So, this season had a really tough job to live up to the previous season, that was just filled with really good series. It’s definitely much smaller, but on the flip-side it did deliver with a bunch of very interesting series. In particular the dramas are better than ever, but there are also quite a few series that overflow with creativity. I consider this a succeeded season at this point.
So, this month I finally started to get into manga. Unconsciously, this mostly turned into an exploration of various one-shots, one-shot compilation, or short manga. Most of what I’ve been able to read are just introductions, and there was some nice stuff amongst them, but there were three things that really managed to catch my attention with their excellent introductions, and carried them further with excellent storytelling.
Hotel by Boichi. This is a mature Osamu Tezuka-esque take on science fiction and the apocalypse, all paired with the most crisp art I’ve encountered this month. Its first chapter shows an interesting portrayal of the apocalypse, but what really blew away was the Tuna story. That really was unique and unlike any other science fiction story I’ve read.
#2: Hito Hitori Futari
Hotel really only let me down on one area: its characterization. This all felt a bit flat. Hito Hitori Futari however, packed a ton of charm in its two characters. This really was drawn with emotion, and together with the down to earth dialogue, it really managed to bring its cast to life. It’s also got a beautiful art style.
#1: A Million Pound Love
This is an anthology by the same author of Himitsu the Revelation, and you can definitely see this. This is truly excellent mystery with brilliant character-development put in very short stories. Like Himitsu, she knows exactly how much to reveal at each page to keep you interested.
#33 (new) – Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imouto ga Iru – (1,75/10) – Add some gender-swapped historical figures, and then this series would have been everything that is wrong with modern anime. I mean, Dakara Ecchi was bad, but this is one level beyond that: completely shameless and stupid without any hint of inspiration or effort.
#32 (new) – Hagare Yuusha no Estetica – (2,5/10) – This show was incredibly stupid and sexist, I just can’t remember why anymore.
#31 (new) – Dakara Boku wa H ga Dekinai – (2,9/10) – Why don’t these guys just make straight-up porn?
#30 (new) – Chitose Get You – (3,25/10) – This series was just cheap and poorly delivered. And I can understand lacking budget and all: but there is no excuse fo the completely uninspired writing and jokes.
#29 (new) – Oda Nobuna no Yabou – (3,5/10) – It’s one thing to gender-swap famous historical figures. But really: why does it always have to be with the same people? First there was the romance of the three kingdoms, now this.
#28 (new) – Campione – (4,5/10) – It looked like for a minute this series had potential to become an entertaining action series. But no, it had to focus on harem clichés instead. This show got quickly dropped once I found that out.
#27 (new) – La Storia Della Arcana Famiglia – (5,5/10) – Look, I used to be a huge fan of shoujo series. When good, they can deliver some of the most heartfelt stories out there. But it’s the series like Arcana Famiglia that make it really hard to remain a fan by reducing most of the cast to mere stereotypes who keep repeating one single gimmick. Chiaki Kon, you in particular should know better.
#26 (24) – Yuruyuri – (6/10) – Yuruyuri was very funny when it started with that gimmick of a first episode. When that ended though, it completely bored me. It’s still girls talking and making bad lesbian jokes. If that’s what you like, then by all means give this one a chance. I just tuned out immediately.
#25 (35) – Dog Days – (6/10) – I was hoping that Dog Days’ would improve on the formula of its predecessor. What I wasn’t prepared for however, was the end of that second episode. Just.. why? Why on earth would you want to do something like that in a series like this?
#24 (new) – Joshiraku – (6,5/10) – Joshiraku was too static: it entirely was about characters sitting in a room discussing wordplay. It got to the point where they weren’t characters anymore, but rather that this became an essay about wordplay from the author.
#23 (new) – Ebiten – (6,6/10) – Well, this one wasn’t the worst of this season, it had some nice jokes and all. But ultimately it’s just random fluff that has way too little potential. Also, those eyes!
