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Dated 5 January 2011: Autumn 2010 season wrapup

Ika Musume and Nagisa
Ika Musume terrorizes Nagisa.

Autumn 2010 had a number of surprises. I never would have predicted my top three shows from this season. In fact, three months ago I would have been surprised to learn I would watch two of the top three at all.

Shinryaku! Ika Musume [1-12] > Shiki (12-22) > Detective Opera Milky Holmes [1-12] > Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt [1-13] > Amagami SS [14-25] > Detective Conan (591-600) > Heartcatch Precure! (34-45) > Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai (11) > To Aru Majutsu no Index II (6-7) > Yosuga no Sora [1-12] > Psychic Detective Yakumo [1-13]

Shinryaku! Ika Musume takes the top spot by the strength of its comedy and its No Bad Episodes achievement. I didn't have much interest in the show initially based on its description, but toward the middle of the season I decided to give it a shot because of the near universal praise I encountered for it. I'm glad I did, because Ika Musume is a solid show. I only wish there were more episodes.

Megumi
Y'all know Megumi is right, right?

Shiki took me by surprise by embracing B-movie staples and running with it. I can't actually claim that Shiki is "good," but when it hits its marks it is wildly entertaining. If you like yelling at idiots for their stupidity and watching villagers storm castles with torches and pitchforks in hand, then Shiki is for you. Plus it's bloody! Even for a vampire show! I almost want to give it the top ranking for autumn 2010, but there were a few lackluster episodes in the mix holding it back. Its first OP and second ED are unquestionably this season's bests, though.

Henriette
Just so you know, this is a great disguise.

I wasn't really expecting to enjoy Tantei Opera Milky Holmes, and only started watching it so I could claim to be watching three detective shows this season. However, after an unimpressive start (everyone seems to loathe the first episode), it proved to be a fun series that continued to push the envelope; some of the things Detective Opera Milky Holmes did were really...inappropriate, but it was never dirty. An unexpectedly funny series, I've heard Milky Holmes described favorably as "the next Galaxy Angel." Now, it ain't that good, but I could definitely go for more episodes of these idiots.

Chuck, Panty, and Stocking
Panty and Stocking put Chuck to work.

Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt is as good as you've heard, but it never really resonated with me. There were some really amazing moments and a lot of good episodes, but I can't help but feel Gainax could have done more with the show. Even the Gainax Ending was not as outrageous as it could have been. It's no The Melody of Oblivion ending, for example. I'm probably the only person in the world who feels Panty & Stocking wasn't daring enough, though.

Ayatsuji
Don't worry, he has it coming.

I liked Amagami SS because of its gimmick, but ultimately Potato-kun just didn't have enough charisma to carry the show. It's a nice enough romantic comedy, but nobody who missed it should feel as if they've missed anything important.

Ran, Conan, and Kogoro
Ran is always so well dressed.

Detective Conan is Detective Conan. Nothing important changes, and the show remains as good as ever. For that reason, I suppose curious readers may be able to rely on its position in these season summaries as a baseline or control group of sorts for pan-season comparisons.

Erika
Erika is the best girl in Heartcatch, but she ain't no Girl of the Year.

Heartcatch Precure! is all right, but I don't like it as much as its predecessors. I suppose viewed as a whole, it is better than Fresh Pretty Cure, but the best Fresh moments are a lot better than the best Heartcatch ones. I know Heartcatch Precure! is very well regarded among many anime fans who don't typically watch Pretty Cure. I wonder if they rank the show so highly because this is the only Precure they know, or if they rank it so highly because Heartcatch has certain unique elements that other Pretty Cure season do not have. If the latter, perhaps it is these differences that I don't care for—differences that cause me to view Heartcatch unfavorably in comparison to past seasons. Or maybe I'm just tired of watching weak magikal girls fight bad feelings every week.

Kirino and Ruri
Kirino hassles Ruri.

I technically did not drop any shows this season, but I only watched one episode of Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai. I watched episode 11 to see what all that KUNKA KUNKA jazz was about. Man, that Kirino is a total bitch. There is no way I'd be able to watch a full season of anything with her in it. (Bear in mind that I'm an unapologetic Asuka fan, too.) I never had any interest in the show because its most fervent fans are all siscons; that's gotta mean something whether or not the show's actual content justifies that label.

Kuroko
How about you go to a hospital, Kuroko? How about that?

