Prepare your souls, children, because it's time for AA! And by "AA" I don't mean the support group for people addicted to watching Japanese cartoons. No friends, I'm referring to Annotated Anime, the weekly recap that only deepens your addiction to watching Japanese cartoons!
Everyone in this post has fed their need, and this week sustenance was provided by The [email protected], Chihayafuru, Phi Brain, Guilty Crown, Persona 4 the Animation, UN-GO, Mawaru Penguindrum, Shana, Fate/Zero, Wagnaria'!!, Gundam AGE, C3, Sekaichi Hatsukoi, Beelzebub, and Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, which we'll call Haganai for convenience's sake).
Many anime were broadcast to bring you this week's Annotated Anime. And they'll do so again next week! The fire burns eternal.
The [email protected] episode 16
I'm quite capable of suspending my disbelief in order to enjoy shows others might find intolerable, but at times I find even myself strange.
This is one of those times.
Seriously, [email protected]. The fact that someone effectively kidnapped Hibiki to keep her from hosting a goddamn Sunday show is a lot more significant than getting all huffy at 961 Pro's cheap tricks.
For God's sake, someone kidnapped a little girl and left her at the bottom of some cliff in the rain. Kidnapping someone isnot a "cheap trick." It's twenty-five to life.
You don't just get mad at the Bad Guy's antics, you strangle the bastard. If there was ever any point [email protected] should have gotten all edgy and violent, this would be it.
Man, if A-1 promises to alter episode 16 and put in a scene of Mr. Producer beating the crap out of Mr. 961 for kidnapping his girls, I'll buy the [email protected] 2 game and box set.
[Get enraged over kidnapping at Crunchyroll]
Mawaru Penguindrum Episode 15
If "over the top" all the time can be overwhelming, it can also hit the spot. This week, it really hits the spot.
Once you boil down Yuri's backstory, it's not exactly very special: a child who grew up abused often is written a little crooked, and the abuse is often pinned as the reason why someone turns to the dark side. But having that spin where Momoka saves Yuri in some special way makes Yuri's awfully extreme, Ringo-esqe behaviors a little more forgivable.
I mean, I'm not sure if I have forgiven Ringo for her stalking antics, but for humor it is about on par with lying naked, tied up, and zonked out alongside her knight in shining armor, foiled by the discarded glass bottles from penguin helper #2. Sure, being drugged and almost raped is pretty serious business, but none of it holds a candle when Masako throws down the gauntlet. Or is it her costume? I can't stop laughing. I mean, it does happen quite a few times in this show!
It floored me to think of how all of it comes together: Yuri with her killer spike move from episode 14 could possibly have meaning when paired with Masako's rather-oddish ping-pong ball sniper rifle thing; and how the two of them go head on, fighting over the second half of Momoka's diary. Even for over-the-top theatrics, this is top notch and very well played. The soundtrack, the broken glass, the diver's flippers, the whole nine yards, it's extremely well-executed.
Let's not forget the most important thing this week: Yuri's backstory finally shows us Momoka and how she is like. That too contributed to this week's flash of spot-hitting--revealing finally the nature of the sought-after "penguindrum" and its fate-altering properties. And sure, child abuse is terrible and what happened to Yuri is hard to forgive, but in light of finally seeing Momoka's diary in action and the consequences of it, I'm not sure what should the viewer be feeling after seeing this week's installment.
Over the past couple years there has been some pretty exciting onsen resort ping pong episodes in TV anime. I think we've reached a new height this week.
Un-Go Episode 2
Inga and Shinjuro continue their stint of the week. This time, the mystery involves some idol-vocal software and some actual human idols who are now retired. The murder victim is their ex-manager, who has been giving the ex-idols money under the table. The red herring ends quickly when the director singles out the singing talent of the victim's daughter, trying to make it in the business.
