A normal day at Azure Flame.
It’s been a year of ups and downs, of anime gems and utter disappointments- a year when I’ve alternated between craving more and feeling utterly fed up with the continuing deluge of episodes that take no account of the fact that people might have other things to do than stay in and watch all day. Nonetheless, in true years-end tradition, we must review all the new series in an Annual Round-Up, a project which I meant to periodically update through the year but ended up writing at the last minute again.
As always, red titles are those which were dropped, and blues are the picks of the year. Come back on Tuesday for the New Year Rumble, in which we take a look at the year in the life of Azure Flame.
STILL RUNNING FROM 2006
Asatte no Houkou
The beginning of the year saw the end of Asatte no Houkou, a series that had started as a strong character drama and slice-of-life piece, but lost it somewhere with its slow pacing and plot contrivances. Ultimately, the series was a ‘curate’s egg’, good in parts but sorely lacking in others.
Final words: The series may have been called ‘The Direction of the Day After Tomorrow’, but sadly the plot sometimes lacked direction.
Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto
Last year, I labelled the emerging Iroha as a tentative pick of the year, but in retrospect, it was more silver than the gold tier it seemed at first. Despite remaining generally enjoyable throughout, the series got mired in a repetitive storyline, numerous historical cameos and an ending that defied sense and explanation.
Final words: Good for those who like action or historical series, but sadly not worthy of entering the hall of classics.
Ah, Busou Renkin, a series replete with cheesiness, ridiculous special abilities and Shounen Jump clichés- on the surface of it, hardly something worth writing home about, and yet an important series in its own right. A prime parody candidate, every week of Busou Renkin brought more hilarity than the creators had ever meant to include as Kazuki found himself torn between the worlds of HARD GAY, STRAIGHT and BI.
Final words: I wouldn’t actually watch the series ever again, but parodying it was a lot of fun- blogging hasn’t been the same since.
Le Chevalier d’Eon
At the end of last year, Chevalier was going strong, and it lost very little of its appeal as it moved into its closing episodes. Yes, the ending didn’t make a great deal of sense on close inspection, but with strong characters, worthy action scenes and an unfaltering sense of historical atmosphere, Chevalier remained enjoyable throughout.
Final words: Good enough to parody twice.
La Corda d’Oro
Last year, I had an optimistic view of Corda; this time around, the tale of a Neoromance reverse harem would surely have decent characters and some kind of a plot- or so I thought. Unfortunately, it was not to be- whilst our lead cheated her way through the music competition with a magical violin, the shallow supporting characters and slow pacing did nothing to disguise the general lack of substance.
Final words: Another game adaptation hardly worth writing home about.
I enjoyed the Death Note manga, but in anime form, it wasn’t a series that could work for me- the long exposition scenes never seemed suited for an animated format, and attempts to bring the story to life only made Light seem overly theatrical under his red spotlight. After many episodes of thinking “well, the next arc will be better”, I decided to terminate my relationship with the series.
Final words: It didn’t flourish in animated format.
As we must all know by now, after the first few episodes, Kanon failed to do much for me- Yuuichi was always too sarcastic and cruel to the girls, who were in turn too one-dimensional to do anything about it. Despite the series’ attempts to tug at the heartstrings, overall it failed to ignite for me, ending up as only another excuse for parody.
Final words: Sad girls in snow don’t make me cry.
Most trainwrecks have the grace to stop and let the rescue crew hunt for survivors, but not Mai-Otome- it just keeps rumbling on. Aside from one or two good action scenes, this whole OVA proved to be a waste of time, introducing a pointless enemy and filling every spare moment with character cameos and fanservice. There was no real reason to expect anything else, but why do I keep getting sucked into this franchise?
Final words: Why do I already know I’ll be watching the next sub-par Otome OVA?
Despite attempts to make its mark with a distinctive art style and a New York setting, Red Garden managed to utterly fail at either the horror or character drama it was presumably aiming for. With four angsty leads who spent most of their time whining or crying and a mystery that dragged on into a totally ridiculous conclusion, Red Garden was a largely dull experience that never rewarded the patience of those who dared to persevere with it.
