Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fall 2012 Check-in

[UTW]_Shinsekai_Yori_-_06_[h264-720p][935DCD8C].mkv_snapshot_08.42_[2012.11.03_21.15.13] [HorribleSubs] Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_23.36_[2012.10.01_16.48.03] [gg]_Jormungand_-_16_[2DD81186].mkv_snapshot_18.49_[2012.11.01_10.52.19]
[SFW-sage]_Bakuman_S3_-_05_[720p][D2BC14C3].mkv_snapshot_16.41_[2012.11.05_20.52.28] [rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 05 [AEB8723A].mkv_snapshot_13.10_[2012.11.07_10.12.00] [WhyNot] Robotics;Notes - 04 [75786F81].mkv_snapshot_06.21_[2012.11.02_20.51.24]

Somewhat tardy, here’s the Fall 2012 check-in – and a pretty solid season it is, on the whole.

My read on Fall 2012 going in was that it was deep in potentially good shows, while lacking candidates for real greatness.  On balance I’d say that expectation has largely been met – there are quite a few shows – too many, really – that I like, but I really only see one that’s on the cusp of being great if it can maintain its current level (and as it’s a high-risk series, that’s no sure thing).

My schedule here is a bit crazy, and it’s not going to let up anytime soon, so it’s fair to say my threshold for blogging a show this season is a bit higher than usual.   Some shows that would normally get stand-alone posts are going into digests (I actually like that format a lot), and some that would normally get digests are getting irregular coverage.  Truth be told I’m still blogging more than I should when what I really need to be doing is trying to make a living and spending every spare moment exploring, but no one’s got a gun to my head so there’s no point in moaning about it.   On to the list:


The Elite

Shin Sekai Yori
Episodes Watched: 6
Grade: A
Comments: Once again, intuition can be correct – as with Jinrui, while this wasn’t the most hyped show of the season it’s turned out to be the class of it.  Visually inventive, fearless, dark and complex with terrific music, SSY is alone in this category for me this season (though if I classed Jormungand: Perfect Order as a new series, it would certainly rank at least on par).  I see lots of potential danger ahead, knowing what’s going to happen with the general plot, and a show that takes chances is going to have missteps.  But I think the chance for genuine greatness remains; my likely end result is something about on the level of Noein (a show this very much reminds me of) or Dennou Coil.


Outstanding

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun
Episodes Watched: 6
Grade: A-
Comments: I like all three shoujo series this Fall, but Tonari has edged ahead of the pack with its consistently witty dialogue, engaging cast and nice balance between serious character drama and whimsy.  Brains Base is doing their usual bang-up job here with the animation, art and music.

Bakuman 3
Episodes Watched: 5
Grade: A-
Comments: It’s Bakuman.  If you buy the premise you’re pretty much engaged, and the third season is very much on a par with the excellent second thus far.


[rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 05 [AEB8723A].mkv_snapshot_13.10_[2012.11.07_10.12.00] [HorribleSubs]_PSYCHO-PASS_-_04_[480p].mkv_snapshot_04.06_[2012.11.03_08.23.14] [Anime-Koi]_Kami-sama_Hajimemashita_-_05_[2DD5FBFA].mkv_snapshot_22.22_[2012.11.03_23.50.50]

Very Good

Robotics;Notes
Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: B+
Comments: My preferred of the NoitaminA series so far, though it’s certainly not the flashier show.  Very low-key and restrained, I find R;N really engaging for the interesting story and very natural character interaction, and the refreshingly innocent take on high-school life.  I sense that this is going to be the beneficiary of a “Tortoise & the Hare” effect, and continue to develop as a very strong series over its two-cour run.

Psycho-Pass
Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: B
Comments: I was pretty worried after the premiere, which was rather disjointed and tried much too hard, but things have picked up considerably since then.  We seem to be in the midst of another Urobuchi Gen riff on the essential depravity of human nature, but he’s covering seemingly well-tread ground here so it remains to be seen if he can do anything fresh with it.  What’s undeniable for me is that the show has a terrific future-noir look, and a couple of the supporting characters – especially Masaoka, who seems to be acting as Urobuchi’s stand-in – stand out as especially interesting.

