Spring 2013 Mid-Season Anime Report – Part 2: #16 to #9, The Middle Eight

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Like a middle child of a family having to work at being noticed between the siblings on either end of the spectrum, this post covers those anime series that have a tendency to get loss in the shuffle caused by the hubbub of the top and bottom anime series. The true strength of an anime season can often be found by examining this middle crowd. A weak season might have no solid hits coming from this middle; whereas, a strong season might have several series that would be top series in another season.

How strong is this season? Read on and find out.

(16) – Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge

Rating for episodes 1 to 6 – 7/12  B

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In a surprising twist, Crime Edge doesn’t suck. This tale of implements imbibed the murderous impulses and the promise of a limitless wish granted upon winning a twisted game isn’t perfect either but anytime an anime can make me feel that I’m not wasting my time watching it, it’s doing something right. I wasn’t expecting much from this anime, in part, because it was being animated by Studio Gokumi who I last watched do the craptastic Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imouto ga Iru! and was also only able to do a mediocre job with A Channel. With Crime Edge, they’ve even earned a bit of respect from me because they picked an animation style that harmonizes with and brings out the desired feel of the source material while sticking to the obvious small budget given it.

(15) – Valvrave the Liberator

Rating for episodes 1 to 6 – 8/12  B+

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Valvrave, without a doubt, had one of the best scenes of this season in the most recent episode. One of the girls of the series uses her newly acquired body-jacking vampire powers, that she received from her mecha upon renouncing her humanity, to steal the body of the male main character and flirt with a second girl until that girl collapses into a hormonally charged puddle of goo, agreeing to dress up as a cheerleader the next time the male main character needs to fight because he needs someone to cheer him on. This scene was so awesome, in part, because it was hilarious watching a girl step into yet another weak male main character role, the type that’s been plaguing anime for well over a decade, and snag a girl in like 5 minutes when the guy would have needed dozens, if not hundreds of episodes, to get to that point. This over-the-top, absurd comedic scene is the kind of contents that a top series has; so why, then, is this languishing so far out? The answer comes from the unevenness that Valvrave displays. For example, there wasn’t anything else memorable to the episode that contained the above scene and all the top series have displayed the ability to consistently wow the viewer multiple times in an episode.

(14) – Red Data Girl

Rating for episodes 1 to 7 – 8/12  B+

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As a rule, I love supernatural anime series. It’s one of the reasons why I want to see a sequel to Sasami-san@Ganbaranai, even when I’m still unsure how I really feel about that series in general. This love is one of the reasons I remain hopeful that Red Data Girl will finish stronger then the level it’s currently been treading at. “Stronger” actually shows my personal bias rather explicitly. With the stated run length of 1 cour, I’d rather the focus not be on the main character’s school life this late into the series because the time needed to do something interesting with the supernatural angle is fast running out. I feel that if a supernatural angle is introduced then it needs to play a significant role in the story at some point. (Call it Chekhov’s Spirit Gun, if you want.) Looking at other aspects to Red Data Girl, the vocal work is excellent; I’m particularly fond of Saori Hayami’s delivery as the shy main character. Also, the animation is above average and very nice but it is not at Hanasaku Iroha levels. At the very least Red Data Girl is on track to do better then PA Work’s last series – Tari Tari.

(13) – Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko

Rating for episodes 1 to 6 – 8/12  B+

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The mere presence of this anime on the list is a victory of sorts for it since, with absolutely no interest towards watching it, I was positive that I would pass it over. However, after dropping a few other anime series, having a favorite sub group pick it up, and because it’s on my Fantasy Anime League team over at MAL – I decided to give it a try. The result wasn’t nearly as bad as I feared. The wish granting cat statues have done the heavy lifting to make this series bearable. In this feature, Hentai Ouji reminds me of Natsuiro Kiseki, one of my favorites from last spring season that almost no one else watched. The characters here are nothing special, however, which makes it a weaker title then Natsuiro Kiseki was. If the cat statues can continue to remain relevant to the series then Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko should remain a decent watch.

