Chihayafuru – 17

Despite winning a club relay in an upset, the Karuta Club fails to recruit any new members, so they focus on individual goals – advancing in class, in the case of Taichi, Porky, Desktomu and Kanade. Taichi sneaks off to Kanazawa to try to achieve class A in time to face Arata, but he meets Porky there, and they both get beaten. Meanwhile, Harada tells Chihaya something she’d never imagined: she has to stop using her speed to win. The challenge flummoxes her, until Desktomu and Kanade lend her their unique perspectives on the game.

Speed speed speed. It’s all Chihaya has known. All her eggs are in that basket, and the resulting omelette is an unsatisfying and not particularly nutritious mess of faults, openings, and ignorance. She’s been so concerned about perfecting her speed, she’s totally neglected her weaknesses, which are still many. Shinobu didn’t beat her because she was faster; she beat her because she was a far more complete player. Chihaya may be able to toast lesser players, but if she wants to be crowned the queen, she needs to make some fundamental changes to her game. We like how two of the keys to her evolution are right there in the kurata club, and here is where the two class Ds really prove their worth.

Desktomu looks at the game like no one else in the club, taking detailed notes of every game he plays and finding the patterns. Kanade believes the whole point of the game is appreciating the history and beauty of the poetry itself – her outrage when Chihaya tells her two cards that were written two centuries apart are “almost the same” reveals her intense passion. If Chihaya can learn a fraction of what Kanade knows, she may be able to recognize more cards by the color she connects them to in her head due to the imagery of the poem. Kurata isn’t just a sport, it’s an art and a science too. Like breaking up with your girlfriend on the phone in less than ten words…


Rating: 3.5

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Aquarion Evol – 05

Thee newly united, co-ed elements of Holy Angel Academy are broken up into groups of three and unleashed into Neo-Kowloon to enter into all manner of suspiciously-date-like situations while the newly arrived child chairman Crea, High Commander Fudo, and other faculty observe them. All elements are fitted with armbands that shock them if feelings of love grow too intense. Amata is teamed up with Mikono and Zessica; the former gets upset that Amata is excited by Zessica’s shameless flirting. She stalks off, but Amata follows her and they almost fall in love before a romantic sunset when the Abductor Kagura crashes the scene.

We’ll tell you, we’re a bit surprised we were totally okay with the premise of this episode – in which the boys and girls essentially go on dates for school – which is awesome in and of itself. But it isn’t just for fun or for purposes of coupling off. Far from it: with the wild card of the electro-armbands, this is about training the raw and excited elements to control their emotions – the things that power their mecha. The goal is the ‘edge of love’, not true love itself. Two elements falling in love is what caused the last Aquarion catastrophe. Donar Dantes was a copilot, and he lost the love of his life along with his arms when the mecha went berserk.

This makes Donar quite the tragic figure, but also underscores the dangers of what Mikono and Amata are playing around with. Besides Donar, we see more of High Commander Fudo, who lays down some devastating donut metaphors, the academy’s doll-come-to-life chairman, and peripheral students like MIX and Sazanka. We also must note just how amazing the series continues to look. Everything is polished to dazzling and the colors are as intense as the emotions flying around.


Rating: 4

RABUJOI Joins MyAnimeList

RABUJOI has finally entered the 21st Century and will no longer be relying solely on its proprietary html code to keep it’s watchlist straight. Instead, we’ll update our anime-watchin’ info on MyAnimeList, like everyone else. Click here or on the MAL logo above to see our profile. Click here for the list itself. What a time to be alive!

Here’s the tricky part: ratings. MAL ranks range from 1 to 10; ours from 1 to 4. We won’t be changing our rating system here, so here are some quick RABUJOI-to-MAL conversions: 1 = 1; 1.5 = 2-3; 2 = 4; 2.5 = 5; 3 = 5-6; 3.5 = 7-8; 4 = 9-10. Simple! We’re proud to be joining the MyAnimeList community and look forward to easier anime data management.

– RABUJOI STAFF 

End-of-Month Rundown – January 2012

As the first month of 2012 comes to a close, the Winter 2012 season is starting to take shape. We started with eight series, dropped two, and await one. Here are the rankings with some quick verdicts: 

1. Aquarion Evol (4.0) – The clear champion in production values, and its story and ensemble cast aren’t half-bad, either.

