- First is a look at continuing shows that I am currently watching. This is for shows where I have watched two or more episodes (which mostly includes shows from the Winter 2011 and Spring 2011 season that I’m still watching). These will be ranked from “best” to “worst”.
- Second is a look at shows I have completed since the last time I did my last “Where Things Stand” post. This can include continuing series or feature-length movies, and these shows receive a Final Letter Grade that sums up the entire experience.
- Third is a very quick look forward at what comes next, primarily focusing on shows from Summer 2011 and Fall 2011.
1. SHOWS I AM CURRENTLY WATCHING:
Hanasaku Iroha (Spring 2011 Season) through Episode 2
On one hand, it is somewhat uncomfortable to watch Ohana try her very best and yet end up only making things worse. This is the unexpected “leader of the pack” for the season. It’s not very showy, it’s not tensely gripping, or hilariously funny or in-your-face. Hanasaku Iroha has an understated charm, probably because it is the most believable show in a while. All the characters ring true, and I want to root for Ohana to come out on top, even though I know she’s going to have a tough time ahead. (Grade: 10 out of 10)
Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica (Winter 2011 Season) through Episode 7
This show just gets better as it goes along. When they first said they were going to deconstruct the “magical girl” genre and turn it on its ear, I was like, “Yeah…right.” But by god, they’re doing it. This is not some shiny, fluffy kid’s show about teamwork and sparklies and rainbows — no, this is about retaining your very soul. Oh Kyubey, you’re such a bastard. (Grade: 9 out of 10)
Hourou Musuko (Winter 2011 Season) through Episode 7
I am glad that I did not let the story concept push me away from this show. While the focus may be on the transgender issues involving junior high school students, the story is more about the normal foibles and fumblings of children on the cusp of adulthood as they try to come to terms with growing up. Male or female, relationships will always get tangled and confused. (Grade: 8 out of 10)
Deadman Wonderland (Spring 2011 Season) through Episode 2
Yes, the whole scenario is quite ridiculous, so you sort of have to throw logic out the window and just roll with it. I compare this to an anime analog of the over-the-top action flicks from the eighties like Robocop, Running Man or Total Recall. Don’t expect anything too deep out of this show, just grab the popcorn and have some fun! (Grade: 8 out of 10)
Ano Hana (Spring 2011 Season) through Episode 2
The show with the most ridiculously long title (Really, Japan?) is dripping thick with melodrama, but it’s well-done melodrama, as broken relationships and lives are woven back together years after the death of a childhood friend. (Grade: 8 out of 10)
Hyouge Mono (Spring 2011 Season) through Episode 2
Man, does this guy love his tea. I mean, he really loves his tea. One might say it is the single preoccupation of his life, invading his professional life as a vassal to his lord, as well as his personal relationship with his wife. It’s all so ridiculous that you just have to laugh at the situation, and I never get tired of the over-the-top facial expressions. If they ever make a live action version of this, please please please cast Rowan Atkinson! (Grade: 8 out of 10)
Gosick (Winter 2011 Season) through Episode 7
Finally, a mini-mystery that isn’t as simple to solve as a paint-by-numbers scheme. But you gotta remember that all the mysteries are just a means to the end, which is the exploration of the relationship between Victorique and Kazuya, and we also finally get to delve a little deeper into Victorique’s past, and a glimpse that there is a much larger global connection as well. Oh, and Hooray for Totally Inappropriate Sexy Nuns! (Grade: 7 out of 10)
Steins;Gate (Spring 2011 Season) through Episode 2
He may be certifiably insane, but he’s our kind of certifiably insane. I really have no idea where the whole time travel/alternate reality/alternate timeline stuff is going at this point, but I’m hoping that will be more of the focus of future episodes rather than the disturbing amount of harem-building that seems to be going on. (Grade: 7 out of 10)
Tiger and Bunny (Spring 2011 Season) through Episode 2
It’s the Odd Couple of superheroes, and unfortunately the plot seems to be about as simplistic as an American superhero comic book as well. Now that we have some of the introductions out of the way, I hope the show takes a closer look at superpowers in a modern society, shining its jaundiced eye on corporate sponsorships and media popularity and controlling costs. (Grade: 7 out of 10)
Nichijou (Spring 2011 Season) through Episode 2
Well…it’s no Azumanga Daioh. But on the other end of the scale, it’s also no A-Channel or Yuruyuri either. After a questionable-quality OVA, the first two episodes have turned my opinion on Nichijou back to the positive. Best to think of it as a lesser Azumanga clone, some of the gags are incongruously hilarious, others fall flat. I guess we’ll see if there’s more hits than misses as time goes on. (Grade: 7 out of 10)
