Category Archives: First Impressions

Summer 2013 Anime Top Starters

Summer is here.  It’s hot and time for some refreshing anime.  While this season doesn’t necessarily quench my thirst with each show individually, the overall spread of excellence is enough to keep me hydrated until the, usually better, fall season.  Unless otherwise noted, I will be using the names used on Crunchyroll for the series.  In addition to today’s feature, I’ll be announcing a new column at the end of the blog – so read on!

Rather than posting my usual first impressions, I’m going to be going with a top 5 format to cut to the chase and provide you with what you’re looking for:  “What anime should I watch this season?”

#5:  The Eccentric Family

The Eccentric FamilyNotably, I didn’t expect much out of this series.  But what was on the surface (both in imagery and title) a slice-of-life series without any drive, hid underneath a bit of a gem.  The basic premise is that the world contains tengu, tanuki and humans – all of which are an integral part of the world’s shifts in balance.  The tengu may fly wherever they please and seem to be hierarchically superior to the other two where the tanuki are afraid of being boiled in a hot pot by the humans despite their ability to transform into (apparently) whatever they desire.  The struggle between these cultures is obvious, even after the first two episodes.  The pacing and content of the show is in itself quirky (eccentric?) – and this helps the storytelling to not be dire.  If you’re looking for something a little different than usual, give it a shot – the original story is written by the same person who wrote The Tatami Galaxy, which is one of my favorite series of all-time.  There aren’t too many parallels between the two, but the writing style similarities are definitely evident.

#4:  Day Break Illusion

Day Break Illusion“It’s basically a happier Madoka” is what I’ve been telling people about this show.  Girls are given powers by tarot cards (read “soul gems”) that causes them to transform so that they can fight Daemonia (read “witches”) that have become Daemonia because magical girls’ tarot cards have become corrupted (read “turned into grief seeds”.)  While there are definitely parallels between the series, it doesn’t necessarily detract from what makes an, ultimately, decent series.  Stylistically, the series is very well-done, though I would have liked a bit more extravagance in their transformations (especially Seira’s and Ginka’s) but there’s a draw here that is worth continuing the trip.  There is the occasional unnecessary fanservice and slice-of-life’isms in this series that could potentially interrupt immersion, and I think that may be the ultimate deciding factor for the show on the whole.

#3: Danganronpa

DanganronpaI won’t lie.  The first episode of Danganronpa wasn’t that great.  The introductions were awkward and lacking substance (potentially because we were force-fed 16 character’s introductions in 5 minutes) but once the series started on the murder mystery case (i.e. some bastard killed someone in an attempt to escape the school), the tone and content changed greatly.  I’m 3 episodes into the series now and I don’t think I can put it down.  What is so enticing about this series is that it pulls you into the mystery (which any good mystery should do) and, to add to the suspense, always threatens killing a character simply out of each character’s desire to “graduate” from the school.  Give it a watch – oh, and also, I suspect that Chihiro is a trap…but the voice acting kind of gives it away.

#2:  Monogatari Series:  Second Season

Monogatari Series:  Second SeasonAdmittedly, this series is what I’ve been waiting for and what I look forward to most each week.  You can’t pick it up here if you haven’t seen the other series.  Where Nisemonogatari, frankly, derails the series a bit toward the…awkward, this series seems to return back to the normalcy (no…that’s definitely not the right word) of Senjougahara – and now Hanekawa.  The first two episodes have consisted, nearly entirely, of conversations between Senjougahara and Hanekawa and it is great.  Clever dialogue is what made Bakemonogatari, and this series comes very close to its predecessor.  If you haven’t seen Bakemonogatari, what’s stopping you?  Start and finish it.  Then begrudgingly watch Nisemonogatari, simply because you love the characters who entrapped you in the original series.  Then watch Nekomogatari Black, with my stamp of approval on it.  The Monogatari Series hit a significant low in its second series, but it seems to be on the rise again.

#1:  GATCHAMAAAAAAAAAN Crowds

Gatchaman CrowdsIt’s silly.  It’s odd.  It’s colorful.  It’s unique.  It has splendiferous transformation sequences.  This show is something.  While I know that this won’t appeal to everyone, I absolutely cannot get enough of this series.  It’s not comparable to anything in recent years, and really a breath of fresh air.  Honestly, if you’re trying to watch the same plot every time you watch an anime, why are you even watching anime in the first place.  Do I think the show will have a huge impact on the anime world?  No, I honestly think it’s going to be overlooked by a lot of people.  But, if you’re looking for something new and quirky, look no further.  This is basically the definition of what I look for in anime, and it takes the crown for my favorite series of the season so far.