2. Moretsu Pirates (3.875)  – The more deliberate and analytical of the two sci-fi shojo series, with lots of cool sci-fi process tempered by lots of heart.

3. Rinne no Lagrange (3.625) – The consciencious mecha series in which the heroine worries about every person and every building that may be crushed.

4. Another (3.375) – The horror series which is getting the fundamentals right, even if it isn’t breaking any particularly new ground.

5. Nisemonogatari (3.5) – The sequel to a very talky, sedentary, seductive series you’ll either strongly like or dislike. We like.

6. Baby, Please Kill Me! (3.0) – The simple, straightforward skit comedy with cutesy design that’s dumb, charming fun.

Black★Rock Shooter – The Winter trump card that hasn’t been played yet.

Mirai Nikki – 16

‘Nurse’ Uryuu / Ninth is acting as a coach for Yuki to toughen him up, claiming she has a plan to defeat Mar and Ai / Seventh. In reality, she doesn’t, but she must make him think there is so it shows up in his diary. Yuno watches from afar, and is concerned when Yuki’s dad shows up. Her concerns are justified; his dad is only there to destroy Yuki’s phone so his debt will be forgiven. But Yuki is blinded by happiness and the prospect of his parents remarrying. Finally meeting with the Seventh duo, his dad even manages to break Yuki’s phone, but it’s a decoy; the real ones are hidden in Ai’s bouquet. When the tower they met in starts to crumble, Yuki has to choose between Yuno and his dad’s hand to save his life…

What? Really? Yuki’s deadbeat dad shows up this week? Was that really necessary? Isn’t there enough going on? Yuki’s mom has been presumably around this whole time, but we’ve only seen her in a few episodes. Even more aggravating, Yuki goes right back into weak little weenie mode when he sees said dad. Hoping your parents will remarry is all nice and good, but getting him to promise same without any input from his mother? All so they can “see the stars?” What is he, seven? Uryuu tells him he’s too quick to give up and let his weaknesses discourage him. In this case, his weakness is a longing for a happy, complete family; something both his enemies and his father are all too happy to exploit.

Unfortunately for Yuki, his dad isn’t really interested in reconnecting this week. He’s three million yen in debt, and someone – presumably a diary holder like Eleventh – has offered to eliminate that debt if he breaks Yuki’s cellphone. His dad may not be aware that will kill his son, but who cares? He’s a weasel. And his continuous cheating to beat his son in a variety of challenges set by Uryuu doesn’t help his likability. The two saving graces of this episode were Uryuu – who was surprisingly civil and helpful this week – and Yuno, who proves that even without her phone, her instincts vis-a-vis Yuki are almost always right. When Yuki has to talk her down from stabbing his dad – only for her to start adding poison to his tea – was one of the more gut-busting scenes of the series. She may be nuts, but she’s not stupid, and as always, is trying to protect Yuki no matter what.


Rating: 3

Another – 04

With Sakuragi and her relative dead, Class 3 is uneasy, for if the curse is back this year, it means one student will die per month, along with one of their relatives, in some cases. Sakakibara saves one of his classmates from falling plate glass. He returns to the doll shop and finds Misaki there, who warns him to be careful. As Nurse Mizuno tells Sakaki her brother isn’t aware of anyone named Misaki Mei, despite Sakaki’s insistance, she enters an elevator whose cable breaks while she’s inside, and she crashes to her death.

While they caught us by surprise with the first death last week, Another didn’t do a very good job concealing its hand. Maybe that’s not the point; the point is, people are going to start dying from now on. As soon as we learned Sakuragi’s relative died, we pretty much knew the cute nurse was going to bite it; it was just a matter of how. And what does she do? Step into a decrepit old elevator for no reason! We know; last week proved stairs can be deadly too, but we knew there was no way she’d ever be stepping out of that elevator alive.

People are still reserved about letting Sakakibara know too much, which is kind of annoying, since he’s still apparently confused about something as simple as the existence of Misaki. No one else can see her, kid. She’s a ghost. And she’s bad frikkin’ news. Even if she’s not consciously or maliciously causing these things to occur, she’s a part of the cause. So, the question is, exactly what “countermeasures” do Izumi & Co. possess that will stop the killing?


