I haven't done an anime post in almost two years, apparently, so let's see how far I get...
First off, I'm basically following two series right now: Blue Exorcist and No. 6. Blue Exorcist
(Ao no Exorcist) is what I consider good shounen -- a nice blend of humor and depth, strong characters, and... actually, I don't know what makes me like shounen series, but at least those are things that make me like Blue Exorcist. I go back and forth between liking Rin and finding him really annoying. He's one of those main characters that is totally obnoxious, bullheaded, and stupid, but will every now and then show these qualities like loyalty, courage, and cooking ability that enable him to accomplish things that people better than him could not. Not a particularly rare strain of shounen lead, and my like of them tends to depend on how funny their dumb moments are and how tear-jerking their good moments are. Rin's score is still mixed. I do like him and Shiemi a lot, though.
Blue Exorcist reminds me vaguely of Bleach back when
it was still good
I still followed it. I don't know that it's actually similar in plot, characters, mythology, or anything like that, but I feel like the kind of enjoyment I get is similar. Definitely recommended for people who like action shounen stuff. (ling84
I'm looking at you, since I already made superpan
try it.)No. 6
is quite a different story. I just picked it up today, because I was intrigued by the preview screenshot they had on Crunchyroll. The plot summary is totally blah: "Boy lives in utopia, meets fugitive from the underworld, has life changed forever." But I noticed AniDB
has it prominently marked as josei, so I thought hey why not. (I only noticed after finishing episode 4 that it is also marked "yaoi subtext" -- though I noticed the reason while watching, of course.) In terms of plot and setting, the summary is more or less on point. Reminds me a lot of Shangri-La, although I'm sure there are plenty of other series about a post-apocalyptic utopia with accompanying ousted masses trying to scrape together a living in the under/outside world. What made me run through all of the available episodes was not so much the cliffhangers and the growing conspiracy but the character interactions. Nezumi is just so much love. And Sion is not quite stupid, clueless, and idealistic enough to annoy me, as sometimes the pure-hearted boy who gets dropped out of the utopia into the ugly real world can. I can see it going in a BL direction, but really, I just thought it was super-cute how they met when they were younger; my inner fujoshi didn't step in until AniDB (and to a small degree the end of episode 4) suggested it.
Anyway, I think it's a good series all around. Strong storytelling, great characters, good pacing. There's no in-your-face BL, really. (Though they seemed to put a lot of loving detail into establishing that Nezumi is a good kisser...) I'm disappointed that it's only slated to run 11 episodes. Kind of indicative of how they're treating it: one of those dark, BL-ish stories where they'll play fast and loose with the plot and then end it on a dissatisfying note. Kind of like Togainu no Chi. The gensaku is a novel series already out to 9 volumes, which may end up on my ever-growing list of Japanese novels to read
Since I mentioned Togainu no Chi
, let's talk about that. TnC is based on a yaoi PC game that became a much tamer manga and finally an anime series. I found out about it sometime before Yaoi-Con, so I was able to recognize the many cosplayers. I basically ignored the manga, but I did try the game and collect some of the CGs. I found a few totally hilarious blog posts
about the series (spoiler alert), which piqued my interest at the same time as making me unable to take the series seriously anymore. I really can't say it better than they did. Throw a bunch of guys into an urban wasteland where they're supposed to fight each other to win some game, and then add BL subtexts. Yeah. The anime handled it really weird. They played up this one scene, that didn't really go anywhere in the game -- or maybe it did in the narration, which was tl;dr for the most part. Then they totally ripped out the beginning of the yandere!Keisuke plot. It's been a while since I watched the series, so I don't remember much, but I do remember watching that scene and thinking, "Oh, Keisuke's just going to kick him around on the floor a bunch now and run away, and it's going to be totally lame." And it was. I'm not saying they had to make it yaoi, but at least do something
with the scene if you're going to keep it.
The anime plot diverged a bit from the game towards the end, but overall I thought it was decent way to merge all the different storylines. That said, I don't think there was much redeeming about the storylines in the first place. There are a few highlights in both the game and the anime, and Shiki is irresistible, but overall, not a series I'd recommend to anyone. I'm mainly just glad I know it because it seems to have a strong following in some sectors.
What else now... oh, I've picked Prince of Tennis
back up lately. I finished off the TV series, whose ending I thought was crap. But the few episodes right before the ending... wow. Didn't realize that, after 170 episodes, you could get me to sign up for Tezuka x Fuji that fast. Finishing the TV series brought me full circle back to the first episode of PoT I ever watched, at some Fanime in misty history: the beginning of the Nationals, with that huge guy whose serves Ryoma couldn't return. I'm enjoying the OVA episodes, but the series is just so damn long that I can't remember who most of the players are anymore. But the thought of rewatching such a long series is incredibly daunting. I'm glad there's so much Tezuka recently, though. I'm not really a Tezuka fan, but he is
pretty badass. And it's not the totally ridiculous "meteor shower killing the dinosaurs" kind of stuff they had in the movie, either.
