Ongoing Investigations: Case #139

I finished the last 4 episodes (9-12) of Sacred Seven today and I feel pretty good about the series. There are some series you watch that make you want to run out and tell everyone how wonderful they are. Then there are series that you enjoy and would recommend but are not that earth shattering. Sacred Seven is distinctly in that second category. But I had a fun time and that is always the most important thing for me. The fights were always vibrant, energetic, and well choreographed. We got a love story, a save my sister in a coma story, and a revenge turned to redemption story. We defeated a bad guy and there were some sad deaths but most everyone made it through. There was even a nice bit of falling action. In refection a bit of the mythology of the Sacred Seven world goes totally unexplained but it is mostly there to set up the story and the fights scenes. It is not like it leaves you with all these unanswered mysteries. It is just that it concentrates more on telling the current story than giving you all the mechanics of how the powers in this world work. With a 12 episode show that is probably for the best. I enjoyed my time with Alma and Ruri and would recommend the show to anyone who wants a bit of light self-contained fun that does not do anything original but does it in an entertaining fashion.

I read one of CMX’s last releases, Stolen Hearts vol. 2, which just made me miss them a lot and lament that this cute series will never be finished. Here we continue the story of Shinobu and Koguma as they further their relationship. Shinobu meets the rest of his family including three handsome brothers with less crazy hair. I really enjoyed her getting to know everyone more and there is a lot of humor thanks to it (the grandmother cracks me up!). I wasn’t crazy about the oldest brother crushing on her and messing with Koguma. But all is made well again when they go on a trip together and experience their first kiss. Stays fun and cute, plus it is nice to see a pair in a relationship.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #135

The BEST series of the year is shaping up to be Mawaru Penguindrum. So far in the first 6 episodes Kunihiko Ikuhara has proven that Utena was not a fluke. The show has stayed as consistently excellent as the first episode and I look forward to a new episode every week. The animation, imagery, and direction remain high quality and imaginative every week. The Rose of Versailles style fantasy imaginary in episode 4 is just scrumptious. Also the laser guided slingshot is both goofy and bass ass at the same time. The plot remains mysterious but we are always getting enough information that we never feel that the show is spinning its wheels. I get the feeling that Ikuhara is more of an “I got this all planned out” sort of guy so it is more a matter of seeing the tale unfold then see him make it up as he goes along.  Kanba and Shoma’s antics in trying to find the Penguindrum are always amusing but retain a creepy vibe without either feeling hurting the other. That said I need to know what is going on with Kanba’s ultra shady deals. Ringo has that same mixture of very funny and very disturbing. I am curious how popular she is among the American and Japanese fans. Narutaki seems to think she would be insanely popular. I cannot disagree. And I know there is more to Himari than meets the eye. She is too innocent for a Ikuhara anime. There has to be more going to with her than you see on the surface. If you don’t have a moral objection to watching fan-subs then you need to watch Mawaru Penguindrum. Otherwise you should get this the second it gets licensed. Because it will get licensed. Fabulous Max!

The most anticipated arc in recent Detective Conan anime TV series was the London case, the 11th OVA happens concurrently featuring Ai and the detective boys back in Japan. It starts as just a cute mystery involving peanutbutter and jelly, a mistaken starlet, and kick the can. But the kids discover kidnappers in an abandoned building and things turn more dangerous when they themselves become trapped. The real treat for this OVA is seeing Ai’s smarts at the forefront since Conan is a world away. Her use of the cellphones as well as the detective boys badges is nicely done. It combines the kid antics at the beginning and a more tense situation later well. The ending has a couple of surprises in store, though nothing too earth shaking. A fun and nice OVA if not remarkable.

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S.W.A.T. Reviews: Summer 2011

Four years into the blog has taught us, to a degree, what works and what needs changing. When we started the blog the season reviews were some of the most popular posts but as time went on we have seen a distinct decline in interest. A large part of that has to do with Anime News Network now doing a seasonal review and in a very timely fashion. In response, we sat down to decide how to revamp the seasonal review to stay relevant. Our idea is to do micro-podcasts instead of a whole article. The premise behind the S.W.A.T. (Season Watching Anime Taskforce) reviews is simple: watch the first episode of a series and then immediately sit down a record a review podcast. The reviews are five- to ten-minutes long and entirely off the cuff. The reviews have been going up on Anime3000 but in case you missed them there we collected them here for your listening pleasure.

Blade: We review the classic tale of a half-vampire VS. vampires. Now with extra Marvel/Madhouse blandness.

Blood-C: We review the OTHER vampire vs vampires anime. Now with CLAMP. Which sadly does not help.

Bunny Drop: We review the tale of an ace sniper and pathological lair who is a brave captain of the sea. Sorry. That is Usopp Drop.

Croisee in a Foreign Labyrinth: We review (up soon!) an anime about France that is not The Rose of Versailles. We are as shocked as you are.

God’s Notebook: We review the spiffy keen NEET detective agency. The main character is a Speaker for the Dead.

The IDOLM@STER: We review a show about idols in training that is better than you would think it would be. That does not make it good.

Mawaru Penguindrum: We review the new Kunihiko Ikuhara anime. In fact, we are wondering why you are not watching this RIGHT NOW!

Mayo Chiki!: We review what proves that on all lives a little rain must fall. If you watch this, there shall be a downpour of sadness on your heart.

The Mystic Archives of Dantalian: We review (up soon!) the autobiography of Otaku USA’s Caleb Dunaway.

No. 6: We review the most obtuse remaking of Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner.

Sacred Seven: We review (up soon!) a Tokusatsu show cleverly disguised as an anime. But with maids, butlers, mecha, and Greek mythology.

Uta no Prince-sama Maji Love 1000%: We review a show about idols in training that is better than you would think it would be. But is also actually good. We cannot forget to mention: Norio Wakamoto. ‘Nuff said.

Yuruyuri: We review a show of boy-friendly lesbians in training that is just as bad as you would think it would be.