Like a clock running slow, 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– OH FUCK IT. YOU’VE READ THIS SAME BOILERPLATE FOR EIGHT YEARS NOW. You either get how this works by now or not. And, yes, I’ve been writing thin slicing posts since 2005 where I ranked Nanoha A‘s over Mai Otome.
For people who want to know how this ranking is done, I suggest reading the archived explanation. If you’re like, “This show is ranked too high!” or “Too low!” then, well, you obviously don’t know how this works. For every show high, there has to be a low. Deal with it. And, again, I don’t rank sequels if I never finished watching the original. So quite asking me about Bakuman already or that terrible loli basketball show.
This season is interesting in that it launches a “second generation” for three powerful franchises. Two of these franchises originally aired in 2004, and both were incredibly popular back then. The other one… is the currently very popular now and is striking while the iron is hot.
Quick recap from last season: My little sister can’t destroy walls like this part-timer flying robot with a railgun.
#MR IRRELEVANT. Hyperdimension Neptunia The Animation
David Productions, Masahiro Mukai
You know an anime is going to be good when “The Animation” is in the title, right? Right?! Well, Hyperdimension Neptunia The Animation is the opposite of good. It’s pretty atrocious, but my guess is that it’ll sell like hotcakes and outsell David’s previous two works, the underrated Ben-To and the properly rated JoJo. Since I haven’t played the game of the same name, I was pretty lost in this episode. Four buxom leaders battling with each other yet on friendly terms? Okay… that I can handle. They each seem to have a little sister slash servant? Okay… still handling. They transform into doofier, lolier versions? Ok– no, it’s not okay. There’s just too much crap going on that try to masquerade as fanservice and lame video game jokes to fill up time. Nothing more. No plot; no character development; no witty dialogue; no comedy… just fanservice and lame video game jokes. And where the hell is this slime headed?!
(Reverse mitigating factor: normally, David Productions is good at animating battle scenes. Nope. Not here. Sigh.)
(Licensed by Funimation… wait, Sentai got outbid for this?! Huge upset.)
#22. Gifuu Doudou! Kanetsugu to Keiji
Studio Deen, Bob Shirohata
I feel asleep roughly twelve minutes into Gifuu Doudou! Kanetsugu to Kaiji about when there was an old school banjo solo for a solid four minutes. Who thought it was a good idea to have a four minute long banjo solo?! I guess it’s some period manly man anime like Souten no Ken, but it’s just terrible. The dialogue is the second-worst of the season, the character designs have some serious fat neck issues (making Souten no Ken look like the Higarashi haremettes in the process), and I don’t get the plot nor do I care to. I’ll just leave the show down here and never think about it ever again.
#21. Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3
Gainax, Masayoshi Kawajiri
Yep. The anime with a retardedly long name, Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3 or Tokurei Sochi Dantai Stella Jo-Gakuin Koutou-ka Shīkyubu, is about a girl who tries to fit into her new high school by joining an airsoft gun club. And the club is bat-shit insane for airsoft… their obsession for airsoft is beyond The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture’s love of doujinshi and my love for meido. We get girls who stockpile guns as if Obama is going to take them away. We get a Rambo re-enactment that tries a bit too hard. We get girls playing airsoft in their school uniforms with some tea time in between. It’s an epic mess. The animation isn’t bad, except for maybe how comically empty the school is compared to its size, but it’s Gainax! Gainax!!! I didn’t know whether to laugh at this show or pity it, but I’m sure my readers will leap to its defense. I’m sure there’s a redeeming quality somewhere. I’m just too lazy to find it.
(Chiwa Saito gets the hardest working seiyuu award this season. She is one of the lead characters in quite a few shows this season.)
(And no surprise Sentai licensed this show before it aired. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.)
