RABUJOI Will Pause to Give Thanks

No RABUJOI reviews today or Thanksgiving. Normal service will resume Friday. Enjoy the parade, dog show, eating food, football game, or, you know…families.

-RABUJOI STAFF

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Chihayafuru – 08

The Kurata club is still one member short of becoming official, but their recruiting efforts are fruitless until Chihaya chances upon Yusei Nishida, who was the No.2 grade schooler in the country at Kurata, and just happens to attend her high school. He plays tennis now, but it’s clear to Chihaya tennis is not his true passion. They play a game together, which re-stokes his passion, and he quits tennis and joins the club.

Yes, it’s quite a coincidence that “Porky” Nishida goes to the same school as Chihaya and Taichi, but it’s good he does. Kanade brought meaning to the words and stories of the cards, while Tsutomu restored Taichi’s confidence. Nishida is an influx of talent and experience; someone who can keep Chihaya on her toes. You know a kid is into kurata when his movements in tennis are timed to the beat of the 100 poems. That Chihaya picks up on this and even blurts out the next verse in his head from behind a bush is just a fantastic little moment.

Nishida realizes he once played kurata for fun, then he started playing to win. Winning became the whole point, so when Arata beat him, he didn’t see the point in continuing…then. But like Taichi, he just needed the right spark to rekindle that ingrained passion that tennis just wasn’t ever going to replace. His match with Chihaya was very fun to watch not only because it was a good match, but because it transformed Nishida before our eyes. His fire’s back…and as the post-credits epilogue shows, with an offical club, Chihaya is ecstatic that she’s “no longer alone.”


Rating: 4

Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam – 06

Having captured half of the fifteen battleships Captain Wisla ordered her to, Fam’s next target is at the pleasure city of Elidarada. She challenges the pilot of Federation aristocrat Dabar to a vanship race. If Fam wins, she gets Dabar’s battleship, the Naheed. If Dabar wins, she gets Millia. Dabar’s pilot is a Grand Race finalist, but with some out-of-the-box tactics, Fam and Gisey score another win. Meanwhile, news of Millia’s government-in-exile leads Lucinia to purge Federation allies who let their ships get stolen.

Setting aside the question of who is crewing her growing fleet of huge battleships, Fam and Gisey have clearly been on a roll. We’re surprised the series skipped seven ship capers, but it makes up for it with a race episode, which really had us thinking back to the original series. Last Exile does vanship races well, and this one was run on an awesome subterranean curcuit in near-darkness. Fam and Gisey are the underdogs all the way, but Fam is on it, making use of the harpoon and purging her fuel in order to speed to victory.

During the race, Millia is the guest of Baroness Dabar, one of many women who used to lead people as Millia, but sold out their honor and their peoples in exchange for cushy lives. We like how Dabar recognizes Millia. It would seem she’ll regret not taking her into custody considering Luscinia’s actions throughout the episode. The Federation sought to strike fear into its enemies by utterly wiping out Turan, and Luscinia is not happy the job’s not done.


Rating: 3.5

Winter 2012 Season Preview

We’re now halfway through the Fall 2011 season – it’s gone by quite fast, in our opinion – and it’s time for another RABUJOI season preview; our second Winter ever! Winter 2012 is surprisingly full of series, but we’ve limited our choice to seven plus one ONA (so far), along with the two Fall carryovers (that we know of).

These shows were chosen because of the staff and cast involved or because the promo art caught our eye, or because the brief spiel appealed to us. We’re particularly interested in SHAFT’s sequel to Bakemonogatari, in which Araragi’s sisters will play more prominent roles, and Black★Rock Shooter, whose earlier OVA we reviewed a while back.

As usual we like going into series as blind as possible, but that doesn’t mean you have to! Click a title below for that work’s ANN entry to learn all the details. These are our winter acorns, stashed away until the Fall of Plenty peters out. Maybes are starred(*).

Another – P.A.Works – January
Aquarion Evol – SatelightJanuary
Black★Rock Shooter – Ordet/Sanzigen – February
Nisemonogatari – SHAFT – January
Inu x Boku SS* – David – January
Mouretsu Pirates – Satelight – January
Rinne no Lagrange – Xebec – January
Baby, Please Kill Me* – J.C.Staff – Winter

Fall 2011 Carryovers

Bakuman 2 (Episodes 13-25)
Mirai Nikki (Episodes 13-26)

Mirai Nikki – 07

Now a guest in Yuki’s home, Rei makes several attempts on Yuno’s life, and when she and Yuki figure out he’s a diary holder, he sets a trap that releases gas into the house. Yuno manages to find Rei and stab him, securing the antidote, but Uryuu, who arrived to watch the fight, is the one who has to administer it to the lovebirds. Rei, the fifth, is gone.

