thin slicing the new season, winter 2010 edition


Like clockwork, the granddaddy of gimmick posts is once again upon us. That’s right– try to contain your bursting glee– thin slicing has returned!

Thin slicing is based off of Malcom Gladwell’s Blink, a book about the ability of someone to quickly judge what is really important and what’s not important from a very limited experience. And that’s basically what I do in watching, at max a fourth, of a weekly anime series and trying to rank all the shows from a new season. As a 2010 twist, Gladwell builds on Blink a bit in his 2009 book, What the Dog Saw. Here’s an excerpt from that book:

Our instinct as humans, after all, is to assume that most things are not interesting. We flip though the channels on the television and reject ten before we settle on one. We go to a bookstore and look at twenty novels before we pick the one we want. We filter and rank and judge. We have to. There’s just so much out there.

And that’s exactly what thin slicing is for. To find the Haruhi’s and Simon’s and Fuko-chan’s… and maybe even a few Dazzles, Queen’s Blades, and Touka Gettans along the way. And in this orgy of ranking new shows from 1 to whatever, the only guideline I go by is simply, “if I received one episode of all the shows at once, which one would I watch first? Second? Last?” The ranking is not a quality ranking. It’s a visceral instinct ranking. And, of course, for shows to be ranked high… some will be ranked low. Deal with it. Also, because I have finite time, I might just decide not to thin slice something. Especially series that are crappy sequels *cough* Koihime Musou *cough*.

Well, what are we waiting for? Let’s roll…



Jack Bauer: “What is the audience for Chu-Bra! What is it! Time is running out! TELL ME! TELL ME NOW! WHAT IS THE AUDIENCE FOR CHU-BRA!!!” Let me put it this way. It’s an “educational” anime that teaches little girls about bras and panties. Except I highly doubt any one who needs that practical knowledge will watch this show. Ugh. There’s nothing redeeming about this anime. None. Zero. Zip. So probably won’t surprise you that Zexcs is behind it… with completely un-moe character design and shoddy animation. Oh, the talking breasts… freakier than the third nipple in Kevin Smith’s Mallrats.

(Best case scenario: I don’t care anymore. Just shoot me. No way there’s a silver lining here. None. I won’t accept it.)

#13. COBRA.


I always wonder who green lights a show like Cobra, a series that belongs in 1980 and not 2010. I think the modern equivalent is Full Metal Panic‘s One Man Burning Force getting green lit… for 2025. The first minute of this show features a bikini babe running away in a shark-shaped tank from a pterodactyl-shaped jet.. on Venus. GTO anime thinks that the art style and direction needs modernization, Code Geass R2 thinks that the plot and action are a huge contrived mess, and the contestants on The Bachelor think that the dialogue is cheesy as a Pizza Hut stuffed crust pizza. Worse yet, as a crotch kick to old Cobra fans, this doesn’t seem like a continuation of the original… but a remake. I’m not sure I would be happy watching Sagara meet Chidori again in 2025 and thus not getting to that series’ climax until 2150. When apes rule the earth.

(Best case scenario: Kyoto will wise up and do more Full Metal Panic before 2025.)



Totally generic harem series that looks like it has a budget of an iPhone game? Why, it’s Omamori Himari, the other crappy series from Zexcs this season. Let’s see… a mysterious girl (trope!) must protect or else hell will break loose (trope!) the typical loser male (trope!) and gets the ire of the jealous childhood friend (trope!). Ugh. Needless to say, the manga is better. (When I wrote in 2007, “And, yes, I’m hoping for an anime adaptation,” I should have qualified it with “Just not by Zexcs, Gonzo, Feel, or Deen.” I really should stop using the Monkey’s Paw for wishes. I knew it was up to no good when I asked for, “Gimme more Haruhi Suzumiya!”) The animation for Omamori Himari is horrible (in fact, it looks dated for 2007… let alone 2010), the dialogue is less intelligent than a typical Jersey Shore chat, and the seiyuu for Yuto talks as if he’s continuously eating something. On the bright side, there’s tons of fanservice… except if you’re in it for fanservice, there’s like a bunch of more fanservicy shows this season.

(Best case scenario: A poor man’s Tayutama.)



