Always look out for SPOILERS!
Kanon 21 -- Yuuichi and Ayu-chan are shown as kids when Ayu made her second wish to him -- that the field in the middle of the woods with the giant tree she loved to climb would be their "school" and in addition to no test, homework, or the like, taiyuki will be served daily. Back in the present, Yuuichi has lost his appetite and spends time going to the placed Ayu-chan used to hang out. Nayuki does her best to cheer him on including a stop at a sundae shop and doing homework together. In another flashback, young Yuuichi is seen with young Ayu as the go through the woods and she finds a jar for a time capsule. She then places the angel figure Yuuichi gave to her in it with its one remaining wish and they bury it alongside a pathway outside of the woods. Back in the present, Nayuki and Yuuichi see a partially destroyed snow bunny which Nayuki wants to repair and does. After school, she, Yuuichi, and Kitagawa-kun search the pathway that Ayu had been desperately digging at in episode 20. After much searching, they find Ayu's time capsule. The following day, Nayuki is relieved to see the snow bunny is still there with the new eye she gave it. While at school, Yuuichi remembers a young Nayuki offering a snow bunny to him, but he destroyed it in his grief. Before he can talk with Nayuki about it, they learn that her mother was in an accident and in the hospital.
Lots of stuff going on here and Nayuki got more screen time than I expected. It seemed like the writers were going to blow her off, but they haven't. It was tough seeing Nayuki's snow bunny get destroyed. And the accident provides a convenient vehicle to get Yuuichi to the hospital again.
Mai-Otome Zwei 02 -- Terrorist have taken over a bus in Aries and Brigadier General Haruka Armitage is prevented from doing things her way (after a blustery appearance) because Meister Arika (also known as "Meteor Breaker") is on the bus and without her Robe powers. Since there is a presidential election, candidate Ishigermin arrives on scene to take advantage, only to be upsurped by his "girlfriend," the former Otome and Valkyrie Tomoe Marguerite, who lets the terrorist know whom Arika truly is. President Yukino Chrysant exchanges herself for the hostages, save Arika, while Haruka and the Otome Delta Squad along with Meister Sara initiate a rescue plan. It goes well until a child comes, which the Delta Squad eventually dispatches. The "shadow figure" attacks and is seen to be the Shinso-sama, the respectful title of the first Otome known as Pure White Diamond, Grand Meister Fumi Himeno. Haruka battles the Shinso-sama, forcing her to retreat but at the cost of Haruka's own body turning to stone. Later, Headmaster Natsuki and Arika visit Nagi in an Aries prison while in Artai, Nina pays Juliet a visit.
I found this to be somewhat more interesting than the first episode for some reason, though we still don't know much and only have two episodes to go.
xxxHOLiC 22 -- Yuuko-san and Mokona are off somewhere doing something, meaning Watanuki is by himself at Yuuko-san's store. A woman in a kimono stands at the gate and talks with Watanuki. They are interrupted when Yuuko-san calls saying that she'll be delayed and that he has a few days off. She advises him to be careful. During his time off, Watanuki attempts to make some progress with Himawari-chan while at the same time, befriending the woman in the kimono, whom he learned has lost her son. Doumeki-kun advises Watanuki to keep the Kudo-kitune (pipe fox) with him, but that doesn't happen. Meanwhile, as time goes on and Watanuki's friendship with the woman continues, he begins to get ill and gets another phone call from Yuuko-san about not listening to her warning to be careful.
This story is mostly directly from the manga (sans the elements about Yuuko-san "making gods") with the anime writers adding a bit more showing Watanuki at his apartment and a photo of himself with his parents (faces obscured). Otherwise I have no comments to make.
xxxHOLiC 23 -- Watanuki's condition worsens and Maru and Moro are forced to carry him to the borders of the yard and toss him out to a waiting Doumeki. Doumeki takes him to his residence (at his family's temple). At school the next day, he doesn't bring lunch but eats it in the cafeteria with Himawari-chan. He gives her a White Day gift (which we aren't shown) before returning to the park that afternoon to see the woman again. The woman knows she's causing him pain and states that maybe they shouldn't meet again as his condition grows worse. Sometime later, Watanuki heads out again and meets the woman because she's lonely. She's at the park bench and while Watanuki grows worse, Doumeki arrives with his long bow. He can tell the woman isn't human since he can see through her and using his powers, fires a chi arrow which strikes the woman. She is sent to the beyond, but not before assuring Watanuki that she is no longer lonely. He passes out to awaken at Yuuko-san's store, where she tells him he'll be OK and that the woman's final words were true. The next day at at school, Watanuki brings lunch and actually invites Doumeki to participate with himself and Himawari-chan.
This was never a favorite manga story of mine and the anime 2-parter, while adding tiny bits here and there, doesn't make it any better. That's not to say it is a bad story, just not my favorite. The end of the episode was clever with the viewer being the customer at Yuuko-san's store.
xxxHOLiC 24 -- Watanuki is several years younger (in 6th grade). After doing some shopping, he finds himself being chased by hands in the ground. He runs up a tree and a boy his age tells him to throw salt at the hand/arm. He does and it disappears. The two become friends since both can see the odd things such as the arms with hands that chased him. When April 1 comes around (Watanuki's birthday), he learns his friend is a ghost and that April 1 was the day he disappeared 7-years before. Before the boy leaves for the beyond, he give Watanuki a bone fragment of his. In the present, Yuuko-san, Doumeki, Himawari-chan, and Mokona have a party under the falling sakura to celebrate his birthday.
Another manga story that was interesting in that it showed a bit about Watanuki's troubles earlier in life and how he'd been able to deal with some of them. As usual, the anime expands upon this greatly since it is only one chapter in the manga. However, it is a fitting (and somewhat pointless) end to an anime that took the point of the xxxHOLiC manga and tossed it in the trash. The anime should have waiting until the manga was done or was many more volumes along.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Always look out for SPOILERS!
Thanks to eXeXeX HOLIC for the scans.
The girl from Watanuki's high school speaks to Yuuko-san. She hears sounds in her house when there's no one else there. Sometimes things get moved around on their own and sometimes she can feel the presence of people when there's no one there. Watanuki, spying on the meeting, figures that what the girl is experiencing are ghosts or spirits (youkai?).
Yuuko-san asks about the noises in the home and their location. The girl states that the noises are in nearly all parts of the house, even if she's not thinking about it. Yuuko-san confirms the girls previous statements and confirms that her wish was that her house was not as frightening. So, Yuuko-san produces a small bell on a kind of lanyard.
At school, Watanuki relays this event to Himawari-chan and Doumeki. The girl is to have the bell on her while in the house but Yuuko-san never stated that the bell would drive away the other noises. Further, Yuuko-san deferred payment until the wish was actually granted. Doumeki remarks that wearing a bell as a talisman is a common practice in certain religions and that it keeps bears away too. Doumeki's remark irritates Watanuki, but he states that it would be nice if the girl's house wasn't scary.
Walking home, a girl runs past him into Yuuko-san's yard. The girl is there and reports that the bell didn't work. She stated that the noises got worse with the bell. Yuuko-san then gives the girl another lanyard with two bells on it. The girl is skeptical since she already has a bell, but Yuuko-san states that since the girl's wish is to be less scary, she should take the bells.
This is kind of a weird story. I've no idea where this is going and as such, I really don't have much to comment on.
Thanks to AQS for the scans.
Several of the teachers who'd been "expelled" by Mana's "forced time-leap bullets" discuss the situation and the fact that while they were generally sent 3-hours into the future, the exact time was different for different people. Students begin to appear, much to their great surprise. One of the teachers is concerned about Chao's plan being enacted, but is told that Negi has solved everything. More members of Negi's class arrive and greet each other. There is some concern that they slept and missed the end of the festival, but Makie assures them it isn't quite over yet. Walking a short distance, they discover large numbers of people partying, including more members of their class.
A (high school?) guy who officially came in 7th place, Kaoru, decides he has to meet up with Yuuna (from Negi's class) who came in 4th place. She calls her self "Yuuna-kid" but says he can just call her "Kid." Kaoru tries to get her to change from basketball to martial arts, but she's committed to basketball. Her prize for 4th place was 300 meal coupons, meaning her food costs are covered until she graduates middle school. Some of Kaoru's male friends show up and tease him about Yuuna being in middle school and chatting her up (as it were).