It’s one thing to have nutzo characters like Yuno and Uryuu…but a five-year-old kid? It just…doesn’t work for us. Especially a kid Yuki’s mother just randomly brought into her home who just happened to have his parents killed by Yuno back at the Sacred Eye cult. We can tolerate insane people trying to kill other insane people. But we have to draw the line somewhere, and that’s with really annoying little kids who talks to himself with sock puppets.

The questions abound: how is this toddler so intelligent? Where did he get all the syringes? How did he set up such elaborate traps so quickly without detection? Why does Yuki continually tell Yuno not to kill him even though it’s ultimately him or them? This episode doesn’t bother with logic or reason; it only seems interested in killing off yet another fairly pointless, uninteresting diary holder, and now half of them are gone. Rei does echo a point we’ve made previously: what will Yuno do when she and Yuki are the last two standing?


Rating: 2.5

Bakuman 2 – 08

Fukuda, Niizuma, Hiramaru, Aoki and Nakai tell their editors they’ll all join Ashirogi Muto on hiatus until the Chief Editor ends the TRAP hiatus. Mashiro’s surgery is successful, but he and Takagi are furious when they seen the four other manga missing. The phones ring off the hook at the editor’s office, but the Chief Editor won’t budge. When Mashiro is discharged from the hospital, he, Takagi and Miura confront him one more time with eleven piled-up manuscripts, and he finally agrees to return TRAP to Jack as soon as possible.

Well, that would seem to have been resolved rather quickly! Putting TRAP on hiatus brought the whole point of the series – Mashiro achieving his dreams – to a screeching halt, but through it all, Miho was ever-supportive, Mashiro’s friends stuck their own necks out for his sake, and he never stopped drawing. We’re not entirely sure passage of time was handled as well as it could have been, but what’s important is that they managed to convince the chief editor to end TRAP’s hiatus before they graduate, which is as good an outcome as they could have hoped for.

Of course, while Miura considers the backlog of manuscripts to be some of Ashirogi’s best work yet, it was all produced without knowing how each story would be ranked. The next episode’s title incliuding the words “low ranking” suggest Mashiro and Takagi’s next major challenge will be dealing with a sudden and perhaps prolonged decline in popularity, just when their first volume has been released. And unpopular manga don’t get turned into anime (usually).


Rating: 3.5

Ben-To – 07

Matsy presents Sen’s club with free tickets to a Hawaiian swim park, but after a long, expensive train ride, realize they’re missing one, so Satou has to buy his own, leaving him short on cash. Not only Nikaido has also been invited, but Monk, Endo, and other wolves. Since this is a park owned by Ralph Store, it also offers half-price bento a half hour prior to closing, so a battle ensues, with the added challenge of taking place in a pool. Satou makes the most of the result of Shaga’s “attack” on him and manages to grab the honor stamp.

A pool episode we didn’t hate would have sufficed, we weren’t expecting this: an innovative swimsuit episode that takes that trope and adds all of Ben-To‘s own distinctiveness. Just about every cliche had a distinct purpose: Inoue’s cameo uses up Satou’s ticket; his lack of cash makes half-priced food his only choice; and the Montage of Fun Events serves both to tire people out and make them hungry, preparing them for the pool battle. At first we thought Sen was being too serious and diligent when she came out in a sporty one-piece (worn under her clothes) and spent a lot of time stretching and doing laps. But she was just making sure she was fully-prepared if battle came – and it did.

The battle itself was full of great practical details. Fighters were hampered both by the sudden malfunction of sexy bikini tops; the distraction of said malfunctions; by cramps; even by the sting of the chlorine from all the splashing. The bentos themselves were floating around in clear plastic balls, requiring totally different tactics from store battles. And after suffering a long, intimate Shaga Hug, Satou makes ingenious use of his hard-on as a goddamn rudder to maneuver his way to victory. Heck, we were even made privy to the origins of Sen and Shaga’s noms-de-guerre, and learned that Satou’s is “Freak” (Hentai), which considering the manner of his triumph, is quite fitting.


