Posted on 23 February 2010 with categories: Sora no Oto



A calm before the storm episode… through a really weird one. I admit that I didn’t expect such an episode at this point of the series.

So yeah. The fluff in this episode was very unconventional. After the hard-hitting previous episode, you’d expect the fun and games to be over, but instead we get a really uneventful episode in which Kanata waits for a phone to ring. The part in which she was about to wet herself was rather uncomfortable to watch. It was well written however, there’s no doubt about that.

However, we finally know what the final arc of this series is going to be about: saving the country. This has been a very down to earth series, but it had it coming: there were a few very clear hints pointing to this. The first one was the legend of the five priestesses: very basic foreshadowing. And then there’s the matter of the princess of the country being mentioned a number of times. This episode also confirmed that Rio has a very high status, and basically came here, running away from that.

The final five episodes are basically going to take care of that, and I bet that they’re going to be completely different from what we’ve seen from this series so far. I really hope that the creators weren’t too ambitious with it, I’d much rather have seen a finale that would focus on the characters. For this final arc, the creators are really going to have to take care to not overdo it and suddenly have our five-some god-mode themselves through this war. That’s the thing I’m most afraid of.

Oh, and Kanata in this episode proved that airheads can use their brains as well, when she revealed that she knew about the secret practices of the platoon. God, more anime should realize this.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 22 February 2010 with categories: Hanamaru Youchien



Um… why is this series trying to become a drama?

This was an all-around ‘meh’ episode. It completely dropped the roleplay and stuffed in a ton of cliches that anime creators normally use when they’re out of ideas. The ideas of bringing Tsuchida to his hometown was nice, but we already saw Yamamoto in her bikini last episode. We already saw Tsuchida’s tsundere sister in the last episode.

The summer festival. It’s a staple of generic harems. A ton of girls who comment on how the lead character is nice. Again, a ton of harem series done that before. Fireworks? Been there, done that. And seriously, what was up with that shallow drama between Tsuchida and his sister. I’ve asked this many times before: why is anime so obsessed over brother complexes? It’s less common to have a younger sister who isn’t in love with you!

The adults in this series stood out to me because they were so down to earth. Well… not any more.
Rating: – (Disappointing)

Posted on 21 February 2010 with categories: Full Metal Alchemist - Brotherhood



That fight between Greed and Wrath… talk about animation! What an epic way to start off this episode. Interestingly enough, the rest of this episode was used to save some budget and the faces were off a bit. Ah well, it was well worth the eye candy.

This episode really formed the prelude to a new major arc in this series. The previous arc was really all about preparation: gathering allies, getting them to the right place and getting everything ready for the “big plan”. Right now, it seems that we’re about to start with the real stuff of this series: Mustang is back, and the characters around him are about to play a bigger role again. Ed is fully recovered and teamed up with Greed. Now everyone seems to be ready to put an end to Father’s plans.

The ED said so much about this subject. I love how much different parties are now working together at this point, and everyone is doing something different, meaningful, something that fits his character, doesn’t get neglected and has his own circumstances. I really have to praise the mangaka for weaving everything into one. She really did a wonderful job.

Also, @Mae Chung: I’m really glad that she’s not on a bus after all, but oh god… I really fear for her.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on with categories: Heartcatch Precure



So, this is where the random cases start. It’s always been early with these kinds of shows, but there are hints! This episode actually had some small references to the previous two episodes, and actually progressed the characters a bit with their fashion club. Compared to say, Fresh Pretty Cure last year where beating the monsters felt as mundane as eating lunch, the creators created some sense of urgency and threat into the monsters of this series, and yet they add in enough touches of comedy, so that the mood never gets too serious. Trying to describe this made me realize how hard it is to actually pull this off, especially with such a predictable formula.

At this point, I’m just looking for these small details and references. The girl in this episode was upset because she couldn’t join the boy’s football club, which tied in nicely with the two lead characters, who were also trying to find new club members. Also, when her inner heart was defeated, she didn’t get exactly a happy ending in the way that the soccer club magically allowed her, but rather she stopped whining and instead tried to do what she could. I also liked how at the beginning, we got an entire bird’s-eye view of the town that this show plays in.

