To Aru Majutsu No Index II 9

This episode starts with a very nice quick pace, as Touma alerts Tsuchimikado and Steyr about Oriana. The chase is on, but Oriana – Route Disturb, her magical name – proves quite wily, thwarting their pursuit with a host of booby traps and counter-spells to give them the slip, and neutralizes Steyr’s magic. It turns out she’s able to write grimoires on the fly for specialized, if limited, purposes on the fly, an ability called Shorthand.

A couple things apparent in this episode: Tsuchimikado and Steyr believe in something bigger than themselves, and both are willing to put themselves in mortal peril and sacrifice their lives if it means preserving the peace and protecting the innocent. Touma isn’t new to this, having put his life on the line on numerous occasions, but in most cases, it was to protect his friends, not the world order. An aside: Touma’s Imagine Breaker is put to good use in this episode, showcasing just how versatile and powerful negation magic can be.

It’s a pleasant coincidence when Misaka shows up on one of the teams participating in a ball toss competition where a Shorthand trap is set. Though Touma finds it, he loses time by believing Misaka’s right next to it (Misaka’s confusion is priceless). It turns out to be just a flyer, however. Fukiyose ends the match and incidentally touches the real Shorthand, releasing a counter-spell that knocks her out. Oriana definitely has the upper hand, but Touma has Imagine Breaker in his arm, and vows to foil her plans. Rating: 3.5

Amagami SS 22

Tsukasa Ayatsuji finally reveals her true self, and like Junichi, we like what we see. There’s always something extremely entertaining about a perfect girl turning out to be not so perfect after all. Flaws make a good character. In fact, a flawed character is closer to perfection than a flawless one. For 21 weeks, whenever we’ve seen her heard her, she had a placid smile and the polite, metered, matter-of-fact voice of a Nissan GT-R’s navigation system. She’s no longer that impossible and frankly dull avatar. Her expressions and tone are infused with a new energy.

I’m definitely liking the balance of their relationship so far: she toys with him, but he toys with her right back. He may be better off staying away from someone so self-involved, yet he can’t turn away. She’s also intrigued by his kindness. He took the first step to knowing her better by agreeing to work on the committee with her, and he’s become the first person other than herself she’s actually interested in. Thinking about him even disrupts her studying.

Tsukasa is also defined by her relationship to her free-spirit sister, a Luna Lovegood-type without a care in the world. Tsukasa has all the cares, and as someone who has to build facades around herself when interacting with people, it isn’t surprising she resents her sister’s freedom. The more Tsukasa comes out from behind those structures, and the more frequently she drops the miss-perfect act – the more interesting and sympathetic she becomes. Junichi feels the same way. Rating: 4

Panty & Stocking 10

Panty & Stocking got all, like, experimental this week. It has a fairly conventional first half (in which a shrunken P&S explore Brief’s internal organs), but then all bets are off. The animation exists for its own sake in a three-part trilogy of life, death, re-birth, and love between Chuck and his evil counterpart.

Turns out tiny demons are inside each plushie, who are the source of life in the pets. These three shorts are slow and suspenseful one moment and dazzlingly fast and chaotic the next. Because there’s no dialogue – only Chuck’s indecipherable chattering – you can really focus on imagery. The old-time movie white noise is a haunting touch. And those visuals – take the visual language of PSG right to its limits.

As if this episode weren’t strange enough, it ends with a music video, in which Panty, Stocking, Garterbelt and Chuck perform in Daten City and, throughout the song, appear as perhaps five dozen different parodies of bands, from the Beatles to Lady Gaga and everything in between. Kudos to the producers for making so many cheeky, weird-ass choices in one episode. I was certainly not expecting it, and it was a blast to behold. Rating: 4

enjoyed their taking the visual language of PSG as far as it can go.

Shiki 18

Oho! Now things are getting interesting…and they were already plenty interesting before. Toshio replenished the blood he lost with an infusion at the clinic, which lessons the effect of Chizuru’s glamor. Allowing her to bite him was an immense risk (though it was going to happen anyway), but it seems to have paid off big.

