Monday, April 01, 2013

Looking Back at Winter

I swear every time I blink, an entire season of anime passes - between work, building Lego towers and coloring with crayons (having a four-year old is an awesome way to get to play like a little kid again), and then the fact watching anime takes priority over writing about it, this blog is once again turning into a desert.  Was that a run-on sentence?  You'd think after almost 40 years I'd be a master at the English language, but having a four-year old correct your pronunciation (granted, for dinosaur names, but still) makes one lose one's confidence a little...

Anyway, without further ado, a few random thoughts on this past season:

Tamako Market

This was my favorite of the season - I know, I know, this says a lot about my taste in anime, since I didn't say Shin Sekai Yori or anything else from the list of more serious anime.  But to be honest, as I've said before, I don't watch anime to reflect on the darkness inherent in humanity, I watch it for entertainment, and Tamako Market delivered there in spades (whatever that means).  It had the kind of ending I normally hate - no resolution on Tamako x Mochizo specifically - but somehow it seemed to fit the series well and didn't bug me.  I wish they'd done more with the cast - Shiori had a whole episode to get introduced and then it felt like they didn't do much with her, and I could have lived without either Anko episode.  The whole talking chicken thing made me very wary going into this, but Dera was hysterical, and enough reason by himself to make me look forward to it each week.  I was half-expecting a Wal-Mart to open two blocks away and kill the Bunny Mountain Shopping Arcade completely, but in the end, it didn't go anywhere very serious, and that's fine.

Mondaiji-sama ga Etc. Etc.

This was the dark horse for me this season, that came out of nowhere and got me completely hooked - the animation quality was average, but the cast was a lot of fun to watch, and the setting was really cool too.  Between Kuro Usagi's tsukkomi, Izayoi's attitude, Shiroyasha's logic for Kuro Usagi's wardrobe choices, the ED credits where Yo and Asuka blow Kuro Usagi off and her reaction - I pretty much loved this series from start to finish.  It's just a shame it was only ten episodes - I'm not sure it's likely, but I'd love to see a second season.

Da Capo III

I really wanted to love this, but honestly it's probably my biggest disappointment of the season.  It's insanely servicey, which isn't a terrible thing, but is a little jarring given previous Da Capo anime wasn't nearly as in your face with the service.  I thought Junichi's harem was huge, but Kiyotaka's ability to get every girl in school to fall for him without doing anything in particular to make him a teen heartthrob just makes my eyes roll a little too.  The plot also seemed to go nowhere - but given it supposedly just follows the demo and not the "real" gameplay, we'll probably have a second season that actually moves the plot along.

AKB0048 Next Stage

I still hate CG.  But this was a fun ride, with lots of great J-pop, and while the plot got a little out there with AKB0048 being like The Force or something, it was still a worthy successor to the first season.  Nagisa is MUCH better than Acchan though - Acchan still just looks creepy to me.

Robotics Notes

The plot didn't exactly launch like a rocket - it felt like this was planned for four cours and then about 4-5 episodes from the end got shortened to two, so they suddenly shifted from neutral to high gear.  I understand that's the way the visual novel it's based on went too, though, and in some ways it works since you get a leisurely introduction to the cast before the shit hits the fan.  In the end, though, it seemed like a lot of the cast really didn't have much to do - but I can forgive it for that easily, since episode 21 and the whole Kai-Akiho scene there was one of the best confession scenes I've seen in a while.  I'm a sucker for endings where the main couple actually does get together, which segues into...

Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo

Twenty-four episodes, a full year, and all we get is Mashiro kissing Sorata on the cheek?  I also can't stand Nanami - just confess already and lay off the Kansai-ben, for the love of God.  Sorata whines way too much too.  In real life, if you pick your dream to be something only one in a million people get to do, how naive are you to be shocked when things don't turn out exactly like you planned - but maybe this is age and cynicism talking.  Overall, I did like the series - I just felt a little let down since the first couple episodes gave me a Toradora-like vibe, and it just couldn't live up to that.

Senran Kagura

I liked Asuka's character, but honestly aside from that this didn't have a lot going for it.  The plot was...well, the less said the better.  I guess in hindsight, this is probably a series where if I could send text messages backwards in time I'd send one to myself saying to save the 24 minutes a week for something else.

Vividred Operation

Good character designs, interesting enough story, decent combat scenes - but with the camera zoomed in on their asses a hundred times every's a little embarrassing to watch.  Let's just say this isn't on my "introduce my daughter to anime" list for the future.  The "punch from low Earth orbit" at the end was cool, I guess, but seemed a little too easy too given a few minutes before that everyone was doomed.

Girls und Panzer

Girls and tanks?  It may sound stupid, but they played it straight and it really worked - the long wait for episodes 11 and 12 was worth it, and this goes down for me as nothing spectacular but still a fun series to watch.

Yama no Susume

I normally avoid three-minute long anime, and this would have been better as just a normal-length OVA, but it was a cute series about two girls climbing mountains and one of them maybe coming out of her shell a little, which I can relate to.  It's a good series to just relax too - like Tamako, don't expect anything deep, but you could argue Yama no Susume has more character development.

Little Busters

I dropped this because of Komari - her character honestly made me want to throw my laptop out the window instead of keeping watching.  But after skipping her arc and picking it back up, Little Busters grew on me, although the writing makes me think Kyoani probably made the right call passing on this.  Haruka's family belongs in jail, Kudo's whole arc just had me scratching my head, but it is a likable cast, and now we seem to be getting into Rin's arc and the main part of the story, so I'm looking forward to more.  Does it look as gorgeous as Kyoani's Kannon or Clannad?  No, but I'm not sure that would make a difference in terms of whether I enjoy it or not anyway.

Overall, it's been another great season for anime - I've been watching anime since '98 (not counting Voltron and Star Blazers as a kid back in the Cretaceous) and it amazes me that each season I can't imagine turning away from it.  Here's hoping the spring season will be good too - there's a lot of potential among the new entrants out there (as usual, Random Curiosity has a complete preview), and getting to see Oreimo's finale and more Railgun alone has me excited for the next couple weeks.