The Villain’s Choice: My Winter 2013 Watchlist

An old season ends, as another starts anew. This Fall 2012 season has been, to me at least, a nicely varied one indeed. We have had series that have started strong but waned as they strode forward (Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun), series that were a little slow on the start but became great as they went forward (Girls und Panzer), shows that are pretty much just boring with a few upturns (Little Busters), and shows that were just all around wonderful surprises (Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo). Concerning carryovers, for me it would be the wildly popular Sword Art Online, which also started slow but got more interesting as it went along, managing to convince me to read the light novel and gave me my recommended dose of fight scenes. We also had Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai which was, if nothing else, an “interesting” experience. I am however, waiting out on giving my full opinions on the series until this season actually concludes. Chuunibyou needs a post dedicated just to it to fully encapsulate my opinions on it.

Anyway, as this season is almost over, it is time once again to decide what shows will be taking up most of my time and keeping me away from doing things which should be far more important to me. Quite a few shows I’m watching are double cour, so I am intentionally keeping my watchlist low (hey, I need to keep some semblance of life left, especially now that I am just getting into things like League of Legends and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. I am willingly corrupting my mortal soul more and more by the day, and I am loving every second of it. MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA… *ehem*)

Anyway, yet another aside before I begin, you may have noticed that I titled this post with “The Villain’s Choice.” I plan to use that title for any list-type of post, whether it be a countdown or just an unordered list, in the future.

I will list the new shows first, and the carry-overs second. Also I tend not to watch the PVs of the New Anime and go only by the image and the Moetron descriptions, because I like going in fresh (at least when it comes to new shows). I also will not list OVAs and Movies because it usually takes me forever to get to either one. So without any further wasting of precious time, onwards we go!

Ai Mai Mi
Ai Mai Mi blog picture

The art style quite frankly doesn’t look all that impressive to me, leading me to believe that the animation quality will probably not be all that great either. However, this is really not a big deal with SoLs, as visual quality is generally not what they are famous for (Nichijou and K-ON!! not withstanding) nor is it really what you come for. You come to SoLs for the premise and you stay for the character interactions. Judging by this series’ accompanying blurb, as well as the corn, fish and octopot randomly adorning the girls in this picture, it seems like it will be a reasonably entertaining series. It looks like it will be along the lines of so stupidly absurd it’s brilliant, and I am always in the mood for those shows. Also the last time I watched a pure SoL this year was Acchi Kochi (which I loved), so I feel that I am overdue for more SoL action.

AKB0048 Next Stage
AKB0048 Next Stage blog pic

This one was a shoe-in choice for me. Not only is it a sequel, it is a sequel to a show I really enjoyed. AKB0048 was a show that knew exactly what it was, was proud of it, and did not feel the need to change for others. It was cheesy, it was not at all afraid to become melodramatic if it felt like it, it ran off the rules of cool, funny and drama all the way and never let up for a second. It had an absurd, afterschool cartoon-esque premise that made idols into freedom fighters and made it illegal to have fun. It proudly championed the power of love and friendship and didn’t care if it became saccharine. And despite (no, because) of all of these elements it worked wondrously. It had a very likeable cast with both good character interactions and nice character arcs, as well as crazy awesome battles/concerts and some genuinely interesting lore and world building going on in the show. The first season may have concluded Nagisa and Chieri’s character arcs quite nicely, but some of the mysteries of the world are still yet to be answered, like just what exactly are the Kirara, who is the “Producer Producer”, why do former idols have a diamond motif instead of a heart themed one, and just where do Mimori’s pheromones come from? (Okay, that last one isn’t really that important. Kinda). Concerning visuals the show did not disappoint, having an art style that I greatly enjoyed for displaying both softness and intricacy at the same time. Admittedly the show did not have the best animation in the world, the producers knew where to bottleneck the budget where it was truly needed but it was not immune to off-model moments. The real thorn in many people’s side was the CG, which I will admit was not well integrated in certain cases, but on the whole I felt was pretty well spliced together. As for the music, I didn’t know of the AKB48 for their songs before, and I am still not much of a fan of them now. I will say however that the anime played the large cache of AKB48 songs at all the appropriate moments, instead of just sticking insert songs wherever just to advertise the AKB48. So when I heard the songs, I really enjoyed hearing them.

