Level E 5

The Prince of Dogura continues his quest to hassle, torture, and annoy people for his own amusement. This time it’s a quintet of middle schoolers. Once again the series does and excellent job introducing a group of people in a hurry and they all have distinctive and interesting traits, and none of them act like your typical anime school kids. One looks like he has graying hair already, which is just plain odd.

Anyway, the series also toys with the mood by presenting the kids – now saddled with Power Ranger-style powers by the Prince – with a seemingly serious an deadly threat: their teacher is an alien assassin. This turns out to be true, but the fact she does it to earn money to travel the universe is just…hilarious. So too is her little remark about babies. Frightening, but funny.

Anyway, these kids weren’t just around for this episode; they’ll be back next week, to jump through more hoops for the Prince, who’ll be laughing all the way to the…Dogura bank, or some such. I wonder if we’ll ever see Tsutsui and his cute neighbor again, or if they were merely part of that first arc. Whatever the case, this series seems to know exactly what it’s doing. Rating: 3.5

Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season 4

Nice mix of interactions this week: Kent meets with Kazehaya, telling him very gently if he’s not interested in Sawako, he should stop stringing her along; Chizuru and Kazehaya actually have a serious discussion for once (I was starting to worry whether Chizuru was still a human being or just a goofy charicature); and Yano scolds both Kazehaya and Sawako to grow a pair and get a frikkin’ move on already.

Particularly in his unpleasant little chat with Kent, Kazehaya is really starting to show a pulse; it’s pretty clear now what his flaw is: he is unable to express his feelings to Sawako in a way she’ll understand. In fact, everything he’s said to her thus far this season has been so cryptic, I doubt any girl would be able to make sense of it. Despite this, he gets irritated when anyone – Kent or Yano for instance – try to butt into his business. It’s something he feels he needs to work out.

But time’s-a-wasting. Kent’s intentions are crystal clear, and he’s starting to make his move. Either Kazehaya or Sawako need to figure out how to look at each other and communicate normally – and soon – if there’s going to be any chance of a relationship there. Spot-on episode where seemingly every character seemed human and made a solid contribution. Rating: 3.5

Fractale 4

Things are moving at a very brisk pace indeed, as the raid leads to the successful kidnapping of Princess Phryne (albeit with lives lost on both sides) and a return to the village. It isn’t long until the Temple declares Sunda’s entire family wanted criminals (even the little kids and elderly!) and send an airship to the village to kill them, so once again Sunda, Enri, Clain & Co. are on the move once more.

I’m liking this pace, as we don’t stay long enough in one place to get bored. I am still a bit bemused by Phryne; she is apparently against Fractale and the Temple, despite being the Grand Priestess’s daughter, and yet doesn’t seem to want any help from Clain or anyone else. Her feelings toward Nessa, and vice versa, are also a little cloudy. What exactly is the issue between them?

Whatever is in store for our young heroes, Fractale puts on a good show with its immensely rich and pleasing setting and some well-placed and well-animated action and chase scenes. I just need to wrap my head around some of the quirks of the various characters. Rating: 3.5

The RABUJOI Winter Diet

This post may come as somewhat unwelcome news to some watching the shows involved in the winter diet, but as time constraints mount, RABUJOI must evolve and streamline, and so the proverbial fat has been trimmed. Winter 2011 is no Winter 2010, nor is it as good as Fall 2010. There aren’t many series to begin with. Many bad and meh series, which we’ll no longer be watching so we can focus on the good ones.

We decided after two episodes that Rio – Rainbow Gate! was not worth our time. IS – Infinite Stratos also proved too mediocre and generic to stick with despite the mecha eye candy. Elegant battles alone could also not save Freezing, as it featured too many nonsensical character motivations and predictable boob exposures. Finally, we just haven’t been feeling Yumekui Merry. The characters have little in the way of dimension and background, and Puella Magi Madoka Magica is simply more trippy and whimsical, despite slightly inferior character design.

So what’s left? We’re continuing with the three Fall series, and retaining four Winter ones: Kimi ni Todoke, Puella, Level E and Fractale. From a corpulent, uneven eleven to a lean and solid seven.