The Villain’s Choice: My Summer 2013 Watchlist

Behold my loyal fans! I, the magnificent and dastardly Villain that is Hanacha, have graced you dull and meager lives with a collection of words and punctuation that is a post! It will be thought provoking, deep and intellectual, fit only for the truest connoisseurs of the form. And it completely, positively will NOT be a filler post meant to distract until I am done with bigger and better things… What? It totally isn’t you know! I actually put thought and meaning and all that good shit into this post… Stop with that pathetic look in your face! I-I have a Death Ray you know, I am a Super Villain bitch! You won’t be laughing when I have taken the pleasure to melt off your left gonad! MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

Okay, enough of that farce. I hope the need to do something that forced and awkward never overtakes me again (Maybe it has something to do with my whirlwind of activity on this blog as of late -_- ). Anyway, the title of this post should be fairly self explanatory; I list the shows I have decided to watch for the upcoming season, thereby staving off the guilt of not having done shit with this space until I am done with my more substantial pieces. I do have a slight addendum to make to this however. It has come to my attention as of late that my watchlists for each season have been quite long, usually topping 7 shows pretty easily. Not only that I almost always watch weekly as they come out, usually within a day of the episodes being available subbed. I’ve been doing this more or less without fail or a break since I started actively following Anime as it was coming out, back in Summer 2010 and every season in between then and now. And let me tell you, it’s taken the wind out of me (cue a “First World Problems” imagemacro). I’m getting weary when watching, even when it comes to shows that love. I’m beginning to not enjoy shows as much as I know I could. Make no mistake, this is not a post criticizing the “current state” of Anime as god knows that there are one too many blogs with a subject along the lines of “Anime today just doesn’t do it for me anymore…” This is a self criticism, as I know that this stupor I am slowly falling into is a trap purely of my own making. The sheer amount of media I am taking in is glazing me over and leaving me less able to find the little things in shows which can often so endear us to them. It has recently left me lagging behind even on shows which I like (such as Girls Und Panzer), a habit which a friend of mine has that really don’t want to pick up. I need to seriously start watching with the mentality of looking for something to enjoy purely on it’s own terms. I need to focus only on how good I find the viewing experience personally. I can’t watch with the mentality of needing to fill up my MAL page, with cataloging as many things in my mind so I can simply have more to say in a conversation, because that road will only lead to ruin and to a to a self-inflicted jaded attitude. To that attitude, I need to seriously shorten my watchlists from here on out. With this I will be able to linger on shows longer, and hopefully be able to enjoy them in a more substantial manner than previous. So without any further stalling for time, here is my humble watchlist:

Monogatari Series Second Season

Monogatari 2nd Season (blog post)

Ah yes, the return of SHAFT’s legendary golden goose, the Monogatari franchise. Akiyuki Shinbou has gone on record saying that he wishes to adapt the material from all the light novels, a privilege few LNs are welcome to (much to the chagrin of LN fans). I am happy to see him keep to his word but honestly, why wouldn’t he do so if in any way he found money to be at least somewhat enjoyable? The series has BluRay sales rivaling the lights of Evangelion, and to me and many others it is a well deserved feat of an excellent show getting the recognition it deserves (unlike say the unusually well selling Infinite Stratos). It is very difficult to succinctly describe the series up until this point. I would actually describe Bake, Nise, and Neko as a total, immersive viewing experience (yay for ambiguous wording). It’s not that the Monogatari series is especially good at bringing you into it’s world, it is good at it don’t get me wrong but there are other Anime that have that as their particular strong suit. It’s really more along the lines of the Monogatari series creates such a pleasing world, both aesthetically and with characters, that you just can’t help but be mesmerized by it all. This experience is enhanced by the fact that, while the characters interact naturally with each other and the story plays out on it’s own terms, we the audience feel like we are participants in it. To explain this, I must also point out one of this show’s defining features as far as themes and tone are concerned. The Monogatari series is incredibly post-modern (granted most of SHAFT’s work is as well but the Monogatari series and Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei are head and shoulders above the rest in this regard). Many are of the opinion that the Monogatari series and SZS are, out of all the SHAFT Anime, the most “SHAFT-like.” Those 2 things are very much interconnected, a show’s “SHAFT-ness” and how post-modern a series made by them is. This is most immediately apparent in the show’s aesthetics, with it’s very stark and flat looking backgrounds, totally devoid of any people except our story characters. It is purposefully unnatural looking, with a lot of monochrome objects and very little blending of colors between objects. However, the modernity comes not from the aesthetics per say, but the characters and specifically the dialogue. The dialogue is steeped in the meta of our fandom, not just making references but actively engaging in discussions in why we like (well, at least I like) the Moe tropes the show employs and why they have even come to being in the first place. The series uses its pithy and dry wit to approach all the topics within the show’s dialogue, from the nature of the oddity of the given arc to the almost literal love/hate relationship between Hanekawa and Araragi to how Senjogahara’s Seiyuu is “excellent.” It does not play archtypes and devices strait, nor does it totally subvert them either. The Monogatari franchise instead endlessly plays with the tropes it employs, making it loads of fun to watch. Due to it being to thoroughly post-modern in dialogue and for its incredibly distinctive aesthetic, the Monogatari franchise is Avant-Garde  while still being relatable and non pretentious due to it’s humor and characters. For the humor, characters, incredible dialogue and awesome aesthetics of its predecessors, I will be waiting for Monogatari Series Second Season with hungry anticipation.

