Anime Spring 2009 Opinionated Guide

16 04 2009

Heya readers!  It’s been a while since I last wrote something, so I came up with writing this cliche post :P.  A lot of people have written similar things, but I finally felt like contributing my own two cents on the matter.  There’s a lot of anime that airs on Japanese TV and unfortunately that also means there’s a lot of crap.  Hopefully my recommendations will resonate with some and save you some time sifting through the garbage.  I’m passing over OVAs for this, because they are simply too hard to keep track of sometimes.

I know Miku is not in an anime, but here's to hoping :P

I know Miku is not in an anime, but here's to hoping 😛

To make a short introduction to the uninitiated, Japanese TV, not just anime, is split into 4 TV seasons like the real season.  Series always air on consecutive weeks, so none of the garbage that North American TV pulls with fillers, reruns, and terribly inconvenient times to unveil new episodes.  A typical series for a drama or anime is 12 episodes long.  Sometimes if the anime is popular it can span 24-26 episodes depending on when it started airing during the season, which corresponds to 2 seasons or about 8 months.  Some REALLY mainstay like Gundam can last for an entire year, which makes them 50-52 episodes long.  Finally, there’s the series like Doraemon, Detective Conan (Case Closed in North America), Naruto, Bleach, etc. which only end when their popularity wanes.  I think we’re in the thousands for Doraemon and around 600 for Detective Conan :P.

Anime for the most part is not main stream either.  The typical window for anime airing is after 1:30AM until about 3:30AM, which means most people are either stuck recording or buying DVDs.  Or they could be irresponsible like me and just stay up to watch it.

We’re about two episodes into the new season and we now have a pretty good idea what to expect.  To try and help everyone involved out I’m going to split the anime into 3 groups based on my own personal preference: The Good, The ones I like but really aren’t good for most, and the bad.  The list is by no means complete, especially for the BAD :P.  Most of these pictures are stolen from google image search, since I was somewhat lazy to take my own caps.

The Good!

K-ON!

K-ON!  The anime that’s been making HUGE waves in both the Japanese and Western anime community.  In my opinion, this is a spiritual successor to Lucky Star since the 4 characters that are in the show essentially fill in the same archtypes.  That said, it’s a little more story driven and the 2 episodes so far have been nothing but pure fun.  It’s not Lucky Star 2 and you will find yourself disappointed if that’s what you’re looking for.  However, if you’re looking for a funny, light hearted drama about school life, with a huge dose of MOE 萌え! This is your show.

Who's your pick?  みおを触るな!

Who's your pick? みおを触るな!

Senjou no Valkyria (Valkyria Chronicles)

Valkyria Chronicles was a game that I wanted to play extremely badly, yet I never had the chance to own a PS3 :(.  The anime brings together the story moments from the game, and the anime carries the same shaded look as the game, which means it looks great.  The story itself is a fantasy retelling of World War II’s Western Front, but don’t worry it isn’t stale at all.  So far, a number of people who have watched it have been moaning about the tactics in use, but I found them quite reasonable though not entirely realistic.  If you’re looking for some action, drama, and a dash of romance, I really recommend this.

Alice <3.  A female protagonist strong enough to make the show worthwhile.

Alice <3. A female protagonist strong enough to make the show worthwhile.

Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Ah… the most hyped show of the season.  For those who are FMA fans, this is a no brainer.  For those who are not, please watch it.  I swore not to watch this ever because I am opposed to the milking of franchises, but enough friends convinced me to watch it.  So I did watch it, and now I recommend it.  I honestly was expecting Bones to keep the first half of the series the same as the first one with only minor edits, and then change the second half of the show to be more in agreement with the manga.  I was wrong, the whole show has been reworked and it is entirely new material.  The first series suffered from god awful pacing near the middle.  It’s too early to tell from this one, but the series has had a great start.  The only real complaint I have is the change in Roy Mustang’s voice, I can’t help but see Lockon Stratos every time he talks.

Ah... My EYES!!! 目が!!!!!

Ah... My EYES!!! 目が!!!!!

