Winter 2011 Anime Impressions
I really can’t believe it. This winter season has for the first time made a magical girl anime appealing! Although Zen still hates them =p But moving on, we’ll be giving our impressions on what we’re watching this season. We’ve dropped quite a lot this season, and I’m starting to lose more interest in the current anime trends. Time to work on my backlog and Kimi ni Todoke!
Well the winter season of 2011 has come.. and mostly gone. The majority of series were as one would expect for a winter season, absolutely atrocious. Not to say that it is all bad, there are some select few series worth the hours of life we invest to watch their characters advance the course of their lives by overcoming the various obstacles their creators place in their way. Yet despite there being some light at the end of the tunnel the vast majority of this season is perhaps the worst in my recent memory, as rather than shows I would rather not watch out of taste, they are just plain horrible regardless of personal preferences. While I am sure plenty of people will be almost offended by my stance on a few shows, in particular Madoka Magica, I am also just as sure that I am correct in my views. Not that I mind people liking different things as much as misrepresentation of what they like and why they like it in order to provide some sort of socially acceptable justification for their own conscience. So then here are our impressions of this underwhelming seasons anime as of roughly halfway through each and every series.
Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica (01/06 Wed)
I am personally surprised that my favorite show of the season is a magical girl show. However, Madoka Magica isn’t your typical cute story of lolis fighting monsters every week. Every week I await a new episode to see the developments of the plot, and the sinister nature of the magical girl system keeps me glued to the story. It also really helps that the Kaijura Yuki music helps to give the show a serious feel. There’s only one huge complaint I have tho; Mami-chan :( But aside from that, I would say this anime has the best story of the season. It’s not an exaggeration seeing how lacking the other series are anyway!
Well what can I say about this series other than people are blind to all save the appearance on the surface. Madoka Magica is just like every other magical girl show in existence, it is simply a re-skin using a darker color palette when illustrating the standard themes and situations magical girl stories are known for. After six episodes the only significant differences lie in the excellent score, well other than the OP that is, and the shift in perspective, the majority of which is a result of using the Bakemonogatari style of directing. I found myself sitting back and picturing how there were barely any differences between other magical girl stories, being able to imagine how changing the way a few things look would turn Madoka Magica into a perfect example of cookie cutter mahou shoujo. Let me give an example from early in the series, girls are prompted to establish a contract with the creepy bunny ferret thing, normal so far, they encounter someone who acts as their senior to help guide them, only their teacher is incapacitated for some reason to help drive their involvement. If you really think about it there is little new here, even the revelation in episode six is little more than giving a weakness or some sort of limitation to the magical girls that every such story needs. Sadly I cannot help but feel completely disappointed by promises of Madoka Magica being something special and different, unlike any other magical girl themed story thus far, yet in the end I get an over hyped copy paste of every other magical girl series. Guess this just proves that it really is impossible to overturn the universal rule that magical girl shows are terrible, and good for nothing save rotting impressionable minds.
DROPPED faster than Sayaka’s soul gem.
Infinite Stratos (01/06 Wed)
The first thing that came to mind when I first viewed these episodes were along the lines of , what’s the point of the IS system and the school? I initially thought it was developed in order to combat aliens while exposing their pantsu. But really, this is nothing more than a typical high school harem anime. Although I do find it hilarious that all the female leads are tsunderes, the anime will more or less play out in a predictable way. And not to mention they really shouldn’t have made the male lead’s piloting suit so tight, it hurts my eyes. But current shows really do a half-assed job of covering multiple genres and sacrificing it for moe. It’s lame that this is considered part of the science fiction genre.
From one major disappointment to the next, IS stands side by side with Madoka Magica as the two worst animes this season in my opinion. Lets face it IS is little more than a sub par harem story with one of the worst mecha designs I have ever seen for a mecha series. Aside from the fanservice-mechas deliberately created in order to be extra revealing and utterly useless looking, the characters are the typical boring harem fare, add in a story so uninteresting that it manages to make the standard clingy imouto suddenly look appealing and you wind up with a show equating to little more than a waste of a half hour of life each week. In fact I don’t get where there is any story in this so far, each new episode only brings about another addition to Ichika’s harem. Typically the new girl ends up fighting him in some manner and as a result falling in love with him if she has not already, so much depth to the characters and their romantic development.. really. Truthfully this entire series was based around appealing to the lustful fantasies of horny teens, giving the protagonist a random harem of assorted heroines he doesn’t rightly deserve, as well as placing undue importance on him by singling out his ability as unique, all this to avoid having to work at more than just bishoujos with panty shots.
