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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 25 September 2009: Maybe I'm just not with it enough to get SHAFT

You should have accepted the naked apron offer, guy.

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.

It's normal to leave one's curtains open.

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.

Dated 9 January 2010: A possible SHAFT cross-series Easter egg

Hitagi pulls on her panties.

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?