Much like the cycle of memorization and forgetting that plays such an important role in Karuta, the ability to catch, hold, then release anime series as the seasonal cycle of anime rotates is an important one. No one is perfect at this ability. At the beginning of the season, one has to struggle with forgetting the prior season’s anime so as to not trample on the tender new anime. At the end of the season, one has to struggle with letting one’s attention stray to the upcoming season and all the awesome series it must surely contain. It’s only at this, the mid-point of the season, that the echoes from the past and future can be silenced and our focus fall solely on the present.
Which makes the halfway point a good place to rest for a moment and examine the season’s anime series.
This is also a good time to re-examine the various new anime series because it’s been long enough that the slow-starting series have had time to find their own rhythm and long enough to see if those anime series that promised the moon in episode 1 have had the stuff to deliver.
Since it’s me, I’ve going to rank the various series in worse-to-best order to provide another method of evaluation to augment the grades I’ll award each anime. Also, to provide a complete picture of this season, I’ll also cover those anime series that are carry-overs from the previous season.
(25) – Sparrow`s Hotel
Rating for episode 1 – 1/12 Epic Fail (Dropped)
I have not watched any further episodes of this anime after writing it’s first impressions post but I’m going to use what will probably be the last time I mention this anime to update my thoughts about Sparrow’s Hotel. I first have to apologize to all the artistically talented high-schoolers out there. I initially said this anime could have been done by high school students and upon reflection I realize this is wrong; this anime could only be considered good if it had been done by a bunch of elementary school or younger kids. This further reflection on how badly Sparrow’s Hotel failed also pushed me to lower my score to the absolute minimum score I can give. If Sparrow’s Hotel isn’t the very definition of “Epic Fail” then I don’t know what is.
(24) – Hyakka Ryouran: Samurai Bride
Rating for episodes 1 to 2 – 3/12 D (Dropped)
After a few weeks of separation I look back and wonder why I ever thought to give this series a chance in the first place. Beyond the unoriginal insipid fan service, this anime greatest’s sin is that it takes what could be an interesting set-up and setting and does absolutely nothing good with it. I think next time I will have to put my completionist side on a shorter leash so I don’t waste my time on anime such as this.
(23) – Yondemasu yo, Azazel-san Z
Rating for episodes 1 to 6 – 3/12 D (Dropped)
When I last talked about this series it was for it’s first impressions post and I had given it a slightly above-average score of 7/12 B on the expectation of being another season of being moderately funny and slightly frustrating, due to it’s short run time. Since then it’s become apparent that this season just does not contain the quality of comedy (moderate though it was) that the first season of Yondemasu yo, Azazel-san displayed. As a result, this series has become a real chore to sit through and I don’t want to waste anymore time watching it. Even the reappearance of Yuu Kobayashi’s character isn’t enough to save it, so I’m adding this to list of dropped anime series of this season.
(22) – Photo Kano
Rating for episodes 1 to 3 – 3/12 D (Dropped)
Sometimes I will follow an anime series I dropped in the blogosphere to make sure I didn’t make a bad decision and, occasionally, I will find myself being drawn back by what I read or see from the screenshots. Photo Kano will not be one of those anime series that I get drawn back into. Even the people that supposedly like Photo Kano seem to have trouble sounding sincere in their praise and finding a screenshot that makes it look convincingly good appears to be an impossible task. I’m glad I only spent three episodes on it.
(21) – Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai 2
Rating for episodes 1 to 6 – 4/12 C
At it’s best, the first season of Ore no Imouto found success even as it was dragged down by the twin albatrosses around it’s neck – a very annoying main character and her less-then-savory kink. The danger, therefore, for this anime was always that a small amount of additional weight would be added and it would completely collapse upon itself. Something in this second season added that small amount of additional weight – maybe it was the studio change or the higher amount of story compression this season has or something else, it matters not – and suddenly there’s nothing good left to Ore no Imouto. If I wasn’t one and half seasons into this anime I’d drop it now but my desire to see what happens to my favorite characters will guarantee that I finish this season.
