2011 Winter Anime: First Impressions

In the interest of figuring out which anime I want to both watch and blog about, I’ve sampled all of the new series showing this season, and provided a brief summary of my impressions of those shows in this post.  In a season that is normally accepted as a lull season in-between Fall and Spring, I came into this year with low expectations of the quality of its first quarter; however, due to the obligation of watching all these introductory episodes for the sake of evaluation and selection, I managed to form a list of shows that I will end up watching, considerably larger than what I had initially expected.

Rio: Rainbow Gate

Tweet-sized summary: A woman with a aura of good luck befriends a little girl and participates in a gambling tourney for the title of most valuable casino dealer
Hits: Gets the mood right when called for.  Classy casino setting underscored by the tension of the “climactic” poker match.
Misses: The fanservice is overbearing.
Hey, it’s that voice!: The little girl, Mint Clark, is Azusa from K-ON!!
Verdict: Nope.  Ain’t watching this.  I dropped the show 55 seconds in, but gave it a second shot out of obligation for completing this post.
My Face when Watching this:

Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season

Tweet-sized summary: A high school girl is feared for her resemblance to Sadako from The Ring but comes out of her shell thanks to the most popular boy in school
Hits: Even when told from the “other girl’s” point of view, this episode reminds us why KnT is high school romance at its finest.
Misses: cop-out recap episode.  It’s numbered as Episode 0 for a reason.
Hey, it’s that voice!:  Ume- err, I mean, Kurumi, the focal character of Episode 0, is the same voice as Haruhi Suzumiya.
Verdict: The recap episode does a decent job of bringing me up to speed, since I’ve only read the manga.  Either way, I’ll be following this one.
My Face when Watching this:

Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Tweet-sized summary: In the not-too-distant future, a shy, unassuming girl is chosen by a fox-like creature to form a pact and become a Puella Magi.
Hits: Surrealistic near-future setting, subtly effective line shading, doesn’t feel too SHAFT-y.
Misses: OP aside, the background music is a bit weak.
Hey, it’s that voice!: The main character, Madoka’s voice is the same as Noel Kannagi from Sora no Woto
Verdict: This is the perfect teaser for a first episode.  I am immediately hooked and want to watch more of this show.  It’s psychedelically beyond reproach.  Definitely an early front-runner for best show this season.
My Face when Watching this:

Infinite Stratos

Tweet-sized summary: In a world where only females are capable of piloting the Stratos, the first male pilot ever makes his high school debut, antics ensue
Hits: The action sequence at the start was well-choreographed. The music is mildly amusing during the harem-esque “misunderstanding” gag bits.
Misses: It doesn’t know whether or not it wants to be a mecha anime or a harem anime.
Hey, it’s that voice!: The childhood friend, Houki, is Mio from K-ON!
Verdict: Unfortunately, I will be watching this.  As a mechaharem, this show is bound to fall apart in the worst way possible, and I want to be there when it happens.
My Face when Watching this:

Yumekui Merry

Tweet-sized summary: A boy who is prophetic with dreams meets a demon-girl who needs him to send her back to the world of dreams; a gate between both worlds open
Hits: Intriguing premise, very artistic, atmospheric music
Misses: It doesn’t know whether or not it wants to be a mecha anime or a harem anime.
Hey, it’s that voice!: The villain, John Doe, is the narrator from Amagami SS.
Verdict: Definitely continuing watching this.  I don’t know where they’re going with this story, but all the elements are abstract enough to make for an interesting watch.
My Face when Watching this:

Wolverine

Tweet-sized summary: This adapation of the Marvel superhero portrays his relationship with Mariko, the daughter of a Yakuza crime Lord, and her tragic story
Hits: Pretty sweet comic-book action, hilarious yet appropriately timed usage of Engrish, awesome portrayal of Wolverine’s powers, seems to stick to canon
Misses: Some romance elements detract from the plot.  Feels sacrilegious to the original version.
Hey, it’s that voice!: Logan’s love interest, Mariko, is the same voice as Rukia from Bleach.
Verdict: I didn’t watch Iron Man because I was never a fan of the franchise.  X-men, however, will make this a must-watch, based on sheer curiosity alone.
My Face when Watching this:

