Archive for June, 2011

Tiger & Bunny Episode 13 – Big Damn Heroes

When we last left our heroes, Barnaby was about to face his parents’ killer, a seemingly untouchable supervillian, with countless lives on the line. Meanwhile, his relations with his partner Tiger were once again strained to the breaking point. Although the two heroes finally seemed to have grown out of the trap that was overused in early episodes, a few idiot moves by Tiger put that development in jeopardy.

For a show devoted to tweaking superhero conventions, this episode plays things surprisingly straight. Once again Barnaby is placed in a situation here he has to trust Tiger, and that trust proves justified. The heroes prevail, civilians are saved, and everyone but the criminals come home happy. The basic outline of events is so predicable that one could trace it from beginning to end from the start. Even so, this episode employs the classic formula effectively enough so that I don’t mind the predictability, or the shmaltz, this time.
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Hana-Saku Iroha Episode 12 – Punctured Pride

The chief joy and burden of being a teenager, as I suggested at the end of my last review, is that only in that time of life are you absolutely right and anyone disagreeing with you wrong. It’s a joy that fades when one exits adolescence realizing that maybe you didn’t know everything you thought you did. And its a burden that you often don’t have the power to act on that knowledge, or convince your parents or others with power that they should on your behalf.

The appearance of Minko and Touru has saved Ohana from her physical concerns, but emotionally she’s still a mess. She’s still stuck with the two failed relationships she left behind in Tokyo: Koichi’s proposal, left floundering in the wind, and her mother’s legacy of irresponsibility. This episode ties them together in an unexpected way.
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Anohana Episode 11 – Too Many Tears

Since my start as an anime blogger on antiotaku, I’ve found several benefits to the role. Aside from simply finding an outlet for my writing, approaching a series from a more analytical perspective has led me to research shows in ways I wouldn’t normally do, and find insights about the reasons certain things in a series are the way they are. By having to look at most of the series coming out each season, I’ve found hidden gems in shows I would have dismissed if I had just reviewed the synopsis. And I find the takedowns I write whenever I have the dubious honor of reviewing a terrible show to be vindictively amusing.

But it does leave me with a problem: As I cover a series episode by episode, the natural tendency is to overanalyze everything, looking for potential flaws and holes in the narrative. By becoming more critical, I have trouble enjoying a show for what it is, and appreciating its value as entertainment. So I come to the end of Anohana, probably the best show of this season, and a part of me is still very disappointed by it. And maybe that’s my problem, not the show’s.
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Deadman Wonderland Episode 10 – Only the Strong Survive

Well, everything I was worried might happen this episode happened. Ganta is enraged at Shiro for destroying what he considers his one chance of freedom, and Shiro isn’t bright enough to explain herself properly. This leads to a falling out between the pair which still hasn’t been resolved. Meanwhile, Owl survived, although this is partially explained by the fact the Undertakers give him medical treatment I wasn’t expecting them to provide.

Worse, Rokuro shows up to both gripe (about the bomb he planted in the data chip not killing anyone) and gloat (about how Scar Chain is powerless before him). We get basically no insight into why he’s a traitor or psychopath, and are instead treated to megalomaniac ranting that makes Hummingbird look well adjusted by comparison. The series is perfectly capable of giving us hissibly evil villains who don’t need to overact to express their depravity, with Tamaki being a great example. But occasionally it crosses the line into camp, and it’s a disappointment every time.

That having been said, this episode begins to lay the groundwork for Ganta’s next major development. And, perhaps more than anything else in the series, it does so in a way that is remarkably true to life.
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Gosick Episode 22 – Repeating Past Misakes

What seemed from the preview to be a lighthearted Christmas themed episode quickly turns more serious, as Gosick finally moves into its final act. It feels like it’s been Christmas for a long time, with the previous arc exploring Victorique’s historical connections to the holiday. Much of the rest of this episode also feels like it has been done before, and not in a good way.

The Occult Ministry under Albert de Blois is about to take action and Victorique, his key pawn, is crucial to that end. Of course, the show has been running off of this plot outline since episode 16, this being the third time de Blois has dragged his daughter away from the academy in what poses as a permanent separation from Kujou, for reasons that seem rather pointless in retrospect. While this instance does seem to be more serious than the previous ones (and not just because there are only two episodes left), it’s not quite a “third time’s the charm” scenario, either. Much of the emotional potency this event should have had is muted by the force of repetition.
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Tiger & Bunny Episode 12 – Pride Goeth Before A Fall

If Tiger & Bunny has a weakness, it’s that it only knows one way to make a villain challenging to its protagonists: make the former absurdly powerful. Lunatic was an example of this, capable of holding his own against two or even three heroes at a time. But he pales in comparison to Jake Martinez, who seems in a different league entirely from his fellow Next.

While Jake can’t be invulnerable (Mr. Legend did capture him 15 years prior), very little we’ve seen so far would indicate otherwise. In turn, this gives the heroes their one advantage against him: Jake is so arrogant that he can’t help but play with his victims before crushing them. That gives our heroes their one chance to take him down—but only if they don’t mimic his mistakes.
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Hana-Saku Iroha Episode 11 – Contra Mundum

The last few episodes of Hana-Saku Iroha have returned to exploring Ohana’s maturation into an adult, tracking her slow shift in attitudes while avoiding a focus on some of the more … colorful members of the inn staff. Watching Jiroumaru screw something up or Enishi slavishly follow the idiot advice of Kawajiri was wearing thin on me, so I’m not going to complain on that score.

The largest blocks on Ohana’s growth, however, are tied into her prior relationships, the ones she left behind. Ohana’s mother Satsuki is hardly the worst mother in the world, but she is selfish, inattentive, and unable to communicate what affection she has for Ohana in a way that the latter (or most outside observers) can recognize. Ohana’s best friend Koichi desperately wants to be more than a friend, but Ohana has been dancing around giving him a straight answer, uncertain of her own feelings.

Those two unresolved relationships continue to influence and guide Ohana in her work in the inn. Thus, it’s appropriate that her work at the inn leads her back to both of them.
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