Runners-up

Even though I’m reviewing the top 5 series this season, there are still some series that are noteworthy enough to give mention to:

  • Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3:  This show is great and nearly made the list.  Girls with guns meets GAINAX seems to work well.  Think of it like the scene with the air guns in FLCL, but in every episode.  I am still watching this until it reaches a point where I don’t feel like it is worth it any more.
  • Sunday Without God: I’m not sure about this show yet.  It has some potential and seems to want to present a story of moral ambiguity, but I’m not sold on it one way or another.  I’m still watching this, though.
  • Silver Spoon: This show is potentially one of this season’s greats – and it is definitely entertaining.  Despite that, the subject matter pulls me away from it and I’m not actively watching it.  By Fullmetal Alchemist’s mangaka, so it’s worth checking out for yourself, either way.

Not Worth Watching

I tend to be pretty picky when I even start choosing what I’m going to begin watching, but the below shows either received high rating for others or I watched on a whim…needless to say…they didn’t make the cut.

  • Blood Lad: Despite this one being on this list, the series does have potential.  However, it seems like alot of that potential is ill-placed and I don’t expect much from the series at all.  I’ve only seen the first episode of this one, so I may be wrong?
  • Watamote:  This was pretty awful.  There are some relatively funny scenes, but it doesn’t make up for it not really being anything new.
  • Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya: Alright…I like Fate series.  This is…not that bad.  But it’s not worth watching simply because it’s not going to go anywhere worthwhile.  I’m 2 episodes in and need to stop before I get too far.
  • Makai Ouji: For the fujoshi in you.  Not in me.

 

Column Announcement

I’ll be starting a new column soon and potentially changing up some of the appeal on the site!  So from now on, in addition to reviewing anime, I will be expanding my repertoire to JRPGs!  I hope this brings in new readers, while not alienating existing ones.  I have the following games in line for review:  Xenoblade Chronicles, Persona 4, Tales of Graces f, and Final Fantasy XIV:  A Realm Reborn.  Likely, the first one you will see is Xenoblade (as soon as I finish it).

I hope that reading the new column will be as enjoyable for you as it will be for me writing it!

2013 Spring Anime First Impressions

The spring anime season starts tomorrow!  It feels like a long wait this time because the winter season was even more lackluster than usual.  As usual, I’m going to play the guessing game this season and decide what I think is worth watching and what is not (and then change my opinion after having watched the first few episodes of a lot of shows 🙂 ).  This season I will be going back to a more straightforward rating scale of Must Watch, Could Watch, Don’t Watch – but I do plan on trying to be a little unbiased in my selection this season given my preferences.  So here is the list:

Must Watch:

  • Date A Live
  • Pretty Rhythm Rainbow Live
  • Yuyushiki
  • Sparrow’s Hotel

Don’t Watch

  • The rest of the shows this season

These shows really seem to be the most fresh this season and have everything we want in anime.  Plot, characters, and no nonsense.  But let’s be serious and check the date posted here – I can’t keep up the ruse very long here.  My true list is below (not listing sequels that I have not watched the predecessor to):

Must Watch:

  • Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince
  • Oreimo 2
  • Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin)
  • Kakumeiki Valvrave
  • Suisei no Gargantia
  • A Certain Scientific Railgun S (Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S)
  • Aku no Hana

Could Watch:

  • Karneval
  • Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru
  • Joujuu Senjin!! Mushibugyou
  • Devil Survivor 2
  • Hataraku Maou-sama!
  • Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko
  • Arata Kangatari
  • Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge
  • Namiuchigiwa no Muromi-san

Don’t Watch:

  • Pretty Rhythm Rainbow Live
  • Photo Kano
  • Yuyushiki
  • Kara the Animation
  • Sparrow’s Hotel

I really think this season’s anime looks extremely promising.  I plan on giving my full attention to the first category, at least 5 minutes to each show in the second category, and no time for any in the Don’t Watch category (or any unlisted).

Among the Must Watch shows, I believe that Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince looks like a promising mecha show.  I don’t try to hide my mecha fanboyishness.  Oreimo 2 is a guilty pleasure for me, and many others.  I’m looking forward to some finality after the first season.  Attack on Titan looks phenomenal – all of the PVs for the series have really made it look to be one of the shows to watch of the season and probably the year.  As for Kakumeiki Valvrave…I know that my mecha side is wanting me to watch this one, as well.  Suisei no Gargantia features brilliant animation and Gen Urobuchi (Madoka;Fate/Zero;Psycho-Pass).  By all means, it has the best chance for being successful, and seems to have a very unique plot.  It would probably have to fail miserably for me to ever drop it.  Railgun S is probably another guilty pleasure for me, but the original Railgun series was just heaps better than the Index series.  The thing I liked about Railgun is that it doesn’t feel as fragmented as Index…hopefully Railgun S sticks to that trend.  Aku no Hana is by the same guy who did Mushishi.  It will be good.

