Saturday, February 18, 2012

Winter 2012 - Halfway Point Thoughts

Taichi says it's time for a mid-season nap
We're about halfway through the winter season. In the first couple weeks, I settled into following first 11, then 12, and finally 13 anime. I've tried 14 in total this season. I've dropped two of them and toyed with the idea of dropping another. Then there's another anime that I'm so embarrassed to admit to watching, I haven't even put it on my Anime-Planet watching list. I'd actually be following even more anime if they were legally available on Hulu, Crunchyroll, Niconico, or YouTube (which pretty much has what Hulu has). I wanted to watch Black Star Rock Shooter, but it looks like my favorite sites didn't get a deal on it, so I'll have to pass.

I've never followed so many anime at one time (my last record was a whopping four titles). So this post will serve two purposes: 1) tell whether I can remember all the main character's names [doubtful], and 2) give my impressions so far. Hopefully in a concise manner.

Let's start with the anime continuing from previous seasons/series, then the other popular ones, the one I dropped, and finally the one I really don't want to admit to watching, shall we?

1. Naruto Shippuden
Main character: Uzamaki Naruto.
Okay, so remembering that name was easy. I've been watching Naruto for two and a half years.

Anyway, I'm enjoying this season of Shippuden very much. The fillers are over, which I was a little excited about, as you probably noticed if you read this post. And by "a little excited," I mean as excited as the munchkins in Wizard of Oz when they were singing "Ding dong, the witch is dead."

Now that we've settled into the new arc, my excitement has toned down a bit. Killer Bee is an important figure in these episodes, and, well... he's not exactly my favorite character. Let's put it this way: what some people consider hilarious or fun characterization, I often consider downright obnoxious. Still, compared to Lee and Guy-sensei, he's placid, an ideal study partner, really. So I can't complain.

On the plot: I've really liked the contents of some of the episodes. For example, Naruto's evil, "true" self (whose eyes kind of reminded me of something in Bleach): Even though the village finally accepted Naruto, they didn't accept him for himself, but for what he did for them. So it makes sense that he wouldn't have purely positive feelings about the situation. Black-eyed Naruto made good points. I'd like to see him wrestle through the issue more, though. The villagers deeply hurt Naruto over a period of many years. The issue shouldn't be resolved just because he fought and hugged his other self. I hope the psychological impacts are brought up again in future episodes, even if it's just in another heart-to-heart with a villain, like he had with Pain.

The recent double-header (eps 248 and 249) was fantastic! I've always loved Fourth Hokage Minato - I mean come on, he's pretty dang cool. But these two episodes showed a bit more of his heart - both the "will of fire" that all good Hidden Leaf shinobi possess, and as a family man. He was so cute when he found out Kushina was pregnant, and then during the childbirth process... the midwife had to tell him that he was the Fourth Hokage, and he should act like it! Somehow, seeing Minato get as flustered as any new father made him even cooler.

The only real bone I had to pick with those two episodes was after the nine tailed fox demon impaled Minato and Kushina. First of all, he didn't move at all. Didn't struggle or even twitch. Now, I realize that half of him was just sealed away for all eternity, so of course he's a bit stunned. But I somehow doubt he's the type to stay still and let dying parents say their goodbyes to their newborn baby. Whom he's about to be sealed in.

Further, I'm no expert, but should Minato and Kushina really have been alive and well enough to talk after being impaled by a gigantic claw? I mean, didn't that thing go through their lungs (and spine and other important organs)? And all the movies and TV shows I watch indicate that having a claw bigger than you shoved through your chest leads to instant death. But, like I said, I'm no expert. And Minato and Kushina were two of the most amazing ninja in the village. Maybe their concentrated amazingness was enough to get them through their last goodbyes. However it happened, I'm glad it did. Otherwise, we wouldn't have had that episode with Minato in the Pain arc, nor the recent episodes with Kushina this season, and Naruto wouldn't have met them. Or rather, he wouldn't have met their chakra remnants, but same deal.

Overall? This season of Naruto's been okay. Except for the more recent episodes - those surpassed okay, jumped over good, and landed somewhere between great and awesome. Closer to great.

2. Chihayafuru
Main character: Ayase Chihaya.

Okay, so I loved Chihayafuru last season. The characters were fun, the art was a little different and beautiful, and it had the same appeal that all sports anime tend to have - perseverance and game days. I still like it this season, but the novelty has worn off. I've dropped it from five stars to four stars, where my rating will stay unless I get good reason to change it.

It still has all the great things from last season, but that's it. We don't see much of Arata, whom I really like. The spirit in Chihaya's games is almost always the same, though there was some variation in last week's episode. It's usually predictable: determined start, losing and depressing beginning, take a card, and charge forward with positive thinking once more. Repeat.

