Hello, and welcome to your late-in-the-week edition of Annotated Anime, the weekly Japanator recap that made the most of its storm-born break period contemplating one of life's fundamental mysteries: How can you steer a tank with hands that plant flowers?"
The answer? "Easily, unless you're trying to do both at the same time."
Our work is done, but before we retreat to the Meditation Hammock to contemplate whether the question was a rhetorical one, we should show the work which led to our profound insight. It mainly consists of watching a ton of hot new Japanese cartoons, including JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Girls und Panzer, Blast of Tempest, K, Magi, Hiiro no Kakera, Little Busters!, Robotics;Notes, Busou Shinki, Sword Art Online, Bakuman, Hidamari Sketch, Chuunibyou, The Pet Girl of Sakurasou, Muv-Luv Total Eclipse, Shin Sekai Yori, Space Bros., and Jormungand Perfect Order!
Indeed, such a diverse banquet of Nippon's animations are rich fare to contemplate fundamental mysteries with. Read on to partake of the feast, and contribute your own musings in the comments!
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Episode 3
I think I'm getting used to the character designs now. That or they have been chaining every week to better suit my needs. Hmm. Which could it be? What's funny is how last week I complained about the episode being a bit to dark and this one was extremely colorful.
Speedwagon peeks in on JoJo to find Erina taking care of him. It's true love! Then we quickly switch over to an entirely different kind of "love" with Jack the Ripper doing his awful thing. Dio needs some more minions though, so he shoves his fingers right up in Jack's brain. (Ew #1.) Dio now has a new minion and gains more strength by draining the poor girl's blood and making her head explode. (Ew #2.)
We return to JoJo and Erina who are talking a nice little walk and come across a strange man eating a sandwich with pepper. This man decides to punch JoJo in the chest so hard that all of his wounds heal. Here we are introduced to Zeppli and the Ripple. Zeppli explains his own history with the stone mask and how the energy of the sun that is found within the Ripple will be necessary for defeating Dio.
Then we get to the training segment which thankfully does not take the rest of the episode! Moving on, as JoJo, Speedwagon and Zeppli are traveling through a tunnel, the carriage suddenly stops. The driver has been killed, the horses have been decapitated (Ew #3.) and then Jack the Ripper jumps out of one of the horses bodies. (Ew #4.) Jack then shoves a knife into his own neck (Ew #5.) and battles Zeppli via shooting knives out of his body. (Ew #6.) Who wrecks him with some wine. He escapes though and Zeppli tasks JoJo with finishing him off without spilling a drop of wine. Here JoJo finally begins to really understand the Ripple.
Lots of stuff happening here. The pacing is still good and the action has been great. Now that the Ripple is here battles are going to be even crazier. Zeppeli is easily one of my favorite characters from Part 1 and I love his voice actor and how he's been animated. The Ripple has added some well needed color to the past few darker episodes. In line with the manga, the anime just keeps getting better.
Sword Art Online Episode 17
Looks like A-1 put some money into this one.
After letting the remaining Salamander soldier go free, Kirito partners up with the feisty blonde haired player Leafa and together they fly to the closest city so she can treat him to a drink. At the bar, Kirito explains that he's on a mission to reach the top of the World Tree. Of course, that also happens to be the overall goal of the game. Apparently the race that reaches the top will be granted an audience with the king of fairies, and gain the ability to fly for as long as they so desire. Unlimited flight is a pretty sweet deal.
Unfortunately, Leafa also happens to believe that there probably isn't a way to clear the game in its current form. Despite the game having gone sale over a year prior, not a single person has reached the top of the World Tree. Kirito gets visibly shaken, stressing that he has to clear the game as soon as possible. He gets up, ready to leave before Leafa stops him and offers to take him as far as she can. The two agree to meet back at the inn the next day, and log off. Surprise! Sugu is actually Leafa and neither of them realize that they're currently playing ALO together. Ruh roh.
Meanwhile at the top of the World Tree, Sugo, disguised as Oberon the Fairy King, has trapped Asuna in ALO, along with nearly 3,000 other SAO players. As it turns out, he's using these comatose people as experimental subjects in developing a system to control memories and the thoughts. Yeah, he's pretty messed up.