As for the Could Watch shows, I’m not terribly interested in any of them, but I do believe that they all seem to have some pull in one way or another.  I don’t plan on having any of them last very long for me (especially with such a long list of shows I WILL watch), but I could be pleasantly surprised.

I’ll be providing updates as the season continues (probably in 2 day intervals).

2012 Fall Anime First Impressions

When I first saw the list for this season’s anime, I was fairly certain that this season would have some quality.  I’m happy to say that I was correct.  Each and every show I watched this season has potential – though, notably, I only watched a previously selected subset of the series this season.  That set contains (using English translations for ease of viewing on Crunchyroll or whatever other streaming application you choose) From the New World, Blast of Tempest, BTOOOM!, Little Busters!, Code:Breaker, Magi, Robotics;Notes, Psycho-Pass and K.

One thing I will mention is that there seems to be quite a few similar shows this season, but none of them are bad by any means.  While there is the usual handful of slice of life shows, there is actually a lot of fantasy and science fiction shows – which have been handed the short stick for several years now.  The resurgence is no doubt a product of the success of shows like Steins;GateMadoka, and Mawaru Penguindrum.  All of which, if you haven’t seen – where were you last year?

From the New World

From the New World definitely seems like it will be this season’s thriller series.  The first episode, while far from being overly tense, was a clear foreshadowing of what is to come.  I’m not a huge fan of pseudo-reality, near-futures that simply kill characters to exercise their right to do so, but this show seems to be a little bit less shallow than that.  I’m hoping that this show develops into something incredibly interesting considering the fact that the source material is a novel.  If there wasn’t some kind of drive behind the novel, one would assume it would never be published.  Besides this, the animation is unique and the characters are likable, so I’d say –

It’s worth sticking with for the ride

Blast of Tempest

Despite a few awkward moments in the series that misconstrues our understanding of Mahiro and Yoshino’s relationship, Blast of Tempest has been just that – a blast.  I’m two episodes in now, and I have no regrets for my commitment.  The show smells slightly of Guilty Crown, but I think it’s worth vesting my interest in a show like it again, even though I was totally disappointed with Guilty Crown as a whole.  And by all means, Bones should be able to produce where Production I.G. did not – I can’t think of a show they seriously botched besides what I’ve heard about Xam’d, but even it has its fanboys.  The cast of the show isn’t terribly memorable – except for maybe Hakaze, but somewhat innocuous characters can actually be a better vessel for a good story if they’re going down that path.  One thing is needless to say about this series – there’s a hell of a lot going on and we’ve only just scraped the surface of the entity.

You should probably be watching this.

BTOOOM!

So far BTOOOM! has been the good version of Gantz – a show I was incredibly unimpressed with.  I’m willing to bet that we’ll experience a lot of the same trepidations that we did in Gantz, along with a lot of the same tension, but it’s been handled slightly better, so far.  It might help that Gantz’s animation was awful, and this show is at least on par with normal animation these days, but it was just a lot easier to watch.  That all being said, the show seems like it will have a fair amount of fanservice, just like Gantz did for absolutely no reason, usually.  Honestly, if shows these days would focus less on fan pleasing and more on character badassery, they’d achieve a lot more.  Fate/Zero is a living testament to this.  Anyway, this is by no means a happy show, but I think that it will have some great action just as is evidence in the first episode.  Worth watching?

I’m giving it a couple more episodes to develop and not piss me off with needless fanservice.

Little Busters!

Little Busters! is based off of a Key game.  You will cry at some point.  But before you get to that point, you’ll get to trudge through some really obnoxious moe crap and pointless slice of life shenanigans.  At least I think you’ll cry – I haven’t read up enough on the series to determine that.  Right now we’re in the generic part of the series and nothing really important is going to go on until stuff gets real.

I’m probably done with this one, but if you liked Angel Beats, Clannad or Air, you’ll probably like this.

Code:Breaker

Code:Breaker definitely has a Death Note feel to it, and that’s definitely a good thing.  It does seem to be quite a bit less involved with character’s intents, but more focused on physical action rather than psychological.  Even with that, we don’t get to see any kind of transformation in our main character…at least not yet.  He’s pretty much just a cold-blooded vigilante exacting his own (or rather whoever he talks to on his cell) justice without mercy.  I think the show will pick up, but I’m not sure that it will do so quickly enough to captivate a large enough audience especially with its extremely low production values.  And I mean extremely low.

A good enough premise, but we will need to monitor its execution.

Magi

I’m honestly kind of on the fence regarding Magi.  While there were some moments that made me smile in zeal in the first episode, there were also several scenes that made me facepalm (namely Aladdin rolling his face around in breasts at a brothel).  I do think it’s pretty interesting that Japan is trying their hand at a take of the story of Aladdin and Alibaba, but I’m afraid that the show will easily lose focus.  As a whole package though, Magi is enjoyable, seemingly well-produced, and at least currently has a goal in mind.

