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Dated 11 April 2010: Picking sides in the Angel Beats! war

Otonashi and Yuri
Potato-kun Otonashi and Yuri flirt some more.

I can't fight the hype. All the Angel Beats! talk, both for and against (mostly against) made me curious enough to watch it just to see how derivative it really is and find out whether or not Jun Maeda really is a snow-cancer-writing hack. Full-page Haruhi palette swaps aside, Angel Beats! isn't really any more derivative than most anime. You can't tell me there aren't shitloads of cookie-cutter shows every season.

Iwasawa and Yuri
Yuri introduces Iwasawa, Otonashi's enlistment bonus.

My biggest problem with Angel Beats! is I have zero faith in Yuri. I'd follow Haruhi on an ill-conceived Crusade any day of the week, but Yuri is just going to get soldiers killed for cafeteria food someday—even though they are already dead so they won't die if they are killed.

Shiina tries really hard to be goth even though
she has to wear a school uniform in Hell.

On the other hand, were I caught in the Angel Beats! battlespace with my loyalty up for grabs, I'd be fully on board with whatever Tenshi orders. Take that hill? Buff that floor? Clear that building? Police call all these God damn meal coupons and NPC condom wrappers? Got it, ma'am. I'm all over it. Whatever it takes to not be on Yuri's side with the rest of those yahoos, deadbeats, and douchebags. Hell, I'd be pissed enough the afterlife means being stuck in a Japanese high school until the career counselor turns me into a barnacle on Mio's side of Tsumugi's boat. Might as well stick a feather in my cap and join up with the winning side.

Poser Haruhi


The Shrike.

Dude, this is a no-brainer.

Dated 18 April 2010: The real Angel Beats! main character

The only Angel Beats! character I don't dislike
is the one that doesn't talk or do anything.

I'm not going to call Angel Beats! a lousy show, but it's not one that I can take seriously without feeling foolish. Nevertheless, Angel Beats! generates more discussion than any other show at a certain IRC channel where idling slowly is preferred. Granted, approximately one-hundred-point-all percent of this discussion is derisive, but everyone seems to acknowledge that it is interesting to discuss even if they don't necessarily enjoy the show. (I sort of felt the same way about Gundam SEED Destiny.)

Tenshi's dorm room
Tenshi's room is depressingly drab. I guess it's
still better than Minori's spartan bedroom.

My favorite part about episode three was discovering Tenshi apparently lives in a painfully normal and somewhat boring dorm room that she keeps immaculately clean. As far as I'm concerned, this just lends credence to my theory that Tenshi is the actual protagonist of the show, a fact that is sure to be revealed in some melodramatic twist two-thirds of the way through the series. It probably has to do with snow and piano recitals.

Dated 19 May 2010: Angel Beats! episode seven is one part crap, one part awesome

Yuzuru and Kanade
Tenshi, your slip is showing.

Angel Beats! is fun to watch because when it's bad it's fun to mock. Somewhat unexpectedly, it can also be legitimately good at times. I'm referring to gags like the broom bit during the baseball episode and the entire second half of episode seven. But yeah, when Angel Beats! is bad, it's dog shit. [I feel obliged to offer a spoiler warning at this point, even though everything revealed about the first half of episode seven will be transparently obvious to anyone with the slightest familiarity with Jun Maeda, Key, or anime clichés in general.]

Yuzuru and his sister
Potato-kun kills his kid sister. Good job, guy.
Did you not watch Clannad? Kanon?

The first part of Angel Beats! 07 finally reveals Otonashi's back-story. Like the other previously revealed back-stories, it is a tale of woe and sorrow. It also happens to be a tale of idiotic melodrama. I don't know why Jun Maeda has a vendetta against snow. The sad-girls-in-snow motif has transcended its status as a mere trope and can now be considered a straight-up base anime stereotype. With that in mind, there couldn't possibly have been a single person watching Angel Beats! episode seven who thought it was a good idea for Otonashi to carry his sickly good-natured little sister (hospitalized for years due to some vague, undefined illness) out into the snow on his back on Christmas. Why not build an asbestos snowman while you're at it?

Otonashi trades his acceptance notice for a mapo tofu food coupon.