C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control (Spring 2011 Season) through Episode 2
One one hand, there’s the “Deal” battles, while visually interesting are about as nonsensical as a silly card game fight like Cardfight Vanguard or Digimon or some other kiddie show. On the other hand, Kimimaro returns back to the real world, now he is able to see the world as it really “works”, and that’s where it starts to get interesting. Makes me wonder if Kimimaro will really be able to handle it all. (Grade: 7 out of 10)
Blue Exorcist (Spring 2011 Season) through Episode 2
Twenty minutes of awesome demon battling worthy of “The Exorcist”…followed with three minutes of facepalm-worthy stupidity. So now our protagonist is heading off to demon fighting school with the foppish ass sent to kill him? I don’t like where this is going, hopefully it will get back to the action and away from the Alice in Wonderland school promised in the next episode. (Grade: 7 out of 10)
Fractale (Winter 2011 Season) through Episode 7
Despite promised, Fractale was NOT the best thing to hit the anime world since unsliced bread, instead it’s just a run-of-the-mill coming-of-age sci-fi/fantasy adventure, like a second generation copy of Laputa or something. But after fumbling around with seemingly unimportant character development, it looks like shit finally got real and we may finally get back on track with the plot. (Grade: 6 out of 10)
Yumekui Merry (Winter 2011 Season) through Episode 7
Speaking of run-of-the-mill sci-fi/fantasy adventure, let’s not forget about Yumekui Merry as well. But unlike Fractale, we still seem to be stuck in the navel-gazing stage of the show with the plot in neutral. Instead of actually doing anything, the producers felt it was time for a goddamned beach episode. (Grade: 6 out of 10)
Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko (Spring 2011 Season) through Episode 2
Shafty-Shaft-Shaft-Shaft. Seriously, when a production studio’s signature quirks become a running joke (head tilts, anyone?), that can only distract from the story itself. I can’t quite figure this show out quite yet, other than it seems to be going the derivative way of Bakemonogatari. I’ll say one thing, however: Makoto sure has a knack of attracting the oddest of women. (Grade: 6 out of 10)
Yondemasu-yo, Azazel-san (Spring 2011 Season) through Episode 2
They’ve got the elements of comedy down pat, which is miles better than many other anime shows that pretend to be comedies. But I hope they will lay off the potty humor, and aim just a little bit higher. (Grade: 6 out of 10)
Kaiji Season 2 (Spring 2011 Season) through Episode 2
Like Deadman Wonderland, this is another show where the scenario is so out of this world that you have to suspend your disbelief and just go along with it. Yet this is totally unlike Deadman Wonderland, much smaller is scope (the entire second episode takes place in a room), and so little actually happens, but the way they play it the level of tension is incredible. Never have dice been so exciting!!!! (Grade: 6 out of 10)
Moshidora (Spring 2011 Season) through Episode 2
Applying non-conventional business management techniques to a high school baseball team sounds strangely intriguing…on paper. But in practice…not so much. Especially when I find how the advice is being applied to be questionable at best. Moshidora is on my danger list to be dropped. (Grade: 5 out of 10)
X-Men (Spring 2011 Season) through Episode 2
Hey it may be the best of the Marvel/Madhouse superhero shows so far, but that is damning with faint praise. The good news, for superhero fans, is that it seems to be a fairly good adaptation of an American superhero comic. The bad news, however, is that I don’t like American superhero comics. I was hoping that the special anime twist would put a new perspective on it, but perhaps I hope too much. (Grade: 5 out of 10)
Appleseed XIII (Spring 2011 Season) through Episode 2
If there was one word to describe this show, it would be “Disappointing”. Given the storied history of Appleseed, I expected more than this substandard effort. Not only is the quality of the artwork and animation leaving lots to be desired, but the way the story is playing out also is lacking. Especially since there’s some whiny brat running around impersonating Deunan. (Grade: 5 out of 10)
Level E (Winter 2011 Season) through Episode 7
After such a strong debut, Level E really fell off the rails. I thought I could tough it out until the end, but after a three-part sentai team/video game parody, I just couldn’t take any more. They set up the perfect chemistry between Tsutsui, Miho and Prince Baka in the first three episodes, and then abandoned them completely. Level E was not the show I hoped it would be. (Grade: 4 out of 10) SERIES DROPPED.
