Hello, and welcome to the brand-new, heartily-portioned, American-sized weekly recap of Japanese-sized cartoons, Annotated Anime!
Actually, we're kidding, we were always American-sized, we just wanted to say something was new. Oh wait, something is new, and that's the week in awesome Japanese cartoons! We've got that in spades, including new recaps of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Hidamari Sketch, Bakuman, Jormungand, Space Bros., Busou Shinki, Little Busters!, Chuunibyou, My Little Monster, Hiiro no Kakera, and Sword Art Online!
And when you're done with those, check out some of the latest additions to our American-sized collection of First Impressions writeups from the staff:
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Episode 2
This was the first time the opening was shown and while I don't like the song at all, man was the opening itself stylish. The way it blended manga and animation really worked for me.
My Little Monster Episode 3
A fanny pack. Who in the seven hells wears a fanny pack? I can understand Japanese men carrying large man-purses, or shoulder slings, but a straight-up fanny pack?
Come on, man.
The rooster takes center stage this episode as the cast attempts to build a house for it and store it on the school grounds. Mixed in with this is a bit of confusion in Mizutani and Haru's relationship. Mizutani doesn't want to admit her feelings even though everyone around her has accepted it as fact, and Haru is giving mixed signals.
But, as this show has shown, frankness wins out and the two have a heart-to-heart once they're alone and can actually explain their feelings. Not without a few twists along the way.
The group of false friends are back, and it looks like they're going to make up with Haru -- it's something to watch for as the show goes on. And finally! We're presented with a villainous figure towards the end of the episode. Looks like there'll be more than just relationship development in the show.
[Watch My Little Monster on Crunchyroll!]
Sword Art Online Episode 15
A new arc means a new game, a new opening and new characters. Unfortunately, the Fairy Dance arc has a host of problems that most viewers seem to have picked up on.
It's been two months since Sword Art Online was cleared and Heathcliff defeated in battle. With Kirito back in the real world and Asuna still in a coma, things are slowly going back to normal for our Japanese Batman. We're introduced to Suguha, his (sort of) little sister and an expert kendo player. With Asuna still in the hospital, Kirito makes it a point to try and visit her whenever he has the chance. One day, he bumps into her father on a visit, along with a young man named Sugou. As it turns out, the latter is a creepy bastard who plans on marrying Asuna while she's in a coma, putting him closer to his father and the multi-billion dollar corporation he heads. Unfortunately, the old SAO servers are in Sugou's company's possession, meaning he can wipe out Asuna's data whenever he wants to. If that's not holding a loaded gun to our hero's head, I'm not sure what is.
Back at home, Sugu finds Kirito in tears, not able to take the shock of what he'd just faced. Being nothing but a powerless kid, he doesn't stand a chance against a man like Sugou in the real world. Sugu tries her best to comfort him, encouraging him not to give up on the person he loves. Cue the flashback. It turns out that Kirito was adopted by his aunt and uncle after his real parents died. While stuck in SAO, Sugu slowly began to care more and more for her adopted bro, eventually coming to have genuine feelings for him. Back in the real world, she sleeps together with Kirito, wanting to see him go back to the person he used to be. At the end of the episode, our hero gets an email from former SAO comrade Egil with an attached image of somebody who looks like Asuna in some kind of cage. The chase begins!
Ok, so Sword Art Online has finally hit up the incest angle. I'm sure we're all sick of it, but it's here and it isn't going away. If anything, I regret that the anime has no way to get into the minds of the characters, because there was a lot of good exposition in the books that really clarified the kind of relationship Sugu and Kirito had. It still wasn't particularly good, but it wasn't nearly as mind boggling. I wasn't fond of Sogou in the novels and nothing has changed as far as that's concerned, but it is nice that the villainous character is introduced right off the bat even if he's completely improbable. Needs more lip licking action too.
