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Annotated Anime: Winter 2013 Week 5 - JAPANATOR
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Annotated Anime: Winter 2013 Week 5

7:00 PM on 01.31.2013

Hyperventilating in the most unrealistic fashion


Welcome to the latest installment of Annotated Anime, the weekly recap that's now thiiis wide. We do love our sweet new high-res headers, and plan to use them to the fullest!

The other thing that's fullest this week is our slate of recaps, with hot new looks at Sasami-san, Bakuman, Senran Kagura, Magi, Maoyu, Robotics;Notes, AKB0048, Vividred Operation, Psycho Pass, JoJo, Space Bros., Tamako Market, Sakurasou, and Little Busters!

Josh Tolentino

Maoyu episode 4


It's a given by now that Maoyu clearly prefers more to be a semi-educational, somewhat low-energy (in a good way) show, but I can't help feel ever so slightly disappointed by this week's offering. A tense negotiation between the Scholar and the Merchants over corn, colonization, and everything in between is a real treat, especially since the scenes showed some cool demon powers (like the Head Maid's skirt-ghosts) and just how dirty the merchants were prepared to get if things didn't turn out the way they liked. But thankfully it did.

On the other hand, some of the hero's apparently action-packed adventures in the Demon World were all but glossed over, given little more than a single throwaway line and a still frame. I was rather hoping for at least an episode or two devoted to showing life in the Demon King's homeland and how it differed from the pathetic human nations (seriously, the Demons know what potatoes and corn!), and this would've been the chance.

Word on the street (the internet street) is that at least some of the hero's exploits are supposed to play a part in setting up later events, so there's still a chance we'll get a look at that later on. It's also interesting to see how the hero's worried about his role in his not-wife's Brave New World, and how his inability at anything but battle has been proving more a liability than an advantage.

Lastly, kudos goes to Maoyu for reflecting one very medieval truth: everything takes a hell of a long time to do. Between last week and this six whole months have passed! Imagine how awful life must have been for serfs and farmers at the time, when the only real thing to do during a year would be to literally watch the plants grow. Even well-regarded epics like Legend of the Galactic Heroes tended to operate on a ludicrously compressed time scale, so having Maoyu give it a superficial nod is nice.

[You don't need to wait 6 months to get your fill of corn anime on Crunchyroll]

 

Robotics;Notes episode 14


It's a Frau-lover's dream come true this week, as it's all Kona for the whole run. Every bit of what some fans love about her (and what some fans hate about her) is on proud display: The grinch-like facial expressions, the net-speak, her exaggerated nerd speech pattern, that voice, it's all there, and all lovely (as you can tell, I'm a Kona fan, too).

Plus, in true best-girl-that-sadly-isn't-the-main-heroine fashion, she's actually way more interesting than her rivals, and gets romantically forward in a truly lovable, only slightly cliche fashion. It's actually a well-executed "geek girl falls for the hero" fantasy, and it's great to watch. And one of the cool parts about it is that unlike many a milquetoast protagonist, Kai totally earns that affection, though he almost certainly wasn't out to get it at the time. Sigh. If only my chronic seizure disorder got me chicks.

As for plot, this marks the first time Kai has directly involved himself in the main event, and the Council of 300 or whoever's pulling the strings pulls a doozy of a stunt, inciting the world's least threatening robot uprising.

Seriously, if you expect us to take these robots seriously, at least include a few robot designs that won't be defeated by a low wall or flight of stairs, mmm'kay?

[Make like the creature that stole Christmas on FUNimation]

 

AKB0048 episode 17


We often deride the idol industry as essentially soulless, and its idols either as exploited youngsters or cynical succubi used to peddle lies and fantasies to rubes and nerds.

Some of that is true, to an extent, but this week's episode of AKB0048 serves, ironically, as an entertaining reminder that idols are people too, and that these people are performers. It may be their job to act like pure virgins or whatever fantasy the otaku crave, but there's no doubt that some of them do it out of love for the art, and love for their fans. And for many of those fans, their love for their idol may well be genuine, too.

