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Saturday, 11 July 2009

End of Spring 2009 Anime Season!

Zetsuboushita! The new anime season has left me in despair! It has left me in absolute despair! Why? There are WAY TOO MANY good shows this season and I haven’t even watched five of the shows that I was looking forward to either! (Ironically though, Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei isn’t on my watchlist) Then there’s the fact that I still have the second halves of the six 2-cours shows to keep up with from the last season! In total I have 14 new shows I’m interested in and the six left from the last season! That’s almost 20 shows to keep up with this season and I’m going to run out of free time and disk space just to be able to watch them all. As such I will have to drop a few shows to get the really good ones. I’ll post up my thoughts on each of the new series I’m interested in a few days from now. I’m still waiting for subs for some of the series.

Here’s what I look for in any good anime in order of importance:

1) Staff – I like to see new works of good directors and studios. If it’s an unknown, it gives me a good reason to see how well they do. I will also take a look just based on what seiyuu are working in the cast. My reason for watching Hayate no Gotoku, decent but not quite GOOD, and Tayutama, either iffy or good based on the episodes, is because Norio Wakamoto is on with them.
2) Story – Without an interesting premise, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy myself. Spice and Wolf had a mundane concept but was quite good in other aspects.
3) Direction – The series has to have it’s own style and not just copypasta from similar works.
4) Music – This is pretty important since it can make or break the direction of a scene. I actually decided to finally watch Higurashi no Naku ni because of the beautiful song ‘Dear You’.
5) Characters – I want to watch memorable characters that can make me chuckle and make me go “Yeah!”.
6) Meaning – I watch slice of life for fun and serious shows for story. I couldn’t care less if it was supposed to symbolize hypocrisy of people and how religion would save us all by dishing justice to non-believers. I don’t believe in justice anyway. Power dictates who’s right and who’s wrong.

Sengoku Basara by Production I.G.
I really enjoyed this show. It wasn’t as GAR as Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann was but it’s still a lot of fun to watch. I absolutely loved the “OYAKATA-SAMA! YUKIMURA!” bits by Yukimura Sanada and Shingen Takeda. I am waiting for someone to parody that using Lee and Gai from Naruto. I also happened to be watching Higurashi no Naku ni Kai while this was running so I was pretty amused when I realized that Yukimura’s voice actor also voiced Maebara Keichi of Higurashi. While the writing isn’t anything special, the characters are quite interesting. By the end of the season, Kojuuro was easily the most GAR of all the characters and also my favorite for having done so much for his allies and keeping up his badass demeanor all the way. He’s even beaten Date Masamune and Oda Nobunaga, who’s voiced by my favourite seiyuu Emperor Wakamoto, by a huge margin even though they were the stars of the show. I’ll be looking towards the second season that’s coming where they’ll be facing off with Hideoyoshi and his gang next year. Oh! The music was awesome too. I plan on using ‘The 6th Heavenly Demon King’ as my ringtone as soon as I figure out how to fix my converter because it’s just that awesome.

The 6th Heavenly Demon King

Eden of the East by Production I.G.
This had the most interesting premise for the previous season. While it was unsatisfyingly short with only 11 episodes for the series, the characters and the writing just pulled you right in with every episode. Unfortunately, with the exceptions of the first few and the last few episodes, the episodes were just like the Dark Knight; awesome the first time you watch it but a whole lot less the second time. That’s basically it depends on the suspense and mystery you feel after each new episode and rarely on crowning moments. However, when they did have the crowning moments, they were absolutely awesome! That last one where Akira shot down the missiles using his phone was pure genius! The timing, the relevance and the music were at the level of perfection! I am looking forward to see the movie where it’ll continue the story six months after the ending. Hopefully they’ll give us more Johhny’s then.

