long-dormant Annual Round Up, it reads only “HI! My name is Ndaproverka, and i search frend! :)”. Good luck, Nodaproverka, I hope you find Frend, whoever he is.

Gundam Pizza Hut
Many of you must have wondered where the Gundam franchise would go next, or how it could possible top the masterpiece of angst, pointless characters, flashbacks and long stretches of boredom that is commonly referred to as Gundam Seed Destiny. Fortunately, Tuesday Rumble can exclusively reveal the next title in the long-running Gundam franchise- Gundam Pizza Hut! Continue reading “Tuesday Rumble: May 8th”

Weekly Round-Up: May 4th

May has arrived, and that can only mean that the time for pruning many of the series picked up in April is at hand. In the meantime, visit this thread to learn about the world’s most hilariously awful book.

Reviewed this week: Bokurano 3, Cazador 4, Chevalier 22-4, Claymore 5, Darker than Black 4, Heroic Age 5, Nanoha StrikerS 4, Murder Princess 2, Nodame 14, ROTK 44, SaiMono II 4, Seirei no Moribito 2-4, Sisters of Wellber 1

…and in manga: Nothing this week!

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Weekly Round-Up: April 27th

There still seems to be too much anime to keep on top of, with only dull and infrequently released OVAs thus far being worth the chop. Still, I must try to keep on top of it, for matters will only get worse if I get horribly behind.

Reviewed this week: Bokurano 2, Cazador 3, Chevalier 21, Claymore 4, Darker than Black 3, Heroic Age 4, Koutetsu Sangokushi 2-3, Nanoha StrikerS 3, MariMite OVA 3, Nodame 11-13, Romeo X Juliet 3, SaiMono II 3, Sakura Taisen NY 2, Emma II 1

…and in manga: Bokurano 41, Cazador 1, Meine Liebe omake, REC 29, SaiMono 6, Tennai 25, Tsubasa 151 (I successfully resisted the urge to download School Rumble)

Since I’m lazy when it comes to text parody, Seirei no Moribito 2-3 will appear next week.

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Weekly Round-Up: April 20th

“Excuse me, but are those really the only options?”

There seemed to be altogether too much anime to watch this week, but somehow I made it through it all- with the exception of Koutetsu 2, which needs to be given full parody treatment.

Reviewed this week: Iroha 20-22, Cazador 2, Chevalier 19-20, Claymore 3, Darker than Black 2, Heroic Age 2-3, Nanoha StrikerS 2, Romeo X Juliet 2, SaiMono II 2, Shining Tears 1-2, Winter Cicada 2

…and in manga: School Rumble 221, Tsubasa 150

Continue reading “Weekly Round-Up: April 20th”