The impetuous behind this post originally was to collect in one spot the scores of all season’s new shows and link back to the individual impression posts so non-frequent readers could see at-a-glance all the shows that I reviewed. This time around, I’m going to do that and add a bit more information about the season as a whole.
First off, is the listing of the spring shows I watched and wrote posts for. These are going to be listed in the order of the average of the episode scores that where used to write the impression post. (For most shows I’ve watched more episodes but I didn’t want to complicate things.)
East of Eden, episodes 1-2 average – 11/12
Cross Game, episodes 1-2 average – 10.7/12
K-ON!, episodes 1-2 average – 10.5/12
Hatsukoi Limited, episodes 1-3 average – 9.7/12
Natsu no Arashi, episodes 1-3 average – 9/12
Sengoku Basara, episode 1 – 9/12
Ristorante Paradiso, episodes 1-3 average – 9/12
Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, episode 1 – 9/12
Phantom ~Requiem of Phantom~ , episodes 1-4 average – 8.25/12
Hayate the Combat Butler Season 2, episodes 1-2 average – 8/12
Slap-Up Party -Arad Senki- , episodes 1-2 average – 7.5/12
Asura Cryin’, episodes 1 – 7/12
Valkria Chronicles, episodes 1-3 average – 7/12
Tears to Tiara, episodes 1-2 average – 6.5/12
Pandora Hearts, episodes 1-3 average – 6/12
Shangri-La, episode 1 – 6/12
Saki, episodes 1 – 3/12
There were a few shows that I just didn’t feel like writing up an impression post for but for completeness sake, I’ll mention them here. Queen’s Blade and Tayutama were complete and utter garbage and spending more then 50 words to say so would be too good for either show. Tayutama has the ugliest animation I’ve ever watched; I don’t know how it compares to that show known for the head of lettuce that looked like a green ball but it couldn’t have been much worse then Tayutama. At least the people behind Queen’s Blade had enough blood going to their brains to realize they needed good animation but that’s about all one can positively say about the show. Also not covered was Hanasakera Seishounen. After a couple of episodes, it just didn’t feel like my cup of tea and I didn’t want to write a negative review for a show that I normally wouldn’t cover or watch.
East of Eden and Cross Game continue to impress. In the case of East of Eden we have a great 1-2 punch of great main characters and an interesting and mysterious story. You know an anime is doing something right when the viewer spends a fair amount of time thinking about it and wondering how the story and plot will develop as well as worrying about the characters and trying to think about possible secrets not yet revealed about the show. For instance, the thought came to me that Juiz might just be an AI that has grade A hacking skills. That would explain how she’s able to accomplish the huge range of tasks given to her as quickly as she does. For Cross Game, I’m really happy to see the emphasis on the characters and character development hasn’t diminished yet. My model of a good sports anime is one that doesn’t actually focus on the sport but on the people and till now Bamboo Blade was the best example of this that I’ve seen but Cross Game is in the process of taking it’s place. Who knew the closest show to Clannad this season, in terms of being about character development and evoking emotions over these characters, was going to be Cross Game.
Six episodes in for Sengoku Basara and Hayate Season 2 and I’ve firmed up my opinions of these shows. Sengoku Basara might go down as the best video game adaptation ever. It’s gorgeous to look at, the voice work is positively heavenly, it keeps the viewer glued to the edge of their seat to see what happens next and it’s supremely fun and entertaining to watch. The big differences between the two seasons of Hayate, as far as I can see, is the first season, done by Synergy SP, was more focused on the comedy aspect of the show whereas the second season, done by J.C. Staff, has focused more on the characters and the relationships between them. So while I’m liking the characters more, I’m laughing less often – at this point, I don’t know if that’s a bad thing but maybe those people that got tired of the first season will like the second season more.
