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
SuperWooper
I'm with you, Bokusen. I don't even think it was particularly good-looking.
Bokusen
Maybe it gets better though, or it just wasn't my thing...
Bokusen
Garo was way too campy/trashy for me and I dropped it like a rock after ep 1. The whimpy female character annoyed me too.
KTravlos
yeah that is m plan. Altair is about to finish. I think at this point that I ca say that on balance it is a better political-military epic than Arslan despite the issues. You will read more about it in my review.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Travlos: I am waiting to marathon it, the first season worked better when marathoned.
Amagi
Maybe I will pick it up again now that I dropped something else.
Amagi
Damn I totally fogot about it. Watched the first two episodes and it was enjoyable + good animation. It was still missing an actual plot but I guess it starts later
KTravlos
also, it looks like Garo: The Vanishing line is a good show to watch. Is anybody following it?
KTravlos
That said the last two AMB episodes were quite fun.
Amagi
I would have prefered it if the magical beings were weird looking instead of all of them being beautiful sameface humans. Also the special role of Chise and how everyone gets alured by her give me strong otome vibes and I am really not a fan of this gerne
Amagi
@Lenlo/KT same here. It's just that AMB can't come even close to Inu, Shuumatsu or Houseki. I am no a fan of the pacing and the rest is basically just fantasy.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Was worried there for a moment thinking sangatsu no lion was ending next week, turns out season 2 is 22 episodes afterall.
Lenlo
Yeah KT, watching the two together has not come out favorably for AMB for me.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I believe it works better in hellsing and drifters moreso to both being goofball action shows.
KTravlos
A point on the chibi in AMB. I was thinking about shows were the chibi did not bother me, and Hellsing Ultimate and Drifters (newest episodes coming out), both had deformed/chibi segments. For some reason they did not bother me. I think ABM directors have bad timing with them.
KTravlos
I have to say Ichirou Inuyashiki is very cool. Like he is really a cool character. Also I am saddened to say it but watching AMB together with Inuyashuki does not work well for AMB
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Silver: There are sad moments certainly but plenty of humour.
Anonymous1639132
Man, I sure hope Ichirou Inuyashiki and Hiro Shishigami make out, everything is just building up to that
silver
I actually have only watched one or two episodes of this season of 3-gatsu, but its rising scores and rave reviews are making me really excited! I've only put it off because it's somewhat emotionally tiring for me
SuperMario
@Kaiser: Well, after the first season of 3-gatsu ended, I did skim ahead to this bullying arc so I already know this is going to be powerful, yet the anime still wow me over and over
Anonymous1637770
Also it can be tricky selecting a season sequel since some old series had like 50 to 100 episodes, what counted as a season then?
Anonymous1637770
@Kaiser-Eoghan - It's more common in videogames (especially Capcom) than in other mediums. Megaman 2, RE 2, Street Fighter 2, Dino Crisis 2, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, etc.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Actually in a rarity, a sequel season is better than the first.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Which makes my enjoyment of sangatsu so strange.
Kaiser-Eoghan
And I generally do not like game/sports orientated shows.
Kaiser-Eoghan
That you slightlySuper-erMario and superwooper!
Kaiser-Eoghan
And my reaction to the show is such, that I enjoyed it enough to make such a huge pot about it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Also I want Akari to be my mom and Hina is adorable without being annoyingly so and Kana Hanazawa is doing a good job voicing her.

And whoever said it is right, the op/ed songs are worth listening to, for once I’m not skipping them.
Kaiser-Eoghan
At this point it feels as if by the end of the series I’ll come off it thinking that I don’t want to say goodbye to these characters.
I don’t think as of just yet it complete lives up to honey and clovers legacy though.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I never cared about Harunobu initially, but recent episodes have changed this.
Dull parts of the manga are easier to get through for me in the anime due to Shaft elevating the material with one of the better uses of their visual gimmicks.
Giving the series another chance, even though I won’t fully embrace the humour, it does now and then manage to make me laugh a little.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The bullying arc centering on Hina and the shows treatment of it is better than most anime bullying stories and has provided the most emotionally rewarding aspect of the show.
Characters that are assholes like Kyouko’s boyfriend, Kyouko herself I’m finding somewhat more sympathetic and want to see more to their personal drama.
