Let’s just blame the new season on Sakamoto-san.
Like clockwork, the granddaddy of gimmick posts is once again upon us. That’s right– 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 two episodes, of a weekly anime series and trying to rank all the shows from a new season. And I love all the people who complain, “But you can’t rate a show properly with only an episode!” That’s why it’s called “thin slicing.” Watching more would only defeat the purpose. And I don’t have to be 100% right. Just right enough.
Thin slicing is to quickly find the Mariya’s and Kogarashi’s and Lulu’s… and maybe even a few Professor’s and Nano’s 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 non-interesting sequels *cough* Natsume Yuujinchou San and Baka Ni *cough*.
This season is a bit different as I had a goal of getting this post up without 24 hours of the last relevant anime (Dantalian) being aired, and, as such, many of these shows don’t have an episode two aired yet. I like to thank the staff of blog好き inc. for making this possible. Of course, I wasn’t able to squeeze in as many posts as a consequence.
Last season was surprising good with the excellent Friendship Anime being a gem. And, of course, NANO PROFESSOR NANO PROFESSOR NANO PROFESSOR~
#MR. IRRELEVANT. R-15.
“His only thought was plunging his newborn snake deep into the slick, young underbush.” R-15 by AIC is about the high school years of the crappy writer from Hanasaku Iroha. Actually, that might give this show too much credit… this show is horrible. The premise of a genius adult fiction writer attending a gifted school featuring a gifted photographer, a gifted gymnast, and a gifted clarinetist makes absolutely no sense. It’s just a weak device to get the loser male lead imagining the girls in various sexual positions. Except he is terribly boring and is only good for validating TV Tropes’ existence. Ugh. Fabio can write better than him. This is no Koe de Oshigoto.
(Mitigating factor: A good chunk of the show is blurred out. You can tell this show is just gunning for a cheap BD buck.)
(Seriously, why would a gifted school put a gifted gymnast in the same class as a gifted mathematician? Do they need the same classes? I think not. And why just one of every genius type? Is this Noah’s ark? Also, how hard it must be to write erotically when one hasn’t started puberty yet?)
#19. MORITA-SAN WA MUKUCHI.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen an anime with as terrible animation as Morita-san wa Mukuchi (森田さんは無口, Morita-san Is Silent). To top it off, the directing and pacing is terribad too. Not a great start for the relatively unknown Studio Gram. This show is a 4koma about a silent protagonist who is overwhelmed by everything– picking a napkin color, saying “Hello”, deciding on debt ceilings. Also, an anime with a POV of someone who is naturally non-talkative doesn’t exactly make for compelling (or watchable) anime.
(Mitigating factor: the anime is only ten minute episodes. The thirty minute OVAs will make you want to slit your wrists.)
#18. NEKOGAMI YAOYOROZU.
Nekogami Yaoyorozu is about cat gods that run amok, do cute things, and get into minor mischief. It’s pretty boring, and none of the characters are compelling in any way, except if you like short stumpy cat girls with two tails, then this is the show for you. The jokes are also bland and uninspired, and there’s no fanservice to peddle BDs. A must skip. Watching something like this… I do wonder how low the bar is to get something animated.
#17. MANYUU HIKENCHOU.
Manyuu Hikenchou is Highlander with breasts. Girls cutting each other breasts to grow there own. There can be only one (pair). At least the studio seems to be in on the joke as the URL for this show is http://oppaidaisuki.jp/ (I love boobs!) and the Twitter handle is @large_breasts. I’m just surprised @large_breasts wasn’t taken already. The animation… well… just screams, “I am a placeholder for the BD release.” Just a dumb show that furthers (in spiral steps) any stereotypes that anime degrades women.
(Mitigating factor: You know a franchise about melonpan will be in the right hands with the director of Seikon no Qwaser. May the soma be plentiful.)
#16. UTA NO PRINCE-SAMA MAJI 1000% LOVE.
All I can say about the awesomely titled Uta no Prince-sama Maji 1000% Love is WHAT IS WRONG WITH HER EYES?! She’s the only character in this show who looks like her iris is tripped behind the glass of her eye– which would be acceptable if she were an android. I guess for an otome show, this series would be acceptable. A-1 is doing a great job on animation for the most part, building on their strength from Friendship Anime. But the plot… my gosh… it is lacking. These mundane looking girls and dreamy guys are attending some secluded castle-like European academy to learn to be Japanese pop idols? Wha? With those cup sizes? And those terrible voices? They’re going to be idols? I would imagine idol academy to be something more of hard work of strenuous dance and vocal training in some big city like how the Koreans do it. And the Koreans know how to manufacture idols… hear that Japan? Samsung is kicking your ass in semiconductors, and JYP is kicking your ass in idols.
