Annotated Anime Early Edition: Winter 2011 Week 6


Hey everyone, and welcome to another week of Annotated Anime, the weekly recap that's watchin' you from the shadows, proofreading new contracts. Don't contracts have to be certified by a notary public or something? Who does Kyubei go to?

We're at the halfway mark in the season, and things are beginning to heat up! Just look at today's recaps for Star Driver, Bakuman, Madoka Magica, Wandering Son, GOSICK, Beelzebub, Level E, Freezing, and then tell us what you thought of the week's Japanese cartoon offering.

And don't forget to check out the what we thought of the rest of this week's slate in the Late Edition tonight!

Brad Rice

Wandering Son episode 4

Wandering Son took a week off, so I figured a delayed release on this writeup would be good for your souls! The plot has solidified, focusing on the insurmountable task of writing and producing this gender-swapped Romeo and Juliet tale. The teacher, in his infinite genius, called for more people to help out Saori and Shu write the play -- naturally, Takatsuki and the remainder of the secondary characters joined in.

Meanwhile, Takatsuki and Shu's relationship took a step in the right direction, as the two of them went out cross-dressing once again. Even if you don't know the backstory between them, the relationship is finally becoming clear and is moving forward, as opposed to just filling in pockets of their past.

One poignant moment in their relationship is when Shu tells Takatsuki about his older sister catching him recording his voice as a girl, using her name as his own. So, in a tender scene, Takatsuki offers up her name to Shu -- he can call himself Yoshino Nitori when dressed as a girl.

Unfortunately, later on in the episode, Saori did the same thing, having heard about the same incident separately. Things fall apart as Shu and Saori argue back and forth about his cross-dressing habits, his plans for the future and his relationship with Takatsuki.

Things are looking really good from this point out -- the relationships have forward progress, the plot of the Romeo and Juliet play is set up for scenes rife with conflict, and we should see more cross-dressing in the future. All in all, I'm excited for this show again, wiping away the worries I had in previous AA pieces.

[Watch Wandering Son on Crunchyroll]

Ben Huber

Star Driver episode 19

Most of this episode felt like wasted potential.

If you've listen to Jtor AM 38 already, you've heard me talk about the lack of yaoi in this episode. What I mean is not that I felt it should have been or even that it was needed, but if you set up a joke you should really follow through. Kei and Madoka, the most recent additions to the Star Driver cast, take over Sugata and Takuto's bodies while they're out on a birthday trip with Wako. You'd think with two lesbians in men's bodies that the show's director would take every opportunity to toss some yaoi shenanigans in there, but instead the body snatching ends quite quickly. Keito and Wako easily figure out that Takuto and Sugata aren't who they're supposed to be and Kei and Madoka retreat.
Another battle, the same as usual with plenty of reused animation (but a nice intro at the beginning, though), and Takuto wins in the end. Perhaps next week we'll get some new developments on his mother if the preview is anything to go by.

And really, you think Wako is going to pick just one? I'm predicting an ambiguous end right now.

Bakuman episode 19

The episode in which Saiko and Shujin break up.

Well, only for a short time. Shujin was attempting to write a solid name over break, and when he can't come up with something by the deadline, Saiko sticks to his guns and says "Sayonara" to their partnership. Talk about a hard-ass. The worst part is that they were actually both creating very similar stories while apart: detective mysteries. Saiko's own stubbornness (and jealousy of Shujin's closeness with Miyoshi) keeps them apart and luckily, Hattori sees to it that they keep on working. Of course, Shujin eventually reveals his concept to Saiko and they realize how stupid they were being.

Once their new series Detective Trap starts up, the story really gets going, but right now this season might be over before they even get too far into that. I hope they can keep a quick pace and find a better place to end this first season.

Madoka Magica episode 6

Wow, another intense episode.

Madoka and her mom have a heartfelt conversation in the episode this week, in which she gives some advice to her daughter: make mistakes now while you're young and there are fewer consequences, rather than when you're an adult and lose a lot. By this advice Madoka seemed to be pretty motivated to try to stop the fight between Kyouko and Sayaka. When Kyouko threatened Sayaka's crush, they take a stand against each other over a busy highway, only for Madoka to interrupt, begging them not to fight. She can't seem to persuade them, though, and as Sayaka is about to transform, Madoka grabs her soul gem and tosses it over the bridge, stopping her.

But it's never that easy, is it?

The gem falls onto a speeding truck and rides away. Even Kyubei was startled a bit, saying, "that was a bad idea, Madoka." The reason? Sayaka falls over, essentially dead, because soul gems are actually their souls. Kyubei explains that when you become a magical girl, your soul is put into the soul gem and you body is left as nothing more than any empty shell. If the soul gem is over 100 meters away from its body, then the body ceases to function. So you better protect that soul gem, Sayaka! Luckily for Madoka, Homerun-chan was able to catch up to the car and return the soul gem, returning Sayaka to normal. It seems most magical girls don't know about this whole soul gem business either, so I wonder how many have made the mistake of leaving their soul gem on the counter before they went to go get groceries? Oops.

The best part, though, was Kyubei's nonchalant attitude the whole time. Why didn't I tell you the details about the soul gems? Oh, you didn't ask!

