The full winter anime season has now come into being. Black Rock Shooter and Smile Pretty Cure were the last series out the gate.
Black Rock Shooter was incomprehensible. There's some sort of magic world full of superhuman warriors, and it's somehow related to the school life of a group of semi-weird girls. huh? A story that isn't even willing to tell us what the story is about or why the things that are happening are happening, isn't really a story. It's just an assemblage of images lined up in a row. I don't have the patience to wait until they're ready to actually sit down and explain things in a way I can understand. The story is too lame to wait that long. So Black Rock Shooter can be skipped safely enough.
Senhime Zesshou and Rinne no Lagrange are losing steam, because there are over the top villains being far more villainous than they need to be, or indeed humans actually are, spoiling the overall mood. If you want to see an awesome villain, just look at the guy in Nisemonogatari. What a badass. He says he wants money, but that's just a pretense. What he really enjoys is toying with other people and asserting his power, as well as making other people admit his power over them. The act of them giving him money is also an act of submission to his control over them. But he does it all so calmly and coolly that he doesn't present any weaknesses or openings. Ah man, what a guy. He's actually pretty merciful, he doesn't do any more harm than is necessary to gain his objectives. Even so, he mocks anything and everything that might contradict his selfishness, which makes him a much worse villain than his acts might imply. The point is make a character too villainous and he just looks stupid. But also don't make him into some sort of misunderstood hero either. Just make him a villain who's willing to do bad things for a bad cause, and proud of it, and you're good to go. Shishio was a perfect example. Now there's a villain I can support.
A story can survive bad villains, so long as the heroes are interesting and fun. But when the heroes are only so-so cool in the first place, bad villains can turn the tide and torpedo the whole series. Rinne no Lagrange and Senhime Zesshou only had somewhat cool girls, nothing really stands out about them nor have they said anything uniquely wise. Combine it with dumb, over the top villains doing dumb, over the top things, and the whole experience sours.
Mouretsu Pirates is more about the setting than the characters, which is very sci-fi-ish, but I prefer character driven stories to setting or plot driven stories, so it's also fading off my radar.
All three stories are still worth watching, but they're probably worse than Chihayafuru or Mirai Nikki at this point, much less my ranked series.
Only Papa Iukoto wo Kikinasai shows real promise. Rather than getting worse, the series is getting better with every episode. Each episode has highlighted an entirely different thing and explored it in depth in just a short amount of time. It's really been marvelous. I have a grim fear that it will fade off and disappoint me later on too, but, if it keeps up like this it will definitely make my rankings.
However, these new series all pale before the magnificence of Smile Precure.
Smile Precure is relying on self-referential humor this time around. Not in a negative way, like Twin Angel, where magical girls are somehow looked down upon. This humor is positive -- it's just about how silly their magic is, how unlikely events were to turn out this way, how unsuited these girls are to fighting. It was hilarious. In terms of originality, Smile Precure scored 0 points. It was a perfect rendition of the quintessential, meta - Pretty Cure series. And that becomes its unique selling point. It wallows in how typical it is, and as a result, becomes something entirely new. The red haired girl is passionate, the blue haired girl is calm -- every trope is hit dead on. Everything is a trope. The bad guy is the big bad wolf. Does it get any better than this?
Smile Precure's art style is gorgeous and perfect for what it's doing. The ending dance was almost a complete copy of previous Pretty Cure dances (it's the least original Pretty Cure ever, making it an original self-referential Pretty Cure meta series, and they just keep playing this point up). Even though I have no idea who the characters are, I already know all five of them almost by heart, because they're all such trope characters that you can predict everything about them from just general knowledge about what their tropes are like. It's like you hit the floor running and are already good friends with the whole cast. Amazing!
How does Pretty Cure do it? Again and again, they hit the ball out of the park.
Meanwhile Inu x Boku SS is a complete train wreck of annoying, ugly, demented people that has absolutely zero believable or interesting characters left. The first episode was promising, but the latest was so terrible that I simply refuse to watch any further. Pathetic.
So here's the last version of the winter anime tiers for what people should be watching:
Hunter x Hunter
Prince of Tennis
Papa no Iukoto wo Kikinasai
No Harm in Seeing:
Shakugan no Shana
Rinne no Lagrange
If You're Really Bored:
The Knight Area
We've narrowed the field down to 19, but I still have to watch Zero no Louise in honor of its previous seasons, so, 20 it is. Why is Zero no Louise so, so, so very bad? I don't remember it being this way. Sigh.