Yumekui Merry (01/06 Wed)
I think the only scene I enjoyed was the in the picture I used above. Other than the cute characters, it lacks defining features that make it stand out. While I think the concept has potential, it feels wasted limiting its scope in a school setting. While cute, I also find that I don’t have a character that I actually like in this show. They don’t seem to stand out very well to me.
I can’t say much for merry, this feels like a very standardized anime in that the characters are a copy paste of the usual stereotypes, the primary setting is the normal Japanese suburb that most shows take place in, and the storyline comes across as flirting with something unique but allowing that aspect to slip through your fingers like so much sand. What this all amounts to in the end is a show which broadcasts a state of monochrome, while we can watch it just fine, Merry lacks a certain vibrance to bring the characters and story to life. To illustrate this a brief synopsis of the show thus far can be summed up by stating the protagonist has a thus far mostly useless ability to see an aura around people indicating the type of dreams they have when he looks through his fingers and Merry has no memory yet longs to return to the dream world she came from. Add on all the typical cheesy lines about dreams and hope assigned to various characters in an ill-fated attempt to give them a personality and I find that I still cannot care about the characters and their problems. Which really brings together the main problem here, I just don’t care what happens to the characters, nor do I find myself inclined to be the slightest bit curious about the relationship between reality and the dream world. Lets face it when you don’t care the only point of watching a show like this is to waste time or to act as a minor distraction while performing other, infinitely more important tasks.
DROPPED Unless I am extremely bored.
Wolverine (01/07 Thu)
Funny enough, compared to Ironman this isn’t half bad. The storyline does feel like it comes out of Wolverine’s actual past, and each episode connects well as it continues directly from where it ends each episode. With the action and pacing set at a decent rate, this is actually watchable! However, the storyline to speak is just basically one invincible guy trying to get his girlfriend back. Well, at least he’s probably the manliest hero this season seeing all the wimps we have nowadays. But unfortunately I still feel odd watching a bishounen Wolverine.
GoSick (01/07 Thu)
Victorique probably wins an award for being the most adorable character this season. But I personally don’t like the level of detective work and stories used. I do feel like they could up it a notch. Although the foreign setting does change things a bit, I haven’t felt too excited yet about watching this series. In addition, I think by now I’m sick of useless male protagonists. Really, is Wolverine all we’re going to get here? And he’s not even made by the Japanese!
WATCHING (for now)
Addendum to my previous comment as I had forgotten about this particular little morsel of goth loli moefag bait, there are now three titles in contention for the absolute worst anime humanly possible to make this season. GoSick was created for the sole purpose of taking advantage of those people who care little for anything other than “Moe” and have a penchant for little girls wearing gothic attire. Of course this is marketed as something of a detective mystery story, however all doubt on the crimes usually comes down to a line of thought which goes along the lines of “There is no possible way that person is the culprit, it is just too stupid if that is the case, never mind too stupid even it is far too easy for a detective story if they were!”. Only to find yourself disappointed and flabbergasted when the situation and culprit they hinted at being most obvious are revealed, usually despite very nearly telling you straight out they did it right from the start and necessitating nigh impossible circumstances that really change almost nothing. Add to this how Victorica is somehow able to know absolutely everything, not so much deducting from the evidence and circumstances but knowing it all outright from the start. With her god-like supernatural ability to instantly know everything that has happened you would think this ability would be best employed for research or development of humanity, but instead it is all being directed towards solving crimes ranging from mundane to completely absurd on the scale of impossibility. Which brings us full circle and back to the main point of this series, Victorica; Her character is the sole reason anyone could justify watching this show, which also means anyone who does so is most likely either a borderline illiterate weeaboo, or someone who cares about nothing besides moe. Perhaps the only redeeming feature I can find in the entirety of the GoSick anime, is that I rather enjoyed the ED song, yes that is all. In conclusion it is my firm belief that Sherlock Holmes would surely weep as I do at the silliness of GoSick.
Freezing (01/08 Fri)
Despite the serious theme of an alien invasion, this anime ends up turning into a fanservice fest with girls fighting each other in the hopes of ripping each other’s clothes off for our satisfaction. And to our benefit we have another useless protagonist with a lingering sister complex. Anime Heroes of the 90’s, I sure miss you all. Well if all you’re looking for is a replacement to Queen’s Blade, this should help fill that hole for the time being. As the alien invasion theme is horribly underused, don’t expect much from this anime at all in terms of the story.
Little did people realize, but the real reason North korea shelled South korea was in the hopes of halting production of this particular atrocity, for once kim jong il I salute you. As the North koreans have failed in their attempts to prevent internationally raised eyebrows questioning their tastes as a result of this series I would normally be so inclined to place Freezing in the running for worst anime this season alongside Madoka, Infinite Stratos, and GoSick. However as Freezing is korean by nature I am forced to place this on a completely alternate scale of suck therefore avoiding conflict with the other contenders this season.
