Anime nerd, occasional gamer and Japanese figure collector. Recently I've been digging into visual novels, and using that as an excuse to blog. I will read and blog English language visual novels for my feature on request; hit me up on theglorioblog.com(or here on Jtor) if you have something you think I should read.
Katawa Shoujo is a visual novel I have been hearing talk of for a few years now but one that I honestly hadn't paid too much attention to before it was completed a few days ago. I never did pick up the demo for act 1 and so going in all I had was a bit of curiosity and no real expectations for how this would play out. I wasn't sure if Katawa Shoujo would turn out to be an excuse for some bizarre fetish porn or attempt to take a more serious look into the lives of these crippled girls. I am happy to report it as the latter.
I have been pleasantly surprised with how professional this visual novel feels. The music in particular really managed to impress me with how much it adds to the sense of atmosphere. What surprised me the most however is how much this story really hit home in a personal way. I was home schooled as a kid well actually all the way though high school. My only real experience inside a classroom has been a course I took at my local community college a few years back now. Because of this high schools in fiction have always been a nostalgia free experience for me as in my mind they are nothing more than a fantasy world. But enough about me for the moment I'll get a little more into my story later on.
Usually when playing though a visual novel I don't really play it at all. Before I even turn the program on I will hunt down an answer key that will guide me through the choices and just read the story instead of trying to navigate through it. I decided against doing that with Katawa Shoujo. I thought it might be fun to experience at least one route this visual novel had to offer the way it is intended. I am glad I did as the first route I wound up on is one I can very much relate with. Now that I have completed Shizune's route I want to share a bit of it here through my eyes.
Shizune Route Spoilers Ahead! Shizune is one of the first characters you meet in Katawa Shoujo. She is the deaf-mute student council president who is seemingly joined at the hip to her happy go lucky translator Misha. The two create an interesting dynamic as Misha is a loud energetic girl who is really good at sign language and will sign everything she hears and says constantly. Shizune is a serious girl with a childish competitive streak. The two girls go out of their way to recruit the main character Hisao into their student council.
The first strong impression Shizune made on me was playing risk during one of her attempts to get Hisao to join the student council. It's quite obvious that Shizune loves a challenge and will be quite good at risk but Hisao is caught up in playing with her anyway. He is destined to lose with no way around it but Hisao has two ways he can go down. He can either hold out and try and defend like a coward or attack her aggressively and die like a man! not one to run away from a challenge myself the aggressive path was the only one I could find acceptable. Shizune still slaughtered Hisao in the end but she was impressed with his daring. This was my first clue that I might be heading toward her route.
This was the second strong impression. Shizune and the class rep from another class Lilly clash over some deadline's Lilly has had extended. This scene struck me as something thrown in mostly for comedy but it managed to get me thinking. The joke here is that Lilly is blind and can't actually speak to Shizune directly at all. At the same time I found myself pondering just how difficult it must be to communicate to someone through proxy. At the time I didn't realize just how much depth there really was to this theme.
When Shizune tries to drag the main character into the argument you are given two options. You can either defend Lilly or defend yourself. You are burning a bridge either way so I decided to burn Lilly's. I am pretty sure that at this point my fate was set and I would be spending the rest of this story with Shizune.. my assumption turned out to be correct.
It's not long before the main character starts to become more interested in Shizune and begins learning to sign a bit. He has become inspired by her challenges and wishes to stand on equal ground with her feeling he needs to be able to communicate directly to do that. One of the days where the student council has nothing to do Shizune drags Misha and Hisao to the club room to play games. It becomes more and more apparent that Shizune is the type who expresses herself though overcoming a challenge. Even if she is the only who brought the challenge about in the first place.
While the three of them are deciding what kind of game they wish to play Hanako a girl with burns on one side her body walks into the student council room looking to replace her student ID. Shizune catches her eying the chess board setup in the room and not being one to miss an opportunity challenges Hanako to a game. While they are playing Hisao thinks to himself that it would be nice if Shizune and Hanako could become friends through playing the game. The two seem to be on equal footing at first but eventually Shizune wins. They play a second time this round it's speed chess and Shizune wins nearly instantly. Hanako being the timid sort runs off before she can be challenged a third time.
The moment that follows Hanako running off Shizune asks Hisao if he likes games that involve luck. Hisao says something about how he doesn't like luck based games but most games have a little bit of luck involved in them, that is what keeps them interesting. Shizune's reply hit home.
Keep in mind that the following are Shizune's words as they come out of Misha's voice. Hisao is still not very good at signing yet.
"That girl isn't good at chess."
"Chess is a formulaic game. So~! it's a game that isn't suited for her... There was nothing formulaic about her. Someone who plays chess like that, looking only at the next piece, playing shallowly, can't be called a serious chess player."
"Anyone who loves chess to the point where their eyes sparkle like that when they see a chessboard would be the kind of person who would study the game."
"If you study it just casually, you can learn to see at least two moves ahead, even against pros."
"Why would someone who loves the game so much... with that enthusiasm.. know so little about it? Even less than someone with just a passing interest in it?"
"Her feelings are real, but her feelings for the game aren't real. Do you understand, Hicchan?"
"There is no luck in chess~! It's very important to realize that. Luck in games is good because it gives everyone a chance. Just enough to matter, but not so much that skill is penalized. Chess is boring because it's not a game; to me, it seems like formulas."
"Hanako isn't the kind of person who would love something like that either~."
"If you value something, you fight. Struggle is proof of precs- preciousness? I think so, at least. Or~! You concede immediate~! Since it's so precious that it stops your thinking. The first is a passionate love. The second is a gentle love."
"I tried to fight her, chasing around her king, and trying to bait her. I didn't succeed though, because she stuck to only what would work."
"The trickiest moments were when she moved the fastest. That means she knew exactly how to deal with those situations."
"That means someone taught her. Do you understand, Hicchan~?"
"If you love chess that much. but you can't give it your all, it's because you love the memories attached to it and not the game; it's too precious to her to see as a tool for true competition."
"Due to that you can't become friends over it. Not without words."
The reason I chose this bit to excerpt because this is the part that really hooked me and got me thinking. Partly because I realized that I view chess the same way Hanako does or at least in a similar way to how she does. The part that really hit home was the underlying theme of making friends through playing games. The reason this bit hit so close to home is because that is how I've made most of my friends and really gotten to know them, by playing games with them.
Which brings me back to my personal story. Remember how I mentioned earlier that I was home schooled? Well it wasn't quite as simple as that. I think my parents would have home schooled me no matter what but I had a something that disabled me pretty badly for most of my early life. From the time I was born till sometime between the ages of 18 and 19 I couldn't sleep correctly. It's an issue I don't mind talking about now because it is completely gone. If you are wondering it was an issue with the top of my spine that a chiropractor was able to fix completely it just took me 18 years to figure out that was the problem.
When I was younger it was common for me to go days at a time without sleeping. I originally started playing online games because I would be awake in the middle of the night with nothing to do so I would slip onto my dad's PC and play something usually wanting to play something multiplayer so that I could be with other people. Maybe I was just lonely since I was the only one awake, I don't really know and I can't remember well enough to figure it out at this point. There are two problems I remember really well from back then. One was that I simply couldn't remember anything it didn't matter how recently I had heard it, It was in one ear out the other and made learning anything really difficult as memorization was out of the picture.
The second was that I was always drained and couldn't communicate with people very well because of how tired I was. Because of this my oldest sister who was almost always with me would do 90% of the talking any time the opportunity came up. Trying to understand other people was pretty much the most exhausting thing I could think of. It wasn't that I didn't want to be around people I just didn't want to talk to them. Because of this I didn't really make any friends growing up despite my parents best efforts to find people to befriend me. Because of this my dad told me later in life that he even suspected I was autistic. Which by the way if I haven't made this clear enough yet I'm not.
Why am I summing up my life story in a blog you might wonder? Well I am not entirely sure myself and do feel a bit silly for it actually. But I think the reason I want to share this is because Katawa Shoujo really made me stop and think about my uncomfortable past. Something I honestly haven't done in years. It's not that it is painful really but rather that I really don't remember it very well it's kind of all a blur so thinking about it can be kind of pointless. That said Katawa Shoujo managed to bring a lot of back to the top of my mind. Maybe this is weird but I never do feel a large degree of nostalgia for my early life when I am reading a story, watching anime or playing a game. I think Katawa Shoujo may be a first for me on that.
I've often heard the phrase that opposites attract. It's one my mom likes to use a lot. I think that in a good story it's the opposite. You look for bits of yourself in the characters and grow along with them as they work their way through the plot. Perhaps because of the fact that this visual novel was actually written for and more importantly by a western otaku audience the characters really jumped out at me in a way I wasn't expecting.
If you told me a week ago that I would be able to relate my own inability to make friends without the use of games and see so many other parallels between myself and a deaf girl I would have thought you mad. Or if you actually knew my history I would have likely been offended at the very least. Yet here I am wishing there was more of Shizune's and Hisao's story I could read.
It's been a real pleasure reading this story and I want to thank everyone involved in making this a reality, especially since thanks is the only payment I can give. I feel pretty melancholic having finished this but at the same time I feel inspired. I haven't given much thought to my own hopes and dreams for the future lately. I am generally a jaded pessimistic person who attempts to wears the shell of an optimist to fool anyone outside my nerd circle into leaving me alone. That is something that likely won't be changing but I feel challenged to try a bit harder to be a bit more creative myself in the coming year, maybe try and write a story of my own, I don't really know what come of it yet.
