Summer 2011 – Week 8 – Short Thoughts

No.6 reminds me of something else every time I watch it.  Why was this week the best of Idolmaster and the worst of Ikoku Meiro no Croisé?  And am I changing my opinon on a character from Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu II after one episode?  All these and other short thoughts on fifteen current anime are all below.

I’m not sure what my favorite comedy is this season, with the candidates being Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu II, Nekogami Yaoyorozu, and Nichijou.  Each comedy has a very different style of humor and all are highly entertaining, so it makes this choice very difficult.  It’s hard to compare comedies like this since they usually perform better in some episodes and worse in others and can constantly change from week to week.  But if I had to choose, I’d put Nekogami first, BakaTest second, and Nichijou third.  Nekogami isn’t the funniest but I always find myself smiling through each episode and it has excellent character dynamics.  BakaTest is probably the best considering entertainment alone but I can’t help but dislike some of the cast, jokes, and clichés the series continues to put out.  Nichijou is ranked last here but is one of my favorite comedies.  It’s one flaw here is that there are too many misses compared to Nekogami and BakaTest, which is why I usually rank hit-or-miss comedies below more consistent ones, even though I laugh the hardest at some of Nichijou’s best jokes.  A trait that Nichijou would beat out both those other series are its production values, which are certainly nothing to laugh at.  Of course, we’ll see what the final rankings are when the season is over but all are ranking an 8 at this point in the season.

Here are this week’s short thoughts on the 15 shows I’m watching this summer (series appear in reverse-alphabetical order.  Something new this week!):

Usagi Drop (Episode 8) – The scene where Rin arrives at Souichi’s home and realizes the bell flowers were dug up has to be one of my favorite scenes in the whole anime.  Just seeing that sudden shift in emotion from joyous, everyday Rin to confused, saddened, and motionless was incredibly powerful and well done.  I realize I’ve already talked about emotions this week but how could I not mention that.  At least there are flowers growing at Rin’s new home for her to bring to Souichi’s grave once they bloom.  Also, that birthday scene was cute but kinda bittersweet.  I wish Rin had friends over when she celebrated her birthday but seeing just Rin and Daikichi together was special on its own.

Tiger & Bunny (Episode 22) – Anyone have any idea who’s in the new Wild Tiger suit?  Whoever it is, we’ll find out in the next episode, seeing as Sky High unmasked this new character, but I want to find out now.  The reaction of everyone seems to indicate it’s someone we all know but I can’t think of who it would be.  Would be hilarious if it were Samantha but then that’d just screw around with Barnaby even more than necessary, as well as ruin Maverick’s plans.  If I were to guess, I’d go with the Mayor for no clear reason.

The iDOLM@STER (Episode 8) – This might’ve been the best episode of Idolmaster all season.  The episode had plenty of action, a rousing story, decent comedy, and a featured 3 of the better characters in the series, Makoto, Miki, and Azusa.  Easily the most entertaining episode as well as having one of the better character stories.  Kinda sad to see Makoto forced to be the groom in those pictures but she does pull it off better than anyone else and fits the role of ‘reverse-trap’ very well when she’s like that.  You figure they could’ve given her a chance in one of those wedding dresses but I guess they never got the idea to even try before the episode ended.

Steins;Gate (Episode 21) – I wonder when we’ll see Suzuha again.  She’s due for a reappearance again soon, especially considering her role in the story and how long she’s been absent.  Of course, there needs to be a reason for her to return but it’s looking like they’ll be reaching a point where she returns soon.  Just need some more fancy D-mail manipulation and we should see her, one of my favorite characters, return to the series soon.  Hopefully that doesn’t come at the cost of my favorite, Kurisu, or my second favorite, Okabe.

No.6 (Episode 8) – No.6 reminds me of Needless whenever I watch it (talking more about the manga of Needless but if you watched the anime, you’d also understand).  Both have strikingly similar settings: an unwanted, desolate wasteland populated with the rejects of society that is separated from a giant wall to the futuristic, utopian metropolis.  The only difference between these two is that in No.6 the wasteland surrounds the city whereas in Needless, the city surrounds the wasteland.  Shion reminds me of Cruz, too, from their intelligence to naivety to motivation and even physical appearance sometimes, especially the hair and face.  Both protagonists seem to be the smartest characters in both series but lack physical/survivability traits and are relatively innocent people, too.  Other details continue to pop up in No.6 that reminds me of Needless but there are plenty more differences between the two that keep both individualized and unique.  But those two details always pop into my mind whenever I watch any episode of No.6.

Nichijou (Episode 22) – I’m kinda curious what Nichijou will do for a finale.  Have they saved any major jokes for the ending?  Are they going to conclude the series with everyone together for something?  Will there be any resolutions with any of the characters and their continuous conflicts?  If anything, I think there will be something, much like we saw Nano becoming a high school student, but to what extent, I’m not sure.  I do know I’ll be ready to laugh when the time comes.

Nekogami Yaoyorozu (Episode 7) – The choices for the scary stories in this episode showed a good combination of comedy and horror in this episode.  All the stories from all the characters had both a little bit of horror in them (although it depends on the character, like Sasana’s story would certainly be scary for her but not for others) as well as a little bit of comedy.  It must’ve been hard to find stories that were partially believable to be scary that could then be played off of to make jokes.  Most of the entertainment from those stories came from everyone’s reactions, especially the unsatisfied Mayu and the frightened Yoshino.  I think Shamo’s story was the scariest.

