Posted on 31 August 2011 with categories: Monthly Summaries

This month was an interesting one, definitely. There were unfortunately a few series who took a bit of a dip, or a bit of a wrong turn, but what charcterized the series who didn’t do that: charater development. Tons and tons of character development. Characters who one seemed one-sided gain a ton of depth, and just about every series turned out to be excellent in fleshing its cast out and giving more depth to it.

At this point, I won’t be able to tell whether or not this season really belongs among the best summer seasons we’ve had, because a lot of these series depend on their endings. The past spring will be very hard to beat in terms of awesome endings, but if there’s any season that can do it, it’s this one.

OVA Releases
#2: Carnival Phantasm – (5/10) – Okay, so I tried to watch this while not having played Fate/Stay Night. So obviously I did not enjoy watching all kinds of random references that flew over my head. Heck, I even have trouble imagining how those jokes would have worked if you DID know the meaning behind them. If you haven’t played Fate/Stay Night: don’t even bother with it. If you have though… prepare for something really silly.
#1: Milky Holmes OVA – (8/10)

This… was bizarre. It’s pretty much the same as the series, which is a good thing Its high energy just kept on going and going, with surprisingly good animation. It was incredibly cheesy, but knew it and played that for laughs, which worked nicely. My one complaint is that it was entirely fanservice. Especially turning one of the cast members into an is a very trite twist, but thankfully it was nowhere near as badly done as with series as Kore wa Zombie Desu Ka.

TV Series
#19 (20) – Sacred Seven – (7,25/10) – Sacred Seven: just take your characters, design a bunch of interesting looking monsters and just throw one monster at your characters for every single episode. That would have been more interesting than what the creators are currently doing, because the main plot of this thing is so completely and utterly boring. Apart from Arama, there really is nothing that stands out.
#18 (9) – Ao no Exorcist – (7,75/10) – Ao no Exorcist has gone off into anime original material, and I just have one major problem with that: I don’t care about the plot. It’s just not interesting. I’d rather wtach these characters interacting with each other. Satan? Who cares about Satan! Can’t the characters just all have a sleepover or something? That’s something that this show does really really well.
#17 (15) – Nurarihyon no Mago – (8/10) – I’m a bit behind on this series and haven’t watched the latest two episodes yet. This has to do with business, but also because the show is currently building up and so we’re in the middle of a training arc. I do not want to watch yet another season that’s entirely dedicated to build-up! There are hints of things getting better though: the villain looks interesting at the very least. Now, let’s not let her derail like the last one, okay?
#16 (8) – Gyakkyou Burai Kaiji – (8/10) – Aaand here is the point where this series lost my grip on it: in the end, the pachinko arc was too long. This month featured two episodes that just dragged on and kept repeating themselves. The thing is, that with so few arcs, this thing has lost its dynamic: it’s just waiting for the inevitable to happen. It’ll probably be an adrenaline fest when we get there, but Kaiji: you can also create series of 20 episodes long. It’s been done before. It’s even gonna save you some budget…
#15 (18) – Sket Dance – (8/10)

This month, Sket Dance was testing my patience, both in a good and bad way. The thing remains that it’s not as funny and dynamic as it used to. It however still is creative and is willing to try out risks. Just as I gave up on it, it pulls these strange episodes like the one entirely dedicated on bad jokes, or the double date. At first they may not seem much, but they’re surprisingly clever when you think about them afterward. I in any case want to see where the creators are going with this.

#14 (17) – Dantalian no Shoka – (8,25/10)

At first, Dantalian no Shoka seemed to have an excellent pair of main characters. Now, they’re the biggest weakness of the show, simply because they refuse to evolve. In Dalian’s case, she actually devolved. The rest of the cast, and the stories they run into are wonderfully imaginative, though. They’re incredibly far-fetched, but that’s what makes them fun and interesting. Gainax’s animation also helps.