(20) – Devil Survivor 2: The Animation
Rating for episodes 1 to 3 – 5/12 C+ (Dropped)
Much like Photo Kano, I’ve followed this anime a bit and I’ve read nothing to convince me that my initial impression of this being completely forgettable wasn’t the correct one. I wish I could say something else about this anime but I’m fast forgetting what few details about this anime I initially remembered.
(19) – Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru
Rating for episodes 1 to 7 – 5/12 C+
I don’t really want to sound too negative about SNAFU since it’s on my Fantasy Anime League team over at MAL but I won’t lie – this anime is meh. Comparing it to last season’s Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai Next is useful because both have a very similar set-up and the result is that, in just about every way, SNAFU is an inferior knock-off. (SNAFU does lack an annoying little girl dressed as a nun which is a plus for it.) This anime’s biggest problem is the main and minor characters; if only they were more interesting or likeable.
(18) – Aiura
Rating for episodes 1 to 6 – 6/12 B-
That Aiura ranks this high is a testament to the continued enjoyment that is derived from watching that crabtastic opening. Maybe it’s only me but I watch shows like Aiura to relax/de-stress and four minutes is not a long enough time to accomplish any real relaxing or de-stressing. Much like how poor animation quality does not mix well with fan service series, short episode lengths do not mix well with series like Aiura.
(17) – Arata Kangatari
Rating for episodes 1 to 6 – 6/12 B-
When I was setting up my grading scale I made the decision that I wanted what I consider the average anime to get the middle score. That middle score was going to have a higher letter grade then a “C” attached to it because the professional nature of animators should skew the distribution higher. The result has been, for my grading scale, a 6/12 B- is what I consider an average anime and that does a very good job at summarizing my feelings about Arata Kangatari. It’s average. There’s nothing glaringly wrong with it nor is there anything outstanding about it. I was disappointed that having the animation studio Satelight attached to this anime did not mean that it would have a similar quality in animation as AKB0048 or Aquarion Evol but I’m not going to knock it down based on my expectations when the animation is, in fact, totally serviceable.
Filed under: anime
Favorite Screenshot – There’s been Warrior Sasuke and Aesthetic Sasuke but this episode introduced us to Entrepreneur Sasuke. All he needed was to be living during modern times and the utter conviction and driving energy he displayed, while talking about his product, would make him perfect to host self-help or get-rich-quick seminars.
Episode 28 of Hyouge Mono was most excellent.
As this series starts nearing the end, what the various story threads are and how they’re connected are becoming more clear. This episode was so good because it touched about pretty much all of them in the span of one episode.
We start the episode off with a look at the feudal lord that is preparing to go to war against Hideyoshi and pretty much almost all the rest of Japan. He’s entertaining an aesthetic that has been Easter Island-kun rival. This fact will likely play an important in the future.
Before the drums of war start Sasuke is entrusted with a very important task by the warlord Tokagawa – his son is to wed to Hideyoshi’s daughter to strengthen the bonds between the two clans and he wants his son educated in the ways of the aesthetic before the wedding.
Wait did you just say 10?!?
Yes he did. That beats anything Shingeki no Kyojin had to offer.
Elsewhere, Hideyoshi’s grip on power is already pretty weak and, with his more political savvy brother on his death bed, I have a feeling Hideyoshi is going to make a political mistake that will come back to bite him in the butt.
Of course, Hideyoshi seems most concerned about popping out a few more kids and he’s on the prowl.
Speaking of Easter Island-kun (whose real name is Master Rikyuu), he seems to have found his aesthetic grove again.
And this doesn’t sit well with this pasty white dude (whose name I’ve forgotten).
While he goes and broods, Hyouge Mono returns to Sasuke as he goes off to war. Earlier in the series he welcome war and did some very stupid things during various battles to help secure his future but, now that he’s secured this future, he’s quite worried for himself.