In the end I think the theme that I really appreciated the most is that these disabilities neither break nor define people. It's really a beautiful concept when you stop and think about it. If anyone else is out there on the fence about giving Katawa Shoujo a shot I can't recommend it enough.
So right off the bat let me say that this is not a real hire me blog but rather my attempt as a community member at seeing this community grow. Now forgive me for a moment while I act about as pretentious as is possible and explain something important to anyone who is or has tried writing a review for this whole "hire me" deal...
Drooling is bad!
See how cute yamada is here drooling on her bear? You are NOT this cute.
I think it's safe to say the vast majority of Japanator's reader base likes anime. Most of us love to talk about the anime we like and share it with our friends. In the past I've often read reviews and thought this is awful I bet I can do better. I learned something when I started writing about anime. There is a massive! difference between what is enjoyed and what is quality. It can be really difficult to tell the difference if you have not tried writing about anime before but trust me it's an important point that needs to be understood. I have a few tips for anyone considering writing one of these.
1. Pick something you hate!
Or at least something that is not your ZOMG! BEST EVER NERGGASM ORGY TIME!. It's natural to write about something you don't like because while you are watching it those points jump out at you. When you are talking about something you love the tendency is to gush or drool all over it. No one wants to read that. If you are having a hard time thinking about something subjectively DO NOT review it!
2. Try to understand both the target audience and the reception it had.
This seems simple enough but so many anime reviewers are guilty of screwing this up. Ask yourself these questions before you start writing your review. What was this anime trying to be? who was it made for? why was it received the way it was? If you can't answers these questions chose something else.
3. Stay on target!
When you are writing a review what people want to read about is the anime or game you are reviewing. NOTyour uncle Fred and how he hates all anime that wasn't made 20 years ago.
4. Word Count.
750 is the minimum... seriously it is. I don't know how people are missing this but they are so here it is.
I'm sure if stop and think about it longer I can give more tips but if you manage these 4 you are doing pretty good.
Most reviews are boring!
This is an average reaction to the average review.
There really isn't much personality in a review, honestly half the time people will just look at the pictures you leave and your final score and leave. That is all they come for because it's just a review. If you are having a hard time writing a good review I have a few suggestions for other things you can write about.
News! Something this site does even more of than reviews and I bet none of you even considered it! Try taking a bit of recent and relevant news and write something up about it. I doubt the staff will care if it's something that has already been covered just go for it.
Opinion Piece Alright so I will admit these are a lot harder to write BUT it's a great way to show off your personality a bit. This is not something for anyone but if you really want to write about your favorite anime or game and failed my number 2 this is the way to do it. If you chose to do this there are two things to keep in mind.
1. This is not about the quality!
This time it's about you and something you got out of the anime or game or w/e it is you want to write up. This is NOT a review. If you start reviewing in the middle of an opinion piece you will bore your reader. Bored readers close web pages and you don't want that.
2. Pick a topic and stick with it.
Just like a review you want to stay on target. If your opinion is that K-On! sucks monkey balls because Yui! is dumber than a monkey make your point and stick to it. Don't go off on a tangent about how moe is the bane of the universe. If it doesn't support your main point don't write it!
Alright and there you have it. The most pretentious blog I've posted on Japanator is now complete. I will leave with just a few more words of wisdom. Have fun! I've been told by a receptionist that the trick to the job is keeping a smile on your face even though they can't see you. Same thing applies here. If you are bored you will bore your reader. If you have fun it just might come through.
It's that time of the year again. 2011 has been a pretty sweet year for anime. We have seen a good number of original stories as well as a return to the darker story telling that got many of us hooked on anime in the first place. This year has been a real morality booster for myself and my anime loving friends. Both in seeing the direction anime seems to be taking and in being able to enjoy an unusual amount of original stories not just adaptions of existing works.
As I have spent time going back through a years worth of anime to write about it I can see just how strong of a year this has been. I somehow managed to watch even more anime than last year and so I've decided to cut back my honorable mentions to a simple list. As with all of my anime lists/guides I only write about stuff that either started or ended in the time period. So until they actually end you never will see Fairy Tail or anything ongoing like it in one of my list's or guides. I have also come up with a few awards to give out as I go along which I will list below. I have had a lot of fun going over this past year and I hope anyone reading will as well as I unravel my year in an anime for you.
Best Male Character in a Leading Role Best Male Character in a Supporting Role Best Male Character in a Villainous Role Best Female Character in a Leading Role Best Female Character in a Supporting Role Best Female Character in a Villainous Role Best Animation Best Character Design Best Art Direction Best Voice Acting Best Music Best Adapted Story Best Original Story Best OP Best ED
Shining Gems Anime that really stick out in my mind. These are the anime I am tempted to talk about around people who have no clue what it is I am going on about. The anime that I think goes above and beyond the expectations I have for a genre exceeding them thoroughly enough that I can't help but talk about them and share my love for them with someone else... even if that someone else happens to be one of my very confused siblings who are simply amused at my own amusement.
Polished Gems Anime that plays by rules and plays them out in a fashion that still manages to be fresh and enjoyably despite minor flaws. The type of flaws that are usually invisible to someone new to the genre or work. Anime that shines within its own genre but does not surpass it.
Unpolished Gems Anime that I would only recommend to an existing fan of the genre or work. The kind where generally something is off about it. Still a good anime that I enjoyed but one that was not even close to perfect usually lacking pretty strongly in one way or another but still managed to contain something of value that set it apart and above mediocre or bad. This type of anime often knows its target audience and is aimed squarely at them. Usually a low budget and a lack of quality control hold these shows back.
Diamonds in the Rough Stuff that for the most part I dropped generally due to a lack of time. Sometimes dropped just because of a general lack of interest in the genre. In a few cases I never picked them up at all but believe them to be of value and so will list them here.
Diamonds in the Rough
Mawaru Penguin Drum
Kimi to Boku.
Lotte no Omocha!
Ro-Kyu-Bu ~ Fast Break!
Mashiro-Iro Symphony: The Color of Lovers
Tiger & Bunny
Black Lagoon: Roberta's Blood Trail
The moments where you get to see the form each character's shadow takes are always fun.
32. Persona 4 The Animation
The Persona franchise is something fairly new to me as of this year. I have had the pleasure of playing through Persona 3 on my PSP recently and I really enjoyed it. I had high hopes for Persona 4 going in and while I have found it to be an enjoyable experience the series falls short in many ways. Still this list wouldn't be complete without it. Despite it's flaws most of the characters feel genuine and engaging. The overall mystery is seemingly missing while the characters set ou on a journey of self discovery. I am looking forward too seeing what lays in story for the cast in the second half of this series.
Deep characters, the cast really pulls you in and makes you care about their plight.
The main character is personality challenged and loves to pull incredible amounts of power out of thin air to the point that I've nicknamed him Robo Jesus. The personality starved messiah of P4.
Not going to lie, the animation is acceptable at best. The adaption also sticks far too closely to the original material and feels incredibly gamey as a result.
These girls spend more time brutalizing each other than they do fighting Nova.
I know what you are thinking, this is on my list and not at the bottom? This anime suffered from some pretty big broadcasting issues and honestly if not for seeing bits of the final HD version streaming on Funimation's video page I would not have included it at all. This anime has a strong blend of Claymore and RahXephon that pull off an atmosphere very similar to the former. The anime focuses mostly on Satalizer and her guarded emotional problems. A flawed adaption but still something enjoyable for fans of the manga.
A strong post apocalyptic atmosphere and a cast of gorgeous if a bit cliche characters.
Severely lacking animation and awful broadcasting. The main character is also quite pathetic throughout the majority of the anime and painful to watch.
Clearly a low budget work. Bland music and sound as well as poor animation jar the experience. There is also a gratuitous amount of nudity both ecchi and otherwise for those bothered by it.
Mecha will never be the same.
30. We Don't Have Many Friends
A school life story much in the same vein as Haruhi only without any time travelers aliens or espers. Going into this anime I remember reading quite a few predictions of this becoming the next Haruhi. Being that this is based off a popular LN series it seemed to have that amount of potential. Did it you might ask? In my opinion it falls a bit short. There is a strong theme of friendship portrayed in this series but much of it lacks depth. This may be the fault of the production staff and director as having read a bit of the manga I can clearly see a rise in the amount of ecchi portrayed throughout this adaption. Ultimately this anime is a fun experience just a bit lacking in depth and development.
A fun and often hilarious take on kids who have issues making friends.
The friendship theme falls flat and sometimes feels a bit forced. Some of the main heroines play the part of an unlikable character a bit too well.
The ecchi is played up a lot in this adaption and some of the funniest moments from the manga are either condensed or cut entirely.
Best Female Character in a Supporting Role Rika Shiguma This award is a no-brainer for me. Rika single-handedly took a show I was close to dropping and carried me all the way through it with her unique sense of perversion and hilarious attempts at getting some sexy time out of the main character. She also changed the way I will view mecha battles with a hilariously voice acted reading of her mecha x mecha doujin.
Be warned lots of loli glomping takes place in this series.
