Someone tricked me into watching Macademi Wasshoi! Before the season even started, I dismissed the show out of general principle because of the promotional art and the hideous character design of the most prominently-featured character. Then some fiend said it was worth watching, and since Kawasumi Ayako is in it, the Ayako Doctrine convinced me Macademi Wasshoi! was at least worth a shot. I don't know how I made it through the first episode. It's God awful. It's worse than Cosprayers, easily. It might even be worse than Limeiro CROSS.
Autumn 2008 did not produce any stellar shows1, meaning there wasn't a Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu, Honey & Clover, Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann, or the like. There wasn't even a Lovely Complex. However, it did have some very solid titles and a few shows that demonstrated mid-series potential as they resume during the Winter 2009 season.
Final rankings for shows I watched this season follow:
Kannagi > Nodame Cantabile: Paris Chapter > Hyakko > Toradora! > Shikabane Hime: Aka > Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight OVA > One Outs | Dropped: Kemeko DX (4) > Kurozuka (4) > Akane-iro ni Somaru Saka (?) > Casshern Sins (1) > Mouryou no Hako (1) > Toaru Majutsu no Index (4) > Michiko to Hatchin (1) | Worse Than Cosprayers: Kiss x Sis (1) > Macademi Wasshoi (1).
Two big surprises this season. First, I had dismissed Kannagi based on its pre-season description, but it proved to be the cream of the crop. Second, I wasn't expecting to still be watching Shikabane Hime at this stage. Thankfully, it has kept shounen jive (e.g., too much standing around talking about powers instead of fighting) to a minimum. By the way, I totally called that Yui Horie twist even before I finished watching episode one, just so you know.
To give you an understanding as to how much I loathe shounen jive, bear in mind I dropped To Aru Majutsu no Index after episode four despite fully supporting the Shizuka Itou character's decision to wear half a pair of jeans with her kid sister's t-shirt. I just couldn't take any more speeches about Not Thinking About Other People's Feelings or any more boasting about fine nuances of Special Techniques and Powers. Criminy.
Many of the shows I dropped early on (for example, Casshern Sins) might actually be very good, but just didn't capture my interest. This is the same reason why I dropped Kaiba a couple seasons ago after watching no more than two episodes despite almost universal acclaim, for example.
Note 01: I'm not counting any of the Kara no Kyoukai movies as belonging to the Autumn 2008 season. Any of the films in this series would certainly qualify as stellar.
Last season, I started keeping track of the shows I watched and the shows I dropped. Current rankings of shows I've abandoned so far this season follow, with the last episode I watched in parentheses:
One Outs (14) > Sora wo Kakeru Shoujo (2) > Ride Back (4) > Kurokami The Animation (3) > Maria+Holic (2) > White Album (1) | Worse than Cosprayers: Akikan! (3) > Hetalia Axis Powers (3)
I dropped One Outs after episode 14 because it stopped being about steely-eyed gambling and started being about people overreacting to unremarkable events and commonplace baseball strategies. To pick up the slack, I started watching Major instead which turned out to be an excellent show about baseball and sometimes a good show about gambling, too. One Outs is still pretty entertaining, but you may have the same reaction I did depending on how much you know about baseball.
I dropped Sora wo Kakeru Shoujo after episode two, but I'm willing to start it back up if it turns out to have a My-HiME mid-point switch or if something otherwise extravagant happens. I'm still waiting.
I wanted to like Ride Back. I like ballet. I like motorcycles. And I thought I'd like ballerinas racing around on motorcycles, but Ride Back is just too stupid for a show that takes itself this seriously. It would be fine if it were more over the top or Gundamesque in its science/mecha balance, but because it tries to be mature or otherwise respectable, I can't stomach it anymore. I let it go when the narrator casually mentioned a band of terrorists took over the entire world, but the cop-out conclusion to the race in episode two soured the racing aspects for me and the positively ridiculous episode four aspects (e.g., the rescue attempt, the escape attempt, the being mistaken for terrorists, the shockingly poor marksmanship of the anti-terrorist terrorists—basically the entire episode, really) turned me away completely. I'm okay with people jumping through plate glass without getting cut. It's television. But I'm not okay with pandering when it is dishonest.
