September 01, 2004

Marmalade Boy Episode 3

Marmalade Boy

"Two Kisses - 'Yuu Had a Girlfriend?'"

Miki gets to go slap-happy, getting both Yuu and Ginta in one episode!

In this installment of Marmalade Boy, Miki and Yuu's relationship moves along, with Yuu rather innocently inviting Miki to go to an amusement park with him, which is basically a date, though neither of them would call it that.

Since things are starting to go smoothly for them (other than the troubles caused by Yuu's usual teasing), it's past time for a few curveballs to be thrown their way. In this episode, the introduction of Arimi, Yuu's girlfriend from his old school and Ginta's starting to take action on his feelings for Miki mean we've got a love rectangle in episode three!

This is a fun show with some generally funny moments. It's also paced a lot more evenly and relies a lot less on the cliched plot devices we see today.

Rating: A-

Posted by Kei at 01:28 AM | Comments (0)

September 02, 2004

Ai Yori Aoshi Episode 21

Ai Yori Aoshi

"Influenza"

Ah ha! Finally as I have hoped for, conflict strikes Ai Yori Aoshi! What could it be? Family disapproval? Infidelity? Aoi needs to go back to outer space?

Actually, Aoi just gets sick, which works as a good segue into that classic story where the one who does all the chores gets incapacitated, and everyone else has to try to pick up the slack, realizing that the job's a lot harder than they thought. There's not much deviation from that formula with this episode.

Strange thing in this episode, I felt like the character designs were off at times. It might just be my imagination, but most of the characters faces looked off at one point or another. Everything else was pretty much as you'd expect from this show, though.

I was actually partially kidding about the conflict introduced. At the end of the episode, we're teased seeing Miyabi talking on the phone and looking troubled, which can only mean the imminent arrival of some real challenges for Kaoru and Aoi (at least I hope).

Rating: B-

Posted by Kei at 01:59 AM | Comments (1)

Last Exile Episode 2

Last Exile

"Luft Vanship"

This episode is a continuation of the first, providing even more exposition and introduction to the unique world of Last Exile, to the emphasis on chivalry in the ship battles, and the adjudication of the Guild.

This is a really good looking show (hi, Gonzo!), even though I'm not fully able to get past the CG integration. The smoke and cloud effects are excellent, and I've never seen anything quite like them in any other series. The music goes well with the setting too, with an airiness that reminds me of the soundtrack to Haibane Renmei, but with more militant parts (given the emphasis on war and battle so far).

These first two episodes have served as a good introduction to our main characters, and the setting. There's some information overload, but the good kind, where you've got lots of questions about what's going on, and can't wait to find out.

Rating: B+

Posted by Kei at 02:09 AM | Comments (0)

September 04, 2004

Ai Yori Aoshi Episode 22

Ai Yori Aoshi

"Going Home"

This felt like the shortest episode of Ai Yori Aoshi yet. This is a strong episode from beginning to end. It starts with Kaoru taking Aoi to see his mother's grave (the place he mentioned in the previous episode), which gives the two of them a stretch of time alone together, and it's a very good scene.

While they're away, the bad news appears to finally hit, which leads to Aoi and Miyabi leaving to visit Aoi's parents, while Kaoru worries that Aoi might be taken away from him. They also introduce the cool little wooden peg figures that appear in the credits.

Eventually, it dawns on Kaoru that his suspicions were right, and something bad really is happening, leading to the one kind of weird moment in the episode, where Miyabi pledges to defend Kaoru at all costs (which felt like Miyabi slipping into a different genre altogether).

Oh, the art seems back on track in this episode, too.

Rating: A

Posted by Kei at 12:03 AM | Comments (0)

Ai Yori Aoshi Episode 23

Ai Yori Aoshi

"Determination"

The one thing about Ai Yori Aoshi that I'm extremely grateful for is the fact that the competition between the girls in the supporting cast and Aoi is not a main storyline, but rather a periodic vessel for comic relief.

While there's the part of me that likes the fact that Aoi is so unyieldingly devoted to Kaoru. Luckily, it's anime, so the intensity of her feelings isn't nearly as spooky as it might be otherwise.

It took twenty-two episodes for the objection by Aoi's family to her plan to marry Kaoru to finally happen. It seems like two episodes (three, generously) isn't enough to really do it justice, but at this point, it seems like they picked the right amount. Of course, that means we'll probably get an anime ending, but in this show's case, I think it's okay, as the manga was still going at the end of the season.

