by Brian Hanson,
Ah, television. The so-called “cultural wasteland.” Our “window to the world.” Our “thing that we plug the video games into.”
I'm sure I'm not speaking alone here when I say that my first gateway to anime was through television. Each generation has had their share of programs that were offered as their first exposure the medium of Japanese animation; from the humble beginnings of Astro Boy and Speed Racer, to the space-faring adventures of Star Blazers and Robotech, to mid-90's kid shows like Pokémon or Dragon Ball Z, to recent more grown-up hits like Inuyasha and Fullmetal Alchemist. There's a literal bevy of Japanese anime on the airwaves, often in places you wouldn't suspect. Some great, some not-so-great, some great only if you take drugs while watching them, and others lying somewhere in between or at least in the direct vicinity.
Hence, this new column. Each week I'll be running down a hefty grid of every last premiere and repeat of every anime series and feature I could scour from the bowels of TV Schedule Hell. (It's much like regular Hell, but with many more “Desperate Housewives” reruns.) The format is thus; every week I'll be featuring my “Click Pick of the Week,” which is one episode or special that you, as loyal television viewers, cannot afford to miss. Get your VCRs or Tivo's or what-have-you set. Following that, a list of other premieres and new episodes dotting the television landscape throughout the week, capping off with a list of all the repeats and weekday strip shows you and your recliner can handle.
A few caveats, however; remember, the only certain thing in life, is death. Also, changes. These dates are all tentative, so don't be too surprised if that stray Naruto repeat gets pre-empted by a five-hour Banana Splits marathon. Also, certain blocks, such as 4KidsTV, are nationally syndicated, which means your local affiliates may or may not carry them, and if they do they aren't guaranteed to be airing them during the times indicated below. So, watch out for that. Also, for our Canadian readers, I'm operating under the assumption that the only network to give any credence to anime is YTV, so I've listed premiere dates for their Friday night “Bionix” block which includes such luminaries as new episodes of Naruto airing a good 25 hours before us Americans see them, as well as Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Inuyasha and the like.
With all that said, let's get things rolling!
Shinichiro Watanabe's follow-up to Cowboy Bebop is not the magnum opus diehard fans had been either expecting or hoping for, seeing as it lacks the colorful cast, powerful music, and jazzy sci-fi atmosphere of its predecessor. Leading to a show that, I think, has been unfortunately marginalized and underrated by far too many. The writing and especially the animation is as strong and impressive as ever, especially with this rather gut-wrenching and endlessly exciting finale. Fuu's absent father, the “sunflower samurai,” Jin's murdered master, and Mugen's betrayal all come together in a 22-minute dose of hip-hop samurai fun. Without spoiling too much, the final fight between Mugen and Kagetoki Kariya is a real highlight of the series.
Alas, one series ends, but for Canadian viewers, a new beginning... begins:
Friday March 3 10:00pm - Episode 1 "To Challenge the Sun" (Repeats Sat Mar 4 1:00am)
Fullmetal Alchemist makes its North-North American debut on YTV's Bionix block. With any luck the Canadian broadcast won't be saddled with the L'Arc-en-Ciel opening “Ready Steady Go!” for the first 40 episodes, but if so, c'est la vie. This is old hat for most of us, probably even most of you to whom this is relevant – but hey, ratings are important, so try and tune in anyway. I'll bet there are worse things to watch at 10pm on a Friday night than Father Cornello's crazy alchemy bazooka, right?
Saturday March 4 10:00pm - Episode 20 "World of Blabs-a-lot: The Sappiest Place on Earth"
Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo doesn't simply define “guilty pleasure,” it embodies it. While wearing a dress. Expect lots of wacky cutaways, goofy puns, and possibly more space-faring, laser-blasting Sumo in this episode, as Bo-Bobo and his gaseous, spiky, jiggly, and swirly crew continue their fight against the “Battleship Five Quartet.”