Shangri’la

Ah Gonzo, how you have failed over the years and are now near death….  However, Shangri’la looks like a step in the right direction.  I swear Gonzo took a leaf out of Al Gore’s political agenda when reading this, environmental disaster, global warming, flooding, o and of course Kyoto carbon credits.  It sounds lame on paper, but actually comes together to create a very unique setting that I don’t think I have seen before (and I’ve seen a lot of anime).  The backgrounds are a feast for the eyes, and so is the action.  Gonzo has always been well known for pretty anime that turns out extremely boring (Last Exile anyone?), but this time they seem to have been able to put the two together to make a good offering.  Gonzo series are also known for tanking in the middle… too bad we won’t know for sure until we get there though :(.  O and the OP is sung by May’n of Macross Frontier fame, awesome!  Until then, watch this!

W00t, I want that boomerang

W00t, I want that boomerang

Candy Boy Ep 6

This show is a short online series that has new 10 minute long episodes every few months, so technically not in the same category as the others I am recommending.  It’s also kind of incesty yuri type of thing, but if you look past that, it’s actually quite a heart-warming series.  Besides, it’s 10 minutes long 😛  It won’t be a huge waste of time.

Wah.. I can't believe I recommended a Yuri show

Wah.. I can't believe I recommended a Yuri show

Asura Cryin

An interesting, vivid anime with an hectic pace.  I’m not quite sure why I like it so much, but even after 2 episodes I can’t wait until the next episode.  Haha what a weak recommendation.  I don’t know what to say about it, other than please give it a shot.

Wah Heterochromia!

Wah Heterochromia!

Hayate no Gotoku Season 2

H!I!N!A! Hinagiku HAI HAI!  At it’s core it really is a very typical harem anime.  However, it’s driven by some ridiculous personalities and equally ridiculous situations.  Ranging from the ungodly rich Sanzenin Nagi to the absolutely adorable Katsura Hinagiku and packed with a huge number of anime parodies, you’re missing out if you don’t watch it.  The first season was done by SynergySP and was largely original material which was somewhat lacking.  The second season is by JCStaff who seems to be fairly loyal to the manga this time around.  WATCH IT!

Sengoku Basara

Senseless fighting anime that is absolutely hillarious.  It’s loosely based on the warring states period between a number of samurai led states, eventually culminating Oda Nobunaga’s victory and his crowning of Shogun.  The action is over the top and the gags definitely made me laugh out loud.  Not a whole lot of substance, but an extremely fun ride every episode 😛 and that’s what matters!

Wah.. it's Democrat vs Republican!

It's Democrat vs Republican! I vote for BLUE

The Stuff I like but not necessarily Good for Everyone

Basquach!

Ok I confess, this anime is completely lame.  Robots playing extreme basketball with about the lamest lead ever introduced to the face of anime.  The reason why I like this anime is because it’s being created by Satelite studios, the same people who created Macross Frontier (which was great btw).   I’ll give Satelite at least that much of my time :P, but their next anime better be good.

Ugh, Satelite you can do better than this

Ugh, Satelite you can do better than this

Shinkyouku Soukai Polyphonica Crimson S

Most of you have probably never heard of this series.  There was actually a completely forgettable first season to this that happened around 4 or 5 years ago.  This new series is a complete remake that is trying to capatilize on the extensive series of Polyphonica light novels that have recently enjoyed a huge resurgence in popularity after their original publication many years ago.  The new anime is far better than the old one, though 12 episodes hardly seems enough episodes to tell a signifcant part of the lore which spans more than 12 light novels.  Unfortunately, this is also not getting properlyed subbed, so its likely never to get any traction in the English speaking audience.

Corticartes asserts her position as harem leader.

Corticartes asserts her position as harem leader.

Tayutama ~Kiss on my Deity~

MOE.  Nuff said.  It really is a merely just a decent adaptation of an eroge of the same name.  However, I like the heroines, so I usually end up staying the whole ride for these.  Well anyone else who finds them moe will likely join me, but this is definitely not meant for a western audience :P.  I doubt any of my readers would enjoy this either haha.

ev_kyo05

Saki

Mahjong anime… I wouldn’t even have given this a glance if it weren’t for Nodoka :P.  Apparently, not only does red bull give you wings Mahjong does too :P.  The anime does do it interestingly enough that I feel like learning the Japanese rule set though :).  I would recommend people take a look at it and see if it’s your cup of tea, it probably won’t be for most people though.

