Series Roundup: Winter 2009 Anime

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I’d rather do individual posts for a lot of these series, but I just realized this week that I have a crapload of schoolwork to get done in the month and a half that I have left, and the spring shows have already begun to air.  Many shows were continuations from the fall season, but I have to say that this was probably the best winter season of anime that I’ve watched in a while.

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Birdy the Mighty Decode Season 2 – I’m still only up to Episode 9, but this season’s plot is a lot more interesting than the first.  It helps that the relationship issues tangle around Birdy and Nataru instead of Senkawa and Nakasugi.  On a side note, it’s weird that I didn’t like Nakasugi, because Maaya Sakamoto is her VA and I pretty much love any role that Maaya takes.  Anyhow, it was cool to see Birdy’s past and Violin’s battle was certainly able to stir some emotions within me.  I think this season’s plot was darker than the first, and some of Nataru’s killing methods were rough enough to make me feel awkward (even though Mnemoysne did nothing to me).  I look forward to finishing this out, and hope that Birdy gets somewhat of a happy ending.

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Gundam 00 Season 2 – Ho boy, where do I start with this…  Well this is definitely one of my favorite Gundam series, and Tieria is one of my all time favorite characters.  That said, 00’s plot had some focus issues this season.  It wasn’t as bad as Code Geass‘s trainwreck, but storylines seemed to jump all over the place.  Let’s point out a few:

Tieria and Lockon – At the beginning of the season, we had Tieria’s “He’s not the same Lockon” snarky kind of comment.  They could have developed that into a back and forth problem with Lyle teasing Tieria and Tieria sniping back at him.  Not to mention Lockon’s whole issue with Innovators that normally should have started a problem once Tieria’s secret came out.  And then at the last battle, it was obvious that Tieria was going out of his way to protect Lockon.

Marina – Are you kidding me?  You’re going to fill up a third of the episodes with Marina’s ramblings just for her to be like “I gots kids now, and mah throne back.  The end~”?  Bitch better not show up in the movie or I’ll throw a tantrum.  Plus her whole magical loli singing group was more annoying than anything.  Although it looks like a real world version of her has showed up:

The Palestinian youths from the tough West Bank refugee camp stood facing the elderly Holocaust survivors Wednesday, appearing somewhat defiant in a teenage sort of way. Then they began to sing.

The choir burst into songs for peace, bringing surprised smiles from the audience. But the event had another twist: Most of the Holocaust survivors did not know the youths were Palestinians from the West Bank, a rare sight in Israel these days. And the youths had no idea they were performing for people who lived through Nazi genocide — or even what the Holocaust was. (More at http://tinyurl.com/cgjst9)

Graham – Or Captain Weeaboo, whichever.  Watching his over the top Japanese obsession the season was pretty much like second-hand embarrassment.  But Graham’s still a great fighter and it’s ridiculous that he was left out of the final battle.  It can be easily assumed that he’ll show up in the movie, but if Kataron could survive the final battle, Graham could have, too.

Tieria – Okay, so pretty much everyone gets a bittersweet or good ending, except Tieria gets the crappiest ending out of all of them.  It was obviously important for Tieria to take over control of Veda, but I don’t see why he can’t just conjure up another body like Ribbons did.  I’ll assume that’s what he’ll do for the movie but I don’t know why he has to sit around in limbo until then.  Another theory I have relates with his ability to talk to the dead (Regene).  Maybe he can do the same with the regular dead, aka hot soul secksin’ with old Lockon.

All in all I’m looking forward to the movie, and I’m glad that things won’t be over for a least a year.

Kurokami – Eeeeeeeh.  If this was a twelve episode series, I would have been able to easily deal with it.  But things are only halfway done right now, and it’s just painful to watch.  Kuro and Keita are just so weak that it’s pitiful.  I would have rather watched a series about Steiner and Excel, but he’s fucking dead now.  This’ll probably just be a series that I check out when there aren’t any releases out for the other shows I watch.

