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The Top 13 Anime of 2011 – #13 to #7

The end is fast approaching for The Null Set’s examination of the 2011 year in anime so let’s switch gears, drop the categories, and let the various anime series go head-to-head.

I’ll readily admit that the anime series occupying the top spots on this list probably won’t be a surprise based on a simple tally of which anime won the most categories but using just that method doesn’t give a wholly accurate picture of the relative strength of the top anime series. Sure it’s causes one to compare apples to oranges, as the saying goes, or maybe more aptly, forces one to mix oil and water together but humans seem hardwired to try to do just that.

On that note, let’s head to the countdown and discover which series juuusst squeaked onto the list.

13  -  Rio – Rainbow Gate

At number 13 and better than over 46 other series that aired in 2011 is the much derided Rio- Rainbow Gate. It’s an easy show to denigrate and a cursory watch would seem to confirm the need to criticize it. However, as I found myself watching more of the series and wondering why I kept watching, I realized that if the show was merely generic then I would have tired of it very quickly and dropped it like I did four other anime series that season. Generic is bland and predictable. Rio – Rainbow Gate was never predictable; every episode surprised and delighted with some silly, absurd story. It takes genuine knowledge and skill to make a show entertaining for 14 episodes. How many anime series have come out even just recently that showed promise in the first or two episodes but quickly fell apart after those couple of episodes?

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12  -  Ben-to

Ben-to is the story of a Japan that hosts impromptu daily gladiatorial competitions in it’s supermarkets where the prize is a half-priced box lunch. Ridiculous? Absolutely, but sometimes it takes the ridiculous to break the mold and create something great. What made this anime so appealing was it’s frequent well-constructed and thrilling fight scenes but that wasn’t the only reason why Ben-to succeeded. There was also a killer soundtrack that matched the over-the-top perfection of the action. Then there was the delight Ben-to showed while fleshing out the world that it inhabited. Wolves were supposed to have respect and pride; dogs and boars should be looked at with disdain; food only tasted good when one fought for it; one has to give thanks before eating to everyone from the farmer that grew the food all the way to the people who were beaten to get the half-priced box lunch. It helped make the world seem more authentic and helped make the fights more meaningful.

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11  –   Ao no Exorcist

Ao no Exorcist is one of the reasons that doing this countdown is warranted in my eyes. It didn’t win a single category and was nominated in only two categories; yet, it earns the number eleven spot for being one of the better shounen series of recent memory. It had a very tough slate of rivals during the two seasons it ran and found itself constantly playing second fiddle to them. Initially, I wasn’t that impressed with Ao no Exorcist because the first couple of episodes seemed to suggest that the show wanted to be “dark” but it came off as wannabe dark like Deadman Wonderland. However, once those episodes established the “tragic nature” of our hero main character and we moved into the story proper the show started to get better and better. The main character was a nice guy; the type of person that one can’t help but root for and the supporting cast is a diverse, interesting bunch that interact well with each other. The plot was more interesting than I thought it would be and I liked how the animators didn’t try to just continue once they burned through most of the source material.

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10  -  Hyouge Mono

Having only seen 11 episodes of this 39 episode anime, it was difficult to give this show it’s proper due in the category section; yet, this anime about a man living in the Sengoku period who seeks security and comfort for his wife and child through success on the battlefield even when he does not have a warrior’s heart convincingly earns this spot of top anime for 2011. The thing that surprised me about this anime is that it takes the political intrigue of the era seriously while still allowing the eccentric characters to be larger-than-life and interesting. For example, I was prepared for disappointment over Hyouge Mono’s version of Oda Nobunaga aka the Demon King after his portrayal in Sengoku Basara but he’s as interesting here as he was in Sengoku Basara.

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9  -  Tiger and Bunny

I think Tiger and Bunny is the result of someone at Sunrise looking at all the super-powered movies coming out from America and deciding that it’d be cool to try making one as well. The result was loads of fun with the occasional flash of brilliance. What prevented it from going higher on the list was the infrequent lapses in the plot that would deflate the momentum that it had built up for itself. These lapses bothered me when I first watched this series but later in the year I decided to rewatch it with my one sister and the second time through it was easier to just focus on the strengths of Tiger and Bunny – it’s characters, production values, and entertaining nature. The end hinted at a possible sequel and I’m hoping it comes to pass.

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8  -  Ikoku Meiro no Croisee

This, the story of a young Japanese girl transplanted to Paris in the late 19th century was full of all the fish-out-of-water experiences one would expect (and enjoy) and had the interesting and well done backdrop that an anime with high production values set when it was would have but, ultimately, the part I most liked about Ikoku Meiro no Croisee was the characters and their relationships with each other. Which made the decision to have  what was named episode 4.5 be a DVD extra so baffling. It was an early episode that focused on character development and would have shown people that Ikoku Meiro no Croisee had a subtle bite to it (and wasn’t just an anime about cute girls doing cute things). I’ll hold out hope that, even with the low sales numbers it had, a sequel will eventually be made.