I only watched episodes six and seven of To Aru Majutsu no Index II because I heard they were Kuroko episodes without any Touma speeches. I'm oddly fascinated by Kuroko's old woman voice, but I still have zero interest in the show.

Akira
Turbo Genki Akira is the Best Girl in Yosuga no Sora.

I accidentally watched all of Yosuga no Sora. I watched two of the episodes towards the middle of the season because I heard a harem-anime protagonist actually managed to have sex. If you know anything about anime, you'll understand this is a shockingly rare occurrence, especially so early in a season. I was hoping the show would be another School Days, but it turned out to be an R-rated version of the Amagami SS gimmick. Once I learned that, I backtracked through the earlier episodes to find out how everything started. By then I had watched half of the show and figured I'd keep watching since Haruka was apparently going to run the table. Man, Sora was an intolerable bitch, though. She and Kirino should hang out—at like the bottom of a lake. Anyway, if you want to know what happens but don't feel like waiting for the uncensored Blu-rips, just watch one of the omake EDs; they spoil basically everything that happens in the show.

Haruka
Even Kirika didn't wear the same outfit every single episode, Haruka.

I finished Psychic Detective Yakumo on general principle, but found it pretty boring. It wasn't very Bee Trainy for a Bee Train show. I also wished Haruka had more than one outfit.

Bridgette L. Satellizer, probably
The Eva Series? It's been completed?

I have a feeling I'm not going to be watching as much anime this year, at least not as many of these 13-episode throwaway shows. That said, I do hope Freezing will have DARK MAMIKO. Speaking of Noto Mamiko, Kimi ni Todoke 2 is a lock, and everything about Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica sounds pretty good with the exception of the SHAFT X SHINBO part (which probably sounds pretty good to most people). Naturally I'll continue watching Detective Conan and Pretty Cure and anything Gainax churns out, even if it might cause me to buy and then itasha the fuck out of a Subaru.

Dated 24 January 2012: Initial Impressions, Winter 2012

Hibiki
Hibiki has large headphones.

Senki Zesshou Symphogear is badical. If you can't enjoy teenage girls fighting with the power of song, you can't enjoy anime. I am a little perplexed by the numerous (coincidental?) similarities with Suite Precure♪, though. Both shows are music-themed and feature superpowered teenage girls named Kanade and Hibiki who fight inhuman adversaries known as Noise by using either their magic or a science sufficiently advanced as to be indistinguishable from magic. Senki Zesshou Symphogear is much better than Suite Precure♪ so far, though, even if it does have comically large swords.

Rihoko
I guess Rihoko is kinda fat for an anime character, but
not really fat enough to be the Fat Love Interest.

Amagami SS+ is a worthy sequel to Amagami SS. It follows the same format, although the girls are sequenced in a different order this time. From the looks of it, Amagami SS+ will be 12 episodes offering two-episode arcs for each of the six lead girls, continuing from where the original four-episode arcs in the first season left off, not including timeskip epilogues. Probably the only real problem with Amagami SS+ is that Potato-kun continues to be a bit of a tool with very little to offer in the way of explaining why any of these girls give him the time of day (let alone explaining why some even deigned to sleep with him). Such are harem comedies, I suppose. Even serially monogamous ones.

Athrun
Damn it, Athrun, who did you let die now?

I'm not sure if I should lump the Mobile Suit Gundam SEED "HD" rebroadcast in with the rest of the winter 2012 shows, or group it with my "Also Watching" cluster. Technically, there is new material, where Sunrise was unable able to crop the original 4:3 broadcast without terrible framing problems. Aside from the shortscreen upscale with sporadic new shots, there's not much to this rebroadcast aside from a new ED arrangement I don't like as much as the original. Still, Gundam SEED is pretty good if you aren't carrying too much U.C. baggage. Let's not confuse it with the dreadful Gundam SEED Destiny sequel, at least. In other news, re-watching SEED makes me wish Hummy would have worked in a "Cosmic Era 70" intro to at least one episode of Suite Precure♪. I like seiyuu jokes.

Ayase
Ayase decides it's time to tear shit up.

Guilty Crown is not nearly as bad as people claim—it's just juvenile. Some degree of tolerance for tropes intended to appeal to children and teenage boys is required to fully appreciate Guilty Crown. That said, there are elements of the show that don't make any damn sense. Still, I enjoy it for the nice production values and the sufficiently tolerable male lead. Nevertheless, it is a little hard to stomach a successful terrorist organization run entirely by teenagers.

