Negima!: Magister Negi Magi, Volume 17
As the battle against Chao's robot army continues, Mana uses her special magic bullets to start sending some of the strongest mage teacher 3-hours into the future. Chao defeats both Asuna and Setsuna, but before she can have them sent 3-hours into the future, Misora rescues them and escapes. Chisame uses her new artifact to literally enter cyberspace, which is represented as being within an ocean, where Makie and Ayaka also enter and help, the later two being convinced this is some new VR game. There, Chisame's presence is known to Chachamaru, who has no choice but to dispatch things like tuna, sharks, and jelly fish (representing various cyber attacks) at Chisame.
Meanwhile, Negi, Kaede, Ku Fei, Paru, Nodoka, and Yue try to make their way to where Chao will be. Paru and Ku Fei drop off to buy Negi time by fighting off some of Chao's robot armies. Nodoka saves Negi from one of Mana's bullets and gets sent 3-hours into the future for it. Kaede goes after Mana, managing to elude all of Mana's incoming fire to get in close for hand-to-hand combat, something that Mana has been looking forward to.
Elsewhere, Chao's giant robots are taking the key areas on the campus around the World Tree and only one remains free. Yuuna is leading the forces defending this final area and when all seems lost, Negi arrives and blasts the robot in half before taking off to Chao's blimp, leaving Yue behind to watch with Chamo. Negi is blocked by Chao's robots and some of Chachamaru's sisters, but Kotaro, Setsuna, Asuna, Misora, and others are there to clear a path for him. Negi faces off against Chao, who understand her secret as she also has a Cassiopeia time device. During the pitched battle, he recalls his conversation with Yue before arriving to help Yuuna where he had doubts as to what to do, feeling that maybe Chao's goal may be good even if her methods weren't. Negi is ultimately able to disable Chao's device, so she pulls out her trump card, using her battle suit as a means of casting spells despite the pain it causes her to do so. As the battle rages, both combatants cast powerful magic with Negi ultimately scoring a hit that nails Chao in the head, seemingly knocking her out.
Thoughts: I wish Del Rey would not "translate" the word "master" to "mistress." Chachazero only refers to Eva with the English word "Master" so I don't see why it needs to be changed.
As to the chapter itself, there is a lot of good stuff here. I liked how the headmaster and Eva "sat" in the air to watch the fight. Negi had his crisis of what to do but came through. The fight between Mana and Kaede -- good stuff! Chao defeating Setsuna and Asuna together was cool but then they had no chance against someone who can move through time.
Oh, did anyone notice how Misora's broom went nuts when Asuna landed on it? Goes back to volume 1 when Negi's staff wouldn't fly with Asuna on it. ^_^
Well, volume 18 will finally wrap up the long school festival arc. ^_^
Monday, March 31, 2008
Negima!: Magister Negi Magi, Volume 17
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Honey and Clover, Vol. 1
Summary: 4th-year art college student Mayama and 2nd-year student Takemoto as well as other guys live in an old converted apartment building that they use as a dorm. Also with them is Morita, who's a 6th-year student who disappears for days and weeks at a time, only to return dead tired and with a massive mound of cash. Into their world enters Hagu-chan, a tiny first-year student who does not look her 18-years. Rounding out this group of friends is Yamada (Ayumi), who's also a 4th-year student at the same art college.
Ayumi is in love with Mayama, who only considers her a friend. Mayama is in love with his boss Rika-san, who's husband had passed away some years earlier. Takemoto falls in love with Hagu-chan, as does Morita when he meets her. While Takemoto is more conservative in his approach to Hagu-chan (thus, the two become friends), Morita is manic with her, doing all sorts of crazy things that has her on edge.
The first volume covers some of the crazy antics of this group of friends as well as their own dealings with their unrequited love interests.
Thoughts: I'd long wished to read this manga because (1) I really enjoyed both anime TV series and the OVA series, (2) I really enjoyed the live-action movie, and (3) I am enjoying the live-action TV series. Since the manga is original source material for all of the above adaptations, its only natural to want to read it. However, with Viz being the licensor of the manga, I figured I'd have to wait until I was fluent enough in Japanese to import the original manga as I have been boycotting Viz due to the craptacular job they do on their manga and anime titles. However, when a reviewer mentioned that the honorifics had been retained for this manga, I had to take a risk and check it out.
For starters, it is true that Japanese honorifics are used heavily in the English adaptation. That is a good thing for me. As those who know me know, I am a strong proponent of retaining Japanese honorifics in English adaptations of manga, Japanese novels, and subtitled anime. However, English translator/adapter Akemi Wegmuller did a very, very naughty thing. He began substituting some honorifics for other honorifics.
For example, Mayama and Takemoto often refer to Morita as "Morita-senpai," and indeed this is shown throughout the manga. However, there are occasions where they shift to "Morita-san." This may not seem like much, but the shifting from a more submissive "senpai" to the general "san" is used for impact. For example, there's a moment on page 19 where Mayama is not happy with what Morita is doing and yells out "Morita-san" in the original Japanese. Unfortunately, the official English adaptation has Mayama yell out "Morita-senpai." I guess Akemi must have felt that since they'd been calling him "Morita-senpai" before, they should keep doing so but that's NOT what Umino-sensei had her characters say.
There are lots of incidents like this. In cases where "Morita-san" is used (whether by his kohai or others), the "san" somehow gets lost and that's not right. Yet, Rika is addressed as "Rika-san," which is right. Further, Morita will shift between addressing Takemoto as "Takemoto-kun" and "Takemoto," but the official adaptation seems to drop all "Takemoto-kun" references from Morita. Rika-san does address Mayama as "Mayama-kun" though, so its not as if "kun" were completely lost. Hanamoto-sensei is sometimes addressed as such (or "sensei"), but sometimes he's "Mr. Hanamoto," or even "Professor."
