Moving Forward! Chroma's Winter 2012/2013 Impressions
I have been indulging in a hefty number of anime this season, and I'm here tonight to talk about what I thought about them! Just so everyone knows, I’ll be including a few series that may not have been released this season, but I still watched for the first time during the season itself. Let's get started!
Everyone's favourite karuta-driven series returns for another epic fling, and who can complain? On top of introducing some fun new characters, the show-stealing classic characters make their necessary appearances to blend the cast together. Much like how Hikaru no Go showcased the slow growth of its characters in a competitive world, Chihayafuru works its magic in the same way. Not only does the soundtrack and visuals remain soothing, but the show in its entirety feels like it hasn't slowed down at all, and that's one heck of a compliment I can give to something like this.
Wow, um...where do I begin with this one. Episode one started off shockingly grim for its protagonist, and for a short while it seemed like the show might completely take that path (which also would have been interesting). There's a good mix of tense drama in Kotoura-san that clashes with its ridiculous and funny scenes. If I had a complaint, I'd say the transitions between these contrasts are quite sharp, so the switches will occur when you're not thinking about them. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but there are some moments when it feels like something was thrown in for the sake of plowing through a section as quickly as possible. I think the problem I had was that nothing in the show was particularly unique to me. It might be a bit sick to say so, but I would have probably enjoyed the series a lot more if it stuck to its initial premise instead.
Little Busters! definitely had a bit of a rocky start. They utilized many of the awkwardly dragged out jokes from the visual novel, and the animation was at a rather poor level. On top of that, characters felt like they had little development time and I was concerned that they could never live up to their visual novel counterparts within the 26 episode limit. As we sit on the 24th episode, I can definitely say that the characters have come up to a respectable level, and everything else has been significantly improving as well. The series plays out in character arcs (much like most of KEY's stories do), and a few of them really take you for a loop of emotions (while others are rather short and a little lackluster). My one big concern at this point is how they'll go about concluding this series, as there's a reveal waiting in the wings with only two episodes left. However, I've learned over the years that two episodes is ample time for anything, so I look forward to what remains.
Love Live! School Idol Project
"It's enjoyable." I'd say, if you asked me to sum it up simply. Love Live! isn't exactly anything groundbreaking and there isn't really much to it at all, but that's all part of the simplistic charm it has. Much like THE iDOLM@STER (but not on the same level), the torrent of characters doesn't drag down the overall story, and it definitely knows how to have fun in its presentation. The series overall jumps between a light drama and a light comedy, with the theme of music and idols acting as the centerpiece. With that in mind, I personally found the music to be quite hit and miss, and that for a music series is a harsh penalty. Don't get me wrong in this, as I did enjoy this series and most of what it had to offer. If you asked me to point you to a favourable soundtrack however, I would easily pull up my iDOLM@STER albums before considering Love Live ones, but that's just my take. It's undeniable that this series garners ridiculous amounts of success regardless.
Charming. Lovable. Memorable. These are all words I could use to describe Minami-ke Tadaima, but I won't, as I feel even those wouldn't do it justice. While I never agreed with the opinion of the masses stating that Minami-ke's second and third seasons were poorly directed, I would easily have said that my favourite season was the first. This aspect of my thoughts must have transferred to the drawing board this time, as this fourth season strongly resembles everything that made the first season excellent. The comedy is fantastic, the characters are lovable and downright unforgettable, and it easily gets me excited to watch every week. They even upped their game with a pile of hilarious songs that play into the episodes themselves. I swear that listening to these in context then out of context will be an awesome experience. It's actually really hard for me to pick between the first season and this one in terms of a personal favourite.
Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shuruba Sugiru
Yet another series that has a ridiculously long title. You see, I can remember the abbreviated version along with what the full titles mean, but I can never really fully grasp a name that long. But enough about the name of the series, let's talk about the actual content. Taking off my "nice" glasses for a second, I will definitely say that I am enjoying this series purely for the fun visuals alone. What was considered to be a dramatic plot holds less water at this point, as the series in reality has turned into a harem. It has tried to take the route of a villainness taking the path to becoming the tragic character, but I felt that not much had been done to really warrant it. To be honest, this might be one of the few harem series where I don't vote for the first pairing to stay together, but to take the honesty a step further, I don't watch many harem series anyways. Besides its vibrant colour scheme, the character depth and show premise is definitely lacking a bit for me.
The series that failed to present a synopsis until right before its airing date shocked me the most this season. Psycho-Pass was a complete mystery to me until I started watching it, and the more I watched, the more fascinated I became with its world. From the beginning to the end, I was drawn in by the timid protagonist Akane and her evolution into a respectable investigator, along with her relations with her fellow bureau workers. Things start out generally creepy and atmospheric to introduce the setting, but things really pick up when the main villain shows up to play. Another thing I very much liked was that the show never tossed anything unreasonable into the mix to try and play on its strengths. There are many shows that take this route nowadays, and while there's nothing wrong with that, seeing such a raw take on a series is refreshing. Think of it as a traditional criminal versus law story where only the smartest and the most determined will pull through.
