thin slicing the new season, winter 2008 edition

“Day before yesterday I watched a wolf trade for apples,” she had said, “and yesterday a gang of rabbits building a school, and today, a Chinese warlord turning into a flat-chested little girl.”


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?” The end ranking is not meant to be quality ranking but rather a “What do I want to watch the most?” There’s going to be shows ranked high and shows ranked low for reasons that may go over your head. Deal with it. For a show to be ranked high, one must be ranked low.

The premise of thin slicing is explained in 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 an anime only with two episodes. Oh wait, that’s exactly what thin slicing is about. 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.

This winter 2008 season is definitely a down season. There’s only a handful of new shows, and most of the big guns (Macross Fronter, Code Geass, Nijuu Menzou Musume) are being saved for spring. What’s left? Well, a difficult post to write! It’s not often a season comes along where I spend more time agonizing over the bottom of the rankings than the top, but that’s what we have there. Out of all the studios ranked in the top five tiers, only one of them is launching a series this season. That’s how bad things are. Well, what are we waiting for? Time to hop into some overalls, step into some clean socks, and jump into some tall books. We’re going straight into the muck.

A few omissions this time: Kyou Kara Maou R (because I haven’t watched the original), Aria the Origination (because I never finished Aria the Natural), Moegaku*5 (couldn’t find an episode), and Macross Frontier (since, technically, it’s a spring show and will be included with spring 2008’s thin slicing).

#13. Mr. Irrelevant.


Warning: Animation Production: Studio Deen

I don’ t even want to write this paragraph. Hatenkou Yugi (Dazzle) is just terrible. Everything about this series was just so random, inexplicable, and nonsensical. For instance, the main character, Rahzel, gets kicked out of her house. We’re not given a clear reason why besides her dad wants her to get some fresh air. Kicking a teenage girl out of her house without a source of income or living arrangements? Uh, yeah. Sure. So she goes and picks up a much older guy who just happens to be robbing someone else. The guy decides to tag along and play nice with her?! They’re acting like friends and chums, and we don’t even get an introduction scene between them. 15 minutes later, a second guy just casually joins them. He’s a friend of the first guy, but we’re never introduced to him either. Bad, bad storytelling. Introduce characters for Kyrios’ sake. Fuu, Mugen, and Jin in Samurai Champloo had a similar arrangement, but manglobe explains why the two creepy older guys are going along with the underaged girl. Here? No. It’s like Studio Deen forgot an episode or 15 minutes or something. Then they tossed in parts about witchcraft and magic, which made no sense since neither were introduced until Rahzel needed to use it. Hallmarks of sloppy, poor writing.

(Mitigating factor: I stared at Rahzel’s hat. Intently. It reminds me of the hat Rocky wore in the first two Rocky movies. So maybe that’s a redeeming feature.)

#12. Rotting. Corpse.


Warning: Original in 1959

This is the sixth (?!?) run for Graveyard Kitaro, a story about a spirit monster and human beings. It’s a monsterly mix of Crayon Shin-chan. I’m not a fan of this art style; I’m not a big fan of the horror genre in particular; and, I’m not fond of series that harkens back to 1959. Of course, the 2041 equivalent would be Kyoto Animation finally animating the Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya after Kanon, Lucky Star, Clannad, Little Busters, Air (2009 remake), Planetarian, Kanon (2010 remake), Tomoyo After, Lucky Star The Second Raid, Kanon (2013 remake, and still no Nayuki ending), ad nauseam until 2041. And, by then, who’d care about Haruhi Suzumiya? Who’d watch a show your grandfather blogged about? That’s exactly how I feel about Graveyard Kitaro, only if Al Gore invented the Internet early enough such that blogging would be possible in 1959.

#11. Sink. This.


Warning: Same production team as Da Capo and Sister Princess

I watched one episode of H2O ~Footprints in the Sand~, and I don’t have an urge to watch another. I think as I grow older, I’m less and less tolerant of horrible harem series, and H2O fits that bill well. There’s a lot of problems with this series, the first of which is that it’s bland and boring. That’s not generally fatal for harem anime, but there’s really no redeeming feature to fall back on. This show almost makes you want to hate it, and, if you like it, I don’t know what to tell you except Tim Hardaway, John Rocker, and Michael Richards are all looking for roommates.