So ultimately, what I'm hoping is that this was just a rough first volume and that subsequent volumes will use the CORRECT honorifics and not change or drop them at times.
Viz follows Del Rey's lead and has some translator notes, which they've called a "Study Guide." they have two columns of notes for the two pages, which is fine, but after you've read an entire manga volume doing the right side first, then the left, Viz's decision to print the notes in traditional English fashion is a bit jarring, because by now, you instinctively look to the right column to start reading, not the left. The translation notes are good, but the delivery is distracting based on how manga is published
As to the story, I remembered a lot of this from the anime, though the Lohmeyer-senpai story was in the OVA whereas it was an early chapter in this initial volume. I found that interesting. It looks like the anime was pretty faithful to the manga, which considering how many total episodes there were between the 2 TV series and the 2 OVA episodes, that's not too surprising. It is interesting to see how much had to be removed from the live-action TV series though, which again isn't surprising seeing how they only have 11-episodes to work with.
The artwork is a bit rough. Not that it is bad, but after being used to the cleaner style of the anime, this first volume shows how the artwork originated. I hear Umino-sensei gets better over time, which is not surprising since most artist improve with time.
Assuming Viz fixes those honorific problems, I'll be back for volume 2.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
灼眼のシャナ II Episode 23
SPOILER Summary: With Hecate now holding the Reiji Maigo, Dantalion and his robot servant Domino are revealed to be within the clock tower, where the silver armor now resides. Hecate sends the Reiji Maigo into the clock tower where it goes into the silver armor. Hecate commands it to awaken, which it does. Dantalion watches the power rise as Yuuji is helpless to do anything. Meanwhile, Shana races to the scene and discovers that the field created is not a Fuzetsu, though humans can't see it. Margery Daw and Wilhelmina arrive with Margery casting a Fuzetsu over the entire area.
Meanwhile, Yoshida races through the Fuzetsu to the clock tower when the Hougu begins to glow, causing her to stop. At the tower, all three Flame Haze attempt to break through the field wall only to discover they cannot. Shana gets frustrated and has to be restrained by Alastor. The Flame Haze sense something odd as the silver armer powers up and multiple beams of energy, Power of Existence, shoot up and out, something Alastor recognizes as being the work of Bel Peol. In Seireiden, Fecor reports to Bel Peol that phase one has completed.
Hecate continues her part in this and the clock tower twists into a massive mound of steel. Yuuji knows that he won't survive without the Reiji Maigo and so begins to search for it. Outside the barrier, the Flame Haze determine that this isn't some normal Tomogara. Shana is eager to blast away, but is restrained by the words of Alastor and Wilhelmina, the later reminding her that Bal Masqué will be prepared for them to penetrate the barrier. As such, they need to find a way in. Yoshida arrives with the news that the Reiji Maigo has been taken from Yuuji though he's still alive. She learned this from Johan via Pheles's Hougu that Yoshida has -- Giralda.
Margery contacts Sato, who'd made his way to the Haridan in anticipation of her needing him there. She's pleased with this and has him look at the barrier for a possible entrance since it has characteristics of a whirlpool. Yoshida asks if Shana is going to rescue Yuuji. Shana says this is wrong as she's going in to fight with Yuuji, as she's sure Yuuji is fighting in his own way. Sure enough, Yuuji is trying to source out where the Reiji Maigo is, realizing that the Flame Haze will likely have a hard time getting to him. He works his way through the twisted metal where he's detected by Domino. Dantalion has Domino dispatch some droids, which Yuuji begins defeating using the fireball technique he'd been taught, much to the annoyance of Dantalion.
Sato has located an entrance into the barrier and Shana thanks Yoshida for her help, promising to pick up their personal battle for Yuuji when this crisis is over. Yoshida agrees and the Flame Haze are off. At the entrance, the opening is very small and as such, Margery says she'll go first to open a path for Wilhelmina and Shana, and they all agree that there will be a welcome waiting for them inside. Margery and Marchosias cast their spell and all three Flame Haze enter. Margery is through first and Sydonay is waiting for her. She manages to get off an attack, though he counters it and inflicts massive damage upon her, defeating her. He's impressed that she was able to do that much but the arrival of Shana and Wilhelmina reveal to him that she was a mere decoy, not that he feels it will change things.
Dantalion is excited over the progress of this latest project of his, where he reveals that Konoe's purpose in collecting emotions was to gain the information needed to control so much Power of Existence. These emotions will form the brain of a new Tomogara being born with the Power of Existence as its food and the Reiji Maigo will be the heart -- the Taimei Shihen. Wilhelmina and Shana have heard enough and move in to attack Sydonay, who's in a bit of trouble until Hecate provides him some cover fire. Shana avoids the attack and flies around the twisted steel, hunting for Yuuji before his own Power of Existence runs out.
Yuuji knows his own situation is not good and so summons Blutsauger to fight off Domino's droids. However, one of his swings ends up getting caught in a beam and he falls as Dantalion announces the birth of a new Tomogara, which he refers to as the Statue of Pride (in Japanese).
Thoughts: So, Hecate didn't cast a Fuzetsu. Interesting.
Yoshida still hasn't used the Hougu, which we now know is named Giralda. Maybe next episode (which is the finale).
I was a bit surprised at how quickly Margery Daw was defeated, even if she was on point. Then again, she might be playing possum, with Sydonay and Hecate trying to contain Wilhelmina and Shana, who's watching Margery, who can then hit that nutter, Dantalion.
I've really enjoyed this sequel series, even more than the original I think. I hope we get a third series.