Final words: Don’t bother with it. Really. It doesn’t get better later on.
On the strength of its first season, SaiMono established itself as one of my favourites; far from the reverse harem series it first appeared, it actually proved to be an absorbing tale of intrigue, politics and character interaction as one woman chased her dream of becoming her country’s first female official. Of course, the attractive character designs don’t hurt, but to consider this series shallow just because of that would be to do it a great disservice.
Final words: I don’t see why anyone reading this blog wouldn’t have watched SaiMono yet, but if you haven’t, get to it now.
A fairly generic tale of a young onymouji being sent to fight the strongest demons just because he happens to be the main character, Shounen Onmyouji was often pointless and rarely very good, but somehow managed to retain interest by having twelve spirit summons who were gradually introduced over the course of the series- and with many of them having little more than a basic appearance, the series even seemed to demand a second season in which to adapt more of the novels.
Final words: Large casts usually work against a series, but in this case it was a draw for an otherwise average series.
Winter is traditionally a slow month for anime, but could the fledgling 2007 break the curse of the cold months? Sadly, with only a couple of worthy series that were worth following to the end, it seemed that it could not.
Despite numerous failures, I’ve always kept my eye out for decent fantasy series, but sadly, Deltora Quest was not one of them. Despite being so packed with cliché and unintentional hilarity that it could have made a good parody candidate, the fact that the series needed to resort to budget saving flashbacks and stills as early as episode four was far from a good sign, and when the next episode proved to be even more dull and uneventful (consisting as it did of answering riddles), the series was quickly shelved, never to be touched again.
Final words: Classic fantasy in anime needs drastic reinvention.
Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight
School comedies have always been hit or miss for me, and Manabi Straight struck right out in its first episode. With an energetic and clueless lead who somehow becomes school president, Manabi Straight didn’t do a great deal for me, and was quickly assigned to the Recycle Bin.
Final words: Not for me.
Ichigo Mashimaro OVA
Basically a continuation of the TV series, the Ichigo Mashimaro OVA offered three more episodes of Nobue and the girls’ everyday adventures. Despite dragging a little in the second episode, overall the OVA was as entertaining as the TV series, with apt observations and polished delivery and timing turning basic activities into a source of amusement and entertainment.
Final words: A nice coda for a strong TV series.
Les Miserables Shoujo Cosette
As an attempt to adapt the original novel to a fifty-episode series aimed at the younger audience, Cosette seemed determined to make life hard for itself, and the results were appropriately unspectacular. With its emphasis on the Cinderella-esque life of Cosette, the series dripped with twee sentiments and overused plotlines to the exclusion of the good parts of the story.
Final words: Almost painful in its execution.
Maria-sama ga Miteru OVA
Prior to this OVA, I liked MariMite- despite all the angst, it managed to deliver a worthy tale of school life with a sprinkling of HARD YURI. Unfortunately, it was not a format that could make the transition to fifty-minute OVA episodes with any grace- everything became terribly long, drawn out and dull, whilst the HARD YURI content took advantage of its newfound freedom to reach new and unforeseen heights.
Final words: I’ll still be trying season four, but this OVA was a major setback for the franchise.
The only real noteworthy TV series from the winter season (aside from Hidamari Sketch and Himawari!!, both of which I still need to start), Nodame Cantabile promised to be ‘Honey and Clover with music’, but instead became tantalisingly inconsistent. At times, its insights into its two leads- one a technical genius, the other an intuitive talent- made it compelling viewing, but all too often the off-kilter humour and wacky side characters ruined the mood, whilst an air of Shounen Jump “let’s level up and make the strongest orchestra!” always lurked in the background. Despite these flaws, however, Nodame was overall a worthwhile investment of time, and with the manga still ongoing, a second season would be welcomed.
Final words: Snatches of greatness kept the series appealing even as the wackier elements suggested switching off would be the way to go.
Spring is usually the best season for anime, and indeed there were lots of promising contenders right out of the gate. When it came to the long haul, however, which would make it to the finish line, and which would run out of steam?
