Winter 2011 Anime Thoughts and Reviews
For the first time ever, I will do an evaluation of all the anime series that I have seen during a given season. I will divide things up into four sections (since I haven't rewatched anything that for this review, that section is empty): Completed, Ongoing, Rewatch, and On Hold. Previously, I haven't been watching anime as it has been airing due to my slow connection and unstable computer that crashed when I watched a video on Crunchyroll or Hulu. And for fansubs, mostly high-resolution mkv files are the only things available and my old computer would also crash if I had played those files. But now that I have a Blu-ray player for those mkv files and a new computer that won't crash while viewing streamed videos during times my apartment is not hogging the bandwidth that I will begin to watch one or two series as episodes air each season. I sort of did that with Fortune Arterial in the fall of 2010, though I began watching it around the time episode 8 aired before I caught up. But with this season, I did this for Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Fractale.
Anyway, I will describe how I do my evaluations. I give letter grades as it's pretty clear where middle ground is, what's great, and what sucked. I rarely give A or F grades as most will be either B or C grades, with a few D grades that is usually the result of my "finish what you started" philosophy. I generally want to see everything to its conclusion unless it is too painful to continue watching. The grades apply only to the episodes that I watched. As for the three-letter code, sometimes with a dash part with a letter or two more to represent different seasons, movies, or OVAs of a given franchise), those are how I abbreviate anime series to be used for the rest of the review and any other time I subsequently need to refer to them.
Completed (All anime listed are watched from the beginning unless specified)
[CNA] Canaan: B+
To start off the quarter, I watched this action show. It has a decent storyline with the Ua virus being spread around Shanghai and with Canaan trying to put an end to it. Character development was excellent, as well as the visuals. However, there were some potholes in the plot (especially in the ending that I won't discuss here) that make it far from being a masterpiece. Nonetheless, the visuals and character development makes CNA a very nice anime to watch.
[XMD] Xam'd: B-
This anime started off really nicely in that it followed the Eureka 7 formula. You got the main character living a boring life until an invasion hits his homeland, and he is whisked away by a band that lives on an airship. It started off with great promise, but as the series progresses, the plot becomes too complicated and rushed. An anime like this would have worked with 52 episodes, but in squeezing so much into 26 episodes, I felt totally lost in what was happening and by the time I finished watching this, my brain was still in knots trying to figure out everything that was going on. Nonetheless, the animation and visuals were all excellent even if the story seems a bit off.
[3RD] The Third: B
For a change of pace, I revisited The Third, an anime I began watching a long time ago, but put on my backlog until now when I bought the thinpak set. This story revolves around a time where a great war has turned Earth into a deserted wasteland. Overall, the characters were great and it does a great job on focusing on the characters. Such an anime could have been an actionfest, but the mecha action took a back set to character development between Honoka and Iks, Millie and Zankan, Earth and The Third, etc. This anime does an excellent job at character development using a formula similar to that used in series such as Shana and Clannad. If there was any problem, it is that the character development of Joey Toy was never fully developed and the last two episodes were hard to understand.
[2X2] Ninja Nonsense: C+
This is all about being funny and with Onsakumaru being the one doing most of the craziness that it was what made this show. Other than that, I felt that this show is just a recycling of jokes and do not bring much new stuff to the table. 2X2 had its moments, but nothing worth remembering. But that was how it was designed to be as indicated in its name. Nothing is supposed to make any sense, and in the character interviews the seiyuu for Onsakumaru makes a great point about that.
[TRC] Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle (Season 2): C+
I watched season 1 about a year and a half ago, and after getting off to a great stop, the pacing dragged things way down. I understand the nature of such an anime, but there was too much unnecessary filler material added in, especially when the heroes visit worlds with no feather to be found. I would have liked to see at least a hint of closure coming rather it being an ongoing journey. But that never comes to be in this anime. Considering that Sakura is said to have hundreds of feathers scattered throughout different worlds and that it takes a few episodes to capture a single feather that it could take forever to get close to an ending unless they break the mold. While season 1 at least had an established storyline, season 2 fails to really advance it. I'll be watching the OVAs pretty soon.
[SBS] Sacred Blacksmith: B-
Let's just say that I was expecting this to be a fanservicefest considering that it was said to be heavily edited for TV broadcast, and there were really only three incidents of it where edits and censorship are called for. Nonetheless, it was a nice anime to watch, but would have been better served if it had gone for a full season rather than a half season. While all of the side stories were nice, the ending was horribly rushed as the villain didn't appear until the final two episodes. Not to mention, there was not enough Charlotte in this. At least, her bodyguards should have helped out in some capacity during the final episodes. I was not expecting to liked SBS and the main reason I got it was that the LE packaging looked really nice and I wanted to start collecting some of these LE's that Funi was releasing. But I surprisingly enjoyed it even with all of its flaws it had with the rushed plot being the biggest one of them.
