Expanding upon my initial post, I've started following Black Rock Shooter, High School DxD, and I finished all VI episodes of Thermae Romae. Suite Precure♪ ended, Smile Precure! started, and I dropped Moretsu Pirates.
There was a lot of hype for the Black Rock Shooter OVA because the original music video was popular, but I remember fan reaction to the OVA being mixed at best. Despite airing only one episode so far, responses to the Black Rock Shooter anime series appears even more negative. I'm no fan of forced lesbian love triangles, but I still thought the OVA was all right and the television series seems decent enough so far. I appreciate how it juxtaposes everyday life with its sci-fi/fantasy world. Black Rock Shooter successfully conveys how devastating minor slights can appear to young teens. Yeah, this girl was mean to that girl, but it's not as if she stabbed her in the heart. It might feel that way, though, and I think Black Rock Shooter manages to show that in a straightforward yet imaginative way.
I found out about Thermae Romae by accident. Its absurd premise about a Roman architect adopting Japanese bathing conventions works very well in this short, simply animated series relying heavily on reaction-shot humor.
Through five episodes, High School DxD is way better than I was expecting. It's not quite as trashy as Seikon no Qwaser or even Queen's Blade, but it is sufficiently outrageous to elevate a fanservice harem comedy to entertaining levels. It helps that Potato-kun has no trouble accepting what he is. By embracing his base nature, he comes across as much more likable despite being a cretin. Now that I think about it, High School DxD is basically a shallow fanservice harem comedy crossed with a shounen fighting series. This could work as long as it keeps the shounen jive down. (That was the biggest problem with To Aru Majutsu no Index, another harem comedy crossed with shounen fighting.) The first episode of High School DxD is nothing special, by the way. If you're curious about starting the series but hesitant about whether or not it will be a complete waste of time, I suggest starting with episode two and going back after episode three if you're still on board.
Suite Precure♪ is the worst series of the Pretty Cure franchise. I'll go into more detail if I ever get around to finishing my massive Pretty Cure treatise, but basically there is a direct correlation between the amount of ass kicking the Cures accomplish and the quality of the show. Suite Precure♪ is rather weak in that respect and compounds the problem with serious shortcomings in character development. I also don't like it when the struggle between Pretty Cure and their opponents is all about preserving people's feelings. Alas, that has been the trend since Fresh Pretty Cure, with no indication that Smile Precure! (the fourth straight "bad feelings are bad" series) will be any different.
Although these impressions are based on only a single episode (merely 2% of the projected total), Smile Precure! looks like it will be Yes! Precure 5 for people who never saw Yes! Precure 5. (Well, probably without the inter-species dating.) I hear the character designer is the same, the color palette is very similar, and it seems some of the personalities of the characters will be similarly color-coded. Speaking of which, I have no idea why the yellow one is so popular. I've been accused of not "getting" moé or otaku leanings, and perhaps that's true. For that matter, I don't even support the argument that "the yellow one" should have certain expected traits. I can see how someone might lump Cure Peace with Cure Lemonade and Cure Pine, but to me the "yellow Cure" archetype is Cure Bright, and Cure Bright is nothing like Cure Lemonade or Cure Pine. Cure Bright bats fourth. (Incidentally, I also disagree with grouping Shiny Luminous among "the yellows." Yeah, she's blond, but her entire outfit is pink—all pink. You have to play pretty fast and loose with the definition to insist Shiny Luminous is a yellow. It's practically racist. And this coming from someone who still thinks Cure Beat shouldn't be a Cure because she used to be a cat.)
I dropped Moretsu Pirates because it wasn't interesting. Send me a telegram if it turns out to be good.