As readers may know, I love, adore and worship the Bokurano manga, and so I was delighted to hear that it was going to be adapted into an anime…right up until the moment I heard Studio “adaptation trainwreck” Gonzo would be handling it. Nonetheless, I went into the series with an open mind, only to find disappointment with major story changes and a complete lack of tension in the pacing- worse yet, the director himself claimed that he didn’t even like the original! I took his advice and chose not to watch any more.
Final words: If someone tries to pretend this anime even existed, I shall stick my fingers in my ears and sing loudly.
I’ve managed to upset many Claymore fans by not rating the manga very highly, but let’s face it- faults aside, I’m still reading after seventy-four chapters and I do want to know how it’s all going to turn out. The same could not be said for the anime, which bucked me off like a recalcitrant horse after a mere eleven episodes thanks to uninspiring characters, dull fight scenes and a washed out colour scheme.
Final words: Give me Berserk any day.
Darker than Black
During its early episodes, I had the highest of hopes for Darker than Black- it seemed slick, well directed and packed with the perfect mix of exposition, mystery and action. Unfortunately, despite such a strong start, the series soon began to flounder, adopting a pacing more suited to a fifty-episode series as it introduced minor characters, packed in last minute explanations and generally failed to live up to those early days. Even Yoko Kanno’s work on the music didn’t seem up to her usual high standard, ensuring that no aspect of the series really lived up to its potential.
Final words: Darker than Black it may be, but it wasn’t better than good.
Ah, Dennou Coil, how much more can I praise you? I accept that this series wasn’t perfect, but if you’ll excuse the lapse into informality, it was damn close. Never before has a series so deserved to be lavished with internet praise along the lines of 1337, awesome and w1n, all thanks to an intriguing setting and story, combined with memorable and well developed characters. Mere words alone are not enough to praise this series, which was surely the best offering of 2007.
Final words: I worship at the shrine of Dennou Coil, and encourage others to join.
El Cazador de la Bruja
Better known as “El Caza-bore”, this third instalment in Bee Train’s girls-with-guns series did indeed contain girls and guns, but not in any combination that produced action. Instead, what we got was the most dreary road trip through a version of Latin America that contained only cacti, roadside diners and various other dusty clichés. Just watching all twenty-six episodes was an effort in itself, and one I only pursued for the sake of creating a superior parody version of events.
Final words: You haven’t experienced boredom until you’ve watched El Cazador.
A series about a character named Age rather than an age of heroes, Heroic Age tried to create an epic setting involving space battles, legendary tribes and the like, but somewhere along the line it all became a dull universe populated by rejects from other Xebec series. With even the cameraman opting to stay well back from the action, there seemed little reason for anyone else to try to examine it closely.
Final words: Another average offering from Xebec.
A series about a shy girl who gets so nervous that she can’t speak (yet somehow gets into the drama club due to her occasional ability to shout), Hitohira was something I stuck with for a mere two episodes, before deciding that it wasn’t going to bring me anything particularly worthy. With forgettable characters and hints of HARD YURI, Hitohira seemed to patch together elements of other series like Tsuyokiss and Gokujou Seitokai- hardly a recommendation.
Final words: Like its lead, Hitohira remained quiet and unnoticed.
As a fan of the Three Kingdoms era, I was looking forward to a series that would surely present it better than the forgettable 1990s effort- but sadly, despite superior production values, Koutetsu Sangokushi was not to be that series. Although Koutetsu should be praised for focusing on the kingdom of Wu, it loses points for its extreme levels of ridiculousness, from a super-HARD GAY gender-confused cast to the inclusion of special sentai powers for the main characters- somehow I just don’t remember these things happening in the original novel.
Final words: As far as historical adaptations go, this one is just laughably ridiculous.
A series that attracted both hate and adoration in adoration, Lucky Star did very little for me; I didn’t despise it, but for me it just did very little- episodes would pass by and I would sit in front of them, almost completely indifferent to them. Occasionally I would laugh, but much of the series was just white noise.
Final words: Ichigo Mashimaro and Minami-ke make everyday life amusing, but Lucky Star just rambles on and on.
Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS
The first two seasons of Nanoha weren’t great, but they won me over with their attractive character designs and worthy action scenes; sadly, the first thing StrikerS did was to introduce new characters to an already bloated cast and throw out actual battle in favour of training against robots. Whilst the leads were forced to wear limiters to remove their God Modes, everything was left in the hands of the newbies, whilst what had once been a simple world of magical girls fighting evil became tied up in pointless bureaucracy. It may have improved later on, but after six episodes, I bailed out.
Final words: No more Nanoha for me.
An OVA from Bee Train, Murder Princess told the tale of a princess and a bounty hunter who rather randomly end up swapping bodies, but unfortunately, what looked like it would at least be a mildly entertaining fantasy series was ruined by ridiculous elements such as a mad scientist and his two loli androids. In the end, even a mere six episodes of this seemed like too much.
Final words: Nice character designs, shame about the rest.
Oh! Edo Rocket
With its low profile and childish-looking character designs, Oh! Edo Rocket initially didn’t seem like something worth watching- but how wrong I was. After some positive recommendations, I reversed my position and took the plunge, and it was eminently worth it. A series so crazy that you cannot help but love it, Oh! Edo Rocket is nominally about a fireworks maker trying to create a rocket that can go to the moon, but there is much more packed into it- from secret ‘Men in Black’ with special powers to aliens, monsters and a metric ton of pop culture references. It’s crazy, hilarious, sometimes a little dark, and a cut above pretty much every other anime that relies so heavily on humour and parody.
Final words: If Dennou Coil is the best series of the year, then this one must deserve the silver medal.
Romeo X Juliet
Adaptations come from many sources, but could anime really make something out of a Shakespeare play? Whether or not it could, Gonzo was determined to try, and in their usual fashion, they glanced at the original, threw it out of the window, and created a version that involved magical trees, flying horses and an aerial city that just happened to be named Neo Verona. Despite the general lack of similarity to the original, the series started well enough, and seemed as if it would go down as inoffensive light entertainment; unfortunately, as it progressed, the plot became ever more lacking and ridiculous, whilst the leads hardly inspired one to care for their plight. In the end, it found its greatest worth in the parody arena.
Final words: Romeo X Juliet? More like Ridiculous X Joke.
Saiunkoku Monogatari II
After such a strong first series, was it any surprise that I wanted more SaiMono? Unfortunately, with subs having dried up, I had to go it alone into the domain of raws, which for such a dialogue-heavy series meant relying on Impz and usagijen to help me through. Unfortunately, this approach distances me a little from the action, so that whilst I still enjoy the series and think it is good, it just doesn’t hook me in as it did before. Is it the complex web of storyline that I can’t follow in raw, the introduction of a few too many new characters, or the decision to slow down the pacing a bit to accommodate the fact that the series is catching up with the novels?
Final words: I love it, but I want to spend more time exploring the main characters- maybe a full immersion in the world of the series is what is needed.
Sakura Taisen New York
Having enjoyed the first two Sakura Wars OVAs and the TV series, I felt it was high time to branch out into the later OVAs- only to discover that with New York, I had chosen a poor place to start. With a brand new lead and his harem of shallow girls, this failed attempt to recapture the original Sakura Taisen magic completely and utterly fell flat, forcing me to abandon it by its second episode.
Final words: The original cast cannot be bettered.
Seirei no Moribito
It had the most beautiful of settings, but after a strong early start, that ultimately seemed to be all Seirei no Moribito could offer. Although its slow and tranquil pacing satisfied some, for me it was a case of being a series where not only did nothing ever happen, but it took a long time about not happening. There were a few worthy action scenes, but the rest of the series was drenched in sitting and talking- and so many episodes of static conversation can grow stale.
Final words: Instead of making anime, let’s just sit and talk about it.
Shining Tears X Wind
RPG adaptations are renowned for not being up to much, and when the source material is reputedly “the worst RPG ever” (and its sequel), you can’t really expect much. Even so, Shining Tears somehow managed to achieve new levels of awfulness, with its pointless and forgettable leads, incongruous elements (tanks and lasers in a fantasy kingdom) and general lack of anything that can be praised. I once considered Disgaea to be the worst anime ever, but this series has taken that spot.