The little girl in Ookamikakushi warns you to “stay away from old town.” I’m telling you to “stay away from this mess.” A weak guy (trope!) transfers (trope!) to some seemingly idyllic rural town (trope!) with his special needs little sister (trope!) and instantly bumps into the girl of his “dreams” (trope!). Five overused tropes in a single sentence! And I haven’t even gotten to the classic tsundere, the ridiculous animal cult angle, or the shaky camera yet. Yes, for whatever reason, the camera goes grainy and shakes when something “magical” happens. Normally, overused tropes are the lifeblood of anime, so it’s not necessarily a death blow, but the characters are just across the board annoying. I hate the main character, who is a cross between Shinji Ikari and Shinji Ikari’s retarded twin. On the bright side, there’s an extremely clingy girl… ever had one of those immediately regretful hookups with a crazy woman who calls you like every two hours afterward? Well, that’s Isuzu-chan.

(Best case scenario: A poor man’s Umineko no Naku Koro ni.)



I had no clue what the heck was going on in The Qwaser of Stigmata. Seems like some sort of crappy generic shounen action series a la Kaze no Stigma or Asura Cryin’. The heroine Mafuyu-chan even looks like the girl from Kaze no Stigma. Everything seemed disjointed (even more so than a crappy generic shounen action series), and I fell asleep about fifteen minutes in. If you’ve seen 500 anime series, you’ve seen them all. (The main character’s name is Mafuyu-chan?! I feel like that’s a name that should be retired, a la numbers in sports. Like how no one wants to see another Bulls 23, I don’t want to see another Mikuru, Senjougahara, Shana, Battler, Kogarashi, or Mafuyu-chan.)

(Best case scenario: A poor man’s Kaze no Stigma.)



Ladies vs. Butlers is the spiritual successor to the soft pr0n Kanokon. Hell, the characters even look like their Kanokon counterparts. It doesn’t help that Ayako Kawasumi’s character Saikyo reminds me of Chizuru right before she jumps poor Kouta. Only more devious. The premise of a school for masters and meido/butlers of said masters… well… it’s a great concept, but the execution is lacking. But I have to admit, even though this anime is so brain dead and uninspired and hackneyed, I did get two good moments off of it: the principal getting off on eroges and the revelation that the main male protagonist wanted to grow up and become… a bride. He makes Mako-cakes proud. Andohbytheway, the level of sexual harassment on this show makes even Tomoki blush.

(They should have merged this show with Chu-Bra, because I don’t think any of the characters on this show is wearing proper undergarments.)

(Best case scenario: If Xebec wanted to do more Kanokon, they should have done more… uh… Kanokon.)



I think So-Ra-No-Wo-To is getting unfairly compared to K-On!. Just because you have a ditsy girl Kanata who more than resembles Yui as the lead of a musical girl troupe, the shows are vastly different. K-On! is actually good. (Hehe.) Seriously, So-Ra-No-Wo-To more resembles Haibane Renmei, a prodding and mostly forgettable show that, for whatever reason, 1 out of 50 people who watch it become irreconcilably attached to it. Though I do enjoy A-1’s animation, and I do enjoy Rio. So… maybe this isn’t that bad. Or maybe this season is just that weak.

(Do we need tsundere in every scenario? And is Conan tsundere for The Tonight Show?)

(Best case scenario: Makes it past the first rose ceremony and gets to dip in the hot tub with The Bachelor.)



Nodame Cantabile Final wraps up the Nodame Cantabile franchise. As I wrote about previously, after Nodame and Chiaki went to Paris, they left something behind in the show: the comedy and the music. The original run was characterized by the humor and the characters as well as learning about classical music. After they left Area 11, it all changed. The new characters like Frank and Tanya just weren’t as interesting as Masumi or Mine. And the music itself went from being treated like a character to a background afterthought. The last great arc, no wonder, was Chiaki’s competition, where the old characters were still around and music was teh focus. I thought this was disappointing. The best shoujo (or even shounen) series are those that can transcend their original boundaries. As time went on, Nodame just reverted back into them. Much like Mahoromatic running a few episodes too long, Nodame Cantabile should have ended two seasons ago.

(Best case scenario: It doesn’t have the manga’s whimper of an ending.)



