Welcome to another week of Annotated Anime, the weekly Japanese cartoon roundup that's got so many First Impressions writeups that you can read them from space. It's like a Great Wall of Text and Screenshots!
Besides the week in recaps we've also got a good handful of regular recaps for you today, new and old, including Hiiro no Kakeria, Sword Art Online, Space Bros., Jormungand Perfect Order, and Bakuman!
And if that's not enough for you, there are those First and Final Impressions writeups I mentioned a paragraph or so ago, with even more on the way! Check out the list below to read 'em!
Space Bros. Episode 27
New opening! Gah, it's still no Feel So Moon, but the animation looks really neat. Up until they go bad with the lens flare at the end, anyway. We rejoin Nanba, who was confronting the dreaded Asuma in the bar. While things didn't go exactly as I'd predicted (no best-buddy moments, certainly no Bollywood dancing), I feel Nanba still came out of the meeting on top. It seems there's something about being scared of death that makes you a better person, and I'd certainly agree.
We skip forward somewhat, where we get to see Nanba say farewell to his brother. It was nice to see the entire family there to wish him off, but my inner writer/asshole surfaced while I was watching it. With all this talk of death, you've got to kill Hibito in a botched launch. You've got to! Nanba can then go to the moon for the both of them and it'd be super emotional, amazing and...
Yeah, like NASA/JAXA would let that happen! Still, it's not like there's nothing going on. We've still got the introduction of the real-like astronaut in episode 31!
[Space pugs can be found on Crunchyroll!]
Jormungand: Perfect Order Episode 1
New opening! Well, you know, you would with a new season of anime. It's not quite as good as the previous tune, but hey, I'm kinda digging it. Koko is still loco in the episode previews too, so you know that nothing terrible has happened during the time between the two seasons.
It seems we may finally know exactly why the show is called Jormungand, as Koko seems to have been pretty busy launching upwards of 100 rockets with satellites. Orbital patters and world snakes? Yeah, certainly sounds like the crazy antics of Koko and company.
Oh, what's that? We're going to be seeing plenty more assassins in this season? Sign me up, the fire-fights in this show are awesome! Good start, show!
[Get loco with Koko via Funimation]
Bakuman. 3 Episode 1
New opening! All right fine, I'll stop. I'll give this one some time, but I can't say I've ever really liked the openings to this show. Perhaps it's because I seem to think better of the manga than the anime version (even though they really aren't so different), but hey, I'm not really sure.
Since the previous season, the manga has ended. Now that the anime staff know what they've got to work with, it seems there will be no more dragging of heels! This particular episode was a good number of manga chapters, and having it summed up in one episode was a great way of kickstarting the new season. Whether this was just for an attention grabbing first episode or not, remains to be seen.
PCP is in full swing, but that looming 7-chapter trial period is almost up. We're in for some great content in this season, and I really can't wait for a certain character to be introduced. Look out for that!
Hiiro no Kakera II Episode 2
In a great fast-paced bout, we have learned that Mitsuru is to share the same fate as Ohmi's mother, and that upset him quite a bit. We also learned what was up with Inukai, and had a glimpse of dog dude.
So, now that Ohmi has decided to join Logos for the sake of closing the cycle of sacrificial bloodshed, we're now up to two guardians who've acted as traitors. They've all (all 5) wavered at some point, but not to the extent that would put Tamaki in any kind of danger [like these 2]. The same two have become traitors for the same reason, and that is to see Onikirimaru out of their lives completely. This is the part that bothers me, though... isn't the point that Onikirimaru could bring the end of the world if it falls into the wrong hands? Is Logos' intention for the sword clear-cut enough to say that they'll not just wipe everyone out with it if they were to attain it? There's no point any more if they're just going to wipe more people out with it, when Ohmi seems to want to end bloodshed over it.