Ostensibly, the General Elections are where this sort of thing really comes out, and the show does an admirable job of driving that home, if in a somewhat cheesy manner, convincing the anxious Nagisa that these rivalries are friendly and good, that competition isn't necessarily born of hate or malice. It'd be touching if we actually bought what the idol industry sells us.

There's also something with Chieri, a similar lesson learned, but the show's portrayal of hyperventilation and nervousness is just a little bit too close to "just have Chieri's voice actor make sex noises". It's...distracting. And really, I can't tell if that was intentional or not. Considering the AKB machine's salacious approach to marketing, it's more probable than one might think.

[Be strangely aroused by Chieri's stress-making on Crunchyroll]

 

Jeff Chuang

Vividred Operation Episode 3


The character introduction continues. Momo and Akane goes to a new school, after their tropical alma mater turned into a crater. Is Akane really wearing Kamina's sunglasses? Did the sword girl actually do a forward roll into a slash? Why did the camera include yet another between-the-crotch shot? These are mysteries that Vividred Operation asks of us.

Thankfully those are also mysteries we don't need to answer. The more seriously mysterious "black ranger" yet again shoots an opportune-timed Alone that doesn't do anything but wiggle in the air and shoot pretty and pretty useless attacks at Aoi and Akane. The powered-up monster promptly gets defeated when the third member of Akane's team, Wakaba Saegusa, joins the fray as "green ranger." And what do we have? Lo and behold, Vivid Green is one sexy Miku knockoff! 

I'm going to confess: this episode is mostly on autopilot. We know they're just adding crew; the most creative thing this week was showing us a glimpse of "yellow ranger" with a pair of robot eyes. And is it me or do they remind you of Johnny Five? Perhaps more front and center, the animation is, well, vivid. The sword fight between Wakaba and Akane is energetic and fun to watch. The around-the-school chase had cut a bunch of corner in terms of the animation, but it is also lively and enjoyable. The episode starts from the get go with a "I'm late for school" sequence involving Akane's flying bike and a timely transformation. Vividred Operation may be still TV budget animation, but it was full of action. Hopefully that was enough to distract us from things like the condition of Grandpa's disembodied, uh, body, or why was Wakaba able to dock with Akane so easily.

[Dock with Vividred Operation on Hulu and Crunchyroll!]

 

Chris Walden

Space Bros. Episode 42


Congratulations, Space Bros. I've been debating with myself regarding Hibito's fate for the past few weeks, and just minutes from running out of air, I still have no idea what's going to happen. I think I'm still going to hedge my bets with Hibito using this mysterious oxygen thing, but I really don't know. This, by the way, is a fantastic thing. I'll be on the edge of my seat for the whole episode, that's for sure.

This anime may have plodded along for the most part, and while I only have negative things to say about one or two episodes, it feels like we've been building up to this moment. We haven't, really, as this show is meant to be about getting Mutta into space. Having these troubles with Hibito should feel like a side story, but it certainly doesn't feel that way. This could be the finale and I'd be totally fine with that. 

But what did he find? Ahh, this is going to eat away at me until Sunday! And that episode preview, showing Hibito on his knees and in apparent distress. I just don't know any more! I feel I may end up watching this before Hunter x Hunter this week, and that's just about the biggest praise I could possibly give it. 

[Space pugs can be found on Crunchyroll!]

 

Little Busters! Episode 16

And with my parting comment last week, Key deliver a swift knee to the face and bring on the feels in full force. I don't think anyone was surprised to find out that the two girls were relatives, not just because of the hair, but because of their terrible relationship. It was pretty obvious that something had happened before, and the only thing stopping a confirmation that they were related was that they had different family names. 

But what a way to reveal it. They are twins, and not only that but they have a murder-suspect for a father? That's pretty much a direct route to a depressing story, and you can't help but feel horrid seeing what Haruka is putting up with.

Still, I don't doubt there is more to it than this. I get the feeling that Kanata has more to her than we already know, and if I know Key, we'll find out soon enough. 