Tayutama ~ Kiss on my Heart by Acchin
It’s a bit better than your standard harem show since. The plot doesn’t really stand out above the rest though and there were story elements that I found to be a bit iffy. The direction was also just average but there scenes were done quite well in my opinion. You could enjoy one episode but not the other based on how well the jokes and lines were done so the quality wasn’t consistent throughout the series. What I liked about this show was the music and the character interactions. I’ve liked every Miyazaki Ui songs that I’ve heard so far and the Kizuna no Uta ED album was pretty good. As for the character interactions I’d have to say any scene where Mashiro was finding new things about the modern world hit home where the funny was especially when Yuuri’s dad and Nue were involved. The characters themselves can be both annoying and funny at times but usually it was funny for me. It’s mostly a silly show that any love comedy fan should be able to enjoy and the creativity this show has can be surprisingly impressive at times. I wasn’t really expecting the show to end the way it did but I’ve always been a sucker for bittersweet endings. By that point the show was already safely within the good zone and almost would have made it into the great zone if a third of the episodes hadn’t been dull for me.

Kizuna no Uta
K-On! by Kyoto Animation
Honestly, I really didn’t like the direction this series was taken in the anime. I still prefer the manga over the anime because the direction really messed up the timing of some of the jokes which were a lot funnier and cuter in the manga. I’m particularly wary of fanservice anime and this was just pure fanservice and filler from beginning to end. If it weren’t for the great music and the fact that the director had the sense to use the extra filler material time to build up the characters I’d have probably dropped it mid-way no matter how much I liked the manga. The music was really a treat here in this series with the great upbeat insert songs and the soundtracks that not only managed to be fitting but also managed to sound like RPG tracks and also of very different genres when you take them out of context. By the end of this series, my favorite character went from Mio to Mugi mainly because of how much fun watching her character was. Mio’s cute and shined brighter than everyone else in term of moe appeal but Mugi won me over with her Yuri-fangirlism, childishness and earnestness. Yui’s seiyuu, Toyosaki Aki, is pretty damn talented. She’s already on my favorite seiyuu list with the great work she did as Yui. I also loved her character album, more so than Mio’s seiyuu’s, Hisaka Youko, character album even though she sang the awesome songs “Don’t Say Lazy”, “Tsubasa wo Kudasai” and “Fuwa Fuwa Time”. I will look forward to the OVA that is sure to come out and is based off the Valentine’s Day and Mio’s Stalkers chapters.

Fuwa Fuwa Time

Don't Say Lazy

Tsubasa Wo Kudasai
Hatsukoi Limited by J.C. Staff
GOOD (So Far)
I’ve actually put this on hold to watch at later date; along with Zero no Tsukaima III’s last episodes and a whole bunch of other stuff. For the first 6 episodes, it was fun to watch but not enough to keep me watching with other good shows out there. It was basically To-Love-Ru with a lot less echhi and more funny. I really give the Japanese too much credit in their tastes if a series like To-Love-Ru outlasted the awesomeness of the abruptly and frustratingly cancelled Mx0. I have to give XEBEC a thumbs up for the OVA though, I found it way better than any of the 155 chapters I’ve read so far. Incidentally I’ve also read every scanlated chapter of Hayate no Gotoku so far but I still can’t figure out why so many people like it or how they even manage to find Hayate moe even when he’s being a trap. I’ve seen traps that were completely unexpected and they’re way better even if their manga are mediocre.

Asura Cryin’ by Seven Arcs
I gave up on this at episode 5. I didn’t even hesitate when I deleted it for disk space. It was just trying too hard to be cool and still failed on most accounts. That’s probably the director’s fault since I have heard that the novels are lot better.