I've always said my favorite parts of this show are when Aoi and Kaoru get to be alone together, and that's definitely true in this episode.

One more to go!

Rating: A-

Posted by Kei at 12:48 AM | Comments (0)

Ai Yori Aoshi Episode 24

Ai Yori Aoshi

"Aoi"

It's almost hard to get used to for a show like Ai Yori Aoshi to have the ultimate conclusion not be the confession of feelings from the main characters. Aoi and Kaoru got that out of the way in the first few episodes of the show, and while Ai Yori Aoshi featured a lot of cliches or similar elements to other shows in the genre, it definitely had a better twist:

Aoi and Kaoru are mature adults who are in love with each other.

They're not afraid of their feelings either, which is nice.

I thought this was a nice ending to the season (if something of a non-ending), and I was pleased with the way Kaoru approached defending his relationship with Aoi to Aoi's father. He didn't try to convince him that he was worthy, or that "love will conquer all." Instead, he appealed to him as Aoi's father, and how hurt Aoi would be if she was forced to leave the Sakuraba family (as she was determined to do, if they would not accept Kaoru).

Aoi's father doesn't suddenly approve of Kaoru, nor does he seem to particularly like him. However, he does a very fatherly thing: give in so that Aoi can be happy.

That scene showed the difference between Ai Yori Aoshi and other shows in the genre, tackling situations differently and in a more realistic way than what you find elsewhere.

I'm eagerly looking forward to the second season.

Rating: A+

Posted by Kei at 01:21 AM | Comments (2)

September 07, 2004

Saikano Episode 08

Saikano

"Everyone's Changing"

Why is it that all the female characters that appear to have an interest in Shuji have short, boyish hair? Not only is it unappealing (at least to me), it makes them hard to tell apart.

Chise is involved in some seriously twisted moments in this episode of Saikano (big surprise there). Her transition from weapon-Chise to normal-Chise is hardly noticable, other than the spookiness of weapon-Chise.

This episode involves in how things are changing, most visibly in Chise, where she's moved on, at least for the moment, from her awkward relationship with Shuji, finding some solace in Tetsu. Putting aside the wrongness of this pairing, it seems like Tetsu is able to do everything that Shuji can't. Even though he's probably completely frightened by Chise at times, he can cover it up, which Shuji was never good at.

Chise needs, more than anything, human relationships to help her keep her humanity. She's got Tetsu now, but how long will that last?

Rating: B+

Posted by Kei at 11:19 PM | Comments (0)

September 10, 2004

Ai Yori Aoshi Enishi Episode 1

Ai Yori Aoshi Enishi

"Spring Blossom"

It's pretty rare that anime series go for a second season, but the fact that Enishi is means that we have to start out with another introductory/recap episode. This one feels a lot like a recap episode where the show's creators are trying to sell the show. There's a whole lot of fairly meaningless stuff that goes on, that didn't happen in your average episode of the first season. On the one hand, it does a good job of showing you everything you can expect in an episode of Ai Yori Aoshi, but on the other hand, it makes for a disjointed, scattered episode.

Each character gets a tiny introduction that tries to introduce you to their main roles/traits in the standard harem anime mold. Aoi and Kaoru are introduced, along with the state of their relationship. There's also a moment of gratuitous, random Aoi fanservice, which felt like the most "hey, watch this show!" part of the entire episode.

It's two years after the end of the first season of Ai Yori Aoshi, but it doesn't seem like much has changed. Of course, this episode doesn't really tell you anything, so we'll have to wait and see.

Rating: B-

Posted by Kei at 01:51 AM | Comments (0)

Last Exile Episode 3

Last Exile

"Transpose"

After a brief, two episode detour bringing Claus and Lavie into the middle of a battle, they've arrived back home just in time to miss the time trials for the big race. They'll be starting in last place, but luckily Lavie was able to purchase a booster for their vanship.

I didn't find the race itself to be all that exciting. You don't really get the sense of speed watching the CG vanships against the hand-drawn backgrounds. Compounding the problem is the unrealistic motion the vanships make through the course, and it just feels a little empty.

Despite being in last place, Claus is able to get them back into contention. At that point, I started to wonder what effect winning this race might have on our intrepid heroes. I really had no idea what was at stake with the race, which I took as a hint they had no way of actually winning it. Luckily, towards the end of the episode, the show gives you another hook to draw you into the next installment.

I'd love to know more about what's going on in this intriguing and complex world, but Last Exile isn't giving away too much right away. Gonzo does a good job in presenting the show, though, so I'm definitely interested to see where it's going.