#13 (16) – Blade – (8,25/10)

Yeah, something has to go really weird for Blade to not end up as the best Marvel series. Sure, its action isn’t as good as some of the other installments, but apart from that it has them beaten in pretty much every other category: the story takes actually interesting detours and has surprisingly engaging (albeit a bit cheesy) sideplots, the cameos are used in the best way so far, so that they actually enhance the characters playing a cameo, the characters have received much more depth than the previous ones and the bond between Blade and the people around him is much more interesting than that of the X-Men and Wolverine, and in terms of setting the characters aren’t wandering around random places, but instead are traveling all across southeast asia. Often visiting places that anime almost never (if they do it at all) touches upon.

#12 (14) – Ikoku Meiro no Croisée – (8,25/10)

Out of the slice of life series that I’m still watching, Croisee is the most overly sappy one. Because of that though, it can also get really genuine, which is an interesting trade-off. Its main selling point is its focus on cultural differences, which is really explored well. There’s a ton of interesting stuff discussed each episode, which very neatly relates back to the characters, instead of being just a kaleidoscope of random peculiar cultural differences.

#11 (10) – Usagi Drop – (8,25/10)

The interesting thing about the slice of life series this season is that they’re all excellent in totally different ways. For Usagi Drop, it’s the realism that really shines. Before I’ll fully judge this series though, I want to see how the creators are planning to end it. It won’t have the infamous trainwreck of the manga ending (which I thankfully have yet to be spoiled about) , but the anime still is going to have to tie itself together and I’m really curious how they’re gonna do that.

#10 (11) – Blood-C – (8,5/10)

It’s actually been a while since I’ve blogged such a controversial title. With that, I mean that Blood-C joins the ranks of series of which people have hugely diverging opinions. Personally, I’m at the positive side of the spectrum: I find this to be a very effective horror series with a gripping atmosphere and top notch fight choreography all around. The cast of characters admittedly aren’t the most interesting of the season, but they do really well in holding my attention and remaining plausible.

#9 (13) – Hana-Saku Iroha – (8,5/10)

The thing that sets Hana-Saku Iroha apart? Its drama. The characters themselves are… annoying to watch at times, but the drama between them is excellent to watch. It’s creative, gets some terrific development out of them, it shows new sides of them, the script is surprisingly well written when tit wants to and it weaves its various sideplots surprisingly creatively together. Because of that I find this to be a very engaging series, desipite how much the characters may get on my nerves.

#8 (6) – No.6 – (8,5/10)

Number 6 has only one problem. That didn’t change at all during the past month. It’s still wonderfully written, makes great use of its time to stuff as much plot and character development into its episodes, is really well animated, has an excellent plot and setting… but there still is no way that this one’s gonna end well.

#7 (7) – Kamisama Dolls – (8,5/10)

This still is rock solid entertainment: this month in particular upped the ante by giving the cast some depth to the main cast. Former one-sided characters actually were put in interesting situations and dilemmas, and gained a lot of depth. The storyline is also very effective and keeps making things interesting and entertaining to watch. Sure, there’s some badly placed fanservice, but that’s a minor issue.

#6 (12) – Kami-Sama no Memo-Chou – (8,5/10)

Finally in this month Kami-Sama n Memo-Chou stopped goofing off and showed one heck of a great storyline. Four episodes of undiluted awesomeness with a tight script, creative twists, excellent characters and a wonderful pacing. This is what mystery I expected from this series. It still has the JC Staff Cliches, but it executed them in a completely different manner compared to how they usually do them. Overall this finally lived up to its promise.

#5 (5) – Natsume Yuujin-Chou – (8,75/10)

There was one two episode arc and three episodic stories this month. The arc was great, but the episodic stories really stole the show here. The big advantage of the third season is that Natsume is developing like hell here. Every episode is dedicated to his growth. When you’ve also got heart-warming stories added to that, you’ve really got an amazingly charming series.

#4 (4) – Hyouge Mono – (8,75/10)

The one annoying part about Hyouge Mono this month was that it took a two-week hiatus, so we only got two episodes. What we got though, was absolutely wonderful. The acting in this series just gets better and better, and is without a doubt the best of the entire season. Just about everything is portrayed with the utmost subtlety, only to break that again with the bombastic emotions, and the cast plays excellently off each other. It’s still incredibly slow, so if you don’t have patience this really isn’t the thing for you, but for those who have it really is rewarding. But yeah, the dialogue is still incredibly complicated, so the chance that it will e picked up by subbers is very slim.