My favorite thing about this episode and the novel from which it came, is finally seeing Kirito in the real world. We get a fairly clear confirmation that the time he spent fighting in SAO had an effect on his overall abilities. The novel actually goes into this more, but I think the kendo duel got the point across just as well. I also prefer Kirito as a character in this arc as he gets a lot more opportunities to not being a walking piece of wood.
Not a great episode, probably not even a good one, but like all of Sword Art Online, it continues to entertain and keep me coming back for more.
[Check out the now-inappropriately named Sword Art Online over at Crunchyroll]
Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai! Episode 2
God I really hope they axe that opening. I'd rather avoid getting a seizure over the next few months.
A few weeks have passed since school has started, and Yuta is finally on the way to getting used to dealing with the slightly crazy Rikka. He actually ends up helping the class rep, Shinka, in his efforts to be normal and maybe even get closer to her. While helping her with some errands in the science lab, she mentions that she remembers bumping into him at the train station on the first day of school. Yuta has a bit of a freak out when he realizes that he might have a chance with the most beautiful girl in class, but a suddenly appearing Rikka brings him crashing down to Earth.
Rikka's adopted a cat she found while fleeing from her insane sister. As fate would have it, the cat belongs to a junior named Kumin Tsuyuri. Yuta invites her back to the apartment building to confirm that it's her cat, and we get our first look at Rikka's apartment. As suspected, it's filled with weird stuff, and Yuta nearly loses his cool in front of his cute sempai. Before things can get even more awkward, Rikka's sister, Toka, bursts into the room demanding to know why there's a cat in the apartment. Crazy girl jumps out the window of her room and flees into Yuta's room, followed closely by her equally as crazy sister. The battle reaches its conclusion and Toka requests a moment with the Dark Flame Master. She plays an audio recording of him from when he was younger, rambling on about his magical powers, and blackmails him into getting the cat out of the apartment. A ridiculous battle between Rikka and her sister ensues, concluding with Yuta adopting the cat for himself.
The production values hold strong this week and there's some fantastic moments of comedy to be had, but the real moment of awesome came via the battle at the end of the episode. It's been a long time since we've seen KyoAni animate a real action scene (Nichijou doesn't count), and it's fantastic to see how far they've come since the days of Haruhi. If anything, I found myself longing for the day that KyoAni heads up a genuine action series; I think I'd vomit rainbows out of pure joy.
I'm still amazed that KyoAni has managed to take such a ridiculous sounding concept/generic looking novel series, and turn it into something so enjoyable. Even if Chuunibyou never makes an attempt to go further with its cast, I'd be just as pleased to get 24 minutes of ridiculous entertainment every week.
[Catch Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai! over at The Anime Network]
Magi Episode 2
After fleeing from the fat merchant, Alibaba and Aladdin make their way into the dungeon, sucked into the strange structure by a blinding light. Unbeknownst to our pair of would-be heroes, the sharif of the town, Jamil, is following close behind them with his eyes seemingly set on Aladdin and his djinn. As Alibaba and his partner avoid deadly traps right and left, the pair finds themselves in a pickle when they're suddenly surrounded by giant ant monsters. Aladdin uses the remainder of his strength to power up Ugo and defeat the monsters, but without nourishment the small boy falls unconscious.
While watching over his new friend, Alibaba vows to tell him his real reasons for diving into the dungeon once the boy wakes up. Finally noticing that they were followed into the mysterious structure, Alibaba is spotted by the slave girl he saved yesterday, revealed to work for the sharif. As expected, Jamil turns out to be a ruthless piece of trash, beating his slaves. Along with a giant masked man and the girl from before, he scoops up Aladdin and forces Alibaba to tag along. Coming upon a deadly fire trap, Jamil attempts to solve the puzzle only to be one step behind Alibaba. Confident in his answer, our blonde hero dashes through the trap and pulls the lever at the end. He's engulfed in flames and vanishes, presumably dead.
