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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, 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.

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 26 June 2009: Fight Ippatsu! Juuden-chan!! has problems. Too many exclamation points is but one of them

Seriously, though. How do you jack up a show this simple?

So, initial reports detail four separate instances where one or more characters in the new fan service-heavy romp Fight Ippatsu! Juuden-chan!! piss themselves. Yeah, that's a deal breaker, so I won't even be starting this series unless it turns out Fight Ippatsu! Juuden-chan!! episode one is like episode one of Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu. You know, the Adventures of Asahina Mikuru one. That's probably pretty unlikely.

Just doing my part to hype Canaan for no real good reason.

I've joked a few times that this summer I'll just re-watch Gainax shows instead of following anything new. However, now that I think about it, that's a legitimate possibility. (Probably Mahoromatic, for one.) If a low-brow fan service show can't even manage to properly hit its marks, it's not a good sign. And even I have to admit the chances of Not Idolm@ster Baseball Taisho Yakyuu Musume being good is yet uncertain. C'mon, Canaan.

Dated 5 August 2009: Summer 2009 impressions

Hitagi doesn't believe in towels. Well, she believes they exist.

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.

It's still a hime cut. Okay?

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.

Hitagi can eat whatever she wants and never gain a pound. [Spoilers.]

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.

Araragi and Hitagi
I'm going to pretend Araragi ran in terror and refused to look
directly at Hitagi because he has vampire eyes. [Spoiler.]
Either that or he's an anime male protagonist.

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.

You can't fault Yun-Yun's work ethic. Or her taste in clothes.

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.

There should be a musical number with different characters every episode.

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.

Kitsu Chiri
It's asymmetrical without someone on the other side of your umbrella, Chiri.

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.

Where we're going, we don't need dere-dere.

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.

Dated 18 August 2009: If you don't like Canaan, you should probably want to

Liang is going to have a nervous breakdown.

Canaan is a ridiculous show, but that is part of its appeal. It has got insane fights and high-tension characters having a lot of fun being straight up nuts. It also has crazy production values. Seriously, Canaan must have an amazing budget. Either that or P.A. Works has tapped into a vein of cheap Chinese labor. In any case, Canaan looks great and is practically worth watching for that reason alone.

Dated 10 September 2009: Canaan has the best noses

Look at that thing. Hakko has a big awesome nose.

Canaan has remained consistently entertaining so far. The production values have also stayed high. Also, Hakko has like the spookiest Mamiko Noto voice ever. [SPOILERS] That's right. Hakko speaks.

Dated 30 September 2009: Canaan's Tactical Purse CHECK

Canaan, Shem, and Hakko
Canaan's tactical purse.

It's been a while since the last CHECK. This installment features Canaan's tactical purse. I don't know exactly what she keeps in there—probably extra magazines and perhaps a cleaning kit—but Canaan's tactical purse is clearly built for war. I'm sure we'll find knockoffs at Brigade Quartermaster shortly.

Alphard, Maria, and Canaan
Turns out Maria is a real photographer. Who knew?

In related news, Canaan turned out to be quite better than its early episodes suggested. It's not a fantastic series by my reckoning, but it is much better than jaded anime fans give it credit for. Moreover, the production values throughout remained impeccable—notable nowadays since more studios and series seem financially strapped. I guess they had to keep the animation quality up because of the three compilation movies in the works. Speaking of which, I wonder if they will change anything, and if they will be better received.

Dated 3 June 2012: I bought an Olympus PEN series camera because of Canaan

Olympus PEN E-P1
People who subscribe to the RSS feed saw this already.

For a digital camera, the Olympus PEN E-P1 is quite old already—practically ancient. It doesn't even have a built-in flash, and there are a number of four-thirds cameras that are quite a bit better. Nevertheless, I bought one anyway because it was pretty inexpensive and being "ancient" was part of its appeal.

That coat won't shelter your camera or your idiot hair, Maria.

I almost certainly chose the E-P1, however, because it is the modern equivalent of the Olympus Pen series half-frame 35mm camera depicted prominently in Canaan. As an anime series, Canaan is pretty flawed, but I guess as a product placement vehicle it's fairly effective. I could also go for some Pizza Hut right about now.