#20. Makai Ouji Devils and Realist
Dogakobo, Chiaki Kon
Devils and Realist is Chiaki Kon’s, the director of Higurashi, Umineko, and Nodame Paris, newest project. I’m the opposite of impressed. Bringing a poorly animated, horribly premised yaoi fanservice show into this season is like bringing a knife to a bazooka fight. I can imagine her going, “Seriously, Kyoto, SERIOUSLY?!” in a Tina Fey voice. Yes, the animation is piss poor. The characters are passable, but it looks like they spent a total of four hours on all the backgrounds. Seriously, the background are either checkered patterns, purple swirls, sky, or black. That’s about it. There’s a few scenes at a desolate school and house too. The battle scenes are a mess, and the fanservice isn’t even plentiful. The premise is also ridiculous with some devils battling for control of hell because Lucifer needs his sleep. Yep, that’s the premise. WTF? On the bright side, there’s tons of butlers (even goat demon butlers) in this show, and there’s a lot of fabulous clothing, so it has that going for it.
#19. Chronicles of the Going Home Club
Nomad, Hikaru Sato
Best line of the season, “How desperate are you to end the show?!” Well, about two minutes after that line, my puppy started barking up a storm, and then she went outside and threw up. So there’s a review right now. Chronicles of the Going Home Club (Kitakubu Katsudou Kiroku) is yet another gag anime about an after school club about nothing. There’s a plethora of those in the post modern Golden Age of Anime. It’s all because of Haruhi… think about all the nothing club anime post 2006 and prior. It’s like one side of Wall Maria and the other side of it. Anyway, this terribly named series is all about a nothing club, and it’s wacky members, except the members are not wacky and, even worse, non-distinctive. Why have two rich girls? Why have two normal girls? Makes no sense. Maybe make one a jock to spice things up. The show’s humor is non-existent, and the only time I was entertained was the “How desperate are you to end the show?” line. That’s about it. Now excuse me as I have puppy vomit to clean up.
(I guess this genre is also cheaper to animate. It all basically takes place inside a bland, vanilla classroom, and there’s really no shots of the town or whatever to mix things up with. Cheap production is cheap.)
(This show also put the Fashion Czar over the edge. I think she said something to the effect of, “Enough is enough! I have had it with this motherfucking afterschool club genre in my motherfucking anime!”)
#18. Gen’ei o Kakeru Taiyou – Il Sole Penetra le Illusioni
AIC, Keizou Kusakawa
I almost forgot about Day Break Illusion (幻影ヲ駆ケル太陽). It’s a weird, dark magical girl show that rips off a very generic magical girl concept in that despair in humans eventually leads to turn them into monsters. The reason I say it’s a bit dark… well… did a character just get completely erased in the first episode because she’s a jealous sister? It’s yet another magical girl show about magical girls fighting with cards to gain cards. I can’t tell if Japan is experiencing a TCG boom or not based on the anime this season. This show is quite forgettable… characters are quite boring and all look the same except for different hairstyles… the magical girl fighting is subpar… the plot takes a bit too long to fall in place… the show feels like it is trying a bit too hard (maybe like Valrave) but can’t overcome its blandless.
(Can’t wait for Aniplex to sell $200 BD boxsets of this series. At some point, their business model will blow up in their face… and this show is a great candidate for it.)
#17. Brothers Conflict
Brain’s Base, Atsushi Matsumoto
“Were you surprised? Since your amount of siblings suddenly increased?” Uh, didn’t they same the same thing in Sister Princess? Brothers Conflict (ブラザーズ コンフリク, BroCon?) is probably my vote for this season’s “it’s so bad, it might be a candidate for Anime Science Theater 3K” award. Okay, this show has the same basic issues as Sister Princess: ridiculously sized cast (which uses pretty much every male seiyuu available), barely one-dimensional characters (including some that overlap… we need a girly guy and a crossdresser?), and a far-fetched premise that the girl’s dad is such a playboy that he has 13 sons who are about the same ago… that the girl has never seen before. However, there’s a few things this show doesn’t have with respect to Sister Princess: Rinrin. Back in the early days of 4chan, she had her own meme. Ah, the days. Anyway, the dialogue for BroCon is worse than any made for Lifetime TV movie, the characters are so empty and hallow that they are introduced by a squirrel running around telling us who they are in probably the least natural way possible, and the setting… my gosh… the house is frickin’ huge. The characters use an elevator in the house, and it has like eight stories. It also is decorated like a hospital. Part of the first episode’s plot is the girl trying to figure out how to get around the house, and she has a two page map. A two page map! If only she had Google Maps.
