Posted by psgels on 31 August 2011 with categories: Monthly Summaries

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.

OVA Releases
#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.

TV Series
#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.

28 Responses

  1. Cryptic says:

    I seriously don’t see why this show receives such praise. I’ve watched numerous slice of life shows so its not like I’m new to this genre. I find myself skipping everyone of Ringo’s delusions because they are annoying. I would give this show a 7/10 because its watchable, just not outstanding.

  2. Engix says:

    @1 I have to disagree, to me mawaru is enjoyable to watch and its actually my favorite show of the season.

    But i have to say 1 thing about Carnival Phantasm i actually found it decent. I also dropped Fate/Stay night, so i guess i like light hearted stuff.

  3. Pafiume says:

    I’m gonna agree that I feel like Mawaru Penguin is just hype at this point. I enjoy it, but it’s just not THAT great so far. The past few episodes of Steins;Gate, even without the one from today which I don’t know if you’ve seen yet, have been stellar. It draws me in so completely. I guess you don’t like the characters too much, but I love them. Tiger and Bunny has also been better in my opinion. It’s hard for me to watch, but only because I’ve come to care so much for the characters. But this is your list, and you have your own opinions.

  4. meow says:

    If you haven’t played Fate/Stay Night: don’t even bother with it.

    Not just FSN. Every Type-Moon title, from Tsukihime to Melty Blood. Characters from all of them show up. And yes, you need to know the story fairly intimately, and even need to know the prominent staff. (I’m pretty sure those weird aliens that are defeated by Phantasmoon every episode are supposed to be parodies of the major creators of these titles. Kinoko Nasu, etc.)

    That said, having played the Fate games, I found this parody very very enjoyable. It was surprisingly well animated and performed and I got to know alot of characters from Tsukihimne/Melty Blood I’d never met before. I loved the original characters and it was painful to see alot of their suffering so it’s kind of cool to see them in this “what-if happy-ending” setting that you can’t expect in the games, anime, etc. Eg. Caster if she had a chance to live peacefully with her Master, Ilya and Rin fighting over Shirou with an awkward Saber looking on, etc. And I never knew Rin had trouble with tech (kawaiisugiru

  5. du5k says:

    Gonna agree with #1.

    Penguindrum’s style is brilliant and it’s filled with creativity, but the story’s going nowhere. Without the artistic direction, I won’t really have reason to watch the show. It’s fun to watch, but I wish something serious would actually happen and the story would move on.

  6. paj says:

    I am also in the same boat as everyone that Penguindrum is just a mediocre show. I guess i don’t see what is so special about it. I find it not really up my alley. So in favor of Cryptic post. . .I have to third or fourth it.

  7. jreding says:

    It is so sad that no one is subbing Hyouge Mono! I watched the first like five episodes which were kindly subbed by Huzzah and I fully agreed with psgel’s praise. But watching it raw would be pointless for me who bare understands Japanese highschool anime slang.

  8. KrazyKobun says:

    I love Mawaru Penguindrum! The other series just don’t have the creative direction that Penguindrum does. While MP isn’t really going anywhere, it remains consistently entertaining, mysterious, crazy, intelligent, and fun. Plus its starting to get the ball rolling. I think its not fair to compare a series reaching its climax to a series that is still in the process of world building. Steins’Gate and Tiger & Bunny didn’t have the best starts either. Most of the interesting revelations are revealing themselves in T&B and S;G, so of course it’ll be more interesting.

    All three are amazing anime.

  9. Riddick says:

    LV is a unique and popular product. Though the cost of producing is cheap, they are sold in exorbitant price. Penguin’s hype is largely due to the branding. If it was directed by someone else, it would not be getting the same treatment as what the series is getting now. It sure is unique. But not as awesome as what everyone is claiming.

  10. jreding says:

    Postscriptum: Good point in highlighting that Ikoku Meiro and Usagi Drop are both excellent, but in completely different ways! Ikoku Meiro is about aesthetics and cultural differences, whereas Usagi Drop covers more realistic social issues like being a single parent. Slice of life can really come at a wide range of varieties! Both shows, however, have super cute characters, look very good and are much higher on my personal ranking than on psgel’s.

  11. anim3spy says:

    About Itsuka Tenma no Kuro Uragi have you dropped it or forget to include in your list?

  12. Cholisose says:

    This season has been the great slice-of-life season for me. I’ve loved Natsume Yuujinchou, Ikoku Meiro no Croisee, and Usagi Drop–probably the top three shows for this season IMO.

    I tried watching Penguindrum, but it weirded me out so much. Perhaps if I loved penguins I’d enjoy it more? But I couldn’t get into it.