Some of Yuuna's classmates decided that "Kid-kun" needs to treat the entire class to an all-you-can-eat barbecue for their hard work at the festival, at a cost of 10 meal coupons a person. She runs away and is pursued while vowing to fight to keep her meal coupons. A large group of guys figure to get in on the fighting fun, but get interupted by a shower of large blades that pierce the ground. Two time bubbles appear and Mana and Kaede appear still locked in final combat. Kaede decides it was a draw, but Mana states that Kaede won since Mana failed her mission. Kaede decides they should have another match at some point to settle things.
Asuna, Setsuna, and Konoka arrive at the scene of the party with Takahata-sensei moving in to bring some calm to the situation. Asuna is concerned that she wasn't able to help much since Chao knocked her out in one shot. Setsuna reminds her that she was also sent out in one shot and Konoka observes that it felt like they all worked to resolve this situation together.
Elsewhere, Nodoka emerges from a time-bubble in front of Yue. Yue assures her everything ended well, and when asked where Negi-sensei is, Yue points to a spot in the distance where Negi is on top of a structure. Over there, Chao states that everything is over and when asked, she confirms her plan to leave. Negi asks about the spell patterns that were on her body, and is able to confirm that Chao didn't do them by herself. He wants to know why she would do something that would consume her body and soul. Since she's from the future, she won't discuss it, further stating that you can't know someone just by knowing their past. She pulls out another Cassiopeia and Negi uses an instant move to prevent her from activating it and returning to the future. Chao's friends arrive along with Chachamaru and Negi asks her to become a Magister Magi with him.
We are still in the aftermath of the School Festival Arc, so there isn't a lot to say here. I did love how Mana and Kaede emerged on the scene and agreed to have another friendly contest of strength at some point. With all the magic and the time-bubbles, Akamatsu-sensei tries to buy some disbelief by having the folks and characters question but then play off the things they've seen. He's been doing this all along and its one of those, "yeah, whatever" things, but it doesn't hit my offensive button so I let it slide. As for Chao, well will she or won't she be the newest member of Negi's harem or will she leave? And if she does leave, I suppose Hakase and Satsuki will hook up with Negi somehow.
Monday, February 26, 2007
Thanks to Ear-Tweak for the scans.
Kagome reports to Inuyasha that she'd seen a giant spider web for a moment just behind Inuyasha and wonders if Naraku is involved. Inuyasha recalls the dream about he and Kikyou from 50-years before. However, he turns from Kagome which not only she notices, but the others do too, causing Inuyasha to react.
Kikyou and Kohaku are waiting outside of a village while being protected by a barrier. She notices spider threads falling from the sky and touching villagers, who are unaware of it. She identifies the threads as Naraku's malice against her. Massive "ropes" of spider threads fall to the ground, one hitting a little girl and knocking her down. The girl's mother reacts to her child's collaps, not seeing the spider ropes. Kikyou knows this is a trap to have her touch those threads, but since she cannot allow the girl to die, she dissolves the barrier and saves the girl. It is then that a spider web net captures Kikyou.
Inuyasha's group is on approach and Kagome sees the budles of spider threads going from the sky to the ground. They encounter the woman and her daughter, who says that the miko who healed her daughter left them. This leads Inuyasha to take off. Meanwhile, Kohaku is hiding at Kikyou's request and is being protected by the Shikigami with their barrier.
The rest of Inuyasha's group and Kouga are on the move again with Kouga annoyed at Inuyasha taking off after Kikyou. Kagome knows Inuyasha was hiding something from her about the spider webs. Meanwhile Inuyasha comes upon a small (shrine?) building in a field. Within, Kikyou finds herself tangled in bundles of web. She knows Naraku's plan to fill her heart with malice. Inuyasha bursts in, unable to see the webs. Kikyou attempts to warn him but is knocked out. Inuyasha then notices Naraku's shouki wounds upon Kikyou.
Kikyou awakens to find Inuyasha holding her and she attempts to get him to flee the webs. He hasn't seen them, but then notices them. Kikyou tells Inuyasha that Naraku may have figured out her plan to purify his piece of the Shikon no Tama. Inuyasha tries to cut the threads with Tessaiga but only makes things worse.
Inuyasha's group comes to the small structure and Kagome can see it tangled with mounds of thick spider thread. Kikyou calls out to Kagome, asking if she can see the bundles of thread. Kagome can and begins firing purifying arrows at them, though no one else in the party can see them. She clears the threads outside the building but not inside. She opens the door and is warned not to touch the threads by Kikyou, but the threads grab her. The door to the stucture closes and when Kouga attempts to rescue her, he is repulsed by a barrier.
From where ever, Naraku is in a web and notes that Kagome has become entangled now. Kagome then witnesses the events between Kikyou and Inuyasha from 50-years earlier. Kagome observes and notes the bond between Kikyou and Inuyasha and falls unconscious. When she comes to later, she notes the spider webs are gone. Inuyasha wonders if Kagome purified them, but Kikyou feels the purpose of the web was served and thus the webs withdrawn. Kikyou wants to know what Kagome saw. Kagome doesn't say, but Kikyou is pretty sure she knows what she saw.
Kagome notices Kikyou's wounds and asks if she can heal it. She'd healed Kikyou before so she could do it again. Kikyou gives Kagome her bow and asks her to shoot the wound with it. That's the only way to purify Kikyou. However, when Kagome takes the bow, the bow string snapps immediately.
The fact that the sting broke means that Kagome is being corrupted by Naraku's web. Kikyou states that Kagome saw the events from 50-years before and despite the fact that Kagome knew the facts of that story, witnessing them has caused the corruption. Thus Kagome could not use Kikyou's bow and heal Kikyou. Thus, Naraku's plan continues since Kagome has lost her healing powers, Kikyou cannot touch the remaining shards because she will taint them, and now Kouga has lost the protection on his Shikon shards.
Kagome decides to do something anyway and comes out to report to the group that she has to get a bowstring from a certain mountain mausoleum. Sango inquires about Kohaku, but is told he's safely hidden. Kikyou cannot move since if she does so, Kohaku's barrier will drop. Kagome tells Inuyasha to stay with Kikyou as she does her normal "I'm pissed with Inuyasha" moment. That makes her wonder if she is corrupted but Inuyasha sees it as no different than the other times she's been mad with him.
Inuyasha's group rushes to the mountain and discuss the current situation. The group notes Kouga's venerability with the shards. Kagome recalls Kikyou's words, saying that only if she truly wished to save her, Kagome will then be able to see the bowstring. She's bothered that Kikyou always seems to be testing her and that Inuyasha always runs to her.
In the cave, Kohaku notices that the Shikigami "children" are fading, meaning Kikyou's power is weakening. Naraku's Saimyousho insects are outside the cave and Byakuya appears in the cave. This is immediately known to Kikyou, who instructs Inuyasha to take her to Kohaku. Byakuya introduces himself to Kohaku and asks him to come out of the barrier since it is weakening. The Shikigami instruct Kohaku to run as they use their remaining power to launch an attack on Byakuya. Byakuya easily overcomes the attack, but it gave Kohaku time to escape.
Kikyou notes that the Shikigami have disappeared and Kohaku is in danger. Kohaku runs, but is easily intercepted by Byakuya. Kohaku makes a desperate attack which Byakuya avoids before capturing Kohaku.
And so we have another "Kagome gets ticked with Inuyasha because of Kikyou" story. *yawn* Someone wake me when its done. Still, Takahashi-sensei manages to pull off enough things to keep the pages turning and the desire to keep reading there. I guess that's her greatest skill.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Thanks to BWYS for the scans.
Empress Amaterasu, her ninja, and her warriors from Japan face a wild-eyed Kurogane who immediately attacks them. The Empress deflects the energy of the attack with her sword, but is still cut in the process. Her soldiers plan to make the boy pay for his attack, but are stopped when she so orders it, choosing instead to send Souma and her ninja. The ninja attack, but Kurogane, while still holding his mother, fends them off. The ninja are unable to contain Kurogane, leaving Empress Amaterasu with no other option but apparently take him on herself. She is stopped when her younger sister, the miko Tsukuyomi, emerges from the small carriage behind her. Tsukuyomi knows that the boy can defeat her "oneesama" and so and so she asks to be allowed to handle the situation.