The problem is that H2O tries to portray itself as some higher class, gentle, sweet series with the cutesy artwork and the smiles of the haremettes, but don’t be fooled. The fanservice elements are crude. The uninspired loser male lead is blind, but being blind is just an excuse to have the writers put in as many groping “gags” as possible. There’s also very strong misogyny, even for a harem anime. The teaser in the first episode has guys beating up on a defenseless girl and continues to torment and physically abuse her throughout the episode. I haven’t seen this much domestic violence in anime since Rizelmine. But I’d expect nothing less from the Da Capo and Sister Princess production team.

(Mitigating factor: When I watched H2O, I was checking off my harem checklist. Yep, lame loser male. Yep, collision with haremette. Yep, he cops a feel. After the random violence towards Hayami, I was seriously down on this show and the genre. I couldn’t take yet another random collision anymore and thought about telling Sixten: “Hey, I’m scrapping this harem academy fluff. The new story’s going to be about this robotic cat from the future with a bottomless pocket full of goodies. It’s going to be awesome… and about 70,000 chapters long.”)

#10. Killer. Lolis.


Warning: Artland!

I wasn’t exactly blown away by the original four years ago, and Gunslinger Girl ~Il Teatrino~ impresses even less. The two bright spots of the original series were the impressive animation by Madhouse and the equally impressive soundtrack. With this new incarnation by Artland? Both are gone. What we are left with is a poorly animated and poorly developed story about goverment sanctioned killer lolis. It’s a mess. The second episode of ~Il Teatrino~ was one of the most boring anime episodes that I’ve seen in a while. Even the BGM is schizophrenic, bouncing around between elevator muzak and hip-hop. I can maybe see that for something like Gurren Lagann or Stand Alone Complex. I don’t see it with Henrietta and company. Maybe I should start a new poll asking what franchise should Artland try to sink next.

#9. Monster. Mash.


Warning: Animation Production: Gonzo

Rosario + Vampire is about a typical loser male who ends up at a monster-only school, and typical harem hijinks ensues. There’s not a lot of redeeming value for this series, and even the fanservice shots seem forced and bland. Yes, the typical loser male collides with the hawt haremette, Moka, and that’s how boy meets vampire. Just an inspired mess, the animation is subpar for Gonzo, and it’s quickly turning into an unholy combination of bad harem and bad school fighting genres. The premise is that there’s monsters who have their own private little school, and this one human, through a WATFO (what are the fucking odds?) mix-up, gets sent to that school. So, of course, the hawt vampire girl Moka falls in love with him after colliding with him in yet another WATFO. WATFO that Moka’s breasts grows when she transforms into vampire mode? So everyone now hates or loves him, and he basically uses Moka to fend off orcs, witches, and Chuck Norris, and, well, WATFO that every episode will involve Moka transforming and fending them off? WATFO that other girls will compete with Moka for the loser male’s attention, even if it means resorting to symmetrical docking techniques? I think the biggest WATFO is that this series would be non-terrible. Too bad the odds caught up to Rosario + Vampire on that last one.

(Mitigating factor: Is Moka actually Allelujah/Hallelujah with tits and fangs? She’s not really a tsundere as she’s very, uh, caring for loser harem male in one personality and just no nonsense bad-ass in the other.)

#8. EGO. ID.


Warning: I hope you like the game. And Rahxephon.

I’m not big into video game franchises turned anime, and I’m not a big fan of the Persona series, so it’s probably not a shock that I wasn’t able to get into Persona ~Trinity Soul~. This series follows an Ayato Kamina clone, his trap little brother, and his asshole older brother in a world where people can summon their “persona,” which seems to be a manifestation of a person’s psyche. Of course, Ayato Kamina and his brothers use their personas to combat the rogue personas who feed on lesser personas. Feels like a poor man’s DGray-Man. Ugh. Not really my cup of tea. The production values are average, but the director, Jun Matsumoto, is a first timer. While I’m not completely bored by this series, I’m not exactly circling the next air date for it either on my calender… and I think I’d rather watch Rahxephon again than this series.

(Mitigating factor: The trap little brother had a twin sister who died, so he carries around her dead dresses much like a cross between Mako-cakes and Shinn Asuka. If it’s revealed that these two twins were really Hansel and Gretel from Black Lagoon, I’ll move Persona up like seven slots and watch it weekly.)

(Random note: Amazingly, the Persona doesn’t share a character designer or animation studio with Rahxephon.)

#7. Construction. Rabbits.


Warning: For kids… eh… who cares?

