27 CommentsMonthly Roundups / By Scamp /

August Roundup

Yet another quiet news month. So instead I’m just going to rail against Black Rock Shooter in Noitamina again. Like, seriously guys?

Also, I’m just back from holiday, so I’m behind on a lot of the anime I’m watching this season. This is also why this monthly roundup is a day late. As for movies, I saw Redline and Mardock Scramble before they were popular because I’m a hipster like that.

A Grade

A- Bunny Drop

Episodes 5-8

Last year’s token josei title was Jellyfish Princess, which I’ll admit was slightly more My Kind Of Anime than Bunny Drop is. It was wild and wacky but had a good story using that strangeness it had. Bunny Drop is more down to earth, but is far better controlled and powerful. It’s challenged the way I think about marriage and parenting. Often it will suggest stuff I don’t agree with, but the very fact it made me seriously question several things is quite an achievement in of itself. Plus, it does all this without getting pretentious or preachy and, most importantly of all, remaining fun. Not as fun as Jellyfish Princess, but enough to keep a grin plastered across my face the entire episode.

B Grade

B+ Steins;Gate

Episodes 18-22

From the stupid Rukako episode to the frightening Moeka episode, Steins;Gate hasn’t exactly had the most even of months in terms of quality. That said, I love the direction the show is taking with Okarin’s character. The more his mind breaks, the less we can trust him and the more uncomfortable it becomes to watch him. His development over the course of the series has been the piece that makes Steins;Gate special. The time travel plot, the witty lines. They’re all welcome. But it’s Okarin who makes this series. I’m tempted to call him my all-time favourite anime protagonist. Only two episodes left, I hope they wrap this up properly.

B Mawaru PenguinDrum

Episodes 5-7

I’m going to be an insufferably prat and compare and contrast PenguinDrum to Utena again. PenguinDrum is more fun than Utena on a surface level. It’s funnier with wackier set pieces and less of the irritating side some of the repetition and incomprehensible parts of Utena had. The key difference is I’m just letting everything in PenguinDrum wash over me, while in Utena I’d try to decode every single scene. Not necessarily a bad thing, since trying to decode Utena more often than not just left me a headache, but it does mean I’m failing to see the point of the plot in PenguinDrum so far. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of fun. But I do hope this Ringo story actually goes somewhere.

B Tiger and Bunny

Episodes 19-22

Well this is a first. Normally a Tiger and Bunny monthly roundup have all the positives counterbalanced by negatives. But this month, Tiger and Bunny performed remarkably well. The plot has reached a crescendo, tackling the main issues of the story. It’s given Bunny personality once again, while focusing on Tiger and his relationship with his daughter. It’s a satisfying climax so far to what has been a fairly enjoyable series. In fact, I don’t think I have anything negative to say. Well OK, I have one. Kaede showing up and just happening to know how to reset everyone’s memories because she just happened to meet the villain was a touch on the convenient side. I guess that means I’m contractually obligated to hate on it now.

B- Natsume Yuujinchou San

Episodes 5-9

I really enjoyed the plot heavy double episode of Natsume this month. The problem with the series at the moment is Natsume’s main story of settling in with a family and friends he loves has kind of been solved. He has a family who cares for him and whom he cares for. He now has friends whom he can trust. There’s nothing more they can do with that storyline. I like the usual formula of yokai terrorises someone or some place, but all they really are is very lonely and it takes their interaction with Natsume to realise that. But there’s only so often you can repeat any story before it starts to get old. It’s the Hell Girl problem. I’d like to see the story focus on Natsume challenging the exorcists on the issue of treating yokai like they have feelings, because that would mean his learning about yokai in all those previous episodes would lead to some sort of satisfying conclusion.

B- Kamisama Dolls

Episodes 5-9

I’ll admit I give Kamisama Dolls a far easier run than I know it should get. It sure tries to make itself un-enjoyable, what with all the jarring jerks in tone, the derpy animation, and the random introduction of a new character 3 episodes from the end. But I can’t help myself, I just love the story here. I love how each character is just that touch mentally unstable. How they’re all trying to escape their past and the village to live their own version of their lives, whether this be connecting with your lost sibling, living a normal student life, or simply trying to follow incredibly vague advice in the case of Aki. You can even count me amongst the handful who thought episode 7 was amazing. Or maybe that was just me being shocked that they didn’t ruin the deathly serious tone of that episode with more unnecessary fanservice.

B- Blue Exorcist

Episodes 16-18

So apparently the manga caught up with what was going to be the current arc of the manga and decided that it would be best to ignore that arc altogether and create anime original material from here on in. Hence, in a move as predictable as the sun rising, the manga fans started complaining. But you know, manga fans [le sigh]. Anyway, I’m liking the direction it’s taking. We’re finally going somewhere with Rin’s character and moving what had until now been a nearly standstill plot in a proper direction. I am 2 episodes behind, so maybe the story grounds to a standstill yet again (next episode preview made it look like it might) but I’m holding out for some sort of proper anime original conclusion here.

