Summer 2010 (+Night Raid, Heroman, Maid-sama, Rainbow, K-ON!!, & Bonus Round) Final Impressions

A bit of a delay on this one because CoalGuy’s K-ON!! subs started drifting further and further from the air date the longer the season went on, but I’m finally finished with the Spring season and all of the Summer series that have ended. I’m also done with most of Winter (Katanagatari is still ongoing due to its airing schedule) now that Night Raid has been finished as well.

So as usual, we’re going to start with older shows that have finished over the season, starting with Night Raid, the Winter season show that just couldn’t finish in time due to lack of sub interest.

Senkou no Night Raid – The show was honestly the weakest of the three Anime no Chikara projects so far and had an incredibly slow start. It really did pick up about halfway though, though, and managed to stay entertaining afterwards. It’s a good spy thriller series with the added bonus of special powers, but it seems to lack a lot of focus. The cast is fun and the music is good, but it’s otherwise a fairly mediocre series. Bottom line: It’s good, but it’s not great. Watch it if it sounds like your thing, but you probably won’t be missing much if it’s not.

And now onto the Spring shows that just ended.

Heroman – Man, this show ended up being so great. I wasn’t sure about it in the beginning because it looked like a good old-fashioned Saturday morning superhero cartoon. You had a hero and you had some villains and every week the hero would continue fighting the villains. It was a pretty simple formula. The surprise came from the show continuing to build up the plot with seemingly unrelated plot lines and then suddenly bringing the ENTIRE SHOW together for the final arc, which pits Joey and Heroman up against a huge threat and confirms that the viewer hasn’t wasted their time by watching unrelated story arcs. The final arc was absolutely amazing. Really, the whole show was great. It was a surprise hit and came oh so close to taking over Angel Beats! as my pick for the season. It was damn good. Bottom line: Watch it. It’s amazing and in addition to bringing out that wonderful nostalgic feeling, it will also keep you thoroughly entertained all the way through.

Kaichou wa Maid-sama! – This series started out decently, but as it went on, it continued to mangle the manga more and more. It went through a few filler chapters when it didn’t need to and it ruined more than a few of the important relationship events in the series. It also tried to make a love triangle out of a situation that really wasn’t much of one in the manga. All of that said, it still was a decent watch. Bottom line: If you’re looking for a good shoujo anime that’s accessible to all ages and genders, go for it. Just be warned that if you’ve read the manga and thoroughly enjoy it, you may find the anime disappointing in several areas.

Rainbow – I watched this one because everyone seemed to be hyping it up. I can’t say that I regret doing so as I eventually came to appreciate the story, but I had a lot of issues with it. The biggest issue is that it’s incredibly formulaic. Every episode seemed to turn out the same way: Life is good even when it sucks, someone (or multiple someones) shows up and is a douche to the cast, the cast either gets payback on them or shows that they aren’t bothered, the someone(s) is disappointed/defeated, life is good again. This happened every episode without fail. In the end, though, the characters became a strong point of the series and the life lessons were well taught. I never did buy into the whole “broship” thing, though. Could have honestly done without it. Bottom line: A good show, but nothing that you couldn’t live without. Watch it if it sounds like something you’d like, but be warned that it’s fairly harsh, so don’t expect it to be fun and happy all the time.

K-ON!! – Not much to say here that can’t be said about the first season other than the second season is a lot better. The longer the series went on, though, the harder it got to come to terms with the fact that it was ending. There were a lot of emotional scenes near the end as the characters (and the viewers) were forced to come to terms with the fact that their time together was coming to an end. Still full of cute girls doing cute things. Bottom line: If you liked the first season, no reason not to watch this one. If you didn’t like the first season, this may change your opinion on the series given that it’s a definite improvement over it, but it’s still more of the same.

Now for the shows that were new to the Summer season.