(Ah Sister Princess… every time I write about it, I end up watching a Love Destiny video. It was the perfect song for the show.)
#16. Fantasia Doll
Hoods Entertainment, Hisashi Saito
As of when I wrote this, Fantasia Doll has no Wikipedia entry, but it does have an Anime Bath Scene wiki entry, so there’s that. At least I couldn’t figure out what genre the show is as it could go shoujo or shoujo magical girl (Akiko collects cards a la Sakura) but, nah, I should have known better. Hisashi Saito directed Sora no Otoshimono and Haganai. Basic premise of a girl trying to collect cards, and these cards summon nubile haremettes of various stereotypes. Hey, it’s the genki one. And that’s the cool one. And the loli one. You get my drift. Basically, magical girls summoned by collectable cards who battle each other to gain cards for their master. And, of course, fanservice.
(There’s also Tuxedo Mask in this show… always good to have some thirty-something looking guy waring an opera mask and standing on a light pole toss roses at the melonpan of a high school girl.)
#15. Kiniro Mosaic
Studio Gokumi, Tensho
Kiniro Mosaic (Kinmoza!, きんモザ) reminds me a bit Ikoku Meiro no Croisee in that the little Japanese girl gets sent off to Europe except in modern times. I would be totally okay with this concept as it depicted her as having trouble communicating with the English people, and there was a dog. I’ll even overlook how a little elementary school girl can travel across the world by herself, and then she gets into a random car at the airport. However, at the end of the first episode, we knew what was going to happen: time skip to high school, and the English girls that she met in England have moved to Japan. To her town. To her school. And, guess what? They speak nearly flawless Japanese. Come on. The show started with an interesting concept and turned it into a mundane one. Another low calorie slice-of-life series with one-dimensional tropes pretending to be characters. It wouldn’t surprise me if they started an after-school club together at some point.
(I think this show had the opposite prologue as Gargantia, which had one of the worst prologues ever, and then became a really enjoyable show. This show had a great prologue, and then melted down into a puddle of mediocrity.)
#14. Danganronpa The Animation
Lerche, Seiji Kishi
Danganronpa is yet another mobile RPG turned anime, and it’s done by the team that did Persona 4 The Animation and Devil Survivor 2 The Animation. I guess “The Animation” is their way of saying, “Hey, don’t confuse this with the actual game.” The show is a huge mess. It may work as an RPG, but the storytelling is just out-of-whack. A bunch of kids are dropped off in an enclosed high school and tasked to kill each other? Okay… and there’s a psychotic stuffed bear? Just a bit too much. The show doesn’t even try to let believability sink in before tossing the next curve. Also, the cast is way too big, and the show does a horrific job of introducing characters. Why not just put text bubbles above everyone explaining their trope? The animation is also piss poor. The characters are completely static, and the same cels are sometimes reused moments later. That works in the PlayStation age, but not today. Furthermore, all the characters are constantly shouting. I get the feeling that the show is trying to antagonize me rather than entertain me.
(I’m pretty sick of one-dimensional characters who exist because the writer is not capable of writing a more complicated character. I’m not asking for Tyrion Lannister levels of characterization… but at least get to a Ygritte level.)
#13. Blood Lad
Brain’s Base, Shigeyuki Miwa
Another show about a Devil trying to fit into Japanese society while whoring for Uniqlo? Not quite. Blood Lad is decidedly not as good as that other show mainly because the main character, Staz, is kinda grating. He is a total Japanphile weeaboo to the point that I thought he would pop into Japan wearing a “I’m looking for a Japanese girlfriend” T-shirt. He also seems like a weird cross between Hayate’s Nagi and some spazzy kid who is on prescription Ritalin. Needless to say, the characters on this show are quite lackluster, and I don’t feel sorry for any of their plights. The comedy is split into two varieties: one is jokes about Japan and Japanese stuff. This is serviceable. The other is how badly he treats the ghost girl, which isn’t Rizelmine terrible, but I’m not laughing.