I thought the doppelganger stuff in Kurokami: The Animation was pretty interesting, and some of the fights looked good. I was also intrigued by the show's apparent willingness to kill off characters unexpectedly. However, all the characters appear to be idiots and/or useless. You could trade the lead guy for a sack of expired luncheon meat and come out ahead in the deal.
Maria+Holic just isn't very good. Maybe that doesn't matter if you have a thing for transvestites and lesbians, but I found it dull.
White Album has a very boring first episode (this coming from a guy who has re-watched the first episode of To Heart too many times to remember, mind you), and none of the characters seemed to have any charisma. I was ready to punch Male Protagonist in the face when bamboozled by his confusion between live television and pre-taped broadcasts for the second time in 20 minutes. Choke yourself, guy.
Akikan! is terrible, but I probably would have continued watching it as a goof were it not for that odious Grape character. See, this kind of pandering is okay because it's honest. But Grape's voice just sounds so bad.
Hetalia Axis Powers is offensive, but not for the reasons those Koreans sending death threats give. It is offensive because it fails so hard at being funny. When a five-minute show feels four-minutes too long, you've got problems. And how.
I dropped Shin Mazinger Z after three episodes. I want to watch this out of general principle, and it seems pretty good based on what I saw, but I guess I just don't get super robot shows.
I dropped Saki after two episodes because I don't know crap about mahjong so it confused the Bejeesus out of me. Also, too much pandering to fans of lesbianism. I'm okay with pandering under proper circumstances (see Hatsukoi Limited, for example), but I'm really tired of lesbians. I never did figure out what the deal was with the skirts, either.
I dropped Valkyria Chronicles after three episodes because every aspect of warfare, strategy, and tactics depicted is completely laughable. Seriously, it's horrible. It doesn't help that I don't like any of the characters except Isara. Someone commented this show was designed to get you to root for the Nazis, but they're idiots too. It's a pity they can't both lose this war.
I'll keep reading the Sea Slug Team's summaries, though, if Kabitzin doesn't drop it.
So far Isara is my favorite character because she can melee, aimbot, and drive a tank. I don’t know what Alicia is going to do if it turns out Isara is an awesome baker as well...
That is some good smack.
In a way, Valkyria Chronicles is almost worth watching just because it's so absurd. Think of Gundam set in 1939 with the Edelweiss standing in for the hero suit. Pity it's not enough.
I already explained why I can't stand K-On! and its saccharine moe blob filling. Understandably, it seems to be a polarizing show. I gave up after four episodes.
Shangri-La is offensively terrible. I dropped it after one episode and only finished that one out of general principle. The only things I like about it are the boomerangs. Seriously, you'd be hard pressed to make a show this bad on purpose. It falls below the Cosprayers Line. Really, it's only offensive because it attempts to push a socio-political agenda in such a juvenile manner. Maybe it's meant to be satirical, but I'm not sticking around to find out.
The Ayako Doctrine doesn't compel viewership, but it does compel consideration. In the case of Ookami-san, being the only source for Kawasumi Ayako in the summer of 2010, I stayed with the show too long. Granted, it had an amusing first episode, but that second episode was God awful—easily the single worst episode of anything I've seen this season. The third episode was actually a nice bit of storytelling with some parallels to the fable about the ugly duckling, and the fourth episode even focused primarily on Ayako's character, but it's not enough. I stayed with the show through five episodes—long enough to determine Ookami-san to Shichinin no Nakama-tachi just didn't have anything worth watching, even with the Kawasumi Ayako + Horie Yui + legs-that-go-up-to-her-neck trifecta. I'm done with it.