Kenryoku Usagi is about a ragtag company of cute rabbit construction workers. No, I’m serious. The company is filled with stereotypes… the old boss who loves the hippy hop, the floozy who uses others, the geeky engineer, the one with a burning soul… it’s a nice combination. Though most of the humor and entertainment stems from the rabbit’s conflicting personalities, I felt there wasn’t enough of a construction focus. I feel there’s comedy in construction that just hasn’t been explored. They’re rabbits! Building stuff! It should be funny! Sadly, there were relatively few construction-related gags. Yep, leave it to Derailed to complain about a children’s anime about cute, innocent rabbits. I think Kenryoku Usagi could be a solid comedy for all ages, but it’s not even in the same zip code that Keroro Gunsou is in.

(Mitigating factor: I could have been delirious and dreamed this series up. Does it really exist?)

#6. Hato. Nee.


Warning: A.C.G.T… DNA sequence or anime production house? You decide.

They Are My Noble Masters is yet another adult visual novel turned below average anime. Taking the He Is My Master and Hayate the Combat Butler formula, TAMNM, is about a brother and sister pair (Ren and Hato-nee) who were homeless on the street before taken in as servants for the insane Kuonji family. The Kuonji family consists of Tsukihime‘s Akiha, Magipoka‘s Pachira, and generic high school girl #941,001 as well as other servants. The animation quality isn’t great, the plot is even less inspired and less funny than He Is My Master, and the only saving grace is that there’s two meido in this series. Hato-nee is a second tier meido, and the tragically named Benisu is probably a fourth tier.

What I don’t like about this series is that the pacing is a bit off, and most of the characters seem to be doing extreme things all the time for the sake of doing extreme things. Reminds me of Koi Koi 7 in that respect, and that’s not a good thing. If TAMNM can work in a bit more comedy and Hato-nee fanservice, it’s a salvageable mess. Otherwise, it’s just a mess.

(Mitigating factor: Hato-nee is the only character who can save this series. If she rises up to the occasion and join Mikuru, Maria, Marial, and the other pantheon meido, TAMNM has a shot. But it doesn’t look likely. Her name doesn’t start with an “M.”)

(Random note: Hato-nee can pull random objects out of her clothes. She’s like the well-endowed meido version of Doraemon. I have no clue why I have two Doraemon references this post, but, I won’t lie, I could go back for thirds.)

#5. Still. Despair.


Warning: Animation Production: SHAFT

Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei is what we thought it was. That is why Shaft made more. If you want to crown them for the fine job they did, then crown their asses. Well, it’s more of the same, and if you enjoyed Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei the first time around, Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei is more the of the same if that point hasn’t been stressed enough already. The original was equal parts entertaining and frustrating. The animation quality really dropped as the original series progressed, and the “new girl of the week” premise got old. It was rare to see an episode that didn’t have ten minutes of random sight gags or a new girl being introduced, but there’s a lot of potential. I don’t see any difference in this new season. For example, the second episode featured both a vexing Commodore Perry theme that fell flat on its ass while also featuring some delightful punnage. I really want to enjoy this series, but it ends up at times more confusing than funny. Of course, I think a lot of my readers feel the same way about the NBA references in this blog. This series is like the Stephen Jackson of anime, with Shaft being any random gentlemen’s establishment in the greater Indianapolis or Oakland area. Probably not a good combination.

(Mitigating factor: First time in like nine episodes that I’ve heard Kiri speak, and she sings! That’s a good thing, because she’s one of the better characters, along with Kafuka and Chie.)

(Random Note: I love Stratos and a.f.k…. but they used Bobby McFerrin already! I think this is a more appropriate song since the series hinges on Pink Supervisor’s differing take on life. And “let’s call the whole thing off” can be an euphemism for suicide, something else Pink Supervisor is known for. Of course, I doubt Gershwin was thinking about Chie x Kiri fanservice when he wrote the song… really, really random note… Louis Armstrong’s and Ella Fitzgerald’s rendition of this song is my favorite version.)

(Random Note II: Why does the ED remind me of Gundam 00 and especially Tieria… ?)

#BONUS. Cao. Cao.