I’m sticking with this one unless it gives up on itself.

Robotics;Notes

I’m fairly certain that Robotics;Notes was my most anticipated series of this season – and for good reason, it’s by the same people who did both Steins;Gate and Chaos;Head – both of which I really liked (despite the unpopularity of the latter).  And it shares more than that with the series in that it takes place in the same world and that it starts off just as slowly as the other series did.  I would say that I’m worried that the series won’t pick up, but I’m really not.  Even though nothing really has happened yet, it took half of Steins;Gate to make it into the true plot of the series, and even the “nothing” episodes were still entertaining because the characters were interesting enough to follow.  And Robotics;Notes is no different in the uniqueness of its characters.  They’re interesting to watch, and as the events unfold, I think that we’ll see something big happen with this show.

I’ll be sticking with this indefinitely.

Psycho-Pass

Just the fact that series is produced by the same person involved in Madoka and Fate/Zero should be more than enough reason for you to watch Psycho-Pass.  If you need any more reason, there’s the fact that the word “moe” is banned on the staff for the show.  Need more?  The show is exuding bad-assery.  But really, so far this show is working to produce a true adult series and that is worthy of praise.  The industry has really become suffocated by the  slice of life and moe boom and it’s time for the industry to change.  It’s about time that we had shows with plot.  Shows with moxxy.

My body is ready.

K

definitely draws heavy, heavy, heavy ties from Durarara!!.  The chaos and plethora of characters who we know nothing about even in the first episode is evidence of that.  Personally, any show that can claim even near the complexity of Durarara!! is worth giving a shot.  And this show is also complex in that its magical powers are more pronounced and there is a lot of tension developed even really early on.  Unfortunately, fan-derived elements of Durarara!! also seem to be more pronounced here, as well – notably clear yaoi fanservice moments.  There’s really nothing wrong with that, in the long run, as long as the show keeps a good focus and remains as awesome as it is already.  It’s got a damn good vocal cast and what seems to be high production quality, so I estimate that the show is going to be a good one to keep watching.

Despite slight yaoi tendencies, at least in the first episode, you should probably watch this.

Aside:  I’d like to note that I’m suspending the Anime Exercise column (which is probably unsurprising), but each of these reviews have been written after watching the series during a 30 minute run and 20 minutes of push-ups and sit-ups.  I plan to provide more incremental updates this season, and will just post overall progress instead of a dedicated column, which was proving burdensome and keeping me from focusing on my goal.

2012 Summer Anime First Impressions

I won’t lie – I didn’t have high hopes for this season.  There were a ton of shows that either didn’t seem to appeal to me or were the same stuff we’ve been seeing for years in the anime industry now.  This is evident as I was pretty vehemently against this season’s anime on Facebook:

I’d like to say that I’m actually pleasantly surprised so far by how much watching an episode of anime really makes the difference in comparison to simply reading a synopsis.  While this season doesn’t have any shows that I’d consider to be ground-breaking or absolute must-see’s (unless you are a fan of josei, in which there are a couple good picks), the season is relatively solid and the good series don’t seem as if they will disappoint.

This season I’ve given Binbo-gami ga!, Campione, Hagure Yuusha no Estetica, Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita, Joshiraku, Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse, Natsuyuki Rendezvous, Oda Nobuna no Yabou, Sword Art Online, and Utakoi chances.  Usually after the first episode, I’m pretty set on what I’m going to finish and what gets dropped.  Right now I’m only willing to drop any of these out of personal appeal, so I’d say you’ve got a solid list right here.

Binbo-gami ga!

Binbo-gami ga!, while not being my first pick out of this season, was surprisingly well-done.  As odd as it sounds, it’s interesting to have a conceited brat as a main character for once.  While she has the flaw of being a bit of a bitch (and not, necessarily, in the tsundere way), there is some early development of her character that really does some justice.  I’m not sure this series is a keeper, but its premise is relatively unique and seems to be pointing toward perhaps slightly more supernatural roots.

If anything, the first episode was interesting enough to keep me watching the whole way through – which isn’t always something that happens for all newcomer anime (one in this list didn’t make it).  The show seems as if it will be an odd-ball comedy of a sort, so if you’re into that, check it out.  Otherwise, not the best show of the season, so it’s worth missing if you’re strapped for time.

For me – Close to Dropping

 Campione

I’d say I’m a pretty big fan of the borderline-shounen anime that aren’t quite shounen, but still have a lot of the elements present.  While there are a lot of these (we’re talking Toaru, Shakugan no Shana, etc), it’s a genre that, when done right, can really outperform perhaps better written series of the season.  And, by all means, Campione seems to fall into this boat.