Sakurasou no Pet no Kanoujou
Episodes Watched: 5
Grade: B
Comments: This is a series I could see moving higher on the list before it’s all said and done, depending on how much it’s able to escape the constraints of formula.  In some ways this may be the perfect JC Staff series and an ideal fit for Okada Mari, so there’s definitely potential – it may just come down to how strong the source material turns out to be.  With what felt like an ending coming after four episodes, I’m very curious to see what Sakurasou does with the rest of its two cours.

Kamisama Hajimemashita
Episodes Watched: 6
Grade: B
Comments: Not the easiest show to blog about but maybe the easiest to watch, not the best show of the season but maybe the most consistent. Kamisama Hajimemashita is a real sleeper - clever, visually creative and full of heart. It’s shoujo in its lighter, more optimistic mode – not always something easy to pull off, but this show does.


[HorribleSubs]_Sukitte_Ii_na_yo._-_05_[720p].mkv_snapshot_14.42_[2012.11.05_10.47.31] Little Busters - 05 - Large 22 [URW]_Chuunibyou_demo_Koi_ga_Shitai!_-_05_[720p][650467CD].mkv_snapshot_15.31_[2012.11.02_00.26.21]

Worthwhile

Sukitte Ii na yo
Episodes Watched: 5
Grade: B-
Comments: I like the balance Sukitte strikes between drama (high school can certainly be dramatic) and idyll, and the very matter-of-fact way in which it confronts the sexual politics of teenaged social life.  It’s a good show and Mai is an interesting lead, but I think Sukitte is held back a bit by a lack of really interesting male characters (while Tonari, for example, is full of them). 

Little Busters!
Episodes Watched: 5
Grade: B-
Comments: In many ways this is a series I probably shouldn’t like, based on my personal tastes, and it’s met with the expected complaining by many fans of the LN.  But although it’s pretty shameless and moe-driven (including a moe male lead played by Hochan) this show is working for me.  I like the air of innocence about it – especially as compared to some other Key works – and I find the antics of the characters more enjoyable than I would have expected.  Like all Key series LB is easing into the major story elements, but that’s starting to change now that we’re in full-on arc mode.  With JC Staff effectively announcing a second season or after-story already, expect LB to take it’s time with those arcs.

Zetsuen no Tempest
Episodes Watched: 5
Grade: B-
Comments: To be honest, I’m not that emotionally invested in the characters (though they’re growing on me) or interested in the plot (that too) but there’s a grand, sweeping quality to ZnT that’s unlike anything else airing.  In many ways BONES is the studio most suited to Shakespeare, and Zetsuen may be the ideal BONES series – preposterous, overdramatic, obtuse, operatic even.  The classical score – nothing else would have remotely fit – is a real treat as well.

Magi
Episodes Watched: 5
Grade: B-
Comments: Magi has taken a big step forward in the last two episodes, showing a surprising depth and poignancy in the story.  This is such a big story – it’s already apparent how many characters and settings are going to be involved – that adapting it with any consistency is likely to be a challenge.  But the early indications are that the BDs are going to sell very well, so I’m expecting a second season announcement before the first ends, possibly with a one-cour break.  Another very nice looking show from A-1, BTW, who are emerging as a major power player in the anime industry.

Chuunibyou
Episodes Watched: 5
Grade: B-
Comments: For me, Chuunibyou isn’t working as the dissertation of adolescence I think it wants to be, but it does mostly work as a straight-up comedy.  It’s very silly, and often makes me laugh – and there’s nothing wrong with that.  I think there was potential for something quite special here in the hands of a better writer, and there are definitely times I wish KyoAni would dial back the KyoAni a little.  But it’s a comedy that’s usually funny, which satisfies the Enzo Hippocratic Oath of comedy series.


JoJo1 [SubDESU] To Love-Ru Trouble - Darkness OVA - 01v0 (1280x720 x264 AAC) [DC0333D6].mkv_snapshot_20.25_[2012.08.17_20.43.49] [HorribleSubs]_BTOOOM!_-_05_[720p].mkv_snapshot_10.38_[2012.11.04_11.27.54]

Still Watching

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: B-
Comments: This isn’t my favorite style, but for sheer bombast and preposterous GAR, JoJo is the leader of the pack.  There’s nothing like it – I can’t see myself finding enough to write to cover it weekly, but I’ll be trying to follow it.

