Summer 2011 – Week 5 – Short Thoughts

Is something missing from this season’s Baka Test?  What’s my new favorite sketch in Nichijou?  And is there a pattern to noitaminA anime?  Plus other relevant or tangential thoughts on this Summer’s anime.  (Beware of some spoilers on episodes you haven’t watched yet!)

Ever since noitaminA expanded their time-slot to two shows per season, it seems like they have been following a set pattern for shows each season.  Not talking about the animes themselves but the genres, themes, and styles they all are categorized by.  For example, you can split the last year into two separate groups with one being the Shiki, Fractale, [C], and No.6 group and the other being Jellyfish Princess, Wandering Son, AnoHana, and Usagi Drop.  The first group has that sci-fi/action/adventure feel to them while the other has a more realistic/emotional/romance type atmosphere.  There’s a pretty stark difference between the two sets of shows when looking at them this way.  It’s just something I’ve noticed and I wonder if it’s intentional or merely coincidence.  They could be hoping that people who come for one type of show will stick around and try the other, already knowing it will be another high quality anime.  That’s what’s worked for me.  Not sure if the pattern will continue next season when the two noitaminA anime are Guilty Crown and Un-Go.  Either way, I already know I’ll be watching them given the track record the noitaminA time-slot has had.

Here are this week’s short thoughts on the 15 shows I’m watching this summer (series appear in alphabetical order):

Ao no Exorcist – A positive and a negative from this episode.  First, there were an impressive number of scenes with movement and fluid animation in them.  There was always something or someone moving on the screen and the animation did a suitable job bringing the movement together with the animation.  So that’s the plus.  The minus is the erratic and haphazard end to that mini-arc.  It felt like they tried to fit 10 chapters worth of material in 10 minutes.  “Rin is trapped and the sword is broken! Okay the sword is fixed! Oh no it’s Amaimon and no one can stop him! Give the sword to Rin! He’s defeated! Back to school!”  I’ve never seen a scene rushed that quickly in any anime.  It did a fantastic job of ruining the story that this mini-arc was developing, which also happened to be my favorite story in the series thus far.  And that’s the negative I have.

Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu II – Is it just me or is something missing from this season that last season had?  It’s not that the comedy is lacking because I think I’m laughing more now than I did during the first season of BakaTest.  And it’s not that I’m missing the battles, even though I am.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve never gotten fully invested in any of the episode’s stories thus far since they all seem so disconnected from each other?  I’m not sure but there’s some element missing from this season that was present in the first season and it might be the central storyline that was the backbone in the first season.  This is probably the only anime where my favorite setting is the classroom/school.  Hmmm… maybe that’s it?  I just can’t tell.

Blood-C – There’s a ton of stuff going on right now in Blood C but everything seems arcane and incoherent.  We’ve getting our information by the eye dropper here and most of it is disconnected from the other mysteries at hand.  Not sure if I’m complaining about it or happy about it but it is a little irritating.  At least the fights are still fun to watch and all the monsters appear to be rather distinctive in their forms and fighting abilities.  The only thing similar between all of them is that they’re all stupid, believing in this covenant which appears to have been broken five times now by Saya alone.  And if they are allowed to eat humans whenever they want while on the covenant, why not have Saya break it if she can actually overpower than and kill them?  Maybe the next monster will realize the error in their ways and start eating everyone around the village.

Dantalian no Shoka – I wonder if we’ll ever see Phantom Books in the hands of someone who isn’t evil soon.  We’re not going to count Huey and Dalian since they already have all the books at their disposal but I want to see an adventure where someone is using a Phantom Book for someone else’s benefit.  Although the story wouldn’t be nearly as exciting or action-packed as the previous ones, it’d be something heart-warming and encouraging, two themes that seem to be present at the end of every episode so far with Huey and Dalian looking back at the contents of the episode.  Dalian has always worn big, puff, black dresses or coats.  I’d love to see her wear something more colorful but I doubt she has anything of the sort in her wardrobe.

Hanasaku Iroha – I absolutely detest all the scenes at the school in Hanasaku Iroha.  Absolutely loathe them.  Mainly it comes from the fact that all the males at that school are outrageously annoying stereotypes that piss me off whenever they yell.  And they always yell.  They’re about as original as a rainy day and as interesting as a loser tree in a loser forest.  That and all the school scenes have been tedious… up until this episode.  Seeing Nako help Mizuno with her art display when no one else cared and seeing Minko stand up for her ideals and dreams have made for an interesting set-up in the next episode, although Nako’s will be mainly comedic relief for Minko’s character-building.  Maybe I can stomach another episode at the school but I hope between now and then, it becomes an all-girls school.

