40 Seasons in 40 Days: Winter 2005

A fun scene in a fun episode of Iriya.

The winter of 2005 still remains hard for me to quantify. Perhaps it is more of a nothing season than a transition point. There were not a whole lot of original shows here, with remakes, spinoffs and sequels making up about half of what I watched. There was also plenty of depression involved in this too, but I doubt that was intended as well.

Starting with the OVAs today with Kujibiki Unbalance. This was the 3 episode spinoff of the show-within-a-show in Genshiken and there is intentionally little context with each episode. The first episode gives away the reasons for the seemingly strange challenges between groups of students, the 2nd episode does nothing more than continue that with more comedy thrown in, while the third is a typical penultimate episode of a series. I really have to question the point in making it like this though I can see it is much easier just making something that doesn’t have to worry about plot continuity.

Then there is Iriya no Sora, UFO no Natsu, which I can say is nearly like Saikano in the way its story develops. It starts innocently enough with what looks like a typical ecchi love-comedy in the first episode before becoming ever more depressing as the relationship between Naoyuki and Kana grows closer. Where it contrasts with Saikano in it’s level of depression is that it was pretty much limited to a circle of a few characters without the “world has gone completely mad” feeling.

Ah! My Goddess made its way back to TV in this season as well. The basic story remains largely unchanged from the 1993 OVA. Keiichi has no luck until he accidentally dials the Goddess Help Line and ends up wishing for Belldandy to always be by his side with crazy misadventures to follow. Overall, its a saccharin-filled series which never puts any of the character relationships in danger, mainly because the tension between Belldandy and the ever indecisive Keiichi drives things. Plus, they had to have something for a 2nd season and beyond.

Mahoraba ~Heartful Days~ is similar in a number of ways. It would be considered a good harem series if only for the fact that the harem here consists of one girl with multiple personalities. That her condition isn’t always treated as a joke or looked down upon is, while the other residents live in circumstances that are fairly realistic and they suffer from hardships as well. The more distant side characters though aren’t very good. That’s about all I can really say negatively about it.

The second season of Girls Bravo goes where it never should have gone…existing. The formula of the first season is adhered to for the most part, though the fanservice is turned up to max. This is probably to hide the near negative amount of content in the series, which is so tiresome I don’t even want to try to recall it anymore.

Finally there’s visual novel adaptation and Kyoto Animation vehicle Air. There are the usual issues with trying to cram multiple routes into a consistent narrative, but I think it is done pretty well. The development of the characters is done about as well as any other visual novel adaptation. The story is excellent, and while some found the final episode and the progression toward it utterly depressing, I think I just found it sad.

Highlights from Unseen or Unfinished Items

It doesn’t look like there are very many “highlights” of anything left, so I decided to go through plot synopses of what was left. Buzzer Beater struck me in particular, with its humans-versus-aliens struggle on the basketball floor. Instantly I was struck with the thought that with a little substitution in that setup you would have a story suited to critics of the NBA circa-1977. Still it just looks like a terrible idea that inexplicably survives. I also remember watching about half of Ultimate Girls in which the fanservice was a prominent plot point. It also had the net effect of reducing my faith in humanity for it being made.

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