Note: This will be stickied as the main post for a while, other new posts will be below this one.
Well, the monthly summaries are back! I really enjoyed doing these as it gave me a good post to talk about all of the current series i’m watching. Overall, Winter has been quite solid: only one really weak series and a couple of decent to meh ones. I’m going to be a little more in-depth with this summary, plus 10 new series have joined the 5 still airing fall series for a grand total of 15!
(#) = What it ranked last month
5 = Amazing
4.5/4 = Fantastic
3.5 = Great
3 = Good
2.5 = Lacking
#15 – Area no Kishi (2.5/5)
I had alot of hope for this one, from supporting opinions on Random Curiosity mainly, but it’s been pretty weak. From what i’ve heard from the manga readers is that they’ve taken out key scenes and put in completely different ones that really are questionable (like episode 3 and the car..). I don’t know what the staff is thinking by doing this, if the goal is to either A) sell decently with DVD/BDs B) generate tv ratings or C) increase the manga readership, then they are accomplishing none of the above. It’s incompetency at its worst, which is disappointing to say the least. To be even lower than Guilty Crown, that takes actual skill. Overall i’m not liking the supernatural angle this show has used, it feels completely out of place and feels more like a crude attempt to make the soccer aspect more interesting.
OP: Decent J-pop
ED: Still no ED theme..four episodes in.
#14 – Kill Me Baby (2.5/5)
It’s lighthearted entertainment at its finest. Some jokes fall flat while others are a mere chuckle. The show does have energy, and for a comedy series that’s key. This is a bare-bones budget series at its finest considering that J.C. Staff has a billion other series this season. I like Yasuna and Sonya just as characters, i’m afraid that sometimes their antics don’t qualify as comedy.
OP: Best opening ever.
ED: This is going to be a meme.
#13 (10) – Guilty Crown (3/5)
Two steps forward, 100 steps backwards is how Guilty Crown’s plot can be easily described. I’ll admit there are some decent parts of the series but it’s just so badly paced and character development is hit or miss. Eureka Seven all over again..I really want to like this series, and for me it’s far too late to drop. As stated above i do like a couple of things: the animation, while it has it’s weaknesses, is fairly high quality effort and as of episode 14 things are really looking positive. Some of the supporting characters like Ayase and Tsugumi are really likeable and don’t come across as stupid like most of the cast. Guilty Crown has enough time to give us a decent ending, but honestly this show is on about five different types of drugs that it’s hard to know (the irony of being an original series) where it’ll end up next.
OP2: I’m torn between this and My Dearest: i like the visuals here, but the vocals from the first opening are much better.
ED2: *crickets* Yeah..
#12 – Rinne no Lagrange (3/5)
The best surprise from Winter has been from this series. When i saw Xebec as the animation producers, i was thinking this show to be another vapid, worthless and horribly animated ecchi series. Well, there has been some questionable fanservice and it is a bit cliche and weird at times but the series overall has been a treat. The visuals are great, a strong lead character and tons of mechs..i have hope for Lagrange to be even better.
OP: Visuals are amazing and what a great song it is!
ED: Surprisingly good visuals and a good song.
#11 (5) – Mirai Nikki (3/5)
Yuno is getting more annoying by the episode, but i understand why many people enjoy her character. As a psychotic murderer, i enjoy Yuno. But when she’s not chopping off people’s heads or carrying around skulls from her parents, she feels fake and annoying. Most cases people like Yukki are horribly lame and weak but he’s justified in my eyes as he has to deal with someone like Yuno on a daily basis. The budget is still very much low-rent like these past few episodes.
OP2: If you thought Persona 4 had engrish..you haven’t seen this. More reused scenes?? Animation studios these days..
ED2: Nice intro, just a good ending theme overall.
#10 – Senki Zesshou Symphogear (3/5)
Bad animation is very obvious in this series, but i like how it’s been going so far. Besides the animation, i haven’t warmed up to Hibiki very much though i could say the same about Tsubasa. So what’s keeping me interested then? I do like the premise alot and the drama is engaging to a degree. I can’t understand some of the hate against this show, besides the animation, there’s been alot worse quite honestly. It’s flawed, but hardly the worst Winter series at all.
OP: Your typical Nana Mizuki song, it’s good.
ED: What is this..?
#9 (9) – Persona 4 the Animation (3/5)
I’ve been seeing gameplay videos on both Persona 4 and Persona 3 Portable, and i really want to buy both..ahem. But with that, i’ve been able to understand a little bit more on the social links and the Personas. The comedy in this series is really the biggest strength, courtesy of director Seiji Kishi (Carnival Phantasm, Angel Beats). This guy knows comedy well, but that’s probably it. But now we’ve started going back to the main plot, which i’m excited about like having another character getting a Persona of their own.
OP2: Visuals are weak, but the song is really catchy even if its engrish. The OP changed animation on the 16th episode, it looks much better.
ED2: Decent, visuals are still kinda lacking but better than the OP. It’s a nice song.