So enough of my slightly off topic griping about yet another show so bad it will most likely cause cancer in those who actually bother to watch it, and on to to topic of what this series is and is about. For starters Freezing is mostly about finding the most ridiculous of situations to justify the copious female nudity we the viewers are subject to during every waking moment spent watching this show. Next up is the completely random alien invasion that somehow prompts unexplained gender specific roles to combat them, not that it is much of an issue as by all appearances humanity is still much too busy fighting amongst themselves to be bothered with some generic aliens. Then we have the causes of the nonsensical fighting between students, most of which boils down to differences in school year causing all sorts of clothes shredding attempts at hazing. Finally we get to throw in one of the most pathetic protagonists I have seen since Shinji from Evangelion took stage, and thus the general themes that compose the pile of refuse this korean author has pasted together by mimicking the Japanese industry’s various successes. I am honestly thankful this series sucks so bad I have nothing of similar quality to compare it to as it saves me a significant amount of time needed to attempt such a herculean feat of literary critique. Not to mention time saved from not watching this atrocity over the course of this season, time which could be better spent lovingly gazing at a nearby wall thankful the wall is not displaying Freezing, or perhaps indulging in a staring contest with Kyubey.
Mitsudomoe Zouryouchuu (01/08 Fri)
The second season of Mitsudomoe is just like the first season, which in my opinion is something I needed more of. What made Mitsudomoe enjoyable were the colorful cast of characters in the show. From the children to their parents, they all have unique and weird character traits which blend together in the classroom to provide an amusing elementary school experience. The interactions in general are the highlight of this anime, and I always find it fun to see certain characters interact with one another. I’ve gotten used to the chipmunkish designs and I think it actually works pretty well to give life to these grade school kids. I think its focus on comedy would be dampened if they looked anything like Kodomo no Jikan characters. I’m just glad that all the dirty jokes they use end up looking pretty silly due to the drawing style.
Beezlebub (01/09 Sat)
Finally a show that is not so much bad as it is not my taste. While I have read a fair bit of the manga, which quickly turns from a somewhat unique premise into standard shounen fare, the anime does a rather bad job of incorporating the feel of the manga into animated form. This may be true of the majority of anime that have been adapted from manga, however in the case of Beelzebub certain undue elements are further stressed in the anime, such as the crying of the baby. The concept alone for this series had some merit, as a supposedly completely heartless delinquent raises a demonic baby while hilarity ensues. Problems begin rather quickly however as the focus moves away from a story based on comedy into a story based on the usual shounen training for upcoming fights with the next bad guy, spending some time fighting them only to repeat the sequence once more upon completion of that story arc. Targeted towards a younger demographic, Beelzebub will likely be far more popular among those the series targets as the ideal viewers, for my part however I am completely done with the standard shounen stories, regardless of there being a difference in the background, setting, or characters.
Kore wa Zombie Desuka? (01/10 Sat)
Even though I’ve started to slowly hate moe shows, I can’t help but fawn over Yuu. She is by far my favorite character this season. Not to mention she possesses multiple seiyuus when portrayed in Ayumu’s delightful delusions. As for the show itself, I do like how it somewhat parodies the mahou shoujo genre. But I don’t really appreciate Ayumu’s transformation sequence as it kills me every time I see it. No man should ever have to go through a mahou shoujo transformation and get outfitted with the a frilly magical girl uniform. For a light comedy series it does a nice job of keeping me entertained, but I do feel like I’m getting burnt out with the amount of light comedy anime available. They’re all starting to look somewhat the same to me.
Zombie is the first series in this list of shows that I am actually watching, and will continue to watch until the end. Furthermore Zombie represents a series where my initial thoughts before watching the show turned out to be mostly wrong, or rather not so much wrong as they did an unexpectedly good job of incorporating the elements the creators envisioned into a comedy. In fact Zombie represents the only type of magical girl themes I can stomach, as unlike Madoka, Zombie is actually different from the normal magical girl type of show and setup. Since the creators did a commendable job of blending the serious and humorous components of this story I find myself entertained without the need to ask questions of plausibility for every occurrence, nor do I feel disgust at the magical girl elements in play. Not since Puni Puni Poemi have I been able to enjoy a show with more than a passing parody of mahou shoujo, yet with an apathetic siscon zombie protagonist who manages to somehow avoid being pathetic while being abused by the various female characters that surround him I find myself drawn into the humor side of the Zombie anime. I remain a little skeptical about where the series will go in the end but so far I cannot help but enjoy an anime that is fun to watch with no strings attached.