Ookami-san – This ended up being a pleasant surprise. I didn’t expect a whole lot from it and I was mostly watching it because it just looked like something I might like. For the first few episodes, it really was kinda generic. It had a fun take on fairy tales and a great cast (and an awesome narrator), but that was about it. However, a little before the halfway point of the show, we got into the thick of things with an overarching plot dealing with Ryouko’s past and the introduction of the “main villain.” This kicked the show’s enjoyability up considerably and made it a much better watch, knowing that there’s suddenly a bigger problem for the characters than simply helping out random people. I also enjoyed the fighting scenes of the series, but they were few and far between. There’s also a lot of criticism going around for the series about perceived sexism, which isn’t exactly misguided. Ryouko starts as a strong, independent fighter and is eventually written out as a typical damsel-in-distress every other episode. It’s a shame that she couldn’t stay that way the whole series and the she ended up being the kind of character that relies on the male lead every time she’s in trouble, but I suppose it can’t be helped with this kind of series. It’s part of the formula really. Bottom line: Excellent show. I recommend giving this one a chance, no matter what. It may grow on you if you’re not sure about it.

Shukufuku no Campanella – I picked this one up a short time into the season because I decided I liked the art style and I thought I might like a lighthearted fantasy series. The problem with the show is that it has very little substance. There isn’t much character development and the plot is mostly non-existent until the last few episodes. And even then, it’s plagued with a lot of unnecessary drama. However, I found that the show is fairly enjoyable if you just treat it like a fantasy slice-of-life series. The characters aren’t very deep, but they’re a lot of fun. Watching them go about their lives is kinda entertaining on its own. Bottom line: Not super great, but enjoyable if you watch it for the characters. Tortilla Co. makes the show and Agnes isn’t half-bad either.

Mitsudomoe – I didn’t expect this one to be as good as it was. It ended up being one of the best shows of the season by far. Hilarious from episode to episode with great characters and silly situations. Bottom line: Not much else to say about it other than you should watch it. One of the best shows this season.

Seitokai Yakuindomo – Hilarious. Absolutely hilarious. A great show with a dry, deadpan humor style that works wonders for it and an absolutely hysterical cast. It’s a shame that this one only got one season. Here’s hoping for another. Bottom line: Absolute must see. Hilarious, and consistently so. My personal pick for show of the season. Definitely give it a watch.

Highschool of the Dead – A good old-fashioned zombie apocalypse never hurt anybody. This one’s filled to the brim with fanservice, but it’s a fun watch and an overall enjoyable show. The action scenes are great, too, so don’t think the focus is all on the boobs and butts of the female cast. It was definitely a strong showing, but it’s probably going to be a long, long time before another season comes out due to the pace at which the manga is being written. Filled with tons of references, cameos, and music from other zombie movies (including Shawn of the Dead!). Bottom line: If you want a good zombie apocalypse, this is your series. It’s actually done a lot better than most zombie movies.

Occult Academy – This is a great one. Anime no Chikara’s third project makes the best showing of any of the projects so far. The series varies between silly, serious, full of jokes, and full of action. The characters are a blast, too. Easily one of the best shows of the season and it shows that there’s hope for the Anime no Chikara project in cranking out top-tier shows. (Personally, I loved Sora no Woto, but it got hit with a lot of criticism for being a moe slice-of-life series.) Bottom line: Definitely watch it. One of the best shows of the Summer.

Strike Witches 2 – It’s Strike Witches. There’s not a lot to say. If you like cute girls and pantsu, go for it. I do have to say, though, that I think Gonzo did a lot better with Strike Witches than AIC did with Strike Witches 2, at least as far as art goes. It shows a lot of improvements in some areas (easy to tell because there are a lot of repeat shots as references to the first season) but their use of CG always seemed more forced and awkward, especially with the girls. The girls were often CG too close to the screen (whereas Gonzo used them further away when it was less noticable) and the movement seemed a lot stiffer when they used it. In the end, though, it was still a great show. Just as fun and enjoyable as the first. Additionally, as a bit of personal bias, my two favorite characters, Francesca Lucchini and Erica Hartmann, rocked the second season. They were so great ❤ Bottom line: If you liked the first season, you’ll probably like the second. If you didn’t, you probably won’t. It’s really more of the same. In fact, for most of the series, it basically follows the exact same formula, episode by episode, as the first season.

