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Dated 23 April 2008: My-Otome Zwei episode four

Mai fights Kagatsuchi
Lift with your legs, not with your back, sweetie.

I never got around writing a proper entry regarding the fourth episode of the My-Otome Zwei OAV. In a nutshell, it makes no sense, but I don't care because it's AWESOME.

If you'd like to initiate the Surrogate ONE.
If you'd like to load a Silver TWO.
If you need to report your best friend for feeling you up in your sleep...
...please stay on the line.

Really, if you're expecting more from My-Otome beyond magikal girls kicking the Bejeezus out of each other...err, a common enemy, you're asking too much from this franchise. My-Otome is about giant swords, lots of hollering, scandalous couplings, and getting aced square in the face, okay.

Mashiro slaps Arika
Slap Sisters is the new Blood Brothers.

The most meaningful thing My-Otome Zwei does is elevate Nina to the coveted position of My-Otome Best Girl. Bear in mind this is a series that includes Chie hat-punching deadbeats, Mashiro and mom-sized Arika slapping the shit out of each other, and Nao demonstrating why she's the best onee-sama at the academy. Then again, it also has Natsuki (the My-HiME Best Girl) spending most of the mini-series yakking on the phone, which is kind of a shame, but Zwei wisely pares down the character count to avoid diluting the story too much.

Nina wakes up
Nina with her hair down is basically Claes in Megane Mode.

"Story," I says, but sheepishly. I admit I didn't follow My-Otome Zwei for the gripping plot. I watched it for "MATERIALISE!" and the old gunfighter (read: teenage girl) coming out of retirement to take names—and because if I keep hyping it up maybe Kajiura Yuki really will write a three-hour My-HiME opera. A fan can dream.

Dated 20 May 2008: Gainax should make Sky Girls 2

Eika is the best sky girl
Eika is the best sky girl.

Is it too late to talk about Sky Girls? I enjoy the Sky Girls OAV and want to like the Sky Girls television series on principle, but to tell you the truth, it's sort of dull. As I've lamented before, J.C. Staff's weak point seems to be its unremarkable fight scenes. That's the kind of shortcoming that can really drag down a concept like Sky Girls.

Karen is mortified, Otoha nonplussed
Karen is mortified by her new uniform. Otoha not so much.

For better or for worse, J.C. Staff also takes the high road as far as fan service is concerned. On its face, Sky Girls appears to be an excuse to parade teenage girls vacuum-sealed into skin-tight outfits every week. While it is true that these Sky Girls pilots wear flight suits offering little to the imagination, they also modestly cover themselves up with double-breasted overcoats most of the time unless they're actually piloting. In fact, they wear overcoats even when the episodes take place in tropical locations. So while there is some fan service in Sky Girls, there's not nearly as much as one might imagine. In fact, the most daring samples appear during the show's OP: (1) Eika shoots a smoldering glare over her shoulder. Ooh la la. (2) Eika takes a running leap into her seat—A.K.A. Ass Shot of the Year 2007 (unofficially).

Otoha fails to account for overcoats
Eika simply keeps her goodies under wraps.

Instead of being a boobs and butts extravaganza or a post-apocalyptic distopia with savage mecha fights, Sky Girls devotes itself to character-driven stories. Those aspects aren't bad, but probably aren't the reasons why most viewers watched Sky Girls TV in the first place. Those with prurient interests will find the series quite tame, and those looking for full-on mecha battles will find the show dull. Viewers curious about how an eclectic cast of pilots interact will enjoy the series more.

Otoha fails to account for wind
This is about as racy as Sky Girls gets.

This is a nice group of characters. All the girls are charismatic. Ayako Kawasumi plays Otoha with the chipper feistiness she's so good at. I'm a sucker for the ol' Yui Horie sweetness; there plenty of that, too, with her Nanae. Eika is the best girl, easily, mostly for glaring all the time. The male characters are mostly dullards, but Otoha's grandfather kind of looks like Neko-sensei from Princess Tutu. It frightens me a little.

Otoha's grandpa
Otoha's grandfather.

Ahiru's ballet instructor. Separated at birth?

Sky Girls TV is mostly harmless. It takes no risks and offers little to offend or titillate. The series plays it safe, so viewers are treated to a show that's neither especially good nor especially bad. Perhaps its reception would have been better had Sky Girls been a Gonzo travesty or a controversial, avant garde Gainax vehicle. Really, J.C. Staff should have approached Sky Girls the way it did with Oku-sama wa Mahou Shoujo and The Melody of Oblivion. Or would that have been too dirty? Barring a second season of Sky Girls TV, the world will never know.

Dated 10 July 2008: I'd care more about Saimoe were it about hair instead of moe

Yes, even better than Miu from Piano.

