Welcome to the latest edition of Annotated Anime, the now-on-Thursdays weekly anime recap that goes up when it goes up because the schedule this summer sucks. Has Japan never heard of Tuesdays?!
Anyway, the season's getting under way as we're mostly done introducing our coverage slate, as well as sending off last season's leftovers (check 'em below), and boy is our plate full! We've got recaps of Sword Art Online, Yuru Yuri, Phi Brain, Space Bros., Dog Days Prime, WHO IS IMOUTO?!, Humanity Has Declined, Accel World, AKB0048, Hyouka, Eureka 7 AO Muv Luv, Gundam AGE, Moyashimon, Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate!, Eureka Seven: AO, Hyouka, and Tari Tari
Sword Art Online Episode 2
And off we go! Episode 2 of SAO picks up a month after the end of last week's joint, with over 2,000 players having already been killed by the homicidal MMORPG. Kirito has managed to make his way to the next town over, where a group of more experienced players are trying to work together toward beating the first boss of the game. People begin to form parties and our lonely hero finds himself without anybody to partner up with... except for the other loner sitting across from him; a girl named Asuna. He briefly finds himself in a tough spot when one of the players calls out the Beta testers, claiming that it's their fault for not helping the new players and effectively letting them die. Fortunately a few other players manage to get everybody to cool down by explaining that the handbooks they all received are filled with information that the Beta testers specifically gathered for the new folks. D'aw.
The battle against the boss starts and things seem to be going swimmingly until it enters its final form. Now wielding a sword and significantly more powerful, the leader and all around good guy Diabel charges in on his own. Caught off guard by an unexpected attack, Diabel is struck down in front of Kirito. It's revealed that Diabel was also a Beta tester and was aiming to get the bonus given to players for defeating the boss. He begs Kirito to take down the massive monster, before dying. In one final attack, Kirito and Asuna team up and take down the boss in style. Unfortunately, most of the players end up turning on our hapless hero, holding him responsible for their leader's death.
Kirito dons his new loot, a black coat that makes him look like a total baller, and goes crazy man on the rest of the players. He claims that he made it much farther than any of the Beta testers and puts on a persona that could best be described as "Fuck you." He parts ways, leaving Asuna and the few others who were on his side confused and worried.
Keep in mind that I haven't touched the novels that SAO is being adapted from, so any kind of content being cut is a moot point currently. As it stands, I really enjoyed episode two and the brisk pace the series seems to be taking. I'm getting a good feel for the world and characters, even if it makes me sad that Kirito is pretty much forcing himself to be some kind of villain. The fight sequences were pretty spectacular as well and the music continues to be filled with awesome sauce. I'm really looking forward to seeing where this goes next.
[Catch Sword Art Online over at Crunchyroll]
Dog Days' Episode 2
Since the great and powerful Tolentino demands it, this series will go by the name of Dog Days Prime when it is mentioned during this segment. If anything, we are doing you guys a favor by making this series more distinguishable from its first season.
Biscotti seems to have the upper hand with Cinque back in the game, but it looks like Galette has one more trick up their sleeves. Could this new trick allow Galette to turn the match around? As exiting as this match up is turning out, we get some outside interference during the match. And here it is, we have a over the top magical transformation sequence that almost crosses the line, but you have to admit that it was quite the show. With a three-way match up, this is going to be one heck of a season.
If you were here during the last game, then you know that things are only going to get more fun from here on out. Dog Days Prime has successfully established its tone from the start and I think we are going to continue down this new path. On a different note, I find it silly that Crunchyroll's sub refers to the main hero as Sink instead of Cinque. Could this be a translation error, or is it another possible translation for his name.
[You can keep up with all of Dog Days Prime's chaos at your reserved seat at Crunchyroll]
Nakaimo Episode 2
Personally I like my harem anime with a healthy dose of the absurd, and by that I don't mean the plant-face-in-boobies kind of absurd or the roundhouse-kicked-into-the-vanishing-point kind of absurd. Granted that is probably okay when used sparingly, but my flavor of the absurd has to be a little more wacky and creative than that, this many years after Love Hina.
Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imouto ga Iru!, or WHO IS IMOUTO? (my favorite), or just Nakaimo (we'll stick to this one), thankfully has more than just planting-face-into-boobs or walk-into-naked-girl-in-shower sort of gags. It's got the inject-her-with-this-syringe-so-she-will-salivate-uncontrollably kind of gag--my kind of gag. The frank and refreshing, cross-dressing ninja/bodyguard aside, what I like perhaps even more is how in episode 2 we are laid upon even more layers of exposition and things are finally coming into focus.
The big reveal in the end of this week's Nakaimo probably puts Miyabi back on top in the "who is main character's sister" leaderboard, but there have been a couple red herring, such as the stalker in the witches hat from the last episode's cliffhanger. It's good that they put it to rest quickly and swiftly. And it's when you try to verbally recap just one episode of this show you realize they've gone through a lot of material in just 22 or so minutes. More over, you begin to doubt yourself as to how will this story actually play out.
The student council dance ball event took place this week, and through that Nakaimo has now formally introduced to us all the harem girls in the running. The two student council heads certainly has what it takes to round out this set of girls, but their casual entry to the mix keeps them merely in the background for the time being.
The thing is, even if at this point Tendou is all over Shougo, she doesn't have that figurative "one true pairing" spotlight on her. It really is anyone's game--at least between Miyabi, Tendou and probably Sagara, when it comes to the sister guessing situation. This week's Nakaimo had just that right amount of unpredictability and wildness to keep things entertaining. That's more than what you can ask for in this genre nine out of ten times, even if it still makes you witness a face-plant into a pair of breasts.
[Now fresh from Crunchyroll!]
Muv-Luv Alternative - Total Eclipse Episode 3
Well, things get off to a rather exciting start when two TSF's get into a dog fight as a military plane carrying two male transfers, Vincent and Yuuya, reaches the Yukon base. Yuuya jumps into the cockpit and manages to keep the the plane from getting taken out by the squabbling TSFs. Unfortunately, one of the TSF pilot's isn't so lucky and crashes near the base while the presumable aggressor flies off. We're given a quick rundown of Yukon base: it's an area where expats who have lost their countries to the BETA can work on new TSF's as part of Project Prominence. Also, they're goal is to bring the best pilots from each nation together to hopefully create new and better weapons for the fight.
Meanwhile, Yui runs into the aggressor TSF pilots see earlier while looking for the command post. When Yui makes it to general command, she meets the new pilots, including Yuuya and Tarisa Manandal, the gal who lost the dogfight. This group is called Argos Flight and they're working on the XFJ Project, which was put together to improve some of the Japanese TSFs. They prepare for a training exercise while Yuuya ruminates on the multi-national nature of their group, showing off a bit of good ol' fashioned American racism.
While preparing for their scramble, Tarisa switches places with Yuuya after being a general pain in the ass. In particular, Yuuya gives up a stronger TSF to Tarisa in favor of a unit he's more familiar with. The difference in the strength of the mechs doesn't matter, as Yuuya is the superior pilot and maneuvers Tarisa into getting shot by his partner. Despite Yuuya's initial dickery, he seems to have bonded with his teammates. However, Yuuya seems to have not made a great impression on Yui, as she takes a verbal shot at him as the two pass in the hallway.
After the intensity of the first two episodes, it was nice to get a quick break and develop some characters. Unlike the intro, we actually get names and backgrounds for some people. On top of that, the TSF skirmishes were well choreographed and animated. Hell, other currently running mecha shows COUGHCOUGHGUNDAMAGECOUGH could take a thing or two from this.
