Annotated Anime Only Edition: Winter 2011 Week 11


Welcome to another solo edition of Annotated Anime, the weekly recap that made this face when it realized that neither Index nor Infinite Stratos would be airing this week.

For that matter, a fair few shows aren't airing this week, and you dear viewers must make do with recaps of Kore wa Zombie desu ka?, Wandering Son, Fractale, Bakuman, Star Driver, GOSICK, Level E, Dragon Crisis!, and Rio - Rainbow Gate!

Come to think of it, that's still a lot. Be satisfied already!

Kristina Pino

Level E Episode 11

You know, I like the creativity with the whole subconscious thing this episode had going on, but somehow I got really excited at the prospect of an all-out alien war going on cause of baseball. I mean, I know that Yukitaka's home aliens are super duper baseball freaks, and their first impulse was to pulverize the other team's local alien crowd, assuming they'd tossed our boys in another dimension. It seems totally feasible, and given the way things go in this series it would have made perfect sense. Instead, they went with another sort of rare phenomenon that had nothing at all to do with aliens.

Prince Baka was surprisingly helpful this episode. It's got something to do with the fact that Yukitaka knows what lengths he'll go to for his own amusement, but he was decidedly useful this time around. I'm definitely glad that this wasn't really his doing in the end, or that the baseball team wasn't led onto some crazy goose chase because of Baka, either. It looks like next episode we'll get to see more of Yukitaka and Miho as well, so I'm looking forward to it.

[Watch Level E on Crunchyroll!]

Marcus Speer

Kore wa Zombie desu ka? Episode 10


A few months have passed since the departure of Yuu, and after finding no traces of her whereabouts, the gang can't help but fall into a state of melancholy. With Seraphim being declared a traitor by her clan for refusing to kill Yuu in the previous episode, as well as Haruna showing actual concern for Yuu's safety, Ayumu's confidence begins to run low, as well as his leads on where she could be. However, while mopping about the town, Ayumu is approached by the rival zombie who is presumably responsible for Yuu's disappearance, who calls himself Yoruno. 


After a brief bout, the two are broken up by Sera's vampire-ninja clan, as well as Yuki's, in an effort to finally kill the zombie, yet he escapes with no effort. With information retrieved by Yuki, the gang finds out that Yoruno is practically next-door neighbors with them, and get ready to leave. Meanwhile, right outside of Ayumu's apartment, Seraphim spots- who else? -Yuu, standing right at the doorway, waiting for everyone to leave. Suddenly, she's attacked from behind by the douchebag Yoruno, who takes Yuu to his place. 


After tending to Sera's wounds and learning about what happened, Ayumu and Haruna confront the zombie, leading to the three of them, including Yuu, eating a nice meal in his home. Not too long into the meal does Ayumu lay it down heavy on the man, demanding why he's holding Yuu captive. Before giving a clear answer, the vampire-ninjas once again show up, trying to surround Yoruno, yet to no avail as he scurries away with the necromancer. As the two fade away to the unknown, Ayumu holds his hand out for Yuu to take, but right as she is about to take it, she pulls away, giving Ayumu a look of guilt and sadness. After the two vanish, Haruna notices that Yoruno had placed a bomb atop her head, threatening to kill anyone who wears it. This prompts Ayumu to sacrifice himself as he jumps out of the top-story window because, hey, he's a zombie apparently. The episode ends as he free-falls with the bomb, swearing that he will have Yuu return to him no matter what.


This newest episode was rather enjoyable overall, even if I don't necessarily like this Yoruno Arc so much as compared to other episodes in the series. With the introduction of another overarching villain in the series, this time presented in a physical, human form (and a cliche one at that), interest in Kore wa Zombie has been depleting with each installment recently. That said, this week felt like a much better improvement over the last few episodes, so hopefully the series can pull another awesome stunt like they did back in episodes four and six. Kore wa Zombie can definitely do it, no doubt...but we'll have to wait and see what happens in the coming weeks.


[Watch Zombie on Crunchyroll!]


Brad Rice


Wandering Son Episodes 8 and 9


It's a new school year, and things are starting to get interesting. A new character, Doi, is pushing Shu out of his comfort zone. You could best describe him as that guy who isn't quite a bully, but has his own intentions at heart all the time. He pushes Shu to introduce him to Yuki, the older cross-dresser, because he caught the two of them out talking.

At the same time, we see Shu and Anna's relationship develop as Shu becomes more comfortable talking about his cross-dressing with more of the people close to him. Anna even encourages it to an extent, and it feels like Shu will have his first bit of physical experience with girls with Anna, not Takatsuki.

On the Takatsuki train, we see that she's gone so far as to attend school dressed in boy's clothing. The girl has become more comfortable with herself, which seems to be a running theme in these two episodes -- she doesn't shy away when the teachers question her over her unusual choice in dress. They seem to drop the subject pretty quickly, since Sarashina has been doing it for a while now.