#3 (2) – Steins;Gate – (8,75/10)

Steins;Gate showed itself as the series with the best plot of the season. It’s full of intricacies of time-travel and its multi-layered plot is really starting to pay off now, and I especially like how suddenly, the first half of the series gets a completely different meaning. The least impressive part still is its characters, but they are nowhere near bad. They’re well developed, but perhaps just not as dynamic as they could have been.

#2 (1) – Tiger & Bunny – (9/10)

The plot with which Tiger&Bunny decided to go into its finale with was just awesome. Well built up, imaginative, but most importantly the characters were just awesome to watch. Just about every character shined during the past month and it’s incredibly fun to watch these people together. So yeah, it uses a plot device here and there. Who cares when it’s this awesome?

#1 (3) – Mawaru Penguin Drum – (9/10)

Now this one without a doubt stood on top of all of the other shows this month. It’s got a rock-solid direction and just keeps throwing the viewer for loops over and over. It’s chock full of red herrings and symbolism, the animation has a ton of neat details in it, the acting is absolutely wonderful, the characters all stand out and are wonderfully fun to watch. Seriously, if the other episodes are as good as this, then it’s a very strong contender for the best show of 2011.

Posted on 30 August 2011 with categories: Natsume Yuujin-Chou



Another amazing episode. At this point, things have to go really weird if the third season isn’t going to end up as better than the second one. It even has the potential to still surpass the first one. I haven’t seen an episode that beat the Hotaru episode, but apart from that the new season has just about everything running in its favor, and it has two very important things that the first season didn’t have: consistency and development.

Natume’s development really is THE major selling point of this third season. And heck, this episode added even more of it. I mean, the power of friendship is cheesy and all, but this show completely nailed it. Natsume’s concerns for his friends, and their concerns for him were incredibly heart-warming. It’s a wonderful way to show how much the cast has grown since the start of the series: back in the first season, the characters were still way too distant for this episode to have happened.

School festival episodes are overused, but thankfully not the biggest cliches out there. Those go to the hot spring episode, the beach episode and the pool episode, simply because everybody always does the bloody same there. Of course there are the bad festival episodes that are just there to waste time, but the good ones manage to show the cast in a different light, allow the characters to show themselves off, or highlight development. The best ones re the ones who want to make points that could not have been made without the choice to go with a school festival (so, no cheesy “let’s wait until the festival to confess to each other or something). Here, so much stuff gets thrown at Natsume, and he finally gets the chance to show himself off in the center of the attention by being the store clerk. The festival was a perfect chance for that.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 29 August 2011 with categories: Hana-Saku Iroha



Um… people; I just realized something: 1.

That’s the number of currently airing series where both parents of the main characters are still alive. Usagi Drop is the freaking ONLY one who has confirmed that! With Hana Saku Iroha we could thus far still dream that Ohana’s father was some horrible bastard who left his girlfriend as soon as he got her pregnant. What happened to the days of Noein, where parents could simply get… divorced or something? The best thing we can hope for at this point is for Sket Dance’s Yusuke’s father to be a raging workaholic who is never at home or something.

Having said that though: I loved this episode, for a lot of different reasons. First of all: the creators did not wait until the last episode to resolve the Tohru subplot. Tohru now knows about Minko’s crush on him, he won’t be misinterpreting hints from her anymore, and with Ohana totally uninterested in him, it will be a matter of time before his crush on her fades.It’s nice to see all of this happen gradually, but more importantly: the creators had other plans for the climax. Plans that indeed involve dissolving the Kissuiso, allowing everyone to go their own way. It’s the best way for everyone to really shine, and to pack in a ton of character development for everyone. I applaud the creators for going that route!