An overall solid episode with good animation and consistent art. The direction here was a lot better than the past few weeks, with a much sharper attention to shot choice and composition. It's nice to actually be enjoying Sword Art Online again, even if I'm sick of the little sister angle. Sugo makes for a fun villain if only because he's constantly around, rather than hiding in the background somewhere. Looking forward to next week's episode!
[Catch Sword Art Online via Crunchyroll]
Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai! Episode 4
Yuuta just can't catch a break.
Still struggling to figure out why Shinka would ever think to join Rikka's strange magic (nap) club, Yuuta ends up inviting her over to his place. Initially polite and well mannered, our hero can't help but come to the conclusion that little miss class representative might have feelings for him. He heads off to make some tea, and when he gets back is stunned to find that Shinka has demolished his room. As it turns out, she also suffered from 8th grade syndrome back in junior high school, and Sanae's magic book was actually written by her under the name Forest Summer.
Shinka burns the book, only to find out that Sanae has made multiple copies. She reveals her true identity as Forest Summer, but the twin tailed loony girl refuses to believe that the class rep could possibly be her beloved magic master. Yuuta suggests that Shinka fight fire with fire, and the two girls have a climactic one on one battle. Sanae starts to spout lines about the power of love, and Shinka falls to her knees in embarrassment, unable to continue. With multiple books still in Sanae's possession, Shinka has no choice but to join the magic club at least until she can destroy all traces of her past.
Another solid episode from KyoAni, with the standout moment being the crazy action sequence at the tail end. Shinka's personality switch wasn't much of a surprise, but it is a clever way of flipping the typical class rep archetype on its head. There was a surprising lack of Rikka this week, though her sacrifice ceremony was pretty damn funny.
[Catch Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai! over at the Anime Network]
Magi Episode 3 + 4
Aladdin and Alibaba manage to arrive in the final room of the dungeon, and are met with a clearly shaken Jamil and Morgiana. All hell breaks loose and Alibaba is forced to face Jamil in a one on one duel. The sharif has confidence in his royal swordplay, but is shocked to find that his opponent is even more skilled with a blade. Alibaba is so skilled in fact, that Jamil recognizes the style as one taught only to the higher echelons of royalty. Disarmed and embarrassed, the sharif is forced to call Morgiana over for back up. Aladdin has nothing of it however, and summons a great deal of magical power in order to seal the female slave's movement and take back his flute from Jamil.
Our pair of heroes meets the djinn Amon, who says some vague stuff about selecting kings, magi and what not before vanishing. The dungeon begins to fall apart, and Morgiana can't seem to figure out whether she wants to flee, or stay with her master. The masked slave grabs Jamil and encourages the young girl to live strong, for she has not killed and sinned as he has. Aladdin, Alibaba and Morgiana flee the dungeon together as the sharif and his slave are crushed beneath the rubble. Alibaba promises Aladdin that together they'll go on many more adventures once they get back to town. Unfortunately, fate intervenes and the three travelers are scattered to different areas after arriving back in the real world. Aladdin has been transported many lands away, leaving both Alibaba and Morgiana confused and worried.
Aladdin is found unconscious in a field by the people of the Kouga clan. It is here that our fearless young hero learns about the rukh, magical entities that are visible only to certain people. Spending time with the people of Kouga, he learns of the strength of family and is only more eager to investigate his origins. Enter Hakuei Ren, the third daughter of the Kou Empire's first emperor. Claiming to have appeared before the Kouga clan in peace, she desires only to bring together the people of the world. Later that evening, Aladdin pays a visit to the princess and asks her not to kill any of the people he cares about. With a smile and an air of deep respect, Ren explains to him that it is her goal to avoid all bloodshed and unite the lands in a peaceful manner.
Sadly, one of her foot soldiers doesn't agree with her philosophy and takes matters into his own hands, kidnapping all the women of the clan. The village elder Shaman Chagan requests that not a single soldier be killed, lest war erupt. The matter is settled without bloodshed, and Aladdin learns that the magi was a young man with great power who helped to bring about a prosperous age for the Kouga clan. With everybody safe and sound, Aladdin and his new friends are celebrating while the elder heads off to get some alone time.
