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.
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?” If you were flicking channels at 1am, would you stop at Robotics;Notes or Girls and Panzer? 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 (you should know if you’re in or out on these by now anyway) or if the show is only 5 minutes long.
These posts are always interesting to write since the worst shows come up first, and if someone sees show they like so early on, they get offended and tune out the rest of the post. So what if you like terrible anime? I love Code Geass, and it hasn’t affected my life except I put Pizza Hut on my speed dial.
Quick recap from last season: Kirito is OP. That is all.
This season features a lot of butterflies, dead rabbits, and near rapes.
#MR IRRELEVANT. Girls and Panzer
Girls and Panzer comes to us from the minds that brought us Strike Witches and Upotte, and while it’s not as bad as girls as guns (with vaginal triggers), little girls piloting WW2 tanks as an extracurricular activity is not much better. It’s like upgrading from Jack in the Box to Arby’s. The whole concept is ridiculous, and it’s even more ridiculous when only some of the girls are allowed to wear military-styled outfits. Really? Going into tank warfare wearing seifuku? As in sailor-styled clothes? Not only that, the show is full of classic lines like, “By piloting tanks, you will be a good wife, a good mother, and successful in business.” Maybe that works for the Abh Royal Space Force but not much else. I just got the feeling someone got a bit too addicted to World of Tanks and wanted to make a moe schoolgirl show based on it. Of course, it was licensed by Sentai before an episode even aired.
(There’s a “twist” at the end of the first episode when the camera pans out, and it’s a ridiculous twist. It took me a second to realize it, mainly because I was too focused on the poor CGI, but then I wanted to facepalm that a school of tanks is located on a giant ship. I guess this explains the seifuku.)
(Animation by Actas and Graphinica… so many small studios this season it seems like…)
Mediocre slash below average studio GoHands’ offering this season is K. It’s like they’re not even trying with anime series names anymore. There’s a bunch of pretty boys who summon outworldly weapons and fight amongst each other… and there’s a loli… and there’s bad After Effects filters used almost every scene… there’s a good and bad organization duking it out… and somehow it reminds me a bit of Black Butler. Whatever. The CGI is terrible (their mapping software is even worse than iOS 6 maps), the character designs look like a poor man’s version of DRRR, and the pacing is too fast and too furious. There was a guy using a baseball bat against people with automatic weapons. I had no idea what was going on for the first ten minutes because EXPLOSIONS DEATH FIRE SWORDS PRETTYBOYPOSES. Don’t waste your time with this one– you’re better off watching cute puppy videos on Youtube.
Kinema Citrus is yet another small anime studio trying to break into the scene, and their offering this season is CODE:BREAKER, a generic action show with a generic name featuring generic characters. Mysterious, rude male lead with special powers? Perky, helpful female lead who is badass at martial arts? Mysterious, sinister organization more mysterious and more sinister than CERN? The main characters end up boring and annoying, the animation is a bit muddled, the CGI is cheap, and the plot is typical nonsense. The first episode features a dog beating and an attempted rape. Good times.
#19. Ixion Saga DT
Ixion Saga DT is yet another show in the fad “dude gets sucked into an RPG” genre, only this one is truly terrible. The show is inspired by a Capcom game, and Brain’s Base is the unfortunate animation studio that has to bring this turd to life. The characters are unlikeable, starting with the obnoxious asshole protagonist (who cannot be less aware of his situation), the stereotype loli princess (she is just lacking a catchphrase), and the stereotype crossdressing meido (who sounds like Charles Barkley). The plot is ridiculously simple and trope-tastic (really, the villain has to face the protagonist alone when he had a whole army at his command?), and the characters are 0.5 dimensional cut outs with zero interesting points amongst them. You know those really terrible clone games on Android or iOS that mimic popular games? Like instead of Angry Birds, it’s Upset Avians or something? That’s kinda what this show feels like to me.
(I guess the “dude gets sucked into an RPG” genre is the child of the “dude gets sucked into a novel” genre as popularized by Fushigi Yuugi and 12 Kingdoms.)
#18. Onii-chan dakedo Ai sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne!
Onii-chan dakedo Ai sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne! (お兄ちゃんだけど愛さえあれば関係ないよねっ / As Long As There Is Love, It Doesn’t Matter If I Fuck My Brother) is exactly like how the title describes it: a little sister throwing herself sexually at her older brother, who thankfully has no interest in her. They also live together in a dorm with a bunch of other super-stereotyped haremettes, and the little sister is completely jealous of the rest of them. The pacing is a bit fast for my tastes as basically all the characters are tossed together with zero explanation how or why these girls are living together, why they are all suddenly in the student council together, nor why they all want to give the typical loser male lead blowjobs. There’s also a lot of melonpan and virgin jokes. This show is a great argument that the little sister moe genre is running out of steam.
