Anime Review: Where Things Stand as of August 25, 2010

(Originally published and formatted for Livejournal on 8/25/10)

Just a very quick review of where my anime-watching habits are at this moment — the last time I did a similar review was back on June 23rd. These are the series I am currently watching, roughly ranked from “best” to “worst”:

Occult Academy (Summer 2010 Season) through Episode 2 – This is shaping up to the best show of the summer season. It’s not so much a show about ‘occult’ stuff as it is a just-slightly-over-the-top comedy. But at only a dozen episodes, they’re going to have to move the plot along at pretty good clip. Oh, and Maya totally rocks. (9/10)

Ookami-san (Summer 2010 Season) through Episode 2 – I’m not sure why I like this show so much, perhaps because it doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously at all. Nothing amazing, it’s just fun to watch. The one thing that seriously distracts from the show, though is the completely unnecessary narrator voice-overs by one of the most annoying voice actors in creation. (8/10)

Broken Blade (Summer 2010 Season) through Episode 1 – A total surprise, since this is essentially a giant robot show (a category I strongly dislike). The production values are top-notch, though, and it left me looking forward to the next episode. It’s a six-part OVA, so the chapters are coming out every couple of months — will it remain interesting enough to compensate for the long waits? (8/10)

Highschool of the Dead (Summer 2010 Season) through Episode 2 – Zombies and boobs, blood and panties — What’s not for a fanboy to like? I’m in it for the undead horror aspect, I’m tolerating the grating-gratuitious fanservice. I worry that the apocalypse survivors will fall victim to the tired old zombie-flick plot where they get picked off one by one by unnecessarily stupid acts. I HATE that. (7/10)

Shiki (Summer 2010 Season) through Episode 2 – Pleasantly satisfied how this show is turning out, unlike Highschool of the Dead this looks like an *intelligent* horror show, closer to Paranoia Agent in tone and feel. The ridiculously odd designs of the main characters is confounding because it is so distracting, though. (7/10)

Kaichou wa Maid-sama (Spring 2010 Season) through Episode 15 – One of my faves from the Spring season, although I am starting to get a bit annoyed at the lack of progression in the series, now that it is moving into the second act. Plus there have been a handful of really crappy episodes, mostly involving the Moron Trio who I hope end up dying in a fire. (7/10)

Nurarihyon no Mago (Summer 2010 Season) through Episode 2 – Mildly interesting, mildly entertaining, maybe worth watching, maybe not. I’ll have to give this a couple more episodes before making any decisions, whether it goes more in the Bleach direction (thumbs down) or Inu-Yasha direction (thumbs up). It’s aimed at junior-high-level audience, so it’s also somewhat simplistic, too. (6/10)

Legend of Legendary Heroes (Summer 2010 Season) through Episode 2 – Another show where I’m on the fence, but on this one I’m optimistic. I *HATED* the first episode, but was totally turned around by the second episode. Maybe I’m grading on a curve, though, because I want to watch a straightforward swords-and-sorcery fantasy. (6/10)

Katanagatari (Winter 2010 Season) through Episode 3 – The plot’s nothing to write home about: 12 episodes to seek out 12 swords equals one big-time Boss Fight per episode. Very talky with confusing Japanese terminology. BUT…the show is gorgeous, I absolutely love the design and visual sense, that alone makes it fun to watch. Hour-long episodes come out monthly, so it’s taking its own sweet time, and I have several episodes spooled up to watch when things get slow. (6/10)

Black Butler 2 (Summer 2010 Season) through Episode 2 – What the Hell? First episode all dark and brooding, second episode all light-hearted and wacky with totally different characters. It was like I was watching a completely different series, and I don’t like where it’s going. This is on my short list to drop unless it improves dramatically. (5/10)

Senkou no Night Raid (Spring 2010 Season) through Episode 8 – This is the show that I gave a “second chance” from the Spring season, and I’m mostly unimpressed. Apparently I’m not the only one, because the fansubbing community is stalled out at episode 11 even though it wrapped up a while back. I may or may not continue watching, opting towards *not*, unless fansubs for the final episodes come out, otherwise what’s the point? (5/10)

Bakemonogatari (Fall 2009 Season) through Episode 12 – Definitely one of the most promising shows at the end of last year, that quickly got mired in side stories, wallowing in its own style over substance. Senjougahara Fascination gave way to disinterest as she was cast aside, and the final non-broadcast episodes dribbled out at a snail’s pace. Now that the episode 15 conclusion came out this month, I have the remaining 3 episodes filed away to watch when I’m bored. (5/10)