We end this episode focused back on the pasty white dude as he monologues to himself.
With the final scene showing him reading from a book about tea ceremonies written by Easter Island-kun’s rival who we saw at the beginning of the episode meeting with rebel warlord.
I can’t wait to see how pasty white dude intends to get rid of Easter Island-kun.
Filed under: anime, episode review
Cherry picking the best remaining anime series for the last first impressions post means there’s not much quality left for this post. Then again it’s a very rare season where the 17th through 21st series reviewed were actually good and this season will not be remembered for being that type of season. (Instead, it will be remembered for the handful of great and infamous series that aired.)
This post should conclude my spring 2013 season of first impressions. There were 2 more series that I wanted to watch – Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199 and Danchi Tomoo – but no one seems interested in working on either. (Yamato 2199 has previously been shown in a spliced together movie format, which is a less desired format to me then as a weekly TV series, and I’ll have to settle for that one once I’m sure the TV series version won’t be a late pick-up by somebody.)
Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Bride
I decided I’m not wasting any more time on this series. I finished the first season in part because the alternative history setting was so intriguing and I convinced myself that it would play a big enough role in the series that I could suffer through the fan service. It really didn’t in the end, however, I have spent a fair amount of time since pondering if a small group of super-powered individuals could have swung WWII into Japan’s favor. I think in the end they wouldn’t have. This series has also gotten me to spend time thinking about how it has helped proved, at least for anime, an assertion I read as a teenager in Piers Anthony’s Xanth book series that actual nudity, like in this anime, is boring when compared to seeing someone in their knickers. As a teenager I couldn’t bring myself to agree with this conjecture but, what do teenagers know ? For the second season I needed this anime to add some reason to watch it and there was nothing in either episode I watched; so, it gets sent to the curb, where it belongs.
Rating for episodes 1 and 2 – 3/12 D (Dropped)
I actually had some hope for Photo Kano. I wasn’t expecting Shakespeare but a nice fluffy, relaxing fan service series can be used as a counterbalance to all the dark, serious anime series running this season. Alas, even this low bar was too high of a hurdle for Photo Kano to meet. The source material came from the people who created Amagami SS and this show provides a good comparison as to why Photo Kano has failed. Firstly, the female characters in Photo Kano have zero personality when compared to the female characters in Amagami SS. Secondly, the low-budget animation of Photo Kano works against it’s primary purpose and is painfully obvious when compared to Amagami SS. I might have stuck it out but I realized that Mushibugyou did a better job of what I wanted Photo Kano to do and it has the added perks of being better animated and it has a more interesting setting and it has actual action scenes and the pièce de résistance – a likeable main character.
Rating for episodes 1 and 3 – 3/12 D (Dropped)
Devil Survivor 2 The Animation
Devil Survivor 2 The Animation is better then Persona 4 (another recent anime adaptation of a video game also directed by Seiji Kishi) but saying that is tantamount to damning with faint praise. About a group of teenage kids that have traded their lives (or souls?) for the ability to summon demons who can defeat the demons/monsters that have started showing up and causing havoc. Our heroes have the world to save and the clock is ticking; there’s only 7 days left until Armageddon and each day brings newer and stronger challenges. Like I said, Devil Survivor 2 The Animation is better then Persona 4 but that fact isn’t enough for me to keep watching it. With Persona 4, I kept expecting it to get better soon until the final episode aired and I realized it wasn’t; the lackluster characters and uninteresting story just didn’t have the ability to raise the level of the series. I’ve noticed a similar pattern start to form with Devil Survivor 2 The Animation – the characters are lackluster and the story is uninteresting (when it should be very interesting). So, while it’s better, it’s not a big enough improvement that I’m overlooking the signals it’s giving off and I’m also dropping this.