And then she's shot in the back with an arrow. Woop woop!
Episode three was fairly solid despite making some major cuts to dialogue. Alibaba's sword fight was a fun watch, if not sadly short lived. While I understand the desire to try to cut exposition when possible, I really missed how the manga was able to dig deeper into Morgiana's inability to free herself from Jamil's grasp. That being said, the production values were good overall and I certainly enjoyed myself. Episode four on the other hand suffered from poor animation and character art (save for the horse chase), and generally felt very empty on content. We're supposed to care that Chagan got shot with an arrow, but I found it difficult considering how little time we got with her. The manga doesn't spend a great deal of time on this material, but everything felt more fleshed out. The kidnapping of the women, for example, was a much more calculated and detailed plan that felt like throwaway fluff here.
I love Magi and I really want this adaptation to be good, but right now A-1 isn't instilling much hope in me.
[Catch Magi over at Crunchyroll]
Robotics;Notes episode 3
If I were more self-centered and prone to assuming that everyone made every anime with pleasing me in mind, I'd almost say that Robotics;Notes was reacting to what I said back in my First Impressions writeup, when I noted that that the show was carried was carried largely by the enthusiasm of its heroine, Aki. This theoretical, incredibly self-centered me would remark that Robotics;Notes practically screamed "Hey, jerks, it ain't all Aki! Here, Kai's a cool duder, too! And check out this nutcase! Behold, PLOT! ACTION! ROBOTICS! NOTES!"
Because yes, this is pretty much what happened. And all was well. Indeed, Robotics;Notes manages to hit all its assumed goals with aplomb, solving a crisis, introducing new characters to help Aki bear the weight of carrying the show, and dropping a number of hints regarding the story's coming foray into Crazytown, with weird read aurorae, Kai's mysterious, Accel World-like time-dilation disease (the opposite of Aki's apparently), strange accidents, and stranger corporations. If all anime were executed as capably as this, things would be pretty great.
That said, I do look upon the coming twists with a little bit of trepidation. I really liked the pleasingly realistic robotics action on display with this tournament, with all the herky-jerky movement and such. It reminds one of real-life robo-fighting tournaments, and even fighting videogames, where the trick isn't having more guts/justice/plot armor than the other dude but knowing when and where to bust out the canned animations you've pre-programmed into your chunky hobby bot. Kind of like this, but fighting.
While I'm confident that Robotics;Notes is capable of handling its inevitable left turn with some grace, I hope that they can keep the soul of this part of the story - the part about a plucky school club with a big dream - in mind. We'll all be better off for it.
Busou Shinki episode 4
This week's episode of Busou Shinki raises some important questions about our future with artificial life, and what we want to do with it once we create it.
For example, when we finally create robots with emotion and intelligence, how will we react when they start founding their own go-kart racing tournaments, "By Shinkis, For Shinkis"?
If a robot is intelligent enough to distinguish between its "settings" and its "self" (i.e. Ines able to distinguish between her "setting" as "Altines is the Altlene's little sister" and her actual relationship with Lene), is it still ethical to consider it property?
When your action figure is smart enough to engage in barter trading of random objects with others of its kind, is it truly safe to let them sign legal documents for you?
Is there any legislation in place to cover the possibility that we may one day be asked to sponsor events held and organized by beings that everyone pretty much buys as toys?
What happens if a Shinki wins the lottery? Does the prize go to the master? What if the Shinki doesn't have a master, like the Ach and Yda from episode 3?
My mind is blown. Robot Ethics, in stores now. Makes every dumbass show about robo-women and their *ahem* screwholes MUCH more interesting.
[Ponder the future of Synthetics and Meatbags on The Anime Network]
Girls und Panzer episode 4
Goodness. Girls und Panzer tops itself for the fourth week in a row. If having floating campus towns and schoolgirls-in-tanks weren't enough, how about a hardcore tank battle, complete with clever tactics and a semblance of realism (not counting the elegant fake-British schoolgirls drinking tea to the sound of "The British Grenadiers")?
