Posted on 3 October 2009 with categories: Letter Bee, Shugo Chara, Some Quick First Impressions

Letter Bee

Short Synopsis: Our lead character delivers packages and fights monsters.
Usually, series have a tendency to start out with a bang. Letter Bee however, is different, and instead very much takes its time. The scope of this episode is very limited: we just see three characters: a postal worker with a magic gun, a kid who lost his parents, and the postal worker’s dog. This episode progresses very quietly as the two of them meet and travel together, learn to deal with their differences, and explore each other’s problems (a very convenient power of the lead character seems to be that when he uses them, anyone can look into his heart). So yeah, because of that this wasn’t the most exciting episode of the new season, but if it picks up in the future it could be something interesting. The storytelling was solid, the characters are all fleshed out. Now all that’s left is the creators, making use of this.
OP: The song has nice vocals but fails to stand out otherwise, visuals are pretty basic foreshadowing.
ED: Again an impressive singer, but not really an impressive song.
Potential: 60%

The Sacred Blacksmith

Short Synopsis: Our lead character is a rather incompetent teen-aged warrior.
Ah, I hate it when these series come that can really go anywhere. This series has absolutely gorgeous graphics and monster-designs, a snappy direction that really brings the best out of the different sword-fights that for once aren’t just focused on just slashing swords around, but also concentrate on the quality of each weapon. The characters are far away from stereotypes as well, and seem to have well-motivated back-stories. But yeah, on the other hand the lead character remains a moe teen-aged tsundere, and her love interest is a genius swordsman and blacksmith, despite also being a teenager. While on one hand, the lead character strikes me as an ambitious girl who takes initiatives, there’s also so much potential for this to turn into yet another one of those generic fantasy-series that never really goes anywhere, where she’s stuck as the eternal damsel in distress that always needs to be saved. The execution really rocks, but if the rest of the story doesn’t go anywhere then it’s just a waste to put such a powerhouse as Manglobe behind this series.
OP: Mostly just standard J-Pop with cheesy Engrish parts thrown into it.
ED: Again very generic J-Pop and the animation attempts to be cute but ultimately isn’t.
Potential: 60%

Shugo Chara! Party!

Short Synopsis: Our lead character gets bugged by an overmoralistic elementary schooler.
I figured that I might as well check out what became of the extremely fillerish series that I once considered as something with potential, but oh my god. WTF have they done with this series!? The creators successfully brought the target audience down with six years with this episode, this now has turned into a series that you show to four-year olds. The entire first half of this episode was nothing more than the voice actresses for the different cute mascots of this series as they “attempted” to talk to their audience throughout the TV. Heck, Sesame Street is more mature than this… thing. The second half was actually animated, but there too you can see that the creators are going for an entirely different target audience this time, when they introduce an elementary schooler who is probably going to hog Amu’s place as a lead character with her powers to talk to X-Eggs. I disliked this series for having too many fillers, but this is a treatment that it definitely doesn’t deserve!
OP: THE proof why live-action should stay FAR away from anime. Cheesy J-pop at its worst.
ED: The live action! It burns! At least the song didn’t.
Potential: -50%

Posted on 4 October 2008 with categories: Jigoku Shoujo, Shugo Chara, Some Quick First Impressions

Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae

Short Synopsis: Our lead character returns for a third season.
Highlights: You can count on Jigoku Shoujo to make a bunch of angsty teenagers work
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8,75/10
Time for some very biased fanboyism! I am SO glad to see more of this, and Mitsuganae promises to be the best season of Jigoku Shoujo yet. This episode wasn’t just an episode that would fit into Futakomori: it would have felt so out of place at that time. The creators are really planning to evolve the show with this season, most importantly in its style of direction. While Futakomori was very solid, the direction of this episode was all over the place. The visual effects were awesome (especially Ai in a Bee-suit immediately beat the teethed toilet). The only sacrifice that had to be made was that the stellar character-designer seems to have left the series, but if the creators were going for a chaotic third season, then I can understand how such a solid character-designer wouldn’t fit the mood. I honestly feel that this episode was just an awesome first episode, and it ranks after Hakaba Kitarou as the best first episode of 2008. Ack, I want more!!!