[Wafu! Nano desu Crunchyroll]

 

Bakuman. 3 Episode 17

Okay, I take back everything I said regarding the length of this series. The anime is not slowing down by any means, and at this pace I think we're due to finish in season 3. We'll see, but I certainly don't remember too much else happening at this point, besides a little heel-dragging towards the end of the manga. It won't be that bad at this pace, mind.

It's great seeing Ashirogi going up against Nizuma once again, and for the first time in a long while with new manga at their disposal. There's only so much of Crow vs PCP that I can take, that's for sure!

But let's be honest here. Does anyone really care that +Natural is failing and Awase is running out of ideas? I really don't like her, so I'd be perfectly content with not seeing her show up again! I mean, she just moans and acts like an ass around everyone!

 

Sasami-san@Ganbaranai Episode 3

Well, there you have it, there is a story after all! I'm not sure whether hearing all of these God names second-hand because of Naruto is a good thing or not, but I think it just makes it that much more ridiculous, even if it is all based on real-life stories and whatnot. But hey, we get explanations for who those three girls are, why Sasami can't leave the house and why her brother dotes on her without showing his face. They explained that. 

It was also interesting to know that both Sasami and her brother are completely aware of Amaterasu and the world changing abilities she is capable of. I was pretty sure in the first episode that at least the brother was not aware of the crazy powers, but the detail about the shrine and the families past put those thoughts to rest. 

It sure is a strange show, and a very 'love or hate it' one, too. I don't think it's letting me down at all, but I'm certainly curious to know how you guys are getting on with it. 

 

Eric Koziol

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Episode 16


This week's episode of JoJo once again does things right: The introduction of a new character and montage. Lisa Lisa's introduction was simple and smooth, and now we will see if JoJo really can get his act together. Of course, his first interactions with Lisa Lisa leave a sour taste in his mouth. This is really a trend for Joseph and all of the other people that he meets.

Now, sometimes people suck at what they do. They have to train to get better. How does this episode do it? At the end, during the credit roll. That's it! No one whole episode wasted on watching a lot of training.

Sure, sure, Hell Climb Tower was the focus of the episode, you tell me. Yes, that was pretty much training. However, it set up the scale of the training that JoJo and Caesar would be performing in the coming month as well as having the two bond a little more. Ah, that Joseph. Once you warm up to him, everything seems so perfect.

 

Josh Totman

The Pet Girl of Sakurasou Episode 16


It seems like everyone has something coming up soon.

We mainly focus on Sorata’s game presentation this time but others have stuff on their plates too. Like Aoyama’s audition coming up on Valentine’s Day, Sorata’s little sister’s entrance exam on the 13th, and Misaki’s anime. Thou I’m not sure on when the anime is suppose to be done.

Sorata’s game presentation goes over well but he didn't quite make it. He did however impress them enough to have them work on a project with them, so he got a good consolation prize so to speak. Either way it’s a great opportunity for him to get into the line of work that he wants to do. This is the only real closure that we get this episode which is a kind of anti-climatic. Oh well, on to the relationships.

This is still at a standstill as well in all fronts. Misaki and Jin are still not talking to each other so far. Jin still wants to get into the college that he wants first before coming back. There was absolutely nothing on the English girl and hikikomori front to speak of. Aoyama has taken the lead in the relationship front this time around. She was a great motivator for Sorata and his presentation. Shiina is still being useless and naïve to the world around her. She might get a bit of clue with the manga she is now reading but I wouldn't put it passed her.  I’m telling you Sorata, cut her off and go with Aoyama.

[Work hard at Crunchyroll]

 

Tamako Market Episode 3


Let’s make a new friend.

Enter the shy glasses girl, Asagiri who is also Dera’s love interest for at least this episode. I got to say, Dera is not doing his job very well for finding his prince a wife. Anyways, Asagiri looks on the outside to be the smug higher than you type. In reality she is just a normal shy girl that is too embarrassed to say what she feels.