#8 – Another (3.5/5)
Solid animation (as usual P.A. Works), and the character designs are really fit for this series. Problem is, i’m not spooked at all with the random cuts to the dolls and Kouichi is annoyingly being a stalker to Mei (curiosity killed the cat..). I do like the sound, as noted by some bloggers, it really does try to create mood and the latest wham cliffhanger on episode 4 made me get some hope that this series will continue to mesmerize the viewers with dramatic death scenes. But, it’ll need more than Final Destination-like deaths to convince me that this show can excel.
OP: I like Ali Project even if there songs sound the same..
ED: Nice, but all still images? Jeez, P.A. Works..
#7 – Mouretsu Pirates (3.5/5)
If this was going to be a 13 episode series, i’d be very concerned. The pacing is so slow, there’s nothing bodacious about this series (yet) and the main characters aren’t even on the pirate ship. But i’m loving every minute of it, because it’s going to be 26 episodes. The animation is still very solid and the characters are very likeable at this point. But there is a problem if it becomes too slow, as it’s obvious that eventually the series will actually do something “bodacious”.
OP: So bad it’s good.
ED: Alright, i guess.
#6 – Ano Natsu de Matteru (3.5/5)
Most of the staff from AnoHana is back, and though J.C. Staff is involved i’ve really grown to like this series a lot. The supporting cast is very similar to Toradora’s cast of friends. Expect to hear this show being compared to other series, it’s definitely cliche at times but the overall experience has been worthwhile. It’s cliche, but the comedy, the characters and even the romantic development has been solid. I just wonder if the story is going to be told in 12 episodes, but i have confidence in director Tatsuyuki Nagai who made the 11-episode Ano Hana a really solid overall series.
OP: Love it, especially the film grains.
ED: Really love hearing Nagi sing, as Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari remains a favorite (the show, not so much.).
#5 (7) – Mobile Suit Gundam AGE (3.5/5)
A major improvement to a series that many ought to give a chance. If you’ve read my post on Gundam AGE, the rest of these sentences do not apply to you. I really hope people can give this show a chance, because trust me i didn’t at first. Now, the more Gundam series you’ve seen you’ll rightfully call AGE weak. It is weak at times, very cliche and the animation is pretty average. But, for those who haven’t see many (or any) of the Gundam series, i can safely recommend AGE. But we have now entered the second generation and we have a new cast of characters lead by Asemu Asuno, Flit’s son. Plus, Kana Hanazawa is playing a major role too, all of you KanaHana fans. Plus Kamiya Hiroshi is back as Zehart (third picture), having voiced Tieria Erde in 00 Gundam (and a lot of other roles not limited to Natsume Takashi and Orihara Izaya..).
OP2: Okay, but Asu he was much better..
ED2: Song is okay, liked the first one more but the animation here is really cool.
#4 – Inu x Boku SS (3.5/5)
Very pleased. The latest episode was a bit weaker than the first two, but it did give us more depth on Ririchiyo. At first glance she’s a typical tsundere. But unlike the vast majority of them, she actually admits to using that trope as a facade to hide her real feelings and emotions. I do hope there’s a second season planned, because i’ve really enjoyed this series so far. The rest of the cast is fun and the animation is completely amazing.
OP: Song takes a bit to get used to, but those visuals…wow!
#3 – Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou (4/5)
I’m honestly convinced this may be the best comedy series of the year, and the year’s barely started! Every episode has left me laughing in stitches, something the other comedies (Kill Me Baby,
Guilty Crown, Persona 4 to an extent) can’t really provide. I really hope this show can parody the actual companies involved in the show, much like episode 1’s parody of Gundam (Sunrise) and various RPGs (Square Enix). Hidenori is a rout, with his over the top facial expressions and voice changes.
OP: Decent for a comedy series.
ED: I find it quite annoying..
#2 (2) – Chihayafuru (4/5)
Chihayafuru is consistently a breath of fresh air filled with spectacular graphics, really likeable characters and a soundtrack that delivers. But then comes episode 16..a RECAP! Man, i had to take a half point for doing that but at least the comedy bits were great. Chihaya’s match with the Queen was very captivating and it didn’t surprise me at all that she lost big time to her and the latest episode was devoted to Chihaya’s self-examination of her own skills and what it truly takes to beat the Queen. I just wonder where the show will end and i trust Madhouse to do a great job for the upcoming finale.
#1 – Natsume Yuujinchou Shi (4.5/5)
The show that can go on forever and actually be spectacular is back! To start off with two very serious and kind of scary episodes is a first for Natsume. But my fears were quickly laid to rest as it was a very solid two episodes of Matoba action and this series is still amazing in its fourth season! Having so much focus on Natsume this season is also a very nice change, even the smaller youkai-centric stories are still really well portrayed. The animation as a whole has also been upgraded, just compare this season to season 1 and you can see the huge upward change from then and now. I’m so glad this show has been able to get four seasons, and i hope there’s more coming – if it has to be mostly anime-original episodes then i’m completely fine with it because the staff here is extremely competent when it comes to those types of episodes.
OP: The song takes a bit to get used to, but the visuals are completely amazing!
ED: Your typical Natsume ED theme, as in your typical awesome Natsume ED theme.
All in all, a very solidly surprising Winter season. I’m excited that i’ve been able to cover some really great series, and i’m sad that i missed out on covering other great ones (Nichibros is a good example). Let’s hope that Spring will be even better (especially for my schedule :P)