Posted on 31 August 2012 with categories: Monthly Summaries

I’m not going to recap the manga I read this month due to a lack of screenshots that I have for them, but rest assured that I am planning a sort-of compilation post at the end of the season, including my highlights and overall impressions. In the meantime we go further with the Summer season, which really showed itself as a season of creativity. I’m watching a bit less than usual with only 17 series at the same time, but seriously, with the exception of Tari Tari, Saint Seiya and perhaps Rinne no Lagrange, all these series here stand out with their imagination and that’s a much, much higher share than usual. Especially considering how next season will be incredibly different: Fall 2012 will really be about quantity, with a lot of series that look similar to each other instead.

#17 (14) – Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon – (7.9/10) – Horizon’s selling point still is its boundless creativity, combined with bizarre politics with strange premises. That part is still rock-solid. I have a few issues with the cast though: at this point in the story they should be getting more interesting and lively with development… but I’m still not really noticing anything here, and to be honest this drags the show down a bit for me.
#16 (15) – Tari Tari – (8/10) – Tari Tari is a well done drama series. It’s nothing special, and a bit forced in the way that it jumps from character to character to show their development and story, but these stories do their job to flesh them out.
#15 (20) – Phi Brain – (8/10) – After having my suspense of disbelief broken for a few months, I’m back to enjoying Phi Brain again as it heads into its conclusion as it finally brings in some good character-development and the themes of saving the villains finally get somewhere. The sequel definitely had some balancing issues, but I’m glad that it managed to come together.
#14 (18) – Saint Seiya Omega – (8.1/10) – Whoa, this show has become much better this month! After long string sof rather boring fights, they are getting much more exciting now that the sakes are getting higher. I alos like how this show keeps track of its characters, and how it’s willing to go against “the party must stick together”-syndrome that a lot of adventure series have.
#13 (16) – Sword Art Online – (8.1/10) – Ah, Sword Art Online: brilliant setting, great acting from the main cast… but the main cast definitely needs some better writing to make them more interesting because at the moment this show screams a bit of wasted potential for focusing too much on Kirito meeting cute girls. Show some variety dammit!
#12 (10) – Moyashimon – (8.25/10)

Moyashimon had a string of episodes in which it lost its magic. The school festival arc was dull and for a while I just missed the chemistry between the characters that made me originally like the show. Thankfully this has returned again in the recent episodes, in which the characters were really enjoyable to watch again.

#11 (12) – Uta Koi – (8.25/10)

If I had one criticism for Uta Koi, then it is the animation. I get that it’s really hard to animate character-designs of this scale, and the budget for this series definitely is low, but the still frames do stand out a little too much and interfere a bit with bringing the characters to life. It’s a good thing that the stories it tells are still just wonderful. There is a ton of historical background and detail in this series, and the balance is just perfect: no character is overexposed, yet there are a few characters who get a bit of extra time to show how they changed over the years. And yes, episode 06 was awesome.

#10 (11) – Rinne no Lagrange – (8.25/10)

This show is building up to something, I can feel it. In the meantime there is random comic relief and time to flesh out the characters some more. At this point the cast of Rinne no Lagrange has definitely matured and changed. Now all that’s left is to use this.

#9 (13) – Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita – (8.25/10)

Jinrui has improved nicely, in the way that the cast has become much more likable and the stories more interesting. This month also showed that the order of the arcs is completely random, which makes it also a challenge to puzzle together the real sequence of events. The setting with the fairies also is as strong as last month.

#8 (8) – Kokoro Connect – (8.4/10)

Kokoro Connect’s biggest flaw is that it sometimes focuses a bit too much on its drama, making it a bit one-sided. Said drama however, is really, really good and really aims to delve deep into the different characters. The characters clash wonderfully together.

#7 (6) – Shirokuma Cafe – (8.4/10)

While hilarious, this wasn’t the best month for Shirokuma Cafe. It had a few episodes which were too much about panda trolling, and the best moments weren’t as utterly hilarious as some of the earlier episodes. Still, there was enough to like, ranging from Polar Bear’s antics to the whole affair around Penko.

