An Oasis of Thoughts

April Summary: I’m The Fool

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Some more changes to the  monthly summaries that are decently what you would call ‘stylish. So yeah, I said I wouldn’t watch more than 10 series and I’ve counted..16 of them. What a wonderfully pleasant surprise this season has been. Read on for another exciting month of summaries from one of the best seasons to air.

Off the List:

Mouretsu Pirates: Of all the shows, Pirates never seems to grasp my attention (I’m glad I didn’t blog it) and there’s really nothing amazing to look forward to. It’s nice to see Marika finally take on some piracy, but it’s never been really serious or life threatening and everything feels like fluff. I don’t want to drop it, so I’m putting it on-hold and hope that this show will get better (summer’s looking decent..so I’ll probably continue then). Such a shame as it usually ranks high, but my enjoyment level for this show is hovering between a 3 and a 4 (out of 10).

Never Made the List:

Natsuiro Kiseki: This is too ridiculous for me to believe at all. Seiji Mizushima, you disappoint me. Another show that tries too hard with the yuri undertones and it feels more like this show is promoting Sphere (the group who’s conveniently voicing the main characters and both OP/ED songs) than it is trying to tell a decent story, plus the main scriptwriter from seasons 3 and 4 of Natsume Yuujinchou is part of this show? What the actual fuck.

Medaka Box: I was expecting over the top wackiness (a-la Gainax), not obstructive and annoying fanservice. Medaka is too much of a Mary Sue and Zenkichi is loud and annoying.

Uchuu Kyoudai: Pretty much what I said about Mouretsu Pirates applies here. It’s a good show, but there’s so many other great ones and plus it’s kinda boring and boring shows are being weeded out of the list as the first priority.

I’m pleasantly surprised by..

Haiyoru! Nyaruko-san (7/10)

Animation: 7, Story: 6, Sound: 6, Characters: 7.5, Enjoyment: 7.5

Man, I’m really striking out this season. Never would I thought I’d come across a show like this and find it decent, but actually enjoyable? Well who would have thought that Xebec could pull off such a good show? Part of it comes from the very talented Kana Asumi (as Nyaruko), the overall energy and the spot-on references and gags that would make Hayate no Gotoku blush. Very good job Xebec, but don’t put too much fanservice (yuri undertones are acceptable..to a degree). It’s been slipping in quality a bit, but I’m still glad that I actually get most of the jokes and references and Nyaruko continues to be a show stealer.

OP: This season’s Kill Me Baby opening song only better sung. That baby dragon/bat thing scares me though.

ED: Boring.

Eureka Seven: Astral Ocean (7/10)

Animation: 8.5, Story: 7, Sound: 7.5, Characters: 7, Enjoyment: 7

If I would have known that AO would make my top 10 for the month, I’d probably call you crazy for telling me that. Another show that has greatly exceeded my expectations, but I still have my doubts though it’s good to be wrong on these types of things. Unlike his father (and last protagonist), I don’t want to punch Ao every 15 seconds so I consider that a very good thing and I hope that this sequel focuses straight on its new cast and not rely on the (weaker) first cast. Now can Bones actually tell a good story, or will they continue to throw technobabble and exposition like with the first E7? Visuals only go so far (Shaft), and this is the kind of show that really deserves solid storytelling and scripting.

OP: Nice, but relies on the nostalgia factor a bit too much for my tastes.
ED: Not that bad, but the visuals are kinda..wonky.

Sankarea (7.5/10)

Animation: 8, Story: 7.5, Sound: 7.5, Characters: 7.5, Enjoyment: 7

Wait, a show by DEEN that knows how to *gasp* adapt a source material properly? I guess (many) practice(s) make perfect, or at least above average. Still, I have to commend Sankarea for giving us:

A) A male protagonist who isn’t a wimp or allergic to girls (with a under-rated talented seiyuu nonetheless)
B) Great visuals and
C)A faithful adaptation by DEEN

I’m definitely impressed with this show so far, and I can’t wait to see what’s next. I want to believe that DEEN is getting better, but I feel that this is just a one-time thing. So far I really like the imagery and surrealism this show presents, combined with very likeable main characters and a really nice soundtrack makes this one of the best surprises of Spring.

OP: Stylish visuals and a good song.
ED: I really like this ending, it does a good job in conveying a more somber, yet hopeful tone.

Shirokuma Cafe (8/10)

Animation: 8, Story: 6, Sound: 8, Characters: 7.5, Enjoyment: 8.5

Honestly, of all the shows on this list, it’s Shirokuma Cafe that keeps being both heartwarming and absolutely hilarious, something I couldn’t think would happen to me. It’s lost a little bit of shine since the first episode, but I’m definitely loving the characters and their quirks (like Polar Bear’s lame puns). This is reminding me of Inu x Boku SS, and I’m glad to see another show that continues InuBoku’s character interactions and hilarious moments and not have to worry about melodrama.

