Halloween is upon us and so are the fall 2011 impressions. So far, it has been a rather lacklustre season, with the big meat named Guilty Crown failing to live up to its initial expectations. At least it seems that we have a few unexpected shows that are starting to leave bigger impressions on me with each episode. If you want to find out my thoughts, read on!
These kinds of posts will show up every time when the shows I am currently watching have had at least three episodes each. This gives me enough episodes to give each one of them a fair look, as they by then most likely have set up their basic premise. But remember: things can change awfully fast.
In addition to ranking them, there will also be basic information about the shows. It will be like this:
Number of episodes | Genre | Adaptation of | Studio/+any important mention | Year
If you want more information, just click on the titles and you will be redirected to MyAnimeList.
Now that you know this, it is time for the impressions!
#9 Guilty Crown
3/22 episodes | Action, Sci-Fi | Anime Original | Production I.G, noitaminA | 2011
Gosh, this is the part where you kill me. But no, in all honesty, how could something that had every chance to be a masterpiece, end up to be nothing more than a boring, generic and uninspiring mess? Character design by redjuice, music by Supercell, produced by Production I.G, the director of Death Note, noitaminA time slot… and so on and so on.
Now, before any of you claim that I had hyped Guilty Crown beforehand, let me tell you that I had not. My only reaction when hearing about it was “oh, cool, might be fun”. Sure, one could wonder how it would go wrong, but I had no hype at all.
So what do we have so far? Generic male lead + partner? Check. Fan service? Check. Tell, not show? Check. Poorly presented story? Check. Great, but overused, music? Check. Dumb choices and situations? Double check. Refrigerators? Check.
The only things that keep me watching are the lovely character designs together with the equally lovely visuals. But otherwise? I do not care in the slightest about the characters or anything at all, in fact. Fix this impossible, yet possible, mess please.
4/12 episodes | Comedy | Manga | Diomedea | 2011
Ika Musume, or Squid Girl if you prefer English, was a great deal of fun when it first aired last winter (2010). Watching Ika’s antics felt very refreshing, despite the only thing distinguishing it from other comedies were that it featured a human squid. Instead of forcing itself to be unique, it just did its own thing, resulting in a great show. Each episode presented something new, whether it was a character or Ika’s lack of human knowledge. It kept things fresh, basically.
This is what the second season is struggling with at the moment: it is not fresh anymore. You see, we already know all the characters to some degree. So the only option that is left, is showing us Ika’s views on humans. Too bad it has only been pure comedy so far, and not very fun either. Perhaps I was wrong when I thought that a second season would not overstay its welcome? We have to wait and see.
#7 Bakuman 2
4/25 episodes | Comedy, Drama, Romance, Shounen | Manga | J.C. Staff | 2011
Another sequel I am watching this fall. This one continues with the better pacing the first season achieved during the latter half, making it a much more pleasant watch. Even if J.C. Staff have not poured their budget onto this one (well, they do have Shana III as an excuse this time), the source material is strong enough to bear the show on its own. At least half of it.
Bakuman is divided into two parts: making manga and some dramatic love story. As long as the story focuses on the manga-making, it is very interesting to watch. It is like Naruto, only with pens instead of jutsus. The constant battles about creating a chapter, guessing if the readers will appreciate it and so on. It is full of wonderful moments.
But, as I said, only half of it is good. The drama is so utterly pointless and forced; it makes me cringe every time. It is downright stupid at times, making you want to punch the characters in their faces. All the stuff about dreams, manhood and whatnot can go screw itself. No, really, it should. That is how bad it is. Focus on making manga damn it.
3/11 episodes | Mystery | Anime Original | Bones, noitaminA | 2011
While the first episode did not impress me, it picked up a lot in the second and now it proves itself to be a dang fine mystery show with its third episode. Unlike recent mystery shows, such as Gosick or Kamisama no Memochou, UN-GO relies on the viewers’ abilities to read into the cases. It does not blatantly point out every little detail (or nothing at all), but instead leaves a few leads here and there, giving the viewers a chance to come up with their own theories about what the heck happened.