Baka to Test to Shokanju is an anime about standardized testing mixed with Yu-Gi-Oh!. And I’m enjoying it. It has every over-the-top anime stereotype, yet still manages to make me laugh at least twice an episode (which is two more times per episode than watching Scrubs). There’s the lucky loser, the crossdresser, the pervert, the hawt girl, the tomboy, the lesbian, the student council president… you name it, Baka to Test to Shokanju has it. What doesn’t it have? Testing. I would expect more testing in an anime about standardized tests.

(And, yes, that’s how low we are on the anime idea fuel tank if we’re at an anime about standardized tests. We’ve had anime about goddesses, wolves, giant robots, small robots, cyborgs, alchemy, swimming, bread, meido, butlers, classical music, drifting, teaching, demons, vampires, aliens, blacksmithing, art, assassins, baseball, revenge, crossdressing, student councils, mermaids, sad girl in snow, magical girls, magical girls as WWII aces who fly around with animal ears and no pants, and, now, standardized tests.)

(Unlimited mitigating factor: Needs better summoned creature battles. It’s the weakest portion of the show. If you did merge the battle antics of Yu-Gi-Oh! with this show, you would have a godly franchise.)

(Best case scenario: Aces exams but still fails to make it into MIT.)



Hanamaru Kindergarten is definitely the dark horse of the season. It’s sweet, it’s genuinely funny (i.e. not like Jay Leno funny), and it has an interesting gimmick: the lone male teacher in a kindergarten overrun with Potemayos. It’s the exact opposite scenario of being the lone female electrical engineer in an engineering graduate school. But a few things go against Hanamaru… I can only crack so many Potemayo-related jokes, it’s cavity-inducing sweet, it promotes unhealthy teacher-student relationships, and the animation is lackluster. But I have hope for this series. It might be the Sora no Otoshimono-like climber of this season, not because it gets better but because the shows ahead of it get worse.

(I wonder what would people want more? Choice A: Astonishment of Haruhi Suzumiya, One Man Burning Force, and Raki Suta 2. Choice B: Mahoromatic, Maria+Holic 2, and Koyomi Vamp. Choice C: Potemayo 2.)

(Best case scenario: Potemayo, hold the mayo.)



Okay, so I feel asleep during this show the first time around, and I decided to give the uncensored version a spin. Oh my Omafuyu-sama. The uncensored version of Seikon no Qwaser is a different show. It actually makes sense! One thing I didn’t realize was now much was censored… my gosh, this show is almost as bad and explicit as Queen’s Blade. This show makes Sora no Otoshimono seem like Charles in Charge. (Unlike Sora no Otoshimono which had redeeming points and an interesting plot thread on top of the lush fanservice, this show has zero redeeming value and even less “plot.”) In the first episode alone, here’s a list of what was cut out: urination, boobs, sexual act with a bokken, lactation and breast feeding, more boobs, sexual act with a chair, and some fondling for good measure. It’s like a solid four or five minutes that’s different between the two versions. The thing is… they do not use fog or whatever to censor, instead they show a different image or scene. Only this replacement scene or image doesn’t flow with the dialogue or plot, thus making Seikon no Qwaser seem disjointed. Okay, explicit material aside, I still have no clue what to make of this show. It’s a mess, yet a watchable mess. The characters are characters that you’ll love to hate, especially the main male lead who puts the “ass” in “asshole.” It’s one of those shows I just enjoy to complain about. If there were an anime MST3K and I were one of the producers, I’d insist on Seikon no Qwaser as an eventual special episode.

(Guessing by the ED… there’s going to be as much breast sucking in this show as there’s blood sucking in Vampire Bund.)

(The battle system seems to be a cross between Element Hunters and Full Metal Alchemist where the fighters can manipulate the elements… but only one element per character. Wait, how is that alchemy? They’re not turning A into B just altering the shape or phase of A. And they do realize that things like “steel” aren’t single elements but compounds of multiple elements? Shitty shounen science is shitty shounen science.)

(Best case scenario: I have no fucking clue.)



Dance in the Vampire Bund’s adaptation is handled by Hiroyuki Yoshino… yes… the mastermind of Mai Hime, Mai Otome, Mai Otome Zwei, Code Geass, Code Geass R2, Macross Frontier, and Haibane Renmei Trumpet. Let that sink in for a second. Loli. Vampires. Shaft animation. Sunrise sensibilities. Needless to say, I felt like these facts needed to be written. Again. But, on the other hand, it’s been a while since I’ve watched a top notch train wreck. Especially one that features nipple rubbing. (Why couldn’t we have worked this into Code Geass? Hiroyuki Yoshino– you waited until now to unleash the nipple rubbing?)

