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[In which I review] New anime, Spring 2011

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
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Ao no Exorcist (The Blue Exorcist)
(25 episodes)

What's it about ?

A middle school dropout discovers he's the son of Satan. You'll have to wait the second episode to see how he decides to become an Exorcist, though.

Characters

Jin, our protagonist. He spends most of the episode trying to hold a job... and failing miserably , because he's quite clumsy. It doesn't help that he's got super-strength, some blue fire powers, and can now suddenly see the flurry of demons and sprites wreaking havoc on the real world. Also, his white knight personality tends to lead him into fights with local bullies (which he usually wins, but still).

Yukio, his "twin brother", although given they barely look alike and the whole "son of Satan" thing, I'm not sure I trust that. Anyway, he's basically perfect : calm, studious, and just getting a scholarship to a prestigious high school. Jin doesn't like being constantly compared to him, but they do love each other.

Father Fujimoto, their legal guardian, and head Exorcist of the local church. He's awesome personified, at least when he isn't being lecherous. He did know about Jin's ancestry, but tried to give him a normal life. Jin's powers awakening rule that choice out, though.

We see quite a few other characters : the church's apprentices, the various co-workers at Jin's job, the local bullies... all of them are quite one-note, though.

Production Values

There's something about the character designs and the animation that feels a bit cheap to me, but I can't quite put my finger on it. Anyway, it looks quite ugly and lacking in atmosphere. The pacing's quite a bit wonky, too - the last few scenes all felt like the episode should have stopped there.

Overall Impression

Oh, sweet. A series I can drop immediately without any remorse.

There's not much to like, here. Most of the episode is devoted to Jin's work hijinks, which is just boring. It fails to make me care about the main plot, and Jin's a brat I can live without. The whole thing reeks of clichés and well-worn plot devices. And it just doesn't look very good.
 

Dawgstar

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There's not much to like, here. Most of the episode is devoted to Jin's work hijinks, which is just boring. It fails to make me care about the main plot, and Jin's a brat I can live without. The whole thing reeks of clichés and well-worn plot devices. And it just doesn't look very good.
It does seem a little bit of a shame that what Viz tries to push the most is something I have zero interest in (not counting Tiger and Bunny). Kind of like Kekkashi, only I care even less.
 

Jhiday

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So, with a few exceptions, I've reviewed every new show this season. How does the tally go ?
The list goes from best to worst. Anything below WGOK2 I'm susceptible to drop at anytime.

THE OUTSTANDING :

Nothing yet, although some series show promise.

THE GOOD : (7)

Hanasaku Iroha (3 episodes so far) may very well be the best show of the season. Superb production values, incredible characterization, and a healthy sense of humour are the main highlights. I'm still not sure I like where they're going with Granny, and the third episode had some bouts of self-indulgent fanservice, but it's definitely the show I look the most forward every week.

Deadman Wonderland (1 ep) had a killer first episode that quickly grabbed my attention and never let go. If it manages to deliver on at least half of what it promises, it could be the thriller of the season.

Steins;Gate (2 ep) is at it best when it manages to confuse us (and the main character) about our grasp of reality. The second episode stumbled a bit by introducing a flurry of potential haremettes (due to its VN roots, I guess), but then recovered with a truly unsettling cliffhanger.

Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Boku-tachi wa Mada Shiranai (1 ep) is the best at what it does, and what it does is melodrama. So far, I like it.

Tiger & Bunny (3 ep) isn't quite as AWESOME as it first episode suggested, but it's still a very good buddy superhero series.

Fireball Charming (2 ep) combines superb animation with biting wit... but like the first season, not all jokes work equally well. Still, when it's on, it's hilarious, and it always manages to bring out a smile out of me.

X-Men (3 ep) barely makes the cut thanks to my X-fanatic bias. Still, that's exactly what I want out of an X-Men series : epic action sequences and angst, armies of weird evil bad guys, and a ridiculously convoluted and self-referential plot.

THE OKAY/I'M NOT SURE : (12)

[C] - The Money of Soul and Possibility Control (1 ep) didn't really convince me with its first episode, but I'm open to the next few ones changing my mind.

A Channel (2 ep) is a fun little moe slice of life series. Nothing ground-breaking, but it works at what it does.

Hyouge Mono (1 ep) is a well-executed joke that I wonder whether it can sustain itself for 39 episodes.

Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko (1 ep) just feels like Arakawa-lite for now. I hope it gets better soon.

The World God Only Knows 2 (1 ep) is basically more of the same so far.

Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi (2 ep) is at it best when it's just a work-com... but the pesky yaoi often gets in the way.

Yondemasuyo Azazel-san (2 ep) relies a LOT to its pacing and the voice-actors's perfect delivery to make poo jokes palatable (er, so to speak). Still, so far it's funny.

