I must say, that we’ve got ourselves an awesome Summer Season here. Sure, there aren’t many series, but a significant majority of the new series succeed at what they intend to do. There may not be a lot of shows with awesome and ambitious story-lines, but in terms of slice of life and characterization, this really couldn’t have been better. Oh, and if you’re wondering what happened to Valkyria Chronicles: I dropped it. It just became too tiring to keep track of it, especially with so many other great series going on.
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.
#33 (new) – Element Hunters – (6,5/10) – So yeah, there’s not much hope for this series. It tries to be educational, but the creators have no idea what they’re talking about. The characters behave like your typical shounen leads (really, you can’t get any more typical than these guys), and overall it’s something you show kids when they’re whining too much. Dropped
#32 (new) – Kanamemo – (7/10) – Amongst all of the other slice of life and yuri series this season, Kanamemo is simply overshadowed in the way that there really is nothing special about it whatsoever, and the first episode just felt forced to me. Dropped.
#31 (new) – Princess Lover – (6,25/10) – I originally dropped this, but because so many people seemed to like it and recommend it I stuck with it. My question is: WHY!? What is so good about this series? I can see that the animation is above average and all, but the whole set-up is even more generic than your average harem. The scenarios are very predictable and very much written to suit the story, rather than evolving naturally. Especially the lead character doesn’t seem to be able to decide what personality he wants to be. It’s just way too forced to make any sort of impact.
#30 (new) – Bakemonogatari – (7,25/10) – Watching Bakemonogatari is like watching someone read the Bakemonogatari novels in front of a slide-show. I can see that Nisioisin is a great writer in the way that he uses wordplay through his stories, but Shinbo has been incredibly lazy in adapting it. The characterization is just utterly bland, and we’re given no way whatsoever to sympathize with them with this style. I’d really wish that Shinbo had the chance to watch Mouryou no Hako before adapting this series; now THAT’s how you should adapt a story with lots of dialogue.
Award: Best OP of the Month (the first one)
#29 (19) – Zan Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei – (7/10) – It’s a shame really. I remember how I used to laugh like crazy over this series, but now all it gets from me are a bunch of chuckles during the good parts. The “social commentaries of the week” are still getting more far-fetched and formulaic by the minute. The only thing that still has my interest is that every single episode has a different OP and ED.
#28 (new) – Needless – (7,5/10) – Well, so this series deserves the reward of featuring the single biggest moron to grace any show this year (“yes, I’m looking for a guy named Adam; do you know such a person?”). It’s an incredibly stupid series and it’s clear that Madhouse’s worst staff has been working on this thing. Yet, for brainless entertainment it does the job. The banter between the different characters is varied and fun to watch at least.
#27 (new) – Yoku Wakaru Gendai Mahou – (7,5/10) – I’m really not sure what to think of this series. I know that I’m enjoying it so far and I like the concept of programmable magic; it’s not a chore to watch it in any way, and yet it has these cases of hopelessly bad acting and a collection of utterly terrible action scenes, and yet the characters themselves remain strangely enjoyable enough to watch. What puzzles me the most though is this series’ really weird fanservice. Are you getting bullied? Well, just throw your panties in the bully’s face! That will shut him up!
#26 (19) – 07-Ghost – (7,75/10) – Meh, it’s a shame but 07-Ghost has been getting a lot less entertaining. The focus has been getting much less at the church and more at the overall plot which turns out to be surprisingly dull and angsty. Finally my patience seems to be running out with this series…
#25 (16) – Chi’s New Address – (7,75/10) – Chi’s New Address has been getting a bit dull lately. That may be because of the slow subs (I switched to the subs for this series because the raws are near-impossible to keep track of), but granted: the first series also had this. It needs something to spice things up a bit, like the first season did with the big black cat.
#24 (new) – Kuruneko – (7,75/10) – I originally thought that this was going to be another one of those dull kiddie shows. Then I found out who the director was, headdesked and reminded myself why I always check out every single show at the start of each season. Kuruneko only has 3-minute episodes, but they’re really charming so far. I like how the old lady always tries to voice over her own cats, and with the most consistent comedy director in the business behind this series, I can see little that can go wrong.
#23 (22) – Hetalia Axis Powers – (7,75/10) – This month really saw an overabuse of dull Liechtenstein jokes, however after that this series very neatly picked itself back up. Especially the second season had a very nice start.
#22 (13) – Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi – (7,5/10) – Well, I’ve dropped this series at this point. The first four episodes were nice slice of life, but eight is going way too far. I’m not that angry with the series because I’ve never really been a fan, but I can understand the current fans a bit. If Amatsuki were to pull the same thing then I’d be raging too.
#21 (4) – Konnichiwa Anne – (7,75/10) – Ouch, this series has fallen badly this month. The Marysville arc has just been one big mess, full of really cheesy moral speeches that just WOULD NOT STOP and characters ripped off from Emily of the New Moon. The Thomas Family is still as awesome as ever, but characters like the teacher Henderson really manage to bring this series down right now.
#20 (15) – Saki – (8/10) – Okay, so the OP and ED haven’t stopped being annoying and the Mahjong matches have been based on luck more than ever now, but I’m still surprised at how good Saki has become. The reason for this is the cast of characters. They’ve been sufficiently fleshed out and developed right now, and they get more and more engaging with every episode. It’s strange, because apart from that this series has nothing else that makes it special whatsoever.
#19 (new) – Sora no Manimani – (7,75/10) – I originally dropped this, but then I learned about the director. Overall it has been an enjoyable series, but the comedy has been a bit too hit-or-miss, and the creators’ attempts at being heart-warming just end up as cheesy.
