Yet another quiet news month. So instead I’m just going to rail against Black Rock Shooter in Noitamina again. Like, seriously guys?
Also, I’m just back from holiday, so I’m behind on a lot of the anime I’m watching this season. This is also why this monthly roundup is a day late. As for movies, I saw Redline and Mardock Scramble before they were popular because I’m a hipster like that.
A- Bunny Drop
Last year’s token josei title was Jellyfish Princess, which I’ll admit was slightly more My Kind Of Anime than Bunny Drop is. It was wild and wacky but had a good story using that strangeness it had. Bunny Drop is more down to earth, but is far better controlled and powerful. It’s challenged the way I think about marriage and parenting. Often it will suggest stuff I don’t agree with, but the very fact it made me seriously question several things is quite an achievement in of itself. Plus, it does all this without getting pretentious or preachy and, most importantly of all, remaining fun. Not as fun as Jellyfish Princess, but enough to keep a grin plastered across my face the entire episode.
From the stupid Rukako episode to the frightening Moeka episode, Steins;Gate hasn’t exactly had the most even of months in terms of quality. That said, I love the direction the show is taking with Okarin’s character. The more his mind breaks, the less we can trust him and the more uncomfortable it becomes to watch him. His development over the course of the series has been the piece that makes Steins;Gate special. The time travel plot, the witty lines. They’re all welcome. But it’s Okarin who makes this series. I’m tempted to call him my all-time favourite anime protagonist. Only two episodes left, I hope they wrap this up properly.
B Mawaru PenguinDrum
I’m going to be an insufferably prat and compare and contrast PenguinDrum to Utena again. PenguinDrum is more fun than Utena on a surface level. It’s funnier with wackier set pieces and less of the irritating side some of the repetition and incomprehensible parts of Utena had. The key difference is I’m just letting everything in PenguinDrum wash over me, while in Utena I’d try to decode every single scene. Not necessarily a bad thing, since trying to decode Utena more often than not just left me a headache, but it does mean I’m failing to see the point of the plot in PenguinDrum so far. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of fun. But I do hope this Ringo story actually goes somewhere.
B Tiger and Bunny
Well this is a first. Normally a Tiger and Bunny monthly roundup have all the positives counterbalanced by negatives. But this month, Tiger and Bunny performed remarkably well. The plot has reached a crescendo, tackling the main issues of the story. It’s given Bunny personality once again, while focusing on Tiger and his relationship with his daughter. It’s a satisfying climax so far to what has been a fairly enjoyable series. In fact, I don’t think I have anything negative to say. Well OK, I have one. Kaede showing up and just happening to know how to reset everyone’s memories because she just happened to meet the villain was a touch on the convenient side. I guess that means I’m contractually obligated to hate on it now.
B- Natsume Yuujinchou San
I really enjoyed the plot heavy double episode of Natsume this month. The problem with the series at the moment is Natsume’s main story of settling in with a family and friends he loves has kind of been solved. He has a family who cares for him and whom he cares for. He now has friends whom he can trust. There’s nothing more they can do with that storyline. I like the usual formula of yokai terrorises someone or some place, but all they really are is very lonely and it takes their interaction with Natsume to realise that. But there’s only so often you can repeat any story before it starts to get old. It’s the Hell Girl problem. I’d like to see the story focus on Natsume challenging the exorcists on the issue of treating yokai like they have feelings, because that would mean his learning about yokai in all those previous episodes would lead to some sort of satisfying conclusion.
B- Kamisama Dolls
I’ll admit I give Kamisama Dolls a far easier run than I know it should get. It sure tries to make itself un-enjoyable, what with all the jarring jerks in tone, the derpy animation, and the random introduction of a new character 3 episodes from the end. But I can’t help myself, I just love the story here. I love how each character is just that touch mentally unstable. How they’re all trying to escape their past and the village to live their own version of their lives, whether this be connecting with your lost sibling, living a normal student life, or simply trying to follow incredibly vague advice in the case of Aki. You can even count me amongst the handful who thought episode 7 was amazing. Or maybe that was just me being shocked that they didn’t ruin the deathly serious tone of that episode with more unnecessary fanservice.
B- Blue Exorcist
So apparently the manga caught up with what was going to be the current arc of the manga and decided that it would be best to ignore that arc altogether and create anime original material from here on in. Hence, in a move as predictable as the sun rising, the manga fans started complaining. But you know, manga fans [le sigh]. Anyway, I’m liking the direction it’s taking. We’re finally going somewhere with Rin’s character and moving what had until now been a nearly standstill plot in a proper direction. I am 2 episodes behind, so maybe the story grounds to a standstill yet again (next episode preview made it look like it might) but I’m holding out for some sort of proper anime original conclusion here.
C+ Hanasaku Iroha
I do like Hanasaku Iroha vastly more than most series of it’s type. I’ve pointed out the aspects I like in each of these monthly roundups so far. The self-aware comedic side. Ohana’s mum. The hot character designs. But there’s one aspect that has been constantly holding this show back: The drama. It’s overwrought and rather stupid but, most importantly, I Don’t Care. I really could not give a fuck who takes over the inn. Nor could I give a fuck about the love triangle between Minko, Tohru and Ohana. The only times the drama actually worked was when Ohana’s mum was involved, in the first episode and during the Ohana to Tokyo arc. At all other times, it just comes off as a bad shojo.
I’m not quite sure where it was No.6 lost me this month. Partly because it likes to smash the viewer over the head with its symbolism to the point that the characters literally stop what they are doing and monologue for the sole purpose of being obtuse about what’s going on in the story. I fail to see the point of Dog Keeper’s large portions of screentime, who mainly spends that time being very angry about nothing in particular. Nezumi has this same problem, which I know is sort of the point, but I can’t follow either of their thought processes. This is partly because the show steadfastly refuses to tell us what his beef with No.6 is, but it’s mainly because I can’t understand what their relationships with each character is. I can’t work out what Nezumi thinks about Dogkeeper, what his relationship with Shion really is, even what Shion thinks of these characters. The segments with Safu come as a relief because she’s the only character blunt and gormless enough that I can follow her train of thought. I guess it all boils down to the show being too obtuse with too little surface enjoyment for me to care to work out what is actually going on. Also it’s gay.
D Kaiji Season 2
What has been the point of these past few episodes? Nothing has happened! Nothing at all! I know Kaiji is so slow paced it makes Bleach look like a Harrier Jet, but there’s a difference between slow paced and nothing whatsoever. No Kaiji, I do not care about this shitty villain you’ve hastily concocted a backstory for. It didn’t tell us anything we needed to know about his character to give the battle between Kaiji and the bog extra weight. Also, the battle against the bog is dull. At least the card games had a semblance of tactics I could pour myself into. This is just watching a load of balls. Boring boring boring month, kinda lost interest in watching it to the end too. I will probably keep watching, but unless the Bog turns into a giant robot, I’m labelling this arc a disaster.
Zawa zawa zawa