Rating: B

Posted by Kei at 11:57 PM | Comments (3)

September 11, 2004

Ai Yori Aoshi Enishi Episode 2

Ai Yori Aoshi Enishi

"Friends"

The second episode of the second season of Ai Yori Aoshi is the sort of pointless filler episode that was mostly absent from the first season (which also happens to be why I liked the first season).

Chika must be one of the fan favorite characters of this show if the second episode is dedicated to her (even before Kaoru and Aoi really get an episode--I consider the first episode to just be an everyone episode). We meet her two new friends: the quiet one and the tomboy (no reason to learn their names). One thing I do like about Tina (in addition to her cute character design), is her trademark laugh. She uses it way too much, but I still like it.

All the other characters in the show get a few minutes to do their thing (Taeko is clumsy but earnest, Tina grabs breasts and acts outrageous, Aoi is domestic and caring, Miyabi is businesslike and militant, Mayu is bossy and spoiled, and Kaoru is... well, he's not there).

This is a really disappointing episode for people (like me) who have already invested a good amount of time into the first season of this show. Hopefully it'll grow out of this rehash mode and pick up the Kaoru/Aoi relationship.

Rating: C+

Posted by Kei at 11:14 PM | Comments (0)

September 12, 2004

Saikano Episode 09

Saikano

"Akemi"

In the spirit of full disclosure, I'll admit that the first time I watched Saikano, this episode was the last one I watched. It wasn't that the show ceased to be entertaining, or something so godawful happened in this episode that I didn't want to watch anymore.

No, this episode was just too much for me.

This episode is probably the most depressing twenty-five minutes of animation created (with the exception of Grave of the Fireflies, which is a whole different type of downer), and I was in permanent cringe mode throughout (even this being my second time through).

When I started rewatching Saikano, I was both looking forward to and dreading this episode. I thought that maybe my memory of it had colored it, making me remember it as being more painful than it actually was, but now having seen it again, I don't think I exaggerated it much at all. In fact, I remember most of the details of it, which is a testament to the power (scarring!) of this part of the story.

I'll be breaking new ground after this one, but once again, I have that feeling that I don't really need to go on from here.

Rating: A+

Posted by Kei at 01:28 AM | Comments (6)

Full Moon wo Sagashite Episode 1

Full Moon wo Sagashite

"No Matter What, I Want to Sing"

I couldn't help but think about the joy of watching American Idol auditions while watching the first episode of Full Moon wo Sagashite. With the irresistable force of a train wreck, once you start watching one terrible singer after another, it's hard to stop.

Full Moon wo Sagashite is pretty much nothing like that.

At first blush, the show appears to be a lighthearted, happy series about a girl who realizes her dream of becoming a singer, thus fulfilling a promise with her childhood love, and enabling her to live happily ever after. Rapidly, however, it becomes obvious that this is not the case. It is lighthearted and happy, but it isn't going to be easy for our heroine. Because of a tumor in her throat, she's unable to sing loudly (not to mention the pain it causes).

On top of that, she's then visited by angels of death, who tell her that she only has one year left to live. When you look at the bright, sunny animation and art, it's almost amazing how morbidly depressing the underlying story is. Luckily, however, the show lives up to its first appearances, and it looks like there might be room for a happy ending after all. Takuto, a grim reaper in bright blue with cat ears, makes it possible for her to sing in an audition without any handicap, and she's able to wow the judges.

It's silly and fun, and I'm more than a little curious to see what's next.

Rating: B+

Posted by Kei at 02:14 AM | Comments (2)

Saikano Episode 10

Saikano

"And Then..."

I was extremely grateful for the ending of this episode. After the last two (including this one), any stretch of the show where something morbidly depressing doesn't happen is a welcome change of pace. It's pretty amazing how wide a range of depression and gut-wrenching situations get packed into each episode of Saikano. Visually and emotionally, this show doesn't let up with its punches once it starts.

I was hoping that the events of the last episode were wrapped up and wouldn't need to be revisited, but it turns out I was wrong, as this episode is completely devoted to the fallout of what happened before, and how other characters deal and move on.

Spoilers follow!

My favorite moment from this episode (and by favorite, I mean most disturbing) is when Chise comes in on Tetsu in his dying moments. Tetsu cries and begs for Fuyumi, which makes another one of Chise's love interests (if you could call them that, Chise is just desperate for any type of affection) where Fuyumi loomed over the relationship. First with Shuji cheating on her, and now with Tetsu in his dying moments.