All in all, AKB0048 was a show that by all accounts just shouldn’t have worked, but it did and it did so gloriously because of it’s perceived faulty elements. It was a show that did god by me because no matter what they decided to do, AKB0048 never forgot to be entertaining. I loved it the first time and I know I will continue to enjoy the ride.

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai NEXT
Haganai NEXT blog picture

This show is something of a mystery to me. Not as to whether or not I am going to watch it, oh no I am definitely watching it. Why I even like Haganai in the first place is something of a mystery to me. I dislike both of the female leads to varying extents (correction, I dislike Sena while I hate Yozora), and while I find Kodaka to be one of the better examples of his archetype of “Normal High School Guy” he doesn’t much make up for the 2 resident bitches on wheels. This is unusual for me in that usually, if I dislike the characters, I dislike the the entire package of the show in question. My logic being that if I don’t like the characters, I don’t care what is happening to them. Since what is happening to them is the events of the story (i.e. the plot) that means I don’t care about the plot either. In my book, characters are always more important than story. This show however is one of the few that bucks the trend for me. Despite Haganai’s characters, I still enjoy the total package. Why exactly is not really clear to me. The story is nothing truly special, it’s the sort of story built around producing character interactions and not so much for plot twists. It’s animated surprisingly well for AIC and for an Anime of this type, but I personally felt like the color palate used seemed a bit dull and washed out at times (like a nowhere near as bad version of the coloring found in the Xebec Negima Anime). The music was insipidly catchy, and I did enjoy it quite a bit however. I guess it comes down to the fact that the setups and the situational humor presented in the show were very spot on and just very damn funny, if overly mean spirited at times. Also I didn’t hate all the characters, Rika is a blast to watch anytime she graces the screen, and Kobato’s Chuuni antics are a very delicious sight to behold.

Another sequel, this time to a show who’s spot on comedy and certain characters make me forgive (or just overlook) the faults the show most definitely has.

Sasami-san@Ganbaranai
Sasami-san@Ganbaranai blog pic

Yay, a non-sequel! (I get to shorten these “blurbs” now).

I am picking this for both the studio doing the work, and the actual premise. Studio SHAFT has become famous/infamous for a various number of reasons, and I do feel that they deserve that fame for their intensely interesting artistic backgrounds, their simple, clean and beautiful character designs, highly meta and revolving-door 4th wall content, and their not-so-good animating skills which usually require touch-ups at a latter date. The concept itself sounds like a perfect fit for SHAFT’s style, ripe for some good hijinks and some possible 4th wall humor and meta moe content from our hikikomori voyeur.

I can’t wait to see just what SHAFT has in store for us this time.

Tamako Market
Tamako Market blog pic

Kore wa, Kore wa… an original Anime made by KyoAni?

Well all be, it really is true!

If anything, I’m actually more surprised that it took KyoAni this long to make their own Anime series (putting Munto aside, which seems to be the best thing to do given how it’s regarded). They seem to generate hit after hit, owning the rights to many top selling properties (only Nichijou really bucked that trend as of late, not really selling all that well), and KyoAni’s adaptions can run the gambit as far as accuracy is concerned. Some like the Disappearance Movie are almost verbatim at times, while their top seller K-ON is a very expanded upon adaption. Chu2Koi borderlines alternate continuity as it goes farther along. When they are so willing to play fast and loose with adaptations, it’s a wonder they didn’t try to make an original TV series earlier. While it is true that original Anime are more costly and riskier to do as they do not have the built in fanbase an adaption has, KyoAni should have been able to do it. They have the “name-brand” appeal to the Japanese fanbase that a lot of studios just don’t have, and the studio that made Haruhi, Lucky Star and K-ON would most definitely have the money. One wonders why this didn’t happen sooner?

No matter, it’s happening now. Like other original series, KyoAni is banking on star power for this one, relying on veterans of K-ON to help bring in viewers. With a premise about girls selling Mochi, this seems like the type of Anime that will have all the bang for the buck on character interactions, which does not concern me in the least. If anyone understands how to portray good character interactions, it’s the people behind K-ON. I bet we can expect some excellent characters, lovely interactions, a wondrous dose of Moe, and some excellent animation quality from Tamako Market.