The characterization for the wedding also was wonderful, making this a really heart-warming episode. Enishi and Takako really came together as a couple here, and the subtle details, like them holding hands were nicely animated as well. Ooh, and Ohana’s mother has finally returned! Next episode she seems to be making an even bigger appearance, which is going to make that finale even more awesome.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on with categories: Ikoku Meiro no Croisée



Now, don’t get me wrong, this episode was wonderful. However, it did feature the big one; the cliche of cliches: the childhood friends. Instead of having Claude and Camille dating at their fifteenth or sixteenth, the creators consciously chose to show a romance between young kids of around ten years old. Here it makes sense: the theme of this episode would not have worked with older characters, but this is really something that lazy anime just keep using over an dover again.

This is something that has always baffled me about Japanese culture: how serious they view the romance between children. Instead of just playing tag, with everyone going his own way afterwards, anime seem to place a huge value on the memories they made as a kid. Instead of looking back at those childhood romances as an adorable quirk, every anime seems to believe those memories will decide your fate for your entire life. With this episode I was originally planning to question the Japanese culture again, only we’re talking about French kids here. But then again, I’m not French either. Are the French obsessed over childhood romances as well?

Anyway, the reason why I consider it to be such a bad twist is because it’s forced and overused. The big problem being the former, and the latter is the thing that made it worse. Nine times out of ten, when a childhood friend becomes involved, this is just reduced to a flashback, and a cheap excuse to get the main couple dating. It’s like saying: “I’m too bland for you, but we used to play tag together!” – and anime just keeps using that as an excuse.

In this episode things are different, though. It definitely had its purpose; this is a series about cultural differences. Not just between the French and the Japanese, but also between generations and between social classes. The childhood romance wasn’t used as a cheap romance, but instead to give Claude and Camille even more character. It added a ton of things to both the cast and the setting, on top of being adorably executed. And seeing Claude’s father was a plus too.

Here’s the thing with this show: it’s forcing me to reconsider the stereotypes I have in my mind about anime cliches. It’s not like Ao no Exorcist, which just has a bunch of cliches and executes them well, no this is really thought-provoking and it’s forcing me to take a different look at things I took for granted. Now that’s great storytelling.

Also, the tea ceremonies immediately gave me flashbacks to Hyouge Mono. I can not watch those anymore without picturing these overly obsessive faces along with it. It was quite good though: again it was a neat way to show how different something simple like tea can be. Plus, the way in which the Japanese sit. Because the bodies of Asians are slightly different from Europeans, they can sit like that much more naturally. I find it particularly murderous for my legs when I’m forced to sit like that for more than ten minutes.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on with categories: Ao no Exorcist



The problem with the fillers is that they derail certain characters at times. This time the most obvious was once again Yukio, but Mephisto also acted weird and inconsequential. First this guy gets all serious, and after a really random intervention from the Vatican that he could have stopped easily, he just walks away, abandoning his students that are held hostage. Make up your mind, will ya?

But yeah, Yukio: I still am not buying his subplot. It’s annoying and just feels forced. Like the Konekomaru arc, he’s overreacting way too much and just keeps on angsting about having to protect his brother. That’s just not interesting and gets annoying really fast. It’s not the kind of subplot you’d hold secret for the viewer, especially since they’re being so un-subtle about it.

The rest of this episode had the right spirit, though. Rin’s classmates have been handled quite well in this original story, and this episode solved the biggest barrier between him and them: Rin’s flames. He may have learned to control them a bit too sudden (isn’t it more logical if you gain control of flames like that gradually over time?) and that teacher also was surprisingly interesting. Again pulling his wife in was a bit cliched, but there definitely is more potential in him now than Satan.

Also, why does Yukio shoot with tranquilizers? I mean, with Rin I can understand and all, but against monsters who threaten the lives of his friends. Dude, get a bazooka or something. Anything better than those “it may look like I’m carrying a lethal weapon, but THOU SHALT NOT KILL, KIDS!”-phony weapons.
Rating: (Enjoyable)

Posted on 28 August 2011 with categories: Kami-Sama no Memo-Chou



Yup, now that this arc has officially finished, I can say that it’s the best arc of Kami-Sama no Memo-Chou so far. The two extra episodes really did it, and allowed this series to really create a surprisingly interesting story with some very creative twists. Oh, and Narumi… he actually popped up as a very good leader; that’s not something that many of his counterparts can boast here.

