Saturday, November 24, 2012

Fall Anime Season 2012 - Midterm Review

Chunnibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai!
Japan has a large number of anime studios that launch new anime every season. Watching all of them is not only time consuming, but also a waste of bandwidth. As with every fall season, the number of anime that is released is quite impressive, but there is a fair number of poorly made anime mixed in with some golden series. This list only covers a small fraction of anime released in the fall season, but they are the anime that I have been watching. See which anime is worth your time and which ones are worth skipping over.

Busou Shinki 
One-sentence Synopsis: Cute tiny figure girls living in an apartment.

Review: This anime is the epitome of anime as a tool for marketing purposes. In this case, an anime is made to promote shinki figures. The anime itself is a poor excuse for an anime. The character design of the lead character is poor and off-putting to represent a generic avatar that its target audience can relate to it. The Shinki girls are full of personality, but they are as generic as they come. One is the caring character who is pure of heart, the other is the big sister type who is clumsy, another character is the tsundere type who is mean but cares deep down inside, and another character is the cool loner girl who cannot relate to others, it reads like a checklist of overly done characterizations. The worst part is that they never go beyond those set characterizations and there is little to no character development of worth. The storylines are short vignettes that follow a theme and up to now, there is no main story in sight. As a tool to market a product, it had the potential to be good, but such pointless pandering wastes such potential.

Who will like it: Shinki Enthusiasts, Moe fans
Who won’t like it: Everyone else

Btooom! 
One-sentence Synopsis: It is like Battle Royale, but with different kind of bombs.

Review: This anime does some things right, and it does some things wrong. As with Battle Royale, this sort of anime can excel in strong characterizations since human nature cannot really be seen unless it is put in perilous situations. With Btooom, it delves into the human psyche and the main story of the main cast, but it never really delivers a fulfilling backstory of the side characters. Personal motivations are not really developed, and it leaves the watcher unconnected with the murdered people as the body count starts increasing. The different kind of bombs makes for an interesting dynamic when people fight each other, kind of like Bomberman but with body parts flying all over the place. The lead characters are all likeable to a certain extent and they are relatable to the audience. The anime does have very uncomfortable moments where certain female characters are put in situations of near rape, and frankly, for something made in 2012, it is unacceptable.

Who will like it: Violence and action buffs, battle royale fans, bomb buffs
Who will not like it: Feminists, Religious types, people who hate sex and violence

Chunnibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai 
One-sentence Synopsis: High school kids pretending that they have superpowers.

Review: This is the anime done by the “golden child” of the anime world, Kyoto Animation, so expectations were high of this anime. I can safely say that they succeed with probably one of the best anime series this season. Chunnibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai is an anime that focuses on Yuuta, a former chunni, and his interactions with Rikka who has a bad case of eighth-grade syndrome. The characters are all very likable to a degree and are relatable. The script and the pacing are top notch, with each episode flying between drama and comedy with ease. The production values are sky-high, being one of the most beautiful looking anime this fall season. It also has an incredible attention to detail that most anime does not have. It is this mix that makes Chunnibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai one of the best anime this season, if not one of the best anime this year.

Who will like it: Mostly everyone, especially Moe and Romance buffs
Who will not like it: People who hate moe or bromances

Onii-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankenai you ne 
One-sentence Synopsis: Girl with brother complex lives with brother after 6 years, meddlesome student council joins them.

Review: This anime is the epitome of the term “guilty pleasure.” It is not good by any stretch of the imagination, but for some odd reason, I keep watching it. They skip the first three volumes of the original light novel, which leaves a lot of the characterization out there. For those who read the light novel, much of the amazing dialog between the cast has been effectively neutered. This leaves a shell of an anime that is full of fanservice that focuses on the harem aspects of the novel, while taking most of the quality characterization and sharp dialog out. With that said, I still watch it because the cast is fairly interesting, and their interaction is still rewarding for those willing to accept the anime’s limitations. The episodes also lack a flow that almost feels like a stream of consciousness. This anime is not a “good” anime by any stretch of the imagination, but it is also not a poorly done piece of trash.

Who will like it: Brocons, siscons, harem fans, fans of the original novel
Who will not like it: Anyone outside of the above groups

Ixion Saga DT 
One-sentence Synopsis: Dude goes into an RPG and joins a party that has a spoiled princess, a trap voiced by Lelouch, and a muscle-bound dude who loves cute things.

