Tiger & Bunny 14

Click here to read more reviews of Tiger & Bunny, including the first thirteen episodes.

Tiger & Bunny serves up a fine start to its second half, fully validating my decision to continue blogging it despite a drawn-out arc with a silly villain. Not only are Tiger & Bunny enjoying more popularity than ever, they are also quite chummy with one another, with Barnaby discovering finally that while it may seem at times like something’s wrong with him, Kotetsu is a generous and selfless guy; exactly the hero he always strived to be.

Blue Rose/Karina has also been picking up on this, because she has a serious (and hilarious) crush on him. She spends much of the episode agonizing over whether it’s true, and if so, how on earth that could be possible. Tiger himself is surprised she’s single; he treats her like a daughter more than a potential love interest, and expected her to have more than one young boyfriend. But she doesn’t; she’s utterly obsessed with him. His obliviousness to this is forgivable, since to his credit she’s just acting strange, not necesarily affectionate; and Tiger would never believe a high schooler is in love with him.

This week’s story, in which T&B team up with Blue Rose to do a pop concert, is full of physical comedy, notably their practice sessions. The introduction of the ‘B-team Heroes” should also provide future comedy, and the return of the fake Barnaby as a backstage thief was also a nice touch, as was his accidental act of generosity towards Bison. But mostly, this episode served as a vehicle for three main developments: Tiger & Bunny’s growing friendship, Karina’s burgeoning feelings for Tiger; and finally, Tiger’s unexplained and sudden burst in power and speed. Alll will be developed as this summer half continues. Rating: 3.5

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Morita-san wa Mukuchi OVA

This OVA is kind of a preview of an upcoming series of the same name airing this Summer. The formula is quite simple: this is a high school slice-of-life comedy with a quartet of girls at its core, one of which seemingly never says anything at all. Interesting, this very ‘taciturn’ character, the titular Mayu Morita, is voiced by Kana Hanazawa, who also voiced a similarly silent though more bookish character in The World God Only Knows. Obviously, everything she says is in Mayu’s head, not aloud. I don’t think she utters a single word to another character.

There’s nothing tremendously deep here, just nice, charming, lightweight slice-of-life. This OVA, and the forthcoming series, is almost a challenge to see how little a heroine can say and still be a functioning character. So far, so good; Mayu’s friends all seem to see something likable about her that’s beyond words (obvious, since she has none)…though as Mayu’s eyes are drawn very blankly (in Bleach this would mean she’s possessed, or an evil clone), so while in deep thought she can appear a little creepy. What I find refreshing is that Mayu isn’t shy or socially inept; she just takes too long to speak, and thus always misses her opportunity to do so.

One of the reasons I gave this a try is that Kana Hanazawa is one of my favorite seiyus,and even though she’s basically playing to type here (unlike, say, her Kuroneko in Oreimo), that type is tried-and-true earnest/cute/reflective. Saori Hayami (Eden of the East, Oreimo) and Haruka Tomatsu (Shiki, AnoHana) provide the voices of friends Chihiro and Miki. It’ll take a couple more episodes to fully tell their personalities apart, but basically, they talk a lot more than she does, but each have their own quirks too.

The supporting cast, including Yamamoto, who is irritated by Mayu’s silence; Mayu’s pink-haired admirer/stalker; and two male students who are always observing and commenting on the many affectionate embraces Mayu’s friends put her in, all add flavor to a an already colorful cast. The pace is a little leisurely, but that’s okay. Odder is the source of Mayu’s silence – her domineering mother, who warns both Mayu (and Mayu’s father) to never open their mouth unless they know exactly what to say, to avoid misunderstandings. Unfortunatly for Mayu, she never knows what to say – which can also cause misunderstandings.
Rating: 3.5

Ikoku Meiro no Croisée 1 – First Impressions

Literally “a cross in a maze abroad”, this is a very calm and deliberate slice-of-life that takes place in 19th-century Paris. In other words, it’s probably nothing like anything else this season. There isn’t a hint of magic, fantasy, the supernatural, nor any enemies lurking in the shadows. This is about a meeting of two people who are very different on the surface, but once they understand one another, become fast friends.

It’s a very enjoyable introduction, as the setting is a gorgeous Parisian gallery, and the very apologetic, submissive, yet curious girl, Yune, is a very colorful fish out of water. Fortunately, it’s at a time when all things Japanese are gaining in popularity – different isn’t feared so much as admired for the novelty of its different-ness. Claude, form a long line of metalworkers, is a rather inflexible artist who’s keeping his father’s store going, even as the tide of progress (and electric signs) draws near.

There are a few issues: while I realize Japanese people are smaller than the French on average, especially back then, Yune still seems a bit incredibly undersized for a bilingual young woman apparently old enough to travel all the way to France with a much older man (Claude’s kindly grandfather, Oscar). When a customer muses that she looks like a doll, I’m right with him: she looks a little to much like a doll. While kind of a glaring demerit, it’s no’t a dealbreaker. Rating: 3.5