29. A Dark Rabbit Has Seven Lives
Sometimes a sudden girlfriend appearance can be something enjoyable to watch. Particularly when that girlfriend is a supposedly evil vampire who will bring about the apocalypse with her depression. Lots of magical circles and shouting at both allies and enemies alike fill this anime with loads of angst as our main character deals with his relationships. The whole thing comes across as cute in a puppy love kind of way. The big jarring thing holding back this series is that it doesn't go anywhere. The build up is for nothing and being that this series is on record as losing money for the production staff it is unlikely to ever be revisited. Still a fun stop if you are looking for a school romance filled with a bit of magic.
Cute characters caught in a struggle against impossible odds.
The story is just getting started when the anime ends.
Awkward panty shots and a good deal of pointless yelling fill this anime.
The musical scenes are easily Guilty Crowns strongest point.
28. Guilty Crown
Production values the anime. Guilty Crown has been one of the more controversial series this past year. On the one hand it's gorgeous and has an incredible sense of atmosphere with music that fits so well it's scary. On the other hand the plot is a generic mish mash of characters and tropes. Often giving us a bit of development only to backtrack on that when it is convenient to do so. Still thanks to the production values this is one to watch.
Someone spent some money on this one and it shows. Gorgeous animation and some of the best music we have heard in anime this year.
Awful writing, the events work on an individual basis but looking at them as a whole they fall apart.
Painfully cliche at time. The main character feels like someone we know from a past work stuck in a cycle of being completely lame in the most pathetic ways possible.
Best Music Euterpe Best music was a hard choice for me but this one piece really hit a home run with me. The music in this series is something of angels and I wish the anime itself would do more to add up. The iDOLM@STER and Break Blade were both considerations for this award but in the end I felt like it really deserved to be here.
Everyone's favorite scene on the space straw.
Nessa loves love! and is really the only reason this series is listed at all. Fractale set out to be something far greater than it was able to achieve but still managed to be incredibly cute and endearing along the way. A flawed experience to be sure but still one you should find enjoyable if you are looking for an adventure.
Nessa, if I were going to give out an award for cutest character she would get it.
The ending and pretty much everything not involving Nessa being cute and adorable.
Both the opening video and the last episode lead me to believe the production staff were on some hardcore drugs when they made this.
When you can't think up a punchline just have your character go apeshit instead!
Random, ecchi and insane are all things that describe this anime but it's also quite hilarious in the process. Rarely do these girls play any real Tenis but it is there as a theme at least as much so as K-On! is about music. Softtenni earned it's spot on my list by sheer force of ridiculous events. Ever wondered what it would be like to play Tenis in a Tsunami? They have that. Want to tame a giant bear while lost in the woods completely naked? That happens as well. This is not an anime for everyone but for those of you who are willing to subject yourself to the worst kind of perverse random logic Japan can throw at you this is one to watch.
Hilarious both because it can be awful and genuinely funny.
Oh so random and can be very perverse.
Naked middle school girls and middle of the road animation. Never looks bad but never looks great either.
Gosick is at it's best when it is like this.
Mystery and Intrigue! that is what this anime sets out to be but falls short of. There are several mysteries throughout the length of this series and with the exception of the bits directly related to revealing info about the main cast are predictable and badly executed. That said the dynamics between the two main characters really helps give some life to this anime. The relationship between a boy who has never been good enough and the development of a girl who never knew love into one who does and fears she may lose it is the true mechanic at work behind this series. It is hard to forgive this series for it's massive blunders in attempting to be a mystery but the characters have a charm that is hard to resist.
Beautiful character dynamics and development.
Awful mysteries that are boring and full of holes.
There are things in this anime that just shouldn't happen. For example at one point the main character is kidnapped in a drive by wagon only to reveal that his capture is a malnourished loli with no money that couldn't possibly have a carriage nor would she ever be able to lift the main character. I'll be the first one to say that realism is overrated but something like this should break suspension of disbelief for anyone who catches it.
Never before this anime have I considered the various battle uses of a super market cart.
Hungry? No? That won't last long once you start watching this anime. This is one of the silliest concepts I have seen in a long time. The characters duke it out in a super market for half priced food complete with a code of honor the cast abide by. This food is like the holy grail to them and the lengths they go to obtain it are completely insane. The characters never do develop much but a strong sense of atmosphere really helps to bind all the ridiculous logic and shameless ecchi and turn in into something incredibly fun.
Lots of fun, this anime knows itself well and really sticks to it's theme perfectly. Also the hottest display of legs you will see all year.
Filled with one-dimensional characters who don't develop much but for the most part are still fun anyway.
Hope you like to look at legs because this anime caters very clearly to that sort of fetish.
"Mayucchi, that's even bigger than a horses!".
23. Oh! Samurai Girls!
Never before have I considered a 15 minute bath scene a good thing in an anime. Or another 15 minute scene where the main character attempts to convince one of the heroines that nudity is nothing to be ashamed of so funny. Maybe I am a bit twisted for this but Oh! Samurai Girls! was easily the funniest anime I watched this past year. It even attempts to be more than a comedy throwing around a strong theme of family and questioning the value of a country. In the end the real selling points are things like watching Norio Wakamoto's character beat up the prime minster after laying some pretentious dialog on him. Oh and the cast also spends an entire episode at Japan's infamous penis festival.
Hilarious harem lead who instead of being dense spends his time trying to avoid his harem rather than falling victim to them.
The themes thrown around in this anime add a good deal of atmosphere but sometimes fall flat to all the silliness involved.
The animation is often nothing exciting. A lot of talking heads and simple animation.
Just remember no matter how important you are to Merry, you will never be above donuts in her eyes.
22. Dream Eater Merry
Dream Eater Merry is one of the greatest tragedies of this past year and not because it is sad. Sometimes a manga will catch the eyes of a production staff before it really should and get an anime green lit before the original story has enough content to fill it. That is what happened with Dream Eater Merry. Only the first half of the anime is part of the original story and while the characters are both interesting and endearing the plot suffers from pacing issues ending on a disappointing note. With any luck once the manga is a bit further along the anime will pick up again.
A breath of fresh air for it's genre. This anime is creative and artistic and the characters all really come to life with ease and pull you in and make you care about their plight.
Awful pacing issues. A silly ending that deviates from the original work completely.
Filler and lots of it really hurt the experience. This manga deserved better.
Best Character Design Merry Nightmare Dream Eater Merry easily has some of my favorite character designs not only from this past year but of all time with Merry herself standing at the top of that. Maybe I just have a thing for girls wearing silly hats and bearing their midriff but Merry's look hit all the right notes with me. Not quite human oh so stylish and manages the perfect mix of cute and sexy somewhere between her doe eyed look and energetic demeanor. Merry is also a total bro so she has that going for her as well.
Mecha versus money. This is what (C) The Money of Soul and Possibility Control should have been.
21. Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon
Ever wonder what it would be like to get thrown into an alternate version of history with touches of all your favorite fantasy elements? That's pretty much what Horizon does and it throws the guide book out the window as well. 13 episodes in I am still not entirely clear on all the factions, characters and their abilities but that hasn't stopped me from enjoying this show quite a bit. Many things go on throughout the first half of this anime but there is one clear theme that is obvious throughout. The main character wants to confess his feelings to an android who reminds him of a dead childhood friend.. because they ripped his dead friends soul out and stuck it in the android.. oh and her emotions are sealed away in incredibly powerful weapons that are spread out amongst various nations who need to them stop the apocalypse predicted in some holy book that everyone calls the "testament". Am I losing you yet? This anime is like that.
Tons of awesome logic, word games and some of the craziest combat you will ever see.
Impossible to follow without going into study mode and digging hardcore into the world this series takes place in.
Can be filled with monologue as it tries to explain to the viewers just what the hell it is they are watching. Sadly it would take a super computer to actually keep up with it on a first viewing.
This is the type of anime where the main character takes pictures of her grandfather doing a 3-finger peace sign.
20. Tamayura: Hitotose
Cute girls do cute things in a cute heartwarming slice of life way. There really isn't much else to say about this series as it doesn't even try to break the mold. This is an original story from the same studio that animated Aria and much of the same healing feel to it. Everyone is super nice and and life is the most laid back thing. Next time you are stressed out or just having a bad day give this anime a shot. If nothing else it will help put you to sleep.
Cute, heartwarming slice of life.
Hard to watch too much of at once and can easily become boring. Not something you want to sit though all at once.
The animation is simple and could be considered lacking but the anime is very pretty to make up for that. Honestly there isn't much going on to animate in the first place.
Have you ever wanted to be a mad scientist? Maybe dream of building your own time machine and using it to win the lottery? If not I am confident you will by the time you finish this series. The plot itself falls apart when it all comes together at the end but the build up is an incredibly fun experience thanks to all the personalities involved. Mamoru Miyano expertly nails his role as Rintaro. This anime seemed like it could accomplish so much at it's mid point and in many ways it did the emotions connected in an awesome way for the finale but the technical aspects of the plot never quite add up. This is one anime I really enjoyed and would have liked to give a higher rating but some jarring plot hole issues hold it back. Still something I would readily recommend to just about anyone.
Awesome voice acting and an amazing sense of atmosphere really make this anime shine.
The plot doesn't hold up under inspection.
