Spring 2011 – the best of the rest

May 31, 2011

I have been posting about several series this season, but of my three principal series, one has finished already, and one is about 4 episodes behind in the subs. As you can see on my main page, this hasn’t stopped me from posting about the continuations of Gosick, Cardfight! Vanguard, Season two of Kaiji, Tiger & Bunny, and Steins;Gate. Spring 2011 has been really great so far. In addition to the shows I have been blogging about, there are a few other shows I have been following, though with less enthusiasm. In this post, I thought I would comment briefly on my impressions of the “best of the rest”. In this case:

  • HanaSaku Iroha
  • Ano Hana
  • C – Control
  • Ao no Exorcist

Hana Saku Iroha

(Hanasaku Iroha) Those serious days are long gone.

This show, a 15th anniversary showcase by P. A. Works animation, is truly gorgeous. It also started out all dramatic, with people getting slapped by the mean old lady who ran the inn. The second episode built on the premise in a truly wonderful way. Then everything went to hell. Alright, it almost seems like it has found its way back to some sort of a serious tone, and the art work has been top notch throughout, but what a disappointment! I’m continuing to watch this show. Maybe it will “get better”. Maybe it was my fault for believing that the serious tone at the outset would carry throughout the series. Anyways, this one deserves respect for looking good, but I can’t recommend it until I see how it turns out.

Ano Hana – Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai

(Ano Hana) Things have changed for everybody.

This is another well animated show. Perhaps because it is in the Noitamina slot, it has been fairly relentless in presenting its story. Instead of random hijinx, each episode seems like the characters are legitimately struggling towards the resolutions of the underlying tensions presented in the situation. One great thing about this show is that the characters are all pretty interesting, and flawed in very believable, human ways. Another nice part of this show is the sense of nostalgia felt by the characters, as they remember the innocence of youth, even as it leads them to memories that are terribly painful. If I had to pick one series that I am not formally following on this blog to represent the best of Spring 2011, this would probably be it.

C – the money of soul and possibility control

(C - control) Making money any way he can.

I’m still unsure what to make of this one. It presents itself as a shounen battle series, but then shows aspirations of being philosophical, or perhaps an allegory about the nature of money, and the impact it has on our lives. Certainly I find the battles the least interesting aspect of this show; despite the use of M&A jargon, and pseudo-economic terms like “flation”, the battles are really excuses to have things move fast, and explode, to draw speed lines, have the actors shout, and draw fake blood. There’s also the suggestion of a romantic subplot, but the real substance is the ethical quandary the hero finds himself in. Different characters present the hero with conflicting interpretations of the right thing to do. The answer is by no means clear, and at least some of these other characters resist neat categorization as enemies, or bad guys. This complex presentation of a moral dilemma keeps me engaged. Will this show ultimately make a clear and important argument about the role of money in society and our lives? It is too early to tell.

Ao no Exorcist

(Ao no Exorcist) Monster of the week.

Unlike C-control, this one is pure shounen fantasy. The lead character is both the son of Satan, and grew up in a family of exorcists. So he is a super exorcist that all the other exorcists would hate, if they knew he was the son of Satan. Plus he shoots blue flames and has a katana. Only instead of being a real exorcist, he is studying to be one, so it is actually a school comedy, but with a bunch of monsters. Of all the shows listed here, this is the hardest for me to justify. The recent inclusion of a filler episode had me seriously considering dropping this show. At least it isn’t as boring as A-Channel.

Below the line (some shows that did not make it)

  • A-Channel. This show has a clear, appealing art style, and good character designs. If only it had something else going for it.
  • Nichijou. I honestly tried, but simply couldn’t find anything funny about this show. It kind of reminds me of the person who gets in your your face with a bunch of “Ho ho! I’m wacky!” until you want to punch the crap out of him.
  • Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko. This show rubbed me the wrong way. I don’t really like these kind of harem setups anyways, but the first two women introduced came off as really stupid. If other people want to believe mental retardation is “cute”, they can leave me out of it.

I checked out a few other shows that were even worse than these, but I won’t bother listing them. For the most part I have been pleased with this season. Even when a show turns out to be as dumb as it sounds like its going to be it can be fun to watch one episode, and see that you were right. I’m looking forward to checking out a bunch more crap in Summer 2011, which is right around the corner. Hope you have some plans to get out from behind the monitor as well as tuning in to some new anime. Laters!

20 Responses to “Spring 2011 – the best of the rest”

  1. 4 series mentioned are in my top 10, very good~ mwahahahha xD

    Same feelings towards the other three you mentioned. I tried, but they really suck =_=

    *now checking out the summer 2011 series little by little*

  2. RP Says:

    It kind of reminds me of the person who gets in your your face with a bunch of “Ho ho! I’m wacky!” until you want to punch the crap out of him.