#18 (new) – Taishou Yakyuu Musume – (8/10) – For the past year we’ve seen an interesting increase in baseball shows: One Outs, Major 5, Cross Game and now Taishou Yakyuu Musume appears and still manages to stand out individually. The whole gender issues of eighty years ago are nicely touched upon, and the characters themselves are surprisingly likable.
#17 (18) – Gintama – (8,25/10) – Despite my rantings a few months ago, I must say that the new director has been getting better and better. The past arc has been surprisingly good at Gintama’s trademark of taking just about everything to the absurd.
#16 (17) – Basquash! – (8/10) – In this month, Basquash has been trying to get into the right track. Emphasis on “trying”, because I still have no idea whether this series is going to be a success or a total train-wreck. We’ve reached the point now at which Kiss Dum’s director has taken over, so let’s hope that he can give this series the ending it deserves.
#15 (21) – Umineko no Naku Koro ni – (8,25/10) – I’m still having a bit of trouble connecting to the characters, but Umineko definitely has been the most intriguing new series this season. In the first month we seem to have gotten only a little taste of what is to follow, but it’s promising to be a really entertaining mind-screw.
#14 (14) – Shin Mazinger Shougenki! Z-Hen – (8,5/10) – You know, for a homage of the series that popularized the monster of the week genre, the story is surprisingly non-linear. The Germany arc had a surprisingly good conclusion, and now that the past few episodes have started to introduce a whole new layer of depth in the whole story Shin Mazinger has gotten even more epic than it already was. I can always count on this series for my weekly dose of manly entertainment.
#13 (new) – Canaan – (8,25/10) – Canaan really has an awesome set of production values to work with, courtesy of PA Works. Everything looks really crisp and detailed with an excellent direction. Sure, the premise and characters still need some work, but there isn’t anything wrong with the execution so far.
#12 (new) – GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class – (8,25/10) – Talk about the dark horse of the season! I’m really enjoying this series, not just because of the characters, but also because I’m really interested the main topic for this series: Art Design. I love all of the nice ideas that the creators throw into this series, and the creators have really shown that they’re very knowledgeable about this subject. I’m just not sure why they found it a good idea to focus an entire episode on a bunch of unrelated side-characters, but perhaps they’ll return later somehow.
#11 (21) – Umi Monogatari – (8,25/10) – For a Junichi Sato series, Umi Monogatari feels a bit too one-sided, but nevertheless it has a powerful cast of characters and succeeds as a heart-warming drama. The “monster of the week”-theme only turned out to be something of the first few episodes in order to flesh out the characters.
#10 (10) – Marie & Gali – (8,5/10)
This series continues to be my current favourite comedy. It still hasn’t lost any of its charms, and it’s still as funny as ever with all of the weird stuff that the creators throw into it.
Award: Funniest Series of the Month
#9 (6) – Cross Game – (8,75/10)
Cross Game yet again has been a truly excellent series this month. The characters are advancing very subtly and the wit of this series doesn’t seem to be getting less interesting at all.
#8 (3) – Pandora Hearts – (8,75/10)
So yeah, the Cheshire Cat arc rocked. It really pushed the story into a different direction and the characters gained a lot of depth through it. My big worry is the same as the manga readers’ right now: where the heck is that second season!?
#7 (8) – Guin Saga – (8,75/10)
This month, Guin Saga turned to politics and lots of character-development, with some excellent results that really managed to solidify this series’ epic atmosphere. This series has become very solid fantasy and I’m loving it so far.
#6 (8) – Spice and Wolf – (8,5/10)
The first season took a while to get going. The second season didn’t. These past four episodes have been intelligent and complex in the merchant business, and at the same time they showed Lawrence and Horo at their best surpassing the subtle chemistry between them that made the first season so good.
#5 (9) – Full Metal Alchemist – Brotherhood – (8,75/10)
17 episodes in, and I’m confident to say that Brotherhood has surpassed the original series. The new series is shaping up to be much more interesting, and the way the creators toy around with your emotions, with which you’re not sure whether to laugh or cry, is just brilliantly done.
#4 (new) – Aoi Hana – (8,75/10)
Amazing attention to detail, that’s what this series stands out in. Because of that, this has turned into one of my favourite series of the new summer season. A lot of care has been spent into subtly fleshing out and developing all of the different characters, with some amazing results already within five episodes. Noise rocks!
Award: Best First Episode of the new Season
#3 (2) – Phantom – (9/10)
Phantom has continued to slowly build up its current arc, and you can still see enough of its brilliance throughout. I really like what Cal turned into, and the characterization on Reiji has been truly excellent all the way. This is why I’m such a big fan of Bee-Train.
Award: Best Characters of the Month
#2 (1) – Shangri-La – (9/10)
I really have to praise Shangri-La for its ambition. The storyline is really evolving into something epic right now: there are lots of different sides, every single episode nowadays comes with a truckload of plot twists that hardly ever feel out of place and only make the setting even more intriguing. It’s a lot of fun to watch due to the excellent cast of characters. It’s as a series very rough around the edges, with the direction feeling jerky at times to say the least, but considering how awesome the rest of the series has turned out, I’ve really stopped caring about this series’ flaws long ago.
Awards: Best Storytelling of the Month; Best Setting of the Month; Best ED of the Month (the second one)
#1 (new) – Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 – (9/10)
What an utterly amazing start to this series. I’m really glad to see that the creators chose a realistic approach: they didn’t create a worst-case scenario, but instead a “what if”-scenario. Mirai really works as a flawed lead character, and the creators added a lot of subtle details to her character that make her a really sympathetic lead.
Awards: Best Production-Values of the Month; Best Episode of the Month (02)