Kin-Iro Mosaic

Kiniro Mosaic Blog Post

Because Slice of Life is good for the soul, like Bacon and Mac n’ Cheese or Belgian Beer. Hopefully this show is easier on my girlish figure (heh) than those items however, as too much of that stuff and I would actually need to get off my ass and do something remotely physical, not like I actually am. Concerning the actual show, I know next to nothing about it. I do however know that it will be done by Studio Gokumi who did Koe de Oshigoto and the absurdly average A Channel (one could guess what the A stands for). I never did finish watching Koe de Oshigoto, and while I did find A Channel underwhelming, it’s visuals were not one of its problems. Considering that this is an adaption, I don’t think I have much to fear from Gokumi with this show, as at least they can make a show look nice. Either way, I’m picking this because I am always up for watching an SoL. Their calming tones, enjoyable characters and easygoing action always have a place in my book for their incredibly cathartic nature (even if the SoL in question isn’t specifically Iyashikei). It is especially useful during season with a lot of weighty shows, and in seasons past I always made sure to watch one if I was taking on one or more serious shows. That’s not really the case this season, but the charms of SoL are always welcome in my book, even if just to help one get past the harshness of this world we live in. Regardless, the premise sounds like it will be a good source of hijinks, and out of the SoL or SoL-like options this season, I think this one looks the nicest and it’s premise hooks me in the most. I will be looking forward to this one.

Tokurei Sochi Dantai Stella-Jo Gakuin Koutou-ka C3-Bu

Tokurei Sochi Dantai Stella Jo-Gakuin Kouto-ka C3-Bu Blog Post

This Anime seems almost tailor made for someone I know… Yet another in the line of Anime with titles that are far too long for their own good (although this one comes from a Manga, not a Light Novel). Anyway while its premise does sound interesting, the thing that immediately caught my eye was the fact that Gainax of all people were the ones making this show (I guess this is the same feeling people had when they announced they were doing Hanamaru Kindergarten, but maybe not as farfetched). Gainax is kind of an eternal question mark, one which has only gotten bigger in our modern era of Anime. Famous, or infamous, for having shows of incredibly variable animation quality and for having endings which can be described as mind boggling even when being charitable, the people of Gainax are some of the biggest wild cards in the industry. The studio closest to them, SHAFT, really only plays fast and loose when it comes to aesthetics. Gainax on the other hand will play fast and loose with all elements, including storyline and characters. It’s why I always preferred SHAFT to Gainax, and I view SHAFT as a sort of  controllable crazy, a functioning crazy. It’s better to call SHAFT wily instead of crazy in fact. Gainax is just crazy, and their larger bouts of inconsistency are really annoying to me. In some ways however, they are only a bigger wild card now than they were years ago. Many of the people who worked for Gainax during the times when they made some of their most famous shows like Evangelion, FLCL or Gurren Lagann are long gone, having moved on to other places and other projects. Most of Gainax’s reputation, for better or worse, was formed based on these shows. In other words, the people who made Gainax’s reputation the way it is are no longer to be found there. While the newer people of Gainax have garnered mixed press, Panty & Stocking was one of their newer shows and it definitely lived up to Gainax’s established reputation, so the Wild Card title is still appropriate, if not even more so. There is however something important to note here, and that is that C3-Bu is an adaption. Gainax has shown that they are far more orthodox when it comes to things which are not their intellectual property, so I’m probably just blowing a lot of hot air for no other purpose than to make myself annoyed. Their animation problems do show up in their adaptions however, which does worry me. Concerning the actual Anime itself, Strike Witches has gotten me interested in the whole Girls with Guns aesthetic. Even if it is not my main thing, it has become a growing interest of mine. Specifically I like the idea of the guns in the show being Airsoft, as it provides a good way for the somewhat fantastic idea of Moe Girls with Guns to be in our normal world. Strike Witches was an alternate reality to our own, while Upotte!! and Girls Und Panzer were sorta-kinda our world but with a lot of liberties taken. C3-Bu on the other hand is pretty much our world. Despite the dangers that can come with Gainax doing animation work, I am looking forward to C3-Bu’s take on the Moe Girls with Guns idea.