Mitsudomoe (Summer 2010 Season) through Episode 2 – Demonic sixth-grade triplets versus hapless teacher equal comedy potential. Alas, that potential is wasted on this show that decided to take the low road of the vulgar, disgusting and mean-spirited. This is the only show of the season that made me physically *cringe*. Dropped. (4/10)
And now, for a final look back at the series that I have completed since my last summary listing two months ago:

Durarara! (Winter 2010 Season) – 24 Episodes – So far, the best show of the year, it really was quite a wild ride. Surprising how expressive Celty was considering she (literally) didn’t have a head, also loved Anri, and Heiwajima, and Simon, and Walker, and Erica, and and and…well, you get the idea. Now I have to go back and check out Baccano!, especially since season 2 starts up in a few weeks. Oh, and so much was left unresolved that this just SCREAMS for a second season of Durarara.

SERIES GRADE: A

The Tatami Galaxy (Spring 2010 Season) – 12 Episodes – Despite the repetitive Groundhog Day nature of the episodes, it all surprisingly tied together in the end, with multiple overlaying themes and plot threads. This deserves a second viewing, and I’m really, REALLY hoping someone dubs this show so I don’t have to keep my eyeballs fixated on the bottom of the screen for the breakneck narration subtitles.

SERIES GRADE: A-

Arakawa Under the Bridge (Spring 2010 Season) – 13 Episodes – They managed to keep it interesting by not relying on just quick gags and silly jokes, and seriously outlining the relationship between Recruit and Nino, especially on how much Recruit progressed emotionally over the show. A second season starts up in a couple of weeks, is there enough *there* to keep it interesting, or will it fall same trap that the latter part of Excel Saga suffered?

SERIES GRADE: B+

Kurenai (2008 Season) – 12 Episodes – Went back and watched this after catching the OVA special. Whaddayaknow, turns out I *did* watch Kurenai before, a couple years back, but I didn’t tie two and two together between the OVA and series because the OVA has literally *nothing* to do with the show, and the art style is quite different. That being said, the original anime series is quite decent, for me the strongest point being how well written and portrayed the characters are, totally believable as real people, not anime cardboard cutouts.

SERIES GRADE: B+

Angel Beats (Spring 2010 Season) – 13 Episodes – Annoying uneven, with flashes of brilliance mixed in with tired anime cliches, and a twist at the end. I really wish they decided either on a serious or a humorous theme, rather than try to mix the two together, because it didn’t work. Also, this show *deserved* a much longer run, cramming it into a half-season really affected the pacing and flow of the story, and the director admitted as much in public – why, why, WHY proceed with an admittedly less-than-preferred format, then? This could have been a really great show, but the director’s bad choices reduced it to a still-mostly-enjoyable show with problems that will probably be completely forgotten in a year.

SERIES GRADE: B

Darker Than Black: Gaiden (Winter 2010 Season) – 4 Episodes – A four-part OVA that tells the story of Hei and Yin between the first and second seasons of Darker Than Black…so WHY THE FUCK release it AFTER the second season? The ending of Gemini of the Meteor is less confusing with this OVA, but no less crappy (I grade it a C-). However, this OVA (just completed in August) is more interesting, perhaps because of its tighter focus.

SERIES GRADE: B-

Working! (Spring 2010 Season) – 13 Episodes – I really wanted this show to be good, but it fell back on the same tired joke again and again and AGAIN…and AGAIN. So many characters, so much potential, and instead it fixates on the whole “Inami’s irrational fear of men”. And then, it just…ends. Blarg.

SERIES GRADE: C+

What comes next? Well, first off, seven of the Summer 2010 shows received a “passing grade” after the second episode, so time to move forward and review the third episodes before I fall impossibly behind schedule (the eighth episodes of most of them are now showing, for example). Oh, and the Fall 2010 Season is just a few weeks away, Star-Crossed Anime Blog has already posted his Preview of the series as well as his Preview of OVAS and Movies, and other bloggers will probably be doing the same in the next couple of weeks. Time to get crackin’!

Also, I get to choose one show that I gave the “thumbs down” after the first episode, and give it a second chance. Here’s my short list of candidates, from the Summer season: Amagami SS and Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail; from the Spring season: Heroman, Hakuouki Shinsengumi Kitan, Rainbow, and Tales of Symphonia: Telle’atha. Any of these worthwhile?

So….any comments? Or am I just whistling in the dark here?

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