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Dated 2 February 2010: Nodame Cantabile: Finale CHECK

Nodame's umbrella
But it's not even raining.

Nodame Cantabile fans should remember Nodame's awesome piano bag from the first season. Although not quite as cool, today's KARMABURN CHECK admires Nodame's heart-print umbrella from the OP to Nodame Cantabile: Finale.

Nodame tears her clothes off
Nodame is such a slob.

As far as the show itself goes, Nodame 69 is essentially a continuation of Nodame Cantabile: Paris, so you should definitely watch the earlier seasons first before starting Finale. (This may seem like a no-brainer, but there is a tendency among some viewers to fixate on only the newest, shiniest thing possible.) I happen to think this latest Nodame installment is the best Winter 2010 show, aside from Cross Game and Kimi ni Todoke, both of which started earlier. This opinion may be skewed by my affection for the series as a whole, though. While some may lament the apparent lack of progress in the Nodame & Chiaki relationship, I'm pleased the story takes seriously Nodame's own ambitions and goals that are independent of Chiaki's involvement.

Dated 3 April 2010: The End of Nodame Cantabile: Finale

Nodame
Nodame glances at Chiaki.

I wanted to write about the end of Nodame Cantabile: Finale, but what can I say about a show like this? Finale is basically the second half of Nodame Cantabile: Paris, so nobody should watch Finale if they haven't already seen Paris. And if they've seen Paris, they'll already know whether or not they want to watch Finale no matter what anyone says about it.

Nodame's hands
Nodame's non-CGI hands.

This is not to say that Nodame Cantabile: Finale is an exact continuation of Nodame Cantabile: Paris Chapter; there are significant differences. First, J.C. Staff has deemphasized the CGI orchestra in favor of regular animation that focuses instead on the expressions of the musicians and the audience instead of the technical aspects of the music. Second, the attention is back on Nodame and Chiaki instead of the supporting characters.

Nodame and Chiaki
Nodame and Chiaki share some music again.

One complaint about the post-Japan Nodame arcs is that the supporting cast is not as interesting. I don't know that I agree necessarily, as I never found any of the supporting characters in Nodame Cantabile especially endearing. The Japan-centric cast may be more eccentric, but that doesn't mean I care more about them than Frank, Tanya, and company. Comparing Paris with Finale, however, I can say the supporting cast in Finale is not there to drive its own stories. The stories belong more to Nodame and Chiaki; the rest of them are just along for the ride.

Chiaki
Tiny pictures are the way of love, Chiaki.

So what else is there to say? Well, for one thing, it's the third-best show that aired Winter 2010 behind Cross Game and Kimi ni Todoke—first, if you only count series that began Winter 2010. From the looks of it, I enjoyed Nodame Cantabile: Finale much more than most people. I wonder if it's because I have never read the manga? Or if it's because I've come to view Nodame Cantabile as a story about Nodame's love affair with music instead of her love affair with Chiaki?

3D Paris
Paris in 3D.

2D Paris
Paris in 2D.

In other news, there are a few artistic liberties taken with the Nodame Cantabile: Finale locales. For example, the above setting does not really exist except as a composite of different (albeit admittedly nearby) views:

3D Paris
Paris in 3D.

I'm guessing animating on location is even less convenient than shooting on location, what with all the staring by tourists and locals and prolonged exposure to the elements and whatnot, so it's excusable.

Dated 13 April 2010: Winter 2010 season wrapup

Kou
I liked the manga version of this scene better, though.

Cross Game and Kimi ni Todoke went down to the wire as to which show would claim the top spot, but Cross Game pulled ahead for the win at the very last episode because it had a great ending and Kimi ni Todoke didn't have an ending at all.

Kurumi
Ume > Sawako.

To be fair, the Kimi ni Todoke manga is still running, so there wasn't much else the anime could do without making Kazehaya a vengeful bounty hunter years in the future after a sudden timeskip. On the other hand, Cross Game took a good manga ending and adapted it so well it's better than its source.

Chiaki and Nodame
Damn, Chiaki, give the kid a break.

