I’ve been bummed by the initial fall release schedule. Besides Railgun, there wasn’t one other show that seemed interesting, but I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of deja vu. Because I know I said the same thing on a few blogs back when the summer preview was doing the rounds. I think back then, there were only two shows that piqued my interest, and you could argue that both were sequels: Umineko and Spice and Wolf 2. But as it turns out, like Low on Hit Points has mentioned, the summer season has been excellent. I can’t remember a season in which there’s been so many shows that I’d consider scoring an 8-10.
- Sora no Manimani has been my favorite show of the season. I just love Mii-chan’s character and the unbounded enthusiasm she brings to the show. It also helps that the show is shipper-friendly, and just flat out hilarious. I’m not sure if Sora no Manimani will get a 10 from me, it’ll probably fall a little short, but however it goes for the rest of the season it’ll always have a special place in my heart, because without it (and the perspectives from a few blogs), I don’t think I would’ve watched Nodame Cantabile – which I devoured in 4 days.
In 8 to 9 land
- Bakemonogatari has been a close second to SNM. The characters are unique and capricious, the artwork is beautiful, the dialogue deftly balances verbosity and hilarity, and the storylines are surprisingly profound. I never really know what to expect from this show, but it always seems to blow away whatever my expectations might’ve been. Add to that my favorite ED of the summer and Bakemonogatari has been a huge surprise for me, as I didn’t have very high expectations for it (mostly because I didn’t know what it was about).
- Spice and Wolf 2, it seems everything I loved from the original Spice and Wolf is back, but I think Brains Base has really done a great job sharpening the edges around both the humor and drama. So the show is that much more enjoyable during its lighthearted scenes, and that much more intense during the dramatic scenes - Horo’s meltdown being the most memorable moment so far.
- Umineko no Naku Koro ni, the first few episodes were good, but the very quick pacing kept it from being great. But the last episode (#5) felt like it was firing on all cyclinders. The mystery became a million times more interesting. And the battle lines drawn between Battler and Beatrice had me on the edge of my seat. I’d compare it to the scene in Higurashi where reptile-eyed Mion and Rena visit Keiichi bearing needle filled food, and I thought "holy crap, this show is unreal!" Umineko just reached that level, I just hope the future arcs can continue to build on it like Higurashi’s did.
- Toyko Magnitude, I don’t necessarily like Mirai, but I don’t dislike her either, and think she’s generally been acting like how you might expect a junior high kid to act. As much as I love Yuuki, his constant cheeriness may be the most unrealistic part of the show (not that I’m complaining). Every episode though, has been gripping and powerful, and surprisingly interesting for a disaster anime. I wonder if the show can continue to stay fresh without getting too clichéd, but with Mari heading towards her home (I’m guessing there will be tragedy), and the potential Mirai/Yuuki/family reunion to look forward to, there should be plenty of emotional drama to carry through.
- Canaan, I think has the best animation of any of the shows this summer. I mean all the fight scenes are fluid, everything looks fantastic. I can’t imagine this being a really high-budget show, so I’m incredibly impressed by the visuals. Five episodes in, I still don’t have a great grasp on the story though. But with Maria’s cute ahoge, Yun Yun’s meat bun stuffing, all the nudity and the yuri vibes, I’ve found myself watching Canaan similar to how I watched Sora wo Kakeru Shoujo – just enjoying the ride and not asking too many questions.
- Umi Monogatari, I didn’t know that this was a mahou shoujo, so I was caught by surprised when they dropped that little nugget on us in episode 2, but I’ve still enjoyed it. It’s obviously not super deep or anything, but the designs and the characters are so clean and fresh, it’s been a lot of fun to watch.
- Princess Lover is a good harem, it’s arguably the best harem I’ve seen, depending on what your definition of a harem is. But I think I would enjoy it more if a.) it didn’t use the hackneyed super rich people acting super rich setting and b.) if the girls didn’t have bowling balls for breasts. I don’t know why that second point bothers me so much, it’s not like Kallen Stadtfeld’s ever-growing bosom bugged me, but I just think the proportions are comical. It’s sort of like Nodoka in Saki. You’re not poor. Get a better fitting shirt, girl!
And this isn’t even counting the ongoing spring shows like:
- Hayate no Gotoku, which, even moreso than SNM, is seriously challenging for a perfect 10 score. It all depends on the ending.
- FMA, which got a lot more interesting once they started animating the new stuff. Definitely could get a 9.
- Valkyria Chronicles, which has been getting really good lately (episode 17! nooo!!!), and could end up with an 8.
So maybe I’ll be wrong about fall too. I guess we’ll see.