Annotated Anime: Winter 2010 Week 9


Greetings, citizens of Japanator! Allow me to introduce myself. I am the mighty defender of justice and protector of the innocent known as FROGMAN!

Huh? Jon Snyder? As far as I know, he's simply a mild-mannered writer who works for Japanator. He has absolutely nothing to do with me, no sir. Heck, I barely know the guy. There's no way he could be my secret identity!

Anyway, I've been given the meritorious task of delivering your weekly anime reviews, which are conveniently located below the break. Be warned, citizen, these reviews contain spoilers. If you wish to discuss these shows in an orderly and lawful manner, please proceed to the Japanator forums posthaste. Now, if you'll excuse me, I must begin my patrols. After all, this city won't defend itself!


Ben Huber

Durarara!! 09

Things are ramping up in Ikebukuro, and Celty seems to have finally found her head -- unfortunately it's attached to someone else's body. Thanks to some of Shizuo's GARtender antics, she's almost able to catch up to her head, but is hindered by Mikado showing up. But probably most central to the episode is Namie Yagiri, the chief of Yagiri Pharmaceuticals and someone who has quite a lot of love for her little brother, Seiji. Their relationship is definitely creepy, (Seiji might be more creepy than Namie, though) but the show handles it with ease. 

I'm pretty sure I heard some new music this episode (yay for Yoshimori Makoto's awesome jazzy soundtrack) and it continues to add to the flavor of the scenes. And again, the animation during the chase scene was great. I keep getting this feeling exuding from my screen that Brain's Base is simply having so much fun doing this show. They're really doing a great job keeping up the quality with each episode. Perhaps this was their strategy? Release a great show amidst a season of mostly crappy shows -- it ends up seeming that much better!


Brad Rice

Kimi ni Todoke 20

Once again, we're focusing on the little love triangle that's going on between Ryuu, Chizuru and Tooru. The entire episode essentially revolves around a single conversation between Tooru and Chizuru, as Tooru made a surprise visit back home for a few hours to get a chance to talk with Chizuru by himself. Much like the trip itself, the conversation is slow and meandering, stopping at various memories from childhood and recounting the tales from those times -- always at the expense of Chizuru. But, by the time things are over, Chizuru was able to finally say what she wanted and got a response that, while not entirely satisfying, was apparently enough for her.

Now things are advancing to where I want them to be: focusing on the relationship between Ryuu and Chizuru. Both Tooru and Ryuu realize that the two of them are a good couple, but the only obstacle is Chizuru's hard-headedness. So, what can Ryuu do? He just has to be there for her, and that kills me inside; to see him act as the stoic friend, when there are so many more feelings beneath the surface? I'm sure quite a few of us have been there, and the sort of heartache that incurs. Of course, we're not going to see things get resolved, as next week the show switches gears back to Sawako and Kazehaya. Since the Ryuu/Chizuru relationship is more difficult, I feel a bigger hole in my heart for the two of them -- one I'm not sure if even the sugary-sweet blossoming love between Kazehaya and Sawako can fill.


Ladies vs. Butlers! 09

This week, Akiharu entered himself into the most dangerous of situations: he agreed to go on a date with Tomomi, that spawn of Satan. This is without a doubt retribution for seeing Sernia kiss Akiharu at the end of last week's episode, because as Tomomi has said in the past, she hates to lose to anyone, and isn't going to lose her precious torture subject to that drill machine.

Of course, Sernia overheard all this, and decided to stalk the two on their date, all the while running into the larger cast of characters. It follows a fairly typical plot of mishaps and fanservice, including breast massaging, that would make for a fairly uneventful episode.

But what made things interesting was in the last few minutes of the show. As Akiharu is walking Tomomi back home, Akiharu admits that when he was a kid, he wanted to become Tomomi's bride -- something she certainly wasn't expecting. In these last two episodes, the romantic plot has been picking up steam and is going to hit us in full force next week, which I can't wait for.

Ladies vs. Butlers! just keeps getting better and better. Clearly, this is the #1 anime of this decade.


Jon Snyder

So Ra No Wo To 09

After receiving a phone call from her father, Rio seems to be in a daze. Meanwhile, a typhoon bears down on Seize and threatens to flood the lower portions of the town. As the river begins to rise, the girls help track down Seiya, an orphan who has gone missing. Seiya is eventually found, but not before Kureha and her crush Klaus (whom she erroneously believes to be a war hero) are trapped by the rising waters. Fortunately, Noel comes up with a rescue plan; she uses the partially-functional legged tank to fire an anchor line which Kureha and Klaus use to climb to safety.

Not much to say about this episode, other than I found it to be a nice helping of slice-of-life, with a bit of mild peril thrown in for good measure. It was interesting to see Kureha and Klaus' characters developed a bit, and I won't deny enjoying the scene with the girls in their underwear. Other than that, this episode maintained the status quo: those of you who have liked So Ra up 'till this point will continue to enjoy it, and those of you who have not won't find anything game-changing here. Move along.