And that, dear readers, is how you create a good mystery show. It may not have had such memorable cases so far, which is its weak point, but it can create an impressive atmosphere. The characters themselves are also intriguing, which is always a plus. And you never say no to conspiracy theories.
UN-GO is shaping up to be a potential top contender this fall. If it continues to walk the same path it is currently heading, I will be there supporting it. Come on Bones, create something good again!
4/? episodes | Comedy, Harem, Romance, School | Light Novel | AIC Build | 2011
After having followed a bunch of really really bad shows this year, you could say that Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai (or Haganai for short), together with Ben-To, are my guilty pleasures. But in the case of Haganai, there are more things to it than first meets the eye.
Many write off this show as yet another harem and calls it a day, something I do not deny, but when doing so, they also miss out on some of the deeper questions Haganai asks the viewer. Are friends necessary? How do you make friends? And the list goes on.
Sure, Haganai is a harem down to its roots, with some seriously funny characters for a change, but these questions are what give it my full interest. It never actually deals with the theme of loneliness to be honest, but simply bringing it up is something I give it credit for. It dares to take on current problems and questions in our society.
#4 Kimi to Boku
4/13 episodes | Comedy, School, Slice of Life | Manga | J.C. Staff | 2011
This is still a bit of a mystery to me, but Kimi to Boku is turning out to be one of the best shows this season. The first two episodes are, what many would agree on, dull. They are slow, boring and feature apathetic characters. What could have been an interesting take on the Slice of Life genre, having four boys instead of the standard four girls, was an utter bore.
I never thought it was.
It felt so slow and boring, that it actually was enjoyable. It was almost real, if reality was boring and lacked energy. Kind of like me. And then, a fifth character was introduced in the third episode, which made it even better. He brought energy with him, which is slowly starting to change the other characters. Creating an interesting take on the genre. Even if it is not the “hurr durr boys being crazy”-scenario as many would have preferred.
4/12 episodes | Action, Comedy | Light Novel | David Production | 2011
Half-priced bentos are serious business, if you did not know. This is my second guilty pleasure this season, presenting mindless fun when fighting with other people over some cheap lunch.
It has every chance in the world to become repetitive, but so far, it still is so crazy you cannot help but love it. It is just so crazy. David Productions are also doing a great job with the animation, especially during the fights. They manage to create a great tension and the punches and kicks are fluid and good-looking.
In the fourth episode the fan service was a little too much, with a seducing cousin being introduced, but other than that, this is so crazy dumb that it actually works.
5/? episodes | Action, Adventure, Shounen | Manga | Madhouse | 2011
A new adaptation of the manga with the same name, this was one of my most anticipated shows this season. I am a huge fan of the manga and its well thought out story, even reaching the “oh so hard” seinen-territory sometimes. It was adventurous, “dark” and not that much shounen.
This remake (there is a ten year old version too) is very faithful to the manga in terms of story and execution, but not so much when it comes to the atmosphere. The gruesome reality has been toned down a lot and it features a very bombastic soundtrack, giving it a way too adventurous feel. It is still too early to judge if things will stay this way, as the last two episodes featured some well-directed scenes that were not so “yay yay adventure”.
Hunter x Hunter has not really started yet and at most there will be ten more episodes till the arc that really plays with the atmosphere. If it fails during that point, Hunter x Hunter will lose what made it unique, resulting in yet another generic shounen. Please do not let that happen.
#1 Mirai Nikki
3/26 episodes | Action, Mystery, Thriller | Manga | Asread | 2011
So thrilling. So campy. So crazy. So much fun. Mirai Nikki makes me feel excited every time I sit down and watch it, and I want to watch the next episode directly after having watched the latest.
Asread created a fantastic third episode, understanding the importance of both lightning and mood. The best episode of all the shows I am watching this season, to tell the truth.
One thing that makes me wonder though, is why Mirai Nikki is not using its interesting setting and plot in a better way. This battle royale could have been used to create an unsettling mood, not knowing when danger might strike. Well, there are still a lot of episodes to go, so this might come into play later on. Also, why middle schoolers? Older protagonists might have been more fun to watch.
A little bit of nitpicking perhaps, because Mirai Nikki is by far the best show of the season. Cannot wait till the next episode!
Also, that opening.