ToLoveRu: Darkness
Episodes Watched: 5
Grade: B-
Comments: So far I actually like this better than “Motto”.  The plots aren’t half-bad, and so help me, there’s something about this silly, trashy nonsense that makes me like it.  TLR is just so unapologetic about what it is that it almost goes meta and achieves a kind of innocence.

Btooom!
Episodes Watched: 5
Grade: C+
Comments: Undeniably engrossing, but also not exactly a pleasure to watch. I see signs it may be degrading into an out and out exploitation show, but I hope not.


Still Watching as time allows

Seitokai  no Ichizon Lv. 2 (inconsistent subs and terrible video quality, though I find the show itself better than many of the critics seem to.  I’ll discuss it more in the Winter, when it airs on TV)
K
Ixion Saga
Gyrozetter


Dropped: Code: Breaker


As you can see, the overwhelming majority of the shows fall into that broad “good” category and that, along with my time constraints, makes my blogging decisions extremely difficult.  As best I can guess this is how it looks:

Monday:
Definitely Blogging: Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun, Sakurasou
Probably Blogging in Digest: Kamisama Hajimemashita

Tuesday:
Definitely Blogging: Jormungand: Perfect Order, Ginga e Kickoff

Wednesday:
Definitely Blogging: Chuunibyou

Thursday:
Definitely Blogging: Robotics;Notes, Psycho-Pass, Shirokuma Café
Probably Blogging/Digest: Zetsuen no Tempest, Btooom!

Friday:
Definitely Blogging: Shin Sekai Yori

Saturday:
Definitely Blogging: Hunter X Hunter 2011, Bakuman 3, Little Busters!
Probably Blogging/Digest: Sukitte Ii na yo

Sunday:
Definitely Blogging: Uchuu Kyoudai
Probably Blogging/Digest: Magi


Watching: JoJo, Fairy Tale, Gyrozetter, TLR, SnI


28 comments:

  1. You have no idea how helpful this post is going to be to me, as I have watched exactly zero shows of this season ever since I got back to uni in September. I've mostly been sticking to Hunter X Hunter and nothing else, and I simply don't have the time to check out everything like I used to.

    Then again, neither should you having just moved into a new country, but here you are blogging 13+ shows on regular bases ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Which just makes me even more puzzled where you find the time to watch (and write!) these shows.

      Does Japan have more time in a day than the rest of the world? I know that they are +3 days ahead to the rest of the world (hence why they have all these giant robots) but do they have twice as many hours to work within as well?

      Delete
    2. @Arabesque: he's a tirelesse blogger multitasking Time Lord :p.

      Delete
  2. You are missing out if you are NOT watching Girls Und Panzer. Its a riot and on paper sounds awful but once you watch it you can't help but get into the series. If you liked Upotte and Bodacious Space Pirates then you should like GUP too. It cocnstantly has 100+ comments (all positive) on RC so I'm not the only one liking this series.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If my memory serves me correctly, Enzo didn't really like Upotte much and he gave BSP a shoot but it just never grew on him (which is a shame since it really had that air of class when it first started ...) so ...

      Girls Und Panzer sounds a whole lot like something that someone who liked Strike Witches might go for, so I do think it might be quite fun but just not really that engaging to watch.

      Delete
    2. To be fair I would moreso classify Girls und Panzer as a mix between Saki and K-On, but with the main competition area being imaginary tank wars.

      The story is an anime original (although a manga is also being released while the series has been airing). It focuses around team competition where the main "bad guy" is the older sister of the main character (the two of them obviously have something in their past they disagree on). In this sense it is similar to Saki.

      The fan service (and yuri content) is nowhere near what Strike Witches or Saki had (or Upotte for that matter - which was a disappointment for me), but it is also more than K-On in terms of the charas being "pure and somewhat normal but odd at the same time".

      It is silly in the sense that Saki is (that is, for people who actually play mahjong) but there is a simple and endearing quality about the characters (at least for me).

      The background story is nowhere near as "sweeping" as Bodacious Space Pirates, though the characters are kinda similar to Marika's high school comrades in the space yacht club. So I guess a close approximate might be Marika and a small selection of the space yacht club in tanks, though the main chara is more like a Saki just waiting to bloom (sorry - couldn't resist). ;)

      Oh yeah - and because of all the military names and such like of the tanks it can be very interesting to read military otaku's feedback about the tanks in anime related forums at times as well.