Shugo Chara Doki

Short Synopsis: Our lead character… doesn’t do anything.
Highlights: Bloody recaps.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 4/10
After this episode, I just have to wonder yet again: is there really no way to transfer some of Shugo Chara’s episodes over to Zombie-Loan? Really, it’s a win-win situation: Zombie Loan gets continued just as its plot and characters really get interesting, and Shugo Chara is relieved from its enormous amounts of fillers. Overall, I think that blogging Shugo Chara was one of the biggest mistakes I made with this blog after blogging Bleach, and this episode, instead of trying to win back my interest ends up recapping the things that MADE ME DROP THIS SERIES IN THE FIRST PLACE. And really, from the few original scenes that were in this episode, it seemed that the only thing the past fifty-two episodes have been doing is introducing new characters. The characters that I knew were exactly the same as when I dropped this series (at about episode 15). Okay, apart from that Nadeshiko finally decided to give in to his real gender. And I do admit, it was nice to see a bit of a kaleidoscope of what I missed in that final quarter, but none of that really impressed me.

Kannagi

Short Synopsis: Our lead character is supposed to be a crazy shrine maiden.
Highlights: Sometimes funny, sometimes dull.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 6/10
Here’s my dilemma: based on my own experiences, 90% of the comedies abide by the following rule: all mediocre comedies start with hilarious first episodes (example: Potemayo), all good comedies start with dull first episodes (example: Gintama) and all bad comedies start with dull first episodes (example: too many to list). Kannagi’s first episode was dull, so it’s going to be either good or bad. I just have no idea which one it’s going to be. This episode showed a few small hints of potential and chemistry, and some jokes were quite funny, although it pretty much went south as soon as it tried to make fanservice-jokes. Based on the OP, this will also turn into a cute idol-show, which also doesn’t seem like the most interesting and original premise. And really, I don’t feel like sitting through a 26-episode bore-fest.

Posted on 31 December 2007 with categories: Shugo Chara

I think that the end of 2007 will be the best time for this, so yeah, I’m going to drop Shugo Chara so that I won’t take it along into 2008. I’ll still continue watching it, but I don’t feel like blogging it anymore, for a variety of reasons:

– First and foremost: the 51 episodes. I don’t mind covering long series, (heck I did blog Jigoku Shoujo and Les Miserables with no problems whatsoever), but this length is just way too long for a series like this.
– I also have to admit that Shugo Chara didn’t turn out as interesting as I hoped it would be. I expected deep characters, what I got was random shoujo-fluff.
– While it was nice enough to cover it during the not-so-spectacular Autumn-season, there are enough excellent series that will be starting with the winter-season, and you can expect a lot of series that I’m going to end up blogging, and I feel that blogging Shugo Chara will feel more and more like a chore, so I’m going to drop it while it still feels enjoyable.

Unfortunately, 2007 has been a horrible year for Mahou Shoujo. I hoped that Shugo Chara would change this, but unfortunately it didn’t. Nothing about the series has stood out so far, and I don’t feel like blogging about 30 more episodes of fluff to get to the good parts.

Posted on 22 December 2007 with categories: Shugo Chara


Yup, just like expected. Even though it’s a bit early, the first Christmas-episode has arrived. Interestingly enough, it went very different from what I expected, though. The focus is way more on Utau and Ikuto than on Christmas itself, as the two of them get quite a bit of development. Both of them are still quite angsty, but they’re getting less and less annoying, and this episode worked out quite well.

The only bad part about this episode was the revelation that Utau turns out to be an idol. Of course, in such a series it was unavoidable to not have some kind of idol somewhere, where so many members of the cast are popular, cool and good-looking. I’m also not sure why being an idol can help her and her manager to find Embryo. Could Utau perhaps be the link to Embryo?

In any case, in the later parts of the episode, Ikuto distances himself from both Amu and Utau, when he collects a huge amount of X-eggs in front of the former and refuses to come to an appointment with the latter. One thing I do want to see is a good explanation of why he’s so incredibly angsty. What the heck has happened to the guy? Bad childhood? There really has to be some kind of episode in the future that shows how he and Utau grew up together.

