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Friday, October 7, 2011

Fall 2011 Anime Season Begins:

The Saimoe contest has finished round two, leaving only 32 girls left to fight over the crown of 'most attractive anime character from the 2nd half of 2010 up to the first half of 2011.'

My prediction that Madoka Magica would win is coming true. Madoka Magica leads the contest with 4 characters from the same series. Everyone else has less now, starting from 3 characters on down to just 1.

The series with 3 characters left standing are Index, Milky Holmes, Strike Witches and The World God Only Knows. I have no real complaints with these results because these series really did feature some gorgeous girls.

As for girls I was hoping to see win, most have already lost, but Astarotte, Last Order and Aria are still alive. That's not a bad eye for quality, for three of my picks to still be in the top 32.

Expect Madoka Magica to continue sweeping the Saimoe field in the weeks ahead. They're simply invincible fan favorites.

Meanwhile, the fall anime season has begun. Only about half the new series for this fall have debuted yet, but I'm tired of waiting so I'll cover what I've seen so far now and what's still coming later:

First off, the immortal series:

Suite Precure: Fantastic, like usual. The mystery behind Cure Muse is finally being unveiled.

One Piece: It's never been better in One Piece land. Without any episodes of filler, One Piece has boldly followed the manga past a 2 year time skip and is revealing everyone's new looks, with a great new opening and a great new story arc.

Naruto: Still stuck in filler. This series hasn't been any good in ages. It will be leaving filler in a couple weeks though, only to dive into another boring 'training arc.' Naruto lost all of its magic after the time skip and the new name Shippudden. My only hope is that we're nearing the end of both the manga and the anime. If only the series had remained about all 12 kids that the story so wonderfully introduced at the Chunnin exams, instead of focusing on Naruto, one of the least interesting characters in the series, maybe this story could have gone somewhere. Instead the 11 other kids have been sidelined while a continuous slew of newly introduced nobodies I've formed no emotional bonds with are concentrated on instead.

Bleach: Still stuck in filler. It should be leaving filler in a couple weeks to start the new Bleach storyline after the new Bleach timeskip. Unfortunately, the new Bleach storyline is dumb -- the series should have ended when Ichigo beat Aizen and was told he would lose 'all of his powers.' It's ridiculous that he can 'get them back' in the very next arc. What a dumb show. It hasn't been good since he went to rescue Rukia from spirit society -- like Naruto, it just lives off of reputation and momentum.

Fairy Tail: Just one arc behind the manga, Fairy Tail continues to deliver, refusing to go into filler and just plunging ahead into a new exciting arc wherein Fairy Tail fights with the strongest of the Dark Guilds. This arc really gives everyone in Fairy Tail a chance to shine and is one of the best in the series. (The best was probably the civil war with Laxus.)

As for other immortal stories like Gintama and Pokemon, I just can't get myself to like or watch them. In addition, there's around 20+ other immortal series, most aimed at kids, that I've never even bothered to watch a single episode of. With names like Cardfight, Yu-Gi-Oh, and Bakugan, you just know they won't be any good.

Continuing Series: Some series are still continuing, having begun this Summer, Spring or even Winter. Of these, only three are worth following:

Nurarihyon: Everything's set for a climactic battle between a bunch of powerful demons for control of Kyoto. This sounds exciting but it's actually quite boring, because you just know Nura's group will win every fight while not suffering a single casualty. That's the kind of story this is. Worth watching out of morbid curiosity just to prove my prediction right.

Morita-San: This has always been such a sweet series. The episodes are only a few minutes long a piece though so not much to say about it.

The Idolm@ster: One of the best anime series of all time. Every episode is amazing in itself, but last episode which had a full-blown concert featuring all the girls at their very best really took the cake. I can't wait to see what happens next for all the girls, and I hope especially to see a more thorough delving into some of the less featured characters as of yet.

Returning Series:

Returning series tend to be reliably good, because they're being returned to due to being popular the first time around. The Fall Season is chock full of returning series this time. Of those I've seen so far, I can give a thumbs up to All of them:

Tamayura Hitotose: This TV series will hopefully tell the story better than its 4 episode OVA predecessor, which was already amazing. I expect this series will put Tamayura into the top 100. The story is simple, a group of girl friends connected by the protagonists' love of photography whose father, a professional photographer, died at an early age. She's now trying to follow in her father's footsteps. But there's just so much feeling inside this simple story that it turns out to be much more than it sounds.