Dance in the Vampire Bund 08

With the traumatic events of the previous arc concluded, Mina apologizes to Yuki and the two make their peace with each other, forging the bonds of a lasting friendship. Meanwhile, Nanami (the student council president) is inflicted with a burning desire to drink the blood of Yuzuru, a young boy whom she used to mentor. After breaking into his room and molesting him (but stopping short of actually feeding on him), she wanders around town using her feminine body to seduce men on the street, then lures them to secluded alley so she can feed on them.

When Yuzuru tries to get into the Bund in order to find Nanami, he is attacked by a self-destructing vampire and saved by one of Mina's agents. With the plight of Nanami brought to her attention, Mina sets out to save the wayward student council president. Eventually, Mina discovers that Nanami is under the control of Hysterica (sporfle), the apparent leader of Telomere. After a lot of fighting, Hysterica escapes with Nanami in tow, using more exploding vampires as cover.

This episode was certainly a return to form for Bund after last week's mediocre showing. Shinbo seems to have solved his pacing problems, although everything still feels a bit rushed. The development of Mina and Yuki's friendship was particularly good, and fleshed out both characters nicely. The only real issue with this episode was the fight scene at the end, which felt more like a lighting-speed onslaught of shonen cliches than a real battle. Hell, if the villain had shouted "We'll meet again, Optimus Prime!" before making her escape, I wouldn't have batted an eye. Still, it was nice to see Bund recapture that old spark that first ignited my interest in Mina's vampiric escapades. Looking forward to next week!

Also, Nanami makes one hell of a sexy yandere vampire. Miniskirted school uniform, glasses and bloodstained fangs = CRITICAL FETISH OVERLOAD!


A Certain Scientific Railgun 22

The girls begin the search for Banri, Eri's Child Error friend who vanished along with nine other orphans. After slogging though Academy City's technobabble database, they discover that Poltergeist might actually be "simultaneous RSPK Syndrome caused by AIM dispersion field resonance," which causes "espers with the same type of diffusion fields to sympathetically resonate." In layman terms, that means the missing Child Errors could set off a Poltergeist event powerful enough to cripple three-fourths of Academy City's espers, as well as potentially destroy the entire city.

Mikoto decides to take matters into her own hands, and dons an ingenious disguise for a bit of nighttime sleuthing. While searching through an old lab, she runs across Dr. Kiyama, who (after putting hundreds of kids into a coma, creating a psychic monster and nearly causing a nuclear catastrophe) has been released from prison on bail. Kiyama, along with her cohort Heaven Canceler, reveal the true nature of Poltergeist. The ten Child Errors were part of an evil plan masterminded by Kihara Gensei, a "mado scientisto." He recklessly experimented on the kids in his attempts to create an uber-powerful Level 6 esper, driving them into permanent comas. After Kiyama and Canceler rescued the kids, they tried to revive them... but every time the children came close to consciousness, it caused a Poltergeist event. After this revelation, Telestina and MAR show up to take the kids into custody, promising to help cure them. At Mikoto's urging, Kiyama reluctantly allows this.

Technobabble aside, this wasn't a bad episode. As I predicted last week, the return of Kiyama really helped the plot along, despite the prevalence of talking heads. The truth behind Poltergeist wasn't entirely surprising, but did introduce one hell of a moral dilemma: is is better to leave these poor orphan kids in their coma indefinitely, or wake them and risk destroying the entire city? I'm looking forward to seeing how they resolve this problem, but I hope the next few episodes contain more action and less boring dialogue. Overall, this was a step up from last week's episode, but still not as good as Railgun's 'glory days.'

Also, Mikoto's frog-mask disguise is ADORABLE. Do I smell a new meme?


Karen Gellender

Hanamaru Kindergarten 08

While there's nothing wrong with it in theory, I'm beginning to get kind of annoyed with the fact that episodes of Hanamaru Kindergarten are always split into two stories, because it gets annoying when one half is far more interesting than the other; do I call it a good episode, or am I supposed to average the two halves together somehow? This week, the first half was forgettable, but the second introduced a new character and (seriously, I am not making this up), advanced the plot. 

I know, right? I didn't believe it either!

Pint-sized Yakuza princess Hinagiku shows up to make the bizarre Anzu/Tsuchi/Yamamoto love triangle into an even weirder love parallelogram, and single-handedly makes this show more entertaining than it's been since episode 1. Hinagiku's lady-like behavior, as the four-year-old "older woman", may just be the cutest thing on this show (although I'm still on Team Anzu, thank you very much.) However, though her rivalry with Anzu is entertaining, I'm afraid that the writers will drive it into the ground, and it will cease to be funny very shortly. Even so, I'm glad to see this show making use of the elements that make it special instead of continuing on as 'just' a slice of life show; love them or hate them, it's the adorable-but-ever-so-slightly-creepy relationships that make this show stand out.



Well, this is the only summer festival episode I've seen in a long time that hasn't absolutely bored the hell out of me, so that's a good start. While I could have done without seeing a goldfish jump down Haruka's cleavage, on the whole this was a very solid little episode.

