Fall 2011 Anime Preview
Part 1 of 2: Television Series
Running about three months behind schedule, but here’s my quick rundown on the anime shows from the Fall of 2011 – namely, those shows that debuted (or are planned to debut) between September 22nd and December 21st, 2011. I plan on reviewing the first episode of every single subtitled anime show for the year; for details on my reviews, check out here for an introduction. Unlike some other bloggers, I’m not going to go into long details on this preview as to what each individual show is about — mainly because other bloggers have already done a decent job doing that task (no need to reinvent the wheel). If you want interesting synopses and commentary, here’s a few other blogs that I recommend checking out:
- Chartfag’s Fall 2011 Chart (Large JPG) – The go-to source for a quick and easy look at the entire season on a single page! This is a must for any serious anime fan.
- Random Curiosity Fall 2011 – In my opinion the best look at anime shows from arguably the best anime blogging site on the internet. A picture, basic details, a full paragraph description, a full paragraph commentary, and frequently links to video promos. Details upon details with thoughtful commentary, what more could you ask for? The only disadvantage: Quick single-line summary list of OVAs and Specials, no details or opinions.
- Star Crossed Anime Blog Fall Preview – One of my favorite anime bloggers looks at the season, giving each show a “potential” rating from 0% to 100%. One major drawback, however, is the tendency to primarily judge the show based on the studio and/or director making it, and the voice actors involved, rather than the show itself. One major advantage, however, is that it is the only blog to seriously preview the OVAs and Movies as well. That’s one of my big gripes, how everyone seems to focus like a laser on the weekly series, and practically ignore everything else.
- Sea Slugs Team Fall Preview – The seven contributors to Sea Slugs run through the entire season, show by show, each one giving their quick one-or-two-sentence opinions and whether they will watch it or not. Snarky as hell? You bet!
- The Cart Driver is worth checking out, as well as Hanners’ Anime Blog, plus Emory Anime Club.
All of the above posts happened waaaaaaay back in August, and here it is with Christmas right around the corner and the fall season wrapping up, and I’m getting around to looking “ahead” to the Fall shows myself. This is just par for the course, I’m always running way behind everyone else, so that’s no surprise. Up to now, I have intentionally avoided watching any of the shows, and also intentionally avoided even looking at any of the commentary about the shows to avoid having my own opinions ‘contaminated’.
For the pre-viewing impressions, because there are so many shows for this season I decided to break this post into two parts. This section (Part 1 of 2) will cover the weekly anime series, or about 32 shows. The second section to come shortly (Part 2 of 2) will cover everything else: Original Video Animations, Specials, Movies, Original Net Animations, and Shorts.
The format will be somewhat similar to what I did for the Summer 2011 Anime Season back in September (in fact, this text is mostly copypasta). Each show gets a picture, and also a brief one-to-four sentence text opinion, which may include (at most) one or two sentence description, if any at all. Please note that unlike most reviewers, (in *most* cases) I don’t really care which studio is making the show, who is producing/directing it, and what voice actors are involved — instead I’m more interested in the basic concept, the plot, the story, and the characters. And, of course, I am most concerned in what shows are interesting to **me** (rather than what shows are “good” on a more conceptual level), so all of my opinions are colored through my own personal lens.
The previews will be divided into four sections. First, shows that caught my eye, as in those that appear to be the most interesting. Second, shows that may have potential, might be worth watching or perhaps everyone else is saying it’s worth checking out. Third, shows that are not entirely hopeless, as in there’s an outside chance one or two of them might break out of the sludge. Finally, shows that are guaranteed crap, those that have no hope whatsoever. And now, on with the show:
1. Shows That Caught My Eye
Shinryaku Ika Musume Season 2 – Weekly television series. How much did I enjoy the first series from last year? Enough that it placed in the #5 slot in my Top Anime Shows of 2010, that’s how much. There really isn’t much of a story or plot involved, it’s all just silly, light-hearted skits, and frankly I would expect the same out of the second season. Nothing amazing, just enjoyable.
Chihayafuru – Weekly television series. This is an odd one, involving a uniquely traditional Japanese card game called karuta. Based on an award-winning josei manga series, tomboy Chihaya learns she has a talent for the game and decides to join the school club, with the hopes of meeting a long-lost friend. The series looks to be quite interesting, even if it does have overtones of Saki.
Ben-To – Weekly television series. Frankly, the very concept of the series is what grabbed me, it’s just so ridiculous. Yoh goes to the supermarket to pick up a discount bento lunch box, gets knocked out, and wakes up to find himself in the middle of an all-out war for low-priced food. Battle Royale of the Supermarket?
