Annual Round-Up: 2006

lui-in-chains
I can now exclusively reveal that the reason my blog is so HARD GAY is because I have Lui chained up in my basement.

As the days became depressingly short and winter tightened its grip upon the land, I had the great idea of summarising all the 2006 series I watched in one great ‘Annual Round-Up’; hardly an original idea since everyone likes to do it, but nonetheless a course I became determined to take. Little did I realise that such an innocent decision would lead to a massive fifteen page document that took over a month to compile; in fact, if I had any sense, I would take the lazy route of posting this over several days in order to avoid having to write anything else for a week or so. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, depending on your perspective), I’d rather just include it all in one guide so that I can get on with writing newer and more interesting things to spice up the inevitably dull and grey January.

I shall also take this opportunity to thank necromancer, whose screencaps made many parody posts and Tuesday Rumble sections possible, as well as my blogging ‘sempai’, who can identify himself if he wishes.

For once, red is not for generally poor series, just for the ones I dropped before the end of their run (mostly because they were generally poor). Series in blue are my top picks for the year. Links lead to earlier reviews, rants and parodies of the series in question.

STILL RUNNING FROM 2005
I’m only including series I was still watching in the New Year; several others had long since been dropped by this point.

Ginga Densetsu Weed
A bloodier canine version of a shounen action series, Ginga Densetsu Weed follows the adventures of young dog Weed as he recruits allies to fight evil dog Hougen. It ranges from dull and predictable to laughable and predictable, but the parody potential and novelty of having dogs as the main characters conspired to keep me watching this right through to the end.

Final words: It’s not good to be a generic brown dog; you always get killed.

Jigoku Shoujo
When it first started, Jigoku seemed like a compelling series, the tale of people driven to such extremes that they would accept eternal damnation in order to remove their tormenters. Unfortunately, it all became a little ridiculous and far too repetitive after about four episodes- not only did the basic concept of each episode lose a lot in the execution, but there are only so many times you can watch tales of revenge before getting thoroughly bored.

Final words: Revenge is a dish best served sparingly.

Karin
Karin is a strange series; it’s too tasteless and generic to even be mediocre, but at the same time it feels like it could be good- only I can’t really quantify just what is needed to make it better. The tale of a ‘blood-making’ vampire and her slow romance with a human boy could at least have made for light entertainment, but the inclusion of irritating supporting characters and the gimmick of having blood spurt out of Karin’s nose with alarming regularity are more than a little off-putting.

Final words: No, just no.

Mai-Otome
otome14-2-450
It’s hard to believe, but there was a time when I thought Mai-Otome was actually going somewhere; an illusion that was soon dispelled as the series moved into its closing episodes. Despite the numerous flaws of this series, it somehow remains memorable, burned into the brain by hype, wasted potential and the presence of fat grey cat Mikoto.

Final words: Fat cats may improve a series, but even their furry bulk cannot compensate for a lack of plot.

Mushishi
Although I took my time starting on Mushishi, I’m glad I finally got around to watching it, since it turned out to be one of the better series of recent times. An absorbing and atmospheric folk tale-eqsue collection of stories featuring the laid-back Ginko and the myriad strange phenomena he encounters, Mushishi is recommended viewing for anyone with even a passing enjoyment of fantasy, drama and slice-of-life.

Final words: If your memory is bad, blame it on the mushi.

Noein
When it first swept onto our screens, Noein seemed to be the sci-fi series that we had all been waiting for- a mixture of complex storyline, grandiose action scenes and alternate worlds that would surely only improve as it went on…or would it? Unfortunately, the studio was so busy spending money on CG house shots that it forgot that the series actually needed a proper plot (not to mention decent animation), and so by the end, Noein became little more than a pretentious but ultimately empty series that never lived up to its early promise.

Final words: The quantum mechanics of Noein is not clever- if you want clever, then come to some theoretical physics lectures.


21_suigintouRozen Maiden Traumend

Given the excellence of the first series, another season of Rozen Maiden was highly anticipated, but somehow it just couldn’t live up to what had come before. Rearranging and diverging from the manga material led to some continuity issues with the first season, whilst the plot itself had numerous pacing problems. Despite promising that the battle royale Alice Game would be getting underway right from the start, it took nine episodes to get down to business, after which the writers chickened out of going the whole way so that things could be left open for a third season. Even the new characters introduced in this season were less than inspiring, although overall the series was not a bad experience, just one that did not live up to expectations.

Final words: If you thought dolls were scary before, wait until you watch this.

Shakugan no Shana

shana
A tale of swords and sorcery mixed with high school romance and comedy, Shana proved to be a solid enough source of light entertainment, but unfortunately turned out to be lacking beyond that. Disappointing villains and a story that proved to be flawed on close inspection ultimately prevented the Shana from reaching the heights it initially promised- whilst by no means a bad series, it was certainly in need of improvement in key areas.

Final words: urusei, urusei, urusei!

WINTER 2005/6

Ayakashi
A collection of three separate folk tales collected across eleven episodes, Ayakashi promised period horror, but in the end, it brought only contemporary boredom. What would have been perfectly enjoyable as a three episode OVA became drawn out and monotonous in TV series form, so much so that watching it was something of a struggle.