Dog Days (Spring 2011 Season) through Episode 2
The best way to describe this show is “Stupid, harmless fun”. Lots of fighting where no one gets hurt or dies (about as dangerous as touch football with tribbles), a little teasing fan-service, and more cute characters than you can shake a stick at. But ultimately, nothing really interesting enough to keep watching. (Grade: 4 out of 10) SERIES DROPPED.
A Channel (Spring 2011 Season) through Episode 2
MOE OVERLOAD! This is the 497th anime show in the past couple years to feature four mismatched schoolgirls who have fun doing nothing of significance. Sure, they may all be as cute as buttons, but there isn’t anything new here. Move along, move along. (Grade: 4 out of 10) SERIES DROPPED.
Fireball Charming (Spring 2011 Season) through Episode 2
Two minutes of unfunny jokes between two robots. The end. Perhaps if I watched them all at once, it might be better. I doubt it. (Grade: 3 out of 10) SERIES DROPPED.
Sengoku Otome: Time Paradox (Spring 2011 Season) through Episode 2
Another show that can be tagged as “Stupid, harmless fun”, only this time the amount of stupid greatly outweighs the fun. Not only is the setting completely redonkulous, but the main character is about as intelligent as a slab of bacon. (Grade: 3 out of 10) SERIES DROPPED.
Showa Monogatari (Spring 2011 Season) through Episode 2
It’s anime for senior citizens, and about as exciting as you might expect a show aimed at the twilight-age set. Only really interesting if you’re steeped in nostalgia for Japan from fifty years ago. (Grade: 3 out of 10) SERIES DROPPED.
2. SHOWS I HAVE RECENTLY COMPLETED:
Karigurashi no Arrietty (Summer 2010 Season)
Miyazaki does his magic once again with last year’s Studio Ghibli film based on Mary Norton’s children’s book. On the plus side, it is one of the most visually appealing movies I’ve seen in a while, richly detailed and a feast for the eyes. On the minus side, it’s a bit of a thin story for a full-length movie. Still definitely worth the effort. FINAL GRADE: B+
My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute (Fall 2010 Season)
Hey, wait a minute…isn’t this the second time I’ve “finished” this series? Yup, but with an additional four episodes that offer up another “true” ending, it’s worth revisiting. Turns out the show is better when the titular character is AWOL and the side characters are allowed to shine. MOAR SENA, PLEASE. FINAL GRADE: B
Broken Blade (Spring 2010 Season)
Well, this certainly took forever and a day to finish. Only six episodes (an hour each), but it was a little difficult to keep track of the minutiae of the ever-growing cast of side characters. Luckily, they found their way back on track by the final episode in a knock-down, drag-out onslaught battle. Perhaps a better grade would be “Incomplete”, because it wraps up after one major story arc but leaves so much unfinished. FINAL GRADE: B
X’amd: Lost Memories (Fall 2008 Season)
Essentially a copycat of Eureka Seven. ‘Nuff said. FINAL GRADE: B-
Nurarihyon no Mago (Summer 2010 Season)
I had watched and reviewed several episodes of this series last year, but ultimately it ended up in the “dropped” list. My take is that Nurarihyon no Mago was mildly entertaining, but somewhat childish and they seemed to drag out various battles much longer than warranted. But with the second season on the horizon, I figured I’d better go back and finish it off. Watching the whole thing, my opinion stands. FINAL GRADE: C+
Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu (Winter 2010 Season)
This is another show where the second series is right around the corner, and I revisited. Watched the first episode, dropped it. Watched the OVA special a year later, found it slightly interesting enough to go back and give the series a second try. Watched six episodes, stalled, struggled to finish. Unfortunately, it’s the same dozen jokes over and over and over again, decent enough for a couple episodes but gets very tiring very fast. FINAL GRADE: C