Within all of that, there's a glimpse into the parallel world of Un-Go. The Japanese government outlaws their version of vocaloid software, a bit like how China deploys its internet policies, cracking down on what they define as unhealthy information online. It's with tongue firmly in cheek that Un-Go makes a nod to the vocaloid phenomenon going on right now.
Again, unlike most other detective anime this year, Un-go ties in some kind of corrupt big-brother-y cover-up to the actual crime and mystery. Again, because indicting the actual murderer would blow the cover on some war-time moral-booster and turn it into a dirty scandal, Shinjuro and Inga get no satisfaction. Actually, Shinjuro even tried to keep the truth from Inga, who still got a piece of it by doing her Vulcan mind meld thing again. It probably hints to some kind of big-time secret behind Inga's true identity.
It's probably safe to assume that Un-Go will continue to paint the sort of poetic justice in which the wrong doer gets away freely from the perspective of law, but are trapped in the complex prison of blackmailing and underhanded big-brother manipulating the truth, which may be worse off than living out their legal punishment but is able to redeem themselves. That is certainly the case of our caged bird, who wants to sing but cannot put her voice to her name.
[Catch Un-Go on Crunchyroll!]
Fate/Zero Episode 4
The moment we've all waited for has finally arrived. This latest episode was focused almost entirely on the confrontation between Saber and Lancer, with brief cuts to the other major players watching from the shadows. In a particularly nice touch, both warriors are extremely courteous to one another, which really emphasized the sort of pride and honor that many of these heroic spirits hold. In my opinion, their dialogue was one of many highlights this week.
Of course, the big thing on everyones mind was whether or not Ufotable would bring the big guns in terms of fight animation. I walked away from this episode more excited for next week than I've been for any other TV series in a long time. It's not so much that the animation was smooth (it was), but the way the whole sequence is shot and paced. I've read complaints of the slower speed in which the battle plays out, but I felt it to be reflective of the warriors and their style. Both are careful not to make a move that would either betray their intent or leave them open. The editing and shot choice are reflective of that as well. As far as fights that tell a story go, I thought this did a wonderful job.
Elsewhere, Assassin is spotted by Kiritsugu, complicating the operation significantly. Instead of sniping out Lancer's master from afar, he orders Maiya to keep watch and survey the situation. In the mean time, Rider and Waver watch from afar. Of course, far be it from Rider to simply stand by while two valiant warriors risk their lives in battle. In a moment of pure GAR and awesome sauce, Rider literally smashes his carriage between the two servants and reveals his identity to everyone in the area. Ruh roh.
[Catch Fate/Zero on Nico Nico!]
Shakugan no Shana Final Episode 3
If someone were to ask what I've been enjoying the most about this final season of Shana, I'd tell them it's the lack of self doubt and pointless inner questioning. It's really nice that after two full seasons, we have a cast that doesn't waste their time whining about what they can or can't do, or pretending to not have feelings for one another when they clearly do. This episode follows Yuji as he returns to the place where he was born. A good majority of the dialogue takes place on Yuji's head as he goes through the events that made him who he is and led him to the decision he has made.
After season 2, I can't say I was much of a fan of our main hero. Here though, I find myself connecting with him a little more now that he's no longer doubting himself. I'm also incredibly intrigued as to what kind of relationship he shares with the God of Bal Masque. Just who is in control here? This episode seems to imply that they're working together toward some end goal. Is this a shared goal or what?
The episode ends with Shana and Yuji confronting each other up on the bridge in what is a surprisingly dramatic moment. Just what exactly did he return for? I'm hoping the next episode explores this a little bit more. It's looking like this season might be a lot better than I was initially expecting. Onward!
Persona 4 Episode 2 & 3
After defeating the shadows last week, Yu, Yosuke and Chie are pushed by Kuma back into our world. Yu notices that the poster of the singer near the TV matches the one in the shadow world. The trio split up, keeping that little tidbit in mind.