Sunako is the vampire queen, not Chizuru. Chizuru, it would seem, is her daughter, who lived part of her adult life as a human, and even had a husband. Toshio taps into that and lays on the charm, with good results: asking her out for a harmless date to help her mingle more with the still-living villagers and allay their fears, Toshio is able to get her close enough to a temple so that her worst fears surface. The fear weakens her, and Toshio gets everyone’s attention that this is indeed a okiagiri – including Megumi’s dad, who remembers the scent of her perfume. This scene where Toshio turns the tables is delicious in its justice.

This is huge, as for once a good chunk of the living are forced to shed their denial and face facts. It also raises the stakes considerably for the vamps: a full-on assault to finish the villagers seems necessary. Meanwhile, the blue-haired daywalker pays Natsuno (and his now-crazed dad) a visit. He and Natsuno are called jinrou, the best of both worlds. But he won’t let Natsuno keep living if he won’t suck blood. Oh yeah, Ritsuko rose and doesn’t want to suck blood either. More power, more problems. Rating: 3.5

Fall 2010 Anime Rankings – Thru Week 9

Don’t know about ya’ll, but we love charts and statistics. It’s why we love sports, cars, sports cars…and anime. We were wondering how we’d rank the anime we’ve watched so far this season, and then realized, we’ve already done that; we just needed to organize them and tally the averages. Below is the result. (Click here or the tab above for an explanation of our Rating system.)

No big surprises: Star Driver is the top-ranked series, fueled by four 4 Ratings, while an inconsistent MM! brings up the rear, owning the only “Mediocre” 2 Rating among the shows on the list. Zakuro, Yakumo, and Yosuga no Sora are exactly tied, interestingly enough. Note that none of the series stray too far below our 3 Rating of “Recommended”. If they did, well, we wouldn’t be watching them!

You’ll see an updated version of this chart when the season concludes.

Episode # : 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 AVG

Star Driver 3.5 3.5 3.5 4 3.5 4 4 4 3.5 3.722
Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt 4 4 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 4 3.5 3.5 3.667
Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 4 4 3.625
Bakuman. 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 4 4 3.611
Kuragehime 3.5 3.5 3.5 4 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.571
Ore no Imouto 3.5 3 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.444
To Aru Majutsu no Index II
3.5 3 3 3.5 3 4 4 3.5 3.438
Shinryaku! Ika Musume 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3 3.5 3 3.389
Arakawa Under the Bridge x 2 3.5 3 3.5 2.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.313
The World God Only Knows 3 3 3.5 3 3.5 3.5 3.5 2.5 3.5 3.222
Otome Youkai Zakuro 3 3 3.5 3 3.5 3 3 3.5 3 3.167
Psychic Detective Yakumo 3 3 3 3 3 3 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.167
Yosuga no Sora 2.5 2.5 3 3.5 3.5 3.5 3 3.5 3.5 3.167
Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls 2.5 2.5 3 3 3 2.5 3 3 3.5 2.889
MM! 2.5 3 3 3 2 2.5 3 3.5 3 2.833

Weekly Average 3.2 3.2 3.3 3.3 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.5 3.4 3.345

Nurarihyon no Mago 22

When I thought last week that the talking was going to be over…well, I jumped the gun a bit. There was more talking – and more build-up – in this episode. On the other hand, there were some nice sage exchanges between the Tanuki and Nurarihyon, and we learn why his son Tamazuki is so confident – he possesses the Devil’s Hammer, a sword that gets stronger with each youkai it kills. At this point it may as well be Sauron’s mace.

Meanwhile, just for kicks Tamazuki bumps into Kana to try to figure out why Rikuo wants to protect her (she’s cute, duh.) Kana and Yura (who again comes to the rescue but is all bark and no bite) are the only two of Rikuo’s friends we see this week. You can’t have too many weakling humans hanging around a youkai war, after all. By episode’s end, Rikuo is leading a much larger parade of demons than he started with, and they’re marching out to meet the Shikoku, not waiting for gramps. Maybe next week there will be actual combat. Rating: 3

Kuragehime 7

Kuronosuke is gone for five minutes and the sisterhood lets the Buyout Vixen – their most lethal enemy – waltz right into their castle. After he arrives, she retreats in a cloud of Hakana salt, but not before Tsukini notices she has Shuu’s glasses and fears the worst. She wants a shoulder to cry on, and it’s Kuronosuke’s. Meanwhile, the fact remains, she’s mistaken about Shuu and the vixen.

