Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.

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Dated 23 September 2009: Scythe ~Pimp Master for the Phantom~

Scythe Master and his harem
Technically, I think we're supposed to hate Scythe Master.

I initially had Ein and her amazing two-outfit wardrobe pegged as the real star of Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~, but it turns out the true star of the show is Scythe Master and his magic hands. On a serious note, the only reason Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~ isn't my nomination for the best show of Summer 2009 is because Cross Game is superb.

Dated 10 September 2009: Canaan has the best noses

Look at that thing. Hakko has a big awesome nose.

Canaan has remained consistently entertaining so far. The production values have also stayed high. Also, Hakko has like the spookiest Mamiko Noto voice ever. [SPOILERS] That's right. Hakko speaks.

Dated 4 September 2009: The Disappointment in Haruhi Suzumiya

Actually the real reason I don't like Haruhi 2009 as
much is because of the revolting K-On! character
designs with the knobby faces.

Somehow, the second season of Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu has gotten kinda boring after "Endless Eight" ended. That's right: after. See, I actually liked "Endless Eight." I've watched each installment at least twice. Now, I'm not one of the Haruhi Kool-Aid drinkers; I acknowledge as valid the typical criticisms levied against the show's 2009 renewal, although I still list the original series in my Top Five anime series of all time and enjoyed the (chronological) re-broadcast of what episodes they managed before veering off into not-quite-season-two land.

You might think I'm kidding, but it's at least half the reason.

The problem, however, is that these new episodes after "Endless Eight" are kinda boring. I'm not exactly sure what the problem is, but there is not quite the verve or the humor that made the first series so engaging. The comedic timing is also lacking, making the whole affair kind of listless at times. And while Haruhi has always been exceptionally bossy, this time around She seems a lot less fun and a lot more authoritarian.

Dated 30 August 2009: The fundamentals in Taisho Yakyuu Musume are surprisingly good

Akiko's pitching needs a lot of work.

When I started Taisho Yakyuu Musume, I expected charismatic characters and engaging subplots about friendships and schoolgirl life in the '20s buffered by light comedy and occasional drama. However, I wasn't expecting accurate baseball in any case—nothing better than Princess Nine, at least. But to tell you the truth, the baseball elements in Taisho Yakyuu Musume ring truer than those in Cross Game.

Maybe Tomoe will invent night games.

This is not to say that there aren't a lot of anachronisms in Taisho Yakyuu Musume. That's sort of a given. For one thing, I suspect Japanese high school baseball (if it even existed at the time) would still be in the dead ball era in 1925. After all, the dead ball era had only ended in American's major leagues around 1919.

Kochou legs one out.

Aside from that, the actual games and practices depicted in Taisho Yakyuu Musume are fairly realistic. For one thing, a junk ball rookie pitcher who can barely lob strikes over the plate can certainly expect to get positively hammered during her first outing. Furthermore, the importance of cooperation and trust within a battery is also accurately described, perhaps even more so here than in Major. It's also nice to see outfielders using two hands when shagging routine fly balls. Likewise, I'm glad to see the speedy leadoff batter learning how to hit left-handed in order to get a step or two closer to first base. (If these are true 90-foot base paths, though, she's already fast as fuck.)

Akiko and Koume
This actually had fewer homosexual overtones than the
corresponding segment between Goro and Toshi in Major.

Additionally, the charismatic characters and engaging subplots about friendships and schoolgirl life in the '20s buffered by light comedy and occasional drama are also there and up to the standards I expect from J.C. Staff. Combine all that with nicely executed baseball elements and it's no wonder Taisho Yakyuu Musume is the best new show airing during the Summer 2009 season.

Dated 19 July 2009: Haruhi II is all about endless "Endless Eight" blog posts

It's probably because we've wondered since "Endless Eight" 01
why she would have it on in a pool in the first place.

Just adding to the fray and pointing out the best episode of "Endless Eight" in the second season of Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu is the episode where Haruhi doesn't wear her hair band in the pool.

Dated 10 July 2009: Spring 2009 wrap-up

Kusada finally breaks. Better hang on, kid.

With a few exceptions, most of the shows I watched last season bear one thing in common: very few anime fans from my corner of the Internet (the best and worst of whom can be found at #raspberryheaven) would give them a chance. Even Hatsukoi Limited, which I previously mentioned is the best show from the spring 2009 season, attracted relatively few followers. (Most were too busy watching K-On! and searching for Mio fan art.) Those that actually watched Hatsukoi Limited instead of merely asking, "What's so great about another school romance show?" found a combination of light comedy and whimsical tales of first love so deftly executed I have no reservations naming it the top show of the season ahead of the initial (and already controversial) episodes of the second season of Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu.

Yuki looks bored, even for Yuki.

Haruhi II still secures second, and will presumably do well during the summer 2009 season, even if (or in my view, especially if) there really are eight episodes of "Endless Eight." That would be awesome, particularly if it drives conventional-thinking fans into sending Kyoto Animation furious letters with death threats which they can include in a The End of Haruhi movie that makes little sense but includes a bitchin' fight scene. (I secretly hope there are 15,514 episodes of "Endless Eight," and that the entire ordeal is somehow Yuki's fault and not Haruhi's at all.) I bet all the people who can't stand "Endless Eight" are the same people who skip OPs and EDs.

Cal and Zwei
Natalie Portman from Leon joins the Phantom cast.

