Fall 2010 Anime Simulcast Round-up - Mania.com



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Fall 2010 Anime Simulcast Round-up

A look at what's worth watching and what you should pass on

By Chris Beveridge, Bryan Morton, G.B. Smith     October 21, 2010


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The Fall 2010 anime series is fully underway and we're seeing a number of shows across a few different carriers this year. There's a lot of content out there and sometimes it can be hard to determine what's worth spending the time (and money, if you want really quick access) on. Since we're watching the majority of new shows out there on a weekly basis and talking about them, we wanted to take a peek at things after they've hit the first few episodes to see if they're worth carrying on with. We'll be reviewing them to the end of each run but for most people, the 2nd and 3rd episodes are where the decisions are often made about whether to continue on or not. With the free-casts for some of these hitting that stage, let's take a look at it. Myself, Bryan and Greg are going through nearly twenty new simulcasts this season as well as some ongoing shows and catch-up releases so there's a lot to talk about.

What's Showing On Crunchyroll

Bleach

Bleach came on during the summer season but we didn't start getting into it until the fall simply because it's so daunting getting into a long running series while watching the earlier episodes through DVD releases. Even more so with Bleach as we jumped on midstream of a story arc that quickly decided to do some side stories and filler before getting back to the drawn out main arc. The show is picking up steam as it focuses on the battle with Aizen, and there's definitely appeal in what's going on, but if you're watching the older episodes at the same time, you really get this sense that Bleach is not a show that has a larger narrative to it or has any plans, at least in the near term, for significant growth and change. It's fun and has a lot of style to it that's been built upon since the start, but the lack of clear vision and a plan looks to be doing the show some harm at this point in time.

Fortune Arterial

 This series dealing with a high school student that's always changing schools coming back to an earlier one has all the appeal of many slice of life shows centered in this kind of location. It has some really beautiful animation, great locales and a growing cast of attractive and interesting young women. While the production values are great, it's really lacking that one hook in there to make it a show you come back to. At least until the last thirty seconds of the first episode when they darkly reveal that there's vampires within this school. The show is one that is definitely slow in nature, getting to these points because it wants to build up the daytime school elements and show the lead reconnecting with the people from his past, but those few moments of darkness do draw you back in. Fortune Aterial is the kind of show that teases you well enough at the start to gain your attention, but it's reaching the point where it needs to let the viewer in a bit more to truly hold onto them.

Naruto: Shippuden

We originally started watching this one back during the summer and fell in love with how powerful the story had become with its emotion and the utter destruction of the Leaf village. Similar to Bleach, we're watching this one on DVD for the earlier episodes and watching the  new ones live so there's a gap of knowledge in there but no gap in fun. At least until the fall period got underway as the last several episodes have all been about flashback stories to when Naruto was just starting out which is reminding me of why I hated the original series for so long. These episodes are hard to watch, especially after the incredible peak the main arc just had, but all of that tells me that it's definitely worth continuing on with since there's a lot of manga material still yet to animate. This is a show I always thought I'd hate, but the summer season proved otherwise and that helps me to get through this bleak period.

Otome Yokai Zakuro
Shows taking place in the past are pretty common in anime and those dealing with yokai monsters are just shy of that common as well. Otome Yokai Zakuro is one of the highest watched shows on Crunchyroll this season and for good reason. it's taking a look at a point in history where things diverge by having the monsters be real and the government creating an agency with pure yokai, half breeds and humans to work together to deal with the problematic ones. Unlike past attempts where it goes more for the comedy, this one plays it very seriously, deals with racial prejudices and has some gorgeous character designs and very haunting sequences. And unlike certain other shows where different sides have tension for an episode and then move on, this one is keeping it up for several episodes so far and taking its time in breaking down those barriers as the three types work together. So far, this show has a lot going for it as it doesn't treat its viewers as if they're idiots.
 
Panty & Stocking And Garterbelt
If there’s one thing that will keep me watching PSG to the end, it’s the simple fact that you never know what you’re going to get - only that it’ll undoubtedly be high on the “WTF!?” scale. Opinions over the show are highly polarised - it’s a real love it or hate it piece - but so far at least it’s been working all the right magic for me, raising the laughs like no other show this season has been able to do, and its riff on Western animation styles is a core part of the appeal. I still worry about GAINAX keeping it going at this pace for the full 13-episode run, but it’s got its hooks into me too much to get off the ride now. A definite keeper.
 