Genta, Ayumi, Mitsuhiko, and Ai
The kids in Detective Conan are drawn comically short.

Detective Conan is Detective Conan. This season appears poised to be as good as it ever was. Detective Conan also remains the best source for regular Hayashibara Megumi and periodic Kansai-ben Miyamura Yuko (Neon Genesis Evangelion's Rei and Osaka-type Asuka) content.

Kokoro
Kokoro's I.Q. dropped this season, but so did everyone else's.

Tantei Opera Milky Holmes II isn't quite as good as the first season yet, but it's nothing more Kokoro and Arsène couldn't fix.

Shana
Shana should leave her hair on fire at all times.

I'm not going to call the plot of Shakugan no Shana III complicated, but it seems a bit more convoluted than it needs to be. There's a lot of stuff going on at the same time now, and not all of it makes good sense. It's mostly interesting, or at least amusing, which is a huge step up from Shakugan no Shana II which I'm trying my best to forget even though it's only been a few months since I watched it.

Carmel
You know, Carmel doesn't really appear to Manipulate
Objects any more than anyone else does.

It turns out J.C. Staff is not only bad when it comes to fight scenes. It's also bad at war. At least with that arc over, Shakugan no Shana Final can finally answer the important questions: Whatever happened to horny dude after his afternoon of life-threatening copulation with horny chick? Obviously she fucked him into next year, and they were still airborne last we saw them, but what's going to happen when they hit the ground?

Rebecca
I guess Rebecca looks sober here, even with her trousers unbuttoned.

Speaking of which, if Margery is the Shakugan no Shana drunken office lady, then Rebecca is the Shana drunken sorority girl, even though I think she's been sober the whole time. The girl just don't look sober. Ever. I like Rebecca.

Marika
Piracy goes in here.

Moretsu Pirates seems fine so far, but it's kinda boring, even if it does have schoolgirls wearing skirts in zero-G. For being "bodacious space pirates," they don't seem very bodacious, spacey, or piratey.

Hitagi and Araragi
Potato-kun is a pretty half-assed vampire.

I am watching Nisemonogatari. It's pretty good if you like that sort of thing, but it's painful to watch if you have a low tolerance for SHAFTisms. Nisemonogatari is a pretty ambitious harem comedy, but I guess that's still a lot better than typical low-brow ones.

Cure Melody
Cure Melody dies.

Suite Precure♪ is a disaster at this point. Worst Pretty Cure series ever. I hope Smile Precure! is a big improvement. With a starting cast of at least five Cures, I hope Smile tries to tap the focus on interpersonal relationships that made Yes! Precure 5 so successful. I will also accept wall-to-wall mahou shoujo beatdowns a la the first generation, Futari wa Pretty Cure.

Dated 14 February 2012: I forgot to prepare a Valentine's Day post

Umehara and two unnamed men
Umehara diverts a cram school brute squad.

<&Seem> The official website for the Amagami SS+ romance anime series announced on Tuesday that the anime's seventh Blu-ray Disc/DVD volume will contain an episode arc for the Miya Tachibana character from Enterbrain's original Amagami game. The episode will be titled "Onsen"
< Evirus> Seem, that rowdy faction that wants to see Potato-kun get it on with his kid sister just won't quit. Maybe they'll continue selling how Junichi's friend is a good wingman and have him nail Miya during her arc. Mainstream NTR could become the next thing and Amagami SS+ can claim to have pioneered it.
< Totalizator> i can see mainstream NTR annoying the shit out of me
< Totalizator> lets take the eternal trope of the protag never boning anyone and add a subplot where his friend is boning his harem behind his back
< Totalizator> ...hmm actually that would be an improvement

Fujimura Shougo and Misumi Nagisa
Via Twitter:

Futari wa Pretty Cure Max Heart needs an OVA where Nagisa beats the REAL final boss, Fujimura Shougo (Fujipi-senpai) and captures his heart.

Dated 3 April 2012: Season Wrap-up, Winter 2012

Genjuro and Chris
When in doubt, hug Chris.