(Mitigating factor: The over-the-top principal is voiced by Onsakumaru. And he introduced himself by flying around on suspension wires. Except they were outdoors. With nowhere to actually suspend the suspension wires. I guess they were only good for suspending my belief. HAHAHA. Seriously, I would rather have the principal from Nichijou wrestle a deer.)
Think Madhouse really sold out with their collaboration with Marvel. I think Blade has a chance to be the worst of them all. The animation is just terrible– at one point, Blade was slaughtering this guy’s minions, and this guy just stands there. I suspect he is just standing there because they couldn’t afford to animate him moving. Also, the first episode is basically a repeat of X-Men‘s first episode… gee, character gets killed, DNA samples get taken… do better guys, seriously, the way to get Japanese kids interested in American comics isn’t to bore them.
(Mitigating factor: There’s a dance club called “Feed” where vampires feed on humans. One, wouldn’t you think people would be suspicious by now about it? Two, it’s startling to see a night club in anime… maybe we can get the cast of Ro Kyu Bu to relax there after their match against the WNBA All-Stars?)
Dogakobo (think they are just trying to confuse me with so many obscure animation studios this season) drops YuruYuri on us. Can we return it? It’s another show in the “cute girls doing nothing” genre popularized when we decided to mash up Seinfeld with moe. Sadly, YuruYuri is no Raki Suta/em> or even Seitokai Yakuindomo. It’s like the homeless man’s A Channel… which is the homeless man’s Raki Suta. The show is about four girls who form an “Amusement Club” that basically is the homeless man’s Soccer and Go Club which is a homeless man’s Afterlife War Front which is a homeless man’s SOS Brigade. The animation is gosh darm awful (it seems like animation in general slipped this season), and the characters are unappealing and one-dimensional.
(Mitigating factor: This entry is just a homeless man’s version of what I wrote for Shufuku no Campanella.)
#13. MAYO CHIKI.
Mayo Chiki (Mayoeru Shitsuji to Chikin na Ore to, 迷える執事とチキンな俺と) is a homeless man’s Maria Holic. Basically, girl must pretend to be boy throughout high school in order to fulfill ridiculous condition set by brain damaged grandparents. In other words, same conditions I would put forth for my grandchildren if I ever run a huge educational empire of private schools. The loser male lead (Kanako analogue) even suffers from gynophobia much like how Kanako suffers from androphobia. There’s more Love Hina-type comedy elements than trolling comedy elements a la Maria Holic. The animation by Feel is barely passable with characters stuck in the same pose for long periods of time. And I can’t believe they missed such an easy pun with the title… Wavering of the Butler and the Guy Who Is a Chicken? They should have called this show, “Chicken and Waffles”! Slam dunk!
(Mitigating factor: Any anime where the female lead uses cowgirl sex as a way to manipulate the male lead can’t be that bad. Can it?) (Yep, it can.)
#12. RO KYU BU.
Quick running diary… 01:00, wait, Ro Kyu Bu is about a girl’s basketball team… 04:00, wait, they’re also meido… 09:00, this basketball is even more unbelievable than that School Rumble match. Basic premise: guy coaches dysfunctional middle school basketball team, except there’s a few issues. One, all of the girls (save one) are smaller than a basketball. Two, they have only five members, which seems to be way too small to form a functional team unless they’re going iron man. Three, they shoot jump shots like Ray Allen even though they’re sixth graders and should be shooting underhand. Four, the play without tying their hair into a ponytail or at least something non-obstructive. Five, since when do practices start with 2 on 3 games? Shouldn’t they work on dribbling or shots? Project No. 9 (lolwut) is animating this
(Mitigating factor: 12:00, shower scene? With eleven year olds? At least they brought back the shiny white stripes to block out any naughty bits. And, yeah, so many shows are using this tactic this season it makes it seem like the only way to make a buck is to sell BDs with some crappy nudity. Guys, you know you can get much better pr0n on-line these days, right?)
#11. NO. 6.
I have no clue what Bone’s No. 6 is about. I think it’s about the bromance between a wealthy, sheltered kid and a street-wise street urchin as they unravel a governmental conspiracy. I guess something awesome could develop, but it’s just been connecting-the-tropes so far, and the futuristic technology that’s showcased hasn’t been very inspiring. The characters aren’t very interesting, and the color palate of this show is extremely grey. The very, very bromantic ED doesn’t help.