OP: It’s K-pop, but it’s really addicting. Like its the annoying kind of K-pop but it’s still really addicting.
ED: A song about bamboo, yeah it’s sung by Panda and it’s adorable.

Nazo no Kanojo X (8/10)

Animation: 8, Story: 7.5, Sound: 7.5, Characters: 7.5, Enjoyment: 8

A show that’s extremely charming and sweet, with great use of imagery, retro animation and very talented seiyuu..comes from a studio known for animating pretty much porn? What the hell, Japan. Besides my initial skepticism from this show, the premise didn’t sound interesting and it sounded more like an attempt to use the drool for something more sinister. But this show, it’s got the mood and feel of teenage romance. Urabe has really gone out of her way to be likeable, because her responses towards Akira’s advances (hand-holding, kissing, etc.) has pretty much been “Screw the conventional approach, we’re doing things differently” and I really like this. Nothing about this show is conventional and tries to be different (just look at how 80’s and retro the animation is) and it actually works.

OP: Sweet, very sweet. Urabe’s seiyuu does a splendid job.

ED: *drools* Oh crap not me too…

Tsuritama (8/10)

Animation: 8.5, Story: 7, Sound: 7.5, Characters: 8, Enjoyment: 8

The most creative series this season is Tsuritama by far. Like Nazo no Kanojo X above, these shows actively seek to be different and ends up working in their favor. Tsuritama is much more creative as it focuses on an alien boy who makes human friends and pleads with the protagonist to save earth..by fishing. It’s weird, but damn you can’t argue it isn’t trying to be something. For me it’s a mix of Ano Natsu de Matteru (aliens), Kimi to Boku (just look at the similarities) and Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou (same as KimiBoku but more hilarious) and I feel that it’s a good thing to have similarities with all three shows.

OP: That dance is so addicting.
ED: What’s with all of these boring EDs this season?

——————————————————————————————–

The ‘meh’ pile

Acchi Kocchi (6.5/10)

Animation: 6, Story: 5, Sound: 6, Characters: 6, Enjoyment: 5

Nothing too bad to say about this show, other than it’s frequently boring and it’s only strength is Tsumiki’s cuteness. I still like Tsumiki and the OP is growing ever more addicting, but I find it ironic that I tend to not like these types of slice of life (involving moe girls) and enjoy the other brand of moe (Kimi to Boku). Vast public? Loves Acchi Kocchi, hates Kimi to Boku. Me? It’s the other way around. It’s pleasant, but with so many other good series this season I find it to likely be the next to get dropped unless this show can drastically try something different.

OP: Really nice seiyuu song, not the best but it’s sweet
ED: Product placement for the win.

Tasogare Otome x Amnesia (6.5/10)

Animation: 8, Story: 6.5, Sound: 7, Characters: 7, Enjoyment: 6.5

This show has the makings of being the next C3: same levels of ecchi and lackluster plot, but Amnesia lacks the real artistic flair that C3 and BakaTest have and that’s really not a good thing to be lacking. I definitely feel that Yuuko’s seiyuu, Yumi Hara, deserves to win an award for performance: now this is how you do mysterious and seductive without trying too hard. But one awesome seiyuu performance won’t be able to save this show if it ever gets that chance.

OP: The singer’s only 15..holy crap, what an awesome song and visuals that compliment it.
ED: Good song and nice imagery.

Mobile Suit Gundam AGE (6.5/10)

Animation: 7, Story: 6, Sound: 7, Characters: 6.5, Enjoyment: 6.5 (average)
Animation: 7, Story: 6, Sound: 7, Characters: 6, Enjoyment: 6 (first generation)
Animation: 7, Story: 6, Sound: 7, Characters: 7, Enjoyment: 6.5 (second generation)

Oh AGE..I really do give you more chances than I should and you don’t use them very well. I still honestly believe that this show is far better than Seed Destiny or the awful 00 movie, but now..it’s even below the second season of 00 and that was a pretty crappy sequel. The problem with AGE is the pacing is god-awful (timeskips are the norm), and the last episode of the second generation pretty much sums up why it’s the worst.  But the first episode of generation three saved this show from being ranked 14 instead of 13, as it was really action packed and even featured the main villain in full view with an ambitious plan to overthrow Earth (or Eden). Now comes generation three, and with 22 episodes (that’s almost half the series!) I expect a big increase in quality (not QUALITY) from this arc.

Sidenote: Assuming it’s 50 episodes, this show’s been on the summaries since the very beginning in October 2011 and will probably go through September of 2012. Damn.

OP: Definitely put more effort into this opening by Sunrise and a good song.
ED: ‘White justice’? Really who comes up with such a title name? Besides that, It’s a really good song with simple visuals.

