Posts Tagged ‘volume 3’
‘Princess Princess’ closes out with four satisfying episodes!
In the final four episodes to the cross dress comedy from Studio Deen, two story arcs will begin and end. In episodes nine and ten, it’s time for the annual school festival which causes new problems for the trio. On the first day, all of the princesses are participating in a game involving students having to collect kisses for their stamp cards to win a prize. Yujirou’s day becomes a little more complicated when his family decides to visit unexpectedly. On the second day of the festival, it’s time for Mikoto to have problems as his girlfriend and older sister are going to be visiting. Mikoto naturally wants to keep his princess status a secret but it’s going to be hard with two other princesses who are more than happy to spill.
In the final two episodes, Tohru will be forced to face his past as a mysterious stalker appears to be bothering Yujirou. When the stalker is revealed to be someone that Tohru knows, he’ll reveal why he entered the school in the first place before being forced into a major decision regarding his future.
So before I link to tonight’s review I should warn you, I had a not that pleasant experience with this particular volume. There are certain elements of the story that absolutely drove me mad and I will pick them apart a little in my review. Unfortunately, these are also have some spoilers in them, I keep it to a minimum but there are still some spoilers. So just a little heads up there. Either way, tonight I am posting my thoughts on the train wreck that is Claymore Vol. 3: The Hunter is Prey released last month by Funimation.
Been awhile since I’ve checked in with a DVD review (box sets will be the death of me) but with the impending arrival of the upcoming box set, I figured now was a good a time as any to finish off this series. So my review of Black Blood Brothers Vol. 3: Resurrection from Funimation is up.
The girls of Strawberry Hall return for a volume filled with drama, treachery and romance.
In the next four episodes of Strawberry Panic, the series will begin to highlight the drama and conflicts starting with summer vacation. At the start of the volume, almost everyone is leaving in order to go see family. Nagisa is staying behind however which leads to some private study time with Shizuma and Rokujyo, though Shizuma has some other ideas for things she’d like to do with Nagisa alone as well.
Meanwhile over in Spica, the relationship between Hikari and Amane has caught the interest of more than a few people. While Momomi and Kaname will go to extreme lengths to break up the relationship and move forward with their plan to fix the next Etoile selection, Yaya will be forced to deal with her feelings for Hikari.
In the final two episodes of this volume, it is time for the school’s annual festival to begin which includes plays put on by the students of Strawberry Hall. The play chosen is ‘Carmen’ and once again, there will be tons of backstage maneuvering to get the popular choices into the lead roles. Just like we started though, the focus here will be on Nagisa and Shizuma’s relationship as others attempt to use the show as a means to their end.
Good and the Bad
After the first ten episodes of this series, the excitement that I felt towards this volume was mediocre at best. The first volume spent five episodes developing Nagisa and Shizuma. Then there were another five episodes spent developing Amane and Hikari. They were always slow paced and the shift from one couple to the next was abrupt at best. In these five episodes however, Strawberry Panic finally declares itself finished with the set up and takes the audience through a wide gauntlet of emotions and trials as the characters attempt to make their way through their loves, lives and relationships.
The relationship between Nagisa and Shizuma picks up right away on this volume with the two of them spending quite a bit of this series together. In episode twelve, finally the audience will see Shizuma start to show her feelings towards Nagisa in a very real and abrupt manner. All throughout this episode, Shizuma is presented to the audience in such a great manner. When the two of them were together in this episode I couldn’t have taken my eyes off the screen even if I wanted to. The climax of the episode completely caught me off guard and the foreshadowing that gets dropped already has me excited to learn more.
The downside to this episode is how quickly the climax of the scene is downplayed later in the volume. While we will see Nagisa dealing with her issues later on, for the most part the scene seems to become a completely ignorable point that won’t be brought up again. For once I’d really like to see this series hit a major plot point and play it out a bit longer instead of putting it down and then picking it back up a few episodes later.
Over in Spica, the relationship between Hikari and Amane is easily the weaker of the two. Strawberry Panic really tries to play up how important Amane is going to be later on using Hikari as the device to do it. This normally would work. It’s been done a million times in the past and will be done a million times in the future. What makes it not work in this case however is how weak of a character Hikari is. While she has so many great qualities in a character (let’s face it, she’s adorable), she’s also the weakest character of the series.