There are some bits of obvious plot convenience when it comes to the rules of time travel and what can or can not be done.
Best Male Character in a Leading Role Rintaro Okabe Mamoru Miyano really outdid himself in this role the voice work here in fantastic. Both his crazy antics and his development over the length of the anime were a lot of fun to watch. It's really interesting to see Rintaro change from someone who is pretending to be paranoid to someone who really is. And watch as Rintaro develops from a fool in over his head to someone who really can change the world and questions what that means. Rintaro really shines as a character who did so much for his series and that is why I chose him for this award.
Beware the crazies. Is there something wrong with me if I find this hot?
18. Deadman Wonderland
Never before have I seen a shonen so bloody. But here this stands to prove that not all shonen titles let their cast off with just a scratch. Dark bloody and supernatural this anime takes an innocent school kid murders all his friends and classmates in front of him and frames him for it. Stuck in a privately owned prison the MC is forced into gladiatorial games for his own survival. This anime actually manages to be a lot lighter than it sounds thanks to the heroine, a cute albino character voiced by Kana Hanazawa. That said even with someone to lighten the mood this anime is very dark and not for the faint of heart. I very much enjoyed it myself and hope we will see another season in the future.
Great setting and atmosphere really help to set the stage for this anime's various members. Dark and twisted in a refreshing way that is uncommon for a shonen.
Feels unfinished. Ending is somewhat unsatisfying.
Occasional quality control issues with the animation. Nothing too major but you can find a few minor mistakes if you pay attention.
Best Female Character in a Villainous Role Hummingbird This was the most difficult award for me to decided on. I was between C3's Peavey Barowoi, Future Diary's Minene Uryuu and Hummingbird but in the end I decided to go with Hummingbird. Of the 3 Hummingbird spends the shortest time as a villain but she manages to establish so much in her one episode of villainy that I feel she earned this award. Or maybe I've just fallen for a pretty face you decide.
When you find yourself in a pinch sometimes you just have to reach into your magical loli and pull out a solution.
17. The Mystic Archives of Dantalian
Dantalian starts with our main character a former military pilot inheriting his grandfather's estate which his grandfather has filled with a collection of rare books. Along with the books comes the keeper of a filled with the knowledge of demons in the form of a young girl. Most of the series is episodic but it does have a theme of salvation as the MC wishes to save the girl from the world inside the archives a world he stumbled upon as a child. A theme which honestly isn't fully explored within the scope of the anime. The real strong point of this series is the sense of and old world atmosphere and the dynamics between the two main characters that builds upon it. I am reminded of Spice and Wolf in the way the two interact with each other. Of all the LN adaptions this year I wish I had the capacity to go out and read for myself this is easily at the top. I hope that against all odds Gainax will give us a second season.
Amazing sense of atmosphere and intrigue. The dynamics between the two main characters is enchanting.
Untapped potential, the story ends at a good point but leaves much unfinished.
In some of the more action filled moments this anime can be strangely dialog heavy. A common issue with light novel adaptions but worth pointing out none the less.
When your friend goes and butchers a bunch of people as kid you just might have a few emotional issues growing up.
16. Kamisama Dolls
One of the common complaints I hear from other aging anime fans is that the lead characters are always kids. Kids are great and make for good story telling but sometimes it would be nice if the cast were a bit more mature. Even if that maturity is only as superficial as age and moving to a university instead of a high school. That is what we got out of Kamisama Dolls. Here the main character has moved away from his small village life filled with dark secrets to try and start over in the city. Of course moving away from home is never that simple especially when the village you are from controls powerful wooden gods. Kamisama Dolls was a fun show that had a unique air of maturity to it even if it was only knee deep. I am hopeful we will see a second season and that all the build up from the first will not go to waste.
Adult characters caught up in the politics of growing up. Good art and animation.
Unfinished, this story ends just as it really feels like it starting to go somewhere good.
The torpedo-chested main heroine looks like she walked out of Highschool of the Dead. Not bad per say but it does look a bit awkward artistically since the rest of the women look more.. normal?
The underworld has never looked so good.
15. Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below
I had the pleasure of being able to watch Makoto Shinkai's new movie at this year's Otakon and while I was not blown away quite the same way I was when I watched 5 Centimeters Per Second it was still a very enjoyable experience. After the movie I waited to hear a few words from the creator himself where he explained his motivation for creating this movie. Makoto said that he wanted to make a movie everyone could enjoy. This movie has a very Studio Ghibli feel to it in fact I would go so far as to say if I didn't know any better I would think I was watching a Ghibli movie. The only critique I really have for this movie is that it felt like it was fit into the Studio Ghibli mold and lost some of Makoto Shinkai's flair. It really is a beautiful movie in more ways than one but it goes about it without breaking ground the way 5 Centimeters Per Second did.
Feels like a derivative of Studio Ghibli.
No, you have never seen an underworld quite this gorgeous before.
In true pick your favorites fashion here we see all the girls dressed as various fruit. I'm a grapes and pineapple fan myself.
14. The iDOLM@STER
Creepy old man time, I really liked this anime as uncomfortable as it makes me to actually say that. Now for the part where I tell you something and you don't believe me. This anime isn't made for creepers! As bad as some of the fans this series has are it has been a genuinely fun show to watch. IdolMaster is very much an idealistic take on 12 idols and their rise to fame. It's fitting however considering that we are watching the rise of idols that the show focuses on the ideal instead of trying to be more realistic even pitting the two concepts against each other at times. That is where the magic of this anime really kicks in. I honestly believe that anyone who isn't afraid of getting a few nasty looks from fellow anime fans and family members will find something to enjoy here. In the end It's very cute and has a surprising amount of drama most of which really hits home.
Cute idols and their idealist rise to fame. Between the 12 girls and their individual plights you are sure to find one you can relate with.
Has been known to get viewers labeled as creepers.
Some of the outfits they make these girls wear are a bit ridiculous but most of the really awkward stuff was left behind in the game.
This isn't the Yuuji I remember
13. Shakugan no Shana III
After season 2 I think I speak for all Shakugan no Shana fans when I say that I had my doubts about a 3rd season. I was prepared to watch something awful if it meant I could see the end of the story I loved from season 1. Let me tell tell you that was completely unnecessary as Shakugan no Shana III might be the best part of the story yet. The somewhat wimpy male lead that served as the viewers eyes for the first and second season has become fed up with always following behind all his friends. He has made a pact to work together with an ancient god who was banished to the abyss for attempting remake the rules of the universe.. or something along those lines. This has been one of my favorites for this past year and I can't wait to see where this goes next.
Plot and pacing that are moving toward ending the story of a classic in a satisfying direction.
The villains are more engaging than the good guys. I feel bad when they lose and find myself cheering them on hoping for their victory! Maybe I am just a bad person.
The visuals are solid but the animation itself leaves a bit to be desired on occasion.
C³ has a very "artistic" way of being sadistic.
Best second episode of the year! I usually give everything I watch 2 episodes at least. C³ I was ready to swear off at half way through the first. Thanks to Chris's review of the second episode in Annotated Anime I decided to stick though the second episode. I am so glad that I did. What looked like a silly poorly made slice of life turned into an engaging tale of redemption thanks to the antics of some of the most bat-shit villains I have ever seen. Pretty much every character evil or otherwise has an ace up their sleeve and a load of dark baggage and hidden secrets. I am hopeful we will see a second season for this.
Awesome artwork and engaging female cast.
Main character is a bit boring at first. The story ends on a satisfying note but it is obviously unfinished.
This first episode raised the bar for how NOT to introduce your cast. If you give this show a shot please watch past the first episode. It is not a good representative for the rest of the series.
Best Art Direction Shin Oonuma Shaft got out shafted this year. It didn't take very long before I realized that something was incredibly familiar about the art work and the way it was being used to bring out the emotions of the cast. At first I just assumed it was a really well done imitation of Shaft's typical style. It just so happens there is more to it than that. Remember Ef - A Tale of Memories? Turns out that the director is the same person. I can't stress enough how much the art adds to this anime. I am very much looking forward to seeing what this director will put out in the future.
11. Yuru Yuri
Cute lesbian girls doing cute things in a funny ways pretty much sums up this series. While not a masterpiece this proved to be a nice break from the usual all girls slice of story with it's self aware sense of humor and it's heartwarming moments with the cast. I am looking forward to season 2 next year.
Cute funny and very self aware and honest with what it is.
School girls doing cute things in school again. Not really a bad thing for this show per say but it is the number 1 reason I get from people who don't want to watch this.
Hope you like cute lesbians because while not every character is completely obvious about it some of them are. Not an issue for me at all but know what you are getting yourself into if you decide to pick this up.
King Arthur, Alexander the Great and some Irish man practically no one has heard of walk into a bar...
Insert rabid fanboyism here. And now that that's done give me a moment while I project a shield powerful enough to protect me from those who won't find 10th place good enough. Fate Zero has been a really fun ride with some great characters filled to the brim with personality. It also made circle walking into a thing. I was worried that without Nasu behind the wheel this just wouldn't be the same but oh was I wrong. Ufotable has done an amazing job with this anime and I can't wait for the second half in 2012.
Awesome animation and intense combat. Some of the most interesting and entertaining characters this year.
My god some of the fans.. just wipe off the drool and this really is a good show.
