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Annotated Anime: Fall 2011 Week 6

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Sure, you could be disappointed that this week's Annotated Anime recap is a day late, but on the other hand, you could (dare I say should?) be joyful, for this week's Annotated Anime will be followed by this week's Fighting Friday, your favorite fight-show recap! No downtime, friends! Non-stop recapping madness abounds!

Keep that firm knowledge in your hearts, fellow otaku, as you read the week in [email protected], Shana, Mawaru Penguindrum, C3, Haganai, Beelzebub, Squid Girl, Bakuman, Chihayafuru, UN-GO, Fate/Zero, Gundam AGE, Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi, Working'!!, Persona 4, Phi Brain, and Guilty Crown! Better still, our promised coverage of Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere officially begins, provided by yours truly!

There's much to read, and much to watch, dear audience. Let's begin.

Josh Tolentino

Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere episodes 1-4

Four episodes in, and I have no idea what's going on. I'm seriously, completely sorry, but I'm stumped. I beg you, dear readers, to explain to me in one comment that at three distinct periods of uninterrupted exposition (and just in the first episode!) has been unable to convey. Am I just being utterly stupid? I hope so, because the show is mildly entertaining, and I like being able to avoid finding flaws in things that entertain me.

Instead, I'll tell you how, for some reason, Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere reminds me of, of all things, the universe of Warhammer 40,000.

While Horizon is in no way about the grim darkness of the future, where there is only war, it is like 40K in that it is utterly absorbed in its own fiction and finds it difficult to deliver said fiction's, er, richness using filmic devices and narrative. Earlier impressions that the novels this anime is based on were "impossible" to adapt were spot-on. Sadly, these claims were not due to the novels being complex, subtle and nuanced. They're just incoherent and simply incompatible with being, uh, explained.

For example, 40K comes up with special words for pretty much everything that has its own name in the real world. Instead of a "sensor" it's an "auspex". Instead of a "computer", it's a "cogitator" or a "logic engine". Instead of a "prosthetic", it's an "augmetic". Instead of a "radio" it's a "vox". It's all difficult to explain without simply barfing up waves of exposition. 40K is lucky that it doesn't have a cartoon adaptation yet, lest people realize that it is just the same as Horizon in this regard. Books and words can go into far more detail than films and cartoons, and still remain comprehensible.

Horizon is the same, even down to incredibly over-the-top character designs filtered through the lens of a writer drunk on videogames, as if taking Sengoku BASARA and Dynasty Warriors as the true representatives of history. Instead of 40K's spikes, tusks and Space Marines, you get maids, robots, Incubuses, manly-voiced Slimes, witches, knights, ninjas and mecha, all of whom are students at a high school set on a flying ship. And as a plus, this show has one of the more likeable (if difficult to look at) protagonists around. At least compared to his competition this season.

If I understood the plot this could be the best thing ever. Right now I'm just confused. I'll keep watching because that horned magical maid vs. mecha was cool to watch.

[Be confused alongside me watching The Anime Network Online]

 

[email protected] episode 17


My dreams of having a good Makoto episode are finally realized, but I remain mildly disturbed by their really playing up the whole "dating a 16-year-old girl" angle. I don't know how it goes in the game, but Mr. Producer should not be allowing these girls to call these outings "dates."

It's also hard to believe that the Jupiter dude thinks Makoto is all high-and-mighty and "too good to talk to peasants" when his own producer acts exactly the same way. And then he brushes everything off by being all "What our Producer does is his own business, our job is to not question anything he says." For that part, all the 765 girls had to do was say that their friends are being kidnapped.

[Date 16-year-old idols Watch [email protected] on Crunchyroll]

 

Kristina Pino

Haganai Episode 4


Wow, Kodaka's life has only gotten more complicated since meeting Yozora. Or re-meeting, depending on how the story goes, really.

