July has been quite an eventful month as far as anime goes. From the start of the Summer 2011 season to the continuing shows from the previous season that are still plodding along, there has been no shortage of decent material to watch. Of course there’s also a fair share of shit that’s been shoveled into every crevice of this season, but the same rings true for everything. So without further ado, here’s a summary of just what showed this month, and my thoughts on what I bothered to follow. Be warned, there are twenty three shows that I’m covering in this post (Summertime boredom, huzzah), so settle in.
Top Five Shows
Mawaru Penguindrum, Episode 4
This is easily my top show for the season, for reasons that I’m not entirely aware of. Yes, it’s a well executed comedy with potential subtext that the aniblogosphere is ripping apart for any semblance of symbolism, myself included, but I don’t know why it’s my absolute favorite of the season so far. Maybe it’s the Survival Strategy stock footage. Maybe it’s the penguins and their antics. Maybe it’s the fairytale aesthetic. Or maybe it’s seeing Himari stripping with each Survival Strategy stock footage moment. I really couldn’t tell you, but Mawaru Penguindrum gets my vote for absolute must see of the season, if only because of how interesting it’s been.
Natsume Yuujinchou-san, Episode 5
Natsume hasn’t been perfect by any means this season, but the charm of the past 26 episodes hasn’t worn off. Each episode is a carefully crafted exercise in melancholic hope, promising at least one moment every few episodes that’s bound to leave you a little misty eyed. While it hasn’t had me outright shedding a tear since the episode regarding the statue spirit in the snow bunny guise, a few moments, such as the tree spirit missing Natsume, have hit somewhat hard. However, there is one reason why this ranks so high on the list: Hairdryer Nyanko.
Usagi Drop, Episode 4
Usagi Drop has held firm in presenting an enchanting, if not entirely realistic story involving a thirty year old man adopting his six year old aunt and treating her as his own child. The colorful pastels, wonderful opening and ending animations, and lighthearted while occasionally serious subject matter have left quite the impression so far. It’s good at what it does, and what it does is validate your existence while making a six year old actually seem likable rather than psychotic.
Steins;Gate, Episode 18
Easily has the best plot of the season with enough intricacies and twists to maintain interest over the course of 26 episodes. It’s a perfect example of a show pacing itself well, even if it does consistently cheapen death. And, of course, Kyouma is my favorite protagonist of the season, and one of my absolute favorites ever. Totally worth following, hasn’t let me down yet.
No. 6, Episode 4
Being able to get a good number of the literary references has given me quite the ego boost, and despite my trepidation over the BL overtones, they really haven’t been bad in the slightest. Really, anybody who makes a fuss over them at this point is trying too hard to be noticed. It’s well executed so far despite a few trip ups, and makes for a good Sci-Fi story that happens to have a possible homosexual relationship that doesn’t take away from the story in the slightest.
Decent, Nothing Stellar
Baka Test 2, Episode 3
Much the same as the first season: Repetitious as hell, but quite funny when it doesn’t repeat the same Hideyoshi joke again and again. I welcome the return of the inquisition squad and their overzealous chastity protection.
Dantalian no Shoka, Episode 3
A good start, let down by episodes that don’t try to differentiate this from the pack of shows with similar themes and concepts. Huey makes for a nice change from your average “ordinary guy paired with a small, intelligent girl” hero.
Kamisama no Memo-chou, Episode 4
See above, minus the protagonist being a nice change.
Hanasaku Iroha, Episode 18
HanaIro’s been consistently enjoyable, and actually less of a guilty pleasure since Ohana returned from Tokyo. If Satsuki had a larger role, it would be a much better watch. As it stands now though, there’s nothing wrong with HanaIro. It may get boring, meandering, and occasionally heavy-handed with phoned in character development, but it does have its moments.
Nichijou, Episode 18
While I’m on the subject of shows carrying over from the spring season, here’s Nichijou. The gags are inconsistent, the only ones that really make me smile on a regular basis being between Professor and Nano. The material doesn’t jell with quite a few people, and I understand why. Still, absurdity and anticlimactic jokes make for one bizarre series that’s at the very least extremely well animated and well voiced.
