As you navigate the labyrinthine depths of the mixed signals we're sending you, you can entertain yourself by reading up on the latest in Japanese cartoons, including JoJo, AKB0048, Robotics;Notes, Space Bros. Little Busters!, Amnesia, Vividred Operation, Maoyu, Tamako Market, Sakurasou, Sasami-san, Bakuman, Senran Kagura, and a grand catch-up with Haganai NEXT!
Haganai NEXT Episodes 3-6
After a solid beginning, I'm happy to see that almost halfway through the season, Haganai NEXT continues to impress me in all the best ways. The show has managed to maintain its humor and general levels of parody while introducing some very solid points on bullying and even gender issues.
Sena is increasingly making pointed remarks about Yozora's behavior, and even kind of smacks her in the face with it in episode six when Sena tells her that her phony balogney fortune-telling show actually made her feel happy for a bit. She realizes then that Yozora simply took advantage of her gullible nature, which led to an embarrassing incident. Yozora, once again, seems to feel bad about it, though we know that she's probably going to do something to demean Sena again next episode.
The Yozora-bashing doesn't stop there, though. Yukimura is confirmed to be a bona-fide female, and even comes to accept her gender as something she must live with; and with Yozora's help (inadvertently, from what I can understand), she strives to continue acting the way that she identifies - as a man. And the best part is that everyone in the neighbor's club is 100% supportive of this, no questions asked. The only person that kind of pitched a fit over it and looked like an asshole was Yozora, who apparently thought it'd be a nice "gag" when Yukimura and the rest of the club figured out she was female all along, wearing a maid outfit though she identified male. Even after she explains that she is how she is because of family problems.
These two issues are super important to highlight in mainstream media. I'm happy to see that, though it's underlying among all the gags and goofy moments, the creators here are actually bringing them to light. I feel bad that Yozora seems to be made out as the bully here, but I feel like there's some kind of redemption coming by the end of the season. After all, she is currently aware of her horribly behavior. It's just a matter of time before she will be forced to own up to it.
Finally, the Kodaka x Sena thing is super front-and-center. I am admittedly not caught up with the light novels, but dear lord am I hoping they break some more conventions here and give them some romance!
[You can stream Haganai series at FUNimation]
Amnesia Episode 7
I had hoped that Sad Sack would be able to explain what was going on with the dating thing to this guy, but looks like ep. 7 dove right into the next scenario, in which she's dating the ever-calculating Kento.
In this world, she resolves the under-the-umbrella "promise" premonition with him and has a beautiful date. Surprisingly, he also figured out the amnesia bit, and confronted her about it. Then he had an open conversation with Orion until he disappeared in the middle of saying something important again. What sucks is, I kinda liked this scenario, yanno? It was cute once he opened up a bit and started smiling with her. But then, predictably, she didn't even last the night and, before we know it, the episode is over and she's with the next dude. Her supposed best friend/brother.
The important new thing this episode is that she's accepted she's world-hopping and her surroundings are only varied according to her relationships with the people close to her (her best friends and co-workers). The conversation between Orion and Kento served to give everyone the mid-season summary of where she stands, which I thought was a bit late. I'm glad this scenario wrapped up quickly, but it was too cute to last, I guess.
[Catch Amnesia streaming on Crunchyroll!]
Robotics;Notes episode 17
Given the grim and frustratingly unrealistic events of last week it's no surprise that much of this week's episode is a miserable resident of Bummertown (located in Killjoy prefecture). Subaru's in the hospital (though it's quite the miracle that a building-sized robot could fall on the guy and him get away with that pretty face intact), the club is disbanded, Mizuka's dead, and without a doubt there's more to come.
That "more" does in fact come around, though thankfully a nice, heartwarming scene between Aki and Kai strikes all the right "Just you and me against the world" chords to set up the final legs of the show's "main" plot, which is the whole "Let's build a giant robot" thing. As for the whole "A Secret Society Is Trying To Destroy The World" subplot, that's moving along as well, what with a brief meeting between Kai and a stereotypically sinister suit. The kicker on this one is actually Kimijima Report #7, which seems to put Kou Kimijima in a much less favorable light than the show has cast him in up to now. Plots within plots!
[Catch the dastardly report-distributing action with FUNimation]
Maoyu episode 7
With the first big step in the road to the new world order taken, it's time now for some brief love-triangle-harem antics, with wet underwear, midnight tea-parties, bed-sharing, and hair obsession. I personally liked it, as it reminded me of Familiar of Zero (with more dignity), but one can't help but see this as just a tiny bit unwelcome considering how much material the show clearly has to cover. There's a lot of background in Maoyu that readers need to know, and it's imperative that screentime be husbanded carefully if the show is to keep what's cool about it intact. Even Girls und Panzer knew that!
