The spring of 2002 was a rather unique season in that there were at least a couple good shows in the midst of a malaise era spring. Today, there’s 2 romance themed series of questionable taste, the story of a girl trapped in a coma and some girls doing stuff over the course of 3 years of high school amongst other things.
I’ll begin today with Azumanga Daioh, which is a real slice-of-life comedy, or sitcom in a way, with moments that are absolutely surreal. In order for it to work, the characters have to be good as well as the events in the series. I found both of these to be the case here. I got a real sense of the characters actually growing up as the series moved, which is something so very rare now.
Chobits is next, and it starts in a world based on a bit of word play persocon gets reversed and you suddenly have computer persons. The story plays out with the protagonist Hideki failing in some relationships with actual women all while accompanied by Chii. That part I could take, the dramatic part where back story is introduced is where the show lost me. I wouldn’t say it failed, but there is a good show in there somewhere.
.hack//SIGN was an interesting watch for me at the time. Its a story of a character stuck in an MMORPG called The World. Really original name that. Anyway, I found parts of it interesting much as new things would pop up on the quests that each character had. Or some of the rather surreal parts of the game world that Tsukasa entered. I really don’t see how this spawned multiple series though.
Rizelmine was another one of those half-episode trial series that actually ran for a decent length. It’s another story of a boy being forced into marrying someone only those involved are much younger and the action is much more ecchi than it should be, and it’s heavily implied one of the characters has a relationship with a dog. Really, if there is anything that sums up how misguided things were in the malaise era than this.
Ai yori Aoshi frightened me with its extremely dated character designs, but for a malaise era romance story (and probably any other era) it was excellent. Some of the middle episodes drag on a lot, there are some meaningless episodes and it probably goes to the fan service well several times too often, but it is probably one of the better series of the earlier part of the decade.
Highlights from Unseen or Unfinished Items
Juuni Kokuni is highly rated though I have heard that it can be tedious to sit through and the protagonist can get annoying. Full Moon wo Sagashite might well be a shoujo classic by now. Tenchi Muyo! GXP was really just an utter waste of time and an early example of something I dropped with a vengeance.