Sora No Otoshimono Forte
If there was a show this season I wasn't supposed to like, it's definitely Sora No Otoshimono Forte. The follow-up season to the fanservice pervy fest that was the first doesn't have a whole lot of plot to it as it's about one perverted little dork of a lead who has lots of beautiful women hanging around him who fall out of their clothes often. It's highly sexualized and over the top. And outside of the third episode that was an utter bore involving pro-wrestling (with the girls in skimpy wrestling costumes and lots of hands on moments), it's been a riot. Sometimes a show is over the top in the right way that you can laugh along with it, and at it, while not thinking of how utterly stupid it is. This is especially true when you watch a lot of very serious shows so even something like this can be a significant break. This is a huge guilty pleasure as I know I shouldn't be enjoying it, but the first episode dealing with a dream world that was overly sexual and perverted had me laughing so hard and grinning from ear to ear that I knew I had to give it a chance.
 
Squid Girl
What if the Sub-Mariner was a pre-teen girl and completely inept? That was my first thought upon reading about this title and it''s pretty accurate. Squid Girl revolves around the titular character who has arrived on a popular beach in Japan and proclaimed that because of grave misdeeds made against those of the seas, she's going to subjugate the world and make everything right. She has some minor abilities, mostly revolving around her hair which has adorable squid-like abilities, but she's so easily pushed around by people that she has a hard time making any progress. In fact, because of opening episode issues, she ends up working at a seaside restaurant while getting a feel for what life is like on the land. The show works through it's simple comedy in a charming way and avoids overstaying its welcome by doing three separate stories in each episode so the gags aren't run through the ground to get to the point. Squid Girl herself manages the right level of righteous indignation and child-like wonder at things that while she never comes off as a threat, you can sympathize with her and hope that she finds some solution. It's probably the most charming of all the new shows this season that leaves you smiling.
 
Super Robot Wars Original Generation: The Inspector
The Earth is in danger from aliens, but humanity is at war with itself. The Divine Crusaders, the rebel faction that tried to conquer the world once before has risen again, challenging the Earth Federation. This show contains all of the classic elements from giant robot shows: intricate politics that would give Machiavelli a headache; buxomly beautiful women who are also skilled robot pilots; and, of course the robots themselves, enormous machines of mass destruction, whose power for good, or evil, rests with the personality of the pilot. Filled with action, drama and fanservice (in many senses of the word), Super Robot Wars OG: The Inspector is required viewing for mecha fans. If you're not into giant robots, you will probably want to turn your attention elsewhere.
 
Tantei Opera Milky Holmes
If one show had a really bad start to the year, it's this one as it told the story of a detective academy where the kids use special items called Toys to help them solve things. The problem came in that we're introduced to the core cast of four girls after they lost their Toys to a group of villains (who are far more interesting) and now they're on the outs with the social structure of the school and thoroughly depressed over their lives going this route. With flashbacks and unhappy characters coming together in a convoluted first episode that left you wondering what happened when, it was off to a rocky start. It hasn't improved too much as it's gone on either as the stories look to be simple detective tales about mundane things, leaving the show to try and attract its audience by simply being cute. There are small charms to it, and I do adore detective stories, but this is definitely the weakest show of the season on Crunchyroll.
 
Tegami Bachi: Reverse
So, when Tegami Bachi switched seamlessly from season one to season two, I’d hoped that the series would pick up the story of Gauche’s return, what had happened to him, and the rise of Reverse and run with it. So far at least, there’s been little effort made to follow up any of that, and I have to admit to a little frustration at that. With this being a second season, though, there’s the small matter of the investment made in watching the 25 episodes that brought me to this point - making it difficult to drop now. I also have a fascination with Amberground and the haunting atmosphere it brings to the show. It was what kept me coming back to the series through all of Lag’s bawl-your-eyes-out sessions in the first season, and it’s what is keeping me coming back now. A keeper, although it should consider itself “on notice” if it doesn’t get down to the real story soon.
 