Chise's future also looks grimmer by the moment, though it's not like this is a big secret. The question is more of "how long" than anything else. It's amazing how this underlying tragedy is overshadowed by the other more immediate tragedies that seem to pop up everywhere.

Rating: A

Posted by Kei at 01:21 PM | Comments (0)

September 13, 2004

Ai Yori Aoshi Enishi Episode 3

Ai Yori Aoshi Enishi

"Tennis"

The second season of Ai Yori Aoshi continues to be a big disappointment for me, after really enjoying the second half of the first season. This is another big filler episode, where basically the personalities of the various characters are applied to a new setting--tennis, and there's some romantic stuff between Kaoru and Aoi that almost feels like the show's creators going, "Well, I guess we have to show them together."

Kaoru's character felt fairly abused in this episode, as he acts about 500% more perverted than he did in all of the first season. There also seemed to be an inordinate amount of super-deformed characters, and other stylistic departures that were much rarer in the first season.

But why should two seasons be the same, anyways? Unfortunately, even taking Enishi by itself, it's still barely better than mediocre. The production values are still great, but considering the second season is only half as long as the first, I just expected things to get to the point a little faster. Instead, we've had three episodes of lead-in filler, despite the fact most of the audience is probably reasonably familiar with what's going on.

The show's still gorgeous, but everything else is straight average.

Rating: C+

Posted by Kei at 01:19 AM | Comments (0)

Chrono Crusade Episode 06

Chrono Crusade

"Jewelsummoner"

A show like Chrno Crusade relies heavily on the strength of the chemistry of its team of main characters. In Chrno Crusade, the wildly different personalities of Rosette, Azmaria and Chrno make for some great comedic moments, along with those requisite cheesily sentimental ones.

Azmaria falls into that character stereotype that I don't particularly care for (mousy, subservient, etc.), but I think Rosette's boisterous over-the-toppedness makes up for it. I just think the idea of an outgoing, loudmouthed nun who fights demons with guns blazing is a stroke of genius.

This episode uses some more bits and pieces of the show's setting, which I think is the other strong point of the show. It seems criminally underutilized, with large stretches of the show of ambiguous chronology (ha ha!).

As much as I like the characters, the adventure they go on in this episode is a little flat. There's some demons running around, and it's up to the newly-promoted Rosette and crew to clean up the mess. Rosette shoots, Chrno brawls and Azmaria runs around trying not to be a target. Pretty standard stuff.

Of course, episode six is still early, so this is probably just more extended setup before the real story kicks in (which I assume will be about Rosette hunting for Joshua).

Rating: B

Posted by Kei at 02:53 AM | Comments (1)

Read or Die TV Episode 5

Read or Die TV

"They Shout"

This episode seemed like it'd be a great opportunity for the sisters to show off their paper mastery, maybe some good action scenes. The stylish action scenes were one of the selling points of the first series, so it wouldn't seem to be expecting too much.

My expectations turned out to be wrong, though, as this episode had very little action, though it did make creative use of the girls' paper abilities.

I really liked Anita's little paper holsters, as well as the other sisters' various paper equipment.

Unfortunately, this was also a pretty boring episode. It wasn't the lack of action, though, it was just the entire package. Most of it happens at night, which meant darker, muted colors, then you have some slow pacing along with relatively nonexistant, atmospheric music. All in all, I felt like I was sleepwalking through the episode.

Rating: B-

Posted by Kei at 11:28 PM | Comments (3)

September 14, 2004

Chrono Crusade Episode 07

Chrono Crusade

"The Devil"

I love the little character design details they added to Rosette to separate her from the other nuns. The most visible difference is the fact that she has long slits on the sides of her skirt, which immediately makes her stand out (and also provides possibilities for fanservice, which I guess is the other point of it).

In this episode, we get to see a lot of the stuff that makes me like this show: namely, the brothers and sisters of the Magdalan Order killing demons, zombies and other evil things with tommy guns, pistols and other weapons of the period. It's all good fun.

Then you've also got the reapparance of Aion, who appears to be more than a match for our heroes, as Rosette was forced to resort to opening up the hourglass for Chrno.

This episode seemed to show a little bit more of the show's overall story arc, but it was still a little light on plot movement. However, I think the show's a lot of fun to watch, just for the setting and characters.

