Welcome to the latest edition of Annotated Anime, your prime purveyor of positivity, perversity, and purdy cartoons from across the Pacific!
This week our racks are full to bursting with recaps aplenty, including the latest episodes of Robotics;Notes, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Space Bros., Magi, Psycho Pass, Haganai NEXT, Tamako Market, Vividred Operation, Maoyu, The Pet Girl of Sakurasou, AKB0048, Senran Kagura, and Amnesia!
So get on below to read our thoughts on the latest developments, then tell us yours in the comments!
Magi Episode 21
Alibaba and co find themselves sucked into the new dungeon, a strange place covered in plants and even weirder animals. Our heroes start opening doors left and right, and soon discover that these odd creatures have made this place their home and intend to defend it against intruders. The always dependable Mor manages to find a door leading deeper into the dungeon, and leads everyone to the next area. More odd beasts surface, but Aladdin, Mor, and Alibaba handle them with no problem. Hakuryuu on the other hand is feeling underpowered and generally useless. He can't stand the fact that he keeps getting saved over and over again. The mysterious human-hating djinn who runs the place splits the group into pairs; Aladdin with Alibaba, and Mor with Hakuryuu.
The Kou Empire prince finally gets a chance to show off his unique talents, but it's not enough to finish off the thick skinned golems that are attacking. Mor takes care of it with her brute strength, and Hakuryuu passes out on the ground. He wakes up to find that Alibaba and Aladdin have returned safely, and then promptly breaks down into tears at his own uselessness. Refusing to accept any words of comfort, he turns to Alibaba and tells him to stop pretending to be sincere: Hakuryuu is certain that the Balbadd prince holds a grudge against him.
Of course, that's not actually the case. Alibaba sheds his own tears as he tells Hakuryuu of the friend and people he failed to save because he had refused to accept help for so long. The two young men manage to iron things out, and a new brolationship is born.
Oh cool, looks like Magi briefly got its budget back! The action was plentiful and decently animated, save for the awkward looking fight against the eyeball bunnies. Though sadly, the soundtrack continues to be a non-presence. Hakuryuu is a fantastic character that serves as a solid juxtaposition to Alibaba's own internal strife, and I'm glad he managed to sneak his way into the anime adaptation. I'm looking forward to seeing how A-1 handles the next few weeks of content.
[Catch Magi over at Crunchyroll]
The Pet Girl of Sakurasou episode 21
Damn you Sakurasou! I didn't need all these feelings!
We are just going downhill fast, so fast in fact that I don’t even see a bit of a happy ending so far. Sorata and Aoyama have emotional breakdowns during this episode hence why all the feelings. It’s rough to see to people try so hard only to not make it when you know they deserve it. Aoyama worked as hard as she could for two years only to fail the audition. Sorata’s game didn't pass the final round because of another rhythm game got the go ahead first. It wasn't really that it was a bad game but the timing of when it was presented was off. Then, on top of all that, the signatures for Sakurasou fell short by a lot. I don’t think they are going to get their time in front of the board to speak their piece. So as it is right now, it’s goodbye Sakurasou.
This has turned into a way different anime from the first half of the season. It was all slapstick comedy to start out with then it has turned into this drama filled story. Now I like both sides of the coin, but it can be really hard on viewers expecting something different. I know I was taken aback by everything that has transpired so far. The finish to the show draws near and I will be glad that it will finally be over. For better or for worse.
[Cry it out at Crunchyroll]
Tamako Market episode 8
Diet time for Dera.
Looks like our pudgy little friend is too big for the house that Kanna made for him. That’s what happens when you eat too much mochi all the time. First thing to do is limit his food intake. What a harsh thing to do to anyone, taking their food away. If I were to diet like that, I would have to find ways of staying busy so that I’m not thinking about food. Grandpa put it best in the episode with having an empty stomach is the most painful thing in the world. I couldn't agree with you more, Grandpa. Also in this episode Choi goes to school and goes cloth shopping with the girls. Not really a whole lot to report on that.