Final words: It was a pile of Shining Tears X Wind.
Shinkyoku Soukai Polyphonica
Despite having encountered disappointment with the likes of YoakeNa, I still found myself drawn to eroge and visual novel-based series with worthy character designs- hence my brief relationship with Polyphonica. Unfortunately, even the lovely Corticarte could not disguise the fact that Polyphonica was pretty much entirely pointless filler- and when a beach episode appeared as early as episode three, I knew it was time to bail out.
Final words: Have I learned my lesson this time? I hope so.
Skullman, Skullman, does whatever a skull can…sits motionless, on a shelf- well, you get the idea. Based on a retro manga and series, SKULLMAN was not a series well-adapted for life in the twenty-first century, and by its first episode it was already floundering. With spoilers on wikipedia recounting a miserable background and fate for the eponymous anti-hero, it hardly seemed watching any more.
Final words: He’s a man… with a skull for a head! Bet you couldn’t guess that from the title, eh?
Victorian Romance Emma Second Act
The first season of Emma was highly enjoyable, but the fact that it only covered two volumes of the manga left the story hanging. With that in mind, a second season seemed a true blessing, although ultimately it was not one that was handled as well as it could have been. Despite having a further five volumes to cover and only twelve more episodes to do it in, Second Act began with a filler episode, before proceeding to cut out large chunks of the story (although admittedly the manga storyline of Emma being kidnapped and taken to America had seemed a little farfetched at the time). All in all, it was still a highly worthy series, just not as good as it could have been.
Final words: You can’t go wrong with Emma, but this still didn’t quite live up to its potential.
Wellber no Monogatari ~Sisters of Wellber~
The tale of a thief and a princess trying to flee one country and make it to another before a deadline, Wellber was another of those series that didn’t seem to bring anything original to the table, but nonetheless appeared entertaining enough to watch. Unfortunately, elements such as predictable storylines and a talking tank conspired against it, but overall it just managed to pull through as a piece of light entertainment- not least because of the unintentional hilarity that cropped up in most episodes.
Final words: Mildly entertaining.
In principle, summer is when everyone is enjoying themselves in the great outdoors- and so why bother to air much in the way of good anime? Still, given the poor showings of summer 2005-6, 2007 might just have the edge over them with its single digit selection.
With a wealth of named characters and a timeline that jumped back and forth through early 1930s America, Baccano was never the easiest series to follow, and indeed, even now I cannot say I had much of a clue what was going on throughout large chunks of it. Even so, the sheer enthusiasm and attack which the series brought to our screens was so infectious that one could not help but enjoy it- whether it was a tense shootout or just Isaac and Miria getting up to their usual antics, Baccano was always entertaining- and with many more novels left to adapt, hopes for a second season are high.
Final words: Every season needs a good historical series, and this was the summer’s candidate.
A short series focusing on a young woman who believes she can make her fortune drawing doujinshi, Doujin Work was never going to be anything very special, but despite the budget animation and predictable jokes, it was somehow entertaining. And with the actual episodes running at only fourteen minutes (the rest of the time slot was taken up with a live action guide to making doujinshi), it isn’t a huge investment in time either.
Final words: Light entertainment done right.
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai
After the first season, Higurashi had generally failed to impress, but having embarked upon the franchise, I felt I had to carry it through- a feeling that eroded with every week of watching Kai. Everything just felt so drawn out and over the top, especially Satoko’s situation (I would applaud the series for at least having a go at tackling the difficult subject of child abuse, but then again, is that something I really want to watch for entertainment?). Even the introduction of Hanyu to the mix couldn’t save the plot, and in the end I decided to leave the citizens of Hinamizawa to their miserable fate.
Final words: It fails in the execution.
Having been largely bored by Ayakashi, I approached its spin-off with caution- what if it was more of the same excruciatingly slow pacing? Nonetheless, having watched and enjoyed Requiem from the Darkness right before it started to air, I decided to take the plunge, and although Mononoke did indeed have its weak points, it turned out the be the right decision. With an intriguing lead character, unique art style and slicker direction than its predecessor, Mononoke managed to hit all the right notes for supernatural fantasy. A second season would not go amiss.
