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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fall 2013 Anime Season Second Look:

Finally!  Finally, the fall anime season has aired three episodes of all its content.  This means my top 160 anime rankings are now officially valid, as my compiled anime list, the list of shows I've watched in full or at least three episodes of and are thus deemed 'watchable', has now exceeded the 480 barrier.  The top 1/3 of those shows enters my rankings, and 1/3 of 480 is 160, so now every show with a ranking has actually earned its spot on the list.

Before my Lost World project, every show I had ranked I had also watched in full, except for Gundam which is too ridiculously long.  But after the Lost World project shot up my number of series watched so abruptly, all the new entries that resulted from that still haven't been viewed in full, so it will be quite some time before the relative order of my rankings is accurate.  All I know right now is which series should be ranked based on their potential after three episodes, not how high a rank they should have based on their execution of said potential by the end.  Fully devouring all the new good content I found is going to take quite some time, so any series ranked from 140-160 might well be much better than the series that came before it for those leery of pursuing series that are so 'low down the ladder.'  Everyone should try these series out and see for themselves that the level of excellence hasn't gone down at all, even this deep down into my top anime rankings.  The system I use keeps the shows listed within the ranks of the elite no matter what, so not a single show is disappointing.

In other news, one of my most wished for dreams has come true --  Lodoss War OAV is going to get a blu-ray box set release November 29th, and there's already a sub group geared up to release it for the English audience as well.  This is one of those shows that's so beautiful that only blu-ray could ever do it justice, but so far we've had to rely on really terrible low resolution releases for the last twenty years.  VHS, DVD, it's all well below the quality of the actual art in the series.  Just like Ranma 1/2 and Mononoke Hime, an ancient injustice is finally being rectified.

Koroshiya-san, by the way, seems to be some sort of comedy short, and basically sucks.  As for Pupa, the last series I wanted to cover, it's disappeared down the void and presumably has been delayed to some later date for release.  But with three episodes down the hatch, how do I now view the fall anime season?  To answer:

It felt like I was going out on a limb praising Outbreak Company and Noucome so much as to instantly put them in my rankings, but the following episodes all proved my instincts right.  Outbreak Company is not only beautiful but also thoughtful, and Noucome is truly hilarious with some really appealing characters.  ((Also, that handstand opening is to die for.))  Unbreakable Machine Doll hasn't lived up to its potential from episode 1 though.  For one thing, it suddenly switched genres from a revenge storyline to a detective storyline.  I don't much like detective stories.  I don't even like Detective Conan.  So the moment you switch genres to solving crimes by gathering clues my brain switches off.  Also, the blonde girl, Tyrant Rex or whatever, leaves much to be desired.  She seems to spurt out lines that no one would ever say in situations where the words don't even fit the conversation whatsoever.  Yaya's still splendiferous, but she can't hold up the entire quality of the show on her own, like Atlas carrying the world or something.  I suspect I'll have to drop Unbreakable Machine Doll from the rankings in favor of someone else by the end, but it's too early to tell yet.

Arpeggio of Blue Steel has a very dislikable CG animation style, but the plot is actually pretty good.  If you enjoy military things, like cool battleships and submarines, this is the place to be.  Strike Witches and Girls und Panzer capitalize on the same themes, but Arpeggio is less moe and more military hardware centered.

Samurai Flamenco is consistently funny and I love the unique idea of a modern hero who no longer resorts to violence.  However, it's hard to believe the show can remain interesting for 24 episodes with such a limited cast and simple plot.  Something is going to have to change soon to keep things rolling.  A romance story in the making?  A real villain emerges?  In any case this show is a must watch so far, it's unique without being stupid or surreal -- the exact opposite of Kyousogiga.

Galilei Donna is gorgeous, especially the main character youngest daughter.  I also like the character dynamics about how the family doesn't get along very well even though no one is trying to be evil or malicious to anyone else.  I hope the family makes up someday!  That would be the happiest ending ever.  But the plot and the setting seem slipshod and haphazard.  Less believable in themselves, they seem to exist solely to give our characters their chance to shine, and the artists a chance to display their creativity.  It's better when the plot and setting feel just as natural as the characters, but I guess characters are what make a story so it's okay if everything else sucks.

