Posted on 31 July 2009 with categories: Pandora Hearts



I must say that this episode turned out completely different from what I expected. Now that the setting has become your average high school, I was expecting a more light-hearted chapter, and the way this arc started indeed seemed to suggest so. So I was wrong.

Because this was the last place I expected the Baskervilles to show up at. I’m not exactly sure how they knew that Oz was visiting his sister this day, but the Tragedy of Sabrie turns out to be a bigger mystery than expected, especially since the ones who instigated it don’t even know everything that happened. I suspect that they want to know the exact details of what Jack did back there in order to prevent it from gobbling up the entire country.

The most interesting thing in this episode was the piece of meta-fiction in terms of the Holy Knight series, which seems to be a series of popular books in the Pandora Hearts universe. I loved how both Oz and Eliot (the new guy, who seems to be part of the Nightray family, of all things) had completely different ways of interpreting a guy named “Edgar”. Oz, being cast in the abyss and all, has lost just about all of his self worth, but it turns out that he even thought little of himself before he was cast into the abyss, which again brings us back to the way he was raised by his parents. This episode shows that he still fails to see the many people that care about him (Ada, Gilbert and especially Alice). Those words from Eliot made a lot of impact.

And on a side-note: what kind of school has a barbecue club? Seriously?
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on with categories: Phantom



Haha! This is the episode where we’ve all been waiting for, and it SO does deliver! It’s a very slow-paced episode, but the build-up was so incredibly good that it had me on the edge of my seat for the entire twenty minutes. Not only did this episode have some incredibly subtly emotional scenes, but it also created some awesome potential for this series finale (heck, we still have eight episodes to go and this episode had plot twists that you’d usually include in episode 24 or something).

Helen really had me fooled. Ack, I should have known that we were only shown the story from Reiji’s perspective. While it looked like she transformed into the emotionless doll that Scythe wanted her to be, it was far from the case and instead she too had as many internal conflicts as Reiji. Heck, if Cal wasn’t there, the fight in this episode would have ended rather nasty, because I suspect that without her, Reiji would have been a little too obsessed over Helen to think straight. Now that he thinks she’s dead he only has Helen left, and that’s what made him convinced that he wasn’t going to seriously fight Ein.

But Cal sure as heck ain’t dead! We just don’t have a bloody clue as to what happened to her: all this episode showed were a surprisingly clean gun and watch: signs that she indeed was away when it happened. Still: why did she go back to that place? Where is she now? What made her go away right at the moment of the bombing? What is she thinking of doing next. And how the heck is she going to react to Helen being back!?

Amidst this awesomeness, it almost feels like second fodder that Claudia freaking died! It turns out that her biggest reason to join Inferno was to get her revenge on her brother, and she’d get this revenge even if it meant betraying her friend Lizzie (who looked awesome when she was younger, by the way)
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on with categories: Tokyo Magnitude 8.0



Four episodes in, and this series still hasn’t show any signs of dulling in. This episode yet again was amazing and heart-wrenching. I was already suspecting that the creators were going to crash Tokyo Tower at one point. That happened here. Interestingly enough though, it was far from the highlight and main focus of this episode.

Media coverage on such disasters like Earthquakes and the like always tend to be rather one-sided: they always focus on the people who have been hit the worst. These disaster documentaries like the ones you see on National Geographic Channel always tend to pick out the ones with the most spectacular cases and all. That’s why it’s incredibly refreshing to see that this series picked out a bunch of random people who got caught up in the earthquake. This brings things surprisingly close to home: “it could happen to you”. And I think that that’s what makes this so engaging.

The first half of this episode was about… Mirai trying to go to the toilet. Perhaps it’s not the most appealing of side-plots, but for a child her age to suddenly get bothered by a bad stomach… it indeed could happen and this episode showed that even that proves to be full of troubles in such a situation in which millions are stranded.

What struck me also here was that scene in which Mirai and the others tried to get some food. The way Mirai judged that person who walked away with two cups instead of one is exactly what’s going on in just about everyone’s mind in such a situation. We have no idea whether this guy took advantage of the situation or whether he really had a good reason to be carrying two cups, but that single scene said so much about the situation everyone’s in.

The second half of this episode showed Mari leaving the two kids alone as she tried to get information on where to go, at which point Mirai and Yuki get into a fight. At that point, Mirai really felt miserable because of everything that happened to her, not to mention that at that age, you really find your little brother’s whining annoying no matter how good he means it. In the end they both have a good cry and make up.

I’ve always been a fan of realism in anime, so I really love the touches of realism in this series. Yuki may be a bit too nice for a boy his age, but I definitely could see a character like his in real life. And besides, I don’t think that he’s ever seen his sister in so much distress as here, so I don’t think that he had any time to panic for himself. I think that that’s why his tantrum in this episode was so good for him, because it finally allowed him to blow off some steam.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on with categories: Basquash!



It’s interesting how the new staff got an entirely new soundtrack to work with. It, along with the new direction gave a totally new atmosphere to this series. I’m surprised to say it, but it actually works. It’s not better in every single way (the loss of the subtlety is one example), yet somehow it works. This episode was mostly meant to introduce the upcoming (and probably final) major arc, but it was a solid and enjoyable build-up nonetheless.

But yeah, the loss of subtlety does stand out. This episode really showed that in the fanservice: previously, this series had a lot of fanservice as well, but the jokes it made around it were creative. So obviously, this episode shows moon giant-kun running into Sera as she comes out of the shower. *headdesks*

Anyway, in this episode Iceman quickly takes care of the bounty hunter, getting revenge on the guy who cut off his arm and leg at the same time, by unleashing a new power: the Destroy Tornado. Interestingly enough, he then gets left behind by the others as they receive a sudden chance for another attempt to go to the moon. It seems to be the main prize of a tournament that’s held in some city, and I suspect that either the moon giant or Flora is going to replace Iceman.

In the meantime, Rouge’s manager is evolving into a real bad guy here, when he even tries to kidnap Coco (ransom, I guess), but Mr Perfect manages to avoid it. That does make me wonder about James’ sense of space. He really seems to be able to appear whenever he’s needed, doesn’t he? Is that some kind of secret power of his, or just a case of lazy scriptwriters?