Final words: Rap OPs never work- no really, they don’t.

Binchou-tan
Having convinced myself that Binchou-tan would be sickeningly cute, I avoided watching it for a while, only to predictably regret that when it turned out to be far better than I had imagined. A series that really does embody ‘simple and sweet’ Binchou-tan is a delightful slice-of-life tale that really needs more episodes.

Final words: Unexpectedly worthy.

Ergo Proxy
To be fair, I only watched a single episode of Ergo Proxy, but I never could bring myself to continue with it. Despite the echoes of Texhnolyze, the fact I neither knew nor cared what was going on in the first episode was not much of an incentive to continue- the animation may have been slick, but that could hardly make up for the lack of comprehensibility.

Final words: When people say ‘hard sci-fi’ they must mean pretentious, nonsensical crap.

Fate/Stay Night
more-caster
Admit it, you want a Caster figure too.

There was a time when Fate seemed filled with potential; yes, it had a spiky-haired hero, but it also had the incredibly worthy Rin, not to mention the prospect of a hard fought battle of wits and strength between legendary heroes and their Masters. Unfortunately, Fate never lived up to its promise, instead turning out to be a combination of insipid characters, flimsy story, and Shirou’s harem exploits.

Final words: I will make ‘True Fate’ one day.

Hanbun no Tsuki ga Noboru Sora
A short and sweet hospital-based tale of drama and romance, HanTsuki was an almost overlooked series that turned out to be a hidden gem. Within its six episodes, the series managed to weave a tale that was bittersweet, heart-warming and entirely worthy.

Final words: Natsumi is evil.

Meine Liebe Wieder
Despite promising something in the way of a plot this time, the second season of Meine Liebe turned out to be an inferior rehash of the first, featuring increased angst, more HARD GAY, additional characters and Beruze’s latest puppet duke attempting to take the throne of Kuchen. It wasn’t bad, but it could have been so much more.

Final words: Ludwig-sama is an A-ranked bishie.

REC
An oddly addictive series about the romance between a voice actress and a salaryman, REC is enjoyable while it lasts, but is over all too quickly. In retrospect, it was perhaps a bit too angst-filled, but it made for an entertaining experience while it lasted.

Final words: Umai-ki!

Shinigami no Ballad

momo-and-daniel
Yet another brief series, this time about a pure white shinigami and the people she meets, SnB was filled with character pieces, but was oddly short on death. Whilst it never really had the impact that it could have done, SnB was an enjoyable series that didn’t overstay its welcome.

Final words: The RPG episode was the best one, but the series overall gains points for the winged talking cat.

Pale Cocoon
Having been told that Pale Cocoon was somewhat incomprehensible, I went into it expecting not to understand anything, only to be pleasantly surprised at how much I could actually grasp (of course, the accompanying pdf file helped). A brief yet worthy glimpse into the far future, Pale Cocoon may be short on explanations, but is nonetheless a worthy snapshot of a distant era.

Final words: Watch it now, it won’t take long.

Hellsing Ultimate
It was the event that all Hellsing fans had been waiting for- a more accurate adaptation of the manga material that would surely blow them all away. Unfortunately, having realised that I really didn’t like Hellsing all that much, this wasn’t something I was inclined to keep following.

Final words: When are we going to get a good vampire show?

SPRING 2006

.hack//Roots
Hard as it is to believe now, I was actually looking forward to .hack//Roots- I was in the middle of my Item Completion obsession phase, and somehow I convinced myself that it would be a series that married the addictive qualities of SIGN with the action and faster pace of Legend of the Twilight. After several episodes of deluding myself, however, I came to realise that Roots was not so much a case of a train wreck as of the train simply not leaving the station in the first place. Characters came and went, but the plot never arrived- in the end, it was just too boring for me to watch anymore.

Final words: The origin of the screencap parody format.

Ah! My Goddess: Sorezore no Tsubasa
I’ve said it on more than one occasion, but a second season was just too much for the Ah! My Goddess- how much can you actually squeeze out of a harem story about a regular guy living with goddesses? Admittedly, it did seem like a bit of harmless light entertainment for the first few episodes, but it soon fell into the realms of the utterly boring, especially when Peorth arrived.

Final words: Sometimes, less is more.

Air Gear
I have to admit that Oh Great’s artwork is good, but since I’m not particularly interested in nipple shots, ridiculously oversized breasts or Bob Makihara’s penis, the actual content of his manga does very little for me. An unholy fusion of Tenjho Tenge, Ikki Tousen, Beyblade and Shaman King, Air Gear is the tale of spiky-haired Ikki, his buxom companions, and the rollerblading sport of Air Trak- or to put it more succinctly, it’s complete dross. No matter how much curiosity compels you to watch this, take my advice and give it a wide berth.

Final words: With breasts like that, those girls must get backache.