Friday, March 28, 2008
クラナド Episode 22 (finale)
SPOILER Summary: Nagisa is still depressed at learning her father had been an actor and had given it up for her. As Nagisa and Tomoya walk to school, she frets about how her parents gave up their dream for her and then she's got everyone else doing things for her dream. Tomoya reminds her that everyone in Theater Club are there because they want to be and if she quits, it would mean that all their work is for naught. The Theater Club meets and Nagisa sits off by herself. Her demeanor is picked up by the others, so Tomoya tries to cover for her by saying it is a case of nerves.
To try and help Nagisa out, Tomoya takes her around the school festival, where they visit many booths. Nagisa is still depressed and somehow the two of them get separated. Tomoya is looking for her when he runs into her mother, Sanae-san. After talking a bit, he takes off to continue his search for Nagisa, who in turn has entered the resource center. Yukine is there, so Nagisa inquires about old videos of previous school events since her father had been in the Theater Club at this high school. She's watching video of her father's performance for which he won an award when Tomoya finds her (having been told of her location by Yukine). At the end of the video, the young Akio-san loudly proclaims his dream of being a professional actor.
After Tomoya gets her to leave and come to the auditorium for her performance, when the curtain goes up, Nagisa says nothing but instead starts to cry. The other members wonder what they should do with Tomoya reluctant to lower the curtain again. However, it is Akio-san screaming from the back of the theater that brings her round. He tells her that her dream is now his dream and that if she fails to perform, he'll be very disappointed. Sanae-san backs him up and Tomoya races down from the control booth to further encourage her. With that, Nagisa collects herself and begins her play.
Nagisa tells the story and we see that in the Mystery World, Mystery Girl and Junk-bot bury the other junk doll-robot as it never came to life. Because Junk-bot remembers a world that he came from (I guess its soul) that had people and was a warm place, he convinces Mystery Girl to come with him so return to that place. After the play, Nagisa and Tomoya are sitting outside where he compliments her. Since he never flatters people, that means that he truly believes the play was good. She reveals to Tomoya that she remembers more of the story. Apparently, Mystery Girl and Junk-bot go on the journey, after which they sing. As such, Nagisa feels it was right to sing a song at the end of the play, even if it was about dango. Tomoya's father comes by, having been invited by Nagisa, and after he talks with Nagisa, Tomoya offers an olive branch to his father.
Once his father leaves, Tomoya asks Nagisa out on a date before Kyou interrupts and gets them to come to the Theater Club room for the celebration party. They attend the party and then the next day, Nagisa and Tomoya go on a date, doing different things including the arcade. At the end of the date, Tomoya goes to the school with Nagisa, where they visit the Theater Club room. It is now that Nagisa finally notices where Tomoya wrote her name on the chalkboard for being the person on duty. So, she adds his name to the board, after which Tomoya confesses his love for Nagisa and his desire to continue to date her. She's surprised by this and then tears up, happy to hear this from him, knowing he truly means it.
Thoughts: Hmmm. This final story didn't have the emotional impact I was expecting. After the super-sadness of Fuko-chan's story and the sadness of Kotomi-chan's story, with Nagisa getting ill as she had done, I really expected that she'd come close to dying, but the story didn't go that route. So while I felt badly for Nagisa, I didn't feel choked up. I am glad that she and Tomoya are now a couple and that Tomoya and his father made a tiny step to reconcile, but with the producers ending things at 22 episodes (not counting the special and OVA for the DVD release), the date the two had got a brush over and so Tomoya's finally confessing didn't have the impact it should have. That's a shame, really.
Next is the summer special, which appears to take place during the summer break. The rumor mill is that there could be a sequel series in the works since the game continues with Nagisa and Tomoya in the future. I hope this happens because there are still unanswered questions. It seemed like the place that Mystery Girl and Junk-bot came from was real. Indeed, I had thought that maybe Nagisa was the Mystery Girl (as she was in the play) and Tomoya was somehow the Junk-bot. That might explain how they both knew the story and yet no such story could be found. I figured that maybe Kotomi's parent's research would tie into this somehow. That's still possible with a sequel.
Also, there's Fuko-chan, whom I expected to "come to life" as it were by series end.
Overall, I really enjoyed the series, though it didn't end quite the way I expected.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
With the recent Clannad anime ending at a shortened 22 epiosodes (not counting the summer special episode and the OVA/extra episode on the DVD), there had been rumors floating that a sequel might be in the works, especially since the game that the anime is based on continues 10-years after the events of the main Clannad story, featuring Nagisa and Tomoya. Turns out those rumors were correct. ANN reports that the rumored sequel to Clannad has been announced in the May issue of Dengeki G's Magazine entitled Clannad After Story.
I find this to be pretty good news. Clannad is a pretty good anime title, but it left some plot threads dangling, such as Fuko-chan's ultimate resolution (it was hinted that there would be more to this), the "world" (for lack of a better term) that Kotomi-chan's parent's had been researching, and frankly, I wouldn't mind seeing Nagisa, Tomoya, and the rest of the gang in the future.
クラナド Episode 21
The Theater Club goes through the riggers of preparing for the play, which will be done at the school festival. Various tasks are assigned out but there's no one to make the costume. So it is decided to as Sanae-san if she can make the costumes, which she's happy to do. Nagisa feels bad for asking her mom such a thing, but Tomoya assures her that Sanae-san is the right person. The two of them head up to the living quarters where Akio-san has a video tape for them to watch of a play, so they can get an idea of how to properly perform. Nagisa is very touched by this play. That night, Akio-san summons Tomoya where they head to the shed to look for the story that Nagisa remembers for her play. However, they have no luck finding it and Akio-san hastily returns the boxes to the shed.
