Weekly Round-Up: August 8th
Backlog catch-up is a myth.
Reviewed this week: Amatsuki 12-13, Antique Bakery 3-4, Blade of the Immortal 2, Chi’s Sweet Home 53-68, Detroit Metal City 1, Eve no Jikan 1, Himawari!! 6, Itazura na Kiss 17, Kaiba 11-12, Koihime Musou 4, Kyouran Kazoku Nikki 12, Otome S.ifr 2, Nabari no Ou 17-18, Natsume Yuujinchou 4-5, Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu 4, Persona Trinity Soul 22-6, Real Drive 13, Ryoko’s Case File 4, Someday’s Dreamers ~Summer Skies~ 4, Soul Eater 16-18, Telepathy Shoujo Ran 6-7, Wagaya no Oinari-sama 14-15, Xam’D 3
…and in manga: .hack//Link 3, Caramel Espresso 1-2, Clannad 6-8, Claymore 82, Elfen Lied 89-101, FMA 85, MariMite 25-7, Minami-ke 34-5, Nodame 121, Rose of Versailles 9-10, Sketchbook 13-16, Slayers Aqualord 1, Slayers Revolution 3, Tsubasa 194, Wagaya no Oinari-sama 1, xxxHOLiC 159-161, Yotsuba&! 55
CURRENT SERIES RANKINGS
- Chi’s Sweet Home (1)- Chi plays
- Kaiba (2) – who am I? <-complete!
- Hidamari Sketch x365 (3) – 365 times the fun
- Soul Eater (4) – symmetry
- Xam’d- Lost Memories (5) – Bones does it again
- Natsume Yuujinchou (6) – Nyanko-sensei forever!
- Wagaya no Oinari-sama (7) – hot springs
- Nabari no Ou (8) – change of side
- Slayers Revolution (9) – Dragon Slave
- Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu (14) – maid secrets
- Persona Trinity Soul (11) – what did it all mean? <- complete!
- Detroit Metal City (-) – I’m gonna f***ing raep you! <-new!
- Koihime Musou (10) – Guan Yu has more breasts and less beard
- Antique Bakery (15) – Young Master!
- Kyouran Kazoku Nikki (16) – fillerific
- Someday’s Dreamers ~Summer Skies~ (12) – open the safe
- Ryoko’s Case File (18) – superintendant
- Real Drive (13) – flashback
- World Destruction (19) – tree
- Himitsu (21) – faceless
- Amatsuki (20) – inconclusive <-complete!
- Allison and Lillia (23) – plane crash is the new train wreck
- Telepathy Shoujo Ran (17) – and I would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for those meddling kids!
- Blade of the Immortal (22) – boring <-dropped!
- Itazura na Kiss (24) – dislikeable cast
- Chocolate Underground (25) – chocolate is forbidden
- Tetsuko no Tabi (1)- is this ever going to be subbed?
- Love GetChu! (2)- light entertainment
- Gunslinger Girl- Il teatrino (3)- licensed
- Himawari!! (4) – needs less plot
*COMPLETE* Amatsuki 12-13: At long last, the series so dull and unable to maintain a consistent plotline that I barely knew or cared what was going on has come to an end, although to call something as inconclusive as this an ending is stretching it a bit. In episode twelve, Toki manages to save Imayou from evil somehow and turn her into a cute fox once again, before episode thirteen sees Ginshu call down the Hand of God, everything turns a bit Matrix-esque and then it all ends with the announcement that Toki may have to become the next overseer of this world. I’ll go into more detail in its own specific review, but suffice to say that after a slightly promising start, Amatsuki was barely worth watching. If you haven’t tried it, don’t bother.
Antique Bakery 3-4: Two more episodes in, and the HARD GAY has gone off the scale as Tachibana’s childhood friend Chikage shows up. Chikage holds a candle for “Young Master” Tachibana, but when he takes off his sunglasses, he captures Ono’s heart leading to new extremes of lust, longing and a general HARD GAY atmosphere. At least it’s somewhat amusing.