Kaiser-Eoghan
However I do genuinely think that the series does a good job of allowing dramatic moments to creep up on the viewer, that early scene of Hina crying over her mother, Rei’s family flashbacks, Akari’s concerns about Hina/the stuff with her dad, all the scenes with Kyouko do carry an effective and solid dramatic weight to them.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I feel it starts very strong, making a great first impression, then kind of has these dull moments that make it sort of a slog at times to get through, unfortunately I have no interest in chess/shougi and no knowledge the show tries to give me is going to stick or allow me to embrace that.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Through jumping back and forth between the anime and manga, I can say I have no caught up to where I will now watch March comes like a lion on a weekly basis.
Anonymous1636224
The blood of the innocent will flow without end, mmmmmm this is why I love Inuyashiki
Anonymous1636224
Mmmmmm the suffering of all those innocent people feeding his God boner, this is why I love Inuyashiki
Lenlo
Oh yeah, thats not a knock against it. Just noting they dont *need* much animation
SuperMario
Well, the nature of Mahoutsukai is slow-burned, so it makes sense they focus more on static, quiet moments
Lenlo
Was that blade 2022 thing supposed to be an example? Because I wasnt a fan. It was stylish sure, but difficult to follow.
Lenlo
Maho is a good looking show, I wouldnt call it a great animated show.
Lenlo
The issue for me is, theres just not alot being animated most of the time. Usually its a pretty slow moving anime, so most of its time is talking and still shots. It doesnt need alot of animation, so it doesnt have it.
Lenlo
@Niel, I think Mahoutsukai can have good animation when it wants to. Like the water viel in episode 10 looked good (Though im not sure how much of that was after effects)
Anonymous1635607
uhhh creepy
Anonymous1635589
the blood of the innocent will flow without end, mmmm this is why I love Inuyashiki so much
Amagi
I think the security is the same as here, it's just that Japanese people are less likely to rip stuff (correct me if I am wrong). It seems like ripped anime, manga and so on are basically always uploaded by Americans, Chinese people or someone else.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I was surprised heavens feel was camripped I thought security in japanese theatres was stronger.
Amagi
Yeah it's also screening in Germany, I will watch it in February, together with Heaven's Feel, Mutafukaz, Kimikoe and a few others.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*on Europa cinema
Kaiser-Eoghan
Nanoha new film to screen next February in the US, come in Europa license it for over here dammit....
Kaiser-Eoghan
Did have some down moments though.
Kaiser-Eoghan
And I guess contrasting Luke with his old self goes some way.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Saw the preview screening of the new star wars, still feel the new trilogy stands inbetween the originals and prequels, fufills its duty as a *** star blockbuster , some genuinely hilarious high camp moments, awful tokenism, Snoke is a shit villain, but two scenes with Luke actually have a pathos to them and I liked the chase/action scenes when they happened. Nobody cares about the acting/dialogue
AidanAK47
But there are times when it goes way too far and you can barely make out what is even supposed to be happening. Or characters go so off model that they are unrecognizable. It can be immersion breaking. Much like uncanny CGI.
AidanAK47
@Niel, I do agree that it's annoying to see people complain about animation when they clearly have no idea what they are talking about. Like those inbetween frame screenshot people. But I will say I appreciate on model characters more so than chaotic movement. When the off model stuff suits the tone of the scene like that blade runner part, then it's fine.
niel
I also don't want to see someone imply visual=animation for the hundredth time. Are people really that ignorant of the technical/artistic aspect of the media they consumed?
niel
It just depends on what works best in given scene and the aesthetic they want to go for. People can complain all they want about off-model stuff, but if they really only want that the they won't be getting nearly as much of those impactful scenes as there are now. So many of the ways people complain about it is really irking to me.
niel
normal/low action scenes is different from being on-model during the action sequences and just the ones that need some extra impact in general. https://youtu.be/rrZk9sSgRyQ?t=6m45s
niel
But that depends on the situation though. And I'd argue that being consistent and on-model during
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Vonter/Niello/Mario: Ideally I want it both ways, fluid animation AND consistent model visuals, all the while never sacrificing choreography.
