The interesting thing with this month is that yet again I had no clear favourites. There’s a bunch of shows that I really like, but there’s not been a series for me that really stood above the others this month. I think that because of this, the series that ended up as my number one position is probably one that not many agree with, but it’s the series that I feel this month showed the most improvement and impressed me the most.
In other news, in the upcoming months I’m going to experiment with a new feature on these summaries, by handing out small awards for what stood out as the best at one particular part for the past month (inspired by The Null Set, thanks for the idea). Some awards like “Best ending of the month” are obviously only going to appear when a significant amount of series actually end. Next month, I’m probably also going to include an award for the best episode (I’d love to do it right here as well, but my favourite episode for June came from Higurashi’s OVA, and I stopped including OVAs in these rankings because it’s simply too convoluted to keep track of them).
Rankings, like the past months 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.
#26 (new) – Fight Ippatsu! Juuden-Chan! – (6,5/10) – Yeah… what’s there to say about this one, really? While I haven’t technically dropped it, I really can’t see myself watching through it entirely unless either the rest of the summer season is going to be really bad or the second episode is going to be really good.
#25 (24) – Koukaku no Regios – (6,75/10) – The ending was a horrible mess. Plot twists came from absolutely nowhere, there hardly was any conclusion or question that was answered. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a finale that was as rushed as we saw here.
#24 (23) – Kurokami the Animation – (6,75/10) – Alas. I really hoped that this series would become good with its second half, but it turned out to be the complete opposite. Especially that ending was a complete joke, but the entire month was basically a disaster of plot twists that were just there to get the most dramatic finale possible. Obviously that failed.
#23 (21) – Valkyria Chronicles – (7,5/10) – I’m twelve episodes in right now, and every time I think that this series is going to impress me… it doesn’t. This show really is getting old right now, and I can only hope that the second half is going to become better, and make up for the lackluster first half.
#22 (15) – Hetalia Axis Powers – (7,5/10) – Hetalia, what are you doing? You’re supposed to be a series that pokes fun at different cultures, not an excuse for gay romance. I’m really not sure what’s up with this series. The jokes have been as good as ever, but there are just too many scenes that just… aren’t jokes. Especially when they devote an ENTIRE EPISODE to a disturbing gay semi-reverse double Oedipus romance between a guy and his grandson.. you have to wonder what the creators are smoking. In a bad way.
#21 (new) – Umi Monogatari – (8/10) – I have yet to see Aria, so I’m really not sure what to expect from this series. It definitely had a solid start and premise, though. Let’s see what the rest of the series can offer.
#20 (20) – Sengoku Basara – (7,5/10) – Well, it’s at least good to see that the series is closing off with an exciting finale that was everything that this show made great: lots of manly action. Of course, when that’s all a series has going for it, it’s never going to stand among the greats. Sengoku Basara has been an enjoyable series, but it really should have used its time better.
#19 (13) – 07-Ghost – (8/10) – So yeah, this has turned out to be pretty much a guilty pleasure for me. Strictly speaking I should be hating it, but it just keeps drawing me in with its characters and nice art, despite the cheesiness and repetitiveness of the plot.
#18 (17) – Gintama – (8/10) – The past few episodes have been hit and miss. While the strange reference holiday was pretty dull, the King of Mayonnaise was absolutely hilarious.
#17 (9) – Basquash! – (8/10) – The thing with Basquash! at the moment is that it seems to be in its “mid-season lull”. For the past month, I’ve been missing the chaos and fun that made the beginning of the series so enjoyable. With episode 12 as a nice exception, perhaps.
#16 (19) – Chi’s New Address – (8,25/10) – More of Chi’s antics as usual. There definitely has been a change since the first season: since Chi can move outside freely now, most of the show is spent not inside, but exploring what’s going on outside of the house, and meeting some interesting characters along the way. Especially that elder cat was hilarious.
#15 (22) – Saki – (8,25/10) – To be honest, I thought that this series would end up falling apart completely with the start of the tournament. And yet, this month probably was the best month so far for Saki. The battles still are based too much on luck and weird skills like causing dust to spontaneously appear when you play a mah-jong tile, but the characters are really saving this series. I’m still surprised at how not annoying they’ve become. Apart from the Kugimiya Rie-voiced brat, perhaps.
#14 (16) – Shin Mazinger Shougenki! Z-Hen – (8,5/10) – Baron Ashura is such an awesome villain. This guy/girl is so incredibly fun to watch, and seeing his surprisingly thought-out plans come to fruition. Really, the only thing keeping him from pwning everyone over and over is the fact that Mazinger is simply god-moded. My only gripe with the show is the little brother and detective: they’re too often used for pointless and usually unfunny comic relief, and sap away screen-time from Ashura.