And yeah, my prediction of Rouge turning into a damsel in distress was wrong. She looks more to be developing into the final boss at this rate. Something tells me that that was Shoji Kawamori’s idea…
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on with categories: Monthly Summaries

I must say, that we’ve got ourselves an awesome Summer Season here. Sure, there aren’t many series, but a significant majority of the new series succeed at what they intend to do. There may not be a lot of shows with awesome and ambitious story-lines, but in terms of slice of life and characterization, this really couldn’t have been better. Oh, and if you’re wondering what happened to Valkyria Chronicles: I dropped it. It just became too tiring to keep track of it, especially with so many other great series going on.

Rankings, like the past months are a bit strange again, I basically tried to generate the rankings for each show, compared to the others that are currently airing. Say, for example that Show A has a really good setting, and there are only a few other shows with a better setting, it’s going to rank higher than if there are many shows with excellent settings, and vice versa. I know that it’s a bit weird, but for some reason it does more accurately reflect my feelings about the shows this season.

#33 (new) – Element Hunters – (6,5/10) – So yeah, there’s not much hope for this series. It tries to be educational, but the creators have no idea what they’re talking about. The characters behave like your typical shounen leads (really, you can’t get any more typical than these guys), and overall it’s something you show kids when they’re whining too much. Dropped
#32 (new) – Kanamemo – (7/10) – Amongst all of the other slice of life and yuri series this season, Kanamemo is simply overshadowed in the way that there really is nothing special about it whatsoever, and the first episode just felt forced to me. Dropped.
#31 (new) – Princess Lover – (6,25/10) – I originally dropped this, but because so many people seemed to like it and recommend it I stuck with it. My question is: WHY!? What is so good about this series? I can see that the animation is above average and all, but the whole set-up is even more generic than your average harem. The scenarios are very predictable and very much written to suit the story, rather than evolving naturally. Especially the lead character doesn’t seem to be able to decide what personality he wants to be. It’s just way too forced to make any sort of impact.
#30 (new) – Bakemonogatari – (7,25/10) – Watching Bakemonogatari is like watching someone read the Bakemonogatari novels in front of a slide-show. I can see that Nisioisin is a great writer in the way that he uses wordplay through his stories, but Shinbo has been incredibly lazy in adapting it. The characterization is just utterly bland, and we’re given no way whatsoever to sympathize with them with this style. I’d really wish that Shinbo had the chance to watch Mouryou no Hako before adapting this series; now THAT’s how you should adapt a story with lots of dialogue.
Award: Best OP of the Month (the first one)
#29 (19) – Zan Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei – (7/10) – It’s a shame really. I remember how I used to laugh like crazy over this series, but now all it gets from me are a bunch of chuckles during the good parts. The “social commentaries of the week” are still getting more far-fetched and formulaic by the minute. The only thing that still has my interest is that every single episode has a different OP and ED.
#28 (new) – Needless – (7,5/10) – Well, so this series deserves the reward of featuring the single biggest moron to grace any show this year (“yes, I’m looking for a guy named Adam; do you know such a person?”). It’s an incredibly stupid series and it’s clear that Madhouse’s worst staff has been working on this thing. Yet, for brainless entertainment it does the job. The banter between the different characters is varied and fun to watch at least.
#27 (new) – Yoku Wakaru Gendai Mahou – (7,5/10) – I’m really not sure what to think of this series. I know that I’m enjoying it so far and I like the concept of programmable magic; it’s not a chore to watch it in any way, and yet it has these cases of hopelessly bad acting and a collection of utterly terrible action scenes, and yet the characters themselves remain strangely enjoyable enough to watch. What puzzles me the most though is this series’ really weird fanservice. Are you getting bullied? Well, just throw your panties in the bully’s face! That will shut him up!
#26 (19) – 07-Ghost – (7,75/10) – Meh, it’s a shame but 07-Ghost has been getting a lot less entertaining. The focus has been getting much less at the church and more at the overall plot which turns out to be surprisingly dull and angsty. Finally my patience seems to be running out with this series…
#25 (16) – Chi’s New Address – (7,75/10) – Chi’s New Address has been getting a bit dull lately. That may be because of the slow subs (I switched to the subs for this series because the raws are near-impossible to keep track of), but granted: the first series also had this. It needs something to spice things up a bit, like the first season did with the big black cat.
#24 (new) – Kuruneko – (7,75/10) – I originally thought that this was going to be another one of those dull kiddie shows. Then I found out who the director was, headdesked and reminded myself why I always check out every single show at the start of each season. Kuruneko only has 3-minute episodes, but they’re really charming so far. I like how the old lady always tries to voice over her own cats, and with the most consistent comedy director in the business behind this series, I can see little that can go wrong.
#23 (22) – Hetalia Axis Powers – (7,75/10) – This month really saw an overabuse of dull Liechtenstein jokes, however after that this series very neatly picked itself back up. Especially the second season had a very nice start.
#22 (13) – Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi – (7,5/10) – Well, I’ve dropped this series at this point. The first four episodes were nice slice of life, but eight is going way too far. I’m not that angry with the series because I’ve never really been a fan, but I can understand the current fans a bit. If Amatsuki were to pull the same thing then I’d be raging too.
#21 (4) – Konnichiwa Anne – (7,75/10) – Ouch, this series has fallen badly this month. The Marysville arc has just been one big mess, full of really cheesy moral speeches that just WOULD NOT STOP and characters ripped off from Emily of the New Moon. The Thomas Family is still as awesome as ever, but characters like the teacher Henderson really manage to bring this series down right now.
#20 (15) – Saki – (8/10) – Okay, so the OP and ED haven’t stopped being annoying and the Mahjong matches have been based on luck more than ever now, but I’m still surprised at how good Saki has become. The reason for this is the cast of characters. They’ve been sufficiently fleshed out and developed right now, and they get more and more engaging with every episode. It’s strange, because apart from that this series has nothing else that makes it special whatsoever.
#19 (new) – Sora no Manimani – (7,75/10) – I originally dropped this, but then I learned about the director. Overall it has been an enjoyable series, but the comedy has been a bit too hit-or-miss, and the creators’ attempts at being heart-warming just end up as cheesy.
#18 (new) – Taishou Yakyuu Musume – (8/10) – For the past year we’ve seen an interesting increase in baseball shows: One Outs, Major 5, Cross Game and now Taishou Yakyuu Musume appears and still manages to stand out individually. The whole gender issues of eighty years ago are nicely touched upon, and the characters themselves are surprisingly likable.
#17 (18) – Gintama – (8,25/10) – Despite my rantings a few months ago, I must say that the new director has been getting better and better. The past arc has been surprisingly good at Gintama’s trademark of taking just about everything to the absurd.
#16 (17) – Basquash! – (8/10) – In this month, Basquash has been trying to get into the right track. Emphasis on “trying”, because I still have no idea whether this series is going to be a success or a total train-wreck. We’ve reached the point now at which Kiss Dum’s director has taken over, so let’s hope that he can give this series the ending it deserves.
#15 (21) – Umineko no Naku Koro ni – (8,25/10) – I’m still having a bit of trouble connecting to the characters, but Umineko definitely has been the most intriguing new series this season. In the first month we seem to have gotten only a little taste of what is to follow, but it’s promising to be a really entertaining mind-screw.
#14 (14) – Shin Mazinger Shougenki! Z-Hen – (8,5/10) – You know, for a homage of the series that popularized the monster of the week genre, the story is surprisingly non-linear. The Germany arc had a surprisingly good conclusion, and now that the past few episodes have started to introduce a whole new layer of depth in the whole story Shin Mazinger has gotten even more epic than it already was. I can always count on this series for my weekly dose of manly entertainment.
#13 (new) – Canaan – (8,25/10) – Canaan really has an awesome set of production values to work with, courtesy of PA Works. Everything looks really crisp and detailed with an excellent direction. Sure, the premise and characters still need some work, but there isn’t anything wrong with the execution so far.
#12 (new) – GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class – (8,25/10) – Talk about the dark horse of the season! I’m really enjoying this series, not just because of the characters, but also because I’m really interested the main topic for this series: Art Design. I love all of the nice ideas that the creators throw into this series, and the creators have really shown that they’re very knowledgeable about this subject. I’m just not sure why they found it a good idea to focus an entire episode on a bunch of unrelated side-characters, but perhaps they’ll return later somehow.
#11 (21) – Umi Monogatari – (8,25/10) – For a Junichi Sato series, Umi Monogatari feels a bit too one-sided, but nevertheless it has a powerful cast of characters and succeeds as a heart-warming drama. The “monster of the week”-theme only turned out to be something of the first few episodes in order to flesh out the characters.
#10 (10) – Marie & Gali – (8,5/10)

