Anime Blog
Neverending New Beginnings: End-Winter 2011 Anime Review

9 Apr 2011

Posted by

Haruka Takahashi

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End-Winter 2011 Anime Review

The Winter season has ended, and the first episode of the first Spring anime has begun, but the Tohoku Earthquake (officially named as "Great Eastern Japan Earthquake Disaster" or 東日本大震災) has disrupted. As of the time of writing, people living in the tsunami-hit areas and the radioactive treat from the damaged Fukushima No.1 nuclear reactor plant still have yet-to-resolve issues. In case you know nothing about radiation, there's radiation everywhere. Current radiation levels in Tokyo is lower that that of other major cities in the world.

I'm not here to talk about the new Spring season, but how the Winter season has been. I have to say that this is the most disappointing lineup ever, but let's cover it to at least say how bad it was.

Oh, before I continue on here's a list from the winter season that I've mentioned in the two parts of the First Impressions posts that I never picked up:

  • Rio - Rainbow Gate
  • I Don't Like You At All, Big Brother! (お兄ちゃんのことなんかぜんぜん好きじゃないんだからねっ!!)
  • Is This a Zombie? (これはゾンビですか?) → reason

Kind of short isn't it? Well, it doesn't include ones I've never mentioned, like the second season of 君に届け (To You). Anyways, here are the anime I'm featuring in this post:

Infinite Stratos
IS <インフィニット・ストラトス>

At first, it seemed like one of the best anime for the season. The layout, as my thoughts at the first few episodes, was eerily almost similar to what I had in mind for a location of one of my novels in terms of the technologies and facilities of the school.

Looking back, I don't remember what this anime is about at the top of my head besides harem, fighting with seemingly incomplete machines, some arguments. Well, men may like this, but not me. I'm more of having anime with serious storyline, and the occasional slice-of-life ones. Suddenly, anime from 2006 and earlier seems visually dated now.

I never liked this typical common thing where the character would go "it's the summer vacation! Let's buy swimsuits and head to the beach/sea!" or something like that. Sadly, even the good anime I had watched has that thing too. What is making the difference is this:
  • Someone disappears and/or got killed, most likely with thunderstorm too
  • Nothing happened. The beach just happens to be nearby.
  • Camera angles focuses a lot of the girl's swimsuits and them playing around
If you had read my review of Nichijou in Part 1 of the Spring 2011 preview and were wondering what I was talking about, here's why:

You can see that there's not much to look at.

Wondering Son

It was one of the few titles that I've never thought of picking up with its low profile and if it weren't for being in Fuji TV's noitaminA slot.

The theme surrounds around gender-bending subjects of a middle school boy (Nitori) and cross-dresses frequently after school, but it does raises topics like gender equality. If you are looking for erotic things that most anime based on this theme like Kämpfer (Autumn 2009) and To Love-ru (Spring 2008), you would be disappointed as there aren't any. Rather, it leans towards the side of being serious to the point that they actually want to be turned into the opposite sex. Though nothing as extreme as Kashimashi (Winter 2006).

Character and scenic colouring seemed like watercolour with soft colours that somehow matches the theme of this anime, but the contrast is too bright. Character design is okay, but not enough to be popular.

Well, let's end this with a live performance of the ending theme song.

A Specific Prohibited Catalog of Magic - 2
(Autumn 2010, 24 episodes)

This review only covers the later 12 episodes, and the anime as a whole. Please refer to the end-Autumn post for the first 12. Some of my opinion of this, and the 2nd OP video, is already written in an another post.

With influence from its more recent Railgun spin-off, character design are improved, Uiharu having more appearances that she actually speaks in (Saten only appear in its DVD special), and winter uniforms you would actually see them wearing. There are also rumors of a Railgun2 and Index3, along with the person directing this series since Index1 having left/sacked or something recently. I don't know what this means or if I should be happy/sad about it.
Still sticking to the same format, the later part still suffers from having too many episodes fighting with some nuns or priests. The pace is too slow too.
Which is more exciting to watch? A young man that has no abilities except blocking even the most powerful magic with his right hand, or a girl who has the most powerful eletric-based attack ever? Oh, and how useful and annoying their partners are too.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica

It's not everyday that you see a magical girl themed anime to have this scary and dark feeling, or ending the series on a sad note. Produced by Shaft, the usual traits that are included with all the other anime produced by them are obvious. I'm tired of describing what they are, so I'm not saying them. To name a few, they are Natsu no Arashi, and Maria Holic. I've never watched much of Arakawa Under the Bridge or Sorede Machi wa Mawatte iru, so I can't say if they were good from after where I dropped it. In general, I don't really like most of the anime produced by them. Also, they have this trend to add horizontal bars (usually plain black) in an already widescreen aspect ratio for a prolonged length of time.

That aside, this anime has a level of seriousness and sadness that stands out in a good way, but it's hard not to mention the "unique" style that SHAFT has added to all the anime produced by them because they add things that are visually distracting and annoying. Bakemonogatari, also produced by them is a good anime, but you could say that they ruined it.

Plot and story-wise, it's actually quite good. As of the time of writing, I didn't get to watch episode 12 due to the numerous news coverage relating to the recent 9.0 magnitude earthquake in Tohoku region and its chain reactions around when episode 11 was being aired. The schedule says that the delayed episode should have aired on April 6, but I haven't been able to watch it. It eats into the schedule of the Spring anime.

I could have higher opinion if I could follow the heavy storyline in the latter episodes and the oddities of the production studio that made it.

To reflect the sadness in the anime, here's a piano version of the opening by a skilled pianist:

Well, the winter season didn't have much new anime interesting enough to have me looking forward to. Among which, this winter season and the previous autumn season don't have total regular episodes to be about 24. Index2 was an exception, but as I said before, it was a disappointment. Hourou Musuko (放浪息子) is the only one I had look forward to a newer episode in the following week, which I had not even though of picking it up until it started airing.