I already said why I like Nodame Cantabile: Finale so much.

Ed
Here is a screenshot of Ed instead of Winry
again since it is technically his show.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood remains as solid as or better than the first Fullmetal Alchemist anime. I'm still perplexed why so many viewers who were excited by the first anime are apparently completely uninterested in the current show. I guess maybe they outgrew it. Brotherhood continues during the Spring 2010 season.

Noloty
The Book of Bantorra needed more Noloty.

I liked The Book of Bantorra mostly because it was so different. Imaginative and perplexing at nearly every turn, The Book of Bantorra kept me interested because I never knew what to expect from any episode. That, and I liked how the most powerful and dangerous librarian's primary weapon consisted of hucking very small rocks. I was also amused she spent a good portion of her spare time embroidering little bunny rabbits. Hamyuts was pretty well-rounded for a sadist.

Celty
I promise not to make any head jokes.

Durarara!! is a good show that I would enjoy more if I cared about any of the characters. They aren't badly written characters by any means; I just don't find them interesting for some reason. I don't even care about Celty—probably because she gets flustered so easily. It's like finding out your hot date is infected with moe. Yeah, you can get a shot to clear it right up, but sometimes the burning sensation just isn't worth it. I guess I kinda like the girl who smiles in every single one of her scenes and the perpetually angry dude who throws vending machines at people. DRRR!! also continues Spring 2010.

Cure Berry
Cure Berry needed more funnels.

Fresh Pretty Cure really took a dive after the Cure Passion arc. The ending was completely lackluster. When you compare it to the ending of the original Futari wa Pretty Cure series or the ending of its Max Heart sequel, it's blatantly obvious the Precure franchise is playing it safe and taking no chances anymore. The ending of the original Futari wa Pretty Cure was a complete downer that probably didn't traumatize many children but doubtlessly left many of them sad. Too bad, kids; life is real. The ending of Max Heart was a multi-episode fist fight between Zakenna dudes that didn't fight fair and the outnumbered Cure Black and Cure White. (Shiny Luminous was on the bench with too many fouls at this point.) Then they basically had to fight Lilith from The End of Evangelion. It was awesome. The Fresh Pretty Cure finale, on the other hand, faced off four Cures against a bad guy Kirk and Spock would have outwitted without leaving the bridge. And they received battle costume upgrades in the form of angel wings for some reason. Except for Cure Gundam Berry. Just had to be different, didn't you, Miki?


Okay, there was some misinformation in Chu-Bra! as well.

I didn't expect much from Chu-Bra!! at all. This was my PSP experiment show. Results from the experiment were inconclusive in this case, but I believe it would have made a difference with a show where the video and audio mattered more regarding one's enjoyment of the series. Instead of the fan service bonanza and a lot of pandering, Chu-Bra!! instead turned out to be the low-brow anime equivalent of a +5 Informative Slashdot post. It wasn't especially ambitious, but Chu-Bra!! surprised me by not being crass. Honest. Many of the underwear scenes were drawn extremely simplistically to presumably minimize the amount of fan service in the show. In fact, I think there were fewer gratuitious T&A scenes than there were underwear lessons in the style of the Gunbuster science lessons. I kid you not.

Kate and Hana
Hirano Aya is perfect as Katja.

Seikon no Qwaser is basically porn that's not intended to titillate. It's anime one-upmanship. Episode one: Junior high kid sucks high school tits to boost his shounen fighting powers. By episode 11 the show moves on to twincest lesbian S&M rapists. I'm dead serious. And it's planned for 24 episodes. I, for one, am looking forward to another cour with a great Hirano Aya character and the only Kawasumi Ayako game in town.

Hinagiku
I guess Hinagiku was all right since she had a yakuza posse.

Hanamaru Kindergarten was the least Gainaxy Gainax show I've ever seen. I would have liked it better if it had Gainax kicks, or if the lead characters weren't so despicable. I swear, Tsuchida could have learned a lot about ambition and guts from Love Hina's Urashima Keitaro. Yamamoto was supposed to be a Belldandy-type perfect woman, but she's dumb as all Hell.

