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Dated 12 January 2009: The problem with Da Capo If: Junichi is still an ass clown

Kotori
Chiwassu!

I've insisted for a long time that Kotori deserves to be in a better show. The Shirakawa-centric Da Capo If OVA isn't exactly what I had in mind, but at least she does "win" in this alternate re-telling of the original Da Capo continuity.

Nemu
Walk it off, Nemu. You'll be all right.

As near as I can tell, Sakura kills Nemu in this version. (She had it coming, really.) We don't know for sure Sakura killed Nemu. Neither character appears in the first Da Capo If OVA. But if you're familiar with the end of the original Da Capo, you can get there from here.

Sakura
Sakura wouldn't kill anybody. She seems like a nice girl.

I said "wins" because a Kotori-Junichi pairing sounds like a lopsided relationship to me. When I said Kotori deserves to be in a better show, I meant one where she's a pop idol or a mecha pilot or racing through European countries trying to stop a serial killer. Ending up with Junichi isn't what I had in mind.

Sakura
Right?

You see, as far as I'm concerned, Junichi is still a cretin. He's not as bad as his D.C.S.S. counterpart, but he's not exactly a stand-up harem comedy protagonist, either. If's way of pretending he's a decent fellow is letting him get his shoes wet as Kotori very slowly and completely inexplicably falls over at the beach. I wasn't aware she had an inner ear disorder.

Sakura
I said, "RIGHT?"

But that's Da Capo for you. Its cast is still a menagerie of twits, so I shouldn't be surprised the franchise can't get Kotori and Junichi together without trying to bring her down to his level. Kotori is still a total sweetheart, but she's definitely throwing her life away for no good reason.

Nemu
Nemu and Junichi really did deserve each other.

In other news, I've started watching the original Da Capo series backwards. That is, after If 01, I went back and re-watched Da Capo 26, then episode 25, et cetera. I'm not sure why I'm bothering, since it's clearly a complete waste of time. It's a mildly amusing exercise so far, but I can't promise I won't abandon the endeavor altogether once the Winter 2009 season hits its stride in earnest.

Dated 21 January 2009: Watching Da Capo backwards is fraught with peril

Kotori
Kotori is pretty upbeat for a girl surrounded by twits.

As I mentioned at the end of this entry, I am sort of half-ass re-watching the first Da Capo anime in reverse order. Mostly this is just confusing since I've forgotten a lot of the smaller details regarding the show and its characters. But it is also nice to get the important stuff front-loaded. In backwards order, Da Capo is about how everything is pretty much Sakura's fault, and then the show spools out to reveal how things get there.

Sakura
I bet it's Sakura's fault Moe is in a constant stupor, too.

I hated Sakura and Nemu the first time around, mostly for their incessant nii-san! onii-chan! business, but Sakura is actually all right when she's trying to kill people, trying to not kill people, wallowing in self-loathing, seething with jealousy, and pretending it's not her fault Moe's boyfriend got hit by a car. I even have to grudgingly admit Nemu is okay providing she doesn't talk. If only she could have gone into that coma earlier.

The school stares at Kotori some more
"HOLY SHIT! KOTORI IS DITCHING!"

There is still no guarantee I'll finish the Great Backwards Da Capo Re-Watching Project, mind you. Now that I am clear of the traumarama episodes, the bulk of the story is rather insipid, not counting the bizarre side-story epilogues. However, I've already dropped five shows this season, so unless I really am going to watch 100 episodes of Major, I'll have some time to kill before Da Capo If episode two hits in March.

Kotori skips school
"Tschüss, fuckers!"
And away she goes.

In other news, someone needs to teach Kotori the proper way to play hooky. It's kinda conspicuous when the school idol tips out the front gate in broad daylight. Then again, maybe she did that deliberately because she knew her stalkers would rally and sound the alarm. Being the smartest character on the show and a mind reader to boot, the possibility probably occurred to her.

Dated 21 April 2009: End of season review, Winter 2009

Makina
Gainax Kick detected.

