Posted on 30 January 2010 with categories: Armed Librarians - The Book of Bantorra

I’m sorry for the delay of this entry. I’ve got a bit of a cold at this moment, so I’m not at my fastest.

But what a hell of an episode we had this week! Even though it was just a build-up, it was in no way inferior tot he other Armed Librarian episodes. The way in which this episode built up tension, simply by letting Hamy take a “while” to catch up to Volken was brilliantly done, and in the meantime it revealed an increasingly interesting back-story behind this arc.

This episode subtly gave a whole new dimension to a ton of different backgrounds. First of all, take a look at the OP: you can see the young Vend Ruga right next to young Hamy. Therefore, it’s pretty likely that Hamy’s grudge against Vend is something personal. The thing is, however that Vend Ruga was a True Man: one whose book was very interesting to read, and yet she rebelled against the Church, and therefore also against the Armed Librarians. In a way, that makes her one of the good guys. What complicates matters is that somehow she has split her soul across many different bodies. One of the things that makes Hamy so frustrated is that she keeps killing off these bodies, but can never seem to get all of them.

Now, Olivia Litlet. It is very likely that the ship we see in this episode was the same that Hamy blew up in episode one, only Olivia was lucky enough to leave the ship before it happened. On that ship she was desperately deceiving the owner of the boat, using his meats in order to perform a ritual to get something back. However, remember that she has Vend Ruga living inside of her. How much different were the kind of containers that Hamy killed off in this episode’s flashback to the meats we saw in the first arc (the ones who kept going “Kill Hamyuts Meseta”). In fact, I think that that was the revenge ten years later that the Governor of Paradise was talking about.

It might be that Olivia, when she kept using Yucklyuck in order to bring a “certain person” back, she might have been doing it for Vend Ruga instead, which might relate to her past with Hamy. But on the other hand, if that’s the case then Renas’ statement doesn’t really make sense. Another theory on why Hamy was so hellbent on getting rid of Vend is because she was “trying to destroy the heavens”. Now first of all: what are the “heavens” exactly in this series in which everyone turns into a book at death? How does the Governor of Paradise and the tree fit into this, as they both seem to be allies with Hamy for some reason.

we all know that Hamy doesn’t care about dying, but could it actually be that she doesn’t want heaven to be destroyed, whatever it may be? If that’s true, then it would explain why she’s so extreme in trying to get rid of Vend Ruga: she was a true woman, who could have had the power to destroy this heaven. If we link this further to Hamy death wishes: could it be that Hamy isn’t the key to destroy the world, but rather something really really good will happen if she reaches this “heaven”?
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 23 January 2010 with categories: Armed Librarians - The Book of Bantorra

Haha, look who’s back! It’s taken 12 episodes, but finally our little Volken has returned. And he surely brought a whole lot of intrigue to the story.

it’s series like this who are sneaky: they put a lot of hidden meanings into their first episode, stuffing tons of plot twists in it that only make sense a complete season afterwards. I love series like that that play around with their continuity. In this episode, we learn that Hamy does have one fear: Vend Ruga.

The thing is, however: this episode showed the message that Volken ran into again: “Vend Ruga is Alive. He is living inside Olivia Litlet”. Based on that message, Hamyuts destroyed that ship, and made Volken hellbent on stopping her. Olivia Litlet however turns out to be the same person that Winkeny chose to have her memories erased and play the part as Mokkania’s mother. So it wasn’t just coincidence, but rather the church’s way of playing with Hamy. And it’s true: Hamy did not know who Olivia Litlet was, so basically she let Vend Ruga escape many different times.

and again, it just shows how complex the plans of the Church are: they knew Hamy’s weaknesses very well: first it was thunderstorms, now it also turns out that they knew about the person she hated. They then took Volken, who was a man of justice, and got him to rebel against her. In the meantime, they hid Vend Ruga, for whatever reason, inside a body who was then taken over by yet another body (talk about busy) to provide the perfect cover for her. On top of that, Yucklyuck is an artifact which can harness the powers of multiple people. My guess is that the Church is ultimately trying to harness Vend Ruga’s super awesome mega powers, whatever they may be, in order to get in Hamy’s way, whatever that also may be. I believe that that tree plays a major part in it.

