Brief early impressions of the anime of the Fall 2012 season
As before, here are my impressions of another season's first few episodes, or at least of the shows that I've bothered to watch. I'm reusing the same format as last time and for the same reasons. This time around I'm trying to be harsher than usual because my goal is to only watch anime that I'm going to really enjoy; I have enough other things competing for my time.
- Magi - The Labyrinth of Magic: So far this is a straightforward
adventure story but I'm finding it nicely done. It's not deep but
it's enjoyable. One reason I like it is that it has that rarity in an
action show, a strong female character who is going to be one of the
- Shin Sekai Yori - From the New World: This is this season's deep
and serious show (well, the successful one). It's well done and
interesting so far, with intriguing mysteries and decent characters.
Bits are a little bit clumsy but I'll forgive them since the rest
is so good and interesting.
- K: After the third episode I've become convinced that this show
is consciously trolling us, setting up cliched situations and
characters only to deliberately do the opposite of what we expect.
It's great (assuming you like that sort of thing, which I do when
it's done well).
(A smarter person would have become convinced after the ending of the second episode. Or even during the second episode.)
- Zetsuen no Tempest: What I like most about this show is the
main characters, who are much more interesting, complex, and nuanced
than the usual run of the mill spuds in your typical action anime; I
look forward to the show exploring them more. As an action anime it's
otherwise decent (and enjoyable) but ordinary.
(It's worth mentioning that the action seems well animated and well done, since a lot of alleged action shows cheat massively on this.)
- Girls und Panzer: This surprised me by being much more interesting
and enjoyable than I expected (once I was persuaded to give it a try
by all sorts of praise in the anisphere). It's not exactly deep and
you really don't want to think about the setting, but it's quite fun
so far. While it could fumble things, I suspect that the staff has
enough of a handle on what's fun about this setting to keep things
going for its entire run.
(The protagonist has some sort of tragic past lurking in her background, but this seems to be mandatory these days.)
Either this season is really good or my attempt to be strict about what I'm going to watch is an abject failure so far.
Need to see more of because I can't make up my mind:
- Robotics;Notes: After two episodes, I would have to describe this
as quiet. It isn't as flashy and splashy as the other series and it's
not moving as fast; that makes it easy to overlook and to discount. It's
well made but the characters are perhaps a little too stereotypical
and predictable for their own good; still, they have a certain amount
of depth and interest to them. At this point I don't doubt the quality
of the execution in the show; I expect it to be solid throughout. I
just don't know if it's going to wind up going anywhere interesting.
- Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo: After the first two episodes, I was
going to brush this show off as not sufficiently good to overcome its
fundamentally generic premise. Then the third episode came along and
at least temporarily upended all of that by not taking any of the
easy, cliched approaches to its up-till-then stereotypical situations
and in the process injecting a bunch of brutal honesty into the
proceedings (and changing our view of at least one character). This
burst of maturity and solidity may well fade into a predictable
heart-warming resolution of the current plotline, but right now
there's at least the chance that this show is going to do something
genuinely unexpected and unusual. I'll watch the next episode and see
how it goes, although I don't have really high hopes.
(This did get adopted from a light novel, after all. The chances of a a successful light novel series doing something genuinely daring and unusual are low.)
On the edge:
- Ixion Saga DT: This is totally not taking itself seriously at all;
it's full of slapstick and other deliberate comedy, all of which is
well enough done to amuse me. But it hasn't had many jokes so far and
if it runs out of decent ones, that's it. The third episode was kind
of marginal, so I don't know how long I'll last with it.
(Even if it doesn't fumble the jokes, if I was being sensible I should probably stop watching it as not quite sidesplittingly funny enough to justify the time. But it's so hard to stop watching things that are entertaining but not hugely so.)
One fundamental difference between Ixion and K is that K is playing things in a straight-faced deadpan, while Ixion wants to make sure we know things are funny. This is one reason K is better.