The biggest surprise of the Winter 2009 season was the rise of Shikabane Hime: Kuro and the fall of Toradora! in the final rankings during the last weeks of the season. As expected, it was a rather weak season overall, but it had its moments.

Makina
Makina has a bad day.

I had fully expected to drop Shikabane Hime after four episodes during the Autumn 2008 season, but I was hooked by the characters (except for Ouri) and the mystery. It helped I was spared the loathsome shounen jive conventions I despise so much.

Goro and Kaoru
I hereby nominate Shimizu for Best Girl of the Year.

The second-best series from Winter 2009 was the first half of the fifth season of Major. Besides being a solid sports anime, it's also starting to delve into relationship drama, although with its own flair, and thankfully without the typical animeisms that plague relationship stories. Maybe it's because the characters in question are no longer in high school, so they aren't expected to act like twits. Whatever the reason, it's refreshing.

Nobue
Nobue calls these days "weekdays."

Taking the third spot is the first Ichigo Mashimaro Encore OVA. I should probably not include OVAs in these rankings for numerous reasons, but I'm making these rules up as I go along. As for the first Ichigo Mashimaro Encore OVA itself, it was another solid block of entertainment and charm that make the series so enjoyable. Pity the title unfairly carries with it all that baggage it can't seem to escape. You know what I'm talking about.

Suguru and Sachiko
This is the weirdest bathroom. Is it at the end of a hallway?

In fourth is the latest offering of Maria-sama ga Miteru. I didn't care for these episodes as much as the previous seasons, but that's probably because of their Touko-centric nature. On the other hand, these episodes also elevated Touko three positions in the Marimite rankings. Congratulations, Touko. I no longer like you least.

Ami and Minori
Ami is stunned to discover she's the Toradora! Best Girl after all.
And how odd. Minori is usually much more genki.

Everyone else's favorite, Toradora!, only managed to take the fifth spot, despite leading most of the season. As astute readers surely realize, this sudden drop is largely due to the dramatic turn towards the end of the season. Most people who really like Toradora! seem to really like the relationship drama aspects of the final episodes, but I felt they were ham-handed at best. Maybe it's because these are high school relationships in question, but I couldn't help thinking the principals were utter twits. As others have pointed out, this isn't really drama; it's melodrama. And it tastes like high school.

Shion
How odd. Shion is usually much more genki.

I'm not a huge fan of Tetsuwan Birdy Decode, but it is pretty good at what it does. Were these rankings based solely on my interest, it would probably place lower in the standings, although at no fault of its own. Then again, if these rankings were driven by my appreciation of Chiba Saeko, it would place higher. So let's just call it a wash, eh.

Kotori
How odd. Kotori is usually much more genki.

Da Capo If is another OVA ranked entirely on the strength of a single episode. Like with the Ichigo Mashimaro OVA, that's probably not fair, and I should probably exclude it entirely, but I waited a long time for a Kotori route, so I'm going to include it, God damn it. Also, Da Capo If reminds us Horie Yui can really act when she wants to.

Kyon
Kyon, you know this can't possibly end well.

The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan shorts are genuinely amusing. They pulled away from their Nyoron Churuya-san counterparts with that episode where Asahina Mikuru just starts crying from confusion and never looked back.

Torigaya? and Washizu
Washizu Vision?

Oh God. Asu no Yoichi!. Hey, some of the middle-laterish episodes are all right, and that running gag with Washizu's crony had a great payoff that came completely out of left field. The best part is everyone else dropped this show after episode two, so they have no idea what I'm talking about.

Love is all right for a rookie Cure
How odd. Love is usually much more genki.

Fresh Pretty Cure is fresh. Love is love. Tart is the least annoying Precure mascot thus far. Kaoru-chan probably wants to get into the girls' pants. Easy is the best Precure villain except for that that one movie where Cure White is tempted by the dark side and beats Hell out of Cure Black. Aside from Buki being a sort of useless religious fanatic, this show is all right.

Churuya
Quit while you're ahead, Tsuruya.