SuperMario
But really, who am I to say. I'm the dude who prefer beautiful shot composition myself
SuperMario
The same can be said with Shinkai's movies since he always prefers static, beautiful shot that people tend to overlook that his animation is quite poorly handled
Vonter
You're right, but art direction does alleviate limited animation, I mean the old Berserk anime, kinda has a lot of slideshow moments. MahoYome has nice backgrounds, and despite the samey faces, at the very least doesn't come from the same mold as other series. Still cutting corners with chibi segments is was a mistake.
SuperWooper
Is it any wonder that people prefer things to be static/on-model? They want to see characters who look consistent and familiar so they can relate to them.
Nie
MahoYome being the biggest offender of people getting triggered to any kind of statement about the show's animation not being good. And it's absurd because the show's animation really isn't great at all. It's good with distracting people with pretty pictures, but animation-wise it's still mediocre.
Nie
@SuperMario: Not much. Just stuff like "Art is part of the animation weather it's beautiful backgrounds or just amazing looking characters. It's not all about how they move. If it was, CG would be considered great animation" multiple times. I've just been finding myself being replied with these kinds of comment non-stop since the start of the season.
SuperMario
@Niello: What happened exactly, if you don't me asking?
Nielllo
If I hear someone says AMB has good animation one more tie I might actually lose it. It's amazing how people who apparently know nothing about it try to defend this and other people who don't know anything are actually supporting the guy.
Niello
So with Fate Apocrypha episode 22 out, I'm just now learning that people think webgen style is horrible and they prefer static scenes with pretty visual over actual quality animation. WTF. I can't comprehend this. Are casual people who watch animation in general really that oblivious to the art they have been watching?
Lenlo
Berserks Dynasty Warriors style game looked better. Also, Mahoutsukai should be up tonight/tomorrow. Turns out, Christmas is a busy time of year at this job.
Amagi
*worse
Amagi
Especially when you consider how good CGI can be by now, look at Houseki or Kado. But Berserk was the worst thing I saw in years, many scenes felt worst than sequences of PSX games
Amagi
@SuperMario: Same. I love Kon and also consider Paprika's OST as the best. @Lenlo: Me too. I honestly even enjoyed the movies but the new series was atrocious
Lenlo
HIRASAWAAAA! HAAAAAI YOOOOO.
I miss the 90s Berserk.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I was also quite fond of his soundtracks for Berserk. AIIIIIYE FORCES : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkYYYew8CUI
SuperMario
@Amagi: I'm a big fan of Kon so I've watched everything from his. Even bought a book about his works. About the soundtrack, I listened to them as well but not regularly, compare to pprika OST which I downloaded and listen to a lot
Kaiser-Eoghan
Although not completely a manga, Usagi yojimbo also has an anthro character.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Millennium actress is partially inspired by the actress Setsuko Hara.
Amagi
@Kaiser-Eoghan: The anthro-animal manga is even a topseller as far as I know. Haven't looked into it yet, though. Maybe I will do so.
Amagi
Speaking of it, I am still hoping Dream Machine will happen some day. Kon died believing it would happen
Amagi
@SuperMario: Have you tried the other Kon movies like Millennium Actress once? Thought they were really good and Hirasawa is responsible for the OST there too. Or Paranoia Agent which was (IMO) very good as well https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nttSKBJ38k (OP)
Niello
Eoghan: Enjoy... ;)
Kaiser-Eoghan
While I haven't read this, its very strange to see a manga about full anthro animal characters: http://kissmanga.com/Manga/Beastars
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Vonter: So based on that I will try devil lady. Thanks.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Vonter: That'd be me who made that post. I thought dororon enma-kun was wonderfully ridiculous and Devilman gorishly entertaining, Shin Mazinger Z was probably some of the most fun I had with an anime, but violence jack took it way too far though so I guess I'm aquainted with nagai's work
Vonter
I don't remember who was looking for something noir in anime. I was looking among several series from Go Nagai. And watched some Devil Lady. I don't remember if noir is exclusively detective stories, but this anime, has those high contrast shadows, eerie music and is shot like some japanese horror movies I've seen. I don't know if it changes along the road but so far it's very suspenseful.
