Brief early impressions of the anime of the Summer 2012 season
As before, here are my impressions of another season's first few episodes, or at least of the shows that I have bothered to watch. This time around I'm using a different format, partly because I hope to be much harsher about what I will continue watching.
(The order within each section is roughly how good or interesting I think each show is.)
- Moyashimon Returns: I really liked the original Moyashimon and
I'm glad to see that this continues the wackiness of before, educational
interludes and all. You probably want to watch the first series before
trying this one out because it pretty much starts in the middle without
bothering to explain very much.
- Dog Days': I liked the first series, as lightweight as it was, because it was genuinely cheerful and fun. The second series is delivering more of the same (so far, but I have no reason to think that will change).
Hits that could easily fumble things in future episodes:
- Hagure Yuusha no Estetica: I'm with SDB here; the first
episode is a refreshingly different take on the whole collective of
usual light novel cliches. I like that the protagonist is competent,
confident, and has things together; you might even call him sort of
grown up. On the other hand the setting and basic premise mean that
the show could easily go downhill from here.
- Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita (aka Humanity has Declined): I'll
be honest; I didn't find the first two episodes of this as
darkly humorous or as funny as the rest of the ani-sphere
seems to have. What has hooked me for now is a moment that was the
punchline and logical consequence of a series of things that we were
shown through the first two episodes. I can't help but feel affection
for a show that's willing to be that clever, subtle, and patient.
(Despite that I'm not so taken with Jinrui that I'm willing to elevate it to a hit just yet.)
- Campione: based on the near universal thumbs down of this that I
saw in my slice of the anime twitter-sphere and blog-o-sphere, I was
expecting something terrible or at least utterly boring. Well, that's
not what I got. This may be a collection of light novel cliches but
it's a well assembled one; I was entertained throughout the entire
first episode. With that said, the first episode was all background
and who knows what happens next.
I expect to keep watching this as long as it avoids falling into boring cliches and then drop it like a hot potato. My cynical side gives that an episode or two.
(Having watched (part of) both Hidan no Aria and Dragon Crisis, among other bleah-inducing light novel adoptions, I feel qualified to say that Campione's first episode is no Dragon Crisis (much less HnA) and that I am not entertained by everything. Execution matters.)
Need to see more of before I can say one way or another:
- Sword Art Online: Time for me to be contrarian. The first
episode of SAO was workmanlike and pretty but also disappointing; it
was a barely disguised massive info-dump to set up the background to
the actual show, which might perhaps start next episode. We haven't
even seen one of the major characters yet and the characters that we
have seen are mostly ciphers so far. Since lots of people praise this,
I'm willing to give it another episode to see if the actual story
(The difference between SAO's first episode and Campione's first episode is that the latter managed to say a lot about the characters and the former basically didn't.)
Beyond that, I have no idea if I'll be able to tolerate the premise or if it will turn out to be too close to what I've called the 'trapped protagonist' genre. If the show plays up the angst of the protagonists seeing people die around them or similar things, I'm out.
(I've read some people praising SAO as compared to Accel World because the stakes are higher in SAO than in AW (where the characters aren't risking anything except the ability to keep playing a game). I, uh, disagree with this view, to put it one way. Shows are not necessarily improved by the grim prospect of death.)
The core difference between SAO, Campione, and Estetica is that the latter two had first episodes that were engaging but potentially highly atypical while the former had an unengaging first episode but I'm willing to give it another episode to see if it gets better.
- Muv-Luv Alternative - Total Eclipse: To be blunt, the first two
episodes were a waste of time (and the second episode was an exercise
in brutality). The first episode almost put me to sleep with a barrage
of stuff about characters I could barely be bothered to tell apart, as
well as a moment that had me yelling at the screen. The second episode
then bloodily slaughtered everyone except the show's protagonist just
to make sure we got the point that this war was horrible and dangerous
and that the alien menace was thoroughly unpleasant. Apparently the
real story starts in the third episode and people say it is much better,
I suppose I'll watch the next episode to see, since I've already
invested the time to watch the first two. (This is the fallacy of
sunk costs in action.)
(I'm going into TE basically cold. I understand that it's at the tail end of a series of spinoffs of spinoffs of spinoffs or something, but I don't know or care about any of the details and I expect the show to stand on its own.)
On the edge:
- Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon II: The first episode delivered crazy action
but I remember what happened after the first episode of the first season
(and it did not involve more crazy action). Still it looks like there's
probably going to be at least one more episode of fighting and Horizon
is good at making that interesting.
With my new found determination to drop things rapidly instead of sticking grimly to them, I think I'm going to watch this until people start standing around and talking to much and then immediately drop it.
- Rinne no Lagrange season 2: The first season was kind of like
a lightweight, inoffensive version of an action show, and the first
episode of this season is much the same. I feel conflicted because
once again this is just good enough to be casually enjoyable and
entertaining while I'm actually watching an episode.
If I was smart, I would probably drop this now and use my time for something more productive. I'm probably not that smart (and watching this is pretty certain to be brainless, which is sometimes useful).
- Arcana Famiglia: I would really like to like this show because the premise of a strong female character kicking ass and taking charge of her own life is rare and attractive. Unfortunately the execution of the first episode was basically a paint by numbers exercise that left me disinterested in all of the characters, the heroine included. I have no enthusiasm for seeing more, especially since descriptions of the second episode do not exactly make it sound thrilling (or even vaguely exciting).
I haven't watched anything else from this season yet and at the moment I'm not planning to; none of the remaining shows sound interesting enough to draw my attention (at least not now that I'm trying to be pickier than I have been in the past). As always, this could change if Twitter and blogs manage to make something sound sufficiently attractive.
(Sometimes that even works out and I wind up watching a good show.)
Written on 12 July 2012.