1. Bodacious Space Pirates 17: Two reasons why this series powers up my list this week; Kurogane has already said it best: “Finally, some REAL pirating in #mo_retsu. Also lol, DAT KISS.”
2. Natsuiro Kiseki 04: continues to use Saki’s impending departure x wishing rock; this week’s angle being Takashi. Switcheroo was harmless fun and no red lines were crossed, thanks to Rinko’s timely intervention. LOL cameo by Unlimited Blade Works’ mana dolphin. Also, cousin love (cf. Sankarea) seems to be in season.
3. Tasogare Otome x Amnesia 03: I continue to enjoy Yuuko’s live alive antics. KitaEri character seemed cooler in the first episode, so I hope this is just a blip; I’m not convinced by the blood relation explanation of why Kirie can see Yuuko. Is there another Yuuko? Or does Yuuko have an evil side? Why can Teiichi touch her?
4. Sankarea 04: The horror is much more physical than psychological here. Two worries highlighted: what is the Sanka family going to do? How long can Rea’s body last (agree with Ace Railgun that the solution lies in following Babu’s lead)? Does Ranko’s tennis junior have the hots for her?
5. Hyouka 01: A pleasant enough opening despite the low power premise which might put off viewers who can’t get into it while at the same time influencing viewers who do get into it. The first thing I thought of when the main chara had his hallucination was: Mistelteinn! Looks like it’s going down the quirky high school romance route.
6. Fate/Zero 17: Big development as one Master goes down and is replaced by another. But it was pretty slow episode nonetheless. Saber x Irisviel moment was very sweet. Not really looking forward to the next episode’s island of justice flashback as I’m just not that interested in Kiritsugu.
7. Upotte!! 03-04: Reintroduction of the teacher was surprisingly painless. Eru’s lovely angry thoughts moment and backstory actually made me feel moe for her. / Trouble btw Eru and Ichiroku as the AK variants make their appearance and things are moving in a “plot relevant direction”. I’m enjoying this series more and more.
8. Jormungand 03: Two assassins are after Koko and it’s an opportunity for Koko to feel closer to Jonah as he finally speaks his mind to her and for Lehm to talk some sense into him. Feel like I’m on the cusp of understanding Koko better too but hopefully that denouement will come when the arc concludes in the next episode. The choreography of the gunfight was pretty laughable though.
9. Haiyore! Nyarko-san 03: Feeling a lot better about this series now that better awareness of in-jokes have allowed me to reframe it. Nyarko saying: “Nii-nii” was the highlight. Second favourite moment was Mahiro’s alliance with Kuuko. Shocked to discover that Mahiro is voiced by KitaEri.
10. Nazo no Kanojo X 03: Akira’s panic was understandable but it still grated a bit: why are you applying conventional criteria to your unconventional girlfriend/relationship, boy? My nostalgia for the retro art style is fading quickly though.
11. Shining Hearts Bread of Happiness 03: The past is catches up with Rick. I’m not entirely sure if I like how things have gotten serious; particularly irritated by how I felt the episode kept hammering me on the head about how important the pendant was. Mostly I’m sulking because we haven’t even had any real harem hijinks yet!
Accel World still stuck at 02 and not started on Saki yet. Saving Lupin, which I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy, for marathoning later.
- [Zyl] Current Anime Weekly Report (12/52)
- Current Anime Weekly Report (16/52)
- Current favourite Fall series – Shakugan no Shana second
No matter how strong or weak a season of anime appears to be at the onset, one can always count on at least a couple of gems each season. As a result, I’m not at all surprised that, once again, the makers of anime continue to defy their prophesied doom by creating several series that are well on their way to excellence. What does astound me is the width and depth of quality displayed by this season’s roster of anime series. I could trim out the four best series (so far) and this season would still be a very strong one. In fact, it would take trimming out 7, maybe 8, of the best series before this season would look merely decent with the resulting group of series. I can’t remember another season this strong in the last 6+ years that I’ve been following new anime by the season.
(The closest competitor, that I can remember, is the Summer 2009 season which featured – Bakemonogatari, Spice and Wolf 2, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei 3, Aoi Hana, Canaan, Umineko no Naku Koro Ni, Hetalia 2, Taishou Baseball Girls, GA: Art Design Class and Sora no Manimani – but, even that season can’t compete in terms of the number of different types of series airing this season.)
On the downside (if you want to call it that), all these outstanding shows have made it difficult to find the time to write about them. It seems like every time I look there’s more episodes waiting to be watched or the realization that I should probably also give anime X or Y a shot as well. It’s crazy, I hope there’s at least a few good series left for the upcoming summer and winter seasons.
Normally, I like to rank the series from worst to best when I write a post such as this but this time I felt like doing something else; so, instead, I’ve grouped the 20 new series I’ve watched into small groups with other series that share a similar trait.