Kotoura-san
Kotoura-san blog pic

This time, as opposed to Tamako Market’s studio which is the main draw factor, it’s the premise which is the draw factor for me. I was not watching Shin Sekai Yori this season, so I haven’t seen an ESP based Anime in a long while. I think this will be more SoL based however, and I have no real problem with that. AIC can be somewhat variable in quality, but the shows they make are usually pleasing to the eye and are reasonably well animated. AIC also has a very good grasp on making appealing Moe characters in my experience, so in all likelyhood I will enjoy this show in some way.

Vividred Operation

Vividred Operation blog pic


Oh yes, I have been waiting for this. Aside from AKB0048 Next Stage, this is the show I have been most looking forward to.

First things first, I absolutely love Strike Witches. It has great dogfights, as well as great characters who have a wonderful dynamic with each other that, in my opinion, can either match or top almost any other series out there. Vividred has the director of Strike Witches behind it, as well as similar motifs of young girls and technology. I know that the people behind Strike Witches can more than handle excellent character interactions between female characters, they have done it in the titular series and they are continuing to do it now in Girls und Panzer. In all likelyhood, I will like this show’s characters because of the pedigree it carries. Second, the studio behind this work. A1 Pictures is one of my personal favorites for their now almost signature art style, with it’s very soft look and incredibly bright palate. That combined with their in general good animation (and willingness to have a little fanservice, unlike KyoAni) makes them one of my proffered Anime studios. This time however, is one of the few times I am regarding the label of A1 Pictures with a little doubt. The last few seasons, A1 has been making an unusually large amount of shows. They usually stuck to one show a cour, but now they are pulling a J.C. Staff on us and doing multiple shows a season. From the shows I have been watching as of late (SAO and Magi) they have managed to keep their production quality up, but then again I have heard from those who have actually watched Shin Sekai Yori that it saw a big drop in visual quality as it went on. It seems that A1 will have to do some budget funneling in this upcoming season but I think that, in all likelyhood, the original series will get the lion’s share of the studio budget, as that is what usually happens.

As the series coming from one of the people who show just how much Moe can improve the characters with it’s attributes, I will wait for this series with barely held anticipation.

Love Live! School Idol Project
Love Live! School Idol Project blog pic

More Idols! Are more idols ever a bad thing? I thought not.

With a premise of having to become idols in order to save their school, it seems like a show that is just silly enough to work, and it’s another original too. Most likely because of Sunrise’s production budget, this show has an interactive element which in a way makes it similar to the real life AKB48. I’m not super excited about the interactive part of the show because one, it won’t apply to gaijin such as myself (unless I use a proxy I suppose) and I am curious/slightly concerned that the show’s interactivity will cause the overall quality (especially the writing) to decline. The interactive part is interesting from a more historic perspective, for the idea of a TV Anime which contains explicit fan feedback. Also something that slightly concerns me is that it’s Sunrise making it. Sunrise shows always look good, they should as they have a big budget to fund whatever they do, but I am never able to really get into the characters in Sunrise productions. Code Geass was something of an exception, but I still was never able to finish the show for whatever reason (though that maybe more my problems with Mecha more than anything).

Still, I don’t want to write off Sunrise just yet. The show seems like it could be interesting, and I’ll see if Sunrise is capable of some good idol Moe.

I am also considering Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shubara Sugiru,but I am not certain at the moment. The main reason I am considering it is because I went out on a limb and chose to watch Sakurasou a few months ago despite it’s description sounding kinda bland (and being written by Mari Okada…), and was greatly rewarded for my blind faith with a show that is incredibly good. Ore no Kanojo on the other hand is being made by A1, which is more a guarantee of quality than the name of J.C. Staff, so I’m more optimistic at the start. I could however be wrong, and with this list plus 4 carryovers I would prefer the list to be shorter. But hey, I am watching OniAi just to see some pantsu and oppai, so I think I’ll find something I like in this show if I decide to watch it.

And as I mentioned prior, I have 4 shows from this year carrying on into the new year. They are as follows (and sorry, I won’t be putting pictures up for this one. Only new things get flashy pictures, whilst the old will wither and die. How very unfortunate).

