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Good afternoon, non-existent readers. Today is Day 2 of the Spring 2007 Review Week, in which we shall take a glimpse at my 10 favorite episodes of the season.

Hmmm, not much to say before the jump. Must be a Tuesday. Don’t feel like doing screencaps today, either. Anyone know of a better method of screencapping over using the print-screen button and paint? Preferably something that works for a person with two monitors?

10.) Toward the Terra Episode 6: Station E-1077

Toward the Terra is an interesting Sci-Fi series centered around the struggles of the Mu, an evolved form of humans that have been subjugated due to the fact that humans tend to be racist snots towards anyone different. Episode 1 shows us the basic life of a human in this post-earth society, complete with artificial breeding and thought control. Episodes 2-5 show us the plight of the Mu, and also show that they’re really just the same racist snots as humans, only this time they have telekinetic powers. The main character, Jomy Marks Shin, is whiny at first, but eventually calms down when he realizes that yes, the Mu DO have his best interest in mind, if only because the humans would kill him the moment he goes back to human society.

In other words, while interesting, the first five episodes are plagued by frustrating foolishness.

Episode 6 changes gears a little, and shows us the human side of the outcome of the “Maturity Test,” the aforementioned thought control that also erases the memories of the child’s parents. It also introduces quite literally the most interesting character in the show, Keith, and details a situation where Keith meets up with a childhood friend of Jomy’s, Ben. The two become good friends, and together they go through the various trainings, and even help rescue the passengers of a crashed shuttle.

I happen to like this episode because it’s really nice to meet characters that aren’t entirely bull-headed racist snots. Keith and Ben have an interesting friendship forming, one that I hope to see given a fair degree of development, as it’s what really interests me right now.

9.) Nanoha Strikers Episode 9: Important Things

The hatred Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS has drawn from the general blogging crowd really confuses me. To be quite honest, I’m liking this series just about as much as I liked the first two. Different setting and different pacing, but it works for being a 26 episode series rather than a 13 episode series. More on this subject later, as this IS in my top 10 for series.

Anyway, about this episode.

Episode 9 is the conclusion to a three episode arc revolving around Teana, the second least developed of the four new mains. Subaru got her base development within the first few episodes, and Kyaro shortly after that, leaving Elio and Teana sadly less developed. Fortunately, this story arc served to not only give us some insight into Teana (and her relationship with Subaru) but also gave us a bit more of the backstory with regards to Nanoha herself. In the end, I came out of the story arc with even more liking of Nanoha than ever (and realizing yet again that THAT GIRL IS A PIMP) as well appreciation for the resident Tsundere Teana.

Oh, and despite what other bloggers would have you think, the plot has moved more than just training, and this story arc helped move it more than ever as well, giving us a taste of the villains, their motives and their objectives. All in all, this arc and in specific this episode has reaffirmed my decision to get into the Nanoha fandom in the first place.

8.) Lovely Complex Episode 9: Back from the Dead!! Aim for Girlfriend Status!!

Lovely Complex is one of the few recent Shoujo Series that has ever really reminded me of Kodomo no Omocha. It has energy and comedy, but also a sense of down-to-earthness that other fun shoujo series like Fruits Basket and Ouran High School Host Club sadly lack. I like my romantic comedy, but sometimes I like it to just stay on the ground and not have magic or stupid rich people. Lovely Complex has often delivered with its simple but cute and effective storyline detailing the “relationship” between Koizumi Risa and Otani Atsushi. Things happen mostly naturally, and as romantic relationships between two good friends have their ups and downs, Otani and Koizumi’s has more than its share of speedbumps.

Through episode 9, the romance builds up in Koizumi, but Otani stays the same. Episode 8 nearly crushes all hopes of Koizumi, but thankfully, the attempts to salvage the friendship of the two plus a chance encounter with their idol, singer Umibouzu, manages to rekindle the flame in Koizumi, and sets forward her goals for the next part of the series: try to get Otani to like her not as a friend or comedy duo partner, but as a girlfriend. That little flame of hope returning to the series is what puts this episode here at rank 8.

