Anime Quick-Hit Reviews: Winter 2010 Season Part 9

(Originally published and formatted for Livejournal on 2/13/11)

Anime Quick-Hit Reviews:
Winter 2010 Season Part 9

What this is about: For the sake of completeness and to accurately claim that I have sampled almost every subtitled anime show for all of 2010, I am going backwards several months to check out all the shows from the Winter 2010 Season, which is defined as all shows that debuted between December 21st, 2009 and March 21st, 2010. Rather than post full-length reviews, these are just some “quick hits”. I’ve already checked out the first episodes of every Winter 2010 show, now it’s time to take a look at those that received a passing grade to the second episode:

Durarara Episode 2

Series Details: 24 weekly television episodes aired between January and June 2010.
What It’s About: Kamichika thought she had problems she could not handle, and arranges to meet a stranger named Nakura in a suicide pact. But instead, she ends up kidnapped, then rescued by the headless motorcycle rider, who delivers her to a rooftop where she meets the real Nakura. After being scared shitless and told she is not special nor is she alone, Kamichika jumps anyway…only to be saved by the headless rider again.
My Thoughts on Episode 2: Very dark, but also very intriguing. So far at this point there’s no clue where the story is heading, other than starting to introduce more of the (massive) ensemble cast. Equally no clue where the headless rider fits into all of this, other than the whole show has a bit of a surreal feel to it. Most excellent.
The Verdict: – Thumbs up.

Hanamaru Kindergarten Episode 2

Series Details: Twelve television episodes aired between January and March 2010.
What It’s About: Tsuchida is still trying to get used to his new job as kindergarten teacher, and inadvertently gives permission for some of the tykes to explore the school alone. Later, the pint-sized genius Hiiragi puts a second grader in his place on several facts.
My Thoughts on Episode 2: Harmless fun…too harmless, in fact. The daily exploits of five-year-old kids are not exactly the most exciting thing in the world. Add to that the slightly dubious concept (a young, unmarried man as kindergarten teacher — yeah, that really *is* freakin’ unusual), and it’s just not worth it.
The Verdict: – Slight thumbs-down.

Post-Script: I should add, however, that the ending credit sequence was really quite awesome and tried to win me back to the series. But ending credits alone do not make a show worth watching, especially when you can watch the credits by themselves:

But wait…there’s more! Not only is there a different ending theme for the second episode, there’s a different ending theme for ALL TWELVE EPISODES. Each one is a different song in a totally different style, and ALL OF THEM ARE WORTH WATCHING, so click through all the links (I especially like the Stereolab-like one):

Episode 3 ending credits: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZLjWSN8GOo
Episode 4 ending credits: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxLfgjNmXyc
Episode 5 ending credits: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ny_FwztXpUY
Episode 6 ending credits: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iR0P2aAMUMs
Episode 7 ending credits: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oKsH4mQ-qo
Episode 8 ending credits: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIL6CmoUX58
Episode 9 ending credits: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOUhJaq0xME
Episode 10 ending credits: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYbmbF6nCvE
Episode 11 ending credits: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6o6UAf4mztY
Episode 12 ending credits: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWof4-AoimM

Darker than Black: Gaiden Episode 2

Series Details: Four-part original video animation released between January and March 2010.
What It’s About: Hei and Yin run to Hong Kong, where they arrange to have fake passports made to continue their escape. Yin uncharacteristically speaks up, recommending instead that they spread a rumor that Yin is up for sale, to draw in enemies and attack them first. Hei is worried (especially with Yin’s emerging attitude), but goes along with the plan. They run up against a trio of deadly contractors, and Hei is ultimately saved by Yin’s spirit.
My Thoughts on Episode 2: Yin was always somewhat of a mystery throughout the Darker than Black series, and this episode only raises more questions. As a “Doll”, she has no feelings or emotions of her own, existing on the barest autonomic functions (breathing, blinking, drinking, etc) to survive…so why is she suddenly appearing more…human? Well, maybe not human, but definitely no longer inanimate. It appears Yin is less of an observer, more of a…catalyst.
The Verdict: – Thumbs-up.

Gundam UC: Unicorn Episode 2

Series Details: Six-part hourly original video animation series, episodes released every six months beginning in March 2010.
What It’s About: There’s lots going on involving various Gundam factions that I really don’t know about, but it boils down to this: Good Guys (including the side with Banagher and Audrey Burne) fighting against Bad Guys (who attacked the space colony). Bad Guys demand they turn over LaPlace’s Box and the Gundam Unicorn. Audrey is revealed to be a Zeon Princess named Mineva, but Bad Guys don’t believe it. Banagher goes out fighting in the Unicorn, but gets captured and meets with Bad Guy Leader in Funky Mask.
My Thoughts on Episode 2: Despite my somewhat silly description, this show is much better than it sounds…and if you know about my innate dislike towards the Gundam universe, you know that’s big-time praise from me. I *really* like the detail in the artwork, the pseudo-retro character designs and the hard sci-fi action. Frankly, if all Gundam stories were like this, I’d be a fan in no time.
The Verdict: – Thumbs-up. Third episode is not due out until April 2011.

Working Episode 2

As mentioned before, I’ve already reviewed this entire series last spring. Rather than rehash it all over again, go back to the old reviews instead.

Time of Eve Episode 2

Series Details: Six 15-minute episodes released in 2009, combined into a feature-length film in March 2010.
What It’s About: Rikuo tries to make sense of what he saw at the Time of Eve, and drops in for another visit. There, he meets some of the other patrons, including a young girl and her doting grandfather (which one is the android…neither, or both?) Rikuo also surprises Sammy, causing her to run out in embarrassment.
My Thoughts on Episode 2: Honestly, I cannot imagine robots (androids) becoming so lifelike that they could become indistinguishable from a human being, either mentally or physically. At least, not in my lifetime, although futurists always want to imagine it’s just a couple decades away. Even so, what *if* the line was blurred, intentionally, by the robots? Does it really matter if someone or something is human, if you can’t tell the difference anyway? Our incessant need for classification and categorization gets the best of us.
The Verdict: – Thumbs-up.


Stage Two: Cleared! Next up: the third episodes.

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