Hetalia Axis Powers Movie: Paint it, White (Summer 2010 Season)
I do NOT like Hetalia. At all. Yet the movie was actually slightly more watchable than the disjointed collection of episodes itself, probably because there was an actual plot involved, as mind-numbingly stupid as it was. FINAL GRADE: C-
3. COMING UP NEXT:
I’ll keep this very short, because this is an extremely long post and I’ve spend an inordinate amount of time on it already, and I want to go to sleep. My future anime viewing and reviewing is broken down as follows:
- Winter 2011 Season – There’s five shows left I’m still watching: Fractale, Hourou Musuko, Yumekui Merry, Gosick and Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica. At this pace, I must might finish these up before the end of the year!
- Spring 2011 Season – Fifteen shows received a thumbs-up after two episodes and move on the the third round, time to get crackin’!
- Summer 2011 Season – I’m only about a third of the way through reviewing the first episodes, and I still have maybe twenty shows to go.
- Fall 2011 Season – The first episodes are debuting on television right NOW, but I won’t get around to my big, long preview post until I finish up with the first episodes from the previous season. So, probably next month.
- 2010 and Earlier – Still picking up occasional odds and ends from last year that I missed for one reason or another, or were only recently subtitled. Little by little.
And just for kicks, here’s a summary of grades I have given to various anime shows over the past year — this list is extremely heavily weighted towards shows from 2010 only, because that’s mostly what I have watched in the past year. Note that I have only given final letter grades to shows that I watch in their entirety, which means that very few shows get a “D” or “F” grade, since I’m not likely to keep watching those.
I’ll be reworking this list into a much more visually appealing and readable format when I have the time, plus adding various shows from the past decade I’ve watched as well. Stay tuned!
- A: Durarara, Shiki
- A-: The Tatami Galaxy, The Disappearance of Harumi Suzumiya (movie), Shinryaku: Ika Musume, Tokyo: Magnitude 8.0, Welcome to the Space Show (movie)
- B+: Arakawa Under the Bridge (first series), Kurenai, Letter Bee (first series), The Occult Academy, Highschool of the Dead, Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru, Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt, Time of Eve (movie), Karigurashi no Arrietty (movie)
- B: Angel Beats, Bungaku Shoujo (movie), Kaichou wa Maid-sama, Lupin III: The Last Job (movie), Kuragehime, Katanagatari, Mazinkaiser SKL, Colorful (movie), K-On (first season), Broken Blade, My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute
- B-: Bakemonogatari, Detective Conan: The Lost Ship (movie), Magical Lyrical Nanoha First Movie (movie), Eden of the East, My Hime, X’Amd: Lost Memories
- C+: Working, Trigun: Badlands Rumble (movie), Arakawa Under the Bridge (second season), Darker than Black: Gaiden, Sora no Woto, Pokemon: Zoroark Master of Illusions (movie), Nurarihyon no Mago
- C: Senkou no Night Raid, K-On (second season), Ookami-san, Loups=Garous (movie), Legend of Legendary Heroes, King of Thorn (movie), Psychic Detective Yakumo, Doraemon: Nobita and the Great Mermaid (movie), Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu
- C-: Saki, Fate Stay/Night: Unlimited Blade Works, Precure All-Stars DX2 (movie), Gintama Shinyaku Benizakura-hen (movie), Hetalia Axis Powers: Paint It White (movie)
- D: Gundam 00: A Wakening in the Trailblazer (movie), Yu-Gi-Oh: Bonds Beyond Time (movie)