Un-Go – Weekly television series. One thing I have learned from shows that are in the notorious Noitamina timeslot: They may not all be good shows, but they are always worth checking out. Set in a world where detectives are deemed obsolete, the “Last Great Detective” and his mischievous sidekick solve cases. This one just looks good.
Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing – Weekly television series. One of the most anticipated shows of the entire year, heralded as Gonzo’s salvation. The original Last Exile series was definitely one of the highlights of the past decade, quite an amazing spectacle with it came out in 2003 (although the spectacle does fade somewhat on repeated viewing). While this is set in the same universe, it’s not directly related to the first show. Even if it’s not a sequel, I have high hopes for Last Exile.
2. Shows That Have Potential
Bakuman Season 2 – Weekly television series. Seems there are plenty of sequels this season, many of which I am already familiar with. This included Bakuman, which I watched the first several episodes, then dropped the show, then watched the rest and gave it a mediocre “C” grade. Maybe the manga is better than the anime, but I found it quite boring and drawn-out.
Working! Season 2 – Weekly television series. Speaking of sequels, this season also sees the return of the Island of Misfit Toys at Wagnaria Restaurant. Working was LITERALLY the very first series I watched and reviewed waaaaay back in April 2010, ultimately it earned a tepid “C+” grade. However, I may have been overly harsh at the time, because I was expecting it to go one direction and it ended up going another direction, and graded it downwards because of that. Hopefully we’ll get much, much, MUCH less of the unrealistic man-hatred of Mahiru, and more of crazy Yamada.
Phi Brain: Kami no Puzzle – Weekly television series. Frankly, from the description it sounds like an anime high-school version of “National Treasure”, as they stumble into an unsolvable maze of puzzles under the school with the ultimate goal of solving the “Puzzle of God”. Looks like fun.
Persona 4 The Animation – Weekly television series. Easily one of the most anticipated shows of the entire season, but for someone like me who has zero knowledge of the famed video game franchise, that’s somewhat beside the point. Yet it appears to be the “show to watch” this time around.
Mirai Nikki – Weekly television series. Almost *exactly* one year ago, there was a short Original Video Animation of “Future Diary”, which I reviewed negatively, saying that as a stand-alone product it was confusing and incomplete. But I prefaced that at the time saying that if it was a prelude to a regular series, then I would be interested in seeing more. Well, it took a full year, but here we are…
Guilty Crown – Weekly television series. The second offering in the noitaminA timeslot, the premise is somewhat contrived and wobbly, but its pedigree is strong and this looks gorgeous.
Nihon Omoshiro Mukashi Banashi – Weekly television series. A series of short, comedic stories based on Japanese folklore. Not much is known about it, but I find it intriguing.
3. Shows That Are Not Totally Hopeless
C3: Cubed x Cursed x Curious – Weekly television series. Out of all of the “cute anime girls in ridiculous anime situations”, this one appears to be the one with the most potential to be palatable. Damning with faint praise. From the description it feels a lot like Kore wa Zombie Desu ka, which was almost watchable.
Hunter X Hunter – My experiences with action/adventure shonen shows aimed at the pre-teen/young teen set has not exactly been a positive one. Will Hunter x Hunter be any different from, say, Bleach or Naruto or Dragonball or YuYu Hakusho or Yu-Gi-Oh or…well, you get the idea. One good sign is that it seems Hunter x Hunter has more of a bent of stories and characters instead of endless battles, but I’m not holding my breath expecting something wonderful.
Fate/Zero – Weekly television series. It seems lots of anime fans out there are practically rolling over with glee and jizzing all over themselves with glee over this prequel to the Fate Stay/Night franchise. Let’s just say I’m not so enthusiastic, after giving the 2010 movie a decided thumbs-down, and the TV reproduction summary series a negative review. Not exactly terrible stuff, but does not pique my interest, either.
Tamayura: Hitotose – Weekly television series. Last year, there was a four-part Original Video Animation series. Watched the first episode, dropped it. Watched the remaining three, and came to the conclusion my initial impressions were right. This is as boring as ever-lovin’ fuck. What can you say about a show based on a water-headed girl who takes substandard photographs and is most known for photos with blurry spots all over them (y’know, from dust on the lens). Basically, take K-On and remove all the of the fun and excitement and interest. What, K-On never had any of those things to begin with? Then I would say you understand exactly what I’m saying.
Kimi to Boku – Weekly television series. In many aspects, anime fandom has such a terrible, terrible reputation. Which is why I hang my head in shame when I have to preface a show that features five high-school best friends by stressing that IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YAOI OR BOYS-LOVE COMICS. No, really, they are just good friends, that’s it! Get your mind out of the gutter! Even that aside, this still looks awfully slow and boring. Or it could be gentle-hearted and touching. But I’m betting for slow and boring.