Circle walking is now a thing. I miss my talking heads. I blame Nasu for this as it happens in Fate/Extra as well.
Best Male Character in a Supporting Role Rider Behold the ultimate king of bros! His ultimate power is the strength of his bonds with the people he leads! Rider has been an awesome addition to the cast. Everything from his support of his master Waver to the surprisingly deep conversation he has with Archer and Saber about what it means to be a king just add so much to Fate/Zero. It wouldn't come close to being what it is without him.
Best Male Character in a Villainous Role Ryuunosuke Uryuu and Caster I was bit split about who I should give it to honestly. In the end I just can't decide which is better Casters amazing voice work or Ryuunosuke's take on worshiping god and god's love. These two Villains make a great pair and it will be a shame when they meet their inevitable demise in the second half.
9. Future Diary
Wait can they show that on TV?! I've lost count of the times I've had that thought go through my head while watching this anime. Maybe I am just picky but I find most anime thrillers to be poorly done and I expected the same from this. I am still a bit worried about the ending but at very least I can say that I was oh so wrong about the journey. The characters and the situations they find themselves in bring about a psychological rush in a way not much fiction can. I am on the edge of my seat with nearly every episode waiting to see what will happen next and how the resident Yandere will react. I can't wait to watch the rest.
Best psychological thriller I have seen in a long time. Maybe my favorite one depending on how it ends. Shion and Rena beware, Yuno is coming for you!
Intense, not something for the faint of heart.
Exploding middle school kids as well as middle school kids making out. You never know when the Yandere will pull out a weapon and someone will lose a limb and or die. This is not something everyone will be able to enjoy.
Best Female Character in a Leading Role Yuno Gasai Possibly the most bat-shit yandere of all time. At the same time she is a loving dedicated "girlfriend" Maybe the easiest award this year as she adds so much to her story. There are moments where things become incredibly intense and the only thing I want to know is how Yuno is going to react to solve the "issues" they get themselves caught in. Yuno is large portion of the reason I catch myself on the edge of my seat watching this. I can only hope she continues to be like this for the rest of the anime.
A futon with legs.
8. Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko +4 points for being an insightful look into someone outcast by society. -3 points for ending, not the ending mind you just ending period. +2 point for shinbo's wacky style. +5 points for the best granny in anime ever. Or for those of you who didn't watch the anime this is a cute story about a boy who transfers to a new school and moves in with his aunt and cousin. His cousin is a young girl who has dropped out of school after having vanished for a year and returning with no memory of where she was. On the surface Denpa is cute and funny but dig a bit deeper and you get so much more. There is a a strong theme about what it means to communicate with someone else at work here. Questioning things like friendship and relationships and what the value of those are. I found this to be a beautiful story and I hope it will be continued with another season sometime down the road.
Very pretty. Has a lot more depth than meets the eye.
It ends.. just stops.. really wish there were more. It's satisfying enough just feels like there should be something else.
Very Shaft. For those of you who don't know what that means, the animation falls apart pretty badly at times.
Best OP Os-Uchuujin Catchiest tune of the year for me so this wasn't a hard choice. Beyond that I feel that it really helped set the right atmosphere for the anime and it's unique cast. I would love to find and embed a video of this right into my blog but my choice for best OP and ED are both related to Sony in some way and their Nazi's will remove it before anyone gets the chance to watch it so I'll have to ask you to look for it on your own if you wish to see it.
If this isn't an obvious Key reference I'm not sure what is.
7. The World God Only Knows
The World God Only Knows sorely lacked one thing last season. The main character was a bit one-dimensional. Not too much changes in season 2 but something still manages to feel a bit more real. I think the credit for this goes to two of the new characters from this season. One is the main character's teacher and other is an "ordinary" girl he doesn't want to date because she is too boring. Thanks to the main characters interaction with these characters we get to see a good deal of depth in his character as well as some hints at real development we never got to see in the first season.
Character development. Interesting interactions with characters who give us an introspective look at the way the MC thinks.
Remains unfinished something that will likely continue even should we get a season 3.
Keima can be oh so mean to the girls sometimes. Visuals were pretty solid as I remember it.
There are two types of people who can do something for the dead, writers and detectives.
6. God's Notepad
This one surprised me multiple times. The first episode did a lot to pull me in but in another early arc I lost interest when it became clear to me that the writer lacks a solid understanding of technology. For a few months I dropped the show expecting it to go downhill like so many other JC Staff shows have but I had one friend who took my early recommendation for this show and watched it all the way through who kept reminding me that I should finish it. Am I ever glad that I did. An anime that originally managed to rise above it's premise before losing my interest pulled me back in and left my in tears by the end. While not without it's flaws I believe that the storytelling here is something of enough value to trump them all. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a slightly different take on the NEET mentality or anyone simply looking for a good mystery series. God's Notepad managed both.
Dark undertones manage to create an unforgettable sense of atmosphere and tragedy.
The author clearly lacks a good understanding of computer technology. As someone who works in IT this bothers me more than it will likely bother most viewers.
A lot of of talking heads in this anime. While fairly intelligent it can be considered wordy at times.
I was going to find an image of the main character playing fetch with the princess but I am short on time so here is a flying chocobo instead.
5. Dog Days
What would you do if I told you I had a fantasy anime with the voices of all your favorite heroines casting in it? Oh and Norio Wakamoto is coming along for the ride as well. That is what Dog Days managed for me. While not quite all of my favorite voices are present here a surprisingly large amount are as even the smaller side characters are veteran voices you are likely to recognize. What else does this anime have going for it you might ask? Dog days managed to tell a heartwarming tale in a fantasy land filled with anthropomorphic people. The main character has been summoned to play the role of champion for the people of Biscotti who have found themselves stuck in a demoralizing losing streak in a war game played between nations and are looking for a hero from another world to help them out of it. An epic fantasy tale in a foreign land filled with people voiced by angles. What is there not to like? Dog Days is one of the most underrated shows from this past year and as you can see one of my favorites.
Epic casting for the vocals. Gorgeous fantasy world. Awesome character designs. Did I mention that this is an anime original?
Occasional bits of nudity may detract from the experience for some. The majority of this anime is clean.
Best Voice Acting The Entire Cast I don't think I can say too much more about this so instead a role call. Ami Koshimizu(Spice and Wolf's Holo) Yui Horie(Kanon's Ayu) Mamoru Miyano(Death Note's Light) Youko Hikasa(K-On!'s Mio) Ayana Taketatsu(K-On!'s Azusa) Tetsuya Kakihara(TTGL's Simon) Norio Wakamoto(DBZ's Cell) Takehito Koyasu(First of the north Star's Kenshiro) Nana Mizuki(Nanoha's Fate Testarossa) Kana Asumi(Working!'s Poplar)
That list is only the more important characters the all star casting goes on. This anime is voiced by angels!
4. Is this a Zombie?
Yes that's right, sitting near the top of a year filled with good anime is a harem made by Studio Deen. How this happened I am not so sure myself but It did. Is this a Zombie managed a perfect balance of plot and fan-service mixed with a touch of comedy and drama that worked together in a way that needs to be seen to be believed. Some would say that something so shameless shouldn't be allowed such high amounts of praise but I am going to have to disagree. Is this a Zombie? is what this type of shameless anime should aspire to be like.
Funny and self aware with a surprising amount of depth.
It's a shameless harem, that should be enough to keep a few people away.
Deen actually did a surprisingly solid job with the animation. Considering the studio at work here this a masterpiece.
Being Meduka is suffering
3. Madoka Magica
Gen Urobuchi has become a house hold name among anime fans this past year. Both for playing the part of the best troll and for writing one of the most heart wrenching stories told in anime form, one that will be remembered for many years to come. All of this in the wrapper of a cute magical girl show. What Madoka Magica did well it did perfectly. I haven't seen an anime capable on uniting anime into one fandom quite the way Madoka did. Personally I felt that momentum died off a little before the end. I wouldn't say I was disappointed as the ending was surprisingly thought out and had a great impact. Truly one of the best anime of the year.
Intricate plot with a dramatic sense of irony. Beautiful artwork, animation and character designs.
The entire plot revolves around the concept of energy entropy which as silly as that sounds actually worked pretty well in practice. The bad comes in with the solution something I dare not spoil here.
There are some minor hiccups in the animation. For a shaft production Madoka was surprisingly solid.
This bit of the ending is one of the most iconic moments from the series.
2. We Still Don't Know The Name Of The Flower We Saw That Day (AnoHana)
Sometimes a character manages to pull at your heartstrings in a way that leaves you with an emotion that lingers long after the credits roll. Kind of like when a friend you don't get to see very often come over for a visit. At it's core that is what AnoHana is all about. From the first episode AnoHana managed to create an environment where it was easy to care about the characters and their issues. One where you want to laugh when they laugh and cry when they cry. In the end it is the way the characters come to life and manage to feel like old friends that really earned AnoHaha this spot on my list.
Great sense of atmosphere and tragedy. A strong cast that really pulls you in.
Very dramatic, personally I do not consider this a flaw with AnoHana but it's a common complaint that event's sometimes feel a bit forced.
Prepare the tissues as you are likely to need one by the end.
