Spring 2012 Impressions – Halfway There

I know, right?

With school soon over, there will be plenty of time for good weekly scheduling for blog posts. As the situation stands today, I cannot say I am very proud over the results, with tons of posts one month and barely any in another. The following summer will be a lot of fun in return, I can assure you!

But now, it is time for my impressions of the spring 2012 season! Hope you enjoy it!

All posts
Spring 2012 Previews – What I Will Watch
Spring 2012 Impressions – Halfway There

#9 Recorder to Randoseru Re♪

7/? episodes | Comedy | Manga | Seven | 2012

Take a guess on the age of the characters in the picture above. How old is he? 17? And what about her? Probably goes all the way up to 11.

But nope! It is the opposite and that is the main draw of Recorder to Randoseru: the kid looks like an adult and the adult looks like a kid. This has been the only joke throughout the whole franchise and it is surprising that it even managed to get a second (Re) season. With a joke that has grown stale too long ago, the only reason I am watching this is that each episode is three minutes long. It is a small bite per week that works just well and, quite unexpected, I have grown attached to this little silly series without any remarkable features. Only so I can hear Aya Hirano‘s voice again.

On another note, the first season came to be known as “Do”, while this one is “Re”. If you know your solfège, you are aware of there being seven syllables: Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La and Ti. Will this series reach Ti? Will that be the final season? Will there be any new jokes by then?! Only the future will tell!

#8 Medaka Box

7/12 episodes | Action, Comedy, Ecchi, School, Shounen | Manga | Gainax | 2012

Okay, so this was not as thrilling as I had hoped, being Nisio Isin and all that. Perhaps he just cannot do anything outside the Monogatari series. Although, Nisemonogatari was pretty boring in comparison to Bakemonogatari, so maybe he just is not that great after all. There, I said it.

Regarding Medaka, it is a fun watch, but except the Godess of Kindness Medaka herself, there is not that much to it. A lot of people have constantly mentioned that it will not get good unless it gets a second season, which is a real shame if it is true, because from what I have read in the manga, it actually gets pretty wacky (in a good way) later on.

Another disappointment is that Gainax is dead and literally gone forever. It really shows that a lot of big names have left the studio, because visually it does not impress at all. It is bland, unimaginative and simply not really fitting for an odd series like this.

#7 Shirokuma Cafe

7/? episodes | Comedy | Manga | Studio Pierrot | 2012

Do not let the low ranking fool you: Shirokuma Cafe (or Polar Bear Cafe) is adorable. In addition, do not let Scamp fool you.

I am quite surprised that Studio Pierrot, the studio behind Naruto, Bleach and other poor shounen adaptations, managed to get this one right. This is most likely due to Shirokuma Cafe’s slow nature, with its gimmick being… realistic animals doing weird stuff. And not to mention hearing these animals voiced by some big seiyuu names.

Told in a very laid-back fashion, we witness Panda, Penguin and Polar Bear buying smartphones, working at the zoo or at the cafe, driving cars or whatever it may be. Thanks to a varied and charming cast, Shirokuma Cafe has so far elegantly avoided growing stale. However, if it turns out to be more than a 2-cour series, which is possible since it is done by Studio Pierrot, there is a risk of that happening. Hopefully this is not the case.

#6 Eureka Seven AO

6/24 episodes | Action, Drama, Mecha, Sci-Fi | Anime Original | Bones | 2012

There are a lot of things I could write about Eureka Seven AO here, probably enough content for at least one bigger post. Speaking of which, that is a good idea. Keep an eye out; there might be one later (but no guarantees)! So, in favor of that, let us keep this short.

AO is not bad. It good some great production values, with better-than-average visuals, characters that are not too stereotypical, a plot of a grand scale and, most importantly for the Eureka Seven franchise, outstanding music. It is very easy to get into AO and make time flow away quickly, making it a fun and interesting series.

But six episodes in and I am starting to get slightly bothered by a few minor, but still important, details. First of all, there is no characterization. We have been introduced to a big bunch, but none have had any focus. Heck, we barely know our main character’s, Ao, motivation or mindset! In addition to this, there are a whole load of terms and politics that lack proper explanation. There is no feeling to it all. I do not care the slightest about the characters or the setting, except when speculating about how this series ties into the original.

And that is another problem with all this: so far, there is no real justification for AO to exist. It was only created to make money. And now it seems like a typical villain, or something along those lines, will be introduced. It does not work as a sequel and it does not work as a stand-alone piece. Fix this, please.

#5 Hyouka

5/21 episodes | Mystery | Light Novel | Kyoto Animation | 2012

Hyouka is the newest creation by Kyoto Animation, the studio which once created series of big magnitude such as The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi and Lucky Star, only to recently having brought life to the floptastic Nichijou. It sadly turned out that Japanese people did not like crazy over-the-top comedy, not even if it was accompanied by stunning animation. Despite poor sales with their latest creation, KyoAni is back in the game with Hyouka, a series that is all about gorgeous visuals.

