Overall, I’m very pleased with this season. There were unfortunately a few series that disappointed this month, but at the same time there were also a lot of shows that exceeded my expectations about them. I think that the most notable of this season is that it’s the very first season in what feels like three years in which Madhouse doesn’t have any series of notable quality. I’m not sure what happened to them, really. Have they been hibernating through the economic recession or something?
Rankings, like the past months are a bit unusual 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.
#30 (29) – Zan Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei – (6/10) – Okay, so this series has hit new frontiers of boredom for me. After one episode, this got so bad that I suddenly became fascinated by the pattern on my chair. In addition to this series getting less funny with every episode, the non-funny parts are also getting harder and harder to sit through, with especially the incredibly stereotypical characters growing more and more on my nerves.
#29 (20) – Saki – (7,25/10) – The battle between Saki and Koromo unfortunately was a step down for this series. At this point, Koromo was so unbelievably god-moded that the creators had to god-mode Saki as well to give her a chance against her. So in the end this just became a contest of who could pull off the biggest and cheesiest Deus ex Machina. Afterwards, this series never really managed to recover for me. It’s been one cheesy and predictable scene to the other, with hardly any of the character-depth that made the middle episodes so enjoyable.
#28 (25) – Chi’s New Address – (7,25/10) – Okay, so I got impatient with the slow subs and tracked down the raws for this series. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like this series is getting any better. There is just an entire lack of direction, and the show just hangs on a string of random episodes that all fail to live up to the first season. There are too many episodes in which Chi randomly causes trouble and breaks stuff, and I think that this series has hit past its expiration date at this point. Such a shame.
#27 (26) – 07-Ghost – (7,5/10) – I hope that for this series, the creators are going to go with an anime original ending. Don’t get me wrong, but this just isn’t a series that’s going to work with a second season, and with an ending that actually wraps up the story there is at least going to be some sort of closure. This show lately has been getting less bearable, with as the depth the really lame Bishop Exam.
#26 (28) – Needless – (7,5/10) – This show really is one of the most vulgar shows I’ve ever seen. The jokes are amongst the dumbest I have ever seen, same with the fanservice. Still, it does what it intended to do: entertain. In terms of mindless entertainment, it really does the job well and doesn’t try to pretend it’s anything more than what it is. At least I can appreciate that.
#25 (23) – Hetalia Axis Powers – (7,75/10) – This month, Hetalia has been adequate. There were no particularly bad episodes, but there weren’t any that stood out either. It’s nothing particularly boring, but I do hope that this show can pick itself up again after this.
#24 (30) – Bakemonogatari – (7,5/10) – I can see that the dialogue for this series is good, but at the same time I have a lot of trouble connecting to the characters because Shinbo took his style way too far. The screen is way too full with pointless visuals, walls of text that appear at the wrong moments, take way too long, and take the focus away from what’s really important: the characters. Seriously, the lead character in particular hardly gets any close-ups when he talks. The camera is always focusing at either his eye, his ahoge, or something completely different. It’s probably because of this that I found the ending of the third arc to be convenient and cheesy.
#23 (17) – Gintama – (7,75/10) – The thing that the new director is going to have to work at is his climaxes. The past oldies arc was pretty good, but the climax just ended up a bit cheesy and was filled with Deus ex Machina.
#22 (16) – Basquash! – (7,5/10) – Basquash was mostly building up this month. It’s going to need it, because I’ve pretty much lost my faith in this series, and only an entertaining ending can save it for me. My biggest issue with this series is that it doesn’t seem to really know what it wants. If it’s supposed to be a fun and entertaining show, then why does it go on and on in pointless drama? If it’s supposed to be a deep and thoughtful show, then why are the characters so unbelievably stupid at times?
#21 (22) – The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya – (7,5/10) – Now that the Endless Eight has finally ended, I’ve gotten bugged with another of this series’ problems: Haruhi is annoying. Seriously though, the past three episodes of her Sigh have been surprisingly boring and uninteresting. The characters have been acting way too much according to their stereotypes, rather than as actual characters, and the dialogue also suffered a lot. In fact, the dialogue of the entire second season has been far from as detailed as it was in the first season.