I'm not sure what to think about Yukimura. On the one hand, she's is so dang cute! On the other, is she a "she" or a "he?" I like ambiguity when it's funny, but I can't find humor in it when it's not obvious to me whether the character is truly male or female. Maybe some of you folks who've read the manga could elucidate? Though I'm pretty much leaning towards delusional female who wants to be a man?

I'll have to thank Lifesong for getting me excited to meet Rika. She's a total riot, and I really hope that she's this crazy throughout the rest of the show. I lost it when she was narrating some story that's a cross between Gundam and Eva and managing to turn it into some intense innuendo. It also brought on a bit of jealousy within the other girls, didn't it?

The last person we finally met is Sister Maria. She confirmed that she is in fact, 10 years old. At first, I was upset to know this, but she won me over with her insipid cuteness. I hate that Yozora is such a jerk to her, but it's hard to be upset when the results are so adorable. Am I being a little too gushy? I don't know, I'm surprised at how much I'm enjoying this ridiculous anime. I'm going to definitely read the source material as soon as I find the time.

 

Beelzebub Episode 40


Wow...I don't know what to say. I have a hard time believing that Hilda would go down so easily, but that was quite the jerk move there.

It looks as though things are getting horridly complicated. Demons are sprouting all over the place (I think I said this last week, too, but now it's all coming together and becoming more obvious), and it seems like Aoi is some valuable real estate right about now.

Oga will have to have come to the horrible realization that really nasty things can and may happen to people he's surrounded by - a concept he's not really accustomed to. Beel himself will probably go through some changes depending on how he comes out of what just happened at the end here, and I hope Aoi will also come out of this stronger. Will she contract with a demon for Lord En the crybaby?  I sincerely hope not.

[Catch Beelzebub simulcasting on Crunchyroll!]

 

Sekakoi2 Episode 4


This episode was much more intense than I remember reading in the manga. But hey, drama! Yeah!

As usual, there is some ridiculous misunderstanding on the part of the "uke" that makes him turn tail and run to the "friend" who is also in love with him and tries to rape him or something, then the "seme" comes in for the rescue. Then they kiss and make up, because that's how these things work. (Also sponsored by Special Usagi Beer!)

I know I've mentioned this like every time there's a Tori/Chiaki episode, but I still have issues with Tori's ridiculous jealousy towards Yuu. That kind of insecurity is never a good indicator, but hey we know it'll work because it's BL manga. Then again, if I remember correctly Shu-chan gave Yuki the boot in Gravitation after the series ended (in the manga continuation; excuse my ignorance if I'm wrong here, though), so there is always the possibility that Shungiku Nakamura is expanding her horizons and actually breaking a couple up. Not that I want her to do it, but it'd be pretty good drama, no?

Next episode we're back to Takano/Ritsu, and it looks like we're finally going to catch a scene where Ritsu exhibits some kind of affection for the poor guy. Last time we saw them, he was clutching onto Takano and enjoying a smooch (instead of protesting, for once), and the previews for next week show him stopping Takano from walking out the door. Woohoo, plot progression!

[Watch Sekakoi simulcasting on Crunchroll!]

 

Jeff Chuang

Mawaru Penguindrum Episode 16


Public service announcement: Do not eat fugu sashimi prepared by an amateur.

Do not eat fugu sashimi prepared by an amateur, when holding a sign saying Survival Strategy.

Do not eat fugu sashimi prepared by an amateur, while accosted by men in black.

Do not eat fugu sashimi prepared by an amateur, while feeling electrifying.

Do not eat fugu sashimi prepared by an amateur, while breaking this week's | annotated weekly with | a random haiku.

Do not eat fugu sashimi prepared by an amateur, while listening to Triple H's cover album coming out this December.

Do not eat fugu sashimi prepared by an amateur, while possessed by the ghost of your clan's ancestors.

Do not eat fugu sashimi prepared by an amateur, while trying to save Masako's brother who is possessed by the ghost of his clan's ancestors.

Do not eat fugu sashimi prepared by an amateur, while preparing fugu sashimi.