Ever sit around all day and wonder, “You know what would be great? If they made an anime about Cao Cao and the rest of the players from the Three Kingdoms era, but put them as melonpanriffic high school girls who beat each other up?” Well, you’re about to be heavily, sincerely, utterly disappointed by the OVA Yawaraka Sangokushi Tsukisase! Ryofuko-chan. This series is about Cao Cao and Ryofuko form the Three Kingdoms era getting transported to our modern world and turned into flat-chested lolis in grade school. How tripped out did the creator have to be to come up with this one? It’s like Ichigo Mashimaro mixed with Dokuro-chan plus Chinese warlords. This series almost puts my Moe of the Dead idea to shame. Ryoufuko-chan is what Kodomo no Jikan tried to be: a racy, funny comedy about DFC lolis, only this one has actual funny moments. (Watch for the Mesousa cameos!) There’s also a good deal of fanservice (as the second story is about the girls getting physical examinations), so you might want to check for Chris Hansen before watching this one. Guiltiest of guilty pleasures.

(Mitigating factor: I saw that the animation studio was Chaos Project, and it’s not one that I’m familiar with, so I looked it up. They seem to specialize in fanservice OVAs. Thought I’d pass that bit of information along.)

#BONUS. Ongoing. Intervention.


Celestial Being intervenes thin slicing the new season, winter 2008 edition! Gundam 00 is the love child of Code Geass and Full Metal Panic. I’m just waiting for when Louise shows up with a Cheese-kun and when Ali calls Setsuna, “MY HONEY!!!” Oh wait, I think both has happened already.

#4. Dead. Chicken.


Warning: Sub-par source material.

There’s a lot to like about True Tears, and, sadly, the original source material isn’t one of them. It’s a typical visual novel turned anime, and the magical twist this time around resolves around crying… which would have been fascinating if Terrell Owens and Hillary Clinton were involved, but they’re not. Aside from the crazy chicken girl who talks to chickens, none of the characters are interesting. Though with the crazy chicken girl and the jealous girl, things have a chance of picking up. What separates something like True Tears from something like H2O? Characters in True Tears behave kinda normally. They don’t act forced, and there’s a real flow to what they’re doing. It may not be exciting, but it’s not exactly like I’m saving the galaxy from he anti-spirals day in and day out either in my real life. Secondly, True Tears doesn’t try to reinvent the genre, they just try to execute well. I like that. They’re also trying to make the most out sub-par material, and I like that as well. Also, True Tears is vastly superior in animation quality. The shot composition, the details, and the amount of animation is just incredible.

True Tears is done by P.A. Works, and from what I’ve seen so far, the animation is top notch. They’re a tier lower than Kyoto, but they blow away the animation from most other winter 2008 series. This series uses a lot of overhead shots, which I’m a fan of, and the animation shows a lot of movement and fidgeting by background characters. For comparison, watch the new Gunslinger Girl series, and the background characters don’t move. I also love the ED, especially with the dead chicken at the end of it. I’m eager to see more of this series, and, if the plot picks up, I think P.A. Works can deliver. Because, Kyrios knows, the industry needs all the good studios it can get.

(Mitigating factor: I can’t stop thinking about the BBC documentary, Planet Earth, every time True Tears uses an overhead shot. There was one in episode two that showed the students streaming out of the school, and all I could think of were hippos looking for water in the African desert.)

#3. Gone. Postal.


Warning: “Ippen, shinde miru?”

I broke off Shigofumi‘s entry into its own post. One thing about thin slicing is that I’m trying to project the future outcome with a very limited sample and my intuition. Usually, for this type of series, there’s only two top tier stories that can be told: the first and the one that dives into the observer’s past. We saw this pattern with Kino’s Travels and with Jigoku Shoujo and even Paranoia Agent, and I don’t see Shigofumi being any different.

#2. Spicy. Wolfgasms.


Warning: From the creators of Love Love, Smash Hit, and Cosprayers

I have/had high hopes for Spice and Wolf, and there’s just no way I can coherently evaluate about this series right now. I’m derailed by (1) Horo’s delicious… tail (2) the fact that like seventeen fansub groups are working on this series, and none of them nailed the dialogue (3) Lulu and Kallen are prominently involved and (4) the production team last work on Love Love, Smash Hit, and Cosprayers. I only keep bringing up (4) because those three series sucked. Hard. I’m still optimistic that Spice and Wolf will turn out to be enjoyable, just because even if you screw up A source material, it’s still hard to do worse than a B. And, please, don’t prove me wrong on this. I’m begging you.

(Mitigating factor: sheep get traded for bricks. Then all hell breaks loose.)

#1. Seconds. Please.


Warning: Mako-cakes!