Agreeing to Tsuikuyomi's request, the miko prepares her magic while Kurogane still easily fends off the ninja, who find themselves flung from the fray. Kurogane still holds his dead mother in one hand and his sword in the other. Tsukuyomi fires her spell, which appears as a beam of energy. Young Kurogane's hand is pierced and is driven into the remains of a wall behind him. What appears to be a blade remains to secure his hand to the wall-beam. In his crazed state, he attempts to free his hand from the wall, but Tsukuyomi orders him to not move.
Witnessing Kurogane & Tsukuyomi, the lead ninja Souma is concerned. However, Empress Amaterasu reminds her that Tsukuyomi knew the danger and had insisted upon coming to the battlefield. Kurogane is clearly in pain but unable to use his sword with his hand pinned to the beam as Tsukuyomi approaches. She comes to the body of his mother and closes her eyes, telling Kurogane to allow his mother to rest in peace. Her words find their mark and his sanity begins to return as he acknowledges both his mother and his father (via his father's sword). With this, he breaks down and weeps, comforted by Tsukuyomi.
Sometime later, Kurogane awakes to find himself in a bed (large futon) with Tsukuyomi at hsi bedside, holding Ginryuu. She tells him that he is now at Shirasaki City in the country of Japan. She introduces herself, stating that she is a miko as his mother was. Looking at the sword in her hand, Kurogane decides that the sword should be buried with his mother since his father's body was eaten by the beast. With this, Tsukuyomi decides that she will have a new katana constructed for him, identical to Ginryuu. When he asks why, she explains that it is so he can keep the promise he made with his father.
She then states that she hasn't told him her name. He is puzzled, thinking her name is Tsukuyomi, but that is her title in Japan. Her real name is Tomoyo. She asks for his name, and he says, "Kurogane."
It is here that Syaoran-kun finds himself back at the library where Sakura-chan notices he is crying. The rest of his companions come, but they cannot get Syaoran's attention, nor can they remove the book from his hands until Kurogane does so. The book out of his hand, the weeping Syaoran apologized to Kurogane.
Syaoran awakes in a bed to find his companions waiting for him and relieved he is doing better. Syaoran asks to be allowed to speak to Kurogane in private, so the others leave the room, Fai speculating that maybe Syaoran learned something that he needed to discuss with Kurogane. Mokona happily states that they need to find Sakura-chan's feather, and she agrees.
Back in the sick room of the library, Syaoran has relayed his adventures in the book to Kurogane and he confirms that indeed the book showed Syaoran Kurogane's past. Syaoran apologizes for looking at his private moments without permission. Syaoran is upset about this, but Kurogane grabs Syaoran's arm and asks if he saw the sorrowful moments in his life. Syaoran confirms this and Kurogane almost seems pleased by it.
Syaoran decides to ask about Kurogane's mother's killer. Kurogane reveals that after becoming a ninja of Shirasaki City, they searched everywhere for the killer but had no success. Kurogane recalls how only a hand wielded the sword and that very strong spells were placed on the sword. Syaoran remembers the design on the sword's hilt as the same design of the mysterious warriors, who attacked the Country of Clow when Sakura first lost her feathers, bore on their clothing and weapons.
Volume 12 of the manga wrapped up the most boring story in Tsubasa to date with only some mildly interesting things happening at the end. Volume 13 on the other hand, has just been incredible. The action sequences where young Kurogane fought off the ninja while holding his dead mother were incredible. I'm not a huge fan of pointless, constant shounen action, but this action scene meant something beyond a "hero vs. opponents" conflict. It was a heartfelt scene and no doubt reflected the pain we all might have felt if we'd seen our mother brutally slain.
I loved getting all of this back-story about Kurogane. The way CLAMP did is was clever because Kurogane is not the kind of person to just blubber about his life. Syaoran has seen it and Kurogane was very mature about this. In many ways, I felt that now Kurogane sees Syaoran not only as a worthy companion in a fight, but now like a brother since they've shared the same traumatic experience.
Another nice thing about this volume was getting a little more history about Kurogane's Tomoyo. We'd gotten some clues in volume 12's end with the Tomoyo there, and there's still a lot more to learn about the country of Japan. How CLAMP will do this (if they do it at all) remains to be seen, but I'd like to see more of Kurogane's rise in power, his work on behalf of Japan, and more of the events leading to Tomoyo sending him to see Yuuko-san. We don't need to see this, but I think it would be a neat side bonus chapter (or chapters).
This volume sent Tsubasa's rating with me much higher than it had been as CLAMP turned this from being ho-hum to kick-bottom!
Friday, February 23, 2007
Thanks to Ear-Tweak for the scans.
A small group of army soldiers are sitting in camp and discussing the rumors that the forest ahead is being melted away. They wonder if this could be a youkai's doing. As they discuss, two "energy" things sweep over their camp, killing all of the soldiers who's corpses smolder.
Back at the abandoned house, Kikyou briefs Inuyasha on Miroku's condition. Inside the house, Sango and Kohaku discuss the situation with his fragment and his determination to stay with Kikyou. Outside, Kouga makes an observation on Inuyasha's behavior around Kikyou to Kagome. Kouga decides to inquire if Kikyou is going to leave. She confirms that she needs to leave quickly to take care of a presence that on the move with traces of Naraku's shouki. As she leaves, she seems to make a promise to Kagome to save Kohaku if she can.
Inuyasha and company are on the move along with Kouga. Sango and Miroku are riding Kirara and she inquires about his well being. His response is his normal "cop a feel of her behind," which leads Kouga and Shippou-chan to observe that he must be doing better.
Inuyasha senses something ahead and they are attacked by eel creatures, which Inuyasha cuts with Tessaiga. Sango recognizes them not as creatures, but as quills from a certain kind of youkai. Said youkai emerges (Yama-Arashi), its quills on fire, and Inuyasha notes that it has a Kongousouha spear in its head, meaning its dead and that Naraku killed it and is controlling it. The dead Yama-Arashi lanches the quills at the group, producing a ton of jyaki. Inuyasha counters with a Kaze no Kizu attack. The attack takes out the dead youkai and most of the quills, but not all.
Miroku and Sango take off to gate care of the remaining quills. Miroku thinks about Kikyou's warning to him about the Kazaana. They see a swarm of quills and suspect there's something other than the Yama-Arashi down there.
Inuyasha, Kagome, Miroku, and Sango kill off massive numbers of quills, but the numbers are greater than what fled, leading Kagome to announce that there have to be more Yama-Arashi. Sure enough, more dead Yama-Aarashi lumber onto the scene, leading Sango to gake out one with her Hiraikotsu attack. The quills attempt to flee, leading Miroku to use the Kazaana to suck them all in. Observing the downed Yama-Arashi, Miroku suspects there are more and that they should go hunt them down. Sango urges Miroku not to use the Kazaana, and Miroku is relieved when he discovers that her reasons are for his health, and not that she knows the Kazaana is starting to consume him (or rather the shouki wounds coming from the Kazaana).
Back in the air on Kirara, Sango and Miroku discover a few more quills, when Miroku notices the shouki would from his Kazaana. As they fly down a canyon, more Yama-Arashi burst from the canyon walls, causing Sango to lose her Hiraikotsu and as they fall to the ground, they are surrounded. Kagome and Inuyasha rush to find Sango and Miroku with Kouga running along side. As they run, several dead Yama-Arashi burst from the ground.
Sango and Miroku are fighting for their lives. The battle is sore pressed upon them and Sango realizes that Miroku may be forced to use the Kazaana to save them. With her katana in hand, Sango rushes toward the Yama-Arashi in the hopes of running past them and getting her Hiraikotsu, which is lying behind the youkai.
Sango charges in order to get the Hiraikotsu while Miroku, not liking what she's doing, covers her with his fuda slips. Sango, using her youkai hunting skills, decides to take down the Yama-Arashi first since that would be easiest. She manages to get on top of the giant youkai beast, but is thrown off and nearly killed. She manages to recover in time to obtain the Hiraikotsu, where she uses it to take down the youkai.
It is then that Miroku notices that the shouki around them has gotten much stronger. Even though their attack had removed Naraku's Kongousouha spear from the Yama-Arashi's forhead, another spear emerged and the youkai "came back to life." Sango is knocked out by the surprise attack that follows and Miroku finds himself protecting her body and realizing he's going to have to use the Kazaana even though the shouki wounds from his hand may spread and kill him.