Nobody ever believes me, but Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom is actually really good—good enough to finish third for spring 2009 (and currently lead summer 2009). Bee Train influences are obvious, but this is not El Cazador de la Bruja or Madlax. For one thing, there's a male lead. Moreover, none of the female leads have displayed any signs of lesbianism. In fact, Ein apparently really likes getting oil massages from creepy old guys. Bio Concerto is worth its weight in gold, people. I'm telling you.

Aoba, you're not even trying.

A lot of people won't watch sports anime in general or baseball anime in particular. Cross Game is at its best when it's not about baseball, to tell you the truth. I enjoy it a great deal more than Touch and what I've read of H2, but the actual baseball games in Cross Game are not as compelling as the slice-of-life stories about Kou and Aoba.

You're not exactly facing the Taisho Yakyuu Musume team now, Goro.

Major season five takes the fifth spot. I'm still watching it as there are still unsubbed episodes, but I won't be including it with the summer 2009 lineup. [Update: Advanced to fifth place after episode 120.] Assuming the fifth season is the final season of Major, I have to say this was an excellent series and I really appreciate the epic nature of the show, following Goro from childhood to adulthood. Were I to include all five seasons of Major as one work, it would easily take the top spot. Incidentally, Shimizu Kaoru still leads in the Girl of the Year rankings for 2009. This one is going to be a boat race.

Takako contemplates the future of Kannagi.

The Kannagi episode 14 OVA is every bit as good as the series. That it only places sixth should tell you just how good the competition is this time around. I hope Kannagi gets a second season.

Cure Peach
There's a storm brewing, Peach-han.

Fresh Pretty Cure ranks seventh, but has moved up quite a bit in the summer 2009 rankings due to the fully awesome Cure Passion arc, currently underway. This is another show nobody but Precure fans seem willing to watch, but the Setsuna/Love friendship really is compelling. Every episode recently has had the kind of OH SHIT moments typically attributed to shounen jive or cheesy Gundam switcheroos. Speaking of shounen jive, Fresh Pretty Cure is very light on the "standing around talking instead of fighting" bits, and when Love cuts loose, she starts out in a normal voice but gets exponentially louder and faster (it's awesome, trust me) until you think she's about to ace someone square in the face. There is too much beam spamming, though, but episode 23 is expected to include brutal fisticuffs, so we're back to the basics. Kickass.

Ana Coppola, Black Custom
Needs more Ana Coppola, Black Custom.

Eighth goes to the second OVA episode of Ichigo Mashimaro Encore. This series also really could use another season. It remains entertaining and funny, and definitely does not deserve the extra baggage that keeps many people from watching it.

If Alice isn't happy, no one's happy.

Pandora Hearts is good, but weird, so anyone that might watch it probably is watching it already, and no amount of cajoling will convince anyone else to give it a try, alas. I can understand why it doesn't have broader appeal.

Ed doesn't seem to obsess about his height as much this time.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood would have fared better if it hadn't felt like watching a really long clip show. It should also do better in the rankings this summer as it diverges more from the first anime. Curiously, I'll watch countless episodes of "Endless Eight" but the deja vu sensation of the early Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood episodes really turned me off. Or maybe it's because Brotherhood halved Winry's cup size. Could be.

Asahina's daily life.

The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan got a lot better as the season went on, but it's still not as good as Petit Eva or the various Marimite specials, for example.

Junichi and Kotori
No! Keep your damn dirty hands off Kotori's hat!

The second episode of Da Capo: If came out during spring 2009. Pity it wasn't as good as the first installment. Then again, no Kotori arc is ever going to seem satisfying as long as Junichi remains such a putz.

I'm still amazed Mamiko Noto voiced Tomoe as a straight-up serious character.

Queen's Blade is what it is. I think it would have been infinitely better if Tomoe (the miko character) had—for no discernible reason—gone the entire series without getting naked .

Say "cheese."

Asura Cryin' faded a bit, or at least my interest did. I like all the colors, though. [Update: The end of Asura Cryin' got really shounen and kinda stopped being fun at all. Why can't it just be about humping your ghost girlfriend and every once in a while robot fights? I guess I won't be watching the second season, alas.]

Ryoko and Churuya
Say "cheese."

Nyoron Churuya-san started out funny, but got a little tiresome towards the end, whereas its Haruhi-chan counterpart managed to improve and keep me looking forward to Haruhi II.


Good Lord, there were a lot of shows spring season. And I'm not just saying that because I watched a hundred-some episodes of Chi's Sweet Home so I could start Chi's New Address. Even with three-minute episodes, that is a lot of Chi. I could be burned out on all the kittenness, but Chi's New Address doesn't seem as good as Chi's Sweet Home. Needs more bear cat, for one thing. I also keep waiting for Chi to finally age, but for the time being she remains Yotsuba in kitten form.

Needs more Tamaki.

The first episode of To Heart 2 ad plus wasn't very good. It's pretty forgettable, alas.

I would have kept watching K-On! had it replaced Mio with Yomi.

I didn't drop any shows aside from the following series I previously mentioned: Eden of the East (8) > Shin Mazinger Z (3) > Saki (2) > Valkyria Chronicles (3) > K-On! (4) > Higepiyo (3) > Shangri-La (1).

Needs more Perrine-H. Clostermann.

I should probably exclude OVAs from future such lists. I already leave off movies. Besides, it's not possible to "drop" a movie or a one-episode OVA. Well, I guess unless one abandons it midway. I probably should have done that with The Sky Crawlers. That movie should have had a Strike Witches crossover wherein the 501st Joint Fighter Wing wipes them all out in five minutes and the movie ends. Sheesh. The damn thing felt like it was 15,513 fortnights long. (Yes, I know. Yes, I know that too.)