Sengoku Basara Two – I watched through the first series in order to pick up the second and I have to say that I’m not quite as thrilled with Sengoku Basara as a lot of people are. The fights are a ton of fun. They’re fast-paced, over the top, and exciting. The characters are also pretty good. Pretty much any of the characters have their own charms. My only real problem with the series is the plot, or lack thereof. Each series is basically “Oh no, someone’s trying to take over Japan and all of our territories. Let’s stop them by putting our differences aside, but only after we fight each other to realize we need to.” And this draws out for 12 episodes. It’s especially bad in the second series, where characters don’t really seem to learn their lessons after failing the first time. Keiji in particular continues to try peaceful negotiation with Hideyoshi, only to get his ass kicked every time. It gets really boring to watch him mope around talking about how he can do it when it’s obvious that he can’t. Bottom line: Some of you may enjoy it a little more than I did, but I still liked it. If you want some good fighting, give it a shot. It’s a ton of fun when it lets itself be.

Asobi ni Iku Yo! – Man. Way too much wasted potential with this show. You’d think a show about aliens, spys, super-powered girls, and government conspiracies would focus a little more on those things than on boring fanservice and crappy love quadrangle that never goes anywhere. The scenes were it does focus on its major plot points are great and if the show were full of them, it would be amazing. There just aren’t many of them most of the time. Instead, we watch girls mope around about how they’ll probably never be loved by the boring nerd lead. Bottom line: Has some good points and some really bad points. Average overall. Don’t bother with it unless you really want to.

Black★Rock Shooter – A lot of people were a disappointed in this because they probably went in with their expectations set a little too high. I, on the other hand, had no idea what to expect when I set out to watch it and found myself thoroughly enjoying it. The art left a little to be desired at times and the story was a bit slow-paced, but the BRS scenes were pretty cool and the plot was fairly coherent. I definitely wasn’t as disappointed as some people were and I actually have a fairly high opinion of the OVA. Bottom line: Don’t set yourself up for disappointment and you’ll probably love it. I’d definitely recommend giving it a shot.

Cat Shit One – Technically, I’m not sure this is over. However, there’s no telling when the next part will be, or even if there will be more parts, so I’m going to go ahead and review this one now. This one is pretty good. There isn’t a whole lot to it other than some awesome gunfights and the most badass bunnies you’ll ever see in your life. I’d still recommend it, though. It’s very, very pretty. The CG is amazing and the action is great. Bottom line: There’s no reason not to watch it. It’s just plain amazing. I hope there’s more of it down the line because I enjoyed it so much.

Well that takes care of my seasonal reviews, but of course, I promised a Bonus Round in the title.

BONUS ROUND

I’ve watched a ton of older stuff this season, so it’s time to post some opinions.

Saki – I watched this one pretty early on in the season. Despite not knowing anything about mahjong (and barely knowing anything after finishing the series), I thoroughly enjoyed Saki. The characters are really great and every single one of them gets a lot of focus, even if they’re on other teams. They’re all enjoyable and Yuuki (a.k.a Taco-loli) has become one of my favorite characters ever. The show was a blast, pure and simple. Bottom line: Watch the hell out of it. It became one of my absolute favorite shows as soon as I watched it. Season 2 can’t come soon enough.

Candy Boy – This one wasn’t quite as great as I had hoped it would be. It’s short for one thing, which is fine, but doesn’t leave itself enough room to accomplish anything. I was hoping we’d see some awesome twincest yuri, but I had no such luck. We really never got anything more than subtle hints. The OVA that started the series off was great and I was hoping it would be an indication of how the rest of the series would go, but it unfortunately wasn’t as good. Bottom line: Decent series and a quick watch, but nothing special.

Quiz Magic Academy – I really don’t know why I bothered to watch this one. It’s just a single OVA with some fun characters and a quirky magic school setting that ties into a game. I did find it to be pretty enjoyable though. Unfortunately, no one seems to have any interest in subbing the second OVA since it’s been out since January and there are no subs. Bottom line: A quick, fun watch that you may enjoy if you’re looking for a quick comedy fix.

Minami-ke – This includes all of the Minami-ke parts: Minami-ke, Minami-ke Okawari, Minami-ke Okaeri, and Minami-ke Betsubara. I suppose the best place to start would be to give my impressions of each season. The first season, Minami-ke, is amazing. It’s simply one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. It’s hilarious. Actually, since I’m doing Summer reviews, I’d like to compare the format to Mitsudomoe. They two are VERY similar and if you like one, you’ll almost definitely like the other. The animation studio changed after the first season. Minami-ke Okawari wasn’t so great. It was entertaining, but the format changed too much and it took a much slower slice-of-life style over the fast-paced comedy of the first season. Minami-ke Okaeri was a little better in that it got a little closer to the first season’s style, but it still wasn’t as good as the first season. Minami-ke Betsubara is probably the closest to the first season’s style, but still not as good (and it’s only a single OVA). Overall, the series was amazing, with great characters and lots of laughs. Bottom line: Definitely watch Minami-ke (the first season). It’s a must-see. Continue watching the series if you like the characters enough, because the rest of it won’t be as good as the first season, but it should still be enjoyable.