Aladdin finally comes to, and the sharif convinces him that they saved his life. He explains that Alibaba simply went on ahead to scout things out. Jamil introduces his two slaves, the giant named Goltas and the girl from early named Morgiana. The latter is a descendent of an ancient tribe of people from the Dark Lands, an underdeveloped region south of the border.
Aladdin is left alone with her and she explains that her homeland isn't dark at all, but is simply described that way because of the culture and lack of cities. While Aladdin tries to get her to cut her chains loose, but soon realizes that what's holding Morgiana back aren't the physical chains, but rather the invisible ones created by Jamil's ruthlessness. Alibaba appears from above, revealing that he had lied about the trap from earlier in order to find a chance to escape. Together with Aladdin, he escapes via flying carpet and arrives before the door of truth only to find a city waiting for them on the other side.
Another solid showing for Magi, though as a manga reader I have to admit to this feeling more like a highlight reel. Events and the timeline in which they happen have been seeing some major changes, and I'm not sure I'm a fan of it. Nonetheless, the animation was still relatively solid this week and the characters are as charming as ever. Next week is guaranteed to be a fun one if they adapt the material properly, so I'm still holding out hope that A-1 does Magi right.
[Check out Magi over at Crunchyroll]
Hiiro no Kakera II Episode 3
Now that the cat's kind of out of the bag, there's another gaping rift between the guardians. Not to mention, Ohmi looked ridiculous levels of menacing this episode. I found a few things interesting, though.
First, Aria didn't just do away with Tamaki while she was in her turf. She did have this "promise" to spare Shinji's life, but she didn't have to do anything to prevent the others from being killed.
Second, The dog dude came around to "warn" Tamaki but offers no answers, guidance or assistance. He makes a big deal out of how wrong Tamaki and her guardians are, but keeps things incredibly vague. I'm waiting for this dude to step up his game.
Finally, last week's little thingy they put at the end of each episode - you know, the little fan service thing where one of the dudes compliments you, presumably the fangirl watching - featured Ohmi, the main problem of the episode, while this week's featured Shinji. Coincidence? Weird humor?
[Check out Hiiro no Kakera II streaming on Crunchyroll!]
Space Bros. Episode 28
So we finally got to see what was hidden on that special DVD, and it didn't disappoint. While I do love Space Bros., I have felt that it has been lacking that brotherly feeling. I mean, we certainly get to see it in the flashbacks, but as adults they may as well just be acquaintances. Seeing the effort Hibito went through to help his brother out is one thing, but seeing Nanba care that much for it finally puts the sibling relationship into perspective.
Hibito certainly had a knack for building things as a kid, though I think his parents should be commended for not busting a fuse when all of their things started going missing. In fact, did they ever get returned? Perhaps a grand UFO crash, exploration and dismantling are contained on another DVD.
[Space pugs can be found on Crunchyroll!]
Jormungand: Perfect Order Episode 2
This new season isn't going to ease us back into the action, and it seems Koko and her team will be in for some trouble very soon. Well, more trouble, because I think this entire situation with Saw is pretty dire in the first place, assuming she doesn't already know about it. Bringing him up in conversation is making me feel otherwise.
I'm pretty sure most of the gunners were playing Salvador and boasting impressive team ammo regeneration class mods, because bullets were being wasted in almost every scene. Why not, especially when you're so loco. Speaking of that, how about the remix of the loco song?
But man, that 'sacrifice' mentioned at the end. This show is another solid reason why this season of anime is an absolute winner.
[Get loco with Koko via Funimation]
Bakuman. 3 Episode 2
Yep, as I'd pretty much stated in the recap of the first episode, they're definitely chewing through these chapters at a faster rate now that the manga has ended. All the better for us, as it means we can get straight to the drama without having to watch the anime drag its heels. It's nothing new to see Ashirogi going up against manga from every other character in the show plus their dogs, but there's an increased ferocity between them and Eiji. Glorious.