Aria the Natural

punyu

The first season of Aria was excellent, but Natural goes one better by doubling the episode count and giving us a full 26 episodes of sweet and heart-warming gondola life on the planet of Aqua. From the beautiful setting to eponymous fat cat President Aria, everything about the series is right on the money in terms of creating a simple yet absorbing world. Bring on season three.

Final words: Punyu!

Disgaea
Since RPG-based series are rarely worth watching, I wasn’t really planning to investigate Disgaea- at least until I watched the trailer. An ironically hilarious take on the RPG world, Disgaea’s trailer promised much, but the actual series itself delivered all too little. As it turned out, the reason the trailer was so good was because the entire series budget had been spent on it- meaning that the episodes themselves were poorly animated cyclical repeats of the same tired and worn jokes.

Final words: Pizza in the face? Excuse me while I try to force a laugh…oh wait, I can’t.

Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid Tessa OVA
Much as I like Tessa, this OVA didn’t really do much for me; aside from a select handful which hit the mark, most of the jokes fell completely flat. It’s something you watch for completion rather than enjoyment.

Final words: Dull, dull, dull.

The Gargoyle of the Yoshinagas
The tale of the Yoshinaga family’s animated stone guardian, Gargoyle may seem like a kid’s show at first glance, but it is nonetheless a highly entertaining story. In Gargoyle’s hands, everything from battles between stone monsters to talking to flowers takes on a new vitality. It’s funny, off-kilter, and eminently worthy.

Final words: All hail Gar-san.

Gintama
I only watched the first twenty-five minutes of Gintama, but what I saw didn’t really click with me. Apparently it’s meant to be a tongue-in-cheek approach to Shounen Jump, but I just couldn’t force myself to pay attention to it.

Final words: I liked that large white animal, but nothing else drew me in.

Good Witch of the West – Astraea Testament
When it first started, Good Witch seemed to be the fantasy series we had all been waiting for; a fairytale of intrigue and romance set in a magical kingdom. Unfortunately, within the space of a few episodes, Good Witch had become so bogged down with different plotlines that it was difficult to tell where it was supposed to be going. After continuing in this manner all the way to the end, Good Witch left viewers with plenty of story threads, but not much in the way of coherence- maybe the manga is better, but I’m not about to risk wasting money on it.

Final thoughts: It’s the sample book of plot directions.

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni
It may have started as a tense psychological horror, but after the first few episodes Higurashi’s main draw was its sheer gore factor. A somewhat inconsistent series that mixed moments with greatness with more pedestrian sections, Higurashi may have only covered six of the eight game arcs, but spoilers revealed that the solution to the mystery was too obvious to be satisfying.

Final words: “It wasn’t me, I am not evil or suspicious at all.”

Hime-sama Goyoujin
Truth be told, I shouldn’t really be writing about Hime-sama- I only saw about eight minutes of the first episode, and I had so little clue as to what was going on that I couldn’t bring myself to watch anymore.

Final words: Utterly confusing.

Jyu-oh-sei
One of a rare few series which I picked up months after dropping it, Jyu-oh-sei made good parody material, but had little worth as far as entertainment went. The bulk of the series, which saw cycle-wear model Thor stranded on jungle planet Chimera, was average and predictable, but was nonetheless sheer excellence when compared to the laughably ridiculous ending. A rushed story with a nonsensical ending- if I hadn’t wanted to parody it, I would never have watched past episode four.

Final words: If you want to attain at least a shred of credibility, magical DNA is not the way to go.

Kamisama Kazoku

kamisama-kazoku
At first glance, Kamisama Kazoku looked to be the spiritual successor of Kamichu- a sweet and simple series about a youthful god. In fact, to borrow a phrase from a lecturer of mine, Kamisama was a very different animal- a series that ranged from juvenile to infantile in its fanservice laden lack of hilarity. After struggling all the way to the third story arc by virtue of the show’s worthiest character- Tenko- I realised that I simply could not take anymore and crumbled a mere four episodes before the end.

Final words: Look, Mama is naked in an apron!

Keroro Gunso: the Movie
Series-based anime movies are as formulaic as they come, and unfortunately the Keroro movie is no exception. There are a few entertaining moments, but not really enough to justify spending an hour of your life watching a story that has been done a thousand times before.

Final words: Giant Keroro is the worthiest aspect of this movie.

Kiba
Like Tokyo Underground, Kiba is one of those series that just seems like an inferior amalgam of numerous other series- there’s industrial word, pastoral world, summoning of destined monsters, and numerous other ideas that have been done better many times before. Roia was truly the only worthy aspect of this seemingly never-ending series- in fact, is anyone even watching it anymore?

Final words: Series and games ripped off by Kiba include Tokyo Underground, Ergo Proxy, .hack, Yu-Gi-Oh!, YuYu Hakusho, Dragonball Z, Pokemon, Hunter X Hunter Greed Island OVA, Mai-HiME, Dynasty Warriors and Suikoden.

Love GetChu!
Due to slow subbing, I have only watched four episodes of this series so far, but it has already proven itself a worthy source of light entertainment. The tale of a group of young girls trying to become voice actors, Love GetChu! does exactly what Kiba failed to achieve- it takes ideas used in earlier series, and combines them into a worthy whole. There’s a ditzy lead, standard personalities, a Maison Ikkoku style apartment and a hint of romance, but somehow it all comes together to make something enjoyable rather than tiresome.