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7  -  Hanasaku Iroha

During it’s run, Hanasaku Iroha’s popularity suffered from people’s assumptions about the story turning out to be wrong. At the beginning it was assumed by many that P.A. Works was attempting to make an anime version of a Japanese dorama series but as the story unfolded it started acting more like a slice-of-life series that really wasn’t concerned with including some sort of overarching plot structure. I felt it was wasting it’s potential but continued watching because it was better than several other series I followed. It was only during the last episode that I realized how much I’d come to like Hanasaku Iroha. (Much like how it wasn’t until episode 20 of the second season of K-On! that I realized how much I’d come to like that franchise.) I needed to rewatch Hanasaku Iroha to see how well it held up on a second viewing. Maybe it was because I knew what to expect and not expect or it was the new light I saw the characters in after finishing it the first time that did it but it was a much improved series the second time through. As for a sequel, I could see the merit of one if it was set a few years in the future when the inn was being re-opened and focused on making it profitable.

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Whew, only one more section – the top 6 anime of 2011 – to go. Then maybe it’ll be time to start covering this excellent winter 2012 anime season.

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Top anime 2011 Awards Part 0: Introduction and Anti-Awards
Top anime 2011 Awards Part 1: Cast and Character Awards
Top anime 2011 Awards Part 2: Genre and General Awards
Top anime 2011 Awards Part 3: VMA Awards
Top anime 2011 Awards Part 4: The Misfit Awards
Top anime 2011 Awards: Top 13 Anime – #13 – #7 <- you are here
Top anime 2011 Awards: Top 13 Anime – #6 – #1


Filed under: anime, awards

Happy Halloween!

Of all the holidays that inspire anime bloggers to post off-topic about, Halloween wouldn’t be my personal choice as the biggest but I just realized that I haven’t missed a Halloween yet. So for the fourth year running, I hope everyone out there had a great Halloween.

I’ve been trying to work through a bit of writer’s block lately but with the Fall season starting to really hit it’s stride I hope the inspiration will get me writing more often. Anyways, the next picture is of the pumpkins that carved this year, mine is the one second from the right.

Good anime Halloween pics seemed thin is year:

And let’s close with a couple other pictures from around my house for this Halloween season. I’m just glad there’s not snow on the ground at this point :) .

I was disappointed that a grand total of 3 kids came Trick-or-treating this year; the normal is around 25 to 35 a year. I gave these intrepid kids (it was sprinkling a little bit) double the normal amount of candy :) .


Filed under: anime, general anime interst, other wallpapers and pictures

Ao no Exorcist – Diverged

Posted by Author | Anime, Anime Review, Manga Review, ao no exorcist | Tuesday 9 August 2011 3:03 am
My nutbladder exploded! So seems like the anime took a different direction than the manga and will have an anime only plot. But that’s fine, doesn’t seem to be headed into that bad of a direction.

Top Picks – Spring 2011 Anime, Part 3: VMA Awards

After looking at the characters in part 1 and then the show built around those characters in part 2, the third group of awards will focus on the extras in an anime; namely, the vocal work, music, and animation quality. These components aren’t among the core reasons why an anime is successful or not but they can exert a surprising amount of influence for either outcome.

Not that I’m implying correlation equals causation; maybe that’s something Okabe from Steins;Gate could study after he was done changing the world’s ruling power structure and defeating the secret organizations – he could study how integral are the vocal work, music, and animation quality towards an anime’s success or failure.

Best Male Seiyuu

Winner: Mamoru Miyano as Rintarou Okabe from Steins;Gate and Shinku Izumi from Dog Days

The best part of the rather uneven Star Driver was Mamoru Miyano’s vocal work for the main character, Takuto Tsunashi. As a result of that role, I decided this season that it was worth checking out both anime that he was voicing the main character, Dog Days and Steins;Gate. He was merely good as the Hero in Dog Days but that had more to do with limited nature of the role and the animators behind the show. The role as mad scientist in Steins;Gate gave him much more room to perform and he took advantage of that.

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Best Female Seiyuu

Winner: Aoi Yuuki  as Victorique from Gosick and Tooru from A Channel

Runner-up: Yuu Kobayashi as Mariya from Maria+Holic Alive and Undine from Yondemasu yo Azazel-san and Ruka Urushibara from Steins;Gate, Aya Hirano as Katja from Seikon no Qwaser II and Shizu Shidou from Maria+Holic Alive

The meteoric rise of Aya Hirano’s career opened many doors for her but it also attracted a lot of noise from detractors that sometimes makes it difficult to remember underneath everything Aya Hirano is a very good voice actress. Both of her roles this season were smaller then I’d like but combined they showed that she has it. As for Yuu Kobayashi, I’ve been a fan of her unique talent for awhile now. I like the wide assortment of voices that she can bring to a role and this season saw her utilizing many of those voices in her various roles. My favorite was the cross-dressing Mariya. However, the winner just had to go to Aoi Yuuki for carrying, not one, but two anime series she starred in with just her vocal work. If it wasn’t for her, I’d’ve dropped both Gosick and A Channel for being complete wastes of time. Instead, in the end, I found both decent enough shows.