[MHO] Tantei Opera Milky Holmes: C+
Very cute show. Certainly, if there was one anime that I would want to watch solely for the cute characters, this would be it. I enjoyed this show for the silliness and moe factor, but at the same time there is way too much of it that it waters down the show. This is supposed to be about detectives, but we don't actually see much of it. With the way the series ended, there needs to be a second season and I would be all for it, provided that it focuses more on the "detective" aspect rather than all the helplessness and stuff I saw in this show. This series would be way better if Twenty was replaced with someone who at least keeps his clothes on.
[RMG] Rental Magica: D
Painfully boring show. At least the music and extras that came with the DVDs are pretty nice. I watched this in chronological order since I want to understand everything that's going on and I have a better chance at doing so viewing them in this order than in broadcast order. Having a dub would have helped matters by leaps and bounds, but I had a hard time getting into this anime. A few episodes were nice to watch like the ones with the homonculus and the Sakurai family. But overall, the constant spell wave contamination of the week philosophy left a bad taste in my mouth.
[TYM] Taisho Baseball Girls: B
Here is a hidden gem of a sports anime that takes place when Japan is getting Westernized. This follows the same formula as any successful sports anime: chemistry development takes center stage and competition takes a back seat. Obviously the reason for that is that I would rather go to a ballpark to watch baseball than to see it through an anime. Anyway, what is really nice about this series are all the different uniforms the characters are wearing at school. We have the seifukus that we see everywhere in Japan today, and then there are the traditional kimonos that were worn until the Meiji era. And the way these characters were doing whatever it takes to show that girls can play baseball was just well-done. It's great that the series takes the approach of up-and-coming rather than super team as bad sports anime tends to be.
[OIO] Ore no Imoto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai: A-
This is a well-done anime about how otakuism is seen as both a good thing and a bad thing. The characters are likable and well-developed, and the way Kyosuke goes from having a sister he barely knows to becoming fully supportive and close to her. Kyosuke's big brother mentality was also well-done doing everything it takes to make Kirino happy. There is more coming out, but with a different ending than the one we saw in the TV broadcast. I look forward to watching that whenever it comes out whether it be through ANN streams or otherwise. Kyosuke is the type of character that you want to have in your life and he singlehandedly made this anime click on all cylinders. I certainly think that Kyosuke is one of the best male characters in all of anime, which is why I really like this anime.
[AMG-2] Ah My Goddess (Season 2, 13-24): C+ (episodes watched only)/B (TV series as a whole)
I watched the first season a long time ago, and then just last year I had previously started to watch the second season and managed to get halfway through it before I became too busy and forgot to finish it. Thus, I decided to resume it now that the whole season can be watched on Funimation's video site. Anyway, I just got the whole filler feeling watching these episodes. The first season has a well-established storyline that ended with an intense set of events whereas the second season was just a bunch of random adventures. It continues to be fun to watch, but at the same time, I am scratching my head about what is going on.
[KBA] Kiba (39-51): D
I started KBA two years ago and managed to watch it halfway through before putting it on hold. Then I watched two more discs last year. And now, I finished this long anime series. This is another really boring anime series that involves so many pointless fights and conflicts, as well as plots that moves way too slowly. It follows the same general formula and it fails miserably. You have the Templar shard casters fighting against the Zymot ninjas, and along away you get a character that enters the scene only to die a few episodes later, and then a new villain arises when we think that the root of all evils is put to rest too soon. The way the story is laid out just does not do anything for me. A few arcs could have been easily cut out and it would not have changed the story. But what kills this anime the most is the lack of intensity in the fighting scenes. You have one fight going on with the spirits and ones that don't involve much pizzazz that I am accustomed to watching in typical shonen action anime, and then another using shard swords. At least bad shonen action anime have that going for them while with KBA, that was the biggest problem.