*DROPPED* Blade of the Immortal 2: It’s been proven that I can sit through near endless amounts of mediocrity, but there inevitably comes a time when one of the worse series just goes a step too far, and this week, Blade of the Immortal has proven too dull to continue with. In this episode, we see a flashback of a generic wronged family, before we return to the present, where the one survivor has grown up and now wants to travel with our lead on the way to revenge. When you put it like that, it sounds fairly inoffensive, but there’s absolutely no reason to care about what’s going. Bee Train has really outdone themselves this time.
Chi’s Sweet Home 53-68: If the rash of average series that has infected us this season can be thought of as a kind of dull gruel, then Chi’s Sweet Home is the delicious chocolate chips in my viewing schedule, renewing my faith in the medium as a whole and refreshing my stamina for everything else. In this batch of episodes, Chi gets a return visit to the vet, plays in a storm, experiences the family getting ill, becomes addicted to snack treats and generally does all sorts of cute cat-like things. The most hilarious moment occurs when Chi gets into a net, secure in the knowledge that no one can catch her- right up until Youhei seals her in.
*NEW* Detroit Metal City 1: Negishi is a mild-mannered young man who came to Tokyo to make it big as a guitar player; but whilst he may play wholesome songs of peace and harmony by day, by night he becomes Krauzer, lead singer for Detroit Metal City, a death metal band who has built their reputation on explicit lyrics. The trouble is, Krauser has a tendency to emerge as and when he will, and as long as that happens, Negishi won’t get any girls. Thus begins a new OVA series based on the manga of the same name, and whilst this is certainly something you won’t want to watch in polite company (or perhaps any company whatsoever), there is something amusing to be found from the mismatch between the two personalities.
*NEW* Eve no Jikan 1: In a world where androids have become integrated into all walks of life (yes, another one), there is only one place where artificial intelligence and humans can be treated on the same level- a small café located in an obscure back street. Just like the café in Mizu no Kotoba (is it meant to be the same place?), humans and androids are treated equally here, as our protagonist discovers when he stumbles on it after checking his android’s movement logs. Although the overall premise may not be particularly original, this is a well animated and reasonably thought provoking piece that immediately stands out from most of the dross we’ve been subjected to lately.
Himawari!! 6: Hayato and the girls have been left alone, but whilst they try to figure out what’s going on, who should show up but Tsubaki- and this time she wants to duel Himawari to see who is worthy of Hayato-dono’s heart. As with the rest of the season, this is a pretty average episode, although at least the infamous birthmark is having some significance this time around.
Itazura na Kiss 17: Another week, another episode of Itazura na Kiss that gives us no reason to do anything but despise all of the characters. Kotoko has finally made it into nursing school (skipping straight to the second year for some reason) but in predictable fashion she is an incompetent klutz that I wouldn’t wish on any patient, whilst her new classmates are all obsessed with Naoki- first trailing him to find out the identity of his wife (since Kotoko gets into a situation where she can’t easily admit it) and the deciding that it will be easy to get Naoki to divorce her and go after them. Well, aside from the fact that he’s a complete and utter bastard, vowing to break up someone’s marriage is a bit much even when viewed in a ‘comedic’ light, whilst the one character who isn’t interested in Naoki seems likely to end up falling for Kotoko. Oh dear, what a tangle.
*COMPLETE* Kaiba 11-12: Episode eleven sees Popo ascend to the world above, but his victory is a pyrrhic one- Cheki, the one who he wanted to see his victory, no longer has any memories of their shared past, whilst a careless mistake sees his mother’s memory chip consigned to oblivion. Not that Popo’s achievements are to be long-lived, given the number of people ready and willing to snatch it all away from him- setting the stage for Kaiba-Warp to meet and battle the fake. Can Neiro and Hyo-Hyo (who contains Neiro’s original memories) help Kaiba-Warp to claim victory and defeat the plant, all without losing himself in the mass of memories he possesses? I can’t say that this series made complete sense to me, but it was still very good, and one of the few select series that deserves watching again.
