Kami-sama no Memo-cho 4

Inside, beneath her hard exterior, Min knows she doesn’t make the best ramen in the world. Her father never intented to pass either his business or his recipes down to her, since their relationship was apparently strained. But he disappeared, so she took over Hanamaru anyway.

While she knows she’s not the best, she’s fiercely proud and strives to be better, and doesn’t appreciate ramen snobs taking just one sip then paying. Of course, that snob turns out to be her father, essentially checking in to see how she’s progressing. After all, artists like constructive critique. They don’t like people just walking out without explaining themselves.

The NEET Detectives’ case was very close to home this week, and without any Yakuza or clients-of-the-week, the core cast could shine. An apparent stalker is revealed – quite incredibly – as a bigwig designer at a lingerie company who simply cannot allow Min to walk around confine her “Taj Mahal” bust in something as vulgar and a sarashi. It’s silly, and allows for some fanservice, but the guy says he’s an artist – like Min, only with underwear, not ramen.

Artists can get hung up on things very easily, and are driven by some invisible force to achieve their goals, no matter how ludicrous. This episode really fleshed out Min a little more, giving her some background and depth; she previously hadn’t been much more than Narumi’s stern, cantankerous boss. Here’s hoping we can look forward to more character stories peppered in between cases – or mixed in with them.


Rating: 3.5

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No. 6 4

I have to say, I just wasn’t impressed with this week’s No. 6 outing. Essentially, Nezumi sends word to Shion’s mom (via rat) that he’s alive, and she sends word back of a friend of hers who also lives in the West District. He also happens to be a pimp who dresses like Pee Wee Herman.

Shion is certainly a fish out of water here, as everyone runs their mouth in a foul, inpolite manner, which mortifies him. But even after his appearance-changing ordeal last week, he’s still a rather listless, directionless, weak kid. If this place is so horrible – and we haven’t seen anything to prove otherwise – why the hell would he want to stay?

In a word, Nezumi. But Nezumi was just one-note this week, acting like an asshole most of the time. He clearly likes/loves Shion, or else he wouldn’t have done everything he has for him to this point; saving his life for the umpteenth time. These two seme very close, both in a brotherly way, but also with undertones of romance. But that, and everyone’s motivations and goals, still seem distant and vague, despite this series being more than a third complete.


Rating: 3

Blood-C 4

This is such a schizophrenic show, but that’s why I love it. The light high school scenes remain as bubbly as ever, though Saya’s classmates are aware of the missing (now dead) baker. But the night battle with the elder bairn(s) this week are more intense than ever, with MBS seeing the need to censor some of the more disagreeable gore. Saya was constantly on her toes, and it truly looked like she could lose this time around.

The last bairn she killed told her to “honor the covenant.” She dutifully tells her father this, and he basically tells her not to listen to their lies; it’s part of their tactics. But this new one – an evil Big Bird flanked by two acid-spewing sidekicks, has a lot more to say. The covenant apparently amounts to letting his kind get away with eating a few people here and there (which he does), in exchange for not bothering Saya’s kind. He dismisses Saya as nothing but her daddy’s tool.

Saya goes all red-eyed and manages to take out the bird-headed menace, but not before he takes three victims – villagers she wasn’t able to save. Not only was this the toughest and most taxing battle to date; she wasn’t able to fulfill her promise to protect everyone. And now her head is full of all this “covenant” talk, despite her father wanting her to fight, not think. As for Fumito…her just kinda creeped me out this episode. What is he hiding?


Rating: 4

Mawaru Penguindrum 4

One of this series’ many strengths is its excellent, almost neurotic attention to detail. Every frame is replete with incidental sights, sounds, and conversations, some of which turn up later (or earlier, in awesomely-presented flashbacks). Case in point: Ringo’s friend mentioning Kanba dumping an actress like “she was no big deal” last week. Not only do we meet this actress, but learn that Kanba has been set up for an ambush by her and two other women scorned, which hell hath no fury than.

