44 CommentsMonthly Roundups / By Scamp /

December Roundup

Happy new year and all that jazz. Quiet month again in regards to anime related news, so no pissing about and onto the ratings.

A Grade

Still nothing

B Grade

B+ Un-Go

Episodes 8-11

Looking back at Un-Go, I can see exactly what it was trying to do with each of the mysteries. They were all tying into this overall story about how nationalist governments during and post war censor for the good of the people. It usually flourished when it was allowed more space for the mystery of the episode to breath, as the final few episodes did. It would have been better if either it had more episodes, or simply had been more focused on 3-4 mysteries rather than trying to cram a whole story into a single episode. But ultimately, Un-go actually succeeded in delivering its story, where other ambitious Noitamina anime like No.6 and [C] didn’t quite manage. Fantastic series, highly recommended, although it might be worth skipping to episodes 3 and 4 first, then going back to 1 and 2.

B Persona 4

Episodes 9-12

Persona 4 is incredibly unrefined. The animation is shockingly awful at times, and some of the dialogue comes off as stilted and unnatural. But I really like what it’s trying to do. That surreal scene where Narukami slipped into a dream where all his friends left him, leaving his stats totally bare in the midway eyecatch, leaving you slightly confused as to whether they had simply edited the episode incorrectly. Or how about Teddy’s grand revelation of his desire to search for a non-existent purpose and meaning to his life, with his life apparently now meaning chatting up middle-aged women in department stores. I wish Persona 4 had the polish of the likes of Last Exile or Guilty Crown, because I much prefer the stuff it’s doing.

B Future Diary

Episodes 9-12

Again Future Diary flip flops its week between bombastically amazing to kinda stupid, although at least this week the stupid episodes weren’t quite so bad. Thankfully any episode is helped by my increasing fascination with Yuno. Her emotions switch as frequently as the quality shifts in Future Diary, and I love picking out the points when she flips sides. Plus the other characters continue to shine, each of them being unique in their own ways, yet all having similar driving forces behind their ideals that caused them to end up in this game. Like Persona 4, it lacks the polish of many of its peers, but makes up for it with great characterisation and the occasional bit of clever directing.

B Fate/Zero

Episodes 10-13

OK fine Fate/Zero. I’ll give you a B this month. I still find almost every conversation that doesn’t directly involve Rider to be incredibly dull because of their insistence with keeping their emotions hidden, but there was easily enough Rider action to keep me happy this month. Particularly his battle of ideals over wine with Saber and Gilgamesh and resulting stampede of heroes against Assassin, that was quite the sight. But probably the reason Fate/Zero is elevated this month is there was a non-Rider segment that was actually good. The ‘filler’ episode with Rin was effective tense horror, because it went against the usual Fate/Zero train and focused on a character who was incredibly weak, which made her encounters far more tense. It almost made me want to see what happens to her when she got older, but then I remembered I didn’t want to sit through either that overly wordy bullshit visual novel nor the laughably badly directed anime adaptation.

B- Lupin III Blood Seal ~Eternal Mermaid~

Eternal Mermaid was clearly trying to capture the feeling of Cagliostro again. You could tell by animation style and character designs, although the resulting look came off looking more like Fractale. Not a bad look, I have to stress, and I think I prefer whimsical Lupin to mysterious Lupin anyway. Unlike many others who watched this, I actually liked the teenage girl sidekick. She was ballsy and energetic without being irritating because she didn’t screech her demands like many of her pretenders. Plot wasn’t up to much, but since when was the plot in Lupin ever up to much. It was still a fun movie and all, but it’s not a good sign that, when I went to write this paragraph, I realised I couldn’t remember a single bloody thing that happened. Again, if you’ve never watched Lupin before, just stick to Cagliostro. But if you want more Lupin after that, this is definitely one of the stronger ones I’ve seen.

C Grade

C+ Mawaru PenguinDrum

Episodes 21-24

I honestly enjoyed episodes 21-23 this month, because it felt like it was tying the plot threads together and bringing everything to a satisfying conclusion. The concurrent plot threads of Sanetoshi and fighting fate, Ringo’s desire to be her own person and no longer strive to be Momoka, Kanba’s fight against Himari’s fate. It was all finally coming together. Which is why the final episode being a load of nonsensical metaphor bullshit had even more of a downer effect on me. I saw it coming. Off course it was coming. Ikuhara does this. But in its final moments, PenguinDrum totally lost sight of the tangible story and delved into a world of metaphor that completely baffled me. Still enjoyed the show overall, but that was not a good ending.

