Wrapping up the Winter Season, or Confessions of an Anime Masochist

Best show of the season; hands down.

Figured I would get this out there before we get half-way through spring, and I spent too much work on it already to just casually throw it away.

So some of you may or may not know, I watch a fair amount of anime, both good and bad. During this past Winter season I followed nineteen shows, not counting OAVs and Movies. If the number seems like a lot, that’s because it is. If it doesn’t seem like a lot, get a life. You can’t have mine because it doesn’t exist. Nine and a half hours of anime per week, and I didn’t watch it during the week, I mostly watched it over the weekend. So I’m going to attempt to list some pros and cons of each show. I say attempt because I expect the formula to fall apart pretty quickly as soon as I get to a show I want to talk about with some length. Also I am going to list notable vocal performances if applicable since I am a seiyuu nerd. I’m not going to attempt to list them in any order but alphabetical, anything beyond that would be utterly impossible for me.

Bakuman 13-26Bakuman has steadily been improving as the show shifts its focus mainly to Takagi and Mashiro working hard to become mangakas, and the romance is mostly thrown out except in brief flashes of Mashiro’s stupid and selfish motivation.

Pros

  • Azuki is mostly out of the picture
  • They introduce Nakai and Fukuda
  • Takagi gets some kissu action
  • Miyoshi wears cute outfits and bounces around
  • Nizuma gets some development; becomes tolerable
  • All-seasons-handing-out-tissue-girl is hot

Cons

  • Azuki still occasionally makes an appearance
  • Mashiro gets jealous of Takagi
  • Mashiro just generally has the worst motivation ever
  • Any scene with Mashiro/Azuki sucks and I fall asleep
  • Mashiro and Azuki don’t commit lover’s suicide

Vocal Talents

  • Sayuri Yahagi as Miyoshi Kaya: I know a lot of people aren’t fans, but I adore her. I just wished she had more of a purpose than supporting Ashirogi Muto.
  • Junichi Suwabe as Shinta Fukuda: Badass dude with a badass voice.
  • Okamoto Nobuhiko would get a nod here for Nizuma if he stopped screaming

Beelzebub Beelzebub got off to a really rocky start and I nearly dropped it very early on due to the annoyance and nakedness of the baby. Now I only notice the baby’s birthday suit when it dances or draws attention to its tiny junk. Also I refuse to call it a he. New characters have also helped the show, but if I was smart and not a masochist I would have dropped this already.

Pros

  • Strong female characters and seiyuu voicing them
  • Toyosaki Aki deservingly getting more versatile roles (I meant to do a post on this sometime; she’s a freaking vocal chameleon.)
  • I’m pretty much watching this for the chicks
  • A Rodin-like, homoerotic, human-portal, and all-around-weirdo voiced by Takagi Wataru aka Tatsumi from Shiki in his least/most frightening role ever
  • I think Oga Tatsumi is a pretty cool guy, eh punches delinquents and doesn’t afraid of anything.

Cons

  • The first time I have disliked a Miyuki Sawashiro role (she plays the baby)
  • Oga has yet to face someone (or a group of someones) he couldn’t take down in a single hit
  • Oga getting fried by the demon baby is not funny
  • Has yet to really take off aka no larger conflict
  • Shitty opening song

Vocal Talents

  • Katsuyuki Konishi as Oga Tatsumi: Hard to find someone who can play a delinquent better.
  • Shizuka Itou as Hilda: Awesome deadpan blonde who’s not afraid to kick some ass
  • Toyosaki Aki as Aoi Kunieda: Our dere over the protagonist girl, who also happens to be leader of a gang of delinquent women. Also: unrecognizable from any other Aki voice role.

Dragon Crisis – I enjoyed this show for SOME of the characters and for the color palette/photshop filters. That’s about it. The Initial arc was amazing and then the show fell off a cliff.