Final words: Please sub more, or I’ll have to start on the raws.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
Once an obscure series of novels, Haruhi catapulted to fame after its first episode captured the fandom, but as the series progressed, opinions became divided. Although there now exists a small but vocal “yay Haruhi great lol” group, still others (myself included) concluded the series with a more sceptical view on the whole franchise. The characters were insipid, the stories were disappointing and not at all helped by being aired in a random, non-chronological order, and the humour had all but dried up after episode three. It may have gained cult status, but I can’t help wondering why.

Final words: I did actually like the fourth novel.

Nana
The tale of two very different girls both named Nana, Nana was an interesting shoujo drama in manga form, but unfortunately the transition to anime turned it into something far more dull and boring. With the bulk of the series’ focus falling on ‘Hachi’, the less interesting of the two Nanas, Nana failed to engage the attention, and was eventually indefinitely put to one side.

Final words: Less Hachi, more Nana.

Ouran High School Host Club

kyouya
The delightfully over the top story of one poor girl and six rich guys running a host club at the prestigious Ouran High School, Ouran delivered standard jokes with such infectious enthusiasm that it was impossible not to laugh at them. A fewer weaker instalments and too many episodes focusing on twin brothers Hikaru and Kaoru prevent this from being a pick of the year, but it is certainly worth watching.

Final words: Kyouya is god.

Ray the Animation

Ray is another series I dropped after a single episode, but unfortunately it didn’t really seem to merit any more. As someone with various family members in the medical field, ridiculous conditions like tumours that retreat into the heart when operated on are a bit too much to swallow, and thus this medical-themed series was not fated to last long.

Final words: Monster remains the only decent medicine-related anime.

Saiunkoku Monogatari

saimono
At first glance, SaiMono looked to be yet another period series featuring a girl and her attendant bishies, but how wrong I was. SaiMono is leagues beyond the likes of Fushigi Yuugi in terms of quality- this isn’t a reverse harem romance, it is an absorbing tale of political intrigue in the fictional country of Saiunkoku, blended with the the story of Kou Shuurei, a young woman dedicated to improving her country through breaking precedent and becoming a government official. Every episode of SaiMono is like an addictive drug, leaving you desperate for your next fix.

Final words: I need more! More, more more!

School Rumble Nigakki
After thoroughly enjoying the first season of School Rumble, I was looking forward to the continued antics of Tenma, Yakumo, Eri and the rest, but unfortunately, Nigakki failed to deliver. With its crazier humour and lack of plot progression, Nigakki soon grew stale, especially when it meandered into the realms of filler during the latter half of the season.

Final words: Please, let it end.

Simoun
I was actually looking forward to Simoun before it aired, but upon actually watching the first episode, all my expectations for the series were shattered. A poor woman’s HARD YURI version of Last Exile, Simoun features ugly snail-like craft that are not only powered by the pilots getting out of the cockpit and kissing whilst in mid-air, but also have special abilities like drawing pretty lines on the sky. With no discernible plot whatsoever, the series had to be dropped.

Final words: HARD YURI power is an eco-friendly solution to dwindling supplies of fossil fuels.

Tsubasa Chronicle season 2
Whatever it was that made Tsubasa season one so enjoyable (and in retrospect, was it really all that enjoyable?) seemed to have vanished by season two, which devolved into a slow and dull mix of lacklustre adaptations and mediocre filler, all animated in Bee Train’s trademark “stills only” style. When each episode started featuring no fewer than three insipid insert songs, it was time to put the series to rest.

Final words: Go, you filler bus! Drive along that road, carrying your passengers!

Utawarerumono

uta-24-450
It started as a pastoral fantasy, only to slowly reveal its flaws and turn into a harem series with ill-fitting sci-fi elements, but nonetheless, somehow Utawarerumono merited its own addiction phase. The series itself was lacking, but it led into the game, the mini-game, the parodies, and sparked many ideas simply due to the potential the setting contained. Not a pick of the year, but notable for being integral to the life of this blog- even now “gwakakaka” is still going strong.

Final words: Karura and Touka are all.

xxxHOLiC
I love the darkly stylish xxxHOLiC manga, but when the time came to turn it into an anime, something seemed to go terribly wrong. The high contrast art style became a washed out version of its former self, stories were slow and filled with dull exposition scenes, and the overall result was none too tantalising. I completed the series out of loyalty to the manga, but in retrospect I would have been better off not to do so.

Finally words: This could have been so much better.

Yume Tsukai
At first glance, I thought that the story of three dream masters would be a touching slice of life piece in the vein of Kokoro Library. At second glance, I awoke to the fact that this was not the case; instead, this was a poorly animated and poorly constructed series of tales in which one of the main characters has a fetish for underage girls. Shrine of the Morning Mist simply blows it out of the water.

Final words: It could have been good, but let’s face it, it wasn’t.