Best Original Story Mari Okada I suppose it goes without saying that my best original anime would get the award for best original story. Truth be told it was a hard choice between this and Madoka Magica. Both stories managed to really pull me in and leave me desperate for the next episode week by week. Both also have plot elements that feel a bit forced toward the end. I decided to go with the anime that managed a greater emotional impact on me and that was easily AnoHana. AnoHana was a beautiful story that nailed the emotions of things perfectly. Maybe not the grandest in scale but sometimes it's the simple stories that hit home with the most force.
Best ED Secret Base No video again Nazi's and all.. sorry. This ending was an incredibly iconic one for it's series that I often found myself replaying more than once after the credits would roll. It's rare that an ED adds much to an anime but this one managed to carry on the mood of the series incredibly well and add something to that atmosphere that would linger from week to week. That is why it's my pick for best ED.
The bar for backdrops has been raised.. I wish all anime looked this impressive.
1. Break Blade
What AnoHana managed with it's cast and characters Break Blade managed with it's world and scale. This universe and the plight of it's people really pulls you in and my god is it gorgeous. Everything from the mecha to the sprawling landscapes to the city of Krisna this universe has been recreated with an astounding attention to detail. The manga is still technically ongoing but the vast majority of it covers a single war which is the focus of these movies and the ending is quite satisfying. If you are only going to watch one thing from this past year this is what I would recommend. I hope that someday when the manga is finished we might be able to revisit the The Kingdom of Krisna. Until then I will be keeping up with the manga and helping to spread the news of this epic tale so many people seem to be missing out on.
Gorgeous artwork and animation. Awesome sense of atmosphere and attention to detail. If I had an award for best universe it would go here.
There are a few bits that are not very well explained in the adaption. For the most part unimportant things you will only notice when you look for them.
As with all movie adaptions not everything can get screen time. There are a few scenes I wish had been animated that were not. In particular a scene between the main character and heroine. What they did have was beautiful.
Best Animation Production I.G and XEBEC The artwork, animation, music and impressive attention to detail that go into this series of movies can't be expressed enough. Perhaps it is cheating to pick a series of movies for this award but I feel it has been earned. The bar for epic settings has been raised. I can only hope that going into 2012 we see something else on this scale.
Best Adapted Story Yunosuke Yoshinaga An epic story of war told in a universe where magic is a science of sorts. There is also a hint of forbidden romance and a journey of philosophical understanding as the MC is forced to come to terms with what it means to protect the people precious to him. This adaption was hit out of the park and is one that really deserves to be watched by all.
And there it is! I really enjoyed this past year and revisiting it has been a real joy. Let me know what you think of it as well. What are your favorites? Which of these shows do you feel the same way about? Or.. Maybe not? Which items on my dropped list should I add to my backlog? Any other comments or questions are appreciated as well. Thanks for reading!
J-Manga is a new legal source for Manga on the web. J-Manga.com opened it's site to the public today and so I decided to check them out. I browsed around for a bit before opening any manga and found that everything is obviously very new, they even openly acknowledge the site is still in beta so I decided to try and be forgiving of small errors and mistakes. Well my mentality didn't last very long as I found my self face-palming at the summary for the very first manga I decided to click on "Fate/Stay Night".
"This is a comic version of a popular personal computer game. Shiro dreams of becoming a white knight like his foster father, who saved his life. One day, he comes across some mysterious men that immediately try to kill him. But just as he is cornered, he is saved by a girl aptly named Saver. "
For the sake of anyone who is not familiar with Fate/Stay Night let me say two things about the original work. First the girl who saves Shiro is named "Saber" and not Saver which is actually not her real name at all but rather her "class". Saber is one of out of seven servant classes summoned for the sake of a Holy Grail War. The class of Saber is named the way it is because she is a famous hero from history who wields a sword. "Saver" is not even a class from Fate/Stay Night at all. Second there is only one assailant! no men show up chasing after Shiro the one after him is in fact not even human at all but another heroic spirit summoned to fight in the Holy Grail War. Not only is this summary poorly written, its flat out wrong.
I browsed around for a little longer after reading the summary I shared above hoping to find it to be the bad apple of the bunch but the next two series I opened had similar poorly written summaries leaving me thoroughly disappointed with this new site before I even made it to the manga itself.
Well I didn't give up just yet I decided that I needed to at least read some manga on this site before going off to rage about it so I decided to open up Excel Saga which was the first series I came across that allowed me to preview it. Honestly I was fully expecting to find more of the same poor writing I shared above but oh was I in for a surprise when I loaded up this preview. The entire thing is in Japanese! They didn't translate it at all! The final blow was dealt I can't believe this site is open to the public like this. How do you even make a mistake like that? Or maybe they intended to share the Japanese Excel Saga? It is hard to tell as nothing on the site does very much to introduce the site and it's features.
While I hope for the best with the future of J-Manga, my first impression has left me sorely disappointed. Has anyone else had a better experience?
Summer is here and despite barely having time to watch everything for myself this season I've decided to blog it again. I am going to change a few things up but this guide will follow the same basic idea from my last guide. I will watch the first two episodes of everything new as it is subbed and write up a short impression for it, as well as some basic info on what you can expect to see from each anime. As time goes on and more second episodes are released and viewed I will update this blog placing the newest one at the top.
This time around I am going to make an exception for and exclude anime shorts as there really isn't much to say about them, if anyone is curious watching one takes about as long as reading up on it anyway.
Each anime will be awarded one of three excitement levels to help differentiate them. I have always hated numeric rating systems so instead of using one myself each of these levels will have a name and a brief explanation below.
Excited Anime that not only left a good first impression on me but also left me wanting the next episode when the credits rolled.
Enjoyed Anime that was fun to watch but didn't particularly pull me in. The kind of anime where I feel like watching more if I have time but won't be in any particular rush to keep up with.
Hated Anime that was either painful to watch or simply boring enough to put me to sleep.
As always any comments, criticism or questions are welcome. You can also follow me on twitter where I stalk other Japanator members and make occasional comments about the anime I am watching. At least until google+ takes over the scene.
The Mystic Archives of Dantalian Animated by Gainax
Premise Hugh inherits his grandfathers old mansion, along with a large collection of valuable books. Among the pile of books he finds what appears to be a young girl named Dalian who is the gatekeeper for the Archives of Dantalian a collection of demonic books and wisdom.
My Thoughts So far I have enjoyed Dantalian a good deal but this anime does suffer from a few short comings, the largest being that the transition from light novel to anime is very obvious as we have moments of dialog that interject into the pace in an awkward fashion. The animation is low key in general as there is a lot of dialog but the music and artwork really help to bring this setting to life.
Our show starts off with Huge as a child inside the Archives of Dantalian. How he got there is not explained but the scene does a good job establishing a connection between himself and the archive before jumping ahead to the scene where Huge meets Dalian. The characters are reminiscent of Gosick on a surface level but without the school setting and all the supporting characters Gosick had. Because of that I expect that as we go along the character dynamics between Dalian and Hugh will be the paste that will make or break this anime.
My Verdict? Excited I love the dynamics between Huge and Dalian and the atmosphere of this anime in general. It's hard to tell what direction this anime will take in that so far it has been very episodic but I can't wait to watch more and find out.
Watch If If you like mystery and suspense. If you can enjoy an anime largely driven by the dialog of two characters. If you like magic and magical themes.
Don't Watch If If you don't like Victorian settings and themes. If you didn't like Gosick and or wished for Gosick to be more realistic. (this anime goes the other direction) If you don't like dialog heavy anime.
Twin Torture: Lolicon Paradise Animated by J.C. Staff
Premise Two magical girls protect artifacts made out of fragments from the holy grail.
My Thoughts I try to give everything I watch a fair chance but there is just nothing redeemable about this anime. The villains thrown as us so far have been criminals who smuggle lettuce, a loli thief who rides around in a mecha unit and her man servant a blond eyed blue haired man in a military suit. Along the way we have seen our main characters turn into cat girls and play with toys after breathing in some magical dust to running around naked with towels wrapped around themselves for a quarter of an episode, all the while throwing around incredibly cheesy one liners.
My Verdict? Hated I want to scrub this from my mind not even because I feel dirty having watched it but because it so severely insulted my intelligence. Most painful first two episodes of this season by a massive margin.
Watch If If love everything magical girl and feel a need to "catch them all". If you love cute girls doing cute things.(Trying at least don't expect much) If you are a lolicon.
Don't Watch If If you are not a lolicon. If you are looking for something intelligent. If you are not masochistic.
R-15 Animated by AIC
Premise Takuto is a teen who writes porn. He attends a school for "gifted" people.
My Thoughts Looking for a so bad it's good anime to kill some time with? R-15 is ready to fulfill your desire. This anime is so over the top I don't even know where to start. There is one scene with the school idol who is feeling depressed. Takuto wanting to help her decided to recite a poem for her, a very erotic poem at that! While reciting it she strips and transforms into a naked butterfly ultimately thanking our protagonist in a way that causes him to blackout from excitement. I can't take this show seriously at all.
My Verdict? Enjoyed Don't get me wrong this anime is pretty awful. It goes from being painful to watch when it is trying to be funny to side splitting funny while it is trying to be serious. But if you are the type who likes to watch anime that is memorable for being so bad that poking fun at it redeems it in your eyes this is one to check out.
Watch If If you like anime that is so bad it's good. If you like ecchi. If you like over the top ridiculous settings and themes.
