Saturday, October 31, 2009

Darker Than Black II, Episode 3: Vanishing Into the Snow Field

At long last, I've been able to get to the third episode of Darker Than Black II. Given the ending of the last episode, I was going a bit crazy not being able to see what happened next. Luckily, this episode managed to live up to all of my expectations.

I'm not sure exactly what direction I expected this season of Darker Than Black to take, but it definitely wasn't this one. I was genuinely shocked at many of the events of this episode. There was also at least one surprise I saw coming, but I was thrilled to see it all the same. Maybe it's because I'm already invested in so many of the series' characters, but I feel a whole lot more involved in the show's mysteries this season. I'm aching for just a glimpse of what happened in the time between season one and this one. I hope to get to see that soon.

I am thrilled with this season of Darker Than Black. I almost can't believe how good it is. From the excitement of the action scenes to how powerfully the show can convey emotion, just about everything about this season seems right. I can't wait to keep watching.

Also, a note to those of you who stop watching once the ending theme starts: this episode features an additional scene after the credits.

Rating: 96/100


Sasameki Koto, Episode 3: First Kiss

We've now reached the third episode of the yuri romance anime Sasameki Koto. This episode calls back to the scene we saw at the beginning of the very first episode, and, as the episode title may suggest, has some discussion of first kisses. Sumika continues to be a really entertaining character in this one, while Ushio continues to be extremely dense when it comes to Sumika's feelings towards her.

Ultimately, I think that's my problem with Sasameki Koto. I'm not rooting for Sumika and Ushio to get together at all. I'd rather see Sumika get over Ushio and find an awesome girl who really likes her for who she is. I'm not familiar with the Sasameki Koto manga, so maybe I'm supposed to feel that way, I don't know. It's just leaving me really frustrated.

I am enjoying this show, and it's doing a lot of things I'd like to see more yuri anime doing. I just feel like something's wrong with me if I don't want to see the main characters of a show like this together. I'm not going to be really disappointed if this does turn out to be a more conventional show and Ushio and Sumika eventually do get coupled up, but it would be really neat if this show was doing something different.

Rating: 84/100


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Kobato, Episode 4: When the Green Leaves Flourish

It's strange to think I'm already on episode four of Kobato. It feels like I've seen maybe half that. I suppose that's a testament to how much I enjoy this show- I always want to watch more, so I convince myself I've seen less of it than I actually have.

This episode continued the crossover trend from the last one. The whole storyline actually had a very Tsubasa Chronicles feel to me, really. There weren't any action scenes or shounen anime style cliffhangers, but seeing characters happy in a new universe like this is something I associate strongly with that show. I didn't like this one quite as much as the last one, but it still had everything I like about Kobato. The comedy is great, Kobato is adorable, and every episode is full of heartwarming moments.

I liked the hint of another side to Fujimoto we got in the episode, and I'm really excited to see more of him in the future. There was also a bit of a game changer introduced in this episode that I think can only mean good things for Kobato's upcoming storylines. I believe the Kobato manga is still ongoing, so I hope this means that Kobato has a good chance of getting a second season. 24 episodes of this won't be enough for me.

Rating: 93/100


The Book of Bantorra, Episode 3: A Bomb, a Human, and the Sickness of a God of Death

book of bantorra
The Book of Bantorra's third bomb titled episode picks up almost right where the last one left off. Hamyuts Meseta is great is this episode, as anyone who watched the last one might have expected. She was probably the character I was least interested in in this anime's premiere episode, but they've really developed her well since then and I find her to be pretty intriguing.

Though The Book of Bantorra is now on its third episode, the anime still feels a bit disjointed and off. This series has always had some moments of greatness, and I thought that this episode was particularly strong when the events we'd seen in a book interconnected with the events in the present, but thanks to the still slightly jarbled storytelling, I'm having a hard time getting into it. I'm starting to lose hope that this will change, and it's frustrating as the show is pretty great aside from that.

No matter how much I may complain about this series, there is still always a lot to like about it, and I'm really not willing to give up on it. Maybe the storytelling is a bit clunky and uneven, but the actual story that's being told is great, and that makes the show's less than stellar moments more acceptable. I'm hoping that when I've seen all the pieces that The Book of Bantorra has to offer, the anime will be a much better experience so that I can truly enjoy it when I rewatch.

If you'd like to watch this anime free online, head over to crunchyroll

Rating: 80/100


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Seitokai no Ichizon, Episode 3: The Interviewed Student Council

Seitokai no Ichizon, the student council based referential comedy show, continues onto its third episode. This one mixes things up a bit by introducing a new character- another cute anime girl, of course. Fans of the show need not worry about the routine getting messed up, however. The show remains the same in spite of this.