Posted on 21 December 2007 with categories: Shugo Chara


Yup, just like expected: a winter-resort-episode. I’ll eat my hat if next episode doesn’t turn out to be the Christmas-episode.

Still, this was definitely the best episode of Shugo Chara yet. It was hilarious, had lots of Chara-Changes, the characters had a lot of fun with each other and yet it provided a lot of development on the relationship between Hotori and Amu. There were no Batsu-Charas and neither of Ikuto, Utau or any of the other bad-guys showed up. This really was an episode for the characters, and it worked perfectly.

I’m glad that I can finally be completely positive again about this series. The previous episodes were nice, but they had enough dull moments; they all could have been more. Finally, this episode delivers, and as an extra bonus it seems that the animation-quality has gone way up.

And the irony: Hotori is in love not with Amu, but with Amu’s Ran-transformation. That scene seriously rocked. :)

Posted on with categories: Shugo Chara


So, this was basically a Su-episode: she gets lost thanks to Ikuto’s Shugo Chara causing trouble, and she spends the episode, trying to find her way back, along with the dog of Amu’s admirer, who seemed to have been lost as well. Overall, it wasn’t such a bad episode, and I like the development that Su has gotten now. The fact that the creators are already mentioning a Christmas-tree in episode ten seems to suggest that we’re in for one heck of a Christmas-special for this show.

Also, for the first time I liked Utau and Ikuto: for the first time, Utau actually came in action, instead of looking at Ikuto like she usually does. It now also becomes clear that she’s searching for Embryo for Ikuto. It does make sense. I’ve aways wondered why Ikuto had a Shugo Chara, while he’s much older than all the other characters of the series. It’s probably also got something to do with this.

This episode also finally shows us Amu’s Su-transformation, one which uses honey to change batsu-charas back. I still find everything going a bit too easy for Amu. I mean, all she has to do is transform and unleash her powers to save the day.
Shugo

Posted on 1 December 2007 with categories: Shugo Chara


After Yaya and Kuukai, we now have the Nadeshiko-episode. All that’s left now is for Hotori to get his own episode, and after that this anime can move on. I’m glad that there was no bad egg this week, and instead the creators opted for the obligatory haunted-house episode, as Nadeshiko appears to live in a huge mansion.

It’s all fairly cliché so far: Kuukai has soccer, Yaya has ballet and now Nadeshiko turns out to be well-versed out in the classic Japanese style of dancing. Obviously, the animation for this turned out to be too much to handle for the animators, so they just went and showed a bunch of still-frames. It’s a shame, as especially dancing-scenes like these ones are the perfect chance for them to show off their skills.

The “ghost” of this episode turned into the Shugo Charas, who were trying to chase a mouse out of the mansion. It was all fairly standard, though the development for Nadeshiko made up for it, and how she tried to hide her hard-working self from Amu. The manga-readers also mentioned something about Nadeshiko’s “true identity”, though we don’t get to see that in this episode. It’s clear that the creators plan to use the first season of this series for fleshing out the character amidst random stories.

Posted on 24 November 2007 with categories: Shugo Chara


This really was a fun episode. Until, of course, the Batsu-chara appeared, but by now that shouldn’t really be a surprise. This episode was all about a girl who had a crush on Hotori, and I love how it further developed his relationship with the girls around him. The interesting thing also is that we’ve seen how Hotori claimed that he already has a girl he loves, but we’ve yet to see confirmed who it actually is. All arrows point to Nadeshiko, but I think that he sees her more as a very good friend in which he can confide than a loved one. This episode showed him telling her about his worries about his chara-changes, and if the two of them were really dating, they’d be much closer, and if he really had a crush on Nadeshiko, but never had the courage to mention it he’d be much more nervous around her.

