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Retrospective Look – February 2011 »

Retrospective Look – January 2011

Starry Sky   2011 01   Divine Rio RainbowGate   2011 01   Divine Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season   2011 01   Divine Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica   2011 01   Divine
Infinite Stratos   2011 01   Divine Yumekui Merry   2011 01   Divine GOSICK   2011 01   Divine FREEZING   2011 01   Divine
Onii chan no Koto Nanka Zenzen Suki Janain Dakara ne   2011 01   Divine Mitsudomoe Zouryouchuu   2011 01   Divine Dragon Crisis   2011 01   Divine Kore wa Zombie Desu ka   2011 01   Divine

As promised, here’s the first monthly digest post, featuring relatively spoiler-free impressions on all the series we’re watching. The idea here is to share some quick thoughts on the ones that aren’t being covered regularly, plus potentially re-spark some interest in shows that you may have considered watching, but held off on for whatever reason (hence the omission of major spoilers).

In addition, all the writers’ impressions are here to provide contrasting opinions, if you were ever interested in what the rest of us thought about a series that someone is covering. The impressions themselves are based on the episodes that aired in the given month, indicated under the series title, and are intended to be fairly brief yet insightful in some way. It’s a lot harder to say something meaningful in a few sentences than it sounds, so hopefully people find some value in these type of posts. If there isn’t much interest, then we may not continue writing them.

Since this is the first post of its kind, feedback is highly appreciated. Also, if you have any suggestions for possible improvements either to the format or the content itself, please do share them.

Note: Please be considerate of others who may be interested in picking up a series after reading about it here by placing discussion of any major spoilers in <spoiler></spoiler> tags. There will be little to no tolerance for anyone intentionally spoiling the enjoyment of others.

 

Technical Note: Much like the season previews, the list is ordered by the date and time that the shows air. The schedule is intended to give a quick overview of all the shows that at least one writer is watching, and serves as a table of contents to jump to specific entries. In lieu of “Top” links, you can use the back button in your browser to quickly return to the schedule.

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Beelzebub
07:00 NTV (1/9)
Dragon Crisis!
25:30 CTC (1/10)
Bleach
18:00 TX
Starry☆Sky
16:00 animate.tv (12/23)
Wolverine
22:00 ANIMAX (1/7)
FREEZING
09:30 AT-X (1/8)
STAR DRIVER Kagayaki no Takuto
17:00 MBS/TBS (10/3)
Kore wa Zombie Desu ka?
25:30 TVS (1/10)
Rio -RainbowGate!-
23:00 MX (1/4)
Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica
25:25 MBS (1/6)
To Aru Majutsu no Index II
23:30 AT-X (10/8)
Bakuman.
18:00 NHK E (10/2)
Super Robot Wars OG: The Inspector
22:00 MX (10/3)
LEVEL E
25:45 TX (1/10)
Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season
24:59 NTV (1/4)
IS Infinite Stratos
25:25 TBS (1/6)
GOSICK
25:23 TX (1/7)
Tegami Bachi REVERSE
23:55 TX (10/2)
Yumekui Merry
25:55 TBS (1/6)
Onii-chan no Koto ga Zenzen Suki Janain Dakara ne!!
24:30 tvk (1/8)
FRACTALE
24:45 CX (1/13)
Mitsudomoe Zouryouchuu!
26:58 MBS (1/8)
Hourou Musuko
25:15 CX (1/13)

 

Starry☆Sky
Episodes 01 – 03
Starry Sky   2011 01   Divine

Divine: With an episode per character (broken into half eps on animate.tv), this series has been far from the omnibus format romance I hoped it’d be. Rather than Tsukiko, the focus has been more on the guys primarily and less so their interest in her. The romance side hasn’t garnered much attention, even for Yoh who likes her. Instead, we’re given glimpses into their friendships with her both past and present, which is perfectly fine, but isn’t what I wanted to get out of this series. This may change as the most recent episode showed the different arcs coming together with Tsukiko at the center, though unlikely to get anywhere profound based on what I’ve seen. I’ll give it another arc to suggest otherwise, before deciding whether or not to drop it.

Bleach
Episodes 303 – 306
Bleach   2011 01   Prooof

Prooof: Bleach actually had some decent fillers recently, but the episodes are still hit and miss. Since I follow the manga closely though, the main storyline in the anime really just brings up the flaws in the story again and again. Watching it is just a constant reminder of how much each arc is a rehash of the others, and there’s really no deep substance, intrigue, or development. One thing that Bleach does have is the fights, and I for one love fast-paced adrenaline-pumping action; unfortunately the quality of the animation and art is really low and fights look unimpressive.

Rio -RainbowGate!-
Episodes 01 – 04
Rio RainbowGate   2011 01   Divine

Divine: Outside the cast, there wasn’t much I was expecting from this series. After four episodes, I’m a bit dumbfounded on who the target audience is, as we have gambling with a fair bit of fan-service, yet dumb villains who screw themselves over like you’d expect from a children’s show. Rio’s search for the Gates has started to ramp up and gotten a little more interesting, whereas the actual gambling leaves much to be desired. The “showdowns” have been purely dependent on luck, and doesn’t have the same strategic flair to them like Saki. I would’ve liked to see the complexity upped a bit to make things more appealing, but that clearly hasn’t been the focus. I’ll ride it out a bit longer to see if anything changes though.

Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season
Episodes 00 – 03
Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season   2011 01   Divine
Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season   2011 01   Kiiragi
Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season   2011 01   Prooof

Divine: Much like the first season, Sawako and Kazehaya’s relationship has been fairly stagnant, yet the series maintains the same charm with all the subtle character developments. It’s still far from feeling like a full-fledged romance (hence my Amagami SS pick last year), and it’s antagonizing to see Sawako beat herself up over her feelings, but Kento’s been a great catalyst for getting Mr. Refreshing all riled up. He may have inadvertently fallen for Sawako too, which would put the story in an all too familiar situation. Hopefully he’ll nudge those two a lot closer than Kurumi’s incident did, as an actual confession still feels a ways off. Character-wise, Ayane is my favorite to watch, since she feels our pain from seeing little to no progress, even on Valentine’s Day.

Kiiragi: I chose the first season off on a hunch, somehow feeling it would be great, and it turned out to be just that. The second season is no different, and it’s chugging along just smashingly. If you’re a romance fan, there’s no doubt this is one of the best romance series out there, and I’d put it up there near Lovely Complex. I really don’t see any point in describing this show to anyone who is or isn’t watching it, since it’s already a pretty established series. If you’re waiting for it to finish to marathon, then yes, it’s still just as good as the first season. Unless you hate romance, hate any form of shoujo, or read the manga but can’t stand the slower pacing, then start up this series. No exceptions.

Prooof: This was one of the series I was really planning to watch since I liked the first season (although didn’t watch all of it). The episode 0 recap was useful for me and helped refresh everything that happened up until now, which unfortunately, wasn’t all that much romance-wise. Their relationship still barely goes anywhere as months and months go by, and I’m constantly crying for Sawako to just step up and get Kazehaya. If there isn’t a confession before the end of the this season I am really going to scream. The best way to lose a person you like is to wait around too long fearing rejection, but given how emotional development is the core of the series, the arrival of the ultra-perceptive blond-haired bro is more likely to speed up their relationship rather than interfere with it.

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica
Episodes 01 – 04
Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica   2011 01   Divine
Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica   2011 01   Kiiragi
Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica   2011 01   Takaii

Divine: On paper, SHAFT’s original take on a magical girl anime had a production staff to make it truly unique, and thus far it’s proven to be just that. The dark setting combined with an ominous story twists the general perception of the genre, taking the series down a path that goes against everything that defines it. It’s utter blasphemy that comes together amazingly well, and makes a statement about how magical girl anime isn’t just for young girls anymore. The cute character designs by Aoki Ume give off a false sense of security, in conjunction with demonic-like contracts and evil witches who bite heads off. Shinbou’s really outdone himself with this one. I love the character personalities, particularly Tomoe Mami’s with Mizuhashi Kaori voicing her.

Kiiragi: If you take the mahou shoujo genre, throw out all the moe, childishness, and cheese, fill it back up with a high dosage of insanity and darkness, you’ll get Madoka. This’ll be repeated in waves, since I’m definitely not alone when I say I was pleasantly surprised. The show only got better as the episodes went on, and the latest was actually disturbing. You know those “good” anime that people say only comes a couple times a year? This is quickly shaping up to be one of them. I mean, the only bad thing is now you can’t watch Hidamari Sketch without feeling a tad sick to your stomach.

Takaii: The Magical Girls genre, something that everyone thinks they’ve seen before right? The dark tones, sudden deaths, plot twists, possibly evil furballs — everything that you’d never expect from a Mahou Shoujo show is here, except that it works. The main character has to be one of the smartest characters I’ve seen, ever. If you were given the choice to sell your life away for a single wish, would you do it? Did I mention that selling your life away means fighting evil witches who can and will kill you?

IS Infinite Stratos
Episodes 01 – 04
Infinite Stratos   2011 01   Divine
Infinite Stratos   2011 01   Takaii

Divine: The mash-up of my favorite genres pulled through, featuring a respectable male lead and cute heroines who don’t needlessly abuse him, all in a nice and neat high-speed battle comedy package. The romantic aspects have been much better than I was anticipating, due to the girls showing restraint that breaks away from the harem norm. Houki, Cecilia, and Fan haven’t been very clear about their feelings, so they don’t take out their frustration on Ichika for being dense. All the while, he’s just being himself and not arrogant in any way, yet seems to do and say all the right things around them. The end result is everything I want from a romantic comedy, plus mecha-style action that’s taken a turn for the better with an unknown IS threat. Along with great character designs and a stellar cast, this remains my favorite new series.

Takaii: I never really got into Gundam, but I think the feeling I get while watching this show is how I would feel if I really got into Gundam. The 3D models of the suits don’t bother me too much and there is nothing wrong with a high school romance right? Plus I’m a sucker for Hikasa Youko, and I would never turn down any opportunity to hear her in a tsundere role. The thing about this show is that I look forward to it each week. :D

Yumekui Merry
Episodes 01 – 04
Yumekui Merry   2011 01   Divine
Yumekui Merry   2011 01   Kiiragi
Yumekui Merry   2011 01   Takaii

Divine: Much like the manga, I wasn’t taken in by the start of this series, but Merry is an unbelievably marketable character who’s kept me watching. Her alluring midriff and dangerously-short tank top speak for themselves, while her spunky yet naive personality brought out by new seiyuu Sakura Ayane makes her really amiable. My only concern is how Yumeji helping Merry return to the dream world hasn’t been as interesting as his interactions with her, making it feel like I’m watching this show for the wrong reason. Regardless, it’s grabbed my interest in some form, and left me curious about the direction the story will take with anime-original characters like Chizuru. I’m still not getting the otherworldly vibe like I did in Pandora Hearts, but the Mei/Chris subplot did give off a mysterious air, which the arrival of Engi next time will hopefully build upon.