The show has still kept with the overall moe-ness that is keeping me still watching it. Cuteness aside, the overall prince story is kind of wearing thin. Actually during most of the episode I wasn't even thinking about it. It is so far in the background that it’s almost invisible. Realistically I’m happy just watching the day to day life of the people in the market. The prince story doesn't do a thing for me anymore.
[Slim down at Anime Network]
Senran Kagura episode 9
One scroll lost plus one student.
Hibari turns into a puppet for the dark side and steals the super secret ninja art scroll! This is awful! How could Hibari let herself do that? Oh right, she’s an idiot. It’s not hard to trick someone when they don’t have a whole lot going on upstairs. Hibari does feel bad for what has happened and decides to infiltrate the dark side to get the scroll back. Now it becomes a rescue mission.
This is just getting hard to watch. It could be the pacing or the directing or something else altogether. There is just something wrong about this show and I can’t quite put my finger on it. The animation quality keep going up and down as well which makes me feel like it was a rushed job. I’m not feeling the “love” so to speak. What people have expected, in a show like this, is actually its biggest downfall. The story is about the only thing solid going for it so far. Hopefully that will take me the rest of the way home.
[Off to the dark side at Funimation]
Vividred Operation Episode 8
There are a list of common mecha design elements that always get me excited. Funnels are one towards the top of the list. Variable sweep wings are something a lot of us who lived through the 80s will find attractive. Vector thrusting is a newer concept but resonates with many. Still, one thing that gets all of us excited is a dynamic, last-minute, mid-combat upgrade that saves the day. Vividred Operation does exactly that with a sweet pair of wings that is made from Akane's Naked Rang. I think it's the kind of magical thing kids do when they play with toys. They think up new and creative ways to use them, in a way that is totally not how you're suppose to use them.
While I derived a lot of pleasure from this week's Vividred Operation from the inner mecha nerd, I think most of us are happier seeing the girls going up against a real challenge. More of us are probably excited about the way the local defense force whips out Vividred's version of the nuke. It's definitely not fancy-looking like those Evangelion N2 bombs but the two shows share a lot of similarities, from the iconic line of tanks to the oddly acrobatic combat sequences, shoving bombs into an odd and mysterious black creature.
As for character and story development, I see this week's episode as the ultimate climax of what the series has achieved in terms of its cache of emotional attachments and showing us how the girls behave in this odd combo, when missing its spiritual center and against a tough challenge with much at stake. Vividred Operation is now at a place where it can take the story and go a number of places with how Rei's story plays out. Hopefully that's what we will see from here on out.
At the same time, at least we know Japan will gladly protect the energy supply of the world by sacking its greatest city. Vividred Operation also continues a slow trend of replacing Tokyo Tower with Tokyo Skytree as the antenna for destruction, as the respective law of anime might finally need a rewrite.
Psycho-Pass Episode 19
This week didn't deliver a terribly exciting episode of Psycho-Pass, but it did leave me with a feeling that all hell is going to break loose next week. The party's been split up with each remaining team member finding time to get their detective juices flowing and trying to anticipate the next move of their target. Who's going to catch who first?
I get a feeling that the Sybil System is now targeting Akane with her unique brain. Will she be tempted to join in the brain farm? I hope that we finally get to see Ginoza break down. I know he's kind of the tragic character of the series, but I'm just itching to see him cut loose a bit, and let his Crime Coefficient flow! We've also been sorely lacking any Yayoi story since her episode, I'm hoping that's not it for her screen time for the show.
It looks as if we are finally entering the home stretch for this fantastic show. If anything the newest episode showed that they haven't flushed the production quality down the tubes. After the artistic debacle that was episode 18, I'm glad to see they took the criticism seriously and fixed the art work. Not the best episode as far as quality is concerned, but perhaps they're saving their budget for an action packed show down! Are we going to see Yayaoi and Shion make out or what?!
[Get your Crime Coefficient checked over at Hulu]
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Episode 21
Lisa Lisa. Damn. If I was left thinking for a second that she was weak and vulnerable after that bath scene, she completely destroyed that notion with one swoop. Swish, even. Whereas it may have felt that both the Hamon Master and our titular JoJo were quickly over Caesar's death, the three second scene of Joseph acknowledging the stone cross that covered his friend's corpse showed that it was a simple act put on by the two. They have no time.
