Archive for May, 2011

Tiger & Bunny Episode 9 – Familial Affection

Another episode, another hero to meet. It looks like Tiger and Bunny is finally taking the time to introduce the rest of the cast. This time the hero is Dragon Kid, Pao-Lin Huang, a powerful electricity-wielding Next and talented martial artist. A Chinese native, she was scouted from her home country and feels the weight of her country’s expectations on her. But far more than that, she feels pressured from her parents.

Like Blue Rose, Dragon Kid is a teenage hero, but unlike Karina, Pao-Lin lives half the world away from her parents. Also unlike Blue Rose, Dragon Kid downplays her femininity at all costs, even though her parents keep sending her cute and girly clothes and accessories to wear and her agent comments on how she lacks a certain appeal. That much is true—despite being one of the most talented and effective heroes on the circuit, her popularity trails behind Blue Rose and Barnaby.
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Anohana Episode 6 – Forget Me (Not)

We all have memories we’d rather not have, embarrassing moments that we wish we could just block out, and preferably make everyone else forget about too. Adolescence, also known as the period of constant embarrassment, can generate these moments on a daily basis. But in a culture as shame-based as the one in Japan, these sorts of events can permanently alienate students. Once ostracized, it’s really hard to reintegrate.

That’s the pressure Jinta faces as he tries to return to school for the second time this season. He expects a repeat of what happened in the first attempt, that is, to be met with some degree of derision and mockery for his previous behavior. No matter how much he works to reestablish himself as a model student, he’ll always be that kid who was a shut-in for several months. This time, however, he finds that everyone has forgotten him in favor the latest target of shame—and he finds himself frustrated by the fact that everyone forgot the thing that he desperately wanted them to put out of their minds.
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Deadman Wonderland Episode 6 – Evil for Evil’s Sake

Well, all good things must come to an end. Finally I’ve come to an episode of Deadman Wonderland that didn’t impress me. Not that it’s ruined the show and I’ll stop writing writing reviews over it. But this episode commits several errors—some technical, but mostly narrative—which I find rather annoying.

On the surface, episode six seems to follow the same pattern as last time: introduce a character, put said character in the ring against Ganta, have Ganta defeat said person in an honorable/worthy foe manner, which by the logic of defeat means friendship means Ganta has a new ally for the future, and life goes on. As I mentioned last time, it’s a staple of shounen action series, and that Deadman Wonderland amps up the violence inherent in the formula doesn’t mean it isn’t recognizable.

This episode, however, finally shows the inherent conflict between Deadman Wonderland’s shounen plot and its darker, more mature themes. It also shows that “darker” and “more mature” don’t always mean the same thing either.
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Gosick Episode 18 – Spy Games

Last episode ended with our heroes on a train escaping a flooding convent and declaring their loyalty and devotion to each other. I suppose it would be unfair to expect this episode to match that level of dramatic intensity. But while it provides a necessary wrap up to Victorique and Kujou’s foray into Lithuania, this time around the show feels decidedly less engrossing. Until the very end, it’s more about literally nameless characters engaging in machinations under Victorique’s knowing eye (and Kujou’s clueless one).

To be fair, the episode does attempt to build up a certain degree of empathy toward some of these other characters, particularly the younger ones. But with less than an episode to work with, there’s a limit to what can be done. I’m told by those familiar with the light novels that a full volume was crammed into this episode; perhaps in its original format the story of these side characters would have been fleshed out to the point where proper drama could be done.

Of course, it’s also possible the volume was a wreck and the show did us a favor for rushing through it as quickly as possible. Either way, I’m happy it’s over and we can move on.
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Categories: Episode Reviews, Gosick

Tiger & Bunny Episode 8 – The Will to Act

Recently, Tiger & Bunny hasn’t given us much of its post-modern take on a city of superheroes. Barnaby’s inner demons, whatever else they are, are classic fodder for such stories. The last such attempt at such a story was Blue Rose/Karina’s episode, perhaps indicating that the show has tapped out on ways to creatively utilize its leads.

This episode follows in that pattern, providing us with a closer look at the infrastructure behind the making of a hero at the same time it reveals the backstory of Origami Cyclone, the weakest and least respected hero of them all. The show walks a fine line between the serious and silly aspects of its premise, but does so better than it has since the premiere.
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Anohana Episode 5 – The Hole in Our Hearts

Anohana is one of those brilliant shows where seemingly nothing happens in an episode, and yet so much is going on beneath the surface that it’s impossible to capture it all in writing. Episodes five and six have such strong thematic and narrative ties and it’s difficult to separate them, but there’s enough in each episode to justify separate posts for each.

Matsuyuki, readers will recall, did not end episode four looking particularly good, but the show is far too sympathetic to its characters to prolong his misery for very long. Instead, his situation becomes emblematic of the fate of every one of the cast, left adrift in a world without Menma. This episode might have him recover a bit too quickly, but if it does, it’s only because there’s so much ground to cover with the rest of the cast.
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Hana-Saku Iroha Episode 7 – Finding Joy in Your Work

Well, my hope that Hana-Saku Iroha would escape the predictable, sit-com plots it’s been giving us in favor of advancing the storyline has yet to be fulfilled. This episode, like the previous two before it, runs on a combination of cliche and enforced character stupidity, and ends with a perpetuation of the status quo.

Having said that, I enjoyed this episode far more than the previous ones. This is partially because we get some decent (if predictable) character development on the part of Tomoe Wajima, the head waitress of Kissuisou. It’s also because this episode manages to be genuinely funny, in a way the last two episodes haven’t been. If I’m going to have my time wasted by mediocre plots, I might as well get in some laughs along the way.
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