Pros

  • The previously mentioned art style made everyone have strange highlights
  • A few very well animated action scenes
  • Eriko saying “Rost Precious”
  • Eriko in general
  • Giant exploding heart, “Love Engage” disintegrates a black dragon
  • Awesome OP and Why-do-I-like-this ED
  • Kugimiya Rie playing the lead

Cons

  • Kugimiya Rie playing the lead
  • Ryuji has no personality whatsoever
  • Rose is annoying as hell
  • Hiroshi Kamiya’s character has too little a role

Vocal Talents

  • Yukana as Nanao Eriko: Totally was her voice that made me put her here…totally.
  • Hiroshi Kamiya as Onyx: Way too good for this show. Phone it in for once Kamiya, it’s not like anyone is watching this crap.

Lucy sums up the nuanced characterization that makes Fairy Tail so compelling.

Fairy Tail 60-73 – I wished I’d have done this before so I could have talked about previous Fairy Tail arcs and explained why I enjoy the show. As it was this past season was pretty good the 2nd half of the Oracion Seis arc was engaging, but this last really short arc with Natsu getting swallowed by an artificial dragon blew, and was the first time I felt I might be watching a filler.

Pros

  • Desu ne!?
  • Natsu and Cobra’s aerial battle and the deafening roar Natsu uses to defeat Cobra
  • Jellal’s helping Natsu win the fight against Zero
  • Kobayashi Yu saying “Hai Hai” after every sentence
  • Natsu digging up the sakura tree for Lucy
  • Juvia and Gray’s Unison Raid

Cons

  • Lack of Juvia/Gajeel during Oracion Seis arc
  • Wendy is practically useless
  • Ressurecting the Blue Pegasus flying thing was stupid
  • Filler

Vocal Talents

  • All the voice actors of Fairy Tail are enjoyable and quite skilled

Fractale – To me Fractale really, really wanted to be Pale Cocoon. We’ve got a society that while advanced is heavily controlled and repressed, a secret elevator that comes out somewhere above Earth, a girl from modern times, and a memorable song that has significance to the story. If only it were half as good as Pale Cocoon. Fractale is just a hot mess and while the production values are always high the story is difficult to follow at best, and completely nonsensical at worst. There is no feeling of flow among the episodes despite the fact some are clearly meant to lead into each other. The characters spend too much time being idiots.

Pros

  • Nessa loves love
  • Clain’s dad is a pervert voyeur too
  • The newcomer girl who played Phrynne has a soft lisp
  • Toyosaki Aki’s large-breasted avatar of a disgusting pottery dealer
  • Nessa wreaking havoc wherever she goes
  • Lost Millenium pumping some old biddys full of lead
  • Fat-guy-whose-name-Taka-can’t-remember’s death
  • Awesome OP
  • Clain getting shot

Cons

  • Clain not dying after being shot
  • Clain in general
  • “Hiru no hoshi ni…”
  • Eri liked Clain for some goddamn unknown reason
  • Show had nothing to do with fractals
  • All those things I said above

Voice Talents

  • -Hanazawa Kana as Nessa: Using her to voice the female lead is cheating

Freezing – This show is a bit of an oddball. Overall I enjoyed it but never so much as when I superficially compared it to Ender’s Game. I would have been really impressed if someone had actually died in the finale. (Like the girl who had both arms cut off and a gem ripped out of her chest or the one who lost like half of her body and was slowly dying in a pool of her own blood) The only element I hated was the lead.

Pros

  • The fights were usually pretty bad ass.
  • The name of the female lead: Sattelizer L. Bridget
  • The pandora’s powers
  • Hanazawa Kana’s character pushed my enjoyment of this show through the roof.
  • Fanservice festival
  • Point when touched and other gems from the eye catches
  • Sattelizer’s love for Burger Queen.
  • Teasing me with an Evangelion-esque plot

Cons

  • Giving me Evangelion-esque plot blue balls
  • The lead, the lead, the lead
  • Stop grabbing her whenever you want you fuckhead.
  • Bullying plots
  • Unflatteringly animated breasts.

Voice Talents

  • Kitamura Eri as Ganessa Rowland: Having KitaEri voicing a bitch character is like having Morgan Freeman playing a wise old man, it just doesn’t get any better.
  • Hanazawa Kana as Rana Linchen: MVP Winter Season

Gosick 1-11 – I don’t watch Gosick for it’s brilliant mysteries because it has none. (I rescind this comment in light of the recent alchemist arc.) Usually the mysteries are more akin to Blues Clues in complexity than Sherlock Holmes. I watch Gosick for Yuuki Aoi as Victorique, plain and simple.