While the staff has done their best to develop her and make her into someone the audience can sympathize with. What they created instead is a character that is so shy and reserved that it’s frustratingly difficult to get behind her. She fits the mold of the quiet character that worships the one she loves but all this does is make her into a two dimensional plot device that couldn’t carry a backpack let alone a major part of the series. With half the series remaining though, Hikari is being set up as a character to keep a very close eye on.
Momomi and Kaname continue to be great villains for the series. The staff has done a great job of constantly teasing these two and their big master plans to the audience without revealing too much. They have goals that they want but why they want them and what their next move is going to be always remains a mystery that audience members can’t help but be curious about.
Perhaps the most surprising element to these episodes is the sudden increase of sexual content. While the characters are never shown out right having sex, it seems that the staff is really started to relax about showing the characters in sexual situations. Nagisa and Shizuma will share quite a few intimate moments in these episodes and various smaller characters will be shown kissing, making out, in the bath together or sharing post-coitus pillow talk.
I loved how this series inserted this element into the series here though. The yuri content of the first few episodes was really quite tame. While there were always hints and innuendo regarding the girls and their relationships, they were never really shown being really sexual with each other. When the sexual content was added into this volume, there was a fear that the series was going to abandon the story that they had spent so much time with in order to just have yuri fan service.
Instead though, I was pleasantly surprised to see the sexual content used as context instead of a primary subject. While there is plenty of fan service to go around, it’s never put in just for the sake of having it. The only questionable bit on this entire volume is how often Momomi and Kaname are shown in the bath together. We get it, they like to plot and scheme in the tub. We don’t need to see them doing it every single episode though.
The pacing on this volume sees an improvement but not by much. Strawberry Panic continues to move at its own pace and shows absolutely no signs of speeding up. While the episodes on this volume were very entertaining, the pacing remains dreadfully slow. While some shows are very easy to get through in one shot, this continues to be a series that I can only watch a couple of episodes at a time before taking a break.
As the first half ends, new theme songs are introduced to the audience. Replacing the old theme is the upbeat and very pop sounding ‘Kuchibiru hakuchumu’ sung by Aki Misato. On the other side of the episodes is the new closing theme ‘Ichigotsumi Monogatari’ sung by Mai Nakahara and Ai Shimizu. While the opening animation changes to highlight the relationships, the new closing theme moves in an entirely new direction. In the new ending presentation, Nakahara and Shimizu will be shown looking like paper dolls sharing special moments in a live action version of Strawberry Hall (at least I assume so by the moments when the two of them are singing in front of strawberry wallpaper). The design of this animation however looks like something out of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. The new songs aren’t bad and they fit the series very well but I really preferred the first themes.
Dub vs. Sub
The cast continues to deliver some great performances. Mai Nakahara deserves the standout performance of the volume just for episode twelve however. The very subtle development in this episode is absolutely amazing and the gentle inflections when Nagisa and Shizuma are out at the pool watching fireworks are impossible to miss.
The supporting cast has quite a few great performances as well. Saki Nakajima gets to have some great screen time on this volume as the very funny head of Le Rim, Chikaru Minamoto. Also finally getting some more screen time is the very cute Tsubomi Okuwaka played by Sakura Nogawa.
This series may go down as one of the more underrated titles of the year. While it took forever to get to this point, anyone who has stuck with the series this far no longer have any reason to turn back. The seeds have been planted for Shizuma/Nagisa and Amane/Hikari. With as many twists at this these five episodes take, audience members are in a place where it’s impossible to predict what will happen next. This is more than a yuri series, this is a prime piece of drama. Reccomended.
Final Grade: B+
Picking up the series that fans just can’t get enough of a look at the end of the first half.
In the next four episodes of this series, tests are looming for the girls and study habits are hard to find among Konata and Tsukasa. Meanwhile, Tsukasa learns how to text much to the annoyance of her sister. In the next series of events, Tsukasa and Kagami are spending the night at Konata’s house showing a new side to her family for everyone to finally see.
In the second half of the volume, it’s time to celebrate the holidays with a Christmas and New Year’s episode. The Christmas episode is very low key though with visits from Cousin Yui while New Year’s brings Comiket and visits to the shrine and New Year’s allowances.
Meanwhile in the Lucky Channel segments, Akira’s abuses of Minoru are getting much more blatant but Minoru is standing up for himself with a speech about reclaiming the word ‘Tsundere’ and Akira gets her first appearance in the series.
