Winter 2013 Mid-Season Anime Report: Part 1
Or the Summer mid-season anime report if one happens to live south of the equator.
Realistically if there were no new good anime series this season would still a fine one with the large number of great and good anime series that are carrying over from the fall season. Without covering all 11 continuing series I’m watching, the two series – Shinsekai Yori and Psycho-pass – that I thought would have strong second halves as they reached their respective climaxes are in the process of doing so. In contrast, the two carryover series – Little Busters and Robotics;Notes – that I thought had a good chance at being, ultimately, a waste of time are in process of proving me right. I guess you can’t win them all.
Let’s see how the new shows stack up.
A recent trend in anime, for a variety of reasons, has been the raise of the 5 minute per episode anime series. The gold standard for this format is the Star Wars Clone Wars micro-series created by Genndy Tartakovsky.
Rating for episodes 1 to 9 – 3/12 D
Inferno Cop is not a particularly good anime. One would be tempted to blame it’s “animation” but that’s not the problem – it’s the terrible story that sinks Inferno Cop. Trigger, the animation studio behind this anime, is a spin-off from Gainax and has the personal to create off-beat, screwball anime that can still tell a coherent story in the midst of the zany parts; so, the inability for Inferno Cop to have both parts is disappointing. The short length of this anime means I’ll keep watching and enjoying the “animation” but that’s it.
Yama no Susume
Rating for episodes 1 to 8 – 6/12 B-
This could have been a full half hour episode sized series. Granted, it’s not the most high-concept series since it falls firmly in the cute girls doing something (mountain climbing this time) genre but the quality of execution is what always makes or breaks these types of series. Yama no Susume has shown pretty good execution on the part of the animation staff but the time limit is limiting how good this series could be, which is a shame. A longer episode length would allow the number of characters to increase and allow the series to spend more time on the mountain climbing aspect of this series, which I’m finding interesting. Maybe if this mini-sized series does well the money will step forward for a full series.
I don’t like to drop anime series but, when they refuse to toe-the-line in one of a few aspects, then I will and feel good about it. I’ve not made an exhaustive list of what aspects an anime needs to not fail at for me to watch a series completely but the following three series hit the three biggest.
Rating for episodes 1 to 3 – 3/12 D (Dropped)
There is a time and place for everything. Fan service series like Senran Kagura will never be among my favorite types of anime series to watch but if it’s done right I will watch it. (I like to watch something pleasant after I finish the weekly episode of Shinsekai Yori, for example.) This anime series is not done right because, for one, it fails the cardinal rule of fan service series which is to use attractive looking character designs and use above-average animation. This alone is enough to drop it but it also suffered from characters without personalities, a boring story, and yawn-worthy fan service.
Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru
Rating for episodes 1 to 4 – 4/12 C (Dropped)
This season’s really long titled anime series is about a boy, his girlfriend, and his childhood friend. (I’m sure there’s a bigger cast but I bailed before they were introduced.) In many ways this series starts off like Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai which provided a convenient yardstick to compare this series to. Having such a handy guide helped me realize, rather quickly, that I hated all three of the main characters in Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru. This was the point I dropped it because a character-centered series needs to have likeable characters.
Maoyuu Maou Yuusha
Rating for episodes 1 to 6 – 6/12 B- (Dropped)
I wanted to really like this anime. If we can’t get a third season of Spice and Wolf then a different series covering economics would be the next best thing. I was willing to overlook the ugly character designs but this series turned out to be a mess. What ultimately convinced me to drop this series was how frustrating it was to watch when it shouldn’t have been. The inability of Maoyuu Maou Yuusha to decide what type of show it is, the shallow world-building and the generic characters that no time is taken to flesh out all help in making this anime a frustrating experience but the real kicker is how close this anime is to being legitimately good. I would even go so far to say that this series is purposely trying to be a frustrating experience (or everyone from the original creator down to the animation staff are just incompetent).
A better name for the anime series in this section might be the future forgottens. They lack the dubious quality of being so bad that their failure will get remembered. They also lack a varying amount of key elements that would catapult them into the ranks of the good series that people talk about and recommend. Within 2 years, maybe 3, there will almost certainly be nary a mention of any of these series.
Da Capo III
Rating for episodes 1 to 7 – 4/12 C
The first Da Capo series, way back in the summer of 2003, was one of the very first series I watched as I transitioned from being a pure brick’n’mortar anime fan to a mainly online anime fan. It wasn’t the greatest series (thereby helping cement my weariness of harem series) but I did enjoy the backdrop of having cherry trees that were eternally flowering and a couple of the characters were interesting. I dropped the sequel and skipped the two parts to the second series which doesn’t put this franchise on the firmest footing. In a stronger season I would have skipped over this series as well. However, I had some space, thanks to dropping a couple of other series, and a bit of curiosity to see if this franchise had improved over the years. The answer is that it hasn’t. The main character is dull and the various girls have paper-thin personalities and are more like a collection of traits then real people. Strangely enough, though, watching this show feels nostalgic. I won’t ever mistake this for a good anime series but, for this winter season, I have the room to watch a series that invokes these nostalgic feelings (while hoping this type of series stays out of vogue).
Vivid Red Operation
Rating for episodes 1 to 7 – 5/12 C+
After an initial thrill Vivid Red Operation has settled down into a formulaic, generic groove that leaves it knocking around with the likes of Da Capo III and Bakumatsu Gijinden Roman. The overwhelming sense I get is that this series was half thought-out then rushed to TV. For example, there’s only so many times one can use the butt-cam in a series before it becomes just another way to frame a shot. Couldn’t a little variety have been introduced? Also, the fight scenes seem awkward when there’s four heroes but only two (Red + someone) do the actual fighting and the other two merely float around with nothing to do. Couldn’t someone in the production committee have spent some time figuring out how to work all of them into the fight?
Bakumatsu Gijinden Roman
Rating for episodes 1 to 7 – 5/12 C+
This series has two things to it that keep me interested enough that I’ll continue watching to the end. The first is the main character, Roman, is voiced by Kazuya Nakai – who voiced Date Masamune in Sengoku Basara and Retro in Chihayafuru – and is a joy to listen to here as well. The second is that I do enjoy anime set in historical time periods as this anime is (end of the Edo period, mid-19th century). The above average OP/ED actually makes it three things. As for the show itself it’s been very average to slightly below average. Put in terms of Lupin III (with designs by Monkey Punch and animation from the studio that does Lupin this an apt comparison), it feels like mid-range Lupin material minus the memorable characters from Lupin. There has been some hinting to a deeper plot driving this series and if this is the case and it’s handled well then I could easily see Bakumatsu Gijinden Roman finishing strong.
Zettai Karen Children: The Unlimited – Hyoubu Kyousuke
Rating for episodes 1 to 7 – 6/12 B-
The more I watch this franchise, the more it feels like a weak facsimile of the X-men franchise. The latest episode, with it’s reveal that our main antagonist’s “tragic” background begins in WWII, further confirms this assessment. Using X-men as a template isn’t a bad thing per se, if it was trying to do something interesting with it but the creators really aren’t. The sole interesting item left to this series is if the undercover ESPer cop will ultimately side with rogue ESPer group or not. My heart weeps a little when Manglobe notches yet another disappointing series on their belt. In hindsight they should have dispended after finishing Samurai Champloo because it’s been a downward slide ever since then.
Part 2 is written and in the can so look for it tomorrow.