While heading to school the next day, we see a creepy kid from another school try to ask out Yukiko and get utterly rejected. In class, Yosuke talks about how he's trying to ask out Konishi, but she hasn't returned his calls. Turns out she's dead and was hung up like the previously discovered body. Yosuke decides to hop back in the TV with Yu to investigate the possibility she was tossed in there like the previous victim. The two bump into Kuma again, finding out that he's literally empty on the inside and promising to find the guy screwing around in his world.
The trio head to an area resembling the shopping district and find Konishi's parent's store. They hear voices and investigate, hearing the rather insulting thoughts of Konishi and her family. Seems that they couldn't stand Yosuke and his family for bringing a big name store into the tiny town. A shadow forms resembling Yosuke, turning into a monstrosity. Yu summons his Persona to hold it back while Yosuke ruminates on his insecurities. With the help of a friendly punch to the face, Yosuke accepts his insecurities and gains a Persona of his own. Yu and Yosuke leave the Shadow world and bump into an extremely freaked out Chie, who guilts them into free food. Later that night, another figure is shown in the shadow world, running down a long hallway.
The next day Chie freaks out, thinking that the person in the fog was Yukiko. The trio go ask Kuma if he's seen anybody in the shadow world, but he's drawing a blank. That night, the Midnight Channel gives a better look at the person inside, which is indeed Yukiko…but definitely not the Yukiko that everybody knows. Chie confirms that Yukiko is now missing, which means she's been tossed into the Shadow world.
The following day, the three of them jump into the TV and head toward the weird world that Yukiko seems to be stuck in. They fight their way past some generic Shadows, but hit a wall when Chie runs into her Shadow self. Yu and Yosuke fight decently, but end up getting in a jam. At this point, Yu realizes he can summon other Persona, so he summons a fire-type to team up with Yosuke and defeat Chie's Shadow. Chie accepts her feelings and gains the power of her Persona. The trio leave to fight another day.
I'm really digging how the anime is adapting the game. They're sticking to the story without deviating too much, though lets see how they deal with that later. I also like how they're making Yu as stoic as possible, resembling a silent protagonist without actually having to make him silent. He's still getting his moments of bonding, so I expect to see his stats shown during the eyecatch maxed out by the end of the show.
[You can watch Persona 4 over at Hulu.]
Haganai Episode 3
This week was pretty Sena-heavy, eh? And I didn't mean that to be a pun at all! We are really starting to see the various plot points that the show is going to be hitting throughout the season, though. It would appear that Yozora may be that childhood friend that Kodaka may have left behind. It would also appear that Sena is becoming attached to him, and going by the preview for next week we're going to meet the rest of the girls.
I'm really loving Kodaka's little sister. She's absolutely adorable, and not even in a creepy way. The thought of a little girl getting really into cosplay is one thing, but she also seems relatively calm, and I like the little mess-ups, like when she says tomato juice instead of blood or something. Little details, I guess. I wonder what Kodaka's little introspective is all about, though? About enjoying being around his friends more than his baby sister?
I haven't read the material this is based on, so all of this plot intro is pretty exciting for me, especially for what apparently has been dubbed the fan service show of the season (given most of the first half of this week's episode was pure unadulterated fan service). By the way, I still love Yozora. She's on my awesome pettanko list.
Sekakoi 2 Episode 3
Let's think back on season one what was going on with Chiaki and Tori. Last we watched, Tori was insanely jealous of Yuu, realizing that he had a thing for Chiaki and asked him not to ever be alone with the guy. Ever. Pretty selfish of him, right?
Months later, Chiaki and Yuu haven't been talking much, and a rift has kind of formed between Chiaki and Tori. Too much work and a much too broody Tori is to thank for that, I suppose! But as with all things Shingiku Nakamura, the problems don't last too long. Next episode will be another Tori/Chiaki chapter, so look forward to some more possessive "seme" and dense "uke!"
[Catch Sekakoi2 simulcasting on Crunchyroll!]