(Brain’s Base animation is average to below average. There’s quite long stretches without animation, and a few of the demon monsters don’t have eyeballs, so I guess they can save on animating blinking. I’m big on properly animated blinks, I guess.)
#12. Servant x Service
A-1, Yasutaka Yamamoto
What is the most exciting premise for an anime that you could think of? Giant robots fighting giant sea creatures? Boy trying to bang an entire after school club full of nubile haremettes? Daily lives of Japanese civil servants who seem to be the equivalent of the DMV? Yep. That one. That’s Servant x Service (サーバント×サービス). And, oh yeah, let’s set it in motherfucking Hokkaido because we be crazy and shit. I dunno. Anime and manga has produced quite a variety of 4koma-inspired gag shows, but there’s a reason the Dilbert cartoon never took off: office life is the opposite of exciting. And government office life? Boring. There’s nothing really wrong with this show– the comedy is okay, the characters are vanilla and one dimensional, the animation is surprising competent– but the concept can only go so far. Totally average show.
(Licensed by Aniplex USA… good luck charging $180 for a BD boxset of this show.)
#11. The World God Only Knows Goddesses
Manglobe, Satoshi Osedo
The World God Only Knows (TWGOK) is one of my favorite manga series, and the first season wasn’t bad. The second season and OVA… well… could have been better but wasn’t unwatchable. This time around? Ugh. Shigehito Takayanagi has been replaced by Satoshi Osedo as director, and the animation is still quite terrible. That’s not the worst part… they totally skipped some very good arcs to get to the Goddesses. I feel like this series is at its best when Keima is capturing haremettes left and right and trying new things… and the Goddesses story always felt like plot-stretching backtracking. Couple the way too long Goddesses arc with poor production and poor direction… well… Keima deserves better. I guess I just really wanted the Yui arc to be properly animated.
(The OP, God only knows -Secrets of the Goddess-, is marvelous, epic Engrish of yore. You’d think by 2013 Engrish wouldn’t be this bad in Japan. Still, amazing no one thought, “Hey, maybe we should run this by an English speaker first…”)
#10. Silver Spoon
A-1, Tomohiko Ito, Kotomi Deai
Silver Spoon (銀の匙) is the much anticipated manga turned anime from the creator of Full Metal Alchemist, and it already has a second cours planned for 2014. And, you know what? It’s not bad. A-1’s animation is always at least average, and they put some effort into Silver Spoon. However, the whole agriculture concept mixed with fish out of water is a bit flat. The main character, Yugo, is amazed at everything, in not-so-good way, and the supporting cast is fairly one-dimensional as well. Hey, the jock. Hey, the ojou-sama. And the agriculture farming bits are a bit suspect. Really? People just grab a chicken and butcher it in front of other uncaged chickens? I tried this in Zelda, and I got mobbed by chickens. I feel like Moyashimon does a much better job at presenting an interesting story while trying to teach something with better characters. Go watch that (and even the second season)… and if you still have an appetite for the green acres, watch this show.
(Another show that takes place in Hokkaido. And holey moley… that is one huge horse.)
#9. Fate/Kaleid Prisma Illya
Silver Link, Takashi Sakamoto
First off, doesn’t Illya’s staff look a lot like Sakura’s? Fate/Kaleid Prisma Illya is like the casserole of anime. It takes a bunch of ingredients, layers them onto of each other, and then bakes it. The only question I have is whether or not it’s fully baked or just half-baked. Only watching the initial portion of this series, I can’t tell. One, a bunch of characters are from the Fate/Stay Night universe, and they receive slightly different characterization than what we remember. Two, it really tries hard to rip-off Card Captor Sakura. I mean, the whole wand thing, the whole pink outfit with white trimmings and a big bow at the neckline thing, and, of course, the hunting down of naughty “class cards” using other class cards. The only thing this show is missing is the cooler older brother that Illya may or may not be in love– oh wait… nevermind. Three, the battle sequences and fighting are quite reminiscent of Nanoha. I just get the sense that this series is trying too hard. It’s trying to be too many things at once, and what it’s not being is, well, itself.