(Best case scenario: Mai Otome meets Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei with a side dish of penetration.)



Back to the art school grind with Hidamari Sketch ×☆☆☆. I like Miya-Miya. I like Yuno’s “X”. I like cracking jokes about Sae and Hiro and Sayuri and Mai. I like Shaft’s much improved animation. I like Yoshinoya-sensei. Solid show. It’s the third season of Hidarmari Sketch, so it’s not like we don’t know what we’re getting. You’re either in or out at this point. (I remember when I was complaining about the amount of sequels… now… we sure have a lot of sequels to sequels now.)

(Best case scenario: Someone creates an eroge based off of this scenario.)



Totally incomprehensible scramble of characters that come together in an overarching story? Why, yes, I’d like a serving of Durarara!!. This show has a lot going for it… an impressive Brain’s Base handling production duties… Ikebukuro nicely brought to life… interesting premise… the Baccano pedigree… a Conan/Leno parallel… characters with intrigue… given a full 24 episode season… and a mysterious headless horseman that I’ve already compared to a genderswapped Onizuka-sensei. Things not going for it? Come on. There’s no way any of these characters will turn out as awesome as Ladd.

(Best case scenario: Baccano, without the Ladd.)


I thought last season was so lackluster that I didn’t award an #1. But it turned out to be quite good. Sora no Otoshimono turned out to be nu-13 tier while stalwarts like Railgun, Darker than Black, Seitokai, and Kiddy Girl-and manned the Ragna tier. This season? It’s turning out to be like the 2010 NBA draft. There’s a clear John Wall (DURARARARARARA!!) and then a drop off where everything seems to be the same. Like it’s just personal preference at this point if Hanamaru floats your bloat or more less than Hidamari. And after that, there’s the Iron Tager tier bring up the rear (yes, I’m looking at you, Ladies vs Butlers).

In terms of upside, we know what we’re getting from the sequels. If Nodame decides to kill Chiaki and run away with Frank, well, it’s possible, but doubtful. Also, I don’t see a lot of upside from something like Baka to Test to Shoukanju… it’s not going to be a dramatically different experience ten episodes from now. However, I have no clue where Vampire Bund, Qwaser, or Durarara!! are going. They have upside and downside (somehow, I’m more confident of Durarara!! fulfilling its upside). Maybe one will be the next KG. Maybe one will be the next Darko. Who knows?

One interesting thing is that in winter 2008, there were about 22 new series. In winter 2009, there were 20. This winter? A sad 14 (not counting the non-weekly Katanagatari). Is this the economy rearing its ugly head? Winter 2009 shows were already planned and made by the time the economy collapsed, but this season would be when green light decisions would have to be made after the collapse. Slumping DVD sales and poor streaming revenue is also probably forcing more studios to rely on “special” BD releases, which explains the appeal of animation something like Qwaser.

27 Responses to “thin slicing the new season, winter 2010 edition”

  1. Jason where can I find “THE QWASER OF STIGMATA UNCENSORED” I can only find the censored one which is amaizngly lame.

  2. Just wondering about your thoughts on the Leno Conan debacle?

    YEAH!!! High hopes are high.
    @Saotome – only the webcast for uncensored is out, though I saw a version someone’s touched up out somewhere on TT. Or you can wait till AT-X broadcast on Jan 26th. Uncensored is the way to watch, it makes a whole lot of sense to the story and as to what’s going on :P

  4. Finally the thin slicing post. I was at a loss as to what to watch this season, and so I think I’m going with Durara, Hanamaru, and well that’s it. If this horde of trash keeps up I don’t think I’ll be watching anything come this time next year

  5. When is the Japanese government going to bail-out the anime industry? Seems like the moe bubble finally has burst (according to another NSFW site). Main street is bleeding for Akihabara. That calls for an inquiry. Bring out the torches and pitchforks. We want to see sweat, blood and tears, just like normal cable television.

    Speaking of Jack Bauer

  6. >If there were an anime MST3K and I were one of the producers…

    Wait, this isn’t AniMST3K?

