Winter 2009: The Home Stretch

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Greetings readers. So after many weeks of silence, I make my return to the blogosphere. I really haven’t had much to write about the past couple of weeks. I’ve had a bunch of schoolwork, and this season has been rather lackluster. So with some of Fall’s longer shows ending, and Winter having almost all <13 episode series, next season will pretty much be all new stuff. So without further ado, here’s my opinion on these shows in their home stretch.

Clannad ~After Story~

I’m really far behing on this show, so it’s not really appropriate for me to comment. But based on what I’ve heard from friends, it focuses heavily on Nagisa. This is no surprise since she’s the main character. My problem is that I find Nagisa to be an annoying little twat. Maybe this is why I’m so slow to make progress on it. I enjoyed the original Clannad more for the supporting characters, especially Tomoyo and Kyou, so their absence leaves me uninterested. I’m personally hoping for an OVA that focuses on Kyou like the one they made for Tomoyo, but we’ll see if that ever happens.

Tale of Genji

Would watch it if anyone fucking subbed it. I was interested in the story even if the art was kind of creepy looking.

Hetalia

It just started, so it’s not really appropriate for this list. While I find the idea to be good, the humor got pretty stale after the first episode. Italy is retarded, and Germany is gay for Japan. We fucking get it. Move on! Luckily the brevity of the episodes make it feel less repetitive.

Maria†Holic

Probably the best new show of the season. As a fan of yuri, I love how this series takes the genre and tears it to shreads. The animation looks cheap, but feels very appropriate. The characters are one dimensional, but still likable. The humor is repetitive, but they still find ways to make Kanako’s perverted fantasies funny. All in all, it pushes mediocrity to the point of amazing, but never manages to cross into that realm. I enjoy it, but I’m not sure how memorable it will be or if it will get a second season.

Gundam 00 S2

While I used to mock 00 for how ridiculous it is, it’s really grown on me recently. While the plot isn’t as strong as the first season, it excels with some excellent character development, for a Gundam series that is. They are now more relatable, and most of them have realistic motivations for fighting, usually loved ones. But this is better than the first season where they fight a vague idea of peace. Setsuna has also become a total badass, doing everything from helping one bro telepatically communicate with his girlfriend to killing another bro’s girlfriend who had turned to the dark side.

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The plot’s pacing has gotten kind of erratic, with some episodes achieving very little, and others moving way too quickly. There are quite a few loose ends they need to tie up in 5 episodes, so hopefully they achieve that without feeling rushed. Unless they’re planning a 3rd season, which may or may not be a good idea. A while back, there was a great article on Colony Drop defending 00. After reading that, I’ve gained new respect for this series.

One Outs

One Outs may not be the the most complex show, but it’s still a lot of fun to watch. Everything about this series is well made from the characters to the music. My only problem is that while the individual episodes are well paced, I feel they take too long per individual game. They’ve only played 3 major teams, and the series is almost over. I guess it’s a realistic view of baseball though. Not sure how they can end a series this open ended. If sales are good, hopefully it will spawn a second season.

Rideback

While this series is heading in completely the opposite direction of where I hoped it would go, I still find it to be pretty good. The characters aren’t particularly interesting, but the concept is still intriguing. They’ve managed to flesh out the world government backstory a bit more, so they no longer feel like an arbitrary evil orginization. After the third episode, the plot really started to pick up the pace, so with over half the series to go, I’m expecting at least some kind of concrete resolution. I have no clue what to expect though.

Sora wo Kakeru Shoujo

I was originally underwhelmed by this series. The plot was too vague, there were too many characters, and reeked of cliche. While it still suffers from a vague plot and too many characters, I really enjoy this show now. It’s mostly due to Leopard, the colony AI whose body is an enormous phallic symbol. Seriously he even has a pair of  delicate “golden orbs.” I just watched episode 7, and they’re finally starting to explain the plot, and some of the key points are finally starting to be explained. I still have no clue what the point of most of the characters are or anything about the backstory. As one of the few shows continuing into the spring, I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops.

Suzumiya Haruhi-chan no Yuutsu/Nyoro~n Churuya-san

My reaction to these shorts is rather mixed. They’re sometimes really funny, other times the humor falls flat. I personally prefer the Churuya-san clips as the humor is more consistent. It helps that the original strips were pretty repetetive. It seems like one needs to be familiar with the original comics to really appreciate these cartoons, which is a shame for fans outside of Japan. Luckily Kadokawa was kind enough to sub these clips in English, we don’t have to wait for fansubs. It’s probably so they don’t miss out on ad revenue, but it’s a win-win situation. I like the 3D animation used to make these. It’s nothing extraordinary, but was initially surprising, and works for these clips on the whole. Watch them if you’re a fan of Haruhi. It may not be as good as getting a second season, but they’re a good way to pass the time.

Tentai Senshi Sunred

I only recently discovered this show, and I really enjoy it. As someone who grew up watching Power Rangers, its amusing to see my childhood heroes and villains portrayed as ordinary folks. The hardass hero Red and uber polite villain Vamp have a bizarre dynamic, but its a great take on the superhero genre. The humor and pacing are sometimes exhausting, but I definitely recommend it.

ToraDora!

My feelings for ToraDora are mixed at the moment. The beginning was fantastic. It was funny, the characters were appealing, and I had hopes that it would not end predictably. I had hopes that this show would be the breath of fresh air romantic comedy anime needed. 21 episodes later, the series has fallen into the same predictable ending scenario its predecessors have. It’s a shame since the series had so much going for it. The comedy and drama balanced each other well for most of the series, but has now switched to pure drama. It’s alarming how drastic the change was. This is most apparent with Minori, who was the source of comic relief, but is now a mess of confusion and anger. I still like the show, but I had hoped for something better in the end. Part of me still hopes for a twist ending, but this feels less and less likely.

White Album

Finally, there’s White Album. There’s very little plot, and the pacing is probably the slowest I’ve seen in recent years. However, it’s so pretty that I can’t bring myself to hate it. Since the original visual novel was released in 1998, the plot has an aged feel to it, but in a refreshing way. The combination of old plot elements with modern animation makes this show feel unique amongst visual novel based anime. White Album is the anime equivalent of an aged wine. Take it slow and savor the moment, since there aren’t very many like it.

Holy crap that was a long article. Felt good to get it out of my system. I’m not sure if I will restart weekly episode reviews. Things are only going to get busier for me as the quarter comes to an end. May write some series finale reviews though. Thanks for reading!

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