Spring Anime Impressions – Meta Post and Further Thoughts, Dropped Shows and Rough Rankings

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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.

Thoughts

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Cross Game

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.

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Sengoku Basara

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.

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Hatsukoi Limited

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.

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Natsu no Arashi

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.

East of Eden
East of Eden

Dropped Shows

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.

Hatsukoi Limited
Hatsukoi Limited

Rough Ranking

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

Sengoku Basara


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.

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11 thoughts on “Spring Anime Impressions – Meta Post and Further Thoughts, Dropped Shows and Rough Rankings”

  1. “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?”

    Pretty much impossible due the differences the first series took with that material covered. Father’s been mentioned, The Truth was in ep 2, Tucker’s dead and someone else isn’t, Gran’s not an asshole, Ed’s attitude to what Scar is, Roy’s been to Winry’s house and nothing happened because well I won’t say.

    Some of these won’t seem like much but without getting into spoilers I can’t really show how…

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  2. Yeah I think I figured out your problem when it comes to Saki. You can’t really review an anime when you don’t even comprehend it’s key focus. Best you drop it now and never speak of it again.

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  3. @Westlo: Thanks for not spoiling. Yeah, it wouldn’t match up well but the small story arcs like Shou Tucker’s and the phony priest’s where done much better the first time around. For instance, because of the first series, Shou Tucker holds the title of most hated anime character ever for me but he wouldn’t have been equally hated if I had just watched the first version.

    @Kaioshin Sama: And what’s the main focus of Saki? If it’s not watching our band of heroes overcome adversity and win the mahjong tournament, I’d like to hear what I’m missing. If, by your comment, I take it that you don’t share my opinion of Saki, I wonder if you’ve watched Cross Game and would compare the two.

    Thanks for the comment though. I’m kinda in shock that you didn’t even mention KyoAni once in your comment though. 🙂

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  4. @steelbound: I don’t share your views on much of anything and that’s all well and good, but you give the impression that you aren’t sure of what’s going on with regard to the Mahjong in Saki and that the show was somehow supposed to have something else to make it up to people that aren’t into or know how to play the game. To me it makes little sense why anyone would presume to watch the show if they aren’t at least somewhat fond of Mahjong and had a base understanding of it let alone to slap a rating on it. I don’t even think I need an example to say what the problem is there.

    And I’m surprised you didn’t mention anything about Kyoani and Clannad…..oh wait….. 😛

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  5. @Kaioshin Sama: But I can sit down and watch shows like Bamboo Blade or Hikaru no Go and like them and have no knowledge of how Kendo or Go is played. So it is possible to give the viewers who don’t know the sport some reason to stick around, in both of these show’s cases it was the interesting characters and the focus on character development.

    I’d throw in Cross Game but I do know how to play baseball but even if I didn’t, I don’t think my enjoyment would be any less because the focus has been on the characters with very little time actually spent playing baseball.

    And maybe knowledge of the game would further hurt how I view the show. I did read a few people that said they knew mahjong and Saki’s ability to always get 0 stretched believability too much and made it impossible for them to watch. Probably like saying person X’s batting average in baseball is always 1.000 – it’s impossible and I couldn’t watch a show that tried to seriously say that a person is that good.

    Like you new avatar, it somehow fits my image of you – though I don’t know what anime it’s from to know if it really is. 🙂

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  6. @Kaioshin Sama:

    “And maybe knowledge of the game would further hurt how I view the show. I did read a few people that said they knew mahjong and Saki’s ability to always get 0 stretched believability too much and made it impossible for them to watch. ”

    Possible, though it ultimately depends on how much you are trying to dislike the show. As for me, I’m not saying Saki is utter brilliance (I’d tie it with K-On right now), but I strongly disagree with your assement of it, which again comes from the viewpoint of not knowing the basic rules of the game, a huge shortcoming for a reviewer in my book. Also, first hand viewpoint always beats second hand viewpoint, as it is in historical analysis, as it is in the art of reviewing. Thus I strongly suggest learning the rules of Mahjong, seriously evaluating the series that Saki is trying to be, and then judging it if you are aiming at becoming a serious reviewer, because otherwise it comes across as an unreasonable dismissal based in ignorance. Going on second hand accounts just cheapens the art of review.

