6 Mar 2011

Anime Weekly 5

A short post every Sunday, 9pm (I hope!) summarizing what I've watched in the past 7 days. Notable episodes this week have a (*) beside the episode number.

Star Driver 21

And Star Driver is back to being... kinda boring. It started out with nice animation and an interesting (though not well explained) premise. A few episodes here and there moved the plot on nicely, while the slice-of-life stuff was enjoyable. I really liked the whole Mizuno arc and how it ended, but for the most part Star Driver tends to lose focus. A few key things happened this episode: The lesbians are finally leaving, fish girl gets more screen time and hints of back story, and Wako seems to have finally decided to choose Takuto. While these plot points are by no means small, it only serves to develop the main plot slightly. We only have 5 episodes left and the creators seem to be holding back on the awesomely animated battles, more plot revelation, and tons more potential. They need to step up their game!

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica 9

Well, it was a good run. Madoka 9 simply couldn't match up to the awesomeness of episode 6, 7, and 8. This does not mean that it was bad though. Far from it. It's just that my expectations for this series had skyrocketed after 3 weeks of consecutive epicness. Gen seemed to have forced some explanations into this episode's script though. While Kyubey's theory was interesting, it seemed a bit heavy-handed to lecture the audience like that. Couldn't he have weaved it into the story a bit? Reveal some aspects of Kyubey's species by showing others of his kind? Also, the direction of this episode wasn't that great. The build up to the battle scene at the end could have done with more dramatic pacing and camera angles. This episode has some really nice visuals (on par with the sweets hospital in episode 3), but the camera did not take full advantage of it, making the scene feel kind of flat. The music and sound direction was awesome though. Sounds of a full string orchestra (or just many violins) in a large hall set the perfect sound stage for the fight.

From here on out, it'll be the action and drama driving this show (and not the shock factor), and I'm not sure if that would work out well. Still, episodes 4 and 5 do show really good drama, so there's some promise.

Wandering Son 7 (*)

And just when I started complaining about the lack of drama, this episode comes in and moves the plot along in leaps and bounds! First thing that struck me was how much more mature the characters looked without differing from their original character designs. The opening narration seems to suggest that they are now in their 2nd year of Middle school (the anime started in their first year). Puberty is starting to hit hard on the students and Nitori gets his first pimple. Once again, the creators throw the characters into a situation and we get to see how all the characters react. Chiba was being the typical Chiba. Takatsuki was pretty subtle at first, but it soon became obvious how she felt about it all. The character drawings and animation are really amazing in this episode. A lot of attention was paid to the clothes, hair, and poses, as evident by the image of Chiba above this paragraph.

Though it's now as dramatic as it first started, I'm liking the direction this series is taking at the moment. Feels like a really good 26 or 38 episode series, but the harsh reality of this being shoe-boxed into a 11 episode run makes me sad... and wondering how the hell a series like this would end. Would have been great in the 50-100+ episode format that past drama animes like Maison Ikkoku, Touch, and Hana Yori Dango, but alas, we will never see such a format return to today's cut-throat TV anime industry.

Judging by the episode preview, we might be getting ANOTHER time skip. Spring means the start of the new term, so unless they are referring to the current timeline's spring of 2nd year, I think we might be skipping an entire year. It's hard to believe the creators would do such a large skip, especially when a new relationship just formed probably a month or 2 into their 2nd year, but Takatsuki's longer hair and the introduction of that new blonde-haired guy seems to suggest otherwise. Really really looking forward to seeing how things turn out!

This season, Madoka and Wandering Son took turns being awesome, so there wasn't any slow week at all. It has been a great season for both those shows, and all they need now is a good ending. For Madoka, we have 3 more episodes (12 in total), and the end of episode 9 has already set the final stage. It seems like there's nothing else EXCEPT the final boss (Walpurgis Night) left. On the other hand, Wandering Son has 4 more episodes (11 in total), and it could go absolutely anywhere with it, given the creator's aggressive time skips. Of course, there's also Star Driver, which has 5 more episode. This actually gives me time to write a full review for each of these series per week, if studies don't interfere. We'll see.

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