Top Picks – Summer 2008 Anime, Part 2

Can I take him home?
Can I take him home? I’ve always wanted a fox spirit

The second part of my picks for the summer season of anime is two countdowns: one for the best new shows and one for the best continuing shows.

If I had drawn up this countdown last week, it would have been different. The recent episodes of Natsume have really made the case for it getting the rank it has. Also, my recent catch-up on Nabari no Ou has really improved my opinion of the series.

Top 3 from Summer

3. Ryoko’s Case Files

2. Xam’d: Lost Memories

1. Natsume Yuujinchou

I was sure that I’d give the top spot of the season to Xam’d when I saw the first episode. What happened though was while Xam’d is stuck in developing the world, characters, and plot (very interesting in itself) Natsume is turned into a superior slice-of-life / supernatural / relaxing anime. I have no clue how either will end but for right now Natsume is the best new anime. After those two, it was a bit difficult to pick one show that really deserved the third spot above the others. I almost chose Somedays Dreamer’s but the fact that I only saw four episodes, compared to 6-7 of the others, pretty much sunk it’s chances because I’m still not entirely sure how good the series will be. Episode 4 was really good but I wanted to see it hold that for another couple episodes. Zero’s Familiar is enjoyable fluff so far but I’m not really sure after the second season that I like how the third season might be trying to inject a serious plot into itself. So in the end it was Ryoko’s Case Files that finally got the spot. Ryoko and Izumida are the real draws to this show and if the cases would improve from being mediocre then this show will do very good in the year end awards.

Top Shows continuing this season

3. Nabari no Ou

2. Wagaya no Oinari-sama

1. Soul Eater

Daughter of 20 Faces should be on this countdown because it started so strongly but after the first major story arc it feels like the series is treading water. While it remains an enjoyable series, it’s not enough to be ranked in the top 3. Nabari no Ou, on the other hand, has been working hard to get to the third place. It’s starting to flirt with being good enough to be worth buying on DVD but I’ll have to see how it ends to make that determination.

On the other hand Wagaya no Oinari-sama has gone from a surprisingly watchable series to being one of my favorites and one I can definitely see myself as buying on DVD when available. It’s hard to point to exactly why I love this show though. It has a bit of comedy, a bit of drama, a bit of school-life, a bit of the supernatural and it has a fox spirit that can’t remember what gender it is, a culture-shocked shrine maiden (miko), a girl that takes everything out of context and forms wrong conclusions. Maybe that’s it, it has many little bits that they know how to fit together to keep it fun and interesting without forgetting why it’s fun and interesting.

Episode 19 locked Soul Eater into the top spot. I recently read a blog entry that talked about how pay-off episodes in shounen are often huge but the viewers have to suffer through boring build-up; whereas, slice-of-life shows run on a more even level and thus can feel like better shows in the short-run. I’ll leave aside the discussion on which type of show is better to say I agree with the assessment of how shounen shows go. The last couple of episodes of Soul Eater have been pointing to getting some payoff and episode 19 confirms it. I expect, then, the next 5-6 episodes to be awesome. So for being a stylish shounen series with great characters and action, it earns the top spot for continuing series.

The next time I’ll be doing this is the fall season, and it’s shaping up to be a busy one. Expect my preview soon.

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