Okay, so during the summer season of 2011, I remember how I kept saying that modern anime are too short, and how more series should try to be longer. Well, the past half year showed the other side of that extreme when a large amount of the big flops were… series that went on for longer than 13 episodes: Bakuman dragged, Persona was terribly paced, Guilty Crown was terribly written, Last Exile had a bit of a bad main character syndrome and Squid Girl II was a pointless sequel.
And at the same time, the three best endings of this season… all were from series based on manga that are still on-going. Hmm…
#23 (new) – Hiiro no Kakera – (4,5/10) – Yet again Studio Deen keeps making the same bloody show that is as lazily executed as ever. Yet again we have a really dull bishie show with cardboard cut-outs. And what I really don’t get is why this show has the character designer of Ergo Proxy. I mean, the characters in this series look utterly terrible. What was the need to bring a guy like him around if you’re not going to use him?
#22 (new) – Gakkatsu – (6/10) – A random flash show, thankfully better executed than usual. It still was very dull and gimmicky, though.
#21 (20) – Guilty Crown – (7/10) – I… guess that this month wasn’t the worst month in terms of plot, but it was the month that convinced me what a huge waste of time it was to keep up with this series. I really got nothing out of it, other than bragging rights that I managed to finish such a dull and badly written series. And heck, even the ending was full of the most stupid plot twists. I am not looking forward to Accel World, considering how it shares the same scriptwriter.
#20 (new) – Ozuma – (7,6/10) – Considering Ryousuke Takahashi’s involvement, this was a bit of a disappointment in how sloppy it was, and how annoying the main character is. I like the idea of a sand submarine though, and with that the creators played a nice homage to the likes of Das Boot and other submarine flicks. There is way too much techno-babble, though. You can really see that this is a story from the early 1980s that got adapted almost page to page, without any attempt to give it a modern edge aside from the graphics.
#19 (18) – Black Rock Shooter – (7,75/10) – Thankfully Black Rock Shooter redeemed itself in its second half. Finally there was a bit of a link between the two worlds beyond both having similar characters. Having Mari Okada as the scriptwriter really helped in making everything come together, even though it also lead to perhaps a bit too much sappiness at times. Still, the action was awesome as well and while it’s definitely among the least interesting Noitamina series, it wasn’t the disaster that Guilty Crown turned out to be.
#18 (17) – Papa no Iukoto ni Kikinasai – (7,9/10) – I disliked the open ended nature of this series, because there still is some stuff that really needs to be tackled for the main characters. Still, I can’t deny that it was a very heart-warming month for this series, that really put emphasis the situation that they’re in. This also was the least annoying month for Papa and I’m glad that I kept watching it, despite the very obvious flaws it has.
#17 (19) – Smile Precure – (8/10) – Heartcatch Precure was immediately awesome: right from the start you knew that you were watching something special, so you didn’t have to sit through a string of really boring episodes, just to know whether it was worth it or not. With Smile Precure, this was not the case: the introduction episodes were really boring. I kept watching because of how it wasn’t entirely stupid, unlike Fresh Precure and Suite Precure. The patience was rewarded when this show actually immediately after the introductions got significantly better. The main character is still really annoying, but the characters are actually getting some very good development already.
#16 (15) – Last Exile – Ginyoku no Fam – (8/10) – Thankfully this series didn’t fall apart with its ending. Everyone thankfully stayed true to his or her character, and that’s what made this ending work. The plan of the final villain still was a bit flimsy, and he definitely should have been better fleshed out, but at least he did close off the series well. The final action scenes were again beautifully rendered, but this wasn’t the amazing comeback that Gonzo hoped for. For that, they needed to put more creativity in the plot and characters, beyond the world building.
#15 (16) – Ano Natsu de Matteru – (8/10) – That final twist with Lemon… urgh. The final episode overall was interesting in how it was completely different from the rest of the series. It worked, but the ending was nowhere near the best of the season, nor the highlights of the series itself. Still, it’s a solid ending.
#14 (11) – Nisemonogatari – (8/10) – The strongest point of this series for me was probably last month. The final arc of this series still was pretty good though, and the time that this show was side-tracked was thankfully rather short compared to Shaft’s other series. The pointless incest wasn’t necessary in the slightest, but the creators got a good story out of the characters when it actually tried to be on topic. The gorgeous animation also helped.
#13 (14) – Danshi Koukousei ni Nichijou – (8,25/10)
The ending was pretty good. The final episode in particular had a lot of sketches that worked really well. Overall the abusive girls parts definitely got annoying and repetitive, but once again this month had a number of great jokes.
#12 (5) – Another – (8,25/10)
Another’s ending was not as good as what I hoped. It put a lot of build-up into it, but the finale was full of strange leaps in logic. Still, the revelation of the ghost was very good, the aftermath was well done, and as a gory horror series, it definitely did its job.
#11 (9) – Poyopoyo Kansatsu Nikki – (8,25/10)
Akitarou Daichi for god’s sake: stop doing these small comedy series. Don’t get me wrong, Poyopoyo is awesome and hilarious, but a guy of your caliber deserves to work on an actual ambitious full series. Go and have tea with the people from Noitamina or something, because I really do miss that brilliant serious side of yours.