Mawaru Penguindrum (Episode 7) – Is it just me or have the penguins become even less relevant in recent episodes?  They were one of the features I enjoyed the most in this series but they’ve virtually disappeared from the anime.  And the third penguin, the one with the pink bow on its head, has had only minimal screentime and has never been featured alone (its personality is still somewhat of a mystery to me).  I suppose that’s because we’re still obsessing over Ringo and her diary (something I’ve grown tired of), but the penguins can still be useful, even if they’re only used for comedy rather than silly missions.  At least the comedy in the series is still surviving, even without the penguins constantly doing something stupid/funny.

Kamisama Dolls (Episode 8) – Whenever an anime goes to the beach, it’s always either perfect weather or a typhoon.  It’s incredibly discrete.  There are no partially cloudy days, overcast days, foggy afternoons, or light showers.  Either it’s ideal or disastrous.  And even though the weather in this episode was the latter, it wasn’t a bad episode.  There are usually a few scenes in every beach episode of an anime that I end up hating, but this one didn’t have any such scene.  Also kinda funny to think that Ao no Exorcist, BakaTest, Hanasaku, Nekogami, and Idolmaster have already had their beach episodes and only one other one had bad weather (Nekogami).

Ikoku Meiro no Croisée (Episode 9) – I really don’t care much about the past of Claude and Camille.  Doesn’t matter what kinda friendship or activities or history they have, it’s just not that interesting to me, nor entirely relevant to Yune, the focus of this story.  I’m glad we still had Alice and Yune playing around in this episode, even if it were for a little bit, but otherwise this might’ve been the worst of the series for me.  The scenes do a fine job of highlighting the disparity between social classes in nineteenth century France, as well as youthfulness and friendship, but they’re not all that interesting to me.  Maybe it’ll be a major part of the story but I doubt it, especially since the gallery has yet to actually close down due to any department stores or anything like that.  Also, Edgar, Alice’s butler, has been named but I don’t think we’ve heard names for the two female maids that accompany the young maiden.  Wonder if they’ll ever get names or not.

Hanasaku Iroha (Episode 22) – It took Ohana this long for her to sort out her thoughts and realize she has a crush on Ko?  Finally!  Now we can start getting some progress between the two, especially since that was the final barrier that needed to be taken down for any development in their relationship.  It’s been well established that something will happen at the Bonbori Festival, with its unashamed foreshadowing, but there needed to be some character development beforehand for it to make sense.  And that’s what we got.  Now then, after months of anticipation, onto the Bonbori Festival!

Dantalian no Shoka (Episode 7) – Are we ever going to see Huey fly a plane?  We know he was a pilot in the Great War and he’s certainly rich enough to afford a plane, so the possibility of him flying a plane is there.  But right now there hasn’t been any reason for him to pilot an aircraft yet.  Hopefully a Phantom Book will create the opportunity for him to fly in a biplane and we see that soon.  I’d love to see how the artwork and animation in Dantalian no Shoka would handle aerial combat, as well as scenery from the cockpit.

Blood-C (Episode 7) – Is that dog Watanuki from xxxHOLiC?  Judging from the dialogue, mannerisms, and the fact that he’s voiced by Jun Fukuyama, I’m willing to bet he is and that Blood-C is in the same universe as xxxHOLiC (and every other CLAMP show for that matter).  Now, connecting this series to one of my all-time favorites is certainly never a bad thing, but that still isn’t enough to save the series from its costly mistakes in the first half of the series.  But Blood-C isn’t looking so bad anymore and it definitely isn’t the worst anime of the season anymore (of the shows I’m watching).  I’m interested to see how deep this xxxHOLiC influence will be and how it will influence the show.

Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu II (Episode 8) – I never really liked Shimada as a character (too tsundere for me) but damn, did this episode ever change my mind.  The eighth episode of BakaTest 2 showed the transition in Shimada’s life when she entered high school in Japan and struggled making friends with her poor language skills.  It focused on her dealing with this issue, as well as the strange students that were in her class (who are the other F-class classmates).  Aside from the good humor, the episode was exceptionally well written, showing the beautiful story of how Shimada and Yoshii became friends.  This might have been my favorite episode all season for BakaTest and maybe even the best in the series.  Bonus points for Shimada, Yoshii, and BakaTest as a whole after this episode.

Ao no Exorcist (Episode 20) – I like Rin and Yukio’s home monastery and wish they’d do more with it.  Most of the series takes place at the school where Rin is training to be an exorcist, so going back to the monastery every so often is a nice break from the school setting.  I just wish the guys there at the monastery had more of a personality or were involved in the story: they all seem to be pretty boring and uneventful.  Kinda hope to see more episodes there but I think it’ll be confined to only flashbacks and maybe something during the finale.

I’ll be on vacation all week this week, meaning all my posts for this week will be somewhat delayed.  I may just skip this week for the episodic posts but we’ll see what it’s like when I return.  I need a break before school starts up, especially since I’ve been a full-time student or full-time worker for over a year straight now (nothing longer than 3 days off in a row since July 2010) and now is the best time to do it before summer dies down.  See you all in a week!

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