I finished watching the first season of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. Chiri is my favorite. With her uncompromising, fastidious, exacting personality and giant monkey ears, what's not to love?
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.
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.
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.
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.
I am only following four new shows this summer: Bakemonogatari, Canaan, Taisho Yakyuu Musume, and Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. The rest of the shows I'm watching are all continuations of series that began previously (I'm including the second season of Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu in this group). I'm told there are a number of other shows airing this season that are also worth watching, but I've got enough on my plate for now.
Among these shows, Bakemonogatari, Canaan, and Taisho Yakyuu Musume are closely ranked and trade positions episode to episode as far as my favorite new show of the season goes. Each has managed to surprise me in some way—enough to boost them beyond my expectations.
Regarding Bakemonogatari, I'm glad to see such overt fan service presented proudly and unapologetically. I mean, Queen's Blade has overt fan service also, but you can tell the animators knew they weren't making anything that was ever going to be held up in a serious light and admired by port-drinking ass clowns knowingly rubbing their chins. Bakemonogatari, on the other hand, at least tries to present itself as something better than what we groundlings deserve.
Bakemonogatari has also been described as insufferably smug and self-important; this is true, but it's okay. As much as I often lament that radio dramas almost never get translated, even I grew a little tired of the extended telephone conversation segment—and this from a guy who really likes the infamous elevator ride in Neon Genesis Evangelion. But the show wins me over with with the little gimmicks and twists that I won't spoil here. Bakemonogatari is flawed, but it has enough good points to still make it worth your while.
Canaan is a much more conventional show, but keeps my interest because of its high production values and (so far) somewhat opaque story. Others have complained they don't feel particularly invested in the characters because they don't know too much about them and aren't entirely sure what's going on, but I am certainly not going to fault a series for not being predictable with cookie-cutter characters. It might turn out that Canaan isn't so special after all, and the lack of information is a fault of clear storytelling and not a sign of something grander below the (very pretty) surface, but I'll give it a chance. Also Yun-Yun is a fun character. At a minimum, I'll keep watching just to see where her story goes.
Taisho Yakyuu Musume is about what I expected from a J.C. Staff production about girls playing baseball in 1925. Not a model of historical accuracy by any stretch of the imagination, but charming and entertaining nonetheless. I hope to see more rickshaw training and musical numbers, to tell you the truth. Of course, I've been waiting for an all-singing, all-dancing Love Hina OVA ever since I heard "Mirai e no Okurimono." I guess that's never going to happen, so I wouldn't hold your breath when it comes to getting more musical numbers in Taisho Yakyuu Musume.
Sadly, I'm not as taken with Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. It's possible that I've just grown tired of its gimmicks, but each succeeding season of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei has seemed less interesting to me than the one before. I really enjoyed the first season, but now I think I would enjoy Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei more if the episodes were half-length to fill 15-minute blocks instead of a full half-hour ones. It's probably also because the characters, by design, are heavy stereotypes. This is probably why I like Nami (the Normal one) more and more as time goes by. I'm not quite willing to move shovel-wielding Kitsu Chiri from the Best Girl top spot, though.
Notably, I haven't dropped any shows this season and I don't expect to drop any of the above four—at least barring some catastrophically poor shifts in quality, which generally doesn't happen this late in the game. I've already seen four or five episodes of each of these shows, so they're probably in the clear. The only one really at risk is Bakemonogatari, and that's just because I'm not a fan of SHAFT X SHINBO. I'll remain appeased as long as Hitagi remains kinda mean, though.
I've never been a fan of SHAFT, but between Bakemonogatari and Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, I'm getting really tired of the SHAFT pseudo-avant garde shtick.
I keep watching more Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei because I keep hoping it will return to kind of charm and humor it had during its first season. But truth be told, I've gotten so tired of its gimmicks that I'm rejecting my earlier assertion and now declaring Nami (the "normal" one) the Best Girl of the show.
So, in light of Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei episode 13, do you suppose SHAFT intentionally had Hitagi in Bakemonogatari episode two put on her panties backwards?