My opinion on this season? Awesome. It really is one of the best seasons we’ve had in years, and especially the series I’ve been blogging haven’t disappointed at all so far. This season is especially excels in characters: there are lots of series with excellent characterizations and that make use of lots of quiet moment in order to flesh out their cast. A lot of the series this season are slow paced, but there are also some roller-coaster rides among them and overall, I’m very satisfied. I’m not sure whether this correlates to an almost complete lack of series from the mecha-genre (apart from two shows, but those are either so delightfully different from all of the mecha-series that we’ve been seeing for the past years, and/or know that they’re not supposed to be taken 100% seriously).
Rankings, like last month are a bit strange again, I basically tried to generate the rankings for each show, compared to the others that are currently airing. Say, for example that Show A has a really good setting, and there are only a few other shows with a better setting, it’s going to rank higher than if there are many shows with excellent settings, and vice versa. I know that it’s a bit weird, but for some reason it does more accurately reflect my feelings about the shows this season.
#25 (31) – Higepiyo – (6,75/10) – I dropped this show after episode six or something. It’s a shame that the only gimmick this show really had was the moustache. Apart from that it’s just been reusing its jokes over and over again.
#24 (20) – Koukaku no Regios – (7,5/10) – Okay, so the finale has finally started. This is the point where everything is supposed to come together, and sure enough: the characters are developing quite nicely… If only the plot knew where it wanted to go. For some reason the filth monsters have suddenly become incredibly weak, characters are conveniently zapped from one place to the other without much explanation, there are lots of pacing issues and with all the build-up of the rest of the series, it still feels like things haven’t been built up and introduced well enough. I hope that the finale can prevent this series from becoming a true disappointment, but things aren’t looking good.
#23 (11) – Kurokami the Animation – (7/10) – Aah! Sunrise, what are you doing?! There was a lot of potential going for this series once it hit its second half, but this month completely raped any potential this series had left. The way Keita came back to life without any explanation whatsoever, combined with a truckload full of other badly planned Deus ex Machina completely destroyed all the credibility this series had going for it. The final nail in the coffin for this thing was Reishin’s comeback, including his complete loss of any kind of personality whatsoever. Reishin’s background and the explanation why he became the bad guy was also laughable at best.
#22 (25) – Saki – (7,75/10) – You know, this series would have been much better if the creators actually knew a DAMN THING about Mah-jong. Right now, the matches are all “ooh look at how incredibly strong she is!” and “wow she’s even stronger”. There’s too much moe, there’s too much fanservice, but I have yet to drop this series because the characters do remain charming.
#21 (18) – Valkyria Chronicles – (7,5/10) – I’m still looking for a reason to continue watching this series, because it’s getting duller and duller now that some sort of generic ancient civilization of the Valkyrians has been introduced. Seriously, Guin Saga is currently doing just about everything better than this series is.
#20 (13) – Sengoku Basara – (7,75/10) – I want to like this series, but something is stopping me from it. My impression is that it’s in a bit of an identity crisis: it keeps hopping back and forth between GAR and epic manliness and historical politically correct warfare, but it doesn’t succeed in bringing out the best in either of them and they seem to be working against each other, rather than complementing.This really isn’t the best GAR series this season, and for historical warfare in feudal Japan we have Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto which has done a much better job at that, so I’m running out of things to recommend this series for.
#19 (19) – Chi’s New Address – (8,25/10) – There’s a really big difference with the first season now that Chi no longer has to stay in the house, but it’s still a really funny comedy. Right now the creators are introducing all sorts of interesting characters (I especially loved the return of the pet shop saleswoman) and Chi really is as lovable as ever.
#18 (new) – Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya – (8/10) – Well, it’s pretty much what I remember it to be: whenever Haruhi opened her mouth I wanted to punch the screen, but as soon as that annoyance left and the focus returned back to Kyon, Mikuru and Yuki it suddenly got a lot more interesting. I’m glad to see that this show hasn’t lost its wit yet. Now if only the fan-base would get less annoying and overwhelming.
#17 (22) – Gintama – (8,25/10) – Now this is more like it! I’m not sure what exactly happened, but this month Gintama showed that it most definitely can continue on with its new director, and that the guy can actually be funny and compelling. While still nowhere as good as it once was, the past few episodes released on fansubs have been a large step into the right direction.
#16 (16) – Shin Mazinger Shougenki! Z-Hen – (8,5/10) – Now this is pure entertainment! I really have a weakness for that retro cheese, but the new Mazinger is shaping up to be a really enjoyable series that tries just about everything to make an as big spectacle as possible, without falling into the same pitfalls as the likes of Code Geass by sacrificing solid storytelling for entertainment. I especially like how the creators seem to realize that mecha-battles alone are boring, so they made sure that most of the action happens outside of Mazinger, while they still keep Mazinger central to the plot by simply making him god-like whenever he gets the chance (not often) to show his awesome powers.
