40 Seasons in 40 Days: Spring 2006

Behind this facade hides a vicious personality...just kidding.

The spring of 2006 is one of my favorite seasons of the decade, or at the very least one of the most interesting. For the two years prior, the number of new series had been climbing slowly, until this one, which was the real start of an explosion in production numbers. There’s quite a few popular shows from this season, and I probably didn’t hit them all to be honest.

Kamisama Kazoku is a comedy involving gods and devils. It is a fairly absurd setup in that it is basically a story of the son of a god to learn how to be human. I found large sections of the story to be rather cringe-worthy. The story could definitely have been a bit more compact in my opinion, and the conflict in the final episodes seems to come out of nowhere.

Ah! My Goddess: Sorezore no Tsubasa is the second TV series for the franchise this decade. The story continues on from the first season, though there is even less happening in a classic case of something beautifully shooting me to tears. There are a few arcs where new characters show up, do something, then basically disappear for a while with almost no impact on the story at all. The only real continuity is the glacial pace at which the relationship between Belldandy and Keiichi develops.

The second season of School Rumble began in this season, and it really is just the second semester for the students. I didn’t really like this as much as the first season, mainly because the new characters being introduced were weaker and more annoying. Some of the individual episode are outstanding as parodies of other material, probably because there’s no focus on the characters. They probably should have stopped about halfway through this season as well.

Then there’s The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Again, almost anyone with an interest in this retrospective knows the basic story. In chronological order, the story is not very interesting past the first few episodes which concludes with the ultimate tribute to the slice-of-life genre, an episode in which practically nothing of note happens on a typical winter day. For better or worse, I can’t really think of any other show from this decade that could be called the single defining show of the decade apart from this one.

Ouran High School Host Club would probably be the defining reverse harem series of the decade, if the category were actually that common. It’s a story filled with commentary on social stratification played out amongst a small group of characters. The protagonist, Haruhi, forced into becoming a member of the all-male host club because she has debts to pay off, is one of my favorite characters of the decade. Of course, since nearly every other female character in the series is mostly ogling over the men in the club, she ends up being a respectable character by comparison. With the number of harem series this decade there’s nothing wrong with that.

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (does the red lettering apply to romanization?) would be the defining horror series of the decade. The level of story telling in each one of the stories is remarkably good. They almost all start with a gruesome ending which left me wondering how everything got to be that way as the story progressed from the beginning. At first glance, these look like freak occurances in the tiny village of Hinamizawa before gradually something seems wrong with everyone and Rika is stuck remembering everything that has happened in all of these arcs while everyone else forgets. Visual novel adaptations can be fantastic if some level of effort is actually put into them based on this.

Highlights from Unseen or Unfinished Items

The 3rd Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam movie revisited the whole UC storyline and decided that ZZ Gundam never really happened. Kyou no Go no Ni is a rather troubling ecchi series involving 5th graders. The first episode of Gakuen Heaven included a rather lengthy shot of one character’s pants. Equal opportunity fan service I guess. Soul Link was rather appalling, I think I lasted up until the part where characters started becoming immortal or something like that. Kiba is the first and only children’s card game adaptation set in a dystopian future. Strawberry Panic seems like a yuri fan service-fest from the outside. Gintama is still airing, wonder how I’ve completely avoided that. NANA looks pretty good and I’m pretty sure I’ve intentionally avoided it. Black Lagoon, Saiunkoku Monogatari, xxxHOLiC…just how much quality was in this season?