C Grade

C+ Hanasaku Iroha

Episodes 19-22

I do like Hanasaku Iroha vastly more than most series of it’s type. I’ve pointed out the aspects I like in each of these monthly roundups so far. The self-aware comedic side. Ohana’s mum. The hot character designs. But there’s one aspect that has been constantly holding this show back: The drama. It’s overwrought and rather stupid but, most importantly, I Don’t Care. I really could not give a fuck who takes over the inn. Nor could I give a fuck about the love triangle between Minko, Tohru and Ohana. The only times the drama actually worked was when Ohana’s mum was involved, in the first episode and during the Ohana to Tokyo arc. At all other times, it just comes off as a bad shojo.

C- No.6

Episodes 5-7

I’m not quite sure where it was No.6 lost me this month. Partly because it likes to smash the viewer over the head with its symbolism to the point that the characters literally stop what they are doing and monologue for the sole purpose of being obtuse about what’s going on in the story. I fail to see the point of Dog Keeper’s large portions of screentime, who mainly spends that time being very angry about nothing in particular. Nezumi has this same problem, which I know is sort of the point, but I can’t follow either of their thought processes. This is partly because the show steadfastly refuses to tell us what his beef with No.6 is, but it’s mainly because I can’t understand what their relationships with each character is. I can’t work out what Nezumi thinks about Dogkeeper, what his relationship with Shion really is, even what Shion thinks of these characters. The segments with Safu come as a relief because she’s the only character blunt and gormless enough that I can follow her train of thought. I guess it all boils down to the show being too obtuse with too little surface enjoyment for me to care to work out what is actually going on. Also it’s gay.

D Grade

D Kaiji Season 2

Episodes 18-20

What has been the point of these past few episodes? Nothing has happened! Nothing at all! I know Kaiji is so slow paced it makes Bleach look like a Harrier Jet, but there’s a difference between slow paced and nothing whatsoever. No Kaiji, I do not care about this shitty villain you’ve hastily concocted a backstory for. It didn’t tell us anything we needed to know about his character to give the battle between Kaiji and the bog extra weight. Also, the battle against the bog is dull. At least the card games had a semblance of tactics I could pour myself into. This is just watching a load of balls. Boring boring boring month, kinda lost interest in watching it to the end too. I will probably keep watching, but unless the Bog turns into a giant robot, I’m labelling this arc a disaster.

E Grade

Zawa zawa zawa

F Grade

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27 Comments

  1. mcm38
    Posted September 2, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    Well, I’m satisfied you got the point to Usagi Drops powerfull expression with sudden sensible developments. Tiger and Bunny, Kamisama Dolls, Steins Gate, Mawaru Penguindrum and Natsume. Nice month(s). I’m glad this was a better summer for anime.

  2. Nebulous
    Posted September 2, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Permalink

    This season is a bit meh. Penguindrum is good but a bit too wacky to carry the season, and Usagi is perfect but too subdued and mellow to stand out as awesome use of the animated medium. Next season looks very promising though with very big budget, high production quality shows. I am very much enjoying Kamisama Dolls but just look at it – the animation is beyond poor, and the visual effects used are very jarring as they do not blend with the environment. Kinda dropped Hanasaku and Steins but i’ll pick em back up later, Tiger used an unnecessary dues ex and Blue Exorcist calls one stroke battles action. No.6 is gaaaaaaaay.

  3. DrIdiot
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 12:16 am | Permalink

    I dropped Kaiji halfway through the first season because I thought it was too slow. There’s nothing worse than figuring something out yourself and but still having to wait for someone to explain it to you in every minute detail.

    • Scamp
      Posted September 3, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      This arc of Kaiji is worse because it’s over-explaining stuff I don’t care about in the first place

  4. luffyluffy
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 3:48 am | Permalink

    Wow, I agree with everything you’ve said.

    Everything.

  5. Posted September 3, 2011 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    Scamp. Did you dropped Kamisama memo-chou? I think you should reconsider it, since the mysteries are much better than you had seen in the first few episodes.

    • Scamp
      Posted September 3, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      Trying to get me to re-pick up anything in a season where I’m struggling to keep up with what I’m watching anyway is kinda futile

      • Posted September 3, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

        Fall will be a good opportunity.

  6. Posted September 3, 2011 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    >Kamisama Dolls ep 7 = awesome

    >Kaiji = D

    You are dead to me.

  7. romulus
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    I pretty much agree with everything. I think Mawaru should/could be higher on the ladder. I see the potential in that anime. Kamisama Dolls is somehow quite good (great voice acting it has), Usagi Drop kept its promises, Iroha is surprisingly more watchable than ever. Really, once I was about to drop it, then Ohana to Tokyo happened.