Imitation is the Highest Form of Flattery
There’s no better way to gauge how successful the animation studio Shaft has become then to see how other animation studios (both new and old) have started partaking from Shaft’s playbook.
Acchi Kocchi is studio AIC’s latest anime set in the now familiar genre of light comedy 4-panel comic adaptation taking place in a school and featuring a group of friends that lead lives full of hilarity (hopefully). Groundbreaking? Not really, but excellent execution can still yield a very enjoyable series. The problem with Acchi Kocchi, so far, is the execution has been meh and the result has been a slightly below average series. It’s most noteworthy feature has been its Shaftian visual treatment but, even there, it feels more like someone is merely trying to copy and I’m left wishing for the next season of Hidamari Sketch.
Rating for episodes 1 to 4 – 9/12 A-
Did I die or accidentally fall into a bizarro world without realizing it? If neither of those are the case then we might just be living in the End Times. How else to explain Sankarea? Studio Deen and quality anime are like oil and water – they don’t mix. Of course, there’s still plenty of time for Sankarea to slide down to typical Studio Deen quality. Until then, I’ll be happily watching. Helping Sankarea along is it’s visual style with it’s obvious Shaftian influence to it; which, unlike Acchi Kocchi, hasn’t been a mere copying of style but an infusion into a larger unique style.
Tasogare Otome x Amnesia
It’s not astonishing that Dusk Maiden x Amnesia looks Shaftian because it’s from the studio Silver Link, a spin-off of talent from Shaft. At this point, it would have been surprising if it didn’t look Shaftian but just because it looks Shaftian doesn’t mean Silver Link can create a series on par with Shaft. Which has been the problem with their series; they feel almost “there” (like with their last one, C3 – CubexCursedxCurious). I’ve been waiting to see if they can grow and evolve into a top quality studio like their forbears and I think the wait might finally be over; Dusk Maiden x Amnesia looks to be their first true hit. This anime really reminds me of the first season of Natsu no Arashi with it’s mix of mystery, comedy, seriousness and the supernatural. There’s still plenty of time to fail, so the question is will Dusk Maiden x Amnesia continue to balance these various aspects like the first season of Natsu no Arashi or will it eventually fumble like the second season of the same series and end in disappointment?
In Search of a Charm Point
Because I don’t like to drop anime series, I’ll normally keep watching a mediocre series if there’s at least one thing about it that’s likeable. The following anime series, so far, lack that one thing that will keep me watching.
Rating for episodes 1 to 4 – 2/12 F
I gladly offer my services to Brain’s Base in facilitating a solution in the matter that is currently forcing them to produce Sengoku Collection because I know there’s no way that Brain’s Base wants to spend time working on this pile of steaming insipid drivel that is Sengoku Collection. Couldn’t they have gotten Yamakan to do it? I heard he’s not busy.
I guess it’s time to perform Last Rites on Gainax; if Medaka Box is indicative of the quality left at Gainax then they’re not long for this world. Medaka Box might not have the best source material behind it but Shaft/Shinbou just finished showing what can be done when Nisioisin isn’t at his best with their adaptation of Nisemonogatari. So, the failings of making Medaka Box even the slightest bit interesting falls to Gainax with their first mistake being the decision to make the anime look like a low-quality J.C. Staff series.
Kore wa Zombie Desu ka – Of the Dead
I knew I was pushing it. I was astonished when I was able to finish the first season of this Studio Deen series and I should have quit while I was ahead. What helped make the first watchable was the storyline featuring the silent necromancer. With that resolved at the end of the first season, there’s a need for another somewhat decent storyline but that’s apparently not in the cards for this season. Instead, it’s been a random comedy series that hasn’t been all that funny.
With Great Power
There’s always room for a good action series to help balance out the laid back slice-of-life series and the comedy series. This season there’s quite a few that aspire to fill that role but to succeed, these series can’t forget the action scenes need to well-done and the viewers need to like the characters.
I don’t think Jormungand has fully shown what its capable of yet; but, thus far this story of an off-beat arms dealer and her posse has been pretty good. It’s hitting a good vibe for this type of anime and I look forward to watching more. The only thing that tempers my enthusiasm for Jormungand is the fire-fight in episode 3 seemed to stretch credibility a bit too far. The hefty amount of bullets that were fired by supposed very quality gunmen in such a constrained space should have resulted in a lot more carnage. It wasn’t game-breaking at this point; but, the more handwavium I have to accept from the animators, the less I’ll take the series seriously as an action series and the harder it’ll be to like it.
