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Dated 15 October 2013: In re Summer 2013 Anime -or- The End of Silver Spoon ~Air/My Purest Love for Bacon~

Nakajima and Yoshino
I couldn't think of a gouda cheese pun to use for this caption.

Summer 2013: Silver Spoon [1-11] > Uchouten Kazoku [1-13] > Symphogear G [1-13] > Love Lab [1-13] > Genshiken Nidaime [1-13] > Prisma☆Illya [1-10] > C3-bu [1-13] > Turning Girls [1-7] > Detective Conan (701-711) > DokiDoki! Precure (23-34) > RailgunS [13-24] > Dog & Scissors [1-12].

Yoshino and Hachiken
These two are pretty upset even though Yoshino's not pregnant.

Dropped: Gatchaman Crowds (1-9) > Servant x Service (1-3) > Kiniro Mosaic (1-4) > Kitakubu Katsudou Kiroku (1-2) > Gen'ei o Kakeru Taiyou: Il Sole Penetra le Illusioni (1-3) > Chou Jigen Game Neptume The Animation (1) > High School DxD NEW (1-4) > Futari wa Milky Holmes (1-2). WORSE THAN COSPRAYERS: Shingeki no Kyojin (13.5-14).

This chart started out as a joke, but has grown kinda out of control. Of course, the whole ranking anime thing started out as a joke too, and then suddenly five years went by.

Yoshino and Aki
Yoshino makes me want to eat smoked cheese more than Churuya ever did.

Gin no Saji (Silver Spoon) was easily the best summer 2013 series that I watched. It was consistently entertaining and I was impressed with how Hachiken's character developed over the show's 11 episodes. Even the quandary with "Pork Bowl" ended up much better than I expected. That was the plot point I had the most reservations about, but I'm quite pleased with how Silver Spoon resolved it.

Professor Akadama
Five will get you tengu he's going to trash the joint.

Uchouten Kazoku (The Eccentric Family) stands out among the summer 2013 shows for being intelligent about idiots and being strange while feeling familiar. The focus is on tanuki family dynamics, but it turns out the problems fuzzball shapeshifters have with their families aren't too different than those experienced by humans, except perhaps tanuki aren't as quick to embrace Shakespearean revenge tragedies. To be fair, all I really learned about tanuki is that they are dumbasses and that they are easily panicked, but maybe that's all anyone needs to know about tanuki.

Benten
Tall-collar service.

More importantly, I learned Mamiko can knock 'em dead better than ever. Her work as Benten was transcendent. I've never wanted to be a decrepit old man more. In fact, thanks mostly to Noto Mamiko's superb work, but also because Benten herself is such straight-up trouble, I'm nominating Suzuki Satomi for 2013 Girl of the Year. I'd also like to mention that Nakahara Mai is better than ever, although I encourage her to take more parts like her role in Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita and and fewer roles as young boys.

The Shimogamo mom
The Shimogamo matriarch is lucky so many dudes wanted to do her tanuki-style.

Senki Zesshou Symphogear G: In the Distance, That Day, When the Star Became Music... had a great ending. Basically, if you didn't like that final episode then you just don't like anime. That said, the show itself did have a few issues. First of all, Dr. Ver's comically evil persona never seemed particularly threatening, except for maybe when we learned he wanted to make babies with Maria. Second, Maria herself turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. I certainly was not expecting her to spend most of the show crying. I guess it's a good thing there's not going to be a follow-up cour devoted to her efforts at repopulating the planet, because she'd probably cry the entire time then too.

Maria
Listen, sugar, either go back to whaling on some deadbeats
or help me repopulate the planet, but get to work.

Sorry, Maria really needed to focus more on tearing shit up and coming up with new cape-fu moves instead of all the moping she did. Still, I'll ignore a lot of faults when a show spends most of its time focusing on mahou shoujo whaling on each other while singing. Shirabe and Kirika were endearing even though their fights lost a lot of impact because there was no danger of anyone getting hurt. Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS already demonstrated that providing lots of collateral damage is not a substitute for emotional resonance.

Illya
The fan service in Prisma☆Illya gets out of control.

I've already written about the endings to Love Lab, Genshiken Nidaime, and Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya.

Yura
Oh, hey, it's Evangelion's Train of Despair.

Tokurei Sochi Dantai Stella Jo-Gakuin Koutou-ka C3-Bu spent too much time on Yura taking all the fun out of a game, but that was sort of the point. In a way, C3-bu felt as if Gainax wanted to stretch out a Gainax ending as far as they could. Technically, C3-bu did have a Gainax ending, but then they went ahead and made another episode that seemed to contain material I'd usually expect in a standalone OVA. Maybe that's the way it was originally planned, but someone figured at the last minute that it probably wouldn't sell or something.

I finished watching Turning Girls weeks ago.