Hyouka (7/10)

Animation: 9, Story: 6, Sound: 7.5, Characters: 6.5, Enjoyment: 6.5

It’s far too early to call it the next Guilty Crown, but besides the above picture there was nothing spectacular or even interesting about the first episode of Hyouka. Heck, even the main character looked like he was about to fall asleep in his own show. I’ll give KyoAni the benefit, because I’ve seen the result of really putting effort into a project (Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya comes to mind) by them. Pretty visuals only go so far, and will the mysterious be deeper and more complex or just fluff? Also, the casting choices in this show are…not surprising to say the least (after my Hyouka 01 post, KyoAni hired the rest of the K-ON girls for Hyouka’s cast..geez you guys really can’t try something different?).

OP: Great song and the visuals are great as well.

Accel World (7/10)

Animation: 8.5, Story: 7, Sound: 7.5, Characters: 7, Enjoyment: 7

Accel World is a mixed bag: the premise is more than intriguing and the staff behind this show are really talented, but the characterization is pretty spotty so far. Most of the show so far has spent its time talking about how the Brain Burst program works at the expense of character development. I understand why Haruyuki looks like..that but seeing him and the protagonist of Sword Art Online (both have the same creator, Reki Kawahara) side by side is a bit jarring and Kuroyukihime’s confession to Haruyuki seems a tad unrealistic. So far things have mainly be exposition (not too heavy, the same cannot be said for Eureka Seven AO though) and introduction to the main plot. As it stands, I do look forward to the big picture.
OP: Definitely fits the mood of the series well.
ED: Not your usual calm, peaceful ending theme. A really nice song, and it does have nice visuals.

The Best of the Rest

Kimi to Boku. 2 (7.5/10)

Animation: 7, Story: 7, Sound: 7, Characters: 7, Enjoyment: 8 (with cats)
Animation: 7, Story: 7.5, Sound: 7, Characters: 7.5, Enjoyment: 8.5 (without cats)

This is a show that gets progressively better each episode and the latest two have been quite solid. Last week’s focused on the twins (the only ones who didn’t get a episode devoted to them) and this week focuses on yet another well developed story. But why, why must this show love to spam cats? I hate cats with a burning passion..(I’d give this show an 8 in a heartbeat, just get rid of the damn cats PLEASE!)

OP: Much better than season 2 but the visuals are a little lazy (low-budget, then again it did sell horribly), and the cats..
ED: So much better than season 2 and the song also uses appropriate english. Seeing everyone wear glasses and make the same ‘dull’ face that the twins make were hilarious. Again..the cats..

Sakamichi no Apollon (8/10)

Animation: 8, Story: 8.5, Sound: 9, Characters: 8, Enjoyment: 8

With Tsuritama, Sakamichi no Apollon is a triumphant return of the true noitaminA after last season’s disasterfest. It’s a really great coming of age story, the emotions are there and the music takes all of these elements and blends them extremely well. I’ll admit I’ve never seen any of Shinichiro Watanabe’s series, so I can’t comment on how well the music aspect is here compared to Cowboy Bebop, but I do think it has played a very key role in establishing the friendship of Kaoru, Sentarou and Ri-chan. Plus, this show even showed us that Sentarou and Ri-chan are Christians, I don’t even remember the last time I saw Christianity portrayed like this. Thoughtful and whimsical, Sakamichi no Apollon is truly a special series that is in the hands of very talented people.

OP: A little strained voice, but the different instruments come together wonderfully (especially the trumpet).
ED: Another boring ED…

Jormungand (8/10)

Animation: 8, Story: 8, Sound: 8.5, Characters: 8, Enjoyment: 9

So, once again White Fox proves to be the go-to studio for clearly hiring a bunch of competent people who actually know how to adapt source material, visual novels for Steins;Gate and manga for Jormungand. Their actual animation effort is less than stellar, but it’s definitely not a detractor to the overall experience. Some questionable scenes with regards to a shootout on episode 3 that defy common logic, but I’m not worried about that kind of stuff to be frank.

OP: I heard this and I thought “Wut, this sounds like it should be in the Index or Shana series”, obviously the same singer but this song really works here.
ED: Lacking on budget, but a nice song.
Preview: Yes, this show is so special that I’ll rate the preview video. Who doesn’t like it?

Fate/Zero 2 (9/10)

Animation: 10, Story: 9.5, Sound: 9, Characters: 9.5, Enjoyment: 10

Here comes Fate/Zero, more likely than not to stay at #1 until it ends. I try not to be biased but this is a show that does everything right, from the animation (See the above picture) all the way to the plot.Last season was mainly build-up (and scored #1 on the summaries from start to finish), and this season is just an absolute bloodbath. Things are going much faster and real character development is happening to the characters that really needed it (Kiritsugu). Ah, how I wish I didn’t read Fate/stay night because I know how it’s going to turn out..and I wish it turned out differently. But these next 9 weeks are going to be memorable.

OP: I love Kalafina, but the visuals could have been better.

ED: THIS is how you do an ending theme. It doesn’t have to be pretty, but give it a clear message and a nice song and I’ll be a happy camper.

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