End of Summer Season ’09 – 5 Paragraphs About 5 Series

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Summer JPG

With the summer season over and the fall coming up shortly, some reflections on the series this blogger has watched (and in one case, dropped). Done in a short format, your own thoughts and comments on these or other summer series are very much welcome. While two of these series have yet to have their last episodes out subbed, I thought I should include them now before everyone gets caught up in the new season and a post like this become irrelevant.

Bakemonogatari

grab30137Bakemonogatari 1Bakemonogatari 3

While I was a little put off by the flow of the first episode, by episode two I was really hooked and the show only got better. I’ve loved everything SHAFT since I started watching the first season of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, and in this series they took their unique art style to unconventional and interesting new heights. Very minimalist backgrounds in most cases, repetitive objects (all the cars except for Senjogahara’s dad’s were SR 311 Nissan Fairlady 2000 convertibles, one of my favorites of all time), and scenes with only a few colors/cut ‘card’ scenes with just a color and a few words on it. The characters and monster/spirit stories were all unique and interesting. Dialogue and character relationships were always interesting, quirky,  and well done.  And the ending conversation between Araragi and Senjogahara was just so sweet <3

Notable things: Awesome ED (and to a lesser extent, fun/catchy OP), stuttering (“Ararararagi-kun” ), very unique art style, mythology tie-ins, custom OP for certain episodes.

Sora no Manimani*

To space!vlcsnap-2009-08-07-12h16m10s17

Opening red dwarfvlcsnap-2009-09-20-19h16m00s234

*still waiting on last ep subs.

The very enjoyable rom-com centered around a high school astronomy club was so much fun to watch and blog this season. While the show isn’t the most revolutionary in terms of setting or style, it does the basics very well that I ended up enjoying it more than a lot of higher concept shows I’ve watched. Comedy was great, drama was very good but the show probably could have used a little bit more. The real-life astronomy information was accurate and presented well, and not to sound like a huge nerd (though I am one), it restarted my own interest in astronomy. The shipping was also a fun side event, with RabbitPoets, Scamp, and myself raising the banners of Mihoshi, Hime, and Fumie respectively. Though we all (unfortunately) know who is the author’s intended OTP. I’m very much looking forward to the last episode and DVD episode. Another season or some OVAs would be great too.

Notable things: accurate astronomy info, nicely animated night sky scenes, our Queen Fumie!, simple but solid.

Canaan

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grab22036grab13220

More than just an action show, though not the deepest thing you’ll ever see. Characters and motives, even after seeing the ending, are still somewhat fuzzy in some respects, but if you just enjoy the interestingly developed characters and their motivations set against a fun action background you’ll find it worth watching. I’m not as big a fan as Crusader, but the central motivation for Alphard, combined with how she carried it out was very interesting and made for a nicely complicated pair of characters. Add in some fun side characters and I had a fun, if not amazing time watching it.

Notable things: SUGOI SUGOI, strong yuri undertones, very accurate and well-researched weapons/vehicles (with the exception of the B-2), very crisp animation.

Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei*

SZS 1SZS 4

SZS 3SZS 2

*still waiting on last two eps subs.

The continuation of my favorite comedy anime evar (and there’s at least one more season to come too!), ZSZS has probably been my favorite, tied with the first season, yet. Who would have thought something with so much social and political humor would last this long? More numerous and more scathing social commentary and political jokes, new situations for characters, and some interesting new art styles in one episode. More needs to be done with Tsunetsuki the stalker, but other than that things didn’t get stale. And the tinted glasses segment was A+ good. Lots of Chiri in new outfits in the two most recent episodes didn’t hurt in this blogger’s opinion either ;)

Notable things: current events humor especially about the recent Japanese election, still more paranoia about China and North Korea (“that country”), experimental animation.