Ran, Kogoro, and Conan
Ran shows off her crazy metabolism again.

I fell behind on Detective Conan but managed to catch up by the time I finally got this thing written. As for Meitantei Conan itself, it's still a reliable control for comparing shows season-to-season. It does need more Kazuha, though. I was concerned maybe her prolonged absence was related to Miyamura Yuko's longer commuting requirements. (She moved to Australia a few years ago.) I'm not sure if that's a factor, but it appears autumn 2013 starts off with at least four Heiji (with Kazuha in tow) episodes to follow the two that finished up the summer 2013 season. I'm certainly in favor of a six-episode block of Kazuha episodes, but I'm curious if they would have been spaced out instead if Miyamura Yuko still lived in Japan.

Cure Rosetta
Relax, yo. Cure Rosetta has got this.

DokiDoki! Precure did two notable things during the summer 2013 cour. One, it introduced a sass-talking Kugimiya Rie Cure. Two, it raised the stakes in the all-singing, all-dancing 3DCG ED wars. Aside from that, DokiDoki! is turning out to be one of the less interesting Pretty Cure generations, although episode 34 did have some rad Cure Rosetta beatdowns.

Saten and Uiharu
This made no sense, but I'll allow it.

To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S needed more SATEN, but I'm glad it found excuses to trot her out in different hairstyles and various street clothes. The ending of the series was rather ridiculous with its casualty-free battle between espers and drones. I guess I was pleased to see SATEN behind the controls of a giant robot, though. P.S. Spoilers.

I already covered Dog and Scissors.

I won't revisit the shows I dropped except to say I also dropped Gatchaman Crowds. This one comes as a bit of a surprise because it seemed so promising after a strong start. However, I was unable to take the villain seriously and never cared what he did. I also did not sympathize with Rui at all nor had any interest in his reasons for crossdressing. The turning point was the episode where Rui is mercilessly beaten for what ended up being a hilariously long time and I realized I had absolutely no emotional investment in any of the characters and was only still watching to see how long Hajime could prolong her violently upbeat attitude. I fell behind after that, and once I learned how disappointed other fans were with the series finale, I decided to simply quit watching altogether.

Saten and Uiharu
Hey, sweetie, eyes on the God damn road.

This season summary is a lot more piecemeal than previous ones, but I kinda get the feeling the amount of time required to compile these things does not expand linearly with the number of additional shows watched. Maybe the one I write three months from now for the autumn 2013 shows will be a lot more cohesive and contain greater detail and not be dragged out over several weeks. At least, maybe it will be that way if I continue to watch only three shows. I've got up to 10 I might consider, but I can't see following more than seven for the time being.

Dated 21 December 2011: Something that bugs me about this last Idolmaster arc ~or~ The Idolm@ster TV and Neon Genesis Evangelion are the same show

Haruka and Miki
Miki, the sound voice of reason, lectures Haruka.

The Idolm@ster TV has been pretty good with its attention to detail. However, I'm a bit confused about one seemingly obvious aspect about the current arc that doesn't make sense. Unless I missed something, everyone gets together for a party on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. In the subsequent episodes, they struggle to coordinate their schedules so that they can practice together for their New Year's live performance. This concert is on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day, right? Well, there is only one week between Christmas and New Year's. It sure seems like a lot of days go by as practice after practice gets canceled or postponed, and then a lot more days during which Haruka is mired in her deep, blue funk. It sure seems a lot of stuff happens in the course of one week, and we haven't even gotten to New Year's yet. If you can point out an error or misunderstanding on my part or otherwise clear things up, send me a telegram.

[Update: That was fast. So the live performance is not on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day.]

@Evirus The New Year's Live isn't in New Year's Eve; it's supposed to be an homage to the RL New Year's Live: http://jouttex.otadesho.com/the-idolmster-2-new-year-live/
-@SieteSeventh

Haruka
Haruka and two conflicting calendars.

However, I am inclined to believe this incongruity is intentional. Calendars appear in numerous scenes in episode 23 as Haruka strives to get the group back together. Curiously, these calendars are not all in agreement. One shows January 2012, but another shows November 2012. At least two display January 2013. Kotori's desk calendar remains unchanged both before and after Christmas, but the month shown does not match any likely possibilities.

Azusa, Makoto, Yukiho, Chihaya, and Haruka
Don't you girls have any chairs? Metal folding chairs?

There is a simple answer that explains both the unusually long month and these dueling calendars—one that other people have surely surmised already: Haruka has initiated Third Impact. Yes, Idolm@ster Instrumentality has begun. Just as Shinji anguished over his chance to re-create his world into a form less painful (Love Eva), Haruka holds the future in her hands. Haruhi help us all. On the other hand, when they get around to making The End of Idolm@ster ~Air/My Purest Love for Honey~ it is going to kick all ass.