#6 (7) – Poyopoyo Kansatsu Nikki – (8.5/10)

It’s unbelievable, but I’m only liking this series more as it goes on. It’s already in its third season, and it still feels fresh despite all of the content it puts in, and the jokes that keep coming are all new and original. I hardly see anyone mention or talk about this series, but I really look forward to watch it every week.

#5 (5) – Hunter X Hunter – (8.6/10)

Oh yes! With this month, Hunter X Hunter has really set itself apart from the rest of the shounen series. The Yorkshin arc has finally fully started and it’s great to see Kurapika in the spotlight. It’s great to see people actually working on jobs and acting that way.

#4 (4) – Hyouka – (8.6/10)

This month featured the conclusion for the school festival arc, and I have to say that Hyouka surpassed itself there, making the best with its focus on mundane mysteries. The stories that followed were also really good, making great use of the character-development that has been established at this point.

#3 (3) – Eureka Seven Ao – (8.75/10)

This show is confusing, to the point where I often find myself forgetting important plot points of episodes ago, but I kindof like that about this series and how it doesn’t want to hold your hand along the way. It also still has the best action of the season and the characters still keep this one going really strong.

#2 (1) – Uchuu Kyoudai – (9.1/10)

The only fault of this show is that sometimes, it is paced a bit too slowly. But heck, with how incredible the cast of characters has become, I really don’t mind that at all. The conclusion of the third round worked incredibly well and managed to bring the entire cast together, only ending with the message that we haven’t even started yet.

#1 (2) – Natsuyuki Rendezvous – (9.1/10)

This show knows what it is. This month really showed that it makes perfect use of its length of only 11 episodes with how much focus it puts on just one plot twist. This was wonderfully acted once again, and it already had some amazing pay-off as of episode 09. Heck, at this point I’m pretty certain that this will be somewhere in my top 2 of 2012.

Posted on with categories: Natsuyuki Rendezvous

Natsuyuki Rendezvous, I applaud you! That was magnificent!

Now this is really how you do a dramatic climax. There was so much emotion in it, yet it was wonderfully restrained. The acting here was just brilliant. Everything in this episode was just leading up to that one moment in which Rokka would realize that for some reason Atsushi is back in Hazuki’s body, and they did so brilliantly.

The way they built it up also was amazing. Whilst Rokka was catching up to Atsushi (which is believable considering his mind has no affinity with being fast in any way), this episode kept showing flashbacks of the most memorable moments that the two of them shared together, which this series very nicely saved specifically for just this moment (now that I mention it: we never saw the flashback of the actual moment in which Atsushi died, right? That’s a wonderful touch right there for this series).

Beyond that I also really want to applaud the dialogue for this episode: that was some really well written stuff, miles away from the usual cliches. It felt fresh and captured the characters perfectly in how it described them. It also flowed so well with the actual animation. This episode didn’t feel like “okay, and now we have a bit of exposition”, but all the scenes flowed into each other, and did so incredibly smoothly. Dogakobo, where have you been hiding this talent for all this time?
Rating: 7/8 (Fantastic)

Posted on 30 August 2012 with categories: Moyashimon

This episode had something: chemistry. It’s the kind of chemistry that drew me into the second season of Moyashimon in the first place, and that had been unfortunately absent for a string of three or four episodes. I’m glad to see it back again.

It’s hard to describe what made this episode work, but the variety had a lot to do with it, how everyone split up in three groups that all did their own stuff, and how whimsical this all happened. There was one part romance, one part comedy and one part character-study and they went togehter really well. The animators also were quite good with their camera angles this week, which also really helped in bringing the cast alive.

I feel that this episode was really needed to keep this show from getting stale. The story from the blond girl about inheriting her family’s business: it was different from the usual things. You know, parents pushing their businesses down onto their children without much more detail. The story of her father and how her entire family is involved: I like that. Especially after watching so many episodes in which Haruka’s story was nothing really more than “girl gets forced to marry against her will”. That also got a bit more detail. It still is a bit stale compared to the wine girl, but at the very least it isn’t so damn cliched anymore.
Rating: 5/8 (Great)

Posted on 28 August 2012 with categories: Uta Koi

Sei Shonagon again, this time with the focus on her actual romance. This definitely was an episode for dialogue, because the two of them loved making quibs to each other and there were a lot of tongues in cheeks this week, along with nice historical details like how hats played such an important role in those days.