Dragon Crisis (01/10 Sat)
Not much to see here, just a harem building exercise as young Ryuuji gives in to beastiality with mythical creatures. After the introduction episodes, the anime ends up eschewing the actual fantasy aspect of the series and ends up sexifying these poor beasts. At this point you have to wonder which creatures haven’t been made into someone’s girlfriend. We do have a Cthulhu this season as well so you can see the interspecies conquest isn’t slowing down anytime soon. I’ll be mainly passing on this as I am tired of them using this gimmick. I’m definitely not as young as I used to be >_<
Dragon Crisis disappoints me, mostly due to a protagonist so pathetic only the Freezing protagonist can make him look more like a human being rather than the pile of roadside rubbish he is. Aside from an infuriating protagonist, we are left with a pile of smaller problems which when brought together manage to make Dragon Crisis rather unappealing. Perhaps had they spent more time working out the setting this story takes place in, giving more satisfying explanations for important elements such as the lost precious (Should have changed that stupid name too) and the society. I suspect both may have better explanations later but the entire setting makes me feel a sense of unease as it is meant to give a feeling of a hidden side to the world which combines the myths concocted by our forebears into a modern day parallel of the heroic tales recorded in various legends. Yet somehow it misses the target with the setting, and instead of complimenting the story and characters I feel there is a conflict between the two as much of the story is focused around moe involving the typical “Star crossed lovers” motif to drive much of the story along. As I am sure most who have watched this series thus far can attest to, there will most likely be a very cliché buildup and ending which will further sink this series into the depths of obscurity as yet another show with no reason to be mentioned even so much as a year in the future save as an example of where and why things go wrong.
WATCHING For reasons even I don’t quite understand (Need something I don’t care about to watch while writing afterall)
Wolverine is sadly > All
A furry such as yourself would think that, wouldn’t you?
I change my mind. I LOVE DRAGON CRISIS. More loli dragons please! That new dog girl is looking so appealing, I’m going back.
Just don’t cheat on the dog you already have…
Level E (01/10 Sat)
This anime definitely reminds me of how anime used to be like. Instead of using moe or cute females to draw people in, the level of comedy and usage of its theme is executed well. The story especially connects very well for its first story arc, and seeing how that arc ended was a neat surprise that brought in a lot of character development for our main alien character. Having a strong story and something that flows is incredibly important and it just goes to show that there’s still a lot of old manga that can be made into an anime.
Level E has turned out to be a remarkably good series, leaving me looking forward to every new release day. The combination of humorous, well planned mischief and good directing has given birth to a comedy series well worth watching. I am glad they dug up an older series for an anime this season, as you can feel the difference in the nature of the story, the designs of the characters, and the personalities they exemplify compared to most new series which focus on the concept that moe sells. Definitely one of the better shows this season in my opinion and well worth the time spent watching, as when it comes right down to it when you have a genius alien prince with a mischievous streak rivaling that of a ten year old of their meds what’s not to like?
Fractale (01/13 Wed)
The use of Miyazaki-like animation has probably caught everyone’s eye. Although they could have been a bit more original in its design, I do see that it works very well with Fractale’s story and theme. Other than Madoka, this is probably the only other anime this season that has a real plot that I can look forward to. I often think back to Nausicaa and Mononoke-hime as I sit through these episodes. Finding a deeper meaning and understanding these sort of works was what brought me closer to anime in the first place. Regardless of how it ends, I am sure that the journey in Fractale that we viewers partake in will be meaningful. Thanks to a show like this, I can forgive some of the garbage that ends up being turned into anime nowadays.
It is true that technology gives us a greater degree of freedom than we have had in the past, but where does our quest for an easy life lead us? Fractale proposes a frighteningly realistic scenario on what kind of world the short sighted desires of humanity can bring about, where people live a life of ease, their bodies devoid of any problems with the cost being freedom of their minds. While ignorance may be bliss, there is little meaning in lives spent indulging in a sterile system built upon individual isolation and global conformity; And so thanks to a fateful encounter our protagonist is lead on a journey through a dystopian future hidden beneath the surface of a seemingly gentle veil made to blind all who wear it in an effort to understand the chains which bind humanity and the price that must paid to live in a false utopia. I have found Fractale to be one of my favorite series this season, I feel this series to have been brought together well, giving us a glimpse into the mind of the writers and their views on society while still being entertaining. Wherever the series goes from here on I will surely continue watching all the way to the end to satiate my own desire to understand what kind of ending the creator envisions as the truth of their world being brought about by the end of the characters journeys.
On a side note I loved the OP for fractale, definitely my favorite OP of the season, and the best I have seen in a long time period.