Version 5.3.2 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.
karmaburn.com karmaburn.com
  • HOME

Dated 1 February 2009: Major v. One Outs - or - Pitchers and Catchers Report in 13 Days

Tokuchi
Tokuchi from One Outs.

I dropped One Outs after episode 14 because it stopped being about gambling and turned into a show about over-reacting to events that are commonplace during real-life baseball games. Kind of on a goof, I started watching Major instead, mostly because of its crazy shounen-type episode count. Well, it turns out Major is really good, and (at least through the first forty episodes) it depicts baseball reasonably accurately. It is much more realistic than Princess Nine or The Natural, for example. I would say Major is about equivalent to Bull Durham as far as the balance between fact and fiction goes.

Komori and Shimizu
Komori, the preternaturally skilled weenie kid,
consoles Shimizu, the token girl, from Major.

There is another significant difference that makes Major superior to One Outs: One Outs is about triumph and unshakable confidence. Major is about defeat and despair. In fact, Major is fantastically cruel. Watching some episodes, I was incredulous at times I was actually watching a kid's show. Then again, anime for younger children often seems willing to take things much further than spineless shows aimed at teenagers where all too often nothing of consequence happens.

Dated 4 February 2009: Major, Like Baseball, Is Cruel - or - Pitchers and Catchers Report in 10 days

Goro's dad
Major is a sequel to Princess Nine if you pretend Goro's dad was Ryo's love interest.

One of the reasons I offered as to why Major is superior to One Outs is that Major is about defeat and despair, while One Outs is about triumph. It occurs to me I may need to elaborate a bit for non-baseball fans.

Charlie Brown
Baseball is also about being haunted by regret.

Baseball is a game of heartbreak and defeat. All those platitudes they teach kids in T-ball and little league regarding how it isn't about winning or losing, but how you play the game? Lies. It's about losing. Or rather, baseball is about learning how to lose, how to lose all the time, and how to deal with it. Baseball is missed opportunities. It's about the Chicago Cubs. It's about the 86-year Curse of the Bambino. It's about great hitters still failing at the plate more often than not. And in the case of Major, it's about Goro and tragedy.

Hoshino
Goro's teacher is pretty cool, and not just because of her big fat braids.

This is not to say that Major is Narutaru or Saikano. It's just that Goro's life kinda sucks. And not just Goro, either. It seems as if plenty of Major's supporting characters find misfortune sliding in on them spikes up despite a six-run lead in the ninth. It's necessary, though. Goro is freakishly athletic, and these early episodes about his youth highlight stellar achievements that compare favorably with biographies of real-life players with accomplished careers in the majors. Major sort of needs to make the viewer commiserate with him a little in the face of his athletic prowess.

Ryoko
Ryoko is also pretty cool, and not just because of her big fat braids.

From what I've seen, it appears Major is (or will be) Goro's life story, following his career from his pre-school days to (I assume) the major leagues. It seems a bit silly to speak so vaguely about a long-running sports anime currently in its fifth season, but I'm still back watching season two, and I'm wary of what are surely considerable spoilers in the wild. Even navigating cast lists is hazardous, as various name changes and conspicuous absences (or additions) can reveal what does or does not happen over the course of the series.

Dated 14 February 2009: In re Girls With Bats

Shimizu Kaoru
Kaoru is the Best Girl in Major. Ryoko has more game, but Kaoru is a peach.

Kasumi
Kasumi from Hand Maid May is one of anime's All Time Babes,
and only partly because she's a natural right-hander
who takes baseball seriously enough to bat left.

Minori
Minori also deserves special mention for batting left and throwing right...

Minori
...and for being kinda broken inside.

Chidori Kaname
Chidori vents some aggression.

Narue
It's Narue's World. We're just living in it.

Mamini
Mamini is this post's Mendoza Line.

Sakaki
Sakaki is pretty athletic, but I'm scoring that at bat E-9.

Iizuka
Iizuka also bats left, but she's a natural southpaw.
I doubt she can hit, but her on-base percentage is pretty good.

Momo and Daniel
I guess Daniel isn't technically a bat, but it's kinda academic, since
you can't really let Momo from Shinigami no Ballad play ball.
People would die.

Dated 21 February 2009: Girls Playing Baseball is the new Girls Piloting Mecha

Koharu
Koharu is a witch.

Actually, that's not true. Girls Playing Baseball isn't really the new Girls Piloting Mecha because girls playing baseball isn't really a new thing at all. At a minimum, there's Princess Nine. Maybe I should have titled this post, "Princess Nine Xenoglossia."

Ryoko
Ryoko is a beast.

Really, this is just an excuse to talk about Not Idolm@ster Baseball (real name, Taisho Yakyuu Musume), which, quite frankly, can't get here fast enough.

Shimizu
Shimizu is a peach.

Realistically, this will probably be the Sky Girls of 1920s Japanese girls baseball, being a J.C. Staff production and all—meaning that it will probably be about interpersonal relationships instead of actual baseball service-service, but that's okay too.