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0

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This is the series that I ended up dropping, but since I’m commenting on it for three reasons. Firstly, I had great expectations for this show’s premise; second, it seems to have developed a pretty strong following with bloggers; and lastly because I watched half of it so I may as well comment. The premise made me think this was going to be my favorite show of the season. But it felt so sanitized the way that the government response to the earthquake went so well, so quickly. It was like the Japanese government sponsored it to reassure people. I also didn’t like or get into any of the characters, they also just felt unnatural to me or one-dimensional. I’m sure many will disagree, especially with that second point given the cult-like following Yuuki gained. FYI, I continued to follow what happened after I stopped watching via We Remember Love and Scrumptious. Credit where credit is due: I do have to say that the OP animation was eerie as hell for someone who lived in Tokyo for a year and went to many of those places on a regular basis. Big points for that.

Notable things: great premise, great OP song/animation, Cult of St. Yuuki.

Final Thoughts: - Either Bakemonogatari or Sora no Manimani is going to claim the prize for my favorite show of the season. Bakemonogatari had a super-solid last episode, but I’ll wait for the last SoraMani to make my decision. I enjoyed Bakemonogatari more on a technical level (concept and art) but SoraMani is just so much fun even if a much simpler show in artistic terms.

- Of those two favorite shows, I’d love to have more of both. SoraMani is at least getting a DVD extra episode.

- Can SHAFT do no wrong in my eyes?

- I started watching Aoi Hana and fully intend to finish it. But for whatever reason I just wasn’t in the mood after episode 3. Plan to finish by New Year’s at the latest.


This entry was posted in Assorted Anime Reviews, Bakemonogatari, Canaan, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, Sora no Manimani. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

14 Comments

  1. Posted September 29, 2009 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    St. Yuuki will forgive you for your sins, but PRAY! And with his intervention, 2010 will have a wide selection of robot anime offerings for us poor fans so starved… STARVED I SAY!!!

  2. Posted September 29, 2009 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    Mii-chan FTW MWAAAHAAAHAAA! Well… maybe one day. :-P

    Actually there’s supposed to be 3 more Bakemonogatari episodes that are going to be webcasted. Hopefully gg will continue subbing it, although I assume we wont get glorious 720HD.

  3. Nemo
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 3:13 am | Permalink

    *season end nerdrage warning*

    I don’t quite grasp how you can compare Bakemonogatari and Sora ni… I will just say that the first had me hooked for more, while the other had me so bored I hardly followed the last few episodes. Sora ni was like some utterly hackneyed Eroge, with annoying characters and a strapped on hobby to make it seem like it was treading new grounds – maybe I just played too many of those though.

    And Canaan ? Then again, I must utter my deep lack of understanding regarding the praises around that show. I can’t even think of it as an action flick. It was so cliché, and so god damned pretentious it made my tummy writhe in agony. There are plenty of good action movies, noir movies from the 60s, that have much more feel and soul to them ; it evoked to me of Noir and Madlax and that third crap show (and maybe even Black lagoon that in mostly the same way spiralled into boredom hell), where it seemed the lack of anything meaningful could only be filled by either enjoying the finely recorded gun-sounds, or drowling over the girls that, like in Canaan, were totally meant to be “so amazing dude, I mean she totally did that, how cool ! That totally so rocked, omg I’m so thrilled”. /endrage

    Tokyo Magnitude, without going into the government sponsored jokes, I share your views. It was boring. The characters had nothing. It was hollow. Like most shows this season, it was souless.

    On the other end, Phantom also ended, and wasn’t half as bad as I thought it would be. The beginning was meh, the middle was horrible, but the last segment managed to be decent (though *spoilers* wth was that in the end ? was it supposed to make it look cool because we all know death of the main chara is cool in the end ?).

    There was also the last of Eve no jikan, that sadly didn’t manage anything other that being a total rip off of Asimov’s most cliched ideas. I’d totally advise the writers of that show to read his books, because a few decades ago he managed to use his brain and produce some really amazing food for thoughts. But hey, I guess it was totally original and interesting compared to most of the animes this season if you didn’t knew Asimov ; kinda like .Hack could seem deep if you didn’t know about any books like Tad Williams Otherland (though there are many others like it). Though at least Even no jikan had some production value, and a soundtrack that didn’t make me tear my eardrums out.