Before he can do anything, he's saved by a joint attack from Kouga and Inuyasha. Kagome fires a Hama no Ya into the jyaki to clear the air. Inuyasha chastises Miroku for nearly using the Kazaana. Kouga is sympathitic to Miroku's plight, as is Kagome who proply ends the discussion by forcing Inuyasha down with an Osuwari command (sit). Sango comes to and wants to see Miroku. She is relieved when she sees him, and he is happy that he has companions he can count on.
Naraku comes to a cave with a pool of water. A voice from the water notes that he's come back to Hakureizan, even though Naraku didn't want to. The voice wants to know why Naraku has returned to what's left of the mountain. Naraku reveals that after he'd absorbed Mouryoumaru and the baby, Kikyou was there, but didn't fire an arrow. Seeing Kohaku, Naraku realized her plan -- to use Kohaku's purified shard to instantly purify his piece of the Shikon no Tama and thus purified Naraku.
A head emerges from the water -- Naraku's human heart Onigumo. Since Onigumo had a negative heart, taking that heart back might be enough to give Naraku the edge he needs to kill Kikyou. The head turns into a large, hand-sized spider where it then is absorbed into Naraku. Naraku reflects that this negative human heart is an appropriate weapon to rid himself of Kikyou and Inuyasha.
Having made camp, Kouga is amazed that the group has stopped to eat and rest. This is because he normally runs for three days at a time (with no apparent breaks). Inuyasha is up in a tree they are camped under and he refuses Kagome's request to come down and get some food. He's not happy about Kouga's presence, but is reminded by Kagome that due to the tricky situation with the shards in his legs Kouga should stay with the group. Kouga flirts with Kagome, which provokes a jealous response from Inuyasha and an Osuwari from Kagome.
That night, Inuysha dreams of his encounter with Kikyou 50-years before when Naraku attempted to get them to kill each other. He awakens and is troubled by the dream. Kagome wakens to see Inuyasha is awake but then notices a giant spider's web nearby Inuyasha.
Not a whole lot to say here, though I get the feeling that maybe Takahashi-sensei may wrap this puppy up by years end.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Time for some more anime I've watched. The only good thing about being sick is that I had time to watch a fair amount of anime.
xxxHOLiC 19 -- This is adapted from manga volume 8 chapter 96, which was a pure filler chapter in the manga. It also take tiny references from chapter 95 and possibly later references. During a snowy day, Yuuko-san is drinking and as Watanuki cleans, he comes upon a box which can't be opened. The next day at school a letter from Yuuko-san instructs him, Doumeki, and Himawari-chan to come to the park. When they come to the park, Mokona is already there. An irritated Ame Warashi is there as well as a shy Zashiki Warashi. Yuuko-san has the box, which is a prize for the winner of a snowball fight -- a fight done by the snowman creations of each of the people. The box will grant a wish to the one who wins the snowball fight.
Even after Yuuko-san decides to participate, Watanuki ends up winning the fight and thus gets to open the box. Unfortunately for him, he is distracted by Yuuko-san. As such, he ends up the loser when the box ends up granting what Yuuko-san wants when she asks him what he's planning to make for dinner-- nabe. So now with a kind of igloo made, Watanuki prepares nabe with Ame Warashi, Zashiki Warashi, and Himawari-chan having run to the convenience store to pick up extra ingredients.
I admit that the episode is humorous and I love Zashiki Warashi and Ame Warashi, but like the manga, it is pure filler. And Yuuko-san just seems so much less impressive in the anime than she is in the manga.
xxxHOLiC 20 -- Its Valentine's Day Eve and Yuuko-san has Watanuki making chocolate fondue. A woman comes to Yuuko-san's shop and needs a wish granted. She has a photo that she no longer wishes to see. However, the photo seems normal enough. At school, Himawari-chan eats Watanuki's chocolate fondue and Doumeki eats the one Watanuki was going to eat. Doumeki gets a bag full of chocolate, but Watanuki only gets the one from Himawari-chan. Despite the fact that she gave one to Doumeki, he's in a good mood. He returns to the shop to see that the picture frame Yuuko-san had put the woman's picture in was melting and a woman in the picture begins moving. The woman who brought the picture to Yuuko-san returns and the picture now shows her in the picture and the picture woman fall off the cliff in a way that might be an accidental push from the customer woman. Yuuko-san grants her wish to destroy the picture with a price that she can never have her image captured by any photographic equipment of any kind, but not before it is revealed that it wasn't an accident but murder over a man.
With this, the anime writers pull back the pieces of the Valentine's Day manga story and merge it with the picture story in the manga AND give the woman customer a motive for murder, something the manga doesn't care about.
xxxHOLiC 21 -- Watanuki finishes working for Yuuko-san and puts on his new shoes. He's warned about it being bad luck. He ignores the warning, trips on his shoelace, and falls on his face. He has the next day off, so he reads some manga Yuuko-san lent him while lying in his futon at his apartment. He's considering what to eat when he notices Doumeki in the room reading his manga. After getting ticked, Doumeki offers him a gift -- some Matsusaka Beef which is high quality stuff. Doumeki wants sukiyaki and Watanuki agrees. They disagree about the kind of sukiyaki to make, and Watanuki goes nuts at how Doumeki takes over the preparation. Eating to their full, Watanuki wants to go to sleep on a full stomach but is warned not to because of the superstition of becoming a cow. He ignores it, and pays for it be having cow nightmares, having his body feel heavy, and having other cow-related issues. That night he spends the night with Yuuko-san and is remembers the superstition about not cutting ones nails at night. He ignores it and is nearly killed by a creature with giant sheering "pincher's." He's save by Yuuko-san and taught that superstitions, whether bad or good, are real. She then has to perform a rite on Watanuki to "cleanse" him.
Bah! The manga story was one chapter and didn't say anything about the turning into a cow element. Indeed, most of this was made up by the anime writers save for Watanuki spending the night, doing his nails, and nearly being killed. So the manga made it much more sinister and a lesson to Watanuki to listen to warnings given no matter how foolish they seem. The anime story went for a "all superstitions are real" element and that didn't sell with me.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Negima!? 11 -- After the Black Rose Baron makes himself at home in Asuna and Negi's room, Asuna makes it her mission and the mission of the Chupa Club to capture him, using old fashioned baited traps. Meanwhile Haruna and Yue discover Negi's secret and Haruna does a pactio. Yue flees, and Negi is again found out by the Chupa-looking critters of the magic world Motsu and Shichimi. Yue runs into the Black Rose Baron. More silly fun while continuing to press forward with the Star Crystal storyline.
Negima!? 12 -- Setsuna watches a sleeping Konoka-chan and remembers their time together as a youth. Continuing from episode 11, Yue is fleeing and runs into the Black Rose Baron. Looking for Yue, Negi and Haruna go by the pool where Negi discovers Ayaka wears a swimsuit with his image on it. Yue flees from place to place on campus with Motsu and Shichimi also in hot pursuit to prove Negi's secret is out. However, Yue manages to stay one step ahead of the Chupa Team. Haruna gets her power activated to try to find Yue. As Yue flees and hides, she worries about the whole kiss part of the pactio. She's found by Motsu and Shichimi, but uses the Samohan Kinpou (a Chinese movie star and friend of Jackie Chan) gag to get away and makes up her mind about a pactio. Unfortunately Motsu, Shichimi, and apparently the rest of Negi's class are witness. This one had humorous moments, but the comedy wasn't the best.
Negima!? 13 -- Negi is turned into a chupacabra by Motsu and Shichimi while their surroundings become a castle in Wales. Ayaka punishes Motsu for being heartless. Mana detects another Digimon escapee, who turns three of the girls, Ako, Sakurako, & Satsuki, into fighters for it. Chupa-Negi urges his class to flee since he can't use magic. Eva and Chachamaru arrive on scene to save the day where the Chupa Club learns that Eva was the vampire from earlier in the series, but Asuna has forgotten. Chupa-Negi keeps Eva from harming his students and the Chupa Club flees with Chupa-Negi in tow. Takamichi-sensei arrives and meets with Eva and Chachamaru. Negi goes off with an illusion of his older "neesan" and his childhood friend. Ayaka's group gets lost in a jungle and Makie is captured by a T-rex. Kei-Fuu's group gets in a sci-fi anime parody with a tribute to the classic video game Space Invaders. Negi confronts Black Rose Baron while Eva, Takamitchi, and Chachamaru confront the fairy. Even when everything seems resolved and everyone meets back together, the illusion castle doesn't disappear and Asuna does a dumb thing.