Good and the Bad
Throughout the series, the characters in this series have remained in fairly static roles with no real deviance. While this volume of episodes doesn’t change that, these roles will become highlighted in great detail. Konata’s development as an otaku is absolutely ridiculous to watch and I’m using that as a compliment. The audience has always known that Konata is an otaku but to find out that she’s so hardcore that her purchases can shape fan circles is amazing. The sequence revolving around a night in Konata’s house is also one of the most revealing of the series thus far. The family life that is presented here is again something that will have audience laughing out loud but in an almost uncomfortable way.
Yuki continues to get dialogue that lets her get away with so much. The complete innocence of her statements when she talks about running away from the dentist almost makes it sound not insane. Or the absolutely fragile character design used when Konata is helping her with her eye drops. Miyuki is so moe’ that she should come with a warning label.
Heavily present in these episodes though are a wealth of cultural jokes that once again stand to lose a large section of the audience. From episode nine to twelve jokes will include topics such as blood type personality discussion, sushi personality test, cake buffet, what it could mean to have Kyou as a nickname and using the sama honorific. What’s fortunate is that if you get the jokes to begin with, these sequences are absolutely hilarious. If you are constantly pausing afterwards to read the liner notes in order to find out why a particular scene was funny, it can become tedious. The whole sequence of Konata using ‘Kagami-sama’ is very well written though. The simplicity of the joke and the various ways that it’s used really shows a nice change of pace from some of the more obvious jokes or over the top humor.
The pacing for these episodes continues a very solid pace that never moves too fast. The jokes come at a very consistent pace but the set up for the gags never feel forced or rushed.
As with previous volumes, the music on this volume really faded into the background. While occasionally a simple theme would play such as during Konata’s anime rants, it’s rare for anything in the background here to stand out. There is one sequence in episode eleven however that did stand out as a very nice piece. During Kuroi’s slow, depressing walk down the hallway a very nice piano theme plays. While the sequence is about a couple of seconds long, the theme still managed to stand apart from the series and really highlight a new emotion. It’s rare for this series to allow anyone to really feel bad for a character but the audience can’t help but feel for Kuroi here.
In the karaoke box ending animations, fans can look forward to four more karaoke themes. Episode nine will feature ‘Kogarashi Ni Dakarete’ by Aya Hirano (Konata), ‘I’m Proud’ by Emiri Katou (Kagami), ‘Doraemon no Uta’ by Aya Endo (Yuki) and Kaori Fukuhara (Tsukasa) and finally all four actresses will sing ‘I’m Proud’.
Dub vs. Sub
Once again, Alex Von David does a very decent job with the ADR script and translation. For the most part, the dialogue always came across well. Most of the jokes were translated over well though one in particular seemed very out of place. In the first half of the volume, there is a line translated as ‘Damn you Kona-chan!’ To hear Tsukasa curse really felt weird as the character is really presented as someone who wouldn’t curse.
Comparing the two, the series still comes across much better in its original Japanese. Aya Hirano continues to do a great job with Konata making her into a great lead heroine. The cultural jokes remain a much easier sell in Japanese as well.
In the next two adventures of Minoru Shiraishi, the crew visits Hokkaido to film more ending sequences. In this case though, Shiraishi will be filming with two of the voice actresses and singing songs that he wrote himself. Many of which have never been heard by the crew before. The sequences are fun and entertaining to watch at least once.
Also included on the volume are key scene galleries and the clean opening animation.
Lucky Star continues to earn its reputation for stellar comedy. The silly in jokes that only a small handful of audience members are going to get give this series a good replay value as you’re always going to find something new that you either didn’t notice before or didn’t get before. While casual anime fans will be lost in the tall grass with this series, otaku have their new comedy.
Final Grade: A
After finally approaching the halfway point of the series, Zegapain finally starts to find its own voice.
In the first of four episodes, it becomes time for the audience to prepare for its first major loss in the form of Arque. Her condition has been steadily worsening and its down to one last day in Maihama for her and Chris. Meanwhile, the Gardsorm are gaining strength everyday putting the commander on the lookout for new pilots as fast as possible.
When Kaminagi awakens on her own and finds herself on the Oceanus, it creates new feelings in everyone. Shizuno finds herself feeling jealous at being replaced, Kyo is conflicted by his feelings of wanting to protect Kaminagi and Kaminagi herself finds herself loving every second of it. But when the Gardsorm attack again with a new weapon, the crew will have to face new harsh realities about who they’re up against and what they are capable of doing to their ranks in battle.