Zegapain
Sunrise, when will you learn that churning out endless mecha series doesn’t necessarily mean that any of them will actually be worth watching? Apparently Zegapain improves later on, but the starving man’s Aquarion vibe given off by the first couple of episodes (not to mention the unnecessary nudity) was enough to ensure that I never actually reached those episodes.

Final words: The apples that appeared in episode one were the best characters.

SUMMER 2006

Binbou Shimai Monogatari
The evening before watching the first episode of Binbou, I read sixteen chapters of the manga, almost all of which began with a variation on “Mother died; Father ran up gambling debts and disappeared.” In case you hadn’t guessed, that is the setting for this anime about two sisters living in poverty, which is perhaps the most lifeless and half-hearted slice-of-life series that I’ve encountered. An angst-filled example of how poor the genre can be, Binbou went through the motions, but achieved nothing more.

Final words: I don’t know if you’ve heard this before, but Mother died and Father ran up debts and disappeared.

Bokura ga Ita
One of the first ever series to feature in my Weekly Round-Up, Bokura ga Ita’s tenure in my viewing schedule was nothing if not brief. A poor man’s version of Kare Kano, Bokura ga Ita featured all the angst and drama, but completely neglected the elements that would have made the series enjoyable. After struggling through a dull episode populated by dislikeable leads and a Nagato Yuki clone, I gave up on it.

Final words: Not my cup of angst.

Le Chevalier d’Eon

feel-my-blade
Despite treading perilously close to the realms of cheese, Chevalier consistently manages to deliver an absorbing historical fantasy despite its lack of much in the way of accuracy. The tale of d’Eon, a French knight who not only gets drawn into a shady underworld of magic and manipulation, but also ends up housing his sister’s soul, Chevalier’s only inconsistency in its animation, which starts well but soon goes downhill.

Chocotto Sister
Haruma has always wanted a little sister, and one Christmas, Santa delivers just that. Choco, as Haruma names her, is entirely devoted to her big brother, but unfortunately she is so completely lacking in life skills that she has to refer to a notebook. This could have been a passable slice-of-life series, but unfortunately it chose the route of excessive fanservice instead- when a series needs to use police tape as a censor, it is never a good sign.

Final words: What, you don’t like naked aprons?

Coyote Ragtime Show
Aside from its infamous turn as the “Great ANN Ad”, Coyote Ragtime Show is a series best forgotten- even the name serves a warning. A tale of MANLY men and gothlolis for every month of the year, Coyote Ragtime Show lacked anything even approximating worth; I went into it with low expectations and was still disappointed.

Final words: ADV licensed this? They think it’s good? Where is Kurau!?

FLAG
Years ago, when my supply of anime was less plentiful, Gasaraki happened to be one of the few series that I had access to. Despite appearing to be quite bland and boring on the surface, I forced myself to keep watching the series until I finally gained something of an appreciation for its intricate politics; with that in mind, I was determined to give FLAG- a similar series from the same creators- a fair chance. Unfortunately, once the novelty of having the story told through monitor stills and the lens of a camera wore off, FLAG proved to be a dull series with bland character designs and ugly mecha. I feel slightly guilty for not giving it as much of a chance as I did for Gasaraki, but then again, there’s more to watch these days.

Final words: Gritty realism with issues relevant to today’s society? Take it back, please, and come up with a phrase that’s less overused.

Hanoka
No matter how poor it was, I was confident I could sit through a series where each episode was only five minutes long, but as Hanoka went out of its way to demonstrate, that wasn’t the case. Animated in Flash, Hanoka looked like an amateur piece, complete with a generic storyline to accompany its unimpressive looks- in the end, it had to go.

Final words: Five minutes of boredom is five minutes too many.

Honey and Clover II
I loved the first season of Honey and Clover, and perhaps it was because of that that I was secretly sceptical about a second season; the last thing I wanted was for my high opinion of the series to be ruined, but unfortunately, that’s just what happened. Although it did indeed have its moments of excellence, H&C II lost points for focusing on minor character Kaoru before turning into some kind of “who gets Hagu?” dating sim (with added “Mayama the stalker”). Yes, I understand the deeper arguments behind the resolution and the characters’ choices, but it was simply handled too flippantly for me to enjoy it.

Final words: One word- disappointing.

Innocent Venus
Innocent Venus may have looked vaguely promising before it aired, but when it turned out to be a poor rehash of ideas from numerous different series (not to mention completely unable to retain the attention), the adventures of Jo, Sana and Jin had to be put aside. Thanks to this series, however, there are various unwelcome images that will forever be burned into my mind- the irritating pirate captain and his busty first mate; the Last Exile psycho killer team; blood pooling out of a man’s smashed faceplate and those ugly, ugly mecha. After the series finished airing, I did consider giving it another chance, but happily I think I’m over that phase.

Final words: I already posted this list way back when I was watching the series, but let’s refresh our memories as to the series IV ripped off- Last Exile, Wolf’s Rain, Kurau, Hunter X Hunter, Burst Angel, Mahou Shoujotai, Arc Twilight of the Spirits, Stand Alone Complex, Gasaraki, .hack//Roots.