Rating: A-

Posted by Kei at 12:31 AM | Comments (1)

September 16, 2004

Samurai Champloo Episode 4

Samurai Champloo

"Hellhounds for Hire (Part 2)"

This is the second episode in the two-part Yojimbo story. Mugen and Jin have gotten themselves firmly embroiled in a conflict between two yakuza clans (Jin trying to do good, and Mugen just being his normal self). Being on different sides of the conflict, it presents a good opportunity for the two swordsmen to go at it, though the bulk of the episode is devoted to the storyline.

With a few twists, this is a pretty standard story as you might find in Rurouni Kenshin or something like that. You've got the young kid who wants to be a man, but doesn't really get it. He learns valuable lessons about what it means to be strong, to protect others, etc. If you watch this sort of show, you probably have a good idea of what I mean.

Luckily, Samurai Champloo's unique presentation and high production values mean that even a standard, somewhat ho-hum story like this one, is still interesting.

Rating: B+

Posted by Kei at 02:30 AM | Comments (0)

Chrono Crusade Episode 08

Chrono Crusade

"Falling Rain - The Puppet"

This episode reminded me a lot of one of the last episodes of Trigun, where Vash has to face off against Legato, who uses the innocent people of the town against him. This always creates a big problem for do-gooding heroes, because they are severely handicapped trying not to hurt the bystanders who get caught up in their mess.

There was about a 50/50 mix of silly and serious in this episode, the silly parts focusing on the interplay between Azmaria, Rosette and Chrno, and their energetic approach to mundane tasks.

While Chrno Crusade is fairly entertaining, I would say on the whole, it's still fairly average (though it's an attractive package). Other than the setting, there hasn't really been anything to elevate it above the mass of other shows of this genre. It's good enough to recommend watching for fun though.

Rating: B

Posted by Kei at 10:19 PM | Comments (0)

Ai Yori Aoshi Enishi Episode 4

Ai Yori Aoshi Enishi

"Phantoms"

Taeko and Mayu are my least favorite characters in the cast. Mayu, because she seems so superfluous to everything else that goes on, and Taeko, because I can't stand the stereotypical, clumsy anime female character.

Just my luck then that this episode is a Taeko episode. Tina thinks there's some sort of monster loose in the mansion, and the gang decides they need to investigate it, with demon hunter Taeko in the lead. Obviously there's no monster, and the whole episode is something of a metaphor for Taeko's relationship with Kaoru. Of course, it's really pointless, because Taeko (once again) refuses to do anything about her feelings for Kaoru (she gets interrupted, like every other time). But what's the point, anyways? It's not like Taeko is going to steal Kaoru away from Aoi.

There's also some very artifical stuff done to separate Kaoru and Taeko from the rest of the gang during their hunt, as the rest of the group runs away for no real reason other than to supply the two with an alone moment.

The second season of Ai Yori Aoshi has been a real disappointment.

Rating: C

Posted by Kei at 11:05 PM | Comments (0)

September 18, 2004

Chrono Crusade Episode 09

Chrono Crusade

"Joshua"

And now it's time for a flashback.

After some brief exposition, we're taken back in time to when Rosette and Joshua were kids (and still together), living in an orphanage in the countryside. This illustrates the brother/sister bond that existed between the two of them, but more importantly, showed how they first met Chrno.

Joshua is afflicted by the sort of coughing sickness that seems like the number one choice of uncurable ailments for anime characters. It's fun watching all of them run around as kids, and makes you wonder exactly how Joshua ended up being the way he is now.

Like any flashback episode worth its salt, it's actually a multi-part flashback, so next episode we'll likely see the other half which brings the story up to the point where Chrno binds himself to Rosette, Rosette joins the church and Joshua goes missing.

Pretty good, as far as flashback episodes go.

Rating: B

Posted by Kei at 01:30 PM | Comments (0)

September 19, 2004

Chrono Crusade Episode 10

Chrono Crusade

"Horn"

In this episode we:

"see the other half which brings the story up to the point where Chrno binds himself to Rosette, Rosette joins the church and Joshua goes missing."

While this episode gives away specifics about what happened all those years ago, most of it is stuff you've probably already guessed at this point. Oh, with the exception of one little thing, which helps bind everything we've seen up until now together.

Now that we're up to speed, and almost past the halfway mark for the series (flashbacks out of the way), hopefully it's time for the show to really hit its stride.

Rating: B+

Posted by Kei at 01:38 AM | Comments (0)

Chrono Crusade Episode 11

Chrono Crusade

"Gabriel Hound - The Beast"

After the two flashback episodes, this was a disappointing followup. Instead of continuing the Joshua storyline, we're treated to another filler episode, and an extremely formulaic one, at that.

