40 Seasons in 40 Days: Winter 2008

Apparently this caused a bit of controversy last week, well the actual physical cover on the thing not shown did.

The 14th entry in this series goes back 2 winters ago. Like yesterday’s installment, there was a lot I covered, and not a whole lot I missed out on. That said, I would struggle to call this a great season by any means.

Before the new year had started, the first episode of Macross Frontier had been released as a sort of preview OVA for the main series that aired later. The tributes to all of previous series are there with CG that actually looks good in that action scenes. I think overall it did a pretty good job of introducing the main characters while leaving just enough to want viewers to watch more.

With that start on a high, it’s time to lower the bar significantly lower with Rosario + Vampire. This series probably marked the point where I truly understood that Gonzo was a company rapidly plunging down a cliff. As a harem anime, it has all the trademarks of the genre; pathetic harem lead made even less effective by conditions around him, girls inexplicably falling all over him, some contrived reason to put him together with Moka. I can’t really say there is anything wrong with this, apart from the fact it feels like it was made using a checklist.

H2O ~Footprints in the Sand~ is never going to be considered a classic visual novel adaptation by any means. It tries a bunch of things to try to be different, like traps, blind characters who think they aren’t blind, characters that don’t actually exist. None of these ideas really work at all. The bizarre magical girl episode in the middle was an utter waste of time. Just to make things work, they also went with the reset ending which completely invalidated any of the plot development of the previous 3 episodes.

Next is True Tears, which can be categorized in a similar way to H2O, but is much different. For a start, the male lead, Shinichiro, is capable of actually doing anything he wants on his own. That is with the exception of talking to the girl he likes who lives in his own home, Hiromi. Along his journey, he forms a relationship with another girl Noe, has to reject Aiko’s feeling for him, and ultimately ends up with Hiromi. I found the atmosphere somewhat different in this series. I don’t know if some of the episodes felt kind of modular, or if they played out more like a series of incidents rather than an orchestrated plot.

Changing things up a bit is Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. The 2nd season picks up from the first season and pushes the envelope just a little bit more. While the jokes rely on a cynical take on some of the absurdities of life or the animation industry which made this possible, this creates a lot of problems which could render it accessible to wider audiences. I happen to think that it is very good at what it does, though I would add that it probably has to do with the number of references within jokes that are being made in this season.

Another comedy and visual novel adaptation is Kimi ga Aruji de Shitsuji ga Ore de. This series also has some of the hallmarks of harem anime that I noted earlier in this post. It just happens to be a bit more entertaining in doing it, and the one-dimensional characters are a lot more interesting as well. Although I think it really could do without Yume, but that is me.

Minami-ke Okawari introduced the world to the horrors of Asread’s minimalist budget animation. It wouldn’t have been so bad had it not been directly after the original series. The slice-of-life feel from the first season was significantly reduced making this season more into a situational comedy. At first, a character like Hosaka would have really annoyed me greatly, but as this season rolled on I think I finally got the point of him, though I wouldn’t say he’s a fantastic character by any means. I was more impressed with Makoto, and thinking about gender expectations. There was at least enough here to warrant a third season, though I will have more to say about that when I get to it.

Spice & Wolf didn’t quite beautifully shoot me to tears like the 2nd season did, but I can recognize that this series is quality in its uniqueness. It does a good job in introducing us to the life of Lawrence who has to live on profits made as a merchant traveling from town to town. It tries to introduce the nuances of trade to the audience through extensive dialog, plus there is enough action in the process to make things interesting for a while. As a bonus it doesn’t have the episodes of pure exposition that I saw in the second season.

Wrapping things up irreverently is the School Days ~Valentine Days~ OVA. Set in an alternate world where Makoto isn’t horribly murdered, this is instead more standard harem fare. Probably a massive disappointment for fans of the TV series, but I found it a good way to kill 20 minutes, though I’m not going to call it anything great.

Highlights from Unseen or Unfinished Items

Like I said, there wasn’t much I didn’t see here, but of what there is there’s a Kara no Kyoukai movie, which I have seen zero of. They are good from what I here though. Shigofumi was one I dropped after one episode after growing bored at the sheer numbers of pointless deaths I was seeing at that point in anime. While Aria the Origination, is apparently fantastic, though I wouldn’t really know.