    I lol’d at this. I’d probably agree on Nichijou. Those kinds of random humor shows are tough, the jokes either stick with you or they don’t. For the most part, they’ve been falling flat for me.

    • Joojoobees Says:

      Yeah, I was hoping I would like it, as a good comedy can really be great. Plus that robot reminds me of Osaka from Azumanga Daioh, and I loved that show. Oh well.

  3. chikorita157 Says:

    Compared to last year, while this season is enjoyable, I feel that something is missing… On the other hand, I do enjoy the shows that are airing, especially Hanasaku Iroha.

    As for the summer season, I probably won’t be watching much since I’m going on a vacation for two weeks and then a few days several weeks later. As a result, I probably won’t be able to download much, unless I do it off IRC… and I’m definitely not streaming considering that I loath that method… Most likely, summer will be dedicated to catching up with my backlog.

    • Joojoobees Says:

      I know what you mean. Since my computer is half dead, I can’t get it to run downloaded video. Instead I have been doing streaming only for the past couple of seasons. 😛 Not only that, but I can’t go full-screen without crashing the computer, so everything I see is LOW RES. This is not how I want to watch anime either.

      Enjoy vacation!

  4. Mira Says:

    I have to agree with Hanasaku Iroha. I’m not touching it until it hits past the mid-point because I already have a couple of 20+ episodes shows I’m following (AoE, T&B and Steins;Gate) along with the shorter shows.

    [C]’s strong point is definitely the the moral dilemma. But as good as it is, the ending is really going to make all the difference for this show.

    AoE’s episode last week really made me wonder if my expectations were going to be met. It started off amazing and then– that happened. I wanted this to be THE shounen epic but I’m not so sure now. /sigh

    • Joojoobees Says:

      We’re pretty much in agreement. Thanks for reminding me that both T&B and S;G are extending into the Summer. Hyouge Mono (if the subs ever come out) will go on as well, so I have a few shows to look forward to already.

  5. foshizzel Says:

    Great list you got going here! Looks similar to my own well Nichijou is my #1 however it won’t really end during spring.

    C- Is doing better but I am not to crazy on the whole CGI thing sometimes it feels really lazy to me, but that isn’t going to kill it for me yet! I still love the theme and characters.

    Ao no Exorcist- Great series! Loving it my only complaint against it would be the pace it feels a bit slow to me, but I know we have to build up the other characters and the world first before we get action and fights.

    Rin is fun to watch but not sure how much longer he can hide his demon side from the others! I am sure we will get some dramatic event to reveal it to them.

    Ano hana and Hana iroha! Both have some amazing artwork those two by far look the best, well Ao no Exorcist looks great too but not as clean as the other two.

    • Joojoobees Says:

      I would say Ao no Exorcist isn’t anywhere near the art quality of the other two, but it is unfair to make the comparison across genres. Neither AnoHana nor HanaIro use super-deformation or chibi forms (maybe HanaIro does deformation infrequently and to a very small extent), wheras Ao no Exorcist has a lot of SD especially when Rin gets angry. It is just difficult to compare the very realistic art style of AnoHana and HanaIro to Exorcist. Exorcist doesn’t have realistic lighting, or take place in believable environments, but it is a magic academy, with demons running around; the intent is more to have the monsters and key characters look cool, and have crazy action scenes. It probably would be a production error to spend money on atmospheric light modeling and intricate depictions of interiors.

  6. Ginnodangan Says:

    Oddly enough I’m actually enjoying Denpa Onna, sure the harem anime genre is pretty shitty with a few rare exceptions and the series isn’t exactly amazing. But the first few episodes were nice at bringing us into the story (the “I can’t fly!” moment) and the adolescence points are fun. Plus it’s kind of poking a finger at shows that use “retarded moe” for their heroines, by well, having girls who aren’t exactly right in the head.

    C is probably the show I’m enjoying the most at the moment and that moral dilemma is definitely one of it’s strong points, it’s essentially throwing the protagonist out into the world and forcing him to pick a path in life with characters corresponding to each choice. And the use of Midas money can also be seen as a reflection on the use of credit and how today people want everything instantly. It’s just a shame that it’s only going to be one course (and a Noitamina one at that), it has so much potential.

    Honestly I can’t say I was really been wowed by Iroha and Ano Hana, they both started out strong but they’ve dropped a bit. Iroha still has a lot of time and things to use, but Ano Hana is really dragging it’s feet.

