Oh good lord?!? What is that I hear?!? Another thin slicing?!? Lock the doors, close the windows, and make sure Betsy is in the barn.
It’s time for another thin slice of the new season. For people who have read my old thin slicing posts, these posts are where I watch as many new shows from a new season as possible and rank them in order of “if I received one episode of all the shows at once, which one would I watch first? Second? Last?” Unfortunately, because I don’t own 50 TVs, there’s going to be shows ranked high and shows ranked low. Deal with it. For a show to be ranked high, one must be ranked low.
The premise of thin slicing is explained the entertaining book Blink from Malcom Gladwell that argues how a person’s ability to quickly judge what is really important and what’s not important from a very limited experience like reviewing a movie based only on its trailer or a restaurant only based on its fried calamari. Mmmm… fried calamari. With that spirit, most of these shows I have only watched the first few episodes… and that’s usually more than I need to form an opinion, justified or not.
The thin slicing post is generally one of my favorite posts to write, and, as such, I usually take a bit too long to write it and probably isn’t relevant anymore by the time I actually post it. Whatever. I enjoy writing it, and that’s what keeps me blogging. This time around, I watched fewer series but more episodes on average for each series. I do want to point out that unlike most times I do this list, most of this list is serviceable (i.e. not a Happiness or an Engage Planet amongst them). I am also excited for all the hawt girl x girl action that seems to be to taking place early on. Well, what are we waiting for? It’s thin slicin’ time.
Thin Slicing Summer 2007
#16. Mister. Irrelevant.
Premise: Generic magical girl series.
The Mister Irrelevant award goes to show ranked dead last each time, and it pretty much means, “I’ll watch Ally McBeal before plowing through this.” I think one of the early lines in this show said it best: “This is yet another strange combination of random people.” In Nanatsuiro Drops, a random guy gets randomly turned into a random stuffed animal, and his only hope of returning back to normal is to go along with a random magical girl as she collects stardrops. All mentored by the strange, creepy, and random gardening teacher. Ugh. This is one of those cute magical girl shows based off of an h-game that won’t have the, uh, interesting points.
(Mitigating factor: There are none. Not when MediaWorks is prominently involved.)
#15. Not. Following.
Premise: Generic magical girl series.
Man, Moe-tan is not much different from Nanatsuiro Drops. Instead of the magical ram helper, there’s a magical duck and a cat helper in Moe-tan. You can probably tell by now that I’m not a big fan of the mahou shoujo genre. I’m only ranking this series higher because it’s based off an English language study aid as opposed to a straight up h-game. Needless to say, there’s no English language studying going on in this anime adaptation.
(Mitigating factor: They dial in attacks by making dialing a number on the keypad. Brings back bad memories of Gatekeepers 21. I enjoyed the campiness and fun style of the original Gatekeepers, and they turned in into a slick emo angst fest for 21. Sigh. I think that was about when I started turning on Gonzo.)
#14. Need. Cannabis.
Premise: Dude fights against evil spirits.
Anytime you turn the weakest arc from another anime series into its own series, it’s probably not a good idea. Sorry, Mononoke. This is also probably why I didn’t finish watching the final arc to Ayakashi.
(Mitigating factor: I’m sure your animation style has fans; I’m just not one of them. The cannabidiol count in my bloodstream is probably too low.)
#13. Eleven. Matches.
Premise: Crazy Tokugawa orders his samurai to fight each other gladiator style.
I’m not ranking Shigurui low because it is unwatchably bad but rather it is not something in my wheelhouse. The first episode featured a guy ripping out his own guts as well as a staring contest between an one-armed guy and an one-legged blind guy. Handicapped samurai staredowns aren’t really my thing. Plus they intersperse the match with flashbacks to try to explain why the fighters are as what they are (i.e. think Kenshin’s Kyoto arc only minus the win, awesome, and epicness), and I’m afraid we’ll get like ten more of these matches before it is all said and done. If you like dramatic, human stories, Samurai version of the Contender may be for you.
(Mitigating factor: Madhouse is doing a great job with the animation of this series.)