Steins;Gate's sister series bloomed into a full flower, and I would place it directly under its time-traveling predecessor in terms of the enjoyment it provides. While it never reached the apex of what its time-traveling counterpart did, the simple world of a robotics club evolved into an epic production filled with fantastic characterization. The cast was absolutely brimming with lovable characters, from the cute AI Airi to the stuttering badass Frau to even the Pokecom/Gunvarrel pair Kai and Aki, this series brought everyone together. By the end, the story had caught up to the awesome ass-kicking levels I had hoped for, and there are even some downright shocking scenes and developments. I felt some dark elements of 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors as well as Welcome to the NHK creep in, and if you know what either of these are, you'll know exactly how messed up things could get. A very enjoyable series, and I recommend you give it a watch.
Sakuraso no Pet na Kanojo
It was a great ride indeed, and it only continued to improve from the get-go. Sakuraso no Pet na Kanojo is filled with a colourful cast who deal with some pretty realistic and heavy problems for high school art students. There's a healthy mix of drama, comedy and even hints of realism that occurs that strings everything together, and what you get is a ridiculous but somehow realistic cast living their lives in a ridiculous but somehow realistic world. In short, the show knows how to have fun, but it also knows when to tone down that fun and deal with some rather serious issues. Presentation of scenes heavier in drama is anything but bland- the creativity can be experienced firsthand when you are pulled into this rather unique setting. I can say that it will definitely be something you haven't experienced yet; at the very least in the way Sakuraso no Pet na Kanojo does.
SHAFT's over-the-top nature returns with its unique style of presentation, and everything about this series has been nothing but fresh from the very start. If you've ever seen any other SHAFT production, you can probably guess that Sasami-san@Ganbaranai will be far from normal. Bearing that simple thought, I can assure you that you'll at least be entranced by the colourful cast and just how goofy things get over time here. When members of a cast can pull a satisfying grin from your face whenever they do something, you know they're at least doing something right. One trait I have developed a strong weakness against is Kagami's onomatopoeia for yawning, and only my favourite seiyu Hanazawa Kana could pull it off like this. I won't ruin it, but I guarantee that it'll at be downright charming. Aside from all of that, it has a rather epic side to it all, and some of the fights you'll see in the series are downright action-packed and a pleasure to the visual cortex of the brain.
Shin Sekai Yori
If "repetition" is in your complaint vocabulary, Shin Sekai Yori is a series you might want to check out. In more ways than one, this series throws uniqueness your direction in the form of story, art and moral values. In a dreary world where the powers of psychokinesis rose within a mere 0.1% of the populous, the world segregated itself through the fear and control of this newfound power. A group of children learn to master this "Cantus" power, but as they grow up into what has been promised to be their new utopian world, it may not be such a beautiful world after all.
The series does an incredible job of setting the proper tone with its muddled atmosphere. Characters have this additional layer of depth as well, since we not only get to see them both in their youth and prime, but they rarely seem to cement an ideal as correct. They constantly question things, stay on high alert, and even step into sexuality in ways that a normal society would raise an eyebrow at. Luckily, this is not your usual world, it's a brand new world.
Oh Kyoto Animation, how I love thee. Let me count the ways. That's right, for being a rather simplistic series with little emphasis on actual plot, there's so much lovable charm shoved into this series that I can't find anything I dislike about it. The characters are all great fun, and just watching the antics of some of them will make an entire episode for you. Heck, I'd say that since Makino Kanna is pretty much in every episode, she pulls off the job by herself, but there's other fantastic characters as well, including the insanely lovable Tamako herself. Toss in a unique marketplace setting with a bright opening and an entrancing ending, and you've got one strange combination that only the best of the best can pull off well. This is another one of those series I just sit and wait for each week. Oh, and the series' tagline is "everybody loves somebody". How in the world can you not adore that?
Yama no Susume
Yama no Susume is a series that only runs twelve episodes, with each episode running only about 3 minutes long. Yes, an entire cast of characters in the total of just over half an hour of content. So you've definitely already picked up that this show isn't trying to be anything big, but rather something very simplistic and cute, and in that it does well enough. Each episode revolves around the basic concept of mountain climbing, friends and of course, food. Each segment is just relaxing to watch, and for a series that absolutely easy to get into and finish, you can't get much shorter than Yama no Susume. At the end, I was wishing it had more of what made it good, but I definitely liked what we got.
So yes, a lot of series this season. What appeared to be a rather bland start evolved heavily, and I'm glad that it grew to such lengths. Thanks for reading!