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Best OP

Winner: Maria+Holic Alive

Runner-up: Nichijou, Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko, Dororon Enma-kun Meeramera, AnoHana

If this award was based solely on the song itself AnoHana would have won; I’ve had Aoi Shiori by Galileo Galilei on heavy repeat for weeks now. However, I also have to factor in the animation and how well the two work together to create the right mood for watching the episode. Using the full criteria, Maria+Holic Alive edges out the competition for the win.

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Best ED

Winner: AnoHana

Runner-up: Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko, Nichijou, Gosick

This time AnoHana does win, in part, because they did that thing where the ending song starts playing as the last climatic scene plays out before going to credits in just about every episode. So now I associate the song with all the best moments of the show and the song’s soothing, cathartic nature was perfect for the show’s ending.

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Best Background Music

Winner: Nichijou

Nichijou is just the latest in a long string of anime series by Kyoto Animation that feature stellar background music. I’m sure there were other series that had good background music but I can’t remember any other leaving much of an impression on me.

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Best Dressed Characters

Winner: Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko

Runner-up: Hyouge Mono

I’m slightly disappointed that Nichijou didn’t win this award; it might even be the first KyoAni series that didn’t place since I started giving this award out. There chances dimmed primarily because we don’t see many characters ever wearing non-school clothes. On the other hand, Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko, had a plethora of different outfits that the characters wore (having one of your main characters never attend school helps this); so, it was the obvious pick. Hyouge Mono earned the runner-up spot for it’s characters sporting a nice amount of wardrobe changes including the Demon King’s eclectic fashion sense.

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Best Animation Style

Winner:  Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko

Runner-up: Hanasaku Iroha

These last few years has seen the Shaft/Shinbou style of anime mature and hit that sweet spot of being just right for the series being animated. For Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko another layer was added – extremely attractive character designs. In most of Shaft/Shinbou series the characters will, at best, look decent but many series have down right fugly looking characters. (Natsu no Arashi is one example.) I actually like this since it will help make the characters seem more realistic but it’s a nice to see something new coming from them. Also working in Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko’s favor is Shaft/Shinbou creates the absolutely nicest night sky shots – no other animation company can match them.

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Best Animation

Winner: Nichijou

Runner-up: AnoHana, Hanasaku Iroha

As for the highest animation quality, Kyoto Animation is still incredibly hard to beat when they go all-out and this season no one could make this category a competitive one.

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Top Animation Studio

Winner: A-1 Pictures

Though with the frequency of financial home runs that A-1 Pictures has so quickly racked up along with consistently nice animation, Kyoto Animation may have a serious contender in the near future. (And yes, for the record, I loved the animation style to Birdy Season 2 and I continue to rank it as probably having the best done fights of any tv series that I’ve watched.)

The one weakness they’ve shown so far is not having a core group of directors that can ensure a consistent level of quality from their anime series. This season they had two series; the first, AnoHana, was directed by Tatsuyuki Nagai. Normally he directs for J.C. Staff and for them he’s directed Honey and Clover 2, Toradora, and Railgun. Their other series is Ao no Exorcist, directed by Tensai Okamura who’s done Wolf’s Rain and Darker Than Black (two series I haven’t seen yet but hear much praise for). By this point it should be obvious how much I liked AnoHana but Ao no Exorcist has been a small surprise itself; as a shounen-series-set-in-a-school-with-kids-who-have-special-powers, I wasn’t expected to particularly like it but I’ve come to enjoy my weekly doses of Ao no Exorcist.

So for fielding two hits for the spring season, A-1 Pictures gets the Top Animation Studio award.

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That’s it for part 3 of my spring 2011 anime awards. Stay tuned for my top overall picks of the season. :)

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Spring 2011 Awards Part 1: Cast and Character Awards
Spring 2011 Awards Part 2: Genre and Misfit Awards
Spring 2011 Awards: Top 8 Anime – #8 – #5
Spring 2011 Awards: Top 8 Anime – #4 – #1


Filed under: anime, awards

Ranking The Good, The Bad and the Ugly of the Spring 2011 Anime Season – Part 1: The Bottom Fourteen

Homura tilts her head at you!

The sheer number of shows I’ve decided to try this season – 29 – has had the unintended side effect of making it quite difficult to find the time to then blog about the anime I’m watching. A horrible problem, I know :) . To help rectify this problem, I’m going to temporarily stop watching new episodes and finish this two-part post which will function as my first impressions posts for all 29 shows and a means to call attention to good shows that might be falling through the cracks within such a huge field of anime to watch.

Before we get to those good shows, we first have to start at the very bottom with …

(29) – 30-sai no Hoken Taiiku

Rating for episodes 1 to 3 – 2/12  F

This anime from the animation company Gathering was, on paper, a potentially interesting anime about helping romantically challenged men in finding their groove and scoring with the lady-folks but it turned out to be a complete failure by every measure. It even failed at trying to be such a train wreck that it was fun to watch. Stay away.