  13. Hogart says:

    Your top five are no surprise, but I’m a bit surprised to see Croisee and Usagi lower than Dolls and Memo-chou. I’ve utterly failed to gain an appreciation or emotionally invest in Dolls/Memo-chou, though, so maybe I’m just getting too old for my own good.

  14. meee says:

    Your top 3 is my top 3. Granted, I’d rank them in the opposite order, but I adore all 3 of them.

  15. CJay says:

    Yeah my top 3 is also the same just flipped with Steins;Gate being my favorite.

    Also I feel that psgels gripes with the characters in steins;gate are all really particular. Like who doesn’t make sex jokes when they are hanging out with their friends? They seem all believable. Okabe is also an extremely dynamic character. Specially looking at the way he acts in these last two episodes…very different from the first few episodes. I mean I definitely wouldn’t say that the characters are better overall than T&B but I just think its odd that you pointed out that they are the weakest part of the show.

  16. Kits says:

    Your post are really silly, Random thing is not bad because you like thing boring for the sake of boring and you like just because is not moe

  17. Frost says:

    Like many said, for me Steins;Gate is EASILY, EASILY the top anime airing right now, the best of the year, and possibly the best of the decade, so Im kinda shocked you give it less than 9

    Penguindrum is indeed overhyped at this point… The first few episodes were amazing, since the survival strategy sequence was still fresh etc, but the last ones have been dragging around pointlessly and nothing really happened.. I am also getting annoyed at the constant Ringo delusions, especially when its obvious Ringo will end up with Shouma

    I also loved the first 5 Hyouge Mono episodes to death, but I had to stop watching due to lack of subs… I have no doubt it would be in my top 3 as well at this point

  18. Kim says:

    I love Mawaru but right now it would be hard for me to choose between that and Croisee as my anime of the summer season. And it’s been a very strong season for me.

    Mawaru I knew I would love from the start. But Croisee was a big surprise for me. I remember I even told you it’s probably not worth blogging. Well now I can admit I was very wrong about that because the series definitely charmed its way into my heart.

  19. Left says:

    This is why it’s all about opinions. I know Steins;Gate is being lauded, but when I first watched the first few episodes, it was a real chore to get into. I just couldn’t get invested in the characters. I’ll probably marathon it later for the plot, but I agree with psgel about characterization. Penguin is incredibly entertaining and I look forward to it every week, but the craziness also does distance me from relating to the characters. In contrast, I’m surprised by how much I like Kamisama Dolls. It’s a pity it’s not being blogged.

  20. Blue Bomber says:

    Just saw Steins;Gate 22. Wow, just wow. Then the part after the credits. 0.o Truly the one show I’ve been looking forward to more than any other this season. Maybe even this year (AnoHana’s a close 2nd). And each ep just keeps solidifying that more and more. There are still 2 more eps, right? ANN shows there being 24, so more epicness should be ahead…

  21. AKI says:

    Same as above your top three is reversed on mine. Steins;Gate is the best anime airing this year, one of the series that i expected to end on a high note. Mawaru is OK, decent but its hype did not resonate with me. But I believe that it has interesting characters and the creativity is something fresh.

  22. Anon says:

    Subjected to uthena’s fandom I suppose… Can’t be help, individual opinions will definitely be bounded by subjectivity

  23. Shippoyasha says:

    I agree with almost everything in the list to varying degrees.

    I kind of find it funny though how you love Penguin and yet you just totally DESTROY Suite Precure like it’s cancer. Suite Precure actually surprised me on how well it’s written and it definitely feels way better than some of the sappier Precure seasons before it. Heatcatch had that freakishly amazing animation, though Suite isn’t by all means absolutely terrible either.

    Still, great to see Penguin up there!

  24. Animefan000 says:

    I am guessing those who HAVEN’T watched Revolutionary Girl Utena are the ones pulling negative opinions on Mawaru Penguindrum since even though both anime have different genres in them, they have a similar style in confusing audiences with visual creativity and all.

    That’s why I suggest watching Utena first then Penguindrum because you get to understand what the director is doing. Utena fans know that Ikuhara loves to pull and put crazy, creative, surreal and weird things into his shows that makes people confused; kind of like what happened in Utena. He also likes to make audiences ‘THINK’.

    Sure Penguindrum is overhyped but opinions vary, but if you haven’t watch Revolutionary Girl Utena, you will never understand Ikuhara’s fabulous style of work within Penguindrum.