And it’s in episode fourteen that the truth finally comes out and Kyo learns everything about who their enemies are and why humanity was destroyed.
Good and the Bad
As I’ve stated many times before in previous reviews of this series, the biggest flaw that Zegapain consistently dealt with was its lack of originality. In this volume though, the series finally starts to gain its own ground and starts to explore new options to make it stand apart from the rest of the field.
Right away the audience is given its first truly emotional episode with the departure of Arque. Zegapain has been setting up this departure for a couple of episodes so her leaving the series isn’t unforeseen but the emotional strength behind her departure is completely unexpected. While the writing staff behind this series has always tried their best to keep the emotional connection with the audience strong, it’s not a goal that was ever truly reached until now.
What’s unfortunate is that the staff moves on so quickly from this plot point that the audience never gets to really react properly. Within just a few moments of her final scene, the series has already moved onto Kaminagi and her awakening. One can’t help but think that the series could have been much better served to give Arque a bit more of a send off instead of glossing over it so quickly afterwards.
Speaking of Kaminagi’s awakening, her transition into the real world starts very well done. Kaminagi enters the world in a way completely unexpected of her character being cheerful the entire way with very few signs of reservation or even confusion. No matter how bound and determined a character is though, this is a major change and its hard to maintain a level of plausible deniability that she could adjust to this new enviorment with seemingly no effort what so ever.
Until this catches up with audience members though, her introduction to the Oceanus and the crew proves to be one of the more enjoyable sequences of the series thus far. The entire supporting cast gets to have a small amount of screen time reacting to the new crew member and some of her less than subtle comments. In particular May-yu and May-yen stand out the best with their reactions on the bridge though Lu-shen also gets some great reaction time on screen.
While the animation to this series remains a strong selling point, the fan service in Zegapain is questionable at times. While there is some obvious fan service such as the first time Kaminagi puts on her uniform and enters the simulator or when the vice president enters the shower, there are some instances where it’s questionable. In episode thirteen pay attention to the way Chris is napping with the puppy. I realize that he’s one of the token hot male characters that needs to be highlighted but having his body contorted in that obvious of a position and then adding a puppy on top of it? That’s just pandering.
The pacing to this volume really played well throughout. The first half of the series ends on a very strong note and then picks up right where it left off in the second half. While the episodes were more dialogue driven than action (though there is plenty of that as well), the series never slowed down to its usual dreadfully slow pace. Audiences will be surprised by how quickly the hundred minutes pass from the start of the episode eleven to the conclusion of fourteen.
The music in this volume maintains its strong orchestral score. The music’s role in this volume is really more of a highlight though than anything else. The music in these episodes never stood out on its own but did a fabulous job of highlighting the scenes. The final moments of Arque’s time on screen are made all the more tragic by the wonderful score attached to the scene.
Dub vs. Sub
Both the Japanese and English casts turn in strong performances here with the supporting cast taking the lead in terms of standout performances. In the English cast, Beth Ginnett (May-yen), Jenny Powell (May-yu) and Michael Irish (Lu-shen) all do a great job throughout the episodes with Ginnett and Powell providing some great laughs for the audience while Irish provides some wonderfully delivered exposition in episode fourteen.
Sarah Sido also deserves specific mention for her performance of Arque early in the volume. While the character didn’t stick around the series for long, her performance is touching and powerful creating a void where Arque used to sit.
In the Japanese cast, Hiroshi Yanaka provides a wonderful performance as Chris. Late in episode eleven when Chris is in battle, the dialogue came across flawlessly. The pain in the voice was apparent and the heartbreak was tangible beyond what the audience could hope for.
Four more clean animations are included on this volume for extras. On this volume, the four animations are versions three and four of the ending animation along with the clean ending animations for episodes thirteen and fourteen. Episode fourteen in particular has a great closing animation worth watching at least once.
With this volume, Zegapain finds some direction. With Kyo now given a strong sense of purpose, the story is starting to come together… albeit a little late. While the series is certain have lost at least a small percentage of its audience with the first two volumes, it will be interesting to see where the staff takes the series from here. With the enemy armed with a new weapon and the heroes on the defensive, what used to be a terribly below average mech series just redeemed itself just enough to get me excited about the second half.
Final Grade: B-
Alright, now we’re starting to go somewhere.
