There goes that New Year’s resolution for The Null Set – no more missing a week and having to do a biweekly anime review. On the plus side, I should have plenty to talk about.
As a total aside, as I’m typing this up I wonder if other people have specific music they listen to when they have to write. For myself, I’m listening to a 44 track playlist of my favorite Weird Al Yankovic songs right now – I found that I write faster and better when I’m listening to him.
Munto TV, episode 2 – 10/12 A
Munto TV, episode 3 – 10/12 A
Soul Eater, episode 41 – 12/12
Soul Eater, episode 42 – 10/12 A
Soul Eater, episode 43 – 11/12 A+
To Aru Majutsu no Index, episode 16 – 12/12
To Aru Majutsu no Index, episode 17 – 10/12 A
To Aru Majutsu no Index, episode 18 – 11/12 A+
Chrome Shelled Regios, episode 3 – 8/12 B+
Chrome Shelled Regios, episode 4 – 9/12 A-
Chrome Shelled Regios, episode 5 – 9/12 A-
Birdy the Mighty Decode 2, episode 2 – 12+/12
Birdy the Mighty Decode 2, episode 3 – 12+/12
Rideback, episode 3 – 11/12 A+
Xam’D: Lost Memories, episode 25 – 11/12 A+
Xam’D: Lost Memories, episode 26 – 12+/12 (end)
Minami-Ke: Okaeri, episode 4 – 11/12 A+
Minami-Ke: Okaeri, episode 5 – 11/12 A+
Maria+Holic, episode 4 – 9/12 A-
Maria+Holic, episode 5 – 11/12 A+
Asu no Yoichi, episode 4 – 11/12 A+
Asu no Yoichi, episode 5 – 10/12 A
Sora o Kakeru Shoujo, episode 3 – 10/12 A
Sora o Kakeru Shoujo, episode 4 – 10/12 A
Sora o Kakeru Shoujo, episode 5 – 9/12 A-
Michiko to Hatchin, episode 14 – 12/12
Clannad S.2, episode 16 – 12+++/12
Clannad S.2, episode 17 – 12++/12
Toradora!, episode 17 – 12+/12
Toradora!, episode 18 – 12++/12
Zoku Natsume Yuujinchou, episode 4 – 12+/12
Shikabane Hime: Kuro, episode 3 – 10/12 A
Hetalia Axis Powers, episode 1 – 10/12 A
Hetalia Axis Powers, episode 2 – 10/12 A
A Tale of Genji, episode 1 – 10/12 A
Kemono no Soja Erin, episode 1 – 9/12 A-
Kemono no Soja Erin, episode 2 – 9/12 A-
Which shows have momentum this week
Up – Birdy the Mighty Decode 2 – The second season of Birdy received a big level-up
Down – none
Thoughts and Highlights
I just mentioned Birdy the Mighty Decode 2 in my winter impressions meta post but I didn’t really go into details because I knew I would talk about the show here as well. I complained in my review of the first season that the ending was a cop out because it allowed a complete reboot for the second season. Turns out I was wrong. The story logically picks up where the first season ends and even the new characters of the second season were impacted by the events of the first season. Also praiseworthy is how the show doesn’t reset the world, all the buildings that where destroyed in the first season are still destroyed. The characters, especially Birdy and Senekawa, come off as more realistic this season and much more likable. And speaking of realistic or maybe a better word is unflinching, the action scenes have been really good and haven’t shied away from showing blood. In episode 4, we watch one character rip the arms off an alien disguised as a human kid who was connected with the group that killed his father. All without any sort of censoring. It wasn’t gratuitous because it fit the circumstances but I can’t imagine seeing a similar scene done on American TV.
The best episode of the biweekly period came from Clannad Season 2, episode 16. The dastardly duo of Key and Kyoto Animation, bent on world domination, strike again with quite possibly the saddest episode of anime I’ve ever seen. I’ve been trying to prepare myself since early in the first season when I accidentally read some spoils but it didn’t help and probably made it worse. The scary thing that I realized as I watched this scene is that Kyoto Animation is still improving it’s ability to turn the viewers into weeping lumps of blubber. Of special note was Yuuichi Nakamura for his vocal work as Tomoya. He really sounded like someone very important to him was dying in front of him. The only consolation I took from this episode is that the show probably won’t get any sadder.
Not nearly as sad but still motoring along at it’s own epic pace is Toradora!. At some point this show should stop surprising me but even after 18 episodes, it still amazes me. For example, we had plenty of signs that pointed to an eventual Minorin emotional meltdown beforehand but it’s still unsettling to see Minorin fall apart like she is. Also a surprise was Taiga’s love of Christmas and how positively infectious it is. It gets me in the correct state of mind for my family’s “Christmas in February” celebration coming up. I also like how some of the bit characters are getting some air time finally; it probably only makes sense as Taiga and Ryuuji have become accepted by their classmates as normal people and not as scary monsters.
Going back to Clannad Season 2, episode 17. Kyoto Animation is really good at details and slipping stuff in the show without us realizing it. It’s pretty obvious that Tomoya hasn’t been feeling up to keeping the apartment clean but the most telling evidence of his long-term mental state is the 3 flower pots on the back porch. They where something that Nagisa added to the apartment when she moved in. In episode 17 I was surprised to see they were still there 5 years later but then I realized all they contained was long dead remnants of some type of flower, probably from the flowers that Nagisa planted. On a lighter note, Ushio is just about the cutest person I’ve seen in anime. I’m positive that she’ll fix Tomoya because he’s still not a bad person like his dad but needs to realize that he disrespects Nagisa and her wishes by thinking that he should never have met her. And the way KyoAni ended this episode revealed to us that we’ve been looking at Ushio at the beginning of the ending this whole time and not Nagisa like everyone thought.
And now for some shorter thoughts:
- When I try to objectively look at Munto TV, I can’t help but pick it apart. For example, to much stuff is being crammed into the show and it’s not making a lot of sense. This is being balanced so far by how the show makes me feel. I hope as the show gets further along, the storytelling aspect improves.
- I realized while watching this group of episodes from To Aru Majutsu no Index that there’s totally going to be a second season. And as the show gets further, I start asking myself even more, why is Index even in this show and why did he have to lose is memory. I don’t see the point one way or the other.
- On second seasons – so far with Rideback, it’s being paced awful slow for just a 13 episode show – I wonder if they’re planning on doing a second season.
- I have to thank Zoku Natsume Yuujinchou, episode 4. I watched it right after watching Clannad 16 and it’s combination of a super-cute spirit and happy ending made me feel better.
- The fanservice continues with Shikabane Hime: Kuro but at least the story is improving.
- And finally, I was a bit disappointed with the ending of Xam’D: Lost Memories; it was very good but I couldn’t help but think they could have done better. I hope I won’t be saying the same thing about Soul Eater. I know it’s tough to figure out an ending for a show that continues like Soul Eater without violating the continuity of the source material but it should be possible.