In terms of series that I finished, I at least posted about a couple along the way:Durarara!!Fullmetal Alchemist: BrotherhoodSengoku Basara
(near the end)Kaleido Star
Other series I finished, including some I've mentioned before:Princess Tutu
- A nice little series. Never quite gives you what you expect, in a good way. Ahiru + Fakir = OTP.Densetsu no Yuusha no Densetsu
- I thought I must have mentioned this series at some point, but I can't find it. DenYuuDen is an awesome swords and sorcery series, but desperately in need of a sequel. Kind of reminiscent of Slayers in the way it sometimes mocks its own genre. The series left off with a lot of unanswered questions and almost at the start of the plot in some ways, because the gensaku novel series branched into a sequel series at that point. That said, I am kind of afraid the novel plot started going out of control at that point -- think Code Geass -- but I still want the anime to continue, because I am never going to make it to the novels at my current rate. I will repeat my formula for series I really, really like: great story, awesome characters. Oh, and some politics.Angel Beats
- A really good Key series. And not all romance and harem-y like most Key series, though that doesn't keep me from liking other Key series. I've seen some complaints that it was too short, and that's true, but it's not a fatal flaw. There's still enough character development to be really good. It's about these kids who are in this weird high school setting afterlife and kind of working through their unfair lives/deaths while fighting with the "authorities" to avoid becoming sheep who will just disappear. I'm probably describing it poorly, but in the series, it works. Highly recommended.Kaichou wa Maid-sama
- I've mentioned
this one before. It's a nice, warm and fuzzy shoujo romanticomedy. I watched the special recently and was thinking I should rewatch the whole thing. Something about the characters or the romance feels really artificial to me, and it never really went away throughout the series, but I think I just started to ignore it because they are such a cute couple, and Usui is so awesome. Very reminiscent of Shinkumi, except the artificiality in Shinkumi (blasphemy!) is a little more subtle.Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru
- I think Uraboku is one of those series that's all about character interactions. The whole fighting evil spirits backdrop is great, but really, who cares. None of the characters really did anything for me until Hotsuma and Shuusei, who I talked about once
. And then, straight after that, the series hit me with... um... the other pair, with the shogi (?) playing guy whose name I have completely forgotten. And thus I was lost, even though I thought it was mostly a second-rate series up until then. I even gave in and started collecting the manga a few months ago. The anime makes a good package, I think, while leaving the door open for a sequel.
(On a random note, I kind of feel like the series started off very similar to Blue Exorcist, with the boy-clueless-about-his-roots raised as an orphan and suddenly being attacked by evil spirits and needs to run away from his sanctuary church/orphanage. Except then they went in completely
different directions.)Darker Than Black: Ryuusei no Gemini
- I posted about a couple specific episodes
towards the end, and I think that kind of captures my reactions through to the end of the series. Namely, "I have no idea what is going on, and this is super-rushed and not satisfying." I kind of think the whole having a sequel thing was a mistake. I watched the four OVAs recently, which bridge the gap between the first and second series, and that kind of confirms it. At first it was awesomeness like the first series. And then gradually it became more and more like the second series, that is to say, confusing and cryptic and not as awesome. I need to rewatch the first series sometime to detox, and revel some more in Hei love.
(And Kiuchi-san love! I just watched a great Oshitari episode in PoT, too. Osaka-ben, yum.)Seiken no Blacksmith
- Another good swords and sorcery series that needs a sequel. Not quite as awesome as DenYuuDen, but I enjoyed it. Mostly it was the fanservice that annoyed me. Seriously. The main character wears a breastplate with these big metal domes and nothing underneath it
, and I swear the whole thing just cracked and fell off more than once during the series. I don't really remember the plot anymore, but it wasn't bad. The blacksmith dude was pretty cool, and there was a lot of interesting plot stuff that they hinted at but never explored, hence the need for a sequel.Maria-sama ga Miteru
- I rewatched the whole thing and finally watched the 4th season. I just love this show so much. I still don't understand how you can have such an addictive, long-running series with practically no antagonists or adversity. It really is just about relationships and school life, but it's not boring
. Just go watch it already.
And... I think that actually covers most if not all of the series I finished since the last post! I have no good way to track stuff I started but then dropped, or that stalled, so those are kind of in limbo until I pick them back up and finish them. I can rattle off a few like that: Natsume Yuujinchou, Spice and Wolf, Aria. Oh, and I tried watching Toriko
because the main character is voiced by Okiayu-sama, and I actually really like him in the role. But the series itself is so stupid I don't know if I can get through more of it. Something about a guy who goes around the world collecting rare ingredients, which doesn't sound that bad, but imagine that with a very juvenile shounen spin. I keep trying to tell myself that it's like Hunter x Hunter, but I dunno. I'll try again sometime, probably. I only made it through the One Piece crossover episodes so far, so you could say I haven't really seen what the series is truly like.
And on that note... until next anime post!