On the other hand, Asobi ni Iku yo! is amazing. Why didn't anyone tell me this show was actually good? I was sold when I found out the Girl Next Door was a crazy stalker. Also it has guns and cars. And swarming robots with "..." signs.
Summer 2010 wasn't an especially good season of anime:
Major season six > Asobi ni Iku yo! > Strike Witches 2 > Detective Conan (579-590) > Seitokai Yakuin Domo > Shiki (1-11) > Amagami SS (1-13) > Heartcatch Precure! (20-33) > Shukufuku no Campanella.
Dropped: Legend of the Legendary Heroes (1) | Worse than Cosprayers: Ookami-san to Shichinin no Nakama-tachi (5) > Mitsudomoe (1).
Major was easily my favorite show from summer 2010, although I felt the "yips" arc went on too long.
Asobi ni Iku yo! was a lot better than I was expecting. It stayed fun the whole way through, but I would have liked to see more of the evil-type Momiji. And they never explained what the deal was with her older younger sister.
To some degree, I enjoyed the second Strike Witches season more than the first one. Nevertheless, it really did feel like a re-hash of the first season.
Detective Conan is Detective Conan. I continue to enjoy it as I plow through the hundreds of unwatched episodes I have remaining. As you can see, I've long since realized there are no meaningful spoilers in Detective Conan, so I've started watching the currently airing episodes along with my backlog of older ones.
I really enjoyed Seitokai Yakuin Domo and its relentless stream of sex jokes and short jokes. It was probably funnier to native speakers, though; it's tough to adapt verbal comedy to different languages.
Shiki hit a long skid of tedious episodes, but the recent ones are quite good, especially if you enjoy hollering directions to idiot B-movie characters. E.g., "Don't go in there!"
Amagami SS is pure cheese. That said, I still look forward quite a bit to each new episode as Potato-kun attempts to trophy-love every girl in the school.
I'm still not a huge fan of Heartcatch Precure! but it is growing on me.
Shukufuku no Campanella kinda sucked, but all the scenes with the Tortilla sisters or Agnes made it worth it. Also, "ARMAGEDDON JA YO!"
I tried watching Legend of the Legendary Heroes which I figured would be tongue-in-cheek, but it wasn't very interesting. Dropped after one episode.
Now, two shows I not only dropped but considered to be, ahem, WORSE THAN COSPRAYERS: Ookami-san to Shichinin no Nakama-tachi was inexcusably terrible. How J.C. Staff fucked this up, I have no idea. I dragged my way through five episodes. Finally, I realize I'm in the minority in not enjoying Mitsudomoe, but the only thing I saw in the one episode I managed to watch was ugly children doing horrid things.
Despite my disdain for SHAFTXSHINBO, Mahou Shojo Madoka Magica (at least what I've seen of it so far, as the remaining episodes were pre-empted due to the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami—they're expected to air in a few days) is really good. [Update: The final two episodes did have some surprises. The rating remains unchanged.] Whether it's good in spite of SHAFTXSHINBO because of Kajiura Yuki and Urobuchi Gen isn't so much important as the fact that they took something which I had fully expected to be unconventional, made it so, and still managed to impress. Although I did not enjoy Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica nearly as much as its true fans did, it was still easily the best show I watched from winter 2011, admittedly not a very difficult feat when the runner up probably only placed as high as it did thanks to the Hanakana Distortion Field.
Infinite Stratos was by no stretch of the imagination a good show, but it was fun to watch. Curiously, it's often the male protagonist that makes or breaks harem comedies, not the bevy of girls themselves. Thankfully, Infinite Stratos does well on both fronts. Potato-kun is mostly unobjectionable, with neither an overpoweringly "strong sense of justice" nor a timid adversion to girls, the two most common flaws of the typical harem comedy putz.
