My brief snapshot of the Winter 2011 anime season first episodes
This is just like last time. This season features an unusually large number of shows where I need to see more episodes to really make up my mind, which doesn't inspire me with confidence.
(Technically this is not just first episodes, I've seen a few second episodes too by now.)
Shows I've seen, more or less in the order seen:
- Infinite Stratos: the opening of the first episode shows us just
where this show is going. Since I expect the accumulation of the harem
to be a paint by numbers exercise, the show needs good mecha battles
to stay interesting.
(The characters certainly aren't doing it so far; they come straight from central casting.)
As a side note, the more the characters talk the less sense the setting makes. I'm trying not to think about it, since solid worldbuilding has never been a particular strength of anime.
I don't know how I feel about the mecha battle in the second episode. I liked the ending and the visuals were nice, but apart from the ending it felt as if it was taking fight cliches straight out of the shonen action show playbook.
Ultimately I suspect that I'm not going to enjoy this as much as I'd like to; I expect that it will have too much straightforward harem accumulation and too little interesting action.
- Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica: parts of the first episode were very
interesting but other parts were completely irritating and
incomprehensible (apparently deliberately). I don't mind the overall
directing style, but other people are having violent reactions to it.
I don't know if we're supposed to take the setting seriously as reality, or assume that various crazy stylistic elements (like transparent classrooms and strikingly large houses) are just done for effect.
The second episode managed to get me to dislike the irritating artistic cutout-based animation somewhat less than I did in the first episode; I still can't say that I actually like it, but I guess I can put up with it in moderation. It helps that we get told what it represents.
- Yumekui Merry (aka Dream Eater Merry): in its first two episodes,
this seems to be going for 'atmospheric' but only achieving 'slow
moving'. It has just enough promise to keep me paying attention
(so far), mostly out of optimistic hope.
The more I think about the animation in the second episode, the cheaper it gets. Maybe I should stop reading Aroduc's commentary.
- Gosick: a promising start and I by and large like the characters
(crazy hair and all). I'm not taking seriously the too-easy solution
to the locked room murder mystery; it's clear that there's a lot more
going on behind the scenes.
(I've read enough murder mysteries that Victorique's solution was the first thing that popped into my mind. That it's such a cliche is one reason that I optimistically think that we're not supposed to take it seriously.)
- Dragon Crisis: squeaking 'Ryuuji' incessantly and throwing fire
around does not make you an interesting character. This has a
definite smell of cliches so far but I hold out some hope that it
will become interesting, especially given the crazed scientist at
the end of the first episode.
- Kore wa Zombie desu ka: more than funny enough to be enjoyable, but
I could have done without the random fanservice. Sadly I suspect that
the random fanservice is not going to go away.
- Freezing: the first episode was so bad it was almost unwatchable.
It was full of shopworn cliches, cheap dated animation, characters
clumsily expositing at the audience ('as you know, bob, <insert
something bob knows but we don't>'), and equally cheap random fanservice
that attempts to rival Najica Blitz Tactics. Where it wasn't boring
it was painful. I have not seen an anime with these production values
for quite a long time, and that is not praise.
(Aroduc has already commented on its lighting issues. My theory is that the alternating 'dim-o-vision' and 'glare-o-vision' styles are to hide just how bad the art and animation were, or perhaps just to let them be even cheaper than usual.)
- Fractale: the first episode is all setup, but it's enjoyable
and quite a promising beginning. I have high hopes for this, especially
since light hearted Miyazaki-like adventure is not something that
anime does a lot of.
(The last one I can think of was Allison and Lilia, which I found more successful in concept than in execution. Although it's tempting to go back to take another attempt at it to see if my view of it has changed over time.)
As a side note, Fractale totally shows how to do information dump exposition the right way, in drastic contrast to Freezing. Rather than have characters recite things to each other that everyone already knows, Fractale has the protagonist discover a data card that he hopes has music but that turns out to be an old history show, which he only finds out when he starts playing it to see what it is. It's still slightly awkward (the protagonist talks to himself a bit), but it's actually pleasant and gracefully done instead of offensively stupid.
(How bad is this in Freezing? Well, at one point one character in Freezing more or less literally says to another 'I know you know this already, but let's review it anyways'.)
Have not watched due to the description being unappetizing:
- Rio Rainbow Gate: aggressively stupid from all reports.
- Wolverine: last season's Iron Man left me disinterested in a repeat
- Level E
- I Don't Like My Brother All, You Know!! aka
Oniichan no Koto Nanka Zenzen Suki Janain Dakara ne: I've already
watched one quite good sex-based comedy in the past
12 months, I don't think I need what's likely to be an inferior one.
- Cardfight!! Vanguard: uh, no.
Have not watched due to being a sequel to something I didn't watch:
- Kimi ni Todoke 2: the first series looks great and I sort of enjoyed
the couple of episodes I watched, but it is not for me (and only partly
because of its ordinary life setting).
Apparently more or less pure shoujo is just not my thing.
- Mitsudomoe second season: I'll accept that the first series is funny, but from the commentary I saw it doesn't seem to be my sort of funny.
Continuing from last season:
- Star Driver: still rocking and now getting more complex.
- A Certain Magical Index II: people still talk to much. I've started to ignore them, but I'm too compulsive to ignore the show itself (and who knows, maybe the plot will get more interesting and less stupid).
Written on 15 January 2011.