Ξ May 19th, 2011 | → 2 Comments | ∇ The Anime Annals |
…and here I was expecting that there was going to be nothing to watch this season…
At first glance, the Spring 2011 anime season didn’t look all that impressive. Going by their synopses, the roster of new shows didn’t do anything for me aside from a Studio SHAFT show here and there. For those titles I chose to check out I gave four episodes to snag me, judging each series on its own merits (and not buzz or popularity). Even picking carefully I still eventually ended up with way more series on my hands than I can keep up with. Normally, I consider myself satisfied with eight series to follow in any given anime season. Spring 2011 yielded fifteen series to follow! Eight of them I consider (at this point) to be must-see shows, and most likely will buy if/when they are released stateside. And when I have money. That too
Since it would be overly long to mention all fifteen, I’ll just focus on my favorite eight. Some videos are (very) slightly spoilerish, so be warned! These are in no particular order:
ANO HI MITA NO NAMAE WO BOKUTACHI WA MADA SHIRANAI (aka We Still do not Know the Name of the Flower We Saw That Day) -Okay, these names are getting ridiculous. I shall dub sub thee AnoHana, and yea, it is good. DAMN GOOD! :-)
Since I’m a sucker for well-made anime drama, this show might be my favorite out of this season. It is so wonderful when a show’s creators give us characters so enjoyable to watch such as these. I’ve only seen ta handful of episodes so far and have totally been sucked in! The story depicts a group of six young people who drifted apart after one of their number died while they were still children. The early episodes have been sort of introductory (which I happen to like) and have done very well in slowly fleshing out the characters through flashback and dialogue (not to mention attitudes).
(EDIT: Sorry, video sniped by YouTube fascists)
And I am pretty damn sure that Menma will become one of my favorite anime girls. God, she’s so intriguing, perplexing, cute, and expressive… One scene with stands out so far: Jinta (the main) is recalling when they were all gathered in their clubhouse, and was being teased for liking Menma, which he forcefully denied, yelling, “Who’d like an ugly girl like that?” The camera forces you to watch her reaction as the hurtful words are spoken: a flash of stunned surprise, her slightly saddened eyes droop just for a second, and then a sheepish smile as she “laughs” “eheheh”. It just twisted me up inside. Great job!
Very funny superhero show based on… a superhero show! Hero TV is a reality show that awards corporate sponsorships and “hero points” to competing super heroes whom the reality show follows and broadcasts their exploits in solving (or attempting to solve) crimes. The chemistry between veteran lone wolf Wild Tiger and new (reluctant) partner Barnaby is very well mixed, from snarky one-liners to (surprisingly) thoughtful consideration. The action is fast ‘n’ furious when it occurs, and well-animated and directed. It’s a great example of “good” mecha for those non-mech fans! Well worth your time if a you’re a comedy-action fan, with that patented Sunrise look and feel.
AO NO EXORCIST (aka Blue Exorcist):
A nice mix of suspense, fantasy, and action with plenty of humor thrown in. Rin wants to become an exorcist like the man who raised him… the problem being that he’s a son of Satan! His brother Yukio takes a somewhat-opposing stature (not wanting to spoil anything), and as Rin receives his training things are becoming interesting indeed. They’re great foils for one another. Two of the better characters are the quixotic Mephisto Pheles, played by Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei‘s Hiroshi Kamiya, and cute little Shiemi, voiced by (yet again!) Kana Hanazawa. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was one of the better shows this season.
Niwa Makoto is temporarily living at his aunt Meme’s house, who seems to have acquired a daughter, Touwa Erio. Erio insists that she’s an alien, and, wrapped up as she is in her futon it’s rather hard to tell. When she does become unwrapped, what emerges is one of the cutest, most moe critters ever! I suspect that she may become huge in Saimoe, but then I said that about Ika Musume too *cries* ANYWAY: Like Ika’s show, mysteries abound in this series, as Makoto tries to assist the apparently-antisocial and/or delusional Erio into assimilating into society. (Good luck with that!) Loved the “other Makoto” references too
Another big plus is the supporting cast, especially 39-year old Aunt Meme. It’s wonderful to see an adult character who is more than just a sound board. Meme is mischievous, funny, flirtatious (oh my), sexy, and responsible (well, for the most part). Some of the best scenes so far have involved her, and the camera loves her too! Studio SHAFT and director Akiyuki Shinbo have done a great job, atypically restrained by their adventurous standards. I’ll pretty much watch anything by SHAFT/Shinbo The story is improving as well, and promises to deliver in the end, which I’m following this series to.
Ganta has been thrown into Deadman’s Wonderland, a prison that features gladiator-like battles to the death. The world mechanics are interesting, from the necklaces of potential death, to the “candy” that will keep the prisoners alive being the most valuable commodity. The cast is very good, story is involving, and animation carefully done in rendering this lethal funhouse of a prison. The show features yet another fetching heroine in the albino Shiro, in yet another role for Kana Hanazawa (must be her 9001st!), who at this stage is very much a mystery. Can’t wait to find out more!
Our protagonist is enticed into an alternate Zone where he can battle opponents in a quest for more money and power. The intriguing world of The Financial District is expertly animated and depicted, and the characters are interesting, especially the “assets”, supernaturally-powerful entities who assist in the battles. Masakaki is another character that bears watching; sort of a Joker-type character, I’m guessing. Still early though, and I’m waiting for more!
NICHIJOU: (aka My Ordinary Life)
This show is crazy, and I mean in a good way. Case in point: two of the better characters (in a great cast) are an eight-year old professor (replete with lab coat) and her assistant Nano who has a huge key in the middle of her back and a detachable arm among other possible removable body parts. Each episode (to date) has been a collection of short skits and the pace pretty quick, and the jokes just as fast.
Kyoto Animation keeps improving in areas other than their usual excellence; one example is a fast ‘n’ furious foot race down the school corridors that is breathtaking in its relentless accelerating animation. An added bonus is the talking cat Sakamoto-san, voiced by Minoru Shiraishi; a small part but he adds another funny ingredient to the already-delicious stew. It’s kinda like reading a comic book, and the nature of this series reflects the lights of Lucky Star and Azumanga Daioh. Both very good things
This show keeps me guessing and constantly off-balance, and I like it! I can’t tell whether the main guy is truly a rational person, or a true mad scientist, or an honestly deranged individual drafting in innocents to help him with his Time Travel theories. And who knows what else LOL At this early point the story is only now beginning to unfold, but the reality of everything is still open to question. Kind of fun, actually One highlight is the voice actor for Rintaro Okabe (the main); Mamoru Miyano’s delivery is pitch-perfect, down to the impatient little breath of a “tsk” he takes before most lines. In fact, the seiyuu roster for this entire show is very impressive! Another intriguing story that compels me to watch
The other series I’m following this season are: A Channel, Hanasaku Iroha, Hidan no Aria, Maria Holic Alive!, and X-Men, which is much better than the other recent Marvel anime fare. I’ve dropped two: The World God Only Knows Season 2 and Dororon; I may resume these later pending favorable reviews. Right now they aren’t doing anything for me; the former is too much More Of The Same as season one, and the latter is just too juvenile. These are balanced out by the two still-running shows from Winter 2011 that I’m still watching, namely the amusing-but-one-trick-pony Beelzebub and the still-very-enjoyable Gosick. Now that’s what I call a full plate!
And it just goes to show: Don’t judge a book (or an anime season) by its cover