The mafia is up to its old tricks again, getting involved with a demon hound which is terrorizing "Brooklym". I try not to be too picky about things like this, but seriously. They should at least get place names right. Grand Central shows up again in this episode, which appears to be the only New York landmark the show's creators are aware of. Or perhaps it's some sort of nexus for demonic powers.

This episode features the usual filler-episode suspects including fanservice (modest fanservice, owing to the setting's fashions), a throwaway plot, and the usual interference of Satella. Satella is a part of this show I could do without. She has a cheesy "summoning" sequence for her jewel helper and cheesy, "I choose you, Pikachu!" lines that seem really contrary to the less standard parts of the show.

Azmaria appears in this episode for no other reason than to prove she's in the cast (and probably appease loyal Azmaria fans). Same with Chrno and Elder.

Pretty forgettable.

Rating: C

Posted by Kei at 11:10 PM | Comments (0)

September 20, 2004

Chrono Crusade Episode 12

Chrono Crusade

"Holy Night"

It's been a while since I've watched a Christmas episode of an anime series (though it feels more than a little strange, being that it's the middle of September right now).

The gang's getting ready to head to San Francisco (San Framcisco?) to find Joshua, but before that, they're coerced into staying to celebrate Christmas. My favorite part of this episode is watching Chrno participate (and question his participation) in the various festivities.

And then you have Azmaria showing off the Christmas spirit, and Rosette in her decidedly un-nunlike Christmas outfit.

Rating: B

Posted by Kei at 10:59 AM | Comments (0)

Chrono Crusade Episode 13

Chrono Crusade

"Marionette Train - Older Sister"

It's westward ho for the gang as they head off in search of Joshua in San Francisco. I'm looking forward to seeing some new locales, as I felt that New York was not really that well utilized, and maybe we'll get a little more diversity on the opposite coast.

Minor spoilers follow.

In this episode, the bad guys try really hard to separate Rosette from Chrno and Azmaria, but in the end fail after several valiant attempts. Which means that this episode devolves into another filler episode. No character advancement, not much plot advancement (other than it taking time for them to travel).

Nothing very memorable about this one, unless you want to see Rosette's clothes get ripped to shreds.

Rating: C+

Posted by Kei at 10:12 PM | Comments (0)

September 22, 2004

Ai Yori Aoshi Enishi Episode 5

Ai Yori Aoshi Enishi

"Piano"

Continuing the circuit of character episodes, this one is the Mayu episode. Mayu is sent a birthday present from her mother overseas, and it inspires her to ask Kaoru out on a date. Doing this freaks everyone else out, but as we wouldn't have a show unless they all agreed, Kaoru goes along with it (poor Kaoru, having to suffer these things for the sake of giving every character's fans their chance to see their favorite character alone with him).

In case you don't know, Mayu is probably one of the most annoying characters on the show. She's a rich, snobby girl who visits the mansion from time to tiem, and wants to win Kaoru's heart. So she goes on this date with Kaoru, which reaffirms her feelings for him, but of course goes no where, because Kaoru is loyal, even though he leads on all the other girls (unconsciously, maybe).

It's the standard girl + Kaoru episode, where they do some stuff, and in the end there's an opportunity for Kaoru to help the said girl see into herself and find out something about herself she didn't know before, and makes her love him even more.

The show still looks good, at least.

Rating: C

Posted by Kei at 11:31 PM | Comments (0)

September 24, 2004

Chrono Crusade Episode 14

Chrono Crusade

"Invocation - Prayer"

This episode has the highest quantity of superdeformed, off-the-wall, zany character expressions so far in the whole series. I'd even hazard to say that there are more in this episode than the rest of the show combined.

In this episode, Chrono comes down with a fever (it just happens), and Rosette is determined to find cold medicine that will work on demons. As an interesting sidebar, I'm sick even as I write this, so I'd settle for cold medicine that works on normal people.

Anyways, Rosette traipses around San Francisco, stopping at every pharmacy with Satella in tow. Eventually she finds a fortune teller that tells her a spell that will lower Chrono's fever, and once you see it set up, it's pretty obvious what it is.

Yep, it's another filler episode, but it looks like we'll get hooked back into the plot next time.

