Posted on 28 September 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews, Nijuu Mensou no Musume

A major theme of the past half year was fooling the viewer, and the uncrowned king (or queen in this case) of this theme definitely is Nijuu Mensou no Musume. In this series, Studio Bones tells about a twelve-year old girl, who gets adopted by a glamorous and world-famous thief, in the period of right after the second world war. That leads you to expect that this is going to be some sort of thief-series, where Chiko and Nijuu Mensou (the girl and the thief) spend most of its time to steal a number of precious artefacts. Well, no.

I refuse to spoil what’s exactly going to happen, but expect a lot of points where the storyline in this series will just take 180 degree turns as the series progresses. This is really one series that keeps you guessing, and wondering where the characters will go next. And that’s the charm of this series for me.

To accompany the storyline, the series also has a number of very solid characters. Chiko works really well as a female lead: she’s smart and composed, although in the first few episodes, she does lean awfully close to a Mary-Sue. Thankfully, as the series progresses, she develops away from that trope. The side-characters are also excellent, though there are a few oddballs among them. Characters as Ken and Haruka never really can seem to find their place in this series.

Unfortunately, as this series enters its final third, its quality decreases dramatically. Up till that point, the series had been wonderfully unpredictable, and then it decides to close off with a drawn-out rip off of one of its earlier arcs, and a final antagonist who just lacks development for the big role he’s supposed to have, turning him into another one of those villains that are evil because they’re evil. The development in this arc pretty much stagnates, a few deus ex machina pop up here and there, it takes several episodes to do something that could just have been done in one, the final climax is a string of clichés, and overall it just took the potential this series had and threw it away.

Because of that, I just can’t label this as a great series, since it could have been so much better if a bit more time was spent to tweak that final arc. What could have been a masterpiece went rather downhill during its finale. Because of that, Nijuu Mensou no Musume still is a good series, but nowhere near the best of the season.

Storytelling: 8/10
Characters: 8/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 8/10
Posted on with categories: Nijuu Mensou no Musume

Short Synopsis: The aftermath of Nijuu Mensou no Musume, where Chiko has moved to London, and the detective girls finally have the chance to solve one mission.
Highlights: Chiko’s growth.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8/10
Ah, thank goodness. The climax was disappointing to say the least, but at least the aftermath was excellent, as it showed what everyone’s been doing, two years after said climax. It’s interesting how Chiko chose her own way, and stopped getting herself involved with dangerous stuff, and instead just concentrated her time on studying. It’s also good to see that Ken got some proper development. He’s always been the odd character in this show, ever since the train incident, but at least he’s now able to move on, and not get held back by Chiko.

that masked murderer and ken really came from nowhere, but at least we got to see a nice fight to close off the series in this way. The lost boy also formed a nice way to conclude the series, pointing back to Chiko and Akechi’s lost nephew. Haruka also has grown up very nicely (and actually didn’t get married at her sixteenth ^^;), although her character-design felt a bit off. She had a bit of a “Kimikiss”-face, as in a face where the eyes are a bit too far apart from each other for their own good.

Overall, because I was able to blog more series than usual this series, I ended up blogging Nijuu Mensou no Musume on a whim, in an attempt to become a Bones-fanboy. Okay, so that attempt failed when both their contributions to the past spring-season ended up disappointing a bit. I still consider them a good production-company, which managed to nail a few very good series, but I still just can’t label it among my favourites. I had a lot of fun when this series was good and unpredictable, but the final parts were just too uninteresting for what it built up for.

Posted on 21 September 2008 with categories: Nijuu Mensou no Musume

Short Synopsis: This episode features the climax of Nijuu Mensou no Musume.
Highlights: Blegh. Just blegh.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 6.5/10
Wait? That’s it? We’ve had all this build-up, and the creators just end with such an ending? Talk about disappointing. There was this whole world open for this series, and yet it goes with the most predictable route. There were so many things that this series could have done, and yet it ends with such a dull finale. Such a bloody shame.

You know, I think it would have actually been better for this series to go with the “detective girls”-route. It would have fitted this series perfectly; it would have been unpredictable and allowed for many chances for the cast to develop further. Now that I really think about it, I believe I actually looked forward to that point when this series had just started.

The big problem with this series is that after the doll arc, the creators somehow found it a good idea to just get rid of the fast and unpredictable pacing of this show, and end the series with a solid continuous story. Unfortunately, the entire scientist-arc has just been one big rip-off of the doll-arc. There’s hardly anything original. And what’s worse: there was hardly any character-development at all. We’ve already established that Chiko can think for herself. All this arc did was confirm it.