Rating for episodes 1 and 3 – 5/12 C+ (Dropped)
Ore no Imouto 2
The thing with sequels is that pretty much everyone already has their opinion in place as to the perceived quality of the franchise and the only question to answer is how well the sequel compares to the original. The first season of Ore no Imouto was rather polarizing but I found enough good parts to it that I ended up slightly liking it. Ever the optimist, I thought the second season would build on the good parts because surely everyone involved knew by now which parts were the good parts. It’s like when Pixar made Cars 2 and tried to put as much Mater into it as possible because he is the sole good character after the passing of Paul Newman who voiced Doc Hudson. Sadly, I don’t think Ore no Imouto 2 is going to improve upon the first season; in fact, the first four episodes have been distinctly inferior to the first season. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say there was a director change but that wasn’t the case. Both the writer and director are back with the only change being a switch in animation companies, from AIC Build to A-1 Pictures, and I don’t think that change would impact this anime like that. At the end of the day, I’m probably not going to drop it now, since I’ve watched so much of it, but Ore no Imouto 2 is going to become a chore to watch.
Rating for episodes 1 and 4 – 6/12 B-
Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru
There was a time when the name Brains Base would definitely get me to watch a new series of theirs but, after a string of series that did not interest me and/or impress me, that time has passed. I didn’t particularly feel drawn to this anime so the reason why I gave this series a chance was because I’d picked it as part of my team for the Fantasy Anime League contest on MyAnimeList and I decided to try to help myself out a little bit. With four episodes watched I’m glad that it’s turned out better than I thought it would; I’m definitely going to keep watching. To match the recent Japanese trend of summarizing a series by using an extremely long title, the English translation of the title also summarizes the series pretty well – My Teenage RomCom SNAFU. I don’t think this series was given a huge budget but the animation style chosen for this anime looks good and helps paste over the lower budget. Another facet I like to this anime was the voice acting, the high quality work has been doing some of the heavy lifting in developing the characters. It hasn’t been a total success, however. So far, it feels like there is a piece missing to the anime – I’m not exactly sure what piece – and I think it’s this missing piece that is holding back SNAFU (that’s quality localization there) from being a really good anime series. The piece might just be needing a little more time and a couple more episodes under it’s belt or the addition of one more character so I remain optimist that this series will finish strong.
Rating for episodes 1 and 4 – 7/12 B
Filed under: anime, episode review, first impressions
Spring 2013 Anime First Impressions – Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S, Red Data Girl, Shingeki no Kyojin, and Valvrave the Liberator – Cherry Picking
Looking at the 9 new spring series I have watched and still haven’t written a first impressions post for yet, I notice two distinct camps. The first are series that don’t evoke much of a response, either positively or negatively, and include three of the series I’ve dropped. If I can muster the energy I’ll write that first impressions post next. The second group of series are ones that I’ve liked but have needed some reassurance from the anime that it won’t go south later on. It’s this group of series that I’m going to pull from the pile of new series and write about here.
Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S
The continuing adventures of everybody’s favorite Level 5 electro-master was one of the initial bright spots for this spring season but JC Staff’s track record coupled with it’s relation to the completely horrible Index series made me a touch leery. With two episodes under it’s belt, I’m now pretty confident that I won’t have to worry about Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S. The biggest reason for this is the creators haven’t messed with the perfect chemistry the four main characters have with each other. It’s a joy just watching them interact with each other. They could completely strip down this series till it was just a slice-of-life series featuring these four characters and it would still be a very fun and excellent series to watch. So in a sense all the powers, plots, and problems are icing on an already very delicious cake. The only disappointing thing about watching Railgun is the reminder that JC Staff shows no inclination in allowing it’s animation style to grow, evolve and improve from where it was over 6 years ago.
