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Annotated Anime Roundup: Winter 2014 Week 9

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Awake at Midnight

Wake up, sleepyheads! The night is young, and it's time for your Annotated Anime Roundup, the weekly recap that's always ready to party, even if you aren't!

The full cast is in this week, as Karen, Brittany, Jeff and yours truly deliver their weekly doses of Yowapeda, Pupa, Tonari no Seki-kun, Engaged to the Unidentified, Onee-chan ga Kita, Hozuki no Reitetsu, Saki: The Nationals, and World Conquest Zvezda Plot!

Get on below and get the latest, and if you haven't yet, catch up on the season's biggest offerings here!

Karen Mead

Yowapeda Episode 21

Grabbing action!

In this very manly flashback episode, we find out that Kinjou is the manliest man that ever manned, and only some shameful (if mostly unintentional) foul play from a Hakone ace stopped him from winning last year's InterHigh for Sohoku. Well, I guess I did ask for more focus on the Sohoku characters, and Kinjou meets that criteria, but this episode still seemed kind of pointless to me: we already knew that Kinjou was a stoic, grade-A badass (who seems to be about 35 instead of 18), so we didn't really need this whole back story. I guess it explains why the team is so hyped about winning the InterHigh now (since they were kind of robbed last year), but eh...I figured they just really wanted to win because this was a sports anime and that's how things are. There aren't too many teams in sports anime who are just doing it for the exercise and don't care too much how they place.

In other news, I'm getting tired of being told that everyone is pushing their bodies to the limit, yet they have the energy for these very calm, meandering conversations all about the true nature of cycling and whatnot during their most important races. I realize that if the characters were just realistically panting while they peddled, unable to talk, then there would be long stretches of show without any dialogue, but it's still kind of comical.

Tonari no Seki-kun Episode 10

Lining up the shot

Desk Mini-golf is pretty pedestrian compared to a lot of the time-wasting endeavors we've seen Seki-kun undertake, but it was really just an excuse to bring a third party into Seki and Yokoi's err, special relationship. Now Yokoi basically has her own Yokoi, a girl watching the two of them interact and making up her own imaginative takes on things. Now we just need someone to be watching the girl who's watching Yokoi, and we'll be in proper M.C. Escher/Inception-territory.

The only thing I didn't like about this episode was how shocked Yokoi was when she saw that Seki-kun was actually lining up his shots for Desk Golf the way a golf pro would. C'mon, Rumi-chan, how long have you known him? She should be at the point of just looking at him incredulously by now, perhaps with one raised eyebrow if she can swing that expression.

Engaged to the Unidentified Episode 9

Armed and dangerous

As per usual, I liked everything about this episode that wasn't about Benio in some way, which means I liked about half the episode. I should probably stop saying that though, since nearly every episode of this show fits that pattern and I'm tired of sounding like a broken record.

On the plus side, rather than being dragged out into a huge drama-bomb, it looks like Konoha's declaration to Hakuya served only to trigger Kobeni to realize that she does have feelings for him; it really doesn't look like there's any chance in hell that the girl's going to threaten the Kobeni/Hakuya relationship in any way. I would be perfectly happy if Konoha, having served her purpose, just showed up as an occasional comic relief character from now on; I'm still nervous she's going to be the source of forced drama no one wants.

Now with Hakuya and Kobeni officially in "Lovey-Dovey" territory, I'm curious to see where their relationship goes. In particular I'm interested to see if Hakuya can demonstrate why he's so fixated on Kobeni, because it seems like he just imprinted on her as a young boy (dog? wolf?) and has been smitten ever since. That doesn't mean his feelings aren't real, but "I've loved you all along just because you were the one girl I met when I was impressionable," isn't really a great basis for a relationship. Still, the series continues to surprise me with its penchant for open and honest communication, so I think this may actually be addressed before the end of the series.

 

Brittany Vincent

Pupa Episode 9 


Much of this episode involves a lot of Yume crying and watching her sit chained to a chair as tears spill to the floor. I get that they're trying to set the scene here, but there wouldn't be that huge of a puddle of tears, and tears aren't that opaque. Also, who are these people who have captured Utsutsu and Yume, anyway? Why is it necessary to pull out his organs (which are shown, by the way, when a chainsaw or bone saw or whatever is censored) and keep digging in for more? For "research," yes, but is this a different organization than what the black-haired woman belongs to? What's the point of all this? I realize I should be offering up explanations for all these things to you, dear Annotated Anime readers, but I simply don't have them. I did appreciate Yume going all monster-mode at the end of the episode, breaking her chains and leaping into action, but why didn't she just do that sooner? Was she waiting for some sort of invisible "rage" meter to fill? That animation sure is God-awful. I can't wait for the Blu-ray. 

[I have no idea what's going on anymore, but you can watch at Crunchyroll!]

Onee-chan ga Kita Episode 9 

Ichika's all about making chocolates for her One True Love on this episode, because it turns out Tomo-kun has never been graced with the sweet treats before. It's just about time for Valentine's Day, and everyone knows homemade chocolates are the only way to a guy's heart. Ichika goes to hang out with her friends to make Tomo-kun the most heartfelt desserts she can, Unfortunately, she ends up adding ingredients like udon because she knows he likes it, and shoves the chocolates into his face like an overzealous stalker. I would have laughed if it weren't so downright dumb and Ichika so adorable.

[Valentine's chocolates ahoy over at Crunchyroll!]