Kemonozume
If appreciating Kenozume’s artwork is supposed to indicate some kind of superior taste, then I’m happy to call myself inferior; yes, technically it has its strengths, but on purely visceral grounds, I find it hideous. The tale of a clan of demon hunters, one of whom falls in love with demon, the relationship between Kemonozume and I was destined to be short from the moment they showed a man losing bowel control onscreen.

Final words: Sex and defecation- how mature.

Koi Suru Tenshi Angelique
With its nine brightly coloured bishies, Angelique was clearly never going to be marvellous, but I went into believing that it would at least offer up some light entertainment. Unfortunately, what I got was an insipid mess with even less plot than its sister series Haruka 8; unless watching a dull lead wandering around a castle and chatting to bishounen sounds exciting to you, be sure to avoid it.

Final words: It’s like a computer game in which you can’t ever leave the hub world and actually play a level.

Night Head Genesis

night-head-genesis
Featuring a pair of brothers pursued due to their unique psychic abilities, NHG had the potential to be a chilling and compelling series that would have been the spiritual successor to Kurau, but as it turns out, reality was far less kind. A barely comprehensible string of scenes that seemed to thinly disguise a HARD GAY propaganda piece, NHG become downright painful by its fourth episode, and was thus swiftly removed from the viewing schedule.

Final words: Give me Kurau and Christmas any day.

Otogi-jushi Akazukin TV
It was always abundantly clearer that Akazukin was aimed at a younger audience, but in the early days it nonetheless exuded a simplistic charm that was enough to keep it watchable. Unfortunately, as the series progressed with no hint of a plot outside of our fairytale-based heroes fighting magical monsters of the week, it all started becoming a little tedious. I haven’t actually dropped it yet, but I’m only a hair’s breadth away from doing so.

Final words: I hate those damned Sweet Phones.

Tsuyokiss
Tsuyokiss was one of those series I watched just because the name got stuck in my head after the “Great Tsundere Debate of 2006”. Unfortunately, after assembling a cast that was generic beyond belief, and throwing in some awful scenes about a drama club, it managed to drop into the red after just one episode. I had originally intended to watch a little more of the series, but when the subs dried up, so did what little enthusiasm I had for the series.

Final words: It may be Cool X Sweet, but it tastes more like Generic X Dull to me.

Welcome to the NHK
Just prior to watching the first episode of NHK, I finally started on the manga, and was instantly amused at its bleak comedy. As I well knew, however, Gonzo are not the best at adapting manga series into animated form, and indeed, no amount of optimism could disguise the fact that they messed up with NHK, somehow sucking out all the humour and turning it into a bland romance instead. Apparently the series improves in its second half, but I really didn’t have the will to keep watching past episode eleven.

Final words: Damn you, Gonzo, for messing up ultimate moe!

Zero no Tsukaima
Although the novels are quite entertaining, Zero no Tsukaima takes what could have been an interesting (dare I say Harry Potter-esque?) story about an Earth boy interacting with the students of a magical school and turns it into insipid, fanservice-ridden fluff. This was yet another series that I briefly toyed with picking up again, but when every cell in my body rebelled against it, I was forced to abandon that plan.

Final words: Guiche is no Tamaki.

AUTUMN 2006

Asatte no Houkou

asatte-no-houkou
Despite the fact that I have yet to watch the ending (which sounds quite bland from what I’ve read), I’ve tentatively given Asatte ‘Pick of the Year’ status for the ease in which it drew me into its world. It does have its flaws, but the series certainly deserves points for taking the age-old idea of having a child suddenly become an adult (and vice versa) and turning it into a compelling drama instead of playing it just for laughs.

Final words: The manga just sounds scary.

Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto
The final title to earn ‘Pick of the Year’ status, Bakumatsu was not a series I could easily get into; trying to penetrate just exactly what was going in the first few episodes was pretty much beyond me. Over time, however, it began to exert an irresistible lure; from the beautiful OP and general atmosphere to the refreshing novelty of a series set in period Japan that isn’t an action or Shounen Jump title, there is much of worth here.

Final words: Like Chevalier, it takes the cheesy and transforms it into the highly worthy.

Bartender
When I first heard of a series about a bartender who helps his customers by finding their ‘destined drink’, I knew I had to watch it for the novelty alone- and I was secretly hoping that it was one of those series that sounded laughable but actually turned out to be worthy. As it turned out, Bartender was the kind of series that leads only to boredom, fidgeting and irritation- especially when you try to swallow the fact that a mere glass of a particular cocktail can radically change someone’s entire life.

Final words: I don’t even like alcohol, so I should have known I wouldn’t like this series.

Black Blood Brothers
“Oh dear” is all that can be said to the prospect of yet another series featuring a moody bishounen vampire and his unhelpful sidekicks fighting against generic evil vampires, and indeed, BBB had nothing to bring to an overworked franchise. By the third episode, it proved entirely impossible to concentrate on what was going on, and so the series had to be abandoned.

Final words: I played Go through much of episode three.