Once it was clear that Asread kept the Bible Black faces and the same style as Doumu’s take, there’s no doubt that Minami-ke ~Okawari~ would reign in the top spot. While I’m not hot on the modified character designs (what happened to you, Fujioka?!? and what happened to Kana’s I AM BOSS T-shirt?!?), more Kana, more Chiaki, and more Haruka is never a bad thing. And the new, improved Mako-cakes… well… just shoot me. I don’t care anymore.

(Mitigating factor: Since my first post about ~Okawari~, I’ve seen the Haruka in the hot springs image posted to various image boards three times all with some variation of “flotation device.” I couldn’t be prouder of my readers.)

In Conclusion

My gosh, my shortest thin slicing post in over two years. This season isn’t strong; it’s probably not a good sign that I actually had to agonize about which series to put as Mr. Irrelevant. Unlike fall 2007 where there were a lot of quality shows, this winter 2008 has a lot of mediocre to bad series. If you exclude ~Okawari~ because it could be considered just a continuation, only Spice and Wolf and maybe Shigofumi would crack the top ten for fall 2007. That just shows how ridiculous stacked fall was– ef ~a tale of memories~, Clannad, Gundam 00, and Minami-ke all won Best of 2007 awards… and many just barely missing out (Bamboo Blade, Moyashimon).

Winter 2008 just feels like the stop gap dregs, much like all the crappy reality TV series airing now because of the writer’s strike, rather than the heavy hitters. As I mentioned earlier in the post, studios like Kyoto, Gainax, Doumu, and Sunrise don’t have new offerings this season leaving Artland, Studio Deen, and IMAGIN to fill their shoes. This is very much like seeing Andrew Bynum go down with an injury just to watch Kwame Brown trot on to save the day. What’s even more disturbing is that the animation quality is just horrible this season as well. The only series that has great animation is True Tears with ~Okawari~ in the competent department. I do have hope for True Tears, just because P.A. Works is doing a great job, and I have to have hope that IMAGIN wouldn’t scuttle Spice and Wolf. Aside from the top five or six series, there’s really not a lot I’m interested in, and definitely very few I’d even bother to watch weekly. Thank Kyrios that Clannad, Gundam 00, Shakugan no Shana, and Bamboo Blade are all still airing. Now excuse me, I have some sheep to trade for bricks.

38 Responses to “thin slicing the new season, winter 2008 edition”

  1. I am really surprised by the first place earned by Okawari. I guess that all the negative reviews it got so far did not get much influence on you.

  2. Well, once again I am in close agreement with your thin slicing list. Of course this season it is an easy job to separate the wheat from the chaff, with only weak showing of good shows. My entire top six is in the same order, except I might (might) bump True Tears past Shifogumi, perhaps only because the end of TT#3 seemed to promise a little bit of added tension.

    Oddly enough, although I realize TAMNM is a wreck, I’m still laughing at it (or perhaps I laugh because it’s a wreck?) Much of it has to do, I suppose, with its contrast to Hayate, of which we’ve seen 40 weeks of by now. Some of Ren’s reactions too are little bit atypical for the usual fanservice harem show lead, which earns it a bonus point or two. Still, it couldn’t even touch my top ten of Fall ’07 season.

  3. I never thought I would hear you say you’re thankful for Shakugan no Shana again… well I guess it is turning around… a little.

    Oh, and I really want that Gundam 00 line dance shot in high rez, that would make a great desktop.

  4. Have you tried out the latest Persona game? While you may not have liked the first or second ones, Persona 3 takes it in a different direction with the daily school life section and social relationship bit. I know a lot of people got a Mai-Hime vibe off of the game starting out, and for many including myself it’s become their all-time favorite RPG on the PS2.

  5. For once, I think I can agree with you on your thin slicing, the top 3 is sort of right but not in the right order. Should be:
    1. Shigofumi
    2. Wolf and Spice
    joint 3. Okawari and ZSZS
    I cant help the fact that the original Minami-ke came first and thats why this new one seems strange to me, and its not as funny either. I also dont like the new animation and black no-faces. Shigofumi however has hit all the right buttons and I really look forward to each new episode. The quality far surpasses anything else this season, even shows continuing from last season. I really like this one. If it keeps this up, its a lock to become a classic with the DVD buying crowd.

  6. Also, have you seen any Kodomo no Jikan? Its not trying to be a comedy even if it is funny, its a serious drama. Get a clue.