I'm also not sure what it is that Ohmi intends to accomplish together with those other guys, who as it is, haven't been in Monado's best graces. Right now there's just too much confusion with Logos, and a little too much naivety with the Tamayori group. They end the episode with "I believe in him!"? Seriously?
But then again, sometimes it turns out that there's some kind of developed plan underneath the surface. Ohmi is acting this way, but he might have a plan that is actually beneficial to his comrades (or ex-comrades). But then again, maybe he'll be a new bad guy. We'll see...
[You can watch Hiiro no Kakera streaming on Crunchyroll!]
Sword Art Online Episode 13 & 14
Oh Sword Art Online, as much as I enjoy you, goddamn you can be an absolute mess sometimes.
After spending a brief time enjoying each other's company away from the front lines, Kirito and Asuna are called back by Heathcliff and met with a horrifying discovery. As luck would have it, the next level boss has annihilated a squad sent in to scope out its patterns. With an unprecedented amount of players dead, Heathcliff resolves to take a squad composed of top front liners into the boss room himself. Kirito tries to convince Asuna to stay behind, but she refuses to hear him out, resolving to kill herself if anything happened to him while she stayed safe in town.
With preparations complete, Heathcliff leads the massive squad to the boss room doors. What they find upon entering is a massive beast with multiple limbs that can kill a high level player in just one strike. As soldiers and teammates are annihilated one by one, Kirito and the others find their groove and after quite the struggle, manage to take down the monster. With the party tired and morale low, Kirito notices that Heathcliff's health has still not dropped into the yellow. Thinking back to their earlier duel, he guesses that the leader of the Knights of Blood is none other than Kayaba, the mastermind behind Sword Art Online.
Kayaba reveals his true identity and immediately paralyzes all the players present, informing them that he's actually the final boss of this entire shindig. As a special gift for seeing through his lies, Kayaba offers Kirito the opportunity to duel him one on one, the former's defeat meaning the clearing of SAO and the freedom of every player that's still alive. Despite Asuna's plees, Kirito accepts the challenge and the two begin to battle. Overwhelmed by Kayaba's strength, our hero is about to be struck down when none other than Asuna jumps between him and the incoming sword. His wife now dead, Kirito is unable to muster up the strength to continue the battle, allowing Kayaba to impale him. With precious seconds left before he disappears into nothingness and his brain is fried, Kirito works up the power to strike at the former Knights of Blood leader, defeating the final boss and ending the nightmare of SAO.
Kirito awakens in an open space only to find that he and Asuna are still alive, even if only momentarily. Below them, Ainclad slowly crumbles into nothingness as Kayaba appears before them. They ask him why he did all of this, and he gives some speech about wanting to go to a castle in the sky and a whole lot of crazy talk. Kirito and Asuna seem to be satisfied with this answer, sharing one last tender moment together before death. They exchange their real names and fade into nothing, holding each other close.
Except Kirito wakes up in his hospital room, alive and well/boney as all hell. With thoughts of Asuna the only thing keeping him going, he magically manages to get out of bed, heading out the door and down the hospital hall.
Honestly, there are a lot of problems with the last couple of episodes, not the least of which are the string of deus ex machinas that result in clearing SAO. Two examples being how Asuna magically breaks free from paralyzation, and Kirito managing to attack and kill Kayaba despite his HP dropping to zero. I was also incredibly disappointed with the treatment of the floor boss battle, which in the novel was an incredible tense bit of combat because of the one hit kills. The fact that it got no more than a few minutes total is a shame. The other inherent problem is that the novels are able to get inside the characters' heads more naturally, making it easy to relay expository information. A lot of the pacing issues and plot holes prevalent in SAO's first 14 episodes stem from a poor understanding of how to approach and handle necessary exposition.
The next arc is much more straightforward, so fingers crossed that A-1 manages a more consistent experience over the final half of the series
Either way, I'm still having a good time even if SAO is often times all over the place.
[Editor's Note: MORE DEBAN -Josh]
[Catch Sword Art Online via Crunchyroll]
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