They’re small details, but probably the next 13 episodes will be pretty much of this formula. It’s up to the creators to make every episode enjoyable fun, and that’s exactly what this episode did, even though it wasn’t as good as the first two episodes. And heh, this episode was also full of eye candy during the ton of transformation scenes. Not since Utena have recycled scenes looked this stylish.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on with categories: Cross Game



I must say, I enjoyed this episode a lot more than I thought I would. The baseball part is still pretty shallow (Kou and the others just blew themselves through the semi-finals without a scratch), the atmosphere was excellent and the different characters were pushed even more forward.

Two annoying trends finally got broken: Akaishi and Senda’s uselessness, as both of them manage to hit a homerun. But a major part of this episode was dedicated to Akane: she’s about to have surgery. While it’s probably going to be just fine, you can see the effect this has on the rest of the characters. Especially Akaishi, as he finally managed to pull himself out of this dip he’s been having.

I was afraid that this series would lose its charms during this final arc, but the characters have gotten more enjoyable than ever right now, even without the usual snarky way of storytelling: these past episodes have gotten much more straightforward than the rest of this series, and yet this series didn’t self-destruct with this change of pace. Now that’s the sign of a good series!

It’s just a shame that the budget was lost in this episode: the match was just a bunch of still frames…
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on with categories: Letter Bee



Oh, this is bad. This is not looking good. Take a look at the DVD-page of the official website. Especially the caption: テガミバチ DVD <全7巻>.

巻 (kan) means volume. 全 (zen) can mean “all”, “whole”, or “complete”. So yeah. Letter Bee is only going to consist out of seven volumes, standing for about 25 episode. Dammit Studio Pierrot. If you’re going to have the balls to drag this series on with a ton of filler, you’d better animate the entire series. At this point, there’s no hope for a second season: the series is nowhere near popular, and if Studio Pierrot wanted to drag on this series, they’d just throw in some extra fillers.

I’m getting very tired of this. If you’d ask me what I hate the most about anime, it’s not the crappy moe series, it’s not the endless teen-aged angst, and it neither is cardboard characters or badly developed characters. It’s the fact that so many series only plan to animate a part of their story with no intention to cover the rest of it if it’s not popular enough.

With a series as Guin Saga, I can forgive the creators: it was epic, and I had a lot of fun watching it. Letter Bee however… meh. The entire point of these fillers was to build up an atmosphere just for when the story gets good. It doesn’t make any sense if we’re never going to get to that point.

Be prepared to see this show dropped. I’ve lost my motivation for it now. It’s not even an issue of time: I would have gladly blogged this series if it took up 50 or more episodes. However, this… I fail to see the point of it.
Rating: (Enjoyable)

Posted on with categories: Cobra The Animation



It’s strange: Cobra 1982 and 2010 are animated from the same manga, and yet their focus is completely different. Cobra 1982 interpreted “adventure” as “killing bad guys”, while Cobra 2010 interprets “adventure” as meeting interesting people and settings. I think that that’s why I consider the latter to be superior: killing of bad guys for 33 episodes does get old, even though a few of them stand out as original. Especially considering that to get to these interesting people, Cobra first has to kill of hordes of nameless minions and goons. Cobra 2010 leaves the goons for what they are, and therefore is much more able to focus on the creativity.

What also changed is that this series adds a bit of depth to the characters that Cobra meets. It’s small, but because of that I’m much more interested in these people. These people are overcome by greed, so much that they forget to think rationally. It’s been the same for three arcs now, but it actually says much more about them than the umpth minion of the Pirate Guild who want to kill Cobra. I think that the “why” in Cobra 1982 got ignored too often, and that allowed it to get stale. Plus, Cobra 2010 has space cars. How awesome is that?