(12) – Mushibugyou

Rating for episodes 1 to 7 – 9/12  A-

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Much like Ledo, one of my duties in life as a big brother has been to kill any and all spiders for my younger sisters. What I have never told them is that I find these crawling “aliens” no less creepy and stomach-turning. It’s this triggered response towards spiders that is the biggest strike against Mushibugyou, where historic Japan is being overrun by giant bugs that only the strongest warriors can kill. Thankfully not every monster resembles a spider. Beyond that issue, I really enjoy watching this anime. The straightforwardness displayed by Mushibugyou coupled with the confident, unfussy, execution makes this a delightful anime that runs counter to so many of the anime series. For example, it’s nice to sometimes watch an anime where the male main character has a backbone and is confident. It’s also nice to watch an anime that understands how an occasional bounce from a well-endowed lass works so much better as fan service then wall-to-wall near full nudity like in Hyakka Ryouran: Samurai Bride. Other things going for this anime include one of the best OP of the season, the historical setting, and an interesting animation style.

(11) – Aku no Hana

Rating for episodes 1 to 7 – 9/12  A-

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I was rather harsh on Aku no Hana after a slow paced first episode and it has turned out that my fears were unfounded – the story got down to business and hasn’t let up. With the seventh episode being the final nail that laid to rest any lingering doubts I had about the story, I’m now expecting Aku no Hana to start moving further upwards. Provided, of course, the story can continue going in interesting directions. It’s being asked to do a lot since I don’t particularly like any of the three principle characters and the animation is low-quality, rotoscoping or not. (Click here for an example of what good rotoscoping looks like.)

(10) – Namiuchigiwa no Muromi-san

Rating for episodes 1 to 7 – 9/12  A-

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In my preview for this season I said that my gut was telling me Namiuchigiwa no Muromi-san would be one of the surprise hits of the season and that has come to pass. I’d give it a treat if it hadn’t also missed  two other series that turned out to be surprise hits as well. (More on those later 🙂 .) This anime has the complete package to be a great comedy from a stellar seiyuu cast to a mastery of comedic timing but two elements really stand out and it’s the same two elements that first attracted me to this series. I liked the animation style of the publicity pictures and it turns out that the animators at Tatsunoko not only stylized the animation but also drew the animation in the mold of a Gainax or Studio Trigger series. The OP is a great example of the animation found in the series and, with each new weekly episode, I always need to watch it several times. The other element was that the writer had last done the very excellent comedies Ben-to and Milky Holmes and at this point it’s safe to say that we can add this anime onto the list of quality comedy series that he’s written. If Namiuchigiwa no Muromi-san can remain funny to the end then this anime might just claw itself up a few more spots.

(9) – Hunter x Hunter

Rating for episodes 75 to 80 – 9/12  A-

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This is now the seventh season that the Hunter x Hunter remake has run and it’s now pretty much a permanent fixture of each season’s top 10 list. The continuing adventures of our young shounen hero Gon as he tries to find his famous father has taken Gon to some interesting places and the latest stop looks like it might just be the best one yet. It might also be the darkest if the early episodes of this latest arc are indicative of the entire arc. I can’t wait to see how this arc plays out. Now, if I wanted to get picky about Hunter x Hunter then I’d bring up how I wish certain characters could get integrated into the series better and not simply disappear after a story arc. For example, I loved Leorio and I was positive that he’d stay in the show but he’s been MIA for dozens of episodes now. How hard would it be to bring him back in some small way. Maybe have Gon call him up for some medical advice or something. Another thing I’d wish Hunter x Hunter would do is change the opening song already, I was tired of it a year ago and it’s starting to reach the point of being a detriment to my enjoyment of Hunter x Hunter. Other then those two items, there’s nothing I can say bad about this great shounen series.

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