Excuse me.. why does Nodoka have wings from playing Mahjong?

Excuse me.. why does Nodoka have wings from playing Mahjong

The Bad

I don’t think I’m going to bother with pictures for these because of time constraints.  I might add them later for completeness sake though.

Queen’s Blade

A low budget, low quality production that attempts to draw an audience with uncensored boobies.  Japanese channel ATX is airing this undercensored, whereas the other channels are airing this censored.  The censoring is ridiculous though due to the amount of boobies flying around.  I wouldn’t mind if the series actually looked good, but it looks like budget hentai series through and through.  There is no story whatsoever, there are exploding boobs that shoot acidic milk….. and other stuff I would rather just not talk about.  Not even Kugimiya Rie + Hirano Aya could save this.

Pandora Hearts

*yawn*  Yet another terribly paced anime/manga that believes it is good because it pretentiously cites source material from well known literary sources.  The only redeeming quality is the Yuki Kajura music, but still falls far short of the bar of a good anime.

Hatsukoi Limited

This is an anime based on the manga created by the mangaka who drew Ichigo 100%.  Sounds good right?  Not quite.  If you consider that Shonen Jump cut this series after a woefully short 40ish chapters, there is clearly something wrong with the source material.  The anime is loyal to the manga and fails to acheive anything spectacular.  Misfiring on all cylinders, give this one a pass.

Tears to Tiara

Um.. standard hentai game -> anime adaptation.  I was expecting something along the same lines as utawarerumono, but sadly have been left bored to tears and utterly disappointed.

07-Ghost

Can anyone say generic???  Protagonist with special powers to make him more GAR than anyone else, check.  Protagonist with amnesia and murdered parents, check.  Suffers event that causes him to leave his surroundings and join an underground insurgency, check.  This anime screams generic to the point where you could predict the next episode without watching it.  Skip by all means.

Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~

People complain about stilted acting in movies and tv series, how about an anime with stilted acting :P.  Two episodes in, I still don’t know what is happening nor does the anime make me care at all.  Some generic crap about people getting their memories wiped and brain washed to become elite assassins to fight in a criminal underworld I think.  There is seriously no point to any of it.

Carry Overs from Last Season

Chrome Shelled Regios

Sora wo Kakeru Shoujo

Conclusion

There’s tons to watch this season, a little bit for everybody.  I realize I sort of got lost halfway while writing this, and it turned into a crappy opinion piece.  It also took me far longer than expected.  Oh well, since I wrote it I might as well post it.  I’ll try again for next season.  Hopefully, my opinions will resonate with somebody and help them find an anime that they haven’t seen yet!  What are your picks for the new season?  Really interested in hearing what other people like about the new  season.

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17 responses

17 04 2009
guorbatschow

mio is my waifu.

17 04 2009
robostrike

wow, the boomerang/bow from Shang’ri La makes me want to watch it. Mio’s awesome gothic lolita dress is truly just amazing (the only reason I like her out of the rest). Will look into FMA, though I am caught up to date w/ the manga. Thanks for your opinions ^_^

17 04 2009
Chris

Now *this* is the kind of “What To Watch This Season in Anime” post that is actually *helpful*… tells noobs like me (who’re used to having ‘season’ mean that vague time between fall and spring when networks occasionally show new shows) what’s meant by ‘season’ in this context, provides pictures for the relevant series and short summaries about what they are, and couches all opinions in ‘This is my opinion, feel free to ignore’ kind of language.

…maybe this happens elsewhere on the intarweeb, but in the forums I frequent, the threads quickly devolve into “I’m watching ‘Kono Anime wa Sugoi Desu’ but that’s only because Tanaka Miki is singing the ED” levels of post where occasionally the titles are even rendered in Japanese kana. If the purpose of the exercise is to *include* rather than *exclude* people, explaining to the lowest common denominator (me, though I have a leg up on others wrt kana, some terminology) is what you ought to do.

…not that I’m trying to gush. I’m just saying that this post makes me want to check out some of the new stuff (which I haven’t done in ages), where every other post of this kind has made me even more disappointed with the entire fan community that I used to be a part of.