    As for Baseball, I would assume most English speakers know how to play baseball, and considering the popularity of baseball in Japan the same goes for the viewers there as well. Mahjong is admittedly a predominantly regional passtime, but as it stands that region happens to be Asia and Japan, which contains the target audience of Saki. Thus as with baseball the same prerequisite to appropriate viewership for Cross Game! (knowledge of the game) goes since many people in Japan have a base understanding of Mahjong and are approaching the show from that viewpoint. So I ask again, how is it that you feel that you can fairly react to Saki without a base understanding of Mahjong, secondhand accounts notwithstanding?

    My avatar is from Shin Mazinger by the way. I have no idea if that confirms your image of me or not, though I wouldn’t go by any set image based off of the anime I borrow my Avatar from since a person ultimately comes down to far more than that.

    I leave with this suggestion for now, don’t take anime too seriously. Some shows have multiple layers to them and the top one only reveals so much.

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  7. First off, weather I know the rules to a game doesn’t determine if an anime is good or not. A perfect example was Shion no Ou. I have to agree with Steelbound on this particular anime because it just doesn’t seem to go too much deeper than the game. In my humble or not so humble depending on how you take it, Akagi is a much better anime about mah-jong and the incredible level of luck the players seem to have. As far as some of the other shows Steelbound has mentioned, my opinion may or may not diverge from hers. Personally I stopped watching after the 2nd or 3rd episode because the anime sucked. There is just no politer way to say it while getting my point across. I’ll also admit that tayutama isn’t a great series but hey I’ve seen much worst so I guess I can still watch it when there is nothing to do. As for K-on, it just doesn’t appeal to me, thus I have stopped watching it. Pandora and Phantom are both ok series. Later episodes have added to my intrigue but they seem to have perminately placed themselves among the Tokyo Majin’s of anime. Personally I think that best series of the season is Sengoku Basara simply because the show is very good in pretty much every aspect.

    P.S. The shows that I didn’t mention I probably haven’t gotten around to watching them yet or didn’t have much of an opinion on.

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  8. Ristorante Paradiso is my favorite show of the Spring season 🙂 I’ll cover the last episode soon and might write a brief review later 🙂

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  9. I definitely agree with you about K-On and Eden of the East. Whatever I wanted to say, you’ve said it.

    as for the Saki discussion, I started watching it with pretty much no knowledge of mahjong whatsoever. but that’s not what hooked me. It’s the shounen-ness of them using dramatic effects and the moe, while many other people watch it because of the mahjong . Not surprisingly, I began to get interested in learning mahjong after a bit. I’ve seen some Saki discussion threads, and most of them are talking about how they play the game (what hand is who going to win with, that sort of thing). Though, you don’t really need to understand the game to enjoy it (the atmosphere and drama).

    Yes, I do understand that you like the emotional character development route much more than the whole “powering up” thing, and I can say that it’s not gonna get to where you want it for a while. Maybe it’s because I like Bleach, but meh.

    @ray: Akagi is probably better in the eyes of most westerners, but you have to understand that dark animes don’t coincide with japanese tastes (death note and code geass being the noticeable exceptions I can think of).

    I’m an Asian (just so you know).

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  10. Cross Game had a very good explanation and dramatic tension on the baseball terms and tournament victory conditions.

    My knowledge of baseball consists mostly of 4 strikes and you are out, throw the ball before the batter gets to plate and he is out, and if somebody catches a batted ball before it hits the ground the batter is out. I have no real concept of the advantaged strategies or tactics used in the game. But Cross Game, in the process of getting the characters powered up in baseball, also taught me exactly what they were doing. That is an excellent element to all sports anime, in my view.

    I personally enjoyed the tournaments and sports more than I enjoyed the character interactions. I saw the interactions as the lead up to the tournaments. In the sense of synergy, it was also based upon her dream so there’s no reason to separate winning at baseball to character interactions. They end up the same way in the end.

    The dramatic tension from underestimating players and seeing them overcome crazy odds, is also nice. But they didn’t do it for every tournament and often you had to go through a lot of losses when you were expecting to win. But that just shows you that baseball is a team sport. It doesn’t matter how much somebody is overpowered vs other people, like Layfon in Chrome Shelled Regios. Victory can only be achieved if the entire team is pulling their weight. One person pulling the entire team’s weight is not going to do much good in the end.

    I would say for a good sports anime, the viewer does not need to know the rules going in. The audience should be able to pick up the logic of the game simply by observing how it is played and what is said about it. For certain things in Cross Game, like baseball references to specific terminology or people, you will need to look it up. But those times should be very rare.

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