SuperMario
I only know him through his works in Berserk and Paprika but his music never fails to amaze me
Anonymous1626471
@Amagi: Ghost Bridge is my favourite. I just find it very calming. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeh5aJsxlbw
Amagi
Susumu Hirasawa is one of my favorite musicians/composers. I don't even know what kind of subgenre this is. There aren't any other music groups I know who do similar stuff
Nielllo
@Mario, Already saw that video before.
SuperMario
Check this out... I don't even know what the freaking instrument he's playing, but it's spellbound https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjalQjAomH0
Niello
Just when I thought Houseki no Kuni took the prize for best animation I was treated with Apocrypha. This week is amazing.
Niello
Big name animators all over. They really threw everything they've got here.
Niello
Woooooah! OMG Apocrypha ep 22 animation is sick! So that's why the animation in the first half of the show is so lackluster and basically just darn awful.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Its not entirely odd to bring up Heydrich in relation to the occult either, apparently he was said to be part of some whackjob order.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Hmmm, that girl from Dies irae, Anna Schwegln is aptly named, also shares her name with the last executed person for witchcraft, who was Bavarian German, which i'm told by an Austrian friend were particular right-est leaning politically.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Of course unfortunately its often the opposite that happens, nothing is worse than an ending that ruins everything.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Ah, how I love being surprised by something. That feeling where you''re watching something shakily held together, simply okay or good, then suddenly in the second half or last stretch your score of it goes massively up.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I can kind of understand the wanting to go home and watch something easy mentality instead of challenging but even though I'm guilty of escapism, I'm tired somewhat of "sillier" stuff, its often enjoyable but its get overly reptitive and I wish I could find more philosophical/political/imaginative things.
Amagi
Yeah the show is great because of its theme, the setting and chemistry girls have as well as their (lack of) knowledge about basic human things. Each episode thematizes this in a different way but there isn't much you can talk or say about it when you already explained the topic in detail.
SuperMario
On the other hand, I don't have much to talk about Girls' Last Tour this week. It's still good, but with this episode I feel that I'm running out of concrete thig to say about the show
SuperMario
Haha both Houseki and 3-gatsu have a good showing this week. I have a lot of things to talk about Houseki in particular
Amagi
This week's Houseki is jurassic park
Amagi
*-ati - I think Netflix and so are at least giving a few new impulses which isn't too bad. I don't think the typical anime series will disappear because of that.
Amagi
At least in comparisation
Amagi
I think it's just sad how often I see wonderful series selling 500 BD/DVD or maybe even less. Most series don't sell more than 1500 or so and the rest is usually at ~3000-5000 which is still pretty low.
Amagi
Yeah, it's one of my pro-Netflix arguments as well. Another problem is that anime (not counting manga) only make money through dvd/bd sales since they air at night, whereas Netflix or daytime tv series don't depend on the latter so much and since anime BDs are so expensive the only ones who buy them are the more extreme fans.
AidanAK47
Might be in part due to the workaholic nature of their society that makes escapist fantasy and empty entertainment more appealing than usual. Ultimately these are the people anime is made for so opening up the markets gives more deserving shows a fighting chance.
Though that isn't to say that western taste is perfect either.
AidanAK47
@Amagi, That's part of the reason I think some westernation might be a good thing as from what I seen the Japanese have truly terrible taste in anime. Sales charts from Japan just make me shake my head.
Amagi
God, the preorder anime lists are atricious. The only one that seems to sell acceptable (around 6k) is Mahoyome. Series like Inuyashiki have 80 pre-orders so far, Shuumatsu Shoujo 977. Idol shows sell good of course, including that male/bishounen Idolmaster
AidanAK47
@Anon, I read it but kinda fell out due to it's releases being slow.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Actually if you check the manga recommendations section, you'll see there is a post about it here.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Yes, it was interesting to follow a story that dealt with a characters homosexuallity that was outside of the yaoi/yuri mould.
Anonymous1620968
Out of curiosity, has anyone on here read Shimanami Tasogare?
Niello
Where are we up to with Inuyashiki?
Lenlo
Well alright then. Episode 9 out of 11 and that happens. Was not expecting that
Lenlo
Ooo something happen this week? Im about to watch it
Kaiser-Eoghan
It feels just as rushed and awkward in the manga.
Amagi
I noticed this too
AidanAK47
Inuyashiki has balls of steel to pull that in this particular episode number.