Not enough? How about making it a live television sport played in the back alleys and carparks of your hometown?
No? Let's sprinkle on some parental acceptance drama worthy of the most self-serious soaps.
Still not preposterous enough for you? How about schoolgirls dancing in skintight outfits in celebration of the elegant anglerfish (!), gyrating in such an absurd fashion that only true anglerfish fanciers would be aroused?
Oh, and top it off with a national tank-driving tournament (girls' schools-only, 'natch), the next opponent of which are the mighty fake-Americans in their mass-produced Shermans (themed to "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", of course).
Geez, I'm having so much fun watching this, next thing I know I'll be taking up World of Tanks. I wonder if they sell custom Anglerfish decals for the machines?
[Do the anglerfish dance on The Anime Network]
Muv Luv Alternative - Total Eclipse Episode 17
Finally, some more insight on Cryska and Inia! Via a mostly silent flashback, we see that the pair are roughly the same age and were both brought up in a Soviet lab. In fact, Cryska still on occasion has to hop into some sort of chamber filled with fluid for some mysterious "adjustments."
After some silly love triangle stuff with Yuuya, Yui and Cui, The Chinese take on the US and get their asses kicked. Afterwards, Yuuya bumps into Cryska and Inia on a walk. The trio go out into town to discuss something in secret. That somethings why Inia is attracted to Yuuya. Since he isn't a psychic, he isn't able to give Cryska an answer, but it's pretty clear that she's got the hots for him and doesn't have the experience to handle it. Yuuya interprets it as work related stress, which is enough to placate the nutty Cryska for now. The nice moment is ruined when Cui interrupts and scares off the twins. We also see that Yui was watching from a distant vantage point and is rattled from seeing Yuuya with some many other women.
Later at the local bar, Yuuya runs into Yui. Yuuya asks Yui to teach him how to use a sword right before they are interrupted by Kuze. After some snide words, Yuuya goes to leave, but Kuze stops him. There's something mentioned about Yuuya's past, which pisses off Yuuya. He nails Kuze and the two tussle in the bar. A group of MPs arrive to break things up, so the lot of them run out the back and vow to settle their fight with their TSFs.
[Check out Total Eclipse over at Crunchyroll!]
Shin Sekai Yori Episode 5
Who needs an opening song when you have blowdogs exploding? The dog leaves a giant crater, a ton of blades and a missing priest. The kids are now alone in a mysterious area without their PSY powers and are surrounded by the rabbit…things. The kids take off with the beasts in tow. Saki takes a tumble and finds that she can't run anymore. Satoru stays behind to help her, but they get themselves captured. After some uncomfortable sexual tension, Satoru gives one of the rabbit beasts an egg which kills the creature watching them. They escape and manage to find follow a voice leading them out into the mountains.
They fall into a cave and meet their savior: a creature name Squealer. They've found themselves in a colony of Robber Flys, which seem to be an offspring of some ancient experiments. Squealer seems to think that the kids are gods, which serves them well for now. Squealer takes them down to meet the queen, a hideous thing stuck behind a tent. After the queen offers the kids asylum, Squealer accidentally burns the tent and reveals the queen. She quickly wounds the offending Squealer, forcing Saki to step in and save him/it. As thanks, Squealer reveals the creatures chasing them were called Ground Spiders and have been a general nuisance to everybody in the area. Squealer asks for help, but the kids are unable to do anything with their powers sealed. That night, the Ground Spiders attack the Robber Fly colony, forcing Saki and Satoru to fight back. They get knocked out and end up in a tunnel, which collapses just in time for the episode to end.
[Get your PSY on over at Crunchyroll!]
Blast of Tempest Episode 4
The guys make it out to some backwater town to pick up some more talismans. Their peace is ruined by the rise of another fruit, which starts wrecking everything in the area and turning the citizens into iron. Yoshino and Mahiro decide to take refuge from the cold in a now empty house. … asks about how the two became friends, so Yoshino goes into flashback mode to tell their tale.