Not much else to say on this show at the moment.

3. Hunter x Hunter (2011)
Main character: Gon
Other favorite character: Killua

If you call yourself a fan of mainstream shounen anime and you haven't watched Hunter x Hunter, then stop. Just stop reading, visit Cruchyroll, and click on the first episode. Seriously.

I watched the original Hunter x Hunter anime on a friend's recommendation two years ago, and I greatly enjoyed it. The new version is just as good as I remember. There was one recap episode (ugh). Other than that, pure goodness. There's adventure, action, creative scenarios, humor, and great characters.

I could spend several paragraphs on any one of the characters in Hunter x Hunter, but my favorites are definitely Gon and Killua. Gon has amazing senses, to the point where he could track another character over miles because of his cologne. But that's not what makes him so great. He's twelve years old and still very much a child. His wide-eyed innocence stands out among the tough guys and killers that make up the most of the other hunter contestants. His childlike stubbornness works where adult stubbornness would fail - as seen in the most recent episode, when he refused to accept how his fight with a blooded ninja was going. He wouldn't accept loss even with a blade pointed at his forehead, and he wouldn't accept a win unless he felt he earned it. The ninja finally knocked Gon out so he couldn't protest his win. The result? Admiration from the other characters and giggles from me. The combination of his childish traits with his tenacity and amazing skills make for a favorite character.

The other twelve year old in the show, Killua, also deserves recognition. He, too, can act rather wide-eyed and childish. Yet behind that is a cold hearted assassin will scary skills. Of the characters introduced thus far, he's in the top three that I wouldn't want to cross (the other two being Hisoka and the chattering guy with all the pins in him). He's also the coolest. He and Gon are great friends for each other, and I really enjoy episodes that have a lot of both of them.

4. Natsume Yuujinchou Shin
Main character: Natsume.

If you read this post, you know that Natsume Yuujinchou surprised me by becoming a new favorite. Nothing has changed since I wrote that post. I still love it for all the same reasons. I did find the image of Nyanko-sensei getting mad at a jar (with a shrunken Natsume inside it) very amusing. I mean, come on, a fat cat fighting with a jar? Can you imagine walking in on such a scene with no knowledge of youkai? That's the kind of scene people post on YouTube. The kind of video that gains millions of views because teenage girls love cats doing silly things.

5. The New Prince of Tennis
Main character: Echizen Ryoma, sort of. Focuses a lot on other characters, too.

So far, The Prince of Tennis II has disappointed me. I celebrated it at first - felt my inner fangirl come through. I was like, "Ooh, it's Tezuka!" "Oh, Kikumaru," "Hehe, Kaido. You never change," and "Love your outfit, Echizen. Did you get taller?" and finally, "Eeep! Ryoma-sama in glasses! If I were six years younger, I'd totally have a 2D crush on him!"

I never expected it to be sophisticated. All I wanted were the characters I love, a decent-ish plot, a few laughs, and some great tennis matches. Instead, I received an Inui who said "Chances of something: blank percent" every five seconds, a Kawamura that calmed down before they took the tennis racket from him, and a slew of characters from other teams ranging from "plain annoying" to "I really don't care about them."

I don't care about the plot, they give screen time to way too many characters, some characters either overdo or under-do what I expect of them, and the animation/art is a tiny bit different, a tiny bit shinier (which is expected, given how long it's been). So, why do I continue watching?

I still love the Seigaku team. I'm a fan, through and through. I'm not going to abandon them just because the plot or characterization has gone downhill. And who knows, maybe it will improve. Maybe. I did enjoy the most recent episode quite a bit, and will do a post on it tomorrow if time allows.

6. Guilty Crown
Main character: Ouma Shu (though some websites say Shuu, so...)

I didn't get a chance to watch today's episode yet, so this is going off of the show up to last week.

I started watching Guilty Crown near the beginning of this season. The first couple episodes were okay. I liked the animation, and Inori's song in the first episode was absolutely beautiful. By the time I caught up to the current season, I was hooked. The story grew very interesting, Shu seemed to be getting over his generally weak personality, and, of course, there was action (Hey, I'm an easy please. Give me weapons and a few good fights, and I'll stay glued to the screen for hours).

In the more recent episodes, I've wanted to shake Shu silly. Or un-silly. Maybe spray him with a water bottle and say, "bad Shu!" If you read my post last week, you know how hard it was for me to sit through Shu's tyranny. I had to pause repeatedly to type out my frustrations in a blog post, shake my fists at the air, and muffle the shrieks of anger that were fighting to come out.

Basically, the dramatic conflict in recent episodes has been good. So good, it's hard for me to handle.