But Kanba and Himari make only brief appearances on the periphery of this episode. This is primarily a Shoma and Ringo affair. Kanba orders him to tag along with her and sneak a look at her diary – stalking in plain view, as it were. And naturally, Ringo’s day plans include a birdwatching date in the park with Tabuki. Much to her chagrin, Tabuki has invited Yuri, his gorgeous blonde actress friend (lotta actress love interests in this, innit?), and with Shoma by her side, it’s practically a double date.

She and Shoma even swap clothes after a skunk attack – a skunk that was reported on the news on tv in the background earlier in the episode. While I was initially weary of Ringo’s stalking craziness (and her multiple elaborate daydreams that end with her screaming), I really liked her in this episode, and I’m fully behind her quirky but sweet character. She’s gonna make happen what’s written in her diary, and she does not give a shit who or what stands in her way. And just when I thoughYuri was too perfect, she calls Ringo out; warning her she hasn’t a chance with Tabuki. Mwrow!

Of course, while things that are written in her diary have always ended up happening, they hardly ever do quite in the way she envisions in those daydreams. It was written that she’d kiss Tabuki by a certain time, which she cheats by jumping into the drink to warrant rescue and mouth-to-mouth. But it’s Shoma who rescues and “kisses” her, not Tabuki. It matters not; she believed it was Tabuki, so in her mind, the fate written in the diary was realized.


Rating: 4

Sket Dance 17

I’m not sure what the prevailing cliche is vis-à-vis high school rock concerts/competitions: the protagonists winning in a stunning upset, or not winning but never shied away from the challenge. The latter ocurred here, as all three Sket-dan members’ bands had to back out of the concert. The natural solution was for the three to form their own band, and they did: “The Sketch Book.”

Cliches aside, this was a nice little episode. It didn’t try to do to much. Too often one cannot take Sket Dance episodes too seriously because the guest characters are so over-the-top or ludicrous that it’s hard to emotionally invest yourself. These past two weeks, not only was Bossun emotionally invested in the “mission”, but we were too becase Sugisaki was such a likable, sympathetic character.

She was kind enough to help coach Bossun to play bass even while struggling with her courage and confidence as the date to travel to Germany to study drew near. We learned a lot from her, how the promise of her early breakout seemed to be fizzling out. Little did she know that her support and encouragement of Bossun would lead him to turn in a performance that moved her to pull up her sleves and go to Germany after all.


Rating: 3.5

Usagi Drop 4

Daikichi is feeling more confident by the day about taking care of Rin, and not only finds his grandfather’s will, but also the phone number of Rin’s mother, Masako, gramps’ maid. We only hear two words from her at the very end, but she certainly sounds quite young. Watching what a bright and beautiful girl Rin is and how brightly she could shine in the future, Daikichi can’t help but be angry with Misako. Why did she bail? Was she not ready? Too embarassed?

There are still questions that need answering, but we do get some answers this week. Gramps obviously loved Rin, and didn’t want Misako to be ostracized either for conceiving Rin or for running away. He just wanted to make sure somebody who loved Rin would take care of her. And that’s surely the case. Daikichi may not be a parenting expert, but his heart’s in the right place and he’s committed to doing everything the right way. He isn’t going to let Rin want for anything…within reason. No lipstick yet!

Beyond the maternal drama, there’s great slice-of-life this week, as Daikichi learns the benefits of having a kid – you tend to meet other parents, some of whom may also be single, and attractive, in the case of Rin’s friend Kouki’s mother. And everything about scene when he finally goes out drinking – with Rin in tow – to a party for work. Gotou is adorable here, and the scene where she and Daikichi greet each other – both with shy children hiding between their legs – was also pretty great.


Rating: 3.5

Kamisama Dolls 4

BAM!…the peril is taken up a couple of notches like so many punches to the wall. Kuuko has completely the wrong idea about Aki, who easily escapes her clutches with a most surprising attack that slices off the tip of her air gun, along with her top and bra. This is good service because it fits Aki’s character: he’d totally disarm her in this manner to humiliate her, because that’s how he gets his kicks.