Rating: 4

Sket Dance – 33


Yagi and her assistant Saori are filming a documentary of the Sket-dan solving the case of the “Glass Man”, a mysterious serial window breaker. Initial evidence suggests members of the baseball club, but there’s no motive, so Bossun puts his goggles on and deciphers a hidden code in the names of the rooms where windows were broken. The name it spells suggests a guy named ‘Shimasaki Takao’, but it turns out to be a girl named Takashima Sakiko, who is being blackmailed to do the deeds by the true culprit, Saori, who harbors a gruge against Sakiko for replacing her love letter with her own.

Weren’t we just talking last week about how we never know what’s coming with this series? Yeah, that continues to ring true this week, as we get a pretty clever and competent drama-mystery played more-or-less straight as an arrow, which we don’t mind at all. The Sket-dan is called upon to solve a case and they do it, with Bossun leading the investigation, and Himeko and Switch following orders. But since they’re the SKET-dan, they also make the choice to take the heat for the whole incident, protecting the real culprit, Saori.

Saori ef’d up, but so did the girl she framed, Sakiko. The thing is, Sakiko worked hard to become thin again, while Saori just kept stewing about the injustice Sakiko visited upon her in middle school. Even so, it’s hip to forgive, and both Sakiko and the Sket-dan forgive Saori for her transgressions. After all, it’s not like people were being murdered – we’re just talking about broken windows and potentially wounded pride. Frankly, why would people care that Sakiko used to be fat anyway? It’s not like she is now…


Rating: 3.5

 

Working’!! – 08

Nazuna has grown to the same height as Takanashi, so he hires Popura to be his Cute Little Sister for a day. A jealous Inami tries to get him to call her cute as well, and succeeds by showing him a picture of her as a little girl. She records his voice on her phone to listen to it over and over again. Kirio arrives at Wagnaria to search for Aoi. Takanashi considers him a threat, and Souma artfully keeps Aoi away from him.

Souma can be a cruel, ruthless guy. He loves nothing else but the look of humiliation on the faces of others, after all. Yet After a whole day of teasing his coworkers, Souma does something nice for Aoi; she keeps her blissfully unaware that she’s being hunted. Even if it isn’t the right thing to do, it’s to make her happy, not to humiliate her. This works great in concert with everyone’s standoffishness vis-a-vis Kirio. They’re not trying to protect Aoi, but they don’t seem to like the guy either. He gets too close to people; he’s a disruptive element.

Last week, we were made to believe that Kirio is stronger than Takanashi, and perhaps a more suitible suitor to Inami, because he can stop her punches, while Takanashi takes every one. Hilariously, it turns out not only could Takanashi stop her punches if he tried, he can pacify Kirio as easily as he swats a fly. This fits his background as a kid with many older sisters; Kozue whaled on him and in so doing, toughened him and taught him self-defense. But the fact he doesn’t resist Inami’s blows because doing so would hurt her is a very romantic sentiment, even if unconscious.


Rating: 3.5

Mawaru Penguindrum – 19

Tabuki flees, leaving Yuri to bring back Momoka on her own. Himari is relased from the hospital and enjoys sukiyaki with Kanba, Shoma, and Ringo, but fears Sanetoshi only let her go because she’s going to die anyway. Masako enters the Takakura household with a bone to pick with Himari. She tries to fire a blue recollection ball at her, and Shoma and Kanba stop her. But an exhaust fan trigger’s Himari’s memories of the Child Broiler anyway.

In this topsy-turvy, twisty-turny, noodle-churning, downside-up series, what is the one constant throughout? That Kanba, Shoma, and Himari are siblings, right? That’s what we…wait, what? Even that’s not true now? But…but she knit them sweaters! And she’s in all those photos! And what is the thing Masako is always talking about crushing soon? Perhaps he wants to crush the lie…the lie of Himari being their sister? Does that mean Masako’s his real sister??

Oh, Hi, Takakura parents! Just hangin’ out at a ramen shop in Ogikubo, huh? They certainly don’t look like mass murderers…but now we know it’s them passing packets of cash to Kanba. In envelopes marked “Kiga”, just like an apple Shoma offered Himari a lifetime ago – the fruit of fate. So it seems we’ve got Sanetoshi, the Takakura parents, and the late Momoka all playing with fate like a chemistry set in their own ways. We remain utterly enraptured.