Bakuman: The continuation of Bakuman continues to be stellar. They're thrown right into their new status as professionals, meeting with VIP's, getting real pay, and hiring assistants as they gear up for their serialization debut. The dream to have their manga turned into an anime is still a long way's away, and I'm sure there are going to be lots of roadblocks and pitfalls ahead. This is such a wonderful story, documenting the difficulty of real life without having to add in any additional storytelling gimmicks or nonsense. I feel it's one-of-a-kind in this way.

Working: Working is back, and hilarious as ever. Though the jokes tend to be repeats of situations we've seen before, there always seems to be a new twist to them that make them just as hilarious, or even more hilarious, than when we watched them the first time. Working is the best comedy anime ever, it's such a pleasure to have it back on air again. Despite their foibles, all the characters are likable people that you'd love to be around, which makes every episode a pleasure beyond just the jokes.

Fate/Zero: I've never been a big fan of Fate/Stay/Night. I never felt like it lived up to its hype. But the first episode of this prequel, Fate/Zero, blew me away. By starting at the beginning, I finally have a sense for all the characters in the story and what is going on, as well as how they got to be in the positions they are. Fate/Zero is explaining not only itself, but also Fate/Stay, which is a real case of 'value added' to a product not even on display. I'm extremely excited to see how this series develops. In true highlander fashion, of the initial 7 mages in the competition, only one can prevail in the end. Though if my memory serves from Fate/Stay, no one wins this competition and it ends in a draw between the last two survivors. Nevertheless, how we get from here to there is going to be an exciting ride. It won't even end this fall -- Fate/Zero is slated to continue in the spring season of 2012 as well. Perhaps once Fate/Zero comes to its climactic conclusion, whenever that is, it will have clawed the Fate/Stay/Night series into the top 100 as well.

Hunter x Hunter: This remake was something I was looking forward to, but if it stays as good as this first episode, it will far surpass my fondest hopes. This series isn't just good, it's great. The music is great, the HD widescreen art is great, the voice acting is great, the animation is great, the characters are great and the plot is great. Did I mention the action is great too? If Hunter x Hunter maintains its quality at this level, I'm going to have reconsider its ranking of merely 87th.

Shinryaku!?: Squid Girl returns. It's as artistically pretty and humorous as ever. Overall a feel-good story where nothing really goes wrong. Compared to Working, though, it's no match. Definitely worth watching, but it won't be winning any awards.

New Series:

Compared to the returning series, the new series offer slim pickings. I haven't totally lost hope for this season, but nothing really strikes me as good so far.

Kimi to Boku: These boys don't seem very happy. Are they gay? I can't tell. But in any case I'm not sure what the anime is about -- how depressing life as a boy is? I guess that's a fair enough topic. I'll give it a couple more eps to impress me.

Phi Brain: Puzzles? I hate puzzles.

C Cubed: Yukari Tamura is an amazing voice actress, so of course she's made this new box girl very cute. Box Girl is drawn to be cute too. Aside from the box girl, though, everyone else is annoying, and even the box girl is somewhat annoying. I can't say I have high hopes for this one. I'll give it a couple more eps and see.

Chihayafuru: Excellent art, and a realistic and engaging story. Here's my worry though: Can you really do an anime about Karuta? It'd be like watching an anime about bowling. It's so easy to perfect the game that there soon won't be any difference in skill between any of the players. Plus I'm not overly excited about watching a girl in a love triangle struggling to choose between two boys. I already watched Vampire Knight thank you very much.

Mashiro-Iro: Who doesn't like one boy who somehow charms five different extremely attractive girls to all fall in love with him? This theme has been just a little overdone. If this series wants to be good, it will have to impress me by rising above the normal, Hoshizora quality level. Still, I hold out hope, because the same premise is behind Clannad, the greatest story ever told, Amagami SS, Kanon, Akane-iro, etc. For this genre, it's all about execution. The results can go from wonderful to horrible. I'm cheering for you, Mashiro-Iro.

Busou Shinki: Looks terrible. I had all the fighting dolls I could take with Rozen Maiden.

Boku wa Tamadochi: Looks terrible. At least the art is good. Same harem theme as Mashiro-iro, but already light years behind in execution. I'll give it a few more eps to confirm my suspicions.

Maji de Watashi: Looks terrible. The art is good, and it's the same harem theme, but mixed in is some sort of chaotic comedy aspect(?) No idea what's going on in this series. I'll give it a couple more eps to save itself from the chopping block.

Horizon Nowhere: Looks terrible. It has all the worst traits of anime combined, and on top of it insults Clannad, which is unforgivable. No thanks.

As yet unknown series:

Will Shakugan no Shana be good? Un-go? Guilty Crown? Last Exile? Gundam? Maken-ki? Who knows. I haven't seen them yet. I can review them, and follow up on some of these other new series, in a future post.

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