Rating for episodes 1 and 3 – 10/12 A
Red Data Girl
The animation studio PA Works and I have had a real rocky relationship. For all their animation prowess I disliked True Tears, Canaan, and Angel Beats but, after really liking both Hanasaku Iroha and Another, I thought they were on the path towards greatness until they animated Tari Tari last year. This leaves me hesitant for showing my support of Red Data Girl even after how PA Works situated itself right in my wheelhouse by having this be a supernatural/paranormal series – I love this genre – and watching several episodes. I want to clearly and unequivocally say Red Data Girl is one of the best series of this season but I can’t bring myself to do so. I’m now worried that the episode count will force a premature and weak ending to this series. I can say, however, that so far it has been one of the best new anime series of this season. This series has the potential to be great. Having a world where traditional Japanese supernatural traditions and practices actually work as advertised gives this series a lot of material to work with. I think I would have preferred if the series would have stayed in the isolated location of the first couple of episodes but moving it to a big city high school doesn’t necessarily rid the show of potential, especially if other students have their own types of power. I definitely recommend Red Data Girl to those reading this that haven’t watched it yet.
Rating for episodes 1 and 4 – 10.5/12 Strong A
Shingeki no Kyojin
Better known as Attack on Titan or some other word that means a very large humanoid creature; this series probably needs no introduction now or even in the near future. (However, with people being people, in a decade it probably will.) After the first episode and how awesome it was, I surprised myself when I could not write a first impression post. After a few attempts I recognized the feeling I was feeling, it was the little niggle in the back of mind telling me to be cautious. I decided to wait a couple of episodes to see if there was some reason to justify my caution and, with three episodes watched, I think I figured out why I felt the need to be cautious about Shingeki no Kyojin. With series that aren’t serious, like Girls und Panzer, I shut portions of my brain off and don’t ask questions. Series that are to be taken seriously, however, I take more serious and there’s small details to the world of Shingeki no Kyojin that are bothering me. For example, with the physical and mental capabilities of the giants being what they are, why don’t the humans build a very deep moat around their fortified city? Or ring the city with a field of logs sunk into the ground and sharpened to jagged points? Or move to a place where the giants can’t get to like remote ocean islands, caves, the sides of cliffs and mountains, etc.? It’s like the humans want to let the giants eat them. Then there was the question of why the super giant contented himself with destroying only the outer wall. It felt awful convenient for the purposes of the story that the attack only went that far. I could go on but I think the point has been made. I give these perceived deficiencies some weight because they could portend future problems with the story. If this happens then the fall back position for Shingeki no Kyojin is to have a good cast of characters to focus on. Which if the addition of the Potatoe Girl – voiced by the ever wonderful Yuu Kobayashi – is any indication then this series might just be okay, no matter what happens. (And the lovely animation style definitely doesn’t hurt either.)
Rating for episodes 1 and 3 – 10/12 A
Valvrave the Liberator
Speaking of not to be taken seriously, Valvrave the Liberator seems dead set on using a very interesting SF setting to create a silly and absurd mecha series, even if the characters in the show haven’t realized this fact. Before I go any further I want to point out that this series has actually staked out a very tough game plan. It is trying to make the viewer buy into the story and treat it seriously while also stuffing it with so many silly and absurd parts. If they can succeed at doing these two contradictory things for it’s entire run, like they have in these early episodes, then Valvrave the Liberator will be a hit and very much worth watching. And in the case of Valvrave the Liberator, the lovely animation quality by Sunrise definitely doesn’t hurt it’s chance of success.
Rating for episodes 1 and 3 – 9/12 A-
Filed under: anime, episode review, first impressions
Spring 2013 Anime First Impressions – Mushibugyou, Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge, Yuyushiki, Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko – Last Minute Additions to the Team
On one hand I’d like to be 100% correct when I pick which series I should include in my seasonal preview post. On the other hand I’m glad I’m not 100% accurate because there’d be no surprises left to discover. Thankfully, this season, like past seasons, have contained a few anime series that I initially completely passed over which turned out to be series worth watching.
You can probably guess what these anime series are, based on the long light novel style title above; so try to act surprised as you read on .