      For me it is the biggest surprise of the season to be honest.

      - Flower

      Delete
    3. btw... Strike Witches The Movie is now out and subbed. Its good stuff.

      Delete
    4. Concerning Girls und Panzer, the K-On, Saki, and Strike Witches comparisons are reasonable, but why isn't anyone mentioning Sora no Woto? GuP, as a whole, has been on par with the first half of SnW.

      Delete
  3. How about SAO? Have you dropped that one yet, or are you still watching?

    Anyway, if you can find room for it, pick up Girl und Panzer. I freaking love the subs, and the angler fish dance. Hilarious. Check out http://theoatmeal.com/comics/angler for background.

    I almost completely agree with your list. Just that I would've given Magi a B, and not B-. It's funny that Btooom!
    is ranked so low, and that your neither you nor me have the decency to drop it yet. Are we watching it just for the potential?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Btooom is like a grisly accident I can't look away from. SAO is still theoretically a show I'm watching but I'll falling behind. And every time Yui appears on-screen a puppy is strangled somewhere.

      The shows people reference as templates for Girls und Panzer (K-on, BSP, Upotte) are all shows that didn't do much for me, so as busy as I am it's hard to convince myself to find time.

      Delete
    2. I would compare it to Ben-To but girls @ school crossed with tank porn and German. It's a spicy mix!
      But yeah, I guess I would give it a B-. The fact that it's girls @ school weighs everything down, but the plus is that there's no annoying bland stereotypical male MC. And no freaking tsundere. Sakurasou is pissing me off with that shit and the misunderstanding theme.

      Delete
  4. Still Watching as time allows
    Ixion Saga is under this heading. With Sengoku Collection just finishing are you starting to lose faith in Brain's Base or is Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun enough?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't really understand the question. I have to watch every show in a timely manner or it means I don't like a studio? No studio is perfect (I do like Ixion FTR, just pressed for time atm) but Brains Base has the best batting average going right now.

      Delete
    2. Hmm ... better than KyoAni, eh? (Not fair for me to ask this since I tend to like many of the sort of things that came out of there, maybe.)

      But I do admit that Brains Base seems to have been doing some nice work of late....

      - Flower

      Delete
    3. Before Hyouka, Kyo hadn't done a show I really liked unreservedly since Kanon. So yeah, definitely to my tastes it's not even close.

      Delete
    4. Well if you do like Ixion then I guess it's nothing. It's just if you disliked two Brain's Base series in a row you might want to check to make sure they haven't crashed downhill and you don't keep singing there praises after they've stopped making series you like.

      (I actually liked Sengoku Collection so I don't have anything against Brain's Base.)

      Delete
  5. I hope you'll blog Magi not as a digest Enzo. Assuming that the anime will follow the manga's direction, the plot will get really interesting. Magi is one of my favorites adventure series. It will be worthed

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hmm good to know what you are blogging, seems like it's not very different from what you are doing. Keep up the good work Enzo!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I watched yesterdays ep of Psycho-pass and it was better than the last, i guess. Tonari and Kamisama are my faves at the moment. Maybe it's because they get me a bit nostalgic. But they are lovely and have given me quite a few laughs. I quite enjoy Sukitte, but probably because i think it depicts those awkward first moments/first crush/ self esteem issues rather well. Even if you haven't been in their situation you can still somehow relate.

    The one series the really peaked for me last night was Zetsuen no Tempest. It was intense all the way through, and you really got more of a feel for Yoshino. He might come across as the nice guy, but I think if you look closer you can tell that he's definitely the one you'd have to keep a closer eye on if you came across the two. I don't know how I feel about him really. Mahiro has a point. He always somehow manages to kind to betray him somehow. I don't know. I know some will argue against that but I don't know if I fully trust him. With Mahiro at least he wears his heart on his sleeve, you know? You kind of know what you're getting with him at least. I guess I just feel bad for Mahiro. As for Aiko, you get more of a glimpse of her and I don't know if I like what i see. She seems pretty manipulative. Anyway. The ending of the episode made me want to know more so i pretty much read a manga for the first time ever and ended up devouring it. It is SO good! I'm near the end of volume four and there's so much to be revealed yet. I'd deffo say give the manga a go. It is fantastic! So basically, this series have gone way up on my list!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yeah From The New World is definitely my favorite this season & the one I anticipate the most weekly.