This episode had a really nice running gag and a few really quotable lines, but it was pretty much the same thing that we've been in the last two episodes. Given the nature of the show I'm not sure I should really expect any development- the status quo remaining as is is pretty par for the course with this type of comedy. I'm just starting to get bored with some aspects of this anime, which makes it hard to keep interested when the other shows are just starting to get more interesting.

I never could get really into Lucky Star, so maybe I'm just not cut out for this type of comedy. I'm still entertained by Seitokai no Ichizon and I'll keep watching it, but if I feel the need to cut a show, this one is sadly the one that'll probably be the one to go. I just feel like I've probably seen most of what this anime has to offer. I hope next week's episode will change my mind.

Rating: 77/100


Monday, October 26, 2009

Kimi ni Todoke, Episode 3: After School

I'm now up to the third episode of Kimi ni Todoke. So far I've really enjoyed this anime in spite of it being a romance show, but after this episode, I'm concerned I might not be able to enjoy it as much for long. It looks like certain shoujo manga tropes are about to come up, I'd really prefer it if they didn't. I hope I'm wrong and the show goes in a different direction than what I think it's going to go into.

Overall I did enjoy this episode, although it wasn't quite as good as the last one. I didn't feel like the humor in this episode was as natural as the humor in episode two, but this episode did do some things I was really hoping to see the show do. I just hope this anime keeps up its slice-of-life feeling rather than descending into melodrama.

I certainly can't see myself dropping Kimi ni Todoke even if it does get a lot more dramatic. I'm pretty invested in the characters at this point, and I want to see how things turn out for them. I really hope I can keep enjoying the show and keep on rooting for Sawako to be happy.

Rating: 88/100


Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Sacred Blacksmith, Episode 3: Demon Blade -Sword-

sacred blacksmith aria

The Sacred Blacksmith's third episode starts off pretty similarly to how the last one did, but this time the anime managed to pique my interest right from the start. I was worried that things would fizzle after the introduction, but the show managed to stay strong throughout. This episode is a huge step up from the last one in just about every direction, and I really enjoyed it overall.

I wasn't a big fan of Cecily as a character prior to this, but they really gave her some nice development and I'll hopefully be able to enjoy her from now on. There were also some excellent additions to the show's cast, as well as some nice call backs to The Sacred Blacksmith's first episode. There are a lot of interesting story elements going on right now and I hope they can make good use of them.

I have to say, after last week's episode, I was pretty convinced that I'd be dropping The Sacred Blacksmith. However, the show really managed to pull it together with this one and I finally feel somewhat invested in the plot. However, my number one complaint- that the show feels like you're watching an RPG video game- still stands. I have a flash cart coming for my DS later this week. We'll see if The Sacred Blacksmith can hold my interest when I have some real RPGs to play.

Rating: 82/100


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Nyan Koi!, Episode 3: What's Your Name?

Junpei's potential harem continues to expand in the third episode of Nyan Koi. This one lets us see some more characters from the anime's OP, but still manages to give ample screentime to the characters who have already been introduced. This episode didn't feel like it really had that much of a plot to me, but I still enjoyed it all the same.

I really liked that Junpei managed to help out more than one cat in this episode. I was slightly annoyed that it was taking him so long to complete each task prior to this, considering how many tasks he's supposed to fufill to prevent cat-dom. Seeing more of the cats was just great in general really, since they make for such good comedy.

Nyan Koi! continues to be an entertaining comedy. It's not anything really special or a must-see, but it makes me laugh. I'm happy to see what's in store for this series.

Rating: 86/100


Friday, October 23, 2009

Kobato, Episode Three: The Rain`s Gift.

Kobato continues to be wonderful in its first episode. This episode was hilarious as ever, and while it continued to follow Kobato's established theme of her healing hearts, they really managed to make it feel different from the previous episodes. The Tsubasa Chronicles-style cameos in this episode didn't hurt either.

As the above picture shows, Kobato gets a change of clothes this episode, which is nice. I always really enjoy the outfits CLAMP does for their characters, and I look forward to more wardrobe changes. This episode had a really uniquely CLAMP feel all over, and not just because of the cameos. There were some really nice stills that really showed off the CLAMP art style, and the show got a little dose of the sort of intrigue that they slowly trickle into their sweet stories. I think I'm going to have to track down some art for this show after this episode.

It's hard for me to say whether Kobato or Darker Than Black II is my favorite show this season. I really look forward to both and have loved every episode I've seen. Were I to make a top 3 shows of the season list, I imagine these two would have to share the number one spot, and the rest of this season's anime would have to battle it out for spot number three.