One thing I liked in this episode was how well the conclusion was handled, and especially how powerful the soundtrack was at that time. That’s another thing at which I consider Cobra 2010 to be superior: its soundtrack is ten times better than the original.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on with categories: Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn



2010 is going to be a major year for OVAs, so you can expect me to blog a lot of ’em. I’ve mostly been looking forward to Gundam Unicorn because of its director, Kazuhiro Furuhashi of Chevalier, Real Drive and Hunter X Hunter fame, among many others. Overall, I’m impressed: there are a number of cliches in this show, but there’s also a lot of promise. And in this episode, the impressive outweighed the unimpressive parts.

So yeah, I hoped that it wouldn’t be the case, but alas: the lead characters are a bunch of teenagers. But to be honest, teenagers have never been the deciding factor for whether a Gundam Series is going to be good or not. While Zeta Gundam’s latter half indeed derailed because of the constant focus on angsty teenagers, the original Mobile Suit Gundam also had a lot of them and yet I consider that one among the best Gundams I’ve seen. Same for Turn A Gundam, which also had a teenager piloting an overpowered mecha. Gundam 00’s second season on the other hand barely had any teenagers, and yet it did have plenty of emo characters and its plot never really went anywhere for me. I guess that it all depends on the execution, and that’s where Unicorn shined in this episode.

Even for Sunrise, the animation here is great. The motion is incredibly fluid and the soundtrack fits very well. I really liked the action in this episode: it was intense and yet didn’t drag on. On top of that, the dialogue also is detailed. If the creators can keep this up, then I’ll be satisfied.

The lead character is a newtype, but I’ve seen much less likable Gundam leads. This guy is impulsive, but he’s not so ridiculously trying to be cool. He reminds me of a less whiny Kamille. Right now, I do hope that the creators are not going to increase his angst as the episodes go on. In this episode, the teenaged angst was still at a healthy level: they lost a lot of loved ones, so it’s natural for them to freak out, and they didn’t get in the way of the plot as they did so. The “war is bad” messages are again back in full force, but it’s all going to depend on how the creators are going to use the rest of these episodes whether or not this show is going to be a success.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 20 February 2010 with categories: Seikai no Monshou



Blogging this series has shown me that I’m very selectively punctual. While I promised that I’d blog this series weekly, this entry has had more than a week delay, apologies for that. Blogging this series has been an interesting experiment, but in the end I don’t think that I can blog a series that has already been fully released consistently and at this point, I think I’ll just end up marathoning the two Banner of the Stars, instead of blogging them weekly. I know it’s something that’s completely in my head, but still.

In any case, a great episode. It was very intriguing. This episode showed a completely different side of the Abh: the elitist and racist one. This episode rocked in the way that it slowly revealed the exact stance of the Baron that Jinto and Lafiel ended up at. This episode showed how great this series is at building up: that final shot of Lafiel smiling was a very powerful one.

And the emotions: anime is often a medium of overacting, but this show is different. The subtle emotions of the characters show exactly how they feel, and yet no attempt is made to make them over the top, apart from perhaps those nameless maids.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on with categories: Armed Librarians - The Book of Bantorra



So, the slaughter has begun. I must say that I really like all of the background behind this apocalyptic arc. Finally we don’t have some sort of evil demon who is about to destroy the world: the background behind this one is much more complex and interesting.

This episode passed, and it’s still a bloody mystery as to what happened to Noloty in the previous episode. We do get some hints, though: that boy she was with has the power to unleash his emotions to others. Whatever happened between him, Noloty and the Governor of Paradise, it killed off Noloty, made Arkit believe that the Armed Librarians killed her off, and somehow turned him into a lizard. While the latter is probably an aftereffect of Arkit’s powers, the big mystery is why the Governor of Paradise actually revealed himself in order to get the job done. Is the church this close to extinction?

I do have one point of criticism, though. Ireia’s death was probably the first cliched one I’ve seen in this series. It was by far the least impressive one, because of how over the top it was. All deaths in Bantorra thus far had something special, with the most impressive being Volken and Noloty, but with Ireaia… the creators hinted a bit to much to the fact that she was about to die.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

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