The theme that surrounds this volume is fate and the one that you are figuratively tied to. In the first episode of the volume, a young woman wanders into Yuko’s home. While she doesn’t seem to have a wish that needs to be granted, Yuko does notice that she has a very bad habit that needs correcting and Watanuki learns just how powerful a pinky promise can be.
In the next three episodes, we’ll make out way up to episode twelve and the focus will remain on Watanuki and Doumeki. With summer in full swing, Watanuki is depressed that he won’t get to see Himawari. To fix this, Yuko invites them both out for a night of ghost stories… at Doumeki’s temple. This is followed by an episode taking place on the day of the Oban festival. When Yuko suggests that he give a treat to someone special, Watanuki heads out only to have things go nowhere near how he expected. Instead of finding Himawari, he has to chase after a sprite to save Doumeki from an eternal sleep.
In episode twelve, Yuko takes Watanuki, Doumeki and Himawari out to a summer rental home so that everyone can relax. Strange things begin to happen after they arrive though and the house has another resident that no one knew about before. While on the other side, everyone seems very intent on getting Watanuki to ask Doumeki for help doing something. Anything.
Good and the Bad
After two previous volumes and nine episodes, this series is finally starting to capitalize on its potential. From the beginning this series has hinted at what its true aim is and while some fans gathered around that, others grew frustrated. Finally these episodes deliver a pay off.
Unfortunately we still have to wait through an episode that delivers little. While episode ten serves as a nice set up for the theme, it ultimately does little. The story of this episode is entertaining but I was ready for it to be over all too quickly.
In these four episodes, xxxHolic delivers solid development between Doumeki and Watanuki is very well done on this volume. While it still refuses to actually tell the audience what their overall goal is, these episodes really work hard at making the audience see these two as a team. With an emphasis placed on the powers Doumeki has, this volume really played up the pairing. It will be very interesting to see where this series finally leads these two characters.
What is the most frustrating about this revelation though is that in order to tell it, many of the supporting characters felt pushed aside. Beyond episode nine, Yuko seemed to serve in a facilitator role. Instead of having episodes that seemed to focus on her and the guidance that she gives Watanuki, she more appeared to be around purely to keep things moving along with occasional suggestions.
The addition of more bit characters is also proving to be another frustrating part of xxxHolic. Every volume more bit characters are added and while this is normally not a big deal in any series, this one challenges that. In the previous episodes, a number of one time characters have appeared at various times and while enjoyable I haven’t spent a lot of time memorizing who each of them were and why they appeared to begin with. These episodes will challenge the memory of the audience though as previous characters will either be referenced or appear for return visits. Luckily the characters on these episodes were easier to remember but it makes me wonder if I’m going to remember other characters when they appear later.
While most of the music on this volume fit into the standard mold of melting nicely into the background the music that plays during the Zashikiwarashi’s introduction during episode eleven is quite nice. The soft strings really capture the sad moment of the scene and provide a very memorable introduction for the character. During episode ten, the very soft music that plays during the storytelling adds to the ambiance of the scene. While the soft gong pattern would be boring out of context, it led a very eerie feeling to the scene.
Dub vs. Sub
J. Michael Tatum is still doing a great job with Doumeki. The character has such a flat personality and very few facial expressions but Tatum is really finding a way to keep the character interesting. As we approach the end of the first half, the series has yet to really show the character break out but audiences have something to look forward to the day that this character finally shows a facial expression.
Both the English and Japanese tracks provide great entertainment on both ends. While the English cast deserves credit for how much of the original Japanese was left untranslated in the dub script, things like this really sound much better in their original Japanese.
An image gallery and clean animations.
There is still more than half of xxxHolic season one to go and so I am not convinced that the character development on this volume is a sudden trend. I assume that as we start working out way through the middle of this season, the series will continue its slow hinting style until the audience is much closer to the conclusion. Still, the series manages to redeem itself with these episodes by proving that the production staff does have something that resembles a plan so far. While I am hoping that we will at least get more frequent hints, this volume proves far more entertaining than the previous two and has regained my interest.
Final Grade: B+
Picking up right where we left off, Sato can’t stop thinking about that near kiss he had with Misaki. Meanwhile, Yamazaki has gotten the two of them into a mess by drunkenly boasting that he was working on a game and that it would be ready to sell by the summer comic festival… in less than a month.