Koihime Musou 4: When Cao Cao shows up in town, Ma Chao decides to take revenge for the death of her father, and when she lands in prison because of it, Guan Yu must offer her body to the ambitious warlord in return for her friend’s freedom. Although the deed doesn’t actually take place, this episode takes the ecchi levels up several notches (presumably they slept together in the original game) but if you discount those moments, the series is still mildly entertaining if you view it with rose-tinted glasses.
Kyouran Kazoku Nikki 12: Although I have occasionally complained about the family going overboard and ruining everything, what I didn’t count on was an episode in which they all but completely failed to appear. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what we get here, with a filler episode about a random college student who takes in a catgirl. The catgirl is rather cute, but the episode is hardly anything to write home about- unless you want to write home to explain how you just wasted twenty-five minutes of your life.
Mai-Otome 0 S.ifr 2: Since I completely forgot to watch this raw, I ended up catching my first subbed episode of Mai-Otome since the original series, as the prequel tale of Sifr, Bruce and Rena continues. Whilst Schwarz try to convince Sifr that their dodgy haircuts and generic minions are in no way any indication that they are, in fact, evil, Rena has an angst session with a bishie and his brother Reito in the desert, Elliot gets stripped naked for some reason and various other uninteresting things happen. But the true indicator that the franchise has gone downhill is that this episode is completely lacking in fat grey cats, or indeed any cats whatsoever. Bring back the cats!
Nabari no Ou 17-18: Although you wouldn’t expect it of a series purporting to contain ninjas and action, I’ve come to realise that the best way to enjoy Nabari no Ou is to adapt oneself to its tranquil pacing- if you do this, it somehow becomes more enjoyable. Anyway, episode seventeen sees Raimei lead Yukimi to the school in an attempt to keep him away from Thobari and everyone else, but as it turns out, Thobari is there shredding documents anyway. Perhaps it’s just as well, however, as Raimei’s character has degenerated into that of a pathetic female who can’t do anything, much to my disappointment. Then in episode eighteen Yoite enters Angst Mode after learning that he has a month to live, causing him to wander the wintry streets in his pyjamas, coughing up blood. Nice.
Natsume Yuujinchou 4-5: It’s time for Natsume Yuujinchou to show lesser series how it’s done in this double bill of episodes; first up, we have a test of courage that sees Natsume and his friends wander the school at night, only to discover that there may actually be a ghost, followed by an encounter with a none-too-bright demon at the station that leads to Natsume attempting to complete a reconciliation Reiko forgot to do anything about. It may not be mind-blowingly original, but the series has a perfect trump card in the form of Nyanko-sensei, who reveals that he can also transform into an attractive young woman alongside his fat cat and Okami forms.
Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu 4: It’s time for another classic anime storyline this week on Haruka, as our intrepid main characters decide to trail Haruka’s maid in order to discover why she might have a life of her own outside the household. The entire script has basically been lifted out of the annals of anime history, and the fact that it is better than several other things I’ve watched this week is only an indictment on their low quality rather than endorsement of this.
*COMPLETE* Persona Trinity Soul 22-6: Well, the best that I can say about is that at least it’s over, because overall this last batch of episodes was as underwhelming as the rest of the series. Whilst people continue to sink into apathy, switch consciousness and all the rest, several main characters die (I must admit I felt sad for Kanaru, given her true nature) and Shin learns the hideous truth of his past before entering a persona-driven boss battle. Would I have got more out of this series if I’d played the game first? Perhaps, but I’m waiting it for reduce in price before I buy it.