Mobile Suit Gundam AGE Episode 40
Hey, what happens when you bust up your Gundam after being captured by the enemy whilst being an absolute idiot? You get yourself a new shiny upgrade, that's what! Yep, Kio gets into the Gundam AGE-FX and joins the Federation's attack on their former Lunar base. Kio launches into battle talking about how he's going to fight his own way, which probably means he'll pull some stupid move in the future that will cost dozens of lives. He expresses a similar sentiment to Flit later in the episode, leading to a needle-scratch moment that cracked me up.
Anyway, time jumps back to a month prior and we see Kio and Asemu have their reunion. Kio doesn't delay in asking the major question: Why the hell did you not let us know you were alive? Well, he doesn't answer it on screen, but Kio does tell him about everything he saw on Second Moon. Dad-of-the-Year says that the Vagan have gone beyond the point of diplomacy with Earth, but he'll do what he can. That probably means he'll run off and disappear for another decade or so when people need him. ZING!
Anyway, Asemu brings his son back and enjoys a reunion with the rest of his family, including his grouchy pops. Flit and Asemu have an awkward chat, which has Asemu reveal that he was gravely injured 13 years prior and saved by the pirates. While recovering, he learned about the Federations actions which pushed the Vagan into war. He reveals that he's been keeping large-scale conflicts from breaking out by stealing important info and resources from both the Vagan and the Federation. Well, it's certainly A plan, if not a good one. Actually, it's pretty idiotic, but that's par for the course for AGE.The engineers on the Diva try to figure out what to do with the ruined AGE. Of course, the AGE System has something cookin', which means it'll get the usual plot-required upgrade.
So back to present time, the battle begins. Kio shows that his way of fighting the way involves not killing any of the pilots despite having a RIDICULOUS advantage. I'm astounded that the idiot child is given control of a suit that powerful. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Flit is prepared to use a massive missile to destroy the Lunar base with all the Vagan inside. The old man's vengeance has definitely reached a tipping point toward callus disregard for life. The Vagan try to fire off a couple missiles of their own, but Kio's C-Funnels take care of that. Zeheart seems to be preparing for some sort of big counter attack as the episode comes to a close.
On one side, you got a naive child that isn't willing to use the force necessary to end a conflict and on the other side you got an old, bitter man that is prepared to use way too much force to stop everything. Yikes. Well, at least the AGE-FX looks pretty awesome and is a force to be reckoned with. To bad its pilot is a moron.
Yuru Yuri ♪♪ Episode 3
The yuri/tsundere levels in this episode are too damned high! Ah, that's a lie. I remember mentioning in the first impressions article about this show that this wasn't really a yuri at all, rather a comedy that plays with the concept. Well, this episode could very well have changed my opinion on it.
Sure, there was yuri beforehand. This was pretty much limited to both Chinatsu and Ayano, and they were also both one-sided crushes. Now, there had also been hints about feelings between both Sakurako and Himawari, and while nothing is ever going to be explicitly confirmed, this is pretty much on the same level as denying that Kagami wasn't totally in love with Konata in Lucky Star. Yeah, I said it.
That aside, the comedy was still at a nice high level like the past two episodes. We finally got that 'TOSHINOU KYOUKO!' we'd been waiting for, plus plenty of tsundere action in the form of Valentine's Day. Oh, there was also that dangerous and perhaps twincestuous scene at the end, but we'll let that slide right?
I realise that anyone not watching this would probably be put off by all of the above, but damn if I'm not enjoying this series just as much as the first! Consider it a guilty pleasure!
[These schoolgirl shenanigans can be observed for educational purposes on Crunchyroll!]
Phi Brain Season 2 Episode 15
Lotte was alone in this world. His parents were snatched away from him before he had the chance to remember their faces, and the orphanages passed him on to one another like the baggage he felt like. That is until he met someone who didn't care about his past. Someone who understood and cared for him like any kind-hearted person would. These human qualities were eventually found in an old golden retriever, of all places. Lotte didn't mind; he was just glad to finally have a friend.
