Fall 2010 (+Katanagatari & Amagami SS) Final Impressions

Delays on Arakawa subs held this back for about half a week longer than the shows I watched ended (Zakuro ended on Monday), but now I’m done with the Fall season. As usual, I’ll post my final impressions of the shows I watched, as well as shows from other seasons that ended this season, and I’ll declare my show of the season.

However, since this is the last season of 2010, I’ll also pick my show of the year.

So as usual, we’ll start out with the things that ended from previous seasons.

Katanagatari – This show was from the Winter 2010 season and aired one episode per month. The final episode aired in December. This show surpassed all of my expectations, providing an intriguing story with fun characters and a lot of twists. It also had fun (although usually short) fights with excellent choreography. The animation style was unique and well done and the soundtrack was one of the best I’ve ever heard. I can’t say enough good things about this show. Katanagatari has become my revised pick for Winter 2010 Show of the Season. It’s a shame that it couldn’t have been done earlier for my opinion to be changed. Bottom line: Excellent series. Watch it for sure. Try not to get yourself spoiled before you do, though. It’s very important that you go into the show not really expecting anything.

Amagami SS – This show is the last one I had to finish from the Summer 2010 season. I wasn’t too excited about it last season because the first half wasn’t very strong. The first arc was decent (but suffered from the usual exposition at the beginning of a series) and the second arc was pretty good, but the third arc was very weak and had many things actively working against it. However, once the second half kicked in during the Fall season, we got hit with all of the best arcs at once. The fourth arc was amazing, the fifth arc was great (though it had a bit of a lackluster finish), and the sixth arc was fantastic. This strong showing in the second half caused me to revise my opinion of the show entirely. Amagami SS has become my revised pick for Summer 2010 Show of the Season. The second half blew me away. There’s not really a whole lot I can say about it other than that. Bottom line: Watch it for sure. The omnibus format is excellently executed here and all future VN adaptations should take note. The characters are excellent and the show is consistently funny and interesting.

That’s it for the series from other seasons. It’s time to cover the Fall shows that have already ended now.

Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt – This one was quite interesting, but it’s Gainax, so that’s to be expected. I have to say, though, I think it’s getting overhyped. The soundtrack is amazing, being done by Taku Takahashi (of m-flo) and is easily the strong point of the series. Unfortunately, the animation and style, while good in the context of the series, were purposely limited for the sake of the show’s general style. It works within the show, but doesn’t make a strong showing otherwise. People who didn’t watch the show are certainly not going to be giving it positive criticism for the visual style. The characters are also mostly undeveloped and very two-dimensional. Some of the throwaway monster-of-the-week Ghosts got more development in the recap episode than the main characters did, and that was only an afterthought so that there wouldn’t be silence during the recap clips. The characters are, however, very fun and interesting. They’re just not deep or fleshed out. All of that said, the show did an excellent job of exploring experimental territory and working against all of the preconceptions of recent anime shows, making for a strong point against what anime has become in recent days. Pure, adorable moe heroines? Gone. People saving the day with righteousness? Gone. Any attempt to maintain a wholesome atmosphere? Gone. And it works. It really does. The show is a blast to watch. Bottom line: Despite all of the criticism I have for it, I did love the show and it comes highly recommended. Just don’t expect too much out of it. Buying into the hype surrounding it will let you down. Oh, and it’s getting a home-release-only episode and a second season, so look forward to that.

Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru – This was a surprisingly good show. I didn’t expect a whole lot from it, only watching it because it was SHAFT’s new offering for the season. It ended up being quite a fun show with excellent characters and all of that SHAFT style nonsense we’ve come to expect with the crazy camera angles and close-ups. Also, it had Chiaki Omigawa. Oh God, Chiaki Omigawa’s voice. It’s so good. Bottom line: I don’t really have a whole lot to say about it other than “give it a shot if you like SHAFT shows.” It’s certainly in line with their previous offerings and it’s a great show in its own right.

Shinryaku! Ika Musume – This one came really close to being show of the season for me. I didn’t know what to expect from this one, picking it up because I had heard good things about the manga. It ended up being a hilarious show with great characters and a fun setting. Ika Musume herself never failed to deliver and the show had some of the best scenes this season. (Mini Ika Musume was great and I’m glad that the Ika Musume specials will all revolve around her.) I’m going to be seriously disappointed if this never gets a second season. Bottom line: Check this one out for sure. It’s one of the best shows this season and it’s consistently enjoyable.

Arakawa Under the Bridge x Bridge – Not a whole lot to say about this one. It’s the sequel to the Spring season’s Arakawa Under the Bridge, and it’s really more of the same. I did like this season better than the first, though. Bottom line: If you liked the first season, go ahead and watch this one. It’s more of the same, but like I said, it’s a little better. We get to skip all of the exposition and characterization, so things get moving a lot faster.