Real Drive 13: Amidst all the boring and monotonous episodes to pass my eyes this week, one stands out above them all, and it is this- Real Drive’s own attempt at something even more fillerific than the average filler episode. In this episode, Haru and Minamo drag us along on their day off, in which they look at pictures and reminisce about Haru’s youth- complete with musical interludes in place of dialogue. In the annals of dull, this episode must surely deserve some sort of prize.
Ryoko’s Case File 4: The affable and none-too-bright Jun’ichiro accompanies Ryoko on another case in this episode (you don’t say!), in which they embark on a dialogue ridden investigation into a company researching the creation of artificial/genetically-engineered/whatever life forms. To cut to the chase, what they produced was a hideous green monster, but the woman who mothered it considers it her son and runs off with it in her arms. It’s a little disturbing, and I almost wish it would go back to the 90s where it belongs.
Someday’s Dreamers ~Summer Skies~ 4: It’s Midorikawa’s turn in the spotlight this episode, as we learn of the predictably troubled past that made him into the moody teen he is- basically, after learning that her husband and son had mage potential, Midorikawa’s mother walked out on them, whilst his classmates rejected him. Now he must learn to face up to his situation, but in a rather unpleasant turn of events, one client wants to recapture the taste of a nostalgic drink- and the mages give her breast milk. Yes, that’s right- rather creepily, a glass full of breast milk appears out of nowhere and the woman drinks it. I guess if you want to get technical then it’s not much different to drinking something that’s come from a cow’s udder, but the thought of it is somehow far, far worse.
This isn’t Bartender, you know.
Soul Eater 16-18: Episode sixteen concludes Kid’s visit to Nidhogg and his duel with both the ship and Ragnarok (ending in an appropriately symmetric situation, of course), before we move onto the realms of complete filler with episode seventeen. Perhaps the worst episode of the series so far, seventeen sees minor character Oxford visit Excalibur and basically listen to him ramble on for twenty-five minutes. Fortunately, eighteen is quick to get things moving again, as Medusa’s plans come to fruition and it is left to the named characters to try to stop her. Hopefully this means plenty of action and lots of ‘coolness’ in the upcoming episodes.
Telepathy Shoujo Ran 6-7: Scooby-Doo meets the 21st century in this duet of episodes, as our heroes set off to an inn which has been plagued by ghost sightings. Could it be the work of the evil man who wants to buy the inn from the family that manages it? Is water wet? Unfortunately, where episode six can be watched with a sense of smug superiority that you know what will take the protagonists a while to discover, episode seven is entirely dull as they slowly struggle to conclusions you no longer care about. I’m toying with dropping this series.
Wagaya no Oinari-sama 14-15: It’s time for new characters and a new arc as Tohru gets a mysterious girl delivered to him by a large cat- but who is she, and why would the Oni go to such lengths as to capture Kuu-chan just to find out her whereabouts? Naturally, Kuu-chan isn’t without her tricks, even using Mubyou’s voice over a cell phone to break a sealing spell. It’s entertaining stuff, even if the conclusion of episode fifteen indicates that there might be a slightly tedious arc ahead.
World Destruction 4: World Destruction reaches new lows in this episode, as we visit a village where the frogman leader has cut down all of the sakura trees- except for one, which is purported to be cursed. What follows is a lot of running around from our leads in an attempt to maintain the illusion of the curse, resulting in so much mayhem that they really didn’t need to pretend at all. Drum this into your head once and for all- no good can come from RPG-based series.
Xam’d- Lost Memories 3: Akiyuki must adjust to his life on the ship in preparation for his Eureka Seven style adventures to come, but naturally he’s none too pleased to learn that not only is his old life over, but he’s going to have to work for a living from now on. As the obligatory “hero reluctantly settles into his new role” episode, this isn’t the best episode thus far, but I’m optimistic that it will all pay off in the future.