    • Joojoobees Says:

      The whole notion of “retarded moe” creeps me out, so even joking about it (if that is what they are doing) has managed to turn me off this series.

      I really have the reverse impression of AnoHana and HanaIro. To me HanaIro seems to be dragging its feet (probably because it has so much time), whereas I think AnoHana has maintained focus, and I can see them being able to wrap it up soon. By focus, I don’t mean that the characters are on the right track, but that they seem to be trying to move ahead. I’m sure there is still a twist or two left, but all of the characters lives have been altered by the mysterious appearance of Menma, so if she disappears soon, it will have had some meaning.

  7. Mad Chemist Says:

    I’m not sure what to think about C, myself, but I can appreciate it for trying to do something different. I think that the most interesting parts of the series involve the Financial District and the different ways people react to it because the setting of the show is really strong and its buildup has been pretty intriguing. Flipside, I think that the cast is kind of boring for the most part and that following Kinimaro around really takes away from the mysteries surrounding the financial district. Still it looks like the show’s really starting to move towards something big for the final, so I’m looking forward to that.

    Ano Hana is one of my favorite shows of the season because it promised well written, character based drama and that’s what I’ve gotten. Really the whole thing just feels so earnest in telling its story and presenting its characters, even the ones who aren’t mains. I’m also glad that the story’s progressed so quickly – even when the cast isn’t close to granting Menma’s wish it doesn’t really feel like the episodes are padded much at all. It’s not without its flaws, but it’s definitely one of the shows I look forward to most each week.

    • Joojoobees Says:

      I’m pretty much in agreement with everything you said.

      It is tough to judge C at the moment, because I am not sure where they are trying to go with it. I do give it credit for resisting easy dismissal as just another [some-genre]. I think, despite its flaws, it would be fun to sit down after it finishes and pick it apart to say where it succeeded and failed. Most shows are so superficial that they don’t merit that sort of analysis, so I can’t just write it off. A lot of characters really confuse me, though. Are they important? In which case they seem undeveloped. Or are they unimportant? In which case the story they are telling is clouded by too much focus on them. As I said, though, I don’t think we can make this kind of determination until the show ends, then we can say what worked towards that, and what distracted, or was lacking.

  8. Vargaskall Says:

    I am watching two of the anime you discussed here, being C and Ao no Exorcist.
    I definitely agree with your statements regarding C. Even though I like action in anime, it’s simply not suited in this one. I also personally think that it’s a pity that this is a short anime; they could have given a lot more background if they wanted, if only they had more episodes.
    Regarding Ao no Exorcist, I’d like to say that I am enjoying the anime very much, and that mainly because of the theme and the art. I was really amazed by the first two episodes, though after those two the amount of action decreased and so did my excitement over the show. Also, is it just me or did the art suddenly get worse? I still like it a lot, just not as much as in the beginning.

    • Joojoobees Says:

      To be fair, there wasn’t a lot of action in the first episode of Ao no Exorcist, but it did build up to an intense action sequence in the second episode. Based on that it looked like there would be much more action per episode, and that hasn’t really happened.

      I personally think there is a tension between plot and action so that a good action movie doesn’t really need a plot. Perfect example: The Protector, with Tony Jaa. The plot is: they took his elephant, now he wants revenge. That and a bunch of fight scenes makes a great action movie. Right now Ao no Exorcist is developing characters and laying out the plot. This just isn’t conducive to the action genre.

  9. I’m liking Hanasaku Iroha a lot, probably because I actually prefer a generally lighter tone with _occasional_ touches of drama/angst. And the characters themselves are complex and interesting, especially Ohana. One of those “taste” thigs, I surmise.

    • Joojoobees Says:

      Yeah. I like lighter shows as well, sometimes. I really enjoyed Aria the Animation. I do like deeper stories, however. And a mean old granny who slaps people around can make for an interesting story.

      • I actually watched that episode a couple of times, and one of the things I noticed on the second viewing was the absolutely shocked expressions on the faces of the other girls — which told me this was not a usual thing for Granny. Which was also interesting! I think what was going on was that she was testing the mettle of her granddaughter, to see whether or not she was a quitter (like her flighty mom). When Ohana took it — and then thanked her! — she knew she had a girl with real potential on her hands. From that point on her discipline (and motivation) was more nuanced. That’s the kind of complexity in a character that I find really fascinating.

      • Joojoobees Says:

        Well, that is an interesting take. It may be as you said; certainly Granny has not slapped anyone since. She has been a bit gruff at times, but usually not even that. Of course, she has mostly been sidelined in favor of the younger girls.

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