- Psycho-Pass: This is a great example of copying the superficial
form of good things without understanding what makes them good, since
it's clearly trying to be Ghost in the Shell and various SF films.
It aspires to be deep and serious and meaningful, but Shin Sekai
Yori has at least twice its depth (with characters half the age). The
second episode was mostly an extended and clumsy info-dump, and the
characters are mostly a collection of predictable cliches (like the
old man who's world-wise and cynical because hey, he's old, right).
Oh, and apparently we're likely to have a patented Gen Urobuchi shock surprise turn at some point, where everything turns dark(er) and what ideals we've retained are betrayed and we see characters destroyed and so on. My anticipation for the brutality is palpable.
(That was sarcasm. This is the Internet, so I want to make sure people understand that.)
I don't know why I'm leaving this marked as on the edge instead of a miss. I guess I'm not quite ready to give up on the dream that this could be good.
- CODE:BREAKER: I want to like the setting, the plot, and the idea of the characters because all of them sound promising. In practice I've ended up completely uninterested in the actual characters and what happens to them; they're boring (and sometimes stupid) and I just don't care about any of them.
Not for me:
- Chousoku Henkei Gyrozetter: I watched the first episode for some
reason and while this is not bad as such it's also not appealing
enough to get me to watch another episode given that I am very
much not in the target demographic for this show. What I find most
interesting about it is the ending animation, which is worth watching
once to see the logical result of the availability of computer-driven
CGI character dance animation (as seen in, eg, the IM@S games and the
Pretty Cure ending animations) when combined with CGI models for other
things. Like, oh, your show's giant robots.
That's right, CGI giant robots doing an idol dance routine (complete with the hand gestures). You know you want to see it. Here, have a link for your convenience.
- Kami-sama Hajimemashita: This is perfectly good shoujo romantic
comedy and seems decently well done in the two episodes I watched. But
it's not striking enough to overcome the fact that shoujo romantic
comedy is pretty much just not my thing.
(Sometimes a romantic comedy show is striking enough, so I keep watching one every so often to see if this one clicks. Kami-sama seemed promising since it had the supernatural element, but that wasn't enough to overcome the relatively ordinary feeling situations.)
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: I'm just not in the mood for MANLY SHONEN
ACTION this season; I couldn't even make it through the first episode
of this when I tried (I gave up at the point where Dio leaps from
the carriage). It doesn't help that Jojo's is painting with a brush
so broad that it's more of a roller.
- Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!: This is probably the season's most
praised and well-respected show that I have no interest in at all.
The animation is spectacular though (from the Youtube clips I've seen). Someday someone will assemble a clip show of all of the striking fantasy bits.
Actively passed on (that I feel like mentioning explicitly):
- Busou Shinki: I might give this a try if it was about the shinki
fighting, but apparently this is mostly a comedy anime about them
doing housework and getting themselves into trouble. So, no. Pass.
(One of the reasons that I'm passing is that I have a very bad reaction to the whole anime habit of taking warrior women and turning them into cute dojikko who can't do things and get themselves into trouble.)
It's a real pity, though; some of the combat sequences look pretty spectacular. I reserve the right to change my mind about this later. Maybe I'll experiment with fast-forwarding through all of the boring and irritating bits and just watching the fights.
- BTOOOM!: Another entrant in the 'trapped protagonist forced to
fight for his life' genre that I've decided I have no interest in.
- Little Busters!: I believe that I've liked exactly one Key-derived
anime, and in that one I didn't like the half of it that everyone else
(I liked the modern-age parts of Air but not the flashback to medieval Japan; the former were interestingly different, the latter were all too ordinary fantasy Japan.)
Mentioned for completeness as still continuing: Sword Art Online. The execution continues to be decent enough (and entertaining enough) to overcome all of its flaws.
(I can't count Eureka Seven AO as 'continuing', since it doesn't have episodes currently airing; we're just on hold for the concluding two episodes in November.)
Written on 24 October 2012.