.hack//Link 3: Whilst the villain group receives orders via magic CCTV (I wonder if they bought it from Yata and Pai), Tokio is demoted from hero to servant of fellow player Saika and given the mission of tracking down the Chrono Cores before the villains get them. The first Chrono Core is in the hands of familiar face Tsukasa, although given all the revisions of the World, it’s hard to know whether this has a connection to the real Tsukasa or if it’s just a data ghost. And let’s not even get into the use of the age old “collect all the special items before the enemy does” direction that the plot is taking.
*NEW* Caramel Espresso 1-2: Why do all the gay series have misleadingly intriguing names? Anyway, in this rather bizarre excuse for HARD GAY, Sayuu is a coffee shop worker and university student who wakes up one morning to find that he has suddenly become left-handed. Tracing back the origin of the switch to a customer at the café, he becomes acquainted with Aki, a quiet young man who has a HARD GAY dominant alter ego named Ao. Since Ao was produced from suppressing the painful memories of a troubled childhood and a need to hide his HARD GAY from homophobic adults, Aki seems to hope that having a relationship with Sayuu will help him to integrate his alter ego- and even though Sayuu is STRAIGHT, he finds himself oddly attracted to Aki (yeah, like we haven’t seen that happen before). It’s all a bit convoluted, but by the end of chapter two we’re already down to the sausage-fest.
Clannad 6-8: With all the excess of the other girls’ stories clipped out, the Clannad manga is moving at a fast pace down Nagisa’s track- which of course suits me just fine. First up we attend to the restoration of the drama club, which is easily achieved without resorting to baseball matches, before Tomoya’s situation with his father becomes so untenable that he moves in with Nagisa’s family. Yes, it’s familiar ground, but it’s nice to be covering it this quickly.
Claymore 82: Whilst Renee is captured by Riful and persuaded to cooperate with her in exchange for the chance to regenerate her legs, Claire’s team decide to resolve their personal issues in preparation for the final attack on North Crater the Abyssal Ones. For the lesser characters, this means visiting their hometowns, but for Claire, only tracking down Raki will be enough to set aside the last of her doubts. A fated meeting is no doubt in their future, but what will come of it? Let’s hope we don’t have to wait too many months to find out.
Elfen Lied 89-101: A bulk catch-up on Elfen Lied takes us almost to the end of the series, and it’s a far cry from the situation we once knew. Female Researcher has developed a vaccine that could cure the Diclonius virus, but it’s only with considerable outside help that she can get it past all the Diclonii that have broken out of the research facility. Meanwhile, Lucy’s powers have levelled up significantly, but will Kouta accept her, or turn her away for all the lives she’s taken? It’s to see some real plot development- after all, so close to the end, we can’t do without it.
Fullmetal Alchemist 85: The time has come for those who oppose Bradley to make their move, but when terrorists blow up his train, Father himself comes forward out of the shadows to take control. Meanwhile, Ed is reunited with his father, but when Al shows up, something seems amiss. It seems as if the plot isn’t afraid to march forward at this stage, but what will happen next? The anticipation for the next chapter is great.
Maria-sama ga Miteru 25-7: Since the order of arcs was switched round a little, it’s now time for the Rosa Canina arc, as the third years prepare to graduate and Shimako seems reluctant to run against new character Kanina Shizuka in the Yamayurikai elections. Again, it’s enjoyable to revisit this arc in a format where I can take it at my own pace, but with these chapters only covering about half of the story, it would be nice to have the rest to hand even though I know how it will turn out.
Minami-ke 34-5: After the girls try on each other’s uniforms, Kana becomes obsessed with the effect of appearances, even going so far as to borrow Keiko’s glasses in order to become more intellectual. These chapters aren’t the best examples of the series, but they’re entertaining enough.
Nodame Cantabile 121: After a quick catch-up with Streseman in New York (where a little boy wipes dog faeces on him), we return to Paris to see Chiaki, Rui and the orchestra continue their rehearsals and field an interview from Classic Life magazine, whilst in the background, Nodame practises some Debussy. Not a particularly eventful chapter, but one that seems to indicate the manga could go on forever.