#22 (27) – Hakuouki – (6,9/10) – I have to grant it to Hakuouki that out of all of the bishie-series to appear during the past few years, it has been the best. It at least tried something different from the usual cliches. But it just doesn’t seem to really try to stand out. It’s just there. I gave several seasons a try now, but never did I really encounter something that caught my attention.
#21 (new) – Binbou-Gami ga! – (7,4/10) – Comedy is incredibly subjective, but I do recommend watching the first episode of this series: that one was very well-balanced and quite funny. As for what happened afterwards, though: it just wasn’t funny enough for me, and the random references for the sake of references, stereotypical characters and lots and lots of yelling just didn’t do it for me.
#20 (24) – Phi Brain – (7,5/10) – I can live with Phi Brain being stupid, but what is a bit harder to accept is how this series has been systematically ignoring any good potential character-development. This month thankfully wasn’t as bad as the previous one, and there even was a very good episode with the Ana Gram episode, but can someone answer me why the single most pathetic villain of the first season was brought back?
#19 (new) – Tanken Drilland – (7,5/10) – Tanken Drilland has the makings of a really good kids show, but it really needs to try harder for that. It’s really quite charming, and the two leads work too good together, but the third main character is a bit too stupid. Yes, I know this is aimed at kids, but that is no excuse. What happened to the days of the World Masterpiece Theater in which kids series really took their audiences and their characters seriously?
#18 (22) – Saint Seiya Omega – (7,6/10) – Saint Seiya has been dabbling on like usual. Some episodes are a bit of a waste of time, while others are a bit more interesting, but it never really stood out, nor did it ever get annoying enough for me to drop it. Whether I’d recommend this show to others to marathon though… that’d be a different story. It’s good enough to watch weekly, but for now it doesn’t really have enough staying power to be worth it to marathon.
#17 (new) – Total Eclipse – (7,75/10) – Total Eclipse is a strange beast. I actually like that it took its first two episodes specifically to show the background of one of the main characters, but afterwards things went a bit wonky with strange nationalism and stereotypes, along with a lot of yelling and random fanservice. Seeing this, I can imagine that the director was about to break down, but the writing staff also is to blame for some of the strange design decisions.
#16 (new) – Sword Art Online – (7,9/10) – For me,the gist of Sword Art Online is: really interesting setting, gorgeous visuals, rather boring characters. At this point in the story, none of the characters really stand out yet: there were moments in the first episode in which they did, but in the episodes afterwards this series has been very gloomy and particularly bad in portraying its side-characters, on top of being surprisingly formulaic (Hello, girl of the week!).
#15 (new) – Tari Tari – (8/10) – Tari Tari is a charming slice of life series, that has yet to really stand out. The closest it has gotten is with episode two, but afterwards it really made clear that that was just a one-off issue. The blond lead girl in particular tends to get on my nerves, and is a bit too simplistic and clichéd. They still could make this work though, because there definitely is potential here.
#14 (14) – Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon – (8,1/10) – Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon makes no sense whatsoever. But the ideas it has really make up for it. It’s completely crazy this way, and that’s what I really appreciate from it. Now if only the characters themselves would get a bit better: in particular the male lead is trying too hard to be comic relief. And no, I don’t care if this is explained in the plot. This is Horizon, they can just pull something out of their asses to turn this down.
#13 (new) – Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita – (8,1/10) – Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita has one thing that makes it stand out, and it does that really well: its setting. There is so much interesting stuff going on in this series, and it’s all just so inspired. Beyond that though, it doesn’t really have anything that stands out: the graphics look pretty… and that’s it. The characters are… there I guess, but that’s all So yeah, it’s a one trick pony, but that trick it does is damn great.
#12 (new) – Uta Koi – (8,25/10)
Thank you, whoever made this show possible. This series shows that anime can still make series that have no commercial potential at all, and instead are there to teach their audience new things and show their own interpretations of a unique part of Japan’s history. The acting is a bit simplistic, but heck: the content, soundtrack and pacing make up for that.
