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Top 10 of Winter 2011

April 10, 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.

9. Gosick

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.

5. Fractale

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!

17 Comments leave one →
  1. April 10, 2011 3:14 pm

    I gave up on Madoka at episode 2 *____* It was too hard for me to watch on at that point.

    • April 10, 2011 3:25 pm

      What did you find hard about it? The 1st 2eps were a bit dull slice of life, but from ep3 onwards it took a much more interesting & darker turn.

      • April 10, 2011 3:51 pm

        Well, I din wait for episode 3, that was how. Episode 2 was like, “ok, that’s it. Enough. I will not have this nonsense anymore”. I guess it was the bad season before. Too skeptical of it.

        • April 11, 2011 5:18 pm

          I’d definitely recommend giving ep3 a whirl – if you’re not interested by the end of that episode then Madoka isn’t your cup of tea; but ep3 really is the turning point for the show.

        • April 13, 2011 2:12 pm

          Hhaha, I will get back to Madoka then, when I have the time. It had been too hectic nowadays, I am barely able to keep up with the new animes.

  2. April 10, 2011 3:45 pm

    Either I have a warped mind, or this season REALLY sucked, but I would rank Rio No. 5 on this list LOL

    • April 10, 2011 3:47 pm

      The season was average in the extreme, definite case of quantity over quality – only my top 3 are in any way memorable for being good, the rest I remember more for their negative points!

    • April 10, 2011 3:49 pm

      Oh Gosh, I am watching rio next week. that wud sooooo put me in dread.

  3. April 10, 2011 10:10 pm

    Kinda sad to see Fractale tumble as it rolls in it’s unrealized potential with Nessa. Kind of wish they focused more on the setting than being a slice of life.

    I agree with the top three… I haven’t watch Level E since I have no interest, but I heard good things about it… As for me, Madoka and Wandering Son were the best shows in winter.

    • April 11, 2011 5:19 pm

      I really was utterly gutted that Fractale crashed & burned – I really, really wanted to like it!

  4. Hogart permalink
    April 10, 2011 10:24 pm

    There really was a pronounced difference in quality between your top three and the rest of the season, wasn’t there? It’s almost like anime has forgotten how to tell a story, rather than just tease us with a premise that goes nowhere and has little or no payoff.

    You can’t even really call Madoka all that fantastic for it’s premise, it’s just lucky that it actually tries. Madoka makes it obvious that fans are aching for something less banal, so here’s hoping anime producers have realized it. This new season isn’t exactly screaming with ace material, but at least it seems to have slightly less childish crap (or maybe that’s just me).

    • April 11, 2011 5:24 pm

      There really is a start difference in quality between the top3 & the rest of the list – generally I think its a pretty successful season if there are a handful of series I loved & found worthwhile……Winter could have been a lot worse.

      At the moment there seems to be a real reluctance to take risks with anime – the manga & light novel adapatations have established fanbases which can be somewhat relied upon to lap up DVDs, the risk is much greater with an original series (which is probably why there was so much advertising for Madoka & Star Driver). One can only hope that others take the risk too.

  5. April 10, 2011 11:18 pm

    I love your number one! Yay Madoka! I think out of winter my number one would end up being either Kore wa zombie or Star driver! But not sure since Star driver was in summer? But nice list anyway! Madoka was so damn addictive, and learned we will get 10,11,12 on april 24th YAY!

    • April 11, 2011 5:25 pm

      I counted Star Driver as an Autumn 2010 series since thats when it started running – if it was counted here it would probably be 2nd.

  6. April 11, 2011 12:32 pm

    I’ve only watched IS (and I totally agree with your assessment) but I plan on marathoning Madoka and Level E in the near future.

    I can definitely tell that I will have the same verdict as you did here, and I’ll be back here with my own thoughts once I go through these two >:3

    • April 11, 2011 5:27 pm

      Highly recommend Level E, haven’t been so pleasantly surprised by a show in a long time – gotta love comedy that makes an effort to be clever. Madoka is just quality, I’d be interested on your opinions on both shows.

  7. April 14, 2011 5:20 am

    Great list! Level E is very brilliant and entertaining. And Madoka.. uhh yeah, I can’t wait for the final two episodes.

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