[2MM] MM!: C+
MM! (which stands for Mega Masochist) is another good funny series that I enjoyed. Certainly it helped that the Mio and Arashiko looked like clones of Evangeline and Nodoka, though it didn't help that Rie Kugimiya was not the seiyuu for Mio. The fact that Butarou was enjoying getting the snot beat out of him by the girls was annoying, but at least it was the funny sort of annoying and so very true to his masochism. As for Arashiko, I loved her moments when she is scared of men and her kneejerk reaction to the matter. With Mio, she is quite the tsundere. Then there are the parodies of DBZ and Dokuro-chan going on. Of course, this anime falls into the typical traps that harems fall into and I felt that lots of jokes were reused too many times and not much in the way of storyline or story advancement were made. The formula is very typical of not-so-good harem anime.
[11E] 11eyes (7-end): D-
This was a total train wreck of an anime series that had the potential on paper. I previously watched half of 11E before putting this title on hold. Since there were only six episodes left to go and that I managed to make it through six episodes that I decided to finish it. Overall, the storyline has more holes than a block of Swiss cheese as everything leading up to the big revelation was mostly pointless. Execution was just problematic from the start and in an anime like this, the panty shots and other fanservice were an unwelcome distraction. Episode 11 pretty much sums up why this show sucks and not to get into spoilers, let's just say that given what happened there, the way the plot developed was just a waste of time as in "Why the heck did I bother to watch the previous episodes if this is what it led to?". Of course, something didn't feel right after watching that episode, and as it turns out that is the case.
Ongoing (Grades apply to only those episodes watched)
[FMA-B] Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood (27-38): A+
This anime series continues to be top-notched material. While the original FMA was great and one of the best anime ever, this one is even better now that it follows the original artist's thoughts and connections to a T. All the events are leading up to one big crisis in the making, one much bigger than that in the original series. With the manga finished and the fact that this anime got two and a half seasons to tell the whole story that it definitely makes a huge difference. Also helping matters is the excellent dub work as these VA's continue to pour their heart and soul into these characters. Maxey Whitehead continues to make be believe that Aaron Dismuke is still voicing Al. In these episodes, we are introduced to Olivier Mira Armstrong and her comrades at Fort Briggs, and a huge mystery about is unveiled.
[KEK] Kekkaishi (27-40): B+
This series continues to be solid. But it gets better as the series progresses as it turns from ayakashi-of-the-week to a central storyline where there is a huge conspiracy going on behind everybody's backs. The ayakashi of the week format is effective for bringing in new viewers, but what makes this anime great is the fact that it all leads up to the main story nicely and not completely senseless as anime that follow a similar formula tend to be. At around episode 20, things start to fall into place nicely.
[BLE] Bleach (183-190): C+
I just watched the episodes up to the end of the Captain Amagai arc as I haven't had the time to watch more of it. So this grade applies to only these episodes. Overall, it is a solid arc with a princess trying to escape assassination by a ninja clan that uses mirrored gauntlets as weapons. The story itself is nice. Now the problem with this arc is that it is happening in the middle of a dramatic moment during the Hueco Mundo arc and that is the main culprit for dragging the grade down. It probably would be a B/B- if it had happened after Ichigo and company return from Hueco Mundo. That would have been the more ideal location to put this filler arc.
[PMM] Puella Magi Madoka Magica (1-10): A
This is quite the magical girl anime that is almost nothing like any other magical girl anime. Since the anime broadcast has been put on delay following the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan that I could not finish this until the spring season. But I plan on finishing this soon. Anyway, the fact that the story and battling of witches evokes so much emotion that it definitely is something to make you want to keep on watching this. This anime shows that wishes come with responsibility and power comes with a huge cost. Then there is episode 10 and I will just say that a ton of questions get answered in that episode.
[FRT] Fractale (1-7): A-
Another excellent title from Noitamina as the animation was just gorgeous and the story is developing into something great. Overall, this an anime with excellent visuals and they talk about the possible evils of technology that is too great that it gives living an extreme makeover. Although Clain kind of sucks as a character, Phryne, Nessa, Enri, and Sunda pick up the slack in a big way.
None this season
[IFS] Infinite Stratos (1-3): C-
This is a generic harem show. Been there, done that. But the concept of having a guy fighting in a way only girls could previously do is something I would get into. With Sentai licensing IFS so soon that this series goes on hold since I do not subscribe to The Anime Network's premium content. I might revisit this series later, but I am not really looking forward to continuing with this. At the very least, some of the girls are cool.
Avatar: Akari Mizunashi and Alicia Florence of Aria, Courtesy of Fudce/Jun Kuga
It's time to graduate from here. But there's still some business left.
The only thing better than anime is sports. Get hit hard and you got JACKED UP! Or else it's a C'mon Man!
Last edited by Buckeye : 04-10-2011 at 10:54 AM.