Nyoron Churuya-san needs more variety in its jokes, nyoron.

Marisa
I've decided Marisa is my favorite Touhou character. Entirely arbitrarily.

Rounding out the final spot among shows I watched during the Winter 2009 season is the unofficial Touhou doujin anime. Despite all the hype, it was merely adequate, which I guess is pretty good all things considered. I wanted to like it more, but I can't claim it's even as good as the classic Yakumo/Chen bit with the KCY and all.

Hokuto
How odd. Hokuto is usually much more...wait, no she's not.

I also dropped a bunch of shows, but there aren't any additions or changes from the earlier list

Dated 10 July 2009: Spring 2009 wrap-up

Kusada
Kusada finally breaks. Better hang on, kid.

With a few exceptions, most of the shows I watched last season bear one thing in common: very few anime fans from my corner of the Internet (the best and worst of whom can be found at #raspberryheaven) would give them a chance. Even Hatsukoi Limited, which I previously mentioned is the best show from the spring 2009 season, attracted relatively few followers. (Most were too busy watching K-On! and searching for Mio fan art.) Those that actually watched Hatsukoi Limited instead of merely asking, "What's so great about another school romance show?" found a combination of light comedy and whimsical tales of first love so deftly executed I have no reservations naming it the top show of the season ahead of the initial (and already controversial) episodes of the second season of Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu.

Yuki
Yuki looks bored, even for Yuki.

Haruhi II still secures second, and will presumably do well during the summer 2009 season, even if (or in my view, especially if) there really are eight episodes of "Endless Eight." That would be awesome, particularly if it drives conventional-thinking fans into sending Kyoto Animation furious letters with death threats which they can include in a The End of Haruhi movie that makes little sense but includes a bitchin' fight scene. (I secretly hope there are 15,514 episodes of "Endless Eight," and that the entire ordeal is somehow Yuki's fault and not Haruhi's at all.) I bet all the people who can't stand "Endless Eight" are the same people who skip OPs and EDs.

Cal and Zwei
Natalie Portman from Leon joins the Phantom cast.

Nobody ever believes me, but Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom is actually really good—good enough to finish third for spring 2009 (and currently lead summer 2009). Bee Train influences are obvious, but this is not El Cazador de la Bruja or Madlax. For one thing, there's a male lead. Moreover, none of the female leads have displayed any signs of lesbianism. In fact, Ein apparently really likes getting oil massages from creepy old guys. Bio Concerto is worth its weight in gold, people. I'm telling you.

Aoba
Aoba, you're not even trying.

A lot of people won't watch sports anime in general or baseball anime in particular. Cross Game is at its best when it's not about baseball, to tell you the truth. I enjoy it a great deal more than Touch and what I've read of H2, but the actual baseball games in Cross Game are not as compelling as the slice-of-life stories about Kou and Aoba.

Goro
You're not exactly facing the Taisho Yakyuu Musume team now, Goro.

Major season five takes the fifth spot. I'm still watching it as there are still unsubbed episodes, but I won't be including it with the summer 2009 lineup. [Update: Advanced to fifth place after episode 120.] Assuming the fifth season is the final season of Major, I have to say this was an excellent series and I really appreciate the epic nature of the show, following Goro from childhood to adulthood. Were I to include all five seasons of Major as one work, it would easily take the top spot. Incidentally, Shimizu Kaoru still leads in the Girl of the Year rankings for 2009. This one is going to be a boat race.

Takako
Takako contemplates the future of Kannagi.

The Kannagi episode 14 OVA is every bit as good as the series. That it only places sixth should tell you just how good the competition is this time around. I hope Kannagi gets a second season.

Cure Peach
There's a storm brewing, Peach-han.