7. Another
Main character: Sakakibura. I think. *Checks* Almost. It's Sakakibara.

I love this show! Every Monday night, I go into my room, turn off all the lights, and click on the latest episode of Another. It has this dark, creepy atmosphere that simply requires you wait until night to fully enjoy it. There's blood. There's mystery. And if you watch it, I guarantee you'll never look at certain rain gear the same way again. I know I haven't.

Spoiler next paragraph.

Seriously, don't read the next paragraph. It gives information that really brings down the effect of the third episode. I found this info out before I watched, and it almost ruined it for me.

Spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler I recently walked up and down the stairs with an umbrella. Like any sensible fan of Another, I checked repeatedly to make sure the tip was dull. Images of a bloody death flashed through my mind, and my chest ached where I imagined the umbrella impaling me. Was anyone else similarly effected? Spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler

Okay, spoiler over. Come back and read after you've watched the third episode. Trust me, you'd majorly regret it if you read that information too early.

One of the first things I noticed about Another was the art and animation. The backgrounds are wonderfully done. Not a detail was spared, from the rust on the metal fences to shadows and textures on the concrete walls. Other aspects of the art, from the character designs to the dark color palette, enhanced the atmosphere as well.

Of course, it takes more than nice visuals to draw me in. The story is great. I enjoy trying to figure out exactly what is going on. I ask questions such as, "Is Mei a ghost?" "What exactly are the rules?" and more recently, "Is Sakakibara the dead student? He couldn't be, could he? Isn't it too obvious?"

I look forward to seeing where Another takes me next, and I recommend it to anyone who likes the suspense/mystery/horror genre of anime.

8. Area no Kishi
Main Character: Kakeru... yep. Aizawa Kakeru.

Eh, this show's been okay. The latest episode, episode seven, was my favorite by far. I was really caught up in the suspense of the game, and Kakeru's last move was amazing.

The first five episodes weren't quite so good. I'm a sports anime fan, not a drama fan. Drama is the reason I avoid live action sports movies like the plague. I mean, sure, Kakeru and his older brother interested me. And there was definitely some soccer. And, of course, the first few episodes were crucial to the story. Still, I spent those episodes waiting for more soccer to show up.

Now that we're finally getting to the fun part, I'm excited. I will say that the way Araki dropped 100 plus pounds in ten days was annoyingly unrealistic. Other than that, the most recent two episodes really drew me in. I can't wait for more!

9. Mouretsu Pirates
Main Character: I want to say Chiaki, but I think that's the black haired girl... Yeah, it is. Okay, the main character is Katou Marika.

I'm surprised how much I like this one. I came into it expecting just another overdone sci-fi space show, but it's proving me wrong. Mouretsu Pirates (aka Bodacious Space Pirates) goes into surprising detail about the ship and operations. I followed the electronic battle with fascination. Unlike most space ship battles I've seen, this one was less inexplicable blasting and more strategy. I hope to see more of how Marika's mind works in future episodes.

10. Recorder and Ransdell
Main Character: don't know their names and don't care enough to check

Each episode of this show is just three minutes long, including the short ending theme song. It's amusing at times, though I'm not a fan. Basically, Recorder and Ransdell peaks into the lives of two siblings: a high school girl who looks like an elementary student, and her sixth grade brother, who looks like an adult. That in itself it bizarre, but the boy even has a man's voice. I don't like that.

Like I said, not my favorite. But I can spare three minutes of my time each week to watch.

11. Brave 10
Main Character: Saizo

Ugh. I'm probably dropping this one. I still haven't watched the most recent episode. The main girl is a-n-n-o-y-i-n-g. She's super clingy to Saizo. She's all whiny about how it's all her fault that so many people are dead and hurt. Um, no. It's not her fault. It's that hair pin, the k... something that begins with a "k." If she wants to blame anyone, she can blame the priest who gave it to her to protect. Not herself.

I cringe every time that girl enters a scene. When she's kidnapped, I cling to the .0005% chance she won't be rescued and will stay out of the picture forever.

She's rescued, of course.

In the first episode, we hear that Saizo is some amazing swordsman/ninja person. Naturally, I expected something at least halfway to Kenshin level awesomeness. I didn't get it.

Yeah... I should probably drop this series.

12. Inu x Boku Secret Service
Main character: Ki... ki something. She looks kind of like Yamada from Working!!

I dropped this one after four episodes for just as many reasons:

1. I didn't care for the plot.

2. I didn't care about, or just plain disliked, the characters. I mean, come on, doggy-dude-SS-agent! Get a personality! No, I mean your own personality. Not the personality of a golden retriever.