#10 (10) – Mirai Nikki – (8,25/10)
It took a while to get there, and being spoiled in the process definitely wasn’t fun, but now that we’re getting near the end I have to say that the plot took quite a number of entertaining and intriguing turns. In a way, the second half of this series is everything that Guilty Crown should have been, save perhaps from the production values.
#9 (12) – Rinne no Lagrange – (8,25/10)
Overall this was a very solid midway climax. It actually closed a few things off, while giving a hook for the second season and there was a nice amount of character growth. Overall its first half was probably the weakest of the three sci-fi series of Winter 2012, but still the witty direction also was very enjoyable to watch during its final episodes.
#8 (6) – Hunter X Hunter – (8,25/10)
The most annoying thing about watching this series is my patience. I mean, with Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood, the recap just took 15 episodes. It was a bit annoying, but it was manageable. Hunter X Hunter has been going on for 25 episodes and we’re still nowhere near any new material, and to this point while there are some minute differences. At this point, I do not feel like it’s worth it to watch this series. Sure, there are hints here and there to later on in the series and all, and when we get to them it will probably be awesome. But still: 25 episodes. Still, at the very least this series goes at a faster pace, which really helps during the building up arcs. This month also delivered the background of Killua, which also again was quite good. What I currently like most about it is how it still keeps changing with every episode. It’s not as strong as when the series first started out, but it’s still very much there. That’s exactly what a shounen jump series needs to prevent itself from dragging on horribly.
#7 (8) – Aquarion Evol – (8,25/10)
Aquarion Evol still is consistently enjoyable. It’s over the top romance action, but it combines them all so well that along with the action and the best soundtrack of the season it remains a ton of fun to watch. The past month spent a lot of time on its characters, which also really helps for the second half of this series.
#6 (7) – Mourestu Pirates – (8,4/10)
The conclusion of the Serenity arc was above all very interesting science fiction. Seriously, the promotional material for this series looked very silly, but the creators did deliver some really good ideas, and twelve episodes in they still take their audiences seriously and they don’t just spoon-feed everything on a silver plate. Overall, out of the three big sci-fi series this season, this one turned out to be the most solid.
#5 (4) – Phi Brain – (8,5/10)
The annoying thing about finales that schedule them on April 1st is that I can’t comment on them in these compilation entries. Damn you, high school basketball for delaying that finale one week! Seriously though, everything so far is heading into the direction that we’re going to get a very good midway climax. I still have no clue how on earth the second season will be able to top this, but this is Sato Junichi: he did this before. Seriously, this month has shown some really good twists that fit in perfectly with the story and characters who keep developing. The focus on solving puzzles has gone to the background now: the creators turned them into very creative action-scenes instead, while at the same time the concept of puzzle solving remains the central theme of the series.
#4 (3) – Tantei Opera Milky Holmes – (8,5/10)
Bizarre. Just completely bizarre. The finale of the first season took its ending with a lot of grains of salt, but at least it still was a bit comprehensible. The finale of this season, made no complete sense. Oh, it still followed the general conventions of what a finale should be. But the context was just.. completely weird. The intentional cheese was particularly hilarious.
#3 (13) – Inu X Boku SS – (8,6/10)
And so, out of bloody nowhere, Inu X Boku suddenly got 10 times better in its final two episodes. I did not expect that, but the finale of this show was really well written, and everything just came together wonderfully. This show really is weird. There were long strings of episodes where it felt like it could have been so much better… and here the finale comes and delivers with a great character study. It consistently put a smile on my face, and Miketsukami was the first time in a long while where a show actually did justice to a bishie, and actually portrayed one well, rather than making him a walking stereotype. This still is David Production’s worst series, but damn: this made up for a lot here.
#2 (1) – Chihayafuru – (8,75/10)
One of the most difficult parts about compiling this month’s ranking is deciding my favorite series of the season. Usually I have a clear winner: Penguin Drum, Ano Hana and Level E were obviously the best for me in 2011. Here though, I have no idea: my number 1 and 2 are both awesome. Both were by far the best of the past three months, yet lacked that extra oomph to really give them a rating of 90/100. With Chihayafuru, it’s the lost potential of not having a second season. But really,despite such an obvious disadvantage, this series still delivered an amazing ending that managed to push the characters forward. Yes, all of them. Really, the creators should not have bothered with that sequel hook at all. Without that, this really would have topped this montly list.
#1 (2) – Natsume Yuujin-Chou – (8,9/10)
This month however, I really have to give the edge to Natsume Yuujin-Chou. Here is the thing with the fourth season: when compared to the other seasons, its middle arc isn’t as good in comparison. The beginning and end however, are the best so far. The arc with which the creators decided to end was just wonderful. It was an arc that we’ve been waiting for ages now, and really: if it turns out that no more sequels of Natsume Yuujinchou will be made, then I’ll be happy with this as an end. The third season already developed Natsume incredibly well. With this, he got even better.