Ro-Kyuu-Bu! SS

Ro-Kyu-Bu blog post

A.K.A it takes a main cast full of lolis for me to actually want to watch a sports Anime…. THE SEQUEL!!!! Having that one Anime that you watch for the fanservice is not a bad idea to have on the occasional season or so, and since this passing season I watched Hyakka Ryouran: Samurai Tits Bride mostly for the fanservice I figure why not go for it’s polar opposite in appeal and watch Ro-Kyuu-Bu (both of these shows I am watching for the fanservice are sequels too, go figure). Honestly though, I wouldn’t put it on completely the same level as the Hyakka Ryouran series. The show does actually have genuinely enjoyable characters that you do feel for at times. The show also has a good dose of heart and camaraderie that comes with it being a sports Anime at the end of the day. Despite all that however, the show always felt like it was coming up short (pun intended?) for multiple reasons. The characters themselves only really topped out at good, they were all enjoyable in their own way but none of them was exceptional or particularly noteworthy. It was far more SoL than sports Anime, something I would not have minded in the slightest, but the set ups and scenarios for the SoL moments were kinda weak and didn’t fully deliver on the happy chuckles and warm fuzzies one would expect from a good SoL. The actual basketball sections were nice however, mainly because they were a bit more on the mundane side of things. It felt like girls playing basketball, it wasn’t so overblown that the “sports” was really a fight scene without the same sense of satisfaction like in Shounen sports Manga. It’s one of the reasons I like the Kendo bouts in Bamboo Blade. All in all, Ro-Kyuu-Bu was enjoyable, but not really memorable. The first season of it was just good and nothing more, and I don’t expect SS to be much different. But, at the end of the day, Ro-Kyuu-Bu is lolis playing basketball, and oogling lolis is always worthwhile. Oh yes good sir, I like lolis and I can’t deny…