Oh, and at the end of episode 9? Shu goes to school dressed as a girl.

So yeah, that happened. It looks like, finally, the creators are exploring the whole drama of coming out as a cross-dresser -- something the show should have been doing for a while already. I can't wait to see how the rest of the season is going to be!

[Wandering Son is available on Crunchyroll] 


Jeff Chuang

Fractale episode 9


All this character build-up, all the dramatic twists and turns, all just to be able to enjoy a beautiful, fleeting moment of peace with someone special, before hell breaks loose. If it's another way to express the concept of Nessa's love of lovely things, I think I get it.


However, the way up to that point is convoluted, and while Fractale is constructed out of some solid production ideas and elements, the less I can speak about the execution, the better. It's almost like eating some expensive steak dinner, but the chefs are not up to the task, and producing a nonetheless delicious result purely on the strength of the ingredient's innate quality. Maybe I'll save these judgmental words until the end, but that is how it feels every step of the way. This week's episode simply puts a period on that feeling as both the most emotionally evocative yet flawed installment yet.


The plot proceeds as expected. Clain, Phryne and Nessa escaped the explosion unscathed; our ultimate villain was not as fortunate, but the daddy of all Phryne clones lives for another day. What's more, Barrot revealed that many of those older priestesses in the Church's service are Phryne clones, including the head honcho priestess. It seems by cloning them, it is one way to create a key that can reboot the Fractale and restore its dwindling functionality. I suppose the OP visuals now makes sense?


With the destruction of Phryne-dad's secret base, Head Priestess Moeran declares war on all of Lost Millennium. That mobilizes the entire Fractale-connected population and drives all the LM men, women and children to desperation. To nobody's surprise, Dias further incites the LM leaders into attacking the temple, using Phryne and Nessa as trump cards.


Having nothing to do with Lost Millennium's conflict anymore, Clain spends an evening with Phryne and Nessa. Unsurprisingly, Phyrne, being part of the key herself, sneaks off to try to stop the showdown. Following that, Clain groans in frustration and runs after her, with a cheerful Nessa in tow. What will happen in the inevitable ceremony in which Phyrne combines with Nessa to reboot the Fractale? Can you make it even more obvious in how Clain will save them? Find out in the soon-to-be-climax next week?


[Catch Enri being all dere on FUNi/Hulu]
Ben Huber

Star Driver episode 23


Finally, things are starting to go down in Star Driver. I mean, we only have what, two episodes left? About time.


And yes, our favorite blue-haired bishounen finally became the King. And Keito ended up right by his side too! With Sugata asking Wako out on a date and training Takuto, it seems like he's preparing the Ginga Bishounen for a matchup. Perhaps Sugata sees a duel between the two as an inevitability due to his heritage or somesuch? Most of this seemed to all happen suddenly after Sugata received a painting from Reiji... maybe it was intended as some sort of signal?


But the highlight of the episode was when Takuto met his father finally on the shore of the island. And while Tokio played dumb and tried to chat with him, Takuto simply punched his smug face right in, saying "don't play tricks with me." Definitely one of the best parts of the whole series so far, just because it was so satisfying. Now, the real question is... will BONES animators finally come back and do some work on these last two episodes and try to impress us? Or will we be left with a generally lackluster ending? Hopefully not.


Bakuman episode 23

This show doesn't turn out too bad when they keep a brisk pace, you know.


And that's what we get! A couple timeskips, lots of content, and keeping the pace up. One nice touch was seeing the various manuscripts with voices, as well as everyone's reaction to Koogy's ridiculously silly and overdone piece. Don't worry, that arrogant bastard won't be around for much longer, I'm sure. And for those of you who don't like Aoki, she gets much less stuck-up later. In general, though, it was just nice seeing everyone's work come to life in a way. There were a few smaller moments as well with Saiko's grandfather and Azuki, but mostly it brushed past that and barreled on ahead. Hopefully my requests to have this show move quicker don't result in it going too fast!


But in any case, the next episode should actually be pretty exciting, so, surprisingly, I'm looking forward to it a bit!


Mike LeChevallier

GOSICK episode 10
Besides "When will this show start featuring actual mysteries?", one of the most prominent questions regarding GOSICK's first-half development has been "Can Kujou carry a case-of-the-week episode by himself?" Ten installments in, and this particular query has yet to be fully answered. Be that as it may, "Girl With a Cold Dreams of Her Stubborn Friend" is about as close as we've come to seeing our central male protagonist in the driver's seat of a procedural crime-busting. There's a nice continuing dynamic in this two-outing arc with Victorique back at the academy stricken with the flu, and Kujou unraveling the bizarre happenings in the capital city. It's clear that Kujou could never solve a mystery on his own, as he can't even place his finger on exactly where he's seen the magician who stole his textbooks before (name drop: red-haired, slight of hand man is the Brian Roscoe fellow we heard so much about in the town of the Gray Wolves). Lucky for Kazuya, though, Victorique is willing to cooperate in exchange for trinkets (an emerald/jade stiletto pump which she uses as a dock for her pipe, which is kind of awesome), and the fact that Grevil ostensibly has the entire district's police force at his disposal aids in wrapping this ordeal up without much fuss.