Do not eat fugu sashimi prepared by an amateur, while watching Mawaru Penguindrum episode 16. Because it's so freaking random and hilarious, you might choke on something first.

 

Un-Go Episode 3


This week's Un-Go is not action packed. But if there's something that is an equvalent in terms of putting various hints together and squish them into a 23-minute block, this week's episode is it. While there are all these character motivations and cause-effect ideas presented this week, I think Un-Go is continuing on with its focus on "why" over on "how" as opposed to most Sherlock Holmes-ian mysteries. So let's take a look at why this is happening.

When I first finished the episode it made me ask "why did he burst into flames"? Then I rewatched the beginning, and then it kind of dawned on me--they created the artificial "child" in order to keep the family business going in the case where Komamori perished, which he eventually did. There are still a lot of blanks as to what would have prompted the uncle and mother to do it, but in the end it seems like not a big deal because Komamori's thinking is what got duplicated into his invention--it's almost like an episode of Ghost in the Shell!

There are a lot of clever red herrings in this episode. The obvious one is those masks--murder mystery fans should be quick to jump on those things. The robots are another big obvious thing. Uncle's business deals at the start is another one. But in the end I don't think any of those really matters in terms of revealing the mechanism behind the actual murder; it just explains some of the motivations. 

Lazily thrown in there are more setting exposition. The crushed Tokyo metro slums and Rie's horseback adventure adds to Un-go's unique flavor, but I'm not sure if it contributes to what makes this show interesting. Well, the setting is interest, but I don't see how it's using that setting to the story's advantage. It also kind of make me wonder if I would get more out of it if I read the original novel...

[Do not eat fugu sashimi prepared by an amateur, even if it's in a Crunchyroll.]

 

Elliot Gay

Fate/Zero Episode 5

Like the boss he is, Rider announces his true identity and then proceeds to tell Saber and Lancer just how moved he was by their battle. He then offers to them a chance to lay down their weapons and work with him to attain the Grail. They turn down the offer of course which leads Rider to proclaim that anyone who doesn’t step forward to join the three of them is a coward, which doesn’t make Gilgamesh too happy.

With four of the major players face to face, things seem like they can’t get much worst. Well, that is until Berserker makes his first appearance. What follows is a series of ridiculous battle sequences that show off the true power of the servants in a way that Fate/Stay Night never did. You truly come to understand just how insanely powerful and inhuman these warriors are when you see Berserker deflect Gilgamesh’s swords in a flurry of slashes and footwork.

Tokiomi is none too happy with his servant making his powers known to all his adversaries, and forcibly calls him back. Berserker turns his sights to Saber, though Lancer saves her from a tough spot, only to be forced to team up with the ravenous beast in an effort to put Saber down. Rider manages to step in here, forcing Berserker to leave the scene while also calling out Kayneth for being the coward of a master that he is. Lancer is called back, though not after he expresses his gratitude to Rider for the help.

Commenting on the animation would be redundant at this point, but let me just quickly note that I liked the use of CG for Berserker’s movement. It really helped to make him feel like an unpredictable and unworldly presence. The highpoint of the episode though was seeing the Servants interact on a much more personal level than we’ve seen before. The respect between Saber, Lancer and Rider was extremely charming and I’m hoping they build on that in coming episodes.

[Catch Fate/Zero for free over at Nico Nico playas!]

 

Shakugan no Shana Final Episode 4

This week was one big twenty minute action sequence, not that I’m complaining. While I enjoy the quieter moments of the series (like last week), I’m a sucker for a big, flashy fight. Yuji makes it clear early on that he hasn’t in fact been forced into this situation, but rather made the choice himself. If nothing else, seeing him go from the useless sack he was last season to the calculating, powerful villain in this episode has been interesting.

Yuji reveals the truth to Margery about The Silver, which causes her to have one helluva mental break down. In an interesting move, he does little physical harm to his former comrades, save for Shana who he roughs up a bit to make it easier to kidnap her. The last scene of him coldly addressing Kazumi was both sad and necessary. It’ll be interesting to see how she recovers from this.