Agh, what a bloody shame. My sole salvation is that there’s one episode left before this thing ends. Let’s hope that the creators manage to find something interesting to fill it with. Bones, you really disappoint me with this. I really hope that their next work is going to be more like Tenpou Ibun Ayakashi Ayashi, and less like… this. This is why it’s so important to have a solid conclusion. The series may have had an awesome middle-part, but in the end I am going to be left with a sour aftertaste. I noticed the same with Wellber no Monogatari: solid series + baaaad ending = memorable in a bad way.

Posted on 17 September 2008 with categories: Nijuu Mensou no Musume

Short Synopsis: The scientist has a back-up plan, and tries to activate it in this episode.
Highlights: Interesting twist that fits with the series’ themes.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8/10
Aah, there are two episodes left and I still have no idea what the name of the major villain is! It gets annoying to keep calling him “the scientist”, but oh well. This episode was enjoyable, but I’m still waiting for that “Oomph” that was present at the doll-arc. This episode was mostly about the scientist’s secret, and I do admit that it was a pretty interesting one: he turned himself into an android. And not just any android, but one shaped like Nijuu Mensou.

It fits perfectly with the paranoia that the people had after the war. With the human-shaped robots, made out of solid steel, that could imitate others perfectly and resist bullets like a bunch of flies. Now, he in a strange sense of irony, took on the form of Nijuu Mensou. Probably after hearing about his popularity.

The question now really remains: are the creators able to close this series off properly? The doll-arc was much shorter than the scientist-arc, but it did have a much bigger impact. These final two episodes really need to be amazing in order to be able to make up for it. One thing that I really hope is that the creators are going to switch to that experimental animation-style again. It worked really well when that doll tried to drown Chiko, but ever since Chiko’s little show on her broom, it disappeared entirely.

Posted on 7 September 2008 with categories: Nijuu Mensou no Musume

Short Synopsis: That scientist isn’t willing to give up that easily, and prepares for a second attempt to zap Tokyo, while keeping Chiko and the others out of his way.
Highlights: Excellent aftermath, apart from that climax perhaps.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8/10
Really, this series has a strange idea of the concept of hiatus: it stops, right after the climax, only to show an aftermath instead of starting a new and fresh arc. I must say that a lot of spring-series share these themes of fooling the viewer: Kaiba first advertised itself as a tragic love-story, Real Drive first seemed a Ghost in the Shell-clone, while it was actually a strange combination with slice of life and science fiction, Himitsu ~ The Revelation at first seemed to be a series about its stories, while the characters turned out to be its main focus instead. But the king of these games obviously is Nijuu Mensou no Musume, where you can absolutely not predict what path it’ll be heading into for the next arc. And of course its very misleading ED also counts.

In any case, I’m glad to see that the previous arc merely served as build-up for the final arc of this series. In a way, this episode was more intriguing than all the four episodes of the previous arc combined. The creators seemed to have gone for the thriller-approach to end this series, and there’s a lot of potential. What I especially liked about this episode was how every member of the cast seems to have his or her own agenda and troubles. A lot was going on in this episode and it was a lot of fun to see how everyone reacted to that beam of light in the previous episode. The angry mob also was perhaps a bit clichéd, but it did portray the anxiety of the general public, right after the war, and their fears for more casualties perfectly.

But please. Did the creators really have to end the episode with that flying airship? It’s not the fact that it’s an airship that bugs me, but out of all the possible ways that the creators could have introduced it, they went with a Deus ex Machina, and a pretty blatant one at that: you know the scenario, the hero is cornered and at the last possible moment a saviour comes from out of nowhere. I mean, the creators could have at least shown Ken as he arrived at the airship, and as he took off, he suddenly saw Chiko jumping around on the roofs.

Posted on 24 August 2008 with categories: Nijuu Mensou no Musume

Short Synopsis: The old scientist shows what he’s been doing for the past decades.
Highlights: Lots of depth for Nijuu Mensou.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8,5/10
So in the end, the energy from water-arc wasn’t as good as the doll-arc, but this episode was still pretty awesome. While it first looked like this arc was just a copy of the previous one, this episode showed that the purpose of this arc was very different from the Doll arc. This episode was really meant to show some different sides of Nijuu Mensou. Even though the minions from that scientist individually weren’t as strong as the doll-woman, they proved to be much more trouble, since Nijuu Mensou and Chiko were in the minority: they were too busy to fight these one-on-one, giving the scientist the time he needed to fire his energy-beam. I do wonder, though: why did he need Chiko in order to fire it? I failed to pick that one up.