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(28) – Sket Dance

Rating for episodes 1 to 3 – 2/12  F

At one point in the opening song the animators make a very understandable, yet unfortunate, simple English spelling mistake; when, instead of using “Sket”, use the word “Skat” in very big letters. If they were native English speakers, I’d imagine this slip was a Freudian slip because that  pretty much describes the quality of this show. It finishes only second to last because it did actually briefly amuse me once during the three episodes I watched.

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(27) – Hen Zemi

Rating for episodes 1 to 3 – 3/12  D

The first of two bottom-dwelling series from Xebec this season follows the story of a shy, straight-laced college girl that somehow ends up in Abnormal Physiology Seminar where she’s exposed to a class full of students with very odd fetishes and kinks. Hilarity should ensue but it doesn’t. The presence of the voice actress Kana Hanazawa pushes this slightly above the other really bad anime of this season.

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(26) – Sengoku Otome – Momoiro Paradox

Rating for episodes 1 to 3 – 3/12  D

By my count this is the third recent anime to be adapted from a line of pachinko games. The first, Umi Monogatari, and the second, Rio ~Rainbow Gate~, were pretty decent anime in their own ways so I wasn’t going to discount Sengoku Otome until I caught a few episodes. Now that I’ve seen a few episodes I can conclude this show is a complete waste of time. It’s primary problem is that it’s too timid. If your anime is supposed to be an ecchi comedy then throw everything out that’s not needed like “a story” and “character development” and focus on creating characters that are appealing to the eye and putting these characters into constantly new absurd situations. It worked for Rio ~Rainbow Gate~ and it could have worked here.

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(25) – Hidan no Aria

Rating for episodes 1 to 3 – 4/12  C

Remember when J.C. Staff could be counted on to make at least decent anime? Quickly has that time started to fade into distant memory and Hidan no Aria does nothing to slow the decent of J.C. Staff into obscurity. Everything here is a poor facsimile of their past series like Shana with only about a quarter of the animation quality of those old shows.

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(24) – Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi

Rating for episodes 1 to 3 – 4/12  C

The complete lack of anime from AIC this season (probably because they’re working on the Sora no Otoshimono movie coming out this summer) has left a huge hole that no other animation house can seem to adequately plug. Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi takes a swing at being this season’s high production values/ecchi comedy that’s funny, entertaining and completely underestimated by the snooty anime fans but it strikes out. Don’t waste your time with this; I recommend sampling (or rewatching) recent AIC shows like Amagami SS, Asobi ni Iku yo!, Sora no Otoshimono, Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai instead.

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(23) – Oretachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai

Rating for episodes 1 to 4 – 4/12  C

The ADHD television channel changing motif worked for AMV Hell 3 but not Oretachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai. One problem is the character designs are so generically similar that it’s easier to figure which lump of metal is which Transformer during a fight in the live action movies then it is to figure out who is who for this anime. Another problem is how generically similar each story line is to each other. I’ll repeat the same advice I gave for Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi and suggest checking out AIC’s vastly superior recent work like Amagami SS, Asobi ni Iku yo!, Sora no Otoshimono, Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai instead.

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(22) – Sofuteni

Rating for episodes 1 to 3 – 4/12  C

The second new anime from Xebec for this season and it manages to marginally do better then Hen Zemi but it still has a ways to go before it can aspire to be “watchable” anime. I won’t repeat for a third time my advice given above but it still stands for Sofuteni.

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(21) – Astarotte no Omocha!

Rating for episodes 1 to 3 – 4/12  C

Ranking this high is actually a small victory for Astarotte no Omocha! because I was all set to give this my lowest rating based on the premise of the show – a young succubus living in a fantasy world turns 10 and is required to start her male harem but she happens to hate men. I wanted to be fair so I watched a few episodes and it appears that this anime will skew more towards heart-warming but it doesn’t skew enough to keep me watching.  There’s still the problem of fan-service I don’t want to see and cringe worthy aspects like the human male she ends up picking turning out to be 23 years old, who happens to have a 10-year-old daughter that he brings along when he agrees to live in the fantasy world with the succubus.

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(20) – Dog Days

Rating for episodes 1 to 3 – 5/12  C+

Dog Days does just enough right to become the first title on this list that I’ve not dropped and plan on continuing to watch. Just barely though, it helps that Norio Wakimoto voices one of the side characters. I have to admit that the unique system used in the fantasy world of Dog Days that replaces traditional war actually is a really good idea – I wish a similar system could be implemented in real life.

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(19) – Deadman Wonderland

Rating for episodes 1 to 3 – 5/12  C+

After a genuinely dark and well-thought-out anime like Puella Magi Madoka Magica the wannabes like Deadman Wonderland just seem so lacking. It’s case is not helped when I can’t take this show seriously but it wants me too. For example, I’m supposed to believe that in the future Japan decides that basic CSI and forensics work is not needed and no one notices that the explosion that killed those kids occurred outside of the school building. I’m willing to give it some slack with it’s story but if it doesn’t improve quickly (which includes reducing the number of glaringly large plot holes I have to accept) then I’ll be dropping this.

