Sunday, April 08, 2012

Anime -- 2011 in review (part 2)

Continued from last year

One of the potentially interesting things that happened last year was ANN's launch of the anime-on-demand streaming site, which opted not to have the advertising supported option that Crunchyroll does. Alas, the player they used still stuttered and juddered (losing a few seconds' video), and often crashed each time there would have been a commercial break -- and also had a splash page telling us that the advertising revenue supported the original creators.

And, whatever else you might say about Crunchy, at least they announce what they've got early, release on a timely basis, rather than leaving it a month after a series aired to offer the last three episodes, or a month into the quarter before putting up a single new series.

So, what did I watch from last year... A lot of duds, mostly.

Winter season


Hourou Musuko, another adaptation from the same mangaka as Aoi Hana, was dull, worthy, and totally blew my suspension of disbelief in how it depicted 12 year old kids (having been one once, I sorta know about that). Dropped after 5 episodes.

Gosick started as a Ruritanian fantasy -- a Japanese boy studying in a school in some 1920s central European principality meets a mysterious girl who seems to live at the top of the library tower and solves mysteries. As is the way of these things, when it was episodic, it was fine, but then it grew a plot with little foreshadowing, and was suddenly about alchemists and the murder of the late Princess and court politics, which the schoolboy protagonist had no sight of. And the last couple of episodes just went over the top, culminating in major fast-forwarding with no real sense of what was going on. Japan just doesn't into endings, again.



Level E was the best series of the quarter, nearly the best of the year. A sort of Men in Black, the anime, following the arrival of a trickster alien prince on Earth along with handlers striving desperately to avoid setting off an interstellar incident. For once, a humorous series was actually funny.


Spring season


Tiger & Bunny -- corporate sponsored superheroes in sorta-New York, only with Japanese corporate advertising over their costumes; and played as a buddy movie with long-time hero Wild Tiger and rookie Barnaby "Bunny" Brooks Jr. as the main team, plus a supporting cast of other heroes, all competing for points in live-televised crime busting. It reached a sort of climax about halfway through when a major menace with some apparent connection to Bunny's mysterious past was defeated, and then was still noodling around when a-o-d ran out on me when I'd only got to the 3/4 mark, and I really didn't miss it.

Battle Girls : Time Paradox is not Sengoku Basara with girls, but is alas much sillier. Dropped after 4 episodes. If only Hyouge Mono had been picked up instead.

Steins;Gate was another early drop -- annoying characters, and the prospect of it turning into an alternate reality multiple choice harem were enough.

[C] : The Money of Soul and Possibility Control -- a somewhat topical short "shout out your attacks" battle series with a financial theme. Generally harmless fluff trying to be a bit serious; made a little bit unsettling by watching when it seemed like there might be imminent waves of [C] emanating from the Southern European Financial District.


Summer season


Natsume Yuujincho San -- haven't finished this yet.

Yuru Yuri -- insubstantial. One episode was more than enough

Kamisama Dolls -- the preview looked like it might be Narutaru v2, but alas all that bit seemed to be over in the first 2/3 of the first episode, and it looked like settling down into sophomore hijinks what with an annoying little sister and a Haruhi-wannabe science club president. Dropped after 3 episodes.

The Mystic Archives of Dantalian looked a bit like Gosick at the outset -- mid 1920s setting in England, where ex-RFC pilot Hugh Anthony Disward comes into his inheritance and finds the ancestral pile comes with goth-loli biblioprincess in amongst the mouldering tomes. He is refreshingly competent in their episodic adventures with Forbidden Books That Should Not Be, as one might expect of a gentleman adventurer.

Alas, when the last episodes finally came through, the final two turned out to be a multi-parter that would introduce the Plot. And then it ended, unresolved, in a rather rushed fashion.


Autumn season


Fate/Zero -- I saw the first double length episode and was underwhelmed.


Chihayafuru -- haven't finished this yet, but anime of the year.

Un-Go -- a sort of Ghost in the Shell plus future disaster stricken Japan setting, using old mystery story plots in a modern guise. The first three episodes were OK, but not enough to make me want to go out and pay a quarter's a-o-d subscription for by itself, when I was watching about as much as I could fit in from Crunchyroll anyway.



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