This series continues to be my current favourite comedy. It still hasn’t lost any of its charms, and it’s still as funny as ever with all of the weird stuff that the creators throw into it.
Award: Funniest Series of the Month

#9 (6) – Cross Game – (8,75/10)

Cross Game yet again has been a truly excellent series this month. The characters are advancing very subtly and the wit of this series doesn’t seem to be getting less interesting at all.

#8 (3) – Pandora Hearts – (8,75/10)

So yeah, the Cheshire Cat arc rocked. It really pushed the story into a different direction and the characters gained a lot of depth through it. My big worry is the same as the manga readers’ right now: where the heck is that second season!?

#7 (8) – Guin Saga – (8,75/10)

This month, Guin Saga turned to politics and lots of character-development, with some excellent results that really managed to solidify this series’ epic atmosphere. This series has become very solid fantasy and I’m loving it so far.

#6 (8) – Spice and Wolf – (8,5/10)

The first season took a while to get going. The second season didn’t. These past four episodes have been intelligent and complex in the merchant business, and at the same time they showed Lawrence and Horo at their best surpassing the subtle chemistry between them that made the first season so good.

#5 (9) – Full Metal Alchemist – Brotherhood – (8,75/10)

17 episodes in, and I’m confident to say that Brotherhood has surpassed the original series. The new series is shaping up to be much more interesting, and the way the creators toy around with your emotions, with which you’re not sure whether to laugh or cry, is just brilliantly done.

#4 (new) – Aoi Hana – (8,75/10)

Amazing attention to detail, that’s what this series stands out in. Because of that, this has turned into one of my favourite series of the new summer season. A lot of care has been spent into subtly fleshing out and developing all of the different characters, with some amazing results already within five episodes. Noise rocks!
Award: Best First Episode of the new Season

#3 (2) – Phantom – (9/10)

Phantom has continued to slowly build up its current arc, and you can still see enough of its brilliance throughout. I really like what Cal turned into, and the characterization on Reiji has been truly excellent all the way. This is why I’m such a big fan of Bee-Train.
Award: Best Characters of the Month

#2 (1) – Shangri-La – (9/10)

I really have to praise Shangri-La for its ambition. The storyline is really evolving into something epic right now: there are lots of different sides, every single episode nowadays comes with a truckload of plot twists that hardly ever feel out of place and only make the setting even more intriguing. It’s a lot of fun to watch due to the excellent cast of characters. It’s as a series very rough around the edges, with the direction feeling jerky at times to say the least, but considering how awesome the rest of the series has turned out, I’ve really stopped caring about this series’ flaws long ago.
Awards: Best Storytelling of the Month; Best Setting of the Month; Best ED of the Month (the second one)

#1 (new) – Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 – (9/10)

What an utterly amazing start to this series. I’m really glad to see that the creators chose a realistic approach: they didn’t create a worst-case scenario, but instead a “what if”-scenario. Mirai really works as a flawed lead character, and the creators added a lot of subtle details to her character that make her a really sympathetic lead.
Awards: Best Production-Values of the Month; Best Episode of the Month (02)

Posted on 30 July 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews



Well, here’s an interesting one. Imagine your average Super Sentai show like the Power Rangers: our hero has to fight a wave of bad buys and monsters every day in order to protect the world from getting taken over. Now imagine the complete opposite. That’s what Tentai Senshi Sunred is.