Rating: 95/100


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sasameki Koto, Episode Two: Cute People

In the second episode of Sasameki Koto, Ushio obsesses over a magazine featuring girls in lolita-style fashions. Meanwhile, Sumika Murasame is troubled over her percieved lack of cuteness. However, there's at least one person who thinks that Murasame is cute.

I enjoyed this episode quite a bit more than the first one. Ushio was a lot more likable to me this time around. It's nice to see a girl who is just generally into girls rather than the one true love stuff that's pretty typical of yuri. I also liked the subplot introduced this week. I hope that they do a lot more with it, because I think it can make for some interesting stories.

Overall, Sasameki Koto is shaping up to be a pretty good yuri anime. I hope that this series continues to improve week to week and becomes a good anime in its own right. Right now, I'd only recommend this show to fans of yuri, but that may change with time.

Rating: 85/100


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Book of Bantorra, Episode Two: Bombs, a Princess and a Gray Town

 The Book of Bantorra, a show about armed librarians in a world where the dead become books, continues onto its second episode. The show still has a hectic and unfocused feeling, but I did feel like this anime improved a little in that department. They seem to be benefiting from the information dump that happened in the last episode, and I hope that the show continues to improve because of that.

The premise of this show gets more interesting the further the show gets into it, and I really want to like this one more than I do. I said above that I think this one may be improving, but I'm really not sure how much of that is wishful thinking. There were definitely some great moments in both this episode and the last one, and I feel like there is so much potential for greatness here.

Right now, I feel as though I could take or leave The Book of Bantorra, but I'm really rooting for it. It'll be a waste if this doesn't turn out to be a decent show. It certainly isn't unwatchable, so for now, I'll keep tuning in and hoping that the show will keep getting better.

Rating: 79/100


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Seitokai no Ichizon, Episode Two: The Studying Student Council

On we continue with the student council anime, Seitokai no Ichizon. Unsurprisingly, the second episode, The Studying Student Council, involves one of the main characters trying to study for mid-term exams, though people shouldn't expect the show to be very different from the first episode because of that. It is still full of the same sort of humor and conversational tangents as the previous episode.

Like the first episode of , the anime's second episode takes place almost entirely inside of the student council meeting room. It has much of the first episode's same referential humor, though I think this one had a few jokes that just about anyone could laugh at. I noticed while watching this time that Seitokai no Ichizon has a lot of jokes that fall flat, but because they're generally fired rapidly one after another, I still get regular laughs. I felt there were a few things that dragged on too long in this one, though. I preferred the wider variety we got in the premiere of the series.

I don't feel great about Seitokai no Ichizon, but it entertains. I've checked out most of the shows of this season and I don't think I'll be picking too many other shows up, so I'll probably keep following this one for awhile. If my schedule starts to get crowded, though, this will probably be one of the first shows to go. I don't mind watching it at all, but I don't think I would miss it if it was gone.

Rating: 73/100


Monday, October 19, 2009

Kimi ni Todoke, Episode Two: Seat Change

Kimi ni Todoke's second episode picks up a little ways after the first one left off. I've never read the manga that this show was adapted from, but it really felt like a volume to volume transition. It didn't bother me in the slightest, but I'm curious about whether the show will continue on like that, and how the manga is actually paced. I'll have to track it down and read it sometime soon.

I mentioned in my post about the first episode that the art style on Kimi ni Todoke was a bit off-putting. I feel like I really need to clarify here- the way the characters are drawn bothers me a bit, but the backgrounds on this show are absolutely stunning. I tried to feature a picture for this episode that illustrated just how gorgeous they are, but it really doesn't do it justice. I think I'm adjusting to the art style of this show a bit as well, or maybe I'm just enjoying it so much that I don't really care. This was another terrific episode, and I feel like I might get sucked into the show's romance in spite of themselves. There were several really great little things they did that made me want to root for these characters, Kazehaya in particular.

I am concerned that this series is going to get a little bit repetitive after a while. The heartwarming moments in this episode and the last were very well done, but there was a lot that was similar about them. Hopefully my concerns in that department are completely unfounded. I'm really enjoying this one.

Rating: 90/100


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Seitokai no Ichizon Episode One: The Chatting Away Student Council

Seitokai no Ichizon is another comedy show to add to this season's pile. This one is a self-referential comedy that centers around a private school's student council. The council is made up of 4 cute girls, who won their spots through a popularity vote, and their one male member, Ken Sugisaki, who got in by being at the top of his class. Sugisaki is an avid fan of bishoujo games and has dubbed the ladies of the student council his harem.