Duel Masters 2.0
Saturday March 4 7:00pm – Episode 6 “Duel-ercise”
Once upon a time in a faraway land, an outfit by the moniker of “Plastic Cow” dubbed the first 26 episodes of a colorful if blasé card-battling show called Duel Masters. The series was then transformed from “somewhat watchable” to “surprisingly hilarious,” when the evil ogres at Hasbro, who owned the Duel Masters card game and therefore the license to the entire property, decided to make some “changes.” The evil ogres weren't happy that Plastic Cow was spending not very much money to make the show funny, so they fired them and hired two imps named Bob Bucholz and Jeff Nimoy, who transformed the once-funny project into a nigh-unwatchable series of constant fourth-wall breaking and self-references, much like they've done with such dubs as Rave Master and Digimon, all so the show would cost even less not very much money. And the land was sent into plague and famine for one-thousand years.
On this episode, Shobu has reclaimed his tournament pass, and the tournament then continues, I'm assuming.
Sunday March 5 12:00am - Episode 49 "The Other Side of the GATE" (Repeats Sun Mar 5 3:00am)
Boy, it's hard to describe the content of this episode without diving head-first into Spoiler-land. Archer turns out to be more than he seems (cue dramatic music), while “The Other Brothers Elric” give Ed a note that leads him to the leader of the Homonculi. There's never a dull moment in the last batch of episodes for FMA, so be sure to watch.
G.I. Joe Sigma Six
Saturday March 4 10:30am - Episode "Zeus Part 01"
Gonzo's slickly animated yet dim-witted G.I. Joe update was all but assumed to be dead, given its absolutely horrendous ratings, even when compared to the rest of 4KidsTV's lackluster performance. However an offhand comment by Hasbro representatives at this year's recent Toyfair (http://www.joebattlelines.com/s6c/toyfair_post.htm) indicates that another 13-episode season has been ordered and is in production.
The “Zeus” in the episode title refers to the “Zeus Device,” which is a giant mecha (I'm not kidding) created by Cobra to smash the Joes. Silly, yes, but considering the organization has in the past tried to conquer the world with everything from wild animals to laughing gas, giant mechs are a pretty big step up. It remains to be seen whether the “Zeus Device” will actually fire artillery or spring snakes, however.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
Saturday March 4 12:00am - Episode 24 "Annihilation"
“The Laughing Man” case heats up, or at least as much as it can in Ghost in the Shell's perennial world of talking heads. Section 9 becomes the latest scapegoat of the Laughing Man incident, and Chief Aramaki and the others scramble to cover their butts… or so it seems.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG
Sunday March 5 12:30am - Episode 14 "Poker Face" (R Sun Mar 5 3:30am)
This episode focuses on Saitou, the eyepatch-wearing sharpshooter and oft-neglected member of Section 9. His Che Gueavara-ish mercenary past is discussed, and shares some tender moments with a female member of an elite special ops unit after nuclear materials. Because that's what Masamune Shirow's cerebral, cyberpunk dystopia is all about – tenderness.
Friday March 3 9:00pm - Episode 130 "Shippo's New Technique: The Heart Scar" (Repeats Sat Mar 4 2:30am)
Despite much evidence to the contrary, Inuyasha *does* have a story. It just doesn't use it very often. In this episode: Shippo learns a lesson about telling the truth as he tries to impress a small family of hero-worshipping fox demons. Next episode: practicing the ABC's, feelings, and Miroku and Shippo tell the kids at home about “Stranger Danger.”
Wednesday March 8 12:30am - Episode 136 "A Strange Invisible Demon Appears" (Repeats Wed Mar 8 3:30am)
A standalone episode mainly centered around Miroku and his wacky perv-osity.
Saturday March 4 7:00am - Episode 23 "Mirabelle's Blues"
Saturday March 4 7:30am - Episode 24 "Down in the Dumps"
Despite the flak that 4Kids gets (more often than not deservedly), I don't think they did much harm to DoReMi, an already rather innocuous magical girl series. If you can stomach the “Americanized” names and other small changes, by all means watch. That is, if you're the kind of person that can watch cartoon shows made for little girls without being creepy about it.