Pros

  • Victorique has a really interesting back story
  • Excellent OP and ED themes

Cons

  • Everything else

Vocal Talents

  • I don’t feel like stating the obvious.

In the race for Shichika's heart; the girls pay for failing to take into account their greatest threat.

Infinite Stratos – IS was low-calorie harem antics. I particularly enjoyed how (at first) the haremettes all hated each other and were secretly (or not so secretly) trying to sabotage each other. It harkened me back to Tenchi Muyo days when the fights for Generic-Male-Lead were cutthroat and no-holds barred.

Pros

  • The haremettes. In order for a harem series to gain even a modicum of success the haremettes have to be exciting and attractive. I feel like the show definitely won with Cecilia, Charlotte, and Laura.
  • The fluctuating and dynamic shipping wars based on the haremettes proximity to the lead in the ED.
  • A few of the fights were well-choreographed but not many
  • Series hit the fucking gold mine on doujins and fanart
  • France-tan is the best tan
  • No Germany
  • No wait, Britain
  • Can I not have all three?

Cons

  • Nonsensical
  • The lead
  • The seiyuu voicing the lead
  • Bad CGI mecha-musume and boy
  • Houki was end girl…sorta…but was too absent for the majority of the series for that to have any impact.
  • Zero closure

Vocal Talents

  • Hanazawa Kana as Charlotte Dunois: Are you sensing a trend yet with Kana characters?
  • Yukana as Cecila Alcott: She voiced blonde foreigner characters whom had suntan rubbed lotion rubbed not once but TWICE this season. Coincidence?
  • Marina Inoue as Laura Bodewig: I may have some bias towards Inoue (mostly as I mourn the shitty shitty roles she gets) but I thought Laura was a good performance. I especially enjoyed how she demanded Ichika “Be my Wife”.

Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? – Korezombie started excellently. The first episode left me in tears as it took a beautiful shot at the mahou shoujo genre. Then they forgot about the whole reversing tropes and being funny. Some of the drama moments were great especially in the first half of the series and some were just plain boring. Overall I enjoyed Korezombie.

Pros

  • The first time Ayumu transformed into a magical girl
  • Ayumu’s dismemberment when he first meets Haruna
  • Eucliwood and Ayumu’s first meeting
  • Various seiyuu giving voice to Ayumu’s delusions of Eucliwood
  • “Kuso mushi”
  • The battle with the giant whale megalo
  • The death of the Scruff-Mcgruff.
  • The disturbing conclusion to the fight with Kyoko.
  • Gore

Cons

  • Most of what goes on in the latter half of the series
  • Violin playing deus ex machina
  • Again the fight with Kyoko hit me both ways
  • Giant kappa doll and saishu heiki kanojo.
  • The big bad was not that big or bad.
  • Morals or something, quit lecturing me!
  • So the big bad finally gets what he wants? Is this advocating euthenasia?

Vocal Talents

  • Junji Majima as Ayumu Aikawa: One of the only male protagonists who stood out this season.
  • Kanemoto Hisako as Tomonori: Even though her character wasn’t the greatest, I continue to enjoy her burgeoning career.

Letter Bee Reverse 13-25 – While not the best episodes for Letter Bee (that award belong fully with last season’s Blue Notes Blues arc) the story does wind down and try to get through it’s major revelation. It gives some closure in believable way and finishes out the story focusing on the characters rather than the plot. Letter Bee Reverse on the whole was much much better than season one.

