Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Darker Than Black Episodes 15 and 16: Memories of Betrayal in an Amber Smile

In case the picture didn't make it obvious, this story arc marks the triumphant return of November 11. He didn't get quite as much screen time as I would've liked, but he's still such an enjoyable character, and I loved every minute of it that I got.

The story seems to be heading in a bit of a different direction, and with that new direction comes a new opening and closing theme. I always have a hard time adjusting to new themes, but I'm very intrigued by the animation in the new opening. I wonder if it'll turn out to be at all spoiler-tastic. Openings do tend to be full of spoilers.

Things have really kicked into high gear by this point. My jaw dropped several times at the events in this episode, and I can't wait to see the impact that some things have had. It was so hard not starting up the next episode immediately after finishing this one. I still have so much I want to find out, and at this point in the series, that's a pretty perfect place to be.

Rating: 92/100


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Darker Than Black Episodes 13 and 14: A Heart Unswaying on the Water's Surface

At long last, we get a Yui centric episode, and it was well worth the wait. This was a really lovely episode, in more ways than one. There were some beautifully animated scenes, wonderful, touching writing, and some of the best music I've heard in this series so far. If you're a fan of piano music, I really recommend trying to track the music from this episode down. It's exquisite.

This episode introduced some interesting new characters and brought back some that I wasn't expecting to see again. While I didn't laugh at them as much as I did the first time, I felt that they worked better in small doses overall. I hope that they sneak them in again sometime, even if it's just for a scene or two.

While the series has been full of sad scenes, this episode really brought out the waterworks for me. The more stirring scenes really made me appreciate how well they've developed the characters thus far. They managed to be sad in a subtle way and without being at all emotionally manipulative. I really love that this show has turned out to be so character driven and isn't just another fun action show, and I hope it continues on that path.

Rating: 95/100


Darker Than Black Episodes 11 and 12: When One Takes Back what was Lost Within the Wall

As soon as I saw this story arc's title, I knew it was going to be a good one. This was a bit of a change of pace from the usual missions we've seen The Syndicate take on, and was full of fascinating information about the strange version of the world that Darker than Black takes place in. This is another character backstory centric episode of well, with more of the blanks being filled in about Li.

This episode had a wonderful creepy and mysterious tone that the series hasn't had much of so far, and I really enjoyed it. There was a minor story arc that I found distracting and a bit annoying, but the episode had some really terrific moments in it, and really got me psyched up for all the things that the series still has to come.

The music in the episode was beautiful as always, and there was a tiny little moment at the end that I really loved. I think I've gotten to the point where I'm pretty attached to these characters. Knowing that there's a second season starting next month gives me some hope that they'll all be okay, but you never know with anime. Here's hoping I don't have any big watershed moments coming up soon.

Rating: 92/100


Monday, September 28, 2009

Darker Than Black Episodes 9 and 10: The White Dress Stained with the Girl's Dreams and Blood

The backstory driven story arcs continue with Darker than Black's ninth and tenth episodes. This time Misaki is the one to get the spotlight, though Saito and Kanami get some nice moments as well. The syndicate is once again barely in the episode, with only Li getting any real screentime. I've enjoyed learning more about other characters, but I'm hoping to get back to more stuff like what I saw in episodes 5 and 6 soon, or better yet, some Yin or Huang centric stories. While I'm making a wishlist, I might as well add that I can't wait to see November 11 again either.

I'm not sure if my expectations for this show have gotten too high or not, because while I did enjoy this arc, it just doesn't feel like it was as good as some of the earlier episodes were. I'm not complaining yet, exactly, because I do feel like this arc in particular will probably make some of the earlier episodes even better upon re-watching, but I feel like I got so pumped up about this show and haven't gotten a really epic episode since. Here's hoping I don't have long to wait.

There was some lovely music in this one, and the new characters were intriguing and well done, as always. I hope to see more of Li and Misaki together soon- they make a fun pair.