Ostensibly Chu-Bra!! 09 is about the tomboyish Yako offending a childhood friend by changing in front of him (because she doesn't see him as a man), but the real point of interest is the growing love triangle between Nayu, Komachi, and Haruka. Token-male Komachi is struggling more and more to keep his monster crush on his brainy classmate a secret- so much so, that it looks like he's about to throw in the towel and just admit it already- and Haruka is trying to figure out if what she feels for Nayu is actually friendship, platonic love, romantic love, or something else entirely. You would think that a lesbian relationship would make the sophomoric humor alarm go off (see: Baka to Test to Shokanju, A Certain Scientific Railgun), but actually, it's all played very quietly. Haruka is legitimately confused as to how she feels for Nayu and whether or not it's wrong, and the show does not mock her feelings. 

In fact, at the moment it's not clear whether her feelings are even sexual; how can you tell the difference between friendship and love when you're thirteen years old, and you've little experience with either? I'm kind of hoping that Haruka turns out not to be a lesbian- not because I mind having a lesbian character on the show, but because it would be more interesting for me if Haruka's experience were about a girl going through a confusing "Wait, is it possible that I'm a lesbian?" phase while not actually being gay. Her jealousy of Komachi could easily be due to the fact that he's monopolizing Nayu's attention, and not the result of anything sexual. I know I was called a lesbian for a while in middle school because I refused to admit to "liking" any of the snot-nosed boys in my class, despite being straight (*hides Shizuo doujinshi*) so as per usual, this show continues to hit a lot closer to home for me than I expected.


Baka to Test to Shokanju 09

Alright, I really didn't expect the sheer hilarity of last week's episode to become the new status quo or anything, but what the hell? In theory, the arrival of Yoshii's brilliant, gorgeous and absolutely batshit crazy older sister could be interesting, but I find that I really don't care. I don't know if it's due to the fact that incestuous relationships seem to have become a common theme in anime lately or what, but incest just plain bores me at this point. I am too bored by it to even be weirded out anymore.

And seriously, would it have killed someone to summon something during this episode? I'm not talking about anything Knights-of-the-Round level, I would have settled for something more like Kjata or Typoon, or another one of those crappy red materia that no one ever seriously used (except for like that one time right after they got it), I just want to see someone summon something. It's not that there can't be a good episode of this show without the summons, but it just so happens that every good episode thus far has had Baka and Tests AND Shokanju, not one out of three as is the norm.

And whatever happened to the plan for Class F to advance through the ranks like wildfire, in the pursuit of free snacks and nicer desks? I'm assuming we won't see any more of that storyline until around episode 12, which is a shame. The things I like about this show are still good, but I'm definitely starting to think it would have made for a better 4-episode OVA (or something to that effect) than a 13-episode TV season. When it is awesome, it is VERY awesome, but that only happens about 10% of the time, if that. 

Ookami Kakushi 09

Okay, I confess that I have not been watching this show, thus this is not a proper recap; this is an attempt to at least touch on this show for Annotated Anime because it seems to be popular among Japanator readers. However, though this apparently was one of those episodes where they totally explain the storylinecakes, I have no fucking clue what was going on in this episode.

Oh sure, you can be snotty and say "OF COURSE you don't know what's going on, you HAVEN'T BEEN WATCHING", but seriously, I think it's more than that- I think I'd still be in WTF? mode regardless. I know that Nemuru is driven crazy by Hiroshi's oh-so-delicious fragrance, but I seriously can't tell if she wants to kill him, vivisect him, rape him, eat him, or perhaps some combination of indeterminate and potentially disturbing chronology. Plus, it's not like I want to give Stephanie Meyer credit for inventing this particular plot device or anything, but seriously, how Twilight is this whole thing? Hiroshi is like, totally the new Bella, only his dad isn't as cool as Bella's dad; Bella's dad has a shotgun. I must say that everyone on this show is very pretty, however.

Alright, I know this wasn't a real recap, but at least I tried. Minor brownie points please?


Jeff Chuang

Seikon no Qwaser 08

The monster of this week is powerful, and he controls the element of oxygen. More importantly he persists at least for another episode! Oxygen powers also make short work of Katja's Coppertone doll, when she tries to rescue Hana after a wild and crazy night out (isn't Hana always like that...).

The word on the street is that Atomus, the name for our new Qwaser, is pretty powerful, and it'll take more than just Katja and Sasha to overcome him. I'm not sure if the manga is any help for the anime at this point. However, there must be something that our new characters or, specifically, Lizzy, has to do now that she's properly inducted among the ranks of the crew. Overall, I like this cliffhanger thing, as it's been a while since this show had one.

Episode 7 uncensored was less eventful. We got the full scene where Mafuyu and Lizzy were playing along the riverside, so that is some serious fanservice. The comedic meeting between Lizzy and Sayuri also got defogged, although the original scene was already way over the top in terms of ludicrousness. The voiceover omake segment was a lot of fun, as it was the opening scene at the aquarium played out in full...if you like armpit-booby jokes.

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reviewed by Jon Snyder


Jon Snyder
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Formerly known as Jenny. more + disclosures


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