Chou Jigen Game Neptune The Animation

Neptunia The Animation blog post

Besides Monogatari, this is the “other” big show I was looking forward to for Summer. Looking at it, I am still kind of amazed that we have gotten to this point considering the game it was all originally based upon. With the release of Hyperdimension Neptunia mkII, the original game was retconned out of existence, and it’s pretty easy to see why Compile Heart and Idea Factory took that route. The original game basically had its incredibly funny and witty writing as its saving grace. It had a bunch of tedious gameplay mechanics (including not being able to heal your party on command in or out of battles, having to set it as a sort of reaction command that had increased chances of triggering at lower health totals while in battle); criminally overused dungeon design templates and monsters that, while occasionally looked cool, clashed majorly with the aesthetic of the characters and the overworlds; and the chance to random encounter monsters in dungeons that could have more health and do more damage than the bosses in said dungeon. On top of all that you had to and in that the original game’s ending was too conclusive for a sequel. The original game is a riot to listen to, but playing it was a different story. While I wouldn’t say it was totally broken or completely “unfun,” there was definitely a major lack of polish and contained some very unusual or just plain stupid ideas. fortunately, this game sold well enough (it seems) that a second chance was to happen, and I am glad that second chance came. MkII fixed all the weird gameplay mechanics, gave the game unique dungeons and monsters that weren’t lifted from other games, and did away with random encounters entirely, using the “monster in the overworld” transporting you to the battle type system (and specifically having the stronger than average monsters being marked as such on the mini-map). Fitting of the fact it served as a retcon, the gameplay mechanics were basically completely different, while the veteran characters had the same or similar personalities but with totally different backstories. It was a massive “second attempt” and it payed off magnificently. We now have the sequel Neptunia V and one of may spin offs to come in the form of Ultradimension Idol Neptune PP (an idol game of all things). We also have a retelling of the first game’s story using the current gameplay style and one featuring Black Heart as the protagonist coming sometime in the future. And now with the Anime, Neptunia is turning into it’s own little franchise. Its rapid growth is something that still surprises me. Now concerning the Anime, I am already interested due to the studio doing the Animation, that being David Production. Most will probably know them for their recent adaption of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, I however am more familiar with them from Ben-To. From this however I know that David is capable of creating excellent fight scenes and appealing character designs. The fact that they can make good fight scenes is testament enough to their technical abilities, as very dynamic/high movement scenes in animated works are almost totally dependent on animation quality. So I have no fear that Neptune The Animation will not look good. Considering Neptune is in her Neptunia V outfit in promotional materials, it seems that it will take place after Neptunia mkII, but that’s all I can divine out of them. It could be a main part of the story or it could just be a side story, I really don’t know, mainly since I never look at PVs. All I know is that the characters I have come to love out of this game will be present and that is good enough for me. Neptune is always fun to watch, but I will especially be looking forward to IF and Noire. All in all I will be very much looking forward to the animated installment in the series which has continued to surprise me. Also, I will not talk about that thing concerning Rie Tanaka and this show, because it doesn’t deserve talking about.

 

 

A few more quick (heh) points about the new season that is right on our heels. One is that despite being made by one of my favorite studios and generating a hell of a lot of hullabaloo, I will not be watching Free! in the coming months. The fact that it’s being made by KyoAni does not change the fact that it is something I normally would not choose to watch, as it’s not only a Bishounen show, it’s also a sports Anime. A disinterest in hot, well muscled young lads plus an extreme apathy for sports Anime equals something I in all likelihood would not be able to get into. I don’t object to KyoAni making it, they are free (pun intended?) to do as they wish and fujoshi deserve to have their hobbies and interests catered to just as much as us male otaku. If KyoAni wants to branch out to other interests, they are free (okay this needs to stop…) to do so. That doesn’t mean I have to watch it if I feel it doesn’t align with my own interests as well. Besides considering that it is still a KyoAni work (not wholly, it is actually a co-production but the KyoAni-level effort is already visible from the PVs alone) I will probably hear talk of it somewhere on the internets.  Also I do have one carry over from this season, which is none other than To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S. Along with Hataraku Maou-sama it was my favorite of this season. Railgun has the winning combination of excellent characters with awesome chemistry and intensely interesting world building and story. It is one of those shows that reminds me that yes, even the wildly inconsistent JC Staff can make some real gems every once in a while (Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo was also an example of this, but this is a discussion for another day). I could go on for a very long time on my love for this series, hell I can go on for long periods just talking about specific characters, but in an effort to try and keep this on point those things will have to wait for some other day. I just leave it off by saying that I will very much be looking forward to continued viewership of this series.

So in the end I have a watch list of 6 shows when new things and carry-overs are included. I wish it was a little shorter, but it is shorter than how long my watchlists normally are, and I suppose incremental change is for the best instead of just a sudden stop. I know that watchlist posts are not a very inherently interesting topic, so I try to elaborate on my choices to at least make this filler post interesting. I hoped that you liked what I had to say, and let us all welcome this new season with open arms fellow Otaku! This half hobby/ half compulsion known as otakuism will never end as long as we keep an open mind.

 

 

From Mahora With Love:
-VillainousHanacha

*The Images used in this blog are not of my creation and I claim no ownership of the series and franchises they portray*

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