Animation on the whole was average. There were some obvious shortcuts in animating the fight, but on the whole it was fast-paced and high energy. Everyone was moving so frequently that it’s hard to complain too much about character design inconsistencies. Not going to win awards, but it gets the job done. 

 

Chris Walden

Wagnaria'!! Episode 5


Finally we get an episode dedicated to the manager! We haven't really seen much of her both during this series and last besides the odd flash back, so it's certainly nice to see her with the spotlight. Unfortunately for her, she has been barred from eating all of the restaurants food, due to a white lie told by Souma. At the thought of losing both her food source and her job, she loses all energy and begins to mope about the restaurant. 

Meanwhile, Yamada is once again attempting to be the centre of attention. After seeing Yachiyo fetching endless parfaits for the manager (did she only just realise?,) she tries to get the other employees to serve her in the same way. Of course, this doesn't quite work out. Takanashi brings in a lost child, which just makes the manager hungrier and Yamada more jealous. Also Takanashi more of a lolicon. 

It seems that not even a starving manager can take a cake away from a lost child, even when it is offered to her. As much as she does nothing other than eat, it was a good episode to finally work out what really makes her tick. Unfortunately for Wagnaria, it seems that it is indeed food and pretty much only food that makes her tick. 

[Wagnaria'!! is cooking up a storm on Crunchyroll!]

 

Squid Girl Season 2 Episode 5


After a weeks hiatus, we finally have our Squid Girl back! Well, she won't have an episode next week either, so let's enjoy what we have! The first of the three parts sees Squid Girl wrecking Takeru's remote control car, taking it outside and smashing it into a wall while he's not around. In an attempt to apologise, she allows Takeru to control her with the cars remote, which just serves to confuse him. Eiko appears and orders Squid Girl to clean the bathroom, and becomes suspicious when she actually starts to do it. Eiko finds the car and gets the three stooges to fix it, which ultimately ends up with the car launching into space. 

The middle story, and the better of the three on offer is all about the Tanabata festival. Squid Girl doesn't know what to wish for, and starts to think up lots of different invasion-orientated ideas. After reading the wishes of the other characters, she finally settles on her wish. She wishes for safety, and with the kind of people she hangs about with, I can't say I'd blame her. 

In the third part, Squid Girl and Takeru go to the park after getting bored of the television back home. To spice things up, Squid Girl says that people can have fun in their own ways, so they begin to play in the park by themselves. I'm not really a fan of this segment, as while not a lot happens anyway, having to watch a montage of the two playing on their own in the same park is just plain odd. I suppose that's Squid Girl for you. She also defends some ants before heading back home with Takeru. 

[There's squiddly diddlying on Crunchyroll!]

 

Phi Brain Episode 5


Everything starts of predictably at first, having all of the main characters congregating in the cafeteria and going about things without a care in world. Of course, POG arrive and interfere with things, but surprisingly only take Kaito, Nonoha and Gammon, with Cubic and Anna opting to stay behind. Interestingly, the school president apparently has had no part to play in these events, unlike when he springs puzzles on Kaito.

The trio are presented with three different puzzles, which Gammon quickly makes short work of while Kaito is in his own little flashback world. He recognizes these puzzles from his childhood, with the third and final puzzle seemingly being a rendition of the one that had killed his parents. Upon realising this, he goes berserk, only being revived when Cubic shows up out of nowhere and demands he is fed one of Nonoha's terrible cookies. He is still traumatised though, seemingly losing his ability to solve even the most basic of puzzles. We are also seeing a lot more of the guy with the huge grey afro, so using basic logic, things are about to get hairy

 

Bakuman Episode 5


Things are looking up for Ashirogi as their new manga begins to climb the rankings. Takagi even opts to study humour in order to make his scripts wittier, which also benefit the public opinion of Trap. Mashiro has also been re-drawing some parts of the manga in order to improve, losing sleep in the process. Aoki and Fukuda are also getting into the swing of things with their new manga, also undertaking similar ventures in order to improve their rankings.