Now, what was up with this episode? Did Volken act in the way that the Church hoped he would? I mean, at this point we can be sure that Hamy knows about Olivia Litlet: she’s got her sensory threads for that and I’m pretty sure that she was spying on him. At this point, I have no idea: on one hand we have Hamy the masochist, on the other we have Hamy who for the first time actually does something out of desperation. I know that she likes Volken, but at the same time it’s also a huge mystery of what that Vend Ruga means to her.

Oh, and this episode also showed a new OP and ED. I approve of shows swapping their OPs and EDs, even to worse ones: it signifies change and evolution. Both OP and ED are a bit of a step down, though.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 16 January 2010 with categories: Armed Librarians - The Book of Bantorra

That was awesome on so many levels! This might actually have been my favourite episode of Armed Librarians yet, even though it’s vastly different from its usual formula, and mostly just an episodic story. But the ingredients! There was hardly anything in this episode that I didn’t love to bits.

The two new characters… you can count on this series to actually turn them immediately into something awesome, in the very first second of their introduction. What kind of nutcase visits an exotic and warm country… in A WINTER COAT?1Especially that woman was beyond hilarious. Her antics, especially when she was drunk were just full of creativity. This show just succeeds at just about everything it attempts, doesn’t it?

Also, I love Minth after this episode. Out of the Armed Librarians, he’s probably the most down to earth character: he’s manly and mature, unlike the inexperienced Mirepoc and Noloty, he’s not over the top like the other ones. And yet despite his manliness he has such an elegant power, one of looking into the souls of people. This episode that dealt with his background, and shows how he came to be the character he is now really established him as one of my favourite side-characters. In most other shows characters like him hardly ever get this much attention (he actually becomes the main character for an episode), but here you can count on every one of them to get his or her share of attention.

I also wonder how this episode was done in the light novels. There was a ton of visual comedy in it that I can hardly imagine to have been written down in text. The witty direction really was one of the things that made this episode work so well.

Oh, and about that main plot: what’s up with that tree? Why does it eat books? Why do the Armed Librarians take care of it? What an interesting twist we have here.

Seriously though, if the rest of the episodes of this series are going to be as good or better as this one, and it’s also going to close off with a good finale, then it’s going to be already one of the top contenders for my favourite shows of 2010, and I can’t even see Durarara topping it at this point in time. In such a dry season as this one, it’s great to have at least one series that pushes all of the right buttons for me.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 8 January 2010 with categories: Armed Librarians - The Book of Bantorra

Awesome to see this series back again after its recap last week. I mean, at this point I 97% confident that this is going to turn into my favourite series of the season. Nothing that appeared in the winter-season, even the best stuff, has come close to this series so far. Most of these series are going to need weeks to get fully going, while this show has already a season’s worth of build-up inside of it.

And seriously, it surpassed itself yet again with this episode. The arcs right now are shorter than they were at the beginning of the series, but damn: this episode was good on so many levels. It successfully developed not just Mirepoc, but also the red-haired woman, it added depth for Cigal, but what surprised me even more was Lascal Othello’s son, and DEATH. So much for a major villain. And seriously, that son was a very nice touch. He only appeared… what? One minute? And yet he gave so much extra depth to this Lascal Othello guy: it shows that he’s not just another bad guy who needs to be defeated, no. He’s just a normal person who assumed the role of a legend, and therefore abandoned his family even though he once lived a normal life (including marriage).

And remember the book of Hiza that Winkeny took in the Mokkania arc? The reason why Hamy wasn’t that faced with it was because it really didn’t have anything to do with the main storyline. Instead, this was the red-haired girl’s plan, in an attempt to get more information on the actress, who had a lot of links with Lascal Othello, and Hiza was the one who investigated her case. Talk about tying everything together!

But that wasn’t even the best part of this episode. That honour goes to the plot twists related to the main plot. I mean, it was hinted before, but now we actually see this in much more detail: the church is collecting books of both Armed Librarians, and also its own members. They’re looking for the perfect book, or at least the books of talented and people who have a passion for what they do. Now, might this actually have something to do with Hamy? What if she possesses this “perfect” book that the church has been looking for? That they don’t really see her as a threat, but rather because they want to have her book?

But seriously, wtf?! The church and the Armed Librarians are working together in order to kill the people who seek Lascal Othello? How the hell does that work? What would be the point of that? That was one heck of a creative plot twist, and I have no idea how the creators are planning to write themselves out of that one. Armed Librarians is really a series in which everyone has something to hide, but damn, I didn’t expect Barori to hide a secret that big.

