Anime Review: Where Things Stand as of October 14, 2010

(Originally published on Livejournal on 10/14/10)

Just a very quick review of where my anime-watching habits are at this moment — the last time I did a similar summary review was back on August 25th. These are the series I am currently watching, roughly ranked from “best” to “worst”:

Occult Academy (Summer 2010 Season) through Episode 9 – Unfortunately only twelve episodes long, and they seem to be trying to cram as much occult stuff as possible into the show as they can. I can imagine this should would truly be epic if it was a full 24-26 episodes long, so they could give each weird occurrence its due. And I also nominate Maya for Best character of the Year. (9/10)

Shiki (Summer 2010 Season) through Episode 9 – After crabbing about the comical character designs, I have warmed up considerably to Shiki, and now it’s on my short list to include among the top shows of the year. Very well written, building the suspense nicely for the first six episodes, now moving into more of a ‘cold war vs. vampires’ phase. (9/10)

Broken Blade (Summer 2010 Season) through Episode 2 – Yes, it’s a giant robot show, which immediately handicaps it in my mind. But it is an extremely *well done* giant robot show. I just hope they continue to be all angsty and shoe-gazey as things were developing at the end of the second episode. With the slow release schedule, I’ll be watching this well into 2011. (8/10)

Highschool of the Dead (Summer 2010 Season) through Episode 9 – Only twelve episodes? They barely got started, there *has* to be a second season around the corner, right? And now I understand the see-saw balance between the ridiculously out of control T&A and the depressingly grim storyline. (8/10)

Kaichou wa Maid-sama (Spring 2010 Season) through Episode 21 – As the series has progressed I have been less enchanted with the later episodes, compared to the earlier ones. We’re slowly grinding to the end, and it seems the entire *reason* for the show has been pushed to the back-burner, hardly touched upon. And the relationship between Misaki and Usui stalled long ago, Usui as a character has not grown at all, and we’ve had many meaningless side stories and filler. Focus, guys, focus! (7/10)

Legend of Legendary Heroes (Summer 2010 Season) through Episode 9 – An imperfect swords and sorcery fantasy series, that can’t seem to balance its humorous and dramatic elements. When it focuses on the plot and actual story, it is quite excellent. When it devolves into eye-rollingly bad jokes, you just groan and bear it until the scene is over. (7/10)

Ookami-san (Summer 2010 Season) through Episode 9 – I had very high hopes for this show at the very beginning, but it never lived up to those expectations. I can’t quite put my finger on what is really missing, but nothing seems to quite click just right. And the over-narration is as close to a fatal flaw as you can get. I would be dropping this show, but there’s only three episodes left, might as well finish it out. (6/10)

Katanagatari (Winter 2010 Season) through Episode 4 – Absolutely love the design aesthetic, love the interplay between the main characters, but with a monthly release schedule I could never get into it. I have several episodes spooled up to watch when I have the free time, but I’m not rushing to finish this. (6/10)

Nurarihyon no Mago (Summer 2010 Season) through Episode 6 – Actually a fairly decent show, but aimed at a younger audience. I suppose if I was twelve I would be all over this, but with so many other shows to watch, this one gets the axe. DROPPED. (6/10)

Mahou Shoujotai (2004 Season) through Episode 28 – Another show aimed at a younger audience, but the difference is that it’s chopped up into little bit-sized episodes that I can easily watch during my breaks at work. That, and the designs and world mythology are quite cool. (5/10)

Good Witch of the West (2006 Season) through Episode 4 – Read the first two manga volumes, and it was absolutely adorable. The anime, on the other hand…not so much. *Painfully* shoujo, I don’t expect to watch any more of this. (4/10)

Shukufuku no Campandella (Summer 2010 Season) through Episode 2 – Out of all the Summer shows that I gave the thumbs-down, this is the one I decided to give a second chance. Suffice to say, it’s not catching my fancy. I can’t figure out who this show is aimed at, but it’s not me. (4/10)

Black Butler 2 (Summer 2010 Season) through Episode 3 – What the hell? Are the first, second, and third episodes related to each other in any way whatsoever? I really have no idea what I saw in this in the first place, it’s horrid. DROPPED. (3/10)