Negima!? 14 -- With Takamitchi injured and Negi a chupacabra, Eva mass-evacuates everyone outside the castle. Chamo-kun comes up with a plan to turn Negi back into a human, though it will involve everyone who hasn't done so making a pactio with him. Many in the class balk at this suggestion, forcing the current partners to sell the idea to them after Chupa-Negi is captured. The class comes back to the castle to rescue Negi, who is witnessing an event from his past. The castle is forced into the sky by giant vines meaning there's no escape. Chachazero frees Negi from his trap and it is decided (in a parody of the end of the original Negima! anime complete with the OP theme from that anime) to jump from the castle and mass pactio in the sky. Negi is returned to human form after seeing the Black Rose Baron again, activates Nodoka's rare card and gets everyone out of the illusion world, only to find that in the real world, their school has been devastated. But hey, at least Chachazero got a cameo!
Mahou Sensei Negima! Haru -- This is the first of two OAV episodes which apparently have nothing to do with either the original Negima! anime nor the new Negima!? anime. Taking a chapter from the manga where Asuna and Negi have their fight, the anime writers simply expound upon that story and instead of Negi using the term "paipan" on Asuna, the fight starts from him saying things don't concern her. One of the extra things added was having Eva lead an expedition into the forest to look for a rumored chupacabra that resides there. Apparently, they are an anathema to vampires. A ton of time is wasted in eye-catches for each of the girls, and the episode itself serves as little more than a fanservice fest with ecchi humor thrown on top. Most of that comes from Setsuna finding herself trying to get a better look at Konoka-chan whenever Konoka-chan would be bent over. This isn't what I want to see in an anime, that's for sure.
Mahou Sensei Negima! Natsu -- Nodoka thinks about the red string of fate, wondering who its attached to. Yue and Nodoka try to practice magic and Yue casts a spell that causes a real but magical red string to connect her with Negi. Due to the spell, she has to spend the day with Negi. Things are complicated when Ayaka has the entire clas go to her bathhouse/spa/resort. Not only do Negi and Nodoka have to stay together, but Negi finds himself attempting to avoid Asuna's attempts to give him a bath. Meanwhile, everyone else enjoys the bath, meaning the audience is treated to a TON of fanservice. Gah! I was completely disgusted by the whole thing to be honest with you. The only neat things were the cameos by Motsu and Shichimi as well as the clever use of the various Negima! manga covers in the OP sequence. Otherwise, I recommended an avoid.
Thanks to eXeXeX HOLIC for the scans.
Watanuki finds himself in Yuuko-san's treasure room with Mokona. He selects the bottle of alcohol Yuuko-san want, which happens to be called Mugetsu, the same as the pipe-fox. He wonders why someone would put wine in a treasure room, which Mokona answers by stating that wine is a treasure. Watanuki notices Kurogane's sword and Fei's magic tattoo and he wonders how Syaoran and the others from Tsubasa are doing. He wonders why the 2nd Syaoran paid in advance for his life from the accident along with Himawari-chan and Doumeki-kun.
Seeing Mokona, he wonders aloud how the white Mokona is doing. Black Mokona seems a bit troubled, but responds that its twin is doing its best. Black Mokona also states that the others are doing their best with what they have, as is Watanuki. Watanuki is embarrassed by this and when Mugetsu gets kiss-happy, Mokona has to save the alcohol bottle. It is then that Watanuki sees the plastic replica of the original wand that Sakura-chan from Cardcaptor Sakura had. Watanuki realizing there is a Syaoran and Sakura in his world feels that he'd like to meet them someday.
Meanwhile, Doumeki is holding the egg Yuuko-san has given him for payment and Yuuko-san tells him to keep it close to him at all times. She gives a cryptic warning about not being lost when the moment comes, but an arriving customer interrupts their conversation. Watanuki coming with the food and beverages sees a high school girl in the yard. As the girl meets with Yuuko-san, Watanuki reports to Doumeki that the girl's seifuku (uniform) is from their school. Yuuko-san assures the girl that her arrival at the shop means she has a wish. Upon being asked what her wish is, the girl responds that her house is scary.
Again, we get a tie-in with Tsubasa and whatever events happened there. However, Watanuki deciding that he'd like to meet the Syaoran-kun and Sakura-chan of his world is what excited me. Since it strongly appears that the world of Cardcaptor Sakura and xxxHOLiC are the same, it would be totally cool to see the couple show up in xxxHOLiC and interact with Watanuki. It has not been stated as to the nature of the relationship between Syaoran and Watanuki, but I have this crazy idea that maybe Syaoran and Sakura are his parents. Hey, in a title like xxxHOLiC and Tsubasa where movement through time and space are possible (on top of everything else), this whacked idea of mine is possible.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Not a ton watched this week, but a bit more than last week.
Negima!? 08 -- The twins Fuuka and Fumika are looking to be adults with the help of Kaede. Negi and his parters explore the giant school library for a book. And of course, Negi ends up with new partners. Since the series doesn't take itself too seriously and makes no bones about following the manga (simply taking ideas from there and making them into new stories), I'm having no problems with this series.
Negima!? 09 -- After dreaming about his father and the Black Rose Baron, Negi and his partners are having a meeting, which of course Asuna has turned into a chupacabra meeting which leads to the group having a camp. Ayaka is depressed by this but found a way to comfort herself. Meanwhile at camp, the Black Rose Baron appears. Yuuna wants to touch Mana's gun. Negi attempts to teach his harem magic at the camp. Kaede helps Negi as she's at the camp ground for ninja training, and she knows Negi is a mage and everything that goes with it (pactio). Eva has the tea ceremony done by Chachamaru crashed by the two chupacabra. More fanservice in this episode than in earlier ones.
Negima!? 10 -- Ayaka is jealous of the camping trip that Chupa Club went on with Negi and wants to know more. In a meeting to discuss the recent troubles, Eva promises not to help Negi or the others, despite the Headmaster's offer. The Black Rose Baron appears again and Negi think it is his father Nagi under the control of the Star Crystal. Meanwhile, some of the girls not in the Chupa Club get captured by a fairy (looking like an escapee from Digimon) to fight Negi's crew. A little more serious this time, but still has that silly humor I like in this series. And it ended with a Baka Rangers short. ^_^
Kanon 20 -- Yuuichi confesses to Ayu and she to him. However, a visit to Ayu's school in the woods leads to a surprising event and a desperate search for Ayu's lost item. With this episode, the final girl story is being told and we'll see how the writers do this. I know Ayu's story had be bawling like a baby in the original Kanon, and I expect tears this time too.
xxxHOLiC 18 -- I really hate the changes to the manga story. But this expanded the manga chapter in which the cat spirit gives the Houzuki (lanter) to Watanuki, and he and Doumeki-kun participate in the Hyakkiyakou -- the youkai parade. The anime writers made it more comical and added the Zashiki Warashi as well. So, I suppose these changes weren't bad.
Well, that's all for installment. Since I'm sick and have free time, I may do another one of these sooner than I thought.
Thanks to Ear-Tweak for the scans.
Within Mouryoumaru, Naraku faces off with the baby that is his heart. Naraku's Heart does an attack, but it doesn't harm Naraku and prompts him to ask why the baby didn't realize Mouryoumaru was being consumed from the inside.
As Kagome and Inuyasha pursue Mouryoumaru, Kouga is still trapped in the tendrils, unable to move due to Midoriko's will.
Within Mouryoumaru, Naraku forms a hand but cannot penetrate the baby's barrier. Naraku simply uses the power of tree Youmeiju to overcome the barrier. The baby, in response, sends more spears into Naraku's face. Mouryoumaru's armor opens and the baby can now be seen. Inuyasha takes the opportunity to launch a Kongousouha attack. Mouryoumaru defends against the attack.
Naraku and the baby again square off with words -- Naraku asking if the baby would indeed leave the safety of Mouryoumaru and surely be killed to get away from him and Naraku's Heart asking if Naraku is prepared to join him in death. As they do this, Kouga unleashes a Goraishi attack, which results in a release of shouki. Naraku decides to speed up devouring Kouga as Kagome fires an arrow to purify the shouki.
Naraku, controlling Mouryoumaru, launches attacks at Inuyasha and Kagome riding on Kirara. Inuyasha and Kagome are knocked off Kirara as the attacks continue. Then, Mouryoumaru's face splits open to reveal Naraku's face. As Naraku shows his triumphant face, Kouga and the baby are about to be consumed.