Mike LeChevallier

GOSICK episode 6

What continues to perplex me week after week is how GOSICK's pros and cons seem to increase almost simultaneously. On the plus side, our exposure to Victorique is on the rise. Although she may be an amalgamation of a variety of tropes, her depiction is so well executed that she makes every scene she's in, regardless of its necessity, immensely watchable. (Aoi Yūki's voice work in particular has been a pleasure; I might favor her performance here over Madoka Magica.) Conversely, we have the primary negatives of GOSICK's anime adaptation: the deviation of pacing from the manga, the mysteries and the supporting cast. The first two I've discussed during past reviews, so allow me to speak on the latter. Avril appeared like she would be a strong addition to our crew, but she's almost instantaneously shoved out of the picture at the beginning of this episode. Gervil is good for some laughs, but he has yet to serve a purpose anywhere near the vicinity of meaningful. Worst of all, we have Kujou (a main character no less). His stupidity is often too much to bear. He does manage to ease up a bit here when he teases Victorique for no apparent reason, flicking her on the head moments after tripping her, but other than that he rarely brings anything exciting to the table.

After viewing this sixth installment, I took some time trying to figure out why the pairing of Victorique and Kujou is, ultimately, a successful, anchoring element of GOSICK. My conclusion is essentially that similar opposites attract. Weird, right? Think about it. Both of these characters are societal outcasts, yet when placed together they create a certain level of comfort that neither of them have experienced anywhere else. The sequences between Victorique and Kujou in the libary's garden, even though they dabble in slapstick, are constantly episodic highlights. Kujou exists to play the yang to Victorique's yin, which is all the more notable because Kujou has the moniker of darkness while Victorique's is so, well...shiny.

"The Gray Wolf Summons a Compatriot", up until its conclusion, meanders heavily. It opens on Kujou and Avril fooling around at a market, with Kujou getting his textbooks ripped off by a street magician (he's in the OP, so we'll see him again), to another half-assed case involving a shady nun and a disappearing antique plate, which Victorique quickly labels as "boring" and apparently solves. I guess Gervil does prove useful for something here, as another of his Cosmo Kramer-like walk-ins hints at details about Victorique's forsaken mother, Cordelia Gallo. All it takes is a change of headdress (to...a turban) for Gervil to mistake Victorique for Cordelia, an ex-dancer and a Gray Wolf. The whole age difference factor doesn't seem to come into play for the drill-haired inspector.

The aftermath of Gervil's visit, in combination with an article in the paper concerning the Gray Wolves, suggests that a spark of motivation has spawned within Victorique. After attempting to vacate the academy grounds alone (why is it so cute seeing a little girl trying to push a massive piece of luggage?) Kujou steps in and the two take a train to Horowitz, bumping into the plate-thief nun along the way (I think she's Victorique's mother, don't rage if I'm off-point). After being upset with Kujou for most the episode for the forehead-flick, she makes up with him in a well-played scene where she reveals the reason why her mother had been exiled: she was a criminal. Marquis de Blois wanted to "incorporate" (*cough*sex*cough*) some Gray Wolf blood with his own, but when he discovered Cordelia's alleged criminality, the relationship was over.

The citizens who live in the Gray Wolf village are closed off from the rest of the world, so that automatically makes them testy as hell: they have their weapons at the ready when Victorique and company arrive at the front gates. The town leader on the other hand, temporarily plays mister nice guy, calling the return of Cordelia's offspring a special event. The proceedings are encased in a thick fog, which can only mean one thing: shit is likely to hit the fan. Nothing cheery ever comes from dense mist.

[GOSICK is simulcasting on Crunchyroll.]

Kristina Pino

Beelzebub Episode 6

If you're one of those people who wanted to see Beel with clothes on, I think this episode is the closest you'll ever get. Even so, baby wang was still out all the way. In any case, we got a nice little double-feature this week, and I liked having two separate sort of scenarios to enjoy. So, Oga is trying to keep Beel occupied with toys! I thought that one of the toys was amusing, which looked like a cross between a penguin and Doraemon. Did anyone else notice that?

The best part was of course when Beel opened up the pretend box and turned Oga and Furuichi into nurses for his pretend Doctor game. Everything that followed just got progressively funnier, especially when those four chumps that keep trying to get Oga decided to team up and they find him in the nurse's office. In the end, getting everyone out of the costumes was a ridiculously easy fix, and I kind of wish they had stayed stuck. Obviously, it still didn't end on a high note for them. Poor Oga, can't catch a break.

The next episode is somehow about finding Beel another baby to be friends with. It looks like Oga finds a girl with a...little brother I hope...and tries to get friendly. How do you think that will turn out?

[Watch Beelzebub simulcasting on Crunchyroll.com]
Level E Episode 6

This episode was much more enjoyable than the last one. As someone who grew up playing RPGs, I watched this and thoroughly enjoyed the parody and spirit of Prince Baka's new ridiculous scheme. The cliff-notes: He sent those poor suckers into an RPG planet, where they raised their levels really high, learned new attacks and set out to a castle where they are supposed to fight some dragon boss. After this hilarious montage of them doing quests, leveling up and solving puzzles while learning about RPG mechanics, Prince Baka sang to them. He has been learning guitar so he could sing them inspirational songs and write them a theme song.

Next episode however is titled "Game Over...?!", and it looks like they're going to face a ridiculously hard boss. Going by the episode split images though, it would seem that they've got this Power Rangers or Magic Knights Rayearth thing going on, where they'll be able to transform into some huge robot with their powers combined. It's utterly nuts and awesome at the same time. Even so, I still have my qualms about where the show is headed.

[Watch Level E simulcasting on Crunchyroll.com!]

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Josh Tolentino
Josh TolentinoManaging Editor   gamer profile

Josh is Japanator's Managing Editor, and contributes to Destructoid as well, as the network's premier apologist for both Harem Anime and Star Trek: Voyager For high school reasons, he's called "u... more + disclosures


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