(This show does make me wonder what happened at the end of last season’s sisterly love show, Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imouto ga Iru! since I never got around to finishing it. Hey, sorry, Downton Abbey started. Priorities, man.)
(Mitigating factor: The only good thing about this show is the blonde voiced by Minori Chihara in her Yuki Nagato voice.)
#17. Busou Shinki
Konami makes a line of action figure dolls that also double as an online game, kinda like Spyro except with tiny anime haremettes, and that toy line has inspired an anime, Busou Shinki (武装神姫 / Armament God Princess). The anime is done by yet another tiny studio, 8bit, and is already licensed by Sentai, which should tell quite a bit about this show. It is a cross of Angelic Layer (without Angelic Layer‘s life lessons), Rozen Maiden (without Rozen Maiden‘s awesomeness), and Chobits (without… mmm… Chii?). The end result is an anime about a creepy guy with his four miniature robot love slaves battling it out for his affections. With a series like this one, it’s mainly meant for people who are already into the game, but I don’t think the anime will attract many new fans.
(Mitigating factor: Meido! Busou Shinki has a meido robot… it’s the only reason this show is ranked so high.)
#16. Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo
Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo (The Pet Girl of Sakura Dorm / (さくら荘のペットな彼女) is basically about a high school boy, Kanda, who likes cats a lot and has a heart of gold in taking care of multiple strays. Until he meets a cute girl, Shiina, who has the intellectual capacity of a cat, so he basically has to take care of her as if she’s a cat and/or a six year old girl. But, since it’s anime, she’s a hawt, nubile high school haremette. The plot is stupid and typical male fantasy, except I would suspect most males would be happy to see a nakkid female instead of running around angry. “Goddamn it, another nakkid girl with ample melonpan is in my bed tonight!” The animation by JC Staff is actually better than Little Busters. Not only did Key not get Kyoto Animation, they couldn’t even score JC Staff’s better team. Wow. The school is depicted as a huge art school, and everyone is in the manga or anime industry. Really? I’m pretty sure there are more uses for an art degree than just manga, anime, and barista. And this school has a dorm, Sakarasou, that houses its “troublemakers.” The troublemakers include a guy who likes cats, a sexy teacher (why is she living in dorms?! no wonder she’s past Christmas cake prime), a dude who likes older women (yet not the teacher), a girl who already made a successful anime (yet is still in school), and a genuis mangaka who acts like a cat. Troublemakers indeed.
#15. To Love Ru Darkness
The To Love Ru franchise is pretty much past its prime. This season seems to focus on one of Lala’s younger sisters, Momo, and the show basically has no clue what to do with the original cast, so it minimizes them (poor Mikan) and focuses on the newer cast members, which is always a cheap writing device (i.e. Growing Pains after Leo was introduced or Saved by the Bell The New Class). The character designs look like they took a step back from the original To Love Ru as all the Deviluke haremettes look the same except for their hair styles: long, medium, and short. I guess, if you want cheesy fanservice and tons of white steamy censorship lines, this show is for you. But, then again, in this age of internet pr0n, there’s better ways to find melonpan than to sit through 24 minutes of this mindless show.
#14. Tonari no Kaibutsu
Tonari no Kaibutsu (My Little Monster / となりの怪物くん) is generic shoujo. Not that I watch or read a lot of shoujo, but isn’t the crux of a lot of shoujo an odd couple pairing where love transcends brokenness? That’s as common as toast collisions in harem romance series. Rape jokes aside, both protagonists in this series are unlikeable, and I think having likeable protagonists are key to any odd couple pairing-based series. Brain’s Base do a fairly nice job with the animation, but their efforts are lost in the yelling that occurs. There’s a lot of yelling, so much so that I felt like I was listening to conservative talk radio.
(This show just made me miss Princess Jellyfish, which is a vastly superior series with much better writing, only Brain’s Base never finished that show. There’s no ending. It abruptly ends like they wanted to do an OVA, but, because of bad sales, that got nixed or something. Sadly, I think Tonari will outsell Jellyfish, which is a shame.)