Complete with Fumihiko Tachiki as narrator, also known as the most badass narrator ever, the show quickly makes a motion toward epic proportions and doesn’t shut down except to give some quick tsundere fanservice:

The remainder of the scenes are literally full of what makes this show good, and what they should continue to play to keep my viewership.  While we don’t have much background on our main characters yet, nor do we have a feel for where the remainder of the series will go (I mean literally in the first episode, the main character manages to defeat the “undefeated god”), I have high hopes for this series and expect everything will pan out well.

I’m Watching this the Day it Comes Out!

Hagure Yuusha no Estetica

Yes.  Those are bras and panties falling from the air.  There is also a naked girl in his bag on his back.  Does this make Hagure Yuusha no Estetica good?  Nope.

Despite the fact that this show really fights to include unnecessary fan-service, I think the premise (which basically casts our main character as a rogue hero from another universe who has just defeated a terrible demon in a fantasy world, choosing to return to his own world to avoid conflict) is actually not a bad one.  There are unneeded scenes of fan-service (and, by the way, this should probably be considered 18+ material) but, as a whole, I didn’t think the execution was terrible.

Am I going to keep watching it?  Probably not.  I’m likely to give it one more episode to see if they’ve decided to get more story-centric.

As of now, consider this Mostly Dropped.

Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita

The moment the main character (who is unnamed) is told that she has to slaughter chickens to feed a village, I was sold on Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita.  The series has an excellent control of its ridiculous humor, and remains the most (optimistic?) representation of humankind’s steady decline into obsolescence that I have ever seen.  I mean really – this show takes place in an almost post-apocalyptic world where the “new humans” are little fairy creatures who, seemingly, don’t really care about anything other than sweets.

The humor is dry but pointed and the ridiculousness of the series is really at its highest.  I mean we get excellent scenes like the below:

“Blood”-spewing loaves of bread that are synthetically created garbage due to the need to streamline processing in an attempt to reduce overhead in producing from a burgeoning population?  Sounds good to me.

Of course, I am watching this as soon as I can each week.

Joshiraku

If you’re looking for something to fill your post-Lucky Star crave, Joshiraku takes the cake.  It may actually be even a little more focused on random conversation than Lucky Star ever was, but somehow still focused on Rakugo.  If I’m recalling correctly, the original source manga was by the same person who made Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei – so a lot of the humor is similar.

What I like about this show is that it feels slightly more adult, the jokes are a little more clever, and gg fansubs has done a great job of Americanizing the puns made in the series (which is a feat).  I’m a fan of puns, and this series definitely has loads of them.

I’m watching this one When I’m in the Mood for Something Fun

Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse

I don’t know if I’m quite ready to make a full judgment on Total Eclipse because the first episode was mostly character set-up.  I’ve heard the second episode does some work at establishing the full plot-line, but so far the show is mechas and girls in plug-suits (which has worked in other anime).  I don’t think it’s going to have the appeal that Eva has, by any means, but I might be slightly surprised.

That all being said, I still feel like there’s going to be too much of a focus on fan-pleasing and not enough on plot and mecha action.  We shall see.

This series has about 2 more episodes to pick up for me, as for now it’s Nearly Dropped.

Natsuyuki Rendezvous

Natsuyuki Rendezvous may very well be one of the best shows of this season.  While shoujo and josei anime are well known for love triangles, it’s always important that a series wishing to be more than drama llama teen heartgush focus on a unique premise that really makes the story entertaining.  This series has a male lead who plays the shy observer and makes his eventual move.  But a single interest doesn’t make a triangle, and it’s not clear if there can really be a triangle considering the other angle is the main love interest’s deceased husband who is haunting the flower shop where the majority of the story takes place.

Apparently unbeknownst to all but the main character, the former husband has been stalking his widowed lover as a ghost.  I’m not quite sure where this series is going to go.  Clearly a ghost isn’t a legitimate love interest…is it?

Not really my thing, but I May Watch This On Occasion.

Oda Nobuna no Yabou

Nope.  Not worth watching  Oda Nobuna no Yabou.  Bad premise is bad.  Feudal Japan with hot girls who are genderbent Japanese lords just sounds like a way to screw up a perfectly good history.  Didn’t make it through the episode.

Don’t Watch It. 

Sword Art Online

Sword Art Online is definitely my favorite show of the season so far.  While the MMO world has been explored in anime before, SAO doesn’t try to break us into the combat mechanics or attempt to introduce us to the “world” as much as it throws a curve ball really early that traps our heroes in an unknown world where their only hope of survival is completing the game.  While MMOs definitely can trap their players, it’s vaguely believable that something along these lines could happen one day, when the virtual world truly begins to overtake the real one.

The character designs are great.  The action (though there has been very little so far) is fluid and vibrant.  The emotional pressure is enormous. I just don’t think that the rest of the series this season will be able to out-do what is presented within only the first episode of this series.  How can you not like Cline?