  7. It’s Cao Cao now? I could’ve sworn someone stated the character hanging out with Lu Bu was Yuan Shao.

  8. Ok, one point of contention for KimiAru: I can’t believe you didn’t bring up the fact that every time Domon and Master Asia Ren and Taisa are together, it brings back G Gundam memories.

    Ep 3: “Kuonji Flag, Ready, GO!”

    Not to mention the Initial D parody (done, of course, but has it ever been done with a limo beating an Integra?)

    Not to mention Shinra’s Haruhi-class teasing. I happen to find it enjoyable.

  9. Great, I messed up on the strikeout. Should’ve been Domon and Master Asia Ren

    But you get the point.

  10. There’s nothing wrong with Dazzle, if you just watch a couple of episodes…

    You screwed up that last image!

  11. I assume you haven’t They Are My Noble Masters ep 3…. pretty much bumped it from bottom of the foodchain to the great white

  12. Yeah, I watched Rosario episode three and I realized that Karin (which I recently finished) had more plot and character development. Karin, which I can describe as “anime artificial sweetener,” is better. Animation quality doesn’t suck at least, maybe that’s why I was watching it in between gunslinger girl, to recover from that mess.

  13. Though in GG’s defense, the op is pretty good. showing all the animation references is a neat idea. I recognize certain things like, “Hey, it’s Claus’s glasses!” or “They actually tried to fit a p90 in a violin case?” I just really hated episode 2 where they did “camera shaking” to ofset a series of still shots when a van exploded. How do you even do camera shaking in animation?

  14. I’m liking True Tears a lot. I’m not familiar with the source material, but I like the setup.

    Wolf and Spice is doing okay by me, but the animation is kinda bad. I wish they had a bigger budget.

    I’m not terribly familiar with Persona, but it seems okay so far for a typical shounen affair.

    TAMNM has horrible animation and is rather bland. Ep 3 has a good deal of service, but let’s see if they can pull off something interesting. Overall, giving the impression of a Hayate ripoff is not earning bonus points.

    H20 has me just because I’m curious about the bullying. Otherwise, the animation is horrible and the plot is horribly contrived. I was going to stick around a while longer just to find out the secret, but it’s a hard sell.

    I kinda like Hatenkou Yugi since the female lead is a little unusual. The most recent episode paints her as a more typical heroine, so she’s not as interesting anymore.

    Yawaraka Sangokushi Tsukisase! Ryofuko-chan… I haven’t seen that subbed. I’m not interested in a loli Ikkitousen because even the original was hard to get into despite the melonpan and softcore pr0n.

  15. “A few omissions this time: Kyou Kara Maou R (because I haven’t watched the original), Aria the Origination (because I never finished Aria the Natural), Moegaku*5 (couldn’t find an episode), and Macross Frontier (since, technically, it’s a spring show and will be included with spring 2008’s thin slicing).”

    What the…?

    So, you mention Moegaku, you even include a place for Kenryoku Usagi, and yet there isn’t even a single mention about Porfy no Nagai Tabi!? Don’t tell me you didn’t know that that show existed.

    Really, if you’re so busy with animation-quality, you really should give that series a chance. Out of all the series this season, it’s got by far the best-looking background art.

  16. I was wrong about Shigofumi. Sure, it’s no Little Snow Fairy Sugar, and Fumika, despite being beautiful, is not exactly cheek-pinching adorable. But beneath the darkness of Shigofumi – and perhaps even the coldness of Fumika herself – lies a warmth I didn’t expect. Tragedies, broken people, and death itself cannot overcome love and confidence. Just like the rocket soaring into the sky, the opening arc’s message is “Victory is mine! I leave this earth without regrets!”

    Shigofumi also has great backgrounds and cinematography, and above average character motion to go with the uplifting story. After three episodes, it’s way too early to enshrine Fumika next to Sugar, Kozue, Osaka, and Potemayo, but she certainly has potential.

    And Jason thought J.C.Staff was in decline.

  17. This season IS pretty thin on the ground, but the last two shows you listed are the only redeeming features.

    I’m rather torn about Spice and Wolf – they hacked the manga and light novel source material, as far as I can tell, to throw in a second girl… just because. Why did they need Chloe? No idea, especially since she’s HER village’s negotiator and has no reason to be following Lawrence and Horo around, except maybe to cockblock Lawrence x Horo. Which, I will note, Lawrence does perfectly well himself and I think remembering Horo’s true form will easily send Litle Craft back into hibernation should they ever get too close. But on the other hand, the animation doesn’t suck, the story doesn’t completely suck, and they aren’t overdoing panties or recycling the same henshin sequence just to save animating two minutes. So that’s a plus.