Friday March 3 8:00pm - Episode 26 "Special Report: Live From the Forest of Death" (Repeats Sat Mar 4 2:00am)
Saturday Mar 4 9:00pm - Episode 26 "Special Report: Live From the Forest of Death"
For those of you evil sinners with fansubs, this is the first part of the two-part episode aired when the series premiered in the “Golden Time” (i.e. Japan's equivalent of “prime-time”). No, I don't think they'll be alluding to Prince of Tennis’ timeslot in the dub, but watch anyway if you need a Naruto refresher course. The Chunin Exam arc starts again in full force next week.
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Friday March 10 12:30am - Episode 21 "He Was Aware That He Was Still a Child" (Repeats Fri Mar 10 3:30am)
I know what you're thinking. “I've owned this episode four different times on both VHS and DVD! I first saw it on a third-generation fansub tape in 1996!!!” Hey now, mister. This is the North American television premiere. Eva's aired in the UK, in Australia, and on a few PBS stations here and there, but this is the first time it's been seen on network television in the United States. And considering that the previous two episodes aired uncut and intact with a TV-MA rating, despite the gruesome violence, I think it's a mighty fine place for it.
Anyway, this is one of the big dialogue and exposition-heavy episodes leading into the bizarre and polarizing finale. Y'know, the one where Fuyutsuki gets grilled by SEELE and spills the beans on his relationship with Gendo and Yui Ikari. An interesting episode, but the casual viewer looking for more cannibalistic mecha mayhem may wish to look elsewhere.
Saturday March 4 9:30pm - Episode 62 "Chasing Luffy"
When One Piece quietly moved off of 4KidsTV and onto the greener pastures of Toonami, many a One Piece fan wondered, “will they lighten up on the editing, much like Funimation did when Dragon Ball Z wandered away from syndication?” The answer, at least from looking at the past few episodes, has been: yes and no. Digital paint flows over every frame like Niagara Falls, random cuts abound, and odd name changes like “Nebra” and “Trace” flourish. However, uh, they haven't skipped or spliced any episodes together! Yet.
Anyway, this week on One Piece, “Trace” looks for Luffy and ends up facing “Chaser,” where they settle their differences civilly and later team up to find out where their original names had gone.
Saturday March 4 10:00am - Episode 395 "Island Time"
Saturday March 4 10:30am - Episode 396 "Like a Meowth to a Flame"
Episode three-hundred and ninety-six. That's downright obnoxious. More proof that Pokémon may not be the unstoppable behemoth it was six years ago, but it's still managing to rake in enough money from TV ratings and video game sales to keep itself going.
This week, Ash and the others arrive in Ever Grande City for the Hoenn League. Also, I'm not sure, but there may be a Pokémon battle or two, and Team Rocket might show up and cause a ruckus.
Sat Mar 4 10:00am - Episode "Terror on the Typhoon"
I can only assume that this is a new episode, because the episode title found on Zap2it and other online schedules don't coincide with any of those listed on tv.com or epguides.com. I'm sure some hardcore Sonic X fan can elucidate me on this, though. Help me, to help you. But then, if you already know it, chances are I can't do much to help you on the matter. Nevermind.
Wednesday March 8 12:00am - Episode 13 "Vista
Wednesday March 8 12:30am - Episode 14 "Rejection"
Wednesday March 8 1:00am - Episode 15 "Shapes"
Wednesday March 8 1:30am - Episode 16 "Strain"
Yoshitoshi ABe's Lain follow-up was a little bit too much like deja-vu for my taste, and the languid pace used in Lain just feels torturous when nearly doubled to 22 episodes instead of 13. Catching the series in 4-episode, DVD-length chunks makes more sense to me though than if it were to air once-per-week on a normal network, so if you've got an expanded satellite or cable package, you probably have Encore Action and might see if Texhnolyze is your gritty, surrealist cup-o’-tea. That is, if you don't mind jumping into the middle of a pretty crowded and plot-heavy series.
This week: the Revolution heats up as weapons are stocked, assassinations are ordered, and invasions begin. War! Hunh, Good God…
Saturday March 4 8:00am - Episode 20 "Express Train to Yesterday"
Joe and his Totally Tubular ‘Tude gets into a wicked rad skirmish to the extreme and… okay, I'll stop now. Anyway, Joe fights villains in Toyland. “Nobody wants a Charlie in the box… punk.”
