A Seasonal Review: Spring 2011

I’m a bit late due to my trip, but better late than never. I’ve loosely ranked this past season’s show’s below, starting with the worst and ending with the best. I’m only including TV series that I watched past the first episode. Overall, I think it was a pretty decent season. There were the usual disasters, but we had a good crop of shows on the other side of the spectrum as well.

25. Sengoku Otome: Momoiro Paradox (dropped)
It’s like Koihime Musou but in the Sengoku period and with some half-assed attempt at time travel. It also somehow manages to be even more boring than Koihime Musou.

24. Hoshizora e Kakaro Hashi – 4.5
The unbelievably generic galge adaptation of the season. This series represents everything I hate about anime.

23. Maria-Holic Alive (haven’t finished)
Another SHAFT sequel. Why do they keep pumping these out? I can’t think of a single one that has been half decent. Even Zetsubou-sensei and ef had crappy sequels. Why do they even try? It doesn’t help that the original season wasn’t all that great either.

22. A-Channel (haven’t finished)
I want to like this, I do… but it just hasn’t really clicked for me. A-Channel is all about cute girls doing cute things, but it just lacks the charm and polish that K-On had. The animation may be part of the problem – if your anime is about cute girls, I feel like you should at least have them look human, not with humongous heads. Although it works in Himawari Sketch, so… maybe it’s just this particular style. I’m about halfway though with A-Channel, and I intend to finish it eventually.

21. Dororon Enma-kun Meramera (haven’t finished)
I actually liked the first few episodes of this, but kind of forgot about it. The toilet humor just isn’t my favorite thing. I will finish it eventually though.

20. Astarotte no Omocha – 6.0
Had an interesting premise, but devolved into a stereotypical harem. The execution was solid, if uninspired, but the idea of a romance between a stepfather and an (unknowing) stepdaughter is too much for me.

19. Hidan no Aria – 6.0
The latest installment of Shakugan no Shana. Aria is one of the more annoying Rie Kugimiya characters. I’d rank her right below Rose from Dragon Crisis. The plot is a mess, and they don’t do a very good job at fitting everything in the limited amount of time of a single season. On the brighter side, Kinji isn’t too bad for a protagonist, and Riko is fairly entertaining.

18. Dog Days – 6.25
I’ll admit, I was extremely disappointed by how Dog Days turned out. Granted, it had one of the dumbest premises imaginable, but in the first few episodes it managed to not take itself too seriously and have a lot of fun. The initial wars, the economics of war, petting and playing catch were all good fun. Eclair is win. But after the first few episodes, the creators tried to make us take this ridiculous world seriously, and failed miserably. No one thought for a moment that the princess would die, or cared about her and Shinku’s love story. This also suffered from poor direction and wasted time. Were two episodes of Shinku saying goodbye really necessary? And the characters waste so much time exchanging pleasantries.

17. Hen Zemi – 6.5
It was entertaining, but didn’t have the “charm” of the OVA. Most of the entertainment value from this show comes from throwing all social norms out the window, and this was beginning to get old towards the end. Going with half length episodes was an excellent decision.

16. The World God Only Knows II – 6.5
Somehow this adaptation just doesn’t succeed at capturing the humor of the manga. They spend too much time on each girl, and actually try to take each of their stories seriously (they even take Elsie seriously, whose only use in the manga was drooling over fire trucks). I enjoy the manga because of Keima, not because of his captures. The anime has wandered too close to the galge adaptations it was meant to parody.

15. C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control – 6.75
A creative setting that was wasted on an incoherent plot. They try to use economics terms, but it’s just gibberish, and they make up the rules of the world as they go along. The creators really didn’t seem to know where they were headed. And the lead characters were annoying.

14. 30-sai no Token Haiiku – 7.0
30-sai isn’t going to make anyone’s favorite list, but it was a solid comedy. The short episode length helped it retain interest, and the characters were memorable. For a show about helping people lose their virginity, it has its head in the gutter surprisingly little.