Speaking of Grevil, the most interesting tidbit of over-arcing storyline information to come out of this episode is the origin of the inspector's scene-stealing hairdo. Apparently as some sort of payment for her constant assistance on investigations, Victorique herself made her half-brother sport the drill pompadour--though some closing scenes here illustrate that there is much more to the interactions of the de Blois kids prior to Kujou's entrance into their lives. Other than that, this episode is, honestly, quite the snooze-fest.

Predictably, Jeantan's clandestine operations are essentially what any viewer paying moderate attention thought they were at the end of "Blue Roses Bloom in the Cannibal Department Store". They are, indeed, keeping girls in a secret room and selling them off at an upscale secret auction, along with stolen rare artifacts, to rich people with some seriously complex issues. The manner in which Kujou and Grevil out the store's owners is one of the most confused and far-fetched displays of detective work we've seen up until this point; the writers hardly detail how much of the pair's conclusions are reached. For once, I actually yearned for a Victorique Chaos monologue to painstakingly spell things out. I won't delve into the haphazard reveal too much, as I can use the space for more pressing criticisms, but I will say that it involves the savant homeless boy's perfect memory, the pitiable girl from the box's dazed confession (she's goddamn Anastasia!), a poorly staged fake argument and fluorescent hand-prints, amongst other shoulder-shruggingly bland plan-foiling tactics.

I'm quite excited for the next episode, as the preview pretty much blatantly sets it up as a distinctly Grevil affair. Before that, we're able to get a brief introduction of a new female character in the form of Jacqueline (possibly a former love interest of Grevil), who enjoys manipulating not only other people's faces by stretching them out, but also her own. She also kindheartedly takes the street child prodigy, who announces himself as Louis, under her wing because she seemingly has nothing better to do with her leisure hours. I'm usually fond of any character named Jacqueline, so there's that going for her, too. As with every fresh acquaintance, time will tell where loyalties lie. I need not feel rushed to know--I'm riding this mystery machine until it breaks down completely.

[GOSICK is simulcasting on Crunchyroll.]
Dragon Crisis! episode 10

In which Rose loses her dragon-virginity and suddenly turns tsundere.

To come back from the atrocious filler of "Mirror of Truth" and even approach the more-or-less consistent mediocrity previously maintained by this series, it would have to take a miracle of the highest distinction. Of course, that doesn't happen here, but we do get one of the most backhandedly comedic scenes of the show's entire run thus far. Basically, Ryuji has sex with Rose on screen without actually inserting his penis inside of her. Everything else is pure inaugural sex: the hesitation, the moaning, the post-act awkwardness; not to mention the fact that Rose starts screaming "Don't touch me!" as soon as the deed is done. It's kind of sad that this intercourse bit (a simple hand-kissing to the untrained senses) works as comedy, because I think that after the initial line of "Ryuji, I want to become an adult!", the sequence was playing it straight for seriousness.

Other than the non-sex sex scene, "Adult's Rites" is more of the same all-around sluggish progression. Since episode 2, Dragon Crisis! has been dabbling in a mixture of different genres without wholeheartedly working towards deciding on what it wants to be. Sometimes a series can do this and pull it off in a brilliant fluke (DEEN's own Fruits Basket, for example), but almost nothing comes out successfully here. The arrival of Sapphie, the blue dragon, almost seems like the start of a nice action scene, but it falls apart so quickly that not even humorous beats can be derived from it. That Sapphie cannot control her elemental water powers (she raises a cube of liquid out of a lake only to have it simply get people wet and nothing else) could be something of an effective long-running joke, but because Sapphie takes herself, her mission and her attachment to her "lover" Onyx so seriously, everything she does fails due to lack of originality in the character scripting department. Sapphie feels like a slew of lame archetypes acting concurrently, thus leading to me not giving a fuck about anything she has to say. One scene in particular has Sapphie and Rose, like a pair of real human teenage girls, gushing over their prospective boyfriends (Ryuji and Onyx, respectively). Done correctly, this could have been enjoyable, even touching, but because Sapphie's negative motives are already known to us, it just falls flat.

Maruga, who I actually like a fair amount in comparison to Sapphie and Rose, makes a cameo at the end of this episode, but I have no idea where she is or what she's talking about (someone broke into her house and stole something, I guess). However, Onyx is mentioned again; I think this is the first time within an episode that we've heard so much about a known character but they don't show up at some point. Let's hope the black dragon's reappearance contains a dose ass-kicking, even of the subpar variety, because this steady stream of boredom is killing me.