Don't Watch If If you don't like ecchi. If you are looking for a quality show. If strong censorship ruins a broadcast for you.
Cat God Animated by AIC PLUS+
Premise Cat god Mayu has been banished from heaven for abusing her powers. She now must live on earth with a character voiced by Yui Horie.
My Thoughts Snooze fest anime simple as that. If I could die from boredom I wouldn't be here writing this now. This anime is at best mildly cute, at worst a nightmare of inconsistency and bad story telling.
My Verdict? Hated Having a hard time sleeping? Trying to make it though an episode of this should help.
Watch If If you absolutely love and adore cute things. If you want to watch the most boring thing this season. If you can forgive an anime for being astoundingly mediocre in every way.
Don't Watch If If you like things to happen in an interesting way in your anime. If you have anything else you can do with your time. If you are a looking for good animation, cute heartwarming moments or acceptable story telling.
God's Notebook Animated by J.C.Staff
Premise Alice is a NEET detective Narumi is her assistant together they solve mysteries.
My Thoughts At first I thought the premise would hold this show back but after seeing it in execution it works pretty well. The animation is perhaps a bit boring at times but the mysteries and the characters are the main draw so I can be forgiving. Speaking of the mysteries they are well written and engaging something I am happy to see after Gosick dropped the ball in that regard. Alice comes across as a genuinely intelligent and thought out character, wise for her age perhaps but a genuinely brilliant type. Narumi on the other hand just comes across as naive. The dynamics between the two are not so interesting per say but the results of Narumi working for Alice has done a lot to help pull me in.
My Verdict? Excited It is hard to make this show sound exciting, largely because the excitement comes from the intrigue and the way the character dynamics play out with some fairly dark themes. I love the vibes this show is giving off, so far this is my favorite thing out of all this new anime. If you are going to watch one new show of the season this is the one I would recommend and expect the most from. I just hope that JC Staff won't screw it up. (they have pulled out a masterpiece before)
Watch If If you like solving mysteries. If you like watching naive characters work their way though tough situations. If you liked Gosick and are interested in a more modern rendition.
Don't Watch If If you don't like mysteries. If you need a ton of action in your anime. If you are turned off by a large portion of dialog in your anime.
Blood C Animated by Production I.G
Premise Shrine Maiden Saya must destroy monsters with her special sword and powers. That is if she can keep from face-planting long enough to make it from place to place on time.
My Thoughts Lets start off with the positives this anime has to offer. The action sequence in both of the first two episodes look fantastic. They are only a few minutes in length each but have both been exciting to watch. Which brings me to the negatives of this show EVERYTHING else. I really want to like this anime but having a laid back happy go lucky Saya with an incredibly boring village life that takes up most of the screen time just isn't working for me.
Imagine an episode of Aria with 20 minutes of the girls practicing their skills only to cut away to a 5 minute combat scene where Akari jumps out of her boat sprinting across the water at high speeds with a Katana drawn, proceeding to beat down a demon which results in massive blood spurts turning the water red in the wake of her battle. Okay so maybe that sounds awesome but it doesn't work in practice trust me.
My Verdict? Hated The first episode I was willing to forgive because it was not what I expected. I went into episode two with my expectations lowered and found myself equally disappointed. With the exception of the short action bits this show is simply boring. I like my intense action driven anime. I also like my heartwarming slice of life anime. The two don't mix well at all. I may continue watching just to see what this anime has in store but so far I am incredibly bored.
Watch If If you love Clamp artwork and character designs. If you like awesome action scenes. If despite my warning you think the idea of Akari spending some of her screen time each episode battling monsters sounds awesome to you.
Don't Watch If If you are looking for more of Blood+. This is nothing like it. If you don't like the acts weak with a badass switch character type. If you can't tolerate slow paced anime.
Mayo Chiki! Animated by Feel
Premise Kinjirou is our main character. A boy who's mother and sister are wrestlers. Kinjirou has developed a fear of women after being used as a punching bag his entire life. In fact whenever he is touched by a woman his nose bleeds. One day at school he walks in on Subaru changing, a student he and the rest of his classmates believe to be a boy only to discover his secret, Subaru is actually a girl! A girl who is only allowed to be a butler provided she can make it though school without anyone finding out. In a whimsically sadistic fashion Kanade Sabaru's master decides to force the two to become friends and maybe more?
My Thoughts Kinjirou is one unlucky guy who would seemingly love to be anywhere else that doesn't involve being in this anime. I can understand completely. This show conspires against him pretty hardcore. His mom and sister are psychotic so his only safe haven is school. But that ends pretty quick as he walks in on a chick who is supposed to be a dude getting changed and sees his classmates panties. Thinking his classmate must simply be a pervert he turns around to leave in his best attempt at minding his own business. Only to get chased down by said classmate and wind up saving her from a falling jarred frog. Who was to know that she had equipped her Magical Butler Suit of Unbuttoning which forced Kinjirou into mounting her mystically semi naked self and coping a feel. Of course Subaru being the understanding sort returns the favor by knocking him the hell out. Poor guy!
My Verdict? Hated As much as my sympathy goes out to Kinjirou for being suckered into the most unlucky position in anime this season that won't be enough to keep me watching. Bits of this show are funny, one reference to Fate/Stay Night had me rolling. That said most of the laughs come at the cost of my intelligence. I simply don't want to watch any more of this. Unless I hear something about the later episodes to change my mind I doubt I will.
Watch If If you like violent retribution for accidental infringement. If you like ecchi. If you like cross dressing butlers.
Don't Watch If If you don't like ecchi. If you don't like cross dressing butlers and or sadistic masters. If you are looking for something intelligent.
A Dark Rabbit has Seven Lives Animated by Zexcs
Premise Sudden girlfriend appearance. The twist being that the girl in question is some kind of elder vampire who cast a spell on our main character as a child allowing him to die up to 6 times every 15 minutes and regenerate afterwards and be just fine.
My Thoughts I really enjoyed the first two episodes. I didn't have any expectations for this going in but for what it is I found it to be a good watch. Not the most original concept but there is only so much you can do within the first few episodes of a sudden girl friend appearance that hasn't already been done.
Two episodes in the story is only just beginning so it is hard to say if this will be something of value in the long run or not, episode 3 should be telling. So far the execution is what I have enjoyed and what made up for the lack of originality. I can only hope this show will have a worthwhile plot to back it all up.
My Verdict? Excited This introduction had the right balance of cute girls and magical combat to catch my eye and get my hopes up. I am looking forward to watching more.
Watch If If you like magical circles and the magical combat that comes from it. If you like sudden girlfriend appearance anime. If you like vampires.
Don't Watch If If you don't like sudden girlfriend appearance anime. If you don't like ecchi. If you don't like vampires and the tropes they bring.
Kamisama Dolls Animated by Brains Base
Premise Our main character is Kyouhei a college student who has left his village and dark past behind him, or so he would have liked to believe. His village communicates with and manipulates gods to help them with their daily lives. After some antics ensue that destroys his living place he is taken in by a man on orders from the village and begins living there with the man his own sister Otau and the mans daughter a girl about his own age Hibino.
My Thoughts Easily one of my favorites this season. The premise has a good amount of intrigue and the cast all come across as easily likeable characters. Add in Brains Base signature animation quality and I think we have a winner. Also Miyuki Sawashiro is one of the supporting characters introduced in episode 2 which is always a plus in my book.
My Verdict? Excited Loved it, I don't really have anything negative to say. Can't wait for the next episode.
Watch If If you like a good mix of action and intrigue. If you like high quality animation If you are looking for a more mature setting in your anime.(sure they are still in school but at least university life is is a step beyond high school.)
Don't Watch If If you are turned off by bullet breasts.(Hibino looks like she would fit right in with the cast of HotD) I you don't like robots and robot combat.(that is what these "gods" essentially are in practice.) If you really hate the guy forced to live with girl scenario and the tropes that are sure to come with it.
The iDOLM@STER Animated by A-1 Pictures
Premise A new producer takes over an Idol production studio, and helps guide the girls in their idol careers.
My Thoughts Episode one introduces us to the cast from the first person view of a camera man. He remains completely silent while subtitles tell us what he is thinking and saying. I thought it was an interesting way to introduce the idol cast in a pick your favorite type way but I am glad the show ditched that angle by the second episode.
Something that strikes me as funny about this anime and the premise in general is the target audience. The idea initially seem to be something that one of my sisters would have loved a few years back when they were watching things like America's next top model. Perhaps because of that I found myself looking for realism in the way the idols were managed and the advice they were given. I quickly came to the conclusion that show is very much about idealism and not the soul crushing dramatic melodrama of becoming a model on a reality TV show.
My Verdict? Excited Bring on the idealistic management of 12(13?) girls who work toward becoming popular idols! Since the show is obviously asking us to pick favorites mine is Chihaya Kisaragi. On a side note it has been a very long time since I have felt guilty about something I am watching. Something I am actually experiencing a little over giving this my seal of approval. But you know what? Screw you guilt! I am going to watch this despite you.
Watch If If you like idols or simply like cute anime girls in general. If you like idealistic views on management. If you can swallow your shame and watch a show about girls and their rise to fame.