Kiiragi: My face when I expected a lot more out of this than what I’ve seen so far. It’s not as developed as some of the better series airing this season, but it’s been said that the manga does get good later on. How much later on, I don’t know, and I don’t even know if the anime will cover it. I can only wait.

Takaii: Unlike most of the readers of RandomC who seem to have a rampaging navel fetish, the story of Yumekui is what keeps drawing me back. I think the ability to enter dreams is probably one of the most unique powers one could have, and each episode is full of dream hopping moments. Plus I love a show that makes the bad guys just as interesting as the good guys — it’s fun to see each “nightmare” have their own unique personalities. Combined with a guy who can make just about anything happen and a girl who has a awesome hat with a killer body and you have my attention.

Wolverine
Episodes 01 – 04
Wolverine   2011 01   Divine

Divine: I can’t speak for Iron Man since I didn’t watch it, but the straightforward progression in Wolverine is offset nicely with lots of gritty action. There’s plenty of claw swinging and grunting to go around care of Koyama Rikiya, in a sensible and easy to follow storyline. Despite its simplicity, the plot has been surprisingly engaging, from Logan’s relationship with Mariko to Yukio’s quest for revenge on Shingen. Then there’s Wolverine’s history with Omega Red, who showed up as another mutant he has to deal with on top of Mikage Kikyou. The cliffhangers tend to do the trick of making me want to watch the next episode, and the overarching story involving Mariko will probably keep me coming back until the very end.

To Aru Majutsu no Index II
Episodes 13 – 16
To Aru Majutsu no Index II   2011 01   Divine
To Aru Majutsu no Index II   2011 01   Kiiragi

Divine: My usual gripe with the heavy reliance on exposition to build suspense still applies, and the Daihasai arc was a prime example. The Queen of the Adriatic Sea arc was a lot better, but still wound up passing off a bigger problem as a smaller one, which is why I find it hard to get excited about this series. I tend to wonder, “Oh what are they going to tell me about next before Touma punches someone out?” That form of imaginative storytelling probably works better in the light novels, but in an anime it leaves much to be desired when we never see a visual sign of the threat. This is the key distinction that made Railgun a lot more enjoyable for me. In comparison, what keeps me coming back for Index is sci-fi/fantasy setting with a diverse range of characters, as seen in the preview for the next arc. Need more Itsuwa and her hot towels.

Kiiragi: So far, I prefer Index season one. The festival arc was just a gigantic mess, and while Index wasn’t exactly the most “amazing” series up till then, it was still enjoyable and things made relative sense. Festival arc killed a lot of that common sense, and it just really dumbed down the series for me. Seriously, the whole arc managed to make every single character annoying to watch, except Misaka of course, and it dragged on for way too long with the pointless cat and mouse chase of a half-naked woman. Sometimes I feel like maybe it’s a show that’s meant more to be marathoned than watched weekly. One poor arc doesn’t ruin the entire series though, so here’s waiting for that epic confrontation that was in the trailer huh?

GOSICK
Episodes 01 – 04
GOSICK   2011 01   Divine
GOSICK   2011 01   Kiiragi
GOSICK   2011 01   Takaii

Divine: The feverish pace of the premiere was a little concerning, but since then this adaptation has been shaping out to be a great mystery series. While Victorique’s ability to make sense of the “chaos” solves all the cases in the end, it’s fun trying to figure things out along the way. The Queen Berry arc worked well in that regard, but the recent arrival of Avril in accordance to the manga has me really thinking. I didn’t read much further than what episode four covered, so all my suspicions surrounding her character have transferred over to the anime. I like how the story keeps me guessing, even when she appears to be a red herring. It’s awesome hearing Toyoguchi Megumi play her too, after the producers kept the casting a secret until now.

Kiiragi: As I’ve said recently in my impressions, the biggest allure here is the potential of the series. Being confirmed for 24 episodes, the fast pacing will allow for a much deeper story here to dig your teeth into. The main characters share a great chemistry that became surprisingly enjoyable, and was apparently strong enough for me to look forward to seeing these characters grow. Consistency is the only difficult thing to predict here, so like many series, it’s still too early to tell.

Takaii: Another series that really grabbed my attention after what I considered a lackluster first episode. This is a great example of what I wanted Yakumo to be like — something that with a great mystery that had me gripping the edge of my chair. Plus with Yuuki Aoi playing Victorique, I only can think of good things to say. Her nonchalant “ha-ha-ha-ha” laugh will go down as the funniest laugh I’ve ever heard. Combined with her tsundere personality toward Kujou, it only adds an extra element to an already impressive show.

FREEZING
Episodes 01 – 04
FREEZING   2011 01   Divine

Divine: Other than my inability to shake the feeling Kazuya’s seiyuu was a miscast and Irino Miyu should have gotten the lead role, the manga I couldn’t put down has translated decently into an anime. The introductory first episode was a nice addition, and Kazuya’s insistence on being Satellizer’s Limiter has shown some character growth. In terms of action, I’ve really enjoyed seeing the gruesome Pandora battles with the various Turn abilities in motion and animated in a simpler old-school style. I do wish more time was invested into Ingrid’s backstory in episode four though, since it showed more depth to her character and the series as a whole. In hindsight, I would’ve preferred a shorter intro episode to make time for that.

Bakuman.
Episodes 14 – 17
Bakuman   2011 01   Takaii

Takaii: The only Shounen anime that I’m currently watching, I can say that this show has its ups and downs. When the series decides to only focus on one chapter per episode it can get boring quick, but when the pacing is done right it turns into something amazing. By grabbing my interest just at the right times and changing things up to make things feel fresh, I haven’t experienced the “I’ve seen the same thing too many times” feeling that I felt with other shows in this genre.

