EO’s End of Winter Season Thoughts and Assorted Awards

This picture needed to be used somewhere.

Well now that the season is over and I’ve gotten around to watching the final episodes of everything, some thoughts on the six shows I watched this season. Some I had high expectations for, some low; some met those expectations and some didn’t. It certainly turned out to be a season of surprises in many regards, in ways both good and bad. But it was a fun season, and now join me as I look back on the 2009-2010 Winter Season and Sora no Woto, Hidamari Sketch: Hoshimitsu, Baka to Test to Shoukanjyuu, Ookami Kakushi, Hanamaru Youchien, and (the first half of) Durarara. Random awards will be given out, limited to shows that started in the past Winter Season.

General Thoughts

Durarara: There tended to be a lot of reversals of expectations this season. Durarara looked like the clear winner series for me, and it was very strong for a long time. However when it reached its midpoint at the end of the season, it felt like it lost a lot of steam. The show promises much, but once the main story completely took over the narrative (as opposed to earlier episodes that were just about the characters, their lives, and their pasts) it started slipping. Especially the big reveal about the origin on the Dollars, which fell completely flat for me. That was supposed to be impressive? It’s just a flashmob. However, given it’s promise I hope the second half of the season will recharge my interest.

Sora no Woto: Much more than the ‘K-ON joins the army’ many of us expected, Sora no Woto would have easily been my favorite of the season if it weren’t for a very spotty ending. The setting and history of the world was top notch, the characters had a fair amount of depth to them, the mixture of cultures and technologies was cool, and a great mystery seemed like it was always just beneath the surface of everything and everyone. However the ending felt rushed and not in keeping with the realism that was a big part of the show. Much like Crusader, I enjoyed the first eleven episodes immensely, but the ending drags it down a lot.

Ookami Kakushi: A show I only initially had a bit of interest in developed a great mystery despite fairly weak characters. It was a show I eagerly look forward to every week as more was revealed and added to the central mystery…then it destroyed itself in such a thorough and stupid fashion that it felt like they fired the staff and used a random plot points meme generator to finish the rest. I haven’t seen a show so completely ruin itself at the last minute like this since Blue Gender or Gundam SEED: Destiny. But then came episode 12. Completely dropping any pretense of plot or seriousness, the show delivered a final gag episode that completely and utterly broke me. Laughing-randomly-for-an-hour-afterwards, send-me-to-the-insane-asylum broke me. It might not be as entertaining if you only saw that episode, but seeing a once good show go bad and then completely throw itself out the window was an amazing sight. Episode 11 was like your computer’s hard drives being fried. It really sucks. Episode 12 was your now broken computer suddenly bursting into flames. All you can do is watch it and laugh. Following the series and commenting on RabbitPoets‘, Blindability‘s, and Shinmaru‘s posts made all parts of the experience a lot of fun, and they have my gratitude.

Baka to Test to Shoukanjyuu: Seemed like it might have potential at the start of the series, and boy did it deliver. It rose far above its fairly generic premise and brought me a huge dose of comedy, along with some very SHAFT-like creative visuals and fun characters. Deep it is not, but for pure fun nothing this past season really topped it. Hideyoshi as the ‘third gender’, DAAAWWW-some Shouko and Himeji, the running gag where the girls paired off Akihisa and Yuuji as a yaoi couple (where the opening image is from) and much more. It’s not perfect (Akihisa’s sister was meh, Minami’s stalker/admirer was a rip-off of Railgun’s Kuroko) but it was greatly entertaining.

Hanamaru Youchien: Despite the fear of many, including myself (I described it in the winter preview as a “sign of the End Times”), Hanamaru Youchien did not descend into some even-more perverted Kodomo no Jikan. In fact it was really a very cute and innocent type of comedy. What was even more surprising was that the focus wasn’t entirely on the children, and a pretty good relationship between Yamada and Tsuchi developed and played out with almost equal time to the kids’ antics throughout the show. Furthermore Gainax was very creative with their varied ED sequences and music, adding another fun element to the show.

Hidamari Sketch: Hoshimistsu: Despite never watching the previous season, I got talked into giving the series a try by Jesus159159159 at Sea Slugs and I did not regret it. A very light and fun comedy driven by some great characters. Two new characters were added for the season, and despite them being a little sparse in terms of screentime at first, they became very well integrated into the show. I’m also a huge sucker for SHAFT’s animation style, and I really like the way they used some of their usual techniques with some new ones in the show.

The Awards

Best OP Sequence

Durarara – Uragiri no Yuuyake by Theatre Brook

Nothing else this season could hold a candle to this absolutely amazing OP. The music was great, the kind that gets you fired up for every episode. And the visual flow introduced a large cast of characters well and in a stylish way reminiscent of the opening sequence to the movie Snatch. There hasn’t been an OP this good in quite some time, and it’s likely to remain on my short list of favorites.