#8. Kamisami no Inai Nichiyoubi
Madhouse, Yuji Kumazawa
Sunday Without God (Kaminai, 神さまのいない日曜) is yet another anime named for its premise. Yep, God has forsaken us, and he left us with the gift of everlasting life, except we turn into zombies when we die. Fan-fucking-tastic. He also left us with clueless happy-go-lucky Gravediggers who can grant actual death rather than undead. That’s about all I got from this show… it’s super confusing. There’s too much jargon and action tossed out at once, and the world building is terrible (or maybe Gargantia and Pacific Rim spoiled me for proper world building). Basically, a little girl, Ai, is looking for her dad, “Hampnie Hambart,” which is the best name this season, bar none. And she eventually finds a Hampnie Hambart, who is looking for a girl named “Hana.” Of course, this Hampnie doesn’t think he’s Ai’s dad. I think we can figure out that, yep, Hana is Ai’s mom, and Hampnie is her dad. What I can’t figure out is… where the hell is this story going? Is it going to be dad and daughter comedy? Action? Mystery? Harem? Toriyama-style forever plot? That’s what is keeping me interested now, but I don’t think I’ll be interested much longer.
(Hampnie hits Ai a few times, like hard punches and kicks. Only anime can get away with an adult male punching and kicking a 12 year old girl and not cause people to freak out. Needless to say, I don’t see this show appearing on Cartoon Network anytime soon.)
#7. Love Lab
Dogakobo & Aniplex, Masahiko Ohta
I have to admit I enjoy Love Lab. It’s yet another low calorie 4-koma turned anime about a wacky after school club… ugh… it’s okay in small doses, but the genre is saturated. This time around, it is school girls who know nothing about love, and they try to learn about it in ways only doujinshi manga artists and Cosmo writers would consider “realistic.” The gags and jokes are well-paced, and the characters are charming in their naivety. I think I might get tired of this show if it keeps focusing on Scooby Doo stuff like holding hands and going to movies, but I think there’s a lot of potential comedy to be mined if the cast can continue to be this clueless and move onto more advanced topics.
(The director, Masahiko Ohta, is responsible for the greatest season of Minami-ke.)
#6. WataMote ~No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular!~/em>
Silver Link, Shin Onuma
The longest and most literal title of this season goes to WataMote (私がモテないのはどう考えてもお前らが悪い! Watashi ga Motenai no wa dō Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui!). Remember Frau from Robotics;Notes? Now imagine her as even more isolated, more cynical, and more fujioshi. That’s the lead character Tomoko. In fact, she’s pretty much the only character. Other characters do come and go, but they’re not actual characters as most of the show as they never feel like other characters… more like the guest uncles that visit the Huxtables. The act gets a bit tiresome as she basically has delusions of grandeur, and, when they fall apart, she lashes out in her mind, which only makes the situation less horrible than the situation is outside of her mind. I think this series could be great if it shows character development a la the original season of Oreimo or Genshiken, but I get the feeling there’s no such development forthcoming.
(Why does every show that depict female anime enthusiasts as rotten fujioshi who are into BL and yaoi? Is every male anime enthusiast portrayed as a meido-loving psychopath with a blog? No, some are portrayed as Gundam fanatics, others as siscons. There’s variety. I would imagine that there are female anime enthusiasts who enjoy anime for solid storytelling a la Clannad or cute stuff a la Tamako Market. I guess the only one this season outside the norm would be Ohno, since she’s into cosplaying rather than BL.)
(Interesting to note that Shin Onuma has been a big part of Shaft. He directed both ef series, and he assisted directed Pani Poni Dash, Negima, Natsu no Arashi, and Bakemonogatari.)
