Weekly Round-Up: August 15th
Sadly no- that’s why I dropped the series.
Reviewed this week: Hidamari Sketch x365 5-6, Itazura na Kiss 18, Koihime Musou 5, Kyouran Kazoku Nikki 13, Nabari no Ou 19, Natsume Yuujinchou 6, Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu 5, Ryoko’s Case File 5, Slayers Revolution 6, Someday’s Dreamers ~Summer Skies~ 5, Soul Eater 19, World Destruction 5-6, Xam’D 4-5
…and in manga: Doubt 1-13, FMA 86, Minami-ke 36, Mozart Doesn’t Sing Lullabies 11, Nodame Cantabile 122, Shinigami no Ballad 4-6, Sketchbook 17-18, Tsubasa 195-6, xxxHOLiC 162
CURRENT SERIES RANKINGS
- Chi’s Sweet Home (1)- cuteness overload
- Hidamari Sketch x365 (3) – 365 times the fun
- Soul Eater (4) – vectors
- Xam’d- Lost Memories (5) – what’s going on?
- Natsume Yuujinchou (6) – Nyanko-sensei forever!
- Wagaya no Oinari-sama (7) – pure white oni
- Nabari no Ou (8) – change of side
- Detroit Metal City (12) – I’m gonna f***ing raep you!
- Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu (10) – Shiina
- Slayers Revolution (9) – Dragon Slave
- Koihime Musou (13) – Guan Yu has more breasts and less beard
- Antique Bakery (14) – Young Master!
- Kyouran Kazoku Nikki (15) – everything at or below this time is wasting my precious life!
- Someday’s Dreamers ~Summer Skies~ (16) – magic can’t do everything
- Ryoko’s Case File (17) – superintendant
- Real Drive (18) – flashback
- World Destruction (19) – tree
- Himitsu (20) – faceless
- Allison and Lillia (22) – plane crash is the new train wreck
- Telepathy Shoujo Ran (23) – and I would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for those meddling kids!
- Itazura na Kiss (25) – dislikeable cast
- Chocolate Underground (26) – chocolate is forbidden
Hidamari Sketch x365 5-6: It’s time for double fun with Hidamari Sketch, starting with an episode in which Chika visits during spring break- a situation in which very little of consequence happens, but it all proves to be entertaining (although for some reason I just can’t like Chika as much as the other girls). Next up, we have a two-part episode which starts with Sae using up her summer vacation to think up new storylines, with the old running joke about her not wanting to admit her lack of experience in love, before rounding off with a November segment about making choux pastry. It’s all good fun, and adding in a cooking element is just the icing on the cake (no pun intended), making for a series that is always entertaining to watch.
Itazura na Kiss 18: At the risk of sounding ever so slightly repetitive, I must note how much I hate all the characters in Itazura na Kiss. Whilst Kotoko continues being such a useless trainee nurse that I fear for the health of anyone who becomes her patient, Naoki continues to be a cold-hearted bastard who cares more for the newspaper than his wife. Understandably, Kotoko’s friends wonder how she can put up with such a husband, but after coming across as quite a sympathetic character, Keita manages to blow it by suggesting that Kotoko break up with Naoki as casually as if they were just dating. No, they shouldn’t be together, but having married you’d better be damn sure you know the situation before suggesting they break up. Maybe I’m getting too old to enjoy this sort of thing.
What a loving relationship.
Koihime Musou 5: When our heroines stumble upon a village where a mysterious monster blocks up their homes with rocks if they don’t offer it food, Zhao Yun volunteers them for the task of sorting it out. Naturally, the other two girls are scared at the prospect of a monster- although of course the explanation is far more prosaic, as it turns out to be the solitary Lu Bu (Ryofu) living alone and feeding dogs- at least until she makes some brand new friends and comes to work in the court of the surprisingly young and cute Dong Zhuo- a far cry from his fat, bearded Dynasty Warriors self.
Kyouran Kazoku Nikki 13: After the fillerific episode twelve, the only way for Kyouran Kazoku Nikki was up, and indeed, after episode thirteen, it’s managed to claw its way back up to the usual level of senselessness that the series specialises in. This time around, we see Chika struggling with being an outsider, whilst also dealing with disappearances at her school that lead into the introduction of a tiresome main villain for the series. Sadly, any chance of a thoughtful moment of character insight is completely spoiled by the stupidity that surrounds it- but that’s what we’ve come to expect from this series.