#10. KAMISAMA DOLLS.
There’s only four characters you need to know about in Kamisama Dolls. There’s the guy caught up in everything. There’s his nemesis/potential gay love interest/twin brother. There’s the little sister who can barely control a roving mecha called a “Doll”. (How original!) And there’s a female love interest whose melonpan stretches the stretchiest of sweaters. Done. What else do you need to know? The animation looks like it was done by Brain Base’s C-team (not even B-team level quality), and the plot is generic, boring stuff. I can’t wait for Sentai Filmworks to license this show.
(Mitigating factor: The doll concept could be interesting if the fighting were better. Right now, the fighting is like playing Smash Bros with just Pichu.)
#9. BLOOD C.
Production IG plus Clamp = Blood-C, which I can’t tell if it is a retelling, sequel, or whatever to the original Blood. Yes, there’s a vampire hunting vampires named “Saya”. (And really too many vampires again this season.) Yes, there’s blood and gore. Yes, there’s something sinister going on. But, it has ridiculous skinny Clamp character designs that I can somewhat get past if not for Saya’s immovable hair. It’s like Pat Riley’s hair. Ridiculous. Also, the plot and action are typical Clamp plot and action messes… if you enjoyed X and Tsubasa, you might like this show. If you like the original Blood, you probably won’t like this incarnation.
(Mitigating factor: I would make a Wind Waker to Twilight Princess comparison, but Wind Waker is actually cute and passable. This just seems to be a desperate play by Clamp to show that they are still relevant… come on, if we can have kiddie Gundam, we can have Clamp Gundam.)
#8. ITSUKA TENMA NO KURO USAGI.
Itsuka Tenma no Kuro Usagi (いつか天魔の黒ウサギ, A Dark Rabbit Has Seven Lives) one of the many anime this season with either a vampire, shining crotches, or “rabbit” in the title. We need to work “kamisama” in the title for the full cycle this season though. Sigh. Anyway, this show is about yet another loli vampire creating yet another helpless male subordinate who manages to harem it up. Almost certain that I have seen one, I have seen them all. The animation itself is so-so with vibrant colors desperately trying to mask how every character has the same facial structure.
(Mitigating factor: Again, another show where high school Japanese boys tower over their female counterparts. The average height difference at 19 in Japan is about 5 inches, not a full head length taller. Misshapen melonpan? Understandable. Height misrepresentation? A legitimate issue. My platform for this blog for this year would be correct heights and mecha that cannot out-dodge lasers. Pew pew~)
The biggest let down of this season is Idolm@ster. For 22 minutes, A-1 had a genre-busting, original take on the stale harem formula. Basically, they resisted the typical formula of introducing a male lead when one isn’t necessary or introducing drama when not necessary (i.e. Sister Princess is beloved even without Wataru and his attempt to elope with his boy toy). For once, I thought a harem anime would actually do away with the male lead and just be a fun mockumentary. But, alas, Idolm@ster went ahead an introduced a male lead. I feel crushed. Idolm@ster would have been a fun mockumentary.
(Real life analogy would be working it with a really cute girl at a bar… then finding out she has a boyfriend. Basically, “this shit always happens” category.)
#6. SACRED SEVEN.
Sacred Seven reminds me a lot of what would happen if Sunrise remade Xam’d. And Xam’d wasn’t that great. At least they worked in a ridiculous DFC counterlead, an army of sniper meido, and a mecha reject from Code Geass. Show is just stupid nonsense with a, “I knew he was a good guy once I saw him playing with stones at the river” line.
(Mitigating factor: Army of sniper meido… mmm… can I also get a pyro meido, medic meido, heavy meido, and, of course, spy meido?)
(If there’s a gap this season like going from “the Miami Heat select Dwayne Wade with the number five pick” to “with the number six pick, the Los Angeles Clippers select Chris Kaman,” it’s here. That gap is here.)
#5. IKOKU MEIRO NO CROISEE.
Ikoku Meiro no Croisee (異国迷路のクロワーゼ) is an anime from Satelite about an eight year old loli getting sold into slavery in 19th century Paris. The end. Still, it’s quite a charming story geared for all ages and revolves around the discovery of each other through the discovery of cultures. Not all that is different is all that different. Still, Ikoku is a bit too predictable and does suffer from a language issue, i.e. we can’t tell when the characters are speaking French and when they are supposed to be speaking Japanese. Also, the premise just seems ridiculous… eight year old Japanese girl with a lot of expensive kimonos gets shipped to Paris and is not somehow working in a brothel is beyond me. But the show is heart-warming and different enough to be enjoyable.