Good hair is important. Minmay knows this. You should know it, too. And you should also know that Rue from Princess Tutu has the best anime hair of all time. And I'm not just saying that because half the time she looks like she just got out of bed. Nor am I saying that because the other half of the time it appears one stiff wind away from exploding into a murder of crows.

Yomiko is so a superhero.

In other news, Yomiko's hair also looks like she just got out of bed half the time, but Yomiko doesn't quite have Rue's panache. Really, Yomiko's just a mess, but I guess she can get away with that, being a superhero and all.

Dated 13 August 2008: This Monster review has grown so big (Part One)

Nina is the Best Girl in Monster,
but with its cast that's pretty much a given.

How does one talk about Monster within the framework of a (mostly) diligent spoiler-free policy? It is difficult to discuss the plot of this 74-episode series without spoiling many of the key episodes that hinge on ambiguity and mystery for their hook, and it is impossible to provide episodic discussions without abandoning a spoiler-free policy altogether, since even trivial details from later episodes answer questions about events that happen (or don't happen, as it were) in the earlier episodes.

Dated 27 October 2008: Toradora! interest waning

Minori and Ryuuji
Minori and Ryuuji.

After four episodes, I'm finding little reason to continue watching Toradora! besides copious amounts of Yui Horie Sweetness. It's not a bad show—just not one I find too interesting right now. Oh, I'll probably still finish out the first season, but in all likelihood I'll wait until all the episodes are out and then marathon the remaining batch.

"Half-right, face!"

Unless there are sudden advances by Ami, the recently-introduced somewhat-militant new character, I think Minori has got Best Girl status locked up. Fully expect Minori to boat race the remainder of this show. [Update: That's not Ami. It's Sumire.]

Taiga's blood sugar is probably low.

Taiga is pretty much out of contention altogether, despite enjoying Girl Next Door status. I'm glad that she's a basket case when she's anywhere near that boy she likes, but her constant need to have Ryuuji take care of her is tiresome.

Dated 11 November 2008: What about my Macross Frontier BEST GIRL? ~or~ This Love Triangle is Acute

Sheryl Nome
Sheryl Nome isn't conceited—just confident.

There's a reason why Sheryl Nome is the Best Girl in Macross Frontier: She's a God damn superstar. Minmay was incredibly popular, but she never got to establish herself in a big market. It's been years since I've watched Macross Plus, but I remember Sharon Apple being cold, distant, and artificial. (Well, yeah.) Fire Bomber was pretty big in Macross 7, but never managed to come across as more than a glorified garage band. Sheryl Nome, however, plays in The Show.

Sheryl Nome
Relax, Klan Klan. She's good for it.

Sheryl is the big time. She leaves people awestruck and she's eminently self-aware. Plus she surrounds herself with flunkies of dubious character like any good superstar. And she appropriately underscores the caveat that the brightest star burns briefest. I've commented before that ol' Miss Macross Lynn Minmay could still knock 'em dead years later in Flashback 2012. Minmay never flamed out, and never faded away. Her songs matured as she matured. (At least the Cho Jiku Yosai Minmay did—the Robotech Minmei...not so much.) Sheryl Nome, on the other hand, crashed and burned. She had to re-invent herself the hard way: from the fetal position at the bottom of a lake while depth charges exploded around her. (Wait....)

Sheryl Nome
Sheryl's worst outfits are all CGI. Or are they?

Ranka's popularity? Bah. I blame hippie moe politics. Final tally: Sheryl > Clan Clang > Clan Clang > Grace > Nanase > Ranka. And I'm not just saying that because of Sheryl's ridiculous outfits. Or her moon boobs.

Dated 28 November 2008: I need more episodes of Macross Fufonfia

Sheryl and Grace
Sheryl and Grace.

Just so you know, Sheryl Nome isn't just the Best Girl in Macross Frontier, she's also the Best Girl in Macross Fufonfia. Haven't heard of it? Macross Fufonfia is a bunch of shorts with the cast of Macross Frontier as office ladies. It's supposed to be SD, but Klan Klan looks exactly the same.

Dated 24 December 2008: Ouran Host Club is a Maaya Sakamoto vehicle

Not actually Haruhi. Not that Haruhi either.

I've been meaning to mention for more than two years that Ouran Host Club is a pretty good series, although one that could not have worked without Maaya Sakamoto in the lead role. Despite the delay, I still managed to post this (admittedly lackluster) Ouran Host Club entry ahead of Maaya Sakamoto fanboy Zyl. How hontou ni sou omou? doesn't have an Ouran Host Club category, I have no idea.

Actually Renge. But not that Renge.

In other news, Renge is the Best Girl in Ouran Host Club. By far. And I'm not just saying that because the rest of the cast is predominantly male.