[Dragon Crisis! is simulcasting on Crunchyroll.]

Dragon Crisis! episode 11
One must simply gaze upon this episode's title to just about grasp the amount of effort put into its production. "Dragon Crisis" (yes, I do have a pet peeve for series that implement their namesakes into episode monikers) is about as lazy an outing as we've seen thus far, and can presumptuously be skipped over save for one Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows style reveal during Onyx's big monologue, which he delivers from inside what looks like an imitation genie bottle circa early 90s Disney cartoon fair. The tentative bomb-dropping is that the reason Rose starts tripping out so much when Ryuji kisses her symbol is not the naive "Oh, she realizes she's a girl and Ryuji is a boy so she's just nervous around him" but rather that Ryuji himself is a Horcrux Lost Precious with the ability to have a certain authority over dragons (i.e. he can destroy them without intense training, unlike other high-on-the-totem-pole Breakers).

Before Onyx shows up and rains on the retard parade, we're exposed to three separate b-plots surrounding Rose's sudden alteration to a tsundere state. Firstly, there's Rose and Ryuji's interactions, which are equivalent to the amount of uneasiness present during the morning after a booze-induced one night stand. Secondly, we see Eriko and Bianca hacking into the Society's databases to discern exactly what is going on with Rose from a more scientific standpoint, which is incredibly boring to watch. Seriously, their scenes basically consist of them sitting at a laptop talking about bullshit. I would have preferred them to go on a fetch quest or something--anything that requires the animators to actually animate.

The last of the subplots is evidently an attempt to make the side-characters seem more well-rounded, as Rose seeks relationship council from Mao and Misaki, while Ryuji does the same with Masato. You would think that our lead pair would have learned by now that this trio of misfits has absolutely nothing to offer them in terms of solidified friendship, let alone keen advice on how to handle a situation as alien as this one. What disturbs me the most about these scenes is that Mao, still, after all that has happened, considers Rose Misaki's "enemy" for "stealing" Ryuji from her and constantly encourages her to exercise some slight double-crossing to win him back. Equally discomforting is Masato's retort to Ryuji's plight, essentially berating him for being a pussy in his dealings with his admiring women (Rose, Misaki and Ai). I do appreciate though how DEEN presents Sapphie as a female dragon who doesn't opt to take the side of the good guys, and who also doesn't seem like she'll be persuaded to turn on her master, Onyx, any time soon. In a sub-genre such as this, keep the bad bad, I always say.

Even though the writers lean towards turning our perception of Misaki 180 degrees from a creepy stalker to a sympathetic adorer at the end here with a sentimental sunset rooftop scene, because of the flagrant nonsense that transpired mere moments ago, none of it works. The only women who appear to stand their ground in how they were originally, successfully, presented, not catering to the whims of the shifting personas around them, are Eriko and Maruga. In response to being held by the Society for aiding Ryuji's removal of Rose from the testing lab, as well as the "Dragon Crisis" at hand, Eriko chooses to get drunk--classically, drowning her problems in alcohol. Maruga, as no-nonsense as ever, materializes at Ryuji's doorstep with the firm message of "We have to talk." Seeing this was, truthfully, quite refreshing coming after previous 19 minutes of dramatic missteps. I wish that more of the characters in Dragon Crisis! understand what it is they want, and if they don't, that they would put up more of a fight to figure it out.

[Dragon Crisis! is simulcasting on Crunchyroll.]
Josh Tolentino
Rio - Rainbow Gate! Episode 11


So, Roll Rulers are effectively demigods. Their auras can alter reality and frighten bears and shit. It's a good thing they all seem to just settle for being casino dealers. God forbid what they'd do if they decided to make the world a better/worse place or somesuch.


It's the penultimate episode, which obviously means it's time to go to the beach and hang out at the hot springs. Of course! In another twist on the typical ridiculousness of any hot spring episode, the girls all play ping-pong naked in the bathhouse. Talk about getting all the cliches over with in one fell swoop.


But enough about that, time for plot. Thankfully, the big final gate battle will be decided by an actual casino game, this time Poker. Or at least I think it's Poker. I have no idea. The only poker games I ever played were the minigame in Xenosaga and the Texas Hold'em minigame in Dead Rising 2, both of which I simply exploited for extra cash. I guess I'll have to trust them.


In a Fighting Friday-like twist, Rina uses the sheer power of her Spiritual Pressure Chakra Justice Roll Ruler to suppress Rio's cards and and turn them into lizards and whatnot. How that helps Rina get to 15, I don't know, but to quote a catchphrase, I'll Leave It To Rio.


[Watch Rio on Crunchyroll]

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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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