    Okawari seems to be trying to save money by not drawing faces. When this is applied to characters who are in the background, and not showing up very often, that’s one thing. When we get a close-up of Faceless Boy, and then Faceless Number 2 talks to a main character… that’s a problem. They put in enough effort to animate a mouth, but not grace the character with eyes or a nose, much less the rest of the face – this falls squarely into the Uncanny Valley concept proposed by a Japanese roboticist, Masahiro Mori, which basically boils down to ‘not quite human appearances are creepier than completely non-human ones which don’t remind us of corpses because they’re just human enough to have a similar shape, but not human enough to look real‘. Seriously, non-human face without eyes, nose, or anything but hair talking to me… not attractive. Between that and the weirdness with the flotation devices in Ep 1… well, if it wasn’t for the Bible Black faces, the same music, and Kana being a jerk whose manipulations are highly entertaining to watch, I wouldn’t be watching it still.

    shuthorite: The manga’s better – it has a plot, which is fairly stereotypical… but there’s more sweetness, like Karin, and less… recycled henshin shots which show Moka’s boobs growing, something that doesn’t appear in the manga. It’s the same Moka, but her hair lightens, her eyes narrow, and her whole manner is more confident and in control.

  18. I am for the most part in agreement with numbers 1-4 though I have some misgivings about True Tears being number 4. I hope that H2O suffers an epic derailing since I would dearly like to see poor oppressed Hayami slaughter the townies, raze the village, poison the wells, and salt the earth.

    I wish Macross Frontier came sooner than later but such is life i suppose.

  19. Is it just me or did the overall animation quality take a nosedive compared to previous seasons?

    My personal two cents are as follows:
    I loved the first seasons of SZS and Minami so I’ll be following them by default.
    They are my Noble Masters and True Tears seem relevant to my interests. Meido-nee, tsundere, and crazy girl ftw.
    Rosario+Vampire and H2O both make me feel dirty for continuing to watch them, but for different reasons. On one hand I keep hoping H2O’s male protagonist will man it up and call everyone else out on their BS treatment of loner girl, but on the other hand I know this will never ever happen. R+V is like junk food: I know it’s killing brain cells, but it’s kinda enjoyable in it’s stupidity. Plus I’m liking its ED song.
    I’m liking Persona, in-spite/because of me being a SMT fanboy. Although there was a ‘OH SHI-‘ moment when I realized Jun wasn’t a tomboyish girl closely followed by a ‘hells yes!’ moment when they insinuated that he’s batshit insane.
    I’m reserving judgment on Spice +/- Wolf until I see more (great so far but part of me is convinced that it’s soon going to head so far south that Antarctica will seem tropical by comparison).
    Overall I think Shigofumi is the only new series that will be memorable a few eps into the spring season, but I’m waiting to be proven wrong.

  20. Winter season is always weak, Winter 2007 was more or less the same (just a few shows like Nodame Cnatabile and Gakuen Utopia stand up for the industry). is funny to see how many shows I saw on Spring and Fall every year, but Winter and Summer are alwyas weak.

  21. The Andrew Bynum comparison was painfully apt.

  22. Five seconds into Hatenkou Yuugi and my first thought was: “Ah. Studio DEEN…” Next thought was: “Wonder what Jason will be slotting as Mr. Irrelevant this thin slicing…”

  23. I kinda forced myself to watch H20, mainly because of the same reasons as above , as in harem lead mans it up and stuff.

    Then i suffered eye damage at episode 4. CANNOT UNSEE TRAP.

    I thought TT was a great effort. I thought it was a pretty darn good show, plus although the lead generally is a bit boring, he actually has backbone.

    I agree though, this season is insanely thin. I didn’t even know half the shows that Jason reviewed even existed. Looks like I’ll have to keep watching Clannad and Gundam to tide me over this season, along with more second helpings of Kana…

    p.s. Is Minoru Shiraishi in that anime about construction rabbits?

  24. You forgot Ayakashi…well, nice post, though. Will save me a bit of time when I dont watch Gunslinger Girl 2^^

  25. This season is horrible.

    Like the last season.

  26. >>> This season is horrible.

    Like the last season.

    rule of thumb, if you have 2 horrible season in a row, prob time to stop watching anime lol

  27. H20 and especially Rosario+Vampire are my guilty pleasures this season(Rosario filling the void left by symmetrical docking succubi).