The only slight beef I have with the series is that they ditched the original character designs created by our main cast when starting the game.  I mean seriously, they had some pretty cool stuff going on:

Clearly this isn’t a legitimate complaint, and you should really be watching this show if you’re into good things.

I know I’m Watching this By the Week!

Utakoi

Utakoi is brilliant, beautiful, vibrant, and episodic in nature – much the likes of shows like Mushishi (though the series has a slight focus on the comedic aspect on occasion).  That being said, it’s also incredibly shoujo/josei and may not appeal to everyone.  Even though this show is not in my usual tastes – I must say that I was both entertained and wanted to see where the remainder of the episode would go.  Utakoi has also been fairly witty (and necessarily poetic) so, it has a decent amount going for it.

I’m not sold on continuing this series (I may give it another episode), but I definitely think this is worth watching For Fans of Shoujo/Josei anime.

First Impressions: 2012 Spring Anime

Spring 2012 has got me super hyped!  Spring seems to be the season in which a bunch of quality anime gets released and this season does not seem to be any different than last year’s.  April is when the majority of these shows will start, but that’s only a few weeks down the road and I can’t contain the impulse to give my first impression views already.  In an attempt to classify the anime worth watching in a slightly more interesting manner than previous seasons, this season I will be using the categories Effort Trashcan,  Potential Present, Mix and Match, and Broken Ground.

EDIT:  I’ve moved one series up on the list from Mix and Match to Broken Ground after having seen a trailer.

Effort Trashcan

The following shows from Spring 2012 are likely not worth your time watching unless you like flushing your life down the drain.  There are anime fans like this, so I can’t vouch for all of you.

  • Naruto SD:  Rock Lee no Seishun Full-Power Ninden
    Look – I know there are a lot of Rock Lee fans (myself not included).  That is not the problem here.  The problem is that this is an awful premise for a series.
  •  Sengoku Collection
    This looks like the kind of show that could be good, but will be overshadowed by attempts to become a cash cow.  Unfortunate.
  •  Upotte!!
    Honestly, this premise is too weird to be executed successfully.
  •  Natsuiro no Kiseki
    Moe junk, clearly.
  • Haiyore!  Nyaruko-san
    There have been too many shows with similar or near similar premises and none of them have ever been successful.  Stop it.
  • Nazo no Kanojo X
    “When a girl drools on her desk Akira decides to taste it and soon they are going out.”  What.  The.  Hell.  Anime.
  •  AKB0048
    AKB48.  Enough said.
  •  Koi-ken!
    Dating sim shows usually suck.

Honestly, there’s not an overwhelmingly high volume of total crap this season.  At least not at first glance.  This really looks bad for me, because it’s going to be hard to keep up with how many series actually look okay this season.

Potential Present

The below shows are probably worth giving a shot.  At first glance, they seem pretty okay, but they might develop into something really great.

  • Ozuma
    While the series doesn’t necessarily look like the greatest thing to come to anime, it looks legitimately good.
  •  Uchuu Kyoudai
    Having no knowledge of the original work, all I can say is that the series looks fresh and unique.  Worth checking out.
  •  Eureka Seven AO
    In general, I’m not a fan of BONES.  I haven’t seen the original Eureka Seven, but I’ve heard a lot of good things about it.  I might actually watch Eureka Seven before next season just so I can be in the loop on this.
  •  Tasogare OtomexAmnesia
    I’m not sure if this is going to be something reused from Another or if this is going to be something unique.  Regardless, I think this is one to give a shot.
  •  Shining Hearts ~Shiawase no Pan~
    I’m not sure about this one as I haven’t played the game, but the story seems pretty good.  The anime industry is always lacking in the fantasy industry.
  • Hiro no Kakera
    Actually, I’ve watched part of the first episode of this.  For being clearly shoujo, it’s not bad.  Give it a shot.
  •  ZETMAN
    Doesn’t seem bad, but not too many details are available.
  •  Tsuritama
    After seeing previews of this, I’d say it looks like a winner if not only for originality.
  •  Accel World
    I was initially much more excited about this series.  I still think that it will be decent, but it can clearly fall into the same pitfalls that a lot of anime do.

As you can see, I’d say there’s a lot of potential this season.  My first few weeks of viewing in April will be separating out this long list between the good shows and the only deceptively good ones.

Mix and Match

The below shows I’m either not comfortable making a judgment on (as the series is out of my demographic) or are too hard to make a call this early.