Ikoku Meiro no Croisee, Episode 5
It’s a fluffy show through and through, with what’s been unanimously been declared the cutest girl in anime. Unfortunately cuteness doesn’t usually work on me…
Nyanpire, Episode 3
… Unless it involves animals. Okay, I like this show to an unreasonable extent. It’s stupid, the puns are groan-worthy, and the ending song/dance routine was practically crafted by H.P. Lovecraft as a means of introducing the general public to what the Elder Gods have in store for us. But it’s good stupid fun, and sometimes you need that.
Kamisama Dolls, Episode 5
There’s plenty to gripe about in Kamisama Dolls. But when it actually pulls itself away from having Utao eat a cake for half the episode, it gets pretty damn good.
Uta no Prince-sama, Episode 5
This show is the Steel Panther of the anime world: It’s utter crap, it could be taken seriously, but it really shouldn’t and it isn’t intended to be. I mean when you have a flamboyant headmaster voiced by Norio Wakamoto, an obviously transvestite teacher in a frumpy yellow sweater, and a girl whose eyes devour your soul, it’s pretty hard to take anything that you show seriously, especially when the plot developments are as commonplace as can be. Gets credit for having an ending sequence almost as traumatizing as Nyanpire’s.
Mayo Chiki, Episode 4
You can’t really go wrong with this show. It’s mediocre, but at least somewhat entertaining throughout with surprisingly able humor that spices things up a bit. It has little potential, but it takes advantage of what little it has and does its best to run with it. It’s forgettable, but definitely decent.
Watching For Posterity/Because I Hate Myself
Once again, these are the shows that throw me into an unenthusiastic rampage from either being infuriating or dull, like so:
Sacred Seven, Episode 5
I’m expecting absolutely nothing from this at this point. I mean five episodes in they’ve run out of ideas, and only three of those episodes had anything to do with actual plot. Sad that I’m stuck blogging it, but it’s a harsh lesson about the world that we live in. What’s worse is Sacred Seven could be interesting with what it has, it just chooses not to be.
Blood-C, Episode 4
A boring slice of life show with action elements thrown in seemingly at random. No matter how you look at it, Blood-C is pleasing nobody with its ineffectual glimpse into Saya’s life only periodically forced to be put on hold by fight scenes that, while pleasant to watch, don’t really add anything. I’ll admit, if I weren’t blogging this I would’ve dropped simply due to disinterest.
Nekogami Yaoyorozu, Episode 4
Nekogami’s growing on me the more that it airs, but I still find parts of it absolutely impossible to sit through. The humor isn’t always great, but it’s something that’s difficult to hate. Will most likely remain blasé, but watchable.
Itsuka Tenma no Kuro Usagi, Episode 4
I hate this show more than you can imagine. It has no idea what it is, and the few moments of plain mediocrity are countered by the smug air of laziness that only comes from the director thinking “Well shit, this is adapted from a novel by the same guy who did Legend of the Galactic Heroes! No matter what bullshit I pull, it’s going to be the best thing ever!” This is one time where the low-ish score on MAL makes me feel at peace. With all that said, I’m not sure why I keep watching. It isn’t torture, and it would be fine if it didn’t feel so sure that it’s the best thing ever, but it’s not good either.
Yuru Yuri, Episode 5
If an award could go to something with the most baffling success of the season, this would win silver behind the steaming pile of festering yet oddly compelling horribleness that is UtaPri. I’m bored watching this, still waiting for the ‘Yuri’ part of the title to kick in, and it still seems a speck in the distance of the rearview mirror, having passed this series by long ago. It’s something that’s trying too hard to be yuri through the contradictory power of sheer sloth. It’s like an action movie that spends the whole time at an office Christmas party, telling the audience to imagine the explosions and gunfights.
On the bright side, it’s not R-15.
The Idolmaster, Episode 4
Oh, I’m also watching this. There isn’t much to say about it, other than I cannot stand watching more than five minutes at a time. It’s just so banal and pointless, that watching taxes on my nerves more than it entertains me.
That concludes this month’s recap, and my thoughts on the ongoing series that comprise it. Most everything will continue to be completely pants, while the few series that shine will continue to shine ever brighter.