Senki Zesshou Symphogear was awesome because it was preposterous. Symphogear went above and beyond to remain entertaining. From the first BADICAL episode to its ridiculous climax, Symphogear always remained fun to watch. I can't claim with a straight face that it's actually good, but I never claimed a show had to be good to be the best show of the season. More of this sort of thing, please.

Yassan and Hidenori
It's all about the timing.

The best show of Winter 2012 if you want to use boring metrics such as "funny" or "consistent" is Daily Lives of High School Boys (Danshi Kōkōsei no Nichijō or "Nichibros" affectionately, among fans). Shockingly, this was a very amusing comedy and nothing at all like what I thought it would be about based on the title. Daily Lives of High School Boys also accomplished the rare No Bad Episodes achievement. Hell, I'd even go so far as to recommend it. That's something I can't do for Symphogear.

Saya
Black Rock Shooter needed more DARK MAMIKO.

I liked Black Rock Shooter for its almost confrontational use of allegory and metaphor to illustrate the trauma of suffering teenage feelings. I don't believe I have an especially high tolerance or patience for teen angst in general, so I consider my positive overall opinion of Black Rock Shooter to be a testament to its solid, stylish execution and depiction of envy, despair, humiliation, friendship, and courage. I can see how other viewers might wildly disagree, though.

Kazuha and Amakazu
Kazuha aikidos the shit out of some deadbeat.

Detective Conan remains as good as ever. It's somewhat amazing that after more than 650 episodes it still has compelling stories about its key characters. It's also just as satisfying as ever to watch Ran and Kazuha whip the Hell out of some goob. If you're new to these wrap-ups, Detective Conan is sort of my control group of quality since it's pretty consistent and appears ready to run as long as it has to.

Tsugumi
Guilty Crown needed more Butt OS.

Guilty Crown was all over the place this season. It's quite a mess, but was pretty entertaining in an absurd sort of way when it was about [spoilers] and [spoilers] and [spoilers!], but then it just started getting stupid. Shu as a protagonist was its biggest flaw, and things would have been so much better if Guilty Crown had killed him unexpectedly and replaced him with Ayase. For a show that I ranked number one for a large part of the season, Guilty Crown fell a long way in its inability to pull off a satisfying conclusion. It also didn't make a damn lot of sense, but a show doesn't need to make sense to be the best of the season. (See Symphogear.)

Flay
Poor Flay is just misunderstood.

The "HD" rebroadcast of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED is not much different from the original. It's mostly just cropped and upscaled. I still like it, though, even if Flay's breasts are now flying out-of-control all over the OP.

Lucius
That is some pretty good ramen.

I finished Thermae Romae months ago. It's a good thing it was so short, though. I can't imagine watching a full cour of it.

Miyuki and Nao
Flag of England and lance corporal rank.

It's a bit of a relief that Smile Precure! is charming. These girls can't fight worth a damn. That's kind of the trend for Pretty Cure over the last few years, though. There's not nearly enough ass kicking. I remain hopeful that Cure March will get her act together later, even if she does end up carrying the rest of the team. Notably, Nao wears combat boots and her favorite shirt appears to have lance corporal rank insignia on its sleeve and the flag of England on the breast. SHOW ME YOUR WAR FACE, CURE MARCH!

Ai
Ai is pretty awesome even though she tastes like ramen.

Amagami SS+ was a huge letdown because it retconned nearly all of the progress Potato-kun made in the first season. It would be almost inexplicable, except that I should have predicted the craven devotion to upholding the Otaku Virtues. In nearly every respect, the second season of Amagami SS is wasted potential, and a waste of time. At least Tsukasa remains the Amagami Best Girl by showing she's smart enough not to fall for stupid tricks.

Asia
Potato-kun comes for Asia's box.

High School DxD is both a disappointment and a pleasant surprise. On the one hand, it's a lot better than a trashy show like that has any right to be. On the other hand, it didn't turn out as good as it appeared it would be from the early episodes following the cookie-cutter first episode.

Arsène
The best Milky Holmes II had to offer.

Tantei Opera Milky Holmes II was not nearly as good as the first season. Then again, the first season was a lot better than anyone expected it to be, so I guess it works out. Too much lard, not enough Arsène, and the only new gag I liked was Hercule turning out to be a huge pervert in secret.

Akazawa
Hair down > twin-tails.