The following day, Nagisa has an idea for music to use for the play based on the video her father lent her. After going over what Nagisa has written story-wise, the Music Club then comes up with a CD that Nagisa thinks is perfect. Tomoyo comes by the Theater Club room to see how they are doing and is wearing glasses, which Tomoya finds interesting since she's never worn them before. Tomoyo and Nagisa promise to continue on the paths they are on and Tomoyo mentions that she's glad it was Nagisa, a reference to the fact that Tomoya obviously chose Nagisa over all the other girls even if he hadn't said so in actuality.
Time passes and the school festival draws nigh. Its time for the final rehearsal, done on the actual stage, before the play the following day. Nagisa is very nervous since she's playing the part of the Mystery Girl in the play. So the others try to calm her down, though Sunohara ends up making her nervous again. However, they all huddle together, put their hands together and give a "lets go." With that, Nagisa heads on stage and the rehearsal is on.
That evening, Nagisa and Tomoya return to her home where they are greeted by Nagisa's parents. The rehearsal went well and Akio-san is sure that the idol agencies will soon be at their door. Tomoya finds this an exaggeration, leading an annoyed Akio-san to tell him to just agree with the idea. Nagisa states that Tomoya never flatters. The conversation turns to the possibility of Tomoya having a daughter and doting on her. Tomoya doesn't see that happening, though Nagisa does, especially since Tomoya and her father are so much alike, something Akio-san finds distressing.
Later than night, Nagisa comes by Tomoya's room to visit and talk. She's very nervous about the upcoming performance. She again mentions how she feels she did something bad to them in the past. Tomoya remembers his conversation with Akio-san and tries to assure her that she's not to blame. After their talk, Nagisa feels better and so takes her leave. She returns to her room to pack her costume and other things she might need. She decides to get a flashlight, but the batteries are out. So she goes to the shed to get another flashlight. As she does, she accidentally knocks over some boxes, spilling their content, which she then begins to gather up.
In the middle of the night, Tomoya wakes to use the bathroom. After finishing his business, he stops to peek in Nagisa's room and is surprised to find her up, with all the mementos (diaries and pictures) all around her. Her father was an actor and had given it up for Nagisa, which has left her in a state of shock. Tomoya sends Nagisa to bed and Akio-san comes down to learn of Nagisa's discovery.
I suppose it was predictable that Nagisa would learn of her father's past just before her big moment in the spotlight. I like how Tomoya and Nagisa have gotten even closer and how he's able to calm her and even got her to go to bed after her shocking discovery. Too bad there's only one more regular episode left. I hear there's talk of a sequel to pick up the "after story," which if that happens, that would be cool.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
みなみけ～おかわり～ Ep. 08
SPOILER Summary: Haruka is doing some shopping at a local shop in the shopping district when the lady of the shop gives her a bunch of tickets to a new pool and onsen resort that's opened in the next town over. Kana is excited by this and immediately starts inviting "the gang" over while Chiaki frets, as she doesn't know how to swim. She gets online to research swimming when Kana comes in. Not wanting Kana to know her secret, Chiaki "flips" screens on the computer, leading Kana to tease her about cruising porn sites. When Kana tries to find out what Chiaki was looking at, Chiaki slugs her.
At school the next day, Uchida and Yoshino are excited by the Saturday pool trip, but Chiaki's attitude makes them wonder why she seems so opposed to going. Makoto grabs Touma in the hall because he doesn't know whether to accept the invitation or not. The problem is that he was invited as "Mako-chan." Touma has an idea to help him out. Meanwhile at the junior high, Fujioka also has tickets to the same pool for Saturday and invited Kana to come. She accepts and tells him to be at her house Saturday morning, which naturally makes him very happy.
Saturday morning comes and Fujioka is depressed to see that this will be another Minami group outing and not just himself and Kana. The girls are all wearing swimsuits under their clothing (it still being winter) and "show off the goods." Even "Mako-chan" has a swimsuit that Touma picked out which hides the fact that in fact he's Makoto. The Minami's cousin Takeru is again the driver and as with the onsen trip, he grills Fujioka about his relationship with the girls (who play cards in the back of the van). When Takeru mentions Kana seems taken with Fujioka, this is the best news Fujioka could get, seeing as how he wasn't sure how Kana thought of him. However, Takeru can't grill Fujioka further because it is clear that he's somehow gotten them lost.
Finally arriving at the hotel at lunch time, Chiaki is determined to swim and makes a big commotion of leaving the restaurant for the pool area. However, when Kana insults her after Chiaki is gone, Chiaki is suddenly back to defend herself. Kana realizes that Chiaki can't swim and hearing Touma's mentioning that people in school refer to Chiaki as "hime" (princess), Kana uses this to her advantage to tease Chiaki poolside. Chiaki decides to turn tables on Kana by embracing the princess label and ordering that idiots leave her kingdom.
In the end, Kana is helping Chiaki to swim (Chiaki being determined to swim 25-meters) and whenever Chiaki gives her grief, she lets go so that Chiaki flounders. At one point she ends up even being rescued by Fujioka. Meanwhile, Hayami-senpai has made a Volleyball Club meeting at the same pool-resort, so Haruka's friends Maki and Atsuko are there. Hearing Haruka is sleeping, Hayami is up to no good. Kana's friends Riko and Keiko are also at the pool, Riko a flutter seeing Fujioka. In the end, Kana tells everyone (including Haruka's friends) they can come by the apartment (condo?) when they get back to the city. Maki and Hayami then toss the still sleeping Haruka into the pool.