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(18) – Ao no Exorcist

Rating for episodes 1 to 2 – 5/12  C+

The first of two anime series coming from A-1 Pictures, Ao no Exorcist also suffers a bit from coming right after Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Feeling despair after learning that you’re the son of Satan? Just imagine what it would feel like to be the son of Kyubey. It’s not all bad news, though, I actually think A-1 has done a better job then Manglobe has done with Deadman Wonderland so far and there is potential for this anime to become a pretty decent anime.

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(17) – Seikon no Qwaser II

Rating for episodes 1 to 2 – 5/12  C+

I actually finished about half of the first season of Seikon no Qwaser before becoming bored with it. The highlight for me was Aya Hirano doing her best vocal work since she voiced Haruhi. Since the plot isn’t that important for this show, I figured that I could start watching the second season without finishing the first and by-n-large I was able to drop right back into the show. I missed the explanation why our male main character has to cross-dress as a busty girl to attend an all-girls school when there’s several female characters that could go undercover but, like I said, the plot isn’t important and I can just roll with this plot development. This turn of events has created a situation where the guy is on the receiving end of some of the same discomforts that he’s perpetrated on the female characters up to this point and it’s actually pretty interesting.

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(16) – C – The Money of Soul and Possibility Control

Rating for episodes 1 to 3 – 5/12  C+

This is another anime that feels like there’s a potential for it to become a pretty decent anime; but, so far, I’ve only been mildly impressed by it. I’d have even more faith that it’ll end up being a good anime since it’s running in the noitaminA block but Fractale’s extremely poor performance last season is still a little too fresh in my mind.

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That’s it for part 1 of the spring 2011 anime season impression countdown. Based on which shows I’ve already covered I wonder if anyone can guess my top 5 shows :) . Part 2 should be up in a day or so, that is, if this incessant rain doesn’t wash me away first.


Filed under: anime, first impressions

Spring 2011 Season Preview

Alright, so we’re pretty much on the eve of the start of the Spring 2011 season, which means it’s time for our previews. Below, you’ll read what each of the 4 of us think of the many many shows that are coming up. It seems that noitaminA is creating great anticipation again with its financial thriller [C] The Money of Soul and Possibility Control, and the much hyped urban fantasy/scifi thriller Steins;Gate has caught our attention. We fork in our interests quite a bit from there, which is expected given the huge number of shows next season, but studio Shaft’s works seem to be on all our radars, a sign of the respect it’s earned over the past 2 years.

Rakuen

I would like to start by saying there is entirely too much anime airing this season. This is both good and bad. On the positive side, with at least 48 series listed on the latest guide I found, there’s a little something for everyone. If you can’t find a show you’re remotely interested in here, anime might not be your thing. On the negative side, it also makes it very difficult for me to watch everything I want to see. Right now, I have 15 series on my list. I am a little enthusiastic about 7 of them, while I’m definitely ready to try out the remaining 8. I expect to see this number dwindle rapidly. 7.5 hours of anime viewing per week is almost impossible to keep up to date, let alone remembering all the characters, plots and so on. Enough of my kvetching. I should get into the meat of my little segment.

I decided to order my lists by airing date, starting with the series I have a little interest in watching. Dog Days occupies the earliest spot on the list. I expect this to quickly devolve into harem territory, but I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for the summoned hero bit. Next up is the new season of Kaiji. The titular character participates in a gambling event where the stakes are his life. Joojoobees piqued my interest in his post about the first season, but I haven’t gotten to it. So, this go on the Want to Watch list by default. Then, we have Hidan no Aria, which gets a first episode watch based solely on adorable girls with lethal weapons.

A Channel seems to be going with a typical four-girl band for a school comedy, but it is a school comedy, so I’ll give it a shot. The little one, Tooru, also has a baseball bat that shows up all over the promo art… so it could be interesting. Next, we have Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko, or in shorter terms, a new Shaft show. I loved Soredemo, but didn’t like Arakawa. This seems to lean more towards the latter, what with the main girl insisting she’s an alien. Ao no Exorcist continues the “son of Satan will fight his fate” trend. I wonder if this theme comes up because many people have a desire to fight their own fates. What better example is there than the son of evil trying to do good? Finally, The World God Only Knows rounds out this portion of the list. I went back to finish the first season, which means the series did hold some interest for me. I just don’t know if it can do it for another 12 episodes.

The rest of my list comprises of shows I have stronger interest in, and Moshidora has the “earliest” airdate. Giant Killing got me into sports anime, and Big Windup has continued to strengthen my view of the genre. Like Big Windup, we have a female manager trying to lead a baseball club to victory. However, its airdate has been postponed, so it might have to wait for a later season. KyoAni’s Nichijou also airs this season, but I didn’t even realize they animated it until I started writing this. The synopsis itself got me hooked. A principal might wrestle a deer? This is a school comedy I’ve got to see! Hana-Saku Iroha kind of reminds me of Love Hina with the hot springs centric plot, but that’s where the similarities end. It looks like it completely lacks the male lead, meaning no harem, and the plot sounds more focused on drama. I think both of those aspects are Good Things. Showa Monogatari adds another drama to my list with its family orientation and historical setting. This is a more tentative entry on my list, but the Olympic setting piqued my interest.