Iwase is still showing that she makes a great creeper, as she proceeds to stalk Eiji. Of course, we figure out that there is a reason for this (besides staring at butt) when Crow suddenly turns up in +Natural. They're certainly forcing Ashirogi to improve, but damn if they aren't relentless about it! Next episode will be great, as it's when otters start appearing in PCP.
PCP needs more otters.
Little Busters! Episode 2
Yep, this is definitely a Key visual novel-come-anime. If you had any doubt about the potential for this show, know that the second episode will at the very least sell you on the possibilities. I absolutely love where it is going, but we all know it's not that easy. If it keeps this up, I'm sure it'll be one to remember.
Komari seems to be a typical clutz of a character, but she seems to have just enough charm and innocence for it to not end up being Yui-levels of annoying. There's going to be more to her, that much is certain, but I'm not sure I can place it just yet. Putting money on a traumatic childhood. I think my odds are pretty good!
I must say that I'm really enjoying the insert music, though I'm not sure whether or not that has been taken from the visual novel. I'm sure it has, but I've never played it so I can't be certain. Either way, it definitely lends itself well to what is going on. Regarding that thing that shall not be spoiled, I can't wait to see what they do with it!
Hidamari Sketch x Honeycomb Episode 2
GUYS! GUYS! IT'S THE BATH HOUSE EPISODE!
Sure is interesting to see Shaft getting away with full body nudity, just because the Hidamari girls left their nipples at home. If nothing else, it's not incredibly ugly like giant beams of light and/or steam, but it doesn't change too much. It does mean some fans will be gathering new desktop wallpapers like madmen/women, though.
What is more interesting (to me at least, ya buncha pervs) is that this episode actually had continuity. Not just 'this episode must have come after these episodes because Nazuna and Nori are in it' levels of continuity either, but rather it followed on from the last episode. Shaft, what are you doing fixing the random episode placement? This is weird!
Yuno is too damn sweet for her own good, though. You don't need to get naked to be a good sister.
[You can attempt to handle the wideface on The Anime Network!]
Busou Shinki episode 2
This second episode follows the familiar pattern: The three veteran Shinkis comfortable with just living alongside Master have to deal with the new Strarf-model Shinki, "Hina", who wants to do what Shinkis are supposed to do: battle. They deal with her pretty much by not dealing with her, and opt to cook dinner instead. Antics ensue because cooking a feast when you're six inches tall isn't easy, exacerbated by some secret harassment from a pair of animal-eared Shinkis and an octopus that someone forgot to kill before cooking. Hina ends up helping out anyway, and blushing ensues when Master says thank you. Because being thanked is nice.
That's the basic synopsis, of course, but as I've said, it's more fun to read too much into this sort of stuff, and what I'm reading here is that Shinkis are severely underutilized. These things can (awkwardly) cook dinner and defend your house, and their intended purpose is a moefied take on f*cking Beyblade? Methinks the Strarf is sticking a little to close to the on-the-box description of a Shinki's role in life.
For that matter, Shinkis seem to run into what I will call the "Persocom Paradox" - in light of my being too lazy to see if there's a formal term for this sort of thing in the budding field of Robot Ethics. Simply put, the more human or human-like you make your machines, the less convenient they become when it's time to use them as the tools they were intended to be. When Ines, Lene and Ann are perfectly happy not fighting, is it ethical to ask them to? Does Hina have a point in noting that these deadly deadly action figures are meant only for deadly deadly action, even if they can cook dinner if they feel like it? And if your Shinki wants to battle, are you obligated to take her battling, lest you appear neglectful of your action figure's interests?
And if we go by the opening monologue from last week, Shinkis are a post-Chobits, post-Angelic Layer synthetic lifeform, sentient and independent. Which is why they are apparently free to roam their cities on their own and attack one another in their homes while the humans are away.
TL;DR, I want a Shinki as portrayed in this show.
[Desire your own palmtop cooking/battling robot on The Anime Network]
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