Rating: 3.5

Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam – 14

Fam, Gisey and Millia return to Kartoffel to find it in ruins, but the people were unharmed, including Gisey’s family. But now that Lily has dropped two Exiles, Millia is resolved to stop her sister or die trying. To that end, she prepares to gather what strength Atamora has left and join it with Anatoray’s for a counterattack. Fam disagrees with her plan, and won’t believe Millia would kill her only sister; she gets upset and challenges Fritz to a vespa race. As Millia watches it, she changes her mind. When the race is over, a Federation transport delivers a message to the princess from Augusta Sara herself: by Vasant’s counsel and for the sake of peace, she will move against Luscinia.

Should Lily be opposed for her actions? Absolutely. Should Millia have to kill her own sister? Preferably no, but Millia at least acknowledges it may come to that, and starts to plan accordingly. But Fam won’t have it. As an orphan who was taken in and gained a family, she understands how important family is. She considers Millia a part of that family, and by extension Lily. She doesn’t want Millia to go down that same path as Lily did. Blood hasn’t solved anything up to this point, and Lily isn’t beyond redemption. There’s a flaw in Fam’s reasoning, though – several, actually – in the form of those Exiles that hang in the sky. Lily commands them and can still cause massive death and suffering with them if she isn’t stopped.

At the episode’s start, the Chaosian General Vasant makes contact with what’s left of Glacies’ defenses, including Dian. By the episode’s end, she’s back at the capital with Augusta Sara, whom she protected with her person back when Sara’s mother was assassinated. Like Fam, Vasant is tired of the bloodshed. Luscinia sees the people under his boot as nothing more than military assets or liabilites. Fam told Millia not to think of her allies like that, and clearly Vasant is done allowing of all the myriad peoples to be thus subjugated. Luscinia has proven he’s willing to pay far too much for his version of peace, and so she’ll oppose him. But he won’t go quietly.


Rating: 3.5

Rinne no Lagrange – 04

Madoka’s school grudingly approves of her piloting a robot, as long as it’s something she turly wants to do. It’s suggested they simply give the robot to the enemy, but doing so would aid their plans for interstellar conquest. The mysterious Muginami enrolls in Madoka’s class. At a swimming competition at the shore, Muginami not only wins, but saves Lan, whos boat she accidentally capsized, from drowning, and joins the jersey club. Muginami and Lan then help out at Madoka’s uncle’s restaurant. BWH. Lan then enrolls in Madoka’s class, joins the jersey club, and decides to move into BWH with Madoka and Muginami. Kirius and Izo’s ship is destroyed by Villagiulio, the leader of Kiss, who wants them to work for him. That night, Array escapes from Pharos in his ovid.

This episode sets itself apart from those that preceeded it by lacking any kind of big mecha battle, or indeed hardly any sci-fi content at all. There’s still action here, but it’s much more conventional, i.e. swimming, cafe hijinks, and a competition for Madoka’s favor. Long story short, Muginami is better than Lan at seemingly everything. Despite her obvious merits, however, we still don’t much like Muginami as a character yet, and prefer the more flawed Lan. When Mugi started waiting tables out of the blue, attracting customers with her beauty, Lan said ‘me too’ and exhibited her ridiculous klutziness, which was funny, we’ll grant, if a little out of character. We do hope Mugi gets more depth though. I mean, nobody knows anything about her.

Arguably, Madoka is the best balance between Muginami’s efficacy and Lan’s…inefficacy. It’s nice that the trio is now complete, however rushed Mugi’s introduction and assimilation felt. We should have expected a cool-down episode; after all, Madoka cares a great deal what happens to her town, and we can hardly sympathize if we don’t see the town from time to time. There’s a nice transitioning scene of the post-battle cleanup that really adds to the realism. The episode also shook up a lot of the good vibes it built by letting Array escape. No doubt he’ll team back up with his buds and be back, which may make Madoka & Co. long for these otherwise laid-back trouble-free episodes.