Also, someone refresh my memory. Yor… wasn’t that that thingie that Volken ran off with?
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 26 December 2009 with categories: Armed Librarians - The Book of Bantorra

The next arc: Mirepoc. On top of that, Cigal returns, plus we get background on the mysterious bearded guy, who seems to have created an entire legend around him. I love how this show is able to interweave so many of its storylines.

Okay, so basically, Mirepoc is searching for the book of an actress who died eight years ago, who searched for the bearded guy who turns out to be named Othello. In the meantime, Cigal’s former lover also is after the same book for some reason. On top of that, we learn that Othello is friends with the invisible guy from the Church.

There are still tons of mysteries though: what is Mirepoc after? What’s getting her so fired up? What’s up with that other woman? Who the heck is Othello, and what is he after? Why was Winkeny after Hiza’s book? In fact, why is the church after the books of the Armed Librarians? The way they’re after them seems a bit more obsessive than simply for tactical reasons, especially considering that they’re intent on collecting every single one of them.

Also, I love what Volken has turned into. He’s been gone for ages now, and yet it has become awesome to just see his name mentioned. :P
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 19 December 2009 with categories: Armed Librarians - The Book of Bantorra

Just when you’d think that this show couldn’t get any better: Hamy’s background. Holy crap, the first time we see her she’s totally not what you’d expect of her.

This really was an episode well spent, as it shows how Hamyuts met Barori, joined the Armed Librarians and quickly grew to become one of their top members. You can really see her gradually become that homicidal maniac that we’ve all come to know in the rest of the series. I think the most interesting part is where the young Hamy says to Barori that if he’s able to kill her, the world will be saved. Also how the current Hamy is constantly looking to be killed, as if she wants to be stopped, it really seems like she is this series’ mega-bomb that can destroy the world. Now the question remains: if she knows this, if she knows this, then why doesn’t she just commit suicide? Does she simply see her destiny as a game or something?

It’s also interesting to see Volken back again, but this time as a little kid. His shadow really lurks over this series ever since he left. And if Hamy is really this series’ antagonist, you could actually consider him to be the protagonist. Just a protagonist who has very, very, very little airtime when compared to other protagonists.

I’m also glad that the romance in this show is for once mature, instead of those silly teenaged romances that never really seem to get anywhere.Yet another thing about this series that’s refreshing.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 12 December 2009 with categories: Armed Librarians - The Book of Bantorra

There really is something beautiful about the Mokkania arc. It’s only two episodes long, and it’s not as complex as the Colio or the Enlike arc, but nevertheless it was in no way inferior to them thanks to its portrayal of its three central characters: Mokkania, his mother and Winkery. And it makes things look so damn easy!

Seriously, this show is doing what every show should be doing: give ample time and development for every minor character; EVEN the villains. In fact, the only static characters in this series are the main ones: the Armed Librarians, Hamyuts Meseta and the major church people, who still have plenty of time left. The rest of the cast is truly well-rounded and developed. A true rarity, especially without coming across forced. It seems so easy to just give these minor characters that will never return again a bit of a lame backstory, or just not put in the time and effort to develop them in a short time-frame.

And that’s just one of the things why I like this series. Winkery was so a-typical compared to your regular anime side-villain. Despite being against the lead characters, he has a personality, he’s intelligent and actually can hold a normal conversation with his enemies. There’s no side that refuses to listen to the other, nor any cheesy ideals: Hamyus knows that she has made a lot of enemies with the church, and has no intention to talk their grunts out of their plans. That woman is so refreshing in the middle of “let’s all stop fighting and become friends”-anime. And that’s exactly what characters like Noloty and Mokkania are for: they’re meant to show that that’s just another way of thinking, rather than the truth, which a lot of anime lead characters seem to suffer from, trying to push the hypocritical pacifist ideals of the lead characters as the only right way.