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 1 June 2010: Expect a crush of Rebuild of Evangelion 2.22 posts herein, part one

Shinji's SDAT
WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS BULLSHIT?

For those of you who don't know what I'm going on about, Shinji's SDAT player during the original series only displayed tracks 25 and 26, suggesting the mindfuck final episodes may have been deliberately planned all along.

Dated 13 April 2010: Winter 2010 season wrapup

Kou
I liked the manga version of this scene better, though.

Cross Game and Kimi ni Todoke went down to the wire as to which show would claim the top spot, but Cross Game pulled ahead for the win at the very last episode because it had a great ending and Kimi ni Todoke didn't have an ending at all.

Kurumi
Ume > Sawako.

To be fair, the Kimi ni Todoke manga is still running, so there wasn't much else the anime could do without making Kazehaya a vengeful bounty hunter years in the future after a sudden timeskip. On the other hand, Cross Game took a good manga ending and adapted it so well it's better than its source.

Chiaki and Nodame
Damn, Chiaki, give the kid a break.

I already said why I like Nodame Cantabile: Finale so much.

Ed
Here is a screenshot of Ed instead of Winry
again since it is technically his show.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood remains as solid as or better than the first Fullmetal Alchemist anime. I'm still perplexed why so many viewers who were excited by the first anime are apparently completely uninterested in the current show. I guess maybe they outgrew it. Brotherhood continues during the Spring 2010 season.

Noloty
The Book of Bantorra needed more Noloty.

I liked The Book of Bantorra mostly because it was so different. Imaginative and perplexing at nearly every turn, The Book of Bantorra kept me interested because I never knew what to expect from any episode. That, and I liked how the most powerful and dangerous librarian's primary weapon consisted of hucking very small rocks. I was also amused she spent a good portion of her spare time embroidering little bunny rabbits. Hamyuts was pretty well-rounded for a sadist.

Celty
I promise not to make any head jokes.

Durarara!! is a good show that I would enjoy more if I cared about any of the characters. They aren't badly written characters by any means; I just don't find them interesting for some reason. I don't even care about Celty—probably because she gets flustered so easily. It's like finding out your hot date is infected with moe. Yeah, you can get a shot to clear it right up, but sometimes the burning sensation just isn't worth it. I guess I kinda like the girl who smiles in every single one of her scenes and the perpetually angry dude who throws vending machines at people. DRRR!! also continues Spring 2010.

Cure Berry
Cure Berry needed more funnels.

Fresh Pretty Cure really took a dive after the Cure Passion arc. The ending was completely lackluster. When you compare it to the ending of the original Futari wa Pretty Cure series or the ending of its Max Heart sequel, it's blatantly obvious the Precure franchise is playing it safe and taking no chances anymore. The ending of the original Futari wa Pretty Cure was a complete downer that probably didn't traumatize many children but doubtlessly left many of them sad. Too bad, kids; life is real. The ending of Max Heart was a multi-episode fist fight between Zakenna dudes that didn't fight fair and the outnumbered Cure Black and Cure White. (Shiny Luminous was on the bench with too many fouls at this point.) Then they basically had to fight Lilith from The End of Evangelion. It was awesome. The Fresh Pretty Cure finale, on the other hand, faced off four Cures against a bad guy Kirk and Spock would have outwitted without leaving the bridge. And they received battle costume upgrades in the form of angel wings for some reason. Except for Cure Gundam Berry. Just had to be different, didn't you, Miki?


Okay, there was some misinformation in Chu-Bra! as well.

I didn't expect much from Chu-Bra!! at all. This was my PSP experiment show. Results from the experiment were inconclusive in this case, but I believe it would have made a difference with a show where the video and audio mattered more regarding one's enjoyment of the series. Instead of the fan service bonanza and a lot of pandering, Chu-Bra!! instead turned out to be the low-brow anime equivalent of a +5 Informative Slashdot post. It wasn't especially ambitious, but Chu-Bra!! surprised me by not being crass. Honest. Many of the underwear scenes were drawn extremely simplistically to presumably minimize the amount of fan service in the show. In fact, I think there were fewer gratuitious T&A scenes than there were underwear lessons in the style of the Gunbuster science lessons. I kid you not.

Kate and Hana
Hirano Aya is perfect as Katja.

Seikon no Qwaser is basically porn that's not intended to titillate. It's anime one-upmanship. Episode one: Junior high kid sucks high school tits to boost his shounen fighting powers. By episode 11 the show moves on to twincest lesbian S&M rapists. I'm dead serious. And it's planned for 24 episodes. I, for one, am looking forward to another cour with a great Hirano Aya character and the only Kawasumi Ayako game in town.

Hinagiku
I guess Hinagiku was all right since she had a yakuza posse.

