CLANNAD: After Story – Episode 14

It’s CLANNAD: After Story episode 14. and Nagisa gets a job at a new restaurant with a pair of old high school classmates. Also, Nagisa and Okazaki do what, er, married people do, er, at night. Yeah…

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First Impressions: Minami-ke – Okaeri

Minami-ke OkaeriAfter the first two episodes of Minami-ke Okaeri, this series is turning into more of what I feared than what I hoped, but I guess that was almost to be expected. The same people who did the 2nd season are doing this one, and despite my hopes, though not to my great surprise, the amount of humor in this series is similar to that in the 2nd season, which is to say, it’s somewhat amusing, but has very few actual real laughs. Which isn’t really a good thing for a show that’s supposed to derive most of it’s entertainment value by being funny.

This was largely my expression when watching the first two episodes

Does this show have potential? Yes, it still does. The story and the character itself presents itself for a pretty funny series, as the first season proved. However, the writers actually have to make it that way, and now after 15 episodes by the current production company, they have yet to match the magic of the first season. Having said that, at least the music and animation quality remains very good, much like the past seasons. The only thing that really tends to bug me is having the OP and ED stuck in the middle of the episode instead of, you know, the beginning and ending of it.

Kimi ga Nozomu Eien: Next Season – Episode 4 [END]

It’s (finally) The Melancholy of Haruka Suzumiya Kima ga Nozomu Eien: Next Season episode 4. In this episode, Haruka and Akana are told that how they look at the world is all wrong, and then they realize their wrongs, and then all becomes well with the world once again.

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Anime DVD and Manga Releases for January 20 – February 2

Anime DVD and BluRays

Tsukihime, Lunar Legend DVD Box SetJanuary 20, 2009
009-1 – Box Set
Bleach – Volume 14
Darker Than Black – Volume 2
Kiba – Set #1
Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi – Box Set
One Piece – Season 1 Part 3
Tsukihime, Lunar Legend – Box Set
Wallflower, The – Set #1

January 27, 2009
Ah My Buddha – Volume 1
Aria The Natural – Set #1 (sub)
Baccano! – Volume 1
Blood+ – Volume 4
Doujin Work – Volume 1 (sub)
Fullmetal Alchemist – Season 1 Box Set
Naruto – Volume 32 (dub)
One Piece: The Desert Princess and The Pirates: Adventure in Alabasta (BluRay)
Panyo Panyo Di Gi Charat  – Box Set
Story of Saiunkoku, The – Season 1 Set 3
Str.A.In.: Strategic Armored Infantry – Box Set
Utawarerumono – Box Set

Manga

Gon Manga Volume 7January 20, 2009
Reborn! – Volume 10
Case Closed – Volume 27
Classical Medley – Volume 2
REAL – Volume 3
Rurouni Kenshin: BIG Edition – Volume 5
Suihelibe! – Volume 2

January 21, 2009
Akihabara @ DEEP – Volume 2
Fujoshi Rumi – Volume 3

January 27, 2009
Air Gear – Volume 11
Fairy Tail – Volume 5
Gon – Volume 7
Hell Girl – Volume 5
Kamichama Karin-chu – Volume 3
Papillon – Volume 2
Parasyte – Volume 6
Princess Resurrection – Volume 5
Tsubasa, RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE – Volume 20
Wallflower, The – Volume 18

January 28, 2009
Berserk – Volume 27
Manzai Comics, The – Volume 1

January 29, 2009
Dark Edge – Volume 10
Metro Survive – Set (Vols. 1 – 2)

January 31, 2009
100% Perfect Girl – Volume 7
B. Ichi – Volume 2
Crown – Volume 1
Spiral: Bonds of Reasoning – Volume 6
Sundome – Volume 4

CLANNAD: After Story – Episode 13

It’s CLANNAD: After Story episode 13, and Okazaki now has to get permission from Akio in order for him to marry Nagisa, but Nagisa’s father isn’t going to make it easy for him. Also, Nagisa once again gets sick over winter break.

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Catching Up

Sorry for not posting for a while. Life seems to have a bad habit of reappearing every now and then lol. In any case, I have 5 episode reviews (3 CLANNAD episodes + KGNE Next Season 4 + Nijuu Mensou 21) all but ready to roll, so hopefully I’ll post the first one tomorrow. I’ve also got two “first impressions” for the winter season written with another one that I can easily churn out since the first two episodes of that show have been subbed.

