Sun, 22 February 2009
Anime DVD review of the fourth disc of the Season 1 box set of Maria Watches Over Us, Episodes 10-13. Published by Right Stuf. Directed by Yukihiro Matsushita, List Price : $49.99, Rated 13+.
As Christmas approaches, Rosa Gigantea takes center stage in Episodes 10 & 11 of Maria Watches Over Us. But it's probably not in a way she wanted. In Episode 10, there is a big buzz at Lilian about a new book named "The Forest of Briars", which purports to be a tell all confessional about life at the all girls academy, disguised as a novel. The author is someone named Sei Suga, which, according to rumor, is none other than Rosa Gigantea (Her real name also happens to be Sei). While most of the Yamayuri Council leaders dismiss the book as beneath their dignity, even if Gigantea is the author, Yumi and some of the younger girls set out to find the truth about its author. In Episode 11, "The White Petals", the yuriness gets turned on full blast as we witness a tragic love affair of the past between Gigantea and a younger girl that she never claimed as her sister. The last two episodes of the disc deal with the results of a contest a couple of episodes back that was sponsored by the school newspaper in which the winners won a date with one of the members of the Yamayuri Council. Yumi is going out with Sachiko, which you think wouldn't be a big deal, given their already established relationship, but Yumi is ready to have a nervous breakdown trying to figure out what Sachiko would enjoy doing on their date. She can't really ask her friends because the extremely jealous Yoshino doesn't even want to hear the word "date" because her beloved sister is being taken from her by a lowly underclassmen, even if it's just a one-time thing. Shimako is also dealing with a bit of tension in this area as her date is the beautiful Shizuka, who happens to be in love with Shimako's sister, Rosa Gigantea (wow, it's all about Gigantea, isn't it?). It doesn't help that the snooping reporter, Tsutako, is stalking all of the couples in hopes of getting photos for the school paper.
I really enjoyed the first season of Maria Watches Over Us, even if the girls, with their beanpole designs, made CLAMP characters look obese. There was always a sense of disquiet in me, as I wondered what diet these girls were on, which made them look like human straws. But, be that as it may, I really enjoyed the characters. They really stand out in your mind. A lot of times when I write a review or record a podcast, I have to jot down a few notes to keep the cast straight. But I didn't have that trouble with this show, because the characters are so memorable and unique. It's cool that we get to see them in regular street clothes in some of these episodes because their school uniforms are a bit boring and stiff. At times, when you are watching this show, the elegance can be a bit overwhelming, like you've arrived at an aristocrat's dinner gala and are extremely underdressed. Of course, I'd never be admitted except as a servant. But it's still good to be able to look through the window and see how the other half lives. Cool show, but probably will not float everyone's boat.
Disc 4 Grade: B
Season 1 Grade: B+
Official site: http://maria-sama.rightstuf.com/
My Podcast review of Episodes 1-3: http://sesho.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=368094
Sun, 8 February 2009
Manga Review of Sorcerer Hunters Volume 6. Story by Satoru Akahori. Art by Ray Omishi. Translated by Anita Sengupta. Originally published in Japan by Media Works. Published in US by Tokyopop, $9.99, Rated Older Teen 16+.
The Sorcerer Hunters continue their hunt for the 5 Platina Stones that are the source of Lord Sacher's power. With every stone they destroy, Sacher's strength decreases. Unfortunately, each stone is protected by a Guardian Spirit, who is willing to fight to the death against the Hunters. Big Mama sends "Daughter", one of the last living winged beings, along with the Hunters set out to eliminated the 3rd Platina Stone. She's being sent along because the stone's Guardian, named Sirius of the Wind, is also a winged being. While Mama might be doing this to have a strategic advantage over Sirius, she also wants Daughter to meet one of her own kind. After a brief interlude in which our heroes help a struggling restaurant owner compete in a cooking contest, the Hunters move on to the search for the fourth Platina Stone, which lands them smack in the middle of two warring ninja clans.
Ok, some of the humor of this series can be a bit grating at times, and this is especially apparent when Satoru Akahori relies almost completely on the laughs to move the story forward. Fortunately, the longing of Daughter for another of her kind, and the reciprocal desire of Sirius do more than enough to humanize these otherwise wacky characters. It doesn't hurt that Marron, the usually delicate and refined magic-user of the group, throws down his spells and takes up a sword to get his hands dirty in a battle with the fourth Guardian at the end of the volume. No matter how crazy Omishi's physical comedy gets, Akahori throws in some very human elements.
My Grade: B