There will be plenty of things getting in their ways though, mostly women. Sato finds out some questionable things about Misaki and decides that he must never see her again while Yamazaki is having an up and down relationship with Nanako that calls back to a painful memory.
In the second half of the volume, Welcome to the NHK takes a very dark turn. In episode eleven, Hitomi isn’t having a much better life in the real world than Sato is as a hikikomori. Dealing with an unforgiving job, an inattentive boyfriend and other problems, Hitomi is near her breaking point and Sato will play a role in a major event in her life while Yamazaki and Misaki are left to wonder where he is.
Good and the Bad
Moving in different phases, volume three of Welcome to the NHK starts with the series dealing with the two primary issues to rise up so far. A real deadline has been set for the pair’s ero game to debut at the summer comic festival and they are nowhere near ready to debut their game. The scenes with the boys working on the game do a great job of keeping things minimal but repetitive. While the scenes with Sato and Yamazaki working on the game do a great job of keeping the episodes and story moving, it got repetitive really quickly. After three or more times of seeing the formula ‘verbal set up – visual set up – reaction gag’ in just a matter of a couple of minutes, the story starts to slow down again.
The relationships that Sato has established with Hitomi and Misaki are moving in unexpected directions. In the first two episodes of this volume, the series focuses on Misaki with Sato trying to constantly figure out who she is. Episode ten uses a really fun way to develop her in a very subtle manner. The foreshadowing that the series drops in these scenes about Misaki and who she really is are solid and really give the audience a genuine reason to be curious about who she is and where she comes from.
Welcome to the NHK moves even more unexpectedly in episodes eleven and twelve by focusing on Hitomi. Up until now, the series has never tried to go particularly dark or dramatic. While the series has used some dark humor, it’s never tried to be particularly serious. This makes the transition to the life that Hitomi is going through that much more unsettling. As the story progresses through these two episodes, it’s hard to imagine anyone not getting at least a little uncomfortable with the progression. While Sato will remain blissfully ignorant of the situation he’s in, it was hard to see his actions as comedy and instead made me nervous as I waited to see what happened next.
Secondary characters are continuing to see much more development as well. While Yamazaki has always been the underdog sidekick character that audiences have been able to get behind, these episodes make that much more difficult. Yamazaki really comes across as a jerk in these episodes, especially with some of his dialogue choices. While he may have been written as stressed out, I can hope that ‘Welcome to the NHK’ plans to redeem him later in the volume.
The comedy in this volume still relies way too much on Sato’s reaction gags but there is some improvement to be found within the scenes. In episode nine when Sato is working on this writing, it will be hard for anyone who has ever played an ero game not to laugh at the made up dialogue that is so over the top that one could actually see it being used in a game (and not seem out of place in the least).
There is also a very passionate scene near the end of episode nine that delivers such a huge pay off that if you’re really into this series, the punch line is worth every second that they put into it. If you’re not really into the series though, you’ll see the punch line coming a mile away. They return to the well once again in episode eleven with much the same result but just as good of a payoff.
There are two more insert songs used throughout these four episodes. In episodes nine and eleven, there are two songs are very well placed within the episodes. In episode nine, a soft guitar ballad is used that follows the similar theme of soft ballads being used. In the second half of this volume, the insert song used has a much darker quality to it to match the mood. The change in theme was appropriate though and again, very well placed in the episode.
The background music continues to be a strong pull for the series as well. Late in the volume, there is a great string arrangement placed during Hitomi’s scenes. The arrangement carries a very soft and sad tone to it which plays well into the sequence of events that follows. The music here is just very moving and well done.
Dub vs. Sub
The dub cast continues to do a good job with the dialogue. Greg Ayres doing a drunken Yamazaki is gold and Luci Christian doing the sullen Hitomi is chilling to listen to. The English dialogue continues to change lines every so often but the additions in this volume always added to the feeling. A line from Yamazaki early in the volume, ‘Maybe now that you have a deadline you’ll stop jerking off so much,’ caught me off guard and got quite a good laugh from me.
The Japanese cast came across strongly as well. While the darker scenes seemed much more powerful, the cast also carried the over the top reaction humor well. Audiences don’t have anything to complain about with either cast here.
Only clean animations.
While it’s taken a very long time to get to this point, the series has finally managed to engage me in a way that it had yet to do. The characters are now dealing with real conflicts between other characters and their own personal agendas and the story leaves off on an interesting cliff hanger. With new goals put into place and the characters left in limbo, the next volume becomes required viewing for anyone who has made this far into the series.
