I sat through all of Endless Eight, or rather, I nearly did. I fully intended to, which is the important thing.
September in the US means the end of summer vacation and the beginning of the school year. Kids spend more of their lives at school than anywhere else and I’d wager that more shows are set in schools than in any other setting. Even though school based shows have the same setting, some of them couldn’t be more different. I looked back at three such shows, Azumanga Daioh, His and Her Circumstances (Kare Kano) and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Each show could be described as a slice of life story about high school students, but each show is unique.
Such is my addiction to the routine of watching anime – I horde a ridiculous amount of fansubs, promising myself I will catch up with them sooner or later, yet knowing deep down that it may never happen. As I enviously cast my eyes across the blogsphere, I usually get the urge to write one of those lists where I can go through and rate what I’ve been watching, but instead I shamefully present to you a list of the anime I haven’t watched. In other words – revelling in my failure as an anime fan.
Encased in deep blue ice
Bokura Ga Ita — Episode 1 onwards — Back log started 24th July
I just can’t bring myself to watch Bokura Ga Ita. I know I’ll probably like it, but still I get the feeling it’ll be a waste of my time — like all slice of life anime; it seems devoted to observing the dull, mundane aspects of life. I like my escapism, dammit. Bokura Ga Ita needs time-travelling monks. Or Monkey D. Luffy.
Ergo Proxy — Episode 15 onwards — Back log started 17th August
I usually have to devote an entire evening to catching up with Ergo Proxy. It’s rare finding the right frame of mind to avoid being permanently lobotomized by the vicious onslaught of pretentious dialogue and absolutely directionless story. What’s Ergo Proxy actually about anyway? I couldn’t tell you, but it looks cool. That’s enough.
FLAG — Episode 1 onwards — Back log started 11th August
Again, this sounds like a mature and sophisticated series — but I’m not sure if I’m ready for such an odd concept. As far as I can tell, FLAG is about a photographer and the majority of the story is conveyed through a camera lens and still images. Like with Ergo Proxy, a certain (preferably coffee induced) state of mind is required to fathom such an unconventional "arty-farty" style without being unfairly harsh.
Starting to freeze
Honey & Clover — Episode 8 onwards — Back log started 22nd August
This is a worrying sign because I’m a massive fan of Honey & Clover — perhaps subconsciously I’m afraid of it ending? Also, I’m getting sick of its melodramatic whining — Yamada being the main culprit, the sight of her crying does nothing for me anymore (except yawn). I suppose it’s getting a little stale and the romantic merry go round does bore me, but irregardless it’s ending soon anyway.
Shopping around for fresh meat to freeze
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
I don’t like the nose-less, bug eyed character designs and obvious otaku pandering but such is the love surrounding The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya that I do intend to watch it (or as is my style, back log it) sooner rather than later!
Bishounen are rubbish, especially when they just stand around talking and looking out of the corner of their eyes (the evil, or scheming bishounen are particular users of this "shifty eye" technique) but word is good that Saiunkoku Monogatari has more to offer than beautiful boredom. I’ve already been burnt once with the sleep inducing Meine Liebe, so Saiunkoku Monogatari is last chance saloon for the bishounen drama.
It’s been a while since I’ve watched so much anime. This spring season is quite remarkable in that not only is there an unprecedented number of new series, but also because a lot of them are actually quite good. And I’m not a fan of harem, loli or whatever other genre is “hip” right now.
My top 8 spring anime
Undeniably this is a terrible series. Why I’m watching it, let alone blogging it is a mystery fit for Columbo. So yeah, big guns, big monsters, big breasts and dismembered corpses. That’s Tokko; it’s so damn badly animated too. I guess those are the reasons why I’m watching it. Approach with caution!
Utterly fan pandering shounen adventure escapades, yet I’m bitterly enjoying it because despite the lead character Zed being the worst “hero” ever- the rest of the cast and the generally bright, expansive setting envelope me in a finely built universe, ripe for escapism. Given the sheer number of good shows airing this season, I’m not sure how long I’ll stick with Kiba but the fact I’m still around by episode 5 suggests there must be something I like enough to keep watching.