A difference between this episode was that it wasn’t necessarily about the constraining environment in which people lived back then, but instead it showed a different side of how things went on for the nobles and poets of those days. Sei Shonagon is a woman who has enough influence over people to make a difference.

Overall, Uta Koi has painted this nice picture of who the authors of the 100 poems were. It doesn’t stray too long on one of them, but it also picks a few of them to give a bit more attention than the others. Whether it’s the most exciting show though… that is unfortunately not the case. The fact remains that the acting still is quite wooden (although this episode wasn’t the worst example of that).
Rating: 4.5/8 (Good)

Posted on 27 August 2012 with categories: Hyouka

Once again a really nice standalone episode for Hyouka, so close to the end. I have to say: I’m really enjoying these episodes more compared to the individual episodes of the first half of the series. It’s not just because we now know the characters and that this show is now able to use this in its storytelling (most notably the interplay between Oreki and Chitanda), but the mysteries themselves also have gotten more interesting. I relaly liked the idea of piecing a story together from a random strange announcement over the school intercom.

This was just two people sitting in a room, trying to piece together something that happened, and I like episodes like this, especially considering how much detail the writers managed to put into it and how everything just started with one simple sentence: Oreki picked apart every single detail of it in order to get to his conclusion. Satoshi and Ibara were completely absent, so this was just about Oreki and Chitanda.

Now, I wouldn’t actually mind if the show ended on random episodes like these, or even a short arc of three episodes. In fact, it’s great for the variety in this series to play with the set-up like this, especially after the long school festival arc. Having a series in which the arcs are all the same length does get a bit boring, but here they are able to switch things up, and especially this episode was significantly different from the others. That’s great! Yay for variety!
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on with categories: Rinne no Lagrange

This show is building up to something. This episode however, decided to ignore that for some good old-fashioned character-building. It wasn’t even a calm before the storm, but rather an episodic story that was meant to push the characters a bit further before the climax starts.

So yeah, the student council wants to take away the club room for the jersey club. To avoid that Madoka needs to find an extra member. They find one, but at the end of the episode that member already quit and the clubroom issues stopped being a problem. The new character is also completely insignificant to the story, so the real point of this episode was everything in between.

Aside from fleshing out, what I think was the most important here was the meaning of the Jersey club to Madoka and Youko (who by the way has a way too small part in this second season): how the club was formed, and how they look at it today. It’s a neat piece of character development for both of them.

As for the main storyline, the only thing that was revealed was that that one guy who has been suspicious for the entire series has something to do with it and has been alive for 20000 years now. I’m still not seeing how it’s going to relate back to the themes of the rest of this series though, but this episode was not bothered by that. And in the meantime, the new girl was annoying but had her charms when she revealed her intentions, and it was fun to see Madoka fly off.
Rating: 5/8 (Great)

Posted on with categories: Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita

You know, this was actually very adorable. In this episode Watashi gets sent to some random island along with a truck full of fairies in order to “cultivate” it. A few episodes ago it was outlined that the more fairies there were, the more luck you have. This episode showed that you can also overdo it a bit.

The result is an entire civilization being built consisting out of all sorts of monuments, only to collapse again due to a lack of resources. The whole process was quite interesting; again lots of sweets were involved, but I also liked how the fairies basically invented their own foods on a whim. The different buildings and clothing were quite imaginative.

Also, the episode order of this is completely random: this episode showed Assistant again, and acted as if he had been there for ages. Ideally speaking, I’d have liked it if the creators emphasized this random order a bit more. I mean, at this point there are only two stories that really made use of this: the story about her getting her hair cut, and the story of meeting Assistant. Other than that, I noticed that things that happen in one episode are never mentioned in the other again. Whether it prevents the series from coming together or not… I can’t say that yet at this point.

Also, why is grandfather always messing with a gun during the introductions?
Rating: 5/8 (Great)

Posted on with categories: Sword Art Online

So, the main storyline has begun. But does that also mean that this show has gotten better? Well, slightly.

