Winter 2012 Mid-Season Anime Report – Part 1: The Bottom Eleven

And just like that, we’ve already reached the halfway point of the winter anime season. Normally, I’m with the other early adopters that have already cast their glance forward to the spring season at this point because I’m sick of everything remotely related to winter; however, this year the weather has apparently forgotten what “winter” means, sticking to a more early spring feel, and as a result I find myself feeling oddly worried that winter is slipping by too quickly. Heresy, I know.

The halfway point is a good place to rest for a moment and examine the season’s anime series. It’s been long enough that the slow-starting series have had time to find their own rhythm and long enough to see if those anime series that promised the moon in episode 1 have the stuff to deliver.

Since it’s me, I’ve going to rank the various series in worse-to-best order to provide another method of evaluation to augment the grades I’ll award each anime. Also, to provide a complete picture of this season, I’ll also cover those anime series that are carry-overs from the Fall season.

(22) – Guilty Crown

Rating for episodes 1 to 18 – 1/12  Epic Fail

Under normal circumstances I’d’ve dropped Guilty Crown a very long time ago but it’s not everyday that an anime comes along that fails as hard as Guilty Crown does. I saw an opportunity to finally find an anime that could compete with Kampfer for the title of worse anime ever (that I’ve seen/completed) and decided to see if I could finish watching it. The danger, though, in wasting my time with Guilty Crown is that it might, at some point, accidentally do something right and push it up to the merely failing level. Thankfully, Guilty Crown continues to confound me with how stupid it can be and remains on track to challenge Kampfer for worst anime ever.

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(21) – Baby, Please Kill Me (Dropped)

Rating for episodes 1 to 3 – 1/12  Epic Fail

Three episodes and I didn’t laugh once, not even a chuckle, guffaw, chortle or smirk; this is a death sentence for an anime like Baby, Please Kill Me because it’s supposed to be a comedy. I don’t know if I’ve ever watched a show this unfunny before.

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(20) – Inu x Boku SS

Rating for episodes 1 to 5 – 2/12  F

This anime makes me want to find a cute puppy and kick it. The puppy dog-like personality of the main character’s bodyguard towards the main character in Inu x Boku SS has to be one of the most painful things I’ve ever endured while watching anime. Almost equally repellent is the female main character who has fallen in love with this bodyguard because of his puppy dog-like obedience and devotion towards her. I should just drop this and end the pain but I still hope that david production (the animators who last did Ben-to and Level-E) can salvage the show somehow.

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(19) – Zero no Tsukaima Final

Rating for episodes 1 to 3 – 3/12  D

As if animating another season of the original Shana wasn’t enough for J.C. Staff they decided to double down and make another season of a series that most people flatteringly call a “Shana-clone”. And much like Shana at this point I’m just going to finish the series so I can see how it ends; not because I’m particularly that wrapped up in Zero’s Familiar but after trudging through three seasons what’s one more?

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(18) – Shakugan no Shana S.3

Rating for episodes 1 to 18 – 5/12  C+

Truthfully, I’m surprised Shana has been able to maintain this level of mediocrity; by rights, it should have either completely fallen apart or zoomed up to awesomeness by now. It’ll be interesting to see if J.C. Staff can maintain this equilibrium point as the series moves to the final showdown or will Shana finally get pushed to one of the two extreme states.

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(17) – Black Rock Shooter

Rating for episodes 1 to 2 – 6/12  B-

Rock bottom expectations and competition from the likes of Guilty Crown made the first two episodes of BRS a pleasant experience even though so far it’s an average effort all-around. With only 8 total episodes to work with, BRS can’t be lazy about advancing the plot or telling it’s story if it wants to avert a repeat of the disappointing performance of the OVA that came out earlier. If it will or not is a question whose answer is only a few weeks away.