Naraku shows off his new body, leading to the usual, "I knew he was alive" remarks. He then consumes the baby and then turns his attention to consuming Kouga. Kouga is unable to move due to Midoriko's will, recalls his ancestors telling him that the Shikon shards were being controlled by another and that they'd protect him but only once. Kagome mounts Kirara and moves to get closer to Kouga-kun to keep a promise to Kikyou.
Meanwhile, Kikyou and Kohaku arrive at the scene of the battle where Kikyou senses that the spirits that were supposed to protect Kouga are being overcome by Naraku's jyaki. She observes Kagome moving in to fire an arrow to purify the "arm" holding Kouga. The attack appears to do no damage and Kouga finds himself looking inside Naraku, where he sees the baby, still surrounded by a barrier, but with large vessels going through the barrier and connecting it to Naraku as a whole.
Kouga decides to launch an attack and despite the shouki being released by Naraku, Kouga finds he isn't being overcome by the poison gas. The attack forces Naraku to move the baby away from Kouga to where it can be seen outside his body. At that time, the Yourouzoku spirits emerge from Naraku in the form of giant wolves with Kouga coming out with them. Kagome's attack had fueled them to be able to overcome Naraku's jyaki.
Kouga hits the ground and moves to attack. Inuyasha and Miroku also take up attack positions with Miroku doing his Kazaana attack.
As Miroku does the Kazaana, sucking in things all around, Naraku releases massive amounts of Shouki for him to suck in. Despite Sango's please, Miroku is determined to end this here and now. Despite the damage he's taking, Miroku keeps the Kazaana open and Naraku realizes that he's attempting to suck in his heart. The Fuyouheki from the baby appears to be pulled into Miroku's hand before Inuyasha puts an end to it by closing the Kazaana. Naraku mocks Inuyasha for being sentimental and missing an opportunity to defeat him before fleeing the battle in a cloud of shouki.
Sango rushes to Miroku's side, who's injured very badly. Kagome realizes that he did this for Sango's sake and to hopefully save Kohaku's life. Kikyou arrives at Miroku's side where she observes his wounds, the shouki wounds taking the form of spider legs in appearance. Sango asks if Kikyou can help, and she agrees to purify Miroku's wounds. However, it will take three days to purify him.
At an abandoned house in the country, Kikyou does her work on Miroku. She takes the shouki from Miroku's body into her own to purify it, causing herself some damage in the process. Sango wonders why Kikyou would do this to help Miroku and Kikyou finishes her thought by stating her own plan to sacrifice Kohaku to kill Naraku.
Outside, Kagome looks to Kouga's wounds. He acknowledges her actions saved his life in his flirty way, but this doesn't draw the normal jealous response from Inuyasha. Instead, he asks Kouga to give them the Shikon shards. Kouga responds that Kikyou had also asked for his shards, which seemed to surprise Inuyasha and Kagome.
Later, as Sango and Shippou-chan sleep, Miroku comes to and talks with Kikyou. She's purified the shouki within him, but the wounds to his Kazaana could not be fixed and thus his Kazaana will soon consume him. He knows this and requests that Kikyou not tell the others, which she agrees to.
Well, things go pretty much as expected -- Naraku appears, seems in danger, gets out of danger, and escapes. The only item of real interest to me was that Takahashi-sensei decided to re-introduce the danger of Miroku's Kazaana and the fact that it will kill him. I don't remember how long it has been since that danger was addressed, but its been a while.
Thanks to BWYS for the scans.
Syaoran continues continues to observe the events from the book as if he were there, seeing the young teen boy that looks like Kurogane with his ill mother. As Syaoran observes, he recalls that Kurogane handled the book before him and had not experienced anything, yet when he opened the book, he began observing the life of this family, specifically from the boy's perspective who looks like Kurogane. He speculates that the book recorded Kurogane's memories which he is now watching.
Having decided that he is watching scenes from Kurogane's memories, he attempts to let go of the book, but is prevented from doing so. The book instead flips forward pages with images on the pages showing Kurogane's mother getting worse and Kurogane training harder. The pages stop by displaying the young Kurogane use his Hama Ryuuoujin attack to defeat a creature who'd been attacking the people. They are thankful to him for his work, though he wishes hed gotten there sooner. A young girl gives Kurogane flowers to give to his mother, for which he is grateful.
Returning home, Kurogane finds his father has returned with injuries and a broken katana. Kurogane is amazed that the monsters his father went to destroy were so strong. His father tells Kurogane to get his injuries tended to. Ignoring his own injuries, Kurogane's father takes the family heirloom sword Ginryuu to head back to fight the powerful monsters.
Young Kurogane is amazed that his father would need the sword Ginryuu just to defeat a monster. Kurugane's father concedes that creature is a difficult foe, but he'll defeat it. Kurogane's mother emerges and gently chastises him for taking the sword and planning to leave without calling her. They both gently call each other unreasonable in their attitudes, but he submits to her, unleashing Ginryuu and kneeling before her to receive the miko prayer/blessing from his wife. She does and her power flows over the sword.
With that, Kurogane's father attempts to leave, but Kurogane wants to go too. His father acknowledges Kurogane's strength and urges him to use it to protect the things he loves. With that, his father and his shinobi take off. Kurogane rushes back to the house to discover his mother has collapsed, the blessing of the blade having taken much out of her. She refuses to be taken to the doctor, requesting instead to be taken to the Inoriba -- the place of prayer. As a miko, it is her duty to do this to aid her husband in battle and protect the country.
Her request is granted and the young Kurogane kneels on guard outside. Hearing noses from the Inoriba, he comes in to see a hand with a large sword and hilt like dragon wings coming from the opposite wall, the sword having run through his mother.
Kurogane rushes into the room, having observed this giant sword run through her mother. Before he can reach his mother, the hand extracts the sword from her body and disappears back into the wall with the wall returning as if nothing had come from it. His dying mother states that the Kekkai has been broken and dies. As Kurogane screams his mother's name, giant monsters have invaded the city and are destroying everything in their path.
A large creature breaks down the walls of the house where Kurogane holds his dead mother. In its beak, it holds an arm still gripping Ginryuu -- his father's arm. The giant creature manages to get the sword to fall to the ground where it then eats the arm. Kurogane snaps and grabs Ginryuu to attack the monster.
Sometime later, the Empress of the country of Japan, Amaterasu, arrives at the Suwa capital with a party. The ninja Souma reports that the miko of Suwa has died. Empress Amaterasu remarks that her younger sister, Tsukuyomi, saw all of this in a dream, which is why this party from Japan has come. She then addresses a figure in the distance, stating that he most likely defeated all of the monsters that had attacked. That figure is the wild-eyed Kurogane, bloody and holding Ginryuu and his mother.
Egad! Up to this point, Tsubasa hadn't been dark at all (or not much). Further, the action shown had been pretty much shounen fare with little more than fanservice in the fighting shown (maybe a little bit of character growth in that a character becomes stronger in battle). Chapter 95 ended all of that with the bloody death of Kurogane's mother, father, and the bloody aftermath of the battle. CLAMP certainly decided to take off the gloves and with volume 13, Tsubasa has moved up in my opinion of the title. I still like xxxHOLiC better, but CLAMP really has brought the manga forward since the end of volume 12, which ended the Tomoyo race arc.
Considering how dire things in Tsubasa were hinted at in volume 11, chapter 122 of xxxHOLiC, I expect that this increased level of intensity and darkness will continue.
Monday, February 19, 2007
Thanks to AQS for the scans.
Volume 18 Chapter 160
Negi has defeated Chao, who's free-falling but is caught by Negi. Despite this, the magic started by Hakase and apparently still needs to be stopped. The magic from the World Tree erupts and while Negi ponders what to in the few minutes he has left to stop things, but he's run out of magical power and now falls with Chao off the airship. As they fall, Chao cannot do anything to slow them down or stop their fall and reflects on the good job someone so young had done even if it weren't enough.
Hakase notices them falling and activates her tech to apparently fly out to get them, but notices something wrong with the activation magic she'd done via computer.
Meanwhile, Ayaka Makie are doing their mahou shoujo routine to aid Chisame-chan and her hacker skills to counter everything being done to reveal the existence of magic to the world. Chisame has no interest in merging a "dream world" with a normal world . She finds herself up against Chachamaru, who recalls Chao thinking that this normal world that Chisame wants is like a dream to her considering the harshness of the future. Chisame asks Chachamaru what he thinks about what Chao said and decides she wants to protect her reality and not allow Chao have her way.