They would play together, go on adventures and keep each other warm on the harsh streets. No one would keep eye contact long enough to start caring about the child's well-being, but it also meant there was no one to separate them. This was fine too. They were happy in each others company, and would be for quite some time.
Lotte and Rummy were enjoying themselves by playing in a nearby field, something they liked to do to celebrate securing another days food, when they were approached by a young lady. She had a very smart appearance, definitely that of a rich girl, but there was something strange about her. It wasn't just that she was being friendly, but rather that she was actually talking to the boy and the dog. Lotte wondered to himself just how long it had been since someone had offered even light conversation instead of streams of abuse, but then she said something. Something completely out of line. Something about Rummy.
The young child was filled with anger. The old dog was the only one in the world that would show any form of kindness while expecting nothing in return. He was better than any good-natured human, so why was this witch so heartless? She apologised swiftly, claiming that to make up for her wrongdoing, she would introduce them both to her close friends. The next thing he knew, he was tied to an operating table. There were needles and tubes forcing their way into the boys arms and legs, but all he could think about was where Rummy was. They filled the boy with so many chemicals and oddities that he was barely thinking straight, but the thoughts he could manage were concerned about the safety of his dear friend. They finished up, giving him a strange gold wristband to monitor his vitals with, then led him by the hand to where Rummy was.
The men in white promised the boy that he could go back to the way things were, but only if he do one small thing. All he had to do was stand on a stone slab and urge the poor dog to race what they called an 'evil man'. He had no choice but to win, as the evil man would apparently do even worse things to both him and the dog. This wasn't an option. The golden retriever was clearly in pain, the drugs taking their toll on his old and worn body, but still he raced. He wasn't racing to save himself, but to save Lotte. It was all in vain.
The dog gave up, resting his heavy head on the cold hard floor of the makeshift arena. The witch, who had overlooked this terrible ordeal, merely turned her nose at the less than satisfactory results. The evil man stopped too, but it was far too late. Rummy made it back to Lotte's side one last time, but the experiment was too much for him. Tears streamed from the boys eyes, but only because crying was all he could do in the situation. He'd lost the one friend he had in this world, all on the word from a stranger. He didn't even need more friends, because he had Rummy. He had Rummy. The evil man reached into his pocket and handed the boy a sharp, metal object. He turned his back and left, while the boy slowly left his old friend's side and trudged slowly back to the labs.
[You could watch this on Crunchyroll, or you could not]
Space Bros. Episode 16
I think I was correct with my JAXA prediction from last week, as it seems there are plenty of candidates with hidden agendas. Pretty sensible of them too, I think. Would you like that guy in Phoenix Wright's pod losing it in space, just because some random alarm is going off? Also, he has no chance of passing, as I'm sure JAXA has figured him out already.
Now that the chimp guy has his own secret agenda, it seems he's stopped caring about accusing Namba of breaking the clock. I mean, why would he if he knows there was more than likely and order to do so? It's bad news for the other three members, as I'm sure tempers are going to flare with the oncoming food issue.
I should have mentioned this before, but can we actually get some space photos at the end of these episodes? You know, like you say they are, rather than pictures of officials on strange planets similar to Earth.
[This show is blasting off again via Crunchyroll]
Moyashimon Episode 2
Looks like Oikawa is determined to figure out what that stairwell she saw leads to. As determined as she is, did she really have to drag poor Sawaki with her? The poor boy needs his rest. Anyways, we are off to do some research on the tunnels of Tokyo. There is a tiny bit of history here that you might not know about. Doesn’t really go into detail but this is a good thing because we don’t have much time for it. We also branch off a bit into biofuels. Just seems a bit off but I can understand how it fits within the stories flow. We never really have a straight path here.
The microbes are in boot camp to make miso. Telling you how much of a staple it is in Japan and how it is great for you to eat it every day. No arguments here! The next food related thing that we learn about is the difference in rice vinegar and cooking sake. Which, are both made from sake. Never knew that vinegar was so easy to make and once you start the process, you never look back or disturb it. It even mixes itself!
