Spring/Summer 2011 Wrap-Up

Out with the old, in with the new. This weekend RABUJOI said goodbye to the last of the Summer series and Spring carryovers, with one exception, Mawaru Penguindrum, which will continue into the Fall. In all, it was a decent season, with lots of variety. We love the sense of completeness that comes with wrapping up a season – two in this case. Here’s a list of who won what:

• Best Overall Anime: Mawaru Penguindrum. Every episode has been excellent, in our humble opinion.

• Most Gore-tastic Series: Blood-C…the censors were awfully busy.

• Best Series Dealing With Sudden Parenthood: Usagi Drop. Really down-to-earth, heartwarming stuff.

• Best NEET Detective Series: Kami-sama no Memo-cho.

• Best Life-At-An-Inn Series: Hanasaku Iroha, which finished very strong.

• Best Telepathically-Controlled Mecha Action: Kamisama Dolls.

• Best Period Mystery/Action Series: Dantalian no Shoka.

• Best Goofy Superhero Series: Tiger & Bunny.

• Best Series Set in Paris at the Turn of the Century: Ikoku Meiro no Croisée.

• Best High School Club Series: Sket Dance.

• Best Post-Apocalyptic Series with a Number for a Name: No. 6.

• Best Shounen Series Where the Characters Were More Fun to Watch Than the Action: Ao no Exorcist.

• Best Score: (tie) Kamisama Dolls and Mawaru Penguindrum.

• Best Female Seiyu, Spring 2011: Chiaki Omigawa as Minko Tsurugi/Minchi (Hanasaku Iroha)

• Best Male Seiyu, Spring 2011: Hiroaki Hirata as Kotetsu T. Kaburagi/Wild Tiger (Tiger & Bunny)

• Best Female Seiyu, Summer 2011: Marie Miyake as Ringo Oginome (Mawaru Penguindrum)

• Best Male Seiyu, Summer 2011: Hiroshi Tsuchida as Daikichi Kawachi (Usagi Drop)

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Dantalian no Shoka 12 (Fin)

Huey and Dalian encounter a phantom book in a batch of newspapers that give rise to zombies. When they investigate, they meet The Professor and the Red Biblioprincess, who plot to distribute the papers and unleash a zombie army that will destroy London. The Professor shoots Huey, who then escapes out a window with Dalian. He unlocks Dalian and convenes with the “Inner Dalian”, tries to release her, and acquires the phantom book that eliminates the zombies. Hal and Flamberge burn the remaining papers, and the Professor flees. Huey and Dalian continue their quest to hunt down phantom books.

“I go on to tomorows unknown,” says Huey. Well, he won’t be going alone. He’ll have a sweet-toothed biblioprincess talking down to him all the way while barely concealing her deep affection for him and everything he’s done for her. She can no longer pretend that there isn’t a part of her inside – one with pale pink hair. After all, that Inner Dalian even speaks to her when Huey is close to death’s door. She and Huey have been a good team, and will continue to be as they go on to tomorrow. The other two keykeeper/biblioprincess duos were almost afterthoughts by comparison, relegated to examples that Huey/Dalian weren’t unique in their relationship. But it isn’t like they needed to be anything more.

Gainax has a tendency to be all over the place with its series. The last I’d seen was Panty & Stocking, which couldn’t have been any different from this. But both were good. Shikabane Hime? Not so good. With only one hiccup to its name, Dantalian no Shoka was consistently fun to watch, its mysteries and themes were suitably clever and eclectic, it’s settings were pretty and often gorgeous, and the core duo and their verbal duelling grew on me as much as they grew on each other.


Rating: 4

Dantalian no Shoka 11

The entire episode is a flashback to The Great War when Huey was a lieutenant in the Royal Air Force, where he quickly distinguishes himself. It focuses on his captain, Ilas, who switches sides to the Germans. He is writing a war anthology containing the voices of the battlefield. A biblioprincess, Raziel, visits him one night to tell him it is the egg of a phantom book. He meets Huey in a dogfight, at which time Huey tells him he should be dead, and uses the anthology to defeat him. Raziel’s keykeeper – whome Ilas met earlier as a bartender – raised him from the grave to finish the book, but when he didn’t, he returned him to the afterlife.