Tegami Bachi REVERSE
Episodes 14 – 17
Tegami Bachi REVERSE   2011 01   Divine

Divine: Gauche or Noir? I find myself asking that a lot lately after the heartfelt reunion I’ve been waiting to see. The story has picked up in a drastic way ever since, both in terms of Gauche and the human experimentation conspiracies in Amberground. Most notably is the recently revealed truth behind the Day of Flicker, which has changed my perception of the series altogether. With indication that the world may not have always been in perpetual darkness, I’m keen on seeing what other secrets Lag and Niche uncover, especially now that run-ins with Reverse have become commonplace.

Onii-chan no Koto Nanka Zenzen Suki Janain Dakara ne!!
Episodes 01 – 04
Onii chan no Koto Nanka Zenzen Suki Janain Dakara ne   2011 01   Divine
Onii chan no Koto Nanka Zenzen Suki Janain Dakara ne   2011 01   Kiiragi
Onii chan no Koto Nanka Zenzen Suki Janain Dakara ne   2011 01   Takaii

Divine: I was anticipating good laughs with Kitamura Eri as the perverted Nao, but once Inoue Marina gave me a taste of her seductive side as Iroha, the comedic floodgates were blown wide open. Head-to-head they’re a riot, as were all of Shuusuke’s delusions of Shizuru in the recent beach episode. Given the premise, I love how the series doesn’t take itself too seriously, especially when we see the “normal” characters’ reactions to all the wacky developments. It’s been great for kicks with its ecchi twist, and the class president Mayuka hasn’t even joined the fray yet. I come into each episode not expecting much, and seem to always leave thoroughly entertained. The lanky character designs have grown on me too.

Kiiragi: This one is funny. I don’t think anyone knows I watch this except for a friend I watch it with, and I’m not even really sure why I started watching it. It’s fun to see Nao, the perverted sister, play bipolar by secretly wanting her brother to ogle over her, yet acting like she doesn’t like it at all. That device pretty much saves the entire series, and the recently introduced twin-tailed brazen childhood friend just makes it all the more better. I’ve never had that mindless series to lay back and enjoy, but this is probably one. It’s a shame about the pointless censorship though, as if people are really going to buy the BD/DVD’s for pantyshots of a deformed character design.

Takaii: Kitamura Eri. Hands down she was the main reason I was watching this show. After getting a full dose of her in Madoka, I was so excited to see that she had another main role this season. With shows like Onii-chan, I enjoy watching them just for the entertainment value. A lot of people have bagged on this show for the art style, specifically the limbs and the lines on the shoulders, but once you get past that (I personally enjoy the style) and focus on the comedy between multiple girls fighting over a single guy, it makes it so much fun to watch. The types of things the show focuses on are pretty tame, and depending on which girl is up at bat you get different animals for “censoring” certain spots. This show might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you take it for what it’s worth, it’s a fun watch.

Mitsudomoe Zouryouchuu!
Episodes 01 – 04
Mitsudomoe Zouryouchuu   2011 01   Divine
Mitsudomoe Zouryouchuu   2011 01   Takaii

Divine: As a seamless continuation of the first season, everything from my favorite comedy last year is back. I loved the Gachi Ranger sentai parody in the premiere, and the new misunderstandings driving a lot of the humor. The mesh of distinct character personalities seems to always lead to hilarious results. Hitoha’s bluntness with her father that never ceases to amuse me, and the extra attention Chiba’s been getting with his secret techniques has been great too, since he’s pervert with “standards”. For the most part, the laughs have been as good as always, except in the fourth episode where the jokes felt a bit lackluster.

Takaii: Hitoha, Futaba, and Mitsuba are probably my favorite trio of girls under the age of 14. While the first few episodes of this second season didn’t impress me as much as the first season did, the most recent episode did the series justice. I’m a sucker for stupid comedies and Mitsudomoe manages to fill that hole quite nicely. The one thing I’ve really missed is Satoshi interacting with everyone in the class! After having some of the funniest jokes come at his expense, I can’t wait till he get’s the spotlight again. I’LL SPEND CHRISTMAS WITH YOU SATOSHI!

Beelzebub
Episodes 01 – 04
Beelzebub   2011 01   Divine
Beelzebub   2011 01   Kiiragi

Divine: Since the first episode, it’s been hard to overlook the overuse of Beel’s electric shock as the running gag, so that’s soured my impression of this shounen adaptation. I have been enjoying Konishi Katsuyuki’s portrayal of Oga though, particularly his interactions with Furuichi as he tries to pass off the ticking time bomb demon child to another delinquent to no avail. I’m still wary of how the pacing suggests this will be a long-running series, and I’m admittedly losing interest as it drags on, but I’m holding out to see how Toyosaki Aki voices Aoi. While the humor tends to vary, there were at least a few occasions where I burst out laughing.

Kiiragi: It’s been four episodes, and they still can’t get the humor right. While I’m generally surprised that they’re faithful to the manga for the most part, they still switch up things for no apparent reason, and leave out most of what makes the jokes funny, or just the jokes altogether. Beelzebub is enjoyable to me not because of the action or the fighting, but because of the humor. The manga didn’t pull me in because of the action, and neither will the anime. I’m still going to keep watching it, just because I need to see Kunieda Aoi appear, but I see myself dropping it down the road if they don’t start fixing their execution.