This episode showed that Nijuu Mensou never really was happy about the research he conducted, and it finally showed his past from his own perspective. It seems that it’s especially his research on the energy from water that caused his change of heart. It just wouldn’t work, even though he captured the basics. That got him thinking about the ethical issues (especially since he nearly destroyed his laboratory in a failed experiment). It’s there when he decided to stop his research and burn his evidence, though (as we already know by now) that left many people unhappy.

With a bit of luck, Haruka will mature a bit after this episode. She wasn’t hurt in this episode, but hopefully she realizes that Chiko’s life is nothing like the life she imagined, and that there a lot of nasty sides under Nijuu Mensou’s appearance. Nijuu Mensou has also been hurt at the end of the episode, so he finally can’t run away from Chiko anymore. The next episode should prove to be fun.

It also turns out that the woman we saw with Ken is the woman back from episode eight, with a bit of a changed appearance. Again, it would prove to be interesting when she meets with Chiko, now that Nijuu Mensou can’t run away anymore. There are four episodes left, so there’s probably one major climax coming up. Something tells me that that woman is going to play a big role in it. And what about that washed-up cleaner that we saw, nine episodes ago?

Posted on 18 August 2008 with categories: Nijuu Mensou no Musume

Short Synopsis: The old guy reveals his connections with Nijuu Mensou
Highlights: Deja vu?
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8/10
This episode started out excellent: Chiko is being accompanied by Nijuu Mensou’s former research professor, and Ken gets attacked by one of his minions when he tries to follow her. One thing I love about this series is how brutal the fight scenes are. There are supernatural elements, but it knows full well that superpowers alone don’t make a good fight. The animation is subtle, but it knows where to be detailed. I’d much rather watch a fight scene of Nijuu Mensou than one of Soul Eater, for example. These are fights between people that can get wounded very easily, and don’t have some sort of plot-device that automatically heals their wounds/makes them able to block a sword with their bare hands.

But as the episode went on and the focus got back to Chiko, I got a strange feeling… didn’t this already happen before? Someone from Nijuu Mensou’s past? Check. Grudge against Nijuu Mensou’s betrayal? Check. Hostage? Check. Nijuu Mensou appears from out of nowhere? Check. Everything just sounds awfully familiar to the doll-arc, apart from how the scientist doesn’t have any powers and so has to use two cyborgs. What exactly is this arc planning to add?

The other big difference here is that there was a huge emphasis on Chiko, thinking for herself. The doll clearly wanted revenge against both Chiko and Nijuu Mensou, but the professor (what was his name again?) wanted Chiko to side with him for his goals. Still, what could the creators be planning for that next episode. This series’ strength was how its plot often took 180-degree twists, but this turn it looks more like 360 degrees

Posted on 10 August 2008 with categories: Nijuu Mensou no Musume

Short Synopsis: The “detective girls” go after a rumour about two teachers that seem to fancy each other.
Highlights: The French was nice and all… but NOT with a Japanese accent!
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8/10
This episode convinced me that the “detective girls” only exist in Haruka’s head. The creators have no intention to just end the series with a bunch of random detective story arcs, because this episode set up the story and characters for the rest of the series. We get introduced to a bunch of new characters, and Nijuu Mensou’s past is revealed a bit more.

In the meantime, Chiko’s classmates have already started the fanfiction…

In any case, this episode introduces a former university professor who knew Nijuu Mensou when he was young (I wonder, do we ever get to hear what his real name is?). I didn’t quite catch what he told Chiko exactly, but it seems to come down to that he was once a brilliant scientist when the war started, and so he ended up developing all those supernatural weapons for killing. Since his motto was “look and think for yourself”, at one point he abandoned his research, and now that everything comes to try and bite back at him, he’s had no choice than to use Chiko as a decoy.

The next villain is someone who’ll be a big problem for Chiko to escape, as he’s basically just as small and light as Chiko, and the guy’s even stronger and faster. Ever since the train incident, Chiko has only had to fight people who were much bigger than her, so the guy might be one of her toughest enemies yet.

I also wonder how the creators are going to use the story of that washed-up cleaner, and when that super-powered woman of a number of episodes back is going to return. This episode showed that she’s indeed the product of Nijuu Mensou’s research, but is she going to play a bigger role than just a bit of background for the guy?

