The SHAFT Initiative

I just completed a 14-day project I’ve dubbed “The SHAFT Initiative.” The goal was to watch as much anime produced by SHAFT as possible in a short time frame, as well as catch up on related manga.

Prior to the project, these were the SHAFT series I had watched and the corresponding abbreviations/shorthand:
– He is My Master (Joint with Gainax) (HiMM)
– Negima!? Spring & Summer OVAs
– Negima!? TV series
– Negima Ala Alba OVAs
– Negima Magic World OVAs 1-2
– Dance in the Vampire Bund 1-11 (DitVB)
– Arakawa Under the Bridge 1 (Arakawa)

Additionally, these were the related manga series that I had read, by volumes:
– HiMM 1
– Negima 1-25
– Negima Neo 1-4

This is the final schedule of the project:
4-11 – DitVB 12, Pani Poni Dash (PPD) 1-5
4-12 – PPD 6-26, PPD OVA
4-13 – Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei (SZS) 1-12, SZS Recap, SZS manga 1-2
4-14 – Zoku SZS 1-13, Goku SZS 1-3, Arakawa 2
4-15 – Zan SZS 1-13, Zan SZS Bangaichi 1-2, SZS manga 3
4-16 – Bakemonogatari 1-14, SZS manga 4
4-17 – REC 1-9 (+7.5), Maria-Holic (MH) manga 1
4-18 – MH manga 2-3
4-19 – MH 1-12
4-20 – Hidamari Sketch (HS) 1-12, HS Special 1-2, HiMM manga 2, Arakawa 3
4-21 – HS x365 1-13, HSx365 EX, HSx365 Special 1-2, HiMM manga 3
4-22 – HS x Hoshimittsu 1-12, HiMM manga 4
4-23 – ef: a tale of memories Prologue + 1-12, HiMM manga 5
4-24 – ef: a tale of melodies Prologue + 1-12

I’ll spend the rest of the post detailing my impressions of the series covered during the project.

As Dance in the Vampire Bund has been covered in my Winter 2010 final impressions and Arakawa in my Spring 2010 initial impressions, I’ll be skipping those.

Pani Poni Dash – The primary reason for starting this was that I had received in the mail an order from Right Stuf that included all six volumes of PPD on DVD for $20. Since I had followed up the final DitVB episode with it and I had all seasons of SZS waiting to be watched, I decided to turn it into a SHAFT marathon and looked for SHAFT series I was interested in watching. PPD, the first series that I watched, was great. It was a wonderful comedy that I recommend to anyone looking for laughs. There’s not much to say about it in particular, though. The setting is fun, SHAFT’s style works well here, and the characters are a blast. I really wish I could expand on it a bit more, but because it’s fairly random, there’s very little coherent plot to speak of. I watched the series dubbed, which was good. Hilary Haag makes a great Becky and the rest of the cast is good, too. I watched the OVA subbed, so I’m familiar with the Japanese cast, too. It was also a great cast. So yeah, overall recommended.

Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei – This is a great series. The manga is good and the anime is a great adapatation. My favorite season was Zoku, the second season, and the three OVAs that make up season 2.5, Goku. I feel like this season really pushed the general lunacy sometimes found in the series as far as it could with SHAFT’s crazy style. It also had my favorite OP (and OP video) of the bunch.

The vocal cast was great and the characters were all lovable. I had several favorites and I was also shipping several pairs simultaneously, which almost never happens to me. Several of the girls seem like great matches for Itoshiki. Very highly recommended.

Bakemonogatari – Odds are pretty good that if you’ve been an anime fan recently, you’ve at least heard of this one. It’s a great show, but it’s unfortunately not finished yet. So far, it’s been pretty solid and there’s only one episode remaining. It’s also responsible for one of the most moe things in existence (depending on who you ask).

A likable cast, crazy stories, and general SHAFT insanity. Highly recommended. Watch the Blu-ray rips if possible since they add a few scenes that couldn’t/didn’t make broadcast.

REC – Eeeeeeeh… I wasn’t too thrilled with this one. Easily the worst of the bunch that I watched. It wasn’t too bad, but it wasn’t that great. It just felt… lacking. I suppose you could chalk this up to the fact that it only consists of about two hours worth of content for the entire series. I did like the characters, though, I just felt that they weren’t utilized properly. Recommended only if you’re looking for a really short romantic comedy to pass a couple of hours with.

Maria-Holic – I liked this series, really. The ED is one of my favorites and the cast is fun. I felt like there could have been a lot more plot to the series, but the anime really only covered the first three volumes of manga, and since that was all I had available to read (since that’s all that TOKYOPOP has put out so far), that’s all of the exposure I got for the entire series. The final episode, one that I can only assume was made up for the anime, was the strongest of the series. If only SHAFT had harnessed that format for most of the show, they could have done a lot more with the content. Not a bad show by any means, though. Recommended.

Hidamari Sketch – The best show I didn’t know I wanted to watch. I’m now a huge fan of this series and I’ll be picking up the four volumes of English manga that are available for it as soon as I place my next order for manga from Right Stuf. This series is amazing. It’s funny, it’s cute, it has bite-sized stories, the setting is good, the music is good, and the characters are AMAZING. Miyako is pretty much one of the best characters ever. Behold, as she displays Bugle-hands.

When you're eating them, you kinda have to.

It also has some good OPs with fun animations that really suit the tone of the series. The second season’s OP was my favorite.

Definitely recommended. There isn’t a thing about this show I didn’t like. All seasons are great, though the second is probably my favorite. Check it out for sure.

He is My Master – I had watched the anime before, but I finally got caught up in the manga. It is unfortunately in indefinite hold as the husband/wife team that made it are no longer together. The manga was pretty entertaining, though. I certainly liked it better than the anime. I won’t go into a lot of detail for this series, but I’ll say that if you liked the anime, give the manga a shot. If you’ve only read the manga, give the anime a shot as well, since it covers a lot of the better moments in the series. Somewhat recommended if you’re looking for something funny with a good deal of fanservice.

ef – The last thing I watched. There’s not a whole lot to say here. The first season, “a tale of memories.” was great. It was an amazing series. Of all of the series I watched, I think this one had the best direction. The characters were also great and the plot was interesting. I’m definitely going to have to check out the original VN for ef as a result of having watched it. The OP was also good.

The second season, “a tale of melodies.”, though… It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t nearly as good. The ending did a nice job of wrapping up a few things from the first season, though, so I suppose that if you watch the first, you may want to watch the second. The first season is HIGHLY recommended and I’m glad I took a chance with the series.

Overall, it was a fun project and I’m glad I took the time to do something like this. It was a lot of fun. I may have to set up something similar in the future. That’s it for this project, though. Kudos to SHAFT for putting out so many good anime series and I look forward to future adaptations on their part.

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2 Responses to “The SHAFT Initiative”

  1. lvlln Says:

    Wow, sounds like an intense couple of weeks. Watching all of PPD in 2 days, all of SZS in 3, all of ef in 2, it’s amazing your brain managed to survive all that.

    I’m a big fan of Shaft’s works, and I recommend you check out both Natsu no Arashi! series. Has a vibe similar to PPD or SZS, but also feels distinctly 70s or 80s. Excellent music.

    • Daverost Says:

      Hmm… It’s surprising that I haven’t heard of Natsu no Arashi! before. It seems to be pretty well-liked and it’s fairly recent. Well I’ll definitely make sure to check it out. Thanks a lot for the recommendation!

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