So, yeah, snow does to Otonashi's little sister what snow does to all of Jun Maeda's sickly girls. However, Otonashi finds new purpose in his life and strives to make something of himself so he can Protect Other People. Unfortunately for Otonashi, SNOW has different ideas. This brings us back to this present misery where the story makes a drastic change in tone and turns into a comedic fishing farce out of nowhere. Cue Operation Monster Stream, a "zetsubou no carnival."

Saitou, Kanade, and Yuzuru
There sure are a lot of Kanade petticoat shots in this episode.
[Spoilers: Petticoat shots are the new panty shots.]

Angel Beats! is getting a lot of mileage out of Tenshi Tachibana Kanade and her quiet deadpans. I haven't seen a fishing episode like this since Sky Girls. Like the Sky Girls fishing omakes, the second half of Angel Beats! 07 does not have any bearing on the plot as far as I can tell, but is instead merely an excuse for the characters to do goofy things for silly reasons. It works, as a matter of fact. Angel Beats! really needs a lot more of this sort of thing. Episode seven ends on a cliffhanger, so presumably the next episode will return to the main story and plot development. I'm not entirely sure that's a good thing.

Dated 5 June 2010: 'Tis a good season for love confessions

Fumino loses her composure.

Love confessions aren't exactly rare in anime. Indeed, you can't hardly throw a stick in Animeland without hitting a love confession. However, three love confessions this season deserve special mention. First, there is the very nicely delivered love confession in Mayoi Neko Overrun! For one thing, it occurs in episode three—shockingly early for anime. For another, it is basically the best neo-tsundere love confession I've seen.

Yamada and Kosuda
Kosuda professes his love for Yamada.

Second, there is the love confession in B Gata H Kei which is significant because Potato-kun actually nutted it up and said what anime male protagonists as a rule struggle hopelessly with forever. If only Harima had this kind of courage (then Tenma could have rejected him, leaving him re-bound material for the vastly superior Eri). Not only that, he professed his love in front of other people and repeated it more than once to ensure there was no misunderstanding. It's almost heroic.

Angel Beats! turned into a baseball anime
so gradually hardly anyone noticed.

Third, there is the love confession in the most recent episode of Angel Beats! I think most people probably expected this for a while, but its execution was a bit better than I was expecting. I still can't claim to care about any of the Angel Beats! characters, but I do appreciate some good melodrama once in a while, even if it isn't snowing.

Dated 8 June 2010: Angel Beats! plans always go so well during rehearsal

Otonashi and Yui
Try, try again.

Just so you know, if Otonashi is the brains of your operation the entire endeavor really should be doomed to fail. He must have Milfeulle's luck.

Dated 17 July 2010: Spring 2010 summary

Hawkeye and Mustang
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood was the best show of Spring 2010.

I can't understand why Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood wasn't more popular. Many fans of the first anime refused to watch it at all, citing unconvincing reasons not to give it a chance. Personally, I suspect one reason they refused to watch it was because at least subconsciously they believed they had "outgrew" it and didn't want to sour nostalgic memories of the enthusiasm they had for Fullmetal Alchemist in their youth.

Misato attacks Keiichi as Aoi looks on
Misato standing in for the homunculus Lust. Misato is dirty.

True, the first 12 episodes did cover a lot of the same territory as the first anime, so it felt like a clip show to those who had watched the previous version, but starting from the episode where they freaking crucify Greed and sink him screaming and hollering into a pool of lava (oops, spoilers), everything is new. You'd think people would be willing to at least give it a chance. There's an entire year's worth of new material, for crying out loud.

Panthers Stadium
How odd. Panthers Stadium looks so much like Dodger Stadium.

Taking second place is the first half of the sixth and final season of Major. I started watching this baseball epic on a goof because I was so dissatisfied with One Outs and how it depicted actual gameplay in the show. I figured I'd try something aimed more toward actual baseball fans. I'm glad I did, because Major has been consistently good and offers the viewer a rare opportunity to follow characters from childhood to adulthood throughout a single mostly unbroken arc. I don't expect non-baseball fans to be as enamored with Major, though.

Kosuda and Yamada
What is it with anime girls and libraries?