STAR DRIVER: Kagayaki no Takuto
Episodes 14 – 17
STAR DRIVER Kagayaki no Takuto   2011 01   Divine
STAR DRIVER Kagayaki no Takuto   2011 01   Kiiragi
STAR DRIVER Kagayaki no Takuto   2011 01   Takaii

Divine: Unlike some viewers, I never wrote off this original take on a high school robot anime when it fell into a formulaic pattern, and the return of Head to conclude Mizuno’s arc reiterated why. A lot of good series tend to start off in an unassuming manner, before making the viewer appreciate all the signs in hindsight. Star Driver has made some good strides in that sense, focusing on school life first before kicking Kiraboshi’s plan in high gear with the revamped Vanishing Age. The story has deepened since obtaining the third phase and delving into Takuto’s past, so I find myself looking forward to each episode more and more. Let’s not forget the great maiden songs too.

Kiiragi: There is so much I could rip on for Star Driver, so I’ll just say the main problem. Impact. Many reasons aren’t given for even the basic of things, which just leads to me not caring about much of anything that goes on within the show. Yes, even now. The only shining area are the characters, and the awesome first OP and ED (which I enjoy way more than I should, but it’s now gone :[). Despite the flaws, BONES’ high production values are hard to ignore, and the characters are somewhat fun to watch, even if the show is a leading example of BONES’ godawful writing staff. Still, recent episodes have become a lot better, but it’s going to take a lot more to redeem 14 episodes of nonsense for me. I think it’s one of those shows to just watch while everyone else is, so you can “be” part of the fabulous miscellania that the show tends to create.

Takaii: APPRIVOISE! After I first heard Monochrome play during the first episode this show had my full attention. Since its humble beginnings, I must admit that the show has been pretty boring for the past months — I’m not a fan of the “new enemy a week” style of storytelling. But ever since the third phase was unlocked last week, each episode has been pretty fun to watch. Unlike IS which gets my blood pumping, Star Driver piques my interest just enough each week to keep me watching. Unfortunately, I don’t like the new maiden’s song, so now there’s one less thing to look forward to :/

Super Robot Wars OG: The Inspector
Episodes 14 – 17
Super Robot Wars OG The Inspector   2011 01   Divine

Divine: Only One Crash. The long-awaited SRX Variable Formation stole the spotlight for me in recent episodes, but there have been lots of awesome developments with the mysterious arrival of the Einst, Dygenguar “episode 15″, and Operation Plantagenet. I’m quite impressed by how the anime managed to consolidate the huge cast of characters and their subplots in a sensible way, even though it probably only makes perfect sense to those familiar with the SRW games. The battles haven’t fallen into the trap of recycling too many scenes either, and the episodes that showcase new robots are a real treat since they feature their trademark theme music. Some of the characters are due for an upgrade too, after all four factions clashed head-on. With Alfimi around, Kyousuke and Excellen should be the ones to watch for in the upcoming episodes.

Dragon Crisis!
Episodes 01 – 04
Dragon Crisis   2011 01   Divine
Dragon Crisis   2011 01   Takaii

Divine: From the second episode onwards, this fantasy series has shown a much more promising side to its story. Rose is no longer just a clingy red dragon of few words, having established a loving bond with Ryuuji during the incident with Onyx, and the early mutual confession propelled their relationship beyond the usual pitfall seen in anime. It’s great seeing a series break out of the typical mold, allowing the focus to move on to new characters like Marga and the search for Lost Precious. There’s a subtle yet distinct difference in its approach of the premise, which sets it apart from the generic feel it gives off at first glance. That aspect is what keeps me following this show, with the bonus being a surprisingly good production by Studio DEEN.

Takaii: I’ll leave the Taiga and Ryuji jokes for Kiiragi. What can I say? A show that has Kugimiya Rie as the main heroine named Rose combined with a story of collecting treasures. Did I mention that she is also a dragon? Looking at the series as a whole, I can say that after an unimpressive first episode I was drawn in by the second and third episodes. The whole idea of having treasures that possess extraordinary abilities doesn’t really appeal to me but the honest relationships between the main characters makes me smile. ドラクラ!

Kore wa Zombie Desu ka?
Episodes 01 – 04
Kore wa Zombie Desu ka   2011 01   Divine
Kore wa Zombie Desu ka   2011 01   Kiiragi
Kore wa Zombie Desu ka   2011 01   Takaii

Divine: Laughs, battles, shocking revelations, and unexpected twists. The producers carried through with their promises in this unusual mash-up of archetypes, and also provided a very touching aspect care of Yuu. Her scenes in episodes two and four gave another dimension to a series that isn’t short on any, adding to the already enjoyable antics that Haruna and Sera drag Ayumu into. I haven’t found the humor as hilarious as it is shocking, but the lighthearted side contrasts well with the darker one involving Ayumu’s search for his murderer. The questions raised by the cliffhanger in episode four generated a lot of good buzz, and nothing’s even been answered about the Megalo yet. Are they a side effect of Yuu’s powers? Gotta watch to find out.

Kiiragi: It’s amazing how cookie-cutter the characters in this show are, and yet they all work to bring laughs. It goes to show that even if you’re sick of lolis, big boobed girls, mute moe girls, and that one really annoying pathetic perverted friend, the right execution can really change things. For Zombie, none of said characters actually act like their stereotypical counterparts, except in the imaginations of the MC’s perverted friend, or just the MC himself, which contributes to a large amount of the jokes. The good thing about that is now you can take the show seriously, and it’s able to generate a plot without feeling stupid. Definitely worth seeing.