Final words: It succeeded because it didn’t have ‘Ayakashi’ in the title.
Call me shallow, but the whole reason I wanted to watch Mushi-Uta was because the title seemed to label it as the bastard son of Mushishi and Utawarerumono. In fact, aside from a masked character who resembled Hakuoro, it bore very little resemblance to either, but after a shaky start, Mushi-Uta finally came up with the goods. Although the mixture of giant bug battles and high school life was often confusing, and in spite of the fact that I could barely get a grip on the characters’ names, the story slowly drew me in, to the extent that I even cared about the fate of a minor character. As with several other series this year, it needs a second season.
Final words: Sometimes randomly picked choices can work out well after all.
Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei
Since the blogworld once had its own Hopeless Sensei, this anime seemed almost destined to be watched, and happily it was a series well suited to SHAFT’s randomness. A classroom comedy with a twist of bleak despair, Sensei was much like any other comedy- funny when it hit the mark, but somewhat random and a little tedious when it didn’t. Coupled with a distinctive high contrast art style, it made the series memorable and unique, but not always for the right reasons.
Final words: Somewhat inconsistent, but with some highly worthy moments.
Tetsuko no Tabi
It’s hard for me to really appraise Tetsuko no Tabi since out of thirteen episodes I’ve only seen a badly subbed version of the first one, but nonetheless I’ll include it for completeness. A series based on actual train journeys, Tetsuko no Tabi had an interesting enough first episode, but without more material to work with, I can’t really form a proper opinion on this.
Final words: Won’t anyone sub this?
DearS never looked promising, and Peach-Pit had already disappointed me with Rozen Maiden, but nonetheless for some reason I just had to try Zombie-Loan. Unfortunately, the series proved to lack much in the way of appeal, coming across only as an inferior version of xxxHOLiC and Tokyo Babylon.
Final words: CLAMP already did it better.
Like the spring, the autumn is meant to be replete with series worth watching, but let’s face it- Autumn 2007 was a big fat disappointment. Yes, there were some good series, but somehow the preponderance of mediocrity combined with circumstances in the outside world ensured that anime enthusiasm reached new and previously unexplored lows.
Aria the OVA ~Arietta~
For those of us who needed more Aria to keep us going, this brief OVA would have to make do between the long-finished second and upcoming third seasons. There’s not much to say about it, really, other than that it was another gentle and tranquil half-hour of life in Neo-Venezia, and in fact proved to be so worthy that I sat and watched it without even wanting to disturb my concentration by taking screencaps.
Final words: Punyu!
I enjoyed Air and disliked Kanon, so it seemed likely that Clannad would fall somewhere in between, and indeed, so far it has. With a more likable lead than Kanon, it immediately scores over its predecessor, but unfortunately there seems to be a limit to the number of “sad girls” stories one person can swallow before becoming a little blasé about the whole thing.
Final words: It’s not bad, but I just can’t fangirl over it.
ef- a tale of memories
Whilst Owen and the others raved over it in their multi-post extravaganza, ef for me was a title that needed to be put on hiatus after episode three- the idea of someone being unable to retain their memories for more than thirteen hours was intriguing, but watching ef felt like following three different series, of which only one was worth following. I shall one day go back and watch the rest of the season in one go, but it wasn’t something where I wanted to put the effort of watching weekly.
Final words: I’ll get back to it…later.
I enjoyed the first season of Genshiken, and so it seemed a foregone conclusion that the second would strike gold as well- after all, it had the rest of the original manga to work with. And indeed, Genshiken 2 quickly launched back into familiar territory, with familiar situations, character development and the sad realisation that many of our favourite personalities were graduating and moving on.
Final words: Now onwards to the manga.
After Seed Destiny, my relationship with the Gundam franchise hit something of a rocky patch, so much so that it would take something far better than the usual Sunrise fare to repair it. Sadly, Gundam 00 wasn’t about to do that for me, and after a few episodes of pointless factions and a group who planned to enforce world peace by instigating wars, I decided to put the whole series on the heating element behind the normal back-burner.