Considering that I have mentioned it multiple times now it should come as no surprise that I will be continuing with Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo.This show has proven to me once again that just going into a show despite what may seem like warning signs is sometimes a really good idea. J.C. Staff at the time were, as usual, making multiple shows in a single season. Not to mention this is the wildly inconsistent J.C. Staff we are talking about, who can produce great things like Toradora and Railgun, but are also capable of Hidan no Aria as well. Their history of rapidly fluctuating quality plus their tendency to do multiple things at once put me off when combined with a premise that sounded like nothing special. Not to mention that it was Mari Okada who was doing the writing for this show, who is also wildly inconsistent and who’s quality seems to be dependent on who she works with (she wrote for Toradora, AnoHana and my personal love, AKB0048, but she also wrote for Hanasaku Iroha and BRS TV of all things…), equaled me not having much reason to watch the show at all. I ended up picking the show solely because the art style looked nice. Little did I know the show would have my tooting it’s horn and singing it’s praises in no time flat. Sakurasou gladly proved me wrong and made me feel like a bastard for doubting it.

Sakurasou, like Toradora in a way, in not a show that does anything particularly new, it does a better version of a long standing genre, the RomCom. It is simply a very well done show that is very good at what it does. The arcs the characters are following are entertaining, believable and move you to easily sympathize with the plight of the characters in question. The chemistry between them is excellent and the interactions amongst them are very entertaining. The drama presented is succinct, potent and genuinely moving, with the themes of those without natural talent both idolizing and hating those who are effortlessly able to do what they love resonating with anyone with even a semblance of a creative bone in their body. The comedy is in general well timed and quite funny. And possibly most important for a RomCom, you can sympathize with all the residents of Sakurasou, including the obvious “loser” of the love triangle. And as advertised, the show is very good looking as well.

I will not do a full write up on Sakurasou here, as the show is not yet finished. As for details in the show itself, yes I do agree with the Word of Dante that Mashiro is somewhere on the autism scale, I love all the residents of Sakurasou, and the only character introduced so far who I don’t really like is Rika. But take it from me, this show is a great example of the idea of not judging a book by it’s cover. The RomCom is a genre like any other, and can have good and bad examples. Toradora, AnoNatsu, and now Sakurasou, are not just good RomComs, they are just good shows, period.

Next up on the carry over list is Magi,yet another A1 work (I told you that they are putting out quite the volume of shows as of late). This was the only Shounen Action title I watched during Fall 2012, and it will still hold that title in Winter. Generally when it comes to Shounen, it’s something I read, not watch. I once genuinely liked Bleach, and I still continue to read it, but now it’s mostly out of Bile Fascination (that and the chapters are very quick reads). I do read Ao no Exorcist and One Piece because I genuinely enjoy them however, and Negima is still one of my favorite series of all time (though that one would would have probably gone right over your heads if I didn’t tell you). I ended up picking Magi because one, it’s by A1 and two, I liked the premise. I thought the idea of an Anime version of the 1001 Arabian Nights sounded very interesting and had some nice potential (I was also hoping to see a Moefied version of Scheherezade).

The description of 1001 Arabian Nights ended up being used differently than I thought. It’s not an adaption or alternate take on those stories per say, but it uses the setting that the many stories of 1001 Arabian Nights takes place it. That being, a magical version of the Islamic Caliphate during what would be the European Dark Ages, with some Tang Dynasty Chinese thrown in for good measure. I think the part I like about the show the most is the setting quite frankly. I love the depiction of the Arabic World within the Anime thanks to the way the locales are drawn and the architecture present. I like how they integrated the Chinese in reference to the original story of Aladdin. It just feels like it’s somewhat slow going for me besides that. I don’t really hate any of the characters, but I don’t particularly love them either. I do really like Morgiana, and Alibaba and Aladdin are cool as well, but Sinbad just feels too damn perfect at the moment. I also didn’t get my Moefied Scheherezade, but I did get the Moe Slave girl Morgiana. I guess the problem I mainly have is that the OP and ED show a big adventure, and that’s not yet happening. It all feels a bit slow at the moment. I might just try and pick up the Manga, but it’s got over 150 chapters at the moment. Magi’s status as to whether I continue it in it’s current form or just go for the original is now in question at the moment.

Next up is Little Busters. With some controversy before it started due to KyoAni passing up the chance to make it, and with J.C. Staff making it instead, people were, for the most part, reasonably concerned (at least to me). I have already mentioned J.C. Staff being somewhat notorious for inconsistency, which could have been compounded by the fact that J.C. Staff very rarely does VN adaptions. Also VN fans were waiting for an adaption of Little Busters for ages, more or less ever since Clannad After Story concluded, and Clannad set a high standard to reach. It seemed to most everyone that J.C. was not up to the task of reaching that standard.