  7. We are in agreement. Durarara is king for now, Hanamaru, Hidamari and Nodame as my solid deputys. Vampire Bund, after two episodes, I have no idea if I will like it or not. Needs more time.

    But I disagree in the completely meaningless ranking of Omamori Himari above Chu-bra. Omamori’s manga is decent, but each episode so far is 22 or so minutes of cringing. Chu-bra is bad as well, but has a few amusing moments. Anyway, im done with both.

  8. Maybe I should check out Vampire Bund. I had zero interest in it, being Your Another Vampire Show, and less so with a loli MC whom I guess is really 1000 years old but it just so happens that she looks 10.
    On the other shows, Baka no Test floats my raft better than Hidamari, which I got enough of after one season.
    Hopefully Durararararagi continues to meet my expectations, the other alternative would be consider the season a bust.
    And to wrap up the previous season (though I did not look into some shows) the list of worthwhiles appears to be Darker than Black, Nyan Koi, Seitokai, Sasameki, Kimi no Todoke and Kämpfer. In no particular order. I might check Kiddy Girl and Otoshinoto. Some day.

  9. i think someone’s been reading tvtropes. when are we getting end of year awards?

  10. I love these posts. It’s how I found your blog. I know you’ve said that you don’t get much reward out of writing them (by the way, what is your definition as a reward for writing a blog?), but they are a staple to many people in watching anime.

    I do feel like the anime industry is stuck in its own “Endless Eight”. Maybe japan will get over its split-personality disorder and openly embrace more mature themed anime? Until then I’m sure we’ll all enjoy some more fanservice charged harem goodness :)

  11. Well, interesting rating scale as always, I do keep your motives in mind whenever I read these, and most of the time I agree with the ratings anyways, to an extent, but as far as Durarara! goes I really can’t understand how it can be considered as a “I would watch this first” against all the rest with only the first two eps out. As it stands in Durarara we’ve been introduced to a few characters and a couple of strange gimmicks they have, in the first ep we watched a guy get introduced to the city and some people and then we watched the nekomimi-testament-motorcycle-riding person save a girl, who then in the next ep we watched ponder suicide and then attempt it and fail. Compared to Baccano! where in the first couple of eps we saw a majority of the cast interact with each other and a hint of the hilarious quirks of Millia and Issac with a clear plot in motion (Train Heist). I’m not saying that Durarara isn’t going to be probably one of the best shows this season, cause I’m looking forward to it 10 weeks from now as well, but I cannot understand how it’s #1 on a “Which would I rather watch first” list from what we’ve been given thus far.
    >>Sora no Otoshimono turned out to be nu-13 tier while stalwarts like Railgun, Darker than Black, Seitokai, and Kiddy Girl-and manned the Ragna tier.
    Use the BB:CS tier list and I totally agree.

  12. I have to agree with Chumara: I can’t see much that’s especially interesting about the first episode of Durarara. It was basically an intro of a few characters. It could end up being great, a trainwreck or just tedious. The second episode was a lot more interesting.

    I think this is more a failing of the thin-slicing concept. If I had to rate the two most interesting first episodes of this season I’ve watched, it’d be Dance in the Vampire Bund because it looked like they’d do something different from what I expected, and Ladies vs Butlers because they actually have a non-wuss male lead in an ecchi anime. DVB2 showed me how wrong I was, but LvB 2 was actually fun, and Durarara 2 and Sora no woto started to make things interesting.

  13. DRRR’s first episode was better to me than Baccano since a least you some idea of what was happening. Baccano’s was so confusing that many people just dropped before it could show it’s potential.

  14. the silver lining to a anime season this bad is that you now have time to watch some older anime. I just finish watching again Dai-Guard and plan to watch Escaflowne next (WHENS THE BLUE RAY COMING OUT FOR THIS). With so much good old stuff i don’t see a reason to torture myself with the new crap.

  15. I keep wanting to call it “Chu-Barra” for some reason. Like it is the Wookiee Entertainment Channel.

  16. I only have one question.

    What in the name of god is going on in that first seikon no kwaser screencap? No really, what the hell is going on?

  17. Haibane Renmei “plodding and mostly forgettable”? Wow. In my neighborhood of the Internet Haibane Renmei is considered one of the best (not far from the presumably “plodding and mostly forgettable” Mushishi). If anything, the “one in fifty” ratio goes the other way, Jason.

