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Friday, 17 July 2009

Summer 2009 Anime Season *UPDATED*

This is what I think of the shows for the new Summer 2009 anime season. I’ll be using the explanation below in what I look for in anime as part of the template for every season end or start I post about. The shows are in order of what I liked the most first and the least last regardless of what I score they got. How brilliantly done a show is and how much I like it are two different things.

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’ve 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.

Bakemonogatari by SHAFT
This was by far the most impressive first episode of an anime that I’ve seen in a long while. From start to finish the show just pulls you in with SHAFT’s original stylings. I’ve always enjoyed fight scenes animated by SHAFT since their fight sequences are always dynamic – when they don’t run out of budget that is. The first few episodes of Negima?! were pretty good and Setsuna’s fight in episode 6 was half a minute of pure ownage. The lines for this show are pretty good and so are the character interactions. I’m a little bit disappointed that I heard that Hitagi isn’t a main character but is just a recurring character since she was just so interesting. Hopefully we’ll still get to see more weaponized stationery when she comes back around. My expectations for this series are pretty high since SHAFT’s visual styles will really boost up the horror in this series. I still remember those “Why?” and “Yuuko’s Scars” scenes from Ef Melodies and they got their point across really well. They really shouldn’t have been broadcasted back to back though. Basically I’m expecting this to be a downgraded version of Kara no Kyoukai but that doesn’t mean it won’t be impressive. I also noticed that a few of the animebloggers criticized about this lacking depth but I think the main point of a TV series is not to make people think or feel superior but simply to entertain the viewers. Besides it’s only the beginning, there’s still time for development later.

Yoku Wakaru Gendai Mahou by NOMAD

I actually had pretty low expectations for this show when I first saw this on the list of shows but I was proven wrong when I saw episode 0. The characters are quite likable and the jokes are actually funny and go with the flow. I already like Yumiko’s character a lot but that’s to be expected considering how much fun she was in that episode. I’ve also watched the official first episode and was pleasantly surprised to see them start off with a time travel episode to six years in the past where we see Yumiko as an elementary school student. The fight scenes were decently done and actually involved more than just blasting and getting hit. The music for this show is pretty good too, I already counted two different BGM’s involving incomprehensible latin chanting. Also despite how she looks in the present, Yumiko’s most likely very close to Koyomi’s age. Apparently as proven by the Nanoha series, being a magical girl gives you a killer figure during your teenage years; Vivio even got hers early. Yeah, I think I’ve taken a liking to magical girl shows, they just keep on surprising me. Still haven’t watched the Precure series but it’s not like I want to watch every magical girl show out there. Plot direction needs a bit more work but hopefully they can come up with a good balance of story and humor for the rest of the series.

GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class by AIC PLUS+
Finally got to watch this series and it's very interesting. The characters aren't just good their chemistry is just perfect for a slice of life comedy series. They all get the chance to show their individual takes on a subject in the jokes and add a new layer to it. The pacing is fast and we get 30 minutes worth of jokes crammed into 20 minutes here. It actually got a couple of LOL's out of me while I was watching. It's also oddly educational about how artists work. I haven't done any artwork since my last art class WAY back in primary 6 so I really have no clue what my friends did during their classes once we started secondary school. Also, I am motivated to make some ridiculous pictionaries for fun. Just hope there's a program out there to make them easily.

Aoi Hana by J.C. Staff
I’ve read some of the manga and like the first time I tried reading Hourou Musuko, I was completely lost at how the events were progressing. Unlike the managaka’s current work, which is long but quite interesting, Aoi Hana is of a genre that I have read a lot of, enough to know which tropes will play a part in the story. Incidentally I am also at the level of genre savvy where I can identify a trap straight from the character introduction. I have yet to see how things progress after the first volume but I think I’ll just stick with the anime since the first episode was pretty good. The director also worked on Honey Clover and the first season of Nodame Cantabile so I’m expecting very good things from this show. It helps that I’m fan of yuri so it’s almost guaranteed that I’ll stick with this all the way through.

