Slip And Slide into Fall

This year has been good for anime. I’ve watched probably more this year than last year, despite having even less free time. There is something compelling that drives me to watch anime almost everyday. It’s almost like a personality flaw. Or maybe I use it as a proper escapist device, to kick back and relax to after a long day.

But I think the more I try to do it, the less I actually do. I’ve noticed that in the past year I have more and more shows in which I follow up to episode 10 or 11, only to left unfinished. Part of it speaks to how compelling some anime really are–that they aren’t. The real cause, I wager, is because that is when all the new shows come out, so older and less exciting fare gets edged out by newer unknown shows. New stuff is more exciting than old stuff, usually, because you don’t know what you’re going to get.

So maybe I should just drop more stuff, and if I want to scratch a particular itch, I will have that option to watch those shows later. Or just take a real break proper-like. It’s not certain that I may watch fewer shows this way. I think being relaxed and fresh-minded makes watching stuff more enjoyable, and I may find more enjoyable shows to watch as a result.

It’s with that realization that I tackle this autumn’s offering. I think a couple shows made it to the short list of truly compelling fare: Fate Zero and Ben-to. Seriously. I mean if you take a big picture view, there are only so many good genre offerings among all genres, and then the types that aspire to be more. Fate Zero definitely tries to be more than just a light novel adaptation–it feels like a proper novel adaptation, if such a distinction can be reasoned with. Regardless of what, it gets me honestly excited every Saturday morning. That is already a feat and by that alone, praiseworthy.

Ben-to is not exactly a rare offering, but it’s infrequent enough and long enough since Air Master that we are getting something that possibly may be worth the while. As long as it has enough guts and burning spirit and whack, I suppose. Style is ultimately what makes cool things timelessly aspirational and engaging. It doesn’t have to be slick, but it does have to be intense. Ben-to manages at least some of that. I think David Pro is consistent in this one regard–there’s something intense about their animation.

Guilty Crown manages to just fall short of that list with its pilot episode, but there are reasons to expect that it will move into that list if it can continue to provide the same production value we saw last week. In a way Guilty Crown just uses the same formula we are all too familiar with from the turn of the century, but dialed it down a little. The production…well, is quality stuff.

Oh, did I ever tell you I love angsty hot 2D chixorz?

I don’t think we have a really good moe show this season, although you might get something between C3, Horizon, Majikoi and Haganai. I like how all four approach things from the comedy side, but only Majikoi and Haganai pile it on. C3, or rather , gets a little bit of credit for getting down to business earlier than the others, but it also feels like the show won’t get much further than this. Horizon’s got that good pilot IMO. That Mashiroiro Symphony show is not good, but it is the kind of moe show that corners a particular market segment and as such we have about one series like this every season.

I use the word “about” because Tamayura is kind of the other entry to that genre, or rather, it is also a genre unto its own–Hidasketch, Croisée, whatever. To be honest the music is the only attractive thing about the show so far, so I might just take it that far only. Case in point: I haven’t watched the last episode of Croisée, and I’m not sure if there is a reason as to why I ought to; the soundtrack is delightful though. I went in Croisée thinking it might actually be kind of intriguing, but that didn’t quite work out. Tamayura is probably even less of a hopeful bet.

Likewise, shows like Maken-ki and Kimi to Boku can thankfully be dismissed quickly. Again, not a knock against them, but I just can’t spare the attention. The subject matter seems a little too out of my comfort zone, although one is a school comedy with hijinks and there is fanservice. Or is it both? I don’t know, they have to execute better.

The slightly more-accessible crowd this season includes very-unaccessible Chihayafuru, moderately-accessible Phi-Brain, Gundam AGE, and Un-go. Un-go is surprisingly better than expected–I suppose that is a noitaminA show for you. Gundam AGE is about as good as expected, which is really good, I think. In a good season I might watch all of them, but I may just stick to one or two here. Chihayafuru has the advantage of having an attractive protagonist, but I’m not sure if that gets the show anywhere. Plus, Hikaru no Go has done it better. So the jury’s out on those.

I kind of enjoyed Mirai Nikki, but it isn’t the sort of show I can take seriously, and without the shock and awe factor it wouldn’t be a compelling watch. I don’t know, it isn’t a knock against the material, it’s solid stuff. I just don’t like the way it has been adopted, and I haven’t even read the manga!

I think this is why I don’t want to watch the Persona 4 anime. I would have to play the game first to really get something out of it, but that seems pretty much an impossibility in terms of time. Ah well. I have a copy from way back, it’s just sitting on a shelf eating dust.

And given the large pile of sequels to deal with this season, there’s not a lot to say in terms of how they are notable beyond that they are sequels of things I’m watching. I guess Working season 2 actually offers something slightly different? Does it even matter? I don’t think so.

Speaking of sequels, I don’t really want to talk about the new Last Exile because my mind is not made up on it. There are a lot to like about the show, but invariably we have to compare it to its first series. That makes things more complicated. I would render an opinion without the baggage, but it’s still too early to say.

Besides the few stragglers that I leave out every season, it’s a fairly neat wrap for a relatively “down” time compared to Spring and Summer ’11. But with this many sequels and 2-cour shows, does it even matter? 2011 still is shaping up to be one good year for TV anime. Now I just need to get my butt to a screening of Letter to Momo!

