Spring! New anime season! It’s unloading the old gear and picking up the new ones for me… so naturally, a recap and preview needs to happen. Although I’m not reliving the past when I was following 11 anime at the same time, this spring does offer quite a few new concepts while saying farewell (and something less courteous) to the concluded ones.
2011 winter’s anime are rather unremarkable–if not disappointing. The few high profile titles turned out to be crappy, yet there are still some good ones that I enjoyed… and let’s start with those…
Tsukkomi-based humor is not new, yet the manga’s brilliant execution of it cracked me up numerous times. I was happy to learn the anime adaptation became a reality but I kept my expectation at a reasonable level. Then it’s good to know that the anime turned out better than I had expected. An important factor for its success comes from its talented voice actors, where the audio transcription of the characters’ speech made easier to understand some of the more obscure jokes. A pack of famous voice actors always help the cause.
I realized that this anime is the masculine(?) version of Nichijou. No wonder I like it so much.
Same as its prequel Bakamonogatari, this anime is a showcase of what to expect from Director Shinbou Akiyuki. The fact that this anime requires previous knowledge of the series does not overshadow it’s high quality. I suppose Shinbou’s style is “love it or hate it” kind of deal, and being a novel adaptation, the plot is guaranteed not to suck at very least. Nothing more need to be said, other than if you are a fan of Shinbou, or the original novel, Nisemonogatari will not disappoint you.
Another novel adaption that finally earned itself a place in TV anime. The mystery genre is my cup of tea, so I picked this one up naturally. My assumption of a good plot is proven to be correct, where Director Mizushima and studio P. A. Works excelled in making this dark-mood anime with the a classic occult mystery approach. Unlike some other mysteries I encountered lately, this one features a very satisfying ending (which from what I hear, deviates from the original novel ending a bit). For those who like mystery/horror kind of stuff, and those would smile at “artful” ways of killing off characters, Another is a must-watch.
At start I didn’t know what to expect. Is this another moeblob anime that worth none of my time, or did I knock on the wrong door that is intended for fangirls audience only? The answer is no to both questions. Once into episode 2, Inu x Boku is no doubt a comedy, with a target audience covering both spectra of male vs female fanservices and normal vs hentai needs. It looks like the original manga is still ongoing, and the ending of anime is strongly hinting for a next season.
Let it come soon, please.
Preemptive tl;dr: Fuck you, GONZO. Fuck you for discarding everything good about series and filled it up with crappy nonsense.
Considering Last Exile 1st season is of one of my favorite anime, my expectation is high for the second season. Yet all I have seen is pure fail. The contrast of quality of the plot between the first and second season is appalling: in season 1, the plot progressed as protagonists becomes mature when they are brought into larger conflicts of the world, yet Ginyoku no Fam shows a twisted setting where as the young heroines step into a war, and then all the politicians and military leaders suddenly rolled back their mental age to same level as the heroines.
I’ll learn my lesson here after what GONZO did to Last Exile and to a lesser extend, Tower of Druaga, where then only fucked up the 2nd season’s ending instead of the entire 2nd season.
This is less of a fail than Ginyoku no Fam, but a fail nonetheless. Since I never watched the BRS’s OVA nor did I play the game, I don’t know how much I can relate this anime to its Vocaloid root. The animation, special effects, voice acting, and many aspects of this anime are well above average, yet for some reason, the plot is just messed up, literally. Yes, I know the meta-world (where girls’ inner persona are playing endless fighting games) is supposed to be an abstraction of their emotions… but is it really the only thing the anime is able to convey? With the exception of Mado the protagonist, most other characters are mentally unstable adolescents in need of institutionalized treatment.
So yeah, they had their “episodes”, and in the end Mado magically solves all the problems and (wtf) a happy ending ensues. This anime is the reason I won’t look forward to anime that are spinoffs from songs.
On Air Now
This spring looks promising to become my personal “spring” as for my interest in anime. Other than Fate/Zero’s April continuation, many newcomers are pushing the boundary of “suspension of disbelief” further into the realm of wackiness. After some sampling works, this is my “currently following” list.