Unfortunately, not having those two flaws means Potato-kun needs some other character flaw to be the excuse why he doesn't trophy
fuck love all the girls during the course of the show. In Ichika's case, he's a moron. It works out, though, because nearly every girl in his harem is also a moron. This is probably why Charles is so popular, as she's the only girl in the harem who is neither dumb nor crazy. Okay, she did pretend to be a very unconvincing boy for a while, but she gave that up after a few episodes, and the only reason other people bought that act is because the entire school is filled with complete idiots.
Anyway, Infinite Stratos was an amusing, harmless diversion and was pretty fun until it decided it needed a plot towards the end. Instead of the Final Battle against MacGuffin, they should have devoted the last three episodes to a footrace or an extended game of tag.
Kimi ni Todoke really took a dive with 2nd Season in my view and dipped below the Detective Conan Line during the middle episodes because it upset the precarious balance of misunderstandings and heartfulness. Basically the entire season dragged out due to terribly painful communication problems. It made me wish the show was about Ume instead, or maybe Yano falling in love with Pin. (It's not a spoiler, okay? It's right there in the OP!) Thankfully, Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season pulled itself together during the final three episodes. Pity the entire season couldn't be that good. Had it been, then Kimi ni Todoke Second Season would have been as good as, well, Kimi ni Todoke First Season.
Somewhat unexpectedly, finishing Kimi ni Todoke S2 makes me wish for a third season of Ai Yori Aoshi—one that follows the manga instead of jumping all over Creation. The final volumes of Ai Yori Aoshi really deserve a lot better than the lackluster impression the two inconsistent anime seasons left behind. They may have to animate Aoi's bra in the series climax with CGI, though. (Ha ha. "Climax.")
Viewers seem fairly divided on Fractale, particularly with regard to its ending. Much as I postulated when describing my early impressions of the show, the way I see it, there are two camps: Those that care about its pedigree and subsequently chose to watch Fractale critically, and those who just wanted to enjoy themselves because anime is still a hobby. That latter group likely enjoyed Nessa's turbo-genki moments quite a lot more, and even if there might be a Hanakana Distortion Field at work, they presumably enjoyed the show more as a whole.
This is not to say Fractale doesn't suffer from a host of problems. Personally, I felt all of the fighting and battle scenes were comically bad, and a lot of things (especially towards the end) didn't make any sense. I was also somewhat crestfallen to learn Phryne wasn't just acting stupid—she really was an idiot. It's because of these problems that I don't rank Fractale higher among the winter 2011 shows. Nevertheless, it was still pretty good overall, and including an audio cameo by Nausicaä herself towards the end to bookend the visual references from earlier in the season was pretty nice, even if I totally missed it.
Detective Conan is Detective Conan. As I mentioned before, Detective Conan is basically my control group when it comes to ranking shows. Each season of Detective Conan is about the same and typically as good as any of its myriad previous seasons. This remained true during winter 2011, although I would like to point out the "Tear Drops" OP totally messes with the heads of Shinichi + Ran 'shippers.
The end of Heartcatch Precure! was all right, even though Cure Blossom remained mostly useless. Probably the highlight for me was Cure Marine suckerpunching Kumojacky in the face on general principle before he could launch into an idiomatic, vaguely evil speech.
Suite Precure is decent, but nothing really special unless you care about voice actresses. Koshimizu Ami, Orikasa Fumiko, Toyoguchi Megumi, and Mitsuishi Kotono are all on board. In fact, I should probably check Danbooru for what I'm sure must be copious amounts of seiyuu_joke parody/crossover fan art.
I dropped Freezing not because it was exploitative, but because it was kinda retarded. I can't wait for the second season of Seikon no Qwaser, though. (No, seriously.)
I was intriqed by Ri♡ -Rainbow Gate!- because it was Highlander with card battles, but I think I lost interest after two episodes beause Rio's hair sucks.
Yumekui Merry didn't suck, but I dropped it after the first episode because I wasn't interested. I heard it gets better later, but I still suspect Merry might actually be a boy.