Rating: 3

Nisemonogatari – 04

Araragi comes home to find Hanekawa and Tsukihi caring for Karen, who has fallen victim to some kind of malady. When he takes a bath, Shinobu appears andstarts talking. She was the one who freed him from his cuffs. According to Oshino, Karen has anoddity called the Wreathe Fire Bee, which causes intense fever and eventually death. Shinobu muses about how long Araragi might live; his vampire side may make him outlive everyone he loves. But he’ll cross that bridge when he comes to it. Curing Karen is the priority.

First of all, mad props to the production design (or the anime equivalent of such): Araragi’s house could put many an Architectural Digest cover home to shame with its avant garde, eclectic design. The bathroom in particular is simply nuts – a massive vault with church-like stained glass windows, whirlygigs, and a floor covered in a thin layer of water. Araragi’s room would make Alex DeLarge weep, with its trippy carpet and huge zeppelin model the camera actually flies through during a conversation for no reason. Seriously, who does that? Who cares; it’s awesome. Architecture aside, there’s some major game afoot: Araragi’s dear bigger little sister Karen is very ill thanks to the sting of a supernatural bee, and Kaiki may be responsible.

If that weren’t enough excitement, a very chatty Shinobu of all people appears out of the blue to counsel Araragi, in a lengthy, somewhat risqué scene. One must remember that despite her looks Shinobu is four centuries old (c0mplete with ‘haughty’, old-style manner of speaking), and not a girl at all, but a vampire, and Araragi’s shadow. While they play it as yet another girl teasing Araragi, this relationship is a lot different and deeper than all the others, even Senjougahara’s. Veteran seiyu Maaya Sakamoto adds a haunting, aloof venerability to the vampirette. We’re curious to see if and how they’ll work together, and how Karen will be saved.


Rating: 3.5

Moretsu Pirates – 04

As the Odette II’s practice cruise around Tau Ceti continues, Marika and Chiaki detect what they believe to be an enemy masquerading as the ghost ship Alcyon, lost more than a century ago. Marika informs the crew that she’s a candidate for the captaincy of a pirate ship, which is why the enemy is targeting them. Jenny already knows who she is, but agrees with the plan to take the fight to the ghost ship rather than ask adults for help and risk a ban on future cruises. Marika draws up the battle plan, which Dolittle approves. Only Kane and Misa know the truth: this is all an elaborate test of Marika’s skills.

Sometimes the chops required of successfully commanding a ship are naturally inhereted by one’s offspring, and that certainly seems to be the case with Marika Kato. She’s picking up on things at a strong and steady clip, impressing her pirate observers and fellow Yacht Club members alike. But the series doesn’t forget that this is still a training ship full of students, with no battle experience, so this impending battle won’t put the Odette II in mortal peril, the crew believes that’s exactly what they’ll be in, and act accordingly. This is for all the marbles: if they fail, they know they’ll risk having the Odette II taken away.

The episode is full of preparation and urgency, and we’re starting to learn a little more about some of the huge group of students. Important ones like Jenny and Lynn are touched upon, and the latter’s hacking abilities are integral to Marika’s plan. We like how ships can fool one another depending on the scan thrown at them, how basic analytical methods are used by Marika and the crew, and especially how Marika draws up both a strategy and specific tactics despite not being quite certain of the distinction between the two. This is seat-of-the-pants spacefaring; learning as she goes the conventions and pitfalls of space combat. Next week, we’ll see how she and the Odette II do against the pirates’ faux attack.


Rating: 3.5

Baby, Please Kill Me! – 04

It is summer. Yasuna buys an inordinate amount of ice cream in order to win one free one, but Sonya wins with her castoffs. The two go to the beach to break watermelons blindfolded; Sonya wins. Before exams, Yasuna tries to teach Sonya “yoga.” Other assassins target Sonya, including two Yasuna dopplegangers which Yasuna mixes with; Sonya defeats them all.

This series cannot seem to stop reiterating: Yasuna is dumb. Really really dumb. Inexplicable actions dumb. Gullible. Self-defeating. Self-punishing. And her face is never far from Sonya’s fist. And yet, for the life of us, we can’t find it in our hearts to hate her. Don’t get us wrong, if it were just Yasuna (or Yasuna and Agiri), this just plain wouldn’t be watchable, but with Sonya as the voice of reason and occasional hammer of justic, it’s a very pleasant, balanced time. This series also continues to benefit from a very cool soundtrack.