#12. EMP. Shoujo.
Premise: Girl generates electromagnetic pulses that disrupt electronics around her when she gets emotional. Uh-oh. It’s the end of the modern civilized world as we know it.
Good gosh, the same Studio Deen is animating Code-E? The animation looks great… this is Studio Deen?!? Then I hear all the “gomen nasai”, and it all makes sense. The premise is kinda weak– a school-aged slice-of-life drama with this weird EMP gimmick. The main character, Ebihara, has a mysterious ability to disrupt all the electronics around her, and she gets asked out by a guy who wants to study her paranormal ability. I mean, that’s a rare pick-up line… “Nice electromagnetic waves. Wanna fuck?” I must say though that Ebihara is pretty cute… reminds me a bit of Mikuru. Unless the series starts getting stabby or existentialist like Sola, I’d only recommend this show to people who either like school-aged slice-of-life drama, or people who just want to stare at Ebihara’s, ah, abilities all day long.
(Mitigating factor: The OP is pretty cool. Reminds me a bit of Gad Guard and Cowboy Bebop and Baccano. Doesn’t exactly fit the show, but, hey, it’s smooth.)
#11. Insect. Pokemon.
Premise: Pokemon meets Chrno Cross meets Full Metal Panic?
Mushi-Uta is another light novel to anime conversion about parasitic bugs that feeds on the hope and dreams of its host. These bugs then fight Pokemon style, mostly between the government agency and the freedom fighters. Of course, the series is centered around the ace government soldier, who happens to be re-united with the love he had to take out four years ago, and the ace resistance leader who is developing a crush on the ace government soldier. There’s not much to it… some school life romance drama with huge insects battling in the background.
(Mitigating factor: Both Kakkou from Mushi-Uta and Saionji from School Days are into astronomy. I’m missing the days when someone would say something like “I have no interest in ordinary people” during introductions.)
#10. Love. Hina.
Premise: Second season of Zero no Tsukaima. More of the same.
Have you seen the VH1 series, Scott Baio Is 45 and Single, where Scott Baio gets a life coach and tries to figure out a plan to stop his womanizing (only his life coach is a pretty hot MILF… I would have cast someone like Shatner just to push the intentional unintentional comedy to new levels, but that’s just me… oh yeah… uh… anime…)? I get the same vibes from Scott Baio as I do from Saito. They both know that they shouldn’t be players, but they can’t help it. Like how Scott Baio doesn’t have the courage for commitment, Saito doesn’t have the courage to stand up to Louise. Even though they both know that those things are their biggest barriers to their ultimate and eventual happiness, they can’t overcome them. Man, I can’t even imagine how much more awesome ZnT could be if Saito told Louise off and bagged Siesta, Jessica, and Louise’s sisters. Though episode 4 is a good start. We just need 22 more episodes of that.
(Mitigating factor: Softcore DVD specials. Ikkitousen Dragon Destiny, Code Geass, and Mai Otome Zwei followed the playbook, and look where it got them…)
(Reverse mitigating factor: If I’m comparing the main star to Scott Baio, it’s probably not a good thing.)
#9. Adolescent. Love.
Premise: High school love drama based off of the h-game of the same name.
School Days is yet another popular h-game that was popular due to its h-content being fully animated that got turned into an anime series without said h-content. (Maybe. Fingers crossed.) It is still typical loser male acquires unrealistic harem fare. Nonetheless, School Days has three things going for it: the animation and production quality is good, the girls are all normal looking (there’s no wacky anime hair coloring here), and the surprise attack kiss from Saionji at the end of the first episode. Oh, who am I kidding. I put School Days into my rotation after I saw the symmetrical docking plus found out that sharp objects might be involved in the future. You guys know me too well and can see through my lame excuses. “Production quality” lol. You can probably also guess that advice that I would give Makoto.
(Mitigating factor: What ending are they going to pick? Glancing at Wikipedia’s entry, I’m liking the harem endings. Makoto’s just like an NBA player in those. I hope they don’t pick a boring Katsura ending… it’ll be Ayu over Mai/Sayuri/Natsumi all over again.)
