Another season, another new lineup for my weekly rankings posts! With Shingeki no Kyojin in recap, and Space Brothers taking the week off, it’s as though the new shows have been given a sort of ‘practice run’, a chance to impress me without having to compete with two of the best ongoing shows from previous seasons. 😛
While I usually try to refer to anime series by their full Japanese names in these lists (even if I abbreviate them or use their English translated titles in the comments), I hope you’ll understand my decision to shorten some of them this time around. Namely, ‘Tokurei Sochi Dantai Stella Jo-Gakuin Koutou-ka C3-Bu’, ‘Danganronpa Kibou no Gakuen to Zetsubou no Koukousei The Animation’, and my favorite, ‘Senki Zesshou Symphogear G: In the Distance, That Day, When the Star Became Music…’ Also, I’ll be referring to ‘Uchuu Kyoudai’ as ‘Space Brothers’ from now on (as I did earlier in this post), to avoid confusion with Uchouten Kazoku. I’m having enough problems differentiating between ‘Love Lab’ and ‘Blood Lad’, and they’re English!
6 – Gin no Saji ep 1
10 – Free! ep 1
12 – Uchouten Kazoku ep 1
13 – Love Lab ep 1
14 – Mushibugyou ep 14
15 – Blood Lad ep 1
Starting with the all new, non-sequel series as usual… there’s A LOT of comedy this season. Which isn’t great for me, as I prefer serious, plot-driven shows, and usually only pick up a couple of funny/trashy shows for some variation, so it’ll be interesting to see how this goes. The ones that impressed me enough to keep them on include Gin no Saji, which reminds me strongly of Moyashimon (a good thing) – educational entertainment; Stella Jogakuin Koutouka C³-bu, another combination of moe, military and school clubs; Kitakubu Katsudou Kiroku, an even more generic ‘nothing club’ anime that somehow managed to make me laugh a lot; and Love Lab… which I found a bit disappointing actually. But it feels like Minami-ke, Yuru Yuri and Mitsudomoe (same director), and I loved those, so I’ll give it a chance.
Gen’ei wo Kakeru Taiyou was a pleasant surprise, since I wasn’t expecting much based on the synopsis or trailer. The first half of the episode was harmless enough, standard introductory fare, but things took a very dark turn in the second half. Protagonist Akari narrowly avoids getting flattened by an out of control truck, only to get strangled a couple of nights later by the plant/tentacle monster in her bedroom… fortunately, she chooses this time to awaken as a magical girl, and slays the one responsible for these attempts on her life – Fuyuna, a friend who got a bit too jealous of her popularity. Akari is horrified by what she’s done, but this doesn’t last long, as time is suddenly reset to that morning… and it’s as though Fuyuna never even existed. Haven’t a clue what’s going on, but I like it!
I haven’t a clue what’s going on in Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi either, but it was either take a gamble on the unknown, or pick up another comedy series. 😛 As with Gen’ei wo Kakeru Taiyou, we have a main character (Ai) who is a young girl, whose mother has died, and who has been looked after by another couple since. Again, the setting was relatively nice and happy for the first half of the episode, if you ignore the slightly morbid fact that Ai is a gravekeeper for a village where nobody dies. Then, sudden bloodbath, as a guy who goes by the pseudonym ‘Hampnie Hambart’ appears and kills all the other villagers. Turns out they may have been undead the whole time, but they seemed a reasonable bunch to me! I assume the rest of the series will focus on Ai’s travels with Hampnie; hopefully they’ll find some interesting places and ‘people’!
Danganronpa: The Animation presents a setting and premise I’m more familiar with: the survival game. It hasn’t even explained the reasons or motivations behind the game and its master, the strange school principal Monokuma, yet – all we know is that the 15 unwilling participants are all elite school kids, and that the only way they can escape their prison is by killing one of their classmates. These characters are an odd mix, ranging from stereotypical (the generic protagonist, the delinquent, the one who’s an idol) to the bizarre (the uber-muscular female wrestler, the goth-loli gambler, the shaman-guy), and unusually for these sorts of series, they get along for the most part in this first episode, helping each other try and find a non-violent solution to their problem… I get the feeling that won’t last long. Love the ‘survivor count’ at the end!
Just making the Top 10 this week is the first episode of Free!, a series I feel has led to far too much unnecessary rage. Personally, I’m glad that KyoAni are producing a series with a majority male cast for once, it’s nice to see studios break their stereotypes and do something different. Even if the character interactions aren’t THAT much different from their moe-blob shows so far. TBH, I think the biggest difference between Free! and, say, K-ON! is that the characters got naked so much… fan service sells! I just hope they actually keep swimming for more than just 2-3 eps of the series, instead of drinking tea and eating cake, or whatever the male high school club equivalent of that usually is. Anyway, it was a pretty decent introductory episode, the characters were all amusing, and I look forward to Haruka and Rin’s continued rivalry!
Finally in terms of new shows, we have Gatchaman Crowds, the main reason why I was late posting this (there’s always one). Worth the extra week’s wait for this to air though, as you can probably tell by my high ranking. A fun, brightly coloured action series with a fun, hyperactive main character! Hyper-protagonists can either make or break a show for me depending on whether they come across as funny or just plain annoying, but when I saw Hajime practically orgasming over her COLLECTION OF NOTEPADS, I knew I couldn’t possibly hate her. I’ve not seen any of the earlier series in the Gatchaman franchise, but found Crowds easily accessible for a newbie, and if I like it enough, I may just go back and watch the original 1970s series. 🙂
On to the sequels… but I won’t comment on Rozen Maiden Zurückspulen this week, since the first episode was just a rushed recap, hence why it ranks in last place. At the opposite end of the rankings, it was Genshiken Nidaime that took the Number 1 spot this week. (But will it be able to compete with Shingeki no Kyojin in the future?) Great to see the series back, and with a largely new cast to keep things fresh. There’s been a big shift in the gender ratio of the club; the appearance of a woman in the club room was a big event for the original cast, but now all but one of the members are female (or identify as such). I assume this will lead to more fujioshi-based activities than the male otaku-centric exploits of earlier series, which should be fun!
Last, but certainly not least, is Senki Zesshou Symphogear G. My number one guilty pleasure of last year, back for more, and as spectacular as ever. The first episode was all I hoped for and more. The music was great (as you’d expect from a series basically designed to sell music :razz:), the animation seems to be holding up so far (none of this nonsense), the attack names are back, the long Engrish tagline is back, the girl who compares everything to anime is back, and Shoukiin Kagerou is back! And Hibiki ROCKET PUNCHED A TRAIN into her opponents, the mysterious and creepy ‘noise’! These noise may not be the mindless killers they were in the last series, however, as this time they seem to be under the control of a new antagonist, Maria Cadenzavna Eve! In summary, I love this series, flaws and all.
So that’s it for the first eps! It will be interesting to see which of the comedy series will be able to keep making me laugh from start to finish, and which ones will become boring or repetitive. Chances are it’ll be one of them that goes if/when I choose to drop a series mid-season…