The trio of themes this week are ice cream, watermelons, and assassins. While the first two are introduced by Yasuna, there’s a slight change of pace with the assassin theme, as it’s the first that isn’t Yasuna’s doing. Typically Sonya is the passive party that must react to whatever Yasuna brings to her attention; this time, she’s the catalyst for action. But as this series doesn’t do real peril (much like Ika Musume), Yasuna ends up just playing along with the Yasuna clone-assassins until Sonya takes care of business with a nice coup-de-grace.


Rating: 3

Sket Dance – 42

In part one, the Sket-dan hangs out with Momoka, who is worried about her impending role in a stage play. The script contains extremely simple dialogue, leaving the actors to interpret it how they choose. Practicing with Bossun, they play the proposal scene straight, then Switch makes the character her hulk-like father in a postapocalyptic setting; then Bossun and Momoka pretend to be Americans, saying whatever English phrases sound vaguely like the Japanese dialog. At her rehersal, Momoka sings her lines, impressing her director.

This part was all about taking a simple idea – like the sparse script – and coming up with several very different interpretations. It succeeds giving Bossun and Switch different personas for Momoka to bounce off of. We like the idea that Bossun is a good actor in his own right, and here he even throws off his coyness and embraces Momoka. He ceases to be Bossun and becomes the dull character. Bossun is the kind of guy who could well be good at everything – as long as he puts in the effort. Both the opening scene at the karaoke and the rehersal with the director prove that Momoka can do no wrong; she’ll always find success no matter what she does.

In part two, Himeko is contemplating what she wants to do in the future when Roman busts in with news: her manga has won a prize and has been published in Margerine magazine. It’s a poorly-drawn, rambling affair, but the Sket-dan agrees it is at least fun. Momoka’s protege Fumi shows her her own manga. Momoka is very impressed, and suggests they work together to get more of their work published.

Roman is an interesting character in that she more than any other non-core character manipulates and changes the rules of the episodes in which she appears. She is a master of time, space, and matter, able to create scenery and transitions like some kind of sorcery. The sket-dan can even inexplicably hear her inner voice. Like Momoka, Roman has managed to find success despite not having the best technical skills – her drawing is shaky and the story is a random mess, but the editors chose it for its sheer audacity. As usual, the sket-dan’s commentary during her manga presentation provided ample laughs.


Rating: 3

Bakuman 2 – 16

When Aoki comes to Ashirogi seeking help drawing panty shots, Kaya suggests she meet with Ishizawa, but that proves a bad idea, as he turns out to be worse than Nakai. When Fukuda hears that Aoki and Nakai were in a fight, he drops by Takahara’s to confront Nakai, who tells him he’s “comfortable” where he is, and working with Katou. Rather than leave it there, he decides to coach Aoki himself, giving her pointers while he draws and having her fax him work to look over. Her resulting work gets her a shot at serialization in the same time Ashirogi’s Tanto is up for it. Meanwhile, Iwase meets with Hattori, vowing to draw a manga based on her novel that will surpass Takagi.

Fukuda can be loud and obnoxious, but he’s also kind (in his own way), and fiercely loyal to his fellow mangakas. We see a lot of him this week, juggling his own Kiyoshi Knights manga with the new task of helping Aoki essentially loosen up. This isn’t just about inserting panty shots; it’s about showing the right imagery at the appropriate time. It’s not simple. Fukuda’s direction really perks Aoki up, as she’s put Nakai and even Takagi past her and is going for it. We like this new, more emotional, more assertive Aoki a lot; she’s just got this spark right now, and her heated conversations with Fukuda are very fun to watch.

Fukuda isn’t just doing this for her. For him, doing what he does just isn’t fun if Niizuma, Mashiro, Takagi, Nakai and Aoki aren’t doing it too. He wants everyone trying to outdo the other, because that will result in everyone putting out their best work. Friends are the best critics, because they can communicate feedback to you in a way someone else may not be able to. Takagi and Mashiro may have had a better chance of being serialized if they put Aoki’s request on hold, but they didn’t; they helped her because she was a friend in need, and because Nakai really was a bastard. We’re not sure what to make of Iwase yet; she’s just starting out like Ashirogi Muto did with Hattori; but she’s a bright cookie, and it’s not unrealistic to think she’ll rise fast.


Rating: 3.5