Hah, I don’t care about the general opinion: this show rocks! It may be the most neglected series of the season, but for me it definitely belongs in the top-10 of the series that aired this season.
In this age of big budgets, it’s good to see that a relatively unknown company as Studio Fantasia is also trying its best to put down a classic. One of the things I don’t like about this season is that nearly every good series is done by the big animation studios, as Madhouse, Gonzo, Deen, etc. The studios that are relatively unpopular don’t seem to be even trying (for example A.C.G.T with its questionable Monochrome Factor).
I’m really glad to see that Studio Fantasia is trying to improve itself. Just take a look at their previous work. Before 2006, they only worked on silly shows which only seemed to focus on fanservice, though they pretty much surprised me with their solid work on Souko no Strain, and now they again managed to create a very enjoyable series that goes right where many other series have gone wrong. So yeah, there are a few low-budget parts in this series, mostly the art, but the rest really shines. This should send out a good message to the other lesser-known studios: you can create a good anime, even on a small budget.
Really, this is what a 12-episode series should be: no scene is wasted, quick development and good characterization. A 26-episode can afford to slowly build up for 10 episodes, but series like this one need to deliver quickly. Seeing a series that builds up for eleven episodes, with a climax of only two episodes is nice and all, but it remains mostly boring.
What’s more: the villains actually have some background to them. This episode actually gave the two of them some depth, beyond their stereotypes. It seems that the guy is obsessed with his own work, and is fascinated when he sees how HW-09 has managed to not turn into glass. The woman meanwhile reveals that she knew HW-09 before she became a glass maiden, and as it turns out: she loathed her.
Also, is it me or do the more low-budget series have a bigger tendency to feature good fights than high-budget series? Seriously, I can confidently say that the fight in this episode was better than what I’ve seen from Soul Eater and Macross Frontier so far, even though these series overflow with budget. It’s the same with Gunslinger Girl – Il Teatrino: the animation was bad, and yet the fights were amazingly directed. Somehow, it feels to me that the creators try to make up for the lack of budget by detailed direction, and it really works!