Brief impressions of the shows of the Winter 2012 season
As before, here are my early impressions of another season's worth of shows. These are in the order I watched the shows (which is not necessarily the order they aired in).
Shows I've seen:
- Senki Zesshou Symphogear: Without the opening segment, this would be
your typical modern action show with the typical modern amount of
'seriousness' (by which we mean people dying). It doesn't have the
best production values (to the extent that I, generally oblivious to
such things, noticed) and it's not particularly novel, but I could
watch it for the mindless entertainment value.
With the opening segment, it appears that this is the story of how our lead protagonist winds up heroically dead. I'm not sure this is something I'm going to find at all attractive.
- Moretsu Uchuu Kaizoku (aka Bodacious Space Pirates): This has great
promise of being a straightforward fun action show. As I put it on
the only flaw of the first episode was that it wasn't longer, and
that's not a bad flaw to have. I like how the show doesn't feel like
it needs to spell things out for us (at least so far) but will just
give us hints and let us work the rest out for ourselves.
I admit that the series wins bonus points for featuring a bunch of competent female characters, including the lead protagonist (who is apparently a good pilot).
- Nisemonogatari: I can't possibly be unbiased about this because
I really liked Bakemonogatari, but
I found the first episode far less fascinating than the first episode
of Bakemonogatari. And a fair bit of it wasn't an animated show;
it was a bunch of talking with some backgrounds to add flavour.
(Possibly I am not a fan of what Araragi was doing with Mayoi. Also, I didn't find the Araragi & Mayoi dialog as fascinating and well done as a number of other commentators seem to.)
- Brave 10: This isn't anything that we haven't seen before but
it looks like a decently well done version of what it is and thus
something that will be easy to watch for entertainment (at least
for me, since I generally like action shows).
I do have to say that the lead female character has truly absurd sleeves in that outfit of hers.
- Rinne no Lagrange: So far, this is a competently done and basically
cheerful action show about girls and giant robots. While I am not
exactly a fan of giant robots, it's inoffensive and interesting enough
that I plan on continuing to watch it.
Or to put it another way, this is sort of what Guilty Crown should have been. It's a little less prettily animated and a little less smart in some ways, but it's a whole lot more intelligent in other ways; the first episode has basically no one doing bizarre and stupid things, whereas Guilty Crown (for all that it was prettier) had a bunch.
However there is one cautionary note I'll sound: so far, all of the opponents are (or look like) pretty boys. With a bunch of pretty boys on one side and a teenaged girl on the other side, the creators could decide to take this in the obvious romance direction. I'm pretty sure that if they try this they will fail utterly to be interesting, at least to me.
(An action show that turns into a reverse harem would be unusual but not necessarily unprecedented.)
- Another: I mostly watched this to see if there was anything there
besides horror. After one episode the answer seems to be 'no',
so I doubt I'll be watching more than an episode or two more (if
that). Horror is not my genre and I basically have no opinions on its
quality level as a result.
- Aquarion EVOL: As someone who saw the original Aquarion, EVOL
leaves me feeling not so much manipulated as beaten over the head.
I would have appreciated somewhat more subtlety.
(But then, EVOL doesn't seem to believe in subtlety in general.)
Apart from that, so far this is a reasonably well animated and not particularly bad giant robot show. I'm not sure that it has anything particularly interesting or intriguing to lift it above the average; if I was coming to it cold, I probably wouldn't consider it worth a second glance for anything apart from the odd background.
- Kill Me Baby: Intellectually, this is funny and has decent
jokes. But emotionally and practically I failed to even crack a smile. I
could appreciate that all sorts of bits were funny and admire their
construction, but none of them actually moved me. Watching one episode
of this did not feel like a waste of my time; watching any more would
(I liked the opening sequence and Sonya's voice.)
- High Scholl DxD: Oh god, the fanservice. Rather than being
pervasive, it's stunningly excessive; it's less fanservice and more
an NC-17 rating. Maybe R. This is one of the shows that I'd much
rather watch in a censored version (even if the censoring is blinding
beams of light instead of, say, clothes).
(Either I failed to pay attention to commentaries about the level of fanservice in this or I discounted them. You shouldn't.)
I wish this didn't have the fanservice that it does, because otherwise it might be the start of the kind of supernatural action show that I often like. It could also be the start of a boring and annoying harem show, of course, since I have no idea how much action is coming up in future episodes. Cynicism also suggests that so much fanservice means that the rest of the show won't be very good. So far it just looks relatively generic, but there's only so much you can tell from a first episode in a show like this.
(The non-fanservice parts of the first episode were at least not horrible, unlike say Freezing (cf).)
- Ano Natsu de Matteru: This may surprise some people, but I've
actually seen and enjoyed the first two Onegai series. This show
seems like a reasonably worthwhile successor in the same genre and is
interesting enough that I'll probably continue watching out of some
combination of attraction and nostalgia. I don't generally like slice
of life romance shows, but spritzing some science fiction on top is
apparently enough to change that.
(I saw the first two Onegai series back in the days of anime clubs here; those days exposed me to a lot of things that I might not have watched on my own.)
- Inu x Boku SS: Surprisingly, I like this for the moment (although
it could bore me rapidly). The characters are kind of excessive in an
interesting way and the setting has enough supernatural stuff to defeat
my lack of interest in ordinary life settings.
My continued interest in this will probably be strongly dependent on how much the supernatural continues to matter in the show (the more the better).
I expect to watch Moretsu Pirates and Nisemonogatari without hesitation, Rinne no Lagrange as long as it avoids bad romance or falling into being stupid, Brave 10 unless it becomes too boring, Aquarion EVOL for old time's sake until it becomes too annoying, and maybe Symphogear depending on how much they bang on the 'doomed protagonist' drum in future episodes (the more they ignore it the better). AnoNatsu I will probably watch all the way through for a change of pace.
Not watched for various reasons:
- Natsume Yuujinchou Shi: Since I haven't finished the previous
season of Natsume Yuujinchou yet I think it's time for me to
reluctantly concede that this is not as attractive as I once found
it and bow out, at least for now. I may watch it later, but it's
not going to really count as part of a season then.
- Daily Lives of High School Boys (aka Danshiko): I am just about
absolutely confident that no matter how funny this is, it is not the
kind of humour that I will enjoy or appreciate in the slightest and
in fact I'll have violent adverse reactions to. In short, you could
not get me to watch this with a team of wild horses.
- Milky Holmes: I only watched one episode of the first season. Mind you, I'm not certain that that's any obstacle to picking this up, but it does give me an excuse. (As you can see, humour is very hit or miss for me and mostly it misses.)
By the way, I'm with Aroduc about how odd it feels to have the season start in just a week. This is the first time I've done season impressions where I've only watched a single episode of everything; usually by the time the last show trickles in and I get around to it, I've already watched the second or third episodes of some of the early ones.
Written on 13 January 2012.