Thursday, April 06, 2006

Capsule reviews: anime about soul-destroying poverty, urban renewal, and homicidal mahou shoujo

Binchou-tan (through ep 7): In episode 7, Binchou-tan almost misses a festival because she has to work late taking the trash out for her employers of the day, who are at least ten times her size. I can just tell in the last episode, Binchou-tan will finally snap, rise up out of her poverty, gather an angry mob, and burn Kunugi-tan's house to the ground, laughing maniacally as she stuffs Kunugi-tan in a rice cooker for a couple hours so she can see just what Binchou-tan's arubeito in episode 2 was like. I'm really hoping Habitat for Humanity will show up and rebuild Binchou-tan's house, because the rainstorm in the last episode shows it needs it. While they're at it, they can give Binchou-tan a blanket that doesn't have a big hole in it. Binchou-tan continues to be a laid-back slice of life series--I guess it's like Aria but everyone's a lot less well off. I hope by the end of the series Kunugi-tan will get to play with Binchou-tan, in spite of the fact she has about a trillion times more money.

Burn Up Scramble (end): I watched the last four episodes of Burn Up Scramble, thanks to Netflix--they were better animated than some of the middle episodes, but the ending still didn't do much for me. Sure, they leveled a few buildings and all, but I was left thinking, that's it? That's all you've got? No blowing up GOTT headquarters? No accidentally laying waste to a whole planet, or at least the better part of a prefecture? YUA had a much better cast, Dirty Pair had more explosions, Kiddy Grade had more intrigue--maybe the problem is Burn Up Scramble has a lot of competition in its genre. YUA is still my favorite 'anime cop duo' series just because of the great cast and the interactions between them all--Rio and Maya have a long way to go to match up with Miyuki and Natsumi. Although the one edge Burn Up has over YUA is there's none of this paint gun crap--when the cops shoot in Burn Up Scramble, they're shooting live ammo. Still, no duo will ever beat Dirty Pair at collateral damage, since when they mess up, entire planets bite the big one.

Dai Mahou Touge (eps 1-2): Going into this I was expecting another Dokuro-chan, and while the gore is leveled down a little, there are definitely some similarities. Start with your average princess from the magic world, who has to perform a task on Earth before she can become queen, so she ends up in a normal school setting--so far, this could be a mahou shoujo series. Where it starts to diverge from your normal mahou shoujo is that the princess is bent on world domination, brings vegetables to life to beat the holy living Jesus out of her school's delinquents, knows a variety of bone-crushing wrestling moves, and has a cute-looking mascot who's just waiting for the perfect chance to kill her. Plus instead of "Release!" her staff answers to "Lyrical Tokarev...kill them all!" with "kill them all" in English. Overall, it's pretty funny, but this is just the kind of insane humor I like. There isn't as much fanservice as Dokuro-chan, and there's no male lead whatsoever--there's some kind of test the princess has to pass to be queen, but since it's a short OVA series I'm not expecting much plot. Waku waku mascot village was pretty funny--cute mahou shoujo sidekick characters drinking, gambling, smoking, getting stabbed, thrown out's like watching a bunch of Kero-chans on acid. The self-peeling vegetables were funny too.

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