Gosick

Tweet-sized summary: A Japanese student joins a postwar European school fascinated by the occult and meets a gothic lolita bookworm who solves mysteries for fun
Hits: The 1920’s Victorian-esque setting, detailed interior design, the adult detective’s ridiculous hairstyle, Victorique’s clothes
Misses: Forgettable male lead, predictable first mystery, poor exposition for a first episode
Hey, it’s That voice!: Loli lead character Victorique’s voice is the same as Noel Kannagi from Sora no Woto (and Madoka from Madoka Magica!)
Verdict: I’ll pass.  If I wanted to HHHNNNNNGG at cute lolis, I’d watch Dragon Crisis instead.  Oh wait, I am.
My Face When Watching This:

Cardfight Vanguard

Tweet-sized summary: A high school boy has his precious Vanguard card stolen, only to have it retrieved by a skilled player who gave it to him when he was young
Hits: The OP, performed by JAM project, is easily the best OP this season.  Masaaki Endoh should just do all anime OP’s.
Misses: Glaring similarities to Yugioh, despite having a mechanically more interesting card game system.
Hey, it’s that voice!:  Morikawa, the person who stole Sendou’s Vanguard card, is the same voice as Emiya Shirou from Fate/Stay Night.
Verdict: I would have watched this for the sake of appeasing my inner 12-year-old, but I already have Pokemon Best Wishes for that.
My Face when Watching this:

Freezing

Tweet-sized summary: Girls trained to become fighters called Pandora defend the world from the Nova; an ace Pandora teams up with a young boy to fight the menace
Hits: The action is nice and gory.  The NOVA have a fearsome Angel-vibe from Evangelion
Misses: Despite reasonable fanservice, the shotacon subtext will kill most boners.
Hey, it’s that voice!:  Lead battle babe Bridget Sattelizer is the same voice as Sawako from Kimi ni Todoke.
Verdict: Not going to continue, as I’m not big on fanservice-y shows like this and Claymore Queens Blade (Claymore was actually pretty good)
My Face when Watching this:

Onii-chan no Koto nanka Zenzen Suki Janain Dakara ne!!

Tweet-sized summary: A girl half-heartedly tries to seduce her perverted siscon brother, only to learn she is adopted. As a result, she pursues him romantically
Hits: watching this hilariously terrible show while on skype with #sscsav.
Misses: Horrific art style.  Incest?  More like THINcest.
Hey, it’s that voice!:  Brocon female lead, Nao, is the same voice as Yui from Angel Beats!
Verdict: I will never watch this alone, and I will only watch this with the members of SCCSAV.
My Face when Watching this:

Beelzebub

Tweet-sized summary: A delinquent discovers a baby on the riverbank, only to find out he’s the devil’s spawn. He is tasked with raising him for world domination
Hits: Surprisingly funny.  Never read the manga, so the humor is still fresh.
Misses: Premise does not seem like it has legs, despite the manga success.  You can only have the baby shock everyone so many times and still be funny.
Hey, it’s that voice!: The baby, Beelzebub IV, is surprisingly the same voice as Celty from Durarara!!
Verdict: Yakitate Japan was the only Shonen Jump comedy that I could muster watching to the end.  I’m going to follow my gut and make sure it stays that way.
My Face when Watching this:

Kore Wa Zombie Desu Ka?

