This month was an interesting one, definitely. There were unfortunately a few series who took a bit of a dip, or a bit of a wrong turn, but what charcterized the series who didn’t do that: charater development. Tons and tons of character development. Characters who one seemed one-sided gain a ton of depth, and just about every series turned out to be excellent in fleshing its cast out and giving more depth to it.
At this point, I won’t be able to tell whether or not this season really belongs among the best summer seasons we’ve had, because a lot of these series depend on their endings. The past spring will be very hard to beat in terms of awesome endings, but if there’s any season that can do it, it’s this one.
#2: Carnival Phantasm – (5/10) – Okay, so I tried to watch this while not having played Fate/Stay Night. So obviously I did not enjoy watching all kinds of random references that flew over my head. Heck, I even have trouble imagining how those jokes would have worked if you DID know the meaning behind them. If you haven’t played Fate/Stay Night: don’t even bother with it. If you have though… prepare for something really silly.
#1: Milky Holmes OVA – (8/10)
This… was bizarre. It’s pretty much the same as the series, which is a good thing Its high energy just kept on going and going, with surprisingly good animation. It was incredibly cheesy, but knew it and played that for laughs, which worked nicely. My one complaint is that it was entirely fanservice. Especially turning one of the cast members into an is a very trite twist, but thankfully it was nowhere near as badly done as with series as Kore wa Zombie Desu Ka.
#19 (20) – Sacred Seven – (7,25/10) – Sacred Seven: just take your characters, design a bunch of interesting looking monsters and just throw one monster at your characters for every single episode. That would have been more interesting than what the creators are currently doing, because the main plot of this thing is so completely and utterly boring. Apart from Arama, there really is nothing that stands out.
#18 (9) – Ao no Exorcist – (7,75/10) – Ao no Exorcist has gone off into anime original material, and I just have one major problem with that: I don’t care about the plot. It’s just not interesting. I’d rather wtach these characters interacting with each other. Satan? Who cares about Satan! Can’t the characters just all have a sleepover or something? That’s something that this show does really really well.
#17 (15) – Nurarihyon no Mago – (8/10) – I’m a bit behind on this series and haven’t watched the latest two episodes yet. This has to do with business, but also because the show is currently building up and so we’re in the middle of a training arc. I do not want to watch yet another season that’s entirely dedicated to build-up! There are hints of things getting better though: the villain looks interesting at the very least. Now, let’s not let her derail like the last one, okay?
#16 (8) – Gyakkyou Burai Kaiji – (8/10) – Aaand here is the point where this series lost my grip on it: in the end, the pachinko arc was too long. This month featured two episodes that just dragged on and kept repeating themselves. The thing is, that with so few arcs, this thing has lost its dynamic: it’s just waiting for the inevitable to happen. It’ll probably be an adrenaline fest when we get there, but Kaiji: you can also create series of 20 episodes long. It’s been done before. It’s even gonna save you some budget…
#15 (18) – Sket Dance – (8/10)
This month, Sket Dance was testing my patience, both in a good and bad way. The thing remains that it’s not as funny and dynamic as it used to. It however still is creative and is willing to try out risks. Just as I gave up on it, it pulls these strange episodes like the one entirely dedicated on bad jokes, or the double date. At first they may not seem much, but they’re surprisingly clever when you think about them afterward. I in any case want to see where the creators are going with this.
#14 (17) – Dantalian no Shoka – (8,25/10)
At first, Dantalian no Shoka seemed to have an excellent pair of main characters. Now, they’re the biggest weakness of the show, simply because they refuse to evolve. In Dalian’s case, she actually devolved. The rest of the cast, and the stories they run into are wonderfully imaginative, though. They’re incredibly far-fetched, but that’s what makes them fun and interesting. Gainax’s animation also helps.
#13 (16) – Blade – (8,25/10)
Yeah, something has to go really weird for Blade to not end up as the best Marvel series. Sure, its action isn’t as good as some of the other installments, but apart from that it has them beaten in pretty much every other category: the story takes actually interesting detours and has surprisingly engaging (albeit a bit cheesy) sideplots, the cameos are used in the best way so far, so that they actually enhance the characters playing a cameo, the characters have received much more depth than the previous ones and the bond between Blade and the people around him is much more interesting than that of the X-Men and Wolverine, and in terms of setting the characters aren’t wandering around random places, but instead are traveling all across southeast asia. Often visiting places that anime almost never (if they do it at all) touches upon.
#12 (14) – Ikoku Meiro no Croisée – (8,25/10)
Out of the slice of life series that I’m still watching, Croisee is the most overly sappy one. Because of that though, it can also get really genuine, which is an interesting trade-off. Its main selling point is its focus on cultural differences, which is really explored well. There’s a ton of interesting stuff discussed each episode, which very neatly relates back to the characters, instead of being just a kaleidoscope of random peculiar cultural differences.