Mushibugyou almost made it into my preview post based on residual respect for the animation studio handling it, Seven Arcs, after how well they did last year with Dog Days 2 and now that I’ve seen it; I wish I had included it. Set in a 1700’s era Japan infested with giant bugs that enjoy harming humanity, our hero seeks to prove his fighting skill and protect the populace by joining a specialized unit tasked with killing these giant bugs. Not the most complex or unique premise but this turns out to be one of the strengths of Mushibugyou. The series, like the main character, is straightforward and earnest and energetic and this makes for a welcome change of pace. Embellishing the experience is the setting – I love period series – the opening song – one of my favorites this season – and just the slightest bit of light fan service – proving less is actually more. I definitely recommend giving this series a watch, with the sole caveat that if bugs really bother you then Mushibugyou might be too much for you.
Rating for episodes 1 and 3 – 8/12 B+
Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge
Beyond being reminded of my own deficiencies, reading other anime blogs helps ensure that I don’t miss a series I should be watching. So it was with the recommendation of the blog Lost in America that I decided to give Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge a chance, even though I still felt the premise sounded stupid silly. See, in this anime our main character appears to be a normal high school boy with an obsession to cut people’s hair and one day he meets a high school girl with super long hair that cannot be cut, except, he can cut it using a pair of scissors that are a family heirloom. It was only after cutting her hair that he is informed that she is known as the “Queen of Hair” and people want to kill her and his special scissors were used kill a bunch of people and are now cursed. Our main character decides that he’ll protect the “Queen of Hair” and cut her hair, as often as she needs it. Where the story goes from here, I don’t know, but three episodes in and I’ve almost forgotten how stupid silly the premise sounds which speaks very positively for this anime. The way this anime was able to work with it’s premise instills a fair bit of confidence that the animators know what they’re doing and should be trusted in ensuring Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge turns out, at a minimum, decent and worth watching.
Rating for episodes 1 and 3 – 9/12 A-
Listening to the haters would lead one to believe that anime about a group of girls doing _____ are proliferating and pushing out the “better” anime series but a quick look at this Spring season reveals only one full length series in this genre – Yuyushiki. With this season’s lineup so stacked towards SF, I decided to give this anime a try to see if I could use it to help create a buffer between the various SF series so they wouldn’t run together in my mind. Two episodes down and I have to say this isn’t half bad. Yuyushiki centers on three high school girls who join the Data Processing Club because it has no current members. The club is supposed to teach computer skills to help with job hunting but our main characters use the computers in the club to look up topics that interest them. This turns out to be one of the oddly fun parts to this series – watching the characters use Wikipedia to look things up. In the first episode I cracked a smile when they talked about the Maunder Minimum and decided it sounded like a finishing move. I’ve seen series in this genre done better but Yuyushiki has been a solid watch so far. The humor has been more funny than not funny and the vocal work as been excellent. If the unintroduced characters hinted at in the opening can help round the show (and the comedy) out a bit then Yuyushiki should become a solid hit.
Rating for episodes 1 and 2 – 8/12 B+
Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko
Sometimes reading other anime blogs can also get me to not watch a series as was the case with this anime. The preview at The Cart Driver convinced me to pass this series up but I got to thinking. As much as I respect and enjoy the writers at The Cart Driver, sometimes their predictive powers aren’t the best. The set-up to this anime has the potential – wish granting cat statue gives two high school kids what they desire, the boy loses his facade which allows his inner thoughts to spoken aloud and the girl stops from showing her emotions so easily. And watching the first episode I did have to agree, on the surface, listening to a high school boy blurt out his desires isn’t particularly funny but I had a moment of insight as well. What I found hilarious was just how pathetically predictable and mundane his inner desires actually were. This is what he wanted to use a wish for? Well, he is a dumb kid. There were other pieces to this anime that I’m enjoying. To name two, I love listening to Yui Ogura voice the girl who can’t express any emotions and the supernatural angle, with the cat statue, will be interesting to see how it resolves itself. There is plenty of time for this to get derailed but for now this appears to have the tools needed to be a solid series.
Rating for episodes 1 and 2 – 9/12 A-
Filed under: anime, episode review, first impressions
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