My Review on the 2011 Japanese anime season

What an amazing year it has been for anime, I really mean this statement, every season has at least one series that had me waiting every week for the next episode, people are even saying that this is the best year since 2007 (although I can’t say that since I started watching anime two years ago).

So like my previous review post on my other blog, I will focus on all four seasons and tell my thoughts on what I saw and what I need to watch, a Top 10 anime of 2011 list will soon follow – so let’s get started.

Winter 2010/2011 – Looking at the season sheet I can actually say that I have almost watched all of these. One of the series I honestly regret putting on-hold is the noitaminA title – Hourou Musuko, I honestly kept thinking that this will get a DVD/Blu-ray license but there has been no luck unfortunately, hopefully like Princess Jellyfish, I will watch it early next year.

Mitsudomoe S2 I will soon watch, depending on when I get to watch the first season and Starry Sky has had a lot of “meh” reaction but I’d been interested if I somehow get on that.

Series I watched: 

The Good:

  • Level-E – It very nearly got on my Top 10 list but that doesn’t take away from how much I enjoyed this, Prince Baka’s attempt to make everyone’s life a living hell by basically trolling them can be hilarious at times, mentioning episode 3 is one of the most obvious choices. While it lost its way in some of the one-off arcs, it was still a great watch and worth checking out. Available on Crunchyroll.
  • Kore wa Zombie Desu ka – This one was fun as well, great action scenes, some of the drama was alright and I enjoyed the mad plots that was thrown at me and while fan-service was present, it was at least used in the best comical way. The last episode however was very pointless though, which did annoy me, but with the second season approaching, I hope that it will make some improvements.
  • Go-Sick – It took me a while to appreciate Go-Sick but coming around the final arcs I figured it out, I really enjoyed Victorique and Kazuya’s chemistry on solving these mysteries and how they become more closer as arcs passed by. Sure I have gripes with some of the side characters but overall, I really enjoyed. Available on Crunchyroll.

The Average

  • Star Driver – It finished in 2011, it’s on the review and I’m disappointed to put it here. It’s one of those shows that had huge potential, only to be let down with repetitive episode structures and undeveloped characters. This will be what I will remember from it but at least it had a fantastic finale.
  • Freezing – Much like Sekirei (which I reviewed on Anime UK News), the target audience for this is obvious, women fighting with a chance of getting there clothes ripped apart, if you somehow get past that and the large amount of gore, then the main two characters build a solid understanding of each other, which is actually interesting. It was enough to keep me watching until the end, still felt mediocre though. Available on Funimation
  • Fractale – It had my full attention at episode 3 but I soon lost interest in this mysterious, futuristic dystopia setting, It’s one of those times where really amazing production values, doesn’t equal a great plot or interesting characters, which it lacked in both area’s anyway, I didn’t hate it outright but no way near the best.

The Bad

  • Yumekui Merry (On-hold)  – I think I made it to episode 9 but I seriously lost interest in its plot progression, in matter of fact, I almost forgot about it. I still would like to finish it and since Sentai have licensed for the US, I could wait for a UK release.
  • Infinite Stratos –  Considering this is one of the best-selling series this year in Japan, my views can’t change that, still this series was below average with – a generic setting on the only male being in a all-girls school, an alright male character, one of the worst main love interests (in a Harem) I’ve seen, useless side characters and I could list more. The only sliver linings are some decent mecha fights and Charlotte (best character in the Harem by far), however I can’t forgive how much anger this series put me through.
  • Dragon Crisis – While everything in the series was bland and annoying, the one memorable moment was the ending climax, however it was meant to be taken seriously but it made me laugh, so much that I was crying, if you can’t even get that right, then it really deserves to be on this bad list. Available on Crunchyroll.
  • Rio ~Rainbow Gate & Oniichan no Koto Nanka Zenzen…blah (Dropped) – Nothing really to say about these, they seemed so focused on fan-service that I couldn’t be bothered to continue them.

Spring 2011 – It with this season when the UK finally got a service which allowed us to watch the latest anime from Japan, without relying on Crunchyroll, this was of course “Anime On Demand” and it had a pretty damn good starting line-up featuring some of my best series. Much like Winter, I did watch a lot of anime in this season, I do wish to continue Nichijou since I only caught three episodes, did make me chuckle a few times but it did become a bit bland at other times.

This season also saw a return for Gintama, a huge fan favorite that people have been begging for me to start, I got to episode 9, slow progress but I really am enjoying the satire and 4th wall jokes. Other series like Blue Exorcist, Dororon Enma-kun and Dog Days (since a 2nd season has been announced) I will keep my eyes on.