7.) Darker than Black Episodes 7-8: The Scent of Gardenias in the Summer Rain (Parts 1 & 2)

I place these two episodes together because they’re really just the same episode broken in two. Darker than Black is one anime I’d like to see at TV Drama length rather than anime length, simply because that’s the way the episodes are laid out.
Darker than Black has been a confusing and occasionally frustrating series. On one hand, you have a very cool cast of characters and very cool situations. On the other hand, it feels like Studio Bones has no inclination to give us enough to really connect with these characters, so it mostly had been riding on the niftiness of its situations for the first 6 episodes. Some development and explanation for our lead popped up in episode 6, but for the most part we’ve been given very little.

Then Episodes 7 and 8 come along, and while they do nothing to really reveal too much about our leads (aside from some fun stuff regarding Mao, the talking cat), they give us a delightfully comedic (but still dark) break from the previous episodes, complete with the introduction of my favorite character in the series, Gai Kurosawa, the Bumbling Private Eye (and his cosplaying otaku of an assistant is also fun.)

I certainly hope Gai and Scary Fangirl show up more. They’ve brought smiles to my face like most of the other great characters of the season, and they’re fun enough to bring in this mini-arc of Darker than Black to rank 7.

6.) Bokurano Episode 7: Scars

Coming in at rank 6, we have what I regard as the best episode in Bokurano so far. Taking a break from death and giant robot fights, this episode gives us a comprehensive backstory to Chizuru, probably the most interesting of the children so far. And what a backstory it is; screwed up beyond all recognition, Chizuru’s life has been quite a living hell the past few years. With episode 6’s sudden killing of Kako, I stopped caring about the doomed mecha battles (they’re running out of pilots, and I get the feeling Kako won’t be the last to go this way) and started caring about the characters, and the look into Chizuru’s messed up life did not disappoint. This is also the most recent episode of Bokurano I’ve seen, and I’m eagerly awaiting the next episode to see what happens with Chizuru gaining the power to pilot the mech and therefore “remove” all her problems before she dies.

5.) Hayate the Combat Butler Episodes 8/10: Cat Ear Mode Sends You To Hell/The World’s Bizzare High Deflation, Don’t Stack Up Games and Play Them

These two episodes are ranked side by side due to two things: general hilarity of both, and the fact that 10 is sort of a twisted demented side story to episode 8.

Episode 8 puts our poor hapless lead into his worst situations yet: first is Nagi’s strange desire to dress him up in womens clothing, and then his realization that he will have no chance in hell of obtaining the series relationship that he wants (he laments his inability to obtain a Maria ending.) Complete with Hayate being dry-humped by Tama the Tiger, Episode 8 is one of the most twisted canonical episodes of the series.

Episode 10 acts as a side story to episode 8, and is even more twisted and diabolical than Ep 8 as well. A script made specifically for the anime, the episode shifts between a nonsensical plot involving some of Nagi’s (sadly underused) classmates and random fanservice. It earned the honor of Amazing Episode of Anime, and deservedly so.

4.) Denno Coil Episode 4: Daikoku City, The Hackers Club

Denno Coil has been one of the most entertaining series of the season, and Episode 4 is easily the most entertaining of the bunch. An episode serving to introduce us a little closer to Yoko-Isako (who, by the end of the episode, had become my favorite character of the show and one of my favorite characters of the season,) this episode showcases not only her talents, but the talents of the school’s Hacker Club as well as our Cyberspace Detectives Fumie and Yoko-Yasako in a three-way cyberduel. This cyberduel is a brilliant piece of action, showing off the skills and talents of the various characters, as well as showing off the imagination and marvel of Denno Coil’s already impressive iteration of Cyberspace.