Thoughts: Mildly amusing at times, but not funny and mostly dull to me. *sigh* But hey, those who get off on lots of fanservice had their springs wound. After all, if we can only muster a pathetic imitation of the original Minami-ke, throw in a lot of fanservice for the otaku and everything will be Oh-kay. Not.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Taiho Shichauzo! Full Throttle Episode 13
逮捕しちゃうぞ フルスロットル Episode 13
SPOILER Summary: Natsumi and Miyuki discover the cause for a traffic jam is a truck dropping off recycle goods to a recycle store. Natsumi is impressed with such a facility and even wants to buy a tiger pelt. Upon returning to the station, Kachou tells gathers all the officers and tells them to be on the lookout for illegal dumping. Natsumi and Miyuki find a small illegal dump when they are called by Yoriko and Aoi-chan to an abandoned warehouse full of illegal dumping. However, Yoriko has heard a story of a haunted video tape in an abandoned VCR, so is afraid there are ghosts in the warehouse. Natsumi and Miyuki scoff at this and enter the building with Aoi-chan and Yoriko close behind.
The investigation quickly has Aoi-chan and Yoriko thinking they've found a body but it is a mannequin. However, when a washing machine goes active for a short term, causing Natsumi to attack it. In turn, they hear a voice come from a nearby radio. They then hear mysterious footsteps. Finally they see a giant, ghostly face on the wall. So when Yoriko and Aoi-chan return to the station, they spread the rumor about the ghost Natsumi and Miyuki battled. Hearing that Miyuki's life may be in danger from a curse, Nakajima goes a little nuts, which gets him in trouble with Kachou. When Miyuki hears this, she's not happy with Yoriko or Aoi-chan.
Miyuki and Natsumi return to the warehouse in civilian gear with night vision goggles. Miyuki solves the mystery of the ghost by revealing that the washing machine still had electricity in it. The radio still had weak battery power. The footsteps came from water pipes carrying sounds from elsewhere. And finally, the giant ghostly face is just an illusion, created by some light bulbs, cabling, and holes in the wall. Satisfied, they are going to leave when Natsumi sees the tiger pelt from the store they had previously visited. Realizing they have a suspect, they don't have to wait long as a truck arrives to dump off more junk. One of the two on the truck is the man from the recycle shop. Natsumi and Miyuki decide to "become ghosts" and end up frightening both men unconscious, allowing them to be easily arrested. Kachou questions this the following day, but Natsumi and Miyuki play ignorant. It is then that Nakajima is missed and it turns out he'd gone to the warehouse to overcome Miyuki's "curse," only to be frightened unconscious himself by a mirror.
Thoughts: A might too preachy and a lot forgettable. What was I talking about?
I'm glad I don't own a Japanese washing machine. So nice to know that they can store so much electricity that they can actually run without being plugged in for a few seconds at a time.
Monday, March 24, 2008
魔法先生 ネギま！Volume 22 Chapter 199
Summary: Negi (as Nagi) is rushed to the medical ward, his right arm having been cut off below the elbow. The arm is reattached magically and as Chisame is irritated with Negi's recklessness, Tosaka (one of the people in charge of the slaves) actually praises Negi.
Negi awakens to find Ako sitting by his bedside in the medical ward. Because his only clothing are bandage wrappings, he tries to cover up, but the pain of his arm causes him to fall out of the bed and onto Ako, where he soon passes out. Natsumi comes in and seeing "Nagi" on top of Ako, she assumes the wrong thing and leaves with Ako protesting.
Back in bed, Negi apologizes to Ako, were we learn that he's been asleep for two days. Negi reflects on his fight with Kagetarou when Ako tells him that "Nagi" is certainly Negi-kun's cousin and that the look on "Nagi's" face was the same as the one she's seen on Negi's face. She's happy that "Nagi" is alive and begins to cry as she had been so worries about him, wondering what she would have done if he died. She feels terrible because he's having to face all this danger because of her, Akira, and Natsumi.
Sometime later, Negi is walking outside (still as Nagi) as his arm has healed. He thinks of his comrades and on how Chachamaru is about to lead a search expedition out to try to find more of their comrades. He thinks back to the battle with Kagetarou and how Negi's final attack had been thwarted, resulting in his arm being cut off. Negi announces he still has another arm and counters, injuring Kagetarou in the eye. The fight is ended when the stranger, looking like "Big Sword Dude" from Ala Rubra, stops it.
Thoughts: Poor Ako. I feel so badly for her since she still doesn't know that "Nagi" is in fact Negi in teenaged form. She's clearly head-over-heels for "Nagi" and I really wonder how she'll take the news when she learns the truth. Considering that Ako was someone for whom Akamatsu-sensei created a pactio card long ago, maybe he'll use this as a means to officially make Ako part of the battle harem.
While I'm thinking of it, how come the magic keeping Negi in older form didn't wear off? I know he got these pills from Eva and in theory, they might be more powerful than the ones Negi had during the school festival, but one would think the mages who reattached Negi's arm would have realized this wasn't his real body, but a magical one. Weird.
Finally, there's BSD. I think he was the one that Negi and company were to meet at the gate port, but the attack stopped that. I wonder if he was the one who warned Asuna about the incoming attack telepathically. Well, its about time for him to be seen since we'd seen nothing of him other than the one group shot of Ala Rubra.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS Episode 02
SPOILER Summary: After Subaru tearfully gets to meet her hero (Nanoha), Fate remarks on how they seem to know each other. Hayate reminds Fate of an event four years ago in which Fate and Nanoha had been visiting Hayate when a massive fire had broken out at the very facility they are currently out. Nanoha had rescued Subaru while Fate had rescued Ginga, Subaru's older sister and mage in training. Their father, Major Nakajima, works with Hayate and Reinforce Zwei to direct the rescue of his daughters as well as fire fighting. Once mage reinforcements arrive, Hayate gets permission to perform high-level magic, where she turns the entire area into ice, putting out the fires, though there are still smoldering embers.