Takaii: 男子パンツ。 After High School of the Dead brought the “real world zombie” into the world of anime, I’ve been curious about how the genre could be ramped up even further. Enter: Koreha Zombie Desuka. The first few episodes have been the funniest thing I’ve watched this whole season. Ayumu is also probably the best male lead I’ve seen this season. Besides being part Zombie and part Masou Shoujo, his dry humor just makes everything that much funnier. But you can’t forget the Tiny Necromancer, Tamago loving Masou Shoujo, and Insane Vampire Ninja — they’re the other half that make each episode so fun to watch.

LEVEL E
Episodes 01 – 04
LEVEL E   2011 01   Divine
LEVEL E   2011 01   Kiiragi

Divine: Everyone needs to watch Level E; it’s as simple as that. This thirteen-year-old revival project has been comedic gold much like the manga I skimmed through, thanks to Prince’s deadpan humor that completely drives Yukitaka and Kraft up the wall. Their livid outbursts and tendency to resort to violence is almost always justified, which leads to a lot of hilarity because I’m not in their shoes and can laugh from the sidelines. The interactions with the other aliens on Earth can get remarkably serious, except it’s hard to tell if it’s another one of Prince’s pranks or not. The first mini arc had me totally fooled, as did the fake-out in episode four. If these trends keep up, this may not only be the gag comedy of the season, but of the entire year too.

Kiiragi: Seriously, why the hell aren’t our other two writers watching this? Everyone should be watching this, and that is FAR from an understatement. This is one series I am not afraid of blatantly advertising, because there’s absolutely nothing to hate about it. My mind was pretty blown when I found out this old manga was actually written by Togashi Yoshihiro, the author of Yu Yu Hakusho and the currently running HunterXHunter. Who knew this guy was such a genius at humor too? Funny how just an addition of David Production can suddenly make Pierrot adept at pulling off jokes with impeccable timing. Whatever, it’s all for the best. Only thing now is to see if it can keep it up, since I’m unsure where the series will go from here on. But seriously. Go watch this.

FRACTALE
Episodes 01 – 03
FRACTALE   2011 01   Divine
FRACTALE   2011 01   Kiiragi
FRACTALE   2011 01   Takaii

Divine: Director Yamamoto probably did himself a huge disservice making the statement he did, because I really can’t see the slow start to Fractale helping his cause. Personally, I like the extra emphasis on the character interactions with Phryne and Nessa, before the adventure took off in a big way. The truth behind the Fractale System was thought-provoking and set me off on a rambling tangent, as the revelation maintained a precarious balance between right and wrong, setting the stage for the seemingly powerless Clain to make a decision. I’m really taken in by the sense of vastness in the fantasy world and the characters’ carefree nature thus far, the latter of which seems to be trying to throw me off for a big shocker like in episode three. I’m looking forward to more moments like that once Clain gets dragged deeper into things.

Kiiragi: FRACTALE may have went off into a completely different direction than I was imagining, which was a broad adventure, and it seems like it’s turning into some form of a Eureka Seven, but similar to Madoka, episode three took the series into unexpected territory. The character Nessa is really a joy to watch, and the futuristic slash old fantasy mix provides a refreshing setting compared to anime’s usual grab bag. The plot is still mostly vague, but it’s definitely getting there. I’m still waiting for that completely original mind-blowing scene of amazing though. Yamamoto, your move.

Takaii: This show has literally blown my mind away. By blowing my mind away, I mean having a refreshing plot with an exciting feel. I’ll admit the first episode almost didn’t grab my attention — I was already disappointed that there was no purple haired girl like I saw in some of the promos. What I wasn’t expecting was a deep storyline with a ton of underlying themes that make every episode feel more rewarding than the last. One of Fractale’s main themes is the bonds between family (or lack of) — something that I really enjoy watching especially when it’s done well.

Hourou Musuko
Episodes 01 – 03
Hourou Musuko   2011 01   Divine
Hourou Musuko   2011 01   Kiiragi
Hourou Musuko   2011 01   Takaii
Hourou Musuko   2011 01   Prooof

Divine: A truly unique series with an equally unique art style to go with it. The subject matter is very niche, yet it’s been depicted in a such a way that makes it easy to sympathize with Shuuichi and Yoshino’s situation. Even without knowing what they’re going through, the gender frustration they feel is very prominent in light of the social implications. Their interactions with their friends serve as a nice outside “cushion” to ease me into it, while the rift between Saori and Yoshino further complicates things in an all too familiar way. Altogether, it gives us a story where there are no easy answers, and one I’m drawn to in hopes that the characters pull through this difficult stage in everyone’s life, gender identity disorder or not.

Kiiragi: A lot of people probably aren’t watching this, and that probably won’t change. The material is still the same, and it’s also not going to change, so if you’re just not okay with the controversy, nothing to see here. Otherwise, it’s a solid series that has excellent character development, being able to juggle multiple storylines and characters while still being coherent. That can’t be said for quite a lot of series nowadays, so it’s really refreshing. As for the story, I wouldn’t say it’s incredibly engaging, but I think it’s more of a gradual thing, since the anime does start off in the middle of the plot. I’m just hoping there’s some semblance of a climax as it concludes.

Takaii: I don’t know why, but everything about this show just makes me happy. The themes that the show is covering could be considered pretty deep, but so far I’ve only seen stories of friends trying to rebuild their friendships. The art is simply amazing — something about the light fuwa fuwa feeling to the animation just makes it feel refreshing. What I’m impressed with is how well the show manages to handle all the different characters. Every single character holds an important role and never becomes forgettable. The opening song sung by Daisuke is also one of my favorites.

Prooof: It’s not often that there’s an anime dealing with a controversial subject like gender identity, and I think Hourou Musuko does it quite beautifully. It’s very slow-paced, but the character development, the complex interactions, and the emotions really come out and that was enough to keep my interest. I haven’t read the manga so I can’t make comparisons there, but so far everything seems good. I do like how each of the characters are developed instead of just the main characters, but hopefully the large cast doesn’t become a problem.