The subjects of this series have been as wide-ranging as those contained within a library, and I like that. The episodes can be enjoyed individually due to their unique and diverse characters. This week, there’s no Dalian, but another biblioprincess – the third we’ve encountered – but rather than focusing on her and her keykeeper, it’s mostly about their instrument, Ilas. This episode is also full of WWI-era bi-(and tri-)plane action, which when set against the picturesque European countryside, makes for a most impressive and bouyant setting. For Raziel’s (brief) part, she is quite nimble and light on her feet, sporting a very cool get-up.

Huey and Ilas are both total Wright-nerds and adept at “basquet-ball”. They’re both aces (Huey won the Victoria Cross and gave it to his underling without a second thought), but neither consider themselves “warriors”. Ilas is more interested in crafting his poetic war anthology than killing bogies, while we all know that when the war ended, Huey moved on to solving mysteries with Dalian. It must have been strange for Huey’s CO and mentor to die, then suddenly reappear on the enemy side. A nice touch is the key to Dalian that Huey mistakes for the key to the manor – perhaps he didn’t yet know his mystical calling?


Rating: 3.5

5 down, 7 to go: Current Anime Rankings as of Today

With four series completed (Ikoku Meiro no Croisee, No. 6, Tiger & Bunny, and Usagi Drop) and one dropped (Morita-san wa Mukuchi), we felt like now was a good time to put up part of the new RABUJOI Big Board and see where things stand with seven series left to wrap up for Spring/Summer 2011:

Summer 2011

Episode # : 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 AVG

Mawaru Penguindrum 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4.000
Kamisama Dolls 4 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 4 3.5 4 4 3 3.636
Usagi Drop 3.5 4 3.5 3.5 4 3.5 3.5 3.5 4 3.5 3.5 3.636
Blood-C 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 4 4 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.600
Kami-sama no Memo-cho 4 4 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3 4 3.5 3.591
Dantalian no Shoka 4 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 2.5 4 3.5 3.500
Ikoku Meiro no Croisée 3.5 3 3.5 3.5 3.5 3 3.5 3.5 3 3 3 3.5 3.292
No. 6 3.5 3.5 3.5 3 2.5 2.5 3.5 3 3 3.5 3 3.136
Morita-san wa Mukuchi 2.5 2 2 2 2.5 2 2 2 2.125

Weekly Average 3.6 3.4 3.4 3.3 3.4 3.3 3.3 3.2 3.6 3.6 3.2 3.5 0.0 3.391

Spring 2011 Carryovers

Episode # : 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 AVG

Hanasaku Iroha (second half) 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3 3.5 3.5 4 3.5 4 4 3.583
Tiger & Bunny (second half) 3.5 3.5 3.5 4 3.5 3 3.5 3.5 3 3 3 3.5 3.375
Ao no Exorcist (second half) 3 3.5 4 3.5 3.5 3 3 3 3 2.5 3.200
Sket Dance (second half) 3 3 3.5 3.5 3 3 3.5 3 3 3 3.5 3.182

Weekly Average 3.3 3.4 3.6 3.6 3.4 3 3.5 3.3 3.3 3.2 4.0 0.0 0.0 3.335

Stray Observations (many with baseball references)

• Cliff Lee is a good pitcher. Mawaru Penguindrum is a good anime. These are facts. Depending on how the first half ends, we may be compelled elevate it to Favorites.

• Currently tied with the completed Usagi Drop, Kamisama Dolls will need to rally in the twelfth inning to order to claim second place.

• With some new twists that open the series wide open, Blood-C also has a chance to take second, but it will have to score 4s in its final two innings; not an easy feat.

• Memo-cho and Dantalian no Shoka are following similar paths: excellent starts, consistent standout-ness from weeks 3-7/8, and lost a little command towards the end.

• Ikoku Meiro no Croisee was a pleasant enough series, but never moving enough to score a 4. Lack of hussle?

• No. 6 suffered the same fate as Fractale, only worse: it looked good on paper: a big world, big ideas, great concepts; but not nearly enough time to realize any of it to our satisfaction. Should have been at least a 26-episode season.

• Thanks to the brief firtation with the mediocrity of the three-minute Morita-san, we have our most colorful scoreboard yet! If we remove it from the Summer watchlist, the overall season rating jumps from 3.391 to 3.549 –  a 15% rise. FYI, our average of all anime since we started rating them hovers around 3.5, ’cause if it ain’t standout, we usually won’t watch it.

• Just like its first half began, Hanasaku Iroha looks to finish strong. Just gotta wrap up the Ohana+Ko arc and a few other things.