This show is full of references to games and other anime, and if you're not terribly into that stuff, I imagine most of the show's humor won't be entertaining at all. The show takes place almost entirely in the room that student council meetings are held in, and is very much a "nothing happens" show in the style of Lucky Star. This isn't a bad thing when the writing is sharp, and this episode landed a few great jokes, but it's easy for shows like this to drag or become annoying when you're not particularly into the subject that's being discussed.

All in all, this isn't a bad show. It's not for everyone, and it isn't the best comedy of this season, but it's pretty entertaining. If you really like jokes about Japanese culture and anime, you'll probably love this one. To everyone else- check on Nyan Koi! instead. I'm going to keep on watching this one for a while regardless.

Ratings: 80/100


Darker Than Black II, Episode 2: The Fallen Meteor

Darker Than Black continues to be excellent in its second episode. I'm really impressed with what a different tone this season has already been able to achieve in comparison to the second one. I think that there are countless stories to be told in this universe- there are already so many spin-off shows I'd be thrilled to watch. I'm so glad we're getting a chance to focus on some new characters this season.

My biggest complaint with the early episodes of the first season of Darker Than Black was the pacing, and they've really seemed to have addressed my issues with this season. I was at the edge of my seat throughout the entire episode, and the show never had a chance to drag at all. If they can keep this up, this season is going to be incredible. I already have some many new questions and so many things I can't wait to learn. I'm especially curious about what happened between this season and the last one.

Even if this show takes a drop in quality, it'll easily remain one of the best animes this season. Most of the stuff I've really enjoyed this fall has been more comedy or romance oriented, and it's so nice to have at least one quality action show that I can count on. The next episode can't come soon enough.

Rating: 95/100


Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Sacred Blacksmith, Episode Two: The Devil's Pact -Valbanill-

The Sacred Blacksmith continues pretty much right where the last episode left off, with only an intriguing introduction to break up the action. Much of this episode felt the same as what was shown last week, although a few interesting plot points were introduced. Maybe that'll be enough to boost this anime out of mediocrity.

I still can't shake the thought that I'd rather be playing some fantasy RPG than watching a fantasy anime that feels like a fantasy RPG. At the end of a certain fight scene I half expected to hear victory music. As I said in my last review of this show, it isn't particularly bad, but I still can't find much to call good about this show either, and I don't like feeling like I could be doing something better with my time.

In spite of the series short length, I'm not sure I can stay motivated to keep following this show. I'll give The Sacred Blacksmith one more episode, and if that one doesn't win me over a bit, I'm guessing this show probably never will.

Rating: 72/100


Sasameki Koto Episode One: Whispered Words

Sasameki Koto is a yuri romance show about Sumika Murasame, a girl in love with her best friend, Ushio Kazama. Ushio openly likes girls, but has made it clear that she's only interested in "cute girls". Sumika doesn't want to jeopardize her friendship with Ushio, so she hides her feelings the best that she can.

It can be hard to find good yuri shows, and so I'm always interested when I hear one is in the works. However, Sasameki Koto hasn't really managed to capture my interest yet. The show absolutely had some cute and funny moments, but I'm just not very involved in the romance or with either of the main characters. I feel like the show focused so much on the drama and not enough on the comedy- the drama will work much better once the characters have been better developed, but the comedy moments were pretty hilarious as is. Of course, this is only the first episode. The anime has plenty of time to strike a balance between now and then. 

Though I'm being pretty negative, I don't think this Sasameki Koto is bad at all, and I'll definitely keep on following it. Hopefully it'll improve as the series goes on, but there's still plenty to like as is. Whether this anime gets better or it stays about the same, I should have no problem staying interested enough to watch 12 episodes.

Rating: 80/100


Friday, October 16, 2009

Kimi ni Todoke Episode One: Prologue

In Kimi ni Todoke, we are introduced to a girl named Sawako. Sawako is a sweet girl that also happens to be terribly shy. She bears a striking resemblance to Sadako from Ringu/The Ring series (Samara for those of you who have only seen the US version!), and this coupled with her quiet nature has led to her classmates thinking of her as creepy, and inventing stories about how she can curse people or summon ghosts. Sawako desperately wants to make friends, especially with her lively classmate, Kazehaya, who is kind even to her.

Kimi ni Todoke did a great job of making Sawako a sympathetic character. She has such a kind nature that it's really heartbreaking to see her being mistreated. I was occasionally bothered by the style that characters were drawn in, but I thought the voice acting was great, especially for Sawako and Kazehaya. It more than managed to make up for any other short-comings. The episode was well paced and I felt involved the whole way through, even though a few bits were predictable.

