Review: End of Summer 2011 Season and Still Standing

As we’re closing in to the end of 2011, we are entering the end game. The game to end it all. The time to both looking forward to how the prophecy would turn out as well as dreading any of the possible outcomes that have been secretly laid beneath the waves of time since the ancient times…

Ya, sure! The serious truth is that the Summer 2011 Anime Season is coming to an end, and some new shows from the fall are starting. And here at AD, we still don’t have ONE f’ing preview post for Fall 2011 Season up. To be honest, I don’t even have a goddamned clue how to distinguish the Fall and Winter seasons of anime, because although the shows that begin in late September / early to mid October always goes into early next year, which makes it confusing to me (Winter of 2011??? You mean Spring of 2012??? Don’t we go by temperature????). But anyways,

This has been a strange year and this summer has been a strange summer. Here we go:

 

Kamisama Dolls – What can I say? This show really showed promise. But dramedy is bad unless the show is called “Gintama”.

I know I said I really liked this show and I didn’t have any bias toward it. However, after several discussion with Mike, I realized that I was just bullshtting myself. I wanted real, undiluted drama after all – that is, if I’m already watching more than 3 episodes of a 12 episode show, and it shows dramatic potential from time to time. But there is the problem. It’s only potential and not a completion.

I really like the arc (do two episodes constitute an “arc”?) where we learn why Kyohei and Aki seems to be perfect enemies to each other, and just why is it that Aki is so obsessed with Kyohei and why Kyohei hates him so much. In the hands of the old Gainax, dealing with an older Otaku audience who saw the glorious Eva and of course, classic Gundam (forget the copout endings of Gundam Seed Destiny and Gundam 00), this could’ve been another powerful and raw exploration of deep and dark emotional stuff. Of course, we’d have to put up with Anno-angsty stuff and psudo (even lame-o) religious symbols that allowed Mike to have his field days just picking it apart. But at least, the emotions fully exploded, the characters deeply developed, and the pain really defined a lost generation of young folks in Japan, and ignited a new genesis in fujishi-dom. But the point is that, although disjointed in the first half, Eva was consistently emotionally raw and psychologically demanding. All the babble aside, Eva’s second half was great at what it did. It left all the lame-ass humors and references behind and went straight for the heart (corny line, I know).

Back to Kamisama Dolls. There have been times where that raw emotion, the anger, and all that real drama that shined. Together with Ishikawa Chiaki‘s sad ballads, the thread weaved among Kyohei, Aki, the teacher, and the village was almost perfectly sewn. I mean, the director went a little heavy-handed and made the barely involved boobnaut Hibino shed a obvious silent tear, which just ruined the balance. But other than that, the plot among the three aforementioned people made me sit up and take real notice. Unfortunately, the show then goes back to wavering among comedy, fan service, some drama, little angst, and so on. You want something that can juggle all that stuff right? Watch Gintama. This show is not Gintama and it never really decided to be brave and go down a single path. I get the feeling It wanted to define this generation, but in the end, because it was too cowardly to charge down a set path and failed to impress many. That’s why we have the last episode that obviously scream: there could’ve been more had more people cared to watch!

Bottomline: it’s a watered-down drama that makes cowardly young Otakus breath sighs of relief for they don’t have to deal with real and painful stuff.

 

Blade – great for US Sunday mornings, so-so for hardcore Otakus.

Now here is a small gem. Not that it’s a diamond in the rough, but a small gem that shows precisely why Madhouse and Marvel collaboration failed miserably and why fucking Madhouse should’ve listened to people who loved Claymore and make a second season of Claymore. Disagree? Let’s see you buy all the Blu-ray (DVDs just don’t make a strong testament of your fan fever) of the following collaborative efforts – Iron Man, Heroman, Wolverine, X-men, plus Blade – when they come out in the US or your country. For me, Blade is actually a better show, albeit only ever so slightly better, than the other ones. At least Blade talks and the show has a real plot. Even though every element in this plot is predictable, the plot itself is at least watchable. Blade doesn’t just fight every other scene; he reminisces long enough to let all the newcomers of Blade (remember, this show is aimed toward the Japanese) to understand the back story. Also, he shows adequate  intelligence in dealing with others.

However, the animation, the music, not to mention the character chemistry, just don’t cut it. And I don’t need to see Wolverine and Kikyou making guest appearances; I suspect great shows outside of Clampverse don’t need outside character supports. Blade is bad ass, all right, and he’s a brother. That’s refreshing to me. But they gotta make the show better than this mediocre stroll in the park. the final three episodes were pretty good, but overall, the show only makes a good American Sunday morning cartoon, but not much as an anime. It certainly doesn’t impress this Otaku veteran.

