An overview of Winter 2011 (and rankings)

A summary of what I've came to watch, what I've dropped and what I might catch in the near future.

The Keepers

1. Puella Magi Madoka Magica (5 episodes)
It's the most searched and most discussed topic on the blogosphere for  a while now so I do not think I have to discuss this much further, so I will just say this: Puella Magi Madoka Magica totally changed the way one would look at the Magical Girl genre that includes big names like Nanoha, PreCure, Sailor Moon, Cardcaptor, etc because beyond its cute and fluffy appearance and designs, there is the very real element of death, trauma and tragedy affecting the main characters, that was non-existent in this genre until now. Combined with great writing and story direction, you can tell they weren't kidding then they said this anime would be a breakthrough.

Outlook: Awesome!

2. Fractale (4 episodes)
Despite Yamakan's ramblings, Fractale is a pretty decent piece of work. I do not know why everyone keeps talking about the adventure that did not happen, but I think they are making headway now that all the main cast is gathered... well except Nessa, but I guess her exact location is not an issue.

I must admit Nessa's the core reason I came to really enjoy Fractale, because her unlimited energy and cheerful character with a mysterious tinge makes her extremely likable. Besides Nessa's overwhelming cuteness, the other thing that really draws me in is the setting the story of Fractale is set in. It is not the most original and it might feel too Ghibli for it's own good, but I am waiting to see how the Fractale system allows the series as a whole to stand out.
Outlook: Fantastic!

3. Infinite Stratos (5 episodes)
From the looks of it, I guess I was wrong after all (and everyone else is right). It does seems like it would turn out to be a pretty mindless harem. But that doesn't mean I cannot enjoy the anime, I just need to adjust my expectations a little. The little rooftop lunch thing in episode five was pretty cliche, but I cannot wipe away the stupid smile on my face, which usually only happens with stuff like K-ON. I do not quite appreciate how fast they tried to squeeze in the last two supporting characters into the story, and how they seem to dumb down Rin's presence (RAGE!!), but if it's done to push forward the story I think its better to at least inject the series with more substance than carry on with more of the character relationship development. While I think that the core of the story will have to be the relationship among the key figures of the battle (Macross Frontier) rather than a chimerical battle (Strike Witches? Gundam?), I do not think many will appreciate it unless it has the kind of potential Macross Frontier has.

Outlook: Very Good

4. Kore wa Zombie desu ka? (4 episodes)
The series is pushing the boundaries of being random and extreme, using absurd combos that you do not people dared to use: A magical girl that is actually a guy? And a zombie at the same time? That uses chainsaw as its main weapon? A ninja that is also a vampire? A flying whale wearing a school uniform? It's like a harem version of Cromatie High School, plus fighting scenes.

But what makes Kore wa Zombie desu ka really shines beyond its comedic elements... is the unexpected touching scenes in episode four. Eu's own back story changes the way you look at this series, but not in a bad way; you will see it more than just a comedy action series. I may be expecting a lot, but I am hoping that the series might outshine something like Seto no Hanayome.
Outlook: Very Good

5. Yumekui Merry (5 episodes)
Yumekui Merry never did impress me as much as it did for others, because putting it bluntly, I just do not see much beyond a girl from another dimension fighting fantasy monsters. The animation in the dream world does make it pretty unique, but not enough to make it stand out. Still, it was watchable enough and I hoped the story would take a more drastic turn to spice things up a little... Luckily for me, the latest episode (5) did just that. With the revealment of a difficult truth for Merry and the critical injury of Yumeji, it looks like we will see a lot progress in the storyline and character development of Merry for the coming episodes.

Outlook: It feels like things are getting a lot more interesting.


6. GOSICK (2 episodes)
The main selling point (and only one for me) of the series is Victorica and not detective work that is going on in the story. And the show seems to want to keep it that way. I find it hard to follow the series when a seemingly simple plot can only be solved chibi girl who would otherwise only make snide remarks. It would have been more realistic if she is been drugged by APTX 4869, which might have explained why would such a young girl possesses the kind of knowledge needed to solve "complex" crimes. Despite some of the good stuff I heard about the series, I cannot see how GOSICK would sell without the Victorica moe and I should not consider giving it another chance... though pics like that above makes a lot of room for consideration =P

Another chance?: If any other part of the series besides Victorica receives enough praises and can convince me that it's worth it.

7. FREEZING (2 episodes)
I am sure a lot would like an all-girl shounen-style action series with plenty of fanservice, but aside from the crappy animation, the show has plenty of issues. First, the show suffers from the Queen's Blade disease; the clothing around the important parts always gets ripped off for no good reason, and the girls never seems to mind. Second, by following closely to the manga (which should deserve some praise), the series is battle after battle and that leaves little room for any story; which is also a problem for the manga. Thirdly, the story suffers from the typical shouen symdrome where the main character never loses. She just need to be wounded thoroughly and angry enough to hax her power level to 9001. There is a few other issues (i.e. the male lead is a pussy) but I will not go there...

Another chance?: If the characters actually develops more (which I don't think would).

8. Dragon Crisis (4 episodes)
I don't care how good Kugimiya Rie is supposed to be voicing underdeveloped flat-chested tsundere lolis, but Rose is the main reason why the series is as irritating as hell. And it's largely due to her limited vocabulary and devotion to main character Ryuji. Eriko and Hocchan allowed me to last as far as the 4th episode but even they could not soothe the pain in my ears that is Rose.

Another chance?: Only if the heterochromia girl becomes interesting enough, Eriko become irresistible or I become desperate for more Hocchan.

9. Onii-chan wa something something (half episode)
It did not occur to me that watching an incest comedy could be so... disturbing until the first minute of the first episode of this series. The manga was ok; but when it translates into the anime medium, I just cannot ignore the incest sexual innuendo that was implied so strongly throughout the series. I cannot ignore that fact that they are pretty much real siblings even if in fact they are not blood-related; they've been knowing and treating each other like so since young whether or not they actually share the same blood now doesn't really comes into question. Though I must say I am not giving this a fair review because I am not giving it a fair chance; it's just something that I just cannot find interesting.

Another chance?: Only if I'm stuck in a nuclear bunker for a week and this is the only form of entertainment I've got.

What I might catch in the near future

#1. Level E
Due to the sore lacking of females in this series I've never thought of giving this a chance, until psgels hailed it as the best show this season. It wasn't just him (or her), but a couple of bloggers at Random Curiosity also thought so. I wasn't ready for a character like Prince but... who knows? Maybe one day...

#2. Hourou Musuko
I've already expected it from the preview, but the super light colors used in the show stopped me from even seeing the first episode. Look at the picture up there; I've darken half the image, doesn't that make it a lot livelier? Sure, it might lose the feel of the show but cannot help but me bothered by their style of animation.

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