Well, there've been enough episodes subbed of the winter shows that I feel like I can finally make some kind of comment on it. It's kind of sad, but there are only three series airing this winter that I feel motivated to keep watching, which are:
#1 - Manabi Straight
I've only seen the first two episodes, but I like it so far--yes, it's just school slice-of-life, and there hasn't been anywhere near the insanity level of 2x2 Shinobuden or Dokkoida, which were also ufotable series, but I like Manabi Straight anyway. Do they look like high school students? Well, no. Although I've noticed every year I get older that real high school kids look more and more like infants, the character designs are definitely on the 'chubby loli' side. Despite that, Manabi's a fun character to watch, and what usually makes or breaks anime series for me is if it has likeable characters. Since it's an all-girls school I'm guessing there's going to be zero in the romance department, but if ufotable can keep things going and mix in some drama down the road I think this could be really good. It's not as high in insane comedy as I'd hoped, but if they're going to bring on the drama later, the contrast with the earlier episodes won't be as jarring this way.
#2 - Venus Versus Virus
I completely agree with Stripey that this is the most moe series of the winter--Sumire's deadly combo of arm and leg zettai ryouiki and Lucia's cool character are enough by themselves to keep me watching. Just two episodes in, I can't say a whole lot about the plot, although I can say the 'viruses' have the worst character designs ever. The virus in ep 2 looked like Washu had too much to drink and decided to cross a zombie with a basket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Are we supposed to be afraid of that shit? I'm pretty sure I could draw better monsters, and I suck donkey ass at drawing. The concept is interesting though, with Sumire having a dark side that takes out everything in its path, and I'm curious to see if she can eventually control that side of herself or not.
#3 - Deltora Quest
I never read the books this is based on, but since it's based on novels and not an RPG (as I originally assumed), this may end up having a decent plot. I can't say the first episode blew me away, and it had the longest introduction I've ever seen at the beginning--for a minute there I thought they were going to blow all 24 minutes of the episode reading us the damn novel. But despite CG that makes me cringe (I hate most CG though, so I'm biased) it's an interesting story, and since Jasmine's supposed to show up next ep to kick some ass I'll definitely keep watching.
Kyoushiro to something no something else - Yes, this has lots of fanservice and yuri potential, but I just can't get into it. It goes back to having likeable characters--I can't find anyone in the cast to identify with and/or root for. Kuu's IQ and mental age are in the single digits, Kyoushiro literally riding in to save Kuu on a white horse just made me roll my eyes, and since I wasn't a big Kannadzuki fan either, Himeko x Chikane round two doesn't help make me want to watch. I'm not saying it's a bad series, and it has a lot of fans, it's just not something that appeals to me enough to keep watching.
Saint October - Yes, the character designs are cute, and the priest is pretty funny (although they overused the 'fake boobs' joke in ep 2). But man can not live on character designs alone, and the bad guys and the plot seem like something you'd find in a series aimed at little kids. Which is strange, because the time slot and the fanservice they throw in makes me think this is NOT aimed at little kids. Plus what is that gunk that dumps all over Kotono when she transforms? Maybe I don't want to know...in any case, watching episode 2 I think I stopped it three times to surf the internet or send an email, and that's a sure sign it's going to the dropped for lack of interest pile.
This isn't really related to the winter season, but I have to confess something (and I'm genuinely embarrassed as an anime fan to be saying this): I've never seen Crest of the Stars. I think the main reason is I'm not normally a big sci-fi fan--yes, I had a toy Millennium Falcon when I was little just like everyone else in my generation, but when I wasn't crashing the Falcon down the stairs I didn't watch a whole lot of sci-fi. As an example, I did like the original Star Trek (Shatner's overacting and all) but its many progeny just never did anything for me.
Yesterday, I started to right this wrong as the first volume of Crest of the Stars showed up in our mailbox from Netflix, and so far I'm impressed. Lafiel and Jinto are both fascinating characters, and while a lot of reviews slam the series for being slow-paced, to me slow-paced means Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, and Crest of the Stars is considerably faster-paced than that. I'm really looking forward to seeing more--I'm not really sure how I missed this series until now, sci-fi or no. Lafiel-hime seems destined to be one of my favorite anime characters, even just four episodes in you can see a glimpse of a warmer side beneath her cool, collected exterior. I'm restraining myself from just ordering the box set now because I want to watch it through before deciding to buy it or not, but it's hard to gamman.