Kiddy Girl and (Winter 2010 Season) through Episode 5 – There’s nothing redeeming about this show at all, it’s truly, truly awful. The original series was not great by any means, but it did have some interesting points. This P.O.S., however, has nothing going for it. I don’t plan on going any further. (2/10)
Then, a couple of shows that have completed, but have released “extras” or “specials” in the past couple of months:

Durararara (Winter 2010 Season) — Episode 12.5 – Basically just an extra episode that takes place in the middle of everything, trying to cram every single character in for an appearance. It doesn’t advance the plot in any fashion, just an added bonus for the fans of the show. (7/10)

Sora no Woto (Winter 2010 Season) — Episodes 7.5 and 13 – A curiously incongruous show to begin with, the original series left me *angry* at its conclusion. Two DVD-extra episodes, the first is the as-promised tale of how Kanata learned about the illegal distillery, and is pretty insipid. The second takes place many months after the end of the series, and really hits all the right notes. If more of the show was like that book-end episode, I’d be singing its praises. (7/10)
And now, for a final look back at the series that I have completed since my last summary listing two months ago:

Tegami Bachi (Fall 2009 Season) – 25 Episodes – In preparation for the second season, I shotgunned the first season in a handful of days. At times the show is a bit juvenile (after all, it’s aimed at the early teen set), but the inventive world mythology is intriguing. I can understand the complaints about how there was too much side-story and filler, but I’m looking forward to the resolution of the cliff-hanger.

SERIES GRADE: B+

Bakemonogatari (Summer 2009 Season) – 15 Episodes – Potentially one of the most epic shows in years, and perhaps one of the most epic failures as well. Watching the last three non-broadcast episodes I was reminded at how jaw-dropping visually beautiful this show is, and it is worth checking it out for that reason alone. Imagine how much better it could have been if they had hired some actual *writers*, instead of blowing all their money on the artists and designers. An A for the art, a D for the story.

SERIES GRADE: B-

Senkou no Night Raid (Spring 2010 Season) – 13+1 Episodes – In retrospect, this is a show I should have dropped halfway through. But bullheaded that I am, I stuck it out to the end. The quality of the animation was curiously substandard, and the story never came into focus until the end — spending too much time fiddling with the history and details instead of paying more attention to the main characters themselves.

SERIES GRADE: C

K-On Season 2 (Spring 2010 Season) – 26 Episodes – Yeah, I watched it — I do not have the gut-level hate-on for this show so many other people do. The first season had some merit, and was worth a mild recommendation. But the second season…nothing happens. It’s like watching a moe-moe anime version of Seinfeld. Sure there’s some cute moments, some funny moments, some touching ones as well, but overall there’s no point in watching this unless you’re a die-hard fan of the characters.

SERIES GRADE: C

Please note that I only give “Letter Grades” to series that I complete — that I watch every episode through to the end. Therefore, very few shows will ever receive a “D” or an “F” grade, because it would be very unlikely I would continue watching a show that bad all the way through. For comparison, here are the grades of shows finished in the past several months:

Durarara: A
The Tatami Galaxy: A-
Arakawa Under the Bridge: B+
Kurenai: B+
Angel Beats: B
Darker Than Black: Gaiden: B-
Working: C+

What comes next? There’s still one show from the Spring and six shows from the Summer seasons that I need to wrap up. Additionally, I have uncovered fansubbed versions of a few other Spring and Summer first episodes that I have not yet reviewed: Armored Trooper Votoms: Phantom Arc, MonHun Diary: Felyne Village in Danger, Hen Zemi, and Kuttsukiboshi. Another one that was on that list (Aki Sora: Yume no Naka) has been summarily dropped because I checked it out and it’s explicit porn — incest porn at that.

And of course, the Fall 2010 season has ALREADY STARTED about two weeks ago. Yikes, more than a dozen new shows have already hit the airwaves, and here I am diddling over shows that from months back! Time to get cracking! So far I have pointedly avoided anything involving the Fall season, but now it is time to give a quick preview and my thoughts on the “upcoming” shows, then dive into the reviews. So my next blog entry will be just that — the Fall 2010 season preview. Don’t expect anything too in-depth, just some quick impressions, that’s all.

So, what do you think, Sirs? Push the Button, Frank.

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