A clarification up front: this is no Gunslinger Girls. The girls in Upotte!! are, in fact, guns themselves. Don’t ask me how it works, just watch it.
Anyway, this anime is pretty much a moe’d up introductory course on assault rifles (that use NATO ammo anyway for now)… A typical case of 1+1>2, as neither the fanservice-ladened moe nor the weaponry stuff is as interesting individually as they are combined. A zany, lighthearted comedy without much story can’t go too wrong, right? Well, I suppose I shouldn’t say this to the male teacher who improperly gunhandled one of the girls and got hospitalized
It’s very replenishing to watch this anime after hours of Battlefield 3. And students be reminded, no live rounds in campus hallway.
Despite the somewhat generic and uninspiring title–“Mysterious Girlfriend”–this anime contains materials that are anything but generic. Though the art style feels incredibly 15-years-ago, it is nonetheless a heartwarming deviation from the current norm. However, this anime is also a spitful: the central theme seem to revolve around the young couple’s daily exchange of… saliva. The depiction of that is rather explicit and graphic–to the point that I have to look away, and laugh out loud. Seriously.
True to the title, the revelation of the girlfriend’s “specialty” (apart from secretion of addictive saliva), is a kind of a plot twist which I will not spoil. Verdict: Nazo no Kanojo X is a refreshing, yet sometimes disgusting craziness that I just can’t stop myself from wanting more of it.
Zombie survival horrors is a successful genre across multiple media, yet I can’t seem to find a real zombie anime that adheres to the formula. I suppose it’s no secret for whom being the biggest offender. Rest assured, Sankarea is still not a zombie survival horror–or at least not yet from the first few episodes, and not likely to become one. It is rather going to the subtle route where certain people (and cat) die and reborn as zombies(?). Since I have not touched on the original manga, I honestly cannot predict how the story will progress, since it has some heavier topics, such as abusive parenting.
A product of Studio DEEN, Sankarea’s animation quality is good. Hopefully the plot goes not to the mundane but to something subliming.
I think it’s now safe to call this anime my favorite April new show (hence the top image). It features anatomically realistic animals hanging out in a cafe in a humanly fashion. If you are like me, who is tired of seeing anime endlessly pumping out humanoid characters with only part of them are animal-inspired (namely ears and tails), Polar Bear’s Cafe is a true avant-garde, slice of (animals mocking human) life anime that is worth watching.
And a lot of famous people in the voice actor list btw.
Fate/Zero (caution: loud flash splash animation)
Technically not a new anime, Fate/Zero is set to dominate as it makes a triumph return in this season. Thanks to Uchiboro, I finally made a first step into the universe of Fate that this anime’s predecessor–Fate/Stay Night, failed to capture my interest. Every aspect of Fate/Zero, such as story, music, voice acting, and animation, is top notch; comparing to ufotable’s Kara no Kyoukai, Fate/Zero’s quality transcendent its TV anime nature and into the realm of movies and OVA.
What’s even more amazing is that the anime is broadcasted worldwide on Niconico Douga in 8 languages, for free. Although those subtitles are rather awkward and unrefined comparing to fansubs, it’s still a generosity from the producers which I am thankful of. After all, the best anime of the season is obviously qualified to be aired worldwide. Hopefully this gesture will be backed up by the global BR/DVD sales so to encourage more high production value anime instead of common cliched ones to be further produced in Japan.
I watched the previous two seasons of Queen’s Blade and was awed by how good the story is. I thought Queen’s Blade was one of the plethora of H-anime coming from Japan that are less worthy of watching… and I’m glad I was wrong. The original anime went into depth with its plot, which is very rare given the large amount of fanservices (that is it even rated M in Japan??). Unfortunately, Rebellion has yet to show me the same quality in its story in par with its predecessors, so I am unsure whether I’ll keep following it to the end.
I don’t want to make a general statement saying that TV anime industry is revitalizing… Maybe it is, maybe it is not. It is only an observation: animators are making a step out the stale pond to test some new water. Definitely encouraging, and we can only wait and see how it turns out.