That said, the brief digression into personal relationships could prove necessary, as the briefest glimpses of a more apocalyptic type of threat have surfaced: The Demon Queen's License Renewal. I don't know what that entails, but the fact that its time is heralded by worldwide earthquakes probably means it's more than filling out a few forms and taking a multiple-choice test.
[Apply for your Demon King license today at Crunchyroll]
AKB0048 episode 20
The first succession in the series finally happens, and it's Mimori who gets the honor, inheriting the name of Mariko Shinoda, the 8th in her line. It's an interesting choice considering the last Mariko was/is Tsubasa herself, and I'd hardly peg Mimori's pheromone-soaked personality as a match to Tsubasa's. Then again there's that whole thing about souls resonating, so who's to question the will of the glowing mascot aliens that live in your holy cave.
Besides that, there's also Zodiac and Chieri's father homing in on exactly what they want with the idols, and it seems Dualium, the magic stone that does...something related to succession is part of that, to which end they've recruited a traitor, that photographer-lady who, as it turns out, was a former Minami Minegishi. Is that commentary on recent incidents? You decide!
[Decide! on Crunchyroll]
Vividred Operation Episode 6
So to cap off the series of introductory episodes, the girls go to a beach. I think this week's Vividred Operation can go over very well or very poorly, depending on how serious you take this series. I thought this week's episode is a lot of fun, but I can see how mileage may vary depending on how you perceive things like beachside vacations versus bedside stay-cations, or how much camp you like in your disposable media.
Still, this week's Vividred marks the first time that we see all four girls in action together. We got more team chemistry on display in this supposedly team building obstacle course, that seems more like a homage to adventure films than something that actually tests team building. The adventure takes an interesting twist when Dr. Isshiki kidnaps Rei as the motivation to get the girls to run the course. Of course, in the end Rei actually saves everyone in her process of escaping. I'm glad at least they made it obvious that a scarf makes a poor disguise if all you were wearing was a revealing bikini swimsuit. If anything, it is such an odd combination that would mark you and you alone as the possible "masked ranger."
The best part of the episode, of course, has to be those "don't push" buttons. I don't know how it works with Akane's swimsuit, nor how it causes the Gundam-like giant robot to explode, but I get the feeling we're better off not knowing. It's a nice, random kind of a joke that can go pretty far when cleverly used. Unfortunately, that's it for the best parts of this week's Vividred Operation.
[Don't press the button with Vividred Operation on Hulu and Crunchyroll!]
The Pet Girl of Sakurasou episode 19
So the school wants to tear down Sakurasou, let’s not do anything about it till next episode. We will just reminisce about how Sorata first came to Sakurasou.
This is a half flashback/half filler episode this late in the game. We only have three episodes left and still questions to be answered. Are we just going to finish off the series with them fighting to keep Sakurasou from being demolished? What about the relationship that still need closure? Will Sorata pick Shiina or Aoyama? Will he not pick anyone at all and leave the door open for a season two? I’m scared that they are going to leave me hanging here. It wouldn't be so bad if I already knew they were continuing the show, but as it stands right now they are not.
Now I’m not saying that this week’s episode is bad, it was rather entertaining, but the set up for the rest of the show is taking shape and not the way that I want it to. Well there is nothing I can do about it now but ride it out and hope for the best.
[Go back to the beginning at Crunchyroll]
Tamako Market episode 6
Where is everyone? It’s like a ghost town in Tamako Market.
Tamako has noticed that the market has not been very busy at certain times of the day. We need to get people in the market to buy, buy, buy! What brings people to the market? A haunted house of course! At least it does in Japan. As shy and reserved as the Japanese are, they sure do like haunted houses or just being scared in general. Now I for one have never been to a haunted house in my life. I don’t get the “joy” of being scared as some folks do. If I ever do go into a haunted house I am not sure if I will just laugh my way through it or need a new pair of pants at the end.
Anyways, Tamako and her friends start building one in one of the shops, but all of a sudden, there seems to be some strange things happening in the market. The shopkeepers are all getting nervous that it might be a curse that is haunting their beloved market. They start showing Tamako with all the things that ghosts, ghouls, and vampires hate to try and ward off the evil spirits. In the end, they figure out what is all going on.
And to top all that off, we are going to be getting a new visitor to the market. Finally Dera’s story starts to come forward!
[Get spooky at Anime Network]
Senran Kagura episode 7
It’s time for some more training...hooray. After the girls got their butts handed to them by the dark clan, they are nowhere near ready to face them again. So what does shinobi do? They train, up a mountain, for a scroll, against a former student.
Each of the girls takes a different pathway up the mountain each with its own dangers. Nothing really exciting to see except some bits of clothing coming off. There is a small hot springs part with two of the girls, but again there is not much excitement to be had. This didn't feel like much of an episode for them than it did summing up some more things. The sensei now sure that it was one of his former students that is training the dark side girls. Lets dwell some more about this shall we, it’s not like I want to progress the story any further. We do also find out who is that black cat that has been wondering about for the last couple of episodes. Her name is Daidouji. She is a former student that held herself back in her last year a couple of times so that she could train even more. So, they dressed her up like a delinquent. Yeah, that makes sense.