Sora wo Kakeru Shoujo by Sunrise
Staff? The always epic Sunrise! Story? Evolves with new characters. Several unused red herrings like Akiha’s mecha’s final form and Kagura’s note; also a bit too dependent on new characters though. Prince of Darkness showing up in the last three episodes as the Big Bad and Nerval’s newfound understanding was what made the conclusion not all it could have been. So MANY good ideas though. Direction? The priority was put on fun and fanservice in many different ways; it worked quite well. Quite a lot of scenes that were awesome and epic, I’ve rewatched a couple of episodes over and over again because how ridiculous or epic they were. They even had one loltastic and completely in character scene of how willing Leopard was to shoot Nerval even when Nerval nobly asked him to do it to kill Prince of Darkness. Music? The 2nd ED “Espacio” was very nice and a couple of BGM’s from the soundtrack were catchy. Characters? Lelouch Mk. II as Leopard was WAY too good to pass up. And then there was Sakura, ASIMO and Ul to back him up as an awesome group. Meaning? Surprisingly enough, there was a lot of subtext about society and the option of being part of it or choosing to isolate yourself as a being known as a “Hikikomori” to those who are familiar with Japanese terms but not much with English terms and “Shut-in” for those of you who are the opposite. It was actually executed so well that I’m both impressed and surprised that they tied it into the story. Basically, it’s 50 episodes worth of fun compacted in 26 episodes.


Now on to the ongoing shows:

Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu 2009 by Kyoto Animation
Haruhi’s return was a nice present from Kyo-Ani since I found the novels to be quirky, fun, full of great moments and characters and they really grab the reader. The episodes so far have been quite charming even with the looping Endless Eight episodes being almost exactly the same thing over and over again. I’ve been hyped up ever since the promo for the Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi came up last year. There’s this one scene at the end of that volume that I WILL NEVER FORGIVE Kyo-Ani for if it’s anything short of perfection. It’s the best part Kyon’s had in all of the 9 volumes I’ve read. I’m pretty sure other readers are looking forward to that scene since it was incredibly powerful even in written form. I’ve only read a few things that were powerful enough to move me and none of them were by any famous western authors. Keep on trolling Kyo-Ani! (Expect a death threat if that rumor of Disappearance not being animated this time turn out to be true. Endless Eight is foreshadowing that Arc so it’d make no sense to broadcast Sighs instead of Disappearance)

Phantom ~ Requiem for the Phantom by Bee Train
I grudgingly concede this as the best of the previous season because of the action and character development. I really like how Zwei turned from a silent ghost in doubt to a pimp’d out badass assassin for hire. Cal’s addition to the show was more than welcomed since it really added a new element to the story that had the potential to turn to be interesting. I am quite surprised at how charmingly cute this new character is due to the first half of the show being something only sadists could find funny. Don’t ask if I laughed, the answer may surprise you. That blonde pigtailed little assassin to be is just so sweet and innocent that I am sure that Rule 34 came into effect the moment the promotional Megami poster got uploaded to the internet. The fact that the show is based off an Eroge doesn’t help her situation either. In any case I’m looking forward to how this show will turn out with her addition though I am certain that she raised a death flag just by popping up in the show.

Valkyria Chronicles by A-1 Pictures
To be honest, Valkyria is just plain generic. The only part where it shines are the characters and their interactions with each other. I still like it though so I’m sticking with it. I want to see more orz’s and great expressions from Alicia.

Pandora Hearts by XEBEC
This series is really a quandary for me. On hand it’s got great moments and character development, on the other hand it feels downright self-indulgent of the author. You know how much distaste I hold for the Twilight novels because they’re just a long drawn out sexual fantasy? Well rather than Pandora Hearts being a long drawn out sexual fantasy, it just has way too much unnecessary character development to the point where it feels like someone’s whining to you all about their troubles. It’s gotten to the point where it’s getting in the way of plot progression. I’m basing this off the manga though and it’s not quite as bad as Spiral was during the Kanone Hilbert arc(Ugh! 4 monthly chapters of doing absolutely nothing but talk about how kind someone was!). As for the anime itself, while the moments that came off cheesy in the manga; those character centric moments were actually quite powerful animated. The only serious scenes so far where the manga excelled over the anime was when Gil bowed down to Oz at the grave and when Oz rejected the Will of the Abyss. Unfortunately, the manga is going too slowly since the author just loves Break and Oz. We haven’t even reached the midpoint of the story even after 31 chapters. And because the manga is moving slowly, the anime is moving even slower at a rate of 1 chapter per episode. I have to give props to the director for his excellence with serious scenes since XEBEC usually has lousy directors on their staff but he really needs to work on his humor a bit more. I’ll have to put this on hold though. Knowing XEBEC, they’ll give it an anime original ending since it’s not like them to make sequels so I’ll keep them stockpiled until then for a marathon run at the end of the season. A good tip to enjoying this series is NOT to read the manga beforehand.