Taisho Yakyuu Musume
Taisho Yakyuu Musume is Not Idolm@ster Baseball.

I'm calling my shot: The Best Girl in Taisho Yakyuu Musume is going to be the one in the front, swinging the bat. I can tell because she looks the most serious.

Narue saves Kazu
Narue is a Mamiko Noto tea kettle.

One thing that troubles me about Taisho Yakyuu Musume is the apparent lack of wooden bats. In fact, that seems to be the prevailing deficiency in anime baseball. Even Narue uses an aluminum bat during Narue no Sekai despite carrying a wooden one in the ED. Kasumi from Hand Maid May alone uses a wooden bat among anime girls playing ball that I know of, although the sound effect used in the show is wildly incorrect, alas.

Kasumi
If only those kids knew how easy Coach Tani was going on them.

Metal bats are quite an anachronism for 1920s baseball, although I doubt Not Idolm@ster Baseball will make any attempt at depicting realistic baseball of that era—or any era, for that matter. Not that I expect this to impair my enjoyment of this upcoming series. Surely it will be more important to keep a relationship chart than a scorecard for this show.

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 2 May 2009: Cross Game is a baseball anime that's not really about baseball

Aoba and Ko
Aoba disavows any affection for Ko.

I was hesitant about starting another baseball anime when I've already got the second half of the fifth season of Major leading my Spring 2009 rankings, but Cross Game is quite good in its own right. It's not quite as cruel as Major, but it does pitch inside, if you understand what I mean. Through four episodes, there's not a whole lot of baseball yet, but what play is shown is realistic, and Aoba's instincts for the game are very natural. The second episode also features a runner almost getting thrown out at first for Cadillacing. In my view, it's these little details executed naturally that give the baseball sequences credibility.

Ko, the cat, and the Tsukima sisters
Ko, Nomo (the cat), and the Tsukishima sisters issue TV caveats.

But Cross Game isn't really about baseball—at least not yet. So far it's about relationships. There have been two baseball games so far, and each has lasted less than a third of an episode. In contrast, every baseball game in Major takes about three episodes apiece. As far as the relationship aspects go, I think everyone in the show is a little too hung up on Wakaba, when the real star is the sort of homely but very athletic middle sister, Aoba.

Aoba
Aoba changes her shirt.

Aoba is tsun-tsun, if you must break it down this way, and will be predictably dere-dere at the end of the season, I'm sure. But the tsun aspects are delivered well in that Aoba and Ko are still childhood friends who are evidently comfortable around each other despite Aoba's open hostility. For example, despite professing to despise Ko, Aoba doesn't make him leave the room when she changes her shirt in the second episode; neither of them think anything of it. (He turns his back.)

Senda and Aoba
Don't eat at Clover when Aoba cooks.

Actually, to tell you the truth, the real real star of Cross Game is the Clover batting center/diner. Were there such an establishment near me, I would blow so much money there. I want one of those sideways-heart/cloverleaf t-shirts, too, but I'll settle for some home run socks. HOME RUN SOCKS! I'm so there.

Dated 14 June 2009: Summer 2009 preview

Goro, Shimizu, and Miho
Suddenly, a Mamiko appears!

Chances are I'm going to be watching nothing but baseball anime this summer. For starters, I need to finish the fifth season of Major. Presumably, Cross Game will continue airing, seeing as how the manga isn't finished yet either, and neither Touch nor H2 were short series. And now Not Idolm@ster Baseball is here! Err, I mean Taisho Yakyuu Musume.

Akaishi
Akaishi, like everyone else, is way too hung up on Wakaba.

This is not to say there aren't any other interesting shows airing this summer, but I admit the lineup doesn't seem as compelling as summer schedules tend to be. I'm generally disdainful when people complain an upcoming season doesn't look very interesting, because people say that every single season, but maybe it's my turn this time.


I know nothing about Canaan or 428, but it
looks like TYPE-MOON except with funk.

Aside from Taisho Yakyuu Musume, I'll watch Canaan out of general principle because of its TYPE-MOON influences. I'll watch Fight Ippatsu! Juuden-chan!! because it looks terrible. I'll watch the Nodame Cantabile and Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei sequels based on the strength of the originals. I'll give Aoi Hana a try because of J.C. Staff, but abandon it if it turns out to be yet another lesbian otaku fantasy. I think there's supposed to be more Kara no Kyoukai and the final episode of Shikabane Hime is due out in August.

Plug
Fight Ippatsu! Juuden-chan!! is my low-brow show of the summer.

Chances are there will a show or two that defies all expectations and plays way out of its league. For example, nobody expected much from Kannagi initially. Moreover, nobody hyped Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu during its pre-season, and the latter turned out to be the 800-pound gorilla whose second season doesn't even require mentioning. (Yeah, I'm guaranteed to be watching that this summer, too.) Naturally, I didn't break down even half of the Summer 2009 season; there are other1 resources2 I recommend if you haven't found them already.

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.)