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12 responses to “Slip And Slide into Fall

  • DiGiKerot

    Yeah, curiously, I’m with you on the dropping shows right before the end thing – I can think of a whole bunch of stuff that I’ve completely failed to watch the final episode or two of in the last few years (come to think of it, I’ve still not seen the finale of Toradora…)

    And, yes, you do need to see Letter to Momo :P

  • 21stcenturydigitalboy

    Excellent post. Like you, Fate/Zero and Ben-to are the only new shows that have *really* grabbed me. And of course, I’m the champion of not finishing shows anytime near their airing. I still haven’t finished Hourou Musuko nor Kami Nomi S2, which were both my favorite thing on TV when they were airing and I got 7 or 8 eps into both. Then the new season comes like a black hole sun and washes away the rain.

    The one thing I disagree with you on completely in this post is Mashiro-iro Symphony. I think it’s a pretty good show, and I’m not even into this genre.

  • omo

    Did you watch Fortune Arterial or Hoshikaka? How do you think Mashiroiro Symph compare?

  • 21stcenturydigitalboy

    I didn’t watch either of them. Should I do so (a few eps) for the sake of comparison?

  • moridin84

    Hmm, my Mum always thought it was subliminal messages in those evil japanese cartoons that made me watch them.

    Also I have a similar problem with dropping shows with only a few episodes to go, I expect that might be more to do with that fact that comedy shows normally feel the need to end with some kind of angsty drama in my case though.

    @Mashiro-iro Symphony
    I agree with 21stcenturydigitalboy about this show. It’s pretty entertaining so far much better then the other two shows you mentioned, I mean didn’t even get past episode 2 of Fortune Arterial. I couldn’t explain why it is interesting though.

  • omo

    I saw one episode of Mashiroiro, and it feels kind of like Hoshikaka in a lot of ways. And that wasn’t exactly top shelf material if you get what I’m saying.

    Fortune Arterial was actually more interesting in terms of setting. But I’m a settings kind of guy.

  • 21stcenturydigitalboy

    Mashiroiro my caring about it is

    – Really great character designs that are never off-model (as far as I can tell)
    – Pacing and feeling is more relaxed and I *would* say mature than other shows like it.

    The only thing is, stupid things keep happening like the lead falling into girls’ chests, and rather than feeling like that’s what the show really is, it’s more like the show has an obligation to those things it’s straining to fulfill or something. Maybe because it’s the ever-“pretentious” Manglobe?

  • moridin84

    Well since you watched the first episode and didn’t like it, I don’t think there is any reason for you to watch any further. The show doesn’t really have anything to ‘sell’ beyond what’s presented in the first episode.

    Plus I just watched episode 3 and there is a lot of scenes where most of the cast are wandering around together in a big clump.

    To me this stinks of lazyness and it was why I didn’t like the middle part of Hoshikaka.

    I remember being impressed with the Yuuichi in Kanon 2005 because he managed to keep all the different girls in his harem almost completely separate from each other. That was perhaps ‘too far’ but at least it doesn’t distil the experience like this clumping does.

  • omo

    The whole hanging out in a group thing is something I actually kind of like, as long as interesting things happen…just like how it is in Horizon or Majikoi.

    Hoshikaka seems like what digitalboy is missing out then! FWIW I did finish watching Hoshikaka. The story was executed competently and I think Mashiroiro is just more of the same kind of thing. I just don’t think any of those shows are any good, even if Mashiroiro might be just the latest and newest and best in the line.

    FWIW I find the story and characters in Mashiroiro just really dull. The only thing interesting is the whole conflict from the OTP chick, but they’re taking the slow route to that I guess.

  • 21stcenturydigitalboy

    Maybe I’ll try Hoshikaka then, but there’s a good chance I won’t like the character designs and give up instantly. Mashiroiro designs I don’t know why I like them so much, but I almost never like visual novel character designs.

  • moridin84

    The thing with shows like Horizon and Majikoi is that all the characters are written to work together whereas I’m pretty sure the characters in Hoshikaka weren’t designed to be written together, or at least not in clumps of 8 or whatever it was they had. The interactions between the tall ‘senpai’ character and the rest of the cast were really… bland for example.

    In regards to Mashiroiro I might be over-reacting to the clumping, it’s just from the second episode I was thinking the ‘senpai’ character was going to be more distant instead of popping over for lunch and then for going home together. That reminded me of Hoshikaka.

    As for the boring characters, for some reason I am finding the brain dead sister and unreasonably nice brother in Mashiroiro to be interesting to watch. And the other characters are just as amicable. It seems like it should be boring but…perhaps I find it interesting because such a mix of easygoing characters is rather rare in anime? I dunno.

    @21stcenturydigitalboy
    I actually would recommend dropping Hoshikaka if it doesn’t appeal to you after 2/3 episodes. It’s a ‘it is what is it’ kinda show really.

  • omo

    the sister is interesting, ok. but she’s barely in the show.

    i thought the second half of hoshikaka was the best, just because they actually have real stories and drama. the first part of it is kind of dumb because you either don’t mind, or hate yui.

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