The best unranked show of this fall, and the show most likely to replace Unbreakable Machine Doll, has been Non Non Biyori though.  I know it seems crazy to keep giving more and more ranking slots to these 'cute girls do cute things together' shows, but if you actually sit down and watch them, you'll find that they're all extremely different from one another, and they're all great in their own way.  The characters in Non Non Biyori are hilarious precisely because they have the same faults that everyone has, they're a very relatable group of people.  But on top of that 'believable' humor, there's another layer of 'unbelievable' humor that just takes everything up a notch.  Like how the younger sister couldn't tell it was the transfer student anymore just because she dressed more like an adult -- but as a result so much wonderful humor transpired.  Another unbelievable moment was when the ten year old girl was still convinced she wasn't living in the countryside, despite the school consisting of just five kids in the whole k-12 system.  Unbelievable, yes, but it made for a great joke so it's A-Okay.  Non Non Biyori threads the line of being ridiculous and realistic and creates its own unique formula of comedy gold.

White Album 2 is okay but I hold to my statement of it feeling too robotic and stiff.  Nothing stands out about the show at all.  It's hard to believe this is considered the best visual novel in Japan.

Miss Monochrome is hilarious and boy is that dance at the end sexy.  My only complaint is how short it is, but you can't have everything I suppose.

Yozakura Quartet has become progressively more trite and unoriginal, the characters no longer interest me, and I hate the art style, so it's dropped.

Kyoukai no Kanata is nonsensical, but wow is the animation good.  Like Tamako Market, I'm just watching it for the visuals.

Golden Time is the season's biggest disappointment.  I simply cannot believe that a guy would not requite the love of such a wonderful, loving, nice, beautiful girl as Kaga Koko.  It's just impossible.  It's stupid.  The world just doesn't work that way.  I can see a girl falling in love with a really popular guy who doesn't have the time of day for her, but this guy, Yana, is nothing special and has no reason to be so arrogant as to reject her.  The idea that he could spend his whole life with a girl who has been devoted to him since kindergarten and feel nothing for her as a result is just absurd.  This is every guy's dream come true -- a beautiful, faithful, loving girl.  What is he objecting to?  What exact complaint does he have with her?  Even though this is the fourth episode not a single explanation has made any sense why he is rejecting her in the first place.  When a writer keeps insisting a situation is like 'X,' but I as the reader can see quite clearly that it's like 'Y' and it isn't like 'X' at all, the writer has simply failed.  The writer is telling one thing and showing another.  The writer 'tells' me Koko is insensitive and doesn't think about Yana's happiness.  And yet whenever she goes through her photo book of them together, it's about her doing things for Yana's sake because she cares so much for him.  The 'show' doesn't agree with the 'tell.'

At this point the only explanation I could ever accept is that the guy is gay, but even that is out as he's apparently in love with some nobody named Oka he only met a week ago who doesn't look half as attractive as Koko does.  What the hell is going on?  To top it off, nothing else about the show is realistic either.  Amnesia?  Really?  No one has amnesia.  It's retarded to have the main character suffering from amnesia in a show that isn't sci-fi or fantasy based, but presumably a 'realistic' show set in the 'real world.'  Plus, there are no evil religious cults abducting college students in Japan, so the whole premise of episode three was absurd.  Plus, the high heels Koko is always wearing are absurd.  High heels are completely impractical, there's no way you would be marching all around campus or daily life in them.  College students are probably the people who walk most per day out of anyone in the country, they'd obviously wear practical walking shoes like sneakers every day.  The high heels are just insulting -- like the breastplate armor with real metal breasts in Walkure Romanze.  Simply totally impractical, impossible outfits no one would actually wear.

Even if you're written by the author of Toradora, enough is enough.  Golden Time is insultingly bad and unbelievable and therefore it's dropped.  My new outlook on this season's best shows compared to each other lines up like this:

1.  Little Busters: Refrain
2.  Monogatari Second Season
3.  Valvrave 2  
4.  Outbreak Company
5.  Noucome
6.  Hunter x Hunter
7.  Non Non Biyori
8.  Samurai Flamenco
9.  Unbreakable Machine Doll
10.  Galilei Donna
11.  Naruto
12.  Doki Doki Precure
13.  One Piece
14.  Miss Monochrome
15.  Arpeggio of Blue Steel
16.  White Album 2
17.  Kyoukai no Kanata

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