Final words: Watching it can wait until 2008.
With a name like ‘Hero Tales’, it was pretty obvious that this series wasn’t going to be up to much- even the FMA mangaka couldn’t really weave a good story about a boy with a destined sword. After watching an episode to assess its parody potential, I decided that even the gods of parody couldn’t expect me to watch something so boring in aid of a few laughs, and so it was put aside.
Final words: As original as its title.
Series dripping with GAR MANLINESS aren’t usually my thing, but having enjoyed Akagi so much, it seemed only logical to see what Madhouse could make of one of the mangaka’s other works- ‘Gambling Apocalypse Kaiji’. Whilst Kaiji is more emotional and less cold than Akagi, the twists and turns of his story are still worthy viewing- although one cannot help feeling a little sorry for poor Kaiji as his mammoth efforts in trying to win games dreamt up by sadistic yakuza only seem to result in him getting ever more in debt. I fear that twenty-six episodes won’t be enough for this series.
Final words: This series should be shown to everyone who finds themselves in danger of incurring debt.
Keen for an extra dose of Ichigo Mashimaro, I went forth into Minami-ke, a similar tale about the everyday lives of three sisters. Despite trepidation that it would turn into another Lucky Star, Minami-ke had the required wit and delivery to make it entertaining rather than dull, and already a second season (albeit a retelling rather than a sequel) is set to air this January.
Final words: Forget choco cornets, melon pan and taiyaki, this year’s in-food is cream stew.
Ever since enjoying Shrine of the Morning Mist, I’ve been on the lookout for the next entertaining silver/bronze tier supernatural series, and Mokke seems to be it. It may not be anything special, but the episodic tales of a pair of sisters- one who can see spirits, the other who gets possessed by them- has largely proven to make for enjoyable viewing, and the addition of a cat with special powers is just the icing on the cake.
Final words: Bronze tier entertainment.
As the latest series to air in the vaunted noitaminA block (I know it’s ‘Animation’ spelt backwards, but it still sounds like some kind of vitamin or mineral to me), Moyashimon had a lot to live up to, but fortunately, all it needed was its uniqueness to make it a hit. Unappealing as a series about microbes may sound, when you take into account the fact that to our lead these microbes look rather cute, the whole thing takes on a new dimension; in fact, you wouldn’t go far wrong if you were to watch the series for this novelty alone. Fortunately, the rest of the content is solid enough, even if the characters are a little wacky.
Final words: I never once thought I’d say that I wanted a plushie of Aspergillus oryzae, but I want one.
Where the search for supernatural light entertainment brought some successes in 2007, it also racked up a few failures, and Rental Magica was one of them. Populated by rejects from other series, Rental Magica seemed sure to at least mildly interest with its episodic tales of a company of magic users solving problems, but apart from a master of cat shikigami, there was little to engage the viewer.
Final words: Something to go back to when you have absolutely nothing else to watch.
Shakugan no Shana II
Even though I enjoyed it at the time, in retrospect the original Shakugan no Shana had a lot wrong with it- not least of which were the pointless and uninspiring villains. Even so, a second season would surely forge ahead into interesting and unknown parts of the novel series- or maybe not. For instead, Shana II decided to diverge into an uninteresting game-based tale that seemed determined to shake off all but the most devout of fans. With last season’s confession revoked and the love polygon once again taking hold, it seemed as if this was one series worth bailing out of.
Final words: There’s completion, and then there’s masochism- watching Shana II was surely the latter.
Sketchbook ~full color’S~
Every year needs a good slice-of-life series, and whilst Sketchbook was not to be in the Aria/YKK class, it was still an enjoyable series, not least because of the high volume of cats and fat chickens contained therein. Although it times it seemed as if it was trying too hard to capture a calm atmosphere that should just come naturally, Sketchbook was still worth watching, and after initially thinking little of the shy and quiet lead, after a while I began to identify with her- all too often I end up thinking a lot more than I actually end up saying (but no more! Now I shall never shut up!).
Final words: Full of cats.
And so, 2007 has shown us both good and bad (much like every year, really) and all we can do is await 2008 and the offerings it shall bring us. See you next year!