    Saki ended also. Well. Let’s just say that when a show with lolis, yuri and big breasted pink haired girls doesn’t hold my interest, it must be extremely bad. Saki was horrible ; there wasn’t even any mahjong (like say that show had Go).

    So is there no hope in anime beyond SHAFT ? It makes me worried, because for a few seasons I’ve liked the most what they did. Am I becoming a fanboy ? Is my judgement becoming obscured by their awesome art ? Maria Holic was a fresh take on the sadistic schooltrap topic, Bakemonogatari was just THAT cool (though there WERE a bit too many filled cuts, but considering they made one of the best fight scene I’ve ever seen…), and Zetsubo is always interesting to watch (I mean, almost). I could mention so many other good shows they made…

  4. Nemo
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 3:38 am | Permalink

    In a more critical way, I’d like to say that saying you enjoyed Bakemonogatari “more on a technical level” doesn’t do the show justice.

    It had a very interesting story, and an even more interesting story telling, obviously inspired by the way Eroges fragment one main “true story” into various girls’ path. Most other shows would have gone the boring route, having Araragi as some sort of helper, solving independant cases. Here, most of the said cases were made to connect through very nice character developpement ; in some -if not most- episodes, Ararararagi was clearly the main character, despite what the different OPs suggested. Those were also deliciously parodic of the many genres of anime.
    I liked most the way it seemed to be a cliché show – I mean, you have a vampire, you have monsters of the week, you have a kind of harem… And yet managed to sew it all together interestingly. The light novels must be interesting in their own right, as clearly the words themselves hold significant ground (not only in the dialogues, but also in the show’s whole mythology).
    The show reminded me, in a weird way, of Kemonozume, a very good show if you can appreciate the art.

    It’s sad Shaft seemed to be a little short on time and budget, as some episodes clearly suffered from cut material. I’m looking forward to more, with an hopefully interesting ending to the main “araragi” arc.

    The characters were, for most, well done. Obviously I liked most the tsundere kanojo, finally a tsundere that managed to be delicatly irritating yet lovable. I will not compare her to, for instance, Taiga, because that would be downright cruel ; I mean, are there really people who think a totally predictable and one-dimensional character has any interest ? Are there ? You damn lolicons I say ! :-)
    I liked how Araragi didn’t get grandiloquent with his intentions to protect everyone, clearly drawing priorities. Then again his characters will probably undergo significant developpement / unveiling in the end.

    On the fun level, though they sometimes did drag on (in the same way the art style felt somewhat cheap in places), the dialogues in Bakemonogatari were mostly enjoyable and well written, and the seiyus did an excellent job (unsurprisingly considering it was a typical Shaft cast). The fights were fun to watch. It only lacked some kind of suspens or overarching mystery, but the show is clearly character driven, so in the end I guess you could go without it.

  5. ahelo
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 4:01 am | Permalink

    bakemonogatari hasn’t ended yet. there’s still three episodes.

  6. Posted September 30, 2009 at 4:44 am | Permalink

    No Spice and Wolf? Horo was the only reason Bakemonogatari didn’t dominate this season. Horo > Senjogahara, and that’s certainly quite an achievement. Those two were the highlights of this season, at least in terms of new anime. I do feel Sora no Manimani is sorely hurt by lacking originality. It’s still pretty fun, good enough at what it does and I’ll continue to man my Hime ship, but it just lacks the intelligence that Bakemono and S&W have.

    Magnitude lacked life. Canaan lacked a brain. The only other new anime I’m watching is Umineko, which is so dumb and so poorly writted and yet so undeniably entertaining.