Two shows that I’m continuing to enjoy and are desparately hoping will run (or, at least eventually run) 24-26 episodes are K-ON! and Hatsukoi Limited. Neither of these shows are particularly deep like East of Eden but both put a smile on my face when I watch them. I thought it was kinda funny the amount of people that thought the concert in episode 6 of K-ON! was going to be super awesome – it’s only episode 6, the super awesome concert should be towards the end of the series since that would be the climax of a show focused on high school band. In the case of Hatsukoi Limited, I love how with each episode we get a totally different story and the relationship chart gets even more complicated. The possibilities and how the focus is spread out amongst many different characters make it so this show is never dull. I often complain about unwanted fan-service in shows but this show is a great example of how you can incorporate fan-service into the show without dumbing the show down or messing with the story of the show.
A couple of shows have surprised me with how good they have turned out. The first, Natsu no Arashi, had a poor first episode that wasn’t characteristic of the rest of the show but it’s slowly clawing it’s way towards the top. I’m really happy that the show incorporates Arashi’s history and condition into the plot of the story. It brings in a time of history not often talked about in anime and makes this show worth watching just on that facet alone. Throw in a bag of interesting characters, some well-played comedy bits (Diet Coke and Mentos FTW!), good voice work, just a bit of the odd animation tricks that the director is known for, and you end up with a good show. The other show, Ristorante Paradiso, is not only is a first effort by a new animation company but it focuses on a restaurant run by glasses-wearing older men and the young woman that’s wormed her way into working there. I wasn’t expecting to get attached to this show but it’s been a great show to watch; the slice-of-life elements have been carried out expertly which give the show a nice relaxing feel and the characters are interesting so I don’t even mind that this show is probably meant to appeal to female viewers. It also helps that the animation style, a mixture of CG and traditional, is refreshing different to look at.
I’ve been really split on Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood so far. On one hand, I’m glad they’re getting through the early material quickly so we can get to the new stuff quickly. On the other hand, condensing these episodes down strips a lot of the emotional impact of the series. I wonder if when this series is over, will the preferred why to watch the series will be to watch the first ~25 episodes of the old series then pick up the new series at that point? Judging from my poll, there’s many people who really like this but I’m curious if these people have seen the old series or are new to the universe.
The following shows are considered dropped by me: Queen’s Blade, Tayutama,and Hanasakera Seishounen for the reasons stated above as well as Saki and Shangri-La for not offering anything beyond lousy fan-service to non-mahjong viewers (in the case of Saki) and for being just a complete jumble of half-baked ideas and poorly developed characters (in the case of Shangri-La).
Pandora Hearts and Valkria Chronicles are in danger of being dropped at this point and will need to improve if I’m to continue to watch them. More reconnaissance will be needed for Slap-Up Party -Arad Senki- and Tears to Tiara to see if they’re worth watching more of but I’m almost sure one of these will remain. I’ve noticed I haven’t mentioned two shows at all yet: Phantom and Asura Cryin’. The reason is I haven’t watched any episodes after what’s covered in the impression post so I don’t have anything more to say about these two.
In another month’s time, as the spring season winds down, I’ll have a very complete rundown of how the shows rank but I already do some rough estimations.
Top shows of the season: East of Eden, Cross Game
Very good shows with a possibility of being great: Hatsukoi Limited, Natsu no Arashi, Sengoku Basara
Very good shows: K-ON!
Good shows with a chance of being very good: Ristorante Paradiso, Hayate Season 2, Phantom
Good shows: Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Mediocre shows with a possibility of being good: Tears to Tiara
Mediocre shows with a chance of staying watchable: Slap-Up Party -Arad Senki-, Valkria Chronicles, Pandora Hearts
Sub-par shows: Shangri-La, Saki
Belongs in a landfill shows: Queen’s Blade, Tayutama
Well that about does it. All-in-all this season turned out better then I hoped; the discovery of a few good shows outside of where I’d normally expect to find them helped strengthen the season. That said, a glance at the rough previews of the next season that are already getting put together seems to include a larger number of interesting looking shows. There’s a few that I positively can’t wait to watch.