• Ao no Exorcist…doesn’t. Apparently the anime story deviates greatly from the source manga. We don’t read source manga, so we didn’t notice, but if the manga story was better, it might have been better if they’d used that. As it is, Ao is whiffing at the off-speed stuff and late with the heat.

• We’ve stuck with Sket Dance for 26 games, but we don’t know if we’ll stay with it for all 39. Fall 2011 is a big season coming up, there may not be time. And one can’t rush a gentleman’s game. Unless you limit the amount of time a pitcher takes to come to the plate.

Dantalian no Shoka 10

Huey and Dalian encounter a woman in the park who can play the violin like a champ. She turns out to be Christabel Sistene, a famous violinist. It turns out she is a doll/android. Her companion Dallaglio built her to be able to play the dual unplayable “phantom scores” of Guillermo Baldini. Baldini’s music can have the same effect as narcotics, which the wealthy patron Kendrick exploits to begin an “artistic revolution.” However, when the concert begins, Christabel plays not the hypnotic Utopia score, but the destructive Twilight score, which destroys the hall and the phantom scores, and kills Kendrick and his ilk.

When Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” was first performed, the sounds were so new and strange, the audience rioted. It was neat to see that same principle employed here: the music has all sorts of effects on people, from addition to bliss to despair. I can forgive the anachronistic android in this time period; the creators aren’t going for historical accuracy.  It stands to reason when humans can’t do something easily or at all, they built something to do it for them, as Dallaglio did here with Christabel. His intention was to clear his’ father’s good name, but his creation would be perverted into a weapon by Kendrick.

Kendrick is an interesting villain, for as little as we get to see him. His obvious fatal flaw is believing Christabel has no free will or connection to her creator – she does. But his dream of a bloodless, “artistic revolution” with which to seize power. It’s a great scheme in theory: use the addictive music to bend others to his will, and use the destructive music as a threat against those who would oppose him. He could have simply used Christabel to make himself lots of money: if your customers are addicted, you’ll never want for cash – but obviously he had grander designs. Ironic too that being in the soundproof room prevented him from hearing Christabel’s “warning” music that led to everyone else’s evacuation.


Rating: 3.5

Dantalian no Shoka 9

Huey and Dalian travel to a fantastical land where they meet the young apprentice and granddaughter of a powerful shamaness. A plague of giant insects are threatening her town and its people, and even the poisonous herbal salve her grandma concocts is ineffective against the fearsome beasts. Huey eliminates the scourge by reading a book from Dalian. It’s then revealed that the two are back in Huey’s house, going through and fumigating books infested with bookworms; the entire story took place in the world of one of those books.

Hey, now that’s more like it! After an underwhelming, dawdling episode last week, the series goes a little high concept by dumping us in a totally new world, richy-animated in gorgeous hand-scrawled pencil and pastel. The world, and its heroine Ira, instantly reminded me if that nature-lovin’, ass-kickin’, heart-o-gold hippie princess, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. That’s a good thing. Ira doesn’t play a huge role here, but I do like how we’re first thrust into this world from her perspective, and we only meet up with Huey and Dalian when she meets them by pure chance.

The swarms of giant insects – or Baziumu – similarly reminded me of Nausicaä’s Ohmu. They don’t last long as a threat, but the brief period that they are, they’re sufficiently frightening. But the fact that they represent actual bookworms attacking the book – and the story and illustrations therein – is superb. In effect, this was another episode of Dalian and Huey hanging out in his house, only this week they were transported to another world rather than bothered by their imbecilic friends. Good stuff!


Rating: 4

Dantalian no Shoka 8

Two characters from pevious episodes return with new phantom book problems. First Camilla, who acquires the Book of Equivalence to continually barter until she gets bored and gets Dalian a teddy she wanted. Second, Huey’s war buddy Armand is suffering from the effects of the Book of Relationship, actually two books in possession of two lovers, only his fiance believes he’s cheating on her. He isn’t, but her suspicions are enough to incur the wrath of the book.

This week had the feeling of another respite episode; Huey and Dalian are not that involved and the stakes and danger are quite low in both segments. While I don’t have a problem with Camilla and Armand returning, I do have a problem with how just about everyone in this episode, including these two, are complete morons, as a more-moe-than-usual Dalian remarks. The bookkepper gets things started by accidentally selling an extremely dangerous, potentially deadly book. Then Camilla uses it as an afternoon’s diversion. Huey and Dalian chase her across a dozen locations in which she makes exchanges. Can’t she just play croquet or something?