Rating: B

Posted by Kei at 08:21 PM | Comments (5)

September 26, 2004

Chrono Crusade Episode 15

Chrono Crusade

"The Pursuers"

The one thing that sticks out to me about the main characters of Chrono Crusade, is how they so completely fail to conform with the expected. Take Rosette, a nun. She never really exhibits any of the characteristics you'd associate with a nun (violent, not reserved, consorts with demons, rarely mentions her face). Then you take Chrono, who never acts like a demon (nice, cute, helps others, not self-centered, not evil!). Obviously, Chrono has to be a demon for his part in the story to make sense, but it's like all this backstory for Rosette can pretty much be tossed away. Sure it gives her a unique, cool character design, but other than that, her nun status is pretty much throwaway.

Which is my gripe with the show in general, but luckily the package as a whole is entertaining enough.

In this episode, we learn more about Chrono's background (which is good, because it's integral to the story). Rosette also makes a deal to assist other demons to take out Aion. It's pretty amazing how progressive the Catholic church was back in these days. But Chrono's a pretty nice guy, so they're probably fine.

I'm curious how much longer Rosette's "new" look will last (she's lost the habit and church vestments), or if any of the other characters will get a wardrobe update just to keep things fresh.

This show's entertaining, but not much more than that. It lacks character development and interesting plotting, which would really put it over the top.

Rating: B

Posted by Kei at 12:23 AM | Comments (2)

Chrono Crusade Episode 16

Chrono Crusade

"Believer"

Well, naturally, just as I mention it, Rosette is back to her... I guess it's not accurate to describe it as her standard nun outfit, but you know what I mean.

I wonder if it's uncomfortable for Azmaria's seiyuu to maintain that high-pitched squeak, or if they just have her suck on some helium balloons for a few minutes before her recording sessions.

So, in this episode we get a fuller version of Satella's backstory (and if you've read my reviews, you know how much of a thrill this is for me). It goes something like this: a demon found Satella's clan and killed all of them except for Satella. That's what we already knew. In this episode, we see some of it, but find out two important other facts: 1. the demon was Aion, and 2. Satella's sister survived also.

Satella is also, of course, unable to put up a fight against Aion. (She's tied up, but it wouldn't have made a difference anyways.) After all, if she could, there wouldn't be much for Rosette and Chrono to do. So, there's a lot of talking, then in the last few minutes, Chrono and Rosette burst in, they try to take on Aion, fail, and then he leaves to fight another epis... er, day.

Rating: B-

Posted by Kei at 03:58 PM | Comments (0)

September 27, 2004

Chrono Crusade Episode 17

Chrono Crusade

"Accomplices"

It seems really silly to me that Chrono and Rosette keep running off, leaving Azmaria alone. After all, she's kind of critical to Aion's plans, and she's not exactly capable of protecting herself.

I felt a little like I was watching Demonball Z in this episode.

One of the problems with the huge battle in this episode is that most of the demons have been hastily (if that) introduced over the course of the last two episodes, so half the time, I'm not really sure if I'm tracking the battle properly. And then there's the matter of the big holy superweapon the Magdalan Order unleashes on the demons, which appears to totally destroy some of the demons, but Chrono (in weaker form) coasts through just fine.

Rating: B

Posted by Kei at 12:09 AM | Comments (0)

Chrono Crusade Episode 18

Chrono Crusade

"Photograph - Four People"

I think that the reason I like Chrono is that he reminds me a little bit of Kenshin. He's got a similar sort of voice (the TV Kenshin, not Hitokiri Battousai Kenshin). The comparison sort of breaks down there, but I believe there's an intangible sort of similarity between them.

I was happy with this episode because it finally featured what I've been waiting for all this time: the relationship between Chrono and Rosette. I feel somewhat cheated that it took 18 episodes to really get to this moment, and then a little more cheated that it was so short.

The rest of the episode plays out in classic filler style, with our intrepid heroes going to a street festival in the city, even in the aftermath of the enormous battle that happened just before.

On the flip side of the coin, Joshua gets a new outfit (I almost laughed out loud at the part when he, newly outfitted, walks out of the house with Aion). Joshua looks the part of a John Woo hero or villain, and when the screen freezes on him, with the wind blowing his cloak back, well, it seems quite out of place.

Other than all the fluff, there's a few bits of character growth with the non-Chrono, non-Rosette characters, which is good, too. This might be the filler send-off episode though, as I'm pretty sure that we're locked in to the heart of the matter for the rest of the series.