6. Good Witch of the West
Yet more frilly medieval melodrama featuring only pretty characters with mad hair styles; the Good Witch of the West has an interesting fantastical take on the days when teaching and explaining science was banned, but I’m not a fan of the way every character is so damn cute and as soft as a pillow. Certainly, the fairy tale premise suggests potential, though I may wait for a few more weeks and watch this in batches.
The first GONZO series since Basilisk that isn’t utterly mediocre tripe, Witchblade; starring an impossibly large cheated female avenger akin to Devilman\lady is a surprisingly heart-rending tale of a woman fighting (with strange supernatural powers) to be reunited with her lost daughter. The action and animation have so far been disappointly below average, but the story retains some strength thanks to a mysterious plot and the fractured relationship between mother and child.
By rights NANA should be higher on this list but I can’t hide the fact that the characters simply don’t interest me enough. Being as it is a series by and for young ladies, it’s not terribly surprising I’m not totally into it. That said, the particularly slender and stylish character designs are wonderful and the drama is very well… dramatic; lots of passionate kisses, tearful eyes and sad goodbyes.
So like everyone already knows, Utawarerumono (worst series title ever) is based on a porn game, but rather than having tons of fan-service (so far, there has been none, thank god), the story seems to be heavily spiritual and environmentalist- a Studio Ghibli style rural fantasy in which violent forest spirits and other mysterious apparitions exist.
The fantasy and action in Jyu-Oh-Sei is deep enough to suggest an interesting story is on it’s way, though the strong homoerotic undertones are slightly detracting from what I hoped would be a completely dead pan science fiction show.
1. Black Lagoon
I watched the first episode today and I feel ashamed to have ignored Black Lagoon for so long. The action is stylish and fluid without falling into boring poses, while the characters themselves are interesting and mysterious enough to forecast some compelling drama ahead. Black Lagoon is vaguely reminiscent of Gungrave in that it stars compelling adult characters capable of pulling off some cool kick-ass moves. Very impressed.
Stuck in backlog hell
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
The most hyped series since Mai-Otome, I plan on watching Haruhi sooner or later. I admit the extremely loud fan-base has put me off it for now and at the best of times I try to avoid anime based around Japanese school girls. Until the unabated praise slows itself down, I’ll be content to ignore Haruhi.
Apparently Higurashi is disturbing horror, but again, it looks so typically cute and “otaku” that I’m having trouble motivating myself to sit down and watch the damn thing. I had the same problem with Jigoku Shoujo; for so called horror, Enma Ai looked like such a calculated pin-up for fan culture that I eventually just lost interest.
With blogger hubs like Blogsuki and the AnimeAntenna cropping up, now is as good a time as ever to gauge how the tastes of the hardcore anime fan often differ from that of the general anime buying public.
According to the stats provided by Blogsuki, the most popular shows currently being blogged are Mai Otome, Fate/Stay Night, Shakugan no Shana, Kashimashi and Jigoku Shoujo. And judging by it’s furious debut, I expect we won’t have to wait too long for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya to gatecrash that list too.
On the other hand, typical shounen adventure anime like Eureka 7, Ergo Proxy and Noein appear to be floundering. Perhaps that’s a harsh way of putting it, but these are a shows tipped for the very top, flashbang animated and designed with an obvious broad appeal. What do they lack that turns off the otaku audience?
Is it that obsessive quality that otaku are famous for; no matter how well it’s animated, you can’t very well idolize an emotionless vase of a character like Real Mayer of Ergo Proxy in the same way as the always huggable “cute hell girl” Enma Ai of Jigoku Shoujo. Plushies and wallpapers of the weird looking kids from Noein are never going to be as fluffy as the girls from Otome.
It’s not all about aethetics though- the most blogged series, like Otome, appear to invite fandom, to encourage disection of every facet of their show. Noein and the rest are great examples of story telling- but perhaps too good in that we are often left with little to discuss, such is the quality of story that watching becomes an almost one way experience, there is little to discuss when all the loose ends are everything but tied up anyway.