Elsewhere, Chao comes to with several girls from the class looking at her as they are on the roof of the streetcar cafe stand, being flown by Satsuki. Negi is being attended by Asuna and is OK, to the relief of other magic battle folks like Setsuna. Below them, the giant robot vanishes and things appear to be returning to normal. Hakase, flying near the streetcar, wants to know how Chachamaru could allow Chisame to win. Chachamaru believes that when Chao lost, it meant that she would also lose automatically to Chisame due to how Chao set thing up. Chao set it up so that if she lost and admitted defeat, she'd withdraw cleanly, meaning that Chisame's work may have been for naught. This dismays Chisame a bit, but Chachamaru disagrees.
Back on the streetcar, Negi comes to and Chao tells Negi that he has good friends and that she cannot win against Class 3-A.
Well, this had the final battle conclude between Chisame and Chachamaru and the end of the Mahoro School Festival Arc coming very soon. Looks like Satsuki was in on Chao's secret since she could fly the streetcar. How deeply she knows about magic remains to be seen, but it is starting to look like Akamatsu-sensei will have all the girls know in one way or the other before all is said and done. I suppose that's not completely unexpected at this point, but it does mean less of an excuse to "dump" non-magic students, resulting in the scrambled mess that sometimes the School Festival Arc became at times.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Thanks to eXeXeX HOLIC for the scans.
Watanuki is not thrilled to be coming to Yuuko-san's store with Doumeki, who now can see her place after helping pay for Watanuki's recovery. However, Yuuko-san requested it so that's that. Watanuki calms down to ask Doumeki about his loss of blood, which was payment for Watanuki's life. Doumeki is OK and Watanuki thanks him for his sacrifice. Doumeki attempts to see Watanuki's face, who is embarrassed by having to thank him.
As Watanuki opens the door to Yuuko-san's place, the pipe-fox spirit launches itself at Watanuki. It appears mad at Watanuki, which Yuuko-san explains is due to it sulking over not having been named by Watanuki. Since Watanuki named Himawari-chan's bird, it wants a name too. Watanuki is surprised that the pipe-fox knew of the bird naming and remarks that since the pipe-fox isn't his, he doesn't feel right giving it a name. Yuuko-san reminds him of the importance of names and that's why the pipe-fox wants to be named by the one it loves most.
So, Watanuki names the pipe-fox Mugetsu (which means "moonless) because of the pipe-fox's eyes when it is big and small. The pipe-fox loves the name, and so Yuuko-san decides to celebrate the naming of Mugetsu. Yuuko-san dispatches Watanuki with the excited Mugetsu to prepare some food which Mokona decides to help as well.
Now alone, Doumeki asks why Yuuko-san summoned him. She has another egg to give him as payment for fetching the water. Watanuki's egg hatched into the bird Tanpopo for Himawari-chan, but this egg won't hatch into anything. The egg was not destroyed by the acid rain of the world that Sakura-chan sent it from (in Tsubasa) and when asked what he should do with it, Yuuko-san tells him to hold onto it for what will happen from now on.
So, the pipe-fox got named and Doumeki-kun got paid with the duplicate egg. I've got to read the story of what happened in Tsubasa and the egg's origin. Beyond that, this chapter appears to mostly be setup for something to come and a sweet moment for the pipe-fox.
Thanks to Ear-Tweak for the scans.
Mouryoumaru appears to have consumed Naraku and is gloating over it, though Inuyasha doesn't really believe it. Both Kagome and Kikyou sense that Naraku's piece of the Shikon no Tama and the fragment Mouryoumaru had have now merged. Mouryoumaru remarks on the rising power within him. Suddenly, both he and Kagome sense another fragment, which just happens to be Kouga. Kagome warns him to stay away, but Kouga decides to attack anyway, using Goraishi.
The attack fails which appears to be from the Shikon piece. Inuyasha unleashes Kongousouha from Tessaiga but it too fails. Inuyasha enlists the help of Kouga to a joint attack with Kouga being the decoy while Kagome urges them to hurry. As Sango and Miroku start to aid, Kagome informs Sango that Kohaku is coming as she senses his Shikon fragment. This of course is a concern to Sango since Kohaku is her brother and she knows Kikyou is using him.
Inuyasha and Kouga press their attack, but Inuyasha can't see Mouryoumaru's youketsu.
Inuyasha can't see Mouryoumaru's youketsu so he starts hacking at Mouryoumaru. Kouga wonders what he's up to since he's not making progress and launches his own useless attacks. Inuyasha figures the fuyouheki the baby within Mouryoumaru is blocking the youketsu, and Mouryoumaru mocks him by making a weak youketsu appear at will. Both Inuyasha and Kouga attack together but again do no damage. Realizing that Mouryoumaru is going for Kouga's Shikon fragment, he knocks him out of the fray much to Kouga's irritation.
Kouga ends up being caught by Mouryoumaru anyway when he cannot move his legs again. Still a ways away, Kikyou can sense this has happened and urges Kohaku to move quicker. They are intercepted by Sango and Kagome. Kagome knows Kikyou's plan, but Kohaku has made up his mind to assist Kikyou. Sango doesn't like it since it will mean Kohaku's death, but he's determined to help Kikyou no matter the cost.
Kikyou figures that Kagome has sensed that the large Shikon piece is attempting to merge with Kouga's shards, which is news to Sango. Kagome knows this, but requests Kikyou wait because she has another plan which Kikyou finds as useless. Kagome rushes back to the battle leaving Sango with Kikyou and Kohaku. Mouryoumaru has captured both Kouga and Inuyasha with Mouryoumaru planning to consume Kouga and take the fragments. However, Inuyasha has a plan.
Inuyasha asks Kouga to attack him with the Goraishi, which Kouga doesn't understand but complies with just the same. Miroku and Shippou-chan arrive at the battle just in time to witness this. Inuyasha uses Tessaiga to absorb the youkai power of the Goraishi attack, which he uses then to combine with Tessaiga's attacking power to blast Mouryoumaru. The attack doesn't do much damage, but does catch the attention of Naraku's Heart.
Miroku and Shippou-chan discuss why Inuyasha doesn't just cut the youketsu while Inuyasha attacks the point where Mouryoumaru is attempting to consume Kouga. The attack has some effect as the baby via Mouryoumaru counters with a gas attack. The gas knocks Kouga out and since Mouryoumaru has no interest in consuming a hanyou, he knocks Inuyasha away.
The shouki (poison gas) is purified as Kagome has fired a Hama no Ya into the cloud. Before Inuyasha can attack, Mouryoumaru does, forcing Inuyasha to have to shield himself. Mouryoumaru flees so that he can consume Kouga in peace while Kagome and Inuyasha are in hot pursuit. However, Kagome notices that the Shikon piece within Mouryoumaru isn't being absorbed by him. With Naraku and the Shikon piece both devoured by Mouryoumaru, he should be incredibly powerful, but instead he's not. The baby wonders what is going on and is shocked to see Naraku's face appear as it tells him that Mouryoumaru isn't using the power of the Shikon no Tama.
Yeah, here comes Naraku. Surprise, surprise.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Thanks to Ear-Tweak for the scans.
Kagome treats Kouga-kun's injuries he received in the battle with Mouryoumaru. She's amazed that it healed so quickly, which he attributes to her administrations, leading to a jealous reaction from Inuyasha.
Sango and Miroku contemplate Naraku's methods for retrieving the Shikon fragments. Inuyasha joins them and they wonder about Naraku leaving Kai's Shikon fragment behind to be obtained by Mouryoumaru.
Kouga decides to set out on his own (his tribe mates having been dispatched on another mission) which Kagome strongly objects to. Inuyasha also expresses his concern in his own way, stating that should Kouga die, he won't be able to face the Yourouzoku.
Meanwhile, some Japanese people are telling a Buddhist monk about a large tree they know as Youmeiju. In the past, the tree used to eat humans and youkai that came near it, but the tree was sealed by another Buddhist monk. As such, the tree appeared dead, but now is showing signs of life again, meaning it go back to its old ways. The Buddhist monk attempts to reseal the tree, only to be consumed.
Inyasha and company come upon the tree and villagers a few days later and see that indeed it has come back to life. Miroku is amazed that the old seals are not worn away, yet the tree has returned to life. Kagome senses a Shikon fragment in the tree meaning Naraku is involved. Inuyasha dispatches a Kaze no Kizu attack on the tree, which is blocked by the arrival of Naraku. Even as Naraku defends the tree, it attacks him.
