For starters, I thought the second episode of Charlotte was clearly better than the first. The humor was hit and miss and the A-part was a bit draggy, but when things ratcheted up a few levels of heft in the second half, things got genuinely interesting.
It seems safe to say that Maeda Jun is going to go for his normal blend of moe comedy and tragedy here, though I hope things don’t become as unhinged as most of Angel Beats. I would say this episode was a bit schizophrenic, but that’s pretty much stock Maeda – I mean, how else can one reconcile the early episodes of Little Busters with Refrain? These kids are most certainly not alright – the have abilities which without protection will lead to them being turned into disposable experiments, parents who sell them into that fate and no one to really look after them but themselves. And possibly “one person to trust” – though just what that means still isn’t clear.
This is a pretty well-worn path both in anime and out, so it’ll be a surprise if Maeda gets anything really original out of it. But is it a good one, full of dramatic potential. Tomori’s backstory was surprisingly effective, especially the betrayal by her mother. If she intended it to show Yuu just what the stakes in all this were, I can only think the state of her brother Kazuki (Ookitsu Kazuyuki) was a compelling argument.
Unfortunately, Maeda is a guy who just can’t resist his impulse to drag things down with the worst kind of pandering and cloying cuteness, and Charlotte is no exception. Once in a blue moon Maeda can go to this well and not come up dry, but for every Kud there’s a passel of horror stories like Ayumi. She’s barely in this episode and that’s surely one reason it works, but there are ominous signs she’s going to become more plot-central (she’ll be showing her own ability soon enough, most likely) and I’m not at all sure Charlotte is going to survive that. But for now, it’s pretty good – a competent execution of a tried and true premise with some very pretty visuals.
Durarara X2 Ten – 02
I’m thinking this is probably going to be the last regular Durarara post for a while, not because the show has jumped the shark or anything, but more that I’m not finding myself as wrapped up in it as I used to be. That’s ground I’ve covered before, so I won’t do so again here. There’s been a certain sentimental reluctance to let it go, but I think it’s for the best. I’ll still be watching and if the urge strikes me after an exceptional episode, I’ll be back with a post.
As things stand, what we got was mostly a staredown between Mika and Namie over who’s the biggest whack-job in Ikebukuro. The brocon who tries to burn her “rivals” face off when the hack she wants to have do plastic surgery isn’t available, or the rival who wants to eat a faerie head in order to get her boyfriend to fall in love with her? All in all, we’re spoiled for choice.
In addition to all the scandalous incestuous and yuri kissing (like those fingers make any difference) we got movie posters from Aldnoah, Digimon and Baccanno! (naturally) spaced-out Mikado, and the ripples from Izaya’s stabbing continuing to ripple the pond despite little from the man himself this week. This is a fairly interesting arc, though not really compelling as of yet – hopefully we’re building to something that can approach the level of the first cour’s final episode.