#11 (13) – Moyashimon – (8,25/10)
Bizarrely enough, the central character of the past month changed to a germophobe. Because of this, the germs have turned into narrators. A bold move, and do the creators have enough to make up for that? I’d say yes: the lectures in this series are very interesting, and the characters all have a very good chemistry together.
#10 (9) – Rinne no Lagrange – (8,25/10)
Rinne no Lagrange continues its strong formula of mechas and charming characters. With this, we’re heading into the real mysteries in this series, and the themes of reaching out to the enemy still remain, although the main villain of Ran’s brother could do with a bit of character-development at this point.
#9 (15) – AKB0048 – (8,4/10)
This month, AKB really won me over completely. The second season announcement, on top of the characters getting even more charming really did the trick for me. The finale was incredibly cheesy, but it worked due to the excellent direction and musical numbers. Definitely looking forward to that continuation.
#8 (25) – Kokoro Connect – (8,4/10)
This was by far the surprise of the season, after that first episode that left me woefully unimpressed. From out of nowhere, this series suddenly started delivering with excellent dialogue and voice acting, and the characters suddenly revealed complex issues that they all discussed with each other in great detail. This is one case in which my first impressions have been totally wrong.
#7 (18) – Poyopoyo Kansatsu Nikki – (8,5/10)
I love this show. It’s all just so down to earth. This month was entirely dedicated to Summer, and what followed were a TON of short sketches about the different characters living their daily lives while it’s too hot to really do anything. Seriously, the episodes are only 2 minutes long, and the creators still manage to stuff in enough content as if it was five times that length.
#6 (11) – Shirokuma Cafe – (8,5/10)
This show surpassed itself this month with a number of classic scenes. It’s still incredibly corny, but because of how true it is to itself it really doesn’t matter, and this actually becomes a selling point. Some of the characters, especially Penguin and Polar Bear, were just priceless.
#5 (10) – Hunter X Hunter – (8,6/10)
Yes! Yes! Yes! Finally Hunter X Hunter has arrived at the point that I’ve been looking forward to ever since it got announced (nearly a freaking year!): the Yorkshin arc. This is where the original series really went: “Shounen conventions?” Who cares about these bloody shounen conventions! I’ve got a story to tell!”, and it would be wonderful if this new season would also be able to achieve this. The early signs are all good: sure, the acting is a tad more over the top, but they can really make this work. They really nailed the introductions of the key characters in their own way.
#4 (9) – Hyouka – (8,6/10)
The school festival arc is really big. For how many episodes has it been going on now? 4? Because of that though, it really as been able to put in an attention to detail for the small things, That was great build-up.
#3 (4) – Eureka Seven Ao – (8,75/10)
To those who were planning to check out Eureka Seven Ao without having seen the original Eureka Seven: don’t. You really need to have seen the first Eureka Seven in order to be able to enjoy this to the fullest, that definitely became clear this month. And how! This month just delivered twist after twist after twist, and it all works together. The big ones in particular were just amazing, and this series doesn’t even show signs that it played all of its trumps already.
#2 (new) – Natsuyuki Rendezvous – (9,25/10)
This show is just amazing in every single way. It’s been a long while since in a season there was just one show that immediately blew away all other series that debuted that season so massively. Its voice acting is just fantastic, the characters and their chemistry is just amazing, the soundtrack rocks, the animation is incredibly detailed, the story doesn’t beat around the bush. It really is refreshing to see such a mature romance, in which the main female character actually is in her thirties: these characters are even rarer than male leads of that age.
#1 (1) – Uchuu Kyoudai – (9,25/10)
The thing with Uchuu Kyoudai is that the only criticism I might have for it is that its pacing is a tad slow: it really takes a while to get from A to B. But dammit, it brilliantly makes use of this, by using this time in order to flesh out its cast to the fullest. Mutta has become a classic character at this point, but the rest of the cast members are also awesome at this point. Everyone just feels so real and down to earth, and on top of that they all pack a ton of charm in their own way.