Arakawa Under the Bridge x 2 11

A Bon dance; comrades in unrequited love; Nino surfing upstream; guys acting like girls on a river beach. These were some of the things that went on. None of it made much sense as usual, but that’s okay. I went with it as usual and simply enjoyed the manic comedy.

The Amazoness returned and played a crucial role: Ric’s rejections steered her towards Hoshi; though apparently Hoshi was her target all along. She’s a tsundere, you see…a seven-foot-five tsundere. As for the other thing that stood out most: Last Samurai, Hoshi, Ric and even Sister talking and playing on the beach as girls would; disturbing and hilarious at the same time. Rating: 3

Mirai Nikki OVA

Mirai Nikki is a scant six minutes and 45 seconds long, but it gets a lot done in that short period of time. There’s a decidedly Death Notey atmosphere as a kid comes into possession of a phone that tells his future. But in exchange for that precognition, the phone itself represents his life; if it’s lost, so is his life.

He also discovers he isn’t the only one with such a phone: his female classmate Yuno has one as well, and so does a deranged terrorist in striped kneesocks who bombs the school. Apparently they’re all of them participants in a game, and the last one surviving gets the “throne of god.” Now that sounds like Eden of the East…especially with the phones.

Overall, some nice ideas, and nice animation, but this felt like more of a teaser and set-up than an actual full story, but perhaps that’s just due to the brevity. Subsequent installments that delve a little deeper would be welcome.  Rating: 3

Yosuga no Sora 12 and Wrap-up

Yosuga no Sora is a series that wasn’t afraid to end by descending into very dark territory, but didn’t present it as such. Throughout the series, Haru fell in love with various girls, with each subsequent girl having a deeper bond with him, right up to the closest bond of all, that of blood. But love is love, and it isn’t something that can be switched off, no matter how unconscionable it may be. Listen to the soundtrack throughout Haru and Sora’s scenes together: it isn’t judging music, it’s the same romantic music that was played for all the other girls’ arcs. This series concentrated on that fact, rather than presenting a debate about the morality of what Haru and Sora were doing. The details were irrelevant; it was all about the motivation.

It was very interesting to see the difference between Nao and Kozue’s reactions to finding out about Haru and Sora: Kozue, the well-adjusted, normal class president, had a very normal, real-life reaction to discovering incest: disgust and despair. When Nao learns that Sora saw her deflower Haru years back, she realizes just how much Sora actually loves and needs him, and however much she or anyone else loves Haru, it will never be as deep as Sora’s. Knowing she couldn’t provide happiness for Haru, she lets him go and wishes him the best. It isn’t perfect, but it’s just the way things have to be.

Haru wrestles with doubt, confusion, and self-loathing throughout the finale, but when Sora runs off after he reproaches their situation and suggests they part ways, she runs off to a sacred place where it’s believed life on earth began and where one goes to be reborn. When they go so deep underwater, it seems inconceivable they’d be able to survive. Evidence suggests they do, however (Haru later texts his friends), but the experience does change Haru. Where before he was going to try to sort things out on his own, he now knows the only thing he can do is try to make Sora happy. No one else can, after all. So the twins go off together, leaving behind their childhood home and friends in search of a place of solitude and peace.

Yosuga no Sora presented some powerful romantic drama in its twelve episodes. It tackled both the emotional and physical aspects of its love stories with a seriousness, honesty, and intensity few anime dare to. It ended in a  manner befitting its title: “In solitude, where we are least alone.” We have our world; Haru and Sora have theirs…and n’er the twain shall meet. Rating: 3.5

Series Mean Ranking: 3.208 (Ranked 12th out of 15 Fall 2010 Series)

Hyakka Ryouran 12 and Wrap-up

Hyakka Ryouran had a nice visual style, but that was pretty much the only thing that made it distinguish itself. I kind of checked out of the last couple episodes because the threat they had to face never really amounted to anything. Shiro Amakusa is barely seen, instead, some kind of melding of Jubeis has to duel Gisen, sacrificing herself in the process in true Samurai fashion. All while Sen and Yukimura guard Muneakira from a sea of, well, more tentacles.

There’s a lot of yelling and screaming about platitudes, but it all seems a little forced and overwrought. It looked pretty good, but the ink blot-blocked fanservice got a little tiresome (do boobs always have to pop out of shirts during battle?) and the fighting got repetitive. I’m glad Yoshikawa redeemed himself a bit, but I still can’t respect his character for the evil shit he did to Nia. As for the main villain Amakusa, well, he’s evil and wants to end or remake the world…because, I guess. Not exactly deep.

There’s an easy way to sum up Hyakka Ryouran – Pretty slick-looking most of the time, but not exactly deep. Rating: 2.5

Series Mean Ranking: 2.833 (Ranked 15th out of 15 Fall 2010 Series)