The Pillar Men really enjoy making deals and now it has been decided who shall fight who. So first up is Wham and JoJo, riding chariots pulled by vampire horses. Oh. Yes. So yes, quite a bit of the episode was preparation. Included in that preparation was JoJo going back to get the stone — and trying to sneak a peek at Lisa Lisa's underwear. Turns out she's not just some lady. This is the girl Erina saved. Straights raised her. Hmm.
Space Bros. Episode 47
Not a very eventful episode really, which is kind of a shame. The fact that we're winding down a little likely means that this series is going to shoot straight past fifty episodes, which is fine, but let's keep up that nice pace we had before, please?
We do learn a lot about ol' Ninja, as he seems to bring back the reality to Mutta and his current dreamy way of thinking. It makes sense that there would be astronauts that are trained yet never get the opportunity to go on a mission, and with the fella being so young, it's not at all surprising. It's good to see Mutta realise that his brother is quite the exception, and he isn't just getting fast tracked to the moon.
We also meet an Indian astronaut who can tell fortunes. I'll leave that big can of worms alone, and instead focus on Nitta and his insistence that he does not have a younger brother. You can tell by his reaction that he does, but we'll find out more about that in due course, no doubt.
[Space pugs can be found on Crunchyroll!]
Little Busters! Episode 21
Twenty one episodes in. We've got our typical Key tearjerker moment, and boy did it strike with some force. Komari's story was very sad, and the twins didn't exactly have the best childhood story, but there's something about Kud, her innocent way of life and the horror of what happens that really drove a knife through me. We knew something was coming, but wow. I feel a bit broken.
I suppose the strange thing about it all is that when she mentions that this big event is about to happen, you know immediately what is going to play out. Things were going to go bad, this is Key we're talking about, so I'd be surprised if anyone didn't see it coming. It seems that it didn't matter, as I'm positive that everyone watching this episode has had their soul crushed even a little.
I'm not going to go as far as to say this was a masterpiece or writing gold, but I'll commend the perfect execution. Now to see how this gets resolved, because I'll be honest, I have no idea how you would even start. Good luck Riki, you'll need it.
[Wafu! Nano desu Crunchyroll]
Amnesia Episode 9
So I pretty much accepted the crappy circumstances this week up until the point when Toma puts Sad Sack in a cage. Seriously, did we need to take things that far? How ridiculous. I don't have much to say about it this week, especially since this stupid girl didn't even get upset or tell him he's being unfair and a dumbass.
I'm just hoping this arc is over next week when she hopefully gets to her diary. Or maybe Ikki will break her face or something. Either way is fine with me.
[Catch Amnesia streaming on Crunchyroll!]
Haganai NEXT Episode 8
Alright so, this week we didn't really get any answers, except that Kodaka is fully aware of what's going on with some of the girls. I did like that Sena got in Yozora's face about something, though. She went over the top again -- trying to model the film after real life, at first drawing a good script but with roles everyone was not satisfied with, then mucking it up to the point that Sena had to tell her she needs to move on with her life.
The episode had a nice ending, though. I'm kind of glad that Yozora spoke up and told Kodaka she wanted to just hang out one-on-one with him, and she doesn't seem to want anything romantic out of it. It's a weird sort of relationship - to be possessive of someone for their attention and affection, but not so much like to be lovers. I loved the scene in the cat cafe, too. It'd been a while since we'd seen Yozora actually seem happy about something. Refreshing, really.
I'm not really sure what to expect this season any more, though. Next episode will see a new character, or something? I've been wondering what that red-haired person in the opening was all about. Or is it one of the regulars, like Rika, in a new hairdo again? By the way, Rika looked pretty adorable cosplaying as Kobato this time around.
Oh, and what was up with the artwork this week? Pretty big downgrade from the usual quality - can't quite put my finger on it. Some of the proportions were way more off than usual, some of the expressions looked different, and the drawings more angular. Didn't like it - I hope it goes back to normal next week.
[Catch Haganai streaming at FUNimation]
Maoyu episode 9
In our world, His Holiness may have stepped down from Peter's Throne, but whoever's in charge of Big Religion in Maoyu's fantasy-land has yet to quit, as his (or her) heresy-declaring special ability is the prime mover (and shaker) behind the events of this week.
