Archive for July, 2011

Hana-Saku Iroha Episode 17 – All Wet

Oh, Hana-Saku Iroha, what I am to do with you? Technically you’ve given me everything I want out of this episode, and yet somehow I’m still disappointed.

For starters: Yes, the movie was a con, put on by the producer. It was a particularly believable one because he was a real movie producer and the staff he brought with him were likewise legit; but he had debts and took advantage of a clause in the contract to cancel production while still collecting Kissuisou’s share of the costs. Even the rest of the film staff wasn’t in on the deception; they get reprimanded by their professional guilds for being hoodwinked, but it’s Kissuisou left footing the bill.

I spoke last time about how it needed to be Enishi, and not Ohana, to solve the problem this time, but that doesn’t happen, because no one solves the problem. The shocker for the episode isn’t that the movie doesn’t happen, but how the inn continues its normal functions regardless. Kissuisou lost money it probably won’t ever be able to get back. Life goes on.
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The Mystic Archives of Dantalian Episodes 1 and 2 – Knowledge is Power

If Kami-sama no Memo-chou is Gosick transplanted to modern Japan, then the Mystic Archives of Dantalian is Index transplanted to the post-Great War era. Former WWI pilot Hugh Anthony Disward (he goes by Huey) receives a peculiar bequest from his late grandfather: take care of his estate, and of Dalian. He’s surprised to discover that Dalian is (or at least appears to be) an adolescent girl, and the protection he is asked to offer extents not just to his grandfather’s huge library, but the mystic archives Dalian safeguards.

In some ways, however, the above comparison is unfair. While Kamimemo and Gosick share many outward similarities, they also are quite similar in structure, with the ostensible mysteries of both shows being window dressing for character development and the plots of individual episodes often lacking. By contrast, Dantalian sheds the action-heavy, conspiracy-laden jumble that was Index’s plot for something far more simple. Dantalian is not really a mystery show or an action show in the traditional sense. It’s not even an exercise in Victorian-themed horror, although it borrows heavily from that genre. What’s driving the show, at least for now, is the unfolding relationship between Huey and Dalian.
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Kamisama Dolls Episodes 1 and 2 – Gods and Men

Brains Base is the closest antiotaku has to an officially approved studio, and some of our most favorably reviewed shows have come from that producer. This season, its taking on a total of three new shows, more than it’s ever tried to do at once. We’ve already talked about Natsume Yujinchou and Mawaru Penguindrum, which are among the best new shows this season has to offer. It’s only natural that the last would fail to get quite the same amount of attention and love.

Let me stop right here to clarify: Kamisama Dolls is by no means a bad show. The concept is about as original as you can get for what amounts to a mecha action show, and the characters manage to step outside their cliche roles as male lead, overly endowed romantic interest, etc. I think that one of the reasons that Brains Base has the reputation that it does is because they choose unique light novel and manga series to animate, and Kamisama Dolls at least attempts to fit into that mold.
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Blood-C Episodes 1, 2, and 3 – Night and Day

The Blood franchise, if it can be called that, is an interesting property from Production I.G. which has never quite gotten its due. The original offering, a short film called Blood: The Last Vampire, featured a high school girl named Saya. Set during the Vietnam war, Saya, armed with nothing but a katana, slaughtered man-eating, shapeshifting monsters called chiroptera on a American military base in Okinawa. It was well-animated, bloody, and felt more like a trailer for a larger project than a complete story in its own right. It was heavily implied that Saya was actually a vampire.

About five years later, Production I.G. tried again, which Blood+. This time, they dropped a 52 episode series, which spanned half the globe as Saya, now in the modern day with a severe case of amnesia, fought against the secret society producing chiroptera, run by her twin sister. While initially intriguing, it suffers from several narrative problems (most prominently, a tendency to resolve battles based on plot necessity rather than internal logic or character advancement) and I would not offer an unqualified recommendation for that version either. In fact, I wouldn’t offer a recommendation for it at all. At least the movie had the advantage of being short.

Another half a decade, Production I.G. is at it again, but this time, they aren’t alone. Instead, they’ve teamed up with the famous all-female manga circle CLAMP, who have produced several works which cross genre categories and standard demographic appeals. It’s an intriguing partnership, and one which was enough to get me fired up out the series. That … didn’t last.
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Tiger & Bunny Episode 17 – 90% is Showing Up

I ended last episode’s review noting that the only way Wild Tiger could succeed where Mr. Legend failed, to accept his life without his career as a hero, would be for him to rethink the most basic assumptions about his life. What I didn’t realize when I said that was how deeply ingrained some of those assumptions were. Tiger’s devotion to being a hero is something for which he’s already made tremendous sacrifices. Giving it up now would seem to make those wasted in return.

Tiger needs a change in perspective, and that won’t come in Stern Bild. So he finally takes that vacation he promised his daughter Kaede he would take seven episodes/six months ago, and returns to his home town. There, however, he’s not Wild Tiger, but Kotetsu Kaburagi. His family doesn’t care about his hero career, and Kaede doesn’t even know about it.
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Hana-Saku Iroha Episode 16 – Blinded by the Light

Enishi, Ohana’s uncle and heir presumptive to the inn, has never come off well. He’s a weak-willed character who never seems to rise above the level of a designated loser, perpetually in thrall to charismatic women like Kawajiri. Some recent episodes have taken steps to fill out the reasons for this (his continued exclusion from the family circle and the overwhelming fears he has of the inn dying out on his watch), but they served to explain, rather than to justify.

This episode both works to redeem Enishi, and simultaneously make him more pitiful. Just as a stopped clock is right twice a day, Kawajiri seems to finally have found a bankable marketing method, and Enishi steps up to a leadership role that he has never quite been able to fill before. And yet, despite reaching the highest point of his career, he’s still miserable. The show isn’t done with him yet.
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Yuru Yuri Episodes 1 and 2 – All I Really Want is Girls

Last season brought us A Channel, a slice-of-life show that was memorable primarily for the various ways it provided quasi-lesbian antics within the confines of the traditional plotless comedy formula. Since in anime (and in many other things) things always progress toward the more subversive and perverse, it was only a matter of time before something came around to top it.

Therefore, I shouldn’t be surprised by Yuru Yuri, which as the title suggests spends a great deal of time laying out enough girl-on-girl affection (or implied affection, or fantasized-by-other-cast-members-affection, etc.) to inspire libraries worth of fan-made porn. This is made all the more creepy by the fact that the entire cast is made up of seventh and eighth graders.
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