PSYCHO-PASS‘s creator famously said he wanted to avoid moe and other anime trends. What happens? A totally generic anime that rips off Minority Report. Okay, so it’s not K-On! or Hidamari Sketch, but it sure is Ergo Proxy, Ghost in the Shell, Texhnolyze, Wolf’s Rain,
Mnemosyne, Paranoia Agent, Darker than Black, Akira, Guilty Crown, and countless better cyberpunk dystopia shows. PSYCHO-PASS is a middling mess– Gen Urobuchi is mailing in the writing job, Production IG stuck their Guilty Crown team on the animation, and Ryo is contributing yet another song about bittersweet love. Needlesss to say, I rather have a well-executed moe series than a phoned-in cyberpunk series.
(Okay, so Naoyoshi Shiotani hates moe, so what does he do? He introduces a clueless, clumsy cute girl as the protagonist. And then Gen Urobuchi writes some of the worst plot points I have witnessed from him. The protagonist is supposed part of an elite task force, yet she knows nothing about basics like guns and criminal apprehension. What did they teach her at the police academy? Was it actually run by Steve Guttenberg? Then, on her first arrest, she screws it up by developing some last minute morals. If she had objections to how the pre-cogs operate, why did she sign up to become one of them? A lot of shoddy writing.)
#12. Hidamari Sketch x Honeycomb
Hidamari Sketch x Honeycomb is the fourth season of Hidamari Sketch and is Shaft’s first anime series since Nisemonogatari, which is weird since Shaft usually has a new show every season. (Though they might be thin since they’re working on Madoka and Monogatari movies.) Anyway, Hidamari Sketch is the apple pie of anime. It’s overshadowed by other desserts, but it’s a stable staple. It can go very well with vanilla ice cream, but Shaft has been out of vanilla ice cream for this show since, oh, x 365. You’re either in or out with the Hidamari crew by now.
(With this season, Hidamari Sketch overtakes K-On! in episode count.)
#11. Kamisama Kiss
Kamisama Kiss (Kamisama Hajimemashita/神様はじめました) is basically about a poor girl who finds shelter at a shrine and becomes a deity. She then proceeds to have a romance with a furry deity. It’s shoujo, and I don’t have much of an opinion. Uh, the anime is average? The characters are average? The setup is cliche but workable if you’re into furries? Insightful commentary, I know.
(The setup is quite similar to Hayate the Combat Butler. A trend of poor people having to serve rich people– maybe Naoyoshi Shiotani should do an anime about this?)
#10. Sukitte Ii na yo.
This season’s strongest shoujo offering is Sukitte Ii na yo. (好きっていいなよ。 / Say “I Love You”.), which is yet another odd coupling pairing between the most popular guy in school and the least popular girl in school. (This is how I can tell it is shoujo: it’s the exact opposite of a typical harem setup featuring the least popular guy and the most popular girl.) The animation by ZEXCS is quite good, and Ai Kayano does a noticeable good job at voicing the female lead. Besides that, there’s not much else worth noting of this show. We’re in the middle class section of this post.
I like BTOOOM! (ブトゥーム!), but I have a hard time now getting over the whole bomb thing. Okay, there’s this super popular videogame, and it involves people blowing each other up with bombs? I can’t get Bomberman out of my head. Yes, Bomberman was popular, but it’s not going to be as popular as League of Legends, StarCraft, or Counterstrike. I just can’t imagine more people playing this game than Sword Art Online or TF2. Madhouse’s character designs are also a bit off with characters looking a bit too round. In any case, for ridiculous death game on a deserted island with bombs fix, BTOOOM! is a solid choice.
(Mitigating factor: I can see this story blowing up once they run out of introductory stories. It’s either going to just end or result in a terrible, stretched out plot.)
#8. Zetsuen no Tempest
Zetsuen no Tempest (Blast of Tempest / 絶園のテンペス) features Shakespeare. Yes, the Bard. Many characters enjoy speaking Japanese translation of famous Shakespearean lines, and I have no doubt the plot will go Hamlet or Richard the Third or Much Ado About Nothing on us anytime soon. For now, it’s a yet another show with magical butterflies featuring someone getting tossed into a situation beyond his scope. The animation by bones is okay, but the backgrounds are severely lacking. The music, though, is pretty good. I’m only interested in this show for (a) to see where it is going, (b) Shakespeare, and (c) the ridiculous wooden charms people use in this show to communicate… apparently, there’s no need for app phones because everyone has wooden blocks.