Okay, scrap that last part, although it is not entirely untrue. In these five episodes, everything from the characters to the plot has just… “been”. Not much has been fleshed out and the story progresses in a slow manner, tackling trivial mysteries (“who locked me in the classroom?!”) like it was nothing out if the ordinary routine. This is the type of series that just “is”. As a result, there is not much to say about it, since it has barely started. Visually though, this is movie quality, which almost is enough of a reason to watch it. Not to mention the top-notch direction and presentation, with playful angles and color choices. It is a shame that there is so much focus on the Japanese language, something that is not possible for us non-speakers to grasp.

One thing I like to bring up is the picture featured above. It shows the main character, Houtarou, feeling awkward in a social situation. He does not know how to interact with other people in a casual manner and therefore does not feel too comfortable with it, neither is he good at showing his feelings. I can relate to this, so for me, Houtarou has become my favorite character of the spring 2012 season so far. Actually, every character have beautiful eyes is enjoyable to some degree. We have the aforementioned Houtarou, Fukube the cheery, Mayaka the stingy and Chitanda th-

HNNNNNNNNNNNNGH

#4 Tsuritama

6/? episodes | Sci-Fi, Slice of Life | Anime Original | A-1 Pictures, noitaminA | 2012

Who could have thought a series about fishing could be this great? But, truth to be told, I really disliked Tsuritama at first. If this list had been done a couple of weeks ago, it would have been at the bottom along with Medaka Box. So I find it quite surprising that I suddenly like it. It most likely comes down to the characters, which were extremely annoying in the beginning, being socially inept, raging mad and all that. However, now with all this gone, what is left is an intriguing series about fishing, character development and friendship. But not all is happy-go-lucky if the sixth episode is to be used as measurement… whatever the future has in store for us, I am looking forward to it!

Do not miss Mira’s great posts on the series over at Hachimitsu. Give them a read!

 #3 Hunter x Hunter (2011)

32/? episodes | Action, Adventure, Shounen | Manga | Madhouse | 2011

This is what I wrote way back in November 2011 after five episodes:

“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”.”

Today, 27 episodes later including two recaps, this is not an issue anymore. The poor music choices are mostly gone and the more gruesome reality is slowly growing with each episode, hopefully culminating in the amazingly upcoming arc.

In many ways, Hunter x Hunter is a great example of how to do a proper adaptation of a shounen manga. The pacing is great and it never feels as if it is dragging its feet, it is visually impressive for a long-running series (and in some cases even better than 1-cours) and most importantly: no fillers or drastic changes to the story. These three points I just brought up are usually the biggest problems when it comes to shounen series, for example Naruto or One Piece. And in terms of plot, Hunter x Hunter is not too shabby either, avoiding common traps such as ridiculous power-ups or repetition.

In a way, Hunter x Hunter is a dream come true for me. Yoshihiro Togashi’s story has a near perfect execution which should be near impossible to adapt, but Madhouse is doing a pretty good job. If you decided not to watch this series because it was shounen, then all I can say is that it is your loss.

#2 Kimi to Boku 2

7/13 episodes | Comedy, Romance, School, Slice of Life | Manga | J.C. Staff | 2012

Kimi to Boku is not an ordinary “cute people doing cute things”-series. It is something much greater. It features romance. And not any kind of romance, but romance as it can be in real life. What if the person you love is moving? What if you love someone who has a crush on your best friend? And so on. It tackles these issues without heading into the annoying zone of “omgidontdarewaaaadragthisoutawholeseasonbaaaaawsosaaaaaad” that many other romantic series tend to do.

In fact, the latest episode of this second season made me fangasm like I have never done before. I just could not stop cheering, feeling excited and being completely… crazy over what happened. It actually dared to do that?! MADNESS I SAY!

J.C. Staff is back in the game, people.

 #1 Sakamichi no Apollon

6/? episodes | Drama, Romance, Slice of Life, Josei | Manga | Tezuka Productions, noitaminA | 2012

No words can do this series justice. Just watch these clips and then the real thing. This is a rare gem.

If there is anything to mention, it is the fact that it might be rushed if it turns out it will only be eleven episodes (which is highly likely, considering noitaminA and the already fast pacing) and decides to cover the whole manga. Because if it continues in the same fashion as now, there will only be enough source material for a couple of OVAs, not a whole season. This means they will have to increase the pacing even more. Or maybe they decide to skip animating the real ending Who knows. Good stuff at least.

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11 thoughts on “Spring 2012 Impressions – Halfway There

  1. […] posts Spring 2012 Previews – What I Will Watch Spring 2012 Impressions – Halfway There Spring 2012 Reviews – Something […]

  2. Myst says:

    Alright… I guess I do need to pick up Apollon and give it a chance. I’ve seen nothing but praise for it and if you say it is that good then I think I should give it a try.

    Surprisingly, I am only watching two of the shows you have listed here (three if you count Medaka box, but I haven’t watched an episode of that in a while now). I agree with you on Hyouka, it is like KyoAni is afraid doing anything but their normal slice-of-life. Which is okay to a certain degree, but I really would like for their to be an actual plot and for the series to not just be a collection of unrelated occurrences. I do like what you say about the characterization of the protagonist as well. That scene you mention with Houtarou resonated with me as well.