Beelzebub Episode 39
Well, the animation was marginally better this week than last week. I really have no idea what the heck is going on, though. I asked Pedro about it and he suggested all the "budgeting" went into the fights at the end of this last bit with the holy knights. Maybe so, but it doesn't help that I already dislike Beel the cry-baby idiot older brother or his demon maids without having to deal with the drop in animation quality, too.
I am happy that Aoi and Oga had a moment of clarity, though. I think in Oga case, it must be nice to just talk to someone about what's been going on to him. In Aoi's case, she must be so dazed by this whole deal, to the point that she can do nothing but laugh cause it is just so incredulous. Or accepting? Hilda seems to believe that Aoi is special because she's accepted everything around her so quickly. I also believe that the other folks around Oga will accept it since they all seem to be "special," more powerful human beings than the norm.
Man, that kid is so annoying, though! But at least it looks like a major rumble is going down for the next chunk of this arc.
[Watch Beelzebub simulcasting on Crunchyroll!]
Guilty Crown Episode 2
As expected the episode was chock full of fireworks and visual goodness. Show intros usually sum up a show really well for me. This time there seems to be a lot of characters in play, and they all seem to be characterized as pretty charismatic, perhaps too charismatic. We might end up spending the whole season on introductions. Pretty much every anime stereotype has some kind of role in this show.
The aspects of Inori as a famous idol are actually really intriguing to me, and I wonder why it hasn't been touched on a bit more. Her being a famous idol seems to be really on the back burner. Maybe it's the Macross fan in me. Her role in all this, and her significance beyond being Gai's play thing are still unclear.
The mecha in the show are fleshed out a bit more, and I think the technology in the world is really appareling. All the touch screen interfaces, the ways the missiles look, laser beams.. yum.
All in all, the show was a lot of fun, but that's pretty much it. They basically tried to cram a two hour plot into half an hour again. If anything, the show really need to slow the heck down. Really, I get it. Now chill out, and let's enjoy the ride. No need to try so hard to please everyone.
I still hate Shu.
[Guilty Crown streams at Funimation]
(Insane in the) Phi Brain Episode 4
Yet again we see Kaito get duped into accepting another sage puzzle. I can't help but see this as a missed opportunity though.
"Kaito, I bet you aren't smart enough to solve light-speed travel."
Instead, we get to see who looks like the final partner-like character from the opening. After being told to go to the art room, Kaito finds the extremely feminine Anna Gram, who's actions are almost as silly as her name. The two travel to the site of the next puzzle, which is a very impressive mansion owned by an elderly lady who the butler calls a tsundere. There's a first for everything! They are led to the puzzle they have to solve, one that features paintings, much to Anna's enjoyment. When they begin, the room begins to fill with gas, as these puzzles just wouldn't be the same without having to risk your life!
Kaito, without using the armlet, notices that the border patterns can match, and he rearranges the paintings on to one wall. Eventually, they discover that the initials of the painters can be used as roman numerals, and this is the pass word to the safe they need to open to beat the puzzle. Inside are paintings of the tsundere by her late husband, which allows a small opportunity for an emotional flashback. The butler apologises for the life threatening situation, but reveals that he never once mentioned that the gas was deadly. It was in fact harmless, a prank that the painter told his butler to include. I believe Gammon and Nonoha were in this episode at some point, but I may be mistaken. After the ordeal, we discover that Ana Gram is in fact, a trap. Did not see that one coming!
Bakuman Episode 4
Ashrogi still have their doubts about Miura, and begin debating whether or not to redo their seventh in a more mainstream battle manga way, in order to get more votes. They decide to look into it when they discover that two strong manga, Hideout Door and Kiyoshi Knights, are being serialized. The turning point comes when they discover the Baked Cheese manga that started about the same time they did has just been cancelled.
The editorial department talk about the future of Detective Anna Gram Trap and are split between thinking it isn't Jack material, or that it'll just need time to settle. Miura doesn't really seem to know what he's doing, but after thinking it over, decides to refuse to change chapter seven. Mashiro changes his opinion and agrees with sticking to the original chapter seven, based on some inspirational words from none of than Eiji. Takagi, upon hearing this, also agrees. Next episode, more drama!