  • Saint Seiya Omega
    Having not seen any of the other series (this is probably some kind of crime to anime), I’m not really sure what to expect here.
  • Shiba Inuko-San
    I’m thinking this series is just way out of my demographic.
  •  Ginga e Kickoff!!
    I don’t like soccer, nor do I like sports anime, so I can’t really make a call here.
  •  Arashi no Yoru ni
    This is out of my demographic, but seems to be, at least, passively good.
  •  Kuroko no Basuke
    Once again, not a sports anime fan.
  •  Hyouka
    I almost entirely wrote off this series because the preview images look like K-On.  Luckily, I actually read synopses so I might actually give this one a shot.
     
    After having watched the trailer for this, it has been moved to a must-watch series for this season.
  •  Acchi Kocchi
    I’m not actually sure what the premise is of this show.
  • Sankarea
    This could easily become good creepy or bad creepy.  I’m leaning toward bad creepy.
  •  Yurumates
    Not actually sure where this show can go.
  •  Saki:  Achiga-hen episode of side-A
    This seems to be drawing on the success of Chihayafuru, but I haven’t watched that either (despite nearly unanimously good reviews).

I clearly don’t know where to put the above series.  But anime fans are allowed to be a little indecisive every now and then.

Broken Ground

The next few anime have either already proven to be groundbreaking or have a huge amount of potential just at first glance.

Fate/Zero Season 2

If you don’t know yet, Fate/Zero is pretty amazing.  It’s proven to be loads better than its predecessor and full of actual character development.  Not to mention ufotable rocks at animation.

Jormungand

I won’t claim to know much about this series.  That doesn’t change very much in that it looks really freaking good and worth the time watching.

Medaka Box

While not my genre of choice by any means, the people working on this project are some of my favorite in the industry.  This is a NisiOisiN (Bakemonogatari,Nisemonogatariwork, which already makes it worth checking out, but it’s actually being picked up by Gainax, as well.  I don’t know how I feel about the premise, but if they keep NisiOisiN’s dialogue, they cannot go wrong.

Sekamichi no Apollon

The direction of critically acclaimed director Shinichirou Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo) should be enough to put this on any anime fan’s list.  Add to that music by Yoko Kanno, a veteran voice cast, and a unique story and you’ve probably got a winning series.  I don’t see where you can go wrong here.

Hyouka

After having seen a trailer for this show, I’m convinced that it is one of the shows to watch this season.  Don’t let the whimsical nature of this picture fool you.  There is clearly some effort put into this project and I hope that its development proves that.

Don’t take my word for all of this.  Check it out for yourself!  I only aim to help deter you from needing to do all of the research on new anime by yourself; however, that’s all the fun for me so maybe it is for you, too.

First Impressions: 2012 Winter Anime

2012’s Winter Anime season starts this weekend so it’s about time to narrow down what I will and won’t be watching (or giving a shot) this season.  Instead of being long-winded here I’m just going to list off my categories as to what has been ruled out entirely and what I’m looking forward to watching.  As usual, these will be separated into Don’t Waste Your Time, Worth Checking Out, Must See and Toss-Up.  This season I’m omitting sequels (unless I’ve seen the previous series).

Don’t Waste Your Time

  • High School DxD
  • Papa no Iu Koto o Kikinasai
  • Danball Senki W
  • Koi-ken!

Honestly, the only of these that doesn’t sound like a way for the anime industry to attempt to earn easy cash is…nevermind…that’s what all of these seem to be.  Either moe shit or something that can be sold to children as a card game-esque thing.

Worth Checking Out

  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED HD Remaster
  • BRAVE10
  • Mouretsu Pirates
  • Rinne no Lagrange
  • Aquarion EVOL
  • Black Rock Shooter
  • Gokujyo-

SEED Remaster is always worth checking out.  Sounds like a good time for it, and it’s definitely a great series.  BRAVE10 seems like it has potential, but it will need to do a great job.  Mouretsu Pirates looks pretty interesting and an entertaining take on Pirates that isn’t One Piece.  Rinne no Lagrange so far has been very vague on its description…If the anime itself is so generic, might not be so great.  Technically Aquarion EVOL is a sequel, but it seems like a damn good mech show worth giving a shot.  Black Rock Shooter’s film was decent, so the series will probably be worth explorting.  Gokujyo might be worth checking out, although, clearly the show draws on ecchi comedy tropes.

Toss-Up

  • Recorder to Randoseru
  • Kill Me Baby
  • Senhime Zesshou Symphogear
  • Area no Kishi
  • Daily Lives of High School Boys
  • Thermae Romae

Recorder to Randoseru has a seemingly interesting concept, but they really need to run with it to be entertaining.  Kill Me Baby sounds pretty comedic, but it will have to do a lot to pull me in.  Senhime Zesshou Symphogear has a good premise, but might not be executed well.  Area no Kishi will probably be decent if you like sports anime.  Daily Lives of High School Boys might be good if you like seemingly shoujo anime.  Thermae Romae might end up being okay, but I don’t like the animation an the premise is kind of odd.

