Anime Review: Where Things Stand of of June 1, 2010

(Originally published on Livejournal on 6/1/10)

Out of the 32 shows that I sampled for the Spring 2010 anime season, I’m still watching seven of them after four episodes. Alas, out of the entire lot there’s not a single "home run" must-see show of the season; to extend the baseball analogy there are a couple of doubles, a few singles and some walks, that’s about it.  A few thoughts, from most liked to least liked:

Kaichou wa Maid-sama – An unlikely candidate for my favorite show of the season, since I have an innate distaste for the very concept of a Maid Cafe. But the show is not about that — it’s a romantic comedy between strong-willed Misaki and the ever-cool Usui. The basic plot is nothing to write home about, lots of your basic anime cliches and story elements, but it is well-done and characters very likable.

The Tatami Galaxy – If you can get past the near-fatal flaw of the unnecessarily-fast narration, this show’s pretty good. Visually, it is probably the most intriguing show of the season, and the storyline has opened up so many questions that this show is one of the most discussed of the season. But I hope that they do not keep up with the Endless Eight episodic formula throughout the entire series.

Angel Beats – Definitely the most ‘anime’ of the anime shows, I am still bothered by the rapid switch between silly comedy and serious drama elements. The creator/director apparently has quite a history with the fanboys with shows that have had a similar style (Air, Clannad, Kanon), but since I’ve never seen those I don’t care about the creator’s reputation…or baggage. I’m not as crazy about this show as all the otaku bloggers out there, but there are enough unanswered questions to keep me intrigued. But with nearly twenty named characters and only twelve episodes, that leaves a lot of ground to cover.

Working!! – No need for a serious plot. Just take a whole bunch of slightly-broken characters with uniquely social dysfunctions, throw them all together into a pot, and let it come to a boil. Is it soup yet? I was worried after the first episode that it would be an endless parade of “Oh look how cute and tiny the main chararacter is, let’s make fun of how short she is!” The good news is that has not happened; the bad news is that they seem to be fixating on another character’s antisocial flaw, as it turns into an endless parade of her hitting every man that comes within striking distance.

Arakawa Under the Bridge – At first I watched the show for the promise of all the quick-fire gag humor, but that can get tiring pretty quick. I stick around for the slowly evolving relationship between Koyomi and Senjougahara…er, I mean…Naota and Memimi…er, I mean…Recruit and Nino.

K-On Season 2 – Can you say moe? Why, of course you can – everyone’s favorite moeblob show continues apace as the giggly, useless, immature girls continue to essentially do nothing of consequence. Eh, not expecting much out of this show, and that’s pretty much what I’m getting. Sometimes the silliness of the show works quite well (as in the second episode), most of the time it doesn’t.

Giant Killing – Soccer anime? I’ve been sticking around because it seems like the characters could be intriguing. Instead, it looks like it’s turning into a show mostly about…gasp…soccer! Oh well, I gave it a shot. Probably going to drop it soon.

House of Five LeavesDROPPED. Started out promising enough, but it has two fatal flaws. Firstly, it is *excruciatingly* boring. And secondly, the main character is irredeemably unlikeable. Not interested.

So, what comes next? Well, details about the Summer 2010 Lineup are emerging, so soon it will be time to take a look at a couple dozen more shows. Star-Crossed Anime Blog has done a pretty comprehensive early preview of the TV Shows as well as the Movies and OVAs. But I’m waiting for the run-down from Random Curiosity before I start forming my own opinions.

Meanwhile, I’ve turned back the clock a couple of months to catch up on Durarara, from the Winter 2010 season, watching all twenty episodes that have come out to date. Honestly, Durarara is better than all of the shows listed above. I find it interesting that the most inhuman of characters (literally) is perhaps the most “human-acting” of the entire cast. And how a character that doesn’t even have a head can express so much emotion.

I am also considering going back and giving Senkou no Night Raid a second shot. While I soured on the first episode, apparently while I was away others are saying it became really good.

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