Summer 2012 Final Impressions (+Hyouka & Sket Dance)

It took forever to get to this. I know we’re already a third into the “new” season. Sorry. But I had to wait on Joshiraku. That… didn’t go over super well. Anyway, let’s get on with it.

As usual, we’ll go ahead and knock out the stuff from the previous seasons first. First up, the sole carryover from Spring.

Hyouka – And this one comes very highly recommended. There are a lot of people who can’t get into the series from the onset based on the setting and plot. I’ll agree that they’re pretty slow in this series and nothing important ever really happens, but this show is definitely a character-driven one and it doesn’t fail to impress there. More importantly, KyoAni pulled out all the stops on this one for the animation. There’s a lot of experimental animation styles in here, and it’s extraordinarily well done. They certainly poured their hearts into it. It’s worth a watch if for no other reason than to be impressed every episode. Bottom line: Definitely one of the best shows of the Spring season, one of the best shows this year, and one of the best shows KyoAni has ever done. If it’s not for you, then it’s not for you, but I’ll always hold it in high regards for its technical achievements.

And, finally, I get to post impressions for Sket Dance, which unfortunately ended its run after five seasons.

Sket Dance – There’s a lot to say here, but I’m not really sure where to start. First off, the perception of Sket Dance as a poor man’s Gintama. You hear that a lot. There’s some truth to it, and I feel like I can say that without even having seen or read Gintama. I can, however say that Gintama’s just not for me. What little of it I’ve been exposed to just didn’t click with me. Even watching both of the Sket Dance/Gintama crossovers just didn’t really endear me to the Gintama cast. And I found the Gintama one fairly boring and trashy. That’s actually a lot of my problem with Gintama. Sket Dance is rarely as crass as Gintama but manages to be entertaining. Actually, that was the one thing I wanted to get out of the way before I got started. I don’t have a whole lot to say about the show itself, I suppose. It’s funny. The main characters are endearing (especially when you see some of the more serious moments in the show and their backstories). The side characters are hilarious. There’s some great music (even getting The Pillows and Gackt in on the action). It was just a joy to watch. I enjoyed having Sket Dance to look forward to every week for over a year. Bottom line: If you want a good comedy series, this is certainly one to consider. I suppose it’s not for everyone, but it’s very accessible and a lot of fun. Definitely give it a shot.

And now we can finally move on to Summer proper.

Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate – This one is kind of hard to describe. In a lot of ways it’s absolutely amazing. The cast is good, the idea is good, the subplots are interesting… But in some ways it’s just not good at all. The overall plot is downright silly, the way some relationships are resolved isn’t that interesting, there’s a lot of deus ex machina… I dunno. I’d buy it if it got dubbed, but I’m sure the license will be used for a sub-only release and I don’t like it enough to buy it anyway if that’s the case. Bottom line: Overall good, but it has a lot of weak points. Consider it if you’re looking for something along these lines, but if you don’t usually like shows like this, this one isn’t likely to change your mind.

Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imouto ga Iru! – Now this one was a lot of fun. It’s a harem series through and through, but it’s definitely one of the most enjoyable ones I’ve ever seen. The cast was amazing. So many great characters were in this. I suppose it sounds like I’m only recommending this for the cute girls, and to some extent, that’s right. They really were the draw. But once you get past that, there’s still some hilarity and some good plot. I did get frustrated with the way things have been resolved, but some spoilers I read for the remainder of the series give me high hopes for what’s to come. I’m just not sure if the show sold well enough to warrant another season. It did seem to sell somewhere in that iffy range. We’ll see. Bottom line: One of the shows I enjoyed most for Summer. Definitely give it a look.

Rinne no Lagrange 2 – This second half of the series seemed to be a lot more serious than the first. I didn’t mind it, but it felt like it kinda drifted away from what I had come to expect from the series in the first place, which was a bit of a mix of everything. Either way, the plot was resolved and the ride came to a stop. Bottom line: Worth watching for the conclusion of the series. The series overall is worth watching if you like shows that don’t take themselves too seriously or if you like suplexing mecha.

Dog Days’ – Now this was an amazing watch. Everything that was great about the first season with none of the stuff that was awful about it. Cute girls? Still here. Annoying DRAMA DRAMA DRAMA plot? Gone. Fanservice? Still here. Wars with ancient demons? Gone. Hilarious antics? Great characters? Awesome fights? All still here. Everything else that sucked? Gone! They really seem to have perfected the formula as far as what everyone wants to see out of this series. Even when it looked like it was going to go in a darker and more dramatic direction, it turns out it was just a setup for more lighthearted fun. They did a great job. Even the new additions to the cast didn’t make it feel like it was overwhelming. Bottom line: Contender for best of the season, and in actuality one of the top sellers from this season. Definitely worth watching. Of course, you’ll need to watch the first season first (which I’ll still recommend, but less than I’d recommend this one).