The World God Only Knows
If there's a show that likely speaks to a lot of hardcore fans, more in Japan than in the US, it's going to be this one to some extent. It revolves around a high school sophomore named Keima who is a god of conquest when it comes to women. But only women inside of the dating sim video games. He's a generally decent guy but has no interest in real women but knows how to please all manner of virtual women. So while he bills himself as a god of conquest, it comes back to bite him when a demoness appears and forces him into a contract to help her seek out loose souls out in the world. This has him helping various girls that are going through issues caused by the loose souls and the only way to free them is with a kiss. Suffice to say, this doesn't go over well with him and it's going to take time to teach him the value of real women. Considering how many young men obsess about virtual girls and only virtual girls in Japan, it's a timely show in a way, but one that'll likely just reinforce their choices rather than nudge them to reality. That said, it is a fun show with great production values and a nice twist on things in getting Keima out there and seeing his game playing side. It unfortunately paints gaming in a bad light, something that'll likely never stop considering how widespread it is these days with the number of casual gamers, but The World God Only Knows has fun with it and doesn't really portray Keima in too bad of a light. You still don't want to be like him in this regard though.
 
Yumeiro Pâtissière Professional
Taking place two years after the original series, Ichigo Amano is now in high school, but the action quickly shifts away from St. Marie Academy to the new shopping village that Henri Lucas is developing: Marie's Garden. Now teamed up with former rival Lemon and new cast member Johnny from America, along with old teammate Makoto Kashino, the revamped Team Ichigo has been presented a new challenge by Mr. Lucas: develop and run your own professional sweets shop. The new show, unfortunately, focuses more on business and less on sweets, which makes for a more sour experience. It's a show I would consider dropping if I wasn't reviewing it.
 

What's Showing On Viz Media

Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan

Viz Media only has one show simulcasting this season and it's a continuation from the summer season. Based on the quite popular manga, it deals with a young man who is set to be the Third Heir of a yokai clan but he doesn't want to be. He's half yokai in that he has a night time self that comes out on occasion that's older, more mature and fairly deadly. And handsome. Unfortunately, the show is terribly uneven and poorly executed in the first half and it carries on in the second half as well as new group has arrived to take down the Nura clan and Rikuo in particular. It shifts between silly school comedy material and serious stuff while populating it with a diverse cast of characters that are, generally speaking, not terribly likable. They're not bad, but they're just simple and uninteresting. With the way it shifts between stories and has a lead character that was far too whiny at the start, but has settled down, Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan started off badly and has barely climbed up to being mediocre at best.

Cross Game

While the show is being shown about a year behind it's original release, it is one that Viz Media adds a new episode or two for every week. And it's generally been one of my favorite shows of the year so I wanted to include it here. Cross Game is a high school show about baseball and it's one of the more honest ones out there, and one that starts off by going through the kids lives across a few different years for the first several episodes. First as children who undergo a tragedy, then in junior high and eventually to high school. The baseball segments are pretty thrilling throughout as it doesn't overdramatize it since it goes for the serious side and it doesn't make anyone a mega star. It's a real world kind of series that also deals with high school relationships and pasts that haunt them, but again without it being melodramatic. Few shows play the viewer as well as this which makes watching the lead characters of Ko and Aoba so engaging. They may not be fully fleshed out, but they have conflicting emotions, passions about things in their lives beyond any potential boyfriend and girlfriend and they come across as real. They're people you can easily identify with and would want to hang out with and get to know more. When it gets to the baseball, it avoids many of the usual cliches and stands out strongly with a real love of the game but a realistic look at it. It's definitely the off the radar show more people should be watching.

What's Showing On FUNimation

Hetalia: World Series

This show is kind of in an awkward stage as the first season of it ran back in the spring but only recently started streaming from FUNimation and it has caught up to the fall season now with the first few episodes. With it being just five minutes an episode, they get added as batches which is how we review them as well. Coinciding with the home video release of the first two seasons, Hetalia simply offers up more of the same but with a more diversified cast. And while that has a lot of appeal as it introduces more countries-as-characters to its gags and fun, moving away from the core group of the Axis and Allies characters reduces a lot of the fun. For many, Hetalia is heavily identified with the Italy and Germany characters and they have a much reduced role in the first half of World Series but eventually do pick up steam. The show has a lot of fun with its jokes and gags with how it pokes everyone on the arm but it's lost a bit of what made it a bit more biting in the first two seasons. It's enjoyable and an easy watch because of its shortness, which helps it from running the gags into the ground.

Legend of Legendary Heroes

Few shows frustrate me like the Legend of Legendary Heroes. A summer season show that is still ongoing, it started off strong and then did several episodes of flashback before getting back to the present. And once there, it split its storytelling awkwardly between the political and intrigue side with the action and adventure part with the characters searching out Hero Relics from the past. Each has its appeal but the blending has not worked at all and the political side has people that are so overtly evil and conspiratorial that you can't help but wonder why they're given such a wide berth. There's some really striking action and choreography to the show, but each episode seems to bring the show further into a train wreck status that you don't even know where it could begin to try and salvage itself. The two stories are good, but they didn't belong together as main stories taking away from each other. If not for review purposes, I would have given up on this show after the first couple of episodes.