#8. Moe. Blobs.
Premise: I have no idea. It’s… it’s… I don’t know what it is.
Go read my first episode post about Potemayo if you want, but the gist is that this anime is about moe blobs. One of which is highly possessive and jealous of other females. The other shoots laser beams from its hair accessory. Genuinely funny series with some good comedic moments.
(Mitigating factor: Named after the unholy combination of potato and mayonnaise. Then again, those may have been its parents for all we know.)
#7. Prohibition. Highlander.
Premise: If Highlander took place in prohibition America and featured demons as well as a gnarly narrative style.
Baccano! is very intriguing. Based off of the light novel of the same name, the basic plot isn’t much different from Highlander’s, but instead of focusing on a single main character or main family, it takes everyone’s narratives. All of the characters (there is a huge, huge cast) seemingly have nothing to do with each other, but supposedly everyone’s fates eventually intertwine. It is slick and well-done but can be confusing and erratic at times.
(Mitigating factor: Watching Aniplex trying to animate 1930′s America is kinda funny.)
(Reverse mitigating factor: Luck quotes Poe’s Spirits of the Dead at one point.)
Premise: Japanese company releases series of well-regarded murder mystery visual novels. They then contract out the anime version to the lowest bidder who butchers the hell out of the novels, but since there was so much irrational love for the original visual novels, people don’t care, even if nothing makes sense and the only mystery is “How hard is 07th Expansion laughing all the way to the bank?”
I didn’t want to blog about Higurashi again because there’s not much else I can say about it. I rather spend my time covering new shows like SZS. There’s just no need for 26 more episodes. It’s not like 26 more episodes will make the previous 26 suddenly jell into a cohesive plot. My best hope for the new season is softcore twincest, but it seems like we’re back at square one. And, you know what, I’m fine with that, because until we get some Sonozaki fanservice or Rena USO DA or Rika soy sauce, I’m going to be enjoying other shows. Like anything ranked higher on this list.
(Mitigating factor: I’M NOT OOISHI! I’M GODDAMN DELICIOUS! If they put that line in, I’ll watch. Also, Naraku no Hana is my favorite OP of the new season. And All-Woman Rena is hawt, even if she is drugged out of her mind. Or is it enhanced because she is drugged out of her mind. I wouldn’t mind hit– damn, it’s sucking me in again… NOOOOOOOOOO!)
#5. Sonic. Diver.
Wow, it’s been almost a year since the Sky Girls OVA, but it’s nice having Otoha, Eika, and Karen back for 26 episodes of mecha frame piloting action. I’m ashamed by how much I enjoy the brain-cell-killing premise: the world is devastated by some human-hostile lifeform, and our only savior are 17 year old fanservice machines who look like 14 year olds. They pilot ultra-powerful, transforming skimpy mecha frames. What’s not to like? We were tossed into the action straight up with the original pilot, and I guess that pilot did well enough to green light a whole new series that starts from the beginning. Needless to say, I’m watching.
(Mitigating factor: Might actually have a decent plot! A more moe Stellvia? Also, Mell’s Virgin High is great… can’t be happier hearing her Engrish again… pu-roo-fuu!)
#4. Just. Pr0n.
Premise: Girl tries to get rich selling pr0n.
Doujin Work is one of my favorite series of the season. You can say that it’s almost tragically funny in how nothing really goes right for Najimi yet she is determined to compromise her principles to create smutty doujinshi. Besides her nekomimi meido waitress act in episode 4, one of my favorite moments is when she’s losing her h-game virginity, but then gets interrupted. I’m shocked that they cut away to a bath scene after that. Even more shocked that it wasn’t what… oh, nevermind. Sadly, only 12 minute episodes. The animation has an unique “twist” that makes everything seem more 2D.
(Mitigating factor: Justice creeps the hell out of me. So does Sora. Did she really make a, “I wish I were older so I could join you [in the h-game store]” comment? Justice is a Chris Hansen investigation waiting to happen.)
(Reverse mitigating factor: World desperately needs a wallpaper of Nekomimi Meido Najimi.)
