Since everything else here requires spoiler warnings, I’ll start with the one item I can place before the jump and go from there!
I just wanted to make brief mention of an anime series we’ve been enjoying, not just for its terrific story and animation, but also for its method of delivery! Eve no Jikan (Time of Eve) from writer/director Yasuhiro Yoshiura (whose Pale Cocoon we also enjoyed), is being provided with English subtitles as free streaming video at Crunchyroll, shortly after each episode’s release in Japan. Episodes can also be downloaded for a small fee.
Eve no Jikan‘s premise is nothing extremely new. We’ve seen plenty of fiction involving the ethics and complications of a world in which human-like androids are employed to serve humans, and what it really means to be human, etc. What I’m enjoying about this series especially, is that the story revolves around an underground cafe where discrimination between human and android is prohibited. The cafe setting, with its set of fixed characters, helps make the story feel more intimate than what I’m used to in fiction with these themes, assisted also by the youthful POV of its protagonist. I’m impressed, too, with its effectiveness, considering that it is being fed to us only in 15-minute increments.
This is probably old news to most people who read here, but just in case I’m not the last person to talk about this, I wanted to pass it along! :) Watch the first episode here!
Now on to the rest. SPOILERS for new chapters of Bakuman, xxxHolic, and NANA, as well as recent episodes of Ef: A Tale of Melodies after the jump!
Bakuman chapter 16: Okay, okay, so it would have been too much for our heroes to have come in first, but I couldn’t help hoping for it. I’m still in a place where the story’s romantic relationships (the primary one, especially) are just mildly annoying distractions from the real drama. I suppose this could change over time, but I don’t have high hopes.
The boys’ journey as up-and-coming mangaka, on the other hand, has me freakin’ riveted. Possibly I’ll never love a series that Takeshi Obata is involved with more than I loved Hikaru no Go, but I am finding this to be a more personally compelling story than Death Note. It has some of the same elements, like smart boys analyzing everything to death, but even though they aren’t much less arrogant than Light Yagami, their youth and excitement grants them a level of innocence that makes it more palatable. I suppose also I’m just a little more excited to read a story about young mangaka than I am to read about a young serial killer. Heh.
In any case, I’m happy that my early distaste for the story’s sexism has been overshadowed by some pretty nice storytelling on top of Obata’s lively, detailed artwork. I continue to enjoy this series more with each new chapter.
xxxHolic chapter 170: Finally some answers for everyone who has been angsting over the status of Cardcaptor Sakura‘s Sakura and Syaoran! I hope this is the end of the fannish vitriol that has driven me away from xxxHolic fan communities over the past few months.
More exciting for me in this chapter was the scene between Yuuko and Haruka. Any chapter with Haruka in it is a beautiful thing as far as I’m concerned, and this is no exception. Also, both Yuuko and Haruka make statements here that suggest the end is perhaps nearer than we realized.
Oh, xxxHolic! I am dying to know what happens, but also dreading the end of the series. I have loved very few things in life the way I love xxxHolic. On the upside, even after the series’ end I will have the final volumes from Del Ray to look forward to. They are so well done, each volume seems like new to me, whether I’ve already read the material or not.
NANA chapter 79: This series continues to have a crazy hold on my heart. Chapter 79 contains significant sequences in both present and future timelines (or past and present, depending on how you’re thinking about it), and both brought tears to my eyes. Also, wow, I just can’t seem to give up my Hachi/Nobu ‘shipping, no matter what I do.
We don’t know the details of Hachi’s estrangement from Takumi yet (though I have a few guesses), but I can’t help hoping that she’ll find herself back in Nobu’s arms by the end. I’m not usually so stuck on one ‘ship or another the way I am here, and I suspect in this case my feelings are influenced by the extent to which I personally identify with both Hachi and Nobu. I suppose I wish for their happiness the same way I would wish for my own.
Nana Osaki, who I identify with only in terms of career drive, is much more of a mystery to me, so it is harder for me to imagine what happiness would be for her, though I wish for it just as much. I’ve gone on a tangent here, but these are the roads my mind wanders down when I’ve finished a chapter of NANA. I am driven to self-reflection just as strongly as I am to reflection on the story itself.
Ef: A Tale of Melodies episode 8: Just when you think this series can’t get any darker or more heartbreaking, it does. We’ve been watching this for a while, having enjoyed the original series immensely, and I don’t think I was quite prepared for how painful the second series would be. I find myself alternately furious and horrified over the actions and words of various characters. And y’know, I know everyone’s screwed up and not necessarily thinking straight, but I am constantly appalled at the way blame keeps being piled on Yuu for things he did or didn’t do as a small child who had just lost his sister in an earthquake he himself barely survived. Um. Probably it goes without saying that I’m finding the story emotionally engaging? Heh. On a completely different note, what continues to be impressive and moving for me here as it was in the original series is the beautiful, esoteric style of the animation. This series is as gorgeous as it is painful.
That’s all for the moment! I still want to talk about Fruits Basket volume 21, but that will have to wait!