    And if all else fails, there’s always FMA:B

  7. ExecutiveOtaku
    Posted September 30, 2009 at 4:47 am | Permalink

    @ghostlightning

    Srsly. I’m trying to remember the last mecha I watched while it aired. Was it really Macross F and Gundam 00? I really hope I’m forgetting something in my ’7am just woke up’ fog.

    @ RP

    We shall see Mihoshi shipper, we shall see (I have to maintain the illusion that victory is possible for Fumie or Hime.)

    @RP and ahelo

    That’s great that there’s more Bakemonogatari, I hadn’t heard that before.

    @Nemo

    Wow nerdrage, hehe. I knew I’d get some WTF for having Bakemonogatari and SoraMani as contenders for my favorite. But the prize is to be my favorite, a highly subjective thing. I enjoyed the amount of originality in the former (the technical enjoyment I mentioned), but the latter was just so darn fun that I looked forward to each episode just as much, I just appreciated them in different ways. Much agreement on how Senjogahara was a tsundere that was actually multidimensional.

    As for your hate on other anime, keep hating :) “What can be said about your anime that hasn’t already been said about Afghanistan?”

    @Scamp

    I never got into Spice and Wolf when I gave it a shot during the first season. Having trader Lelouch and fox spirit Kallen almost made me reconsider just for the lulz of that thought.

  8. Posted September 30, 2009 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    haha, Bakemonogatari is a real trip and has this unique vibe capable of hooking.

    Dug it from start to finish. XD

  9. Nemo
    Posted October 1, 2009 at 2:54 am | Permalink

    Eh.

    Haven’t watched Spice and wolf much… I must admit, I had a really quick look at the first season and it didn’t strike me as… interesting. I mean there was this dude on his cart and that chick that does weird things and nothing kept on happening and then there was that but I was asleep. I’ll try to rewatch it so I can nerdrage some more.
    Didn’t even notice the seiyu was Lelouch. I must admit he got quite screwed otherwise those last few seasons – I mean, that one with the can-girls, the useless guy in Saki… I feel for him.

  10. Posted October 2, 2009 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    I’m really bummed to hear that Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 became so flat. The hype around it seemed to hold the promise of so much more :(

  11. ExecutiveOtaku
    Posted October 3, 2009 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    @ forEvil

    You and I both. I was certain it was going to be my favorite of the season when the summer shows were announced.

  12. Posted October 4, 2009 at 1:22 am | Permalink

    @ ExecutiveOtaku

    You have any hopefuls in the seasons starting around abouts now?

  13. mice
    Posted October 4, 2009 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    almost exactly the same thoughts as I have on those 5 shows, though I not only dropped TM8.0 (@6/11) but Canaan (@7/13)as well, when I realized how dump it really was…

    My favorite of the season has to go to Spice&Wolf again even though it doesnt quite reach my expectation. I suck when it comes to Horo….

    Umineko is definitive very very interesting as well, but most people cant understand it and think its like totally random with no real purpose, which isnt the case at all. It contains some very original thoughts and just seems to break the “normal” logic people are used to.

  14. ExecutiveOtaku
    Posted October 4, 2009 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    @for Evil

    Still watching first eps, but going from previews and what I’ve seen:

    Kimi ni Todoke: heard good things about the manga, and it’s Production I.G.
    Seitokai no Ichizon: Watched first ep, rapid fire references and meta jokes, I love it! Kind of hate the character designs and occasional blatant fanservice, but I can live with it for the jokes.
    Miracle Train: Again, I love references and it seems like Hetalia except for trains. It also oddly enough has the director from Honey and Clover. Similar to Seitokai no Ichizon, if you can live with some of the presentation (seems yaoi-esque) then the premise sounds like it’ll be good comedy.
    InuYasha Final Act/Darker Than Black 2: should be good if you liked the original works (and I liked both a lot).
    Letter Bee: haven’t seen first ep yet, but looks like it has potential.

    @mice

    Haven’t tried Umineko myself, mostly out of lack of knowledge about it. Judging by people’s reactions it seems to be love it or hate it, so I might check it out eventually. So much anime, so little time.

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