Pros

  • Niche’s trip with Aria and her violin hax
  • The day of flicker. Pants were shat.
  • Roda and Niche’s short fight
  • Gauche is Noir for realz get over it Lag.
  • The ones who cannot become spirit trash-heap
  • Zazie defeating Jeel with sadness instead of malice
  • Hunt and Sarah actually became upstanding citizens
  • Sunny is ok and Connor has grown
  • Maka returns to save the day…sort of

Cons

  • Lawrence was just honestly laughable.
  • Bad CG as usual
  • Lag has to cry a few more times, it’s in his contract.
  • Final episode was too quickly paced
  • Didn’t close every loose ending

Vocal Talents

  • Sawashiro Miyuki as Lag Seeing: Lag has had his ups and downs but overall I think this has been a great portrayal by Sawashiro. Maybe not her best but then again with so many good ones to pick from, naming her best could be difficult. I also fully forgive her if she occasionally isn’t stellar.
  • Fujimura Ayumi as Niche: She’s a wonderfully versatile seiyuu, and who would expect her to be so good at portraying a childish character when she’ probably best known as a student council president or a strict rrrrrurrru follower.

Level E – Despite some bumpiness in my enjoyment of the show I would still probably call Level E the most clever show last season. It managed to throw out a number of intriguing concepts and twists for a wide range of hilarious characters. The individual episodes ranged from brilliant to hilarious and always were quite unpredictable. Someone ask David Production to adapt more old 90’s scif manga.

Pros

  • Baka, baka, baka. Baka-ouji was the prince of this show.
  • Kraft wants to kill Baka SO BADLY
  • Baka has a questionable gender…not orientation…just gender
  • The Color Rangers stupid powers
  • The end of the first arc caught everyone by surprise
  • Baka plays god; his creation rebels
  • The final twist was deception within deception. Most people got the first twist. I played with the idea of the second twist but got suckered in all the same.
  • Baka and his crazy, crazy girlfriend.
  • Loved the ED “DO NOT FEAR!”

Cons

  • The Koshien other dimension arc was anticlimactic
  • Really some of the arcs had big problem being anticlimactic, it’s sort of expected of the show when you consider Baka’s personality though.
  • Loosely connected stories meant that growing attached to anyone but Baka and his frazzled PR department was futile.

Vocal Talents

  • Daisuke Namikawa as Prince Baka: Really a genius choice of casting. Namikawa’s soft voice lends itself well to this Bugs-Bunny-dressing-up-as-a-girl-to-fool-Elmer-Fudd brand of trickery that Baka partakes in. That he can also pull off characters like Masa from House of the Five Leaves and Rock from Black Lagoon is testament to his talent.
  • Shout-out to one of Myswordis’ favorite seiyuu Takehito Koyasu as Kraft. Keep up the good work buddy.

How Madoka would end if Baka-Ouji was directing the series.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica – For me the mileage varied quite a bit with this show. Also it’s not finished yet. (It hadn’t finished at the time I wrote this and I don’t want to change it. I did like the ending though.)

Pros

  • Kyoko is always eating and knows how to bust a move.
  • When Mami gets *REDACTED*
  • When Sayaka becomes *REDACTED* and Kyoko is *REDACTED*
  • Hey it turns out Homura is really *REDACTED*
  • And Kyubey is *REDACTED* which means mahou shoujo is *REDACTED*
  • Look at Kyubey isn’t it just so cute like a little doll

Cons

  • Madoka mopes and is basically Shinji minus the giant robot
  • Phuzzy Physics

Vocal Talents

  • I’ve already talked a bit about how much I love Nonaka Ai as Kyoko. (though that was early in the show)
  • The other people are good too
  • I am unable to trust any role of Emiri Katou’s now because I can’t unhear Kyube.
It was around this point this endeavor started weighing on me. I did not finish this latter half for almost a month.

Mitsudomoe Zoro w/e –This was largely forgettable due to only being eight episodes long plus one unaired episode from last season.

Vocal Talents

  • Takagaki Ayahi as Mitsuba is the only BBW for me…minus the W I guess

Pokemon Best Wishes – This is hands-down the best show that has aired in the past two seasons. Digitalboy has already waxed eloquently about the show enough for me to just comfortably say: I enjoy this show immensely.

Rio: Rainbow Gate – The so-bad-it’s-good show of the season. A lot of people just thought it was just bad-bad but I knew better as soon as I saw dem bat-winged chicken wings.

