Friday, February 6, 2009

Mini Update: Xam'd, Rideback, Toradora! and some old titles

You know you are watching too many animes when you find you don't have enough days of the week to blog about every title. The solution? A mini update! Now normally, I wouldn't even bother, because why should I, right? But some of the shows in my watchlist are really worth a word or two at the very least.

1. Xam'd: Lost Memories
This one just had its grand finale. And while I think that this series is one of the best series this year, at 26 episodes I feel that it is too short. I think that at some point, the plot was compromised in favor of atmospheric settings, gratuitous exploration of sci-fi concepts, and too much hype over a non-existent antagonist. As such, the story falls just a little short of brilliant because of the harried and self-conscious way it ended. That said, Xam'd: Lost Memories' shining moment is its dogged focus on character -- that despite the war falling all over the place and the overwhelming temptation to submit to the Rule of Cool and Exploding Things (not that Xam'd hasn't its cool and explosive moments), the writers maintained just the right pacing to allow the characters to fully develop. Then again that meant pulling plot twists out of hammerspace, but is okay, as long as things keep exploding in my face then I'd be too busy to ask questions about significant plot points that don't make a lot of sense.

2. Toradora!Honestly, this anime is surprisingly enjoyable. I can't quite put my finger on it. Logically, it should be the comedy factor because this is the reason why I even picked the show but some of the episodes -- especially the more recent ones -- generate very few laughs from me. It isn't the romance either because while this is a romantic-comedy, there has been so little development in that area (or what development there is happens in the background) that it's hard to believe this is a romance title. But where the series is now and where it is going is something that has me waiting for the next episode every week. With the conclusion of Xam'd: Lost Memories, it looks like Toradora! is going to be its successor, at least in terms of how much I'm anticipating the next episode.

3. RidebackThis show has motorcycle mecha in it, an ex-ballerina, gratuitous pantyshots, nerd boys, and gasp! Toyoguchi Megumi??? What, I didn't know that! And I wouldn't have known if I didn't randomly check the cast for this show one auspicious day. Despite that, Megumi's voice role is negligible in the show (she plays a minor side character) so I don't even care. What makes Rideback an interesting show, however, is -- forget the premise -- its gorgeous art. Yes, I said art. Did I mention that I have a thing for the odd? Anything that stands remotely out of the ordinary gets my thumbs-up no matter how ridiculous or crazy it may be. In fact, the crazier the better. So Rideback, animated by MadHouse (yet another reason why this show is made of win), and employing hand-drawn, old-fashioned art juxtaposed with the ultra-sleek, extremely hip CG mecha designs, caught my attention.

4. Minami-ke ~ OkaeriOh yes, I do still watch this show, mainly as fillers for while I'm waiting for my next dose of Xam'd: Lost Memories or some other show on my watchlist. I know, I know, a lot of people had issues about Minami-ke ~ Okawari. Okaeri is the third installment and it's being done by the same people who did Okawari. A lot of the jokes are lame or just take too long to unfold, but when Minami-ke is funny, it is really funny. My favorite character last season was Mako-chan. This season, Mako-chan seems to have gone under the radar so my attention is focused now on the other funny guy: Hosaka and his endless stripping. Also, I worship Haruka now like pretty much every character and every other viewer of this show do. Because there's so many fan service with her involved, I get the feeling this is what the makers of the show want.

5. Maria+HolicGod is awesome. Sure, Kanako and her lesbian antics are funny (although the persistent nosebleeding is starting to get repititive) and Mariya is hilarious as one would expect from a trap, but the dorm leader PWNS both of them combined. I guess it has something to do with the voice (seiyuu is Sawashiro Miyuki - no I haven't heard of her): it's just INSANE. There's no doubt about it. Dorm Leader-sensei is the next Ophelia.

6. Samurai ChamplooI have always wanted to watch this title mainly because of the names that are associated with its production. I've seen only episodes 1 and 2 but I hope to see more of it once school finishes. What I have seen so far of Samurai Champloo, the funky weirdness, has impressed me enough to put this right on top of my my To-Watch list.

7. Haibane RenmeiThe main draw of this anime for me was a picture of a melancholy girl with wings, a halo on her head and a cigarette between her lips. What can I say? I'm cheap. Give me weird and I'll pack my suitcase and jump on the bandwagon, no questions asked. That said, the show is probably too slow-paced for my current mood so I'll probably randomly come back to it once in a while.

Well, that's it for now. This list is not complete. I'm supposed to include even the manga I'm reading but I am hit by a most profound stroke of laziness all of a sudden so yeah.