    The others I am enjoying but can't rank: My Little Monster, Magi, Kamisama Kiss, Psycho Pass, & Ixion Saga.

    Its still early to say how this season will turn out but it's already miles better than summer for me.

    ReplyDelete
  9. A
    SSY uber alles
    GeK: my bright spot of the week. It's just too good for the soul :,).

    A-
    Shirokuma: bright spot of the week #2.
    Jormungand: very good. I can't say I love the characters per se (Jonah has his moments though), but I'm intrigued by all of them and by the plot.
    Hunter x Hunter: flips between dark and more lighthearted very well. Gotta love the kids too. And the magician mofo :p.
    Space Bros: it can be so moving, often funny, and very inspiring at its core. The minus is due to the pacing sometimes dragging a tad too much.

    B+:
    Jojo: enjoying the camp way too much so far. It's not a 'bright' spot but surely a colourful one X,D. There's enought censorship to soften the squick just in the right amount for my taste.
    PP: so far so good, hopefully improves further. Go Masaoka <3

    C+:
    Ixion Saga. As long as it keeps being funny in its lowbrow spoofy way, as the characters are on the flat side - on purpose as this may be -. When it works, it works. I feel for those tama and for the fiancée, what can I say.

    ---
    Keeping track of via blog post, possibly watching later: Sakurasou and the three shoujo series.
    Dropped unless proven less guilty: Btooom. Exploitative to me this has been has been since the very premise, the point here is about the chance of it tipping the balance more towards ana ctual story as we go along. If that happens, maybe watching the rest.

    Anime I'm keeping track of because I'm addicted to the blogger's writing and his delicious rich vocabulary: everything else *insert crickets here*.

    ReplyDelete
  10. For me, the ranking goes:
    A
    Sakurasou
    Girls und Panzer
    Chuunibyou
    Shinsekai Yori (It's really good, I just don't look forward to it as much as the others)

    A-
    PsychoPass
    Sukitte

    B+
    Tonari
    OniAi
    Robotics;Notes

    B
    Kamisama Hajimemashita
    Zetsuen no Tempest
    Trouble: Darkness

    C
    Busou Shinki
    Little Busters (going downhill fast for me)

    Watching for something to do:
    Magi (a couple episodes behind)

    Dropped
    Btooom! (horrible horrible people)
    K


    ReplyDelete
  11. It looks like Fall 2012 is off to a great start and I've been wow-ed plenty so far. It has the potential to be as good as Spring 2012 which in my opinion, was pretty darn great. Top on my list are Psycho-Pass, Robotics;Notes, Shinsekai Yori and Jormungand 2. Sakurasou no Pet no Kanojo, Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun and Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai have made a positive impression as well. I have to admit, given the questionable trend of recent noitaminA offerings, usually with a hit and a miss, it comes as a surprise that we got two shows of genuine greatness this season. NoitaminA strikes again!

    ReplyDelete
  12. AOTY Contenders: Space Brothers, Hunter x Hunter

    AOTS: Shinsekai Yori

    Challengers: Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun, Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!, Jormungand: Perfect Order

    Favorite Niche: Hidamari Sketch×Honeycomb

    Strong Showing: Psycho-Pass, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Robotic;Notes

    Sleeper Hit: Girls und Panzer

    On the Fence: Little Busters!, To-Love-Ru Darkness, Kintama, Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo, Zetsuen no Tempest

    Struggling: Medaka Box Abnormal, 「K」, Shirokuma Café, Poyopoyo, Ixion Saga DT, Magi

    Disappointing: Suki-tte Ii na yo, Hayate no Gotoku! S?, Bakuman S3, Sword Art Online, Btooom!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I noticed no one mentioned Busou Shinki. Its not the best award winning anime but it does not suck either. Its worth watching for 24 minutes each week.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. WOW Robotics:Notes 5 is out and its really good. Surprised the hell out of me.

      Delete
    2. There's a pretty obvious reason why no one mentions it, MASTAH!

      Delete