Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.
karmaburn.com karmaburn.com

Dated 16 December 2015: I'd probably like Hidan no Aria AA more if I had watched the original series first

Urara
That stock is just for looks.

Pretty much as a matter of general principle I won't watch a sequel without watching the original first. However, I do make exceptions when I don't expect to enjoy a show, or if I'm fairly confident I wouldn't like the original. In these situations, it's likely the new series has some hook or meaningful changes that distinguish it from the earlier series. This was the case with Futakoi Alternative, a fantastic series which took the basic framework of (I'm told) a dreadful harem comedy and turned it into something interesting. I was hoping this would also be the case with Hidan no Aria AA, but my impressions of the show through 11 episodes are mixed at best.

(more…)

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 12 April 2005: Kannaduki no Miko (Kannazuki no Miko)

Kannaduki no Miko (also romanized Kannazuki no Miko) is a pretty good 12-episode series, although it does take six or seven episodes to really get going. I would have given up on the show except it featured Ayako Kawasumi doing a serious, evil-sounding voice (which is always top notch), and I already saw spoilers about the later episodes which gave me hope that the show was going to get interesting later.

Kannaduki no Miko opening
Opening credits. Yup, it's a shrine, all right. On the frickin' MOON.

Kannaduki no Miko is about a love triangle with a lesbian slant. Souma (male) and Chikane (female) both love Himeko (female). The problem is Chikane and Himeko are the Moon Priestess and Solar Priestess, respectively, and Souma is one of the Orochi—one of the so-called "Eight Necks"—and is supposed to be trying to kill them instead of trying to screw one of them. Since Souma is in love with Himeko, he spends most of his time protecting Chikane and Himeko from the other seven Orochi. Protecting them with his GIANT ROBOT. Oh, I forgot to mention that part, didn't I?

Himeko and Chikane
Himeko and Chikane

Most of the time Souma, Chikane, and Himeko are high school students at an upscale academy. Souma is the "prince" of the school. He is handsome and athletic and popular and everyone assumes he's dating Chikane, the beautiful well-bred girl and undisputed queen of the campus—the girl everyone loves. Himeko, on the other hand, is just some blah, worthless, nothing of a girl.

Souma and Himeko
Souma and Himeko on a date

It's not at all clear at the beginning why Chikane is in love with Himeko. Like I said, she's kinda worthless. Pretty much the only thing she has going for her is her genuine, unassuming, sincere nature. Everyone else we see in the school appears to be catty and coniving and mean. But c'mon, it's a big school. There has to be someone else decent on campus.

But Himeko is the Solar Priestess, while Chikane is the Moon Priestess. Chikane has to love her, because it's destiny and all that. It took me about eight episodes to fully accept this, though.

Oh, I was going to talk about the GIANT ROBOTS. Yes, apparently the world is in peril, and the Solar Priestess and the Moon Priestess have to save it by chanting. The Orochi try to kill them using giant, monstrous robots. Normally, this would be pretty easy to do, but Souma is in love with Himeko, turns traitor, and keeps the other seven Necks at bay. Let's ignore for now that Himeko is kinda worthless. Souma is in love with her, and that's that. Souma is also fortunate in that the Orochi are mostly content to go after our story's two helpless priestesses one at a time. They're pretty half-assed about it too, which is good for Souma, and good for Himeko, and good for Chikane, too, even though it royally pisses her off that she gets her ass bailed out of trouble by Souma all the time.

It's kinda hard to describe the other seven Necks. They form a rather absurd ensemble of caricatures including a manga artist, a pop idol, and a kid who alternates between acting like a cat and pursuing her obsession with administering medication. Most of the time they stand around bitching at each other until one of them goes and tries to kill Himeko and Chikane.

Corona
Corona the pop idol villain demonstrating a defining idol pose.

If Kannaduki no Miko sounds kinda mediocre right now, that's because it is—during the first half of the series. The second half of the series is pretty awesome, and is somewhat twisted.

The turning point of the series involves a substantial spoiler, so just stop reading if you're already at all interested in watching Kannaduki no Miko. Personally, I wouldn't have watched it all the way through if I didn't know all the spoilers already, but once I got past episode six or so, it got pretty captivating.

Being stuck in the losing corner of the love triangle, and constantly being rescued by the odious Souma, whom she loathes, and constantly being unable to protect her dear Himeko herself, Chikane snaps.

Yeah, Chikane kinda turns evil. Not SUPER evil, just kinda evil, and she already seemed kinda evil to begin with. And then she starts kicking ass wholesale.

Chikane
Chikane stops fooling around. You're all screwed. So, so screwed.

I should probably mention the sexual assaults at some point. I'm too lazy to craft an adequate segue, so I'm just going to come right out and say that there are a few sexual assaults depicted in Kannaduki no Miko. They come in the "I'LL RAPE YOU UNTIL YOU LOVE ME" variety, the "Hey, do you wanna get ahead in this business or what?" variety, the "Shut up, I need this" variety, and also the "Oh, lighten up already, you know you could use a good fuck" variety.

I guess it all sounds kinda twisted, but that's mostly what makes Kannaduki no Miko so good once you get past the boring first half. Ayako's evil voice is always welcome, and everyone pretty much gets what's coming to them. so the payoff is good.

Kannaduki no Miko ending
From the closing credits of Kannaduki no Miko

Plus it has KOTOKO singing the OP and ED. The ED, "Agony," is a particularly good way to end most of the episodes. It captures the thematic nuances of the show well.