Then there’s Armand, who barges into Huey’s house, nearly kills Dalian and Camilla (who’s still there for some reason), and also seems to set the house on fire – yet we never see how it’s put out. Armand’s an idiot for getting mixed up in another book and not notifying his lieutenant the moment he came across it, while his fiancee Lianna is an idiot for thinking every time he looks at or talks to another woman, he’s a traitorous traitor who deserves death. I also had a problem with them actually letting her kill him (to fulfill ’till death do us part’) and so cavalierly bringing him back like it was nothing. These books are not toys!


Rating: 2.5

Dantalian no Shoka 7

Last week proved there are other duos out there like Huey and Dalian, but this week we get back to their exploits, which begin innocently enough with a bun-acquiring mission. She certainly shares traits with Index – being a repository of magic knowledge, being small and cute and sweet-toothed – but her interaction with Huey is of such higher quality, it isn’t even worth comparing them beyond those superficial traits.

This week the two are thrust into the middle of a conflict between a cosmetics company and its most gifter perfumer, Madam Fiona Famenias, and the company’s and its shady underworld partners’ desire for maximum profits. Fiona is a very interesting character, called “unruly” by her father, but also eccentric, getting into peoples’ personal space to sniff them, garnering her the nickname “inu musume” – dog woman – from Dalian. She even has a civet up her skirt (don’t ask)! She also has a phantom book in her possession, the contents of which aid her work.

Her ultimate goal isn’t profits, but to develop a scent that will make everyone happy. My first reaction to this was, uh, she’s trying to make drugs. It turns out, the byproduct of one of her perfumes is indeed a drug called Relic that the Padauk Firm intends to replace opium. The Firm, getting high on its own supply, massacres the Famenia’s office and Fiona’s father, and leads to a great standoff in which Huey has to fight a drug addict who doesn’t feel pain, Fiona cleverly throws various vials perfume at the foes to incapacitate them. You definitely want a potions master on your side.

The sequence where huey unlocks dalian and pulls out a book is abridged.  They use the book to save her life, but she knocks Huey out and ties up Dalian, then proceeds to take out the entire Pandauk firm herself, to “atone” for what she perceives as greed on her part. They cannot save her again, and she dies. They return to find her house burning, and the scent wafting from the billowing smoke is the very ideal scene she had sought all along. Not a particularly necessary twist, but I didn’t mind it, and it was ironic.


Rating: 3.5

2011 So Far – in chart form

We like charts here on RABUJOI. This one plots the ratings of all the anime series we’ve reviewed so far in 2011. We’ve included Summer 2011 series, even though we’ve got 5-6 more weeks of episodes in those seasons. When the Summer season does conclude, we’ll update this chart.

So what do we see? Well, while we deem a 2.5 rating to be “Average”, our actual average is closer to 3.5, which we deem “Standout”. This is because there’s a lot of anime out there, but we try to only watch the best. There are exceptions, of course: the main outlier here is Morita-san wa Mukuchi, which rates just above 2 or “Mediocre” (UPDATE: As of episode 7, we’ve dropped Morita-san :P). There are a lot more series out there we’d probably rank this low or lower, but we don’t have the time or the stomachs to sit through them.

So why do we watch Morita-san wa Mukuchi? Well, it’s only three minutes long; hardly a major investment. So it isn’t that we rate high. We just watch series that regularly deserve above-average ratings. Thus when a truly brillant series comes around – like AnoHana or Mawaru Penguindrum, you’ll see a lot of 4s. At the end of the day, it’s all subjective. We also just like charts. Did we say that already?

Summer 2011 OPs and EDs

We’re not even going to bother posting videos of these anymore, since most of not all won’t be working links in a few days time due to YouTube policies. Stills will have to do. And suffice it to say, you’ve probably seen/heard these openings and endings before…otherwise, go check ’em out; we deem them the best of the Summer.

Best Opening: Mawaru Penguindrum. A no-brainer. Like the series itself, it’s slick, smooth, full of color and motion. The theme, “Nornir” by Etsuko Yakushimaru Metropolitan Orchestra, is catchy and serious with just a tinge of cuteness to compliment the presence of the cartoon penguins.

Runner-up: Dantalian no Shoka. “Cras numquam scire” by Yucca is soulful and melancholy with just a hint of hope mixed in. The visuals, like the backgrounds and settings of the series, are richly textured and lush.

