Winter 2012 (+Guilty Crown, Bakuman 2, & Mirai Nikki) Final Impressions

Less carryovers than I seem to remember having. I said five last time but I only have three. Maybe I was counting Fate/Zero and Sket Dance, too? Anyway, I had to wait on Mirai Nikki to end, which was taking its sweet time. Let’s do this.

We’ll start with the carryovers.

Guilty Crown – Eh, what can I say? It was disappointing. It was amusing, but disappointing. The music started great but seemed to get less interesting as it went on, which was really the draw for me. The animation was okay and was pretty good at times, but nothing new or noteworthy. The plot was weak and the first half was fairly uninteresting. The second half got so crazy and stupid that it made the show worth watching, but they still pulled some absolutely infurating (and in some cases baffling) decisions with what little plot was still intact. The characters were all pretty terrible, too.
Bottom line: Honestly, don’t bother. It’s not worth all the suffering you’ll inflict on yourself for 22 episodes.

Bakuman 2 – I’m not sure how to compare this to the first series. Miura and his dumbass ideas did nothing but infuriate me for most of the season and 20+ episodes of him being an idiot wasn’t a lot of fun. That said, the other characters were a lot more interesting this season and I liked the comic ideas more. I’d put it around the same level as the first season and I’m glad that it got picked up for a third because I can’t wait to see what happens next now that Niizuma is all set to kick things into high gear for their rivalry again. That rivalry is what makes this show worth sticking with.
Bottom line: – If you liked the first season, then by all means check this one out. If you didn’t, then there’s nothing new here that would change your mind.

Mirai Nikki – Well it was a pretty good adaptation of the manga. They covered a lot of the material with some expanded content (Seventh’s history and such) and they also implemented some of the Mosaic material into the story to flesh it out. Unfortunately, they also messed a few things, like leaving out a lot of details later on in the series like Yuki’s gambit at the vault. I can only assume they stretched themselves a little too tight for time by the end. Additionally, as controversial as the end of the series tends to be, they left out the last few pages and changed some of the character relationships at the very end. It was kinda weird.
Bottom line: Overall, it’s about on the same level as the manga. Some things are better, some are worse, and the ending is less conclusive but also less stupid. If you’ve never read the manga, it’s worth a try. If you have read it, then you may as well watch it just to see some of your favorite parts animated.

Still waiting on Fate/Zero to be over due to the one-season gap, so that’ll finish my Fall reviews in a few months, and I’ll have last year’s show of the year then, if I can remember that I haven’t done it. That’s what I get for waiting on Fate/Zero instead of just calling it. Anyway, onto the Winter shows.

Thermae Romae – This was honestly pretty good. I was surprised by how cool the ideas were for the approximations of modern bath house ideas given the technology that was available in ancient Rome. It was pretty fun to see the chilled fruit milk being chilled by sitting at the bottom of a well where the water is cold. Stuff like that just blew my mind that you could recreate a lot of modern ideas with lesser technologies and discoveries. It’s kind of a shame that this didn’t get to go longer than six half-length episodes, but it did make way for Black Rock Shooter, so I wasn’t exactly sad to see it go either. I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing more of it down the line, but I’m not sure how much of the manga was covered. I’d imagine there’s still a lot that could be done with it given how short it was.
Bottom line: Definitely worth checking out, if only for a few quick laughs. The entire series is less than an hour and a half long.

Nisemonogatari – Amazing. Absolutely brilliant. There is a lot of debate as to which was better between this and Bakemonogatari, but I’m of the opinion that this was better. It was an amazing show and even weeks after it was over (including a vacation where I didn’t watch any anime for a week and a half), I still felt the gap it left when I no longer had it to watch. Shinbo did some amazing work here and the animation was absolutely top notch. Hats off to Shaft for this series. I’m thrilled that they’ve committed to doing all of the novels in due time. Now if only they could at least get Kizumonogatari out.
Bottom line: Not to be missed. It’s a must-watch for sure. Mind the toothbrush.

Black Rock Shooter – I suppose I should start by saying that this runs on the same principles as the OVA, so if you’ve seen that then you know what to expect here. That said, this actually has a conclusion (though it never directly follows the plot of the OVA, which unfortunately never really clears up what’s supposed to happen at the end of it) and it has an original plot with a lot more time in the BRS world, though most of the time is still spent in the real world since the BRS characters can’t talk and it’s hard to progress plot without dialogue. The action scenes are pretty good here. Most of the BRS scenes are full CG, but it’s not ugly or intrusive CG and it sometimes becomes hard to tell the difference between what’s CG and what isn’t. That’s not to say that it doesn’t slip in quality at times, but it generally looks great. I also really enjoyed the plot this time around. The character interactions were great, too. The show was a lot darker than I imagined having watched the OVA. It was a pleasant surprise that it was taking itself so seriously. Not only that, but they used the actual Black Rock Shooter song as the OP. Never thought I’d see the day that a Vocaloid song was a TV show theme.
Bottom line: If you have an interest, it’s a good watch. I can’t say that it’s for everyone, but for someone like me who’s a fan of BRS (and the whole culture behind it and Vocaloid in general), there was a lot to look forward to and this show did not disappoint.