Review: Every once in a while, an anime comes out of left field and creates an interesting experience, Ixion Saga DT is that anime for the Fall 2012 season. I expected nothing from this anime, and I ended up being pleasantly surprised. Ixion Saga DT is an anime that takes on JRPG themes and storylines and flips them on their head. It is surprisingly funny with the character interaction and it is very unpredictable. The case of characters is all extremely likable and they are all very important in the storyline. The dialog is amazing, being one of the best-written anime this season outside of Chunnibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai. Ixion Saga DT was made with a strong sense of fun, and permeates the anime, with the cast choice to the manliest ending vignette ever put on screen.

Who will like it: Humor fans, script buffs, JRPG fans
Who won’t like it: TG haters, People who won’t “get” the humor.

To Love Ru Darkness 
One-sentence Synopsis: Guy who is surrounded by many beautiful girls (some aliens) who for some reason love him.

Review: Rito already has had adventures with his alien friends for two seasons, this season jumps ahead to the new series that is decidedly more perverted and darker than its previous iterations. There are light beams all over the place to cover up the blatant fanservice that the franchise is known for. If you do not like the main cast of To Love Ru, there is nothing in this anime that will change your mind, it gets the franchise formula and turbocharges it to 11. The anime is blatant about its harem roots and takes it on a whole other level. I find it very fascinating just how they make the lead character fall into compromising situations that exposes him to the varied cast of buxom young females. The animation quality is not any better than the previous seasons, but it is not any worse. If you are the type that wants the full Monty, you have to wait for the blu ray releases.

Who will like it: Harem fans, fanservice fans
Who will not like it: Feminists, Religious types, people who hate fanservice

Little Busters 
One-sentence Synopsis: Friends who start a baseball team, only to have the lead character fill the rest of the roster with weird girls.

Review: Based on one of the most popular visual novels ever made, the creation of the Little Busters anime has been met with some anticipation. Having not played the original material, I cannot say for sure if Little Busters lives up to the source material. As someone who has not played the original game, I can say that it is a pretty darn good anime. It follows a group of friends who start a baseball team, with the narcoleptic lead character being the ladies’ man who adds more females to this team. The dialog is interesting, but never reaches the highs that is found in Chunnibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai. Each character is likable and there is no doubt that the watcher will have a favorite or two amongst the large cast. Like with the Chunnibyou anime, it balances the line of comedy and drama well. It is not a masterpiece, but that can change since this anime is reportedly getting quite a large run compared to the typical 12 episode anime.

Who will like it: Key fans, Moeblob fans, Comedy and drama lovers
Who will not like it: Moe haters

Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo 
One-sentence Synopsis: Guy with emotional problems has to take care of autistic savant bombshell that cannot take care of herself.

Review: The best way to describe this anime is that I have a love/hate relationship with this anime. Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo is about an anime where the lead character lives in an apartment full of strange people, they are strange since they are all geniuses on a different plane than most of us normal people. He is tasked with taking his of his teacher’s cousin, an autistic savant with a bombshell body. She is unable to take care of herself so she relies on him to take care of her, wash her clothes, clothe her, and to try to add some normalcy in her world. On one hand, the lead character is a nice person that can be easy to relate; on the other hand, he is an indecisive wimp with an inferiority complex that tends to overreact to everything. The female lead, Mashiro, is also like the male lead in that she is quite likable and frustrating at the same time. This show is quite bipolar too, with some episodes I love, and some episodes that I absolutely despise. Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo has good animation and it has a great character dynamic that is accented by a fairly well-done script. The show is unexpectedly quite fanservice friendly, being one of the racier shows this season.

Who will like it: Fanservice fans, Romance buffs
Who will not like it: People who hate both male and female leads

Links
Busou Shinki
Btooom!
Chunnibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai Light Novel
Chunnibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai Anime
Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo Light Novel
Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo Anime
Ixion Saga DT
To Love-ru Darkness Manga
To Love-ru Darkness TV Show
Little Busters Key Site
Little Busters Anime
Onii-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kaneinai yo ne Light Novel
Onii-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kaneinai yo ne Anime

1 comment:

KrisZ said...

Before anyone asks, I do not consider Sword Art Online and Muv Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse part of the Fall season. They started in the Summer 2012 season and they just happened to continue the season run past the now regular 12 episodes that has become the norm for anime.