Nabari no Ou 19: The tranquil pace continues in this episode, as Yoite returns from walkabout to eat strawberry cake (of Doom) and Yukimi has a flashback to the days when Yoite didn’t even have his own name. There are actually hints that something might be happening soon by the end of the episode, but everything’s become so convoluted that I don’t hold out hope that anything can be settled in a timely fashion.
Natsume Yuujinchou 6: When a dammed up river dries out for the summer, the spirits that live there are free to get out- including some who’d like their names back from the Book of Friends. Also emerging from the river is a swallow spirit who wants nothing more than to see a particular person again- but can Natsume be persuaded to aid her in her quest, and if he does, what will Nyanko-sensei think of it? Although I’m still unsure as to why Nyanko-sensei has even chosen to stay with Natsume, this was a nice little character development piece for our lead as he realises that he can and does care about other people.
Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu 5: Haruka remains in safe anime territory this week as ‘panty shot girl’ Shiina transfers into Yuuto and Haruka’s class and becomes an instant hit. What follows is the obligatory swimming pool episode, but even if this series isn’t budging from the tried-and-true storylines of anime, it still just manages to be more entertaining than the lower level series on the list. Maybe it’s just the bright colours, but it certainly has something they lack.
Ryoko’s Case File 5: Although I had heard second-hand that Ryoko’s Case File would improve in this episode, I have to say that it’s an improvement so small as to be imperceptible to me. This time around, Jun’ichirou is looking after a young relative of his when a case suddenly comes up, forcing him and Ryoko to enter a building owned by a business, get kidnapped for about two minutes, and do some other things so fascinating that I don’t even recall what they were. Meanwhile, instead of realising the wisdom of staying put, said young relative decides to walk right into danger, making the whole situation that much trickier. Oh, but she does secretly have a crush on Jun’ichirou, so I suppose that makes it all right.
Slayers Revolution 6: It’s time for the obligatory HARD GAY episode as our intrepid heroes enter ‘Gongoro’, a legendary village which devotes its time to making giant balls to roll up a mountain (no, really). What follows is the typical competition episode as Lina’s team, Pocota’s team and some minor enemies all support different factions in the ball-rolling contest- it’s reasonably entertaining, but this story was already done better between Lina and Naga in one of the OVAs.
Someday’s Dreamers ~Summer Skies~ 5: After the creepiness of the breast milk, any magic the series showed us could only be an improvement, although sadly all it does is take the series into the realms of the unbearably twee. First up, Sora uses her power to restore a treasured comb that a woman’s deceased husband clutched as he went to his death, before she awakens a mother who has been in a coma- albeit at the expense of her memories. I’m rather happy that magic couldn’t solve anything in the latter case, as if it had I might have just been overcome by the unhealthy wholesomeness of it all. In other news, we learn that Sora’s mentor likes playing the guitar, and that minor characters like screentime- which is no big surprise.
Soul Eater 19: The named characters are ready to fight their opponents, who have happily been laid in such a way that everyone gets their own personal fight. First up, the junior members must get past Medusa whilst Stein and Papa distract her- but will even the professor be a match for her vector-based attacks (with vectors and symmetry, this is turning into a surprisingly mathematical series)? Well, we know that the heroes must prevail, but watching them fight is the main attraction here- and it’s one that seems certain to keep us thoroughly entertained (see, I can give praise where it’s due).
World Destruction 5-6: If there’s one thing you can say about World Destruction, it’s that at least it’s consistent- consistently poor, that is. In episode five, we enter a town where an old friend of Toppi’s (his name is Yappi, he’s a small black bear with an eyepatch and he says ‘bear’ at the end of every sentence- but no resemblance to anyone we know, eh?) has fallen to the dark practice of selling humans to the gladiatorial arena- but don’t worry, boys and girls, because Toppi will help him see the light. Next up, our heroes enter Summerland, only for Kyrie (I remember his name now) to faint in the heat and end up under the care of an elephant beastman who is secretly trying to atone for the evils of his past. Oh well, at least the series is helping to improve my multitasking abilities, since I can now download images, watch anime and have another streaming video running all at the same time without missing out on too much.
Xam’D- Lost Memories 4-5: I have to admit that as Xam’D progresses, I’m starting to lose the thread of what’s going on- although in spite of that it remains a quality series nonetheless. Whilst Akiyuki settles into the training needed to become a postal worker who doesn’t transform into a monster, various other characters follow separate threads, with the series seemingly setting up a Dominic-style character in episode five. I get the feeling this series would be better watched as a marathon, but that’s not exactly possible right now.