C3 Episode 4
This episode focuses a lot more on the crab-arm lady and Mummy Maker, rather than on Haruaki and company. I'm not sure if I'm the only one who feels this way, but I much prefer it. I still think Haruaki and Konoha just seem like every other character out there, and that they lack anything to make them in the least bit different. Concerning Konoha, I just have flashbacks to that sports drink from Akikan, and that's certainly saying something!
After asking Mummy Maker to strip (yeah, I don't know either,) Peavy decides to take a nap and leave her to sort out Fear. Instead, she approaches Haruaki and company, giving them three options that are not in the slightest looking good for Fear. Soon after this, Fear talks with Haruaki about whether she is being a burden, whilst threatening him with an oversized sword. As you do.
We see the return of Peavy soon after, where she is now brandishing a super-fabulous axe. Her fabulaxe? She also announces that Mummy Maker won't be interfering with any more proposals, as Peavy had just murdered her. The axe, known as Dance Time, makes Peavy do all sorts of crazy and excessive spins while attacking Haruaki and Konoha. She also reveals that the axe will continue to attack even if she is killed, which is quite the problem. The episode ends with what seems to be Fear getting ready to join in the fight.
[C3 screams on Niconico.com]
Wagnaria'!! Episode 4
As the manager got a little hungry and ate all of the cream in the restaurant, she goes with Yachiyo to buy some more. On their way to the store, they encounter a woman climbing out of a manhole, who claims to be lost. Yachiyo recognises her as Otoo's missing wife, but is too busy having a face full of the managers chest to think of speaking about it. She promptly disappears, leaving Yachiyo to regret not keeping an eye on her. If she even has eyes.
Meanwhile, Inami unintentionally discovers that Satou likes Yachiyo, even though Yachiyo obviously likes the manager. This causes her to start stalking him while being teary-eyed, feeling sorry for the situation he's in. Takanashi notices this, assuming that Inami likes Satou, and starts to get frustrated. Souma jumps in, thinking that he will finally admit feelings for Inami, but is instead disappointed when he finds out he sees her as more of a pet.
Eventually, Takanashi approaches Inami about her liking Satou, where she denies it. Instead, she mentions that she does in fact like someone, but Takanashi is still to slow to work things out. Meanwhile, Satou comforts Yachiyo when Otoo visits, urging her to let him know about seeing his wife. He thanks her for telling him, but mentions that she is likely not nearby any more, so he will keep searching for her. To top the episode off, Yamada still doesn't get her adoption papers. I think that Japanator should adopt her instead. Who doesn't want a Yamada?
[Wagnaria'!! is cooking up a storm on Crunchyroll!]
Chihayafuru Episode 3
Finally! Some damn karuta! And expertly played, at that! This week, we catch Chihaya, Arata and the now calm Taichi as sixth graders attending a practice doujou to train for tournaments. A huge bomb is dropped when we learn that Taichi decides to attend a prestige middle school after graduation and that Arata is moving away to stay with his sickly grandfather. Chihaya inexplicably takes it way too harshly and decides to drop out of the tournament they were training together. Yeesh...
No worries though! Chihaya pulls through and shows up at the last minute to play one last game of karuta with her teammates! It's a Rocky-esque "It doesn't matter if you win" moment as they walk home empty handed, but -- long story short -- the three go their separate ways.
With the story laid out, it'd be interesting if the audience will still follow Chihaya throughout her training, or if the series will jump straight back to the present. Either way, here's to hoping that things don't become too predictable (that just spoils the fun anyway) and that the karuta can hold my attention long enough to help that out. Hey, if Kaiji can do it with Rock, Paper, Scissors, then I'm game for anything.
[Chihayafuru is available to stream on Crunchyroll!]Photo Gallery: (18 images)
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