Tweet-sized summary: High school boy is resurrected as a zombie by a necromancer, only to steal the powers from a magical girl. He is chosen to be a magical girl
Hits: Hilarious subversion of common and recent anime tropes, such as magical girls, shonen, and fanservice.
Misses: Hinted tragic histories seem unnecessary, or at least, inappropriately placed during humorous bits.
Hey, it’s that voice!: Magical dude Aikawa Ayumu is the same voice as Ryuuji from Toradora
Verdict: Zombies + Magical Girls + Cross-Dressing + Giant Enemy Crayfish = FUCKING PICKED UP
My Face when Watching this:


Dragon Crisis

Tweet-sized summary: A high school boy and his treasure-hunting 2nd cousin steal a relic container from a band of criminals; inside is the cute dragon-girl, Rose
Hits: Hearing Rie Kugimiya’s tsundere voice, except it’s entirely dere-dere.
Misses: Rie Kugimiya, Rie Kugimiya, Rie Kugimiya!  Oh wait, what was this show about again?
Hey, it’s that voice!: High school boy Ryuuji is the same voice as Keima from The World God Only Knows
Verdict: I was initially biased against this show, because I was not a fan of Rie Kugimiya’s.  However, she’s shown here that she’s willing to do something other than straight-up tsundere.  And it makes me melt inside for some reason.  Will be watching.
My Face when Watching this:

Level E

Tweet-sized summary: A high school boy moves out to pursue his dream as a baseball player, only to meet a baka alien-prince disguised as a bishonen high schooler
Hits: Great comedic timing, chemistry, and art.  Fantastic OP sequence.
Misses: I can’t unhear Italy’s voice from Axis Powers Hetalia.  In fact, the main characters’ comedic back-and-forth treads dangerously on Italy/Germany levels.  I can already see the BL doujinshi.
Hey, it’s that voice!: The alien bishonen’s voice is Italy from Axis Powers Hetalia.  Pasta!  Pasta! Paaaasta!
Verdict: This show caught me completely off-guard with its hilariousness.  While Zombie Desu Ka was funny due to comedic subversion, this show is purely character and situation-driven.  I’d blog this if everyone and their alien roommate weren’t doing so already.
My Face when Watching this:

Conclusion

There are some notable exceptions for this upcoming season, particularly the hotly anticipated Fractale, as well as the new Pretty Cure series, Suite Precure.  Both won’t air until later this month (Precure in February), so I’d rather just post this now than wait for the rest of the shows to air.  For an off-season, this quarter has a bunch of surprise shows that have so far exceeded the ridiculously low expectations that the general anime-viewing populace has set.  For now, I will be watching Kimi ni Todoke, Madoka Magica, Yumekui Merry, Wolverine, Kore wa Zombie Desu ka?, Dragon Crisis, and Level E.  Only time will tell if I’ll still be watching all of these shows by the end.  And there’s still Fractale and PreCure to come!

With regards to blogging, I am still trying to figure out which one I would like to write about.  I want to choose one that has promise, but at the same time isn’t talked about as much as the others.  Level E was supposed to be that show, but it seems that its popularity has picked up out of nowhere, much in the same manner that Ika Musume did back in the fall of last year.  The two series I’m most excited about, however, have yet to air, so for now it will be a wait-and-see sort of thing.

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4 thoughts on “2011 Winter Anime: First Impressions”

    1. That’s the main problem with acronyms. If you double up on one of the letters, it’s sometimes difficult to remember off-hand which letter is doubled. For aesthetic purposes, doubling of the first or last letter is easier to remember than doubling one of the middle ones; also, doubling the only vowel is easier to remember than doubling one of the consonants (see: NCAA and NAACP).

  1. I should’ve picked up Fractale… I probably will eventually once I get enough time. For now, I’m just watching Kimi Todo, Madoka, and Gosick (to HHHNNNNNGG at cute lolis).

    1. Considering the pacing that Fractale is getting, I personally think that by the end, it will be one of those series that leaves a better impression when watched in chunks or as a all-in-one-sitting marathon. I’ve heard that it is only its run is scheduled for only the winter season, and given how late it started, there will probably be a small amount of episodes, making said marathon that much easier.

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