Top 10 of Winter 2011
Better get this out-of-the-way before I start into Spring first impressions! Nearly completely forgot about it! Winter was an interesting season, I kept on a lot more shows than I usually do in the smaller seasons, easily filling 10 spaces (with shows left over!). The only shows I have running over into Spring are Gosick & Beelzebub (and the finale of Madoka Magica), everything else ended within a season. Anyway here’s my top 10 from the past season.
10. IS: Inifite Statos
More a guilty pleasure than anything else, IS was shallow and had no real point to it beyond building Ichika a harem, but it was still really entertaining. It’s a pity the show didn’t take more advantage of the rather good CGI it employed for its brief IS battles. The series would have been much better if it had of played up its only real original selling point – the mecha musume, but instead we got the same old tired harem antics. IS was watchable, but ultimately forgettable.
I had expected much more from Gosick, but was ultimately disappointed. The shows single saving grace is the character of Victorique – she’s a lot of fun, and really very cute. However her male foil is an utter chore to watch – Kujo is the personification of the stereotypical loser male lead. The writing is also very overcooked, at times it seems that Victorique can only solve the ‘mysteries’ because she’s been handed the script before hand, and the rest of the time the puzzle is so simple I have it solved well before she does. Yet for some reason I’m still watching – I think rather than the show improving I’ve simply adjusted my expectations and got used to its inaneness. Victorique is still cute though and the OP & ED are really good – that must count for something!
8. Mitsudomoe Zouryouchuu!
The sequel to Mitsudomoe may have only been eight episodes, but that was all it needed to take the formula from the 1st season and improve it. It wasn’t all brilliant by any stretch of the imagination, but quite a lot of the time the jokes hit their marks & made me laugh in earnest – and that’s all I really want from a comedy series. The weird character designs really grew on me, and I ended up liking the entire wacky cast (although Mitsuba remained a favourite). I’m quite glad the 2nd season was only eight episodes though, that was all the show really needed to wrap things up nicely – any more and we would have been retreading the same ground as S1.
7. Kore Wa Zombie Desu Ka?
It’s a pity KoreZom went all srsbns mid-season, that kind of ruined the show as the ‘plot’ was incredibly contrived & weak. The series was at its best in the first few episodes, where I was genuinely laughing aloud at its stupidity – you just don’t see your male protagonist turn into a magical girl, battle flying whales with a pink chainsaw & still manage to look badass very often! KoreZom knew its tropes and played them up to 11, however it was also restricted by them and introducing a plot & angst was one of the worst things it could have done – I would have had it much higher up my list if it had of stuck to stupid comedy for the whole run.
6. Yumekui Merry
Yumekui Merry only really sits above KoreZom because of its interesting artwork & the superb direction. In terms of plot however, Yumekui Merry never really seemed to know what it was doing. It started off with the simple aim of getting Merry back to the Dream World and had set up Chaser John Doe & his cat army as the antagonists, but kind of forgot about that midway and instead went with the fight against a powerful Dream Demon called Mistletein. While these battles were visually stunning, there really wasn’t much lasting impact or character development – we still know nothing about how Merry is different, or what the point of Yumeji’s ability is, and its a real pity because Yumekui Merry could have been much better than it ended up being.
Ah Fractale….or the biggest disappointment of the season. A few people have said that Fractale was more like an Anime Chikara anime than a noitaminA one, and I fully agree – just goes to show you that not even noitaminA can get it right all the time. Fractale had a tonne of potential – I was nothing short of gushing in my praise of the setting and the huge array of interesting things you could do in it……however Fractale completely squandered its exquisite setting and gave us a very run of the mill story filled with twists for the sake of twists and bog-standard, cookie-cutter characters. I’m probably being overly harsh on the show as a result of being so disappointed, but there’s really nothing worse than seeing a show with so much wasted potential for greatness.
4. Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season
Or the most frustrating series of the season! I know I wasn’t alone in being increasingly irritated by the elaborate stalling measures this season of Kimi ni Todoke employed to keep Sawako & Kazehaya apart! Still this frustration was part of the charm of the show, as it’s a sign that I cared about the characters. If it wasn’ t for that small fact there is no way on earth I’d have put up with watching misunderstanding #2054 play out in front of my eyes, plus the payoff was worth it – so much d’aww~! Will definitely miss Kimi ni Todoke, where will I get my weekly dose of sparkly bubbles & explosions of pastel flowers now!?
3. Wandering Son (Hourou Musuko)
My top three stand head and shoulders above the rest of the season and it was difficult to rank them, however I ultimately settled on ranking them in order of how excited I was each week to watch the episode. On that value, Wandering Son comes 3rd mainly because I think it would be better marathoned due to its slow pace. In every other respect Wandering Son was nothing short of stellar. It drops us into the story after skipping some 30 chapters of the manga, but its way of developing the characters means that this is never an issue past the 1st episode. It’s a triumph of pacing and writing that we get to know these kids so well in only 11 episodes – Wandering Son knew how to get the best out of noitaminA’s limited running time (unlike Fractale). Wandering Son won’t be to everyone’s liking due to its watercolour artstyle & very slow pace, but for those that stuck with it, Wandering Son was a treat.
2. Level E
Level E was a bit of a mystery when I went into it – I was expecting good writing given the source material comes from the same mangaka as Hunter x Hunter and YuYu Hakushou, but was really taken aback by how good, and how clever Level E turned out to be! More than once I was blindsided by the show, I loved the feeling of thinking I’ve gotten things sussed only to have the carpet pulled out from beneath me – and Level E did that on repeated occasions. The 2nd half was definitely weaker than the stellar start, but the finale contained everything I loved about the show & made up for the weak middle. I don’t think any of us will be forgetting Prince Baka & his victims anytime soon!
1. Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Yes it hasn’t ended yet (the final two episodes air 21st April 2011), but for me nothing else really came close to being as intriguing as Madoka Magica. There were high expectations for the series prior to it airing as the publicity machine was in high gear, and as such I was a bit skeptical going in – and for the first two episodes I was doubtful Madoka would manage to live up to its hype……but then came episode three and everything changed. Suddenly Madoka pulled us into a very dark world where nothing could be counted on as safe – speculation was rife and it was fantastic fun to read theories & participate in discussion. Due to the disasters afflicting Japan at the moment, the final two episodes have yet to air – but they’d have to be complete and utter disasters to really shake my opinion of Madoka at this stage.
Okay! So there we go, Winter is over and now I can concentrate on Spring. I’ll try to get myself together as quickly as possible (but since I’m visiting relatives in London at the weekend I may be running behind for a while) as it kind of annoys me to be so disorganised!