Don't Watch If If you need some good old fashioned testosterone in your anime. If you are looking for a realistic take on idols and their rise to fame. If you are looking for something to watch with other people.(unless you have incredibly nerdy friends in which case go ahead and ignore this.)
No. 6 Animated by Bones
Premise Our first two episodes follow a boy who starts off as one of the elite, only to be striped of his rights after aiding a fugitive.
My Thoughts Gorgeous animation! Bones knocked this one out of the park! This show is one to watch if only for visuals. There is also a strong sense of intrigue that helps to add some flavor as our main character goes about discovering the reality of the dystopia he has been living in.
My Verdict? Excited Despite some awkward yaoi vibes I really liked the first few episodes. This show is one to watch this season.
Watch If If you like awesome animation. If you like science fiction. If you like futuristic societies.
Don't Watch If If you are turned off by yaoi undertones. If you don't like science fiction. If you don't like dystopian settings.
Penguin Drum Animated by Brains Base
Premise Magical Zombie Penguin Girl Initiate survival strategy! In all seriousness girl dies is later resurrected by a penguin hat and her brothers are told to find the penguin drum or she will die again.(seriously)
My Thoughts Uh what? I really don't know what is going on with this anime but then that is most of the charm it has shown us so far. While it is true that stellar animation and high expectations are carrying this show, I can't help but give in an allow myself to expect good things from it. I highly recommend this to anyone who hasn't give it a shot yet.
My Verdict? Excited Not easy to write about or make sense of but good, Watch it!
Watch If If you like awesome animation. If you like Brains Base. If you are cool with a plot that does not make a lick of sense.
Don't Watch If If you want to make sense of your anime. If you passionately hate penguins. If slightly incestuous vibes turn you off.
Usagi Drop Animated by Production I.G
Premise A man adopts a young girl after his grandfather dies leaving her alone.
My Thoughts I have enjoyed the first few episodes. This anime has a very slow slice of life feel about it that I can appreciate. That said I feel it may be a bit too slow and it did leave me somewhat bored at times.
My Verdict? Enjoyed I enjoyed this show but could just as easily drop it and forget about it as I could keep up.
Watch If If you want to see a 30 year old single man raise a child. If you like heartwarming slice of life or drama that resembles slice of life. If you are looking for something a bit more mature then what you might expect from your average anime.
Don't Watch If If you don't like slow paced anime. If you could care less about a single parent raising a child. If you are hoping for this to fulfill your desire for a Yotsuba Anime. (I am just going to assume that everyone here has this desire.)
Uta No Prince-sama Animated by A-1 Pictures
Premise Girl goes to music school to become a composer, gains male harem.
My Thoughts I am not the target audience for this and I know that. That said as someone outside the target audience I found it to be incredibly bland. I feel as though I have seen everything this show has to offer before and really don't even watch reverse harem in general.
The number one thing I find myself looking for in harem reverse or otherwise is humor. Sometimes a harem will have more then that or even define itself more strongly with something else. However I expect at least that much from a harem and Uta No Prince-sama fell flat in my opinion.
My Verdict? Hated Not painful to watch but sinfully boring.
Watch If If you love reverse harem. If you like watching cute boys do cute things. If you love music and musical themes.
Don't Watch If If you don't like reverse harem. If you don't like cute boys who do cute things. If you are outside the target audience.
Yuru Yuri Animated by Dogakobo
Premise Cute girls do cute and often funny things at school with yuri overtones.
My Thoughts For the first few minute of this anime I thought I was watching another A-Channel. By the end of the first episode I found that this show had a great sense of humor and that it is very self aware, wasting no time in making fun of its own characters and stereotypes. Hardly a must watch for this season but something I personally have very much enjoyed. For anyone looking for a place to get your next cute girls do cute things in a cute way fix this is it.
Of note something I think is worth pointing out. This show is far less ecchi then I was expecting. Plenty of hinting at ecchi things and no lack of yuri overtones but very little in the way of actually showing skin. So far I don't think we have seen a single panty shot!(I won't guarantee this though as I have to admit I am close to immune to such things at this point)
My Verdict? Excited I loved this shows self aware sense of humor. One of the funniest additions of the new season in my opinion.
Watch If If you like to see cute girls doing cute things. If you like school comedy. If you like blatantly yuri overtones.
Don't Watch If If you don't like yuri overtones. If you are tired of watching cute girls do cute things in a cute way. If you don't like the sexual deviant character type.
Ikoku Meiro no Croisée Animated by Satelight
Premise Yune is a 13 year old Japanese girl from the 1800s who travels to France to live with a metal worker named Claude. Culture shock portrayed in a very laid back slice of life fashion dominates the first two episodes.
My Thoughts Crazy language antics hold this show back. There is a narrator who sounds French enough to me but Claude can't seem to differentiate French from English when he teaches words to Yune. Language antics aside though I very much enjoyed the first two episodes. I would compare this to Aria for anyone who has watched it. IkokuMeiro's best comes out as a heartwarming slice of life that moves at it's own slow pace. Pretty visuals dominate the screen and Yune is a very cute easy to like character.
My Verdict? Excited I don't know if this show will live up to the Aria vibes it has given off in the first two episodes but it has earned my attention. This might be something that many will find boring but for myself and those who like this type of anime I expect it will be a real treat to watch.
Watch If If you like slow paced slice of life anime. If you are interested in 19th century France. If you liked Aria or Tamayura.
Don't Watch If If you can't tolerate distracting language issues. If you find slow paced slice of life anime boring. If you could care less for France and metal working.
Blade Animated by Madhouse
Premise Blade is a Daywalker, his mother was bit by a vampire before he was born. She died because of the bite and Blade is seeking revenge from the vampire who killed her, Deacon Frost.
My Thoughts I honestly know very little about Blade and perhaps because of that found this rendition to be an acceptable take on the character. Of the 4 Marvel Anime's Madhouse has made this one strikes me as being their strongest entry. However I still feel like it is considerably lacking in a few ways. The majority of the action isn't very exciting and the animation feels stiff in the same way the rest of the Marvel anime has. But I can't call this an abomination in the same sense that Iron Man was either.
My Verdict? Enjoyed This is a watchable show. Not the highest quality stuff around but I managed to enjoy the first two episodes despite some major flaws. I don't expect to watch any more of it myself but I would recommend any Marvel and or Blade fans out there to give it a shot. It might surprise you.
Watch If If you like Marvel. If you like vampire hunters. If you don't need high quality animation to enjoy your action.
Don't Watch If If you don't like Marvel or vampire hunters. If are looking for high quality animation. If you still haven't forgiven Madhouse for their last 3 attempts. (better and watchable doesn't necessarily mean good.)
Ro-Kyu-Bu! Animated by Studio Blanc
Premise Subaru is high school basketball wiz who's club activities have been suspended after some circumstance involving the coaches eleven year old daughter. He is asked to become the coach for a team of elementary age schoolgirls. At first he is reluctant however after seeing great potential in one of the girls he decides to do everything he can to help them.
My Thoughts The first episode can only be described as awful, garbage even. The cast is introduced as being a team full of girls who with one exception know little to nothing about basketball. One of the girls who is taller then the rest is told to guard the net because of her natural advantage and breaks down crying only to be revealed as having developmental issues afterwards. And let us not forget the shower scene. Personally I believe that there is a clear line between characters and real people and am not bothered by such a thing to any strong degree but that said it's not what I want to take out this show either.
Episode 2 pulled a 360 on me and focused in on Tomoka and some drama from her past playing basketball with her old school. Proving that this show has a little more going for it then I initially experienced. I am not sure that it was enough to save this from the monstrosity that was episode 1 but I am glad that I watched the second episode as I did enjoy it.
My Verdict? Enjoyed The anime was lacking and the art style feels inconsistent but the focus added in the second episode pulled it far above it's debut and made it into something that I might be able to enjoy on a weekly basis if the lolicon ecchi is not piled on too thickly.
Watch If If you like basketball. If you enjoy or can at least tolerate obvious lolicon material. If you like rooting for the underdog.
Don't Watch If If you don't like or can't tolerate lolicon and or the sexual deviant character types. If you don't like sports. If you don't like stupid characters.(one is even said to be developmentally challenged.)
Sacred Seven Animated by Sunrise
Premise Stones have fallen from space and granted powers to the people who have found them. Aruma our protagonist has lost his stone and his power can only go berserk and harm people. Ruri is an incredibly wealthy girl who has a stone of her own which she uses to save Aruma and bring his power under control in order to recruit him in her fight against the Darkstones.
My Thoughts The main character is a bit boring, but Ruri and the side cast prove to be interesting enough to make up for it. The real draw here is the action. The action sequences look great and are wonderfully animated. I can't say much for the plot but it serves it's purpose and keeps the action coming at us. Something that might grow old but for now is good enough to carry this show.
My Verdict? Enjoyed While I am not personally the biggest fan of this genre I love to watch good animation, something Sunrise has done a good job with in these first few episodes. I see myself continuing to watch this for now. At least until the magic of how good it all looks wears off.
Watch If If you like Power Rangers or similar things. If you like high quality action sequences. If you like to watch air surfing Eureka Seven style.
Don't Watch If If you don't like action oriented shows where the action has more personality then the main character could ever hope to achieve. If you don't like Power Ranger like plot lines and the tropes that come with them. If you don't like mecha. (the mecha take a backseat role so far but they do exist.)