Fresh Pretty Cure ranks seventh, but has moved up quite a bit in the summer 2009 rankings due to the fully awesome Cure Passion arc, currently underway. This is another show nobody but Precure fans seem willing to watch, but the Setsuna/Love friendship really is compelling. Every episode recently has had the kind of OH SHIT moments typically attributed to shounen jive or cheesy Gundam switcheroos. Speaking of shounen jive, Fresh Pretty Cure is very light on the "standing around talking instead of fighting" bits, and when Love cuts loose, she starts out in a normal voice but gets exponentially louder and faster (it's awesome, trust me) until you think she's about to ace someone square in the face. There is too much beam spamming, though, but episode 23 is expected to include brutal fisticuffs, so we're back to the basics. Kickass.

Ana Coppola, Black Custom
Needs more Ana Coppola, Black Custom.

Eighth goes to the second OVA episode of Ichigo Mashimaro Encore. This series also really could use another season. It remains entertaining and funny, and definitely does not deserve the extra baggage that keeps many people from watching it.

Alice
If Alice isn't happy, no one's happy.

Pandora Hearts is good, but weird, so anyone that might watch it probably is watching it already, and no amount of cajoling will convince anyone else to give it a try, alas. I can understand why it doesn't have broader appeal.

Ed
Ed doesn't seem to obsess about his height as much this time.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood would have fared better if it hadn't felt like watching a really long clip show. It should also do better in the rankings this summer as it diverges more from the first anime. Curiously, I'll watch countless episodes of "Endless Eight" but the deja vu sensation of the early Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood episodes really turned me off. Or maybe it's because Brotherhood halved Winry's cup size. Could be.

Mikuru
Asahina's daily life.

The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan got a lot better as the season went on, but it's still not as good as Petit Eva or the various Marimite specials, for example.

Junichi and Kotori
No! Keep your damn dirty hands off Kotori's hat!

The second episode of Da Capo: If came out during spring 2009. Pity it wasn't as good as the first installment. Then again, no Kotori arc is ever going to seem satisfying as long as Junichi remains such a putz.

Tomoe
I'm still amazed Mamiko Noto voiced Tomoe as a straight-up serious character.

Queen's Blade is what it is. I think it would have been infinitely better if Tomoe (the miko character) had—for no discernible reason—gone the entire series without getting naked .

Shuri
Say "cheese."

Asura Cryin' faded a bit, or at least my interest did. I like all the colors, though. [Update: The end of Asura Cryin' got really shounen and kinda stopped being fun at all. Why can't it just be about humping your ghost girlfriend and every once in a while robot fights? I guess I won't be watching the second season, alas.]

Ryoko and Churuya
Say "cheese."

Nyoron Churuya-san started out funny, but got a little tiresome towards the end, whereas its Haruhi-chan counterpart managed to improve and keep me looking forward to Haruhi II.

Chi
"Chi's!"

Good Lord, there were a lot of shows spring season. And I'm not just saying that because I watched a hundred-some episodes of Chi's Sweet Home so I could start Chi's New Address. Even with three-minute episodes, that is a lot of Chi. I could be burned out on all the kittenness, but Chi's New Address doesn't seem as good as Chi's Sweet Home. Needs more bear cat, for one thing. I also keep waiting for Chi to finally age, but for the time being she remains Yotsuba in kitten form.

Tamaki
Needs more Tamaki.

The first episode of To Heart 2 ad plus wasn't very good. It's pretty forgettable, alas.

Mio
I would have kept watching K-On! had it replaced Mio with Yomi.

I didn't drop any shows aside from the following series I previously mentioned: Eden of the East (8) > Shin Mazinger Z (3) > Saki (2) > Valkyria Chronicles (3) > K-On! (4) > Higepiyo (3) > Shangri-La (1).

Yoichi
Needs more Perrine-H. Clostermann.

I should probably exclude OVAs from future such lists. I already leave off movies. Besides, it's not possible to "drop" a movie or a one-episode OVA. Well, I guess unless one abandons it midway. I probably should have done that with The Sky Crawlers. That movie should have had a Strike Witches crossover wherein the 501st Joint Fighter Wing wipes them all out in five minutes and the movie ends. Sheesh. The damn thing felt like it was 15,513 fortnights long. (Yes, I know. Yes, I know that too.)