    And maybe I’m just jaded but Hirose seems alot less loser like than 95% of the harem male leads that come to mind.

  28. >> I assume you haven’t They Are My Noble Masters ep 3…. pretty much bumped it from bottom of the foodchain to the great white

    LOL not quite. Episode 3 just confirmed for me that TAMNM is 25% win, 75% fail with nothing in between. Nothing. It’s either wretched or awesome, and there’s no middle ground. Honestly, everyone should be devastated because TAMNM should have been a hentai series. It’s just built for hentaization.

    (I liked Hayate’s Initial D parody better. At least he used the gutter trick! But even that’s been parodied to death… could someone use the “turning off the lights” trick once in a while for variation?)

    >> Five seconds into Hatenkou Yuugi and my first thought was: “Ah. Studio DEEN…” Next thought was: “Wonder what Jason will be slotting as Mr. Irrelevant this thin slicing…”

    I’m honored. Truly honored.

    >> p.s. Is Minoru Shiraishi in that anime about construction rabbits?

    Kenryoku Usagi…

    >> And Jason thought J.C.Staff was in decline.

    JC Staff is the Vince Carter of anime. I give up. Much like Raptors and Nets fans.

  29. Oh yeah, Persona. I intended to talk about it a bit but forgot. I read that MegaTen is a sprawling, old game franchise, but Persona 3 is the first one that I’ve played. And I liked it a lot. My biggest – and really the only big – complaint is about the number of floors on Tartaros. I still find it difficult to believe that I really sat through ~250 levels of corridors and battles. Should’ve been cut in half, from my perspective all that fighting business took me away for too long stretches from the REAL gameplay. But guess I’m a sucker for punishment as I did attack the extra block with tougher foes, to the point of waltzing over the final boss with my too-high-level characters.

  30. I won’t argue that it should’ve been an H series… But then again, it’s just following a long line of h games turned anime…

  31. Haesslich: “Okawari seems to be trying to save money by not drawing faces. When this is applied to characters who are in the background, and not showing up very often, that’s one thing. When we get a close-up of Faceless Boy, and then Faceless Number 2 talks to a main character… that’s a problem. They put in enough effort to animate a mouth, but not grace the character with eyes or a nose, much less the rest of the face…”

    While they are going completely “blackface” on the majority of the nobody characters, they are drawing the faces on some, ususally in closeups, they’re just turning the saturation way down to black them out. My assumption is it’s so that it’s easier to place the mouths and other things they do show in relation to the rest of the face. Take a look at episode 2 about 8:55 in (when all the students turn towards Chiaki) and you’ll see what I mean. I don’t know if I agree with what they’ve done, but it certainly appears to be an artistic choice, not a monetary one.

    As for the post, I have to agree in regards to what I’ve seen. I couldn’t get iinto Wolf + Spice (the Barbie doll body shots really took me out of it) and I know from experience I probably won’t really enjoy True Tears whether it’s good or not, so I didn’t bother, but I can certainly see their charm, and as Okawari and ZSZS are the only shows from this season I’m watching (thank you grassroots sub groups and a.f.k.) I got no disagreements. Thinking of taking a look at Shigofumi and TAMNM now, though, after this post and its comments.

  32. JC Staff is the Vince Carter of anime.

    I had to look up Vince Carter even if I do follow the NBA somewhat – and “Half Man, Half Season” seems to be a good analogy for J.C.Staff. Unpredictable and inconsistent, alternating between amazing and crap, doing Louise 2 and Potemayo in the same season… What’s next, Shana suddenly getting good again?

  33. Zetsubo da!

  34. where did you get the gundam pic? do you have a bigger version? i want that for my wallpaper…

  35. (I liked Hayate’s Initial D parody better. At least he used the gutter trick! But even that’s been parodied to death… could someone use the “turning off the lights” trick once in a while for variation?)

    Didn’t Initial D got that from Cannonball Run?

  36. there’s only two top tier stories that can be told: the first and the one that dives into the observer’s past

    IMO origin stories tend to be superior in a wider range of genres. I recall being immensely gratified by the way Shakugan no Shana’s flashback arc forced it to eject all its baggage and tell a self-contained story using a more limited cast of main characters.

  37. I’m kinda grateful for the lack of good shows this season. Now I can catch up with all the great shows I missed the past year.

  38. Do you even watch anime? It doesn’t look like it.

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