    (And, in fact, I think I’ve seen Sora no oto‘s evocation of Haibane Renmei used as a reason to watch it, not the other way around. Though it doesn’t live up to that comparison, at least not yet.)

    Otherwise, I guess I know to avoid Omamori Himari (if Jason dismisses a fanservice show, it must be a stinker).

  18. Ah yes, finally the thin slicing post for this season is here! They’rs So much fun to read, especially when you keep in mind that last year there wasn’t a single post for several weeks :S
    So with this thin slicing I was actually hoping there was a hidden gem I overlooked this season, but it seems mediocrity gallores. I guess I’ll check out durarara, and thats about it. None off the other series apeal to me.

  19. An uninspiring season. Baka Test is the only one I’ve got any attention for. Hidamari Sketch looks OK too, but not enough for me to catch up on the previous seasons of it in order to pick it up.

  20. So yeah, I guess I’ll only watch Durararara since it looks like the only one with an interesting plot.
    You’ve got a really cute ICO pic there.

  21. Baka to Test to Shokanju is so full of nonsense, pretty much nothing is explained (properly) or makes much sense, but it’s probably the most entertaining show this season lol

    The chibi summons are absolutely adorable and Akihisa’s “true powers” never ceases to amaze (so far).

  22. Isn’t Seikon no Qwaser a little too high in your ranking? Also, haters are gonna hate, but Sora no Woto has mecha. I’m not letting that opportunity pass. Durarara!! is a no brainer, while Hanamaru would be the guilty pleasure for this season.

    (Best case scenario: Aces exams but still fails to make it into MIT.)

    Story of my life.

    i think someone’s been reading tvtropes. when are we getting end of year awards?

    You’ve got it backward. TVtropes has been reading from blog好き.

  23. Wallpaper size of main post picture where?


    I don’t know about that, the reason why some people dislike Haibane Renmei is because the general happenings are rather pedestrian (with a few exceptions (wings, anyone?)) AND incredibly slow-paced. Mushishi, on the other hand, is much more fantasy, and though it is slow-paced, it uses a suitable episodic-style (and a much better lead character) as opposed to an overarching plot, which works much better for the content. But, of course, opinions opinions opinions.

    This season blows. Durarararararara seems to be the best in this lot, not that that’s much of an accomplishment. I’ll probably end up watching Durararara, stuff from old seasons (just finished Infinite Ryvius, pretty good. Its Lord of the Flies in space, pretty much), and maybe Bund/Baka.

    Between Kamichu, Baccano, Durararararara, and Natsume, Brain’s Base seems to have a much better track record than… say JC Staff/DEEN. WTB: Updated developer rankings.

  24. Hi Jason! I really enjoyed your Blazblue references here!

    Hopefully the Iron Tagers of this season may become the MikeZ of the 2010 season. :)

  25. Ok I have to comment again, after seeing ep 3 of Durarara!! I have to say that, if your ranking of Durarara!! was based off of ep 3 then I wholeheartedly agree with you, that ep was full of Awesome, Manliness, love, Mystery, moé, engrish INTO russian (too pro), and chracter interactions that I’ve been eagerly awaiting since ep 1.
    But yeah I still stand by my earlier statements had you based this off of only the first ep’s.
    @Hakulyte: The Iron Tagers of this season just gotta hit BBCS Tager tier and they won’t need MikeZ’s help.

  26. Also, haters are gonna hate, but Sora no Woto has mecha.

    A skeleton of an old, fossilised “robot” does not a mecha make.

    And yes, I remain hopeful for the future of Sora no Woto, because as this winter goes, it’s the only one I’m seeing. (DRRR put me off because of a storyline too much like a game story I know of; many have discredited the theory, but I still remain adamant)

    Maybe I’m getting tired of all this, but nothing really comes out to me this season. (Hey, Sora no Woto is only there because of the K-On lookalikes.) This could be a good time as any to give up this silly hobby and move on.

    Or maybe I’ll wait until the spring. Disappearance!

  27. WHAT? Bashing on Haibane Renmei!? Come on, Jason, you can’t be serious. HR is too damn beautiful.
    Regarding this season, Durarara and Hidamari rock, the rest is shit. A sad season indeed.

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