Busou Renkin

busou-renkin
Upon learning that Busou Renkin was from the same creator as Kenshin, I was actually looking forward to it- little did I know that where Kenshin was solid and sound, BR was the dumping ground for all the mangaka’s strange and twisted ideas. A standard shounen series filled with everything from the terrifying (Papillon’s thong) to the bizarre (Moon Face), Busou Renkin is far from great, but I watch it partially for Tokiko and mostly for my parodies.

Final words: I pinned all my hopes on Moon Face, but his special technique is a big disappointment.

Code Geass- Lelouch of the Rebellion
The latest stage in the search for that elusive good mecha series, Code Geass turned out to be yet another product from the dango-addled minds at Sunrise. Despite boasting CLAMP character designs, Geass proved to be little more than Gundam Seed Destiny Remix, complete with Kira, Athrun, Lacus, Flay, Lunamaria and more (not to mention added rip-offs from various other sources). Had I known from the start that it was going to be fifty episodes, I wouldn’t have struggled with it for as long as I did.

Final words: How many times am I going to have to say that the cat was the best part of a particular series?

La Corda d’Oro

corda
Despite my bad experiences with fellow Neoromance series Haruka and Angelique, Corda’s focus on music made it seem worthy and so it was duly tried. Despite the extreme predictability and the fact that giving the lead a magical violin amounts to little more than cheating, Corda is an enjoyable series which mixes brightly coloured bishies with an actual plot.

Final words: Behind every good natured lead are multiple bishounen backing her up.

D. Gray-man
Although there was a brief period in which D.Gray-man looked like it might be the one shounen action series I followed this season, this poor man’s FMA blew it early by killing off its most interesting character (unsurprisingly, a fat cat which I have named “Big Boss”). The series never really recovered from this loss, and by the third episode, it was clearly time to put it aside and focus on shounen series which could at least be parodied.

Final words: Why is it called D.Gray-man anyway?

Death Note
Despite my quibbles with the second half of the series, I did enjoy the Death Note manga, and therefore it might seem quite odd that I always seem so negative towards the anime. Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that the battle of wits between Light, a student with a notebook that can kill people just by writing their name in it, and L, the detective appointed to stop him, is simply too exposition heavy to succeed in animated form. Excepting those laughably theatrical moments when Light and L seem to phase into a coloured ‘Justice Mode’, Madhouse have done the best job they can with the material, but this is really a series that needed to be told through straight prose, not animation.

Final words: Justice Mode, engage!

Ghost Hunt
In case you hadn’t already guessed, Ghost Hunt is about hunting ghosts…or at least, standing around and arguing over what to do about said ghosts. Featuring the by now familiar ‘eclectic bunch of heroes’, Ghost Hunt seemed to be nothing more than the autumn’s Ayakashi- a series that made mediocre stories even worse by playing them at 1/3 speed.

Final words: Generic by name, generic by nature.

Hataraki Man
When I first read about Hataraki Man, it sounded like it could easily become a pick of the season- what could be more enjoyable than the tale of an overworked journalist? Unfortunately, my hopes for a superior slice-of-life series were instantly shattered by the first episode, which portrayed the main character as just the sort of ‘I need a REAL MAN’ woman that I really dislike, and surrounded her with a group of dull and generic supporting characters. A single episode turned out to be more than enough.

Final words: It’s strikeout time for Moyoco Anno.

Kanon [2006]

kanon
Given how much I loved Air, I was expecting Kanon’s ‘sad girls in snow’ to elicit the same feelings of enjoyment, but unfortunately, after the first couple of episodes, it was clear that Kanon just wasn’t in the same lead. With an overly sarcastic lead whose main pastime seemed to be verbally abusing all the girls around him whilst they smiled and asked for more, Kanon proved that its main worth lay in parody.

Final words: Yuuichi is one of the foremost villains of the era.

Mai-Otome Zwei
Like the very dango that Sunrise subsists upon, Mai-Otome may not be good for the health, but an unhealthy fascination draws one back to it. The first episode of this OVA sees an evil Shadow Otome start petrifying and absorbing various main characters, whilst Queen Mashiro and Meister Arika’s bond is tested to the limit in preparation for the angst, forgiveness and destiny phases later on.

Final words: At least we got to see some fat cats.

Maria-sama ga Miteru OVA
I enjoyed the first two seasons of MariMite, but having been expecting this OVA since around March, I had pretty much lost enthusiasm by the time it finally rolled around. Episode one sees Yumi accompany Sachiko to her summer villa, only for her week of HARD YURI to be spoiled by general apathy and evil lesbians. The next episode looks like it will be better, but this one was far too standard to truly entertain.

Final words: Onee-sama!

Negima!?
Although the idea of a ten year old boy teaching a class of thirty-one junior high students was never really one that appealed to me, Negima is one of those big name titles that you have to try just to say you have. With my progress into the manga going slowly and my knowledge of the first anime season basically nonexistent, this new series seemed like an ideal place to start. Unfortunately, our relationship was never destined to be a long one- the animation may have been good, but the story left far too much to be desired. With too many insipid characters and a divergence from the very manga arcs I was interested in, Negima!? had to go.

Final words: That ferret is creepy.