Rating: 4

Persona 4: The Animation – 07

The more the gang learns about Tatsumi Kanji, the more they realize he isn’t the tough delinquent he appears to be. In the TV, Teddie’s nose leads them to a bathhouse where Kanji is holed up, but it’s a very threatening and uncomfortable place for Yu and Kosuke. Even with four personas, the shadow’s a tough cookie, protected by masochistic bodyguards who absorb physical and magical attack. Yu has to use the power of the velvet room to merge two personas, while Kanji himself brings down his own shadow. Kanji then joins the gang.

We can’t believe we’re saying this, but we actually missed Teddie and the TV world. We’re also glad they switched things up a bit. The gang has numbers and plenty of brute force, but Kanji’s shadow is a horse of a different color. He was like one of those RPG bosses who’s a tough nut to crack, because your usual tactics prove ineffective or even beneficial to the enemy. He takes everybody out of their comfort zone, even managing to get under the skin of the prim-and-proper Yukiko by insulting her outfit of all things (Yukiko was particularly fun to watch this week). Heck, even Yu flinches once or twice, which is a lot for him.

Another nice plot device (for lack of a better term) was the cute phone strap Kanji made by hand for a little kid. It’s a symbol of his love of “cutesy shit”, and his intense need to be accepted – even if it’s as a tough – brings him inner turmoil that boiled over this week. Seeing that strap made him step back from the shadow’s taunting and accept him as a part of his personality. He admits to being a pansy for lying to himself and creating the delinquent persona as a shell to hide behind. Finally, this episode still had plenty of comedy, but managed to balance it with the drama more than last week.


Rating: 3.5

Guilty Crown – 06

A surprise attack from GHQ’s Leucocyte jeopardizes the mission, killing Kyo and all of Undertaker’s reinforcements and supplies, but Gai is determined to continue the mission, using Kenji and Shu to knock out the satellite cores. Shu initially refuses to participate, but Inori arranges for him to eavesdrop on a vulnerable Gai who thinks he’s talking to her. Knowing the weight he carries, he agrees to help. Daryl Yan’s interference interrupts the delicate shutdown procedure, and the satellite beings hurtling toward Tokyo. Gai volunteers to destroy it at the cost of his life, but Inori lends her strength to Shu once more, giving him a void weapon that eliminates the threat.

Ah, it’s good that Gai got a chance to show us somebody other than the fearless leader – and good for Shu to see, too. He’s afraid of getting blood on his hands, and thinks it’s stupid for people to keep laying down their lives just because they love Gai. But he’s got it backwards. Gai loves them, and would die for them. He also happens to know that Shu has the pen Segai gave him. That Shu’s one trump card turns out to be something that would’ve killed him along with whoever was around him when he pressed the buttons is a nice piece of treachery on Segai’s part.

Inori proves quite the perceptive ‘lil minx in sensing Shu’s main objections stemmed from his misinterpretation of Gai’s personality – and the use of computer signage to fool Gai was clever. Shu may never be the cool, collected killing machines Inori or Gai are (Gai taking out Yan’s endlave on foot? Pretty awesome), but killing anyone at all is still tough proposition for him, which isn’t good considering in the business he’s in, reading people wrong and hesitating will get you dead. At the end of the day, though, he’s still standing,  this was another rousing, action-packed feast for the eyes, and we look forward to more.


Rating: 3.5

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai – 07

Frustrated by not knowing who’s going to show up for club when during the summer, Kodaka suggests they set up a system for that purpose. However, Sena and Yozora refuse to use the internet, and they can’t join an SNS without an invitation, so they determine cell phones to be the best tool for the job. Sena doesn’t have one though, and ends up buying one just like Kodaka’s the next day.

I understand that people without friends can quickly fall behind on technology, and the moment where Yozora and Kodaka rejoice upon successfully exchanging addresses was worth a chuckle, but otherwise this episode just kind of lagged, dragging the cell phone troubleshooting bit along for way too long.

Kobato’s stupid “ku-ku-ku” is long past played-out, as is the pattern of Yozora directing barbs at Sena followed by Sena running out in tears. Yozora and Sena’s petty, silent rivalry over a clueless Kodaka certainly has a precident in real high school life, but it’s starting to get boring here. And the solution for an engaging, entertaining comedy isn’t more fanservice.


Rating: 2