Bottomline: I do recommend a viewing of it. But I suspect you may not care to watch it a second time.

 

Blood C – (Edit: this show sucks. There’s too much blood and gore) Uh…Catching up to the current trend in Japan of discovering that everything is just a conspiracy game can be is bad.

Damnit! It’s a show with Nana-chan in it! By default, I’d give any show with Nana-chan in it an automatic pass and heaps of biases. I’d praise it like I’d praise shows that I love only for certain elements while knowing they suck. And this show has Nana-chan  voicing the main character! On top of that, it’s a production IG work with what I felt was great animation most of the time, minus the usual face-deforms done by the subcontractors. Also, the plot seems to be interesting enough. Amnesia, conspiracy, intrigue, mysteries about the town…This is supposed to be a winning formula for the often lackluster summer season! But the bleeding started. Oh yes, I’m talking about the kill ’em all episode, where all the characters we came to care for just fucking died miserably, and there was Saya, holding her fucking head and just can’t turn red-eyed and Shiki-awesome asskicking. She moaned and wobbled around like a stumbling bum, barely surviving the episode and holding the fort down. And then later, as I unfortunately suspected, it all turned out to be a conspiracy straight out of the current Japanese dramatic trend of shows about trickery and mystery games.

I mean, yeah OK, at the end of day, even without having to force a Mizuki Nana-banzai! bias, it’s not a bad plot. It’s competently done, and I was fairly impressed with the characters and how they interacted. But the curse on me is that I have a strong nature toward distrust and suspecting things, so after a while, I wondered if the owner of the Cafe and the teacher aren’t some part of a huge conspiracy messing with Saya. I even thought, hell! The owner must be the final boss!

And I curse myself for not turning my brain off in advance, and figuring things out. I do hope the last episode will have a great twist. (Update: NO Twist…sigh…it was just a bloodbath to the end…)

Bottomline: This is also worth a viewing avoiding, but the mileage will vary greatly. Nana-chan Banzai!!!

(Edit: Oh and, EXCESSIVE BLOODINESS IS EXCESSIVE!!!)

 

Baka Test 2 – Decide to be serious is OK but awkward.

All right, this is the show out of all the shows I watched that hits the consistency mark. It’s funny in most episodes, the timing is still great and the gags are humorous. That what the show does best when it doesn’t take itself too seriously. That’s what it aims for most of the time. However, with the introduction of drama, a problem arises.

I just can’t mix and mesh it all together in my mind.

I mean, now I think about it, the dramatic episode about Minami is brilliant. It’s frank and shows the difficult road, full of misunderstanding, that Minami had to face when she first returned to Japan. Just forget the god-awful English and the entire episode shows some mastery of mis-en-scene, juxtapose, and other stuff that the show itself favors. This show seems to be full of Shinboism and doesn’t saturate the screen with pointless Dali-image-copycats.

But the whole season just doesn’t mesh well together. It just seems a little jarring to me.

Bottomline: This season is either brilliant or awkward. Again, the mileage will vary.

 

Kamisama no Memocho – hurrying is bad, mmmk?

Sigh…I get it, they’re testing the waters with a 12-episode run, to see how people like it. And yeah, it’s quite likable. The scooby-doo gang detective team of “NEETS” doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb. Narumi, the main guy, is sensible and likable enough. The white haired gang leader as well as his old friend in two of the episodes can get some sympathy (and fujoshi screams) out of the audience. Alice, the NEET detective, is moe and lovable. Ayaka is cute and energetic. Ming-san…well, there’s a waste of character potential. But she’s not awful.

And that’s the problem – the show doesn’t do that much. It’s not great and it’s not awful. It just feels like a shadow of something. That, it definitely is. As an avid reader of the novel and having seem all the arcs fully expanded and in the right order, I really can’t stand how much of all the important but not flashy bits are cut out for the sake of TV length restriction. I love the novel, despite its humble beginning and nearly indistinguishable whisper from the noisy world. It grew on me and I came to care for the characters. The TV show, while having good animation, decent music and pretty good voice acting, just doesn’t cut it. But for what it tries to do, it meets the goal.

Bottomline: Read the novel if you can find a version somewhat floating on the net or if you’re fortunate enough, in your local comic shop / bookstore. If not, the anime is likable enough. It just won’t stick with you.

 

Nekogami – this shows heart! It just gets ignored by the majority.