Romance anime generally isn't something I get that excited about, but the main characters in this show are just so likable that I really want to see them find happiness. I hope that the show continues to stay character driven so I can really enjoy that aspect of it. Maybe Kimi ni Todoke could even be the show to convert me into a romance anime fan. I've heard that the manga is terrific, so if the anime can measure up something really special could be in store.

Rating: 89/100


Nyan Koi! Episode Two: That Man is My Slave?

The second episode of Nyan Koi! has introduces us to Junpei's childhood friend, Kanako. In case the above picture doesn't make it clear, Kanako has since adopted the ganguro look. Since the show's cute OP showcases quite a few cute anime girls, I'm assuming we'll have a similar set-up to this in the weeks to come.

This episode is paced a bit differently than the last one, since this week there was no need to spend the time explaining Junpei's curse. At times I felt like they were trying to stretch the episode a bit since there wasn't as much to fill it as last week. However, there are still quite a few great comedic episodes, and the main characters are all fairly entertaining and likeable.

I was a bit confused by the fact that Junpei's allergies didn't seem to show up for most of this episode, but I'll give the show the benefit of the doubt and assume that that'll be explained somewhere down the line. Overall, I'm still enjoying the show. It isn't something I love like Darker Than Black II or Kobato, but it's fun to watch, and it's nice to have a good comedy anime to tune into each week. No plans to drop this one anytime soon!

Rating: 85/100


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Book of Bantorra Episode One: Bombs, Books, and a Sinking Ship

The Book of Bantorra, also known as Tatakau Shisho - The Book of Bantorra, takes place in a world where people turn into books when they die. A group known as The Armed Librarians are tasked with protecting them, among other things. In this world also exist a number of people brainwashed by a corrupt church known as "meats". If it sounds a little confusing, that's probably because it is.

Book of Bantorra is a mish-mash of a lot of interesting concepts, and the universe they've set the series in looks very stylish, but in spite of that, this episode didn't really work for me. It felt very unfocused and was disjointed. Between the awkward dumps of information and the unusual jargon used, it was hard to follow the show in spite of the many moments when the episode really was quite good.

I do think there's hope for this anime, however. It reminded me a lot of the first episode of Simoun, which got off to a similarly awkward start, but turned into something really great. I'll definitely watch this for at least a few more episodes in the hopes that once they've had some time to introduce to this universe, the show will be as good as I'd like it to be.

Rating: 78/100

If you'd like to watch this anime online free, head over to crunchyroll.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kobato Episode Two

Kobato continues on, and it's as sweet and wonderful as ever. It's the kind of anime that gives you warm fuzzies inside. This episode was alternately hilarious and heartwarming. We got to see what I expect will be the general episode pattern for a while with this one, and I'm really looking forward to more of it.

This episode of Kobato had our title character trying to collect pieces of healed hearts for the first time. Her antics as she tries to make sense of what to do were adorable, and I think anyone who wasn't crazy about Ioryogi in the first episode will be won over this time around. He had me laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes. We also got to see a lot more of characters like Fujimoto, who I assume we'll be learning a lot more about soon. I'm not crazy about his character design, but he's an intriguing character, and he and Kobato play off each other really well.

I don't really have much for this show except effusive praise. I'm tempted to try and get my hands on the manga, but a part of me doesn't want to spoil the series from me. It's so well done, and I'm really looking forward to seeing more of it this week. If Kobato's storyline doesn't manage to conclude within the planned 24 episodes, however, I'll have no choice. I'm already hooked.

Rating: 94/100


Darker Than Black II, Episode 1: The Black Cat Doesn't Have a Dream of the Star...

The second season of Darker Than Black, also known as Darker Than Black: Ryūsei no Gemini, has begun, and it's off to a pretty thrilling start. This season takes place two years after the events at the end of last season. While the show is now taking place in Russia rather than Japan, and is focusing on a different main character for now, there are still plenty of familiar faces. Some really interesting new characters have cropped up as well, and I can't wait to learn more about them.

Those that were disappointed with the ending of last season will be pleased to know that the show is already revealing more information about the Darker Than Black universe. It was really exciting to get some extra tidbits of information, especially since it focused on something in particular I'd been curious about. As for those of you who haven't watched season one and are thinking about jumping right in, you should be able to follow this episode just fine, but I'd recommend checking out season one so that you have a better appreciation for what's going on. You can find out how to watch season one online free here if you're looking to catch up.

