It's time once again for another edition of Annotated Anime, the back-to-weekly Japanese cartoon recap that's taking refuge from the cold of winter in the warm bosom of the new season's offerings.
While the winter of 2013 seems a bit more spare than we're used to seeing from Japanator's ivory tower headquarters, populated by a strangely high number of difficult-to-cover five-minute-or-less shorts, this is just the beginning, and a goodly number of continuing shows to comfort us, including JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Bakuman, Little Busters!, Space Bros., The Pet Girl of Sakurasou, and the grand return of AKB0048, as well as the nearly unheralded continuation of Aoi Sekai Chushin de.
If that's not enough, stay tuned for our first impressions of the best and brightest of winter's fare, and our final impressions of the just-ended! And you know what else just ended? The year of 2012, which we wrote up a ton of awesome best-of lists for, which you can read while you wait for the season to really snowball!
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Episode 13
Oh wow, Joseph is so great this episode. His mixture of serious and goofy is perfect. The fight with Santana is really rough stuff as he is basically consuming people with his body. Ugh. I do like how chatting about how JoJo's powers work backfires and helps Santana out.
What comes out as page turning moments in the manga ends up well animated as those stomach clenching moments where even if you know the outcome will be fine for the hero, the intensity of the moment is what makes it surpass any logical thinking.
Good-by, Stroheim. We barely knew thee.
Oh, and by the way JoJo, there are three more of these Santana-like dudes and they're probably worse. Have fun. Off to Rome!
Aoi Sekai no Chuushin de episode 2
Time flies, huh? It was still October when AoiSekai first aired, and we're finally up to episode two. The animation hasn't improved much but an... interesting? plot point was added. Gear, Opal and the others are classified as "Killers." Basically, all the characters that are derived by iconic video game characters are classified as super strong soldiers who could absorb the lives of a select amount of people around them in order to make themselves stronger. As it happens, Gear could swallow up two people if he felt like it.
I guess the whole big Killer reveal is supposed to be dramatic and all that... but I thought it was pretty lame. Besides that, I kind of enjoyed seeing more action this episode, despite it all being based on dodging their strong enemies instead of attacking them head on. I'm interested in seeing a battle sometime soon, but I'm expecting some drama next episode because of Gear's father.
I didn't think this episode was as amusing as the first one. Opal's naked moment wasn't ridiculous enough to be funny, but thankfully Nel's "awakening" wasn't ruined by perviness. Then again, it's hard to have serious moments in an anime that is basically all over the place.
[Catch AoiSekai streaming on Crunchyroll]
The Pet Girl of Sakurasou Episode 12 & 13
An end and a beginning.
It’s time for a double dose of Pet Girl this week. I know I was gone last week and you needed your fix, but hey, I’m here now. This has got to be the worse time to skip a week. We have what is essentially the end of the first season and the beginning of the second. Even thou it is just a continuing series. Thanks anime logic!
Anyways, let’s finish what we have so far. It’s festival time and the gang is now up to show what they have been working so hard on, Nyaboron. What is Nyaboro you ask? Well it’s an audience participation motion capture anime game with a live narration actress. I know you’re slapping yourself in the forehead right now thinking why didn’t I think of that. I did too, but mainly for other reasons. Moving on, everything is going smoothly. The audience is really into it with the motion sticks. They get emotional when they find out that the main heroine’s love is killed in the great attack, but when it came to the final battle they were not so eager to cooperate. Who could blame them either when you are told to yell your feeling from the heart at the screen. It’s embarrassing for anyone to do. Eventually what starts with one, Shiina, dominos to everyone. There are some confessions yelled out and some not what you would think. It’s a little disappointing because it would have been a great time for a confession, but since this is the half way point in the show, it just couldn’t be like that.
The anticipation was great in this episode and would have made for a great ending.
This is not to be because we have another ten more episodes! So time for a new opening and ending theme and time for everything to be reset, even emotions. What I mean by that it is an easy way to stretch things out further. If we would have ended the romantic chase there, then the rest of the show would have been boring day to day stuff. As of now, we are back to Sorata not knowing how he feels about Shiina, Misaki still fighting to gain Jin’s attention, and Aoyama still trying to gain Sorata’s heart even though she knows that he has deep feeling for Shiina. The only thing still solid going forward is mangirl shut-in and England girl. So we are right back to where we started.
