Here are the August rankings – the summer shows are cranking along at full speed, and the carryovers from spring are coming through for the final stretch. Speaking of which, hasn’t the previous week been SPECTACULAR for anime? There’s been some amazing episodes across the board – it’s great to see that everything’s really kicking into gear to finish strong. As I noted last month, there was a good chance that we could have a new show at the top spot – well, that much was right, but it wasn’t the one I was expecting!
Ranking notes at the bottom!
|And the new king of the rankings has been crowned – School Days has gone from pretty good to being possibly the best shounen romance anime ever. Every second oozes perfection, from the gripping suspense to the overbearing guilt, from the precise fanservice to the impeccably timed insert songs. SD is the zenith in the evolving formula of shounen romance, and has set a new standard which all subsequent shows will be compared to.
|GL went from being crazy good fun to being a real show that also happens to be crazy good fun. With the introduction and flawless execution of the new plot twists, not to mention a little side trip with Yoko, we’ve been thrust headfirst into a new conflict that’s every bit as intense as the first, but on a much larger scale. And what other show is this freakin’ cool? Too bad it’s almost over – can he rescue Nia in such a short time?
|So how about that ending, eh? While people may have different views on how the last scene was handled, I think we can all agree that the final two eps lived up to the lofty expectations; but at the same time, didn’t really exceed them. Still, it was a fitting end to (the first season of) a crazy series, and its constant twists and OMG moments never let up. The stage has been set for the second season – how long will they make us wait?
|The lineup is now complete, and it’s been a joy to meet them all. No other show I’ve seen has this level of character chemistry, which allows us to soak in every second of their bizarrely candid and “normal” conversations. Recent episodes seem to have increased the amount of material by shortening up the scenes and making them snappier and punchline-ier – there’s something for everybody!
|Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei
|SZS rips apart all the traditional character templates and throws them right back in your face – and it’s total genius. Itoshiki-sensei headlines his class of eccentrics, and it’s a total riot to watch them go about their lives in their own contrasting ways. Everything is so over-the-top and so ridiculously twisted… unique as hell and damn addicting. My concern – how much longer can this twisted freshness keep up?
|Seirei no Moribito
|The chase is on, and it’s been gripping every step of the way. Mind you, it’s different than the chase earlier in the series – there’s much less physical action this time around, but the psychological warfare going on is not only brutal and exhausting, but beautiful at the same time. One of the best parts? There’s no real bad guy – it’s a struggle between idologies. The best novel to anime adaptation ever?
|The first ep was baffling for its millions of characters and a myriad of incoherent storylines, but it’s all coming together into one dynamic, upbeat, and otherwise frikkin’ awesome series. Watching the story being told from different perspectives and then having them intersect at various points isn’t a new idea, but Baccano not only pulls it off well, but does it with such spunk that it’s hard not to absolutely love it.
|Darker than Black
|The show lost some momentum after the Amber / Evening Primrose arc by moving into the yakuza arc, which should have probably been better suited earlier in the series. Huang’s arc picked it back up a bit, but the upcoming arc seems to have more in store with the return of Wei, November 11, and Misaki. There was a lack of “big moments” with the exception of the end of the previous ep, it even then it wasn’t that big.
|The big ass battle royale lacked the weight of consequence that we saw in the arcs prior – it felt like “just a fight,” whereas before it was more about clawing their way out of imminent death. Until that lion guy showed up, and became as big of a reversal of fortune as I can remember. How’s this anime exclusive ending going to play out? It seems to lost some focus, but it’s keeping up well, so far…
|Geez, where to begin. Potemayo has become something of a cult favorite in the past few eps, and it’s really not hard to see why – for starters, it’s freakin’ hilarious. It’s a cut above slapstick but still easy enough to mindlessly enjoy, and has somehow found a balance between repetition and originality in its jokes that it always remains funny. It’s hit-or-miss humor, but it’s hitting at a pretty damn high percentage. SHAAAAAAAAA
|After another round of backstories, the character development has really fallen into place. While it wasn’t clear which way Keith would lean prior to finding out the truth about himself, it’s pretty clear now…that’s for damn sure. The stage is now set for an all-out war between the humans and the Mu – there hasn’t been as much action as some of the other series – that looks like it’s about to change in what looks to be an epic finish.