Nielllo
Finally got around to reading Helck, and it looks like it's going to go into that pile of good-shounen-that-won't-ever-get-animated right alongside Psyren.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: Imagine trying to buy the dvds of the show in public.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: Gentle remind that the prism ilya movie is out and subbed.
AidanAK47
Still surprised the second and third seasons got dubbed.
AidanAK47
@Angel, I replied to one of your comments before but the rundown is no official word yet but maybe next year.
Angel
Or no? Someone please tell me!!
Angel
Going to happen?
Angel
Is fate/kaleid liner prisma☆illya 3rei dub
Amagi
I dislike it when manga bait me into reading due to the first chapter and end up being some very generic stuff afterwards. Nobody stays for B if he started something for A, authours should expect that.
Lenlo
Really, Juuni should stick with the 3D. That fight in ep 9 looked pretty good. 3D is clearly what they are good at
AidanAK47
@Niello, It's not Chatango. It's a plugin for wordpress called Wisechat.
SuperMario
@Niello: yeah, Juuni caught me off guard this week. The production of Juuni is unfortunately shaky, but well, strong writing can save the day
Niello
Btw is this chat still Chatango?
Niello
This week episode of Juini is surprisingly good compared to how the show usually is with its backstory. Although the part where Ox tries to explain to Tiger could definitely use some visual buff.
SuperWooper
in the future*
SuperWooper
Pretty cool that Juuni Taisen had that kind of emotional heft this week, though. Might be one of the 2017 shows I sample the in the future.
SuperWooper
I think the occasional comments with an episode title and nothing more come from people who mistake the shoutbox for a search bar.
SuperMario
@Anon1614688: juuni taisen... made me tearing up this week. Honestly didn't expect that. Damn you, Tiger
Anonymous1614688
juuni taisen
Amagi
Had some complaints regarding Children of Whales but the latest two episodes were pretty good.
Amagi
@Anon: You explained it better than me.
Anonymous1614307
Kaiser: I actually have the exact same opinion of Natsume and Mushishi. Both are excellent, but Natsume just does a great job with a small core cast and a very simple premise
Anonymous1614456
who likes naruto
Kaiser-Eoghan
Mushishi does have good stories, but it was always a manga I'd dip in and out of, on and off for years, never marathoning it, wheras Natsume was easier to read several chapters of in one go.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I think its because Natsume has more pathos.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*more than
Natsume weirdly ended up becoming this comfort manga for me with a higher consistency rate .
Kaiser-Eoghan
I will state that I hold the terrible opinion that I like Natsume Yujinchou than Mushishi but at the same time completely recognize that Mushishi is probably the more ambitious, better show.
Niello
So it becomes a cycle of "this is an interesting set up" (except that the new Kino isn't even good at that) and then they fucked up or Kino/Shizu fucked them up even more, then move on. Without the emphasis on philosophical nature of the set up they present like in the original Kino, there really isn't that much point to it.
Niello
With the new Kino it's more about messing people up, occassionally observing and hardly ever improving. The anwsers or solutions to the problem they present is never really talked about in a rational way.
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“Dance!” I have been a  reader of this blog for a long time. Indeed it would not be wrong to say that psgels and the current crop of writers have helped maintain my interest in anime for the last decade. So now here is my chance to give something back to this excellent blog. Shingeki […]

Katsugeki Touken Ranbu Review – 63/100

Every Anime season we the viewers are shown a number of adaptations, often made after Light or Visual Novels. It’s an already written story with an established base, a smart business decision. In recent years studios have also begun pulling from the Video Game market for their shows. Pieces like the Idolmaster series, Kantai Collection […]

Kakegurui Review – 61/100

This show is one that makes conventional reviewing difficult as your enjoyment of your series will likely determine on highly subjective factors. For if I was to put this under scrutiny on matters of f-plot, setting and characters then it will end up lacking in all categories. The plot is just watching Yumeko face members […]

Re:Creators – 22 [Re:CREATORS] – 75/100

There was never going to be a epic fight with every creation squaring off against the overpowered and invincible Altair. That possibility died when the creators threw the copycat of Blank at her only to have that plan backfire horribly. Besides, it wouldn’t have been a satisfying conclusion to Altair’s story to have her be […]