*CATCH-UP* Doubt 1-13: Inspired by both Necromancer and THAT, I’ve jumped on the bandwagon of Doubt (not to be confused with an older manga series, also called Doubt). As I’m sure you’ve heard already, Rabbit Doubt is a popular online game where the players take on the role of rabbits out to find the wolf in their midst before they all get killed; unfortunately, things go a step too far when a real life meeting of Rabbit Doubt players ends with them being locked in a Cube-esque labyrinth with barcodes that open one door each and a wolf out to kill them. Over the course of the first thirteen chapters, a tale of horror, suspense and mystery unfolds- but typically enough we’ll have to wait for the release of chapter 14 to find out the culprit. And, equally pressingly- does the series end after this case, or will there be more to it? Whatever the case, it’s been a solid experience.
Fullmetal Alchemist 86: With Al possessed by Pride, Ed and Greed might be up against more they can handle- especially when the regrown Gluttony shows up and tries to open his fake Gates of Truth. Meanwhile, there are wheels within wheels in the military, but does anyone have the power to topple Father and Bradley? Whatever the case, I cannot express enough how I want the rest of the manga here, not drip fed in monthly chapters.
Minami-ke 36: It’s another brief yet amusing segment as Kana holds an impromptu session on staying away from suspicious people- but should ‘Uncle’ Takeru be counted amongst their number? Just what is his relation to the girls anyway? And even when this question is answered, will Kana still consider him a suspicious person? These are of course rhetorical questions, but it’s amazing how the series can pack all this into a mere nine pages.
Mozart Doesn’t Sing Lullabies 11: Now that Beethoven and Czerny have found the magic flute, they are deeper into the mystery of Mozart’s death than ever before- and there are those who don’t want them to uncover any more. For whilst Salieri might have been the culprit, the conspiracy involves the might of the Freemasons, and if he continues to investigate, Beethoven’s safety can’t be guaranteed. Of course, this warning is only likely to fuel our cranky hero’s curiosity, but is that exact what they are counting on? Other than that, not a great deal happens in this chapter, but there’s the feeling that we’re being set up for bigger and better things to happen in the second half of the series.
Nodame Cantabile 122: At long last the time for Chiaki and Rui’s joint performance has arrived, and although it may not be the most polished of pieces, the audience cannot help but be blown away by the display of emotion therein- Nodame included. There’s not much else to say about this chapter, except that UK readers interested in conducting might be interested in ‘Maestro’, a new TV series where celebrities learn how to conduct.
Shinigami no Ballad 4-6: I don’t know how I failed to notice it, but I somehow got three full chapters behind on Shinigami no Ballad, which for this series is the best part of a volume. In these stories we see a teacher reaching out to a young girl who has become too used to being alone, a middle school student falling for a senpai who can use magic and a cat who wants only to comfort a young girl whose mother has disappeared. All of these are worthy healing tales, and even though Momo largely remains in the background as the thin thread that pulls it all together, it remains a highly enjoyable series.
Sketchbook 17-18: Summer has come to the world of Sketchbook, and despite the lack of cats, our protagonists are outside, enjoying everything from the beach to insects. In terms of amusement, this series is really going from strength to strength- even if you were underwhelmed by the anime, you must try it.
Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle 195-6: The purification ceremony is finally here, but when Sakura and Syaoran enter the shrine, an unpleasant surprise is waiting- Fei Wong has opened a portal, and branded Sakura with a deadly curse, all because Syaoran hesitated in saving her. What does this all mean for the plot? CLAMP only knows.
xxxHOLiC 162: At long last, a new customer has come to the shop with a rather unusual request- she wants to learn how to cook. But whilst Haruka might reflect on how far Watanuki has come, for the rest of us it’s a rather strange turn of events- is xxxHOLiC about to become the new Masterchef? Has the series run out of steam?
Posted: August 15th, 2008 under Weekly Round-Up.
Tags: Doubt, FMA, Hidamari Sketch, Itazura na Kiss, Koihime Musou, Kyouran Kazoku Nikki, Minami-ke, Mozart Doesn't Sing Lullabies, Nabari no Ou, Natsume Yuujinchou, Nodame Cantabile, Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu, Ryoko's Case File, Shinigami no Ballad, Sketchbook, Slayers, Someday's Dreamers, Soul Eater, Tsubasa Chronicle, World Destruction, Xam'D, xxxHOLiC