#15 (10) – Hetalia Axis Powers – (8,5/10) – There really is just one word needed to describe this series: brilliant. I especially love it when this series starts messing with cultural differences (especially the “in heaven” and “in hell”-songs were priceless), and I still find it a bloody shame that the Netherlands isn’t a character that’s made fun of.
#14 (12) – Marie & Gali – (8,5/10) – Oh, this series doesn’t make one iota of sense, but I like it so much. Every episode, there’s just so much weirdness going on, and I absolutely love the huge amount of creativity that the creators have. I’m glad to see that this show doesn’t seem to be ending after only thirteen episodes, because that’s just too little in order to show everything about this very strange setting in which Marie Curie bakes radioactive cookies and Newton is in love with apples.
#13 (14) – 07-Ghost – (8,25/10) – 07-Ghost has been a very strange beast. Unlike some other shows this season, it doesn’t have something it stands out in particular. It’s not the most ambitious series, its setting is on purpose kept very small, fillers are used to flesh out the characters. But what it does, it does very well. The characters are very enjoyable to watch and especially the fights and battles are very well coordinated and written, with just enough dialogue and just enough action without any of the two getting in the other’s way.
#12 (21) – Full Metal Alchemist – Brotherhood – (8,5/10) – In eight episodes, this show did what the original series took more than 21. Still, I already like it much better than the original series: the comedy and action mix well, there’s always something going on and the characterization is just so much better. Now that the two series are finally about to diverge from each other, I’m interested to see where the creators can take this.
#11 (5) – Guin Saga – (8,5/10) – Now that this series has also included medieval warfare between large armies, it really has caught my attention. About the only downside to this show is the really inconsistent animation (which really needs to be top-notch with this kind of series), but the whole setting, Guin, the enemy Mongols. Everything is compelling to watch further, despite the slow pacing.
#10 (3) – Pandora Hearts – (8,5/10)
Not as good as the previous month, but still an excellent series with great chemistry between the three lead characters. It’s obviously building up right now, so I’m eagerly waiting what it’s planning to do with the rest of the series, considering the creativity that it has already shown us. I just hope that the bit of the cheese shown in a few episodes between Oz and Raven isn’t going to return.
#9 (8) – Basquash! – (8,5/10)
Ah, Basquash. I’m still amazed at how behind the childish characters, weird fanservice and weird plot, there’s a surprisingly deep story lying. The characters are very well written and enjoyable to watch, though the fanservice can become a bit too overwhelming at times.
#8 (7) – Ristorante Paradiso – (8,5/10)
It’s interesting how all of the characters seem to have their own issues in the past, and yet this remains such a charming and quiet slice of life series. At the moment, the characters are getting fleshed out really well, and it’s enough to just watch this series for the characters and their daily lives, spiced up with a bit of their pasts. I felt like I really got to know these people.
#7 (15) – Hajime no Ippo – (8,75/10)
Now this is more like it. The Brian Hawk-arc took a long while to build up, but it’s been SO intense so far. Especially after the fighting started, I just can’t wait until that next episode gets released.
#6 (6) – Natsu no Arashi – (8,75/10)
This show has really proven a great execution, with a very nice combination between comedy episodes and serious ones, which both deliver in their own way to the main storyline. The comedy-episodes are really hilarious (thanks to Jun), and really: at the beginning of the show, did anyone expect to see the characters standing amidst a sea of fire in the midst of World War II?
#5 (1) – Eden of the East – (8,75/10)
Well, so while this show isn’t the best of the season anymore, it still is rock-solid with believable and likable characters. This month was mostly used for building up, though my one gripe is that it’s going to be such a long wait until the movie is going to come with all of the answers.
#4 (17) – Shangri-La – (8,75/10)
At first sight it’s stupid, silly and very incoherent, but as it turns out Shangri-la has much, much more to offer than just that. It’s a clever, compelling and confronting series with a lot of creativity in the story-writing. Every one or two episodes, the mood, themes and atmosphere completely change when the focus falls on something different, while the series still remains strong as a whole. Definitely one of the dark horses of the season.
#3 (2) – Cross Game – (9/10)
Possibly the smartest series of the entire season. This series has wit, but more importantly it has such a lovable cast of characters. Everyone is simply compelling in their actions, antics and development, and this series is just a must-watch for any slice of life fans, even those who have nothing with baseball.
#2 (4) – Phantom – (9,25/10)
What a fantastically subtle characterization of the lead couple. This series without a doubt stands among the top of this season and is definitely recommended if you’re looking for deep and well developed characters (and it’s only been nine episodes so far). This has a really good chance of becoming Bee-Train’s best series after .Hack//Sign.
#1 (9) – Konnichiwa Anne – (9,25/10)
After the first two episodes, I never expected that right now this series would already have been as good as it has shown now. You’d expect that in these first few months, this series would be quiet and nothing much would happen, but instead EVERY SINGLE episode has been awesome this month, ranging from Elisa leaving the house to childbirth to Ben’s drinking problems. There’s always something to make something special out of this series. And what a bittersweet series it has turned into!