Going back to the story, the ladies are in need of a bath. They head over to the boys bath which is close by. So what do you think all these young college men want to do when two lovely ladies are naked in their bath? There is only one problem. The ground that is under them outside the window gives way to an underground tunnel. Oikawa and Sawaki check to see where it goes to find out that it leads to the school. This is actually sparking my interest now why there is a hidden doorway downstairs.
Microbe Theater: Mirin
[Fermenting at Crunchyroll]
Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate Episode 2
So after the episode, I’m still in the dark about most of this show. I mean, we know the basic premise as club going to be disbanded; someone from the club goes out to be student president, wins and saves the club. Easy, right? Not so much because we have a large gaping hole in all of this. What the heck is going on in the student council right now? Why is it that the president has guards around him to protect him from getting hurt? Who is going to hurt him and why? This is a heck of a school that all this is taking place. As of right now, I have no real theory on what will come of all of this. Do you guys have a clue?
Besides all that, we have Chisato and her problem with chocolate. Which we can now tell is linked to something in the past happening. She is not allergic to it or doesn’t like the taste of it. She just can’t eat it. Judging by what we have seen so far, it looks like a little brother or some other family member was killed and chocolate has something to do with it. Even at the end of the episode she is eating vicariously through Oojima.
This brings me to another small beef. What is it about the comedy to drama ratio? It’s a rollercoaster of emotions all over the place! One minute we are laughing at slapstick comedy and then we are getting deep with philosophy. On top of that, they save the most wrenching for the last part of the episode. Kind of a bad aftertaste with the comedy. Here is an example of how I feel watching this show; “Haha, that’s funny! Hmmm...they make a good point. Haha! Why is this happening? Oh, I see what you did there. I’m sad now...”
AKB0048 Episode 12
The drama ramps up as the understudies finally get a concert all to themselves. Problem is, Nagisa's lost her voice because her dad's been imprisoned for having a kid in the dreaded AKB0048. Very North Korea, these DES folks. They step up the fighting and everyone is forced into an emergency retreat. As they go, the crazy camera lady from the beach episode detects a new kirara for the first time, apparently spawned as Yuuka said goodbye to her newly wota-fied boyfriend.
Given the way things are going, I think I'm getting an idea as to how this show'll end. Tell me if you think I'm on the wrong track.
My money's on this: By the end, the understudies get promoted, but do not become successors. Instead they are the first girls in AKB0048's history (since the AKB48 days) to be known by their names, not the names they succeed. The succession system is abolished and the current successors retake their old names.
I'm betting on this one, or a variation of this one, since it puts the understudies, who are voiced by actual AKB48 members, in the spotlight as something unique from everyone else. Further, it shows a return to the glory days of AKB48.
The one thing I can't account for is the whole "Center Nova" position thing. Neither Nagisa nor Chieri, arguably the main leads, seem especially interested in or qualified for getting the role. Bringing it back is Yuko's goal.
Anyone have ideas?
Accel World Episode 14
With a new OP and ED (the latter of which is almost creepily Snow Black-focused) comes a new antagonist, and he's a doozy. Blackmail, wanting to turn Chiyu into a "slave", hidden camera and hacking hijinks, and a duel avatar that has its own tentacle raper arm?! I doubt this guy will be joining the cast once he gets trashed.
Also, Snow Black promising to forward pictures of her meals to Haru is awfully cute, though continuing to harp on Haru's being fat because of an unhealthy lifestyle rather than being a Doraemon refugee threatens Accel World's position on the moral high ground.
[Watch kids eat pizza on FUNimation]
Humanity Has Declined Episode 3
Though the show initially seems to weave a cute tale about the history of Comiket twisted along fujoshi/BL-fandom lines, but really, it's more a commentary on how subcultures start, and stops just short of indicting subcultures for homogeneity, trend-hounding, infighting and, above all things, making the creative industry beholden to it.