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(16) – Persona 4

Rating for episodes 1 to 18 – 6/12  B-

The only time Persona 4 has been actually interesting to watch is those few episodes that would be considered “filler” because they have nothing to do with the mystery surrounding the disappearing people and the homicides. What does it say about an anime that prominently features an alternative world of fighting creatures and a string of mysterious deaths in the real world that the two-part episode where the viewer discovers how the main character spent his summer break is the high point of the first three-quarters of the show? I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised, Persona 4 is a video game adaptation after all.

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(15) – Rinne no Lagrange

Rating for episodes 1 to 6 – 7/12  B

Rinne no Lagrange is one of six anime series this season I’m watching that features either mecha or power suits or some type of metal ship and it’s been tough for this series to find its own unique appeal. So far this series is one of those shows that haven’t really done anything wrong but also really hasn’t done anything that great with itself and, as a result, finds itself just kinda hanging out in the middle. How Rinne no Lagrange turns out is something only time can tell at this point.

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(14) – Senhime Zesshou Symphogear

Rating for episodes 1 to 6 – 7/12  B

There are definite spots in which Senhime Zesshou Symphogear excels as an anime but there is almost an exactly opposite number of ways that it comes up short as an anime. I hate to say it but the easiest way to improve this anime would have been giving it a more substantial budget because it sounds shallow to say that it’s not pretty enough and yet, for a series based around fighting and singing, when those areas fizzle the whole series is hurt. The second biggest improvement would have come from an improved script to work from; it (like the whole show) has its great moments and its not-so-great moments. The end result, however, has been a fun series to watch and I remain hopeful for a strong finish.

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(13) – Phi Brain

Rating for episodes 1 to 19 – 8/12  B+

I was sure that Phi Brain was going to be an easy series to drop because the premise – an organization bent on solving the Divine Puzzle by raising and shaping a genius puzzle solver – is, frankly, rather silly and couldn’t possibly be any good. That moment where I threw my hands up in disgust over Phi Brain never happened though; instead, I continued watching and slowly I started seeing the charm of Phi Brain. Ultimately, it was the characters and how they fit together, develop and play off each other that made this series worth the watch. That and the plot has continued to cover new ground with each story arc and hasn’t yet started repeating itself. I’m still not ready to say Phi Brain is a “good” anime but it continues to beat my expectations.

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(12) – Amagami SS+ Plus

Rating for episodes 1 to 6 – 8/12  B+

I thought, like most people, that Amagami SS was a completed series and, like most people, I was surprised by the appearance of this second season. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the first Amagami SS series more than I probably should have but each story already had its ending. I wondered what the creators planned to do with another 12 episodes and was pleasantly surprised to see that they wanted to create a slice-of-life coda giving the viewers a glimpse of the characters after their happily ever after endings of the first series. As a slice-of-series it can’t match the likes of Natume but really, what can? Still, it’s an enjoyable fluff series that provides a nice counter-balance to the other more serious series currently airing.

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The second half should be out tomorrow.

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13 thoughts on “Winter 2012 Mid-Season Anime Report – Part 1: The Bottom Eleven”

  1. I dropped Symphogear. I couldn’t take the singing! Some of it was good but some was just horrible. I probably would have continued to watch it if it weren’t some of the awful singing. I loved the fighting scenes, thought the plot was a bit shallow, though. Who knows, I may try a re-watch.

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  2. I’m just curious as to why you consider Kampfe as being so bad? The story doesn’t sound so horrible (if not typical)…I dunno, I haven’t watched it, I’m just curious. ;)

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  3. @GC: Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I respect people who don’t agree with me, even when their counterargument is based on name calling. My opinion about Guilty Crown is grounded in how it holds up to other anime series I’ve watched – around 300 TV series back then and now ~550 TV series – and other animated/live action series. Watching other anime series succeed at doing things Guilty Crown wanted to do tells me that Guilty Crown is a mess and a huge failure.

    One anime that I’d recommend watching and using as a measuring stick for Guilty Crown is another anime from Production IG called Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. This anime hands down smokes Guilty Crown.

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  4. Code Geass kills GC in so many ways. Although the first episode of GC was well orchestrated. All the substance was let out of the helium air balloon afterwards, it seems.

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