This year has been good for anime. I’ve watched probably more this year than last year, despite having even less free time. There is something compelling that drives me to watch anime almost everyday. It’s almost like a personality flaw. Or maybe I use it as a proper escapist device, to kick back and relax to after a long day.
But I think the more I try to do it, the less I actually do. I’ve noticed that in the past year I have more and more shows in which I follow up to episode 10 or 11, only to left unfinished. Part of it speaks to how compelling some anime really are–that they aren’t. The real cause, I wager, is because that is when all the new shows come out, so older and less exciting fare gets edged out by newer unknown shows. New stuff is more exciting than old stuff, usually, because you don’t know what you’re going to get.
So maybe I should just drop more stuff, and if I want to scratch a particular itch, I will have that option to watch those shows later. Or just take a real break proper-like. It’s not certain that I may watch fewer shows this way. I think being relaxed and fresh-minded makes watching stuff more enjoyable, and I may find more enjoyable shows to watch as a result.
It’s with that realization that I tackle this autumn’s offering. I think a couple shows made it to the short list of truly compelling fare: Fate Zero and Ben-to. Seriously. I mean if you take a big picture view, there are only so many good genre offerings among all genres, and then the types that aspire to be more. Fate Zero definitely tries to be more than just a light novel adaptation–it feels like a proper novel adaptation, if such a distinction can be reasoned with. Regardless of what, it gets me honestly excited every Saturday morning. That is already a feat and by that alone, praiseworthy.
Ben-to is not exactly a rare offering, but it’s infrequent enough and long enough since Air Master that we are getting something that possibly may be worth the while. As long as it has enough guts and burning spirit and whack, I suppose. Style is ultimately what makes cool things timelessly aspirational and engaging. It doesn’t have to be slick, but it does have to be intense. Ben-to manages at least some of that. I think David Pro is consistent in this one regard–there’s something intense about their animation.
Guilty Crown manages to just fall short of that list with its pilot episode, but there are reasons to expect that it will move into that list if it can continue to provide the same production value we saw last week. In a way Guilty Crown just uses the same formula we are all too familiar with from the turn of the century, but dialed it down a little. The production…well, is quality stuff.
Oh, did I ever tell you I love angsty hot 2D chixorz?
I don’t think we have a really good moe show this season, although you might get something between C3, Horizon, Majikoi and Haganai. I like how all four approach things from the comedy side, but only Majikoi and Haganai pile it on. C3, or rather C³, gets a little bit of credit for getting down to business earlier than the others, but it also feels like the show won’t get much further than this. Horizon’s got that good pilot IMO. That Mashiroiro Symphony show is not good, but it is the kind of moe show that corners a particular market segment and as such we have about one series like this every season.
I use the word “about” because Tamayura is kind of the other entry to that genre, or rather, it is also a genre unto its own–Hidasketch, Croisée, whatever. To be honest the music is the only attractive thing about the show so far, so I might just take it that far only. Case in point: I haven’t watched the last episode of Croisée, and I’m not sure if there is a reason as to why I ought to; the soundtrack is delightful though. I went in Croisée thinking it might actually be kind of intriguing, but that didn’t quite work out. Tamayura is probably even less of a hopeful bet.
Likewise, shows like Maken-ki and Kimi to Boku can thankfully be dismissed quickly. Again, not a knock against them, but I just can’t spare the attention. The subject matter seems a little too out of my comfort zone, although one is a school comedy with hijinks and there is fanservice. Or is it both? I don’t know, they have to execute better.
The slightly more-accessible crowd this season includes very-unaccessible Chihayafuru, moderately-accessible Phi-Brain, Gundam AGE, and Un-go. Un-go is surprisingly better than expected–I suppose that is a noitaminA show for you. Gundam AGE is about as good as expected, which is really good, I think. In a good season I might watch all of them, but I may just stick to one or two here. Chihayafuru has the advantage of having an attractive protagonist, but I’m not sure if that gets the show anywhere. Plus, Hikaru no Go has done it better. So the jury’s out on those.
I kind of enjoyed Mirai Nikki, but it isn’t the sort of show I can take seriously, and without the shock and awe factor it wouldn’t be a compelling watch. I don’t know, it isn’t a knock against the material, it’s solid stuff. I just don’t like the way it has been adopted, and I haven’t even read the manga!
I think this is why I don’t want to watch the Persona 4 anime. I would have to play the game first to really get something out of it, but that seems pretty much an impossibility in terms of time. Ah well. I have a copy from way back, it’s just sitting on a shelf eating dust.
And given the large pile of sequels to deal with this season, there’s not a lot to say in terms of how they are notable beyond that they are sequels of things I’m watching. I guess Working season 2 actually offers something slightly different? Does it even matter? I don’t think so.
Speaking of sequels, I don’t really want to talk about the new Last Exile because my mind is not made up on it. There are a lot to like about the show, but invariably we have to compare it to its first series. That makes things more complicated. I would render an opinion without the baggage, but it’s still too early to say.
Besides the few stragglers that I leave out every season, it’s a fairly neat wrap for a relatively “down” time compared to Spring and Summer ’11. But with this many sequels and 2-cour shows, does it even matter? 2011 still is shaping up to be one good year for TV anime. Now I just need to get my butt to a screening of Letter to Momo!