Also, I meant to post my podcast again already, but it got delayed with everything else so (hopefully) I’ll finally get that restarted this upcoming Friday.

Anime DVD and Manga Releases for January 13 – 19

Anime DVD and BluRays

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence BluRayJanuary 13, 2009
Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (DVD & BluRay)
Glass Fleet – Box Set
Gundam SEED Destiny OVA – Volume 4
Lyrical Nanoha A’s – Box Set
Mahoromatic – Season 1 Box Set
Megazone 23 – Box Set
Moon Phase – Viridian Box Set
Saint Seiya – Set #1
Shonen Onmyouji  – Volume 5
Voltron – Set #7
Wedding Peach – Season 2 Box Set
Yu Yu Hakusho – Season 4 Box Set

Manga

Yakitate!! Japan Manga Volume 15January 13, 2009
Astral Project – Volume 2
Bastard! – Volume 18
Inuyasha – Volume 36
Name of the Flower – Volume 1
Oishinbo – Volume 1
Project Arms – Volume 21
Record of a Fallen Vampire – Volume 4
Red River – Volume 24
Switch – Volume 6
Yakitate!! Japan – Volume 15

January 14, 2009
Ghost Talker’s Daydream – Volume 3

Catch-up Anime List

I thought I’d go back and grab a single anime series from each of the past 4 seasons (Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall of 2008) which I didn’t watch originally but thought that it might be worth taking a second look at.

Now, when I actually get around to these, I’m not sure, but I’ll put them high on my to-watch list.  Maybe I can take a nice Saturday every now and then and watch one (or two) of these:

Winter 2008Hatenko Yugi

I didn’t realize this until I has already selected it, but this series was the only series which I said that I might watch which I didn’t end up watching (except for True Tears and Shigofumi, due to getting licensed) last winter, so I guess it’s natural that I go with this one.

I thought the show sounded interesting then, and it still does.  And it’s only 10 episodes.

Spring 2008Kaiba

Nabari no Ou would have been guaranteed in this slot if it hasn’t just gotten licensed by Funimation, so I had to fall to a backup show.  Then I remembered Kaiba.  I dissed it so much because of it’s animation at the time that I didn’t even bother putting it on my season preview.  However, I’ve heard nothing but good things about it, so I thought I’d check it out.

Summer 2008Hidamari Sketch x365

The selection of this show was mostly due to the fact that most of the shows I either a) already watched, b) were sequels to series I hadn’t seen, or c) I had absolutely no interest in.  So yeah, process of elimination, really.  And the first season wasn’t too bad, but wasn’t good enough to get me to watch this at the time.

Fall 2008Kannagi

Are you kidding?  This seems to be one of the series of the season, and it somehow slipped by me.  I’m definitely checking it out after the fact.

After these four shows, I figure the next major project I’ll try to tackle (assuming it isn’t licensed by then) is Shugo Chara, as I’ve heard quite a few good things about that series as well, and as a fan of CSS, I should know not to just take a series by how “girly” it may look.

Top 10 Anime of 2008

It’s that time of year again…time to rank the top 10 shows of 2008.  Of course, the usual caveat: this only includes shows which I watched, which this year was only about 20, so it was a kind of slow year for me.  Nevertheless, this list still boasts a pretty impressive list of shows.

10. Birdy the Mighty: Decode

Birdy the Mighty Decode LogoIsn’t it every boy’s dream to have easy access to a female body?  Well, Tsutomu in theory is living that dream, except the girl is in control of the body because she accidentally destroyed his.  Oops!  What results is a mix of action and comedy which is pretty well executed all told, with Tsutomu frequently getting freaked out by Birdy’s alien ways.

Two things held this series back: animation, which wasn’t exactly top-notch, and the fact that, after Tsutomu gets his body back, they find away in the end to make him and Birdy share bodies again.  I guess Tsutomu just thinks that he can be immortal as long as Birdy is there to absorb him whenever he takes a notion to destroy his body.  The one minus that this sets up is that it implies that the gimmick of them changing bodies is the only real draw of the show, and the writer’s belief that they can’t have a successful show without that gimmick.  I’m not sure that bodes well for the second season, but that doesn’t necessarily impact this season all that much.

9. Kurenai

KurenaiKurenai ekes into the top 10 list by doing a reasonably good job at two things: writing and animation.  Perhaps the best part of this series is watching the struggle and growth of the characters as they have to adapt to new environments, particularly Shinkuro, who is trying to find his true strength, and Murasaki, who has to adapt to living out in the “real world” now, all while having a powerful family chasing after them.