So I have been rather busy lately, so I don’t have as much time as I’d like to really speculate what’s going on. Because of that the truth behind the mystery really came out of left field for me, and that made it all the more satisfying. I love how nearly all makes sense with the build-up that these past four episodes have put into it.

the only thing that I’m a bit iffy about is the Fourth’s reasons for keeping silent. I mean, I understand them, but Renji was willing to destroy everything he built up, which basically involved him putting the lives of everyone loyal to him on the line. Was that really worth it for a simple pride issue? The only thing I can think of is that he didn’t expect Renji to go as far as he did.

I really wonder: can the final four episodes top this? It al depends on what kind of material they’re gonna adapt. The thing is: I do not think that this will get a second season. The thing with JC Staff is that they in general are very loyal with their series… and yet Aoi Hana did not get a sequel (this has been confirmed: disappointing sales were the reasons). Based on recent years this was about the only series of theirs that really left with an open end and that did not get a sequel along the way… but then Uragiri and Yumekui Merry came around, both with disappointing sales. In the same way, I really can’t see Kami-Sama no Memo-Chou’s sales to turn out good. It does have the typical JC staff tropes, but it executes them in a completely different way from usual, to the point where there’s hardly any cliched moe left at this point. Even Alice’s antics are nothing like her counterparts (we can thank her excellent voice acting for that; I shiver at the thought of them putting Rie Kugimiya on the job again…). The problem is that this is just all speculation, of course. It’s gonna take years before we fully know whether this is true.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on with categories: Tiger & Bunny



Um yeah. That’s possible too. I really kept wondering on how the creators would end up solving the memory alterations of Maverick. The previous episode built up an epic plan to do that, and it really looked like Tiger was going to have to try his best to both convince everyone, while not being too cheesy at the same time. Or just wait for Kaede to show up and zap everyone back.

It’s a bit weird at first, but as the episode went on I really appreciated what a great anti-climax this was. After all, this episode did avoid exactly what I was afraid of: cheesy monologues for every single one of the side characters. Instead, Tiger’s attempts were shown to have some subtle influences, but they just weren’t enough for the team mentality of the heroes who worked together. In the meantime, Sky High’s brilliant action of touching Kaede on the shoulder still leaves the perfect opportunity for Kotetsu to really scrape the barrel in trying to get the memories of his friend back: for a lot of different characters, this indeed would have been rather weird.

Added to that was that the characters were just incredibly enjoyable throughout the entire episode. Just about everyone shined and was fun to watch. The cast of Tiger & Bunny really has what I’d like to call the X-Factor for me: it’s hard to describe, but beyond well developed and acted, they put in this extra bit to make them even more interesting, and make them consistently enjoyable, even when they’re not doing anything. For me, this is one of the greatest heights a cast can reach. This series has had episodes that hinted to that very much in the past, but this episode sealed the deal.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 26 August 2011 with categories: Hyouge Mono



Finally, after two weeks we’ve got more Hyouge Mono again. While the wait was terribly long, it did make me realize again how special this series is, and how this series just does not care about how many conventions it screws.

The details in the animation once again were sublime. This series may not have a big budget or anything, but the animation when Hideyoshi performed that dance was just amazingly smooth and powerful. On top of that, the amount of detail this series puts in its characters’ facial expressions still is completely un-rivaled. This makes it able to bring its characters alive in such a unique manner.

Even though this was a lot of building up, it’s still a ton of fun to watch Sasuke build up his own… um… “empire”, while at the same time, the focus is really starting to shift towards Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who after Oda Nobunaga rose up to try and unite Japan. I really wonder how this series is planning to use its length. It seems the most logical point to end would be where Tokugawa Ieyasu manages to unite japan successfully. It’s just… how will Hideyoshi and Sasuke play their parts in this? I mean, according to History the hostilities between the Hashiba and Tokugawa clans will end with Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s influence. At this point, I can still so many barriers before that’s gonna happen.
Rating: ** (Excellenty)

Posted on with categories: Blood-C



At first sight it may seem that Clamp are just reusing the same things, though they’ve actually succeeded quite well by now in building their own universe. The wish in this episode was the best example of that so far for this series: it’s of the same type of wish as with xxxHolic, Tsubasa Chronicle and Kobato, but instead of just being the same, they strengthen each other and are all different ways to look at the same concept. This episode is all about the nature of wishes: is this one going to be a good or a bad one?

