Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Fall 2009 Anime -- brief opinions, a few episodes in

Darker than Black 2 After one episode, so many shows seemed enjoyable. After three to five, the list has grown shorter.

This is all just personal opinion, a combination of judgment and instinctive preference. Read at your own (and my) risk. (mouseover images for captions; click to enlarge)

Still watching:

Darker than Black 2 -- Hanazawa Kana is just outstanding in this slightly gentlified second series of the dark sci-fi adventure. She has taken her voice-acting to a new level. This is the show I am most eager for every week.

Winter SonataWinter Sonata -- I'm sold. Great music. Great images. Great story. Fantastic characters. A high school tsundere who seems real.

White Album -- A huge edifice of uncertainty and suppressed emotion is about to come crashing down. Whether it will all make sense as it does is still uncertain, but the complex spiderweb of feelings and events is a painful joy in itself.

Seitokai no Ichizon -- The show this season about which there is the most intense disagreement. For me, it is a hip, smart, hilarious and humane self-referential comedy with great characters, total absurdity, and moe to spare.

Yumeiro PatissiereYumeiro Patissiere -- A show aimed at elementary school girls that manipulates its memes with complete assurance, creating warm sentimental emotion.

Tegami Bachi (Letter Bee) -- Charming fantasy. Excellent voices. Wonderful direction by a newcomer who makes each episode just fly by.

Aoi Bungaku -- The source material is so strong that even when they change it around, it's still powerful. At least through the first four-episode story. Almost too strong. I can sometimes hardly bear to watch.

Seitokai no IchizonSasameki Koto -- Has now gotten rolling with the bizarre yuri comedy of the manga. The tall karate-expert loves her best friend, who gets crushes only on cute girls -- and now on the cute trap who loves karate girl. Get it? And the yuri wolves are out, too. Takagaki Ayahi (karate girl) and Saitou Chiwa (cute wolf) are both outstanding.

Kimi ni Todoke -- I love the manga, but I'm not sure whether to praise the slow delicacy of this show, or to express impatience. Maybe it's the "I've read the manga" syndrome. I haven't decided whether Noto Mamiko is perfect or is overdoing it, baking a cake that's so sweet you can't taste the flavour. But Sanpei Yuuko and Sawashiro Miyuki give award-worthy performances as Sawako's friends. And the character design and backgrounds are excellent.

White AlbumTo Aru Kagaku no Railgun -- Well-made girls-with-powers comic adventure fantasy. More enjoyable than Mai-HiME, for me.

Sora no Otoshimono -- Redefines ecchi. Famous for the ED featuring flocks of flying panties. Humor that is nutso without quite reaching the level of the absurd. Hovers on the brink of abandonment, but I can't resist Hayami Saori's voice.

Watching when and if I have time:

Fairy Tale -- Well-done shounen comic fantasy adventure, with Hirano Aya in her next big role. But not my thing.

TrapezeTrapeze (Kuuchuu Buranko) -- Beautiful, brilliant, and bores me. I'll keep trying, but there's something arch and superficial about it. Or perhaps that's just me, lol.

11eyes -- Enjoyable supernatural adventure, but I don't find myself making time for it. Maybe it's my aversion to monsters.

Tatakau Shisho - The Book of Bantorra -- Also decent, set in a strong, dark world, but the weeks seem to slip by with new episodes unseen.

Miracle Train -- Episode one was okay, but I haven't yet felt the urge to go back and see what sort of girl the bishies help next. Too many good shows, too little time.

Kampfer -- Having abandoned all pretense to plot and character, we are left with fanservice alone.


Kimi ni TodokeKobato -- I enjoyed the cuteness of the first two episodes, but have been bored silly ever since.

Seiken no Blacksmith -- I liked the first two episodes more than many people, but this is not interesting enough to warrant the time to watch it, for me.

Anyamaru Tantei Kiruminzuu -- Popular with the Japanese "family" TV audience, and completely uninteresting for me.

Kaidan Restaurant -- See above. These two shows have the highest TV ratings among new anime.

Tegami BachiNogizaka Haruka no Himitsu 2 -- Having enjoyed the first half of the first season, I watched two episodes of this second season...and quit forever. Can't keep pressing the same button.

Kiddy Girl and
-- The worst show of the season. The animation is okay. What is being animated is of zero interest, period. How low have you fallen, Gotoh Keiji? Uta~Kata was a wonderful show.