Now we’re to two of my most anticipated shows. First, STEINS;GATE, which just looks phenomenally awesome in both the artwork and the synopsis. It has the whole time-travel thing, as well as the struggle for survival with the SERN organization on their tails. I get a little Persona vibe from it too, but it might only be me. Sket Dance is yet another school series, but this one stood out from the pack. The premise reminds me of Haruhi, except with less aliens, time travelers, and espers. Unlike the rest, this has the best chance of a strong overarching plot, which I’m really hoping happens. If someone who’s read the manga could confirm it, it’d be much appreciated. Returning to the outlier series on my list, there’s C, plus its long title. It’s got an economically crapsack Japan and a main character who gets sucked into the shuffle. Sounds interesting, and with its noitaminA slot, I’ve got hopes for it. Last, but not least, is Deadman Wonderland. The fight for survival premise fittingly relates to the old Coliseum. It could have a bit too much violence for my tastes, but want to give it a good shot.

Looking back at my list, there’s plenty of comedy, action, and drama with a variety of premises. This could very well be my most anticipated season since I first got into currently airing shows. I hope school and work don’t kick my ass too hard, so I can have the time to watch all these shows.

Top 3: Steins;Gate, Sket Dance, C

lvlln

There sure are a lot of shows coming out next season, but somehow the only ones I’m looking forward to are the sequels: The World God Only Knows, Maria+Holic Alive, and the Kampfer specials.

Just kidding; besides those 3, We Still Don’t Know the Name of the Flower We Saw That Day (AnoHana) on noitaminA’s block sounds like it has potential, simply for being a real-life drama on noitaminA. Oh, and it also contains a character type that’s near and dear to the hearts of everyone here on this site, a hikikomori. Then again, noitaminA has been really hit or miss lately, with the trainwreck that is Fractale and the hugely disappointing Kuragehime, even if AIC’s Wandering Son is absolutely knocking it out of the park this season. AnoHana is being made by A-1 Pictures, which is responsible for some pretty poor shows such as Kannagi and last year’s Anime no Chikara duo Sora no Woto and Occult Academy, so I’m very prepared to be disappointed. Still, the director has A Certain Scientific Railgun on his resume, and that didn’t suck too much, and I’ve heard his Toradora! did drama well.

Besides that, only 2 other non-sequels have caught my eye: Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko and Steins;Gate. Denpa Onna because it’s Shaft, even if it sounds just like another version of Arakawa Under the Bridge, which turned out… alright. Steins;Gate because I’ve read some other people really excited about it. Plus, I like modern-day scifi stories.

But really, the sequels are what I’m looking forward to.

The World God Only Knows was a surprisingly entertaining show for which didn’t have a bit of faith in going in. But Keima’s cynical, almost nihilistic personality combined with his occasional outbursts made for good comedy. A show that was as meta as that could have been a lot more meaningful, sure, but it was a fine source of dumb laughs. The 1st season ended on a planned cliffhanger, and though I doubt the pickle Keima got into will last more than an episode, I look forward to seeing how he will continue to add to his transient harem.

What I liked about Maria+Holic was Asami Sanada‘s Kanako, the perverted lesbian man hating protagonist. Her smooth, soft voice is unique, and seeing her character constantly abused somehow didn’t get old. Didn’t hurt that it was Yuu Kobayashi as Maria doing the abusing. She plays male characters well, and she does crazy well, too. Then there’s Marina Inoue as Matsurika. I like to think of it as a gay Stalker-tan being forced to live with an abusive Kaere and her snarky maid Symmetrical-tan. What more whacky antics will these 3 and the rest of the cast get into?

And bottom of the sequel list is Kampfer. Now here’s a show that was pure guilty pleasure. Looking for things like action, plot, character development, or meaningful relationships was a fruitless endeavor. I just loved seeing Natsuru and his/her thick head be dragged around by his psychotic harem. And this show’s cast is pretty much a who’s who list of female voice actors right now. I wish they’d do a 2nd season instead of just a couple episodes, but I suppose they’ll do.

Top 3: The World God Only Knows, Maria+Holic Alive, We Still Don’t Know the Name of the Flower We Saw That Day

Raphael

Pleasantly, there’s a good bit of original anime in this crop. Tiger & Bunny is among them and has received more press for the large amount of product placement it’ll employ than for the fact that Sunrise is doing a superhero show. I’m hoping it will be fun and won’t drag. Another of these original shows is Dog Days by the team behind Nanoha. The setting and premise don’t appeal to me, but I may well give it a whirl; it’ll probably at least look nice. The most promising of this lot in my eyes is C. Strong staff, very interesting premise, noitaminA. Unfortunately, the trailer didn’t meet my expectations, with the wonderful character designs not translating as well as I’d hoped and the animation looking a tad under par. It’s still the season’s series I’m most eagerly awaiting. The last two original anime, Hana-saku Iroha (which, judging by trailers, will look stunning) and AnoHana seem to fall squarely into the slice of life/drama genre zone. They also have the same head writer in Mari Okada. Both could be enjoyable if done well, but I feel like both could also try my patience, especially given that Hana-saku Iroha is reportedly 26 episodes. I’ll give them a go.