(Come on! It’s Paris! If it were London, I would think differently.)
#4. DANTALIAN NO SHOKA.
“Noblesse oblige.” Pros for Dantalian no Shoka: Gainax… looks like Yami to Bōshi to Hon no Tabibito crossed with Jumanji… non-Shinji Ikari male lead voiced by Ono-san, non-Rei Ayamani female lead… has potential. Cons: Gainax, looks like Yami to Bōshi to Hon no Tabibito crossed with Jumanji… low OH GEASS NO or unintentional comedy potential. I guess I wasn’t impressed with the whole, “Let’s defeat a monster by reading a book” but I did like, “Extract mythical book from a loli’s chest.” If you want an example of how stuff changes, two years ago I would have made a crack comparison to Index, since, you know, Index carries with her all these demonic tomes. Nowadays in 2011, I just rage that who reads books? It should have been a demonic Nook, iPad, or Kindle. And Huey should be extracting rar files.
(Mitigating factor: If Huey read the book and got a cool power like ZA PAPER! and started kicking ass, this would have been #1. But, alas, he just fucking read a book. Sigh.)
(When the lion burst out, I did scream, “JUMANJI!!!” Totally underrated Robin Williams movie. And for a movie that’s 16 years old, it’s not on Netflix instant watch. Sigh. Evil Netflix is evil.)
#3. KAMISAMA NO MEMOCHOU.
“It’s the only NEET thing to do.” I need an image macro to wonder if Kamisama no Memochou (神様のメモ帳) is an ad for DoKuPe or Apple. Ah, there we go. Let’s just say the only thing lacking in this show is an Apple TV… everything else, they have it covered. I get the feeling that JC Staff is trying to recapture the Shigofumi magic with Memochou. The show has decent animation and some interesting characters, but I can’t help but feel that the show relies too much on the House formula: 50 minutes of filler, 2 minutes of House explaining what the fuck is wrong. Also, while the detective aspects of this show isn’t bad, they had to tack on cheesy morality plays… and it does so terribly. This would have been a stronger show if it stuck by the detective formula. Alice is voiced by rookie VA Yui Ogura, who also does a voice in Ro-Kyu-Bu!… more interestingly, she was born a month before Evangelion started airing. I feel old now.
(Mitigating factor: I am totally confused about the whole NEET detective thing. Not in Education, Employment, or Training… yet… they’re detectives! With jobs! How can they be NEETs if they’re enterprising small business owners?)
#2. USAGI DROP.
I am really enjoying Production IG’s Usagi Drop (うさぎドロップ, Bunny Drop). Seems like a sweet slice-of-life anime for both a little girl who has lost her family and a man who has lost his way in life. Plus, being from josei roots, I hope this show can avoid typical shoujo angst pitfalls (what befell Kimi no Todoke fairly quickly). I am digging the style and pacing of this show thus far, and Production IG might be able to pull off scoring a hit in a genre outside of its core complacency. I am looking forward to this show every week, almost as much as a typical Nano/Professor happiness festival.
(Mitigating factor: At AX before I watched this show, I got into a conversation about Puffy AmiYumi, and what happened to them after their show flopped and Teen Titans got axed. Well, they are back and performing the OP, Sweet Drops, for this show, which also happens to be a song from the live action movie.)
#1. MAWARU PENGUINDRUM.
Shaft being Shaft strikes with Mawaru Penguindrum (輪るピングドラム). Except. It’s not Shaft. It’s Brain’s Base! Brain’s Base’s A-team comes through with a fun, off-beat, and quite enjoyable tale about Lelouch, Suzaku, and Nunnally if Lelouch and Suzaku were brothers and living normal high school lives. And a magical girl and an army of magical penguins saves Nunnally from her crippling disease and tasks Lelouch and Suzaku into finding a magical item, except it’s just a lame excuse to find weirdos who live amongst them. And genderbending might happen at some point. I don’t know. I do know I am excited.
(Mitigating factor: Shaft being Shaft lite at its best. Not distracting, adds to odd-ball nature of show, no ridiculous self-referencing. Brains Base… good job! I do like the subway motif. And even with all the magical girl shows this season, Miwari has the best transformation sequence of them all.) (Still doesn’t top Madoka’s though.)
(Cute penguins! I want to hug them!)