Pros

  • Bat-winged chicken wings
  • Suprisingly decent and creative animation in a few scenes (like the waterslide)
  • Reading Mef and Raph’s “Epic Tale of Rio” recap of the show
  • Clumsy girl somehow knocks over 3 palm trees onto a parked car
  • Rio ends the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Cons

  • lol plot
  • lol art
  • lol characters
  • lol acting

Vocal Talents

  • Goddamnit Marina Inoue I’m rooting so hard for you. Yet why do you keep turning in these shitty shitty roles…aka GIVE ME A 2nd SEASON OF SKIP BEAT!

Star Driver – I think this may be the first time I have witnessed a BONES show without a BONES ending. Granted it was a little messy, but all in all the major conflicts were addressed and resolved in not completely unbelievable or dues ex machina ways.

Pros

  • Garasu no Kiss
  • I kinda fell in love with Mizuno
  • It’sa peench
  • Lol what Libido powers the mecha?
  • The lesbianish duo who joined near the end of the show; reminding me of sailor Neptune and Uranus.
  • Kiraboshi is a reflexive gesture

Cons

  • Battle were always boring
  • Setting for battles was a rip-off of Gurren Lagann
  • The central love triangle was boring
  • Wtf was that play, seriously. I get it…but why did we need it?

Vocal Talents

  • No one but Miyano Mamoru could play a “Ginga Bishounen” and not be laughed out of the room.
  • Yukana playing her 2nd blonde-drill-haired-ojou-who-gets-lotion-rubbed-on-her-back of the season.

No words...just...none

Wolverine – Uruvarin aka the show most people refused to give a shot to because Iron-Man left them scarred. It was actually pretty good. The action begins and it pretty much never stops, but that’s cool because the fights are well choreographed and exciting even if not stunningly animated. Overall one of the more enjoyable shows I watched last season.

Pros

  • Strong female characters…seriously. I wanted to write a whole post about this. Yukio especially is well portrayed as a character. She’s not weak and can handle herself. While Logan is somewhat a dick about it when he leaves her to clean up grunts, he also does it because he knows she can handle it. Also: she doesn’t swoon over Logan completely. Yukio was like a balance for the girl Logan spent all that time chasing after.
  • Min was another such strong female character who could handle herself and followed Koh loyally despite knowing that his desire for revenge was self-destructive.
  • The downside to these strong female characters is that every one of them dies. Even the less-strong character wise girl Logan spends he entire series trying to rescue.
  • However the deaths really nail home the immortal mutant vs. fragile human theme of the story and adds to Logan’s tragic history. It’s somewhat fitting that all the mortal characters die (in Yukio’s case after gaining her revenge) whilst Logan lives on.
  • Koh talking about how his crippled leg hungers for revenge.
  • The engrish

Cons

  • The English
  • Most of the acting was really bad
  • Awkward looking character designs aka Logan has a mullet.
  • I could have sworn Madhouse had a better animation budget than this. Needless and Cobra the Animation looked better for crying out loud.

Vocal Talents

  • N/A: despite the veteran V.A.s like Koyama Rikiya as Logan and Paku Romi as Yukio the acting was abysmal, most of which I blame on the animation not being able to properly convey the emotion of the seiyuu’s delivery; creating cognitive dissonance.

Wandering Son – Hands down the best stand-alone show the season. Some bloggers railed this as pathos-porn in the same vein of Clannad, but I believe Horou Muskou is an evocative look into burgeoning adolescence at its core. The gender-identity issues were just a larger part of these children emerging out of their childhood and actually changing into well-adjusted teenagers. Many shows highlight character growth but I’ve never seen it better handled than in Wandering Son. My one complaint is that the show is somewhat incomplete.

Pros

  • Color palette is soft and inviting
  • While there is plenty of drama it is never over the top or conflated to farcical proportions.
  • Chizuru, Saori, and Anna are among the best female characters I’ve ever seen. I loved them each for those qualities that made their characters great: Chizuru’s infectious enthusiasm; Saori’s bluntness; and Anna’s kindness, especially to Shuuichi.
  • I could go on about Saori quite a bit. She was the cement of the show for me. I’m glad she got so much focus. Despite being a character normally considered “a bitch” she was endearing because she never hid her feelings.
  • Things such as this.