Mahiro was a snotty rich kid and Yoshino was a normal kid that dealt with his crappy attitude. After Mahiro was involved in an accident, Yoshino was forced to check up on his hurt classmate in the hospital. Mahiro ropes Yoshino into researching the guy who hurt him, as he believes it was an attempt on his life. While Yoshino tries to get out of it, Mahiro finds a way to force him into helping. While he isn't too happy about doing it, Yoshino does a helluva job and manages to find the identity of the culprit. After that, Yoshino was forced to stick to Mahiro and the two eventually became friends, despite their opposing personalities.
[You can watch Zetsuen no Tempest over at Crunchyroll!]
Hiiro no Kakera II Episode 5
Once again proving that this second season is vastly superior to the first, we finally get a few answers we've been waiting for and much-needed (good) drama.
1. Mitsuru and Shinji do have a thing for each other, except tragedy strikes when fierce grandma reveals they are actually twins. Very sad, but I like the drama. I didn't see that one coming, to be honest, despite their sorta similar face designs.
2. Suguru's intentions are still unclear, but he's powerful enough to whoop at least two guardians single-handedly and is now viewed as a good asset by the Logos. He spared Mahiro, but only to send a warning back to the others. Unfortunately, we still don't know what'll go on with the dog guy, though.
3. Takuma, though he means well, is a threat to Tamaki's life and has been sent away by grandma. It's also been made clear that Tamaki is definitely falling for him, which gives her yet another reason to fight the good fight a bit harder. I do question whether sending him away was truly necessary, though? Perhaps grandma just made it extra severe to get her gears grinding a bit.
Grandma spent this episode laying down the law, though I think it's far too little far too late. I've been 100% dissatisfied with her character from the beginning, who has offered no support for Tamaki whatsoever or even enlightened her on what she needs to do. She hasn't given Tamaki any kind of guidance on how to fully awaken as the Tamayori Princess, and she's withheld all kinds of other information from Tamaki and the guardians altogether, including the very important piece of information she revealed about Takuma this episode. Finally, she waited way too long to cruelly dismiss Shinji as a failure along with the information that he is Mitsuru's twin brother.
Overall, she's acted like a terrible human being and I don't know why she's being all mother hen now, sending everyone off to their rooms, and splitting up the group angrily. In the end, I hope she's got good reasons and some kind of redeeming moment to justify the means, but for now I don't approve.
[You can keep up with the action on Crunchyroll!]
The Pet Girl of Sakurasou Episode 4
Our main man is finally moving out...or is he?
Well I am pretty sure you can guess that answer, but it sure does make for a drama filled episode. Sorata is final ready to move out of the dorm. He only has a couple of cats left to find homes to and he is already packed up. It’s been a long tough four episodes so far for this brave lad. Really, how did he survive? You know that you would go crazy there too if you had to live with these crazy people. Or not, I don’t know you very well.
Meanwhile back at Shiina’s lair. Our manga artist in training is trying to finish her first manga for the competition. If she can succeed then her dreams will come true. If not, tears will flow from the heavens. OK, that last one was a bit much. Shiina does have a lot on her mind with Sorata leaving soon. You can see that it is tearing her up inside with her ice cold expressions. Seriously, can we get some emotions out of her? Everyone else in Sakurasou seems to have enough to go around. Why not pass some off to her? Well I am happy to say that we do get some emotion out of her by the end. Even thou it’s confusing to her.
The show is starting to get very sweet right now. I’m not sure if this trend will last another twenty episodes or not. Only time and my sanity will tell.
[Find yourself at Crunchyroll]
K Episode 4
Determined to prove his innocence to Kuro, Shiro scouts the school for evidence that will give him the perfect alibi. As Shiro, Kuro, and Neko play their little mystery game, the Crips and the Blood...er, I mean Blue Scepter and HOMRA are using their tracking skills to pinpoint Shiro's location.
If there was one major thing that came out of this episode, it's that we finally learned the truth about the murder. Unfortunately, the build up felt more like they were just teasing us as they made us go through a wild goose chase, since it was focusing on random flashbacks from the festival that occurred on that day.
While most of these segments were silly, none of them used the wonderful animation that brought most people into K in the first place. Though I will admit that I found most of Neko's antics to be amusing. Despite the lackluster sequences, I am still going to see this show till the very end.