As for the rest of you: Scroll Guy, you're cool. Cook, you're okay. Kid, I can count your lines on one hand, but you're my favorite. Everyone else can go die in a hole for all I care. And I mean that in the nicest way possible way. (Doggy Dude: "But it's not nice in any possible way!" Me: "It's a cushy hole. With a dog bone. And you can die of old age in there, so long as I don't have to see you again between now and then. Now shoo.")

The kid on the left is one of the 3 likable characters.
3. Fanservice. It annoyed me from the first episode on. If it was the only problem, I probably would have just rolled my eyes and moved on, since I've seen much worse. I still didn't like it.

4. Suggestive "humor." Example: the creepy female SS agent who makes perverted looks and comments at the other girls. And reads porn. It's clearly supposed to be funny, but I find pervert anime characters disgusting at worst and obnoxious at best, be they male, female, or little balls in a stuffed lion (yeah, I'm looking at you, Kon from Bleach).

13. Zero no Tsukaima F
Main Characters: Louise and Boy-from-Earth-whose-name-I-really-should-know

I watched the first couple series of this within my first year of watching anime, and I remember really enjoying it. Probably because I hadn't seen enough anime to expect better quality. Now, two years later, I expect better. The characters bothered me, and the fanservice was awful.

I dropped it after two episodes.

Okay, so I don't really want to admit to watching this next one. But, in the spirit of honesty, I will:

14. Listen to me, Girls, I'm Your Father! aka Papa no Iu Koto o Kikinasai!
Main Character: Segawa Yuuta and his neices, Sora, Miu, and Hina

I have a whole lot to say on this one, mostly complaints. I'll save the majority of those complaints in case I decide to do another post. For now, let's start with why I'm watching this borderline lolicon atrocity.

The description on Crunchyroll intrigued me. The idea of a college student, Segawa Yuuta, taking care of his three nieces sounded like it had potential as fun entertainment. Sure, it didn't look as good as, say, Usagi Drop, but it was still worth a try... right?

Wrong. The first episode saw a bunch of college students out drinking, the introduction of Segawa's perverted sempai, and fanservice in the form of his well-endowned other sempai. All before the episode was half over.

Then we meet the nieces: Sora (age 14), Miu (10), and Hina (3). Except, as we find out, Sora and Miu aren't actually related to Segawa by blood, since they're his sister's stepdaughters. Further, Sora has a crush on him, which makes things awkward. If anything, and I mean anything romantic happens between Sora and Yuuta, I will drop this show like a hot potato, as I probably should have done five episodes ago. A relationship between them is not appropriate, even if they aren't related by blood.

Most of the fanservice in this show exploits fourteen year old Sora, which really bothers me. I know that other shows have fanservice with fourteen year old girls, but it feels even more wrong in this case. Sora's young age is more apparent, I guess. Of course, the tiny bits of fanservice with Miu just make me mad. It's like the creators were toying with the line. Ugh.

I could complain about so many other things (the unrealistic sleeping arrangement, for instance), but I'll stop for now.

So, why do I keep watching? Um... Uh... I guess the basic premise of a young man in college taking responsibility for three young girls still interests me. But my finger is always ready to click on the exit button and drop this show. It really does have too much fanservice for comfort. I don't recommend it.

Well, there we go. That's all the anime I'm following (or dropping) this season, and my opinions on them so far. Some are good, some not so good. What do you think of them?


  1. Did you drop DB or is that the one you're embarrassed by?

  2. I stalled DB with plans to continue eventually. The one I'm embarrassed by is number 14. This list only includes anime that's currently airing, ones where I watch the new episode every week. There are a total of around 19 or 20 anime on my watching list at the moment (many of which aired years ago), and dozens more on my stalled list (all of which aired some time ago). If I did a post on all the anime I've watched or dropped in the past few months, such as Dragon Ball, this post would be a whole lot longer. :)

  3. If you get multiple comments from me, I apologize. My comments don't seem to show up. I dropped Brave 10 after the second episode. The female main character annoyed me to no end. Another has been my favorite show of this season. It has not disappointed. I started watching Chihayafuru but I have not been able to continue. At first I wasn't sure but after further thought, I realized that it is because the show is pretty predictable and that gets old pretty quickly.

    1. Nope, only one comment. Which I appreciate - I like comments. Obviously. :)

      The only reason I watched as much of Brave 10 as I did was to see exactly how low of a rating I thought it deserved. After five or so episodes, I decided it wasn't worth it. That girl is more annoying than any other anime girl I've seen.

      Another is probably my favorite this season, too. It makes my Monday nights so much better. ^_^

      Chihayafuru has gotten a little better again. I gave it back a half star (though my star ratings are very subjective, so that's not really saying much).


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