Pumpkin Scissors
Gonzo series must always be watched in case they turn out to be the next Last Exile, but as Pumpkin Scissors demonstrated, most of them have no hope of ever entering the same league as Claus and Lavie’s tale. Another FMA-lite tale, this time with Blonde Heroine 10658 at its head, Pumpkin Scissors failed to inspire to such an extent that it was abandoned after the first episode. It will, however, be making a comeback in parody form.

Final words: The Pumpkin Scissors must cut through the pumpkin-esque layers of corruption like a pair of scissors. I’m not kidding.

Red Garden
Another Gonzo effort, Red Garden is effectively ‘Gantz with girls’, featuring four teenage girls who have been revived after their deaths in order to fight slavering men. Despite being drenched in angst, Red Garden looked to have an interesting mystery at its core, but with each passing revelation the truth behind it all becomes ever more laughable and ridiculous.

Final words: KEITO! KULAIR! ROSU! RACHERU!

Rozen Maiden Ouverture
Great visuals and average story were what I expected from Ouverture, and predictably, that is just what this two-part special delivered. The tale of Shinku first met Suigintou and turned her into the psychotic witch we know and love, any enjoyment Ouverture had to offer was simply overshadowed by the amount of plot holes in the Rozen Maiden story.

Final words: More explanations, less ‘wtf’, please.

Shounen Onmyouji
After a poorly subbed first episode, my time with Shounen Onmyouji seemed destined to be short, but fortunately Yoroshiku saw fight to pick up the series, and it was a given a second chance. As the title indicates, Shounen Onmyouji covers the adventures of youthful onmyouji Masahiro, grandson of Abe no Seimei. Together with his destined powers and sidekick Mokkun, Masahiro set out to battle evil foreign demons from the West, but can he prove himself worthy of being Seimei’s successor? A surprisingly fun series that is, if not gold, at least parody silver.

Final words: Imagine how good it could have been if Bishie-Seimei was the lead, and Guren wore proper clothes.

Tenpou Ibun Ayakashi Ayashi
Yet another in a long line of period series, Ayakashi Ayashi is about…well, I actually can’t recall what it was supposed to be about. The only images burned into my brain are those of a disturbingly HARD GAY male bathhouse scene and a fight between two monsters, one with a head shaped like a wang, and the other which looks like three wangs joined together. With that in mind, is it any wonder I chose not to watch past the first episode?

Final words: I should have known that a series with ‘Ayakashi’ in the title was to be avoided.

Tokimeki Memorial
As the doyen of all dating sims (not to mention the one that gets parodied most often), it seemed only right to watch Tokimeki’s long overdue anime incarnation. After just a single episode, however, all such feelings of duty had long since evaporated in the face of the fact that this series was completely and utterly crazy and random- and not in a good, Pani Poni Dash sense. Apart from the chick in the first episode, there seemed little to recommend this makeshift collection of scenes, and so it was quickly swept under the carpet.

Final words: I think I’ll stick with Ukidoki Memorial.

Yoake Mae Yori Ruriiro Na ~Crescent Love~

yoake-003-450
If you discount the sex scenes, H-game CGs always look good. Anyone got any from Jingai Makyo?

A series that I wanted to watch purely on the strength of some promo artwork, YoakeNa follows the romance between earth boy Tatsuya and Feena, princess of the Moon. Admittedly, it did start out as light fun, but as the weeks passed both the animation and story quality deteriorated to the point where each episode was more an excuse to take a nap than anything else.

Final words: I dislike the series, but I need that figure.

Looking Ahead to 2007
I had planned to try my hand at the obligatory ‘winter season preview’ post, but when I realised that my three paragraph effort would be a firefly as compared to the moon of Hung’s multi-part season preview posts, I quickly abandoned that idea in favour of putting a few words at the end here.

To be honest, the coming winter season doesn’t really look that exciting- do we really need more episodes of Angelique, FLAG and Kamisama Kazoku, much less a remake of Ikki Tousen? Despite the danger of not enjoying the most hyped series, I can’t help looking forward to trying the Ichigo Mashimaro OVA and ‘Corda but better’ Nodame Cantabile; I’m also slightly curious about Les Miserables, although fifty episodes of that does seem a bit much. The likes of ‘chibi-HiME’ Venus Versus Virus and anything dating sim or virtual girl based will most likely be avoided.

Looking further into the year, we have the disappointing news that Bokurano’s anime adaptation is being handled by ‘let’s mess up the story’ Gonzo, as well as a Spring debut for the third season of Nanoha, now with less loli. And regardless of whatever else there is to watch, there’s always more Otome Zwei and MariMite episodes- what fun…

Join me again on Tuesday for the New Year Rumble.

3 thoughts on “Annual Round-Up: 2006

  1. Wow, I’d actually forgotten how much had gone on this year! It’s good to see that I wasn’t the only one impressed with the quirky Pale coccoon, although Mushishi was the shining light of the past twelve months by far. After an impressive-ish opening episode though, Ray seemed to leave me a little cold…apart from the great op theme.

    Death Note also rocked hard but you’re right about it coming across better on paper.

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