|The past few eps stepped back from the main plotline and has become a sort of a weekly National Geographic romp into the world of illegals. They’ve all been great fun, and select eps (12 specifically) have been incredible – not necessarily in originality (saw the same thing in an ep of The Simpsons), but in its unique atmosphere of fascination and wonder. It feels almost like Mushishi, with more focus on the creature rather than the human.
|Zero no Tsukaima ~Futatsuki no Kishi~
|The second episode stuck out like a bad hair day, but the rest have been the same not-so-guilty pleasure we’ve come to expect from this series. There is some semblance of a plot, and it may even be somewhat intricate, but does all that even matter? I think that depending on what you are looking for in this show, you’ll either be extremely happy (ponytail Henrietta BANZAI sailor fuku Siesta BANZAI), or completely let down.
|Seto no Hanayome
|School trip! Great way to introduce Shiranui, completing this seafood buffet of a harem. With the onsen episode, the show got a huge injection of the sexy factor that the other characters couldn’t provide, not to mention to intense yuri overload. It’s probably smart that she didn’t show up until this late – she might’ve stolen the show had it been any earlier! WASHIO-SENPAIIIII
|Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai
|Finale of the first arc came and went, and well…it felt like it came a bit short of what we’re used to seeing. This new arc is looking better already, with a much bigger (and abrupt) swing from hope to absolute despair, and looks to add some big twists into the story. My gripe with Higurashi – what is the anime bringing to the table? Everything good about the anime is a result of the source material, not the anime itself.
|Romeo x Juliet
|After a looong hiatus in…quality…the very last scene of the ep 18 brings back some of the early magic, and keeps it going in 19. Maybe the long separation was deliberate in order to bring out all the emotions in a reunion, but it was just unbearably long and painful to watch, and not in a good way. Using a play to rally the public was odd, but it seemed to work out well – the revolution has begun, and the story has finally started to move!
|Mai Otome ZWEI
|Was it nice to see some more Otome action? Sure. Did it add anything to the story? Nope. Was there any value beyond the pretty animation? Not really. The pacing was completely off, the arrangement was haphazard and incoherent… in other words, typical Sunrise. The masters at introducing twists just for the sake of having twists – but hey, it was fun, and that’s all that really matters. Maybe. Stay tuned for S.ifl!
|One thing that continues to confuse me is the direction the human race is taking. Would everybody else hate them so much if it weren’t for those two boneheads at the helm? Is all that fighting really necessary for the preservation of the species? These are questions that directly influence my attitude towards a show, and Heroic Age is doing nothing to answer them. What it has done very well, however, is a constant wave of large-scale action.
|It’s the return of Idolmaster – the wait (15+ episodes) has finally paid off – all the iDOLs have finally been introduced, allowing the show to actually start progressing with the final backgrounding. We’re met with some excellent emotional setups and grand betrayals – the finale is in sight, at the setup is not that bad! The show’s fallen a bit short in the fight scenes – still, the recent buzz may warrant a revisit.
|Hayate no Gotoku!
|It’s a fun show to watch, but there’s nothing to say about it other than pointing out which references were used and how hot Maria is every week (poor Omni still blogging it). There’s rarely a standout episode; most of them have been “as expected,” so the show’s extreme popularity in Japan could probably be attributed to it being a “comfort show” for its intended audience.
|Devil May Cry
|It’s nothing serious, just a weekly chill-out time involving some sorta-slick action and simple humor, and is rather successful to that extent. If you prefer your standalone series in a different flavor than what you get from the typical comedy offering, consider picking this series up – you just might enjoy it. It’s really nothing like the games, but great fun in its own unique way.