Vamp
Vamp and Kayoko should get married.

Astro Fighter Sunred is about as good as it ever was, I suppose, but 40+ episodes of essentially the same jokes over and over gets a little tedious. I'll keep watching it if ANBU keeps subbing it, but Sunred really should have been a 13-episode series. I'd still rather watch a Kayoko + Vamp cooking show about bachelor chow.

Dark Precure
Cure Kero-chan.

Heartcatch Precure appears to be the most popular Pretty Cure series thus far, at least as far as mainstream acceptance goes. I'm really unimpressed by it, however, probably because Cure Blossom is a dojikko and her worst-Cure-ever shtick is not endearing at all. Needs more Dark Precure and Cure I-Know-It's-You-Hisakawa-Aya Moonlight. A mid-season replacement for Fresh Pretty Cure, look for Heartcatch to run at least another 40 episodes.

Dark Precure
I bet Dark Precure's original designation was Cure Sunshine.
[Update: Oops, there's already a character called Cure Sunshine.]

Final Tally: Cross Game > Kimi ni Todoke > Nodame Cantabile: Finale > Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (50) > The Book of Bantorra > Durarara!! (12) > Fresh Pretty Cure > Chu-Bra!! [PSP] > Seikon no Qwaser (11) > Hanamaru Kindergarten > Sunred II (40) > Heartcatch Precure (8). Dropped Winter 2010: None.

Dated 28 October 2013: I'm disappointed with the Golden Time anime adaptation

Kaga
When they point the finger, it means you're a rival.

I was looking forward to Golden Time because I felt both the manga and the original light novels successfully combined the two components I claim critical to a romantic comedy's success: Medium-Wackiness and Emotional Resonance. The Golden Time anime does not deviate from the source material, but the way it covers some significant events is haphazard and rushed.

Nana
In case you blinked during her appearance, this is Nana.

From a narrative standpoint, watching Golden Time is sort of like hearing a synopsis from a reader who only skimmed the books. All the key points are there, but getting them from this type of storytelling isn't conducive to understanding how they relate. The viewer is less likely to appreciate the moments themselves.

Kaga
It's not the same without a hangover.

The biggest problem so far is episode four was clearly rushed. A lot of important events occur shortly after Banri's and Kouko's night in the woods, but episode four of the anime runs through them all without conveying their gravity. Specifically, the confrontation with Chinami, the subsequent encounter with Nana, Kouko taking the stage, and the departure from the club are all important events that the anime basically glosses over, skipping to the morning after. (Significantly, the anime also entirely omits the binge drinking that occurs throughout those events.) I was also dissatisfied with how the anime covered Kouko's struggle at Banri's club and with how it handled Banri's unexpected journey.

Linda, Kouko, Banri, and other dancers
To be fair, this probably would have been painful to watch.

Before the Golden Time anime started, quite a few people expressed their reservations after learning Kon Chiaki is at the helm. (She's the director perhaps best known for "ruining" the Nodame Cantabile sequels.) Through four episodes, I have to grudgingly admit that these pessimists were right.

Kouko and Chinami
Chinami does kinda suck.

Despite all the criticism J.C. Staff attracts these days, I still consider it a very capable studio when it plays to its strengths. Emotional resonance is its bread and butter. Unfortunately, compared to its deft execution in other adaptations such as Toradora! and Honey & Clover, Golden Time is an underachiever. Maybe episode four was just a aberrant one-off, but it was ham-fisted even compared to the Nodame Cantabile sequels Kon Chiaki herself directed, let alone compared to the brilliant first season. One-off or not, it's troubling that such important parts of Golden Time didn't get better treatment.

Banri's mom
Nice smock.

Nevertheless, despite the flaws in how Golden Time is presented, I do still like the show. I think this is a testament to the strength of the original source material. It's a real shame the anime isn't taking a bit more care with how it covers the events, because it has the potential to be very good. It seems merely slowing down a bit would suffice, Kon Chiaki notwithstanding. I suspect it's likely the rush is inspired by desires to hit a milestone by the end of the season, but this makes it more difficult to simply enjoy the ride.