Ashirogi are delighted to hear that they manage to tie with Eiji for third place in one week, and they aim to make this the point where they overtake him. It doesn't work out just yet, but they keep fighting on. You have to admire their dedication when there is only a week to turnaround each of these chapters. Unfortunately Mashiro falls asleep at his desk, and after waking and realising he has dropped a pen, he collapses while trying to pick it up. Two of his assistants arrive, noticing him asleep on the floor, but soon realise that he is not waking up. It's nice to see the anime playing faithful to the manga in most regards (not sure Sket Dance featured in the manga!) so I'm hopeful that the upcoming drama will be handled well!

 

C3 Episode 5


We resume the fight from the previous episode between Peavy and her Fabulaxe and the good guys. Fear decides to join in the fight, opting for both a large cleaver like sword or an iron maiden for a weapon. Changing when the mood calls for it, of course. Peavy manages to take the student president hostage by tying her to a tree, causing Fear to go crazy when she gets cut down by the axe. Haruaki reveals himself from within the iron maiden and manages to destroy the axe with a counter hit. 

Peavy is then picked up and hung from the tree by the student president herself. While she was indeed mortally wounded, she reveals that she is fine because she was wearing bondage gear. No, really. Apparently it's a curse that allows her to heal any exterior wound, but she will die should she remove it. She also gains the ability to launch out leather-like material for attack or just to pick things up. She seems to be a good guy, but doesn't reveal her true intentions. As odd as this is, I can't seem to fathom how they can put personality into one character in less than ten minutes, yet five episodes in we still have two bland main characters. 

Inside the fabulaxe is an item called an Indulgence Disk, something apparently useful to Fear. After the credits role, we see a nice misinterpret-able scene involving copious innuendo and also cubes. After Haruaki inserts the disk into Fear's cube form, she seemingly loses the ability to use that iron maiden. She in exceedingly happy about this, taking a step closer to being more human. 

[C3 screams on Niconico.com]

 

Pedro Cortes

Mobile Suit Gundam AGE Episode 3

Starting off with Flit fighting one of the UE suits in space, the other suit makes itself a nuisance while the Diva is being attached to the colony's core. With a bit of help from Yurin, Flit is able to discern the pattern the UE is following and takes it out. Unfortunately, the other suit hops inside the colony and destroys the command center, nearly killing Brusar in the process. Flit takes off after it and the two duel in space.

Meanwhile, Brusar makes his way to an abandoned construction site to finish the core detachment process. While walking there, he remembers meeting Flit as a younger child and watching him grow. While he drags himself through the dark hallways, Flit stands off against the UE suit, proving he's willing to give his life to protect the colony. For whatever reason, the UE disengages and leaves the area. 

Brusar finishes the detachment process, but yet another setback occurs: a structural pillar has fallen on the core and is keeping it from escaping. To save the colony, Brusar hops out on a construction mech and crashes into it, destroying the pillar and freeing the core. The Diva pulls out the core while the citizens watch the colony fall apart and blow up. The episode ends with the survivors signaling the Federation for rescue while a mysterious (and naked) white-haired dude wakes up from stasis.

 

Mobile Suit Gundam AGE Episode 4

The white-haired dude turns out to be Woolf Enneacle, aka The White Wolf, a Mobile Suit ace who joined up with the Federation forces. The prick shows off his arrogance pretty quick, earning himself absolutely no fans among the crew of the Diva. He decides to challenge Flit for ownership of the Gundam. The two fly out, Flit in the Gundam and Woolf in a Genoace Custom. The two go out to a nearby asteroid field and hold a time-limited mock battle. 

