Top 10 of Spring 2011
Okay since the Summer season started today, I suppose I’d better get this post done to close down the Spring season! I somehow managed to keep on 18 Spring shows (plus another 5 that I dropped between 3-5 episodes) of which 8 are continuing on for at least another cour. My Top 10 was pretty easy to compile for a change as there were only a handful of shows that were properly memorable (mostly those that have a whole other cour to go strangely enough). So here we go then!
10. Hanasaku Iroha
I had high hopes for this series, but they were quickly dashed when it became apparent that there wasn’t really a big coming of age drama incoming. Rather HanaIro is a very intimate show with a very narrow focus that doesn’t seem to know what kind of atmosphere its going for. I just can not connect with this series the way I should. I find the comedy is heavy-handed, and the way some characters are almost caricatures is jarring given how well-rounded some of the others are.
HanaIro’s saving grace is that it is very pretty. PA Works always make beautiful shows and HanaIro is no exception – its been drawn with loving care (pity they didn’t pay as much attention to the writing). With another cour to go, perhaps HanaIro will redeem itself and flesh out the rest of the cast and decide what kind of story it wants to tell. As it stands, I’m not in love with the Kissuiso staff yet, and its only the pretty that keeps me coming back (also they really need to replace the OP – its horrendous).
9. Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko
I was really hoping for more from Denpa Onna. There was so much potential for a heartwarming story of a social misfit’s rehabilitation back into society, but instead SHAFT went the harem route in the vain attempt at recapturing the brilliance of Bakemonogatari. The result is a show that has flashes of brilliance, but on the whole is pretty average. Makoto just can’t compete with the deranged women in this show – he’s the blandest of the bland and it’s just made worse given he’s forced to constantly share the screen with the kooky girls.
Again the best thing about these series is the art – it is of course SHAFT being SHAFT, the way they make their female characters glitter and glow is very eye-catching and is probably the most memorable thing about Denpa Onna aside from the hypnotic OP & ED! There is one more episode to be released with the DVDs – apparently it was delayed thanks to the earthquake.
8. Ano Hana
I really wanted to like Ano Hana – I honestly did! I may have hated Menma’s retarded moe, but I was willing to get over that if the other characters proved to be engaging. Unfortunately they weren’t. By the end of the show the only character I liked was Yukiatsu and that was solely because of how flawed, and therefore interesting, he was. The other characters had their flaws, but above all they were boring and way too prone to wangsty crying. I was getting over all that though and by about ep8-9 I was starting to quite enjoy Ano Hana…….and then it shot itself in the foot with its horrendously overblown finale. Seriously they squeezed in everything that could possibly wring a tear out of you into those final episodes – I haven’t felt so emotionally manipulated since Clannad- After Story (and that is definitely not a good thing).
So at the end of the day Ano Hana joins Fractale as one of the most disappointing noitaminA shows – which is a massive shame because it could have been a wonderfully heartwarming little show, if only it hadn’t have been so hamfistedly written.
7. Yondemasu yo, Azazel-san!
I really enjoyed Azazel-san, it made brilliant use of its short running time and provided a lot of laughs. I didn’t really expect much from it other than toilet humour, and that’s what I got, but there was also some lovely moments where I thought the show was going to get all sentimental, only to yank to rug out and revert back to its usual low brow, but witty humour. Some episodes are of course better than others (some are an absolute bore) but that’s always going to happen with a comedy.
Surprisingly fun, I’d definitely watch more if another season materialises.
6. Fireball Charming
Even though the animation in this second season is amazingly good, the first season was just better written and made better use of the characters. Drossel and Gedachtnis are still fantastic fun to listen to, but some of the wit that S1 had is just missing. Still, Fireball Charming is well worth watching if you have 20mins to fill – its quick fire chatter and stunning animation provide more than adequate entertainment value, and I will gladly watch another season of this show.
5. [C] – The Money of Soul & Possibility Control
[C] was a confusing show. It had so many grand ideas and fascinating aspects, but it seems to be another case of a series that was just too big for the limited noitaminA timeslot. In order to do its original ideas justice, [C] definitely would have needed more episodes (and an injection of cash to sort out the crappy CGI). However in spite of the glaring plot-holes, and the confusing terminology, I still really liked [C] as I was genuinely interested in its original ideas and trying to figure out what kind of message it was trying to portray. If it had of had more time to develop its characters and world, I’m sure that [C] would have proven to be absolutely brilliant. Unfortunately as it stands, it’s just a good, if confusing, series.
4. Kaiji S2
I thought Kaiji would prove to be painful to have to watch weekly as I marathoned S1, and I was right; but it’s that nail-biting wait for each episode that heightens the tension to unbearable degrees – it’s all part of what makes Kaiji so much fun to watch. The plot still moves at the speed of an injured hippo, and I seriously want some of what Mr Narrator is smoking, but all of this is part of Kaiji’s unique zawa-zawa charm. The chinchiro arc was brilliantly done, the current Bog arc doesn’t have the same momentum yet as Kaiji has been sitting on the sidelines, but I’m sure once he gets moving we’ll be in for another fun ride as Kaiji runs along the border of stupidity and daring!
3. Ao no Exorcist
Despite how slowly its moving, I’m really very pleased with the AoEx anime (I’m going to pretend that that idiotic squid filler episode never happened). Its taking its time to develop the characters and properly fleshing out Rin & Yukio’s brotherly dynamic (rife with twincest vibes as it is). The brief action scenes have been well put together, but at this stage I’m more than ready to get into the good stuff – its shounen, NEED MOAR FIGHTING! The manga had quite a slow, sedate start too (practically all shounen series do as they take time to introduce the world & characters), but there is good stuff just around the corner – I’m looking forward to it!
2. Tiger & Bunny
It took a little while to warm to this show, but round about episode 6-7 it suddenly became awesome and one of the shows I genuinely looked forward to each week. It’s around this stage that the dynamic between Kotetsu and Bunny started to settle down into a stable partnership – the two spark off each other extremely well now that they trust each other a bit more. It’s a genuinely well written and entertaining series now, so hopefully the second half will develop the other heroes a bit more, actually make use of Lunatic’s character and introduce a better villain. Otherwise more of the same fun (and BL vibes) is more than welcome!
Without a shadow of a doubt, Steins;Gate is far and away the best show of the Spring season – thank god its got another cour to fully explore its story! I don’t think I was alone in being apprehensive about Steins;Gate given how the other semicolon Nitroplus series, Chaos;Head, turned out. However all fears have pretty much been put to bed at this stage as Steins;Gate really appears to know what it’s doing with its quirky characters and interesting time-travel set-up. It’s the show that has gotten everyone theorising, and the mid-series climax involving Shining-Finger, Tutu-ruu and Houhouin Kyouma had me on the edge of my seat. Very much looking forward to the rest of this series.
There we go, my personal Top 10 of Spring. Have to give special mentions to Gintama S2 for returning to the brilliance and fun of the best of S1 (I didn’t include it on the list since the series has got over 200 episodes under its belt and S2 is just a continuation), and Deadman Wonderland for utterly butchering the adaptation of the manga and skirting the line of Terribad territory (the manga wasn’t brilliant, but it was a fecking masterpiece compared to the shit that is the anime!).
Summer first impressions will start going up shortly~!