Tamako has been trying to be friends with her, but Asagiri just walks away most of the time. It is not until Dera falls (literally) in love with her and has her take him back to the mochi shop. Along the way they stop at all the stores in the market to meet everyone getting goodies along the way. Sounds like a place I want to be too. Asagiri ends up staying and fixing dinner for everyone. They even bathe together on the first night! I’m over exaggerating things a bit but you get that they had a fun night.

The problem is that Asagiri doesn't know how to say thank you because of her shyness. So it gets all adorable at the end with her practicing in the mirror on how she should say thank you to Tamako. It’s really sweet and I’m enjoying all of it. Even that damn bird is growing on me...

[Sakura mochi at Anime Network]

 

Senran Kagura Episode 4


 Looks like we are going to the beach for training! Woohoo!

Nope, never mind, it’s pretty much pointless. This was nothing but a weak attempt at a beach episode. You got to see some fan service here and there but overall I was left saying to myself, is that it? Now I know not to expect much from this show in the first place, but the quality is going even further downhill then what I was even expecting.  Loads of the drawings looked rushed as to say that there were behind on the deadline. The voice acting was forgettable as well.

We did get to find out a little more about the Serpent school that rivals Hanzou Academy along with finding out about a mysterious former student from Hanzou. On top of all that, we still don’t get any real battles just two half ass ones that were absolutely useless. The next episode preview shows that things could be heating up but I wouldn't get my hopes up.

[Super ninjas at Funimation]

 

Elliot Gay

Magi Episode 16


Things continue to go from bad to worse, as Kassim transforms into a dark djinn powered by Black Rukh. Feeding off the negative emotions of the people, he begins to massacre the royal army while a stunned Alibaba watches on. Realizing he's the only one who can stop the djinn from destroying everything, he and Mor team up to launch a series of attacks on the beast. Unfortunately, Judal arrives on the scene, powered up by the massive amount of Black Rukh in the area. Facing insurmountable odds, Alibaba is utterly crushed by combo of a Magi and djinn.

Fortunately for our heroes, a newly healed Aladdin arrives on the scene, now armed with the Wisdom of Solomon. After deflecting a few of Judal's magic attacks, Aladdin declares that he has no hope of defeating the dark Magi in a one on one battle. However, with the help of the hopes and dreams of the people, he and Alibaba can take down Judal and his new djinn. 

This was a troubling episode, at least on the production side of things. The first ten minutes featured embarrassingly terrible artwork and animation. The second half had moments of cool, but were grossly outnumbered by below average instances of animation. Magi can be a lovely looking show at times, which makes these moments that much more painful. I continue to frown at the music selections during action sequences, but at this point I don't expect it to get any better.

On the plus side, if the preview is to be believed, next week looks like it make up for episode 16's problems.

[catch Magi over at Crunchyroll]

 

Hiroko Yamamura

Pyscho-Pass Episode 14


I'm glad to see things at Psycho-Pass are getting psycho again! The ultimate plans of Shogo Makishima seem to start to be revealed, and the brutality commences! Even Senjogahara would be impressed!

A man commits brutal crimes, equipped with a device that can mimic the lowest level Crime-Coefficient around him. What ensures is the exposure of all the things wrong with the system. Doors aren't even locked anymore, and cameras capturing brutal crimes can't even compute what is going wrong. Even bystanders watching don't know how to deal with the brutality of situations. Do we see the fall of the Sybil System starting?

I also want to mention how amazing the new intro and ending songs are. The show really has it together in the music business, really similarly to Production I.G.'s Guilty Crown, but slightly less cheesy. The track by The Egoist s especially amazing.All the art and animation problems that poked their ugly head in the last episode seemed to fade away here again.

I'm not buying the theory that Makashima is using the same device as the culprits. I think he believes in what he's doing so strongly, that his thoughts aren't being perceived as a crime. How did he become such a badass fighter? Are we getting close to the battle we saw at the beginning of the series? Why doesn't the Sybil System tap cell phones?

[Get your Crime Coefficient checked over at Funimation]






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