Another was another letdown for me. It started off boring, got interesting, got stupid, and ended up being completely retarded. I think it tried recapture the elements that made Shiki so good, but instead of B-movie fun Another was just poorly written dreck. So many problems. There's only so much handwaving I'm willing to accept. And another thing: [SPOILERS] If everyone forgets about the dead extra person after he's killed, how do they know it's over? Wouldn't the class continue looking for the extra person until everyone was dead? In any case, it seems a lot of people who were very critical of Guilty Crown for being puerile were much more forgiving of Another despite the two shows sharing similar flaws. I took the opposite view. I dunno, maybe I liked Butt OS and wheelchair-fu more than I thought. A classroom of students too stupid to live? Not so much.

Shana
Dere-Dere Mode, activate!

Shakugan no Shana III was a lot better than Shakugan no Shana II but was still terrible. I blame J.C. Staff's persistent problems with producing compelling fight scenes. They're bad enough at it that sequences only a few seconds long routinely come out horrid. Thus, when J.C. Staff tries to drag out fight scenes over multiple episodes, the end result is disastrous.

Shinobu
Whatever happened to Shinobu's helmet and goggles?

Nisemonogatari is awesome if you like that SHAFTXSHINBO jive. It'll irritate the crap out of you if you have little to no patience for it, though. And let's be clear on this: Koyomi is a harem comedy protagonist. A shitty one. Also, the obsession with little sisters has got to stop. I suppose I don't "get" Japanese fetishes, but I am really tired of the imouto thing. It's basically only okay when it's like Harima + Yakumo from School Rumble (platonic friendship with the kid sister of his unrequited love). I suspect many viewers will further disagree with me here, but as much as I like Sakamoto Maaya, I believe Hirano Aya, the original voice of Shinobu (back when she didn't talk) would have been a better match. I assume Hirano Aya was replaced for reasons related to her relatively recent personal and professional problems.

I already described my problems with Suite Precure♪. I still want to know whether or not Cure Rhythm's battle costume smells like cake, though.

I dropped Moretsu Pirates because it was boring. I heard later that the show is actually about privateering, anyway.

Dated 5 December 2016: I guess Seiren is an Amagami SS sequel

Hikari
Maybe Seiren will just be about Hikari sitting on things.

Remembered mostly for its Battle of the Best Girls, Amagami SS was an all right 2010 harem comedy with an omnibus gimmick. That is, the series as a whole consisted of multiple short parallel-universe story arcs reflecting the Amagami game's different routes. This was a structure also used by, uh, Yosuga no Sora. I guess I liked Amagami SS and its sequel Amagami SS+ Plus all right, despite containing some high-level bullshit. They at least had reasonably charming girls. Potato-kun, though, was a pretty unremarkable putz, and it was not at all clear why any of the girls (aside from Rihoko, I suppose) were into him. I can only assume every other dude in that school was a cretin like Potato-kun's pervy friend.

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Dated 23 January 2017: The most uncommon character in Demi-chan wa Kataritai is the teacher

Tetsuo and Hikari
Dude has really long fingers.

No, not the teacher who is a succubus. She's just another Christmas cake virgin, same as practically all female teachers in anime. (P.S. Spoilers.) I'm referring to the male teacher, who is perhaps the rarest of anime creatures: The adult male lead in a harem comedy. Or, more specifically, he is an adult male anime character who behaves like a goddamn grown-up despite being the lead in a harem comedy.

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Dated 30 January 2017: I've got three shows below the Cosprayers Line

Tazuna and Koyori
Dude sure loves gears.

I started using The Cosmopolitan Prayers more than 10 years ago as a metric to measure the lower limits of tolerably bad anime. Long-time readers will recognize the familiar invective, "WORSE THAN COSPRAYERS" which started out somewhat facetiously, but evolved to become a standard I've applied regularly where appropriate, albeit usually for shows I've quit watching. Through the first third or so of the current season, I'm somehow still watching the following three shows which fall below the Cosprayers Line of dubious quality: Masamune-kun no Revenge, Seiren, and Hand Shakers.

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Dated 6 February 2017: Seiren pulls out of its nosedive

Tooru
A challenger appears.

The first arc of Seiren was a stunning disappointment. It was inept in almost wholly unoriginal ways, which made it doubly worse because this meant it should have been able to avoid all its missteps. The first episode of its second arc, however, gets the next route off to a good start by revisiting some of the elements that made Seiren's Amagami SS predecessor at least memorable, even if it was not exactly capital-G Good.

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