The World God Only Knows – One of the best shows this season. The characters were likable, the soundtrack was good, and the show certainly has a lot of appeal for the usual anime/manga/VN/video game crowd that watches it. There are references everywhere and the main character is pretty relatable. You’re bound to find at least one girl that you like, if not several, and Keima’s utter badassery is worth looking forward to every arc. Bottom line: Check it out for sure. One of the best shows this season. It’s going to re-air during the Winter 2011 season and then lead right into a second season in the Spring.

Otome Youkai Zakuro – I picked this one up a few episodes in with no real idea why I passed over it before. This show ended up being really good. Unfortunately, there just weren’t that many people that watched it. It’s fairly run-of-the-mill and rather cliched, but it’s still a fun show despite all of that. The half-spirit girls are a fun bunch and it’s always good to see them kick some ass every now and then. The second half ended up being too weighed down by plot to have much of the action present in the first half, but it was still decent. Bottom line: Check it out if you’re looking for something different. The show could use some more publicity. It went mostly unappreciated this season.

Yosuga no Sora – Unfortunately, my impressions of this show really didn’t get much better after the initial ones. The characters were still mostly unlikable (with Akira being the only one I ever actually cared about) and most of the arcs (all of them except Akira’s) being really boring. Akira’s had an interesting element to it, but the rest of them were all teenage drama. The real draw of the series ended up being the sex scenes placed every few episodes. There wasn’t a whole lot to watch otherwise. Even Sora’s arc, the main draw of the series, wasn’t terribly interesting, nor was Sora a very likable heroine. Nao was a pretty awful heroine in general. The first girl was just forgettable. I don’t even remember her name. Haru was a pretty bad lead, too. The omake comedy segments at the end of each episode were honestly better than the main show was. Consistently better. Far more interesting every time, and that says a lot. Additionally, the arc format was executed very poorly, constantly skipping back and forth in time when the arc changed. A format like that just isn’t feasible in a 12-episode series, especially when you’re losing several precious minutes every episode on the omake and a recap at the beginning. Bottom line: Worst show I watched this season. Get the blu-ray releases and watch the sex scenes, maybe check out Akira’s arc, and I guess watch the omake segments. Nothing else is worth watching. Just wait for the VN to get patched and hopefully it’ll be better.

Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai (My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute) – Simply amazing. I didn’t go into this expecting a whole lot, but I came out with a new favorite character (Kuroneko <3) and a great series. The only weak part of the series was episode 8, which was a filler episode. Every episode that followed the novels was done very well and was consistently entertaining. I can’t say enough good things about it, so I won’t bother. Bottom line: Just watch it. Great show. It’s my pick for Show of the Season.

MM! – I dunno, it ended up being alright, but kinda average. I wasn’t really feeling it until episode 5 when Noa showed up. She became my favorite character, but she’s unfortunately not written to be a contender for the lead’s heart. I also felt that of the two who were, Yuuno was a significantly weaker character than Mio, and Mio’s dynamic worked a lot better with the lead’s masochism. I’m sticking with my initial impression here that it was a fun watch, but certainly not show of the season material. Bottom line: Check it out if you’re into harem comedies and see if you like it, but you won’t miss much if you ignore it.

And that’s it for show reviews for the Fall season. Star Driver, Bakuman, and Index II will be over next season, so expect reviews on them then.

None of those shows, however, are contenders for show of the season this season in the face of OreImo, so let’s go ahead and make my Show of the Year choice. The nominees from each season are:

Winter 2010: Katanagatari
Spring 2010: Angel Beats!
Summer 2010: Amagami SS
Fall 2010: Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai

And the winner is…

Angel Beats!

I know a lot of people aren’t going to like me for that choice, but that’s the decision I came to, especially after seeing the blu-ray exclusive episode that reminded me exactly why I loved the series to begin with. The art and animation are amazing, the soundtrack is unbelievably good, and the characters are so much fun that I don’t even know what to do with them. The only weak point is the plot, which isn’t bad, just not fleshed out to perfection given the limited length of the series. The closest contender for Show of the Year was Katanagatari, which had a strong showing in art/animation and soundtrack, but lacked in comparison with characters and the plot was much weaker. It had a good underlying plot but it essentially amounted to a monster-of-the-week (or month, I guess) show. Most of the plot didn’t occur until right at the end and I think that held it back a little in comparison.

Well, that’s it for my anime impressions this year. Expect initial impressions on the Winter season in maybe two weeks or so. I’m not sure how long it will take for everything I want to watch to start airing (I still haven’t seen air dates for some of them), but it looks like it won’t be until at least the 13th, and there’s no accounting for how long it’ll take to get subs on those last few shows.

If Funi does their Roll Out Riot again at the beginning of the year, that will probably come before the initial impressions. I don’t expect a whole lot of positive things to say about it if it followed last year’s disappointing trend of licensing a bunch of live-action stuff no one wanted.

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