Posted on 3 August 2008 with categories: Nijuu Mensou no Musume

Short Synopsis: Chiko now lives away from her aunt, in a mansion along with Tome. Haruka visits her and forms the “Detective Girls”.
Highlights: A rather silly episode…
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8/10
I’ll withhold judgment for the detective girls-arc of this series for now. Seriously, I have no idea what to think of it or what to expect, knowing the rest of this series. I really need to see the next episode to form a valid opinion for this series. The fact remains that this series has had plenty of light moments, which make you fool that this series is just goofing off, while they’re in fact just building up.

In this episode, Haruka and Chiko don’t really go and look for cases, but instead they get visited by a number of burglars. The process of catching these burglars was rather silly, especially since Haruka had act and claim her moment of glory (which involved her and Tome, crashing down some stone stair on a bike), but the few moments where this episode was serious were really good. Akine’s back-story gets completed, and it turns out that he lost his sister back in the war, and Chiko resembles his sister a lot. He also finally leaves Chiko’s aunt (which may have been a bad thing, as she’s probably going to hire someone tougher), and we still don’t know what these burglars were doing inside Chiko’s house. They were not normal burglars, because they still tried to attack Chiko, even after they were found.

Most of the humour in this episode was rather corny, but I do admit that I laughed at Haruka’s fantasies of the glamorous future missions of the Detective Girls (with Chiko as the invincible warrior, Tome as a seductress and herself as the fearless leader). The messy animation during the fight scenes also looked really good, and it surprised me. Bones isn’t really a studio that often experiments with its animation (in fact, I can’t remember having seen any experimental animation from them apart from this series).

Posted on 21 July 2008 with categories: Nijuu Mensou no Musume

Short Synopsis: This episode follows Chiko and Ken, as they try to get the doomed zeppelin down safely.
Highlights: An excellent aftermath to an amazing arc.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8,5/10
The previous episode was an absolute chaos, so it was only natural that the aftermath would be more straight-forward, and yet this was a very solid and entertaining episode, which really served to get the cast closer together, especially Ken and Chiko managed to settle their differences as they tried to get out of that bomb-filled zeppelin. An interesting twist was that all of the guests turned out to be alive, and the wine was just rigged with some strange stuff that quickly made them unconscious. The blood that they seemed to cough… just turned out to be wine.

One thing that my limited Japanese didn’t fully understand is what went on between Chiko’s aunt and Tome. The end result was Tome, blackmailing the aunt, but I’m not exactly sure how she did it. Did she feed her the same poison that was fed to Chiko, so that if she were to go to the doctor, her plans to poison Chiko would be revealed?

Overall, I’m really impressed by this arc, but the question remains: what is going to happen in the final eight episodes. Hashihime mentions something about the final parts of the series diverging from the manga, and turning into “detective girls”, and the ED seems to confirm this.

The detective-girls do have potential, and it’ll be interesting to see what kinds of mysteries the creators can come up with, but I’ve got one major issue with it: Haruka. The OP and ED continue to portray her as a major character, while her actual role in this series has been incredibly small. The only time that she did stand in the spotlights turned into a disaster, when she knocked a big strong man unconscious with a bunch of toys. If this series really is going to turn into a detective girls-thingy, then I fear that Haruka’s brattiness has the potential to ruin everything. She’s about the only member of the cast that feels stupid, and I really hope that the creators will manage to develop her sufficiently.


Mail will not be published
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Nov 29. 2015 09:50 PM)
    @Aidan: well interestingly in the pilot “what doth life?” causes a file not found error, so it fitted perfectly.
  • AidanAK47
    (Sunday, Nov 29. 2015 04:24 PM)
    @Bam, Nope. Never seen Xavier.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Nov 29. 2015 03:25 AM)
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 10:22 PM)
    @Aidan: it does seem like you’ve actually seen Xavier, in which case I’m impressed. Didn’t think you had it in you.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 09:35 PM)
    Speaking of errors, can anybody else open Evil Genius Scanlations page? I keep getting a gateway error. I know there should be a new Berserk on there but some force is keeping it from me. This is messed up.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:38 PM)
    @Bam, Easy. 404 not found
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:45 AM)
    It takes a true magnificence to propose such a grand question as: What dot life?!
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:42 AM)
    @Kaiser: the show does vary in quality, but for the first season they generally crank up the insanity with every episode until a very remarkable season finale where Xavier faces his worst enemy.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:40 AM)
    @Bam: Oh in symphogears case, I certainly laughed but I wasn’t supposed to.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:39 AM)
    @Bam: While it didn’t always work, that first episode of renegade angel was amusing, I particularly liked the part where he went on about Aids being invented.

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