Overall I’m digging her look, but that voice is not winning me over. She is trying to act tough to go with the look but there is just something about it that is not clicking with me. Besides that, the episode was pretty lackluster again. I’m having a strong feeling that this is just the way it is going to go from here on out.
[Go climb a mountain at Funimation]
Space Bros. Episode 45
Time to sidestep from the main story to find out a little bit more about Aunt Sharon. Aww great, more onions? This show certainly knows how to make its watchers depressed, that's for sure. Turns out she isn't just an elderly lesbian, rather her husband passed away a while back. It's pretty neat that she'll get to have her dream realised when this new telescope is built on the moon, but I sure hope her proposals were better than "I want to see this asteroid that's named after me".
Just a reminder: Hibito very nearly died on the moon. I seriously love how his parents are literally not worried about the whole thing. Luffy-mum is probably the best character in this show.
Oh, hey, we have jumpsuits now! Another action shot with the four characters plus random lady, but you can understand why this is meant to be a big deal. I have to agree with the lunatic on the stage, they really should have Power Rangers colours. SUPER SPACE SENTAI.
[Space pugs can be found on Crunchyroll!]
Little Busters! Episode 19
We are not even that far into 2013, but I already know what I'll be asking Santa for this time around. I want a pet Kud, and there's pretty much no room for negotiation on this matter. She is just that adorable. Just look at that hat. Look at it! I just want to pet her. When she gets hungry, I bet she lets out a weak wafu. I will take care of her forever and ever.
Note to self: fictional characters are not cats. Or real.
Yeah, not much else I can say about this episode. Kud is adorable for 20 minutes. You'll know from that whether or not you're interested in watching it.
But if I ever see those bullies. EVER. They'll be cleaning the wafu off the ceiling for weeks.
[Wafu! Nano desu Crunchyroll]
Sasami-san@Ganbaranai Episode 6
Wait, did we just have a serious episode? An honest to goodness serious episode with a deceased parent, having fun in the town together and lots of catching up? Did she just turn into a freaking corpse? This episode left me stunned, that much I can say. I think I'm still trying to make sense of most of it, but boyyyy.
Okay, so zombie mum has more or less incapacitated a god, impaled miss rocketboobs and was pretty much about to do something nasty to a young (ish) girl. All because Sasami would rather play MMOs than reproduce with her brother. Who would have thought?
Seems that some tough parenting was in order to rectify her terrible mistake, but just what is going to happen from here on? Sasami herself is pretty much the only person with power strong enough to do something, assuming the visual novel-loving teacher doesn't escape from wherever she is. I also very much doubt the brother can do much, but the father? Oh I dunno, but I want to find out!
Bakuman. 3 Episode 20
Hiramaru, the best character in this show, finally gets an opportunity to win over the heart of Aoki once and for all. Wait, they've been 'dating' for years? Just how many time skips have we had? I'm quite impressed that their relationship lasted so long on just tea drinking alone, but hey, this is Hiramaru we're talking about. He is the otter master, so that pretty much means he has a way with the ladies, or something.
The whole theme park thing was rather sweet of the guy, though in true Hiramaru fashion he manages to cock it up a little. It's nice that Aoki caught on to what was happening and didn't bail, but she could have asked herself if she was so certain! I suppose it's more romantic for the fella to ask, but I don't think he'll want to remember his proposal for too long.
Reversi is doing well, but not well enough. There are some bro-related moments with Ashirogi, then Niizuma encourages them for the bazillionth time to go write something good. Honestly, Ashirogi need to take a step back and realise they're being stupid. Anyway, next episode features manga! Also, fat students from series one!
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Episode 19
Stroheim is back. Then subsequently in pieces, again. It seems weird that a Nazi is kind of a... well he is neither a hero nor a good guy, that is for sure. Howeve, Stroheim is in a weird place as a character and I am sure a long piece could be written up on the whole topic. He sure takes quite a serving of abuse from Kars.
Who, Kars that is, looks completely freaking awesome. I think I might have to pick put he manga again because I remember Kars looking cool but not this cool. I'll say cool again. Cool. Which is apt, due to the snowy Swiss landscape we are treated too in this episode. Here is another time in JoJo where the Dungeons and Dragons idea of "talking as a free action" is taken to the extreme, because JoJo and Kars do a lot of chatting as they fall down that crevice. We're never shown just exactly how much ice is being used to keep JoJo from plummeting to his doom, but based on the conversation, it has to be quite a bit.
We end on a sort of a weird note as JoJo and Caesar are not on good terms. JoJo's logic makes sense, but Caesar ain't having it. Let's hope Caesar's intuition pays off.
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