Overall, this episode got Darker Than Black II off to a solid start. The action scenes were terrific, and it was definitely compelling. Waiting a week to watch each new episode is going to be rough. I can't wait to watch a few more episodes so I can get a better idea of the direction this season is headed in. Maybe I'm being overly optimistic, but I think this season just might be able to top the first one.

Rating: 90/100


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Darker Than Black: Series Review

It's been a few days since I finished Darker Than Black, and I now feel like I've had enough time to collect my thoughts about the show to go ahead and write a review. I'm going to make this as spoiler-free as I can muster, and this absolutely should be safe reading for anyone who hasn't seen the show.

I'm not sure why I never got around to watching Darker Than Black sooner. I have a pretty big weakness for superpowers, and not only is Darker Than Black full of them, but it injects new life into the concept with the introduction of payments. Half the fun of seeing new characters show off their powers each week was finding out what sort of price they'd have to pay for them. The writers got really creative with this, with payments that ranged from silly and lighthearted downright monstrous.

Darker Than Black was a pretty solid series right from the get-go, and by the time I'd watched the first 6 episodes I'd fallen in love with the slow. It's rare for an action series to spend so much time on character development, but it paid off bigtime for Darker Than Black. Scenes from older episodes were often given new significance, making this a great series to rewatch, and the series managed to have some really emotional moments. Yoko Kanno's soundtrack for the show was masterful, but I wouldn't expect anything less.

However, as much as I liked Darker Than Black, it was rarely everything I wanted it to be. The show frequently built up momentum and then didn't take advantage of it, and several of the show's story arcs seemed really oddly placed. I think if the series had had a little restructuring, it could've really been a masterpiece. As is, it's a throughly entertaining show, but it had the potential to be even more.

Now that I have some distance from it, I'm a little less satisfied with the ending than I initially was. If I had watched the show when it initially aired, I think I would have felt pretty disappointed. As I said, I'm not going to spoil anything here, but people who want all their questions answered might find themselves a little frustrated with the show.

All in all, Darker Than Black is still a pretty great anime. It has its flaws, sure, but diving into the green hued city the show was set in was a wonderful experience. A compelling plot, well-written characters, and terrific action scenes are a terrific combination. If you're a fan of anime, then there's a lot to like about this show.

Rating: 92/100


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Kobato Episode One: Wishful Girl

I should preface this review by saying that I'm a huge fan of CLAMP. Something about their stories and characters tug at my heartstrings like no other, and they've never done a series that I haven't liked. I haven't yet had the chance to read the Kobato manga, so right now I'm going into this one fresh and unaware.

Kobato is about a mysterious girl who came to Earth to fulfill an equally mysterious wish- all we know is that she has somewhere she wants to go. To make her wish come true, she must heal 100 broken hearts and collect their fragments.

The opening has Kobato's teacher- a stuffed dog named Ioryogi who feels like a deeper voiced version of Kero from Card Captor Sakura- testing Kobato to see if she has the common sense required to handle living in our world. Kobato is throughly hopeless, but I'm sure you all can still figure out what the outcome of the test will be. The fun is in seeing how she pulls it off.

I loved this episode, but Kobato is most definitely not for everyone. So far the show appears to be toothache inducingly sweet, and those with a low tolerance for incompetent heroines will quickly find themselves irritated with the show's title character. However, if you're like me and don't mind your anime slightly saccharine, or if you want to see what secrets and twists CLAMP has up their sleeves, this is definitely one to watch.

Rating: 90/100


Darker Than Black Episode 26: Beneath Cherry Blossoms in Full View

And now it's time for me to properly finish off Darker Than Black. To be honest, it felt a little weird watching this episode after the roller coaster that the season ending was. I'm glad that they did a genuine episode for their last one instead of a recap like a lot of series would've done, but it just felt so out of place.

Episode 26 of this anime is, as I said before, a fun little side story. It's a silly tale that takes place probably somewhere in the middle of the series, and it involves BK-201 getting written into anime fanfiction. Seriously.
It was nice to see all the major players working together again, but as I said, watching it felt a little off. I probably would've had more fun with it if I hadn't watched it almost directly after Episode 25. That's what I get for trying to plow through the series and finish it up quickly, I guess!

If you were wondering, watching this episode absolutely isn't necessary to get the full story of Darker Than Black. If you can't wait to see more of the characters, check this one out, but don't feel like it's something you need to do.

Rating: 85/100


Friday, October 9, 2009

Darker Than Black Episode 25: Does the Reaper Dream of Darkness Darker Than Black?

darker than black 1
Here ends the last proper episode of Darker Than Black season 1. There's one last episode to the season, but it's just a fun side-story and it doesn't take place after the end of the season events. I have a lot to say about this one, but to do it without spoilers would require me vagueing things up to the point of ridiculousness, so I'll just go ahead and bust out my trusty spoiler tags.