  25. Stuff says:

    i dont really understand how penguindrum can be considered overhyped really. There are fans, and then there are critics. I just happen to be one of those people who genuinely enjoys the series and finds it remarkably refreshing. I feel as if everything that goes on with the series has intention and often goes against what i expect of the series.

  26. Stuff says:

    And no, I dont believe people have to watch Utena to enjoy Penguindrum or watch to get a grasp on “Ikuharas Style”. The series can stand on its own merits. However, I suppose for those who dont enjoy the show MIGHT appreciate it more after watching Utena.

  27. Animefan000 says:

    @26 – I’m only saying it’s a suggestion; not saying you have to but it’s better to watch Utena first then Penguindrum.

    I do agree that Penguindrum not overhyped though – I tend to have problems picking sides.

    I love Penguindrum because I finished Utena and understand the motifs, artistic flares and all the other things that Ikuhara uses in both series. I agree that I like Penguindrum because feels fresh, creative and highly entertaining compared to some of the other anime that I’m currently watching.

    I think Penguindrum is more of a love or hate series.

    And I guess people get put off with Penguindrum because of Ringo’s antics. But I don’t mind her antics; sure they are a million times crazier than Nanami’s antics in Utena but I highly enjoy it.

  28. Hogart says:

    Penguindrum *was* overhyped. Now that it’s finally split into two camps – lovers and haters – the hype machine has quieted down and we can just enjoy the damn anime while everyone else is distracted by mindless trolling.

    You don’t have to watch Utena to “get it”, either. That’s the *last* thing I’d recommend, in fact. Utena is far more eclectic and niche-driven, and might just turn you off watching both anime entirely. You wouldn’t recommend a person watches Hidamari before they watch Madoka to get used to Ume Aoki’s style, would you?

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  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 01:34 PM)
    @Bam: They’d never allow bringing in toys/games/comics back when I was in school, they thought bringing in such things would make the kids of lower income families feel bad for not being able to afford things.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 01:31 PM)
    @Mario: He’s actually not a big fan of Iranian cinema, he told me before that he found most of it overly depressing.
    Now what you’re talking about there sounds like my kind of film.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 01:30 PM)
    @Bam: I’ll get back into the mainstream blockbusters thing as much as I used to be someday. someday….
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 01:28 PM)
    @Bam: Well, I guess I more brought up the being accused of hipsterism and contrarianism referring to the type of hypothetical person who would never be satisfied with how well you’d defend your opinion.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 01:25 PM)
    Thats the awkward thing though, when casting a superhero role, its difficult to find someone who can get both identities correct.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 01:23 PM)
    Bah implying toxic avenger and Italian spiderman aren’t the best superhero films OmO hahaha!
  • SuperMario
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 08:50 AM)
    Hey Bam, I remember attended a preview on one of an upcoming Iranian animated feature called The Last Fiction. it was inspired by the poem “Shahnameh” and from what I had seen so far, a very stylish, confident and “bloody” work. Expected to be complete in the end of 2017 thou.
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 06:37 AM)
    Comic books were super rare and expensive in Iran, being banned and all. Rich kids in elementary would bring them to school to show them off, along with their Ninja Turtles action figures; they looked so cool and I was hella jealous. Me and my brother only had the bootleg Toxic Crusader figures lol
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 06:34 AM)
    @K-off: I didn’t read the comics either. I watched that weird 60s show, and Spiderman and the Amazing Friends, which had Firestar and the ice guy. I know his personality was quippy and kind of a wise-ass, and McGuire looks kinda like a rape victim of sorts. It was a lot better in costume, I admit.
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, Jun 29. 2016 06:29 AM)
    I mean if we use the term fanboy for whenever someone feels strongly about something, then what’ll we have left for people who LARP and insist to be called by their WoW character names and dress up in gear and persistently speak in fake ‘Ol English?

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Lucid9: Inciting Incident Video Game Review – 85/100

It’s not often I pick a game up without prior knowledge. I abhor the act of pre-ordering and at least do a google search on the title to get a general idea of it’s overall quality. Gone are the day you walk into a game store and buy something purely on a whim or the […]

The Totem Warrior

Chinese Animation Guide – Part 3: Haoliners inputs

This part we explore one Chinese animation studio’s works. I choose Haoliners partly because they are independent studio, and their works are not hard to find. Just established in 2013, Haoliners is an indie studio but gathered more reputation in the last few years in their homeland. My experience with them through those titles below […]

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Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress OST Review

This will be the first time in my anime blogging career that I have ever done one of these anime OST review. It should be known that I have a complete bias for Hiroyuki Sawano as he has become one of the biggest composer for anime in recent years in some of my favorite anime […]