    I think I should call your attention to an anime that slipped under your radar. It’s IMO as good as Kamisama dolls, but your affinity to themes from horror movies may affect it. Yes, its Dantalian no Shoka. Surprisingly well-done episodic story, user of dark magic-containing books are chased down in every episode. Music is good, no complaint about animation either. The mentally crumbled users/victims of the books are depticted well, and it takes itself seriously – no jokes, but there are deaths and disappearances. Biggest problem is the tsundere loli and the developing relationship shoved in the viewers faces, but that appears only rarely. It may not be wold-changing but it worth watching. You may found the main characters a bit vague.

    • Scamp
      Posted September 3, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      Again, following 10 shows and I can barely keep up with them. What I’ve heard about Dantalian is it started strongly but has been treading water and doing fuck all for the past few episodes

      • Posted September 3, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

        Watching *just* 10 shows? Kind of disappointed there. Now, following 10 shows, THEN having to find something to talk about them every week…

      • romulus
        Posted September 3, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

        Thats what we call episodic.

    • Posted September 3, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

      Scamp,
      Dantalian is more episodic than it should be, granted, but some of the episodes hint at a larger mythology with more antagonists that are other Mystical Libraries with different purposes than Danlian and Huey.

      I agree with most of your grades, except you have Tiger/Bunny too high and Steins;Gate too low. The others are just from mediocre to pure utter shitte.

  8. Posted September 3, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    “And it’s gay.”
    Ffff.

    I actually wanted to pick up Kaiji, but if it’s so slow paced, then I don’t know… I’m currently watching House of five leaves, which is an amazing show everybody should watch.

  9. Posted September 3, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Thankfully, I was warned about the Bog arc by friendly manga readers so I managed to brace myself for its inevitably slow pace. I have to say it’s probably even better paced in the anime, since they can blow through 2 – 3 chapters at a time, whereas in manga you have to put up with it once-every-time-a-chapter-is-released.

    I have to say I’ve only dropped 2 out of all those shows up there–Steins;Gate and Hanasaku.

    inb4 hate because I dropped S;G

  10. Posted September 3, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    I’m not a follower of the Natsume manga (funny how that turned out for a change), but one of the things that I’d like the series to answer is a) just how is Natsume Reiko apparently such a special case that, despite being an outside to the exorcist community and (apparently) being mostly self-trained, had managed to best many of the strongest or vilest ayakashi within AT LEAST twenty miles around her hometown and, b) how such a firebrand eventually managed to calm down and have a family, or at the very least a kid (she did keep her surname after all).

    Unfortunately, given the pace that the manga has settled into, those questions might not be answered for years in real-time.

    As for Blue Exorcist… AHAHAHAHAHAHA. The chances of a derpy anime-original ending is 80:30 at this point, ESPECIALLY since it’s not only ongoing, but a Shounen action series as well.

  11. KBKarma
    Posted September 3, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Episode 8 or 9 has Nezumi’s reasoning. It’s apparently not the most compelling argument. At all.

    • Posted September 3, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      TREES. MAGIC TREES.

    • Scamp
      Posted September 4, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

      eurgh yeah, pretty shitty explanation it was

  12. Posted September 4, 2011 at 12:39 am | Permalink

    Scamp, care to give examples on how Bunny Drop has changed/challenged your thinking? You got me curious.

  13. Posted September 4, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Well, I can’t really agree or disagree with anything here because I’m behind on pretty much everything this season, and I only watch Bunny Drop, Penguindrum, Steins;Gate and Iroha, as well as some others that you don’t appear to be watching.

    I am enjoying Steins;Gate infinitely, though. Episode 22 was great!

  14. Marow
    Posted September 5, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    I’m surprised to see that you put Kamisama Dolls so high. To me, it’s a piece of rubbish and only Aki saves it from being ultra bad.

    And both No.6 and Hanairo has lost what made them good. I’m really disappointed that Hanairo turned out to be so… mediocre. P.A. Works makes some lovely animation and all, but can’t tell a story.

  15. DarkEnergy
    Posted September 6, 2011 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    I haven’t seen any of the anime mentioned in this post, except Redline (which is amazing BTW). Nevertheless, I enjoy these monthly roundups so that I can get a sense of what I’ve been missing. Scamp, you are awesome. *fanboying*

  16. Posted September 7, 2011 at 4:07 am | Permalink

    As much as I’m loving Natsume this season, I agree that it’s almost completely run its course, unless they want to bring the other groups of exorcists further into the picture to serve as something more important than a different ideology regarding the youkai.
    As for Kamisama Dolls, there really needs to be more involvement from the characters that aren’t Kyouhei, Utao, and Hibino. More Aki, and I’d rate it a hell of a lot higher than I have.

  17. Posted September 18, 2011 at 2:42 am | Permalink

    “So appar­ently the manga caught up with what was going to be the cur­rent arc of the manga…”

    So apparently the anime caught up with the current episode of the anime, too!

    /shot

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