I had my problems with this episode, but what I liked about it was that it further developed the relationship between Kirito and Asuna. It’s actually good that they spend a bit of quality time together, and this was done better than with the other girls Kirito met so far, on top of just being good build-up.

However, the one who is responsible for translating the novel storyline into the anime storyline needs to pay more attention to detail. I feel like this episode left out some key parts in understanding the characters and a few things in this episode didn’t make any sense because some key parts have never been shown. They’re small bits of details, but take for example the point at which Kirito enters Asuna’s house and is impressed with how expensive this is.

Now, I’m actually very interested in the story behind this, because it doesn’t really make sense from the perspective of an MMORPG: Kirito solos bosses and is constantly improving himself. Any loot or money he takes is something he gets to keep for himself. And knowing MMORPGs and boss drops, he can probably get quite a bit of money by just selling all of the rare high-level stuff he finds that is inaccessible to the people of lower level. Asuna and her guild meanwhile may kill more monsters together, but I do doubt whether they kill more monsters per person than what Kirito does. So how do they make money? Escorts? Taking on paid jobs from lower level members?

I also have a few complaints about how Kirito’s relationship with Asuna was handled. The scene with that one night was just cheap. It already started off clichéd with that random boob-grab, but even then: he just randomly starts acting possessive, without giving us the chance to see why he does this, especially considering how this guy is probably amongst the oldest people in the game, they just blow it off as stress, but to me this just feels like another one of those “punk”-scenes. You know, the scene where the cute girl is attacked by punks and has to be saved by the lead character for a bit of drama? I feel that the creators are actually doing a pretty good job on the acting for Kirito and Asuna, but this guy was really badly portrayed.

On a side-note: I just realized something: next season, A-1 Pictures will be likely working on six different shows at the same time: Fairy Tail, SAO, Uchuu Kyoudai, Gyrozetter, Magi and From the new World. That’ll be interesting to see if they can handle it.
Rating: 4.5/8 (Good)

Posted on 26 August 2012 with categories: Eureka Seven Ao

So, this series definitely has this tendency to come with back-stories right from out of nowhere. This episode treated us to the identity of the father of Truth. On top of the nature of the world that the series takes place in: we’re dealing with a parallel universe. Basically this show is what would happen if earth would be invaded by the Scab Coral: it would still thrive, but not as much as we do now. So wait, are the villains in this series trying to move the plot into the current earth?

What’s interesting is how Goldilocks isn’t dead, but instead they never got enlisted. And you know what? I wonder what happened to Bruno in this timeline then: is he still working for Generation Blue, but in a different division or something? Will we actually see him again? What’s also interesting is how Ao nearly loses himself near the end of this episode, leading to quite an interesting cliff-hanger where people actually realize that he is too dangerous with that dimension-altering gun of his. Is that really going to be it, though, or did this episode fail to mention something?

And then there are the characters in this episode who just started to act weird. Elena Peoples… didn’t she try to shoot down the Nirvash a bunch of episodes ago? This episode she apparently decided to try a completely different tactic, but what she has in mind still is a complete mystery. The trio of Gazelle, Pippo and Juno also were different from usual. Juno was in his element when he started explaining things, so that one is logical, but what about Gazelle being so blunt? And has Pippo always been this stupid? The most notable change however was Georg, who sometimes got taken over by a new voice. That one definitely is a plot point that the next episodes will touch upon.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 23 August 2012 with categories: Natsuyuki Rendezvous

When it was revealed that Atsushi could move objects, I did find myself thinking “now what?” Well, the creators answered that question brilliantly, and at this point it has become clear that the main plot of this show is all about that body takeover, and the conclusion of this series will very likely also be the point where this will get resolved, and no sooner. This episode was meant to build up for that, and what brilliant build-up it was!

Clearly something happened between Atsushi and Rokka that involves mountains. The first half focused on this from Rokka’s perspective as she tried to puzzle what on earth was going on, and what I really loved was how well her acting was when she called up Hazuki. Talk about restraint! It said so much with so little dialogue!

The second half of the episode then moved over to Hazuki as he realized that there was a slight danger that he didn’t anticipate to the body swapping: not being able to return, with as the highlight that part that had the best track of the soundtrack of this series (the one with the bass-like guitar and piano: a simple yet wonderful combination).
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

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