Also fun is Yasako’s attempts to befriend Isako, detailing a fun potential friendship that reminds me of a slightly more mature and better handled version of Takato and Rika from Digimon Tamers (yes, I’m a Digimon Fan. That’s one of the reasons I like Denno Coil, it’s like a more thoughtful and mature Digimon.) All in all, the highlight episode of one of this seasons best series.

3.) Seto no Hanayome Episode 8: Clash

Halfway through episode 7 of Seto no Hanayome, I was worried that the sudden quarrel over Nagasumi between Sun and Lunar would result in the series turning into Harem.

Thankfully, my fears were quickly determined to be unfounded, as copious amounts of drugs became slipped into the Gonzo writing and animation staff, and they turned this rivalry into a Fan War of Apocalyptic Proportions, pushing the show straight into its best episode so far this season, Episode 8.

Episode 8 manages to resolve this insane fan war the only way possible: Through a Sing-off between Lunar and her not-mutual rival Sun. The episode itself is brilliantly directed even before the sing-off, but the concert itself highlights Gonzo’s talents of animation, as well as the vocal talents of the seiyuu for Sun and Lunar, before segueing right into the fans going into a frenzy of “cannot show on TV” nature, pushing the show fully into its nature as absurdist shonen, complete with special “music attacks” that entice the fans to riot and grant our lead Nagasumi super strength and FotNS style animation.

Truly brilliant.

2.) Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann Episode 11: Simon, Remove Your Hands

As I detailed in my Amazing Episodes of Anime post, this episode is simply incredible, wonderful payoff after a few episodes of Simon Angst (which, as Dio Bravo tells me, is still justifiable, unlike the Shinji Angst that I admit not seeing much of.) Not much more that I can say on it beyond what I’ve already said.

1.) Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann Episode 8: Farewell, Comrades

Oh, how I’ve longed to write about this episode from the moment I saw it. I didn’t because I still had the idea in my head that I was going to do catch up posts eventually. How delusional and silly.

We all know what happens here if we’ve been paying attention; if not, spoilers ahead.

This is the episode in which TTGL’s most awesome character Kamina dies.

Anime on my Mind did an excellent feature (Of which I participated in discussion on) on how to make an effective character death. Dio Bravo and I had a discussion on other deaths with an impact in anime, but the only thing we came up with that was close to Kamina’s was the death of the equally awesome Kikuchiyo from Gonzo’s Samurai 7. Dio swears he’ll fight me on this, but I do have a few points that in my eyes still puts Kamina ahead.

1.) Timing in the series. Kikuchiyo dies towards the end of Samurai 7, and while his death is incredible (he parries a castle with a giant robot’s sword, after all) it doesn’t have the same impact on the cast as Kamina’s death. The most impactful death in that respect for Samurai 7 is Gorobei.

2.) Suddenness of death. Kikuchiyo’s death is telegraphed a mile away in the episode it happens. Kamina’s death is one you know is coming… if you read the subtext of the story and maybe watched the preview, since episode 8 doesn’t have a title card. If all you’ve read into is the hidden meanings of the story, you know that Kamina will die SOMETIME (and I was expecting Later rather than Sooner) and if you haven’t been looking into it at all it’s incredibly sudden. I’d call Kamina’s death Whedon-esque (as a reference to Joss Whedon’s habit of killing off characters) before I’d call Kikuchiyo’s death anywhere close to that.

Beyond that, they’re both incredibly effective deaths, because most importantly, these amazing characters are themselves till the moment they give their last hurrah.

Oh wait, though, I do have one point left.

3.) Kikuchiyo is, despite being the most emotional and deepest, depicted as a robot. The death of Kamina will ALWAYS strike closer no matter what due to the issues of Kikochiyo being a machine and therefore not FULLY being able to connect with the viewer.

But enough about the death; the episode itself was still amazing, complete with its vibrant action sequences and its treatment of the other characters. Easily my favorite episode of the season.