Kuuko tries to turn the tables with a stun gun (clever girl), but misjudges the voltage. Aki would’ve killed Kuuko at this point if Kuga hadn’t shown up with Utao and Hibino in the nick of time. After finally egging Kuga on to start whaling on him (by suggesting Hibino resembled their sensei), Aki turns tail, but when they split up to find him he doubles back. Poor Kuuko…

It’s good to see Kuga finally getting worked up about something, and Hibino seems to agree – stopping him from breaking his hand on a wall, she exhibits genuine care for him, and their relationship is very slowly progressing in the midst of all this chaos. Plus…he did kinda see her ‘nakked. Big step, that.

Of course, the big news is the formal introduction of…well, Utao’s twin/clone?? While Utao is naive and clumsy, but good, this other Utao is slick, mocking, and kinda evil. He tried to kill her last week, and now it seems he just enjoys toying with her. Neither she nor Kuga knew he existed but along with Koushiro and Aki, Kuga and Utao’s hands are now officially full, and Kuga can kiss his ordinary life goodbye.


Rating: 3.5

Morita-san wa Mukuchi 4

Mayu still hasn’t talked, but she made me want to eat grilled eel. That’s good for a 2.5, right? Also, a chain of sorts was broken; the four girls do something that seems oddly suggestive from a distance, but this time, there are no guys to comment on it. Also, I don’t believe this was in the OVA, so we must be in original material territory now! Unless I just forgot…


Rating: 2.5

Ikoku Meiro no Croisée 4

Ah, it’s time for our weekly fix of period clash-of-cultures slice-of-life, with this episode bringing the blonde and annoying Alice Blanche into the picture. She’s an aristocratic fanatic of all things Oriental; though I couldn’t call her a Japonophile like myself because she’s simply too ignorant about Japanese culture to make a determination either way.

Anyway, I may have been too harsh on Claude’s manner with Yune; at least he treats her like a human. Upon laying eyes on her, Alice treats poor Yune like a cute pet, or a doll come to life. She also treats her like a slave to be purchased, and later tries to bribe her into living at her mansion. She almost succeeds, as the deal includes her prized kimono and a private bath, something Yune has been missing since she arrived in Paris. Baths were only a daily thing for the very rich in France. They still are, too…haha I kid. Sumimasen!

Anyway I’m not that optimistic about Alice as she seems almost to selfish and stupid to live, but I still enjoyed this episode. It contained a lot more comedy than before, and also chibi cuts, which were employed liberally, though not ad nauseum. I also continue to enjoy the rich Parisian scenery, and hope that Yune – and we along with her – gets to explore more of the grand city. And Claude learns to enjoy Japanese cuisine…’cause he’s really missing out!


Rating: 3.5

Sket Dance 16

What a weird episode…for Sket Dance, anyway. What starts out as just another slapstick fest where the hilarious voice-acting really carries the day, turns into a more conventional school romance drama by the end. Bossun feels left out when Himeko and Switch join bands for the upcoming school rock fesitval (the origins of which are steeped in rich historical bunk).

However, once he picks up a guitar (later a bass), he turns out to have a knack for it, even though something as basic as tuning initially escapes him. Frustrated with the conditions in the club room, he “escapes” to the school’s music room, where Sugisaki Ayano bumps into him. She’s a very cute, earnest, friendly violin prodigy who helps him practice. The two establish an immediate rapport, and find it very easy to open up and discuss things with one other.

When their session wraps up with the promise of another one tomorrow, Bossun returns to the club room to find a very uncharacteristically serious Himeko on the phone with Yabasawa (we don’t quite learn what she’s on about). So what’s going on here? What’s with the sudden shift to playing the show straight? I don’t know, but it was deftly handled. Bossun is funny when he’s trying to be, but showed good range this week.