Ikoku Meiro no Croisée – Alice is the most out-of-place character in Ikoku Meiro no Croisée but she is, without a doubt, my favorite.  Her unlimited liveliness and unyielding optimism always bring a smile to my face.  She creates energy out of nowhere and makes things happen.  She’s like dynamite, in that when you see her on screen, you know things will soon explode.  And never in a bad way, either.  Alice initiates both comical and educational scenes, as well as bringing out a side of Yune that would otherwise remain hidden.  Her diverse range of facial expressions and voice are a treat, too.  Her cartoony nature really feels inappropriate with the setting and characters in Ikoku Meiro but I love it the way it is.  I do wonder if her innocence and naïve nature will be challenged at some point, causing her to feel pain or sorrow.  Would be nice to see a change in character for Alice but it doesn’t seem likely anytime soon, especially after this episode.  The French maids in Ikoku Meiro somehow feel appropriate considering the setting and time period.  Never thought I’d say that about an anime.

Kamisama Dolls – I’ve always enjoyed rural settings in anime over urban settings, so hopefully this change in scenery will change my attitude toward Kamisama Dolls.  I prefer rural settings over urban settings for a number of reasons, although the main one is that the urban backdrop usually lacks differentiation from any other urban setting in anime.  Rural settings always feature a cleaner and diversified backdrop, usually with tree-coated mountains, untainted blue skies, and modest homes dotting the landscape.  Urban settings are always featureless buildings and undistinguished people and schools.  Even if the story or characters go downhill from here, I think I’ll like these episodes more since it is taking place in the village rather than the city.

Mawaru Penguindrum – Of all the characters in this series, I feel the worst for Ringo.  She’s just a high school girl who has a crush on a young man who had made a lasting impression on her early in her life.  But he already has a girlfriend who’s aware of Ringo’s advances and is prepared to take her down.  Not only that but she’s targeted by the Penguin Hat and, because of that, has two brothers and a pair of penguins stalking her every move, looking at her panties, and breaking into her home.  And if that’s not enough, she’s religiously following her diary of destiny for some unknown reason other than she believes she absolutely must.  Oh, and her parents hardly see her anymore.  Sure, she’s a creepy and obsessive stalker herself but she’s normal around everyone else and is actually pretty funny.  Poor Ringo.  Love all the colors and detail in the home, I just had to use that as the picture this week.

Nekogami Yaoyorozu – Nekogami Yaoyorozu has the most versatile cast of the season.  Slide any character in and they’ll start working with whatever other characters, materials, setting, etc. are on screen for authentic and amusing comedy.  This episode showcased how well the cast works in various roles, specifically with the switch of Gonta and Mayu: putting Gonta as the main and Mayu as a secondary.  And the cast for Nekogami Yaoyorozu is well-represented, too, with most of the characters appearing in every episode once they’ve been introduced.  The anime has done a favorable job of getting screentime to everyone whenever possible with this episode being the best example so far.  It’s one of my favorite aspects of Nekogami, especially since I like, or at the very least enjoy, the entire cast of this anime.

Nichijou – My favorite sketch in Nichijou is Like Love.  The scene in the eighteenth episode (last week) really won me over.  It was the one where the teacher was counting down to zero to end the exam but she saw a student still working hard, trying to finish before time was up, and then began counting slower to allow the student to finish.  Seeing both their expressions, so joyous and gratified, really completed that scene.  That was such a heartwarming moment, something I never thought I’d feel while watching a Nichijou episode.  Not all the Like Love sketches have been great, though, but they’re so different from every other sketch in Nichijou that they’re always meaningful, if not downright endearing.

No.6 – I’d be lying if I said I cared for Safu during the first two episodes but the fifth episode reformed my opinion of her.  Her naivety and social immaturity came across as forced and awkward in the first two episodes but now, they feel goofy and a part of who she is.  She’s intelligent, no doubt by her reactions and attention in the museum, but lacks social awareness and understanding.  It’s almost as if the series is using her to show what life would be like for Shion had he continued his life on the path set out for him.  Looking at Safu from those two perspectives have really improved her character.  No.6 would be a lot more disturbing if they were using spiders instead of bees.  Ugh, I’ll try not to imagine that anymore.

Steins;Gate – Maybe it’s just me but this was the least impressive episode in a while for Steins;Gate.  Everyone felt somewhat out of character throughout most of the episode, except for Itaru, and there really wasn’t a whole lot of development during the date, except for Okabe feeling awkward that he was dating a female version of one of his best male friends.  At least the story for Faris developed her backstory and introduced the concept of people remembering other timelines.  And there was the whole mystery to what her D-mail did since it changed a whole section of Tokyo.  Oh well.  Now we can say goodbye to Ruka again and turn our attention toward Moeka.