17 04 2009
M

I LAUGHED WHEN YOU SAID MAHJONG GIVES YOU WINGS 😀

17 04 2009
bluemage

I think by now Mio has thousands of (illegitimate) husbands around the world, but this is nothing compared to the legion of fans who adore her.

But yeah I must thank you Aaron for recommending K-On! to me because I absolutely love it! And I agree with you wholeheartedly on the new FMA.

I’ve downloaded the first episode of Valkyria, but haven’t gotten around to watching it yet. I think I’ll give it a try this weekend, though I do hope that I won’t be driven to watch it solely because of Alicia. ^_^

Shangri’la looks interesting, though I’ll probably pass on that for now because I’m still trying to catch up on some older series (like Toradora! X_X) Asura Cryin’, maybe later. Hayate 2, I haven’t seen the first so I don’t think I’ll be able to follow it. If you want to find some way of persuading me to pick it up though, then by all means try, because I really would watch it if I had already seen the first season.

Saki just makes me lol hard. Definitely a series that I won’t watch anytime soon, if ever. And I can’t even begin to describe how hard Queen’s Blade fails at everything.

Thanks for this post Aaron! I had a really great time reading it! So much laughter. =D

17 04 2009
bluemage

Oh and I don’t mean to double post but I really liked that Aria-like Miku and Rin picture for this post. =)

17 04 2009
Spring Anime & Games « WAWAWA 忘れ物

[…] checked this out already, haven’t you?  Many blogs I read have already posted about it in some way or another ^^;  I wasn’t really feeling the […]

18 04 2009
aaroninjapan09

guor: no man, can’t you read the caption! She’s mine!

Robostrike: I thought you said you were going to watch FMA 100%. Shangri’la is definitely awesome imo, i think you’d like it.

Chris: haha thanks so much for the comments :P. I like providing context whenever I write an article, I’m glad it helped you out :). I hope you manage to find a few series in this new season that you end up liking.

Bluemage: For hayate, it’s ok to watch the new season even if you haven’t seen the first season. It’s not like there was a whole lot of story in S1 to begin with. The manga is definitely worth a read though. There’s a lot of goodies this seasons, you need to get your act together and watch more!

Meronpan: Thanks for the pingback!

18 04 2009
YukiPhnx

i’m still watching anime from 2 seasons ago….i just can’t keep up with these =A=

18 04 2009
robostrike

So I started watching some of the new anime. Shangri’la seems okay, but I’ll drop it along with Asura Cryin’. Eden of the East is where I’m at now. So awesome with all the high tech designs from Production IG. That company never fails me.

I will only watch FMA when the citizens of the East appear in Amestris. That’s when all the cool looking action starts to take place.

18 04 2009
aaroninjapan09

Eh you’ll drop it? Why?

18 04 2009
meronpan

ah, so much to comment on, but i covered most of my thoughts on my post i suppose ^^;

looks like you have much more refined tastes than me ^^;; stick any cute character in front of me and i’ll probably watch an episode 😛 fan service heavy? same deal, i’ll just probably leave the episode running while i’m writing a post or something rather than devoting my undivided attention. ^^;

originally thought i’d overlook that shinkyouku.. soukai…whatever it was since i usually start with season 1 for new series, and didn’t feel like trying to dig around… though if it was pretty bad… maybe i’ll skip for once and dive in with this season’s run…

also just noticed i nabbed practically the same moment for the screenshot of asura cryin’ ^^;;

21 04 2009
Exyen

FMA did not have bad pacing…YOU ARE CRAZY!! Though new Mustang = Stratos is full of fail. Also Norio Wakamoto as Oda Nobunaga + HOT BLOODEDNESS = MASSIVE MASSIVE WIN.

21 04 2009
aaroninjapan09

Lol.. if I didn’t know you to be a real life buddy I would have sworn you were just some random flamebaiter :P.

FMA first season had horrible pacing. The first 25 episodes were great.. then it was *yawn* from 25-40. It picked up again from 40-50 which is where I started watching again. Ironically enough, that also turned out to be where the first anime deviated from the manga. The original material just wasn’t good enough.

21 04 2009
Lorfarius

I hope you wil be doing these write ups every year 🙂

1 05 2009
aaroninjapan09

😛 The anime season changes every 3 months, so I’ll be writing another one up for summer too in June/July.

10 08 2009
Naruto201

FMA = ownage

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