We continue to see Kuronosuke’s inexplicable and ridiculous (from his perspective) attraction to Tsukini. Case in point: the moment he sets foot on campus (not cross-dressing), he’s surrounded by a quartet of swooning models. But he doesn’t even notice them. He even tries to kiss Tsukini in her room, an impulse that only fails because Mayaya opens the door at the wrong time, sending the two flying.

Meanwhile, Kuronosuke also wants to get rid of Tsukini’s future habitation problems by buying the whole apartment building so it won’t be razed. Blackmailing his dad backfires (Shuu only saw him get to second base with Kuro’s mom) but he discovers that the otakus’ hoarding impulses could net them millions of yen in flea market bounty. He definitely seems to have made this group, and especially Tsukini, his own personal project. Rating: 3.5

The World God Only Knows 9

Flag 9 is a return to top form for God Only Knows. It introduces a very intriguing final conquest for Keima in the person of Shiori Shiomiya, the quietest, most socially awkward, and by most well-read student in his class. Even her name sounds shy. Shiori’s velvety-smooth, gentle voice is provided by Kana Hanazawa, who seems to pop up in everything these days, but you  know, I really don’t mind that at all.

The vast majority of Shiori’s words are inside her head, including an extended, operatic inner monologue that serves a as a stirring and convincing manifesto for why she is content to live out her life within the walls of the library, which she sees as her castle. Books are worlds, and shelves are universes. (Books are even rabu and joi!) Why ever interact with humans? When dealing with Elcee and Keima, she simply sits/stands in total silence while a rousing conversation with herself rages in circles within her cranium.

However, Keima is highly experienced with (virtual) librarian girls, and knows that “If you listen closely“, you can hear a bookish girl’s inner voice.” Shiori will be much tougher, as her thoughts don’t appear on-screen for him to read like dating sims. The previous conquests were comfortable talking and being among other human beings, and so their interactions with Keima were fairly straightforward. I’m definitely going to enjoy this different social dynamic, even if it proves torturous to Keima (though he admits, he prefers shy and quiet to airheaded and loud). Rating: 3.5


Shinryaku! Ika Musume 9

A failed doorbell ditch leads Ika to making her first friend her age. They get along famously, but when Ika thoughtlessly invites her to Chizuru and Eiko’s house without asking them permission, a cloud of dread floats over her the whole time. This wide gap between how Chizuru and Eiko actually act and what sinister things Ika imagines they’re thinking makes for good comedy, and the new friend is another step towards assimilation into humanity.

Ika also discovers makeup, predictably covering half her face in lipstick. But this segment then becomes a commentary on the superficiality of various style factions – Genguro girls, Napoleonic Cross-Dressers, Visual Kei-ers, Maikos, Stylish – no one can make Ika understand why these people dress the way they do. She’s only interested in makeup she was told would make men fall to her feet, which she naturally believes means conqueror-conqueree-style subjugation.

This episode wraps with a debate about who truly possesses Ika’s heart and/or body. Sanae, ever hopelessly simtten with Ika, aims to put a stop to the machinations of CIA lady and her three MIT stooges who are back, but are a bit more tolerable. This time, their tomfoolery (accidentally vaporizing the entire cafe) draws the ire of Chizuru, who beats a promise of reimbursement out of them. This series has been good with continuity, but next time the cafe will probably be back the way it was. Rating: 3

Yosuga no Sora 9

This expression pretty much sums it up: Sora is not warming up to Nao at all (btw, lots of nice close-ups of Sora in this episode). It’s gotten so bad, she fakes illness to get Haru to come to her side. Every minute he’s with Nao is a minute too many, for Sora. It’s become an obsession. One wonders if she can help it: her brother is the only family she has left and she doesn’t really have anyone else.