February 3, 2011 at 1:50 am
164 comments »
  • February 3, 2011 at 9:46 pmlkaze

    Rio-RainbowGate:
    weird anime that the owner of casino hired some beauty that let people win money. if i was owner the first person i get rid of will be rio. this anime is something like yugi playing blackjack
    enemy: first turn, 18
    rio: my turn, blackjack
    (no reverse card) win
    pro: alot of fanservice
    con: those fanservice is not moe

    Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica:
    wow totally blew my mind, when i first saw it on schedule i was planning to watch only the first 2 episode before i quit. but this anime went beyond norm mahou shoujo.
    pro: the best twist of mahou shoujo so far, out of your typical mahou shoujo
    con: you might no longer like cute furball that usually exist in mahou shoujo

    IS Infinite Stratos:
    this is the sort of anime that will never let you down nor will ever bring you much expectation. the norm harem anime that you will enjoy for episode by episode( possibly for guily reason )
    pro: nothing to lose
    con: another cliché harem anime
    P.s. Takaii–> this is nothing like gundam, not even close( sorry for going against you)

    Yumekui Merry
    never thought this anime will be so enjoyable for unknown reason.when i first saw it, i was planning to drop it only to get hooked on(shit)
    pro: cute naval exposed girl? good story thus far
    con: hmm, i duno. maybe not much explosive action?

    To Aru Majutsu no Index II
    the continuation of index anime, if you watch toaru series before you going to watch this for next story. i myself like the railgun better.
    pro: ya biribiri
    con: not enuf of biribiri

    GOSICK
    duno wat to make of this, cute goth loli girl playing detective with bubble smoke pipe( and darn good at it)
    pro: cute goth girl
    con: not your cup of tea( but it certainly mine)

    FREEZING
    on of the small amount male harem hero to get into 2nd base with girl on first episode
    pro: wow guro scene and alot of groping
    con: somehow it not so much of any moe( possibly cause this is from mahwa?)

    Bakuman.
    a good slice of life story regarding the life of a mangaka
    pro: neat story from creator of death note
    con: if you read the manga bakuman, you dun really need to watch it( that the case for me)

    Onii-chan no Koto Nanka Zenzen Suki Janain Dakara ne!!
    a perverted sister that like perverted brother who are compete his love with his perverted childhood friend and also his perverted classmate
    pro: the most perverted cast you ever seen
    con: not really see much perverted stuff like Yosuga no Sora。

    Beelzebub
    i couldn’t even finish the first episode
    pro: if you lack of any shounen anime this season
    con: not as funny as manga, and won’t have any action until much later in the series( according to manga)

    STAR DRIVER: Kagayaki no Takuto
    when i first heard the word “ginga bishounen” i thought this is a bl anime and possibly drop it. but apparently a good fighting anime robot
    pro: you will like the maiden song
    con: male version of Revolutionary Girl Utena (with robot)

    Dragon Crisis!
    a cute loli girl that also a dragon that LOVE the hero for (i duno wat) some reason. very good to watch.
    pro: i love Rie Kugimiya saying ryuji( i could heard all day and not get bored)
    con: if you dun like Rie Kugimiya

    Kore wa Zombie Desu ka?
    ahahaha jokes on the zombie, with all the (already dying) zombie hype. this is a good anime to get different perspective about zombie
    pro: good fanservice, moe, funny ( what more do you want)
    con: ARRRGH my eye on Show Spoiler ▼

    LEVEL E
    never plan to watch it, but got too bored one day and watch it. couldn’t stop until episode 3
    pro: you will never expect the storyline
    con: you need to able to enjoy dry joke

    Phew, well that all the view of all the anime i watch this season. i hope this is not too long and fill the entire comment bar

    • February 8, 2011 at 5:05 amKamion

      Male Version of Utena is THE pro-point of Star Driver for me ;)

  • February 3, 2011 at 10:22 pmLonelyRurouni

    Thank you for this; this is a great way to keep track of shows.

  • February 3, 2011 at 11:00 pmX

    @Divine and Kiiragi: I completely agree with you about Beelzebub! What a DISAPPOINTMENT! I was really really looking forward to the anime and how I expected with the characters voiced in the manga delivering the jokes would be so humorous! But NO! They dont even deliver the punchlines correctly! I dont even understand why they use fillers and rearrange things around when there so much material in the manga already. Unless Divine is right and that they are planning this series to be a long running one, which frankly I think would be very disappointing due to the lack of quality this show had. Biggest disappointment for such an already established amazing manga series with guaranteed hilarity. Sighs, really I just cant believe they screwed up Beelzebub, the constant electric shocks will get old! So these people shouldve realize that the moment they kept repeating that old running gag! Plus the manga doesnt even utilize such a gag that much!

    • February 3, 2011 at 11:44 pmGekokujou

      Thank Jashin I’m not the only one that thinks like this. I knew they’d screw it up somewhat but C’mon this is just wrong.

    • February 4, 2011 at 10:21 amKarmafan

      I couldn’t even finish watching the whole 1st episode. I quickly realized 1/2 way thru the episode I was destroying brain cells and shut it off. I was hoping it would be much better. Biggest disapointment for me on this season’s animes.

  • February 4, 2011 at 1:54 amVsin

    Since there’s no IS post yet, I thought I’d nag about Divine’s comments in this post.

    “Houki, Cecilia, and Fan haven’t been very clear about their feelings, so they don’t take out their frustration on Ichika for being dense.”