Honorable Mentions: Blood-C and Kamisama Dolls. Blood-C benefits from its kinetic ballad-like theme, “Spiral” by DUSTZ, whose lyrics span three languages without sounding too silly. The visuals are unambiguous in laying out the content of the show: namely Saya kickin’ ass. Kamisama Dolls’ latinesque theme – “Fukanzen Nunshō” by Chiaki Ishikawa – is the openings pièce de résistance. The multilayered shapes moving over characters, changing their colors, is also a nice touch.

Best Ending: Mawaru Penguindrum. “DEAR FUTURE” by coaltar of the deepers is full of pent-up energy and longing being belted out with lots of fancy melodies. The Himari triplet imagery doesn’t make much sense, but its cool anyway. A good way to end each (so far) excellent episode.

Runner-up: Ao no Exorcist. A series of cubes jumping up and down to the pumping electropop beat of “Wired Life” by Meisa Kuroki prefaces a stylish, elegant ending sequence. It’s a simple but well-executed concept using pans and conceals of characters.

Honorable Mention: Kamisama Dolls. More Chiaki Ishikawa’s amazing voice, now in a more spacey, sci-fi style than the latin opening. I particularly like the very end, which pulls out of a shot of the core characters to an almost U2-like 12-string closing chord.

Dantalian no Shoka 6

And now for something completely…alternate.

This week we take a break from the trials and travails of Huey Disward and Dalian and follow along a brand spankin’ new duo of bookish detective and bratty library-maiden. They are Hal Kamhout and Flamberge. Hal looks like he could be an officer in Fullmetal Alchemist, while Flam reminds me a bit of Tycho Science from Diebuster, only with the voice of Holo from Spice & Wolf.

There’s is an adversarial but clearly effective working relationship here, although they bury their mutual respect for one another behind slightly more vicious teasing and insults. Hal keeps Flam locked up in chains, even in the heat of battle, and when he unlocks the library within her, well, let’s just say he’s not as gentle as Huey is with Dalian. Aside from the new faces, it’s another open-shut case involving a town full of enchanted dolls, repopulated by a female cop after a bombing raid killed most of the town’s population.

Unlike Huey, who is just kinda muddling through with his role, Hal is a full-fledged “Libricide officer” complete with knowledge of baritsu and possession the Staff of Surtr (kinda a mini Lance of Longinus?) whose duty is to find phantom books, take them out, and “burn away” the evil parts of the people who use them, if they can be redeemed, as the cop could. Nice diversion, but I still think I like Huey and Dalian more.


Rating: 3.5

Dantalian no Shoka 5

Yet another solid outing for Dantalian no Shoka. What the famous courtesan Viola lacks in memories and answers, she makes up for in charm and beauty, such that no less than five wealthy suitors propose to marry her, promising to retrieve five phantom books for some unspecified use.

Turns out this Viola lady is too good to be true, as in she’s a homonculus, created by a true magician of a level that surprises even Dalian. Count Megar is his name, and he has a mustache to twirl and everything. He wants her back so he can dissect her, so he unleashes magical attacks her hapless suitors cannot hope to defend. This makes for some excellent action sequences.

Enter Dalian, who lets Huey unlock the biblioteca and grab the real books. The magician’s illusory magic is neutralized, and the battle ends with a stalemate, though everyone is saved. We also see the lilac-haried Inner Dalian, who interacts with young Huey, and tells him she’d forgotten about lonliness until he arrived. She may give him a hard time, but there’s definitely affection there, and Huey knows it.


Rating: 3.5

Dantalian no Shoka 5

A most unconventional murder mystery occupies the full episode this week, as Huey and Dalian descend upon a house where a rabidly-obsessed fan has imprisoned a popular young author and his mistress with a phantom book that allows her to kill them both at will, only for one of them to resurrect. In this manner, she makes the author, one Lenny Lents, write the novels how she sees fit.

Dalian is also a fan, and not only intends to resolve the case for the sake of justice and goodwill, but also so the third part of a trilogy of books she’s invested in. The mad fan, Paula, is not blood-shy in the least, as she shoots her two victims in the head dozens of times in the course of this episode, and knows her way around a machete.

It’s really Paula’s own craziness that’s her undoing, as she’s libreral with her bullet use, drops the book, and through her overzealous killing, both Lenny and his lover have developed a tolerance to death. With the help of the book, the two turn on her and swallow her up in a eeiry lightshow. Dalian gets the third book from a safe deposit box, but isn’t pleased with how her favorite characters’ arcs go. I know how she feels; No. 6 is kinda going that way!


Rating: 3.5