I’m not sure what to think at this point. The show overall in enjoyable but there better be some seriously good episode coming to start winning some points back for me. You’re treading on mediocre levels here Pet Girl. Better start bringing all the feels.
[Time to reset at Crunchyroll]
Space Bros. Episode 39
This was the best episode in a long time. Not because it radically changed anything, but simply because of that ending. I mean, an actual cliffhanger? The problem with this show is that most of the previous 'cliffhangers' have involved Mutta and his career as an astronaut. We already knew he was going to become one, as there was no way they'd go through all this to have him fail, so nothing was really surprising. This. This is surprising.
Sure, it could just be a case of waking up down the bottom and being all 'haha sick fall lol' and they'll be straight back on with the mission, but that episode preview has certainly given me hope that it's a little bit more than that. I know it seems awfully grim to say it, but having Mutta go up there to say goodbye to Hibito (jumping just a little forward on assumptions, I know), it'll make for one hell of a show.
Oh I dunno, I'm enjoying the constant stream of Engrish, too.
[Space pugs can be found on Crunchyroll!]
Little Busters! Episode 13
Did someone get into the script department at Little Busters! HQ and swap the story for a supernatural one? Not that I'm really complaining, but it certainly seemed that this show was loosely based on what could happen in real life. Having some crazy shadowless girl/girls isn't exactly what I was expecting. I guess I should have, considering the rest of Key's works has had something supernatural going on, but there you go.
I think I'm coming around to Riki now, as well. I mean, sure, he is totally a cookie-cutter 'good guy' male lead, but you can't help but feel it's what the scenario needs. I still want to see his narcolepsy used in a better way, rather than a unique way of not having to spill the beans in dialogue too early.
You can't help but feel bad for Nishizono, though. Not quite buckets of tears level like Clannad/Air, but it is pretty depressing. Hopefully when she comes back, and she will, she'll be just a tad more lively. And shadowy.
[As of next week you can catch Little Busters! on Crunchyroll. Weird timing, but who cares!]
Bakuman. 3 Episode 14
Was I really so far behind with this show? I don't know, I really don't. There was the downfall of the douchebag, the fight-come-alliance between Nakai and Hiramaru, Shujin going ape after a PCP burglary, and now Nizuma wants to end his own manga. Not bad for a few episodes, really. It certainly means that the eventual 4th season will be the last, if the next 10 or so don't race to the end.
So yeah, everyone is working together to beat Crow. This is pretty much the major recycled plot of Bakuman, but the guys in the show itself seem to enjoy the competition. Nakai is still a boob. Hiramaru's editor is still the best character in this show next to Hiramaru himself. Aoki has fully transitioned from being Awase and is now a quiet female author.
Manga, guys. It's serious business.
AKB0048 episode 14 (Next Stage episode 1)
Once I divorced my perception of AKB0048 from its true purpose as a marketing vehicle for the real-life AKB48 - not a difficult job, considering I care little for idols that aren't naturally two-dimensional - I found it immensely enjoyable, a literal-minded rendition of the thematic concepts behind the likes of Macross.
And six months later, it's back and more absurd than ever before. The idols are still magical, the songs are still powerful, the mecha are still "ita-" and the whole thing still gives off the aura of a great farce, minus the facetiousness.
That's not a strike against it, mind you. In fact it's working quite well, now that AKB0048 is doubling down on some its more insane elements. DES, the army built for the sole purpose of suppressing all entertainment (which in this world is synonymous with magical idol singing) is stepping up its attacks, even capturing some of the cast to try and sentence in televised kangaroo courts, to suffer a sentence of (wait for it)....48 years in prison for terrorism. Of course it's 48 years.
Also brought in are pinches from the real-life operations of AKB48, including the fan vote-driven General Elections and the Center position battle. This one's actually intriguing for plot reasons, as it injects a natural competitive element that's absent from pretty much every other idol anime I've watched (though I haven't watched many). Other shows in the idol vein (particularly my beloved Idolmaster) are all about togetherness and unity and doing everything as one. Fighting it out in the polls to get elected into the group's new singles is quite the opposite.
And that's not even to mention the Center concept (here called "Center Nova"), which is suddenly hyper-important, since in AKB0048's world, being a Center Nova provides opportunities for literal apotheosis.
Will AKB0048's new twists make it more like Top Gun for idols (but with a lot less men and a lot more beach volleyball)? Only time can tell, but so far it's looking good.
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