Michiko and Hatchin –  The wonderful thing about this show is that they never tried to soften up the fates of the characters.  Many stories will give you this hokey, sappy ending that either relies on deux-ex-machina techniques or fairytale elements.  But just look at Pepe and her daughter from episode four:  they give this buildup that they’ll be able to escape from their bad lifestyle only for Pepe to meet her end by a firing squad.  The ending almost seemed like a cliffhanger, and in most other shows, the next episode would start with the characters jumping out of the way of the bullets or some precisely timed object being thrown in between to block the shots.  But that was the end.  Pepe’s dead and her daughter either met the same end or will grow up forced into the same situation that Pepe was.  And as shitty and oversaid as it is, that’s life.  More times than not, shittastic stuff is going to happen in our lives, and hopefully we can learn to overcome like Michiko and Hatchin.

I think the most frustrating thing was Michiko’s lack of responsibillity and respect when it came to Hatchin.  Normally you’d expect the child to be the one with the attitude problems but Michiko spent a majority of the series just using Hatchin as an excuse.  It’s really crappy when you think about it because if Michiko had really got back with Hiroshi, it would have been expected that she’d become Hatchin’s mom.  Even at the end, I’m not sure that Michiko came back as a mom figure or more just as a kinship kind of bond.

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Oh and apparently Atsuko found work after this series in Ciara’s new music video.

I was surprised that Hatchin got knocked up and left by herself.  It’s great that she has better mothering skills than Michiko, but somehow I thought she’d be able to avoid a situation like that.  I guess it’s just another “That’s life” moment.  On a last note, I’m always a sucker for when animators use parallel imagery to come full circle in a story.  It was cool that Hatchin and her daughter showed up in a truck to meet Michiko on a road, just like Hatchin always imagined Hiroshi would do for her.  Lastly, I recommend getting the soundtrack for this series.  I’m hoping that there’s a second one that’ll come out because that cool song from the last episode isn’t on the first OST.

Rideback –  This was a very good series that, from the eyes of someone who hasn’t read the original material, could have stood for an additional twelve episodes.  Throughout the show, it felt like things would move to battlefields and the rest of the world.  It’s also a shame that Rin never embraced Rideback battles, like Revi from Black Lagoon would.   But Rin was a dancer first and formost, and it’s good that she was able to reclaim her dream.  Too bad Suzuri had to die for it.  Oh, and I love how that sneaky GGP bitch stole Kiefer’s thunder when she killed Romanof.  That was a total plot hole since they never explained why she did it.

Sora wo Kakeru Shoujo – Meh. Meh. Meh.  The plot needs some ADHD medicine and all the penis/balls innuendo jokes are getting old.  The baseball episode was an especially large waste of TV airtime, and it would have been better for a DVD only release.  Like Kurokami, I’ll watch this when there’s nothing else out.

Tales of the Abyss – Predictable and redundant, but overall alright.  Jade was probably my favorite and I’d rather see a series of him doing mad science type stuff.

Toradora – Cute and funny.  The biggest fault was Minorin, who was just a fucking eyesore once she got all emo and then crazy on everyone.  Ami definitely should have had more screen time than Minorin, but it looks like she was just a red herring in the end and wasn’t really interested in being Takasu’s girlfriend.

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Viper’s Creed – Wow, Ulla gave either the worst or best emo facial distortion when he got shot.  He’s like one of those characters that reverts to a childlike stage whenever they get hurt (think of the guy from the movie Death Proof).  Oh, and WHAT A SURPRISE, HARUKI’S ALIVE.  It’s pretty much written in the Anime Bible that a character rarely dies unless their dead body is shown (and even then revival is a possibility).  I’m bummed that Saki had to do the whole “drive off into the sunset” gig, but he’ll find his way back to Sakurako someday.  Oh but how badass was she this episode?  She drives like she’s in the Fast and the Furious and then pulls out that rocket launcher to save the day.

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Zoku Natsume Yuujinchou – Third season, please?  Pretty please?  This season was so much better and I think it’s because he had a larger group of people to connect with socially.  There was also a lot more action to balance out the tons of dialogue.  I don’t know if there’s more material from the manga that could be animated, but I feel like things were just starting to get rolling with the arrival of the Matoba group.  If you haven’t bought it yet, get the soundtrack for this season.  It has most of the songs that were present in the first season, but were missing from the first OST.

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