I’m still not sure whether this was a case of brilliance, or just a case of a drunk idea that got taken too far, but Tentai Senshi Sunred takes the average Super Sentai Formula, transforms the titular Sunred into a lazy temperamental sadist, and the villains into a bunch peace-loving incompetent idiots who seem to be more interested in housekeeping and making a living than “doing evil stuff”. In fact, especially the lead villain is a peace-loving flower child who is a master at house-keeping and always puts the feelings of others before his own. And so this series chronicles the useless attempts of our peace-loving villains to try to beat Sunred, while at the same time living as respectable members of society. And somehow, it works.

As a comedy, it may not be continuously funny, but it has its moments of brilliance throughout the entire series. It gets a lot of inspiration from its unique setting, and makes good use of this by driving things even more into the absurd. The characters also have their quirks which have a number of priceless moments and some of the running gags also really work well (I especially loved Godom and Sodorrah, even though the two of them didn’t do ANYTHING throughout the entire series). There are a few sketches that do tend to get on your nerves though, like the Host Dog and Vamps Cooking Tips, but overall it’s not too long to get boring or repetitive.

And the nice thing is, that at the moments that this series isn’t funny, it still is a very enjoyable and detailed slice of life with a good cast of voice actors. Really, this series is a pretty realistic portrayal of the trials of young adults if you ignore the fact that most of the characters are silly monsters that nobody seems to find scary or weird. I especially liked the subtle relationship between Sunred and his girlfriend, which for once was not overly romantic like you see in most other anime.

But yeah, the animation is quite lazy. A lot of the characters conveniently have masks on or some other excuse that would prevent the animators from animating their mouth when they speak. Instead, the characters wiggle around a bit when they try to move and speak. And really, it’s not like the animators can’t animate either: there’s one particular segment in which Sunred is walking in the background of a life-action scene, which is animated so smoothly that it actually becomes really hard to see whether he’s drawn or part of the live action.

But then again, to the question “does this show really need to be well animated?” the answer obviously is “no”. Sunred isn’t the best of the comedies out there, but it’s still worth it if you grew up watching shows like the Power Rangers or anything similar, just to see this series completely taking the piss out of those premises.

Storytelling: 8/10
Characters: 8/10
Production-Values: 7/10
Setting: 9/10
Posted on with categories: Aoi Hana



Oh, I so love how this series managed to bring its characters to life. The non-verbal communication between the characters says much more than what the dialogue can even hope for and the creators manage to do this with a lot of subtlety. It really gives all of the characters complex stories, rather than “A is in love with B but B is in love with C so A hates C”, or the like. There definitely is a love triangle going on here, but these five episodes have added a lot of detail to them to make them far away from your average love triangle out there.

In this episode, Kyouko finds out why she was rejected by Yasuko, and how Yasuko is in love with Fumi. I didn’t see any hate for Fumi at her, but just about every other negative emotion was present on her. Because of this, Fumi stops accompanying Yasuko to her rehearsals because she fears having to deal with Kyouko’s sad face again. Throughout, Akira keeps acting as the straight man in this romance: she isn’t loved or in love with anyone, but instead provides support for both Fumi and Kyouko in this case.

And I have to say that Yasuko has a very interesting way to show her affections. While Fumi act like a shy puppy around her, Yasuko instead shows her feelings very subtly: she mostly puts on a straight face in order to be the strong shoulder for Fumi to lean on, but there are a few times here and there in which you can see that she really likes to be with Fumi.

Kenichi Kasai isn’t the most consistent director I’ve seen. What I saw of Major (the first season) shows that he’s terrible at shounen series, and Kimikiss, while it did have genuine characters, did drag on for way too long, but his best works really are something else. Nodame Cantabile was awesome, and Aoi Hana also looks to be standing out in its own way with its attention to detail. And yes, some day I’m going to watch Honey and Clover. ;)
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on with categories: Umineko no Naku Koro ni



As much as I don’t care about the original visual novel, I have to admit that this episode stretched even my suspense of disbelief. Battler just acted way too weird in this episode, it just doesn’t make any sense.

So basically, the bodies continue to fall when Natsuhi commits suicide. Butterflies then appear again, Battler tries to shoot them, the eye-catch appears… and suddenly Kanon, Sharon and Natsuhi are perfectly fine and everyone acts like nothing happens! Sure, I can see how Beatrice is screwing with everyone’s mind by magically reviving everyone and all… but what happened to the others? There isn’t even a single mention of them! And besides, everyone was talking like they just returned from a Beach resort, instead of a murderous mansion.

Then Battler’s refusal to believe in the existence of witches. Sure, I believed that too until the end of the previous episode. HOWEVER he completely seemed to accept that everyone and his dog came back to life, and yet he never even questions it, and yet he doesn’t want to believe that Beatrice killed them. That just doesn’t make any sense.

Overall, I’m a bit disappointed that it really was Beatrice who killed off everyone, but let’s see what the rest of the series can do to spice things up. This show now seems to be developing into a battle of wits between Beatrice and Battler, but I wonder how the creators are going to make this interesting without making Beatrice Mary-Sueing Battler over and over.

I’m intrigued by that letter in a bottle from Maria, though. What was up with that, and could that one explain what happened to the real Maria? So that Maria was basically killed and replaced by some thing that could keep an eye around for Beatrice?

Oh boy, this really reminds me back to the first season of Higurashi. I remember how my love for that series was also as inconsistent as he series itself.
Rating: – (Disappointing)

Posted on 29 July 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews



I’m not the biggest fan of romantic comedies, mostly because a lot of them are pretty cliched and boring. Nevertheless there obviously also are a lot of gems. His and Her Circumstances is Gainax and Hideki Anno’s addition to this genre, and while it may on the outside seem like the umpth variation of the same formula, it rises above most others through its dialogue, deep characters and snappy direction.