The tree Youmeiju comes fully to life as it realized that it can finally consume a youkai after so many years. As such, it begins breaking down Naraku's barrier. Naraku seems unconcerned and even taunts Inuyasha's inability to kill him. Youmeiju is launched from the ground, with its intended prey. Youmeiju attempts to consume Naraku, but is absorbed by Naraku instead. This leads Inuyasha to launch a Kongousouha attack. It fails, Naraku gets away, and Miroku wonders what Naraku is up to.
Inuyasha's group takes off after Naraku while Kouga detects Mouryoumaru's scent and finds Kikyou and Kohaku on the trail. Mouryoumaru emerges from the rock, causing Kikyou to fall and be damaged. Kouga goes to Kikyou after Mouryoumaru escapes, thinking her dead. When she returns to life, he remembers that this is the undead miko he'd heard about. Upon learning that Kouga was after Mouryoumaru, Kikyou strings an arrow to attack Kouga.
Kouga is amused that Kikyou means to attack him. She informs him that she's only after the Shikon fragments in his legs. She demands he give them to her, which does not amuse him. Kikyou reminds him of the long-dead miko Midoriko and her will over the Shikon no Tama. Kouga had head the tale from Kagome, but Kikyou goes further, explaining that the reason his legs stop working at times is because the will of Midoriko is to give his shards to Naraku. If this should happen, Kouga could likely be killed. Giving Kikyou the shards would aid her in her quest to destroy Naraku, which does not impress Kouga.
Kikyou fires a shot, but Kouga is easily able to dodge. Deciding that he needs to go after Mouryoumaru, Kouga takes off. Kohaku suggests going after Mouryoumaru themselves, and Kikyou feels bad, knowing she's using Kohaku and his shard for her purposes.
Inuyasha and company are in hot pursuit of Naraku, who's not bothering to cover his scent. They see that Mouryoumaru and Naraku have squared off in the sky and the jyaki they are producing is killing plants and animals all around. After trading words, Mouryoumaru attacks Naraku. Naraku sees this as useless, since he can't die. Mouryoumaru reasons that his own death would also mean the death of Naraku. Naraku is eager to see who would remain alive in a battle between them.
As the shambled remains of Naraku and Mouryoumaru continue to square off, Naraku addresses his heart, the baby hidden within Mouryoumaru. Naraku had his heart detached, knowing it would betray him someday. As the infant, Naraku's Heart has used Mouryoumaru to build an armored shell, like a castle. Naraku reforms himself as Mouryoumaru asks why someone so insightful and in control as Naraku portrays himself needed to give Inuyasha the tools to "power up" to defeat him. Naraku responds that he was waiting for Mouryoumaru to come to him, which in fact has now happened.
Naraku changes form and attacks Mouryoumaru as Kikyou and Kohaku approach. She senses the two parts of the Shikon no Tama attempting to come together (a shard with Mouryoumaru, a nearly complete gem with Naraku). Naraku's form grabs Mouryoumaru's body, attempting to break the armor. Instead, Mouryoumaru manages to dissipate Naraku again. Naraku's pieces come together around Mouryoumaru, attempting to absorb him. Instead, Mouryoumaru managed to grab Naraku's head and devour him, leaving Mouryoumaru victorious.
Well, anyone with half a brain will know that Mouryoumaru hasn't won because Naraku will find a way to come back. Earlier, I was surprised that Takahashi-sensei dispatched with Youmeiju so quickly. I guess I figured we'd get a few more chapters there, but we didn't need them so all's well there.
Friday, February 16, 2007
Having just finished volume 6 of the manga, I have to say that my appreciation of the anime adaptation grew a lot. After all, the anime writers expanded the first 6 volumes of manga content and fleshed it out into 46 anime episodes (of 70 total). Needless to say, this explains a few things in the anime, but also helps make the anime more endearing. At times, the manga felt rushed, but CLAMP didn't do certain things. CLAMP jumped right into the story with volume 1 (with Sakura already having captured a few cards) whereas the anime decided not to have the cards pre-scattered by Clow, but rather have Sakura "accidentally" scatter them.
One thing I noticed in the manga was the absence of Li-kun's cousin Meiling. While I have yet to read the remaining manga volumes, it appears that Meiling is a creation of the anime writers. Just by adding her to the mix, the anime writers were able to capture another romantic triangle (Meiling-Syaoran-Sakura) and thus able to hint at a romance between Syaoran and Sakura more, something the manga didn't do a great deal of (surprising considering the shocking stuff from volume 2, but I digress).
Another thing the anime did was have stories for all of the cards in the deck as Sakura captured them. The manga doesn't have nearly as many cards to deal with (the anime has 52 cards). That explains some dumb anime cards like The Sweet. To be fair, most of the anime cards make sense in that you could see them created by a powerful mage (sans The Sweet), but a few seemed a tad redundant (like why have Float when you can Fly or Jump?). The Twin card was simply created by the anime writers for Syaoran and Meiling to capture. But for the most part, the additional cards enabled the writers to flesh out the characters more and give more Sakura-chan goodness.
One final item I noticed was that in the manga, Syaoran doesn't end up capturing any cards. Sakura captures them all and he's kinda along for the ride (or so it seemed to me). After an initial confrontation with Sakura, he's there to support her, even if it isn't that blatant. With no cards, Syaoran doesn't battle Yue at the end.
One thing I was always puzzled about in the anime was the explanation of the attraction/hate thing that Syaoran and Sakura had with other beings of great magic. This explained why both were attracted to Yukito-san, but they never explained why Syaoran hated Kero-chan whereas Sakura didn't. CLAMP has an explanation, which I've included.
So, this kinda helps make sense of things, though it sounds a bit forced as to an explanation.
Still, considering how the anime adaptations of xxxHOLiC and Tsubasa have left a bad taste in my mouth, I'm glad to see that the adaptation of Cardcaptor Sakura thus far has been faithful to the spirit of the manga, but made changes to expand upon the manga, mostly succeeded but sometimes coming short (The Sweet). To me, that's what a good anime adaptation should do if changes are to be made -- have said changes make a positive and not a negative difference.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Time for a new feature -- website review of places that feature Japanese or Japanese-themed goods. ^_^
First on the docket is Big Sumo. This company specializes in t-shirts with a Japanese Sumo theme. There are a few t-shirts that don't have the sumo theme (one with a a squid, two with a Geisha girl, one with a shark, one with a dog). There are 25 different t-shirts (one geared to women), one "hoodie" shirt, and one baseball cap.
Shirt sizes run from small to XXXL. XXL shirts cost an extra $1.50 and XXXL cost an extra $3.00. In my opinion, they should have a 4XL shirt size as well, even if there is an extra cost. Another negative is that not all shirts have all sizes. So if you are a 3XL kind of guy, the choices are limited. Considering the store is Big Sumo, one would think the store would carry plenty of larger sizes for all their t-shirts. There's also a lack of black t-shirts if you like those (as I do).
The above "Beer" t-shirt is the one I purchased (sorry there isn't a bigger image and I don't have a digital camera to get an instant picture). I picked this one because it has a Kanji for "draft" (生 or "nama") and the Kana for the word "beer" (ビール or "biiru"). The t-shirt is of a higher quality and still wears well after several washings. The printing has faded slightly after several washings (no runs through the dryer) but nothing out of the ordinary. So the $18+ per t-shirt is not money wasted IMO.
There are a few brick-and-mortar stores where one can pick up these shirts in person, mostly in California, but also with a store in Hawaii and Oregon. However, the folks that run the company also tour the U.S., attending various Asian and Japanese events (such as Denver's Cherry Blossom Festival). So you can also pick up shirts at those events.
I found customer service to be very good, but this is a small company so keep that in mind when calling for whatever reason you have. I did have a problem making an order due to a website glitch, but they were able to get things right and my order went through with no snags.
Bottom line: I wish they had more black t-shirts, more shirts with Japanese writing (Kanji/Kana mix), and more shirts in larger sizes. I also wish that the shirt images on the website could be expanded to a larger size to get a better look at the imprints on the shirts. That aside, I found the shirt I order very comfortable and a favorite to wear. As such, I recommend t-shirts from them if you are looking for a t-shirt with a Japanese or Asian theme.