Spice & Wolf II by Brains Base
I watched the first season just two months ago so seeing the sequel so soon let me have a good look at what’s gotten better in the second season. It’s quite amazing at how much the main characters can make such an entertaining show just by talking to each other. It reminds me of the times where I talked to this one guy who remarked that our little chats always sounded like a pair radio hosts. The people around us who were listening to us had no choice but to agree since they chuckled a lot while we talked. Funnily enough I’m actually learning about economics here so I can actually say “I’m watching it for the economics”. The art’s improved a whole lot and so has the direction. I’m looking forward to what they have in store for us this time.

Umineko no Naku ni by Studio DEEN
This comes from the same guy who made Higurashi no Naku ni so this is going to be good. The anime is considerably tame compared to the manga but at least I’ll get to see how the story will unfold faster. The game is supposed to be a fantasy rather than a mystery but that doesn’t stop it from having some really good ones. The direction was decent but I wished they put in all the details that the manga had.

CANAAN by P.A. Works

This is supposed to be an adaptation of the game made by Type Moon’s Nasu so I will expect more of the excellent action scenes from the first episode. I am also expecting a few good GAR-filled scenes since this is the same guy who came up with Fate/Stay Night. I have to remind myself to get around to finishing off Heaven’s Feel route sometime in the future. The characters have a lot of potential here and I do like the idea of using synesthesia as an ability in this show. Speaking of which, do you guys see flashes of light when you hear things with your eyes closed? I see them every time I hear something like a door closing when I try to go to sleep. Is that a normal thing? Anyways I have high hopes for this show since things will be moving fast four this one season length show.

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 by BONES

This was a little disappointing actually. I thought it’d have something epic like people running around screaming like they were about to get hit by the apocalypse. It’s got an interesting premise behind it but it’s lacking showmanship. It’s supposed to show us how Tokyo would react to a 8.0 magnitude earthquake and so far it’s been solid as usual for a BONES show. I just wish they wouldn’t take so long to develop their shows and just get right into the action. Darker than Black was good but they never really took it as high as it could have been during its run.

Hetalia Axis Powers 2 by Studio DEEN

Technically a second season but it’s more like the second half of the series that just got renewed for another season. I’ve read the comics and also seen half of the first season so I have no reason not to watch this. I haven’t actually seen any of the second season yet but I know what to expect. The comics themselves have very interesting stories and this is also educational in some ways. For example, I now know how to identify Germans from their eating habits. I could get along with those guys quite well seeing as I’ve always wanted to try throwing my cup down onto the floor after chugging it all down. I’m hoping that we’ll get to see Cuba and Canada along with the time England goes to stay over at Japan’s house animated.

Umi Monogatari by ZEXCS
Surprisingly ZEXCS did a good job for the first episode but completely lost focus in the second. From what I’ve seen from ZEXCS, they always make shows that are decent enough to watch with potentially good characters but like BONES they never really take it any higher. BONES usually has good writers to deliver shows with a solid plothole-less story but ZEXCS doesn’t have that. Here is a show that is a good example of a certain rule about anime; if a show has a great first episode followed by declining production ratings in the second and third episode, then the show doesn’t have the budget to maintain a high quality series and therefore will not turn out to be great. I’m sure there’s a better way to phrase that but can’t think of it at the moment. Sankaku Complex has a way of saying it but people who are new to the “Internet Hate Machines” won’t understand what it means. I’ll give it one more episode but if they still make a messy episode then I drop this thing.

NEEDLESS by Madhouse

It was interesting and it did have a lot spirit but it really, really, really felt kiddish. I’m not against watching kid shows but this really felt like I was watching Beyblade again. It didn’t help that the green haired kid is wearing a jacket straight out of Yu-gi-oh GX. I’ll leave this alone for a few episodes before I get back to it since this could turn out to be a ridiculously cheesy action show for kids or one of those once in a blue moon hotblooded shows that I never fail to enjoy. GET YOUR GUNS ON!!