However, this show has a few weaknesses as well.  First, the show’s conclusion in a sense made a compromise with the devil – accommodating an evil family which probably shouldn’t be accommodated in the least, taking the air out of a lot of what everyone was fighting for and protecting throughout the show.  Second, I think overall this series, despite it’s overall good writing, missed some chances to turn Kurenai from simply a good series into a great series.  The theme music, particularly the opening theme, also didn’t seem to match the show at all and just seemed kind of weird.  However, overall it was still a pretty good show.

8. The Secret of Haruka Nogizaka

The Secret of Haruka Nogizaka logoThe mantle of “Otaku Show of the Year” probably goes out to The Secret of Haruka Nogizaka this year as there are anime references galore, as well as every otaku’s dream:  A girl otaku. A hot girl otaku.  A hot, popular girl otaku.  A hot, popular girl otaku who likes you because you don’t shun her once you discover her secret of being an otaku.  A hot, popular girl otaku who likes you because you don’t shun her once you discover her secret of being an otaku and who likes to cosplay as Shana.  I mean, can it get any better than that?

I guess one of the nice things about this show, as opposed to something like, say, Lucky Star, is “normal people can be otaku too.”  However outwardly odd Konota is in Lucky Star is how outwardly normal Haruka is in Secret.  Yes, she illicitly sneaks off to Akihabara every now and then, but overall she’s your normal high schooler.  Of course, the series is also hilarious on top of all of this too.  The main problem is that it’s a little thin in the plot department, but given that the purpose of this series is to have fun, and I had fun watching it, it goes into the top 10 list.

7. Shion no Ou (2nd half)

Shion no OuThe conclusion of Shion no Ou dealt with the big shogi tournament being sponsored by Satoru, Hani-meijin’s brother, from the start of the final state of the tournament where the 9 bracket winners plus 3 of the bracket runner-ups face off in a 12-person bracket to determine the winner of the tournament.  As a result, a few of the games played last through multiple episodes, but the writers are able to keep the show interesting nevertheless.  Increasing the attention on solving the mystery of who solved Shion’s parents just adds more intrigue into the show as well.

The main weakness of this show is that, if watching people play shogi bores you to death, then this show may not be for you, as a lot of time is spent with the characters playing.  I thought that the show did a pretty good job keeping the episodes interesting despite this, but I can easily see if people disagree with that.  However, overall I thought the conclusion to Shion was pretty well executed.

6. Nijuu Mensou no Musume

Nijuu Mensou no MusumeI should note before starting: fansubs have only come out for 20 of 22 episodes.  However, I felt that it was complete enough that I could put it in the rankings.

Having said that, Nijuu Mensou is a show with a very good premise and animation.  It’s set in the mid-20th century – an era which you don’t see a lot of anime shows set in, so it is unusual in that aspect.  And Twenty Faces himself makes this series pretty compelling, to say nothing about Chiko, his all-but-adoptive daughter and title character.

Two things keep Nijuu Mensou from being a truly great show however: reuse of the “OMG Twenty Faces died! Oh, nevermind!” gimmick probably one too many times, and the fact that the series goes into stranger territory than I was expecting for the show.  Nevertheless, Nijuu Mensou still puts together a very solid performance.

5. Soul Eater (first 3/4)

Soul EaterSoul Eater is a very fascinating show.  It’s quite different from just about anything else, yet Bones is able to pull it off pretty well.  However, the thing that really drives Soul Eater is the wealth of unique characters.  While some of the character development is a little odd (Maka and Soul don’t seem to be very powerful for a pair to have almost created a Death Scythe – especially with only six Death Scythes existing the world, suggesting that it’s a very hard thing to accomplish), it is generally pretty good.  All three pairs are compelling in their own unique ways.

If I have one beef with this series (actually two), it’s that it veered off it’s original premise – gathering 99 kishin eggs and one witch’s soul – pretty quickly, and it has a bad habit of drawing things out to death (how many episodes did it take to get through the battle at Shibusen, anyway?)  However, all told, Soul Eater still puts in a very solid performance.

4. CLANNAD (2nd half) / CLANNAD: After Story (1st half)

CLANNADFor the second straight year, CLANNAD comes in at #4 in the list.  Since the first series of CLANNAD exited it’s “four-episodes-an-arc” mode and got more into mixing arcs or telling an overarching story, and since we got into CLANNAD: After Story which, until the lastest episodes, centered around more minor characters, this series has fallen in favor a little bit (though obviously not very much).

