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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Nisekoi Dropped:

The second episode of Nisekoi was terrible.  The boy was rude when he should have been polite, and a doormat when he should have stood up for himself.  When the protagonist sucks, like the infinitely dense guy from Infinite Stratos, it doesn't matter how charming the girls around him are.  In fact, the more charming they are, the worse the series becomes, because you can't stand seeing them hurt by this awful guy, and you can't believe these girls would like or put up with such a loser.  Nisekoi failed to make a good male lead and so everything is ruined no matter what else the story tries.  If only Araragi were here.

This would bring the total number of watchable winter anime down to 8, but luckily One Piece filler is over and the Dressrosa arc has begun instead.  With One Piece back, we have 9 series again, just in time.  So here's the new situation for the winter season:

1.  Saki Nationals
2.  Doki Doki Precure
3.  Hunter x Hunter
4.  Wake Up, Girls!
5.  Sakura Trick
6.  Mikakunin de Shinkokei
7.  One Piece
8.  Naruto
9.  Tonari no Seki-kun

Mikakunin is being weighed down by its bad side characters.  If it just had the sister-in-law, the fiance, and the main girl, the series could have been great.  But the older sister is about as annoying as everyone else is endearing, so you end up with a mediocre series.

Hunter x Hunter has been so good recently it's shot up my anime rankings to #30.  Doki Doki Precure is of course on its climactic finale, which is always a good part of Precure's seasons.  However, I'm already more interested in Happiness Charge Precure.  The intro to a new season is even more fun than the outro of the old one, and it's coming up in just a couple weeks.

The biggest change to my rankings isn't Hunter x Hunter though.  It was moving Ojamajo Doremi all the way from #69 to #15.  Ojamajo Doremi is made by the same people as Pretty Cure, so it's no wonder it was good.  But only by taking advantage of its massive size does this show really start to shine.  You won't notice how good Ojamajo is in the first ten episodes, or the first forty.  It only starts to become apparent 100 episodes in, what a unique gem this show really is.  This is what Pretty Cure 'could have been,' instead of a franchise reset every 50 episodes, just going on and on with the same characters, plot, and setting, season after season after season.  Ojamajo Doremi uses this extra length to provide more characterization for everyone, which makes you feel more attached to them, through steady and thorough acclimatization.  Before you even realize how much you care about these characters, they hit you with a sledgehammer of emotions by imperiling them, and the payoff of all those episodes all comes crashing in at once.

I haven't finished watching Ojamajo Doremi, so part of the ranking is my estimate for how good the rest of the series will be.  But even with seeing Ojamajo Sharp alone, the series is amazing.  Raising a baby since birth is something no other anime has even attempted to do.  Nor has a story ever revolved around the bond of a mother and her baby before.  Apparently, everyone else gave it up as too difficult to make interesting.  But Ojamajo Doremi made it interesting, and while doing so, tapped into an amazing emotional hotspot, that of the mother-baby bond, with a strength possibly greater than any other.  Or if not greater, at least new and thus worth investigating at least once in your life.  Many good anime series, like Usagi Drop and Aishiteruze Baby, talk about raising children once they're already walking, talking, and in full control of their faculties.  Even Papa Kiki had Hina as a 3 year old who could communicate with the outside world and was already attending nursery school.  Ojamajo Sharp is the first story of its kind, a story about an infant, and it just blows all the other competitors who gave up short of that mark and chose the easy path of 'adult children' away as a result.

I suspect Motto Ojamajo and Ojamajo Dokkan will be worse than Sharp, because how can you match perfection?  But it doesn't matter.  Even if they're half as good, they'll be better than almost anything or anyone else.  And when you add in all these additional series, plus Sharp, plus the introduction of Onpu in the original Ojamajo, you have an anime powerhouse juggernaut of unstoppable quality and quantity.  We're talking 214 episodes of anime here, none of which is filler because it's an anime-original content to begin with.  This is longer than non-filler Bleach.  It's longer than non-filler Fairy Tail.  It's longer than non-filler Dragonball.  It's longer than non-filler Sailor Moon.  It's longer than non-filler Yu Yu Hakusho.  It's only shorter than Precure, Gundam, One Piece and Naruto, and if you count a continuous narrative it's only shorter than One Piece and Naruto.  With a story that long, anything can (and does) happen.  It manages to be a story about everything.  And a story about everything covers a lot of good material, let me tell ya.

Only the true and stout of heart can watch enough Ojamajo to realize why it's good and what makes it so great, but for those chosen few who soldier through the entire series, a pot of gold waits at the end.  Now that Doremi Fansubs has finished subbing this vital series to animedom, it's up to fans of good anime in general to take advantage of this resource and watch it.  If you stick to it, you definitely won't be disappointed.  Ojamajo Doremi, like Pretty Cure that came after it, is a national treasure.  (Nor is this just my opinion, Ojamajo Doremi ranks regularly in polls of 'greatest anime ever' when the question comes up in Japan, just like Touch.  The pedigree for this series is spectacular.)

Speaking of Touch, the third season has come out in blu-ray subbed, so everyone should jump at the chance to see that.  The first half of Gundam Wing blu-ray is also out, and who can resist Hikaru Midorikawa's voice acting?  Plus, the Tales series is finally completed with Symphonia blu-ray coming out subbed.  A lot of good news all around.  Even without the winter season, there's so many blu-ray releases of older shows that you'll never run out of good material.

On top of all that, people should really try out the english translated, PS3-version Umineko Chiru visual novel.  The second half of Umineko does quite a lot to make the first half better.  Once you understand the story in full, Umineko won't lose to anyone.  It's obvious that it came out of the same head as the genius behind Higurashi.  I wish Umineko had received a second season, but it's of no matter.  The visual novel is available for everyone, so any true fan of good anime can just pick up the thread there and continue on.  When an anime stops, it's imperative to follow the source material and continue onwards.  The journey only ends when you, the reader/listener/viewer, give up.  So long as you keep seeking out material, it will always be there for you, with the same great characters and story as before.  Anime is great, but without light novels, manga, and visual novels, you'll never get the full experience.  To be a fan of one necessitates you become a fan of all the others too.  It's all one.

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