#13 (18) – Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya – (8,25/10) – I like how the past two episodes basically pulled a Seraphim Call Higurashi. It’s a nice idea once you see where it’s trying to go to, and I do have to say that Haruhi too was enjoyable to watch. The past month has been pretty enjoyable slice of life for me.
#12 (5) – Eden of the East – (8,25/10) – You know, everyone keeps saying how this series had some of the best mystery, but I don’t see why. Sure, the mystery rocked for the first three episodes, but after that it dulled in a bit, and I can name tons of series that handled their mystery better than Eden of the East did. But yeah, it’s true that this series has left me somewhat disappointed, but that in no way means that I don’t like it. The animation was as incredibly detailed as ever, and overall the series left with a pretty good cliff-hanger for the upcoming movies.
Award: Best Production Values of the Month
#11 (6) – Natsu no Arashi – (8,5/10) – The ending unfortunately was the worst part of the series. Never mind the lack of conclusion, it felt like it was trying too hard, and kept recycling old jokes. Nevertheless, the rest of the episodes from Natsu no Arashi this month rocked. It again had a very good combination between a deep analysis of its characters, and just plain fun humour. I’m not sure whether I’m going to like the second season as much as this one, but who knows?
#10 (14) – Marie & Gali – (8,5/10)
I just can’t help but love this series. It’s completely nonsensical, it’s downright crazy and very childish, yet I look forward to it every week to see what kind of weirdness they’re pulling next. It’s a hilariously charming series so far, and I’m glad that there are at least going to be 13 more episodes of it. The thing with this series is that it’s so consistently creative in all of the crazy situations it puts the lead characters in.
#9 (12) – Full Metal Alchemist – Brotherhood – (8,5/10)
Okay, and we’re nearly to the part where the story diverges from the original series completely. There have been plenty of other differences so far, though. Especially the atmosphere is completely different from the first series, and it’s much more fast-paced and quirky. The characters have been very enjoyable so far, and I’ve gotten very interested in that different storyline.
#8 (11) – Guin Saga – (8,75/10)
The new arc promises a lot of great things for this series: political intrigue, betrayal and much more, with the visuals still being as pleasing as ever. I’m just very curious about how the creators are planning to handle the rest of the adaptation: are they planning on covering all 200 novels, or are they simply going to stop after 26 episodes?
#7 (8) – Ristorante Paradiso – (8,75/10)
The ending was very solid, and really wrapped up the storyline with a satisfying conclusion. Overall, the final episodes of this series were really well done, and made this a really relaxing and engaging series.
Award: Best Ending of the Month
#6 (3) – Cross Game – (8,75/10)
My only problem with Cross Game is its baseball matches. Sure, I understand that they’re necessary and make sure for a lot of character-development, but they just take too long, and they just aren’t what this series is best at: slice of life. The rest of the episodes this month were again a great watch though, as the relationship between Kou and Aoba continues to develop subtly, and the wit that is used while telling their story is as awesome as ever.
Award: Best Storytelling of the Month
#5 (7) – Hajime no Ippo – (9/10)
Seriously, the only way to properly describe the past arc is by simply yelling FUCKING EPIC over and over. With this, I fully understand why this series has become so popular, and I’m of course going to check out that first season some day. I only hope that once Madhouse is going to come with another great series for the upcoming summer season, otherwise I’ll probably be going into a Madhouse withdrawal… (No, Chi’s New Address isn’t enough).
#4 (1) – Konnichiwa Anne – (9/10)
After the move to Marysville, the series has become much lighter this month, with Anne getting to know her new home place and making new friends, but something tells me that this is just one really big calm before the storm. Anne has really been as awesome as ever, and she definitely is the best character of the entire season.
Award: Best Characters of the Month
#3 (10) – Pandora Hearts – (8,75/10)
Thankfully the cheese is mostly gone now, and it shows. The drama so far is poignant and well written, and the art really rocks. Especially with the arrival of the Cheshire Cat, the story has become much more interesting.
Award: Best Setting of the Month
#2 (2) – Phantom – (9/10)
Phantom still belongs at the top-tier this season. Especially now that Reiji has developed and changed completely, there is SO much potential left in this series. Cal has only been introduced for two episodes, and she already is awesome to watch, and I’m really eager for this show to hit its second half.
#1 (4) – Shangri-La – (9/10)
So yeah, when watching Shangri-La there are plenty of points in which you’re going to have to suspend disbelief for a while, but apart from that I feel that Shangri-La has something that many other series are lacking. Despite how it seems messy from the outside, it’s actually growing out to be a very coherent mystery-story that continuously gets developed along with its characters. There’s always something interesting going on and the cast of characters is incredibly strong, yet all of them are flawed and no perfect humans. The soundtrack is also second to only Phantom in this season and the visuals are a huge improvement over what we’ve seen in the first few episodes, with especially episode 13 being a beautiful example.