B Gata H Kei would have scored a lot higher had it not squandered precious middle episodes fumbling clumsily with Yamada's rival. It's the anime equivalent of not being able to work a bra clasp. However, when all cylinders were firing, B Gata H Kei actually got things moving. It's really refreshing to see anime acknowledging again that sex exists. Compared to his typical Male Protagonist peers, Kosuda is a stud comparable to the likes of James Bond, Sam Malone, and dare I say it...The Fonz, even if he does suffer—as Eddie Murphy put it in Delirious—from occasional difficulties at "finding the pussy."

I wasn't expecting to find Minori from Toradora!
in Mayoi Neko Overrun!, to tell you the truth.

Mayoi Neko Overrun! was not a good show, but it had good moments. I also liked its gimmick of changing directors every episode. Thanks to the best tsundere love confession I've ever seen (no, really) in episode three, two solidly brilliant episodes (four and seven), and consistently amusing portions sprinkled throughout (such as bits of the Jenga battle and basically everything Nozomi did as the sole rep for the "bloots" faction of the bloomers v. spandex shorts war), I'm willing to rank Mayoi Neko Overun! fourth—way higher than I expected when I first started watching it. I would definitely watch more if it got a second season.

Just so you know, it takes a lot to surprise Katja.

I've only seen 22 episodes of Seikon no Qwaser, so its position in the ranking could change once the remaining uncensored episodes are subbed. [Update: Watched all 24 episodes. No change in the rankings. Looking forward to season two.] Remember how Queen's Blade was so bad it was good? Seikon no Qwaser is so bad that it's AWESOME. This show is amazing. It's unpredictable and consistently manages to impossibly one-up itself as its viewers gape slack-jawed in disbelief. Fullmetal Alchemist could take some lessons from Seikon no Qwaser regarding how to astound viewers with sudden plot twists and intriguing developments. As a bonus, Katja is also one of Hirano Aya's best roles ever.

Angel Beats! never explained why TK was
trapped in Japanese high school purgatory.

Angel Beats! Now there's a show that's so bad that it's good. I'm sorry, I could not take a moment of this crap seriously. Nevertheless, it was consistently entertaining and it always inspired—by far—the most discussion of any show airing spring 2010, at least in the cynical IRC enclave I know best. Angel Beats! definitely proved a show does not have to be good to be fun. Unfortunately, I suspect I've now offended many of its fans who disagree with my view of the show. Presumably they have a higher tolerance for Jun Maeda traumadrama than I do.

Cure Blossom
Cure Blossom, the worst Cure ever.

Heartcatch Precure is my least favorite Pretty Cure series thus far. I have two principal complaints about the show: First, Cure Blossom and Cure Marine are the weakest Cures of all time. I understand that's actually supposed to be a plot point, but it doesn't make them any more endearing. What it has done, on the other hand, is make me appreciate Cure Dream from Yes! Pretty Cure 5 a lot more. In her Nozomi guise, Cure Dream is a complete doofus and about as sorry as Tsubomi and Erika when it comes to day-to-day affairs. However, as a Cure, she's pretty solid, even if she does play for the Pretty Cure equivalent of a corporate softball team. Cure Blossom and Cure Marine, on the other hand, shouldn't even be playing in this league. Go back to the minors, losers. My second complaint about Heartcatch Precure is that the monster of the week is always bad feelings. Bad feelings? Really? Heartcatch Precure needs more Dark Precure—a lot more. I bet she doesn't have to take a God damn bus to go fight Pretty Cure when they're out of town.

Erika, Togusa, and Walker
Erika without her hat might as well be naked.

I wanted to like Durarara!! but I couldn't stand Masaomi, Anri, or Mikado. This show would have been a lot more interesting had it been about the crazy stalker girl, the motorcycle cop, and hatless Erika. It's no Baccano!, that's for sure.

Popura and Inami
Squirrel-girls? They all suck too.

I dropped WORKING!! after the first episode because I didn't like any of the characters. Well, the only ones I actively disliked were the "minicon" dude and Popura, mostly because I'm tired of anime's obsession with small girls. I heard the show gets good later on, but I've got more Detective Conan to watch. Speaking of which, I didn't include Detective Conan in this lineup because I'm still hundred of episodes behind, but there's a chance you might see it in the summer 2010 wrap up in a few months.