Bakuman 13

Bakuman’s first season ends with a veritable nor’easter of developments. Hattori is impressed with their manuscript and okays it. They are confident they can beat Niizuma, and they actually do in the early returns, but the final results place them not second, but third. These guys were due for a defeat, and they got one. In this business, however, defeats must be taken in stride, and one must feed off adversity.

Even more unexpected than their third place finish? Moritaka actually texted Miho. She responds to his extremely long text almost instantly, and he learns a lot about who she is by her surprisingly short replies. This may not seem like much, but for this particular couple, it’s a huge step. Actual communication. Yet again this series contrasts their bond with Takagi and Kaya’s. They’re at the same school and enjoying each other’s company, while don’t even see Miho, nor does Moritaka.

I’ve really been taken in by Bakuman’s roller coaster of ups and downs, defeats and victories, and all the built-up suspense in between. After trying to play to their strengths and appeal to that odd 20%, Moritaka is convinced the only way they’ll get an anime by 18 (and hence the only way he’ll get Miho) is by going mainstream. I can’t be sure, but I’m guessing that mainstream manga they’ll come up with next season will be called Bakuman. Rating: 4

Series Mean Ranking: 3.654 (Ranked 3rd out of 15 Fall 2010 Series)

Arakawa Under the Bridge x 2 12

The mayor institutes a Battle Royale under the bridge, with the prize of being crowned “King” and having your (pre-decided upon) decree granted. Aside from the Amazonness faction (who I’ve frankly seen enough of), everyone is involved and has a few moments to shine.

Notable performances include Billy’s rescue of Jacqueline at the cost of his own elimination (you gotta love that guy), and P’ko’s own sacrifice in the name of love, which both isn’t and is an act, as it knocks both her and Mayor out of the running. This series is always strongest when it uses the peculiar quirks of its characters to drive the narrative (and the comedy), which it achieves this week.

The last two standing are Maria and Sister. Recruit fear what it would mean if Maria wins, but on the other hand, there’s not much he can do to help, as Maria is Sister’s Achilles Heel. We’ll have to wait until next week to find out. Rating: 3.5

Otome Youkai Zakuro 13 and Wrap-up

Omodaka is reformed after all, as Agemaki saves him against Rangui, who has killed Daidai and is threatening to devour everyone else in her path. She loathes Zakuro most of all. Zakuro cannot move but she can tell what’s going on around her. When Agemaki says the magic words, she wakes up and takes care of business.

After the Village of Oracles mess is sorted out, word comes down that Spirit Affairs is to be resolved, and the soldiers recalled. This news forces Zakuro to confess to Agemaki as he confessed to her (FINALLY). Susukihotaru and Riken and Ganryuu and the twins make similar pacts to keep in touch. It seems a page is about to be turned…and then everything returns to the way it was as Spirit Affairs is almost instantly reinstated.

While that last twist was somewhat unnecessary considering the series has ended, it is consistent with the series’ overarching hope and optimism. Terrible things may have befallen the half-spirit girls in the past, but that past cannot define them. Life will go on with their military companions, and together they’ll help humans and spirits to understand each other just as they grew to. Rating: 3.5

Series Mean Ranking: 3.192 (Ranked 13th out of 15 Fall 2010 Series)

Star Driver 13

This week focused on the spunky, pink-haired leader of Filament, Scarlet Kiss aka Benio Shinada. Filament is made up of people from families who once bore marks, like Sugata, but over time they lost them. Despite this, Benio has always “admired the strong”, and there was no one she knew more powerful than Sugata, her frequent sparring partner. That admiration led to love.

When Sugata says Takuto is much stronger than him, she’s intrigued, and challenges Takuto to a kendo match instead, which she quickly wins. This turns out to be her downfall, because when in zero time, she tries the same move again and loses instantly. A rematch in the real world confirms it: Takuto won’t lose twice to the same move. I like the vulnerable side of Benio on display throughout the episode. It’s clear she likes both Takuto and Sugata, and is a very proud person, but her desire to become stronger than them makes them her enemies.

But that Scarlet Kiss was in a cybody at all was a major development: Crux can now fully restore cybodies. Kiss didn’t have one, so she depended on Manticore’s to fix the cybody she had piloted with Sugata when she brainwashed him. However, her hypnotic kiss doesn’t work on Takuto, nor does her resurrected cybody work on Tauburn. Which begs the question, what’s the point of restoring cybodies if he’s just going to keep defeating them? Why not lay down their crux masks and live normal lives? Because…they have goals, and they won’t let the Galactic Prettyboy stand in their way. Rating: 3.5

Series Mean Ranking: 3.731 (Ranked 1st out of 15 Fall 2010 Series)

Kuragehime 10

Although the mere mention of his brother sends Tsukimi reeling in despair, Kuronosuke manages to get her interested in making jellyfish-inspired clothes. The entire sisterhood is scattered and distracted: Mayaya and Banba are out spending 5000 yen Kuro paid them to go away, while Chieko and Jiji help him and Tsukimi with the skirt. It’s actually kind of funny for how much he loves clothes, how little he knows about how to make them.

However, it would appear to be too late to make a fortune on jellyfish apparel (especially when its made with million-yen pink pearls), as construction tarps cover Amamizu-kan’s facade when Mayaya and Banba return home. Meanwhile, Shoko is yet again able to get under Shu’s skin, but their relationship seems to have gotten a little complicated. Through her constant efforts to woo him, she seems to have developed real feelings.

And so the web becomes Shoko and Tsukimi after Shu, and Shu and Kuronosuke after Tsukimi. Quite the web, as there’s only one episode left to resolve both that stalemate and the threat of the sisterhood’s eviction. I’m looking forward to seeing how this all turns out. Rating: 3.5