I have to grant it to Hideki Anno: as infamous as Gainax has become over the years, HaHC features some of the best direction I have seen in a romantic comedy. It doesn’t feel like a moment is wasted here, the dialogue is elaborate and meaningful and he really managed to bring out the depth of the characters from whatever manga this was based on. It turns this into a very accessible series: it’s very easy to watch and hardly ever gets boring. It may not be consistently funny, but it is consistently entertaining (well, with ONE major exception, but I’ll get to that below).

The dialogue overall flows very naturally, and of course the trademark Gainax Animation is very evident through the series, but you can see that along the way, the budget of this series becomes smaller and smaller. Nevertheless, the creators of this series solve it really well, and in a completely different way from how a limited budget is usually masked (by things like distorted faces and an overabundance of still frames). This series excels in its smart and creative tricks to save budget; the art remains crisp and consistent and the creators never forget to have lots of things going on at the same time. Two episodes in particular stand out in this: one consists out of uncoloured character-sketches, while the other is basically a living storyboard in black and white. They were a lot of fun to watch because even though it definitely looked cheap, there was always something going on in the screen and the characters never ceased to be captivating.

This does get taken too far in one aspect, though: Hideki Anno’s really weird obsession with recaps. Seriously, this show is full of the: nearly every episode starts with a recap of what happened up to that point, sometimes even lasting for three minutes. If this series had a complex story then okay, it might have been excused, but for a romantic comedy? In the middle, there also is a string of two completely useless recap episodes in the middle, and my guess would be that the total amount of time this series has spent on recapping is about the same as Wolf’s Rain’s recap block. And that one was aired for a good reason. And not spread across the entire series.

Nevertheless though, this series is a great example of a romantic comedy that’s deep and entertaining at the same time. Sure, it does have a bit of an inconclusive ending, but it’s nowhere near a bad conclusion. It’s a great example of how to correctly save budget without sacrificing style. And hey, after watching this series I finally know what the favourite anime of Akiyuki Shinbo is. ^^;

Storytelling: 9/10
Characters: 9/10
Production-Values: 8/10
Setting: 8/10
Posted on 28 July 2009 with categories: Shangri-La



Another great episode, if only because of Karin’s awesomeness. I already suspected that we didn’t see the last of her when she got busted out of her room by Atlas, but for her to end up buying the entire Akihabara! That’s a nice one. To think that it’s actually Karin who unites all of the good guys, rather than Kuniko, but it’s definitely an interesting twist for Karin to try and collect all of the Digmas (or Triple As, as she calls them). We still don’t know though what makes them so important, and why Ryouko bothered to let them go in the first place. Now that Claris seems to be gone, an interesting split personality on her side also seems to surface.

In other news, Takehito seems to have discovered that Kuniko is a Triple A Atlas member. What we do learn in this episode is that one of the Triple As is meant to inherit Atlas in the future… wtf?! But in any case, Takehito’s grief for his dead sister seems to be a bit too big for him to accept that Kuniko is part of Atlas (he’s probably not going to like it when he finds out about her grandmother either). We see him jump off a cliff in this episode, but in true Shangri-La fashion, I really doubt that that was the last we see of him. :)

But the juiciest plot twist in this episode: Kuniko plans to burn down the ENTIRE TOKYO in order to stop the Daedalus from spreading. This plot just keeps getting better and better, doesn’t it? My big hope is that Gonzo has saved its budget for that particular scene, because if it’s going to mean that the the entire city of Tokyo, including Atlas, is going to end up in flames, then that’s going to make for some potentially awesome eye candy.

What also striked me in this episode is that there are a lot of people who have an aversion of something major: Karin hates public places, Mikuni can’t go out in broad daylight, while Medusa can’t seem to survive without water. I keep trying to look for a link with something else in the story, but it seems pretty random. If you take liberties in this definition then you could argue that Sayoko can’t live without a “daughter”-figure to take care of, and Momoko and Miiko turned away their manlihoods, but there still doesn’t seem to be a pattern I can spot here. Especially since Kuniko and Kunihito don’t seem to fit in this theme at all…
Rating: ** (Excellent)