» Major Spoilers Under Here «

All in all, I thought this was the perfect (sort of) end to the series. I'm really grateful that I was able to watch Darker Than Black online free and legally so that I could catch up with this before the second season started. I plan to do a review of the entire series as soon as possible so that I can go through everything else I want to say here. I'll be posting up a recap of the actual last episode soon as well.

Rating: 95/100


Darker Than Black Episode 24: Meteor Shower

darker than black hei
It seems that just about every storyline in Darker Than Black is either wrapping up or hurtling towards a climax. I think we'll be getting answers to some of the show's major questions soon, and I'm really excited to see them. I have to wonder at this point how much my predictions are based on my knowledge of the show's second season, but I imagine I'll get some surprises regardless.

At the risk of being a bit spoiler-ish, I have to say that this was probably one of the most tragic episodes of the series. However, because of the breakneck pace the show is now going at, I feel like the weight of some of what happened never really hit me. I hope a little more screentime is devoted to some of these things, if there's time to do it without leaving anything out of the story.

Because of everything happening, I don't think this episode had much room for a lot of the wonderful character moments I've become accustomed to- they didn't even have time for the opening theme- but they still managed to squeeze in a few anyhow. This one went out on a bang, and I had to force myself to type this up before starting up the next episode. Believe me when I say that I'll have it playing by the time this post is published.

Rating: 93/100


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Nyan Koi! Episode One

In Nyan Koi!, a high school student who can't stand cats (he's allergic to them), unwittingly unleashes the wrath of a cat deity when a careless kick beheads a cat statue. He is now able to understand cats, and from them he learns that he is cursed. The only way for him to break the curse is to help catkind. If he doesn't manage to break the curse, he'll turn into a cat himself.

We're still pretty early into this anime season, but I've enjoyed this show the most so far. It's just cute and fun- and it doesn't hurt that the main character's adorable love interest, Mizuno, is genuinely likable. It got off to a bit of a slow start, but once there multiple cats were interacting with the main character, Junpei, the show really picked up. A few of the cat heavy scenes had me genuinely laughing out loud.

I am concerned that the show will get into repetitive territory before too long, but I believe this one is only 12 episodes, so they won't have to keep things up for too long. Right now, I'm just glad to have one new show that I'm actually looking forward to watching again.

Rating: 85/100


10 Awesome Gundam Wallpapers

Here are 10 awesome Gundam wallpapers for your desktop.

gundam wallpaper

gundam desktop


wallpaper gundam

desktop gundam

robot wallpaper

real giant robot

gundam wing wallpaper

gundam seed desktop


real giant robot


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Darker Than Black Episode 23: God is in His Heaven

darker than black
Darker Than Black's first single parter episode is one part sweet and wistful, and one part action packed. The pacing on this episode overall was really wonderful, and it made me wonder how some of the weaker past episodes might have benefited if they hadn't had to stretch their story across two episodes. The writers of this show can clearly fit plenty of events and character development into 22 minutes or so.

Things in the Darker Than Black world seem to be headed pretty quickly towards a climax, and it certainly seems like the next few episodes will be pretty interesting. I am worried that a few things aren't going to get addressed before the season's end, but that's when I have to remind myself that there'll be plenty of time for wrapping up loose ends in season two.

I particularly liked the moments between Li and Misaki in this episode. One of the things I enjoy most about Li as a character is that I'm never sure how much of what he says is an act and how much is really him, and their time together kept me guessing. You really get the sense of what the world must have been like before the Hell's Gates events in this one, and I imagine that'll add quite a bit of emotional weight to the stories yet to come.

Rating: 94/100


Monday, October 5, 2009

Kämpfer Episode One

Kämpfer tells the tale of a 17 year old boy, Senou Natsuru, who is chosen to be a "Kämpfer", a sort of magical girl who apparently fights other magical girls. Apparently, menfolk can't be magical girls, and so he has to sprout a pair of breasts every time he transforms. If it sounds like nothing but fanservice, that's because it is. There's not really much of a reason to watch this show apart from that.

Kämpfer is adapted from a manga, and it feels like it- the plot simultaneously felt both rushed and sluggish. There's an exposition dump early on that's delivered by a disemboweled stuff tiger. As I type that sentence, it sounds like it should be a lot of fun- the whole series does- but Kämpfer just felt dull to me.