This again was a very powerful episode, as it revealed that Saya’s father had pretty much been deceiving her. It’s also where the build-up of the earlier episodes comes into play again, and nothing really turn out what they seemed to be. If the earlier episodes would have immediately stated this, this revelation would not have been as powerful.

On the animation front, it is a bit of a shame that the creators couldn’t hold on to the amazingly fluent animation of the first few episodes; probably due to budget issues, but I’m glad to see that they’re still trying. Especially when that giant swordsman attacked: you could actually see him put his weight into his blows (Saya really needed her supernatural strength in order to be able to defend from forces like that!), and he really felt like he made an impact on the scenery whenever he went, destroying just about everything he stepped on, rather than just leaving giant foot-prints like a lot of other shows like to do. The attention to detail still is abundant.

Also, and this is something I just realized while up this entry… we have a dog who is the owner of a shop who sells wishes… voiced by Jun Fukuyama. Could it be? I’m getting some serious Kobato flashbacks here.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on with categories: Mawaru Penguin Drum



WTF, Penguin Drum. Just… wtf…

The first half of this episode was predictable enough. Heck, it was even so predictable that I was ready to label it as the least interesting episode of Penguin Drum so far. That actress is shrewd, and this episode pretty much was dedicated to showing the announcement of her engagement with Tabuki for its first half, with the most worthwhile parts being the references to classic shoujo. Ringo still didn’t really do anything worthwhile to stop it and was about to give up, so probably she shouldn’t have any more need for the diary, which would pretty much allow Shouma to take it. Or at least, that’s what I thought would happen.

Then came the toad scene. What the hell were the creators smoking when they came up with that one?

Ringo in this episode…. got completely deranged. I knew she was a bit weird, but this episode just made her outright crazy. And I don’t mean in the way that anime usually portrays crazy people, with lots of yelling and over the top laughing and stuff. Instead her plans to outright rape her teacher completely took me out of left field. I knew that this series had balls, but I did not expect them to be this big. This looks like it’s full of romantic cliches, and then it just keeps subverting the hell out of them.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

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Anime draws on many different media types in its endless search for properties to adapt, but manga is still the king of the bunch. And why not? It’s a distinctly Japanese art form, their main demographics have significant overlap, and manga’s panel-based layout means that some of the anime staff’s work is already done. Plenty […]

Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru Anime Review – 93/100

Recently, sports anime have become a bit of a dying breed. Falling into the same hole as Mecha, aside from a passionate base audience, most are overlooked. There are the occasional hits like Haikyuu, Yuri on Ice, or Darling in the Franxx for Mecha, but those are few and far between, often taking years. Even […]

A quick and dirty review of Garo: Vanishing Line

What it claims to be about: A secret order of knights and alchemists, the Makai Knights and Alchemists, fight horrifying creatures called Hollows who prey on human weakness .Part of the media franchise spanning anime and live action shows, this iteration is set in modern metropolis and concerns the attempts of Sword, the strongest Makai […]

Planetes Anime Review – 84/100

If there is one thing I have lost watching seasonal anime, it is patience. Every week I expect something to happen, some kind of payoff, to make watching that week worth it. Luckily, Planetes as brought that back to me. Its depth of writing, characters, and general structure belay an anime of a different age. […]

Goblin Slayer Anime Review – 60/100

The controversial nature of this shows opening episode may have many turning away from it due to believing it’s nothing but shock value but that truly isn’t what Goblin Slayer is. I will say that the manga may hold some truth to that statement but thanks to some tasteful censoring(Yes, sometimes censoring can be a […]