#11 (10) – Usagi Drop – (8,25/10)
The interesting thing about the slice of life series this season is that they’re all excellent in totally different ways. For Usagi Drop, it’s the realism that really shines. Before I’ll fully judge this series though, I want to see how the creators are planning to end it. It won’t have the infamous trainwreck of the manga ending (which I thankfully have yet to be spoiled about) , but the anime still is going to have to tie itself together and I’m really curious how they’re gonna do that.
#10 (11) – Blood-C – (8,5/10)
It’s actually been a while since I’ve blogged such a controversial title. With that, I mean that Blood-C joins the ranks of series of which people have hugely diverging opinions. Personally, I’m at the positive side of the spectrum: I find this to be a very effective horror series with a gripping atmosphere and top notch fight choreography all around. The cast of characters admittedly aren’t the most interesting of the season, but they do really well in holding my attention and remaining plausible.
#9 (13) – Hana-Saku Iroha – (8,5/10)
The thing that sets Hana-Saku Iroha apart? Its drama. The characters themselves are… annoying to watch at times, but the drama between them is excellent to watch. It’s creative, gets some terrific development out of them, it shows new sides of them, the script is surprisingly well written when tit wants to and it weaves its various sideplots surprisingly creatively together. Because of that I find this to be a very engaging series, desipite how much the characters may get on my nerves.
#8 (6) – No.6 – (8,5/10)
Number 6 has only one problem. That didn’t change at all during the past month. It’s still wonderfully written, makes great use of its time to stuff as much plot and character development into its episodes, is really well animated, has an excellent plot and setting… but there still is no way that this one’s gonna end well.
#7 (7) – Kamisama Dolls – (8,5/10)
This still is rock solid entertainment: this month in particular upped the ante by giving the cast some depth to the main cast. Former one-sided characters actually were put in interesting situations and dilemmas, and gained a lot of depth. The storyline is also very effective and keeps making things interesting and entertaining to watch. Sure, there’s some badly placed fanservice, but that’s a minor issue.
#6 (12) – Kami-Sama no Memo-Chou – (8,5/10)
Finally in this month Kami-Sama n Memo-Chou stopped goofing off and showed one heck of a great storyline. Four episodes of undiluted awesomeness with a tight script, creative twists, excellent characters and a wonderful pacing. This is what mystery I expected from this series. It still has the JC Staff Cliches, but it executed them in a completely different manner compared to how they usually do them. Overall this finally lived up to its promise.
#5 (5) – Natsume Yuujin-Chou – (8,75/10)
There was one two episode arc and three episodic stories this month. The arc was great, but the episodic stories really stole the show here. The big advantage of the third season is that Natsume is developing like hell here. Every episode is dedicated to his growth. When you’ve also got heart-warming stories added to that, you’ve really got an amazingly charming series.
#4 (4) – Hyouge Mono – (8,75/10)
The one annoying part about Hyouge Mono this month was that it took a two-week hiatus, so we only got two episodes. What we got though, was absolutely wonderful. The acting in this series just gets better and better, and is without a doubt the best of the entire season. Just about everything is portrayed with the utmost subtlety, only to break that again with the bombastic emotions, and the cast plays excellently off each other. It’s still incredibly slow, so if you don’t have patience this really isn’t the thing for you, but for those who have it really is rewarding. But yeah, the dialogue is still incredibly complicated, so the chance that it will e picked up by subbers is very slim.
#3 (2) – Steins;Gate – (8,75/10)
Steins;Gate showed itself as the series with the best plot of the season. It’s full of intricacies of time-travel and its multi-layered plot is really starting to pay off now, and I especially like how suddenly, the first half of the series gets a completely different meaning. The least impressive part still is its characters, but they are nowhere near bad. They’re well developed, but perhaps just not as dynamic as they could have been.
#2 (1) – Tiger & Bunny – (9/10)
The plot with which Tiger&Bunny decided to go into its finale with was just awesome. Well built up, imaginative, but most importantly the characters were just awesome to watch. Just about every character shined during the past month and it’s incredibly fun to watch these people together. So yeah, it uses a plot device here and there. Who cares when it’s this awesome?
#1 (3) – Mawaru Penguin Drum – (9/10)
Now this one without a doubt stood on top of all of the other shows this month. It’s got a rock-solid direction and just keeps throwing the viewer for loops over and over. It’s chock full of red herrings and symbolism, the animation has a ton of neat details in it, the acting is absolutely wonderful, the characters all stand out and are wonderfully fun to watch. Seriously, if the other episodes are as good as this, then it’s a very strong contender for the best show of 2011.