Best ED Sequence

TIE: Baka to Test to Shoukanjyuu – Baka Go Home by Milktub; Hidamari Sketch: Hoshimitsu – Sakura Sakura Saku by Marble.

BakaTest used this one for their first opening, changed it up for a few episodes, and then returned to the original and best. Like Durarara it had some good rock music, and combined it with some cool poses of the male characters. And then for the last episode the different couples were paired up together for more of that GOOD END feeling. Hidamari had an ED sequence with a very different feeling from the show, much more reflective and sentimental than the nearly 100% comedy of the show. Beautiful visuals and transitions combined with a great song that feels perfectly attuned to the theme of friendship that permeates the show. Excellent.

OTP of the Season

Shouko X Yuuji (Baka to Test to Shoukanjyuu)

Shouko was not afraid to use force nor trickery to claim her prize, and for that level of tenacity in the pursuit of love, I salute her. Yuuji may have endured stalking (really, it’s just ‘deep love‘) and physical restraint, but he was so tsundere for his consent-is-not-required future bride it was clear he had reciprocating feelings. After their day of being set up by their classmates Yuuji kept it from being so one-sided. I DAAAAWWW’ed several times at this couple, and it was both funny and cute to see their back and forth.

Nihon Hikkikomori Kyoukai Conspiracy Award

Hanamaru Youchien

You may have thought that this was just a Gainax comedy, but the truth is far more insidious. Declining birth rates in Japan have been a major topic of discussion for some time, with an aging population that will be supported by an ever decreasing number of people in their working years. Financial and social collapse looms, and the shadow leaders of Japan have decided to take action. Through their vast conspiracy, these leaders proposed, financed, and green-lit Hanamaru Youchien. By portraying young children as always cute and pleasant and never whiny, messy or annoying, Hanamaru Youchien subtly pushes its viewers to find the prospect of having children more appealing than any tax credit or social welfare scheme possibly could. Just as planned.

Loss of Sanity Points Award

Ookami Kakushi

Sakaki’s elaborate and insidious revenge plot was stopped by…being hugged off a cliff. Let me repeat that, because it bears repeating: HE WAS HUGGED OFF A MOTHERFRAKKING CLIFF! Ookami Kakushi self-destructed in such a total and complete manner that everyone was left in either a state of RAEG or with a WTF look on their face for hours afterwards. And then episode 12 just completely changed all the dynamics, threw plot out the window, added a bunch of gag comedy, and had THE COLD-BLOODED ENFORCER OF THE OOKAMI LAW WEARING A PINK RABBIT-FROG OUTFIT. The fits of crazed laughter are coming back just thinking about it.

Legendary Award

Hideyoshi (Baka to Test to Shoukanjyuu)

Awarded for it’s impact in the community and for being something we’ll be talking about long afterwards. Hideyoshi, the ‘third gender’, saw the bar set by other traps, stole it, and constructed a system of parallel space elevators to hang it tens of thousands of kilometers above the Earth beyond the reach of all who went before him. Not even Mako-cakes rivals his greatness. The washi pronoun using, lusted after by male classmates, ultra-trap has been responsible for swaying the sexual orientation of Shinn and inspiring a wave of trap-love among viewers. Complete with his own changing room and fanservice shots, Hideyoshi will be the trap that all other traps aspire to in the future.

EO’s Favorite Show

Baka to Test to Shoukanjyuu

When I think about my favorite show, it comes down to how much I enjoyed it. I got some incredulous comments when at the end of this past summer season I picked Sora no Manimani over Bakemonogatari as my favorite of that season. Bakemonogatari was definitely better in terms of artistry and witty conversations. It was very close. But I got more enjoyment out of SoraMani. This time Sora no Woto and Durarara were much more original with more developed settings. And Sora no Woto would have clinched the favorite series title if it didn’t end as it did. But BakaTest beat out the other contenders because I got the most enjoyment out of it. It had some cool touches to its animation, fun characters, wacky and enjoyable plots, and made me eagerly anticipate every new episode. I’m quite happy to know that a second season is coming sometime in the future.

This entry was posted in Baka to Test to Shokanjyuu, Durarara!!, Hanamaru Kindergarten, Hidamari Sketch: Hoshimitsu, Ookami Kakushi, Sora no Woto. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

38 Comments

  1. Zelus
    Posted April 4, 2010 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Good picks, and I agree on Baka to Test. That show was pretty damn funny.:D

    • ExecutiveOtaku
      Posted April 5, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      Hehe, thanks. I love when a show like BakaTest rises far above its premise. Who would have thought it would turn out so well just by reading the preview plot summary?

  2. Posted April 4, 2010 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    I loved how Class F shipped Shouko and Yuuji as hard as humanly possible. It was one of the highlights of the series for me.