#20 (24) – Kuruneko – (8/10) – This series is surprisingly fun, especially now that Chi’s Sweet Home has stopped being funny, there’s enough cats to laugh about here. But I especially like the old lady who keeps the different cats. She has wit, and I love how she always tries to voice everything over.
#19 (13) – Canaan – (8/10) – So in this month, Canaan showed its true colours. Deranged, over the top and very far-fetched colours. While I admit that I would have preferred a bit more subtlety in the storytelling, it still is a pretty nice action series. Just don’t try to go in it expecting any sort of realism…
#18 (18) – Taishou Yakyuu Musume – (8/10) – I’m starting to wonder whether twelve episodes are enough for this series. There’s still so much left to do, and yet we’ve already passed two thirds of the series. Sure, things have been pretty enjoyable slice of life, the characters are quite charming, but are the creators really all right with only four episodes left?
#17 (21) – Konnichiwa Anne – (8/10) – I still hate Henderson, but granted, she was much more annoying in the previous month. Thankfully Konnichiwa Anne has gotten better right now, with the focus nicely balanced between Anne and the side-characters.
#16 (11) – Umi Monogatari – (8/10) – This has been a peculiar little series. It’s strength is that it’s incredibly dramatic, and yet it never delves into melodrama or something that’s so overacted that you can’t take it seriously. It’s a great example of an emotional series: one that’s meant to bring out emotions. At this, it actually fares off pretty well, but this is a Sato Junichi series we’re talking about. He has done so much better in the past, that this series just pales when you compare it to some of its other works. If you don’t though, then it’s pretty nice.
#15 (27) – Yoku Wakaru Gendai Mahou – (8/10) – This is yet another one of those series that isn’t supposed to be good… and yet it is. Seriously, it has all the elements of yet another dull moe show: overly cute character-designs with weird hair-colours? Check. Stupid fanservice? Check. Overly cute voice actresses? Check. And yet, this series has something that a lot of moe shows nowadays lack. The characters, especially the main character, are all surprisingly genuine; the way they act, the way they interact with each other. It feels like they’re really behaving like themselves, rather than trying to go for forced stereotypes.
#14 (15) – Umineko no Naku Koro ni – (8,25/10) – I think that the biggest difference between Higurashi and Umineko, at this stage in the series, is that Higurashi was much more of a horror series: it used its storytelling and mystery to create a very tense plot. Umineko instead chooses for censored gore and a lot of talking, which neither come really close to horror. Because of this, I like the first nine episodes of Higurashi better than Umineko. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that the mystery in Umineko doesn’t rock. This yet again is a great series to try and formulate theories of what the heck is going on, only to have them proved wrong by this series.
#13 (10) – Marie & Gali – (8,5/10) – It’s a shame that this show went into multiple hiatuses during this month, because I really can’t get enough of the craziness in this series. What’s also very peculiar for a comedy is that it’s just consistently awesome: there’s hardly any bad episode, and every episode has something creative that puts a smile on your face. Sure, the episodes are only five minutes long, but still.
#12 (14) – Shin Mazinger Shougeki Z-Hen – (8,75/10) – This show really has become epic in the past month. I must say that it’s really managed to create an awesome story, based on the premise of a few key characters and a powerful giant robot. The twists and turns have only added to the awesomeness, and this series is only getting better and better. In the coming month, it’s finally time for this series to close off with an epic finale, and something tells me that the creators aren’t going to settle with a straightforward ending. There are so many different villains at this point that it’s promising to be a true clash of the titans.
#11 (8) – Pandora Hearts – (8,75/10) – Every time I think that this series couldn’t possibly pull any more plot twists, it does, and with every plot twist the series only gets more intriguing than it already was. Sometimes the creators keep hanging a bit too long around Oz’s development, but overall this still is an excellent series. Now where is that second season?!
