ef – A Tale of Memories – Episode 2

And we’re back to ef! I’ve spent a little time away from this one, but I’m excited to continue Shin Oonuma’s big SHAFT treatise. The first episode mostly impressed through visual invention, though I did also enjoy the banter between at least one of the couples we’ve met so far. The implied melodrama of the narrative seems to match nicely with the aggressive theater of the presentation, making for a beautiful and cohesive overall package. If the writing can hold up, this could be a pretty special show!

Alright, let’s get right to it.

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Planetes – Episode 25

Planetes’ penultimate episode is called “The Lost,” and opens with the voice of our friend Locksmith reading off a list of unfamiliar names. Given the title, I initially figured these were the people lost in the battle against the SDF. But as it turns out, we don’t really care about those names – instead, this was the list of crewmates who’d actually made the cut. Six months after the SDF’s attack, Hachimaki has succeeded in his dream, and is one of the final eighteen headed to Jupiter. But instead of exulting in victory, Hachimaki seems distant. Empty.

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March comes in like a lion – Episode 19

This week’s March comes in like a lion spoiled me, offering a full twenty minutes of non-stop Shimadaservice. Shimada’s backstory immediately joined the pantheon of top-shelf March sequences, offering a poignant look at the origins of a fundamentally sympathetic man. Tethering crucial reflections on talent and growing up to some very specific childhood memories, it only strengthened the overall definition of one of March’s greatest characters. This arc has been a joy.

You can check out my full review over at ANN, or my notes below.

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Seiren – Episode 8

Seiren’s second arc ended in fairly mundane fashion this week, as Toru and Shoichi headed off to Comiket and then confirmed their relationship through some awkward makeouts. Seiren often really does feel like watching two actual teenagers fall in lust, which ultimately just demonstrates how “realism” isn’t generally the most useful goal in fiction. Real romance is boring, and so is this show.

You can check out my full review over at ANN, or my notes below.

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Bakemonogatari – Episode 6

It’s time to begin Suruga Monkey! This was a bit of a transition episode, but still offered plenty to dig into regarding Araragi’s character, along with adding new wrinkles to his relationships with Senjougahara and Hanekawa. I’m almost surprised by how directly all this material reflects on Araragi’s fatal flaws – I’d expected that stuff to come up, but it feels like the focus even as we’re being initially introduced to the rest of the show’s main cast. For a show that’s rambled through over fifty episodes, Monogatari still feels like a pretty focused thing.

You can check out my full review over at ANN, or my notes below!

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Nichijou – Episode 25

Alright, two episodes left. I’ll be okay, probably – after all, from where I’m writing this, Nichijou is actually coming out on bluray in just about a week. I’ll consider it a sacred duty to watch the whole damn thing over again, hopefully while also hooking some of my housemates on it. Nichijou is a bizarre and precious gift, and now that I have seen the light, I will do my best to carry its torch into the dark corners of the world. Everyone must learn that the professor is good, and also to be careful about dogs. All must bear witness to the Nichijou flame.

Alright, that’s enough cultish adoration for now. Let’s burn this sucker down.

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Casshern Sins – Episode 9

And we’re back to Casshern Sins! Last episode presented one more glimmer of hope, in the form of the singer Janice. More than just giving Casshern something new to care about, Janice offered him something he’d never had before – a reason to fight. Janice’s questions solidified one of Casshern’s core contradictions: he is designed to fight and destroy, but he has no interest in doing such things. Because of this, Casshern’s natural programming only tends to kick in when he’s in such personal danger his circuits won’t allow otherwise. But if Casshern could actually find something worth defending, something to fight for that could last like he does, he might arrive at some sort of peace.

That said, we’re only eight episodes in, so I’m expecting a whole lot more suffering before Casshern finds anything that might fit the bill. So let’s get right to it!

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March comes in like a lion – Episode 18

March returned to its usual level of execution this week, but was still a generally good time, and still had a couple nice visual highlights. Shimada continues to be a remarkably welcome addition to the cast, to the point where he already feels like one of the main characters. I’m still looking forward to whenever Rei actually visits the sisters again, though, and am guessing Akari will have some interesting words for him next week.

You can check out my full review over at ANN, or my notes below.

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Seiren – Episode 7

I had virtually nothing to gawk at in this week’s Seiren, which was certainly a change of pace. Instead, this was just a remarkably grounded and overall successful slice of adolescent romance – understandable conflicts, multidimensional characters, and satisfying resolutions. I was pretty surprised! I certainly don’t mind, though – if Seiren permanently jumps from a weird oddity to a reasonable show, I’d be very happy.

You can check out my full review over at ANN, or my notes below.

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Natsume’s Book of Friends – Episode 3

Natsume himself is the focus of this third episode. As we open, twilight colors and suburban sprawl return us to Natsume’s childhood, as he cries over his strangeness beneath a playground slide. As he laments his isolation, a girl comes up to console him, and asks the question he most wants to hear: “can you see them too?” Perhaps Natsume is not so alone after all.

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