The next morning, Fate, Nanoha, Hayate, and Rein are all in a giant bed together when Hayate wakes up. The girls receive no credit for their work, however neither Fate nor Nanoha are concerned with this seeing as how everyone was safe and the girls are currently on vacation. Hayate decides she wants her own unit to provide disaster relief, criminal investigation, and Lost Logia investigation. She feels trapped in her current position and feels that running an elite unit would not only help her, but cause people above in the chain of command to change. She wants Fate and Nanoha to help her, but she's concerned about imposing upon them. Considering the two girls have known Hayate since the third grade, not only is it not a problem for them to help Hayate, but as Nanoha put it, they would have been angry to not have been invited to such a fun unit.
Back in the present, Hayate and Fate are meeting with Subaru and Tia after their B-rank test. Subaru and Tia are told they are being considered for inclusion in the special forces and are given a brief rundown of what their duties might consist of should they join the Time-Space Administration Bureau's Special Management 6th Mobile Division. Nanoha comes in and she has bad news for the two girls. Despite their abilities, the dangerous actions they took combined with an inability to anticipate accidents and to cause injury to a partner means they failed. However, after Rein (as examiner) and Nanoha discussed things, it is decided that because of the girls' abilities, it would be too dangerous to keep them at the C-rank until the next testing cycle in half a year. As such, the pair will be assigned to the Administration Bureau Armed Corps for an intensive 3-day training session, after which they will be allowed to test for their B-rank again.
After Hayate tells them that they would be allowed to join the 6th Mobile Division should they wish after they achieve their B-rank, Subaru and Tia discuss their situation out in the courtyard. For Subaru, accepting a position is an easy choice since her hero Nanoha is a captain and the Combat Instructor. Tia expresses some doubt, which Subaru knows it means that Tia will also accept the job. While Tia seems to express frustration with Subaru, it is clear that she does care for her partner and friend. This is observed by Nanoha and Hayate, who agree both will enlist. Nanoha believes she can take the time to train them properly once they achieve their B-rank.
Fate arrives with Rein as Nanoha asks about the other two candidates. Because they were from off world, 2nd Lt. Signum has gone to pick them up from the airport. Meanwhile, because Fate drove in, she offers to give Nanoha a ride home, which Nanoha accepts. Fate asks about Nanoha's health status, which Nanoha assures her is fine. Nanoha tells Fate she worries too much as Fate should know how tough Nanoha is based on their years working together (and initially as foes). Still, Fate can't help but worry since Nanoha is her friend.
At the airport, a 10-year old boy (Elio) waits as Signum approaches. Signum inquires about the other candidate, who's just starting to come down the escalator. This 10-year old pink-haired female candidate, Caro Ru Lushe, stumbles and is rescued by the quick thinking Elio, though he ends up having her fall on him. In her bag is her small pet dragon Friedrich (Fried), which she introduces to her new comrade in arms.
Elsewhere, Vita-chan and Zafira are being directed by Shamal (all of whom belonged to the Wolkenritter and who served Hayate in A's) to combat some Type-1 gadgets. They defeat the units and remark how said units are getting smarter. From there we learn that the trio also are part of the 6th Mobile Division as Subaru and Tia are on a train (presumably heading for their training).
Thoughts: I noticed that for this series, Japanese names are given in western order, which is unusual but interesting.
There were two manga titles written to cover the 10-year period between A's and StrikerS. I gather that Nanoha was nearly killed in the time before StrikerS and was severely injured. That would account for Fate's asking about Nanoha's condition. I might have to see if I can find an easy copy of these manga.
Anyway, there was a lot dished out here and we basically got to see most of the carry overs from A's and the two new recruits as well. Plus, add to the mix that Subaru and her sister have a higher-ranking officer as their father. So while a lot to dish out, it was interesting enough to make me want to see more.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
ケロロ軍曹 Episode 35
SPOILER Summary: After a flashback to Fuyuki's birthday where we learn Natsumi isn't big on her own birthday, Keroro finds Fuyuki sweating over what to do about Natsumi's birthday. Upon learning of Natsumi's birthday, Keroro is off to an invasion meeting. Giroro is not amused by Keroro's late arrival, but his attitude changes when he learns the latest plan is called "Operation Give Natsumi-dono a Big Shock, a Secret Birthday Party" (in Japanese of course). He details his plan, and Kururu understands this will make invasion easier by appealing to the Pekopons. Giroro is completely on board and salutes Keroro for this plan.
Natsumi comes home, and Tamama tries making indiscreet inquiries as to what Natsumi might like for her birthday. However, before he can get the word "birthday" out, Keroro has a trap door open underneath Tamama. Keroro then attempts to be casual about the whole thing and Natsumi's arrival home before leaving the scene. After dinner, Kururu does much the same thing, which surprises Natsumi since Kururu doesn't often engage her in conversation. Again, Keroro has a trap door open underneath Kururu before the word "birthday" can come out of his lips. As before, Keroro is casual about the whole thing, leading Natsumi to be somewhat suspicious. Keroro then goes to chastise his two comrades, leaving them in a pit with a lot of reminders on the walls as punishment for their indiscretion.
Fuyuki tells Momoka about Natsumi's birthday, and she volunteers to have a cake done, realizing that this will get her in better with the Hinata family. When Fuyuki comes home, Keroro has turned the "Japanese living room" of the Hinata residence (which is mostly western in style, save for this one room) into a festive birthday party room. Fuyuki isn't sure about this, thinking that maybe it is too childish. However, Natsumi has just arrived home forcing a loud reaction from the room. Natsumi hears this and enters the room to find out what the stupid frogs are up to, but finds the room as it should be. When she leaves, the room returns to party form with everyone coming up from beneath the floor. "Barely safe."
