Top 5 of Summer 2010
OK so Summer is over! I held off posting my usual ‘Top Picks of the Season’ post until now because I now finding that my opinion of shows are changing dramatically after midseason. Plus its better to base my opinions on 12/13 episodes rather than the 5/6 I was doing as part of my mid-season posts.
Of the 16 series previewed, I kept on 8 (5 complete & 3 ongoing), plus Amagami SS which I dropped after 12eps and Ookami-san which I dropped after 4eps. Anyway here’s my personal top picks of Summer 2010!
I was so sure I was going to hate this series – I mean the character designs and the fact it’s about a bunch of children is more than enough to send me running for the hills! However despite my misgivings, I gave Mitsudomoe a fair chance, and ended up really enjoying the series much to my surprise. The show made me laugh quite a lot, and that’s one of the few things I demand of a comedy series. The humour is crude and pretty repetitive (the classic misunderstanding gag was recycled and repackaged so many times it was unbelievable!); but the characters have a strange charm (Mitsuba in particular really grew on me) and some of the writing was genuinely brilliant. Aside from the unappealing character designs (which actually grew on me as time went on) the production values were actually very good – for a relatively new studio Bridge did a solid job on Mitsudomoe. Voice acting was also very good and on the music front that OP was bloody addictive (I’ve caught myself humming it) and the background music was also varied and interesting.
Overall a surprisingly solid comedy series and I’ll be fairly happy to watch the sequel that’s coming out this Winter in the hope that they mix up the humour a bit and introduce more of the quirky side characters.
4. Occult Academy:
Occult Academy turned out to be a strange series; good, but strange! It had a superb start – the humour was spot on and didn’t make the viewer out to be an idiot, the characters were interesting (hoorah for Maya faces, Keytar wielding dowsers and spanner wielding Graham Specter expys), the premise had tons of potential and the production was excellent. However things started to get a bit iffy in the middle of the series where it seemed like the show was abandoning any central plot thread regarding an imminent alien invasion, in favour of scooby-doo type adventures. That all changed in ep10 where the show decided to throw caution to the wind and just go nuts! This worked well for me when I was watching the show, but on reflection Occult Academy was a bit uneven and riddled with plotholes – you can really tell that there was a different director each week as the flow of episodes over the run was really quite poor.
Still I don’t think the show was a disaster, and was pretty pleased with the way it turned out – not a bad way for the Anime no Chikara timeslot to end IMO.
3. Kuroshitsuji II:
I was very conflicted about this anime original sequel before I went into it. On one hand I really enjoyed S1 and wanted more, but on the other that ‘anime original’ tag kind of flashed warning bells in my mind since Kuroshitsuji filler was never very good. However my opinion completely changed once I saw how well planned this sequel was. S2 had everything I enjoyed about S1 – the camp Fabulousness (multiplied thanks to the addition of a 2nd demon butler in Claude), the touch of darkness (Alois & Ciel’s many many issues), Grell, the delicious costume design and fantastic voice cast. If anything S2 upped the stakes by making the plot tighter and more coherent (eps2-4 are the only iffy ones in the whole season) and the direction was noticeably better with some truly excellent action scenes and nice attention to detail.
The ending was satisfying if unexpected – I just hope they leave the series alone now as I really don’t think a 3rd series could top this one.
2. High School of the Dead:
I should not have enjoyed this series as much as I did! On paper the show has very little to offer outside of boobs, panties and gratuitous zombie related violence…..in actuality the show turned out to be a lot of fun and actually had a bit of a plot! The amount and variety of the fanservice on show really has to be applauded for sheer creativity – who would have thought we’d see gainaxing boobs in bullet time!? HOTD would have gotten very old very quick if it wasn’t for the superb direction. In terms of characters, well they didn’t really get a whole lot of development, but they still were interesting to watch and there was a surprising amount of time spent on character interaction rather than it being all zombie slaying action and panty-shots all the time. The ending was left very open (seriously it just kind of ends when it’s getting really interesting!), and I’d definitely welcome a sequel!
There was really no doubt in my mind that Shiki would be #1 on this list. Shiki is a slow burn, it too such a long time to get going that it really started to try a lot of people’s patience; thankfully we were rewarded for our patience from about ep8 onwards where Shiki started to get really fecking awesome! Unfortunately the series is on hiatus as of ep11, but I’m chomping at the bit to get into the 2nd half of the show. If there is one thing Shiki really excels at, its creating tension and building atmosphere – the brilliance of the last few episodes is all thanks to the painstaking groundwork laid in the early episodes. The character development has been excellent (I can’t believe how much my opinion of Natsuno has changed within a handful of episodes) and the atmospheric music is amazingly good at creating a really creepy feeling that has me on the edge of my chair.
Without doubt Shiki has the most potential of any of the shows that aired this season – I’m very much looking forward to finding out what thrills the 2nd half of the series has in store for us!
So there we go – my top 5 of Summer 2010. Not the most amazing of seasons it has to be said, it turned out to be pretty easy to compile this list for a change! Honourable mentions to the other shows I kept on; SenBasa2 (wasn’t as much fun as S1 thanks to its determination to have a plot), DenYuuDen (too much political crap not enough insane Ryner) and NuraMago (standard shounen stuff, but very pretty character designs!), and Amagami-SS which proved to be hilarious for many of the wrong reasons (I bailed after 3 arcs because I don’t care enough about the show to clutter up my watching list with it).