Anime Review: Where Things Stand as of June 23, 2010

(Originally published on Livejournal on 6/23/10)

Just a very quick review of where my anime-watching habits are at this moment. These are the series I am currently watching, roughly ranked from “best” to “worst”:

Durarara! (Winter 2010 Season) through Episode 20 – Better than any other show of the entire year, I went back and watched the first 20 episodes in about a week. Just 4 more episodes to go (the finale due out in about a week), clearly building to a big climax. And Celty’s just great. Now I want to go back and check out Baccano as well. (8/10)

Kaichou wa Maid-sama (Spring 2010 Season) through Episode 6 – aka “The Taming of the Tsundere”. Sure, it’s pretty lightweight stuff, but an enjoyable romantic comedy. Usui is the perfect foil for Misaki, although sometimes he treads that fine line between “interesting follower” and “creepy stalker”. He’s still mostly a mystery, about time we learn what his deep, dark secret may be. (At least, I’m assuming that to be the case) (8/10)

The Tatami Galaxy (Spring 2010 Season) through Episode 6 – Not the “best” show of the season, but clearly the most interesting and thought-provoking. And it looks like we may finally be breaking out of the formulaic approach of the first Groundhog Day episodes. The unnecessarily-distracting speed narration remains this show’s Achilles’ heel, and the recent lack of Akashi is disappointing. (7/10)

Angel Beats (Spring 2010 Season) through Episode 6 – The “most anime” of the anime shows I’m watching (e.g. the show your average otaku is likely to drool over), I am continually bothered by the tendency to jump between wacky humor and serious drama at a moment’s notice. But now with the whole reason for the Brigade’s existence now thrown out the window (now that Tenshi/Kanade has been essentially unmasked as *not* their enemy), where does it go from here? (6/10)

Katanagatari (Winter 2010 Season) through Episode 2 – I am not crazy about the premise of the story (Edo period martial arts where a strategian seeks out a master of a swordless fighting style to retrieve twelve unique swords), but I absolutely love the art style and the play between the two main characters. Only watched two hour-long episodes so far (they come out about once a month), saving the remaining episodes (4 more to date) for later. (6/10)

Arakawa Under the Bridge (Spring 2010 Season) through Episode 6 – The most consistently good (not great) show of the season, as the slow, awkward courtship of Nino and Recruit plods along, and the chasm between Recruit and the rest of the community remains as seemingly vast as ever, at least in Recruit’s mind. Hit and miss on the jokes, but there’s so many of them to score a few hits every time. (6/10)

Working! (Spring 2010 Season) through Episode 6 – I had high hopes at the very beginning, but eventually this show seems to have settled on a single, increasingly tiring theme: Inami’s unwavering fear of men. Since they’ve painted every character with a different dysfunction, I’m less than pleased they spend so much time on this one plotline. Less Inami, more everything else, please. (5/10)

Bakemonogatari (Fall 2009 Season) through Episode 12 – With this show’s unique style and a truly interesting main character, Bakemonogatari showed great promise to be a breakout hit of 2009. But the show drifted away from the fascinating Senjougahara in later episodes, and the release of the final three episodes has been at a glacial pace (final 15th episode *still* not out), interest in the show sputtered almost to a complete halt. Oh, what a let-down. (5/10)

Senkou no Night Raid (Spring 2010 Season) through Episode 2 – Dropped after just the first episode, I decided to give it a second shot. Second episode still leaves me underwhelmed, but I’ll stick it out for a bit since I heard there’s a pretty amazing twist down the road. (4/10)

K-On Season 2 (Spring 2010 Season) through Episode 6 – Just silly girls doing silly things, and I’m an utter fool to expect anything more from K-On. I was hoping for some actual character development, but that’s clearly not in the cards. When the writers are on the top of their game (as in the second episode) it’s actually quite good; otherwise (as in the third and sixth), it’s just tedious and boring. I originally described the show like “Biting into a giant puff of pink cotton candy: Very sweet, but ultimately there’s nothing there”, and that has proved accurate. (3/10)

Giant Killing (Spring 2010 Season) through Episode 5 – Dropped after the fifth episode, the characters are just way too one-dimensional for my tastes, and way too much about the sport than about the characters. If I wanted to actually watch soccer, why rely on a fictional game when the World Cup is now playing? There’s more drama in the actual sport itself anyways, with the crybaby French team throwing a hissy-fit, cowardly players taking dives to draw fake penalties, and grossly incompetent officiating nearly forcing the US out early. (3/10)

The Summer 2010 Anime season is now upon us, and that means a couple dozen new shows to try out as well. Will there be any gems among them?

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