Rose of Versailles 9-10: With the passing of Louis XV, Louis XVI takes the throne and Marie Antoinette becomes Queen of France, but hopes of a new age for France are quickly dashed when the beautiful young queen seems more interested in using the country’s finances to order finery for herself than for helping the people. Meanwhile, Jeanne carries out a plan to earn herself her benefactor’s title and money, whilst poor Rosalie hits rock bottom. Of course, we all know how this particular period in history turned out, but you can’t help urging Marie Antoinette to realise the error of her ways before the guillotine starts looming.
Sketchbook 13-16: I can’t express how much better this manga is than the anime as it continues onwards into volume two, complete with fresh humour, more moments of randomness and everything you could want from this sort of light-hearted comedy. There’s only so many different ways I can express these sentiments, but I’ll keep repeating them for as long it takes to complete this series.
*NEW* Slayers- Knight of Aqua Lord 1: Another Slayers series, Knight of Aqua Lord doesn’t fit into either novel or TV series canon as we see Lina and Gourry head off to a cursed island in an attempt to find enough treasure to pay off a gambling debt. Unfortunately, things go a little pear-shaped when the fearless duo is attacked by giant water dragons, with Lina waking up in a strange land where her magic doesn’t work! How will Lina fare without her trusty Fireball and Dragon Slave? Presumably we’ll find out in the next few chapters.
Slayers Revolution 3: Much of this chapter is just a retread of episode five, and since I only wrote about that last week, I won’t bother to recount it here. There are some slight additions, however, at the end, as Xellos and Waiser team up with the goal of arresting Lina (again), and the evil Marquess dispatches a mid-boss type assassin named Zuuma to be inevitably defeated at the hands of our heroes in the near future.
Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle 194: If you thought very little had happened in the last few chapters, then even less happens here as Sakura has some sort of premonition of danger and Syaoran decides that he must accompany her during the ceremony- which will be occurring next chapter at the earliest. Could the pace be getting slower than even that of the infamous bus arc?
*NEW* Wagaya no Oinari-sama 1: The first chapter of the Wagaya manga is actually much the same as the first episode (albeit without covering the ending) so thus far there isn’t much to say, except to comment that Kuu-chan’s female form looks younger and cuter than her anime form. Personally, I prefer the sophisticated look of the latter.
xxxHOLiC 159-161: Whilst Watanuki realises that he can live without his memories as long as he’s the main character of the series, the bulk of these chapters seems to be affirming his HARD GAY relationship with Doumeki- with a visit to Early Chapters Fortune Teller and her new apprentice Kohane indicating that they are destined to be together. At the end of 161, however, a new customer comes to the shop- could this be the long-awaited start of a new story?
Yotsuba&! 55: Dad has plans to buy some clothes for the autumn, but Yotsuba being Yotsuba means that they inevitably get sidetracked when she decides that she needs to collect some acorns. Yes, it’s another delightfully whimsical chapter in the life of everyone’s favourite green-haired five-year-old; may it last for a good while yet.
Posted: August 8th, 2008 under Weekly Round-Up.
Tags: .hack, Amatsuki, Antique Bakery, Blade of the Immortal, Caramel Espresso, Chi's Sweet Home, Clannad, Claymore, Detroit Metal City, Elfen Lied, Eve no Jikan, FMA, Himawari, Itazura na Kiss, Kaiba, Koihime Musou, Kyouran Kazoku Nikki, Mai-Otome, MariMite, Minami-ke, Nabari no Ou, Natsume Yuujinchou, Nodame Cantabile, Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu, Persona Trinity Soul, Real Drive, Rose of Versailles, Ryoko's Case File, Sketchbook, Slayers, Someday's Dreamers, Soul Eater, Telepathy Shoujo Ran, Tsubasa Chronicle, Wagaya no Oinari-sama, Xam'D, xxxHOLiC, Yotsuba&!