Hen Zemi (2 ep) has me worrying a bit. It's already getting quite repetitive, despite being made of half-episodes. There's a great risk of it becoming stale soon.

Nichijou (3 ep) just isn't really clicking for me. Sure, Mai is an awesome troll and the Hakase/Nino scenes worth watching on their own, but most of the rest fails to entertain me.

Sket Dance (2 ep) is on thin ice after a second episode made nearly exclusively out of shouting.

Dororon Enma-kun Meeramera (dropped after 1 ep) is a retro exercise I have no interest in.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal (dropped after 1 ep) barely avoids the "bad" category because there's not really anything wrong with it. I'm just 15 years too old for it.

THE BAD : (10)

Dog Days (3 ep) squids a very fine line between being entertainly crap (the awesomely convoluted rules for the sport-wars) and just crap (a bath scene where the hero gets into the wrong room and stumbles on the princess ? Really ?).

Ao no Exorcist (dropped after 1 ep) looks like generic battle shounen without anything distinctive to it. Who cares ?

Maria Holic Alive (2 ep) combines jaw-dropping SHAFT visuals with the finest brand of unfunny humour. The second episode was marginally better (thanks to heaps of screentime for Dorm-Leader-sensei, one of the few characters who's actually funny), but not to the point of being worth watching.

Battle Girls: Time Paradox (2 ep) is, objectively, nonsensical crap. But it's got some weird charm that makes it a strangely compelling watch.

Aria the Scarlet Ammo (dropped after 1 ep) looks almost like self-parody of every RieKugi show ever... but if that's the intent, it doesn't manage to pull it off. It's just stupid and obnoxious.

Suzy's Zoo Daisuki! Witzy and Happy Kappy (both dropped after 1 ep) are shows for pre-schoolers, but that doesn't really excuse the dismal production values and the complete absence of anything worth watching in them.

Toriko (dropped after 1 ep) looks like a caricature of battle shounen anime... except there's nothing actually fun about it. It's just dull as heck.

Softenni (dropped after 1 ep) is a fanservice-fest mascarading as a sports slice-of-life.

A Bridge to the Starry Skies (dropped after 1 ep) is the most generic dating-sim adaptation I've ever seen.

THE TERRIBLE : (3)

Astarotte's Toy ! (dropped after 1 ep) alternates between standard fanservice and pedo-bait in a desperate effort for shock value. I'll just be passing my way.

30-sai no Hoken Taiiku (dropped after 1 ep) would have just been a bad sex-comedy without the inept and overbearing censoring. As aired, it's just unwatchable.

Without Wings - Oretachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai (dropped after 1 ep) desperately tries to make a non-generic dating-sim adaptation... but is just so badly mangled-together that it's completely incoherent. (It doesn't help that its actual parts are still generic as hell.)

THE UN-REVIEWED :

Shouwa Monogatari has already aired three episodes (and that's without counting the early airings during the Winter holidays), but it seems nobody has any interest in subbing yet. A pity, as I'm quite curious about what they've done with the "anime for old people" remit.

Moshidora only starts airing next Monday (I have no clue whether they're broadcasting it weekly, or sticking with the original daily schedule). I'll review it in due time.

I'm sure there's a couple kids' shows I've overlooked. Frankly, even if they do show up eventually, I won't bother.


CONCLUSION :

Overall, that's a pretty okay season. Quite a number of good shows, not too big a percentage of crap... It lacks a headline series that's head and shoulders above the norm (like Madoka last season), but those shows are few and far between (we didn't get anything like that for Fall 2010, did we ?).
 

Wolfwood2

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Deadman Wonderland (1 ep) had a killer first episode that quickly grabbed my attention and never let go. If it manages to deliver on at least half of what it promises, it could be the thriller of the season.
The premise turned me off too much to give it a chance, but I'm glad it doesn't suck.

Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Boku-tachi wa Mada Shiranai (1 ep) is the best at what it does, and what it does is melodrama. So far, I like it.
I'm a little worried about the level of angst and depression I can expect here, but I'll give it a shot.

Tiger & Bunny (3 ep) isn't quite as AWESOME as it first episode suggested, but it's still a very good buddy superhero series.
My feeling is that T&B is doing nothing new, but it's doing some standard plots very well.

Fireball Charming (2 ep) combines superb animation with biting wit... but like the first season, not all jokes work equally well. Still, when it's on, it's hilarious, and it always manages to bring out a smile out of me.
It's two minute shorts of two man comedy. I'll watch it becuase it's so short, but it's hardly even worth discussing IMO.