One Piece

Best. Simulcast. Period. I hated One Piece when I got the first DVDs but kept watching it and liked it well enough. But then I started watching it in the Impel Down storyline in the early 400's and have been going at it for fifty or so episodes now. And as that arc and the current arc have played out, I have gained a huge amount of respect for this property. One Piece is damn hard to get into at this point if you haven't seen earlier episodes, but if you watch the first voyage sets you can easily leap to the present, or just do some reading. One Piece is building a massive cohesive storyline that's run over ten years in anime form at this point and the episodes airing at this point are among the best in bringing together so many different things from that history and playing it all off of each other. Infused with emotion, action and plenty of depth, it's consistently the show that I look forward to eagerly every week. And I never, ever, thought that I would say that.

Shiki

Horror based shows are few and far between and Shiki, a summer show that took a bit of a hiatus before its return in the fall, has consistently been one of the more engaging ones. Involving a rural village that's suddenly seeing a spike in deaths seemingly by natural causes, it turns out that there's an unnatural force at work. What makes this a Very Good show is that it goes for chills and atmosphere rather than outright splatter or shocks. It's the kind of horror that plays you through the music, the quiet moments and possibility of something appearing out of nowhere. With a two track investigation going into the deaths, it deals with it logically and realistically until the only conclusion is the supernatural. Shiki takes it a step further with really intriguing character designs for those that come back from the dead which only adds to the atmosphere of otherworldliness. 

What's Showing On The Anime Network

Samurai Girls

If there's a show that can go one way or another this season, it's Samurai Girls. Probably one of the worst named shows I've ever seen, it's an alternate timeline series where we see that the Tokugawa period extends into the 21st century. With the government heavily involved in all walks of life, it blends the old and new in a way that doesn't seem gimmicky or corny. And into this world there's a revolution that's forming and a mysterious girl that literally falls out of the sky. While the story is still really forming, what sells it is that it's very unusual with its animation design with heavy line work and a setting that feels unique. It's heavily stylized and there's a lot of sexual connotations to it that may cause you to avoid the show as it feels like a spiritual successor to High School of the Dead. At this stage, this is the show with the most potential to really break out into something amazing, but it's held back by some basic plotting issues and a dreadful name. It's definitely the show to watch though.

Maid-Sama!

Misaki Ayuzawa is the Student Council President of Seika High School, a formerly all-boys school that recently went co-ed. As the first female student council president of a school that is still majority male, she has her work cut out for her keeping them all in line. Unfortunately for Misaki, her family is very poor (her father having run off), so she has to work a part-time job after school to help pay the bills. The job? Working in a maid cafe. Her secret is safe until she somehow attracts the attention of the unofficial prince of Seika High, Takumi Usui. Like many a long-running shoujo romance, this one moves along at a snail's pace, taking one step forward, two steps (sometimes more) back in bringing the obvious couple together. It doesn't help that Misaki is as dense as lead and Usui is so perfect it's near annoying. Those who enjoy slow-moving shoujo romances will probably be happy with it, and there are colorful and amusing minor characters (as well as very annoying ones) to entertain you while the writers don't advance the romance. If you need action and fast-paced adventure with your romance, this is not the show for you. 

 

 

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 3 of 3
1 
Hectotane 10/21/2010 11:42:18 AM

I heard that giving someone $10,000 (with no strings attached) can raise someone's self-esteem as well.

But yeah.  The only anime worth watching are Nurarihyon no Mago, Ironman, and Psychic Detective Yakumo.

FullMetalPrinny 10/24/2010 2:43:19 AM

I actually like this series animes...crunchyroll has most of the animes im watching: Fortune Arterial, Tegami Bachi Reverse, Squid girl, Sora no, Super Robot Wars, The world god only knows are pretty awesome, I also like Motto to Love Ru, Iron man and Samurai girls as well so its a pretty good season right now.

Calibur454 10/24/2010 9:45:30 AM

Personally I have been enjoying the world god only knows. It is actually a fun show that keeps you wondering what girl will come up next that the poor kid has to win over.

I'm hoping bakuman shows up sometime in the near future

1 

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