Monday, November 28, 2011

Bite-sized mid-season review

We're right around the midpoint for the current season, and there are a lot of shows that I'm watching, but don't have the time to cover properly.  So here's a quick mid-season review of what I'm really watching, and my thoughts so far.

Category 1: Shown at screenings
I said I'd give it a few episodes to catch my attention, and it handily accomplished that feat.  Ben-To, despite its ridiculous premise (massive brawls for half-priced food) is shaping up to be a solid show.  Seven episodes in, though, and I'm now left wondering where the show will go.  The massive war between the Monarch and Ice Witch, which initially appeared to be what the show would be building up to, was instead finished in a single episode.  What comes next, I've no idea, but it's been good so far, so I have high hopes.
Poor Sato, now known in all the shops as "Hentai"

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai
There are times when I'm glad to be wrong.  This is one of them.  You may remember that I originally wrote off Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai (I don't ave many friends/Neighbor's Club) in the season preview, but it's become one of the shows I look forward to every week.  Activities that most normal people, or, I suppose, rea-juu* would do with theier friends, such as karaoke, going to the pool, gaming, or yes, even exchanging phone numbers, all take on a completely hilarious twist when this bunch of misfits attempt it.
Craziest visual novel EVER. Bad End: everyone gets eaten by a great white a swimming pool

*Rea-juu, usually translated as "popular people", has a much larger meaning than that.  It's a shortened version of "real-juujitsu" and means... well, how about I let Chisame define it for you?

C3 (Curse X Cube X Curious)
In a way, C3 reminds me of a much more successful version of Dragon Crisis from a couple seasons back., with a main character, along with a supernatural loli, dealing with events created by other supernatural objects/entities. I don't have any particular issues with this show so far, other than how poorly the transition between the arcs was handled ("Hey, I got this new cursed item... where'd it go?"), but I can overlook that in favor of a male lead that's carries his own weight and psycho mode Fear and Konoha.  In any case, we're now done with two of the (probably) three story arcs, so I'm hoping for a good conclusion to the series.
Higurashi face...ON!

Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon

Where to begin with this one... Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon is probably the most confusing show of the season.  If you really pay attention and think about what you're seeing, you can probably figure out most of the plot and what's happening, but it's a difficult show to watch casually... mostly because it's an anime adaptation of a "light" novel series that's so dense that each of the seven volumes has been split into two books each, some of which exceed a thousand pages.  That said, I've been really enjoying this show, even while it's spent eight episodes so far just building up to the actual start of the plot.

The plot is starting!

Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai
Another show with a plot that's going who-knows-where.  Majikoi spent its first few episodes doing a (mediocre/bad) romantic comedy, but has now transitioned into something resembling a plot, but it's just not coming together yet.  As of right now, it's not a show that I can easily recommend, but if it manages to pull itself together a bit more, it might redeem itself.
How most people reacted to episode 6.
Category 2: Blogging
Gundam AGE
If you've been checking my episodic posts for Gundam AGE, you already know my feelings on the issue.  Even before it started airing, the show recieved some harsh criticism for its "kiddy" designs, but if you look past that, there are much more fundamental problems with the show, most of which can be summed up in one sentence: If you think about anything that you see, NONE OF IT MAKES ANY SENSE.  In short, unless you're a die-hard Gundam fan who has to watch anything with a Gundam label (guilty), or are interested in barely mediocre anime, or just want to MST3K the thing... I don't recommend it at all.

Guilty Crown
This is another of my weekly posts, so most of my thoughts are out there already.  Written by the same people who did Code Geass, it attempts to follow in its predecessor's footsteps, but falls flat on its face in the process.  While not a terrible show, Guilty Crown does suffer from some inconsistent characterization, and far too many cases where things perfectly come together.  Attacked by an Endlave?  Randomly pull a jamming void from someone.  Missiles? Just so happens that someone has a shield void.  Lasers? Just reflect them. Falling satellite?  Combine voids (never even mentioned before) and shoot it out of the sky with a laser that reaches space!  There's zero tension, and while I like most of the characters, it's still a mediocre show.

Category 3: Other
Unfortunately, this one is absolutely abysmal, to the point where I could barely bring myself to skim the episodes up to this point.  My prediction that it would go from a manga with a decent plot and some fanservice to an anime with no plot and excessive fanservice has sadly come true.  Characters are wildly out of character as compared to the manga, fanservice shots are everywhere, even when they're distracting to what's actually going on, and instead of focusing on story, they're now cramming in filler.  It's just bad.

Mashiro-Iro Symphony
Another romantic comedy-ish high school harem show, fairly heavy on the tsundere (two characters).  It's also somewhat nontraditional, in that it's a little more reality-based than many of them tend to be (no gods or demons, ghosts, vampires, aliens, superhuman butlers, or anything of the sort involved), and the characters are all generally likeable.  Some of the character issues seem to be resolved just a little too neatly (Angie's maid subarc lasting barely an episode, for example), but that's fairly common with shows like this.  Overall, though, I'm finding it to be quite enjoyable, and worth watching.
Pannya, the most unusual thing in the show.  That's a cat?

Shakugan no Shana Final
Eight episodes in, they're finally finished the setup for the story, and the action is really ramping up, with the full power of Bal Masque being pitted against the Flame Haze and their Outlaw support group in two huge battles in Tokyo and across Europe.  For those of you familiar with the franchise, you're probably already watching this.  For those who aren't... well, it might be too much to tell you to watch all three Shana series, (six seasons worth), but it does still come highly recommended.
If this current season had any major weaknesses, they would be the amount of recapping (a necessity, since it's been over three years since SnS Second, and six since SnS), and the long setup time to get to the action.  And the first few minutes of the first episode, which, for reasons I cannot understand, skipped all the way to the endgame, spoiling all of the emotional buildup that would have happened in the first few episodes.

Mirai Nikki, Last Exile and Persona 4 have all been put on my low-priority list, meaning that I'm well behind on all of them.  Mirai Nikki, because it's a little TOO good a manga adaptation, so that I forget that I haven't watched it yet, Last Exile because I'm constantly being told that it's making references back to the original and I still haven't finished it yet, and Persona 4 because it's been a little too slow.  I'll get around to them eventually, probably around the time I get the season review written and done.

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