Rating: 89/100


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Darker Than Black Episodes 5 and 6: Red Giant Over Eastern Europe; Episodes 7 and 8: The Scent of Gardenias Lingers in the Summer Rain

I'm sorry that I've fallen a little behind with this. I've had a busy week and it was just hard to find the time to sit down and really pay attention to something. Since I had a bit more time today, I decided to go for break and knock out four episodes at once. So first off, episodes 5 and 6.

I really, really loved this story arc. I've been enjoying the series up until now, but this is when I feel like I was really sold on the series. These episodes manage to really move the story forward while introducing some intriguing new characters who I felt were really well written. It reminded me a bit of Cowboy Bebop around episode 6, where the story really starts to pick up.

Speaking of Cowboy Bebop, it's worth mentioning that the music in this series is terrific, and it's done by Yoko Kanno. I'm not particularly into anime music, so if I feel like it's comment worthy, tha'ts saying something. It's nice to know that the two series share something outside of pacing.

In case you couldn't tell, I was a tremendous fan of these two and I was sad to see them finished. I can't wait to see more like this, and more of some of these characters.

Rating: 95/100

Now, onto episodes 6 and 7!

As the above image might suggest, this was a pretty big departure from the series thus far.  I feel like I'm being harder than this story arc than I should due to the awesomeness of the last one. A good part of these episodes was genuinely hilarious, and I laughed a plenty, but it's just not what I felt like seeing after getting all caught up in the story.

These two episodes revolve almost entirely around characters we've never seen before and I imagine we'll never see again, although I could be wrong. It's definitely going for a humorous filler feel, and as I said before, there were a lot of great jokes. The first episode is a lot stronger than the second one, and it goes from silly to just plain weird.

In case you're thinking of skipping this one, I did want to say that there is a little backstory for Mao in this arc, so if you don't want to miss that, don't miss these. And hey, if you like fan service, it's got that too.

Rating: 82/100


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cowboy Bebop Live-action News

According to Keanu Reeves, the script for the live-action adaptation of Cowboy Bebop is currently being rewritten. Keanu was quoted as saying "There's a draft of the script, but the writer did such a great job [that] in order to make the movie, you would need half a billion dollars. […] So the studio went, 'This movie is fantastic and it would cost half a billion dollars. So he's doing a rewrite."

Keanu Reeves is slated to star in the upcoming film.


Monday, September 21, 2009

New English Dubs Announced

William Winkler Production have announced several new dubs in the works. The titles announced are:

  • Gaiking
  • Gaiking II
  • Gaiking III
  • Danguard Ace
  • Danguard Ace II
  • Danguard Ace III
  • Space Pirate Captain Harlock
  • Space Pirate Captain Harlock II
  • The Adventures of Nadja
  • The Adventures of Nadja II
  • Fist of the North Star - The Shin Saga
  • Fist of the North Star - The Ray Saga
  • Fist of the North Star - The Souther Saga
  • Fist of the North Star - The Toki Saga
  • Fist of the North Star - The Raul Saga
  • Fist of the North Star - The Kaioh Saga
  • Starzinger
  • Starzinger II
  • Starzinger III
  • Lun Lun The Flower Girl
  • Lun Lun The Flower Girl II
  • Kitaro's Graveyard Gang
  • Kitaro's Graveyard Gang II

No release dates have been announced.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Darker Than Black Episodes Three and Four: A New Star Shines In the Dawn Sky

Darker Than Black continues on a good path with its third and fourth episodes. It seems to have a pretty consistent formula thus far, and feels pretty episodic, but there've been enough info dumps that I think there might be some interesting long term plots coming up soon.

My hopes that the pacing would improve as the series progressed seem to be fulfilled so far. These episodes didn't have any of the lags that the previous two seemed to have, and I felt like overall I was more drawn into the story of this episode. There is more gore and violence in these episodes than in the previous ones as well.

Ultimately, I really enjoyed this story arc. I wish we could have seen more of the secondary characters from the first two episodes, but they did a great job with the new characters that were introduced, and it had some really great emotional moments. I'm really enjoying this series so far and look forward to what comes next.