In the meantime, it looks like we aren’t quite rid of the batsu-charas, as the teacher will just keep hatching bad eggs until one of them turns out to be Embryo. Where Ikuto and his girlfriend come into the picture isn’t clear yet. The two of them obviously have a mission they don’t like, as they’ve been quite angst for the past few episodes. Also, are they full-time employed by the bad guy, or do they need to go to school as well?

In any case, I liked this episode. The girl of this episode is a real teenager, gawking over the boys she loves, who change every week. I like how she brought back something that Amu said in the first episode, where she confessed her love for Hotori. It really gives a feel of continuity, aside from the plot by the bad guys. I also liked the attention to the different faces that people put up in front of others. That was the thing that originally attracted me to this series.

Posted on 17 November 2007 with categories: Shugo Chara


2007 has really been a bad year for the Mahou-Shoujo genre. I’m not really going to expect Shugo Chara to become better than Sasami Mahou Shoujo-club of last year. This episode also showed that the creators are going to settle for the story of the manga with fillers now and then to fill the time of a 26-episode-series, despite how I hoped for them to just go with their own version of the story.

Still, this episode wasn’t that bad. It had no bad egg of the week, and finally put someone other than Amu in the spotlights. The result is a silly adventure where Ami and the Shugo Charas go on a treasure-hunt. Quite fun and random. The other characters also go through a bit of development, and we meet three new bad guys: the one who’s behind everything and tries to look evil behind his “Easter”-desk, a red-haired woman and the yellow-haired girl we’ve been seeing in the OP.

It’s indeed like expected: Amu has Embryo. Otherwise, there’d be no way to explain why she has three Shugo Charas and can transform, while the others can’t. It’d be great if the creators showed why Amu of all possible people has it. I’m still not sure whether she’s going to be a good main character for this series, though. On one side, her case is interesting, about the facade she puts up in front of others, and she’s got a nice sense of humour. On the other hand, her whining against the Batsu-Charas for the past few episodes grew more obnoxious with every episode.

I may have chosen the wrong shows to blog this season with Shugo Chara and Suteki Tantei Labyrinth. It’s ironic, at the start of the season, I tried my best to predict which series would turn out the most interesting, and I somehow ended up choosing these two above Mokke, which is getting better and better with every episode. It’s going to be a nice experiment, though. I wonder whether both series will be able to turn out excellent in their second halves. It’s not like these two series aren’t fun; actually, they’re quite enjoyable, but I just can’t see them become among the best series of the season.

Posted on 10 November 2007 with categories: Shugo Chara


Last episode featured a character related to Kuukai, this week it’s Yaya’s turn. This time, however, the character in question is much more talented to Yaya. The episode was enjoyable, and her case was built up well. But seriously, someone do something about the extreme predictability of this series. The script itself is nicely written, but whenever time gets spent on the storyline, this series provides nothing original. Random kid gets down-hearted, meets the teacher, hatches a batsu-chara, with Amu conveniently being in the neighbourhood, the character in question then utters how everything is impossible, only for Amu to shout “NO, you’re wrong!” and beam the batsu-chara back into its egg and the character has magically learned from his or her mistakes and has stopped being evil and down-hearted.

I have no idea how this could have happened. The director did some episodes of Noein and Boogiepop Phantom for god’s sake, two series which didn’t suffer from this problem at all. If I had to guess, then he’s being held back by the original premise of the manga and the guy behind the series composition. Even though the latter may have been behind the fantastic Kaze no Shoujo Emily, the other series he’s worked on are rather mediocre and often even notorious (Koi Suru Tenchi Angelique, Nanatsuiro Drops (which also sucked at its storyline attempts) and Ie Naki Ko Remi (the final old World Masterpiece Theatre Series after which this went down for ten years)). It’s a shame, the story has so much potential, but I feel like there’s too much holding this potential back.

Thankfully, the script was fun to watch. The story about ballet was nicely done, even though the animators couldn’t take it at times. ^^; I liked the focus on Yaya, and how she turned into more than a cheerful crybaby. I’m just a bit annoyed at how her chara-change turned her into a crybaby who can’t do anything. The “weapon” she threw had no affect on the Batsu-chara, so that Amu would be the only one to take her out.

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