40 Seasons in 40 Days: Fall 2004

I can't really describe the basic structure of Grenadier better than this.

The first half of this decade ends with the massive series dump that was the fall of 2004. Things were starting to pick up from a production standpoint. No longer was I limited to just a few fall series of which 1 or 2 would be good. There were now a bunch of options of which…a few would be good. The visual novel adaptations were also increasing in number, and that could only be good…right?

One such adaptation was Kakyuusei 2, which plays out like pure self-indulgence and projection. The story is basically a recap of how the male lead, the only member of the school’s kickboxing club named Roma, affected the lives of the girls at a school a long time ago. As is typical of a lot of visual novel adaptations, the main character is not very interesting, which makes his impact all the more improbable. By the end I was half expecting him to have women crawling all over him as he solved world hunger and became Prime Minister. Okay maybe that wasn’t serious, but it probably would have made a better story than this.

To Heart ~Remember My Memories~ took the textbook visual novel adaptation and made an absolutely pointless and disappointing sequel. Set one year after the original series, Hiroyuki finds himself obsessively attached to curing some sort of robot amnesia in Multi. The other characters come in at other points and confess their feelings to him, but with it already clear which way he was going from the beginning, that is also pointless as well. More superficially, the character designs aren’t even that good either.

Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, was something I didn’t get to watch until a few years after it aired. A magical girl series aimed at a male audience seemed like a pretty novel concept. I was surprised that it was actually good and drew me in like no other magical girl series, though I was clearly far outside the demographic. There’s good characters, a decent story, and nothing is overcomplicated. What more could I ask for?

Final Approach and W~Wish each were in the 12-minute, 12-episode format that actually makes lots of shows tolerable. The first was about a government arranged marriage between the protagonist and some random girl. It’s not very good. The second was also not very good, but throw in a terribly written story about the construction of the protagonist’s world and it crosses the line into appalling.

Top wo Nerae! 2 is probably something that passes for a classic. Essentially it is an update on the original OVA with more modern sensibilities. That’s just basically a way of saying there’s more fanservice. There’s also a big difference from the original in that where once youth was there to save humanity, now it is threatening humanity because it is hard to control. You could say that kind of transition is a pretty common source for material. Anyway, it was nice to see that even in this decade it was possible to make a six-episode epic.

School Rumble had an excellent first season in my view. Pretty much sticking to the manga seems to be a great way to guarantee quality, though what is the point of a series director then? It’s a story of unrequited love in all sorts of directions in a high school filled with extreme characters. The silliness works, though with such a large cast it is easy to find characters who are easy to hate. It’s too bad that things only degrade from here.

Futakoi is not action-comedy like it really was meant to be, instead it is presented in this romantic-comedy format. The gist is there are a bunch of twin girls in a small town and they all get drawn to the cliche indecisive male lead. Just skip this and go watch Futakoi Alternative instead. You won’t miss a thing.

Zipang is a gripping sci-fi military drama…for those who are incredibly into the stuff. If not, prepare to fall asleep many, many times. It is basically a story of a modern warship finding itself transported back to the eve of the Battle of Midway and getting caught in a variety of military and moral dilemmas. The parts that take place in the background of the war aren’t really that good, almost like important parts are glossed over.

Rozen Maiden is pretty much a cult favorite now. I never really thought it was all that remarkable, except for the fact that it was fairly absurd that I was being sort of entertained by a show about a NEET and the living dolls that torment his daily life. Though I have to say the staircase scene is up their for personal favorite scene of the decade.

Genshiken isn’t really that much an in depth look into otaku, or an examination of modern visual culture. It is simply a look at the lives of a group of people who like anime, manga and games. Overall, I would say the mood of the series was probably way too positive, and everything seemed to work out in the end too often.

Grenadier has its defenders in Hungary at least, and it’s never going to pass as a work of art, but it at least knows what it is doing. Sure, a fanservice laden period series would hardly be watched by this person, but I continued on a whim. It took me a while to realize it, but there’s really not much wrong with this series. It stays true to its positive nature just like the protagonist Rushuna. I can’t believe I’m actually giving this a good review though.

Highlights from Unseen or Unfinished Items

I nearly made it through the first season of Major before giving up on it. I guess with all of the followups Goro is by now the greatest player ever to play in Major League Baseball. The death of his father in the early episodes was strangely done though. Gakuen Alice has a plot set up like To Aru Majutsu no Index for kids. I certainly didn’t have enough fun watching to go the distance. I lasted one episode each in Yakitate!! Japan and Gundam Seed Destiny which is probably a rare instance of the two shows being mentioned in one sentence. Beck was in the same category, though the music is supposedly pretty good. Gankutsuou is a series I will remember more for being driven to the French miniseries starring Gérard Depardieu, more than actually the anime. It was the right decision in retrospect. Throw in the still airing Bleach and Mai-HiME and it is clear that the malaise era was finally over.