 

Sakura Trick Episode 9

After a magical holiday, it's time for New Year's, and the girls are getting closer than ever. It all starts with an adorable exchange between Haruka and Yuu, after Haruka calls Yuu up just before midnight to confess she just wanted to hear Yuu's voice. It's so cute to see the girls interacting in a manner not unlike a more established couple, even though they're both a little scared to move their relationship forward in a meaningful way beyond kissing.

Little by little you can tell they're becoming comfortable with each other, and Sakura Trick is really proving itself as a yuri staple. I'm going to miss it when it's time for this show to end! Unfortunately, I wasn't digging the second half of the episode so much -- I'm really finding that I struggle to pay attention when the focus shifts to another set of girls.

[New Year's fun over at Crunchyroll!]

 

Josh Tolentino

Hozuki no Reitetsu episode 9

Alright, everyone! Let's get plastered! It's Hozuki no Reitetsu's drinking episode! That's more or less the plot of the thing, opening as it does with Hakutaku waking up after a night of debauchery, complete with hooch, hostesses, and tissue scattered about the floor. And remember, kids: Tissues on the floor are visual shorthand for SEX (be it with a partner or, er, alone). 

It's all about the booze this week, as we're treated to Japanese and Chinese myths' views on gender relations, filtered through the haze of intoxication (and the fact that they're all in Hell), as well as a dry hell to a wet one, and by "dry" and "wet" I'm referring to the terms in the sense of (you guessed it), alcohol.

More references are made this week, down to increasing reminders of just how closely tied Chinese and Japanese myth are (much to the chagrin of ultranationalists in both countries), down to their legends of famous historical femmes fatale. We're given another taste of Hozuki no Reitetsu's slightly odd gender politics (or at least, people who like to read too much into things are), which highlight just how many vixens characters there are throughout old east asian myth. Specifically mentioned is Daji, Last Woman of the Shang Dynasty and now madam of the brothel Hakutaku patronized the night before, leaving a bill worth toppling nations.

Of course, the all-knowing horse-beast has a plan, and it involves turning a section of hell dedicated to rehabilitating alcoholic sinners into a den of reverse psychology, overturning the sacred Japanese heavy-drinking stereotype and revealing that yes, being made by your boss to drink all night really does suck. Alcohol's no friend if you can't consume it in your time, on your terms.

 

Jeff Chuang

Saki: The Nationals episode 9


If Saki: Achiga-hen was a story about a bunch of ordinary people who are really good at mahjong (sans one time mage), then Saki: the Nationals is a story of the occult and monsters with inhuman powers. I mean, what kind of mahjong establishment would let a girl play if every time it's her neighbor's turn to be the dealer, it fogs up? While this final round of qualifier is shaping up to be a real thriller in the season one style, I can't help but to think it's really over the top.

It's not like how Yuuki wore a cape to add to her pizzazz and give her a boost of self-cool. Here we have a girl with a monocles, and Saki didn't quite explain how that worked before switching over to the fifth and last showdown, featuring, finally, the titular Saki in her rinshan kaihou glory. How long has it been for fans of the first season to see Saki in her full bloom? And this week's episode doesn't beat around the bush, either, with Saki taking several cheap rinshan kaihou hands to get the game going. The tall girl who reminds me of the late Michael Jackson, Toyone of Miyamori, does have a pretty cool trick up her sleeves. It feels like her "chasing" powers the embodiment of someone preying on a novice relying too much on riichi, but that's how it is.

In the bigger picture, mahjong is a game played with building a lead and keeping it. Both the top two teams do well because they were able to slowly accumulate their scores and then protect it; Kiyosumi just dropped the ball a bit with Hisa partly choking. It seems unexciting, but fitting, to have the most interesting team in Himematsu playing for the home run from way behind. The only question is will we see that fat pitch from Saki next week?

[Watch Saki: the Nationals on CR]

World Conquest Zvezda Plot episodes 6-9

this must be why my dad is a baker

The one helpful thing about catching up on recaps is that I can now look back and apply hindsight on previous episodes. One thread that ought to take reign since the very first episode is its stated but absurd sense of humor. Zvezda Plot plays it both straight and turn them into strangely heartfelt twists. The latest episode, for example, has a showdown between a White Light and Zvezda low-level goon, who also happen to be the hosts of a remote ryokan where both Zvezda and White Light employees are enjoying themselves at a retreat. The funny thing is no one knows about the coincidence (except us) until the writing decides to rip it up for explosions and laughs. When we see the masks that concealed the old couples, it feels all the more strange to laugh at the situation. Maybe we should've been shedding a single tear instead?

In that sense, World Conquest Zvezda Plot might be the most "anime" show on the air. Episode 7's reveal of Asuta's dad was hilarious, for example, while he's piping off a cigar. Likewise, episode 8's showdown with White Falcon shows how ridiculously fast how the story can turn, and on a dime (or a cake), regardless of how powerful anyone is in the show. The internal logic ofZvezda Plot makes perfect sense, the comedy is played pretty well, assuming you can tune into that sense of humor. That just leaves the shambling thing of a plot.

Thankfully, the story is more so about how Asuta, Kate, Renge and others are going to come together and doing something about world conquest. It's not so much about how Asuta's fiancee is a mysterious voice actress that moonlights as a heroine of justice. It's not quite about how Natasha can walk from Russia to Japan, or if the Udo civilization had a hand in the tower from Little Witch Academia. Let's don't sweat the small stuff, although I'm totally counting on Tensai Okamura to pull out a rabbit out of his hat by the end of the season.

[Conquer nonsense late night anime on Crunchyroll and Daisuki!]

 


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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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