CHANGE USERNAME
Vonter
Or are the 50s the new late 30s or early 40s?
Vonter
Are japanese people vampires? https://ultra.fandom.com/wiki/Toru_Furuya
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Vonter: If you look at the voice list, that Japanese voice actor for Mario in that anime movie is the same voice actor for Amuro Ray from the original Gundam.
Vonter
Also considering Baby Bowser was raised by Kamek. I suppose those beings could be made by magic.
Vonter
@Kaiser-Eoghan - My head canon is that Bowser made them himself. Kinda Lord Zedd or Rita from Power Rangers.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I still subscribe to the headcanon that Peach is the mother of Bowsers children.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I remember growing up with the relatively poor American cartoons, none of them featured Wario.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I have committed videogame genocide apparently.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Everytime I broke or hit a brick in the Mario games I was probably murdering a toad.
Vonter
The ending it's "interesting" considering the relationship Mario and Peach have isn't something as close, as Link and Zelda.
Vonter
@Kaiser-Eoghan - It's weird but at the same time it does use elements from the game. Like the music, and story bits from the manual from the original Super Mario Bros. (Where it mentioned Bowser uses magic to turn Toads into the bricks, clouds and other objects of the game).
Kaiser-Eoghan
I never did end up watching the Mario anime movie that came out in the 80s.
Vonter
Also someone is putting the effort of making a Bowsette adventure doujin. This is the type of stuff that could be it's own original thing since it strays far from what's Mario. Despite the occasional mild nudity it's quite fun so far, despite also how weird it is.
Vonter
@Kaiser-Eoghan - At the very least it'll be interesting to see where it goes. It happens also every time something comes back. Times change and so the way we make stories. Also the original run had a curtain call chapter, so this is more a new story.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Which is often what happens with episodic stuff for me.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I essentially read Fraken Fran until I got my fill of it.
AidanAK47
@Vonter, I feel that Franken Fran pretty much ran it's course though. Not sure what a new series could bring.
Vonter
Latest news: Franken Fran will get a new manga series. After it was cut short, it seems this little horror manga will get another chance: https://imgur.com/a/ypjtI4c
Vonter
I also read a bit ahead on Shield Hero. And I like it is character driven, but the cast isn't as big as other Isekai, like in Overlord where there are too many characters to easily keep track of what's happening (ever since it started Overlord feels like the most attached to its light novel origins).
Vonter
The monster town growing and expanding into it's own country reminded me of Digimon World. A game which you allied with Digimon to expand your town, add shops and other services. I've heard Xenoblade X was also like that.
Vonter
I watched during the weekend, the Slime Isekai. It's fine, though it lacked more conflict, the MC feels like its too powerful. Maybe this would have been great as a videogame since the concept of how this Slime evolves reminds me of the SNES game: E.V.O. The Search of Eden. It was about your character evolving through the ages and the player choosing how it adapts to it's environment.
Animosh
Also nice to see some love for LOGH in your personal lists (especially Aidan's). I guess it's too much of a niche series (a political epic in space) to score highly in the overall list, but I loved it. It retained much of what made the OVA so great while providing a much-needed update to its visuals and arguably better pacing.
Animosh
I also hadn't heard of the Kase-san OVA. Not sure whether enough can really happen in a one-hour OVA to make it worthwhile (it gives the impression of being promotional material more than a full-fledged adaptation), but I've been looking for another good yuri series after Bloom into You, so it can't hurt to give it a try.
Animosh
Nice to see Kaze ga made it on the list, even with just one cour out. I've seen most of the stuff that's won positive awards, but I've always avoided Pop Team Epic because of how silly it seemed to me. But given all the positive reviews (here and elsewhere) maybe I should give it a chance after all.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Yu-no can go fuck itself.
Kaiser-Eoghan
There's also Yuasa's new thing.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Maybe the thriller shows will be worthwhile but I'm not really as interested.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Yeah spring looks packed for me, there's also that throwback ova to riding Bean and some creature horror ova.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I notice that Index gets an annoying amount of episodes/adaptations, one of those shows that keeps going away for a while then keeps coming back.
Kaiser-Eoghan
We might get dororohedero and Vinliand saga at years end. I would like for pluto to air this year.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Definately looking forward to the josei and shoujo stuff in Spring 2019, nothing of interest for me thats on the summer 2019 list yet.
Vonter
Like you wrote, seems like it's the start for new ways to stream anime. With Crunchyroll making simulcasts and Netflix putting some anime in the spotlight considering the audience it has (and it also helps it has better dubs, at least in spanish). Finally I felt last year the criticism of fanservice got more loud, also summed with how tumblr and facebook politics are putting restrain on sex conten
SuperWooper
@Anon, Netflix is getting Watanabe's new series, Carole & Tuesday, next season. It might not have the mass appeal of Crybaby (violence and sex) or Aggretsuko (cute animals), but it ought to do well for them if they slap "FROM THE DIRECTOR OF COWBOY BEBOP" all over the Internet.
Vonter
Last year I also didn't watched a lot of drama or slice of life, which is a shame since a lot of what's listed reads like it fits those genres.
Vonter
Kind of a lukewarm year 2018 was in terms of anime series. Although I admit I watched a lot of trash as well. Most of the good stuff I watched last year was on Netflix. In terms of bad I already an issue on the list because disappointing, bad and trash are different degrees of badness.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Sorry for being so long and overdramatic, I'd normally stay quiet but I had to get my feelings out.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I don't want to say anymore about this show anymore, I know those who did watch it generally emotionally connected with it or thought it was some kind of epic, if anything I felt it was an epic ruined by being chopped down. I hated it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Nothing seems settled on long enough and nothing registers.
Kaiser-Eoghan
As Hateable as Jomy is in the beginning, I would at least liked to have seen proper flow of plot structure allowing for some natural progression of character.
Kaiser-Eoghan
As an idea and I think if explored with more episodes/more it could be something, this also includes Keith.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The timeskip and general pacing annihilate anything that could be anything approaching reaching close to working with this series, resulting in an un-compelling cast I feel nothing for that ruins and undersells any drama which is far too overdone when it occurs.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I can't complete this, don't care if I've watched the first half.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I didn't like the couple of episodes of Terra e I watched a some years ago, unfortunately this second attempt, over halfway through the show only illustrates further just how much I utterly despise this show.
Kaiser-Eoghan
As I've said before, I do think re-watches are important, especially years later after watching a show you disliked, if only to see if you'll enjoy it on the second run, lately thats been mostly successful for me, however....
Anonymous3325300
Meanwhile, I do expect that this year will be much stronger in terms of quality. Of course, I had the same assumptions last year based on the winter shows, but I do feel like this could be a stronger year full of great shows, instead of a lot of merely "good" ones.
Anonymous3325300
I predict that Netflix this year probably won't have a Devilman/Aggretsuko-level hit in terms of new anime. Evangelion is probably all they need, even though it's an old series.
Lenlo
If anyone thought that wasn't getting on this list, they either didnt watch it or have really low standards
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Lenlo: Its so catharctic that you listed steins;gate 0 I remember how we essentially lived and watched it together.
Lenlo
I think thats what the most pleasant surprise category is supposed to be. Didnt wanna double up on to many cats
Kaiser-Eoghan
No biggest surprise category?
Kaiser-Eoghan
I can understand including bunny-senpai as a runner up, I'd have trouble picking between it and sorayori.
Lenlo
Episode 7 is so damn good, I don't care that its American.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: How do you think I feel, I'm not far off 35.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Glad you actually made room for a movie category aswell.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Based Lenlo, cheating with American anime cartoon.
Lenlo
Im just happy I got Castlevania on this list at all
Kaiser-Eoghan
Dropped planet with, hinamatsuri and violent evergarden though, didn't see Hisone.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I probably would have replaced planet with with happy sugar life or banana fish though or yagate ga kimi.
Kaiser-Eoghan
In any case, I am glad my wife Kanna Hanazawa won an award on your list and that Devilman got featured more than once.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Ah, I though you would be splitting the voice actor category into voice actor and voice actress, though I suppose that's probably cheating a bit.
SuperWooper
You're not alone - of the four of us, I was the only one who watched it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I must have missed ASAGAO TO KASE-SAN. Hadn't heard of it until now, I should have paid more attention.
Anonymous3324478
Oh and the music was pretty good too I guess. Another episode is airing in March.
Anonymous3324478
Masa also recovered from his car accident from a few episodes ago. It was totally unneeded in my opinion.
Anonymous3324478
The last episode of Tsurune was a decent ending to an otherwise formulaic sports show with some great animation on par for the course with KyoAni. Minato overcame his target panic and won it for the team. Twins got owned big time.
Animosh
There's a new episode out of the Gridman voice drama: https://barnnn.blogspot.com/2019/01/ssssgridman-voice-drama-episode-6n.html. It's a pretty good one too.
Animosh
My only worry is if the series will be able to get to its logical stopping point (the end of the Claw arc) in 12 episodes. But I suppose I should trust Bones over my vague memories of how much content there is left to cover.
Animosh