That evening, Fuyuki is still concerned about this party, but as he's on his balcony, he finds Giroro there. Giroro basically tells Fuyuki to believe in Keroro before taking off. The following morning, Natsumi has made breakfast but everyone is gone and Natsumi finds a note from Fuyuki saying he's already gone for a morning practice. In reality, he, the platoon, Koyuki-chan, Mutsumi, and Momoka are in the secret underground base making final plans. As everyone does their thing to make ready for the party, Koyuki sticks close to Natsumi.
After school, two of Natsumi's classmates invite her over to do homework and she agrees. This is seen by Dororo and Koyuki-chan. They report it to the others, who wait for the party to start when Natsumi comes home. However, she's very late, leading Fuyuki to say they should call it off and just go ahead and eat. Keroro won't hear of this and loudly protests, and he's backed by Mutsumi and Koyuki. When she finally gets home, she finds the place dark. However, the wall opens to reveal the party room with everyone wishing her a happy birthday. She's very touched and happy about this. It is then that Fuyuki learns to his surprise that Natsumi actually loves parties.
The party goes well and after stuffing themselves silly, a wounded Giroro comes with gifts for Natsumi including a space Penglai tree branch, the space Buddha's bowl, a space fire rat fur, the seashell treasure of the space swallow, and the jaw of the space five-colored dragon. Apparently, these treasures can only be obtained by a great warrior. Hinata-san comes home to see the party for her daughter has already begun. Fuyuki thanks Keroro for everything he's done. Keroro is pleased and as he leaves, he presses a button which turns one wall of the party room into a giant sign, proclaiming that next week is Keroro's birthday. As such, everything he did for Natsumi was to set up his own birthday party that he hopes the others will arrange for him.
Thoughts: This episode was a lot of fun, and managed to effectively work in all of the aliens and their human partners. I recently read the manga chapter that this was adapted from. Interestingly enough, it was before Dororo and Koyuki had been introduced to the storyline and wasn't as grand as the anime story, which I think comes off better.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Ichigeki Sacchu!! HoiHoi-san <--BUY FROM AMAZON, Y'ALL!
I first became aware of Ichigeki Sacchu!! HoiHoi-san via the 10-minute OVA released late September, 2004. I was immediately taken in by the cute bug-killing doll HoiHoi-san, her "rival" bug-killing doll from another company, Combat-san, the girl at the pharmacy (Kimiko), and customer Aburatsubo. Seeing it was from a manga, I longed hoped to read said manga. Except for a few 1-page shots that were fan-translated, I could read nothing. That changed when I discovered that Infinity Studios had licensed and translated the manga into English.
Story-wise, its sometime in the near future where bugs have become immune to pesticides. As such, clever companies created these small, cute robot dolls who are programmed to kill bugs. The first such doll was HoiHoi-san, who came with a machine gun and a hand gun to take out bugs. However, like all great dolls in Japan, you can buy different outfits for it, different weaponry, and even different programs to make your HoiHoi-san doll best suit your needs or better yet, your wants.
Another company creates a doll called Combat-san, who in addition to hunting bugs, does not take kindly to HoiHoi-san, seeing it as an enemy as well. Like HoiHoi-san, it can be customized but unlike HoiHoi-san, Combat-san can take some voice commands
The final doll in the manga is Pest-X-san, who's an even better doll for fighting not only Combat-san, but those pesky bugs.
One of the two main human characters is Aburatsubo, who buys a HoiHoi-san combat doll, then later acquires the Combat-san doll as well. It is through him that the manga parodies the doll-collecting otaku as Aburatsubo often buys some new attachment, program, clothing, etc. for HoiHoi-san. The fact that they kill bugs is just an added bonus.
The other main human character is the girl at the pharmacy, Kimiko, who's Aburatsubo's age (college aged?). She had initially purchased a HoiHoi-san doll because it was cute, but then when she saw it the following morning after a night of bug slaughtering, she freaked and now hates the doll. She tried Combat-san as well, making it a dress and ordering it not to kill bugs. It did not understand an order to not kill bugs, so it continued to kill bugs (and even gives a verbal report to its owner). As such, Kimiko, who'd prevented Aburatsubo from buying it, returns it and sells it to Aburatsubo. He's happy to receive it with what he thinks is a rare clothing item not previously advertised.
Aburatsubo becomes attracted to Kimiko, who's not thrilled about someone so into HoiHoi-san (and Combat-san) dolls. However, mangaka Tanaka-san allows for a cute, if mostly one-sided, romance to happen.
The manga is mostly done as one-page entries with an excerpt supposedly taken from the owners manual as well. However, Tanaka-san does perform a few normal manga chapters to tell a story, mainly about Aburatsubo, Kimiko, and her best friend Mu-chan. The manga is very cute at times and humorous, though I never had any real belly laughs. The main humor comes from Combat-san's attempts to take out HoiHoi-san or how Pest-X-san and Combat-san battle while HoiHoi-san is oblivious to the whole thing. I really did enjoy reading this one-volume manga.
As for Infinity Studios, my hat is off to them. The manga has a larger size than traditional American manga (8.2 x 6 x 0.7 inches vs 7.5 x 5 x 0.7 inches). There are several pages of full-color artwork, including a color picture of a HoiHoi-san figure that was made. The manga follows the Japanese tradition of having a color book cover. The actual cover has the same art, only in black-and-white. Translation-wise, the Japanese honorifics appear to be mostly kept intact. When we see the boss at the company that produces HoiHoi-san, he's addressed with the "Mr" honorific. I don't know if that was from the original Japanese (sometimes the Japanese will use "Mister"), if it replaced "sama," or if some obscure title was used, which was turned into "Mister."
I was surprised that Infinity Studios kept the name Ichigeki Sacchu!! HoiHoi-san rather than the English subtitled Interceptor-Doll HoiHoi-san. It is an unusual move but one that told me, "I bet the Japanese honorifics are kept in this if they aren't even translating the title." I was right and you guys know how much I feel that retaining honorifics in the English adaptations of manga is the proper way to do things.