A Channel (2 ep) is a fun little moe slice of life series. Nothing ground-breaking, but it works at what it does.
If wikipedia is to be believed, the manga has only been running since late 2008 and only two volumes are out. Which means the anime could run short of original material and be forced to strike out on its own with character development and stuff... which could be interesting to see.

Sket Dance (2 ep) is on thin ice after a second episode made nearly exclusively out of shouting.
Agreement. Also, I'm unclear why SKET seems so unpopular. Despite the kookiness of their characters, they seem like a pretty straightforward campus service organization.

Dog Days (3 ep) squids a very fine line between being entertainly crap (the awesomely convoluted rules for the sport-wars) and just crap (a bath scene where the hero gets into the wrong room and stumbles on the princess ? Really ?).
Agree here as well.

Without Wings - Oretachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai (dropped after 1 ep) desperately tries to make a non-generic dating-sim adaptation... but is just so badly mangled-together that it's completely incoherent. (It doesn't help that its actual parts are still generic as hell.)
I watched a second episode. Its total and complete incoherence is apparently entirely deliberate. I mean, the framing device being used is an old-style television set being turned from one channel to another. It's sort of like the Robot Chicken of dating-sim adaptations.
 

Dawgstar

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Sket Dance (2 ep) is on thin ice after a second episode made nearly exclusively out of shouting.
I enjoyed the first episode so much I read the manga a good piece down the line, and find myself highly entertained. Possibly I was sold when Switch introduces himself by listing his favorite Visored.

Battle Girls: Time Paradox (2 ep) is, objectively, nonsensical crap. But it's got some weird charm that makes it a strangely compelling watch.
This is why the term 'Road House-ian' was coined. And I agree it is oddly watchable, but only just. The second episode will decide things for me.

Toriko (dropped after 1 ep) looks like a caricature of battle shounen anime... except there's nothing actually fun about it. It's just dull as heck.
I'm not terribly sold on this myself. The premise just seems too simple and as of yet the characters aren't very compelling (though there's only two so far). Simple premises aren't a bad thing in the genre ("Pirate seeks world's most valuable treasure") but the best shows do a ton with what they have. I dunno if Toriko's got the chops to spin straw into gold. (Mentally I keep calling it 'Akira Toriyama's Fist of the North Star' and that doesn't help matters at all.)

Agreement. Also, I'm unclear why SKET seems so unpopular. Despite the kookiness of their characters, they seem like a pretty straightforward campus service organization.
I'm pretty sure it's just their cheerful willingness to get involved in the affairs of others.
 
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ru

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I've fallen few a bit behind on the last bunch of shows - I usually catch up on weekends but I was busy roleplaying this weekend (shock! ;)) - but I'm a bit dissapointed. There's plenty of decently watchable stuff, but nothing really great.

EDIT: on second thoughts Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko might turn into something good, but it's too early to tell


I watched a second episode. Its total and complete incoherence is apparently entirely deliberate. I mean, the framing device being used is an old-style television set being turned from one channel to another. It's sort of like the Robot Chicken of dating-sim adaptations.
I think it's trying to be satire, with varying levels of success. When it succeeds can be quite cutting but it's more miss than hit and when it misses it's just painful (such as the entire thing with the author and the magazine writer).
 

ru

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that reminds me:

Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko ("Electromagnetic Wave Woman and Adolescent Man")
"Denpa-kei" is a Japanese slang term than means someone who lives in their own dream world, or has a loose grip on reality. Derives from the idea that they're hearing voices in their head because they're picking up radio transmissions, or they're "tuned to the wrong station". or something like that.

 

bv728

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Toriko (dropped after 1 ep) looks like a caricature of battle shounen anime... except there's nothing actually fun about it. It's just dull as heck.
The Manga takes some time to get going as well, sadly - the early stuff is exposition and fairly generic, then eventually you wind up with Toriko fighting a mosquito themed dude who has a giant straw, on top of a volcano over an ear of corn the size of a skyscraper.... and then they use the volcano to make EPIC POPCORN! Once the Mangaka went crazy, the manga got way better.
 

ru

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so, had a bit of a catch-up session.


Astarotte's Toy! (Lotte no Omocha!)
*squick*


Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko ("Electromagnetic Wave Woman and Adolescent Man")
I think this one has potential, as I mentioned earlier. It's quirky and interesting, and the protagonist isn't too generic


Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai ("We still don't know the name of the flower from that day")
okay, so I'm going to rescind my earlier complaint about there being no great shows this season: this show is excellent. Well animated, affecting and compelling.


Aria the Scarlet Ammo (Hidan no Aria)
The stupid, it burnssssssss!


Ao no Exorcist (The Blue Exorcist)
evaluated as generic shounen. it's better animated than most, and the protagonist's likeable, by the standards of the genre. Need to wait an ep or two to see what the fights are like.
 
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