Here’s a real little gem of this season. And it is upheld by two great seiyuu, namely Horie Yui and Tomatsu Haruka. I’ll simply get to the point: it’s a cute little slice-of-life drama that gets it right by hiring the right people to do the right job, and it matches all elements perfectly. Bits and pieces of this small tale about a seemingly useless Cat goddess gently and joyfully add up to a good, short story concerning the daily lives of common people and dare I say, common gods. Having down to earth characters, these gods and goddess could truly be your neighbors in a warm, small town. Their presence may not create earth-shattering dramas and great heroics, but they being there sure makes you smile. The pre-arc and the main story of how Yuuzu took over the family business is really touching. It made me go “awww.”

Bottomline: God must be tired. But Good job!

 

R-15 – it’s shamelessly focused and un-bashfully pleasing! No pretend-plots!

Gosh, it’s so raunchy, isn’t it? I mean the main guy really doesn’t have any redeeming values, and he’s a genius at writing porn novels! But it’s the second part of the last sentence that makes this absurd show not so absurd. After all, it never takes itself seriously and it’s proud of that! No stupid dramedy, just comedy and comedic romance. No sudden turn into serious territory, just a slow development of fondness between the porn novelist and the flute player. It’s quite a match, wouldn’t you say? XD This show knows it will sell based on its silliness and IT’S UNCENSORED PANTIE SHOTS and NAKED GIRLS ON BLU-RAY VERSION. But take all that aside, and you see a well-executed ero-comedy with fun and quirky characters that generate great chemistry. They’re practically electric at their best! Ritsu, Taketo’s MALE best friend, has not failed to make me chuckle with his mistakes about Taketo’s intentions toward him. And Taketo has a personality, not to mention is a funny guy. The pacing is quick, with nothing ever dragged on and no heavy-handedness. The humor is fast and gets to the point. No Otaku-only insider jokes that really can miss; no desperate attempts for drama; no wavering among seriousness and wackiness. I dunno why, but it just does what it does the best. And it manages to do it right just about every episode.

Bottomline: to watch this show, ignore the fan service and enjoy its refreshing ecchi-comedy.

 

Mayo Chiki – Damn good comedy!

Oh yes, together with R-15, this show makes to the top for one of the best comedies of this season. Although some of the neta (jokes, tropes, whatnot) can be rather culture specific (3, 2, 1…Nakuru Nakuru XD), it’s mostly funny. Bright, light, fast paced, it’s makes a wonderful relaxing watch. It’s also another twist on the classic anime plot – a guy who is super shy around women, and some times even get rashes / nose bleeds / panic attack / masochistic cravings. There is actually not too much to talk about plot-wise, but the chemistry among the seiyuu certainly works well. And the 2D girls are cute, and so are their real life counter parts.

Bottomline – An A+ watch for ecchi comedic laughs!

 

Sacred Seven – At least make it fun or grow a personality…

OK, here’s Sunrise’s/Bandai’s problem: it wants to make original shows from time to time, but when it misses, it just sucks bad. Sacred Seven is a show that shows some promise. Evil rocks, powerful heroes that could fall into the dark side; A rich and pretty girl crazy about saving the world for the sake of her little sister who’s frozen in time…

If only the show did something that broke the stone coffin that encased it. I can picture Bandai (sponsor and the real owner of Sunrise) telling the director, producer and the staff: “Make it big, but not so huge that people who dislike huge will hate it; make it pretty, but not so beautiful that people who wants ruggedness get offended; make it dramatic, but not hurt the weak and young Otaku who can barely deal with the real world; and finally, make it easy on the eyes…and stick with THAT so WE CAN SELL MERCHANDISE to boys and fujoshi girls!!!”

Its formulaic good guys and almost disappearing bad guys just don’t cut the stone. And the show goes stone cold after episode 3. Look, doing all the standard trope that include a high school, a maid commando team, couple of handsome and tall fellas and a otherworldly beautiful rich girl is perfectly OK. Haruhi had things like those (save the rich part and the maid commando team – there was only one “maid”), and there have been other shows that did those. But please, at least try to make it fun. This show can be so dry on the inside that it becomes soulless. And it’s definitely not fun. I’ll make a leap and make a comparison with another Sunrise/Bandai original – SoraKake Girl AKA the “Girl Who Leaps Through the Sky”. I thought it was a show trying to reference to the famous “the Girl Who Leaps Through Time”, but it turned out to be something completely different. I don’t remember much about the show, but I do remember one thing: it was a fun. It was a fun summer blockbuster that entertained me well. It didn’t make me purchase it or anything else related to it, so I suppose that made it a failure in merchandising, but TBH, if I found an official version selling in Taiwan, I would’ve bought it, since I’ve been living in Taiwan for the past few years, but Taiwan never licensed it. Anyway, back to Sacred Seven. One last thing; the Kajiura OP was so generic that I didn’t care much for it. And the line “Stone Cold” always makes me scream “STEVEN AUSTIN”.

