It’s relatively common knowledge that the second season of Birdy the Mighty: Decode is better than the first. When I’d finished the first season I found that claim odd because although I echoed the sentiment of many people that it was good but not outstanding, I wondered how the second season could improve on the formula.
sees Birdy fight in a ruined city, bursting through crumbling buildings and trickling water mains with destructive abandon
Boy meets girl, boy ends up cohabiting girl’s body. It certainly feels familiar in the same way that any gender-bending situation is - Kokoro Connect, Ranma ½, Kämpfer et. al. - but here there is the quirk of the girl being an absurdly strong intergalactic investigator on the hunt for dangerous criminals on the “backwater” planet Earth. I thought I knew what to expect from that sort of introduction which perhaps explains why I stopped watching it when it first aired in 2008. It’s fair to say then that my expectations were challenged in the first season, then totally surpassed by the second.
A review of the Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin anime series
I’ve found myself saying numerous times before in reviews that how a series starts isn’t necessarily how it continues. Putting aside first episode budget splurges, the tendency to cram as much into those first precious twenty or so minutes means that sometimes story, characterisation and continuity can be left by the wayside. Often this is just an innocent enough attempt to grab attention before settling in to a more measured pace. Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin (Nanana’s Buried Treasure) is only the second series I can think of - the other being the underappreciated Ga-Rei Zero - that purposefully builds up your expectations and then mercilessly subverts them.
Enter Juugo, our slightly meat-headed protagonist who has just run away from home and travelled to the ultra-modern island built according to the vision of one girl genius. When he moves into his modest apartment he finds out, to his horror, that it is already occupied by the ghost of a young, beautiful girl. Whatever will he do? Chair back, spin down brain, prepare for quirky love comedy where Juugo finds out who killed this girl and bittersweet love blossoms. First episode closing credits roll, commence disinterested “hmph”.
A review of Lupin III: A Woman Called Fujiko Miine
The length and breadth of the Lupin III franchise means that any new instalment in it - whether series, film or OVA - has space to rearrange the tried and tested gentleman thief formula. If The Woman Called Fujiko Mine is the first Lupin III entry you’ve seen (and for anime fans of a certain age it will be more likely than not) then it may be odd to move onto the lighter, wackier offerings such as Miyazaki’s well regarded Castle of Cagliostro.
no love lost between professionals
The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, a 2012 series now two movies and a television special in the past, is dark, oppressive and delves into sex, sexuality and sexual violence right from the outset. For better or worse, the series owes a debt to Cowboy Bebop: both share a smooth, sometimes discordant, jazz soundtrack (although Yoko Kanno’s offering is far and away superior), a welcomingly cosmopolitan setting, an episodic structure, and, until it is fully explored later in the series, Fujiko’s past comes off like an homage to Bebop’s Faye. Both series obviously pay their debt to innumerable other genres - film noir being just one - but it’s there that the similarities between the two series ends.
The adage of "always leave the audience wanting more" is becoming increasingly apt for Studio Bones. Like with Bounen no Xam'd before it, Un-Go's creativity and, most of all, possibilities make the run-time almost criminally short. Especially when the concept - a detective revealing the truth of disparate then intertwined mysteries - has enough meat to last twice the petite eleven episodes.
it deals with contemporary issues through a very old-fashioned character and plot
This isn't to say it's rushed. The bite-sized opening mysteries are but a taster for the underlying one which stretches the entire latter half; unfortunately the format doesn't lend itself well to brevity. All too often the audience has to take events on faith and ride the story out rather than attempt to unravel the intrigue for themselves. Evidence is often scattered conspicuously around however the question of what the mystery is, often eludes just as much as the answer.
Mission twelve: Hunter and Hunted. Wounded, out-gunned and trapped; the situation looks bleak for 47 as a well-informed detective closes in on the assassin. With the hotel being assaulted by heavily-armed SWAT teams, the question is whether 47 can escape the onslaught and still complete his original mission. This seems like it's only the beginning of something much bigger.
Hitman Contracts contains mature content and is wholly unsuitable for minors, some of these videos also contain flashing lights; fairly warned be thee.