Hanamaru Kindergarten was the least Gainaxy Gainax show I've ever seen. I would have liked it better if it had Gainax kicks, or if the lead characters weren't so despicable. I swear, Tsuchida could have learned a lot about ambition and guts from Love Hina's Urashima Keitaro. Yamamoto was supposed to be a Belldandy-type perfect woman, but she's dumb as all Hell.

Vamp
Vamp and Kayoko should get married.

Astro Fighter Sunred is about as good as it ever was, I suppose, but 40+ episodes of essentially the same jokes over and over gets a little tedious. I'll keep watching it if ANBU keeps subbing it, but Sunred really should have been a 13-episode series. I'd still rather watch a Kayoko + Vamp cooking show about bachelor chow.

Dark Precure
Cure Kero-chan.

Heartcatch Precure appears to be the most popular Pretty Cure series thus far, at least as far as mainstream acceptance goes. I'm really unimpressed by it, however, probably because Cure Blossom is a dojikko and her worst-Cure-ever shtick is not endearing at all. Needs more Dark Precure and Cure I-Know-It's-You-Hisakawa-Aya Moonlight. A mid-season replacement for Fresh Pretty Cure, look for Heartcatch to run at least another 40 episodes.

Dark Precure
I bet Dark Precure's original designation was Cure Sunshine.
[Update: Oops, there's already a character called Cure Sunshine.]

Final Tally: Cross Game > Kimi ni Todoke > Nodame Cantabile: Finale > Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (50) > The Book of Bantorra > Durarara!! (12) > Fresh Pretty Cure > Chu-Bra!! [PSP] > Seikon no Qwaser (11) > Hanamaru Kindergarten > Sunred II (40) > Heartcatch Precure (8). Dropped Winter 2010: None.

Dated 4 October 2009: I like the Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~ ending

Doctor Scythe Master
"So worth it."

I know the ending to Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~ really angered a lot of people, but I have zero problems with it. My reaction could be related to my growing distaste for the ever-common "I MUST PROTECT HER" theme that seems to permeate anime and manga. Zwei had a touch of this affecting him as well, but I'm really glad his efforts played out the way it did. If you're going to cast a "I MUST PROTECT HER" line, you should expect these kinds of snarls to develop.

Mio
Mio isn't exactly Detective Conan, but she doesn't have to be.

Without revealing too many spoilers, I also enjoyed how the climactic battles resulted in one Phantom dead, another Phantom pretty fucked up, and another Phantom walking away without a scratch. I guess we all know who The Strongest is now.

Ein
Evening gowns of Madlax Invulnerability only stop bullets.

Speaking of which, True Noir coming out of nowhere to Kirika the Bejeezus out of the Eva Series before they could initiate Instrumentality with Ein's corpse was awesome. I'll forgive the lack of El Cazador de la Bruja cameos during the Mexico arc for more Chloe-stabbing-people-in-the-neck-type action any day.

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
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.

Plug
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 12 April 2009: I wanted to say "Deus Ex Makina" in an entry about Shikabane Hime: Kuro

Makina
Makina is all about reaction shots. And bare asses. And punches to the face.

It turns out there wasn't a Deus Ex Machina in Shikabane Hime. But it did turn out that Shikabane Hime: Kuro is the best show from the Winter 2009 season. Yes, better than Toradora! (which I ranked fifth among shows I finished that season), and even better than the fifth season of Major. Being a Gainax show (at least in part), there was always the chance the Shikabane Hime ending would zoom in from left field, so I waited until I actually watched the last episode before making this pronouncement. FUNimation's official free subtitled stream beat both fansubbing groups to Kuro 12, so I watched it there.

Makina, Minai, and Ouri
Makina, Minai, and Ouri.

Some people have called the end of Shikabane Hime: Kuro a Gainax Ending anyway, but I don't consider that accurate at all. It's a little unusual, but it's nothing like the ending to The Melody of Oblivion (which was straight FAR OUT) or the ending to Mahoromatic: Something More Beautiful (which was not only FAR OUT, but also enraged many viewers), for example.

Saki
Saki is a token character, but a good one.

Really, the joke's on me, because apparently the final episode of Kuro is actually the penultimate episode. Reportedly, the real last episode will be released with the final DVD. That's something of a relief, because Shikabane Hime: Kuro episode 12 concludes with some unfinished business, leading me to believe it was a "read the manga to find out what happens" ending—a task I was fully prepared to do.

Makina quietly watches over Keisei
Makina quietly watches over Keisei.

Incidentally, none of these screencaps are from that last episode. In fact, none of them are even from Kuro. I've been re-watching Shikabane Hime: Aka because another group is releasing episodes and I wanted to see if there were meaningful differences. I'm really enjoying these earlier episodes a lot more this time around because I'm picking up a lot of the clues and foreshadowing I missed originally.