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Dated 19 April 2012: Initial impressions of the spring 2012 anime season

Fujiko
Fujiko is one of anime's All-Time Babes.

Lupin III: Mine Fujiko to lu Onna is good—refreshingly so. The first two episodes have been solid, and it's such a relief to watch something that's not in the modern moé style. As much as I love Sawashiro Miyuki, I'm still not sure how I feel about her taking over the role of Fujiko. It seems as if Masuyama Eiko still had the role not that long ago, but I see now that the Detective Conan v. Lupin III movie was in 2009. I guess she couldn't do the voice forever. And as much as I love Horie Yui, Sawashiro Miyuki is definitely doing a better job as Fujiko than HOCCHAN did as Honey.

Niiya and Yuuko
Ghost hime-cut.

Tasogare Otome x Amnesia is a pleasant surprise. The RSS feed for the scanlated releases of the manga has actually been in my aggregator for ages, although I couldn't remember why I added it. (I've never read a single chapter.) I've seen a lot of comments about how SHAFT-like the show is, but I didn't get that sense at all. That SHAFT jive usually annoys the Bejeezus out of me, but I didn't notice any pretentious, intrusive direction in the first two episodes. So far Tasogare Otome x Amnesia has been entertaining and funny, and this season's resident ghost girlfriend is quite charming.

Rea
Not a zombie hime-cut.

Some people dismissed Sankarea because it's a Studio DEEN production. I'm not nearly as critical of Studio DEEN as contempory anime fans seem to be. Studio DEEN is responsible for the best show of all time, after all. Not that Sankarea is at all in the same league, but it does seem interesting and well done. I'm not sure how I feel about zombie girlfriends, but definitely less favorably than ghost girlfriends, that's for sure.

Medaka
Rally 'round the flag, boys.

Medaka Box is this season's most underrated show. It's underrated because so many viewers are incredibly critical of it, dismissing it as an unworthy product of a post-exodus Gainax. It's possible I am more lenient because of the Gainax badge, but I don't think Medaka Box is bad at all. On the contrary, the show is amusing with a thankfully all right male lead. Medaka herself is very likable, although possibly I'm mesmerized by that crazy shit she does with her eyes. Also, Medaka reminds me of Haruhi, only benevolent.

Moji
KAMINA LIVES!

I haven't started this season's Detective Conan yet, but if it's as good as it always is, you can expect it to place about here in the early season rankings. [Edit: Followed by the continuing episodes of the Gundam SEED "HD" re-watching project.]

Kaoru and Sentaro
Love at first sight.

Sakamichi no Apollon is one of those "objectively good" shows. I think it's pretty well done, but that doesn't necessarily mean I'll like it. It's pretty obvious the new wimpy kid and the big tough kid are in love with each other, but I have a feeling the show will pretend to be about jazz and Miss Third Wheel instead all season long.

Yuki
Social Anxiety Poster Boy.

Tsuritama is also "objectively good," but I can't tell if I'll still be interested in the show after a few more episodes of this stuff. I've got books on Byzantine history I've been meaning to read.

Saber
Your sword is showing, lady.

Fate/zero from episode 14+ is about as good as where it left off two seasons ago. I expect it to get even better now that it's free to kill off basically everyone. Anyone familiar with Fate/stay night knows how this will end, but I'm curious how ufotable plans to get us there.

Cure March
I like Cure March, but that hair is tragic.

I think I was biased to dislike Smile Precure! on general principle, but it's turning out to be pretty good. It could use more brawling, though. Smile Precure! is basically Fresh Yes! Precure 5 except with less ass kicking and less illicit romance.

Nyarlathotep
Nyarlathotep is Top Fuel Asumin.

Haiyore! Nyarlko is good because it is such high-energy, but I'm not optimistic enough to believe it can sustain these levels successfully over the course of the season. If I had to guess, I'd suspect fickle anime fans will start to disavow the show by next season.

Natsumi and Saki
Needs more pratfalls and less bitching at each other.