    With regards to Eureka 7 AO, I am actually quite pleased with how it is going right now. I also am skeptical about sequels because they are very often a company’s attempt to milk the franchise for more money. But sometimes even these grabs for money can become a good thing if the people behind the show are dedicated to telling a good story. I can’t claim that E7AO will be amazing, but I do believe that it is developing well (especially in recent episodes).

    • Marow says:

      I really hope you like it. It’s not perfect, but it’s one of those rare and unique shows, you know. The kind that stands out.

      With the first novel and big mystery of Hyouka over, we might see some character development and the likes. It would be a pleasant welcome. Otherwise it would be a shame, because Hyouka got some untapped potential I believe. It’s growing on me with each episode, so it would be such a waste if it decided to just do some random mysteries and call it a day.

      I wonder if it has to do with Nichijou? Perhaps KyoAni have financial insecurities after Nichijou? I have no clue. But if that was the case, all they need to do is to make more Haruhi. I’ll never understand how companies think.

      (regarding Hyouka, when did Mayaka become a member of the club? One episode she just was that?)

      I read your thoughts about E7AO on your site. You’re positive, I’m negative, haha 😛
      So far, it just feels like it shares the same name with E7, but not the soul. Hopefully this will change.

      Have you seen Eureka Seven: New Order? It was one episode, dialogue-only, that was released a week before AO.

  3. Shirokuma café is adorable but is very slow at times.

    Uchuu Kyoudai and Sakamichi no Apollon are the ones standing out to me. After half the season, they still keep me watching and excitedly waiting for each episode every week.

    Ignoring the fishing in Tsuritama and understanding the growth of each character along with the story progression is outstanding, I can’t help but love it. I look forward to the rest of the series.

    • Marow says:

      I actually like its slowness, it fits with the animals (especially Panda). I don’t mind slow pacing unless there’s some story.

      Yes, Tsuritama really has some character growth, it really showed this last episode. Cannot wait for the new episodes now, haha. I went a complete 180 in opinion regarding this show.

      Kyoudai looks really good, but I think it’s better watched when finished. It’s very much about the story, right?

  4. Nishimura says:

    I completely agree with you on Eureka Seven Ao. It just seems like it’s missing something or maybe I’m still sour over the fact that any potential romance flew out the window for the time being when Naru was left on Okinawa. This is Eureka Seven, after all, I was kind of hoping for some awesome character development but so far its been lacking. I guess my first mistake was hoping it would be just like the first season just with a better main couple. There’s still time for it to improve though, so I’m not particularly worried. . . yet.

    I’m a bit surprised that I’m enjoying Shirokuma Cafe as much as I am. It’s not particularly great by any means but it makes me laugh and I enjoy that the animals actually look like animals. Grizzly is my favorite at the moment, though I find Llama to be hilarious.

    Hyouka started off slow for me, but it’s picking up the pace now. I’ve been dragging my feet through Kimi to Boku, but the last two episodes were amazing (it’s funny how the romance is the only thing this show does right, in my opinion) and Tsuritama is actually getting quite interesting. I’m really hoping that the monster in the sea is a dragon only because it would look absolutely gorgeous in Tsuritama’s art style.

    As for Sakamichi no Apollon, I love that show to pieces. It’s like someone knew exactly how to make a great high school anime, and what’s best of all, the romance is wonderfully done.

    • Marow says:

      I actually accept AO for being different, but I guess I can’t help but feel a little “disturbed” over the new direction. It is hard not to compare it with the original, considering how very different they are so far. It’s almost as if they are trying to avoid the original as much as possible, making it forced instead of having a natural development. Although I still feel Ao doesn’t even work as a standalone, due to the lack of explanations so far. Nothing really makes sense, there is no understanding of it all. Perhaps that’s the case… but 7 episodes? With the 7th being a mess? Oh god.

      About the rest, I pretty much agree with everything! I also really hope we get to see a dragon in Tsuritama, becaues it would most likely look stunning. 😀

  5. Nopy says:

    You’re watching pretty much all of the shows that I’m not, perhaps we’re opposites when it comes to anime tastes? I was sorta peer pressured into watch Sakamichi no Apollon. I loved episode 3, but everything else has been slow for me. Developments and resolutions between the characters don’t really mesh and I’m having a hard time trying to figure out what the series is about.

    • Marow says:

      I don’t think so, it’s just that we watch different shows during the seasons! I mean, I am most likely going to watch those you are watching if you are talking about stuffe like Girlfriend X, Fate/Zero and so on. I just find these more fun to watch on a weekly basis 🙂

      Apollon is still very good, but it feels as if the faster pace is killing the sense of development. While it feels fresh, it kills the drama in a way.
      Regarding what it is about, it’s just a slice of life!

  6. Brad Stanton says:

    wonderful artwork!

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