#5. Gatchaman Crowds
Tatsunoko, Kenji Nakamura
I haven’t watched a lot of classic Gatchaman, but I have watched enough to know the basic premise. Gatchaman Crowds is surprisingly competent modernization attempt. The little kid in me enjoyed the show for what it is: an enjoyable ensemble superteam adventure. The anime sommelier in me appreciates other things… like how awesome is the music. It hits all the right beats, and there’s no dubstep… yet. But what really impressed me… finally a show that properly uses app phones! And then it completely subverts it! I was totally giddy when it’s revealed that the Gatchaman’s gizmo was a magical Moleskin notebook. Wonderful. The characters have app phones as per normal teenagers, but their special gadget is his Moleskin notebook. I love it. It fits the show even better since it’s revealed that the main protagonist, the ultra spunky Ichinose, has a notebook fetish. Other random things I like: the duck backpack on Ichinose… the weird panda thingie… scissor attack… evil Rubik’s cubes.
(I would have gone without the pseudo-loli scene. Did we really need a scene where a creepy old man put his hands on the melonpan of a young girl? I don’t think so. Unless it’s Arararagi and Mayoi. I also think the girl who doesn’t talk and wears the skimpiest costume… uh… how is this a kid’s show?)
(One reason this show feels a bit trippy… most of the staff came from tsuritama, or as I call it, Space Jizz Anime.)
#4. Rozen Maiden Zurückspulen
Studio Deen, Mamoru Hatekayama
DESU RETURNS! Rozen Maiden Zurückspulen (ローゼンメイデン) is based on the “second series” manga that follows the original Rozen Maiden, and I am really looking forward to it. The series follows the manga events rather than the anime events, which explained the really confusing and poorly done first episode. Basically, the first episode is meant to establish the manga’s timeline rather than the anime timeline that Träumend fucked up (hello retcon!), and that Kirakishou is the real villain rather than Barasuishou. Confused? Don’t worry about it. All you really needed to know about the original series is that:
1. Suiseiseki became so popular, she became 4chan’s primary meme for a solid four or five years. Legions of DESU followers still remain.
2. Rie Tanaka submitted an A++++ performance as Suigintou, culminating with a pantheon emo facial distortion for “I AM NOT JUNK!”. I’m not kidding. Rie Tanaka’s Suigintou is one of anime’s greatest performances… and I’ve watched a lot of anime.
3. I think it was episode 5 of the original series that I would put into my 25 Greatest Anime Episodes Ever. The only two other sure nominations for this list would be Ballad of Fallen Angels and Tsubasa Cat, Part Two. The episode basically had the dolls fight amongst each other for cakii, and it was full of clever dialogue, proper character motivation, backstabbing, and comedy. I love Shinku’s final line, “It was a delicious strategy.” I guess that spoils the victor… oh well… your loss for not watching it nine years ago. Also, Spike dies, and Arararagi gets lucky. He was up all night to get lucky.
4. Jun, a hikikomori, chooses to “wind it,” and ends up with Shinku. The two meet the other dolls except for the 7th, and it comes a mild slice-of-life harem comedy. Except with Suigintou as the pesky Team Rocket trying to steal everyone’s Rosa Mystica. At the end, Shinku and Jun prevail over Suigintou, thus turning her into her feared junk, and Shinku helps Jun become outgoing. I think he even gets a mild human love interest in Tomoe. Then it’s revealed Kirakishou (manga) / Barasuishou (anime) is the master villain, and more shit happens… and Träumend ends with Rozen himself showing up with Kirakishou… and it was left as a cliffhanger for years. The third anime production, Ouvertüre, is more or less Shinku and Suigintou fanservice that occurs way in the past.
Zurückspulen follows the “unwound Jun,” or the version of Jun if he never chose to wind Shinku. He is summoned by the original Jun, who is trapped in his battle with Kirakishou, and he needs the alternate version’s help in defeating her. It is quite interesting to see how Jun’s hikikomori progressed through middle school and now to college and how not being with Shinku has affected his life. He has the same problems that he had in middle school, but he never got a chance to face them, and now he’s a lost adult with a lost life. Can meeting Shinku change this Jun’s fate like it did with the original? Needless to say, I’m all in on DESU.
(My recommendation for new Rozen Maiden watchers: skip the terrible, terrible first episode. Instead, watch the entirety of the first season. You can skip the second and OVA. Then jump into this one.)