Shangri-la by GONZO
This is a really mixed bag kind of show. On one hand it has interesting ideas and pulls them off in spectacular ways, on the other hand I pretty much can’t stand most of the cast. The only ones I actually like are Hikikomori Karin, Soldier Boy Kunihito and Pink Menace Kuniko. Even then my opinion of Kuniko is really on the fence at the moment. Like almost the rest of the cast, her interactions are terribly inconsistent with her character. I can’t even understand what her reasons for some of her decisions are and why is it a group of rebels are so willing to have a little girl lead them to war. She’s won some points from me in episode 13 where that aerial battle scene was downright excellent and also for embarrassing Karin in her teddy bear costume though. I am also really puzzled at how it’s been 14 episodes so far and I have YET to see a single panty shot even though GONZO is famous for gratuitously fitting in stuff like that at least once per episode. They still make jokes about Kuniko’s underwear and them stating that they’re always seeing it and I have been watching out for it. I know that sounds weird but it’s just like having Rick Astley show up in front of you WITHOUT singing his signature Rick Roll song as demonstrated by this xkcd comic. It’s really driving me up the wall that GONZO is being completely unGONZO-like in this series and despite that being a good thing, it’s still very odd to see. It’s bothering me even more than Haruhi’s trolling. Anyway, the brilliance of this series lies in their ideas. When they introduced the camouflage armor thing, I thought all it could be used was as camouflage; it was used as camouflage – to disguise an aircraft carrier as a tanker and a remote controlled killer gyro plane thing as a cloud. They even had the A.I. MEDUSA fire a satellite weapon on said ship. I wished they devoted an actual scene rather than a simple flashback for that part though. GONZO seems to know that too but I just wish they’d ease up on the characters OOC moments. It’s not Code Geass, they just can’t pull it off like Sunrise can.

Saki by GONZO
I liked the idea of a bunch of girls playing Mahjong in what I thought would be a slice of life thing. I even learned how to play real Mahjong from a book in the school library. Unfortunately it turns itself into a typical fanservice ridden GONZO show quite quickly and the rivals seem to be quite over the top as much as Yakitate Japan and Super Yo-Yo’s were. Incidentally to the Bruneians reading this, I was the guy who brought his yo-yo around when he went somewhere to pass the time. I miss my Yo-Yo’s. I was pretty good at doing tricks too but I just can’t remember where I put them. I even managed to do decent double loop tricks last time I used them. At the moment I can’t muster up the desire to watch the rest of the episodes so I’ll just save them when I finally feel like it. It’s currently on hibernation with the finale of Zero no Tsukaima 3’s final episodes and Chaos Head.

That’s it for the shows from the previous season, here’s the list of the new shows that are relevant to my interests. The ones closer to the top are ones that I’ve watched and are in other of how likely I’ll stick with them. The ones I’ve watched have been highlighted in orange. Please look forward to my thoughts on them all a few days from now.

Bakemonogatari by SHAFT
Aoi Hana by J.C. Staff
Spice & Wolf II by Brains Base
Umineko no Naku ni by Studio DEEN
Yoku Wakaru Gendai Mahou by NOMAD
CANAAN by P.A. Works
Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 by BONES
Hetalia Axis Powers 2 by Studio DEEN
Umi Monogatari by ZEXCS
Taishou Yakyuu Musume by J.C. Staff
NEEDLESS by Madhouse
GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class by AIC PLUS+
Kanamemo by Feel
Sora no Manimani by Comet
Seitokai no Ichizon by Studio DEEN

P.s. Have any of you walked by those metal shop shutters used to close down stores at shophouse complexes? I seem to leave a really big vacuum of air when I walk by and it really rattled those things yesterday. My brother walked past them and they didn't shake but when I walk by it's like they're cowering in fear or something. Anyone else have the same experience?

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