Mawaru Penguindrum – Episode 20

Penguindrum’s twentieth episode (directed by talented key animator and Gainax mainstay Akemi Hayashi, who also gave us this terrific Space Dandy episode) centers on a new location and an old memory, at the forbidding Penguin Force Hideout. The hideout is located in a vast, colorless condominium, a structure that seems to underline our collective anonymity. Rows after rows of identical doors promise homes for everyone and no one, infinite potentially wrong paths. The young Shoma is dwarfed by this place, lost in long stairwells and ensconced behind railing bars. This is truly a frozen world.

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Simoun – Episode 1

Alright, let’s get started on Simoun! I don’t actually know all that much about this series, but I know enough to have it placed on my internal shortlist of must-see anime. By reputation alone, Simoun seems to be one of those fragmented classics that end up on a lot of personal lists but never really receive all that much public recognition. Mari Okada seems very good at creating those kind of “this messy show is my ENTIRE SOUL” stories, and that plus an interesting aesthetic and a story that apparently takes a very unique approach to gender identity seems like a very fine recipe. I’ve tried to keep myself relatively ignorant of Simoun’s twists, and I’m excited to see where this adventure goes. Let’s get to it!

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Ojamajo Doremi – Episode 21

Let’s get back to Ojamajo Doremi! Last episode saw Doremi and the gang experiencing a bit of a paradigm shift, as Majo Rika’s gambling ways resulted in her losing ownership of her own shop to her nemesis. At this point, Majo Rika is been reduced to living out of a van that also double as the gang’s new store. It’s actually a pretty cozy place, so I wouldn’t mind the show sort of idling here (no pun intended) as the new normal before actually resolving this whole Majo Rika plot. It’s been a little while since we’ve had a classmate-focused episode, so I’d be happy to see one of those as well. Either way, change is afoot in Ojamajo Doremi. Let’s get right to it!

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Classroom of the Elite – Episode 11

Classroom of the Elite’s final arc had its second major misstep this week, as it attempted to pull off a structural trick that really stretched the limits of its aesthetic capabilities. Visual storytelling isn’t just garnish – your show’s ability to convey information outside of dialogue inherently dictates your dramatic range, and “slowly building pressure cooker” is well outside Classroom’s tool set. Still, I guess I have to give the show props for trying something different.

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

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Tsuredure Children – Episode 12

We finally bid goodbye to Tsuredure Children this week, at least for the moment. This episode wasn’t much of a conclusion, but it was still a fine episode of Tsuredure Children, and that’s a very good thing to be. I’ll pick up the manga if I have to, but I do hope we get a second season eventually – there are few romantic comedies out there as funny, charming, or genuinely incisive as Tsuredure Children. See you next time, you incredible dorks.

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

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Chihayafuru – Episode 10

Let’s get back to Chihayafuru! With her team fully established and a tournament goal already in sight, last episode saw Chihaya and the gang setting up a grueling training regimen. I had somewhat mixed feelings on how the episode handled Chihaya’s behavior there – it initially seemed like the show was going to acknowledge that Chihaya was acting in a pretty terrible way, but the finale saw her teammates forgiving her in a way that seemed like the show tonally supported her actions. Chihaya’s let’s-plow-ahead exuberance is her most powerful quality, but her actions aren’t always justified, and I’m hoping the show mines that for interesting drama eventually. Either way, we’re fast approaching the school team’s first tournament, so let’s get to it!

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One Piece – Volume 14

The battle with Baroque Works continues in One Piece’s fourteenth volume, within the leafy confines of Little Garden. The initial conceit of Little Garden was “this is an island where the creatures are huge, but still dwarfed by the resident giants.” Those giants actually get more or less pushed aside in a narrative sense here, which I frankly didn’t mind at all. Their single-minded emphasis on “honorable battle” doesn’t really do anything for me, and though Usopp’s adoration of their focus is pretty adorable, I couldn’t really buy into their feelings purely for his sake. Instead, this volume quickly resolves the giants’ battle, and moves on to something much more exciting – the next showdown with the agents of Baroque Works.

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Classroom of the Elite – Episode 10

Classroom of the Elite’s tenth episode continued this arc’s very solid run, easily establishing this as the most consistent arc of the show so far. It’s a little unfortunate that the show’s ending right around the same time it becomes consistently watchable, but I suppose that’s just another of the odd quirks of watching not-so-great anime. Regardless, I’m happy things are going well, and hope Classroom can hold it together through the end.

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

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Tsuredure Children – Episode 11

Tsuredure Children returned to its usual upbeat wheelhouse this week, offering another endearing sampling of romantic foibles. The show has been remarkably consistent all throughout its run, and I’ve heard there’s even more material, so I hope we somehow get a season two. The world needs more Tsuredure Children.

You can check out my full review over at ANN.

Casshern Sins – Episode 23

And so we approach the end of Casshern Sins. With Leda seemingly destroyed and Dio having embraced his chosen purpose, we’ve arrived at the final battle between Casshern and his brother, a clash in the rain that, no matter what happens, will certainly provide Dio with the closure he seeks. Meanwhile, Luna’s healing gift has proven to be a lie in more ways than one – not only is her blood a fickle power that doesn’t seem to permanently heal people, but too much of it can actually destroy someone. With Lyuze having entered the castle to rescue Casshern, that presumably leaves Ringo with Ohji, and I’m seriously hoping he has enough sense to keep her away from Luna. The pursuit of eternity has become a cursed thing in Casshern Sins, but I still feel these characters deserve some kind of salvation. Let’s see what the end of everything brings.

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