Natsuiro Kiseki episode two was a lot better than episode one. It helps that I kinda like Sphere. Nevertheless, I'm not especially enamored with the drama elements. The physical comedy is pretty good, though, as is the characters' almost casual acceptance of magic.

Fourteen
I wonder how M14 feels about M1A?

Upotte!! is pretty bad, but totally watchable. Hey, sometimes I enjoy following a show just because it's anime. And Upotte!! is very anime.

Kuroyukihime and Haru
Hey, they found a way to make Potato-kun worse than usual.

Accel World plummeted in my opinion once I saw episode two and realized the entire show was going to be shounen jive and practically doomed to be wall-to-wall exposition and unnecessarily long, tedious fight scenes.

Elina
I wasn't expecting continuity.

Queen's Blade: Rebellion manages to be an abomination in comparison with its first two seasons. I don't like the cast as much, and the entire thing just reeks of terrible. It's a pity, because the plot sounded kinda interesting on paper. However, if the rest of the series isn't much better than the first episode, Queen's Blade: Rebellion will be WORSE THAN COSPRAYERS.

Dated 17 May 2012: Medaka as the second coming of Haruhi

Medaka
Not pictured: Medaka's box.

Honestly, I don't think there are that many examples of people equating Medaka with Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu's titular character, even if I did say this season's Medaka reminded me of 2006's small god. However, enough people have made the comparison to invite disagreement among those opposed to simplistic conflation of the two. But is Medaka like Haruhi or not?

Haruhi
It's best to keep small gods appeased.

On the surface, it seems the comparisons arise from similarities between Medaka's preternatural prowess at practically everything and Haruhi's, well, omnipotence [P.S. Spoilers], but perhaps the ease at which viewers draw these comparisons is indicative of something else entirely: There is a dearth of capable, confident, assertive female anime characters in leadership roles. This is not to say there aren't any, and I'd venture anime in general contains more of such heroines than other media or genres, but I'll also claim the "moé-ification" of anime has forced female characters to have at least one "adorable" weakness, like Ouran Host Club's Haruhi's fear of thunder. Even Perfect Girls are not immune: School Rumble's Yakumo is afraid of dogs and Amagami SS's Tsukasa is, well, kinda crazy.

Medaka and Zenkichi
Not pictured: The Sea of Galilee.

Comparisons are also natural because Medaka and Haruhi can both seemingly do anything they want, and do it extraordinarily well. As NovaJinx (supra) notes, Medaka is seemingly perfect, while even Haruhi had faults. But faults aren't necessarily weaknesses, are they? That's the key, there: Neither appear to have weaknesses, let alone "cute" moé ones. I submit that capable, confident, assertive female anime characters lacking silly weaknesses are so rare that when two of them appear in the same decade it's inevitable they'll get lumped together.

Rias and Issei
You're better off making a contract with Rias than with Kyubey.

Okay, what about Rias Gremory? Two problems: (1) I don't think anyone took High School DxD seriously (I sure didn't), and (2) Rias did not impose her will on others indiscriminately. Haruhi, on the other hand, is one pushy broad. A sweetheart nonetheless, but yeah, kinda pushy. And Medaka? Oh, you will submit to Medaka's benevolence. Just lie back.

Dated 23 June 2012: The End of Medaka Box ~Air/My Purest Love for Shounen Jive~

Akune, Kikaijima, and Zenkichi
Unexpectedly, they're not cleaning up after Medaka.

The first cour of Medaka Box ended recently, but with the spring 2012 season coming to an end, I could have kicked this down the road and merely included it with a season summary post, but I feel Medaka Box justifies a separate entry. I enjoyed Medaka Box, but I'm not sure I'll be watching the second season.

Medaka
Medaka is so angry her hair changed color.

Like the manga, the Medaka Box anime undergoes a somewhat jarring transformation from a wacky celebration of Medaka's preternatural talents to a shounen jive block of increasingly surreal battles and one-upmanship. Frankly, through 70-some chapters, I'm tired of the bombastic precocious high school kids challenging Medaka one after another. I sure hope there's a "don't underestimate adults" segment soon to teach them some humility. The mother who looks like she's 10 doesn't count.