13. Gintama’ (still airing)
The continuation of Gintama has picked up again after the downward spiral at the end of the first airing. The thing with these episodes though is that they are hit or miss. The Otose arc and the more serious parts were great, but I do feel that the comedy isn’t quite at the level of the first 100 episodes. That’s a tough standard to meet though.

12. Softenni – 7.25
Softenni is fanservice done right. The show’s ridiculous sense of humor is hilarious even without the fanservice. And with some brazen and ridiculous fanservice on top of that it’s only better. Oh, and the national champion helps too. She needs her own show.

11. Ao no Exorcist (still airing)
Ao no Exorcist is a solid shounen series. It has some good characterizations and a promising setting. The problem that I see is one that befalls most shounen shows: the plot is moving at a snail’s pace. They’ve been training at school for the entire first season, and the only true villain we’ve seen so far is Satan, who hasn’t even appeared since the first episode.

10. Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko – 7.75
Shaft’s moeblob offering for the season. If you like cute girls being cute you’ll like this one. I’m ambivalent. I find most of the characters to be a bit on the obnoxious side. The production is excellent, however.

9. Deadman Wonderland – 8.25
This has a beautifully dark setting, with a plot and action scenes that keep you on the edge of your seat. My main complaint is that the main character is downright pathetic, and remains so even in this terribly dark and deadly setting.

8. Tiger and Bunny (still airing)
So far, I’ve been quite impressed with Tiger and Bunny. It takes the superhero genre and turns it into a competition (which raises some interesting ethical questions). I love Kotetsu, because he certainly isn’t your usual high school boy protagonist- he even has a daughter. And his relationship with Bunny is quite dynamic. This series also does well at mixing the serious and non-serious moments. My biggest complaint is that the first season’s villains left much to be desired. Except for the midboss, they never seemed like much of a threat. And the midboss turned into an anticlimax of sorts.

7. Ore Tachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai – 8.5
One of the best galge adaptations that has come out in a long time (if not ever). Usually in these kind of things the male lead is pathetically weak, but here the lead male(s) are even more interesting than their female counterparts. The humor and the fanservice are excellent as well. The first episode is awful though, you may want to skip it.

6. Gosick – 8.0
Gosick’s first season was mediocre, but the second season was great. So my overall rating isn’t particularly reflective of how it was for this season, which this list is ordered by.  We had an adventure story with some mystery, which was both grand and endearing. It helped that Kujo finally gained some minimum level of intelligence after the first season.

5. Nichijou (still airing)
The funniest show of the season, it made me laugh out loud every week. It’s just so over the top ridiculous. Half the fun is seeing what kind of insane overreaction Yuuko and Mio will do next. That cube skit was legendary. I don’t like the segments with Nano and Hakase quite as much as the school segments, but with Nano going to school now, this won’t be an issue for the second season.

4. Hanasaku Iroha (still airing)
Sometimes Hanasaku Iroha will have you sitting on the edge of your seat with its drama. At other times it will have you laughing out loud. And sometimes you’ll be HNNGing over how cute it is. It’s a jack of many trades, and honestly it’s pretty darn good at all of them.

3. Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Boku-tachi wa Mada Shiranai – 9.25
Ano Hana was the best straight-up drama of the season. It’s quite the tearjerker, and has some of the best characters of the season. Bring tissues. The final episode was a bit of a let-down, however.

2. Hyouge Mono (still airing)
A show about drinking tea. This is one of the most manly shows I have ever seen. If you haven’t watched it, do so now. The only  reason I’m not blogging it is because of the slow (but steady) subbing. (a big huzzah to the subbers!)

1. Stein’s; Gate (still airing)
Time travel, conspiracy theories, mad scientists, evil laughter, smooth and entertaining banter. What more could I ask for?

Feel welcome to share your thoughts on the past season’s shows in the comments.