I dropped Wolverine after a single episode because it was God awful. Congratulations, Wolverine, you are easily WORSE THAN COSPRAYERS. All you need to know about the show is that in the first episode, a group of people flying around with jetpacks bent on attacking Wolverine with rifles decide to all fly close enough for him to gut them with his claws. Then later on Wolverine breaks one of Sir Isaac Newton's Laws of Motion. Look, I'm okay with his indestructible skeleton and canonical ability to regenerate from a single remaining drop of blood, but c'mon.
Final tally: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica > IS: Infinite Stratos > Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season > Fractale > Detective Conan > Heartcatch Precure! > Suite Precure | Dropped: Freezing > Ri♡ -Rainbow Gate!- > Yumekui Merry | WORSE THAN COSPRAYERS: Wolverine.
The best show I watched spring 2011 was Hanasaku Iroha. Consistently engaging, with characters I cared about and the high levels of animation quality I've come to expect from P.A. Works, I always looked forward to the next episode. I'm glad it's continuing for another cour in summer 2011. However, I initially thought Ohana would take an early lead in the race for Girl of the Year, but surprisingly she is thus far not in the running. In fact, it is scene-stealing Minko who is poised to garner the year-end nomination, provided she gets past Tomoe first, the current front runner for Hanasaku Iroha's Best Girl.
It almost doesn't feel as if Moshi Kōkō Yakyū no Joshi Manager ga Drakkā no “Management” o Yondara was part of spring 2011 because it ended so early. (Its 10 episodes aired during consecutive weeknights for two weeks at the start of spring 2011.) Accused early on of having low production values and an unengaging storyline, Moshidora's detractors mostly abandoned the series by the second episode. It's too bad, really, because Moshidora improved with nearly every episode, culminating in a satisfying finale that underscores the difference between anime based on juvenile or young adult "light" novels and anime based on books aimed at adults.
Detective Conan is as good as it ever was. In fact, it was better than usual this season. The long London arc in particular was a nice change of scenery. Minerva Glass was also a nice addition to the cast, although I suspect she will not be a recurring character. Many of her scenes reminded me of the old David Foster Wallace article "The String Theory." Be sure to read all the footnotes.
Suite Precure♪ suffered from weak-protagonist syndrome, but Hibiki and Kanade have mostly found their footing by now. I'm glad the show is drawing out its Cure Muse mystery, throwing out a number of red herrings regarding her identity and her role. This makes Toei only marginally better at protecting its properties from spoilers, though. Cure Beat's identity and details were widely known months in advance.
The second season of Seikon no Qwaser is not as good as the first. The difficulty comes in trying to live up to the predecessor's reputation or trying to surpass the first season's achievements. Along those lines, it was really only successful with episode 10. Probably developing its characters more would have served Qwaser II better.
I did not enjoy Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Boku-tachi wa Mada Shiranai nearly as much as most people seemed to have. Ano Hana had a huge following of emotionally invested fans. I found every character irritating, trite, juvenile, and overly melodramatic. It didn't help that Cross Game recently dealt with a similar theme in a far superior manner. (Haruka Tomatosauce, Anaru from Ano Hana, plays Aoba in Cross Game. You should give Cross Game a try if you haven't seen it already.) It also kinda bugged me how everyone's thick emo glasses developed side-view transparency so that they wouldn't obscure the characters' eyes in profile, but now I'm nitpicking.
I dropped X-Men even though I thought it was pretty good. I'm just waiting for the English dub, since the show seemed so western. I heard there's stunt casting for the English voices, though. Something about the cast of Heroes. I'm not really sure.
I sort of wanted to watch three episodes of Pretty Rhythm Aurora Dream to see what in Hell King in Prussia was talking about about, but the show is too awful. I could suffer through more if it had some redeeming qualities, but man, watching that crap is painful. Yes, Pretty Rhythm Aurora Dream is worse than Cosprayers. At least there weren't any live-action segments in the second episode.