Shakugan no Shana III – Weekly television series. The third and final part in the long-running Shakugan no Shana franchise. Which I have never watched. Which I know nothing about. But it certainly looks nice. Much like other long-running shows, though, I really wonder if jumping in during the middle of the fray with get me interested enough to go back and check out the earlier episodes. It’s happened before, but based on previous experience that’s the exception to the rule.
Mobile Suit Gundam AGE – Weekly television series. I’ve never disguised my dislike in mecha shows in general and Gundam shows in particular. That goes doubly-so for the non-hard-sci-fi branch of Gundam. Throw in that this seems to be aimed at the kiddie market, and I am not expecting much out of the latest reiteration of this storied franchise. The only consolation: it looks nice.
Fujilog Season 2 – As far as I know there was only one episode from the first season subtitled by a now-defunct fansubbing group. It’s stupid with crappy CGI animation, but I found it slightly amusing. What are the chances of ever seeing more of Fujilog in English? Not likely.
4. Shows That Are Guaranteed Crap
Majikoi: Oh! Samurai Girls – Weekly television series. This is just one of the endless cycle of cute girl harem shows based on erotic video games that litter the anime dustbin. The fewer pixels spent on it, the better.
Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere – Oh my god, where to begin? I tried to make sense of the premise at least three different times, and I still can’t fully wrap my head around it. Even though it looks like they’re pouring a metric ton of money into this, it has all the hallmarks of a classic trainwreck. If anything, I am going to have a great deal of fun picking apart how terrible it is after watching the first episode.
Digimon: Xros Wars Season 2 – Weekly television series. Kiddie show, and just the most recent sequel of the long-running franchise. An interesting footnote, though: my review of the first episode of Digimon: Xros Wars remains my most-viewed review over the past several months. Make of that what you will.
Cross Fight B-Daman – Weekly television series. It’s another kiddie show, this one based on some sort of marble-tossing game. Nope, never heard of B-Daman (Bedaman/Beedaman) before, even though it aired on various US television stations.
Maken-ki – Weekly television series. Just another show that’s purpose is to show as many bouncing boobs and panty shots as possible on young, nubile underaged fighting girls. Get your fap-rags ready, you forever-alone fanboys out there!
Mashiro-iro Symphony: The Color of Lovers – Weekly television series. The words “adapted from an adult visual novel” is essentially all I need to know to assign this to the KILL IT WITH FIRE category. Maybe I’m just becoming more cynical after seeing so many of these types of shows over the past two years, but I am so, so very tired of this crap.
Sengoku Paradise: Kiwami – Three minute long episodes based on a mobile phone game, featuring all sorts of swiffy pretty boys based on historical Japanese characters. There are no words.
Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukanai – Weekly television series. “I Don’t Have Many Friends” is about a girl without any friends, who decides to create a club of other girls without many friends, so that they could all be friends together! It’s over-the-top in such a way that only anime can do, with “…an arrogant school idol, an effeminate junior hoping to become a “real man”, a BL-obssessed genius, ten-year-old genius teacher/nun…and somehow Kodaka’s middle school sister winds up as a member too.” There are so many things wrong I don’t know where to begin. The only hope is that is one of those “so bad it’s good” shows.
Chibi Devi! – Five minute long episodes of an unpopular middle school girl who unexpectedly ends up raising a baby devil. Looks like a cutesy, girlie version of Beelzebub?
Gdgd Fairies – Computer generated animated shorts of a babbling group of fairies. That’s about all I know.
High Score – A short, fast-paced gag comedy series based on a four-panel manga series. ’nuff said.
Morita-san wa Mukuchi Season 2 – Been there, done that. Twice. I watched the Original Video Animation, then I watched the first episode of the first season, and I came to the firm conviction that a series based entirely on a girl who says and does NOTHING (literally NOTHING) is not the best idea in the world.
There are a few shows that have appeared on some of the other preview lists that are not included above for various reasons. Busou Shinki: Moon Angel and Battle Spirits Brave are part of the Summer 2011 Season (by virtue of the first episodes appearing before the cut-off date); Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi Season 2 earns the instant death penalty because it is yaoi; Zero no Tsukaima Kessakusen is essentially a rebroadcast of earlier episodes; Ad Lib Anime Kenkyuusho is primarily live action.
Anyway, that’s the episodic television anime shows for the season! Honestly, there’s not a whole lot that grabs my attention, but you never know what little gems are waiting to be discovered. Coming up soon is “Part 2 of 2”, covering the specials, movies, and OVAs! And after that, I’ll watch and review the first of every subtitled show listed above.