Cons

  • Debatably, the characters act too mature juxtaposed to their age
  • Some plot threads end up going nowhere

Vocal Talents

  • Excellent work from rookies Kousuke Hatakeyama and Asami Seto
  • However it’s overshadowed by more veteran seiyuus Yuuka Nanri, Horie Yui, and Saeko Chiba playing Saori, Anna, and Chizuru, respectively.

Yumekui Merry – Should have gotten 26 episodes unless they were counting on a second season.  This show is basically unfinished, none of the major conflicts are resolved, and it basically ends after the defeat of a mid-level boss…Woopie. I did like the show before that though, I forgave a lot of its faults.

Pros

  • Exposed navel porn and Otou-san’s tallying of it
  • Cute outfits and pleasant character designs
  • John Doe’s excellent nursing staff
  • Mystelteinn was brought in from a better show it seems.
  • Merry’s obsession with donuts
  • Adorable forehead girl
  • not even trying / to be all that amusing /  succeeds anyway – by Ayanagi Takateru

Cons

  • The mess of an ending
  • Wooden acting from practically everyone but Merry
  • Misleading everyone with an interesting opening episode and character that has practically zero involvement in the story.
  • loldreams
  • lolprotagonist tries to do something useful

Vocal Talents

  • Ayane Sakura as Merry had a strong debut role even if half the time I was convinced it was Ayana Taketatsu voicing her.
  • Sayuri Yahagi steals much of show as Mystelteinn despite infrequent appearances.
  • Where did Tomoko Akiya come from? How come she is so good at playing a dojikko deko-girl? Where can I get one of my own?

And that’s that, for those who made it through to the end AND ESPECIALLY for those who understood everything, I pity your poor souls.

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13 thoughts on “Wrapping up the Winter Season, or Confessions of an Anime Masochist

  1. I’m glad you wrote this post, I really enjoyed it. This is what I probably should be writing but I never finish any damn shows. Also it’s exactly why I wanted you to write for this site. We’ve discussed most of these shows on gmail already , and I almost always agree with you for the most part, especially in that Hourou Musuko blew the rest of the season away by far.

  2. Really, now that it’s all over I’d have to say I probably wouldn’t rewatch Star Driver but I’d totally rewatch Madoka.

  3. @Bonesy
    I’m not huge on rewatching shows but Madoka is probably the most rewatchable anime that aired last season. Though I think given enough time a rewatch of Level E could be quite fun.

    I’d much rather get 2nd series from shows on the list though: Merry, Wandering Son, Infinite Stratos, and Freezing for sure and then maybe more Level E and debatably Letter Bee. Really anything that ended in media res or did well as a stand-alone.

    • Actually I don’t think Madoka has great rewatch value, least not for me. It’s a show I have rather shallow feelings for, which makes me care less about watching it again. If it was 3 eps like Petit Cossette it’d be a different story.

      Most rewatch value for me is easily Hourou Musuko, so much gold to mine from that series. I could easily see watching korezombie again, too.

      • Yumekui Merry was such a disappointment, at least for me. The original mangaka was a favorite doujin author of mine, and the imagry in the first episode was quite unique. Too bad the rest sucked.

        • So you read the manga? I’m curious what a manga reader thought of Mystelteinn, Chizuru, et al since as I understand it they were anime original characters. Which is strange considering they formed the bulk of the conflict in the show…

  4. DO NOT FEAR! Yeahhh, I love that song too ^_^ ViViD’s first major single and they managed to get into the top 10 of the Oricon charts, yay!

    I really like the style of this post, especially the seiyuu highlights as while I’m not a seiyuu nerd, I do like the feeling of realization when you realize ‘oh! this voice actor voiced this character?!’. I was wondering who Baka’s seiyuu was, I can’t believe I didn’t realize it was Namikawa!

    I really need to catch up on Beelzebub, and now I’m wondering if I should finish Kore wa Zombie as well…

    Finally, absolutely loved some of the pictures you used =D

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it, thanks for reading! I hope I can do something like this at the end of Spring season too…though I may try to break it up some for readability.

      The thing that most surprised me about writing for Level E is that Prince Baka is never referred to in any other way. The lack of a concrete name really nails down his trickster archetype vibe. Though I suppose Kraft is the same way, though in that case it would be nails down his “butt of the jokes” vibe.

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