Sacred Seven – 05
You know what? I liked this episode a lot. It’s not that the characters suddenly gained a ton of depth, but rather what impressed me was the vast array of stuff that the creators throw at the main characters. That giant living pyramid: I love it, and it also was really well animated. It reminded me a lot of the series Betterman: there the focus also lied in trying to not die, while waiting for the superpower to arrive to take care of everything. If this ends up going beyond 13 episodes, it still has a chance, because the protagonist HAS potential: he’s this tall goofy guy and actually quite different from your usual protagonist if he wasn’t so damn emo. Because of that I’m willing to wait for his development. Oh, and I just discovered that Sayo Yamamoto was the one who directed the OP, which really does explain why it works so wel amongst Yuki Kajiura’s song and all. But seriously, she should direct another series. Seeing these awesome storyboarded OPs is nice and all, but she’s way too good a director for just that.
Rating: ** (Excellent)
Kamisama Dolls – 05
I may not be blogging this series, but I still love this show. This isn’t necessarily because of its story, but rather its storytelling: the way in which it presents its storyline, the way in which the action is written, the episodes are balanced, the atmosphere is created. That is done really well with this series. Seriously: it’s really rare for the most prolific company during a season to deliver in every single show that they’re producing, but Kamisama Dolls is an excellent action thriller show. Every episode so far has been full of emotions and covered a wide variety of moods, without feeling jumpy or unbalanced. This episode continued that trend and only solidified it. The village back-story finally got a lot more depth, the sunglasses guy revealed himself to be quite an interesting character and not the antagonist he once seemed to be, and the chemistry between Kyouhei and Utao: the tension between those two is just great and I have to praise how well they’re acted. Now all that’s left is some development.
Rating: ** (Excellent)
Blade – 06
Here’s one surprise. This episode actually seriously made me consider the plot of Blade to be the best amongst the Marvel-series. The reason for that is its underlying themes: Iron Man was about really corny morals, Wolverine was about determination, and the X-Men tried to be about peaceful coexistence, although all of them didn’t really spend too much time on them. With Blade though, it really explores the vampires, and what it means to have them kill a loved one, and having to kill a loved one because they turned into one of them. And here this episode suddenly comes and hints at a possibility that humans can be prevented from turning into vampires with the right care. What does this mean for all of the vampires that Blade has killed? The episode ended tragically, but it still is an interesting thought experiment here.
Overall, I think that aside from Iron Man, the biggest problem with the Marvel series isn’t what they are, but what they aren’t. They’re all pretty good series, but this isn’t the best that Madhouse can do. In fact, the last time we really saw them at their best was more than a year ago, with Yojou-han shinwa Taikei (no offence to Kaiji: it is good, but again nowhere near their best work). Compare that to 2009, which had Aoi Bungaku and to a lesser extent Hajime no Ippo, Kobato and Ride-Back, 2008, in which they completely dominated the entire year with Kaiba, Mouryou no Hako, Himitsu, Casshern Sins and Ultraviolet, 2007 with Shigurui, Dennuo Coil and Ooedo Rocket, 2006 with Death Note, Kemonozume, Black Lagoon and Nana and 2004 with Beck, Monster, Paranoia Agent and Jubee-Chan. What happened to that Madhouse?
Rating: ** (Excellent)
Nurarihyon no Mago – 31
Nurarihyon no Mago has one really big advantage over every show aside from Penguin Drum this season: it won’t be over in two months! It’s a bloody shame that the first season didn’t make use of it, because the length is without a doubt the biggest problem with the current summer season. There’s also the other side of the coin: taking your length for granted and dragging on. The director confirmed that the new season will animate up to the end of the Kyoto-arc, which makes me wonder how large that arc must be to dedicate 23 entire episodes to it. What do the creators have in store to prevent it from dragging on? In any case, at least, the past two episodes had solid background, though in terms of storytelling they did end a bit anti-climactic: the most interesting part of this episode was the Omnyouji at the end, and the actual fight with Hagoromo Gitsune felt a bit uninspired for who was supposed to be the previous lord of the pandemonium. I blame Nurarihyon, who did nothing but just try to act cool and take hits without even flinching. I mean, especially at the end they could at least have shown someone freak out at the huge and gaping hole inside Nurarihyon’s chest I also believe that “I’ve put up this barrier which will keep all youkai out for the next 400 years” could have been done a bit more subtle.
Rating: * (Good)