Rating for episodes 1 to 4 – 9/12 A-
I gave Accel World a chance out of respect for Sunrise actually animating the loser male main character in such a way that he looks like a loser compared to the rest of the characters and its making me glad I did. The near-future setting with it’s augmented reality, police-state surveillance, and it’s machine-human interfacing is actually pretty well done and interesting. The way the Brain Burst program has been introduced and shrouded in mystery is enticing (always a good thing in getting viewers to come back). The characters are a good fit for the story they’ve been thrown into and appear to be on-track towards becoming fully interesting characters. The plotting has been brisk so far, probably signaling the creators are feeling ambitious, and has been relatively excellent. It hasn’t been perfect but if it can, at least, emulate last year’s Sunrise series Tiger and Bunny which remained a very good series even if the plotting was a bit rough then it’ll be a great series to watch.
Fate/Zero Part 2
Rating for episodes 1 to 3 – 9/12 A-
I know I’m not the best person to gauge how good Fate/Zero truly is because of my total unfamiliarity with the franchise before the first part of Fate/Zero aired but with the second half finally airing I can, at least, see how the characters that I’ve come to like will fare. And it’s been a thrilling start; I just hope there’s still bigger and better stuff left to get too and plenty of Rider screen time, as well or else the second half is going to feel like a letdown. If I want to get nitpicky about Fate/Zero then I’d complain that, even though this anime probably looks the best right now when it’s standing still (which is saying something this season), I’m just not thrilled by the raw animation level of it. Nothing in Fate/Zero has done has been able to get near the stellar animation of the fist fight in episode 1 of Sakamichi no Apollon.
Look for Part 2 covering the rest of new anime series, from the guilty pleasures to the truly heavy-hitters, in a near future .
Filed under: anime, first impressions
The top anime news in the tanuki realm last week (due to belated Nisemonogatari marathoning) were:
1) Nadekomonogatari is not a fable but known as Otorimonogatari.
2) Sengoku Nadeko is the Monogatari series' final boss.
When the news broke, I was both ecstatic and apprehensive. Ecstatic with the prospect of more Nadeko in spaghetti-straps and Twister-esque games. Apprehensive with a possible Nadeko bad-end. My googling of Otorimonogatari unveiled the inevitable...
Spoiler for Otorimonogari
Back in 2009, I made a list of anime's most worthy harems which I really need to revisit and crown the list with Bakemonogatari. The assertion that Bake's girls are out of this world, is surely not exaggerated and can even be taken literally for almost all of them. Of the girls, there was special love for Sengoku not only because she was imouto-esque but also because she is the most 'human' of the harem - Given that her 'Kai-i' afflicted her exterior and altered none of her human attributes (weight included). (I've always believed that being human as well as being 14 yrs old and goes "onii-chan" in any harem should have its privileges). While is why Otorimonogatari devastated me. My top bishoujo in Bake turned into a yandere Kai-i. My wife often tells me harem is evil - "One girl gets the guy. The rest (very worthy girls) are heartbroken." I agree and would like the champion the cause of polygamy. Even bigamy would reduce world's heartaches by half. Anyhow, I digress.
Back to Nadeko. Given that the tale of Otorimonogatari is not quite done, there is still hope. Nisi Oisin sensei could still turn this around via:
1) The Nanoha way - Starlight breaker the evil part of Nadeko out (ala Reinforce). Nadeko reverts to being the Stripey's top anime 14 yr old and continues to snipe from the fringes at Senjougahara's stranglehold on Koyomi.
2) Araragi's eternal harem - Koyomi should heed Shinobu's advice and start working on his eternal harem given his immortality. Shinobu, Nadeko and Tsukihi comes to mind for now.
3) NisOsin's bishoujo love - One thing that comes across so far ni Nise and Bake is that NisiOisin sensei loves his bishoujos. Despite their tragic past/challenging present, they grow to become stronger people and I hope that Nadekomonogatari will end in the same spirit.
End spoiler for Otorimonogatari
I'll confess that in my terrible anguish, I almost replace Nadeko with Tsukihi as my top anime 14 yr old. But when dust settled after a near complete destruction of the Nadeko shrines in tanuki-land, I realised Nadeko needs tanuki love more than ever in her darkest hours. Yes, Stripey-oniichan <strike>would not have dirty thoughts looking at Sengoku's body </strike> will pray for a Nadeko good end; even pay/kidnap/blackmail to have a good-end Sengoku OVA animated.
Meanwhile, it's back to watching Renai Circulation for this tanuki.
©2012 hontou ni. All Rights Reserved..
- All of Sengoku Nadeko’s charms in a screencap
- [Stripey] BakeMono Tribute – 5 favourite anime romances
- [Dark Stripey] Beware! Senjougahara nullifies loli-tendencies ~ MOAR BLACK needed!