|Every time I want to shoot it down, LoveCom comes back strong with some crazy in-your-face laughs or just some honest good plot development. Or maybe it’s just cuz Seiko finally showed up again. Anyways, the show could be better, but it could also be much worse, but at least we’re getting somewhere. With only a few episodes left, how’s their relationship going to progress?
|Chikage ep, Shinobu ep, two-parter onsen ep that introduced Sakuya and had a axe-murdered naked loli (Ayane), followed by a PsychoMachi ep – not a bad run this month. Things just seem to be better when Suzu isn’t running the show, and she wasn’t much more than a support character in these last few. Which probably means the series is going to finish up by laying on the Suzu screen time – uh oh.
|The subs have finally started moving along, and the show has been a pleasant surprise. All hatred for the main character aside, it’s been a worthwhile sports anime that delves into the varying psyches of not only an athlete, but also a high school student. My issue with this anime – the Little League World Series was much more entertaining to watch than this – shouldn’t anime be a more fantastic and interesting take on reality?
|It’s doing just enough to be considered watchable, keeping a balance between plot-driven episodes and antic-driven. It’s maintained the same relaxing summer pace and turned into this feel-good type show, but I’m not sure that’s the best approach for something as high-octane as these Sonic Divers. Hard to make any noise in the rankings when nothing really happens… good thing those plug suits are still there.
|Kaze no Stigma
|Dare I say the filler episodes are better than the story arc eps? Well, they’re definitely easier to enjoy and don’t fall into that trap of taking themselves too seriously, which this series keeps trying to pull off during the story eps but just ends up feeling awkward and out of place. I would call this new “RPG” arc totally silly and utterly retarded, but it seems to actually be going somewhere, hopefully somewhere… good.
|Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-chan 2
|Dokuro-chan still shows her love the same way, but the production budget begs to differ. With such a talented cast and rich pedigree it’s a mystery as to why this second season suffers so badly. Or did it just not change, and everything else has gotten better? Maybe they need to stop worrying about living up to the first season and use the pipirupi on themselves, cuz these first eps were in serious lack of some life.
|Kenko Zenrakei Suieibu Umisho
|It’s gone ahead and stuck to the mindless fanservice, but lately, there have been more and more flashes of its early brilliance. While that first ep seems nothing more than a total fluke now, Umisho has managed to piece back together some of that charm. Well, I guess it just comes down to which kind of fanservice you like more – abusive loli, one-piece swimsuits, cameltoe loli, or ninja girl x ninja girl?
|To be honest, I had to go back to the video to remind myself of what happened… and I just watched it three days ago. It’s a light show with an interesting premise, but severely lacks in the impact department. The last few eps were spent on chasing down the microwave girl to run tests on her, and the brewings of a one-sided love rivalry hatched on a complete misunderstanding. Good material to fall asleep to.
|There was a hilarious ep involving Najimi as a tsundere catgirl, but the humor has worn thin and really doesn’t make much of an effort to climb back. I’m sure there’s still plenty of juicy otaku mannerisms to tackle, but in the meantime, the best thing this show has going for it is the fact that it’s only around ten minutes long. A good candidate for breakfast anime, ipod-while-on-bus anime, or no-regret-if-you-don’t-watch-it anime.
|It’s really not that bad of a show… if you’re a teenage girl, with a liking for darker things. And to that end it’s quite successful, there’s plenty of cute moments amidst the darkness, and there’s a good balance of fun and seriousness. Comedy, too [spoiler alert!] – the end of ep 8 has a huge S&M guy running his chainsaw through our hero. I wanna see more of that sister on the cell phone – that girl was a hottie…
|My how the mighty have fallen. At least it’s still kinda funny. Well, not really. Moetan came charging in at full speed, then ran out of gas all too soon, only to fall back on excessive fanservice, which got so bad to the point that an entire episode had to get dropped. Will the train wreck continue to rage on? Will it regain some of the humor of the first episode? Will I still be around to watch it or will the FBI get to me first?