Monday March 6 4:30pm - Episode 43 "Hearts Are Wild" (R Wed Mar 8 5:00pm)
Looking at the notes for this episode, I am told that the title “…could be a possible reference to Jaden's Elemental Hero Wildheart.” If you know what that means and possibly feel a little excited, then by all means, watch Yu-Gi-Oh! GX this Monday! Personally, I'm trying to figure out what part of “Elemental Hero Wildheart” I understand.
Yū Yū Hakusho
Sat Mar 4 5:30am - Episode 108 "Farewell, Kurama"
This whole “demon tournament” story arc just feels a bit overdone, if only because Hakusho did the whole “tournament” thing so very well during the “Dark Tournament” arc. Nonetheless, the characters and the wonderful rough early-90's anime style are enough to keep me glued to the set. In this round, Kurama fights one of Hiei's mentors while worrying about his human family.
Friday March 3 8:30pm - Episode 24 "Apollo, the Free Traveler"
I always find Zatch Bell a bizarre if not interesting watch, if only for the attempts to wring drama and emotion out of some of the wackiest-looking anime creatures ever. Case in point: Apollo's mamodo is a cross between a mushroom and a ladybug. Anyway, Zatch and Kiyo fight Apollo and his mamodo “Rops” and, through fighting, gain respect and trust. Which is always how these things work.
Saturday March 4 8:00pm - Episode 48 "The Mystery of the Stone Tablets"
I haven't seen far enough into Zatch Bell or its original Japanese version to know much about this episode, but apparently this is the start of a new story arc called, surprisingly enough, the “Stone Tablet arc.” In either case, it should be a welcome change of pace from the series’ usual Monster of the Week format.
So, that's it for the new meat this week. Here's the rest of the lineup, if you're looking for anime that's been slightly used and might have a few nicks in it, but is otherwise in mint condition:
REPEATS / STRIPS
.hack//Legend of the Twilight Bracelet:
-Sat Mar 4 5:00am - Episode 9 "Footsteps of Collapse"
-Fr Mar 3 10:30pm - Episode 19 "Recollection"
-Fri Mar 10 6:30am - Episode 10 "The Bull Identity"
-Sat Mar 4 4:30pm - Episode 46 "First Strike" (R Sat Mar 4 9:30pm)
-Sun Mar 5 4:30pm - Episode 47 "Lesson for Tyson" (R Sun Mar 5 9:30pm)
-Tue Mar 7 7:00pm - Episode 21 "Practice Makes Perfect" (R Wed Mar 8 12:00am)
-Wed Mar 8 7:00pm - Episode 22 "Blading With the Stars" (R Thu Mar 9 12:00am)
-Thu Mar 9 7:00pm - Episode 23 "Showdown in Vegas" (R Fri Mar 10 12:00am)
Sun Mar 5 1:30am - Episode 9 "Jamming With Edward" (R Sun Mar 5 4:30am)
-Sat Mar 4 7:00am - Episode 20 "The Earthquake of MetalGreymon"
-Sun Mar 5 7:00am - Episode 21 "Home Away From Home"
-Sat Mar 4 6:00pm - Episode 160 "Ladies and Gentleman: The Beetlemon!" (R Sat Mar 4 11:00pm)
-Sun Mar 5 6:00pm - Episode 161 "A Molehill Out of a Mountain" (R Sun Mar 5 11:00pm)
-Wed Mar 8 4:30pm - Episode 81 "Fusion Confusion" (R Wed Mar 8 9:30pm)