Rating: B+

Posted by Kei at 12:48 AM | Comments (0)

Ai Yori Aoshi Enishi Episode 6

Ai Yori Aoshi Enishi

"Journey"

I am so incredibly frustrated by Ai Yori Aoshi Enishi, but I think that some of this frustration is my fault. Objectively looking back at Ai Yori Aoshi's first season, there were large stretches where it was under par, but had enough good moments that made me like the show overall. I think the music and gorgeous animation also helped with my enjoyment, but Enishi's episodes have so far been a major disappointment.

The underlying subtext of conflict for Enishi is set up in that apparently the Sakuraba family is concerned about Kaoru's plans for his future. He doesn't have any, so they've probably got a point. Aoi will support him in anything, of course, because she has no life to live of her own, other than what Kaoru wants.

The other characters in the show play up to their normal stereotypes, and there's another party at the Sakuraba mansion (I wish I were keeping track of how many that makes it).

There's an agonizing lack of character or relationship development in Enishi, which only makes me hope that if they decide to do a third season, they somehow run out of filler ideas (ha!) and actually do something interesting. The potential is there to make a fantastic show, but it's completely squandered.

Rating: C-

Posted by Kei at 11:26 PM | Comments (2)

Get Backers Episode 1

Get Backers

"The Initials are 'G' (Ginji) and 'B' (Ban)"

I didn't really know what to expect going in to Get Backers, and my expectations weren't high for it, so I was pleasantly surprised by what I got. That's not to say that it was merely "not bad", it was actually pretty entertaining.

Ginji and Ban are two guys who work together to retrieve things for people. Get things back, get it? They've obviously got a history with each other, as they play off each other's characters constantly through this first episode, from when they're battling to when they're both superdeformed and fighting over the last slice of pizza.

The animation was good, and I liked the opening and ending themes. It was pretty light, and the banter between the characters was definitely enough to keep things moving along.

I'll be interested to see where it's heading.

Rating: B+

Posted by Kei at 11:34 PM | Comments (13)

September 29, 2004

Ai Yori Aoshi Enishi Episode 07

Ai Yori Aoshi Enishi

"Summer Resort"

To me, the most interesting thing I noticed in this episode is that Miyabi's car has the steering wheel on the left side. The layers of complexity about her character that reveals...

In classic style for this show, there's one moment between Aoi and Kaoru, where you can obviously see the door between their two faces. Of course, they try to kiss, and of course, someone (Taeko) bursts through, interrupting them. Yeah, that routine's pretty old (even before Ai Yori Aoshi was even concepted, really).

Anyways, the gang goes off on vacation, so they do all the standard anime/manga vacation stuff. Barbeque, hot springs, king game (which, amusingly, Tina is the one to know how to play).

Mooooore filler.

Rating: C+

Posted by Kei at 10:39 PM | Comments (0)

Chrono Crusade Episode 19

Chrono Crusade

"Atonement - Neck"

Well, things have gone from bad to worse.

This is the episode where The Plan is revealed, and the real showdown between good and evil begins.

This is also a big revelation episode, so I don't want to take away from your enjoyment by spoiling everything for you. Suffice it to say, Aion has a suitably convoluted and complicated plan, and that I don't really understand it en todo, but it's pretty obvious (and has been made obvious in previous episodes) most of what's going on here.

I felt happy, as it seems like all the filler and waiting is going to pay off (or at least there's a chance for payoff), so I'm looking forward to finishing off the show strong.

Rating: B+

Posted by Kei at 11:26 PM | Comments (2)

September 30, 2004

Get Backers Episode 02

Get Backers

"Get Back the Rusted Bonds!"

Despite the fact that Ban and Ginji are apparently very good at what they do, in classic selfless hero form, they're unable to ever manage to get paid for their deeds. In this episode, they're sent off to retrieve a person (and go up an entire yakuza group in the process).

I'd love to see the explanation as to how Ban and Ginji came up with the idea to do the recovery service. I mean, what's the leap of logic from, "Hey, we have crazy powers," to, "Yeah, we should use them to make money by finding lost and stolen items for random people."

I'm a big fan of Get Backers's opening theme (and to a lesser extent, its closing theme). It's one of those songs that is sung with a voice that positively grates on me, but somehow works with the song that I don't mind it at all and, in fact, love it.

We're in first episode serial mode in Get Backers, as with almost every show, where we get the same basic story over and over with different situations, until the audience is suitably comfortable with the premise before the real story starts. Given that, this episode is entertaining, but with no metastory hook, it's also inconsequential. Let's see how long it takes for the story to poke its head in.

Rating: B+

Posted by Kei at 11:09 PM | Comments (0)