On the bright side, next week sounds promising, since we might get a massive gang war and manhunt packed into one episode. If anything, episode four was just a setup; whereas the next episode will start pushing the series again. However, if they don't follow up on the mythos that we were introduced to last week, then there's a chance that K will dig its own grave.
[Join K in a wild goose chase at Viz Anime]
Space Bros. Episode 30
Aww, what's that? Apo didn't get obliterated by the thrusters on the rocket? Ah well, but the dogs attempts at escaping aren't without consequence, as Nanba ends up being abducted by a senile NASA employee. Yeah, I'm not quite sure what is going on either. Seems those on NASA payroll are given a license to do whatever they like. Also litter.
This episode was all about Nanba coming to terms and accepting the fact that his brother is going to space. While no fault of the show, all I could do was run through scenarios in my head where Hibito and the rest of the crew are killed in an accident and the show carries on. Come on, it would be so awesome! I'll even write the script!
Heads up for the next episode, as it'll be the one we hear the real-like astronaut in. Should be good!
[Space pugs can be found on Crunchyroll!]
Bakuman. 3 Episode 4
Poor Ashirogi. They can have a top five manga, a drama CD and a novelization, but they still can't get that anime they want. It was quite right of Hattori to shoot them down on the topic, but it does mean we're going to enter a Takagi emo phase again. You know, like the last one where he couldn't write anything. Woo.
On the flip side, it does mean we finally get to see more about the quiet kid helping Ashirogi with PCP, and more importantly, his dog. It's an interesting arc for sure, but I can't help but want it to hurry up so we can get onto the really good arc!
Also, Iwase needs to get it together. Do one thing, feel another. Stop being so damn tsundere already! Just drug Takagi and wheel him off somewhere if you care that much, geez.
Little Busters! Episode 4
Kud. As adorable as she seems, I can't help thinking about cows and chewing grass whenever I hear the name. Still, that Engrish is potent enough to melt hearts, and knowing this show, it might just happen, too. Hurry up and join the Little Busters already, your hat gets you a free pass.
Still, even though she showed up, this episode was very much about Komari and her mysterious book. Definitely getting flashbacks of Chobits with this whole thing, but it's different enough not to be much of a bother. A mysterious brother to an only child? A mysterious old man who is most definitely related to the author of the book? This can only end in sad face territory.
Good to see the whole crew working at the old peoples home, though. They may only have been a group for a few episodes, but there's some really interesting relationships developing. Great fun to watch!
Jormungand: Perfect Order Episode 3
Holy. Loco. This was only the third episode! Those who were doubting the pace and action content of this show can now rest easy knowing that Jormungand is going further than the previous series, and they don't even dare to think about holding back either. R may have been a spy, but he's probably the nicest spy that could ever have graced the company of Koko and friends.
As for the episode itself, we get gunfights, standoffs, bombing runs and tearful cliff scenes. What more could you possibly want? We barely know R, let's be honest, but the whole episode even had me experiencing the feels by the conclusion.
Most interestingly, we get to see how Koko reacts to this stuff now. Bombing an entire strip in Iraq just to kill three survivors? She's definitely dedicated to her job, but more importantly, it shows how she cares for her friends, spy or not. I can't even begin to think what she would have done if Jonah had been caught or worse.
Hidamari Sketch x Honeycomb Episode 3
Sleepover! Big plans! Giant storm that is out there to rain on your chances of doing anything fun. Yep, it seems that this episode is set in the UK, as the rain has managed to shut down absolutely everything. Also, the girls are also terrible at keeping food in their cupboards. Lucky ol' fatty downstairs has food! Poor Hiro, it is just a little bit rude that the girls assumed she'd have food. Nice to see a cameo of sorts from the landlady.
After starting school again, it's time for earthquake drills! Nice to know that Nazuna has no chance of survival, as she's way more worried about taking a leak in a bush than leaving a potentially burning building. Priorities smiorities! I must admit, I did crack up when the principal was being raised by the fire truck. But then, pretty much anything that guy does will make me laugh.
Principal 4 lyfe, yo.