    I really can’t disagree with any of the awards except the favorite show which is thoroughly subjective in itself. I’d have to go with Durarara!! for my favorite show with Hanamaru in 2nd and SnW in 3rd. BakaTest was just such a love/hate relationship for me. :/

    • Impz
      Posted April 4, 2010 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

      Completely agree. I found the main characters a bit boring, but the Shouko and Yuuji relationship is just so funny. Especially the taser… Yes, the taser.

      • ExecutiveOtaku
        Posted April 5, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

        Even with different favorites from the season, I’m glad we can all agree on the epic level of shipping and fun that went into the Shoujo X Ryuuji relationship. The episode where Class F sets them up with the trip to the amusement part was just superb.

  3. temperus
    Posted April 4, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    It’s always nice to read someone’s thoughts when they’re so different from mine.. kudos for making me laugh more at that fact then the actual season did! To me, BakaTest really hit no highs and was too repetitive for it’s brand of humor, Hanamaru went nowhere memorable but had awesome EDs, Durarara kept getting better and better (the reveals were less interesting than the journey to me), Woto didn’t entertain me much until episode 7, and I felt the “mystery” aspects of Kakushi to be rather sloppy (but still the closest thing to a high-point for Kakushi). I didn’t give Hidamari a shot yet, but I probably will now out of curiosity.

    • ExecutiveOtaku
      Posted April 5, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

      The season turned out to be more fun for me than expected, but I can understand your thoughts on it. Agreed on Durarara being more fun for the journey than the reveals, but I was expecting something at least a bit better from it. But with half of its run still left to go, there’s a good chance it should recover.

      No, no, no, episode 12 was the high point of Ookami Kakushi :)

  4. ToastCrust
    Posted April 4, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    I totally couldn’t take Ookami Kakushi seriously at any point cause the guy’s sister’s just like, “I’M A 3D GIRL LIVIN’ IN A 2D WORLD”, etc.

    • ExecutiveOtaku
      Posted April 5, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      Mana was a very underused character in that series. She wasn’t bad in terms of dialogue and whatnot, but she contributed nothing to the plot when I think she could have been much more interesting.

  5. oneyed
    Posted April 4, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed this post! I think that it firmly put into words what I had rumbling around in the pit of my stomach. As a fan of depth and craftsmanship, Sora no oto, was the only anime that really came close to doing anything for me in this pool.

    • ExecutiveOtaku
      Posted April 5, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      Thanks. Sora no Woto’s ending was heartbreaking for me. Not because it was terrible or anything, compared to many shows it was at least okay, but because the show had so much going for it and ending it like that took away a lot of my enjoyment of the setting and characters.

  6. Kherubim
    Posted April 4, 2010 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    Well, if the ending of Sora no Woto was going to be more realistic compared to Episode 12, there would have been some form of Tomino ending, of which I alluded to in Crusader’s earlier posts. Not too bad either, considering the fact that the director is supposedly good at pulling this kind of mood shift…

    We may have gotten a LISTEN TO MY SONG end, but since the premise is completely original, we might get further glimpses into the post-apocalyptic world the 1121st live in…

    • ExecutiveOtaku
      Posted April 5, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      Here’s hoping for more from the Sora no Woto world. A more realistic ending didn’t necessarily need to be a Tomino ending, though that was one possibility. A lot of my problem with it was not so much what occurred by how it played out. Stopping both armies with the song and royal intervention is something I would have been fine with…just not when they were well within firing distance of each other. Either they should have been stopped individually, farther apart, or they should have started fighting and then been broken up by the song and the arrival of Rio and her royal guard.

      Rio coming back at the last minute just didn’t work though, not without any detailed explanation of the why and how of it anyway.

  7. Cherubium
    Posted April 4, 2010 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    I must agree with you since BakaTest was my favourite and I enjoyed watching and anticipating every single week.

    • ExecutiveOtaku
      Posted April 5, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

      When a series can give you that kind of anticipation for each new episode, you know you’ve found something great.

  8. Gundamu
    Posted April 4, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    I personally thought this season SUCKED nothing really interested me enough to keep watching, Hanumaru Kindergarten I was planning on watching but forgot about.

    • ExecutiveOtaku
      Posted April 5, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

      It was very heavy on comedy, so if that’s not your cup of tea then there was the very good Durarara and Sora no Woto. But if you were looking for mecha or shounen/action or shoujo then there wasn’t much for you this past season (other than continuing series from the fall.)

  9. rey
    Posted April 4, 2010 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    wait but the durarara series isn’t over yet……. its 24 episodes

    • ExecutiveOtaku
      Posted April 5, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      Yes, hence my comments about the show being at its halfway point. I’m hoping that it will BLOW UP LOUDER and get me back into it as much as I was at the start.