The message borders on contempt. If you like this show because it appeals to that which caters to your subcultural needs, you're part of the problem. If you don't like this show or find it offensive for telling you you're awful, you're a tasteless philistine. And if you see the message and appreciate it, you're the worst of all because you're not creative enough to make your own anime about the decline of humanity. Please buy the blu-rays and hug pillows.
When it comes down to it, Humanity Has Declined is about whatever the creators think is causing humanity to decline today, and since it's an otaku-targeted anime, most of the causes are otaku. It's a Dai Sato or Yamakan opinion piece in pastel colors and creepy :D expressions. I wouldn't be surprised if one day the show just exploded into a Network-style rant against the status quo.
Mind, this is a good thing. Having at least one anime approach any kind of critical depth is a massive boon. But man, there's a level of cynicism on display here that would depress if the show weren't so cute and if Miyuki Sawashiro weren't breathing her way through her role as Y, post-apocalyptic fujoshi pioneer. I guess I'm part of the problem?
[Get slightly depressed but still entertained on Crunchyroll]
Eureka Seven: AO Episode 13
It's been three months into Eureka Seven: AO and only now does the story actually feel like a true successor to the original. It seemed like, even when sharing themes, people, mythology and names, this anime was a different breed of sci-fi compared to Psalms of Eureka Seven... one that you'd be hard to liken to without the name attached.
While I'm still coming to terms with AO giving a fresh approach to something old, I'm really glad that this latest episode felt like it was pulled straight out of the first series. Ao was more reserve / less annoying around his mother, the story is finally tying up together, and Eureka is a nice change of pace compared to every other uninteresting side character.
Other than that, the animation took a nice bump up this week, and we got to see some action, too. When I first watched this show, my expectation was that the franchise would come together within the first few episodes. Now that this anime can screw around with their fans, I'm hoping for some really crazy things to happen that mixes the best of both Eureka Sevens together.
Hyouka Episode 13
Another episode, another day down at the school festival.
Instead of feeling frustrated like I did with the last few episodes of Hyouka, I'm really enjoying this arc so far as we bounce back and forth with our main characters as they each tackle a different problem. With Satoshi helping advertise the clubs anthology, Chitanda trying to get approval from other clubs for promotion, Ibara having internal problems in her Manga Society Club and Houtarou struggling to find peace and quiet, the four are looking at a pretty hectic day, with more issues and drama looming around the corner as they get to do it all over again the next day, something that's kind of rare in this series.
I really do love it when Hyouka surprises the audience like this, as a show as beautiful and polished as this really benefits from having, you know... actual content and not mini-mysteries to feed from. I'm looking forward to the next episode, and hopefully the one after that will keep this anime going strong for the second half of the season.
Tari Tari Episode 3
I DONT UNDERSTAND HOW THE ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL IS SUCH A BITCH! It's mind-blowing how much she tries to act just like the most uptight, superficial buttslut to the point that it's almost incredicble! Super-fucking-incredible! The utter lack of caring or sense of anything but athority is foreign to this Serious Sally, so now that she's temporarily looking after Konatsu's club, I'm more than certain that she's going to murder and eat a student with all of the built-up hate inside of her
But any hate she has towards Konatsu is the only time I can cheer her on, because inadvertently or otherwise, the Assistant Principal has been screwed over properly by our main characters. I wouldn't be surprised if last weeks Choir incident was all an elaborate ploy by Konatsu to get her spoiled ass a moment in the spotlight alone, Breaking Bad-style, or some shit.. She must've rigged the Principal's bike to blow up or some shit, then she stole the main act from original school choir's Main Act before upstaging them. I wouldn't be surprised if all the other school choir students think of Konatsu and the gang as conniving bitches; they sure deserve that title, after all. It's NOT okay for them to be the heroes in this situation: they cheated their way to the top and stole someone else's thunder.
Or at the very least, that's what I'm going to believe what happened... it sure as tits would made things a lot more interesting for this show.
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