Must See

  • Nisemonogatari
  • Ano Natsu de Matteru
  • Another

Nisemonogatari is going to rock the socks off of everything this season and a lot of this year.  Ano Natsu de Matteru is worth watching because a lot of the same people are working on it that worked on Anohana, which is saying a lot.  Another has a good premise and is illustrated by one of my favorite artists, Noizi Ito, so it’s worth watching.

I’m not as hyped about this season except for very few shows, but the ones I’m hyped for I really want to see.  SENJOUGAHARA FASCINATION.

Fall 2011 Anime Wave 4: Detectives of the Crown

First of all, I’ve got to say, for the sheer volume of anime being released this season, the selection has been a bit lackluster.  The good thing is that most of the series with a rocky but good start have had solid second episodes.  Some of the standouts this season have been moving along with a great intensity.  With that, this wave was actually pretty good for what I watched.  I wasn’t terribly disappointed in anything, and was extremely excited for one of the shows premieres.  Among the Fall 2011 anime 4th wave, I watched Un-Go and Guilty Crown and rounded off Persona 4 episode 2 and Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai episode 2.

Un-Go

Given any other circumstance, I’d be willing to call Un-Go pretty original.  The fact of the matter is that Un-Go is just another link in the long chain of recent detective shows that bring along an intelligent little girl with some type of supernatural vibe.  Even still, Un-Go is not uninteresting.  The unique premise being explored here is that, despite the main character’s astute capability to solve crimes, he is always foiled by a man who twists cases such that they are more favorable to the public eye, such that the main character earns the nickname “The Defeated Detective.”  It’s no surprise that the show follows the same general methodology that all of the detective shows as of recently have been following, but it’s not a bad one.  I could really do with a different animation style, but it’s not too painful on the eyes.  It’ll take a bit more work on the show’s part to keep me watching, but I’ll stick with it for a while at least.

Rating:

7/10 – Given the volume of detective anime over the past year, this is going to have to bring something unique to the picture quick to not be considered average.

Guilty Crown

 

After having seen the majority of this season’s anime, I’ve got to say that Guilty Crown absolutely takes the reins for best start to a series this season.  It does wonders for the series having such a great musical composer, Supercell, doing the musical scores here, but the series itself is already showing its own true colors.  The series does a great job setting up a post-pandemic Japan setting where Japan is entirely dependent on other nations for its support.  We kick right into a pretty fancy opening sequence with synced singing and a unique “counter-terrorism” effort being staged.  What the show does great to start out is that it clearly defines contrast between the nation as a whole and the terrorist organization that obviously is fighting for the promotion of something that would be better for Japan.  In a way, this is pretty Code Geass-esque, but that doesn’t mean that the show itself draws too heavily from the series.  A yet unexplained ability to wield a girl as a weapon (very much Elemental Gelade style) creates a pretty awesome moment surely soon to be explained.  All in all, the show exudes badassery on merely the first episode.  If it keeps up this pace and tension, it will be the best series this season.

Rating:

9.5/10 – Some recycled elements, but overall unique, a great musical score, splendid animation and just badass, in general.

 

Persona 4 : The Animation Episode 2

The second episode of Persona 4, in my opinion, did a lot for the series.  Enough that I’m not ready to drop it, yet.  What was done better here was that the “day swap” sequence was minimized and actually used as an advantage for flashbacks.  As a whole, the episode was a lot more contiguous, which was my main problem with the first episode.  The first episode felt like ripped game dialogue without any smoothing over to transition between scenes.  There was an obvious effort in this episode to correct a bit of this.  That being said, there were still a few parts of the episode that were a bit rough around the edges as if ripped from game dialogue and not smoothed out to transition between events (in particular, the transition after leaving the television), but I’m being a bit nitpicky.  In the end, Persona 4 needs to deliver a bit more to keep it from being for more than just the fans.

Rating:

7/10 – Mostly a well-transitioned story at this point, but still needs plot buffering to smooth over rough transitions that didn’t exist in the game.

 Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai

While I’m, by no means, a fan of the genre, Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai has kept me reasonably entertained.  It might just be that the series is a relief after the remainder of the series I am pursuing this season that are a bit more dense plot-wise, but the series seems to be a decent relief at the end of the day.  The concepts in the series have already been explored millions of times over, but the execution is decent, and as far as what amounts to moe goes, it falls somewhere in the Oreimo field where I don’t really dislike it.  I still find the mis-perceived  image of the main character pretty hilarious, but I’m sure that joke will eventually get pretty old after it gets beaten into the ground.  I’m actually pretty sure that anything that is really entertaining in this show will beat itself into the ground, as well, but…well that’s to be seen I guess.

Rating:

7/10 – You’ll find what you expect here, but it’s going to appeal to some.  It’s not a bad interpretation of an extremely overused genre.