#10 (7) – Guin Saga – (8,5/10)
Lots of politics this month for Guin Saga, and I must say that I like it a lot. The cast of characters is really growing beyond belief, but the creators still managed to give most of them their own identity. The lead characters meanwhile also make sure that this remains an epic series.
#9 (5) – Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood – (8,75/10)
It seems that the manga readers aren’t all happy with this adaptation, because of all the things it cut out. Having not read the manga, however, I don’t care. I personally don’t notice anything of the cuts that were made, and especially episode 19 was really good and well animated.
#8 (12) – GA:Geijutsuka Art Design Class – (8,75/10)
This show rocks! Sure, it’s probably a bit boring if you don’t have any interest in art, but this series really is one of the few anime this year that actually taught me something. Aside from that, the creators have managed to keep a perfect balance between fun interactions, slice of life and the educational parts. Not one episode feels like a copy of the others, and every episode it comes with new material, rather than ripping or milking off previous episodes due to a lack of inspiration. This definitely turned into one of the best (if not THE best, along with Cross Game) slice of life comedies I’ve seen this year.
#7 (9) – Cross Game – (8,75/10)
The thing that makes Cross Game so good is that every single episode, no matter how seemingly insignificant, contributes to and develops the characters, if ever so slightly. The pacing is slow, but for this series, it’s just enough to see the characters slowly get more and more complex and likable. That really is the strength of a series by Adachi: sure, he can only write shows of one type, but he’s really, really good at it and hardly ever repeats himself.
#6 (2) – Shangri-La – (8,75/10)
It’s not the best month for Shangri-La, but nevertheless it’s gotten surprisingly solid now that it’s building up to its finale, and it might actually be able to pull off a very enjoyable one at this pace. At this point, the story has gotten epic without sacrificing what made the rest of the series so enjoyable. All it now needs to do is have something awesome happen at the finale.
#5 (6) – Spice and Wolf – (8,75/10)
The biggest difference with the first season is the relationship between Lawrence and Horo: the two of them have become much closer with this season, and yet the creators manage to keep the romance mature and prevent it from being forced. The talk about trading has been as intelligent as ever, which always is a good sign.
#4 (4) – Aoi Hana – (8,75/10)
This series has really been consistently excellent, like I’ve probably said many times before. The romantic relationships are very down-to-earth and realistic and the creators are really good at very subtly fleshing out the characters.
#3 (1) – Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 – (9/10)
At first, when I finished episode 8, I thought that this series was going to finish with a rather uneventful finale that didn’t really live up to the amazing first five episodes. But then when I realized that SPOILER, it suddenly put the entire series in an entirely different light. That’s got to be the SPOILEREST SPOILER I have ever seen, and I really applaud the creators for SPOILER. This has the potential of being a classic if they manage to end this series well. Apologies for the rather cryptic description, but the ones who saw episode 8 will probably get what I mean.
#2 (18) – Kemono no Souja Erin – (9/10)
Yeah, yeah. So I gave in to everyone who praised this series and marathoned it up to episode 33. And oh my God, people surely weren’t kidding when they said that this was one of the best shows of the year! Because of its long length, it really was able to get the best out of the character. Especially Erin, who has now grown up to be eighteen years old, has become one of the best developed characters of this year for me. This series has become so good at portraying the pain-staking work it takes to tame and take care of a wild beast, but also the newly introduced villain is already an awesome one who is going to pose a serious threat to Erin. The back-story for this series has also turned out to be surprisingly solid, and for those who were wondering whether this series would have gotten a bit too childish with the farting bee-keeper: don’t worry. It’s just a small gimmick that returns occasionally.
#1 (3) – Phantom – (9,25/10)
Now that it’s entered its final arc, this series has become utterly amazing, and without a doubt my top pick for the past spring season. Especially Cal’s character-development has been awesome, but Reiji and Helen have also become a joy to watch with all of the development that this series has put in them.