#3. Genshiken Nidaime
Production IG, Tsutomu Mizushima
I had a hard, hard time deciding the order of this show and the next show. What ultimately did it: the cast of Genshiken Second Generation (Genshiken II, げんしけん 二代目) would want it this way. There’s a lot to like about Genshiken: it’s still Genshiken. They pulled off the cast handover much better than Saved by the Bell and K-On!. Rather than a clean break, they kept the old cast around specifically for fanservice scenes as well as to intertwine stories with the new cast, which really just means the cast is huge. I also like the more realistic progression of characters, especially Madarame, who is now at the brink of adulthood, but he has to go kicking and screaming with his Mio PVC figures. Secondly, they made a smart decision by morphing Genshiken from a bunch of male Gundam otaku into a bunch of female shameless fujioshi. There’s a generational gap and a culture gap (within the same doujinshi/manga/game culture) between the casts. Production IG weighs in with probably the best production values that the franchise has seen, and the cast is delightful as ever.
(The original Genshiken was animated by Palm, which I don’t think exist anymore as a primary production studio. The Genshiken OVA was animated by Ajia-do, which hasn’t done much since Emma back in 2007. Genshiken 2, not to be confused with the current Genshiken II, was animated by Arms. In other words… four different Genshiken productions by four different studios. At least this new season features the team from the original season, which was the best prior.)
(While I’m glad Genshiken has kept up with the otaku references, it is weird that they reference a few things directly like Bakemonogatari— complete with footage and lines ripped– and K-On!, but they kinda skirt around other franchises like One Piece and Eva.)
(Shimoku Kio must be wondering… “Wait, seriously Kyoto? You’re airing Free! now? If you aired it six months ago, I could have had all the Genshiken II characters go fucking gaga for it!” And this is probably exactly who Kyoto unleased Free!. And, yeah, Free! makes Genshiken II seem a bit dated already…)
Kyoto Animation, Hiroko Utsumi
Truth be told, I probably wouldn’t care as much about Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club if Kyoto wasn’t involved. I can totally imagine this show being terrible in almost every other studio’s hands. The basic formula is typical Kyoto gold: high production values, fanservice, and low calorie slice-of-life with moe elements. If the fangirls and non-traditional fanboys react even half as much as fanboys did for K-On!, Free! would be a smashing success. The show could also signify what Genshiken points at… the next generation of otaku aren’t just people studying the Zeon philosophy or trading K-On! figurines… it’s going to be more hopefully more varied. Nonetheless, Kyoto is doing a great job with this series. The animation is top notch (Rei’s pole vaults alone blow anything else this season out of the water), the music is terribly delightful, and the typical Kyoto comedy is there. I also spit out my tea when Nagisa said that he wanted to recruit Rei because he has a girly name. I am though a bit curious where the plot is going since the light novel entry for Free! had the same ranking as the one for Chu2, so maybe there is a bit more to this show than rippling male bodies, dubstep, and an over-the-top ED. Not that there’s anything wrong with sparkling triceps and delts.
(“Makoto”… “Nagisa”… “Haruka”… only “Rei” wasn’t the name of a previous Kyoto haremette. Would naming him “Itsuki” instead of “Rei” have been too much?)
(Though what will happen if we finally get to see Miho-sensei in a swimsuit…)
#1. Monogatari Series Second Season
There’s no franchise quite at its peak of its power than Monogatari right now. Shaft and Shinbo are hitting all the right notes, and despite the ridiculous name, Monogatari Series Second Season is as delightful as their previous efforts on Bakemonogatari/Nisemonogatari/Nekomonogatari Black. Sit back and enjoy.
Stats for This Season:
Characters named “Laplace”: 2
Major characters voiced by Chiwa Saitou: 3
Magical girls who need to collect cards: 3
Weird animals who do weird things to people: 3
Amount of fabulous abs: NEEDS MORE ARARAGI
Senjougahara fascination: NOT ENOUGH
Afterschool clubs: POST APOCALYPTIC SATURATION POINT