C+ Last Exile: Fam, the Silver Wing

Episodes 8-11

Whoever is in charge of writing this new version of Last Exile isn’t very clever. Sure it has a sheen to it that Persona 4 or Future Diary don’t have. This leads to the scenes where they leave the visuals to be the spectacle being the best of the series. Episode 8 was utterly fantastic stuff. But the downtime moments between characters are just not good. This is mainly down to Fam being about as interesting as a piece of paper, and with about as much depth too. You can’t develop these stupid genki characters because the show already assumes that this juvenile idiotic energy is a Good Thing. Then there’s the latest political developments which serve a rather nice contrast to Un-Go. Un-Go treated nationalism with care, looking at what sacrifices occur as a result of this mindset. In Last Exile Fam? Our country is becoming part of a commonwealth to prevent further fighting? Clearly this is a bad thing, and we shall demonstrate this by making the empire kill everyone. OK, I’m letting my personal beliefs sway my feelings towards a series, but it’s hardly handled in the most intelligent manner.

C- Invasion Squid Girl

Episodes 9-12

Squid Girl makes the exact same mistake it made last season by deciding the best way to wrap things up was to include a completely out-of-place melodrama scene in an anime that is usually a comedy so light you could use it as a floatation device. At least it didn’t pretend it was going to develop Squid Girls story before pulling a pathetic Deus Ex Machina like last season did, but it doesn’t change how bad the episode was. Sure, I got my laughs out of Squid Girl, but it’s such inconsequential fluff that I’m not sure if I can be bothered watching anymore if they make another season. Even the mini-squid girl segments are starting to lose their charm.

C- Hunter X Hunter

Episodes 10-13

I did quite like the arc where the characters faced off the convicts in the dungeon. That was a battle based off a battle of wits, competing with knowledge we already knew, which made them actually interesting to watch. But strip that back for a second, after 13 episodes I still don’t care about any of the characters. I don’t care about the plot, nor the world they inhabit. It has yet to get me emotionally invested in any way, shape or form, and if they haven’t done that in 13 episodes, I don’t really see how they can do it at all. If Hunter X Hunter dropped off the face of the earth tomorrow, I probably wouldn’t even notice it went.

D Grade

D Toradora OVA

Sometimes when these extra episodes to anime get released a few years after their original airing run, watching them can suddenly challenge what I originally thought about the series. I remember when Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody was released for the second season of Haruhi and being shocked at how clever and well-directed it was (although we all know what happened after that). I was never big on Toradora when it originally aired, even though I watched it through to the end, but maybe a new episode could challenge my opinion, forcing me to re-evaluate the series? Short answer: No, it didn’t.

E Grade

E Guilty Crown

Episode 8

Something finally snapped in me after this episode. Why was I giving Guilty Crown the time of day? This was brainless, shallow, soulless crap, yet somehow I was still here after 8 episodes. Why am I still here? Guilty Crown is like a spoiled child. It’s only doing this so you pay it attention. If we stop, it will just go away. Stop watching Guilty Crown guys. Please? For me? You will be much happier for it, trust me on this.

F Grade

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44 Comments

  1. Chipp12
    Posted January 1, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Guilty Crown gets better.

    • Scamp
      Posted January 1, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

      You guys are funny

      • Chipp12
        Posted January 2, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

        It’s just that 8th epsiode was really bad – but if you didn’t like the 7th episode that’s just isn’t your cup of tea I suppose.

    • Moomba
      Posted January 1, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

      It seemed to get worse to me…

      • Hellur
        Posted January 1, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

        It really does though, I’ts been my favorite of this season but episode 11 really tied everything together for me, however I respect your opinion and I’m not one of those ragers who think that whatever I like is what everyone else likes :P The only thing I would say is watch up through episode 11 because it was truly spectacular!

    • Redcrimson
      Posted January 2, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

      If by “gets better” you mean turns from a generic Code Geass ripoff to unintentionally hilarious trainwreck, then yes it does.

  2. Posted January 1, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    It has yet to get me emo­tion­ally inves­ted in any way, shape or form, and if they haven’t done that in 13 epis­odes, I don’t really see how they can do it at all.

    Don’t worry. If it gets to painful for you to keep watching, just drop it. It’s tough watching a long series like this expecting a lot of development in 13 episodes (the 13th being a recap). I remember Rurouni Kenshin being almost unbearable the first 13 episodes.

    The next part of the exam is pretty awesome though, one of the best parts of the exam arc along with the climax. Again, give it some time. This doesn’t progress like every other show. The battle of wits with the prisoners is more of a primer for people new to the series. Stuff that happen in HxH get really complex for the following arcs. I’m probably repeating myself but it does get better it just needs patience and an open mind.