Final Grade: B+
Closing out the first half of this series with four unrelated yet well told stories.
Four episodes on this volume with the first one closing out the murder mystery that the previous volume left on. Suspects are everywhere but when Sunako catches the eye of someone for getting too involved, the story finds some new life with Sunako playing the new victim role.
This is followed by the boys working on their latest challenge from auntie to raise Sunako’s math score or pay full rent. Sunako won’t even try though and Kyohei calls her out when he realizes how she’s chosen to deal with the kiss they shared while on vacation. While its subtle, there is some character development in this episode for fans of Kyohei and Sunako.
In the series Christmas episode, the story takes a back seat as the audience watches a flashback episode. And as I’m sure many have wondered, this story will fill in all the blanks about how all the boys arrived at the mansion as tenants. This episode shows the series best use of satire thus far with the tragic plights of all the boys as they arrived into the mansion.
In the final episode of the volume, the first half finds its conclusion. In this episode, Yuki comes home with a mysterious basket of mushrooms that he acquired on his way home. Poisonous mushrooms to be exact. After Sunako accidently eats a bunch of them, the audience gets to see what would happen if Sunako really did become a real normal lady.
Good and the Bad
A constant complaint from me as I’ve gone through this series has been their lack of focus on the primary story. While it gets occasionally hinted at in a few episodes, the story of the boys turning Sunako into a proper lady has really yet to be really addressed. Instead more often than not, it’s simply just the boys whining about not wanting their rent to increase without much actually happening. And now we’re at the halfway point of the series.
In these four episodes, the issue mentioned isn’t really addressed much further beyond episode 13. Credit needs to be given though; the four episodes on this volume are entertaining.
As much as I want to be mad at this series for continuing to ignore the story that was laid out in the first moments of the first episode, the comedy wins me over. The writing in this series continues to take chances and have fun. As with previous volumes, the series continues to make great uses of breaking the fourth wall. In particular is a great line from Yuki in episode 10 that will have audience members laughing.
The staff in this series really paid attention to details in the writing as well. This is a series that any fan who watches it should definitely leave the subtitles on. It doesn’t matter if you listen to this series in the dub or original Japanese format; it is still a good idea to leave them on. One of the details that the writers really paid attention to was background dialogue. That dialogue that one character is sort of mumbling to themselves that no one really pays attention to. If you hadn’t figured it out already, Sunako is a perfect candidate for this type of humor. While not always laugh out loud funny, her dialogue contains more than a few jokes that the audience should try to catch.
The staff takes another big chance in episode 13 when they play the ‘what if’ game. What if Sunako really did become a full lady? And to illustrate this, the character design changes. From the short little featureless character that audiences have seen from the beginning to the full figured, tall beautiful lady that she’s supposed to become. The change proves to be quite the surreal experience and the reaction of the boys really plays out well.
Even if they didn’t pay attention to the story much on this volume, the audience can at least have some consolation in character development. In particular viewers should be really pleased with the development of auntie in episode 12. It was really interesting to see so much of her in one episode and finally see what she really means to the boys. The role she plays is far more interesting than I ever thought it would be.
During some of Ranmaru’s bishie scenes, there are some wonderfully composed themes playing. Very fitting for the scenes and they really set a nice trend for the rest of the series. The music in the series continues to fill the roles perfectly though they also continue to occasionally dip into the odd category to fill a joke.
Dub vs. Sub
This volume has some wonderful performances in the dub cast. Hannah Alcorn continues to provide wonderful performances as Sunako and the 180 she pulls in episode 13 was very well done. Also stepping up on this volume and really selling their jokes were Greg Ayres (Yuki) and Tiffany Grant (Auntie). These two really had to put their vocal chords through some rough sessions with the amount of screaming or cursing they had to do. Great performances from them.
Once again the extras are limited to clean opening animation, the on-air opening for episodes 1-13 and the clean closing animation.
This series manages to be entertaining and laugh out loud funny without addressing the story every volume. While this series continues to make me laugh, there is still concern that they are going to run out of time to introduce the story and get us through the second half effectively. Hopefully the close of this half is foreshadowing something good in the coming episodes. In the meantime though, this series is worth just sitting back and enjoying. The writing is sharp and its clever nature warrants continued viewing.
Final Grade: B-