Ebiten: Kouritsu Ebisugawa Koukou Tenmon-bu – This one was hit or miss by episode. There were some good ones and some bad ones. Each episode tended to parody something. Most of them were very old series and a lot of the references flew over my head. The most recent reference topic was K-ON! but the best one was, by far, the Dragon Ball Z episode. It resolved most of the series plot and it was also filled with the best references. It was genius, really. Too bad so much else of the show wasn’t that good. Bottom line: Unless you’re really desperate for some old-school references, probably best to skip it. Not bad, it never felt like it was worth watching all of those episodes.

Joshiraku – The troublemaker, but one of the best shows this season. I know why it took so long to translate. I do. It’s filled with so many references, puns, and banter that it had to be an editor’s nightmare to make sure everything was right. I’m glad it got subbed at all, though. It was definitely enjoyable. I looked forward to every episode. Bottom line: Great fun and one of the best shows this season. If you’re a fan of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, definitely pick it up, since it’s by the same author and you can see a lot of the same style in it. Everyone else is still getting a recommendation to pick it up, just be aware that you may not have seen anything quite like it before.

Oda Nobuna no Yabou – Surprise of the season, for sure. I went into this one expecting some zany harem comedy or something set in a gender-reversed Sengoku period. I did get a little bit of that, but what I was surprised that I got more than that was a serious story about a young daimyou’s struggle to unite Japan and her inner conflicts during war. It was actually pretty great. And the animation was downright excellent in a lot of battle scenes. I was pleasantly surprised and I’m glad that it did moderately well in sales. I’m really hoping we get another season. Bottom line: Don’t judge this one by the way it looks. It’s got far more in store than you’d think. It was definitely one of the best shows I watched this season and it comes extremely highly recommended.

Tari Tari – And here is my favorite of the season. I’m not gonna make this season’s pick seem like a close call before I get to it. No need for drama here. This was far and away the best show this season. It had damn near everything. Comedy, drama, tender moments, conflicts, romance, music, sentai heroes… Well, that last one kinda doesn’t fit, but yeah. Anyway, it was amazing. Bottom line: WATCH. THIS. I’m on the verge of calling this best of the year. I don’t know if I can or not yet, but I’m certain nothing this year will top my picks of the season so far and I’m torn between this and another for which was best of the year. It’s a strong contender and I’ll make that call early next year.

Kokoro Connect – This one got caught up in a lot of controversy and there were a lot of hard feelings from the fans, but ignoring all of that, you’re definitely left with a great show. It’s too bad a lot of the conflict seems to have hurt its reputation and sales. I all honestly, I had high hopes for it and I wasn’t let down in the least. I feel bad for the author who has given us this great series and it’s been ruined by the decisions of a few people in the animation industry. I do hope they find great success going forward. Bottom line: It was great. Definitely check it out. There’s a lot of exploration of the human psyche here and a lot of fun times to balance all of that out so it’s not overwhelming. The characters are great and the lessons are greater. Highly recommended to anyone.

Yuru Yuri ♪♪ – This, like Dog Days’, was a big improvement on the first season. They gave a lot of focus to my favorite characters, too. We got a ton of Sakurako this season ❤ Anyway, it was great. And it seemed a little more focused this season, like it finally knew what it was trying to do and did a great job aiming for that goal. Bottom line: As unimpressed as I was with the first season, the second season was great. Definitely recommended. Like Dog Days’, you’ll have to watch the first season, but it wasn’t too bad. Worth it to get to this season, if nothing else.

Oh, and I dropped Hagure Yuusha no Estetica and Sword Art Online. Hagure Yuusha just kinda petered out and became uninteresting and Sword Art Online was boring from the start. I couldn’t keep watching. If anyone read this, I’d have someone made at me for SAO, I’m sure. Still wouldn’t care. Hated it.

Alrighty, finally cleared all of those out for the Summer season. Now on to the unsurprising pick for Show of the Season…

Pick for Show of the Season: Oh, hey, it’s Tari Tari just like I said it’d be. I really can’t say enough good things about this show. If you weren’t already looking stuff up about it when I mentioned it earlier, get on it. It was great.

That’s all I had for now. Probably nothing out of me for a while unless I feel compelled to take pictures of the boxed figures I’ll be getting soonish. Probably won’t. No one reads this and would want to see them anyway.

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