18 thoughts on “A Seasonal Review: Spring 2011

  1. Now that I think about it, there were a boatload of shows last season. I sometimes get lost thinking about the fact that I actually watched most of them.

  2. Ironically, I didn’t follow up on any of the shows on this list (Hansaku Iroha and Anohana aren’t bad, but they’re not my taste) and instead followed up on one of the shows you don’t watch, Sket Dance. And in case you were wondering, the only reason I stuck with the show is because I read and like the manga, so I knew there was more beyond that crappy first episode (which was adapted pretty badly).

    While the comedy is still pretty hit and miss, I really like the characters. Especially the mains, as they’re not as stereotypical as they appear to be.

    1. I dropped Sket Dance because as you say, the first episode wasn’t very impressive. If it picks up I may have to give it another chance.

  3. No love for A-Channel?

    This isn’t normally the type of series that I like, but I thought it did well for what it was. K-On! is the obvious comparison and while I agree it wasn’t as entertaining, it served another purpose that puts it in a category all to itself.

    Props to A-Channel for extolling to values of friendship and trust over sex and…well, sex. It’s nice to see a series targeted at a vulnerable demographic carrying a positive message.

    A-Channel hints at yuri, but I think it’s ambiguous. I think this is a series where you take away what you want and enjoy it either way.

    Right now I only watch anime from genres that interest me. Steins and Hyouge were skipped over mostly due to time, but I think I might pick them up when I get a chance.

    1. I’ve only gotten about halfway through A-Channel, but it just hasn’t really drawn me in. It’s the kind of thing where I want to like it, but never feel like actually watching it, if that makes any sense. I don’t think they’ve talked much about sex yet, maybe this part comes later. It is ambiguous, but I think at some level I actually want the yuri. 🙂

      1. The problem is there’s almost no humor in A-Channel. Maybe 4-5 good jokes in 12 episodes. Compare to K-ON! and Nichijou…

  4. I couldn’t give Ano Hi Mita Hana any more than a 7/10 The problems here are hand-waved because it’s a big melodrama. But the annoying Menma and corny ending are negatives, IMO. Plus, there are some plot holes/questions even after the end. It’s a tearjerker, but there are definitely a couple issues.

    It’s an all right series. But 0.75 away from being perfect?

    Also, I like the high ranking of Oretachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai. Navel makes great character designs, and this huge cast is pretty awesome with a bunch of great anime girls there. Great dialogue too. I wish it were longer though…

    1. I totally agree that there are some issues, but I found Ano Hana pretty great overall. I wouldn’t read too much into my scale, for me, 0.75 is a long way from perfect. I think of it as being logarithmic: so the difference between 7.25 and 8.0 is much much smaller than the difference between a 9.25 and 10.0.

      And Oretachi was great. I’m still kind of surprised about that.

      1. Yeah that ending kind of ruined the series for me.

        I mentioned this on an earlier review, but was Ano Hana a sci-fi ghost story or a emotional story about coping with loss? After watching the ending, it seemed more like a ghost story and that took a lot away from the anime in my mind.

        It’s actually frustrating to think about. I’ve never seen an ending take so much away from a story!

        1. I totally agree that the ending (just the very last episode) was the worst part. For me it wasn’t bad enough to ruin the rest though.

          1. Maybe the ending isn’t too bad actually. She could have been resurrected Clannad-style! That’d be 100x worse than what really happened.

            I think the show’s good, just not great.

      2. That’s fair. AnoHana is probably well above-average in the genre (drama/tearjerker). EF a tale of memories and a few others are a lot worse. Fans of the genre are sure to love AHMH.

  5. Have you seen Kaiji? (Sorry if I asked you already). It’s an awesome thriller. Best to start with Season 1, but it’s well worth it. Season 2 is airing now.

    1. No, I haven’t seen the first season. It’s on my to do list now, hopefully I will get to it soon. Thanks for the suggestion!

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