Score: 89/100


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Darker Than Black Episodes One and Two: The Fallen Star of a Contract

Darker Than Black is a supernatural and action filled anime that premiered in Japan in 2007. It's based on a popular manga of the same name. The second season of Darker Than Black is coming out this October, and I wanted to recap it a bit for anyone new to the series.

Without going into spoiler territory, Darker Than Black is set in a world full of superpowered beings called contractors. In spite of the fantastical premise, the show does a good job of making its world feel grounded in the real one- or at least it has thus far.

The opening two-parter gets off to a strong start, but a word of warning for the faint of heart- I was wincing in pain within the first 5 minutes. While not an excessively gory show, the violent moments definitely make an impact and might scare some viewers away. The obligatory exposition dump was well handled and didn't feel unnatural. All the characters I've seen so far are well designed and have great voices.

However, there were problems with the pacing in the middle of each episode. Although I was at the edge of my seat for the beginning and ending of each episode, there were also times where I was a bit bored with the show and didn't feel particularly involved in what is going on. This was more of a problem in the first episode than the second, so hopefully, the series is just finding its footing and it'll be less of a problem the further I get.

Ultimately, after I finished each episode I immediately wanted to start up the episode; and to me, that means the show doing pretty well. It had some decent plot twists, and has already introduced a few mysteries. For the time being, I'll absolutely keep on watching this show.

Rating: 85/100


Monday, September 14, 2009

On sequels, spinoffs, and OVAS

A large portion of the Fall 2009 anime schedule is either a sequel, a reimagining, or a spin-off. Here's a complete sequel/other stuff list.

  • Darker Than Black: Ryūsei no Gemini (sequel)
  • A Certain Scientific Railgun (spinoff)
  • White Album (sequel)
  • Natsu no Arashi! (sequel)
  • Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu: Purezza (sequel)
  • Queen's Blade (sequel)
  • Shin Koihime†Musou (sequel)
  • Asura Cryin' (sequel)
  • Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu (sequel)
  • Inyuyasha Final Act (sequel)
  • Stitch! 2 (reimagining)
  • Battle Spirits (sequel)
  • Kiddy Girl-and (spinoff)
  • Tentai Senshi Sunred (sequel)
I'm not going to even attempt following some of these (Inyuyasha, I'm looking at you), but I'll check out at least a few of them. Since most of the upcoming Fall shows won't air until October, I was thinking of going ahead and blogging one or two of the first seasons of shows I am likely to cover. I don't know if I'll finish them before the show starts, but I can try, and either way, it can give people an idea of what the previous season was like. If I do this, I'll probably start with Darker than Black.
    There are also many OVAs coming out this Fall. There's a list of them here. The only one I plan on covering so far is Shakugan no Shana S, but my mind may change. Again, let me know if anything looks really interesting.



    What? Start a new project when I already have a million things to do? Sure, that sounds awesome!

    If you're reading this at this point, you probably already know me. If you don't, hey there! My name is Mandi- aka The Masked Ndi- and I like to watch and write about anime. I am currently planning on recapping and reviewing series from the upcoming Fall 2009 anime season. If you'd like to see all the shows that are airing this season, check out this awesome link here.

    My gameplan is to:

    • Write about every upcoming series that interests me
    • Write about every upcoming series that interests anyone reading this
    • Write about every upcoming series that gets good reviews

    If a series is so bad or boring that I can't stand to watch it anymore, I'll drop it. Until then, I'll post a brief, mostly spoiler-free, summary of each episode, and grade the episode a score out of 100. When a series completes, I'll do a review of the entire series with its own letter grade. Hopefully this will turn people on to lots of neat new anime they might have never checked out before.

    As of right now, I'm planning on checking out just about every new series, but if there's something you absolutely want me to cover, please let me know either here or elsewhere.

    Thanks for reading! Let's enjoy the Fall 2009 anime season!


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