There's not to say there's not an audience for this. I enjoy guilty pleasure shows from time to time, and Kämpfer actually reminds me a bit of Shuffle!, one such show that I had a lot of fun with. But there isn't anything like the antics of God-chan and Satan to keep me entertained like I was with Shuffle!, and since I'm not particularly into Shuffle!, I'm going to go ahead and drop this series right from the get go. It's clearly not for me.

Rating: 68/100


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Darker Than Black Episodes 21 and 22: City Under Crankdown, Moist With Tears

darker than black april

It looks like my worries about the show taking another dip in quality as it ended are unjustified so far. This was without a doubt one of the best story arcs yet. We were hit with an explosion of stuff happening, and I'm very anxious to see how each piece of it will wrap up. The episode was full of new characters and old familiar faces, and it was wonderful to see.

There's no way I can talk about this episode without mentioning a certain spoiler-tastic scene.

» Major Spoilers Under Here «

This is the last of Darker Than Black's two episode story arcs, and I'm excited to see what they do with single episode pacing. Because of the massive events of this episode, I'm hoping things will all be pretty continuous from here on out with no filler. I'm glad that season two is not far away, because it's going to be really hard to see this series end.

Rating: 96/100


The Sacred Blacksmith Episode 1: Knight

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The Fall 2009 anime season is finally upon us, and with that comes new show recaps! The first show I've checked out so far is The Sacred Blacksmith, and while it was not great, I think it was worth giving at least another episode to.

The Sacred Blacksmith takes place in a medieval fantasy world full of knights, one of whom is Cecily Campbell. We see early on that she is not a particularly good knight- the show opens on her having her life saved for a third time by another character- but she's a cute one, at least. Based on the opening and ending theme, the show looks to be full of cute anime girls, so it may be worth checking out for that factor alone.

While watching this episode I often felt like I was watching cutscenes from an RPG instead of watching an anime, and that playing The Sacred Blacksmith as a game would be more fun than watching it. They're not breaking the mold here. The Sacred Blacksmith is fairly bland, typical RPG fare, and when there's not gameplay to break that sort of thing up, it can get dull pretty quickly. However, The Sacred Blacksmith picks up near the very end of this episode and turns into something a little more interesting. If the show focuses more on that sort of thing than standard RPG adventures, I think I'll be able to keep watching The Sacred Blacksmith. For now, it's only a few episodes away from being dropped.

Rating: 75/100


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Darker Than Black Episodes 19 and 20: Dreaming Swallow, Uninebriated

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And with this episode, Darker Than Black is right back where it needs to be. There aren't many story arcs left, and although this episode was terrific, I'm still feeling a little nervous for the future of the show. It's been back and forth in quality for so long, and there's not really enough time for the series to do any more stories that don't move the main plot forward at all. I suppose no matter what happens, there's still the second season to look forward to.

This episode finally let us see a little bit of Huang's backstory, and his character makes a lot more sense now. I think I'll have a new appreciation for a lot of scenes when I go back and re-watch them. During the first episode, I enjoyed the flashbacks a lot more than the main story, but the second episode of this arc was much stronger, and the story was at its best when the past and the present were running into each other.

In spite of my misgivings about the future of the show, there was some interesting set up that I hope they follow through on, and the episode itself had some beautiful scenes, especially near the end. If the series continues on an upwards path from here, I'm sure this season will go out with a bang.

Rating: 93/100


Friday, October 2, 2009

Watch Darker than Black Online

darker than black
If you've been following my Darker than Black recaps and are curious about checking the show out for yourself, you're in luck! Funimation has free episodes of Darker than Black available to watch on their site. You're able to choose from dubbed or subbed, and quite a few episodes are available. If you're already watching Darker than Black, fear not! There's lots more free anime on their website. Just go to the video section of Have fun watching!


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Darker Than Black Episodes 17 and 18: A Love Song Sung with a Trash Heap

darker than black li
Darker Than Black has fallen into a weird little pattern, and it's starting to bother me. The show will start getting better and better, until I'm totally psyched up for whatever's coming next, and then the show drops in quality a bit and doesn't do much with the awesome storylines they have set up. Even the animation in this arc wasn't anywhere near as good as the last few episodes.

I enjoyed these episodes in spite of that, but it's really frustrating to keep going from amazing episode to stuff like this. I wish the show had had more of a slow build to awesome instead of this constant back and forth. If this episode had taken place earlier in the series, I think I would've enjoyed in quite a bit more.

That said, there were still some wonderful scenes. Mao didn't play a huge role in this episode, but he absolutely shone in his limited time on screen. I liked the continued development of Yui's relationship with Li as well as her interactions with one of this arc's new characters. I hope that we'll learn more about dolls in an episode soon, but I suppose there's always manga and the next season for that.

Rating: 89/100


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