Or does she? When she makes an ultimatum and tells Haru to choose, he goes off with Nao. When Haru returns, Sora has run away. Everyone goes to look for her in the rain, including Nao. She finds her in the same place where Haru found her years ago; in a bus shelter. An…ahem…aluminum bus shelter.

After a whole arc of Sora showing nothing but resentment and contempt towards Nao, Nao runs into that shelter after it’s set ablaze by lightning to save not Sora, but Sora’s stuffed animal. It’s an incredibly stupid thing that could have gotten Nao killed (Nao also happened to save Haru from drowning earlier in the ep), but it seemed to do the trick: Sora seemingly snaps out of it. Talk about risky diplomacy!

She comes around by episode’s end, perhaps realizing that even with Nao in the picture, Haru isn’t going to abandon her. This arc contained the most tension between Sora and Haru’s lover; probably to set up the next arc, which resets the clock again, and centers more on Sora herself. It’ll probably get weirder from here. Rating: 3.5

Domo Arigato Gozaimasu!

Everyone here at RABUJOI wish to express our gratitude to you for taking the time to visit us. RABUJOI’s philosophy has been, and will always be to deliver timely anime reviews for your reading pleasure, and read you have: November’s traffic numbers absolutely obliterated both the blog’s previous two months of existence, as well as our most optimistic expectations.

We are cognizant that his fall has been rather unique in the sheer volume of reviewed series, and that numbers may settle down come winter, when the number of series worth reviewing will be halved. Regardless of how many people visit or read or come back for more, we cannot look at the future of RABUJOI as anything but bright. Thanks again!


Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru 8

Chiaki Omigawa‘s often shrill, whiny voice should be extremely annoying. So why does hearing it have the opposite effect? Her expressive, electric turn as Hotori Arashiyama is one of the better voice performances of the season, and I never tire of it. Anyway, we had two stories this week, both excellent. Let’s break it down!

Part 1 cements Japanese vending machines as the great monuments of their time, alongside earlier wonders like the Sphinx, Nazca lines, and Macchu Picchu. Hotori appreciates the “fun factor” of these complex, seemingly futuristic (yet old-looking)  machines that make hot udon, hamburgers, and other hot food with the press of a button. I have to agree with her that food and drink procured taste much better than they have any business to, due to the entertainment value. The novelty value and relative wonder trumps the crappiness. Like astronaut ice cream!

The second half finally answered a question I asked myself every week up until now: what’s with those lyrics in the ending music? Now they make sense, as the lyrics contain a lot of the dialogue and events of this half. The deal is, Kon (NOT K-on) recruits everyone for her band. Turns out, they’re all good musicians. A band with a bass, drums, accordion and violin is actually a pretty novel combination, and Rieka Yazawa (another fine seiyu in her first anime) belts out some bitchin’ vocals. Rating: 4

Otome Youkai Zakuro 9

After much sturm und drang last week, a lighthearted and/or lightweight episode was expected by me, and in the first couple acts, this was very much the case. Spirit Affairs has to catch a mostly-harmless spirit forged from the countless thoughts of young ladies pining for love. The half-spirit girls’ usual shtick (using sakura sticks) won’t work on it; only a confession of love will send it away.

When they find this beast, grown larger and more dangerous, it’s Zakuro and Agemaki who find it; but Lt. Hanadate is with them too; and when neither of the others can get over the embarrassment to do it, he – not Agemaki – confesses his love for Zakuro. Playing along, she confesses her love for him, and the Kokkuri is gone. Agemaki isn’t happy; even if she didn’t mean it, it still stings.

This is pretty much the final time we see Hanadate before we learn that he’s in league with the Black Widow; unconvincingly hiding his face with a noh mask. This is bad news, since Zakuro’s feelings for Hanadate and Agemaki remain as confused as ever. When she finds out he’s evil (or being controlled), that will most definitely change…Rating: 3