Bottom line: Cute, humorous, and well worth the $11 I spent, especially since there is only one volume to the manga. Infinity Studios went that little extra mile by including the color pages and giving the manga a slip cover. While it appears that they tend to do a lot of Korean stuff (which really doesn't interest me), I will be eying them for other manga stuff based on how they did with HoiHoi-san.
Update: I just learned there is a sequel manga to this, entitled Ichiheki Sacchu!! HoiHoi-san Legacy. I don't believe it is licensed yet but providing Infinity Studios does as good a job, I hope they will license it.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
ダーティペア Episode 05
SPOILER Summary: Kei and Yuri are on a rented space ship traveling to Planet Antares. Yuri is trying to read while Kei, floating around, is playing music by Bobby Huey, and clearly excited. Apparently, he finally has a song that makes it to #1 on the charts. Yuri has had enough and shuts off the music. She and Kei go back and forth on turning on and off the music until Yuri wins by turning the ship's gravity back on. Kei isn't amused, saying that Bobby would have been happy she was playing his music. Kei met Bobby and started dating him. Yuri looks at a picture of the two on the beach and doesn't see what Kei sees in him. Kei has a date that evening and is to meet Bobby at the Cafe Flamingo at table 7. Yuri's heard Kei say this so often, she mutters the same thing under her breath. Because of Kei's date, Kei opted to not use Lovely Angel but rent a ship instead.
The ship gets a strange message saying "Execution Countdown" and a timer. The ship is then heavily buffeted as a large, glowing object suddenly appears in their flight path. They hear a loud voice say "die" and they expect to crash into the ship, but it apparently warped away at the last second. They do a scan for the object, but find nothing. It is a mystery, but they proceed to Antares and land. Kei is frustrated that the airport staff won't allow her and Yuri out of the designated area because they arrived in a rented ship. Yuri, who'd been patiently waiting and reading, steps in and produces the 3WA ID. The staffer recognizes them as "Dirty Pair," which annoys both of them, but he lets them through.
Kei goes to the hotel to change while Yuri wanders through the city. Yuri gets a mental blast, hearing the word "die" again and sees the countdown briefly. She then finds herself under attack from some automated craft. At the same time, Kei is under attack and using her weapon, she tries to blast away at the giant claw that's trying to get her through the walls of the hotel. The floor gives way and Kei and a maid find themselves falling as Kei flees. Kei, still in her underwear, comes out to a main street where law enforcement are now responding to this attack. She manages to steal a police vehicle to elude one of the automated craft, where she eventually manages to destroy it, but loses the police craft in the process.
Meanwhile, Yuri is also fleeing and notices that her attackers only come close but never hit her, which is unnatural. She races back to the spaceport on foot, and gets back to her ship where the droid Namo is waiting. She takes off, but is dismayed to remember that the ship has no weaponry. Again, the attackers press their attacks, but make sure not to do anything that would kill Yuri. As such, Yuri finds Kei and rescues her before fleeing the planet. The attacking force follows them from the planet and gives chase. Yuri tells Kei that whomever is behind the attacks clearly wants them alive. As such, she stops their ship and allows the pursuing craft to catch them.
They are taken back to the white, glowing object, which stops glowing. Kei and Yuri have a bad feeling as they recognize the craft, which is an old hazardous materials space station named Creados. As their ship is taken inside the station, Yuri starts to rethink her idea of letting themselves be captured. Kei remembers the facility was shut down due to major problems, leading Yuri to quip that someone reopened it just for them. Yuri has Namo run a search on who might be behind this as Kei is frustrated over being being late for her date. Namo comes up with the name "J.S. Creados," but he's supposed to be dead.
The discussion comes to an end as the automated craft begin to dismantle their ship. They get into space suits and escape before the ship is destroyed. Outside the ship, Kei and Yuri find themselves separated with Namo ending up with Yuri. Kei doesn't respond to Yuri's calls until she mentions a hot guy, which bring Kei around. Namo has additional information for the separated pair. Apparently Creados was addicted to a drug known as Probaetana. Kei and Yuri had taken down a major drug network three years prior and apparently Creados blamed them for his troubles. So before committing suicide a year and a half ago, he set up the station to be his final revenge against Dirty Pair.
Kei realizes they need to destroy the main computer but both she and Yuri find themselves trapped on top of separate automated attack craft. They are taken to the center of the station where Namo's attempts to access the attack craft is rebuffed, knocking him offline briefly. When he comes back online, he ejects his core memory disc and gives it to Yuri. She's puzzled by this, but before they can figure it out, the machinery says "die" to them a few times and causes them discomfort. Kei's not keen on dying since she has a date. Since Namo is a new creation, Kei figures that Creados can't have accounted for the droid in his automated death trap. Since Namo's core memory is preserved, they can use Namo's self-destruct device to destroy the station's main computer. That's what Namo had in mind when he gave Yuri the core.
Kei directs Yuri on how to detatch Namo from his small legs. Yuri then manually fires Namo to the central computer where the self destruct goes off, destroying the computer. With the computer's control mechanism gone, the automated attack craft stop and Kei and Yuri are free. However, Kei's determined to make it to her date, so she hops into one of the craft and leaves Yuri behind, to Yuri's irritation.
Thoughts: I was actually interested in this episode, despite the fact that in the end, it was much ado about nothing. The writers spent the time with fanservice, both with Kei in her underwear and with the various action stuff, but also managed to work the mystery part pretty well. However, when the episode was done, I thought, "OK. So what was that about?" Then I remembered that Dirty Pair isn't about deep stories, but just some adventures. They don't have to have a point but just provide action and a little bit of humor, along with Kei and Yuri's friendship/partnership. In that, the episode succeeds.