Yeah, I agree a split cour could be good. It would allow the series to maintain its high levels of animation, and given how stacked next season looks to be (anime aside, there's also American Gods and the Game of Thrones madness to keep up with), and with another ONE show airing, a break wouldn't be so bad.
SuperMario
Split cour of Mob Psycho would be awesome. I don't want to watch 2 ONE's adaptation in one season
Lenlo
Not for bloggin
Lenlo
While I love Mob, I am a bit happy its only 1 cour. I couldnt do 3 2 cour series
Animosh
Assuming we do get 12 episodes, a split cour would still make sense ... but I guess we'll just have to wait for the official confirmations
Animosh
As far as I can tell the only source is some guy in Twitter, so not sure how reliable it is
Vonter
@Kaiser-Eoghan - Devilman Lady is what comes to mind on how to do this type of show better. That one had also a special agency for supernatural incidents, has a simple but compelling main character, uses it's time to build atmosphere and mood and even the action while a bit stilted had better monster design and the violence it's graphic but entertaining like Robocop.
Vonter
@Kaiser-Eoghan - Ok I will check. I'm also curious where it goes in terms of tone. Because it's all over the place.
Vonter
Ok. Last time I tried the login in feature didn't respond. This time it worked.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Keep me posted of magical girl spec ops in case it does turn into the kind of guilty pleasure shlock it should.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Is this vonter? If you register an account you can keep the name.
Anonymous3321080
But I think what gets me the most its how it beats the dead horse of the 80s action hero arc. Van Damme, Arnold and Stallone had more or less these type of lines. Its kind of funny this anime pretends these aren't tropes we don't use anymore because of how corny they come off. It'll definitely work better as an abridged series since it can be very boring when it tries to add the school life moment
Anonymous3321080
Also Mahou Spec Ops... Is interestingly bad. It tries to be exploitative and shocking but feels very sloppy, kinda like that meme of *slow heavy metal music plays* It also wants to play it like a dark shoujo anime, but the cute monsters are just distracting.
Anonymous3321080
Reading your conversations about idols, despite being mediocre Gokudolls and Ore Mahou Shoujo made jabs at that culture. At least painting some aspects that may be true of how exploitative it is. I suppose because those are subpar, over the top and cheap is what they can do that. Can't remember one aside from Perfect Blue which criticizes that industry.
Kaiser-Eoghan
But only if there was more anime noirs.
Amagi
Reminds me of that stalin vs hitler comic. Think it was russian. They're attacking each other with magical super powers there. And yeah, I love noir now that you mention it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: That'd make for a great noir story.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: Imagine Stalin and Hitler trolling each other on twitter.
Amagi
It's easy to construct superiority when you never have to show your private face and never participate in mundane chat talks or so.
Amagi
I bet a lot of people who had some aura of authority back then due to only ever appearing in books or for very rare (scripted) speeches would probably laughing stocks now if we'd see them commenting on daily stuff and news on twitter or reddit.
Amagi
I personally have given up upon having heroes. I still find a lot of historical people interesting but let's be real the few of them that weren't blatanly bad in some way were different then we imagine them to be (even if they're good). Just look how different people feel now that you see them tweeting on twitter VS policians etc decades ago.
Amagi
I like the idea of a main character longing for a dead friend and role model he had and still idolizes. Then at some point he starts reconstructing his friend's past to cherish his memories about him even more but finds out that the friends wasn't the hero he believed him to be and maybe even the own memories of him were idealized a lot over the years after his death without him even noticing.
Amagi
Yeah we are always searching for some sort of über-ich or perfect being that symbolizes the goal of some personality growth we're trying to achieve.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Or the reason why some people need to have so many things or idols they probably don't need.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I think there is a genetic/mental inadequacy in humanity that makes us susceptible to following "higher people who we forget are actually human" because of our own desire for an avatar or general inadequacy as human beings.
Amagi
Yeah this. It's probably also why they defend them so eagerly. Because it's actually true that "their" version of that person would never do that.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: And that probably creates a much stronger blow to them when the actor is found guilty of a crime.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: Very good response.
Amagi
It's kinda weird how almost everything we know about others is actually just interpretation to some degree.
Amagi
The weird thing is that I think that many fans of acrots/celebrities rather create their own versions of them they fall in love with rather than loving the actual person, whom they barely even know. It's fun because the concept of a waifu sounds extremely weird to normal people, but many normal people kinda do this too but with real persons (but imaginary personality).
Kaiser-Eoghan
I think thats where it starts getting obsessive or where it gets too close to the next level, such as what the anon mentioned.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I also can't bring myself to get too attached to a celebrity or to a character. I do look at hentai doujins yes but, I've probably had thoughts about certain actors or what not, but I never actually want to sleep with them, again I think that's taking fantasy too far.
Amagi
I never know if these are serious celebrations or rather some fun memes they do to post, I always assumed the latter. Kinda.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I think the fans celebrating the idol's birthday thing is taking it to far too, especially if its an anime character.
Amagi
Yeah I was never an idol fan either, and I don't just mean the idol genre in anime but anything similar to idol stuff in general, like being a fanboy/girl of some celebrity or something. Was never able to get into that.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Its all too superficial.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Don't like the ideas it gives teenage girls either .
Kaiser-Eoghan
Certain topics just set me off =<
Amagi
The third episode of Wake Up girls was pretty good in that regard. I think it was the third one.
Kaiser-Eoghan
But yes, thats a pretty bad story what happened to the woman you mentioned.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Might be a good idea to catch some documentaries on that topic .
Kaiser-Eoghan
But that was just a sentence from some guy on a podcast though.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Now though I didn't see it, I do recall someone saying some of that Wake up girls idol anime slightly brought up seedier parts of the industry if not much.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The hallow shallowness of the idol industry I mean.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I also dislike the shallowness of it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I love how Perfect blue takes influences from those gialli/giallo style films from the 60s/70s to an extent, while also spitting on the industry.
Kaiser-Eoghan
But you know what sucks? A part of me, both in regards to those women (and probably some of the male idols) whether it be in reality or animation, I can't actually deny finding some of these men/women actually physically attractive.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Music industry has its seediness just about everywhere and of course victim blaming going to appear everywhere, not just Japan.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*commodification-consumerist
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: I hate capitalism, I hate the idol communication-commercialist industry and the willing self-aware slaves and their masters who perpetuate it, the music is largely awful aswell. I don't watch most of the idol anime, I think the idea of 30 something men throwing cash it is awful.
Anonymous3319279
Wonder if there will be some modern equivalent of Perfect Blue? That was a scathing critique of the idol industry back in the late 90s. Although given how shows that are flat out glorifying the industry are the best-selling shows on BD every year, I doubt it.
Anonymous3319279
In short, she was assaulted by two men at her home who were then arrested. Then she was pressured by her managers into claiming that she was to blame for this, not the men and apologizing to an audience.
Anonymous3319279
Hearing about what happened to some idol named Mahohon seriously makes me wonder if idol culture in Japan seriously needs an overhaul and if media needs to stop glorifying the industry so much.
Anonymous3319260
Ok. No pressure, just asking.
AidanAK47
@Anon, we are working on it. It's nearing completion and should be posted soon.
Anonymous3318799
I don't know if I missed it. But have you put the overview of 2018? Of best show, best character, etc. Did 2018 had a good anime villain?
Masky
Anyhoo, surprisingly Lovecraft's books have some really faithful manga adaptions
Masky
A story set in world post "Cthulhu"(or whatever is setting equivalent) awakening and transcending humans into "savage" inhuman world that he is supposed to bring forth
Masky
Ya know, speaking of lovecraft here is what I really want to see:
Kaiser-Eoghan
Well I guess Die Farbe and whisperer in the darkness count and the cthulu one, the latter two were done by the Lovecraft society.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The closest we got with an actual adaptation was Dreams of the witchhouse , but they left out Nyarlathotep.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Those films were fun, but none of them dated well either.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I have to seperate my knowledge of the books from Stuart Gordon and Brian yuznas films that borrow elements and titles from Lovecrafts works, once I accept their takes on him are just body horror a black comedies I can kind of accept it more.
Lenlo
I think Junji Ito's manga works have come the closest to Lovecrafts brand of horror, and we all saw how that adaptation went.
Lenlo
Yeah, Lovecraft is a hard one. Even his own books are hit or miss, because it is a very fine line for his brand of psychological horror. Would make for an interesting and unique anime if done well though
Kaiser-Eoghan
A lovecraft themed world would find some difficulty in getting the atmosphere right as he has proved difficult to adapt.
Lenlo
Ah. Yeah, a non-traditional setting like that would be good. I think Isekai, to really change it up, should start going for non-traditional settings. Sci-Fi, Lovecraft, etc. I think this was mentioned before yeah?
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Lenlo: I believe the anon was saying it in relation to making a good setting for an isekai show.
Lenlo
Its why I standby Sakaki in this that, even if he was a dick about it, he is right to be angry at how it all placed out. Just not at Kurahara.