However, come it’s actual TV airing, and people’s worries were for the most part, soothed. It is very understandably railed for it’s visual quality, of which may have looked good in say 2008 0r 2009, but most certainly not now. But fans of the VN were (and at the moment of this writing, still are) happy with the show’s content. Luckily for them, the VN’s fans saw J.C. Staff on a good day.

Where does this all leave someone who has never played the VNs themselves. Despite my love of Clannad, my love of the Key works in general is not consistent. I feel that Air is just okay at best, having boring characters and too short a length to tell it’s story effectively. Kanon (the KyoAni version anyway) is a good show with better characters and a more fitting length, but with the nasty habit of having the arc characters completely disappear from the picture even if they were still alive. I loved Clannad for having characters that I absolutely adore and for having a much more organic feel than Kanon. Angel Beats (I’m counting it as it was written by Jun Maeda) had a really interesting concept and was capable of delivering incredible laughs and really touching drama, as well as some well choreographed action. It also had some great characters. It was unfortunately marred by the fact that the producers undercut the number of episodes they had whilst the show was still in production, forcing it to be re-written hastily to a shorter length, and it does show. Angel Beats unfortunately ended up being a show with a lot of potential that did quite a few things right, but fell short of all it could be due to circumstances outside of it’s control.

And as for Little Busters? I’m not really feeling it to be honest. Besides the visuals, I am not really a fan of any of the characters present, neither hating them or loving them. I am not much of a fan of the Seiyuu’s work for this show as well. The show was better whilst following a character arc, as otherwise it feels rather aimless. The characters in question are not strong enough to make for really great SoL content either like say K-ON or Lucky Star. I am waiting however, as my experience with the Key works tells me that something is seriously going to change up the setting or the characters. In this way, I am glad it got a 2 Cour format. I am willing to give it a longer chance, but quite honestly I thought I would like Little Busters more than I do now.

And finally (Jesus Christ, finally it’s over) is Robotics;Notes.A show that’s adapting a VN that’s not even a year old yet, and that takes place within the same shared universe of Chaos;Head and one of my very favorite shows, Steins;Gate. I picked it mainly because of this fact. Steins;Gate was a show that I basically loved every single minute of, but it’s sister series that’s next in the timeline, Robotics;Notes, took a while to really grow on me. I did not have much problem getting into the resident Genki girl Akiho, but the male lead Kaito was the thorn in my side for a while. Normally when it comes to High School Guy protagonists, I prefer the snarky, dry witted and lazy ones like Kyon, Yuuichi of Kanon and Oreki of Hyouka. The problem with Kaito was that he had the laziness, but none of the dry wit and cleverness that made other characters like him work. The result is a character who just comes off as a jerk at times. However even he manages to grow on you as his loyalty to Akiho is very real and very strong. Subaru as well is a cool character with an interesting circumstance, and Frau is a deliciously devious Fujoshi Otaku. The characters were kind of iffy at the beginning, but they grew on me.

I do like the story however, for the fact that it constantly hints to a grand design behind everything we are seeing, constantly enticing us. I also like Robotics;Notes interesting take on the idea of following your dreams, giving more emphasis to the seeming impossibility of it all. The show of course looks great due to Production I.G. animating. It may have taken the longest to get me hooked, but besides Sakurasou this is the carry over I am most looking forward to continuing.

And well that is finally that. Just what are you looking forward to readers? (yeah, all one of you). Please let me know, and maybe by the time you are done reading this, it will be the new year and the new shows will have already started!

From Mahora With Love:
-VillainousHanacha

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5 comments

  1. I guess I should have mentioned that I am not counting OVAs or Movies, mostly because it takes me forever to get to OVAs.

    But yes, I most definitely plan to watch Nekomonogatari, as well as Kizumonogatari when the BluRay rips actually come down the pipes.

      1. There are a lot of OVAs that air on TV first, and I still take forever to watch them.

        I think you more than anyone else know that I am a lazy bastard, teenkrazychibikobun, and for one reason or another I always sit on OVAs instead of watching them immediately.

        Though considering that you take forever to watch shows that you love, I don’t think you are in much position to question me, KobunMan 😛

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