Rating: 3.5

Tiger & Bunny 17

To quote the Zissou, that was a goddamn tearjerker. It was also perhaps the best episode of Tiger & Bunny to date. This is pure character work; no silly villains or schemes. With his powers continuing to dwindle, Kotetsu returns to his hometown for some time off and soul-searching. It’s the first time in three years he’s been there. He goes not knowing what comes next. Right from the get-go, I knew what he should do, which is retire from superherodom and move back.

He’s in the twilight of his career anyway, so there’s little pressure in that area; he doesn’t have any of the character flaws that led to Mr. Legend’s downfall; and most importantly, he can get back to being a father to his estranged daughter Kaede. I didn’t think Kotetsu would consider retiring, since he promised his wife on her deathbed he’d never stop being a hero. But I don’t think she meant abandon Kaede to do so. He can be a hero to her. And as his awesome older brother said, the end of his powers doesn’t mean the end of his life. 

And he is this week, as a freak storm traps her in a crumbling temple and he has to save her, which definitely helps his standing with her. Most Fortuitous! But the kicker has to be the revelation that Kaede is herself becoming a NEXT. While I’m doubtful his days as Wild Tiger are yet full, I wouldn’t complain one bit if they were. Kaede needs him now more than ever.


Rating: 4

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Harry Potter is not anime. But I’ve read all the books and now seen all the films. On occasion, I’ll put a non-anime review up here. It wouldn’t be surprising if anime fans also happened to like the HP franchise. I’m among them. This last film was very good. Combined with Part 1, I consider it better than the book on which it’s based. I am one of those who watched HP1 (Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone) before reading the book, and I have to say, I’m glad I did. It led me to read the rest of the books before the films came out.

Back to HP7 Part 2 – it wasn’t a perfect “theater” film. What I mean by that is, there was too much silence. Silence can be a good tool for building suspense (or suddenly arresting it). But a movie theater is full of little annoying sounds that have nothing to do with the film being presented. Sounds like people mumbling, chewing popcorn, sipping soda, and making all manner of incidental bodily sounds. During the many scenes in HP7P2 of little or no sound, these sounds all conspired to pull me out of the fantasy. A film should immerse; I found it hard to stay immersed at times. Of course, watching a movie like this at home, it’s not really an issue.

The awkward epilogue from the book declaring “19 years later” was this film’s other major flaw. The same actors were used, but the effects used to age them fell far short, to the point of hilarity. My companion to the film couldn’t help laughing at the notion that particularly Ginny and Hermione looked pretty much the same even though their ages have doubled. I’m not saying different actors should have been used; I’m saying if there wasn’t a way to do this scene properly, it shouldn’t have been done. This didn’t look like 19 years later; it looked five years later.

Silence issues and hoaky aging effects aside, this was an excellent film, and a fitting end to the franchise. I particularly enjoyed how brief and succinct this film was – a scant two hours and change. Now that the HP film franchise is over (a long-running television – or anime! – series might’ve served it better; I can’t imagine ratings ever dropping as long as it stayed good), one wonders if anything will ever come close to matching it in popularity – or profitability.

Ao no Exorcist 15

Rin is released from the grip of the giant moth demon that grabbed him last week, thanks to some quick thinking from Bon. Bon is getting increasingly frustrated with Rin’s puzzling behavior: how can such a loser keep saving the day?

As we know, he misunderstands Rin’s desire to fight alone. Rin doesn’t want him to see what he is: a son of satan. But this week, it becomes impossible for Rin to keep it secret. Amaimon crashes their training party, sticks a bug in Shiemi that puts her in a docile trance, and threatens to have his way with her. Rin ain’t gon’ stand for that.

So Mephisto Pheles finally gets what it seems he wanted: Rin draws his sword and goes all out against Amaimon, proving to be more than a match for him. He also does this in full view of his friends (though some are conveniently un- or semi-conscious). Still, it looks like the cat sith is out of the bag…and even worse, Rin seems to have lost all control.


Rating: 3.5