CLANNAD is still very much the class of both 2007 and 2008, and presumably will contend for a top spot on this list in 2009 as well.  We might not be in arcs for the main girls, but the storytelling is still pretty good, if not a little slow going at this point, which is why it only comes in 4th on the list.

3. Toradora! (1st half)

Toradora!The choice between 2nd and 3rd was very close, and I think the fact that Toradora was in it’s first half while the 2nd placing show was in it’s concluding half was the main reason why Toradora came in at #3.

Toradora is a very, very good show – one which I think may challenge for the #1 spot in 2009 if they keep up what they’re doing in the first half into the 2nd half of the show.  While Toradora has a somewhat familiar flavor – it is, afterall, essentially a slice-of-life harem show – there is still something about it and (especially) it’s characters which makes it different, and a lot better than shows that it might be compared to.  It pulls off good drama and comedy almost simultaneously and still gets in some good character exploration and storytelling to boot.

2. Shakugan no Shana II (2nd half)

Shakugan no ShanaThe first half of this show didn’t even grace the top 10 list in 2007, just to show how far it came in the second half of the series.  We started with Pheles, then moved to Sabrac, then on to the Bal Masqué’s ultimate plan at the end.  There was hardly time to breathe and Shana and friends moved from one major confrontation to the next, making the second half of Shakugan no Shana II one of the best action shows in quite a while, not just 2008.

1. ef – a tale of melodies

ef - a tale of melodiesImproving on it’s sibling’s 3rd place finish last year, ef – a tale of melodies was nothing short of epic.  And to think that 40% of this show (the Kuze/Mizuki arc) was pretty dull, that just shows how good the other 60% of the show (the Yuu/Yuuko) arc was.  If the entire show was just that arc, ef – a tale of melodies would not only contend for best show of 2008, but also perhaps for best show, period.

This show had (almost) everything – romance, drama, shocking plot twists, and more.  You almost couldn’t help but me drawn into the show.  And the fact that the show isn’t afraid to put your heart at ease, only to tear it out in the next episode just makes this show all that much better.

Top 10 Anime Openings of 2008

Yesterday I presented my list of the top 10 EDs of 2008. Now it’s time for what I thought were the top 10 OPs of 2008. Once again, I’m judging these more on the music than the animation of the OP. Also, once again, they have to be songs that premiered in 2008.

#10 – Kaiba
“Never” by Seira Kagami

This is a pretty light song, but it’s still emotionally impactful by just listening to it. There were a lot of good OPs this year that could have slid into the #10 spot, but I felt that this was the best one to put there.

#9 – A Certain Magical Index
“PSI-missing” by Mami Kawada

This song is actually more mysterious and intense sounding than the actual series was (at least the first half of it) so I’m not sure how well this song actually went with the series, but I still like the song.

#8 – Soul Eater #2
“PAPERMOON” by Tommy heavenly6

This song is a nice pop/rock song with a nice, but dark, rhythm to it which just draws me to it.

#7 – Gundam 00 #2
“Ash Like Snow” by the brilliant green

I’ve never really been all that interested in the Gundam shows in general, but this song certainly has a nice beat and sound to it.

#6 – Tower of Druaga: The Aegis of Uruk
“Swinging” by Muramasa☆

This is an upbeat and rather goofy sounding opening, but it’s really catchy. Past the first episode, it was sadly probably the best part of the show.

#5 – Nabari no Ou
“Crawl” by VELTPUNCH

This opening seems kind of unusual to me. It’s kind of upbeat, but in a kookie sort of way. In any case, I like it.

#4 – True Tears
“Reflectia” by eufonius

If I were going by animation, this would probably be #1. Even so, it still has a very good and compelling song to go along with that animation.

#3 – Someday’s Dreamers: Summer Skies
“fly away” by THYME

The choice between #2 and #3 was pretty tough. This song is an excellent soft rock song and it’s easy to get into the rhythm of the song.

#2 – To Love-Ru
“forever we can make it!” by THYME

Yes, THYME gets both the #2 and #3 spots in the list. As much as I avoided this series like the plague, it does have a very catchy (even if NSFW) opening.

#1 – Gunslinger Girl -Il Teatrino
“Tatta Hitotsu no Omoi” by KOKIA

I think this was, for me, hands down the #1 opening song of 2008. It told you right there that the show was a drama and should be taken seriously (despite the animation flaws in the actual show). I can just sit and listen to this song for hours if I let myself.