Taishou Yakyuu Musume by J.C. Staff
I was hoping for this to be a show where we see the antics of girls who are complete n00bs to baseball but so far it hasn’t been all that funny. I’m not even sure if it’s meant to be funny but with such a set-up it’d be a waste not to make it funny. I’ll probably watch it for one more episode but if it’s as dull as the first episode was then it goes away.

Kanamemo by Feel

Hmm… I’m not exactly what to feel about this one. Feel CAN make good episodes but there’s usually an almost equal ratio of good and bad episodes when Feel does a show. Nagasarete Airantou was decent and ended surprisingly well. Shikabane Hime Kuro had a run of dull episodes followed by ones just short of pure ownage but the ending completely pissed me off. It makes me feel RAGE just thinking about it. They better release a bonus episode for the ending -_-. Anyway, the jokes for this show do hit their mark but Feel tends to re-use the same joke over and over again in the same episode no matter what series they do. Like the characters of Shangri-la, the characters here annoy me. They’re all types I’ve seen before and so I have nothing new to look forward to. We have a good cast of seiyuu that include Horie Yui, Mamiko Noto and Toyasaki Aki but the characters they’re voicing just aren’t good. Comedies and slice of life shows are completely dependent on the characters, the director and the writers and none look very promising for this series. There’s still the redhead in OP so whether or not I keep up with this show completely depends on whether she can bring something new to the table. I do like the ED song though but it’s not the kind I would like to hear over and over again. If the full version was a bit better then maybe I would.

Sora no Manimani by Comet
I’ve also read the manga for this and despite how solid the episode was, I just can’t help but feel that the plot is very uninspired. You have a guy who moves back to his old town and meets up with his childhood friend and has to join a club to save it from being dissolved. Then love interests spring up in the form of new characters and through character developments and the guy has to angst about how undecisive he is about his lovelife and his future. In the meantime the people around him will have character dedicated arcs to explain a particular trait and will move on with their lives. I’m not saying there isn’t potential for it but when you’ve seen and read as much as I have, this just doesn’t look very interesting. I could say it’s a bit of a cross between Nodame Cantabile and Toradora in terms of characters and development only without any interesting or original characters. A show like this can only depend on its director for success but looks like there won’t be any epically awesome things coming out of this one based on the first episode.

Seitokai no Ichizon by Studio DEEN

That’s it for my thoughts on the new anime season. I’ll update it when I get the chance to watch the last two. I’ve heard good things about the slice of life show GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class so I’ll probably like it a lot. As you can see there are a LOT of good shows this season so it’ll be hard for me to give up any of them. Even if I drop everything below Umi Monogatari, I’ll still have 9 new shows not counting GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class. Add that to the 4 shows from the last season and I have at least 13 to keep up with. Woe is the life of an anime lover, gone are the days where you only had a handful of shows that you liked and could easily keep up with along with the amount of disk space left in your hard drive. Incidentally there is a difference between an Otaku and an Anime Lover – the former collects anime merchandise and while the latter collects merchandise on a small scale or not at all. I am the former and I said anime lover because Otaku are a subset within the Anime Lover set. Also for Inuyasha fans, the new season of the Inuyasha anime will start this fall and it'll animate every chapter after where they left off at the end of the first season so I'll have some good moments to look forward to.

Next time I’ll either have a review on the Hatsune Miku: Project Diva PSP game or the Konata Winter Uniform Version Figma I ordered, depending on when I get the latter. Annoyingly enough I just found out yesterday that they’re releasing a Summer version of her that comes with her cousin’s head so August has become another expensive month for me. Luckily enough, her being a reserved item means I can wait till the end of August to get her due to the other stuff me and my friends ordered.

Damn it... R.I.P. Wallet... Kidding! I always find ways to revive it fast.

UPDATED - Added GA series impressions. Still no sight of Seitokai Ichizon though

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