Seitokai no Ichizon – Again, on the topic of Summer series, a lot of people were trying to compare Seitokai Yakuindomo with this series, so I decided to check it out. Unfortunately, I didn’t find it better than Yakuindomo, but I did still find it to be extremely enjoyable. This is definitely a great series no matter how you slice it. You’ve got a crazed harem lead and a group of crazy girls with tons of quirks and unique personality traits. It’s impossible for it not to be funny. It’s also filled with all kinds of anime, manga, and game references, some more direct than others. Examples include Dragon Ball Z, Higurashi, and Strike Witches, among others. It seems to run the gamut on what it likes to reference. Bottom line: Watch it if you want a good school-based comedy series without all of the classroom shenanigans that goes straight to the fun after-school activities.

Kimi ga Aruji de Shitsuji ga Ore de (They Are My Noble Masters) – This was quite the interesting series. Very fun for a harem series and lots of laughs with a great cast. It’s a bit of an oddball in that I didn’t find myself being pulled toward one particular girl over the other as far as the main’s choice went. All of them were fun and I think I’d have been happy with whoever the lead ended up with (though Miyu was by far my favorite). Overall, pretty good. Bottom line: Fairly high-tier among harem series. Give it a go if you want a good harem comedy. Or just any comedy, really.

Sasameki Koto – Eeeeeeeeeh… This one had a lot of bad points to it. There was a lot of drama that didn’t need to be there and the series conflict never really resolved itself by the end of the show. It definitely needs a second season. That said, though, it was still a fun watch with a lot of great moments. The first few episodes took themselves a bit too seriously, but as it loosened up, it turned out to be a fun ride. Bottom line: There are definitely better yuri shows, but it’s not a bad one. Give it a shot if you want, but don’t let the first two or three episodes sway your opinion. The series changes for the better as it goes on.

School Days – Oh lawdy, I watched it. Man, that was fun, too. The series starts off kinda slow and then as it goes on it’s like watching a train wreck in progress. You know it’ll end up horribly but you can’t look away. You even derive a sick pleasure from watching everything go wrong. Sick pleasures aside, the cast was pretty fun, too. There were a lot of interesting personalities and I often found myself feeling like I was stuck in the middle of the conflicts with them. Setsuna was my favorite gal, but she didn’t get quite as much focus as I’d have liked. Bottom line: I shouldn’t even have to write this. This series is notoriously popular and well known for its ending. Everyone should see it at least once.

Fight Ippatsu! Juuden-chan!! – I really just picked this one up so I could get some more exposure to Bow Ditama series (after last season’s Kiss x Sis ended up being one of my favorites). I can’t say that I enjoyed it so much and Bow Ditama’s penchant for pee runs rampant, but it was still somewhat enjoyable. I’d wager that the manga is better, but it seems to have very little scan interest and there’s very little chance it would ever get licensed. Bottom line: Fun, but not anything special. Watch it if you want a Bow Ditama fix.

Kaichu! – Less of a series and more of a promotion for the manga, this was a two-part web broadcast that consisted of episodes only a few minutes long. It was pretty interesting, though, and my interest in the manga has skyrocketed. The only problem is that scanlations of the manga are still ridiculously slow despite it being out for quite a while. Bottom line: If you like traps, check it out. There’s not really much here, but it’s fun for what it is.

And that’ll do it for the usual set of reviews. I may not bother with a bonus round next time, but I do like handing out opinions on stuff, especially when it’s stuff I REALLY liked, like Saki. Amagami SS is the only show I’m watching this season that isn’t over yet, so expect reviews on it when the Fall season ends.

The next planned post should be in less than a week with the Fall initial impressions. I’ll be waiting on Index 2 as the last show to air (which should be out on Friday and subs will be out either Friday or Saturday, I’d wager). Until next time.

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