Unzen and Medaka
Medaka slugs a kid in the gut.

I have a low tolerance of shounen jive in general, so I don't expect to last long during Medaka Box season two. Even the amount of yappin' during the Unzen arc climax of the first-cour finale got on my nerves. This is a shame because Medaka herself and her menagerie of followers are rather charming, and I would be interested in seeing more of Medaka's aggressive benevolence instead of the upcoming endless wall-to-wall battles.

Dated 10 July 2012: Spring 2012 season wrapup

Rin, Yuka, Saki, and Natsumi
Rin, Saki, and Natsumi realize by now that Yuka
with an idea can be a dangerous thing.

I've already explained why Natsuiro Kiseki is my favorite show from spring 2012. However, I didn't mention how shabby the animation looks at times. I'm really surprised to see such lapses from Sunrise, but the show is otherwise so good I'm willing to ignore those faults.

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Dated 28 October 2012: Initial impressions of the autumn 2012 season

Erwin, Caesar, Oryou, and Saemonza
This scene was awesome.

Autumn 2012 so far: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure (1-4) > Smile Precure! (34-36) > Sword Art Online (15-17) > GIRLS und PANZER (1-3) > Medaka Box Abnormal (1-3) > Busou Shinki (1-4) > Aikatsu! (1-3) > Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! (1-4) > Little Busters! (1-4).

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Dated 9 December 2012: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure and Medaka Box Abnormal are basically the same show

Zeppeli
JoJo and Zeppeli share a tender moment.

Okay, I don't really believe that JoJo's Bizarre Adventure and Medaka Box Abnormal are basically the same show, but there are some similarities that you can't ignore. Principally, both shows are essentially about increasingly implausible battles between overpowered fighters with superhuman abilities. I guess technically the fighters only start out as superhuman or special in Medaka Box Abnormal, whereas in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure these abilities are triggered by external influences or inspired by having sufficient willpower or emotional commitment. Also mountain training and stuff. Whatever. Does this make Medaka Box Abnormal sort of chuunibyou because its characters are supposed to be special? Look, don't even start. And let's not even consider whether people can be considered special or abnormal if everyone else around them has absurd abilities too.

Naze and Maguro
Naze and Maguro share a tender moment.

Does that mean people who like JoJo's Bizarre Adventure will like Medaka Box Abnormal also? Not necessarily. Perhaps if their enjoyment comes from the one-upmanship as new abilities manifest during heroic moments of crisis, but Medaka Box lacks burly men and nearly all its ass-shots are of girls. Personally, I suspect some JoJo fans are motivated more by efforts to distance themselves from the despicable moé-tuned crowd while convincing themselves that watching anime can still be cool even if it does come STRAIGHT FROM JAPAN. But apart from its origins in the historically significant and influential JoJo's Bizarre Adventure manga, I'm not sure I can claim the anime is particularly noteworthy when viewed strictly in and of itself. Then again, I'm an odious newbie anime fan who knew nothing of JoJo prior to the anime, and moreover, I consider Medaka to be Toyosaki Aki's best role to date. What do I know?

Dated 28 December 2012: Autumn 2012 season summary

Miho
It turns out you can bully a girl into seizing the reins of destiny.

I knew that GIRLS und PANZER was going to be good, but I certainly wasn't expecting it to be so popular. As others have pointed out, GIRLS und PANZER sets the new standard for anime catering to military otaku. This is largely due to its extensive attention to detail, but it also doesn't forget to remain accessible to general audiences. You don't need to catch a Sergeant Oddball reference to appreciate Yukari infiltrating the Not American school in a Sunkus uniform. Sadly, GIRLS und PANZER may have been a bit ambitious in its planning and production. The show's finest moment is unavailable to Western audiences (officially, anyway) due to copyright and licensing issues. Its final two episodes have also been pushed until spring 2013. Personally, I'm glad studio Actas decided to work to standard and not to time, so I'm all right with the delay.

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