    First thing that happens in EP5? Ichika gets made fun of for being dense :P

  • February 4, 2011 at 3:32 amMrRei

    From the comments I was reading, this epic post just upped Level E’s viewers didn’t it?! :D

  • February 4, 2011 at 5:58 amRutlege

    I was gonna avoid madoka but I might take a crack at it now, along with Level E

  • February 4, 2011 at 7:51 amPeepQ

    Madoka is probably my favorite series this season. If people are turned off by the magical girl part, they should try and watch at least til episode 3. The show is a lot more than what people think. Dragon Crisis has been getting good as well from the first episode. The one show I can’t get over is the Onii-chan one. I can’t get use to the character designs and it seems as if the show revolves around perverted scenes and perverted jokes.

  • February 4, 2011 at 8:13 amShirt

    Break Blade? Is it because it’s an OVA that it wasn’t covered..?

  • February 4, 2011 at 12:44 pmIchigomaru

    Madoka exceeded every expectation that I have about it, without a doubt it’s the surprise of the season.
    Dragon Crisis can be boring at times, including when rose open her mouth to say “-Ryuji”.
    Gosick, IS and Fractale is following as awaited. I mean, they’re good but not amazing.
    And finally, Level E and Kore wa zombie desu ka is somewhat interesting. Level E follow MIB style, having good and bad aliens, and kore wa zombie remember me baka to test, I dunno why.
    Anyway I’m enjoying this season a lot. ;)

  • February 4, 2011 at 3:23 pmichigo_daisuki

    My love of anime has reignited (=^_^=)
    I feel like there’s so much to watch from reading this post! I feel like I’m missing out right now! I feel this allows us readers to connect more with you authors of Random Curiosity.

    Thus, I see this heading to the ‘Popular’ category in the future.

  • February 4, 2011 at 11:03 pmBROOKLYN otaku

    here goes, in a NUTSHELL…YUKI MERRY=boring trash “so far..don’t know why the vibe worked for casshern.P.S-the subbers don’t even want to sub it”…..STAR DRIVER= should have shelled out the extra ca$h for ALL ORIGINAL TRANSFORMATION SCENES to truly keep it fresh. this and the yucky 2nd op/ed and a few other little things are stalling it from being a Great show….FRACTLE= pretty good..BUT not good enough to STAKE YOUR CAREER ON! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! come on homie!? FOCUS!!….okay,….BEELZEBUB- PURE F^@CKING GARBAGE!!!!!, i mean who the F&^K actually read/watches this SH&T?!?!?!? NO, I’m serious..who watches this??? i want their addresses and Phone #’s S.T.A.T!!!….RIO-RAINBOW GATE- this is ANOTHER ONE, what demo watches this??”yet better than BEELZEBUB” ..bottom line the GAMBLING aspects execution is a FAIL!……ONI CHAN NO KOTO= is starting to get a little boring ENTER THE THIRD GIRL PLEASE!!!!…………

    if some one actually read this tripe “I SALUTE YOU” to the contributors to this fine site..”I SALUTE YALL ALSO” for giving me the opportunity to vent in a discreet and therapeutic way….these were just opinions of one Pessimist/Realist i only mention stupid sh^& that irks me…OTHERWISE, i have been pleasantly surprised by many of the offerings this season….end of positive comment.

  • February 5, 2011 at 12:18 amKilocron

    Surprised no one mentioned how Freezing isn’t widescreen. It’s a real put-off for me, though I do enjoy the show. Bothers me to no end.

  • February 5, 2011 at 1:03 amTotoro!!

    Freezing is the most disappointing show for me…. everything else was okay…. Kore wa Zombie was my fav…. so many lol moments….

  • February 5, 2011 at 5:56 amDeanna

    It’s a shame they didn’t manage to translate the humour from the manga in to the anime for Beelzebub. So much potential. I’ll still watch it though, if only for beel’s cuteness! I was sceptical about Madoka, but maybe i’ll take a crack at it now. And Level E too!

    Love this new feature! :D

  • February 5, 2011 at 10:37 amKaitune

    What annoy me is that there are still people who complains that there is no diversity in anime yet doesn’t watch Level E. I understand that dry/deadpan humor isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it is damn annoying when ones scream that ‘ANIME INDUSTRY IS ENDING. EVERYTHING IS HAREM MOE FANSERVICE CRAP’ yet doesn’t bother to acknowledge series that do it differently…which is exactly why producers tend do ‘moe crap’ because it gains better recognition.

    Minor ranting aside. This is one of my favorite seasons in a long time because of Zombie, Level E, and Madoka. I am normally too lazy to complete a series and would always drop it 3-4 episodes in if it doesn’t make me dying to watch the next one. However, this season has THREE series that manages me to watch every episode loyally, and I don’t feel like dropping them at all.

  • February 5, 2011 at 11:37 amBattler

    Why 90% of anime has the stupid sports festival on it?
    The Daihaisai on Index was utterly annoying because the sports festival itself, they should have cut non plot scenes like the ones with the sports while chasing Oriana and Mikoto being annoying as always (ironic, because I find her clones damn adorable), Mizusu as a character was pointless until the very end of the arc plus the animation had a major quality drop-down. Only Seiri was a refreshing character but to bad she was at secondary plane in a mess as a consequence of a failed attempt to mix slice of life and plot simultaneously something which contrasts with the current arc where the slice of life goes first and then the plot starts.

  • February 7, 2011 at 8:15 pmdxb_blackwolf

    This season of anime is amazing. And am I the only one that liked the Daihassasai or whatever arc, it was cute xD

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