  3. Embok
    Posted January 1, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    GC doesn’t really get better – it gets different. Still not good, but at least now it seems to be going somewhere. Whether or not that somewhere is a place you want to follow it is up to you, but as you’re a fan of Code Geass and Future Diary I can’t really see any reason why you would dislike the direction it’s going in.

    • Flawfinder
      Posted January 1, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      I’m a fan of those and I don’t like Guilty Crown. It still feels like the entire anime is on autopilot. You forget about it soon after the viewing.

  4. Posted January 1, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    “Stop watch­ing Guilty Crown guys. Please?”

    Already did.

    LE:Fam — One of the big questions this past seasons was “would the new Last Exile disappoint?” We have that answer now. Yes. It does a great job with visuals, and it has clever battle sequences, so it isn’t all bad, but the characters suck.

    • Scamp
      Posted January 2, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      Yup, the characters suck. Unfortunately that’s exactly the problem. I quite like the new villains, but none of the new characters are doing anything to develop personalities

  5. Posted January 1, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    But Guilty Crown is a lulzy guilty pleasure for me.

  6. Shiara
    Posted January 1, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    Did you drop Chihayafuru already or was your score for it so low it didn’t make it to the roundup?

    • Posted January 2, 2012 at 4:25 am | Permalink

      If it’s not on the round-up, he’s not watching.

    • Scamp
      Posted January 2, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      I dropped it last month. Shojo and me do no gel

  7. Posted January 1, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    I agree 100% re: Persona, and as for Last Exile, Joojoobees’ assessment is exactly the premonition that I had when I saw episode 1 and why I dropped it immediately.

    • Scamp
      Posted January 2, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

      It has good things about it though. The political situation had a very Gundam/LOGH feel to it, at least until the last episode really toned down how intelligent it had been treated until then

  8. Posted January 1, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    Then again, I’d have said the same thing about Code Geass.

  9. Posted January 1, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    I’ll stop watching Guilty Crown when you’ll love Toradora

    • Scamp
      Posted January 2, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      I tried to love it. Got nowhere

  10. Alterego
    Posted January 1, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    FYI, Tohsaka Rin grew up to be a relatively well-written and beloved, but somehow generic Tsundere.

  11. Alterego
    Posted January 1, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    About Penguindrum’s “non­sensical meta­phor bull­shit”, only the “metaphor” part is true. Pretty much all of the symbolism is decodable into one consistent story. E.g, there is this chart about how the Fruit of Fate was shared between the siblings, and what it caused, that apparently drove the plot all along.

    It’s a legit complaint if you say that the meaning’s presentation was too complicated and oblique, but that’s not the same thing as “it was meaningless”.

    • Scamp
      Posted January 2, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      I didn’t say it was meaningless…did I?

      *re-reads post*

      Nope, I said it lost sight of the tangible story. ‘Oblique’ is a fairly good explanatory term

      • Alterego
        Posted January 3, 2012 at 11:46 am | Permalink

        “non­sensical bullshit” seemed to be more of a synonym of “meaningless” than “Oblique”.

  12. Posted January 1, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    Gulity Crown’s production values have taken a dive, too. Looks like Production IG wants to be done with it as much as we do.

    I liked the Fate/stay night VN a lot, but I wouldn’t recommend to non-VN fans. Literally a week of my life spent on unlimited word works. ;_;

    • Alterego
      Posted January 1, 2012 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

      Yeah. Great story, much better than the anime, and all that, but definitely not for someone who dislikes even an average VN’s pacing. I don’t think that this is a fault of the story, though, it’s a matter of tastes.

      By the way, I have the same opinion of the anime as Scamp. I didn’t even wait to see if they screwed up any plot points, I just checked out 10 minutes, and it was so badly directed, that I instantly turned it off.

  13. 3242
    Posted January 1, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    I am sticking with guilty crown to see how bad its only quality gets, the animation.
    It gets worse and worse and less..
    at least its pretty!
    I would be greatly amused if the finale was done with stick figures :B

  14. Mr. Anon
    Posted January 2, 2012 at 1:31 am | Permalink

    It’s interesting to look at the way Persona 4 is trying to turn the rpg battles and dating-sim-like character interaction into a narrative. It’s not entirely successful, but it’s a pretty decent attempt.

  15. Hanamaru
    Posted January 2, 2012 at 2:00 am | Permalink

    Guilty Crown has to be one of the most poorly written shows this year. That said, I keep on watching. It is like driving by a car accident and pulling over to see how it will turn out. The only enjoyment I get out of this series is the mild amusement I find in how this could air. It has an interesting premise, but the characters are souless puppets and the plot is too simplistic. Shu and Inori have to be some of the worst main characters I have seen in anime. There is nothing keeping this story together, and I have lost interest in the world they live in. As horrible as it is, I want to see it fully crash and burn.