Series I watched:

The Good:

Kaiji Season 2 – I watched the first season last year and my reaction was very positive, much like most of the anime community, so I was very much looking forward to this, yet while I still enjoyed this season, it didn’t really fascinate me unlike it’s predecessor. Sure it was tense and great at certain moments but to do two arcs in 26 episodes, it can drag and this lost some points for me, overall though, only Kaiji can cause so much emotional tension.

Maria Holic Alive – The first of my guilty pleasures, the 2nd season provided more laughs and more insane characters for me, it was great for SHAFT to come back to that sharp, well-timed humor that I love them for, some memorable multiple openings as well. However, I do feel that this doesn’t need another season.

Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko – SHAFT provided yet another great series that show why they do so many creative and witty comedies, unlike Maria Holic, Denpa had at least a faint plot, trying to fit the weird Erio into the real world again. Strange thing is that technically the series hasn’t ended yet until the OVA next month.

Hanasaku Iroha – This one was a tough cookie, I thought I was really going to like this series; with its light-hearted yet drama setting, in the end, I had a good time with watching it every week, much like other two-Cour series, Iroha has some bad and pointless episodes in the second half but overall, a good Slice Of Life series. I just hope the new project will be more interesting. Available on Crunchyroll.

The World God Only Knows Season 2 – After quickly watching the previous season on Crunchyroll, I went straight into this and had some interesting arcs that causes Keima even more frustration and this continues to give many laughs on my part and I wouldn’t mind more seasons in the future (although I need to read the manga) .Available on Crunchyroll.

The Average –

Lotte no Omocha – Quite honestly my surprise of the year, I was fully expecting to loathe this series and the synopsis was pretty much asking for it and that includes the 1st two episodes, but under the amount of fan-service and dumb jokes; I found a genuine, sweet and likeable fantasy anime. Nothing spectacular but it did leave a positive impression on me…..somehow.

[C] – The Money of Soul and Possibility Control – This project oozes ambition and intrigue, it had me really excited but it felt rushed, the eleven episodes just didn’t use that interesting idea to its fullest potential and never really developed its characters, a shame but still a decent watch.

Deadman Wonderland – The first episode was amazing, no question about the introduction at all but it sadly declined into a big mess, it was all over the place and new characters were thrown in randomly. Sure the anime has some great ideas and at times did well with them but it was too little, too late.

The Bad 

A Bridge to the Starry Skies – Can’t believe I watched all of this and for a Harem series, this is yet again a forgettable one, one thing I really hated about this was the main characters best friend (or is he?), he was an irritating and useless person that made it unbearable at times, add to that the bland female cast and you just have a hollow anime series.

Aria The Scarlet Ammo – At first I really wanted to appreciate what this series had to do, take every action cliché and make it into fun watch, however, all I got was hateful tsundere female’s, lackluster actions scenes and one of the most stupid antagonist’s of the year becoming more of joke than threatening, it’s yet again a light novel adoption that J.C.Staff attempted but failed exponentially.

A-Channel (Dropped) – This isn’t awful, it’s just so average that it was boring to me, I’m starting to think that 4koma adaptations with all female cute characters just aren’t for me, A-Channel just never interested me because of this.

Battle Girls ~Time Paradox~ (Dropped) – Interesting concept but incredibly stupid, a reality with all the famous warriors in the Edo war period are all women? That’s alright. Are main character trying to settle war with childish games instead. No. Just No.

Softenni and Under The Innocent Sky (Dropped) – Both were way too silly, stupid and fan-servicey for me to even care, both were easily dropped.

Summer 2011 – I was a bit put-off by this season, I would even call it the weakest of the year, however, it has some decent shows though. One of the most anticipated but disappointing series by most anime viewers, was Blood-C, which I never really picked up, it was surprising to see so many negative comments but I would like to check out why.

Two out of the three Brain Base projects – Natsume: Book Of Friends S3 and Kamisama Dolls are others that I want to watch (for Natsume I want at least watch the first two seasons) and while Uta-No Prince Sama doesn’t really look like it’s for me, I was actually impressed with the first episode.

The Good –

Three that I would put here made the top 10, so looking at the summer chart, there was nothing else to put in this section.

The Average –

Kamisama no Memochou – This was a good detective story with a great beginning and an awesome last arc but in the middle the series, it was in a state, episodes that involve pointless fan-service or a baseball episode that did nothing to advance the plot, while this was J.C.Staff’s best project of the year, they still need to make a huge improvement.

