I hope everyone had a good Halloween this year. If you didn’t gorge yourself on candy to the point of bursting and can still look your best friend in the eye without feeling the strong urge to apologize, you played it completely safe and thus had nowhere near the fun that somebody who did so had. Neither did I, which is why I decided to compile this list while everyone was out giving this “fun” thing a whirl. Here are all the shows that I’m following and my thoughts on them, ranked in no particular order for your pleasure. Please enjoy.
Shinryaku?! Ika Musume
While bored this summer, I made a comparison between Ika Musume and Working to determine which would have the least crappy sequel. It’s still up, if you’d care to read. Ika Musume came out on top, beating working out by a decent margin based on pushing less of my buttons. While I was hesitant to enjoy the new season, it really hasn’t been a letdown at all, providing roughly the same number of laughs and squid-pun subs as the first batch of episodes. Ika herself remains one of the most likable characters that I’ve seen, her continued failure at world domination eliciting a strong desire for her to have SOME success. Also, damn good Engrish conversation.
While I don’t have any real complaints, I can’t say that I’ll remember most of what happens a year from now.
Fate/Zero is one of my favorite shows of the season, and for many reasons. The fighting’s surprisingly fluid, the animation and use of cinematography is exceptional, and the characters are better than their Fate/Stay Night counterparts. If I had any complaint, it would be with the first episode. While the exposition was a necessary evil and wasn’t handled in the worst possible way (Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon wins that dubious distinction), the pacing was much too lazy to hold interest for the entire 45 minutes. Otherwise, it’s a pretty damn good show so far and definitely recommended. Hell, it could be absolute rubbish, and I’d still recommend for the sake of seeing Rider hog the screen time.
Persona 4 The Animation
While it got off to a good start, I can begin to feel it winding down as the main characters all get their Personas. Not having played the game, I have no idea where this is going to go, I just hope that it’s somewhere with a bit more urgency. I don’t have much else to say about it, other than it gets a tentative recommendation based on what I’ve seen.
Maji Koi is a bit of an oddball as far as harem anime goes. It’s far from generic, but the quality of each episode varies between exhilarating and exceedingly boring. The first episode is enough of a spectacle to warrant a watch of its own, but the rest hasn’t held up to that standard. Yet, I get the feeling that somebody who played through the visual novel would most likely enjoy it a lot more, so it’s not my place to say that it’s good or bad. While far better than the other shows of its ilk airing this season, it’s still nothing to write home about. I’ll keep watching though, because it isn’t quite boring enough to make me stop.
I can’t for the life of me remember why I was so excited to hear this being made. Maybe it was the “Adapted by the same gent who did ARIA!” plastered all over every promotion that I’ve seen, and to say that I like ARIA is a bit of an understatement. Tamayura Hitotose just doesn’t have the same magic as its superior predecessor in an animated format, at least for me. It’s rather unfortunate, considering the similar tone and pacing… but there’s a difference between allowing for the mundane to sink in to relaxing music, and languishing in the glacier-like pacing. While it’s still very watchable, the charm is nowhere near as present.
As far as being unconventional goes, UN-GO places alongside such greats as Mononoke and House of Five Leaves. Whether it’ll meet the same level of quality is something that’s left to be seen, however. While certainly the more interesting of the nationalistaminA shows airing this season, it feels like it’s doing quirkiness for the sake of being quirky. Not to say that it’s necessarily a bad thing, but it has enough merits otherwise to not make it the crutch that it’s being used as. You could say that I can see why people like it, but I’m not very impressed.
Ben-To functions as a pretty good allegory for the Fall 2011 season as a whole, the more I think about it. It got off to a bit of a rocky but promising start, and now it’s one of the high points of my week. The fights have gotten zanier, and the straight faced way that people fight over half priced bento meals never ceases to make me giggle. Again, if you look closely enough, you’ll see enough similarities with Fight Club to offset the worst of the overused tropes, and that alone makes it worth watching for me.
I can’t be bothered to take a screenshot for the purpose of this post, so have the surprisingly cool OP instead.
Everybody needs a dumb shounen series in their life at some point to take their mind off their current worries. Phi Brain manages to fit that niche perfectly, never excelling in any one aspect but coming across as oddly fascinating. Now, if they had a genius that was obsessed with creating doom machines called Tesla, THEN it’d be the best show airing. But alas, since that’s not the case, I think that honor goes to…
Okay, not really, but Chihayafuru is close enough to maybe gain some extra quality through osmosis. The polar opposite of Phi Brain, Chihayafuru is girlish, occasionally (overly) serious fun with a severe shoujo bent. Well, it’s technically josei, but it might as well be shoujo for how much it abuses the unrealistic drama. Still, it’s a damn impressive series that ramps up the tension when appropriate… but should learn not to do so at every conceivable moment. While imperfect, it’s another one of my favorites of the season.
Hunter x Hunter
I was asked by a reader to compare the first episode of this to the first three of the original adaptation and see how they compare, and I must say that I found the more stripped down approach of the new series a bit more cohesive overall. I really don’t know what there is to complain about here, but then again I haven’t read more than snippets of the manga. As far as I can tell, it’s a perfectly functional shounen series that doesn’t assume the audience needs absolutely everything explained to them, and that’s definitely appreciated. The power of friendship spiel may be a little too rehashed, but not expecting that at this point would be quite naïve of me. Overall, it’s an enjoyable addition to my anime watching schedule.
Yes, it’s derivative to a shameful degree. Yes, it’s nowhere near as bombastic as Code Geass was. And yes, Shu is a massive tool who deserves universal scorn. But I’ll be damned if it isn’t still entertaining despite the numerous contrivances and simplistic approach to the story. It’s sure evidence that every successful anime cliché doesn’t always end well when crammed into one 22 episode series, but it doesn’t need to be the Second Coming to still be a decent enough watch. Also, it looks really nice, probably on the same level as Fate/Zero, with a lot more gloss.
Against the odds, Mirai Nikki has been quite good so far. Uncompromising and with the combined subtlety of a runaway train, sure, but watching a bunch of characters with no real likable characteristics fight it out for the purpose of winning a glorified Battle Royale never loses its appeal. Also, it has really fucking good lighting. Seriously.
In case every other one of my posts related to this show weren’t a good indication, I think it’s fantastic. I daresay it’s my absolute favorite of the year, with symbolism coming out of every conceivable orifice ready to be lapped up by an overly eager audience. Don’t try to picture that, I’m sure glad I didn’t. Despite being everything I want in an anime, slight incomprehensibility included, it definitely bears the telltale mark of the auteur, namely Ikuhara’s apparent obsession with near-rape. Still, the penguins are cute, the plot’s coming together nicely, and the comedy juxtaposes beautifully with the darker scenes, especially in Episode 16. It’s certainly a unique gem, and one that I don’t think I’ll regret blogging for the whole 26 episodes.
I’m also watching Working’!!, Idolmaster, Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, Mash (Iro2) Symphony and Fam of the Silver Wing, but my drive to write about them is nil. So that’s all for this monthly round-up, I hope you enjoyed reading as much as I did writing.