  16. Adreme
    Posted January 2, 2012 at 4:39 am | Permalink

    You should be glad that you stopped watching when you did. They were actually mean enough to tease the main character having a backbone (at least the writers tried to explicitly tell us he had a backbone) only to completely undo the developement one episode later and make him MORE insufferable than he ever was at any point in the entire series.

  17. Posted January 2, 2012 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    So you snapped to? Glad to see I’m not alone.

  18. Posted January 2, 2012 at 5:50 am | Permalink

    Guilty Crown gets funnier.

    • Hanamaru
      Posted January 2, 2012 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      It does get funnier, but it is the I’m laughing at you funny.

  19. Erif
    Posted January 2, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    ‘Tis a pity you dropped Chihayafuru. I for one think it is one of the best airings of the season, but I guess there is no reason to watch it if you don’t have the stomach for it.

    I really, really need to watch Un-Go. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it as of late, but for some reason I never allow myself the time to watch it. I even have eight of the episodes downloaded, for Christ’s sake!

    I’m glad you changed your opinion about F/Z, although I don’t believe any of the dialogue to be “dull” or boring. Not in the slightest; on the contrary, I find most of Urobuchi’s dialogue to be intriguing and well-executed, as it has a very “epic” feel to it. However, my main problems with the series so far (which aren’t really problems at all, just minor elements I wish had more focus) are the slight lack of action in the past six or seven episodes, and the strained development, or lack thereof, between Saber and Emiya. I would like to see a little more of both, especially the latter. It is known the two have conflicting ideals, but we rarely get to see them struggling with one another. I guess a part of that is because of Emiya’s reclusive nature, but I feel we need to see the two interact more often.

    A few words about Persona: being a huge fan of the series, I was more than a bit reluctant to watch the anime adaptation, for they usually don’t turn out too well. But I was hearing good things about this, from friends and reviewers alike, so I decided to check out the first episode. And to my satisfaction, I was extremely pleased with its turnout. The Persona adaptation is incredibly stylish, setting it apart from many other anime, and is thankfully faithful to the original work without having to sacrifice, well, anything really. Well, twelve episodes in, and it’s still stylish, and it’s still faithful, but the pacing is atrocious. :/ The series’ whole shtick is the correlation of one’s personal, social, and academic lives, and his or her ability to balance them. The animation’s fatal flaw is that it doesn’t embrace this properly; instead we have whole episodes devoted to social links when they should be developed throughout the series, “awakenings” happening far too often (to the point where they become formulaic), and very little balance between the murder-mystery and daily life. I appreciate the anime, but I just wish it were paced better.

    tl;dr

    • Scamp
      Posted January 2, 2012 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

      I should write another post some day about how every character that is not Rider/Waver in Fate/Zero sucks. Basically, most of them are too busy hiding their feelings that no emotion comes across in the scenes, leaving them all hopelessly souless and dull

      • Erif
        Posted January 2, 2012 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

        What is this “hiding their feelings” you speak of? I honestly have no idea what that means. There is plenty of emotion throughout. What do you want them to do, form a circle, join hands and talk about what they feel inside? I believe you were the one to criticize Fate/Zero for telling but not showing in its first episode. Many of the characters’ motives and feelings are hinted at, shown through actions and events rather than directly stated through dialogue. How dull would that be?

        Actually, for the most part, characters have outright stated their beliefs and feelings, and have been revealed through dialogue. There was much tension between Sola and Kayneth earlier on, and plenty of emotion when she tortured him, as was there in Lancer’s past. That was absolutely tragic; I don’t no how much more emotion you need. Caster and Ryuunosuke are absolutely crazy, but they definitely aren’t hiding their feelings. We may have seen little of Tokiomi, but his servant is egotistical and open about his beliefs. Kirei has mostly internal dialogue to further develop his character and, heck, even Emiya opened up to Irisviel at one point, expressing his utter fear of losing her and facing his most dangerous opponent. And Kariya! Man, how can you go away from episode one and ten without feeling any compassion for that guy, huh?

        So what the heck do you want?