Moving onto the adaptations, we have manga-based slice-of-life comedies in A Channel and Nichijou. I’ve read the source of the former, and I was expecting to discard it quickly… but I found myself really enjoying it. It’s nothing new, but the humor has a slightly mean bent and I got several good laughs out of it. I’m curious to see how it translates to anime, as there’s a fairly new studio on board but also the director and series composition guy who did Saki. The latter is Kyoto Animation’s spring offering and, like Hana-saku Iroha, is supposedly two-cour. I found the prequel OVA nowhere near as funny as I do A Channel’s manga, but I definitely felt it had charm to it. I’ll give both of these series a try. Other comedies include Xebec’s entries Hen Zemi and Softenni. I’ll be watching Hen Zemi because I liked its OVA for its disgusting humor, but I do wonder if things will get cleaned up for TV. In addition, the OVA’s director will not be returning for the series; instead he’s been replaced by the director who did Rio – Rainbow Gate! and To Love-Ru. Meanwhile, the man behind the OVA will be working on Softenni, which I get big Saki vibes from. I’m also a massive tennis fan, so – though I’m sure I’ll feel silly for thinking there might be actual tennis-playing involved – while I really, really doubt I’ll enjoy it anywhere near as much as Saki, I’ll give it a shot. Hopefully I won’t want to be shot because of it/need several shots of something to get through it. (Punning is hard, give me a break (ha!).) Shaft will also have two comedies airing: the sequel to Maria+Holic, and the bizarre enough for me to check out Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko.

To the action/adventure side of things, Steins;Gate stands out as having potential to be very entertaining and entertainingly technobabble-filled. Premise sounds great, art looks great, and Jukki Hanada is at the writing helm. Really looking forward to this. We also have Ao no Exorcist, Deadman Wonderland, and Hidan no Aria. The first has good buzz and the director of Darker than Black going for it, and it could be interesting. As for the latter two, I’m up to date with what’s been translated of the manga of both. Deadman Wonderland is packed full of gore, action, good characters, and plot twists, and I love it. I’m unsure whether it’ll get the treatment it deserves, though, as Manglobe will be dividing its efforts between it and the second season of The World God Only Knows. But I’m hoping for the best. Hidan no Aria has been less fun for me to get through. I would’ve dropped it very quickly (for its mix of mostly-loli fanservice, poor art, and storm of cliches) if I hadn’t found the concept of a school for armed detectives so enticing. I plan to be watching the anime too, even though Rie Kugimiya as yet another flat-chested tsundere should’ve deterred me, and – despite my grumbling – I’m sure I’ll have some fun. Interestingly, this (along with Gosick) will make two shows airing simultaneously that focus on a foreign-loli-Holmes/Japanese-high-school-boy-Watson duo.

As for the rest? Moshidora‘s unusual premise has piqued my interest, and I plan to check it out; Hyouge Mono, Toriko, Sket Dance, and Showa Monogatari don’t appeal to me; OreTsuba (We Don’t Have Wings) and HoshiKaka (A Bridge to the Starry Skies) look very similar and similarly uninteresting; and Astarotte no Omocha! does not exist. And finally, though I’m almost certain I’ll be unable to get through an episode, I feel obligated to check out Sekaiichi Hatsukoi because BL anime adaptations are just so rare.

Top 3: C, Steins;Gate, Deadman Wonderland

CPAnime

Despite the overwhelming amount of new anime coming out, it feels like most of the stuff out there is either for teens or a generic (adult) drama. Thankfully, there are enough shows out there that choosing which anime I will be watching will still be a difficult task. The following are a few of the anime that I have the most interest in for varying reasons.

It has been about two years since I started watching anime on a season by season basis, and one of the first shows I watched in this way was Maria+Holic. So, with the benefit of two years of full time anime watching experience, it will be interesting for me to see if I find Alive anywhere as interesting as the original was in 2009. Sometimes I wonder if the only reason I tuned in on a week to week basis was to see the OP and ED, so it will be interesting to see if my tastes have changed, or if this show is actually as awesome as I remembered.

Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko

I am also pretty interested in the other Shaft show, Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko, but mainly because I don’t know anything about it. Shaft has built up some serious street cred over the past few months with Madoka Magica, but there is also the possibility that this could turn into an Arakawa under the Bridge 2 situation, especially given the synopsis. Another thing that worries me is that Shaft is doing two shows this season, and seeing as how they can barely manage one most of the time, I think the quality is inevitably going to suffer. Still, girls with mysterious pasts are kind of one my things, so I’ll be checking this one out for sure.