The Mystic Archives of Dantalian – This was a tad disappointing, I really liked the set-up of post-WW1 Britain and two characters attempting to seal supernatural demon books, it just didn’t have a good episode structure, relying on one-off stories rather than an overall one, it’s not what I wanted but still I enjoyed watching all of it anyway.

No.6 – The Yaoi undertones didn’t put me off when I watched No.6, it has potential for its futuristic utopia and the conspiracy behind it, however, it didn’t focus on that. It was mainly on are main characters and there conversations on either saving No.6 from a threat or just leave them to there doom, it was repeated so many times that I got frustrated, I will be positive on the beautiful animation and some moments on the last episodes but I was again disappointed.

The Bad

Mayo Chiki – It had one of the worst first episodes from what I remembered but the 2nd and 3rd episode gave me hope that the Kinjirou and Subaru chemistry would make Mayo Chiki more enjoyable, then it fell apart. What made me put it in the bad section are the side characters, Kanade being the worst, doing things that would put are characters in unnecessary danger, I really hated her, the others were just your generic panel of characters that barely got a laugh off me.

R-15 – Yes I watched it and yes it was bad, it never really was going to impress me, it’s just the main character trying to write ero novels and putting him into awkward situations, ending with a poor payoff, it was just another series that focused on fan-service, easily forgettable.

Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu Ni! (On-Hold) – I feel that I was put off on the first episode, just because it never made me laugh, it still looks great but it’s over-the-top gag’s and wacky characters never grew on me and same goes for the 1st season, might pick this back up in the future, just to finish it.

Kaitou Tenshi Twin Angel: Kyun Kyun Tokimeki Paradise and Itsuka Tenma no Kuro Usagi (Dropped) – Never interested me, both are equally bland in their action scenes and both feel very generic.

Fall 2011

Series that won’t be considered on the Top 10 list or review until next year since there 2-cour but deserve a mention:

  • Persona 4: The Animation – Loving this adaptation on the game so far and is a great fun to watch.
  • Mirai Nikki – Premise is awesome, interesting and batsh*t insane, fantastic stuff so far.
  • Phi-Brain – Five episodes in and it’s fun to watch these characters solve puzzles, might lack an overall story at the moment but I like it.
  • Chihayafuru – WHY HAVEN’T I STARTED THIS YET!, Considered one of the best of this season, I will catch up so I can post my real thoughts for next years list.
  • Guilty Crown – I’ve not watched this but heard bad things for it being a “Code Geass” clone, although I have not watched that neither, hopefully I can enjoy GC a lot more when I watch it in the future (Unless I start Code Geass before then)

Since starting College on this new course, I’ve reduced the anime I’ve been watching this season but I recently had the time to catch up with some series, One that I wish to start is Squid Girl S2, liked the first season and I’ve heard the second is even better.While I did watch the first two episodes of Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, I never felt like judging it at this moment, it looked like one of those harems that breaks from the norm and it does have my interest, lastly Working!! and Tamayura: Hitotose will be on my “To Watch” list.

The Good – 

Un-Go – A very smart and intellectual detective anime from Studio BONES, it has enough mystery in the cases to keep me interested, set in a war-torn future, it uses modern technology mixed with the futuristic ideas to its advantage, it might not be in the best list but deserves an honorable mention.

The Average –

Mashiro-Iro Symphony – Out of all the Harem series this year, Mashiro-Iro Symphony wins it by far, no annoying characters but kind and understandable ones, no rushed romance or harem endings, just a natural way for characters to announce their feelings to each other, this is what I want from an anime like this, sure it can be bland at times and nothing much goes on in the series but I did kinda like how it was executed.

Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon – If Horizon didn’t have those great action scenes and political interest then I would easily dismiss this, It feels that Horizon is rushing through its storyline, leaving many anime fans confused. Some characters have had some back story but I do feel that this series needs more, disappointed in this one.

The Bad –

C³ – Imagine Baka To Test then add some dark mindless violence, that’s it in a nutshell and it isn’t good because of it, I’m currently at episode 6 and the switch back to school life, pretending like nothing happened just doesn’t make sense, it just comes down to poor plot progression that makes the series awful in my view.

Maken-Ki (Dropped) – I normally give anime at least three episodes before judging it but to have everything wrong in your first episode is quite an accomplishment, I just hated the dumb male main character and some of the female character motivations, it was easily dropped.

My Top 10 list should be up before the new year, so look out for that.

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