Once, the Crimson Scholar, the Hero and their allies in world-changing once operated in peace and impunity, spreading potatoes and crop rotation like the Next Big Thing. This week, the Church of the Light Spirit's decision to declare her teachings and the Gospel of Spud as blasphemous puts a damper on the whole affair, an Inquisition-shaped one. But, with Scholar Actual still out renewing her Demon King license, the burden (and the flail) falls upon the shoulders and back of Big Sister Maid, because apparently only she has the literacy, body type, and facial structure to pull off that "Scholarly" look in both trade negotiations and public humiliations.
But all's well that ends well, and for the moment, at least, things do end well. The Winter King grows a spine, the people of the Winter Kingdom keep their crop-guru, the Lady Knight gets an upgrade to Potential Antipope (sort of), the Big Sister Maid gets to rattle off a big cheesy speech about Freedom and Choice that she's clearly been composing with her entire existence, and the Hero gets the first actual taste of the world that he's been working to build: a world that doesn't need the likes of him.
[If only our world had a Hero! Watch this one on Crunchyroll]
AKB0048 episode 22
There's no better point in time to answer burning lore-related questions than when your ship is dead in space and your quasi-religious popstar team scattered across the galaxy. Actually, there are plenty of better times, but here we are, and here we shall learn about Dualium, Idols, Center Novas (Centers Nova? Center Novae?), and Shoji Kawamori's Pet Theories About Idol Culture.
Without too much spoilering, Idols are either responsible for mankind developing interstellar travel technology or will be essential to bringing it to the next level, the attitude needed to maintain Center Nova status seems to run at odds to the typical danketsu/unity that idol anime are all about. "Boundless ambition" is a common thread in AKB0048, and that philosophy seems to speak a little truer to the "real" idol experience, without necessarily sacrificing all those "good feels".
And Shoji Kawamori's Pet Theories About Idol Culture? In a nutshell, they're a modern, secularist incarnation of traditional religious rites intended for purification and communication with the divine. Idols are secular miko (shrine maidens). This has been a running theme of sorts through much of Kawamori's work, but AKB0048 has had the most literal interpretation of it yet, what with the group literally having its own actual temple and worshipful reverence of Sensei-Sensei (whatever he happens to be) and the Kirara.
In any case, amidst the blizzard of exposition and lore we also get the Redemption of Mii-chan, who might have gone out with a kamikaze bang in a darker show but this is an AKB anime. No matter her indiscretions in that world or this, she's still a member. Also, she says a line about "starting over as an understudy" that is quite, er...true-to-life. I can't help but wonder if that was in the script before certain Mii-chan-related real-life incidents, or added later for some perverse reason. Makes one think!
[Center your Novas on Crunchyroll]
Robotics;Notes episode 19
Well, I suppose that ends the "Let's build a robot!" portion of Robotics;Notes' plot, and everything shifts into full "Global Conspiracy to end the world!" gear, as Aki hits the depths of despair and the Council of 300 makes its move with all the sci-fi insanity they can manage.
While I can honestly say that this is what I've been waiting for, now that I have it I'm not completely convinced I was right to hope for it. It's one thing for Steins;Gate to have these heavily fictionalized outbursts, but that show's modern-day setting and stronger "secret society" angle sort of kept the nefariousness of "SERN" and whatnot as a nebulous "other" lurking in the background.
Here, in this show, which supposedly shares the same universe, the Council of 300's built a goddamn space elevator in the center of Tokyo Bay without anyone noticing and is planning to use a bomb (which they got from SERN!) to end the world. They say you should never meet your heroes. Maybe the same can be adapted to your secret sci-fi conspiracy subplots?
That aside, the tension and excitement is cranking up now, and for once in a fashion that might not actually be unceremoniously be defused now that the robot has been built and the world's about to end. I liked it while it was around (though it lingered perhaps a tad too long in the end), but now that it's taken the back seat, let's hope it need not push back to fore until the actual denouement.
[FUNimation is actually a member of the council of 300. It's part of their propaganda to stream this.]