#3. Subprime. Mortgage.
Premise: Generic shounen action with zombies, death, MPD lesbians, and other generic shit.
Oh wow, Zombie Loan is another too cool for school shounen action series that features a cool, sleek, and idol-like shounen A and a hot-headed rebellious, troublesome shounen B? They fight on the boundary between life and death with weird-ass powers? And they’re poor? And sometimes the animation will drop down to hi-jack quality? Wait, what am I watching again? Black Cat? Getbackers? Darker than Black? Tokyo Majin? D-Gray Man? Bleach?!? Strangely, these series always suck me in a bit initially before I expunge myself from them. Zombie Loan isn’t much different. If you like the typical shounen action genre, this is probably up your alley. There is one difference in that Zombie Loan is from Peach Pit and does show a few improvements like introducing a zombie channeling lesbian rapist. Also, I like the character nicknames: Shounen A, Shounen B, and the female lead, 500 Yen. I couldn’t have meme’ed them better myself.
(Mitigating factor: Any series that reminds me of Getbackers is probably not going to displace Gurren Lagann in my watch order. Even if Rossiu is turning into George W. Bush.)
(Reverse mitigating factor: As much as I’d like to see more Yomi x 500 Yen action, I don’t think I’ll get it. Unless the ratings really start sucking. Bottom line: can I rank any series that potentially features zombie lesbian rape low? No, no I can’t. Even with all the Getbackers similarities.)
#2. Skinny. Dip.
Premise: Nakkid swimming club!
Umisho has been this underground phenomenon (at least amongst the trendier anime absorbin’ crowd) for the past couple of months, and for good reason: the manga is light-hearted but genuinely entertaining and crammed full of good fanservice. The anime adaptation doesn’t deviate much from the manga and does a good job animating the manga. I’m enjoying this series, and if Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei falters, Umisho will take its place in my anime watching lineup. Umisho is about a guy who can’t swim managing a swim club dominated by girls who discover the secret of being fast: being nakkid. The series is kinda like Prince of Tennis, only instead of bishie guys, we’re talking about girls with serious harem potential, and that’s what it ultimately boils down to: thinly veiled sporting anime but really fanservice harem comedy to the max. Good times. Very good times. And, yes, Amuro’s dad is the luckiest dad… he wins at life.
(Mitigating factor: Swimming is like gymnastics and maybe volleyball: larger cup sizes is a hindrance. This swim team is still more believable than the School Rumble cast notching up 300 combined points in a basketball game.)
#1. Despair. Hope.
Premise: Positive meets negative.
Since I’m following Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, probably be easier just to read my previous posts about it. When this series is on, it’s really on.
(Mitigating factor: Shaft. Please. Cut it out.)
#0. Anti. Spiral.
Premise: Will Gainax fail?
No! That’s not the Nia that we all love. Come back to us! Still, I think the end of Gurren Lagann will be the most dominant storyline until the fall season. It just keeps steamrolling across. As I wrote already, my favorite aspect of Time Slip Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has to be how people’s lesser aspects and failings get amplified now. It’s like any sports team. When the team is winning, you don’t hear any complaints, but after the losing builds up, so does the frustrations.
This summer season seems to be fairly well-balanced with fewer shows of pure crap but also fewer shows in the absolute win&gold terror field. I had a hard time trying to figure out anything from 3 to 13. While a show like Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei is enjoyable, it’s not bumping off Gurren Lagann, Seirei no Moribito, or even Lucky Star off of the rotation. But I would watch Code-E and Zero no Tsukaima 2 over all the Shining Tears, Toward the Terra, and Rocket Girls from last season. Maybe this season is the ideal capitalist spread with a large middle class.
This season also has a nice spread of different genres. Magical girls? Mecha? Comedy? Fanservice? Comedic harem? Dramatic harem? Shounen violence? Pretty much everything is covered, and there’s not a particular emphasis on thing one genre. The animation quality and production values are up across the board (i.e. nothing as bad as Monster Princess or Touken Gettan), and there’s some *gasp* actually funny series this season. Now, excuse me, I have some Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei to watch.