Clamp School Detectives
Clamp School Detectives might be the drippiest shoujo fare ever animated, but at least, with these episodes, it seems to be aware of this, and the quality does seem to be increasing steadily.
In these volumes, we finish the story line in which an imitator of 20 Masks commits a crime and since 20 Masks is actually Akira, the Clamp School Detectives have to prove him innocent (while not really knowing who he is). Nokoru sends the rest of the gang on a wild goose chase all over campus to find him for the sake of entertainment, and that woman that kidnapped Nokoru three years ago, Casablanca, makes another attempt, resulting in her being marooned with the kid on a snowy mountain.
Then, in volume 5, a play put on by the Clamp School student council members (including the Duklyon high school police group, which is used mostly for comic relief in this series) puts everyone as a character in old-time China, where a small restaurant is under attack from a ruthless business owner. The story is charming, if nothing else, and actually has better character development than the rest of the series so far! Then a project in the South Pacific (what, we don't know) gets put on the back burner as the gang meets a young girl about to be separated from her love.
And then, finally, a quality episode. It's the school festival, and Miyuki (yes, the same Miyuki who mysteriously managed to slip into a whacked-out bondage world in Miyuki-chan in Wonderland) has lost her pet ferret. The three detectives go after it, but this little guy isn't exactly the most cooperative thing in the world... it hates anything male. See, this is all the show needs... a little realism. The three kids who, just episodes earlier, were skydiving from blimps, stealing paintings, and escaping from a dangerous kidnapping attempt. Now they're chasing this ferret all over campus. It's quite rewarding to see, and actually has a nice nostalgic quality to it. (They also learn what we knew all along -- Nokoru makes a wonderful woman!)
Without really knowing it, Clamp School seems to be taking a slightly darker tone overall. While it's still unbearably trite and saccharine, it's stopped being quite so unbearably happy. Finally, there's some things that DON'T go absolutely perfectly. There's something that DOESN'T like Nokoru (besides me). While this is nothing compared to what happens later, it'll have to do for now.
+ At least it's improving...
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