C is another interesting show for me, but for some different reasons. It reminds me a lot of Madoka in that there is a contract being made, though I doubt that the main character will be naive as some of the characters in Madoka, as the show doesn’t seem to be hiding its cards. From the previews I’ve read up to this point, it seems like the show might have a difficult time with its first few episodes as there looks to be a lot going on. Hopefully, a deeper understanding of economics or business won’t be needed for this show, as that could turn off some viewers. Personally, I have confidence that this shouldn’t be a problem as it is part of the noitaminA time slot, but even that is no longer a guarantee.

Moshidora

Staying on the business end of things, the one show I am looking forward to the most this season is Moshidora. While its broadcast schedule kind of seems up in the air, I’m looking forward to watching this during the baseball season. Since I’m a business student and a baseball fan, this show is kind of a no brainer for me, and I can potentially see myself blogging this. Still, I do have my doubts as to whether this will work, despite its popularity in Japan. Mainly, I am concerned that the translation of the material into an anime will fail to jump off the page, if you will, and just become another boring class lesson, though I doubt it.

Finally, the one show that will undoubtedly be my guilty pleasure is Hen Zemi. I recently watched the first episode of the OVA and was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. The only real criticism I could levy against it, besides the obvious, was that it took too long to get to its punch lines. I am a bit concerned that the TV broadcast will be impeded by those god forsaken censors (Kiss X Sis‘s OVAs, for example, were and are infinitely better than the censored TV broadcast), but as long as the staff is witty enough, it can probably work around this. Though, it is XEBEC. So… that could be good or bad, depending on your preferences (btw, where is my LxB sequel?).

Top 3: C, Moshidora, A Channel

And that about wraps it up. Which of the dozens and dozens of shows are you looking forward to this spring?


Spring 2011 Anime Preview

The Spring anime season is nearing closer, so it’s time to look at five new anime I look forward to! Astarotte no Omocha! -Reverse harem AND semen drinking? Is this the opposite of Qwaser? I have to watch this! lol High chance it will end up sucking badly, but it won’t hurt to try! Hen [...]

[Manga Monday] Ao no Exorcist

Posted by Author | Anime Review, CJ, Manga Monday, Manga Review, ao no exorcist | Tuesday 15 September 2009 1:15 am

See, any manga with “Exorcist” in the title is gonna get my attention faster than a van full of yaoi bait. But it just so happens that Ao no Exorcist IS  a van (er, book) full of yaoi bait – and more. The series so far is a solid blend of action, drama and school antics, with enough emphasis on the first two to keep mature readers happy. It falls into a few shounen cliches but ultimately rises above other series of its genre. (Oh, and the eye candy is nice, too. Yay for characters with glasses!)

The main character, an orphan named Rin Okumura, has been living in a Catholic monastery with his twin brother Yukio *drools* and their “Father,” a priest. Rin’s your typical tough punk who gets into fights 7 days a week, but Yukio *drools* is hot n’ smexy smart and working hard to become a doctor. (It later turns out he has more than ambition up his sleeves, but that’s a spoiler. :))

One day, though, everything changes (of course) when Rin finds out there’s more to himself then he thought! In the process of this revelation, though, someone dies, and Rin is cast out of his home with Yukio *drools*. In spite of his newfound powers (don’t ask how that works) he wants to become an exorcist – not for revenge, but just because he can. His journey contains some pleasant twists on the typical shounen hero’s tale, and the mysteries revealed along the way.

The universe the story is set in is odd and somewhat poorly explained. There’s a butt-ton of random mysterious characters popping up only 6 chapters in, and the the place Rin and his brother end up at is cliched as heck. Fortunately, the innovative little details and quirks, including the author’s penchant for keys, make it loveable. The art  helps too: backgrounds and battles are nicely rendered, and dang are those character (and demon) designs nice, especially those exorcist uniforms. They give D.Gray-man a run for its money. Did I mention how hot Yukio is yet? *drools*

The final selling point for the series is its… shipping potentials. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m pretty sure this series just invented something called exorcest. (I mean, the brothers end up sharing a room when they’re not supposed to, and it’s only the two of them when it’s supposed to be 4 to a room, and and and IT’S A TEASE!!)

Unfortunately, other points in the character development suffer greatly. The only female characters are a tsundere, an almost obnoxiously cute girl and a fairly normal girl, and they’re all rather bland.  And as attractive and interesting as Yukio *drools* is (and even Rin at times) he can’t make up for the cliches at times. Still, Shiemi (the aforementioned cute girl) has little quirks, and her backstory is unique enough to make her somewhat likeable, even if the other girls suck.

Ao no Exorcist is only 6 chapters into its monthly serialization, but it already shows signs of being epic. One or two chapters have been shaky plotwise, but that’s understandable as the story gets going after the exposition. Epic blades n’ barrels fights and unique twists on an old idea give the story lots of life. Despite some characterization issues, the series is looking to be a solid read for fans of shounen with yaoibait on the side.

CJ’s Rating: 8 out of 10 California rolls




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