What a Season!

I was responding to a post by Steven when I realized the following:

…I know you disagree on a couple, but I’m still enjoying five – um, six – no, seven — OMG, eight (!!!!) series this season: Fractale Gosick, Madoka, Zombie, Freezing, Dragon Crisis, IS, and Yumekui Merry, in that order. I would not have laid money on four of them getting past episode 1. [Meaning me watching them.]

Best season in ages… so far.

Indeed, I’m quite surprised by it; there are three really great series at this point, two good, and three more I find tolerable.

Fractale: First Noitamina series I haven’t outright detested, and so far, it’s hitting on all cylinders. I remarked “I don’t know whether to root for the show’s success so it will be worth watching (and redeem [Yutaka Yamamoto] IMHO) or dismal failure so we’ll finally be rid of him…” Well so far, he’s gone beyond redemption, for me. Which of course, means, based on my taste compared to the mainstream, that this show will be an utter flop. Love the OP and BGM though, and the sung rendition of Yeats’ Down by the Salley Gardens got my Scots-Irish soul humming. Can’t wait for any of it to hit Genbou. Anyone know a good program for ripping the audio, that doesn’t have a learning curve from hell?

Gosick: I dissed it just for the name and having nothing else to say about the idea of a miniature female Sherlock Holmes. After the first story, I think the logic holes having to do with the ship were enormous. And yet this series still is in second place, just from the sheer atmosphere, the convoluted first arc, the revenge story, and a pair of very engaging leads. Oh and an outstanding ED I just love. If it doesn’t squander the setting with angst and/or harem silliness, it’s a contender for top anime of the season.

Last of the contenders (thus far) for best of season. I said in a comment somewhere, that I think the director asked himself the question, “What if magical girls fought real evil, not fluffy, comic, need-a-hug evil?” and everything that this show is stems from the answer to that question. I will give it only one black mark, but that cost it first place — they telegraphed Mami’s fate. Besides the story quality and unique animation, it rivals Fractale for best background music. What’s with all the awesome music this year?

Zombie: Offbeat comedy, with a very serious horror streak hidden underneath it. Although he’s collecting an anti-harem, I suspect the lead may not be as despised by all the women as it seems. Or maybe I’m just fantasizing as badly as he is about Yuu. Seriously though, a masou shujo zombie guy? With a live-in necromancer babe, a vamprie ninja right out of a “Busty Vamps” centerfold, and an ex-magical girl? While the 2nd episode was a disappointment, the third picked the pace and humor back up a bit.

Freezing: I’ve got a lengthy article about this one that I’m trying to pare down to size; I’m surprised how much I’m liking watching it. (4:3? I had to say it…) Then again, I think it’s the fanservice — although what’s really got me hooked is that I went back and read the manga again, and my major problem with it vanished. Mainlining it made it much easier to keep up with the introduction of the new girls and why the author occasionally side-tracked into their backstories. That author, Im Dal Young, bears watching. I have not seen a series of his yet that I haven’t liked (Freezing, Aflame Inferno, Orihime VS)*– the women are strong, the males aren’t weak, the characters are not cookie-cutters, and the storylines are deeply laid. This one might be the exception, as the opponents are somewhat inexplicable. However, the protagonists are two exceptional people who should never have met, yet are being drawn together by the obligations they keep incurring to each other — and the viciousness of their classmates.

Dragon Crisis We’re now into shows that I might consider strong in any other season, but they are merely “OK” in this one. Alternate Japan, with magic items and dragons. Sort of a non-gritty “urban fantasy” setting. Ryuuji is a supposedly normal high school boy, but he has an odd connection to the childlike red dragon named Rose. Ryuuji spent a bit of time being a wuss, but he snapped out of it during episode 3, in spades. Worth passing the time.

Infinite Stratos: Harem hijinks with a fair portion of mecha. While it’s mostly by-the-numbers and formulaic, I’m having fun watching the catfights between the various harem members as they collect. There is no question as to whether any of the girls, even the most tsundere, want the guy, and none of them are interested in sharing. They throw in a semi-original idea every once in a while, just to keep the barf level down.

Yumekui Merry: This ought to rank above IS, but it just doesn’t for some reason. Probably because of how slow episode 2 was, and because so little progress has been made in determining what Merry is, how she got to our world, and what is going on with the dream world.

The really crazy thing is that of those, the only ones I was looking forward too were Zombie and Freezing, and maybe a bit of Fractale, thanks to Yamamoto’s comments. The rest, I ranged from indifferent to skeptical to outright derisive.

*Complete List Im Dal Young series below. I’ve only read the first three so far. Be warned, his stories have almost ‘John Ringo’ death tolls, and it often includes pretty girls, innocents, and good people.
Aflame Inferno
Onihime VS
Black God
(Update: I didn’t realize, this is Kurokami, which became an anime a couple of seasons ago.)
Phantom King
Re:Birth – The Lunatic Taker
The Legend of Maian
Unbalance X Unbalance
Zero: Circle of Flow

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3 Responses to What a Season!

  1. Andrew F. says:

    Telegraphing Mami’s fate? Can you be a little more specific? (Maybe I’m just dense, but it took me completely by surprise.)

    Definitely agreed on this being a great season so far. I’m enjoying Madoka, Gosick, and Zombie more than I enjoyed any of last season’s shows. Maybe Fractale as well, though I haven’t gotten around to watching episode 2 yet.

    • Ubu Roi says:

      It’s an old trope, not just in anime. A warrior NEVER talks about the girl back home, doing stuff with friends, etc. It’s a cheap, overused trick meant to make us feel all warm and fuzzy, just before the character dies horribly.

      Hot Shots (parody of Top Gun) lampoons this by having a fighter pilot nicknamed “Dead Meat” who invokes the trope just before going into each of a series of increasingly dangerous situations –the last just before emergency surgery after his crash-landing. I think he was flying a cursed airplane that no one had survived a test flight in. And he pulls through the extremely hazardous operation just fine, only to die from a burst appendix that went undetected. 🙂

      It’s usually a matter of a a guy talking about the girl back home that he’s going to marry, but when Mami became so happy that she was going to be partnered with Madoka; that she had a friend and wasn’t alone in her fight any longer, I just went, “Oh shit, she just set the death flag!” When some of her shots seemed to miss, just before the coup de grace, I took it as further telegraphing that she’d underestimated the witch, and was about to be killed.

      I did not expect it to be that ugly, but it sounds like I’m too genre-savvy to get the full effect. I can only imagine what you felt.

  2. Ubu Roi says:

    Hm. And now, after watching ep. 3 4, I’m even more disturbed by the fact that the dream at the beginning of the first episode showed only Homura and Madoka. I think we’re about to watch the first mahou shoujo anime ever in which the girl doesn’t become a mahou Shoujo (or even a Masou Shoujo!) until the last episode.

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