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Dated 19 April 2012: Initial impressions of the spring 2012 anime season

Fujiko
Fujiko is one of anime's All-Time Babes.

Lupin III: Mine Fujiko to lu Onna is good—refreshingly so. The first two episodes have been solid, and it's such a relief to watch something that's not in the modern moé style. As much as I love Sawashiro Miyuki, I'm still not sure how I feel about her taking over the role of Fujiko. It seems as if Masuyama Eiko still had the role not that long ago, but I see now that the Detective Conan v. Lupin III movie was in 2009. I guess she couldn't do the voice forever. And as much as I love Horie Yui, Sawashiro Miyuki is definitely doing a better job as Fujiko than HOCCHAN did as Honey.

Niiya and Yuuko
Ghost hime-cut.

Tasogare Otome x Amnesia is a pleasant surprise. The RSS feed for the scanlated releases of the manga has actually been in my aggregator for ages, although I couldn't remember why I added it. (I've never read a single chapter.) I've seen a lot of comments about how SHAFT-like the show is, but I didn't get that sense at all. That SHAFT jive usually annoys the Bejeezus out of me, but I didn't notice any pretentious, intrusive direction in the first two episodes. So far Tasogare Otome x Amnesia has been entertaining and funny, and this season's resident ghost girlfriend is quite charming.

Rea
Not a zombie hime-cut.

Some people dismissed Sankarea because it's a Studio DEEN production. I'm not nearly as critical of Studio DEEN as contempory anime fans seem to be. Studio DEEN is responsible for the best show of all time, after all. Not that Sankarea is at all in the same league, but it does seem interesting and well done. I'm not sure how I feel about zombie girlfriends, but definitely less favorably than ghost girlfriends, that's for sure.

Medaka
Rally 'round the flag, boys.

Medaka Box is this season's most underrated show. It's underrated because so many viewers are incredibly critical of it, dismissing it as an unworthy product of a post-exodus Gainax. It's possible I am more lenient because of the Gainax badge, but I don't think Medaka Box is bad at all. On the contrary, the show is amusing with a thankfully all right male lead. Medaka herself is very likable, although possibly I'm mesmerized by that crazy shit she does with her eyes. Also, Medaka reminds me of Haruhi, only benevolent.

Moji
KAMINA LIVES!

I haven't started this season's Detective Conan yet, but if it's as good as it always is, you can expect it to place about here in the early season rankings. [Edit: Followed by the continuing episodes of the Gundam SEED "HD" re-watching project.]

Kaoru and Sentaro
Love at first sight.

Sakamichi no Apollon is one of those "objectively good" shows. I think it's pretty well done, but that doesn't necessarily mean I'll like it. It's pretty obvious the new wimpy kid and the big tough kid are in love with each other, but I have a feeling the show will pretend to be about jazz and Miss Third Wheel instead all season long.

Yuki
Social Anxiety Poster Boy.

Tsuritama is also "objectively good," but I can't tell if I'll still be interested in the show after a few more episodes of this stuff. I've got books on Byzantine history I've been meaning to read.

Saber
Your sword is showing, lady.

Fate/zero from episode 14+ is about as good as where it left off two seasons ago. I expect it to get even better now that it's free to kill off basically everyone. Anyone familiar with Fate/stay night knows how this will end, but I'm curious how ufotable plans to get us there.

Cure March
I like Cure March, but that hair is tragic.

I think I was biased to dislike Smile Precure! on general principle, but it's turning out to be pretty good. It could use more brawling, though. Smile Precure! is basically Fresh Yes! Precure 5 except with less ass kicking and less illicit romance.

Nyarlathotep
Nyarlathotep is Top Fuel Asumin.

Haiyore! Nyarlko is good because it is such high-energy, but I'm not optimistic enough to believe it can sustain these levels successfully over the course of the season. If I had to guess, I'd suspect fickle anime fans will start to disavow the show by next season.

Natsumi and Saki
Needs more pratfalls and less bitching at each other.

Natsuiro Kiseki episode two was a lot better than episode one. It helps that I kinda like Sphere. Nevertheless, I'm not especially enamored with the drama elements. The physical comedy is pretty good, though, as is the characters' almost casual acceptance of magic.

Fourteen
I wonder how M14 feels about M1A?

Upotte!! is pretty bad, but totally watchable. Hey, sometimes I enjoy following a show just because it's anime. And Upotte!! is very anime.

Kuroyukihime and Haru
Hey, they found a way to make Potato-kun worse than usual.

Accel World plummeted in my opinion once I saw episode two and realized the entire show was going to be shounen jive and practically doomed to be wall-to-wall exposition and unnecessarily long, tedious fight scenes.

Elina
I wasn't expecting continuity.