Also @Anon, I loved Bloodborne! No idea what the convo is about, but saw it mentioned
Lenlo
They should Kaiser, I agree. Just look at American college football right now. ITs coming out all over the place, and people wonder why teams dont speak out against it. Its because they are kids, they think "This is how its SUPPOSED to be. Only the best make it. Its not the coaches fault, he makes us win". etc etc.
Kaiser-Eoghan
There is a spinoff anthology for bloom into you's manga.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Or other big issues relating to sports such as performance enhancing drugs.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Lenlo, a thought popped into my head there, more sports shows should focus on abuse.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I think flipflappers is one of my favourites in years, but it was definately at its best when it wasn't really about wrapping up its story.
Amagi
Space Dandy and Kaiba had this to some degree too. Liked both series.
Amagi
@Kaiser: Kinda sad that the latter half of Flip Flappers was rather weak because it started with this different worlds idea.
Amagi
I think Matsumoto stuff might actually be the very first anime I have seen in my life, not regularly though and usually when I was in Italy.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The noir world could be in black and white.
Kaiser-Eoghan
How about another world that has different sections that follow different genres?
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Helped greatly by his use of artistic cinematography and use of dramatic stills.
Anonymous3316528
Old anime has very bitter stories. Despite the old drawings, several had harsh live lessons. Osamu Dezaki had such a talent to direct drama.
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Winter 2019 Summary – Week 2

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Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai – 02

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In the wake of many a school based light novel show this may be the small bits of fresh air was can savor out of this overdone setting. Rascal does not dream of Bunny Girl(Or by its japanese title above) is a series not about rascals or bunny girls but instead about contextualising common high […]

Banana Fish Anime Review – 72/100

Some days, I wonder what it is with America and anime about organized crime. Baccano!, 91 Days, Blood Blockade Battlefront, all set in America, all involving criminal underworlds. Today, I get to add another to that list in the form of Banana Fish. Much more grounded than the others, it’s story dates all the way […]

Castlevania Season 2 Review – 73/100

According to much of the Western Anime community, this series wouldn’t be relevant for a site like this. Being made in the West by Americans, and English being its first language, many would disqualify it from the start. However I name them all fools for Castlevania, Directed by Sam Deats and Ryoichi Uchikoshi is clearly […]