  10. Posted April 5, 2010 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    I thought BakaTest’s humor got kind of stale around the halfway point, but it got better once it started emphasizing the battles more. Still, nowhere near as good as Ookamikakushi, the cult comedy classic of the season!

    My favorite of the season is a tie between Durarara!! and Nodame; I agree with you that Durarara!! slipped a bit in the second half, which is why Nodame (average first half, great second half) was able to sneak in there.

    • ExecutiveOtaku
      Posted April 5, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      ‘Ookamikakushi, the cult comedy classic of the season!:”
      QFT.

  11. Posted April 5, 2010 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Great choices, ill have to give Baka test another shot seems its very popular. Durarara’s OP is great too i love the style.

    • ExecutiveOtaku
      Posted April 5, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

      BakaTest was quite a surprise, coming from a fairly generic sounding premise. But kudos to Silver Link and the original author for making it rise above the plot summary.

      I’m going to be sad to see Durarara’s OP sequence go when the second half of the show begins…unless they manage to top the first one.

  12. Kobukson
    Posted April 5, 2010 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Nice review ^^ Started watching BakaTest after reading this and I have to say I agree that on all your points on it. Certainly more entertaining than the rest of this season for me.

    • ExecutiveOtaku
      Posted April 5, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      Thanks. Glad to see the post got another person to start watching it :)

  13. cx
    Posted April 5, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    the red head is really flat though.

    • ExecutiveOtaku
      Posted April 5, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      Not that that should be a criteria for watching a series, but as Konata said in Lucky Star, “some people have different needs.”

      It may be a trope, but tsundere characters are typically not as busty. Not sure why exactly, just seems to be the convention.

      • cx
        Posted April 6, 2010 at 7:03 am | Permalink

        im a troll don’t feed me.

        • ExecutiveOtaku
          Posted April 6, 2010 at 7:40 am | Permalink

          Lol, noted.

  14. Posted April 5, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Best ED, I’d give to DRRR, not necessarily for the animation, but I did love the song (plus, it spawned a whole series of knockoffs!)

    Favorite show of mine was Nodame’s finale, but I guess you need to catch up on that. =P If I’m withholding a vote on DRRR since it’s still ongoing, that probably leaves Baka Test next. Huge surprise hit IMO. It was both outlandish and smart, with likeable characters, and a “storyline” that held gave it a nice little spine (although I still have to watch that last episode). Plus, the introduction to Hideyoshi. Well… that’s quite a cherry on top.

    • ExecutiveOtaku
      Posted April 6, 2010 at 7:43 am | Permalink

      The knockoffs/spinoffs from the Durarara ED were pretty cool, but my dislike of hip-hop meant the song had no appeal for me.

      Though the Izaya-Nadeko Ren Ai Circulation mashup had to be my favorite video spawned from Durarara, hehe.

      • Posted April 6, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

        heh, I’d say it’s more r&b/pop than hip hop, but that’s nitpicking.

        lol! i didn’t know about the izaya-nadeko mashup. great stuff! and he songs the whole song!

  15. Posted April 6, 2010 at 4:28 am | Permalink

    Hideyoshi desperately needs his own show where he’s married to me.

    • Posted April 6, 2010 at 6:11 am | Permalink

      Well, that’ why he doesn’t.
      You want a guy who looks like a girl? That’ll just make you look… lesbo… or even worse, people will possibly mistake you for the guy XD

    • ExecutiveOtaku
      Posted April 6, 2010 at 7:51 am | Permalink

      But now that you’ve claimed Joey, is it going to be a love triangle show or a harem?

  16. Posted April 6, 2010 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    Well certainly BakaTest was the most entertaining for me too. Sora no Woto was good too, but dunno… I always found myself looking forward more to Akihisa and his dumb friends XD
    Although I would say that it’s music isn’t top-notch… the mini character album was poor quality.

    • ExecutiveOtaku
      Posted April 6, 2010 at 7:53 am | Permalink

      Haven’t listened to the mini character album yet, probably won’t now. I did like the ending theme and a good bit of the OST background music though.

      Sora no Woto was so close, but with how it ended like it did it got knocked down two or three pegs in my rankings.

  17. Exar
    Posted April 6, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    My favorite of the season so far is Baka to Test to. I guess i will laugh at anything funny, and the whole Hideyoshi trap thing was EPIC WIN. I have a gay friend who enjoys traps, and well this topped it. Now my computer is full of blood stains (j/k)

    Im squeeling like a girl knowing that thers a second season in the works fo Baka Test

    I sill need to start DRRR…i just dotn seem to get myself to watch it…rofl

One Trackback

  • By 2010 Honor Roll on December 31, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    [...] Hideyoshi (Baka to Test to Shoukanjyuu) : Already awarded EO’s ‘Legendary Award’ back during the season BakaTest aired, Hideyoshi takes rightfully claims this award as well. From [...]

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