The iDOLM@STER – For a beach episode, it felt like went for the minimal amount of ecchi scenes possible.  There were only a few shots focusing on boobs (for a joke), none really of anyone’s butt, and only one bath scene where a towel slipped (while the character’s back was to the screen).  This is a promising sign for future episodes when the girls will don skimpy, bikini-like outfits for performances.  Probably not nice for all the fans out there that wanted an ecchi anime but for everyone else, it’s a plus.  Makoto wore a black and white striped bikini top and black swim shorts at the beach.  Hurray!  Also, Takane is my fourth favorite girl, since she’s the only one that makes me laugh.

Tiger & Bunny – In classic, villainy fashion, Mr. Maverick reveals his entire scheme to the protagonist, explaining every detail and motive to avoid any ambiguity or misunderstandings.  But at least he has a way to prevent Barnaby from remembering the entire conversation due to his NEXT powers.  Too bad it doesn’t work on the audience since it felt too easy.  It feels like it’s the wrong time to learn everything about the murder now since it was just recently revealed to be false and now it’s already over.  Maybe the series will end with Kotetsu and Barnaby taking down Hero TV and establishing a world where humans and NEXT live together in harmony.

Usagi Drop – I’m thinking there will be a second season of this anime with these 11 episodes being the first half (young Rin) and the next season being after the time-skip (older Rin).  At least with the pacing so far, it seems like it’s heading that way.  We just finished the fifth episode which parallels to the end of the second volume (out of nine).  I doubt they’ll start suddenly rushing everything, so I’m starting to believe they’ll make another season eventually, especially with how popular and good this anime is.  Doesn’t appear to be for a while, though, as next season’s noitaminA anime have already been selected and I doubt this anime would move from that timeslot.

Next week will probably not see a Short Thoughts post since I’m planning on doing my Mid-Season Review then.  Whenever I plan on doing a big review like that, I probably won’t be posting any Short Thoughts that week.  And after that, I plan on doing a little more with non-episodic posts and other special things if my schedule allows it.

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  1. #1 by zammael on August 9, 2011 - 3:44 AM

    Funny how some shows move up/drop off on your to-watch list. I dropped Tiger & Bunny immediately after the underwhelming first episode. May drop Idolm@ster anytime due to its insipid shallowness. Kept Usagi Drop because it is a high quality slice of life that seems to balance out my more steady diet of scifi/mystery (Steins; Gate & Dantalian no Shoka) Plus I’ve gone back to Hanasaku Iroha due to its endearing cast – despite the annoying heroine.

    • #2 by avvesione on August 9, 2011 - 12:03 PM

      If you’re planning on dropping Idolm@ster, you may want to look into Nekogami Yaoyorozu as a replacement. It’s a pretty carefree and fun anime if that’s what you’re looking for. Nothing serious and pretty good character dynamics, too. That is unless you already tried it and dropped it.

      • #3 by zammael on August 13, 2011 - 1:40 PM

        Thanks, Avvesione. Will check that out shortly but first… I’m giving Idolm@ster one more episode. Whether it gets a stay of execution or not remains to be seen!

  2. #4 by SStefania on August 9, 2011 - 11:57 AM

    @Blood-C:
    As far as I see I made a good choice of dropping this thing after the first episode.

    @IkoMei:
    I usually hate characters like Alice: she’s spoiled, she’s loud, thinks everything belongs to her and everyone will do as she wants. But I can’t dislike her. There’s something about this girl. She’s still my least favourite one from the recurring characters, though.

    @ IDOLM@STER:
    Why did you not put a screenshot with Makoto? Now I have to look somewere else for it or download the episode and check her swimsuit by myself. You tease!

    @Usagi Drop:
    I hope there won’t be a second season and a conclusion since I have heard that the manga has a bad end. Dunno anything more because, uh, spoilers, but I don’t want this warm thing to end in any bad way!

    • #5 by avvesione on August 9, 2011 - 12:10 PM

      I’m sure something will happen in Blood-C. The question is will it be worth it.

      I think people like Alice because she’s always smiling, is outgoing, and is happy. She’s not selfish, rude, and full of pride like most other spoiled, loud girls are. So it’s hard to hate her, even though she fits the stereotype of a persona I dislike (young, rich girls in anime).

      If I can find a good one, I’ll put it up for my Mid-Season Review next week.

      Yeah, I think most people by now have gotten a little more than curious and found out about the end to the Usagi Drop manga. But this isn’t the manga and they could always make an anime original ending. Even though I’ve always hated those, it might make for a more popular ending, even if it’s not the true one.

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