High School DxD – This was a surprise. I almost passed it up entirely thinking it to be some generic harem garbage (and technically speaking, it was), but some… *ahem* promotional material made me at least want to give the first episode a look. What I ended up with was one of the best shows of the season. Seriously. It was good. It had great characters, an interesting plot, lots of laughs, lots of boobs, and it was just fun all around. And the ED was the best of the season, hands down. Funimation has licensed it and I’m already set for a pre-order whenever I can get one. Here’s hoping for a second season.
Bottom line: Definitely worth a look. Don’t dismiss it like I almost did. That would be a huge mistake.

Kill Me Baby – This one was a mixed bag. I liked the concept and I liked the characters. The voice work was incredible (despite literally having a six-person cast and four main characters). The problem was that a lot of the jokes and segments were very hit or miss. Some worked and some didn’t. Either way, I wouldn’t mind seeing more of it because it certainly made me laugh, but unfortunately the sales seemed to be rather poor.
Bottom line: – Up to you whether or not to try it. I’d say just take a look at the concept and the art style and decide for yourself whether or not it’ll be worth your time, because your initial assessment of it will probably be right.

Inu x Boku SS – This was a surprise. I almost passed this one up entirely but people were talking about it after the first episode. It ended up being one of the best shows I watched this season. There wasn’t a whole lot that ever happened as far as plot goes, but the characters were all a blast to watch. Their interactions made the whole show great. A light hint of the supernatural gave it a good twist that kept things fresh as well.
Bottom line: Don’t miss this one. This was a surprise hit that just about everyone will tell you was worth the watch.

Senki Zesshou Symphogear – Man, I’m not sure what to say about this one. It was a roller coaster of quality. The first episode was impressive and the way it ended was shocking. Then the second episode came and ignored the way the first ended and showed a significant drop in quality all-around. (The animation in some of the earlier episodes was God-awful. There was this one walking segment… Holy crap. It was like a bad Flash animation.) The plot started to get progressively worse, too. Fortunately, it eventually picked up and became fairly watchable, dare I say even good. Then by the end it started to get absurd, but it was absurd in the good way that you didn’t hate it. Definitely a mixed bag, but I’d say it was worth watching.
Bottom line: Up to you whether or not you want to watch it. The concept is pretty much going to determine whether or not you’ll care. If you do pick it up, give it some time before considering dropping it. Chris makes it a lot better once she starts getting into the spotlight.

Tantei Opera Milky Holmes 2 – I watched the first series just to try it so I didn’t really expect much from the second, but in all honesty, while the first series was just watchable, the second was actually good. I had a lot of laughs and it was fun to watch the girls just fail so horribly at absolutely everything. Twenty’s nipples were cranked up to 11 this time around, too, so that was always good for a laugh. Just about everything was a huge improvement over the first season.
Bottom line: If you liked the first season, check this one out for sure. If you didn’t like the first season that much, but you did watch all of it, you may want to check out the OVA and then check out the second season. It might change your mind about the series like it did mine.

Ano Natsu de Matteru – I wasn’t terribly impressed with this, but I didn’t think I would be. I’m not even sure why I picked it up, to be honest. Knowing who was behind it and having seen one of their shows before, I didn’t really expect much out of it. I guess all I really got out of it was watching Lemon be awesome and watching Kanna just suffer for my entertainment. Overall it was pretty meh and fairly frustrating, with an absolutely terrible resolution for most of the characters (and I don’t even really like how it ended for the mains).
Bottom line: Unless you just really like the writer’s works, don’t bother. It’s pretty much a rehash of Please Teacher anyway.

Papa no Iukoto wo Kikinasai! – Eh, this was pretty bad. Hina was adorable as all get out (and she also looked like a mini-Hibiki from Idolmaster) and Miu was fairly entertaining, but the rest of the show… Eh. Sora was boring and single-handedly destroyed pretty much every episode. The main was boring. The fat guy was boring (and creepy). The stoic girl was hilarious, though, and handsome-bro was pretty awesome, too. I also liked how he got along with Miu, like the older brother she really needed. But yeah, the show was pretty boring and it had a lot of trouble deciding what it wanted to be between a comedy and a drama. It bounced back and forth with reckless abandon and wasn’t really good at either.
Bottom line: Skip it. Seriously. Not worth my time, your time, or anyone else’s time.

Amagami SS+ plus –  *Sigh* So much wasted potential. Well, I guess it was inevitable when you had an entire series of filler. There were only two good arcs and the last episode was pretty good, but it really did feel like filler. All the things that were great about the original series were missing and there really wasn’t a lot you could do in two episodes that meant anything.
Bottom line: Honestly, even if you loved the original Amagami SS like I did, it’s not worth pursuing this. If you want to follow up on a specific girl, go for it. I might even recommend the final episode because it was way better than the other twelve. The whole series, though? Probably not worth the time investment.

And that’s it for Winter. The only carryovers are Moretsu Pirates, which has been excellent so far, and Rinne no Lagrange, which is having a split season like Fate/Zero did. These and Fate/Zero will be covered next time. Additionally, I dropped Another and Recorder to Randoseru because they were crap. They were the first shows I’d dropped in… probably seven or eight years, though there were a few I regret not dropping.

Pick for Show of the Season: Definitely Nisemonogatari. In all honesty, I’ll just about always pick a Shinbou show over any competition, but this really did just blow me away. The style, the narrative, the quality of the animation, the amazing voice work, the plot that tip-toed that line between serious and silly oh-so-well… There wasn’t anything for me to dislike. It was just about perfection. I guarantee it’ll be a serious competitor for Show of the Year this year, too.

Next up will be Spring initial impressions, but Hyouka’s start is on a major delay compared to everything else and it doesn’t even start until this coming Sunday.

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