Short reactions to spring 2009
Here are some quick (or at least short) reactions to all of the new shows of spring 2009 that I've watched some of, written down for various fuzzy reasons. I am not going to try to summarize or review these, just give some brief comments.
Rather than agonize over quality ratings, I've decided to rate shows based purely on how eagerly I'm looking forward to the next episode, from +3 ('want more right now') to -3 ('I should admit that I've dropped this'), because that's at least easy for me to figure out. Since I am a pretty undiscriminating watcher of anime this may have nothing to do with good or bad a show is, especially as I am happy to watch shows that are entertaining but unoriginal.
There are some moderate spoilers here for the first few episodes of things.
- Eden of the East aka Higurashi no Eden (1): +3
This has an interesting premise and a nice low key start, with characters that made me smile. And after Honey & Clover I am a sucker for the character design.
(This is foolish, because character design has nothing to do with the rest of the show. But I can't help but feel well towards something that sort of looks like H&C.)
- Basquash! (1): +3
The first episode was great; fast-paced, fresh and full of fun and amusing elements. However, this could just be the setup for what turns into yet another ordinary sports anime. But if it sustains the feel and the style of the first episode, I think it will be one of the standouts of the season.
So I'm cautiously optimistic and very hopeful. If it falls I expect it to be a very fast descent, so the next few episodes should tell us one way or another.
- Shangri-La (1-2): +3
It sure is pretty, or at least stylish. Time will tell if it's doing anything interesting. The fact that I would not be sad if several of the major characters got run over by cars may or may not be a bad sign, since I'm not sure that they're supposed to be likeable.
This has by far my favorite OP of the season.
(It's also this season's winner of the RideBack 'say WHAT?' award for implausible setting elements.)
- Natsu no Arashi (1): +2
I really liked the first episode, and I totally support just throwing us into the middle of things happening without explicitly introducing the characters and the situation. But the downside of a first episode like this is that it probably doesn't say anything about what the rest of the series will be like, although it does leave me wanting to see more.
I liked the art style, although it is a bit different and unconventional.
- Asura Cryin' (1-2): +2
I quite liked the first episode and thought it had a lot of promise for entertainment (if not necessarily originality). The second episode initially struck me as a bizarre letdown but it's grown on me since then and I have a more charitable view of it now, which leaves me actively looking forward to more.
(The first episode ends at a dramatic moment in a significant cliffhanger. The second episode starts the next morning and no one says anything about how things got resolved, although clearly something did happen.)
- Pandora Hearts (1): +1
Spooky supernatural stuff with ominous developments? Sign me up, at least for now. As usual with anything that starts this way, it could go horribly (or just boringly) wrong in future episodes.
- Fullmetal Alchemist 2 - Brotherhood (1-2): +1
I was all set to write a grumpy note about how I'd already seen most of this story once and I wasn't sure if it needed a do-over or if the do-over would be interesting. But then I watched the second episode, and it turned out that the first episode just kind of sucked and I'm feeling much happier now. The show may still turn out to have too many repeated things to keep me watching, but at least it's interesting now.
(And the second episode makes it clear that some things are significantly different.)
- Valkyria Chronicles (1-2): 0
Here is what I wrote after watching only the first episode:
I would be more interested if the lead protagonist was more competent, or perhaps if the whole thing was more clearly comedic. As it is, the hijinks of a mostly untrained group of militia that somehow manage to stand off a trained army are probably not going to be entertaining, just implausible.
(I don't think I'm going too far out on a limb in predicting that the motley band of protagonists are going to win against the invading army, although it would be much more interesting if they actually lost.)
In the second episode, they lost. I was pleasantly surprised.
It turns out that the entire first two episodes are a great big 'how we came to join the army' introduction. This is still probably going to be an ordinary 'life in the military' show, but at least it now looks entertaining.
(On a side note, I find its use of subtle patterned fills for things like hair textures to be surprisingly distracting. They make things look like drawings when my mind knows that this is animated.)
- Tears to Tiara (1-2): 0
The first episode was ordinary and slow, but the second episode made up for it, especially in the interplay between the three major protagonists. Also, I have a weak spot for spunky heroines and Riannon demonstrated plenty of spunk in the second episode; I have rarely seen a foot put down so hard.
- Saki (1): -1
I expect that I'll get bored with barely comprehensible mahjong action relatively soon, but in the mean time there is something oddly attractive and entertaining about this show and its over the top enthusiasm. And Crunchyroll means that it doesn't take much effort or energy to watch more.
- Shinkyoku Soukai Polyphonica Crimson S (1): -1
I saw most of the first version of this, and it was a much better introduction to the characters and setting; the only thing this version possibly has over it is some hints of an actual plot. I find myself grumpy and only my affection for the characters sustains my interest.
- Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~ (1): -2
This has all the ingredients necessary for a predictable trainwreck (Bee Train doing yet another show about mysterious amnesiac killers in their usual style). The first episode did not really impress me, but it could just be a slow start and necessary background.
(Desperate optimism detected.)
- K-ON! (1): -3
Now I understand what people mean when they talk about moeblobs. The protagonist character at least has brutal honesty going for her.
Slow moving moeblob shows are generally not my thing, although I keep wanting to like them for some reason. Absent surprising acclaim, I doubt I'll go further with this unless I'm bored.
Pretty much not watching any more of:
- 07 Ghost (1-2)
I probably would not have stuck around for the second episode if the first episode had not had crazy people fighting each other with magic. The second episode delivered only exposition and angst.
(Yes, yes, I'm vastly optimistic; the series premise was not all that promising to start with.)
- Tayutama (1)
I am not particularly interested in harem anime, so I watched this in the hopes that the supernatural elements would be interesting and entertaining enough on their own. After one episode, they're not.
- Hanasakeru Seishounen (1)
I was optimistically hoping for something like Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge but with exciting high finance instead of amusing makeover attempts. I did not get anything close to it.
(Necessary note: I liked YNSH.)
(I am a creature of inertia, so writing this and assigning ratings has had the useful effect of making me decide to actively drop a few things.)
This isn't all of the summer 2009 shows; I'm not that masochistic. I've skipped entirely a number of shows with premises that sounded even less interesting to me than the ones listed here, and I may have overlooked some shows entirely. As someone I know says periodically, 'so much anime, so little time'.