After taking a couple of hits, Flit nails Woolf a couple of times. Unfortunately, their mock battle gets interrupted when a UE shows up. Flit and Woolf disappear from the Diva's sensors when the alien's head ship shows up, displaying some sort of cloaking tech. Woolf sends Flit back so he can fight the UE's, but Flit grabs the released DODS rifle and joins Woolf again. Good thing too, since Woolf wasn't doing too well against the UEs. After Flit destroys a couple of suits, Woolf takes the DODS rifle and blows up an asteroid to cover their escape. The UEs leave, cloaking their head ship before going off into space.

Things seem to be going well thus far. With Flit and co. off of Nova and on their way to meeting up with the greater human population, I expect some more UE battles coming up. I'm also interested in seeing how the Woolf/Flit rivalry will play out as the years pass in the show.

 

Persona 4 Episode 4

Continuing from last week's efforts, Chie and the boys hop back into the TV to try and save Yukiko. We find out more of Yukiko's insecurities, in particular her reliance on Chie socially and emotionally. We also learn more about her role at her family's inn and how she feels like a caged bird. The bird analogy continues when we see her find an abandoned bird and watch her raise it to maturity. Eventually, she forgets to lock the cage and the tiny thing escapes, leaving Yukiko sad and jealous of its new-found freedom.

Chie and the boys eventually find Yukiko and her shadow. The trio (and bear) start fighting the clone, until Yukiko denies its existence and it turns into a bigger monster. Chie braves the flames created by Yukiko's monstrous shadow and gets through to Yukiko, allowing Yu and Yosuke to defeat the beast. Yukiko accepts the shadow and gains the power of her persona. After a bit of brevity, the group leaves the shadow world.

Persona 4 continues to be a loyal and enjoyable adaptation of the game. Next week looks to be a world-expanding episode, focusing on the clubs (and potential love interests) in the school. I'm curious to see how they'll fold that into the story, though I have a feeling it'll be up to par with everything else.

 

Marcus Speer

Chihayafuru Episode 4


I still feel as if this series is the most unappreciated anime of the season. In the big picture, it seems like nothing special, but for high school drama geeks like myself, Chihayafuru is a really interesting show. This week, we catch up with the present-day Chihaya, still on that same train from the first episode talking with the reluctant Taichi. Finally trained and ready to take opponents on as a Class A karuta player, we get to see the results of a grown Chihaya kicking total ass at the game.

After some trouble with her final opponent (and the only thing in her way to becoming a Class A player), Chihaya overcomes with her favorite, patented* "Chihayafuru" poem card. A winner is her! Huzzah! Watching from the sidelines, mesmerized, is Taichi, who is asked once again to join Chihaya's kaurta club at school. Before he can answer, Chihaya decides to call Arata to tell him the news. However, a surprise twist ending approaches, as Arata tells Chihaya to shut up, never call him again, and that he has given up on karuta. Ooooooooooooo~!

Four episodes in and things are already heating up, albeit at a cheesy, melodramatic way... but a cool, cheesy, melodramatic way! I love the feel of this series, and even if the animation itself suffered this episode, the direction is still really great and I'm really hoping that word spreads around about the series. I sometimes feel as if I'm the only one cheering on at home.

 

Hiroko Yamamura

Guilty Crown Episode 3


I was really glad to see the pacing of the show relax a bit. Thank god the student recognized Inori! I was scratching my head a bit at the end of the last episode when no one recognized the popular idol.

The whole dynamic of things at school was pretty interesting, and I have to admit. I found Shu to be a bit more likable. The whole idea of the fake friendships we have was much more focused and poignant. Inori fell a bit more into the background. She's such an interesting character! I really hope they focus on  her way more.

I really hope the show keeps up with this pace. The hour and silliness of pulling things out of your class mates was pretty fun, and the way Shu is coming to grips with his powers is paced nicely. The relations of high school and revolutionary ass kicker are nicely blurred as well. Did you guys think the animation took a bit of a drop this episode?

I want a beautiful hi-def simulcast stream!

[Guilty Crown streams at Funimation]


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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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