Queen's Blade: Rebellion manages to be an abomination in comparison with its first two seasons. I don't like the cast as much, and the entire thing just reeks of terrible. It's a pity, because the plot sounded kinda interesting on paper. However, if the rest of the series isn't much better than the first episode, Queen's Blade: Rebellion will be WORSE THAN COSPRAYERS.

Dated 5 July 2012: The End of Natsuiro Kiseki ~Air/My Purest Love for Sphere~

Saki
How do you know she's a witch?

Easily the biggest surprise of the season, Natsuiro Kiseki (A Summer-Colored Miracle) exceeded all my expectations by becoming my favorite show of spring 2012. From the promotional materials and early information, I assumed it would be a simple school comedy slapped together as an excuse to promote Sphere. Sphere, if you don't know, is one of those phony-baloney girl groups comprised solely of young voice actresses caramelized with syrupy J-Pop. Somewhat distressingly, Sphere is actually pretty good. And by pretty good, I mean I can't stop listening to them. Anyway, I don't actually know if Natsuiro Kiseki was designed to be a Sphere vehicle from the start, or if it was merely a coincidence the four members played the four leads, or if there was last-minute stunt casting involved, but the show wasn't something I had any interest in. I wasn't even entirely sure what it was about. Something about wishes?

Natsumi and Yuka
Are you crazy? Don't give Yuka Mountain Dew...err, Boo.

It turns out Natsuiro Kiseki is a situation comedy with a casual acceptance of magic powers. It's regularly funny and occasionally brilliant. Simple concepts executed well by charming characters—that's how Natsuiro Kiseki succeeds. I had no plans to watch it at all until I saw a blog post about the first episode featuring a screenshot of the girls flying in awkward terror. (A Splash Star airborne mahou shoujo insertion, this was not.) Even then, it was a close thing because the first episode had a disproportionate amount of bitching and not enough big-ass-rock mojo. Thankfully, episode two featured Saki and Natsumi stuck together and Rin taking one for the team. I was sold after that. Good physical comedy might not make for sophisticated viewing, but it is fun to watch.

Natsumi
Natsuiro Kiseki also features one-handed backhands.

All the characters in Natsuiro Kiseki work well together and there's genuine chemistry in the group, but I'm pleased Sunrise threw parity to the wind by making Saki far and away the best of the four. Look, Saki can't help being smarter, prettier, more athletic, and basically better in every way than everyone else. At least she doesn't lord it over people. I'm a fan of competent, confident characters who make everything they do look so easy, even if all she's doing is teaching a doubles partner how to keep her head in the game.

Saki
It turns out Saki was a bit of a hellion when she was younger.

Saki easily earns a Girl of the Year nomination, and while I don't know if she'll win, Saki can at least say she earned her nomination while abstaining from vigorous intercourse, coldblooded murder, and casual nudity. Wait, not that last thing. Natsuiro Kiseki has an ensemble cast, and arguably Natsumi is the main girl, but it is Saki's summer, and it's very much Saki's show. It's also Saki's ending, and thankfully Natsuiro Kiseki—unlike Tasogare Otome x Amnesia—has a real ending, and Saki's summer miracles will never get the sequels they deserve, alas.

Dated 10 July 2012: Spring 2012 season wrapup

Rin, Yuka, Saki, and Natsumi
Rin, Saki, and Natsumi realize by now that Yuka
with an idea can be a dangerous thing.

I've already explained why Natsuiro Kiseki is my favorite show from spring 2012. However, I didn't mention how shabby the animation looks at times. I'm really surprised to see such lapses from Sunrise, but the show is otherwise so good I'm willing to ignore those faults.

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Dated 10 June 2013: I started watching Aiura

Kanaka
It probably doesn't mean she has crabs.

I forgot to mention that I started watching Aiura. It's a pleasant enough show, but I don't have much to say about it because it's so short. (It's another one of those jobbies with four-minute episodes.) I guess I can say I also have no idea why crabs and Steve Jobs are in the OP. There has been some speculation that crabs refer to the zodiac sign Cancer1 since Steve Jobs died of cancer, but I'm calling that one a coincidence absent some more compelling reason why that would be in the OP either.

Saki and Ayuko
It's not easy being best.

I can also say that the show does appear to be the labor of love of somebody with a deep appreciation of the bare thighs of teenage girls. There is that. Oh, and it's the second show this season (along with Valvrave the Liberator) where the BEST GIRL is named Saki. If you include Saki from Natsuiro Kiseki, that makes girls named Saki three-for-three in shows from recent memory seizing BEST GIRL honors. When Genshiken Nidaime starts in a few weeks, girls named Saki will go four-for-four. I might be on to something here.


Note 1: Or possibly the genus, since hardly anyone in anime outside of The Melody of Oblivion seems to care about the western zodiac.