-Thu Mar 9 4:30pm - Episode 83 "Arukenimon's Tangled Web" (R Thu Mar 9 9:30pm)
Dragon Ball Z
-Mon Mar 6 10:30pm - Episode 78 "Keep the Chance Alive"
-Tue Mar 7 10:30pm - Episode 79 "Power of the Spirit"
-Wed Mar 8 10:30pm - Episode 80 "Transformed at Last"
-Thu Mar 9 10:30pm - Episode 81 "Explosion of Anger"
-Tue Mar 7 12:30am - Episode 29 "The Untainted Child" (R Tue Mar 7 3:30am)
-Fri Mar 3 9:30pm - Episode 26 "Moment" (R Sat Mar 4 1:30am)
-Sat Mar 4 12:00am - Episode 21 "Identify Yourself: Powerful New Rivals"
-Sat Mar 4 8:30pm - Episode 25 "The Tenth Question: All or Nothing"
Neon Genesis Evangelion
-Sun Mar 5 1:00am - Episode 18 "Ambivalence" (R Sun Mar 5 4:00am)
-Mon Mar 6 4:00pm - Episode 44 "Buggy's Back"
-Mon Mar 6 10:00pm - Episode 11 "The War at the Shore"
-Tue Mar 7 4:00pm - Episode 45 "Fantastic Voyage"
-Tue Mar 7 10:00pm - Episode 12 "The Black Cat Pirates"
-Wed Mar 8 4:00pm - Episode 46 "Baroque Works"
-Wed Mar 8 10:00pm - Episode 13 "Good Pirates vs. Bad Pirates"
-Thu Mar 9 4:00pm - Episode 47 "Luffy vs. Zolo"
-Thu Mar 9 10:00pm - Episode 14 "The Purr-fect Plan"
-Fri Mar 10 4:00pm - Episode 48 "Escape From Misty Peak"
-Tue Mar 7 1:00am - Episode 1 "Tempestuous Temperaments" (R Tue Mar 7 4:00am)
-Wed Mar 8 1:00am - Episode 2 "Redeye Reprisal" (R Wed Mar 8 4:00am)
-Thu Mar 9 1:00am - Episode 3 "Hellhounds for Hire, Part 1" (R Thu Mar 9 4:00am)
-Fri Mar 10 1:00am - Episode 4 "Hellhounds for Hire, Part 2" (R Fri Mar 10 4:00am)
-Mon Mar 6 6:30pm - Episode 10 "Mushrambo: The Ultimate Samurai" (R Mon Mar 6 11:30pm)
-Tue Mar 7 6:30pm - Episode 11 "Clash of the Hyper Warriors" (R Tue Mar 7 11:30pm)
-Wed Mar 8 6:30pm - Episode 12 "Test" (R Wed Mar 8 11:30pm)
-Thu Mar 9 6:30pm - Episode 13 "Ryuma, Lord of the Reptiles" (R Thu Mar 9 11:30pm)
-Fri Mar 10 6:30pm - Episode 14 "The Dark Spirit of Destruction" (R Fri Mar 10 11:30pm)
Sat Mar 4 12:00am - Episode 9 "Wiggle"
Sat Mar 4 12:30am - Episode 10 "Conclusion"
Sat Mar 4 1:00am - Episode 11 "Vagrant"
Sat Mar 4 1:30am - Episode 12 "Precognition
Mon Mar 6 6:30am – Episode 1 “Fallen”
Tue Mar 7 6:30am – Episode 2 “Haven”
Wed Mar 8 6:30am – Episode 3 “Hidden
Thu Mar 9 6:30am – Episode 4 “Landmine”
Tue Mar 7 1:30am - Episode 1 "The $$60,000,000,000 Man" (R Tue Mar 7 4:30am)
Wed Mar 8 1:30am - Episode 2 "Truth of Mistake" (R Wed Mar 8 4:30am)
Thu Mar 9 1:30am - Episode 3 "Peace Maker" (R Thu Mar 9 4:30am)
Fri Mar 10 1:30am - Episode 4 "Love and Peace" (R Fri Mar 10 4:30am)
-Mon Mar 6 5:00pm - Episode 39 "The Dark Scorpions"
-Tue Mar 7 4:30pm - Episode 40 "A Lying Legend"
-Tue Mar 7 5:00pm - Episode 41 "A Reason to Win"
-Wed Mar 8 4:30pm - Episode 42 "Duel Monsters Spirit Day"
-Thu Mar 9 4:30pm - Episode 19 "The King of Copycats, Part 2"
-Thu Mar 9 5:00pm - Episode 20 "The Maiden in Love"
-Fri Mar 10 4:30pm - Episode 21 "The Duel Off, Part 1"
-Fri Mar 10 5:00pm - Episode 22 "The Duel Off, Part 2"
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