I realize some shows are missing here. Those are shows I just haven't watched enough of -- yet -- to judge.


Serakah said...

I agree with most of your comments on the shows. I'm still watching Seiken no Blacksmith though and I'm not sure why.

Kampfer I'm still following cause of all the sexual innuendos by the gun girl, though it's definitely getting lamer with each new episode.

Kiddy Girl and had a boring first episode but I actually thought the second one was funny.

The biggest surprise for me was To Aru Kagaku no Railgun. With the first one being so bad I was sure the second would be crap as well, but it turned out to be highly enjoyable.

Oh and major <3 for Darker than Black 2 and Seitokai no Ichizon. And let's not forget the OP for DtB 2. Awesomeness.

Mac (Kyuusai) said...

I'm utterly entranced by Kimi ni Todoke, and Noto Mamiko and Sawashiro Miyuki are a large part of that. But, well... I've been continually complaining about Sawashiro Miyuki continually being cast as a male/tomboy, and now I'm even picking up a bit of that masculine tone from her here. *sigh*

I have to agree with you on Seitokai no Ichizon. I don't really get any sense of moe from it except what it uses as meta humor, which it does well. I can't help but constantly note the cheap animation and poorly adapted character design, but the work of the writing adaptor and the directory (both beloved by me) and the excellent vocal performances makes it a winner overall. It gets bonus points for letting Noto Mamiko work wonders outside of her typical typecasting during her appearance.

I want to like Yumeiro Patissiere just because of Yuuki Aoi. I really, really want to. And any show about baking is immediately intriguing to me. I can even watch it under the pretense of sharing it with my little sister. Sadly, I can't overcome the melodrama and poorly exploited tropes, which are bad even by children's shows standards.

I've only seen one episode of Kobato, and couldn't help but adore it completely. Perhaps I'll enjoy it longer than you were able, but I plan on adjusting my expectations for it so I won't be disappointed.

I hadn't even considered Winter Sonata, but I think I'll give it a try now. White Album, Darker than Black and Tegami Bachi consistently get rave reviews everywhere, but since I'm not yet attached to them, I'm saving them for a rainy day (and an unmetered connection).

maglor said...

Wait, you are still watching Winter Sonata?! I saw only the first episode, but decided that it wasn't worth the time, but maybe I have been too hasty.

hashi said...

Everyone has different natural reactions to shows. Even people I usually agree with always like a different selection.

@Serakah -- I'll probably go back and look at more Seiken and Kampfer, when I have time. I didn't hate them. Kiddy Girl just never came anywhere near pushing any of my buttons. People keep saying Kiddy Grade got a lot better after 8-9 episodes. Maybe I'll check back then.

@Mac -- Yumeiro just seems to hit something in me, the way Ichizon hits something else. I can't really explain why I'm enjoying it so much. More than Shugo Chara, for sure. I thought it did its tropes well. What I want is to feel the positive sentimental emotion that it gives me.

@Maglor -- I like good romantic melodrama, what can I say? I wasn't sold after watching episode00 in a poorly-streamed Chinese sub, but now that I can see decent-sized English subs, I'm entranced by it.

hashi said...

@Serakah -- You like the DtB2 OP? I love it. Check out my latest post for much, much more.

maglor said...

I have decided to give Winter Sonata a 2nd chance, and I'm sorry to say that I can't bring myself to like it. The biggest barrier to me is that I was a highschool student in Korean around the time depicted in the anime, and my experience just cries that all the things that was shown can never happen. Another big thing was while they may have felt new to most non-Koreans, there just was too many overused Korean cliches. I am not surprised that the series had low rating in Korea, initially. It is weird, that being Korean is what prevents me from enjoying something that originally came from Korea.

Anonymous said...

Kiddy Girl-AND is mildly watchable at the best of times, which is about the only good (?) comment I can make. The series style was set with Ep. 1, so I'm not sure why some are still expecting a drastic change later on.

As a look into Keiji Gotoh's history, I've also watched the first six episodes of Kiddy Grade and Uta-Kata. Both shows are hit-or-miss, but unlike the new series, they each possess hooks (Kiddy Grade's Eclair, Uta-Kata's soft tone and gorgeous setting. The scripts can also be heart-warming at times despite some awkwardness and questionable structuring) that make them worthwhile to follow.