Anime Power Ranking votes
1. Fate/Zero (16): Good balance between exposition and action; the Saber-Lancer fight had some nice animation but was ultimately meaningless in the face of their respective Masters' decisions. Kiritsugu's understanding of conflict actually very close to the conclusion of Clausewitz's Ch 1(3): "war is an act of force, and there is no logical limit to the application of that force. Each side, therefore, compels its opponent to follow suit; a reciprocal action is started which must lead, in theory, to extremes."
However, Clausewitz, in Ch 1(23), then argues that, in reality:
War... is an act of policy. Were it a complete, untrammeled, absolute manifestation of violence... war would of its own independent will usurp the place of policy the moment policy had brought it into being; it would drive policy out of office and rule by its own laws of its own nature... but it always lasts long enough for influence to be exerted onto the goal and for its own course to be changed in one way or another - long enough, in other words, to remain subject to the action of a superior intelligence. If we keep in mind that war springs from some political purpose, it is natural that the prime cause of its existence will remain the supreme consideration in conducting it.
Thus Saber's wariness about employing means that would increase escalation in the current conflict and lay the seeds of future conflict.
2. Tasogare Otome x Amnesia (02): In some ways, faithfully following tropes of horror stories: e.g., emphasizing the primacy of the subjectiveness of the haunted's subconscious over that of the objective reality of the haunter. Other times, subverting it cutely: e.g., finding the ghost's physical remains as the starting point rather than the end; changing clothes (parallel Cardcaptor Sakura's subversion of magical girl costume transformation).
3. Natsuiro Kiseki (03): Hanners might have dropped it but I continue to enjoy this very much. The emphasis on friendship has thus far been very positive and the wishing rock does not over-determine outcomes, remaining as a catalyst to plot and character developments. Even the two elementary school boys in this episode were employed to that effect. What distinguishes this series for me is how Saki's impending departure lends it a wistful edge, a very faint echo of Azumanga's graduation arc and an even fainter one of Mahoro's clock ticking down at the end of every ep of the first season, that differentiates this series from other Girls Doing Cute Things Series.
4. Sankarea (03): My heart sank at the beginning when Chihiro's voice-over indicated that the story setting had been completed and it was moving full speed ahead into, as Kurogane put it, into the "zombie portion" of the show. It's done an excellent job thus far of making me understand why Rea was deadly serious in her request to Chihiro. I've not read the manga so I am really curious about how things will develop hereon: what will be emphasized? Romance? Adventure? Comedy? In any case, I like this a lot more than the (male) zombie sequel series.
5. Jormungand (02): I agree with inushinde that this series so far "is riddled with more problems than you can shake a particularly problematic stick at." The characters are coming along fine but the settings just feel somewhat flimsy particularly the link between the local tactical situation and even the next level up (operations), much less the connections to the strategic and policy levels. Black Lagoon was much much better at building a plausible story linking the current fight to wider struggles which, in turn, gave the violence a certain weight and gravitas beyond its apparent sexiness. If I dial down my expectations, I could easily enjoy Jormungand for its firefights and Itou Shizuka's voiceacting. Particularly if the annoying rap/techno BGMs was also dialed down.
Under The Threshold
6. Nazo no Kanojo X (02): Akira should know better than to foist conventional expectations of a romantic relationship onto his with Urabe. The scissors are a useful plot device to maintain her air of mystery by maintaining a real threat/sanction against him getting too close too quickly while the "drool as bond" device was more literal (and magic-type) than I first thought.
7. Bodacious Space Pirates (16): continues to be an undemanding weekly watch now that I no longer expect big developments and just coast along with the "Marika is wonderful and is having fun adventures" narrative. The current Yacht Club Pirates arc has been very pleasant and I LOL'ed at helmsloli Ai being hit on by the two men (and then chased away by Lynn) during the Princess Apricot boarding.
8. Ozma (06): What a disappointment. In the end it was a mishmash of things that lots of other anime had done before and better: Nausicaa on environmental degradation and the possibility of recovery; Gundam SEED (yes, I know) on the stagnation and approaching extinction crisis of engineered genetics as well as the Char/Neo Loarnoke character. Sam was a reminder of why I dislike shouty, impulsive shounen leads, Bainas falling apart was a terrible thing to watch but at least Mimay and Maya emerged with some credit. Dreadful yet forgettable series.
9. Shining Hearts: Bread of Happiness (02): I'm only in this to see the inevitable catfight between the girls. This series is really like Tony Taka's art - beautiful at the first impression but ultimately pretty soulless stuff (but not as bad as soul-destroying).
META: Have decided to drop the cumbersome [Author Name] tag in the post title. No other currently active group blog does it anyway.
©2012 hontou ni. All Rights Reserved..
- [Zyl] Current Anime Weekly Report (12/52)
- Current Anime Weekly Report (17/52)
- Current favourite Fall series – Shakugan no Shana second
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