Bottomline: This show fell stone cold, and THAT’S the bottomline! Cause Stone Cold said so!!! XD

 

Yuru Yuri – It’s a Yuri show that ate my brain within the first five minutes of episode one and I’m TOTALLY AS BIASED AS HELL toward it.

What else is there? It doesn’t make any attempt to be serious, and it’s yuri fan service all the way without ecchi. I’m a yuri fan so all the minor flaws are pretty invisible to me. But honestly, there are very few flaws to this show anyway, because it sticks what it tries to do and never aimed very high – and you know when you aim low, you’ll always hit the (ouch)? But it’s pleasing anyways. And I’ll buy the OP single when I find it. I may even get the legal version if it ever comes out wherever I live. I doubt I’ll find it though, unless I live in Japan some day and can understand Japanese perfectly.

Bottomline: there is not much to say about it, but the dynamics among characters is perfect for yuri fans. Of course, your mileage will vary.

 

Boy, you girls sure are cute!
Itsuka Tenma no Usagi– Oh spare me, spare me of the so-called dramedy!

Oh boy, here’s a great one to dissect. This is a show that takes pretentiousness and fan pandering to a new level. It simultaneously incorporates the following into every episode: sickening melodrama; suggestions of BL to hardcore fujoshi (probably the doujin artists); senseless death times 6, sometimes 7; multiple accounts of OH-MY-GOD-THEY-KILLED-KENNY-ism; slow to retarded growth of character attributes – emotionally, mentally, or just plain come-on-beat-the-guy-already-ness (Taitou is so fucking weak that the number of facepalm I performed is astronomical); and last and unfortunately not the least, lack of conviction to stick to serious drama or serious comedy. The story begins with Taitou, the main guy, dying and becoming immortal ala highlandersomewhat of a magic character. Then, he remembers about the magical little girl he met during childhood, when they made a promise to be together…I mean geez, where have we seen that a billion times before? All right, that’s OK. Then, the absurdity starts. She’s free, she comes to him, he remembers and swears to protect her – here’s where in the anime world, he has enough powers to protect her – but no, someone almost kills her. All right, it’s the process of creating frustration. That’s…all right, too. But then, we discover that Taitou really has NO POWERS WHATSOEVER, except he’s like a cockroach and doesn’t really die. He gets beat up and unlike Saint Seiya, who becomes stronger within every time he falls down, Taitou fails miserably. And I fucking forget what happens after because everything is so unmemorable. Then I remember the episode where Taitou dies often…Wait, isn’t that every episode??? Doesn’t he just die over and over again? Then, there’s the Gekko and Mirai dynamic duo of pretentiousness and annoyance. Gekko, the loser who can’t  beat up his little brother even once, and Mirai, who’s always showing off panties and fights so un-brilliantly compared with Biribiri from Railgun and Index, shows up just to abuse and annoy Taitou and us the audience. The artificially manufactured fujoshi-bait Gekko and the “artfully”stupid Mirai always manage to kick the dumbness of this show up a few notches, creating massive headache and puke-friendliness in this anime veteran.

If it weren’t for Mirai’s cute shimapan clumsiness, as well as Saitohimeya (Saito Hajime’s distant cousin from bizzaro world???), I’d drop the show already! And yes, Mirai is cute! But she’s nearly the only bright spot of this show. As other heroine’s plots are never fully fleshed out (read the novel, the staff says), the show really isn’t all that deep. And I suspect even though the author of the novel has a male pen name, she’s really a female, because at the end of the TV show, we get two more pretty guys! Ugh! You gay FOCKER!

Bottomline: Mirai Pantsu – good, but not make show great watch. Other things, not make show watchable enough. And I’ve got shimapan on my mind.

 

Dantalian no Shoka – I want to enter Miyukichi’s Heavens…I mean, her character is 99% destructively annoying, but that one fucking brilliant percent always gets to me. Love Hugh Disward. Uh, before Miyuki fans kill me, I’ll say this: I hate her…Wait, I think I just made it worse.