(But I reserve the right to bail at anytime if the plot starts getting lame, which I forecast a 50/50 chance. Like if the main character actually killed his girlfriend… duh duh dum…)
#7. Hayate the Combat Butler Can’t Take My Eyes Off You
Eh, might as well stick Hayate here. I loved the original series by SynergySP… and it went downhill from there with the fanservice heavy JC Staff special and that awful Taiwanese version featuring a midget non-meido Maria. Manglobe’s version… ugh… the character designs are a bit off, I have no clue where I am in the plot (and I read and enjoy the manga), Hayate breaks the 4th wall more than Deadpool now, and it doesn’t seem as, uh, punchy as before. The bad part? They introduced a new character, who looks and behaves like Raki Suta‘s Konata. The ugly part? The complete and utter lack of Hinagiki early on. How can you have Hayate without Hinagiki?! If Maria is 1A, then Hinagiku is 1B. This is 100% unacceptable. (Okay, okay, one more ugly: Hayate’s attempt to say “Can’t take my eyes off you” in Engrish.) At least Rie Tanaka is still stellar as Maria. The only good thing out of this season’s re-imagining of Hayate, thus far, is Isumi’s mom. “Mom is already posting in 140 characters!” That line… best line of all shows so far this season, bar none. I almost died laughing. Also, why is Isumi the only one who looks the same between last season and this one? Oh fuck it, Maria and Isumi’s mom are enough to get me to watch.
(One thing I don’t get… why was Nagi driving a Benz in Las Vegas in the beginning? She can drive?!)
Magi is chock full of Arabian Nights and anime stereotypes. The basic shonen Toriyama-style setup isn’t anything new (friends with magical powers in search of more magical powers and friends), but it’s well done. The character design and animation are above average, and the scripting is crisp. There’s not a lot of dead time, and the characters’ actions make above average sense. The humor is also not bad as Aladdin is a gluten, and it’s always humorous to see such a little boy with such a big belly. He looks like a fat cat waiting to be rubbed by Doctor Evil. The Arabian Nights routine is also fantastic as it is interesting to see the Japanese take on it, and, yes, a lot of melonpon are involved.
#5. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures
(I just like that word. “Fisticuffs!”)
#4. Little Busters
My disappointment of JC Staff and Little Busters (リトルバスターズ!). Just begging for Kyoto remake in 2019; the animation doesn’t even look as good as Toradora, and that came out, what, four years ago? But I am giving this series the benefit of the doubt since I enjoyed Clannad and Kanon. Air, not so much.
(I get the feeling that Jun Maeda is hurt that Kyoto won’t be his personal studio. I can see this occurring when he pitched them Angel Beats, and they decided to go make K-On! instead. I remember him saying in the commentary for Angel Beats that he saw True Tears and decided PA Works was the greatest anime studio ever and had to have them… and… well, neither Kyoto nor PA Works are working on Little Busters. It’s almost like Jun Maeda is the Randy Moss of anime writers… mmm…)
#2. From the New World
One of the most pleasant surprises this season is A-1’s From the New World (Shinsekai Yori). I don’t want to give a lot of this show away, but it’s a nice blend of sci fi, mystery, and suspense. The character setup and vibe isn’t too different from Dennou Coil, and the world is interesting. The time and narration jumps are a bit jarring, but, overall, the show is well-done. The pacing is almost spot on, the animation is above average, and the writing is crisp and believable. A-1 is a premiere studio. While they are not at Kyoto’s level for one show, they are airing four fucking shows right now: Sword Art Online, Space Bros, Magi, and this one. All four are worth watching.
(I notice that Space Bros gets like 1/15,532nd the viewership of Sword Art Online, but Space Bros has one of the most awesome characters of the year. Apo 4 ever.)
#1. Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai!
Kyoto’s offering this fall is the excellent Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai! (Chu-2 / 中二病でも恋がしたい / She Has Adolescent Delusions, But I Want to Love Her!). The story gives them more chances to display their animation prowess (something not exactly common in either K-On! or Hyouka), and the story itself is excellent, funny, witty, and well-paced. Everyone has their tragic middle school years, and this show does that awkward period in life when transitioning from a kid to a teenager justice. (Maybe a bit too well as it brings out ghosts and memories from the past of a few viewers.) The cast lead by veteran and first ballot Hall of Famer Jun Fukuyama and relative newbie Maaya Uchida do not disappoint. The first episode alone hits it out of the ballpark. The corresponding mini-episodes are also fantastic. The only thing I can complain about is that the opening might have given me epilepsy. It all adds up to a show I curiously look forward to every week. DARK FLAME MASTER I summon thee!