I also loved that little hint to the Colio-arc, in which we see Winkery book a room for Colio and his gang as they prepare to bomb Hamyuts. It’s interesting that such a little thing can give the organization of the Church so much extra depth: it shows that people like him aren’t just focused on their own task, but instead take care of a lot of smaller administrative businesses as well. Even those so simple as booking a room.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 5 December 2009 with categories: Armed Librarians - The Book of Bantorra

And here the next arc starts, and the creators yet again have found themselves a great concept. It’s here where any concept of “main character” gets completely lost. I guess that really the closest thing to a main character in this series has to be Hamyuts Meseta. Not because she has the most screentime, but rather that she’s somehow involved in every episode, even if it’s just watching from the sidelines. There’s still so much that we don’t know about her.

But yeah, even though Bones has its powerhouses of Full Metal Alchemist and Darker than Black, for me this remains the series with the best fights of all of the currently airing shows. Armed Librarians has this whole extra layer of strategy involved. It actually succeeds in something that only few series can boast: it has incredibly powerful characters, it has intricate strategies, and it has incredibly dangerous villains who can easily take out any moron who comes in their path. And yet, these incredible superpowers remain well defined, matched and logical.

Compare this to just about any other anime in which characters have huge superpowers: especially in the case of the villains, writers tend to write themselves into a wall with these types of characters: how the heck do you beat them without giving your main characters some godmode powers as well? It leads to huge power-level inconsistencies. And Armed Librarians is one of the few shows who can actually avoid it, thanks to Hamyuts Meseta, but also because its characters use their own powers wisely. In this series, you get a very good view of everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, and what their powers allow them to do. Even Hamyuts Meseta, the most powerful character in the series isn’t simply god-moded either: you can see that it’s possible for her to be defeated, if it wasn’t for Colio.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 28 November 2009 with categories: Armed Librarians - The Book of Bantorra

This series just continues to defy my expectations. Here I thought that for its formula would consist out of mostly four-episode arcs, and here this episode comes and instead of starting a new arc, it gives a ton of extra depth to the previous arc. Most notably, we learn a lot more about Ganbanzel. Seriously, I thought that he was going to be one of the major villains!

One thing I really love about this series is its ability to take any character, and give this character a complete, imaginative and detailed backstory and motivation. The same with Ganbanzel: this episode really showed a different side of his. He originally was a victim of one of the attacks from Hamyuts Meseta (or Hamy, as she’s aptly nicknamed in this episode) of all people.

It’s probably this what inspired him to join the church. We still don’t know why he so interested in Enlike, and even though he’s dead now his book still remains. My guess would be that this gets explained somewhere later in the series. The big mysteries right now are the bearded guy, and the half-invisible guy right now. While the Church is a bit of an obvious enemy, these two don’t seem to belong in any party and are hovering somewhere in the middle, it seems.

I also wonder. It’s now established that one regularly can’t obtain more than one power. And yet we see Hamy with at least three: her sensory threads, the stone slinging and the super-strength. She doesn’t seem to be another book eater, because she isn’t spamming random powers like Zatoh did, but there definitely seems to be more to her than meets the eye.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 21 November 2009 with categories: Armed Librarians - The Book of Bantorra

This show just continues to blow my mind with every episode. This episode again did such a wonderful job of tying the whole arc together in one heck of a climax. This show doesn’t show any signs of slowing down, does it?

Okay, so the big secret? The white-haired guy can absorb books. Therefore he can absorb souls and gain their powers. Absorbing powers isn’t totally new, but within the context of this series it gets a totally new dimension. The kid (Enlike Bishile) whose story we kept seeing is basically just a Meat with his bomb removed (I assume this, at least), who was trained in a magic power, just so that his book could be absorbed by this guy.

What caused the breakdown of this guy was that Enlike somehow managed to take control over the guy’s original body. I can see this happen: nobody said that those powers are 100% accurate. His powers are very rare and unknown, and therefore he might indeed not have known what would happen if one would absorb too many books. Really, the magic system in this series is just so imaginative and well-detailed.

And the animation! While the fight scene with Noloty wasn’t quite of Birdy the Mighty, it actually came damn close; I totally take back when I said that the animation in this show would be simple. These animators here rock.

There was one part that I might have missed though: what did the old guy mean with that Enlike rejected Hamyuts Meseta’s smile? Or is this something that still needs to be revealed. After all, what was up with that blond guy? I suspect that he also has an entire backstory left to tell. And the old, bearded guy also is still a complete mystery: In the last episode, you could see that he was against the church, but here you can see him talk with other people from the church like it’s nothing. What is up with him?

Seriously though, this series is exactly why I like anime. Those series that show up completely at random and blow you away.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

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