The truth is, I’ve never cared much about Sawashiro Miyuki. Her roles that impressed me the most are Shinku from Rozen Maiden and Celty from Durarara (rararararararararara). Other than that, I’ve never been impressed with her acting skills or voice. Her looks certainly DO NOT appeal to me AT ALL. But all that aside, I’ll admit it. Yeah, I have a bias against her. But I’m human, and critics are humans. Some of us may say we’re (or we try to be) fair, but like hell we are! All right, so for this show, she’d have to be a perfect 11 to gain 1 point from the scale of 1 to 10. Why? Because I had already given her a -10 to began with. But you know the problem is?

Even without my Steel Defense, which denies all her efforts, she’d still gets a -5 from me.

Her character, Dalian, is annoying at least, fucking irritating at most. At this day and age, there are two seiyuu that can do either side of Dalian’s personality – tsundere and loli-queen – better than she, namely Kugimiya Rie (Kugyuuuuuu!) and Yuuki Aoi (Vampire Queen from Vampire Bund and Victorique from ). I mean, these two are perfect in their roles, and in order to combine their roles, you’ll have a difficult time. Miyukichi fights well, but fails miserably. At the end of the day, I just can’t help but find Dalian annoying, disgusting, and pretentious. However…

In the last few episodes of the show, her character finally shines. She stopped being annoying, and start being more down to earth and sympathetic. And I really love her deep baritone voice saying: “I AM heaven.” She has redeemed herself with great emotions.

All right, moving on to Hugh Disward. What can I say? He has characters. He is intelligent, and he can fight. Unlike many other worthless male leads that leave all the intelligence and powers to the female lead, Hugh is useful and does good things. He can fight.

Overall, the show has some really good stuff, however, being a heavily episodic show, it’s hard to redeem it. What I’m curious to read, is the novel. The author, Mikumo Gakuto (三雲岳斗), also did Asura Cryin’ novels. And Asura Cryin’ 2 anime had a great episode that struck me hard. Therefore, I’d love to read the novel and see everything that’s left out. But for the show itself, I’m rather torn.

Bottomline: It’s surprisingly pretty good, but with Miyuki involved, I stay biased against it…And since I don’t get paid, I ain’t gonna be fair ANYWAY!!!!!! XD XD XD

 

The IDOLM@STER – it has some heart…

I totally forgot that I’ve been following this show this season. Just watched episode 13. Well, you know, this is a show aimed for people who played the game and wanted to see screen time for their Waifus. I get it. At the beginning, I felt this show was pointless. It didn’t do much of anything and it wasn’t particularly interesting. However, at episode 13, I can honestly say that at least the voice actresses really put their hearts into acting. The good thing about this show is that at the very least, the chemistry among the cast flows just fine. Nothing jarring and nothing stood out (good or bad). It’s competent mediocre show for the rest of us, but for the fans, I imagine it has been an interesting ride. The episode about the girl with a large family was actually pretty decent. Oddly enough, I can’t really pick this one apart. Oh well.

Bottomline: it’s probably a boring show for non-fans and a pretty good one for fans. I wish they allowed Kugyuu to do her awesome lines about hentai, but this show is obviously the much-cleaner version of the game.

 

Other shows…Uh, I don’t remember watching anything else! I honestly hates Penguin Drum with a personal reason, and for other shows, I never care to follow them, so there. And No. 6 is so gay that I felt unhappy watching it.

Bottomline: This summer has been an interesting summer. TBH, it probably has enough variety to please many fans, but for critics, it was not an easy summer to like. However, I’ll say this, the overall production quality and dramatic elements of this summer seem to be better. I don’t mean like the production was outstanding; I mean like in this economy, what has been done this summer has actually impressed me quite a bit. Odd, ain’t it?

 

 

4 thoughts on “Review: End of Summer 2011 Season and Still Standing”

  1. Kamisama Dolls was rather short. And the story just started. Storywise, it was so so, but Hibino made this show excellent. Plot only 10%, Hibino 90%.

    Yeah, Mayochiki was referring to Ogawa Naoya’s hustle hustle! It was pretty nostalgic to see that. But the last episode wasn’t really final episode. I thought 12 epi was de facto the final episode.

  2. I was really disappointed with this summer anime, though I’ve not watched everything (it’s impossible as I get too obsessive and feel somehow wrong to start and not finish a series). I didn’t give Blood C a try. It sounds like a “so bad and cheesy it’s good” sort of show. Think I’ll check it out, if for nothing else than I typically enjoy the drawing style.

    Agree with Yuru Yuri completely! Overtness is so overrated. Where’s the subtly? It’s well needed.

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