      • Matr
        Posted January 5, 2012 at 6:55 am | Permalink

        Erif you said exactly what I wanted to say. Honestly man, what do you want? You seem to beat the shit out of the show, but the truth is Fate/ has excellent characters. Take Saber for example. She expresses deep regret for her kingship *constantly* and it’s reflected in her actions. She doubts herself and worries, and develops based on that. Unless you want emotion thrown bluntly in your face, I can’t imagine how you criticize the show. I can fully understand disliking the characters, but that’s not at all the same as them being poorly done, and you’d do well not to fault a show for having characters you don’t like. The best of literature and storytelling are rife with detestable characters, but that doesn’t make those stories any worse. Unless you want a show filled with characters that cater to qualities you want– a form of fanservice, if you ask me.

        To tie in with this, learn to read between the lines man. You have the same problem with Penguindrum. Symbolism and metaphor is not the same as bullshit. Every ounce of that last episode that you effectively called nonsense was in fact very profound and decipherable. You just had to put some effort into it. Honestly, I think one of the main reasons why the main body of anime is disappointing is its lack of literary quality. The ability to have layers of meaning and depth aside from simply being entertainment. Penguindrum had that, and it gets criticized for it. Though I’m a little shocked, because Madoka had plenty of this kind of symbolism and you praised it. I can only imagine this is because you understood the symbols in one and failed to do so in the other.

      • Scamp
        Posted January 5, 2012 at 10:45 am | Permalink

        Fate/Zero’s characters feelings are not shown through actions rather than dialogue, I have no idea where you’re getting that idea. In the few cases this is done, they then go on to talk about those feelings. The series is far too wordy for its own good. The best writing is short and succint, getting the most across in as few words as possible. Fate/Zero is too in love with dialogue.

        Worse still, the characters frequently spend a lot of the dialogue eitehr talking about the plot, which is a horrificly boring method of plot development, or they’re just re-affirming their own coolness. As I said in the post, the main reason I liked the Rin episode is because her inflated ego was totally at odds with how strong she really was, so it made those scenes more powerful. Also it has very little dialogue, most of it being tense scenes of her wandering around the city. Contrast this to that awful scene of Archer and Tokiomi just chatting away and you’ll see what I mean

        @Matr it’s got absolutely nothing to do with them being unlikeable people. On the contrary, it’s largely because it feels like it’s really trying to hammer into our heads how cool and silently badass these guys are.

        Also what has this got to do with PenguinDrum? You’ve lost me there. But since you brought up, why Madoka is better than PenguinDrum is because Madoka works on both levels. The story works on a surface level while the imagery and symbolism ties in with the main story, adding a deeper level of meaning, that still works with the main story. The problem with that last episode of PenguinDrum is it completely lost that surface layer. It was all metaphor, no actual story.

      • Scamp
        Posted January 5, 2012 at 10:49 am | Permalink

        Why do I seem to spend more time criticising shows I actually like in the comments section -_-

      • Erif
        Posted January 7, 2012 at 12:19 am | Permalink

        Wait, how are any of these characters “silently badass”? Very few of them are. I’m just not quite sure what you’re getting at here; first you say that characters hide their feeling and are emotionless, but then you go on to say that the dialogue is too wordy for it’s own good.

        And their feelings aren’t shown through actions? Sure they are! Kariya’s willingness to sacrifice himself, Emiya using Irisviel as a decoy, Kayneth’s treatment of Lancer, Archer’s flamboyance, Lancer’s past… these are all actions or events that reveal the feelings of characters. Actually, Rider is the wordiest of them all, as he and his Master are primarily characterized through dialogue.

        Oh, and if I recall, there was nothing short and succinct about Rider’s monologue. :/

        lol, I totally disagree with you here, but I’m not going to further the conversation any longer. Different opinions I guess.

  20. Fulluphigh
    Posted January 3, 2012 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    I don’t get it. Last Exile has been hardly, if at all, better than GC.

    Yes, I’m baiting, but seriously. Horrible, horrible writing, the first half of the show was devoted to girls being insufferably nice to each other, as well as pointless (No, yes, it was pointless) maid costumes. It started to pick up pace and move along, starting to get back to what made the original so good, but it’s still bogged down by an asinine main character. They went so far as to give us a recap episode solely to let us know that no, Fam is infallible, curse her partner for starting to develop a personality.

    Bah. It makes me so mad cause I want it to be so gooooood D=

    • Scamp
      Posted January 5, 2012 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      Didn’t I already have this argument with you before? The maid costume part tied in with her desperation to restore any sort of Turan government. The siege of the kitchen and dressing up as a maid was so adorably pathetic yet also depressing, I thought it worked well

  21. DarkEnergy
    Posted January 4, 2012 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    >>LOTS OF WORDS MEANS BAD WRITING

    Why?

    • Scamp
      Posted January 5, 2012 at 10:46 am | Permalink

      Because the best writing is short and succint.

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