Fall 2012 Season Review

girls und wetsuits

It’s that time of the season. You know, the time when it’s over. So what better time to look back and check up on all those shows I’ve been watching? I can’t think of one.

Much to my surprise, I didn’t end up dropping anything after that last post, and actually picked a few shows back up instead.

I’ve decided to do this in a merits/demerits format for organization’s and speed’s sake. I hope you appreciate the convenience. Also, for ongoing shows, I am only taking into account the part of the show that aired during this season.

Why Did I Watch This:

18. Sword Art Online

This was the best thing Kirito did all season.

This was the best thing Kirito did all season.

Merits:
-Accidentally conveyed its message of THE POWER OF INTERNET FRIENDSHIP by being so bad it convinced us to start a weekly group watch to laugh at it together.
-Many scenes are well-structured and competently-produced and would have been very good had they occurred in a different context.
-Kirito gets his butt kicked once, and it is wonderful.
The best characters get a happy end.

Demerits:
-Kirito is even more of a black hole than before – he has become more efficient at bending the universe of the show and soaking up any semblance of quality to feed his magical Gary Stu powers.
-The new MMO this season explores is far less interesting and the danger of permadeath is gone. In addition, it introduces a number of new gaps in the show’s logic – for example, the ability to log out is ignored in many places where it would have been practical, and the use of admin rights is nonsensical. The fact that the show takes place in a video game continues to work against many of its own plot points.
-Asuna is reduced to a useless trophy for Kirito to win, the new villain is a laughable step down from the last arc’s, and the subplot with Kirito’s sister is largely unnecessary.
-After a relatively tame first half, the show has suddenly taken a bizarre and poorly-handled leap into unsavory territory, clumsily inserting incest themes, rape scenes, increased glorification of violence, and a growing abundance of gratuitous cleavage shots, among other things, into its story.

17. BTOOOM

Taira, lost in Madhouse Studios, trying to find his way to the set of Kaiji.

Taira, lost in Madhouse Studios, trying to find his way to the set of Kaiji.

Merits:
-Several of the side characters are quite good. Of particular note is Taira, a character who appears to have gotten lost in Madhouse Studios on his way to the set of Kaiji.
-The variety of the bombs is interesting, as they all have their own advantages and disadvantages.
-It has Monitor Lizards, which I find unusually funny for some reason.

Demerits:
-The premise and story are all over the place, and it tries to get by on shock value alone – it doesn’t have the charisma or appeal of a show like Future Diary to back up the crazy logic.
-The main characters are simply unlikable. The female lead in particular is brain-hemorrhagingly stupid and the only thing she manages to accomplish in the show is crank its misogynistic streak up to 12 with her utterly degrading and at-times offensive representation of the female gender.
-The title is so dumb I am actually including it in this list.
-I seriously couldn’t think of anything better to say about the show than “lol it has monitor lizards.”

16. Little Busters

Little Busters' varied cast of female characters.

Little Busters’ varied cast of female characters.

Merits:
-All of the male characters (note: this does not include Riki, because he is a girl) are good, and some of the girls’ personalities are not-terrible, which is a feat given that this is Key we’re talking about. Kud, Book Girl, and Klepto Girl come to mind.
-When the Busters are goofing around, the show can occasionally be pretty funny. For example, the fight scenes are continually amusing and the test of courage episode managed to both be fun and a decent vehicle for character development.
-There has only been one drama arc so far.

Demerits:
-The voice acting is awful. All of it. Even the characters I kind of like have the most ear-piercingly terrible voices and it completely ruins them for me.
-There has been a drama arc. And it was, in true Key style, really dumb. And it was the worst girl’s arc.
-With a few exceptions, Little Busters is pretty boring. Most of the jokes aren’t all that funny, and not much has really happened. And the baseball stuff is painful.
-It is only halfway done. Or rather, it is already halfway done and I have found precious little to latch onto.

15. Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun

The best character tries to flee to a better show before Haru catches him.

The best character tries to flee to a better show before Haru catches him.

Merits:
-The comedy is solid. Each episode has consistently had a few moments that are quite funny.
-Haru and Shizuku have a lot of interesting problems for the series to solve, and it does address several of them before the end. The romance is fast-paced and there are a lot of genuinely good moments where they characters are refreshingly forward with each other.
-Production values are high, and the character designs are very appealing.
-I really like the OP. It’s catchy and energetic and colorful and has lots of brass. I like brass in my music.
-It has a chicken.

Demerits:
-Literally every time one of those genuinely good moments happens, the show destroys it immediately with an unfunny and tactless “joke” which usually ends up revealing another way that Haru is a very worrying character to have as the male lead in a romance story.
-Haru is extremely skeevy and violent, and Kaibutsu-kun seems to be presenting his behavior as acceptable. Sure he doesn’t have friends and gets scolded in the moment, but his actions and pushiness ultimately have no lasting negative impact on Shizuku’s feelings for him.
-Neither of these characters, especially Haru, are in any way ready for a relationship, so it baffles me that the story is so intent on pushing the romance angle when there are so many other worthy character conflicts to resolve.
-The will-they-won’t-they approaches unbearable levels, as never do both characters have feelings for each other at the same time. On top of that, it is not only incredibly frustrating but sometimes angering to watch them keep hurting each other yet continue to come back for more. In the end, even if it wasn’t the worst, Kaibutsu-kun is the fall 2012 show that I most truly regret watching.

A Resounding “That Wasn’t Bad, I Suppose”:

14. Robotics;Notes

This is perhaps the most realistic portrayal of future technology I have ever seen.

This is perhaps the most realistic portrayal of future technology I have ever seen.

Merits:
-Lots of references to mecha shows make good fanservice for a robot fan like me. The gadgets they use, like the PokeCom, are also really cool.
-It has a unique setup with the robotics club, and I enjoyed seeing the work they put into the robot, even if it didn’t work. Actually, I even appreciate that the robot didn’t work.
-The robot tournament was very exciting, and Pleiades was a good character during that time.
-The plot is slowly emerging from the shadows in the form of some cryptic conspiracy hints and there is a lot of potential built up for the second half. Hopefully the mystery we get will live up to the buildup.
-I really like Aki’s dad.

Demerits:
-Much of this half of the show has felt pretty useless. It drags a lot, and it was really uninspiring overall. I have trouble seeing how the hopefully-more-exciting second half will use enough of this half’s material to make its excessive length worthwhile.
-Apart from Aki’s dad (and Pleiades before his dad made him go full drama queen), I do not like a single one of the characters. Comparing R;N to Steins;Gate, the latter also had a slow start, but it was made more tolerable by its great cast of characters.
-Robotics;Notes has done so little of interest that I would have dropped it long ago were it not for Steins;Gate’s precedent of following up a slow start with an exciting second half.

13. Eureka Seven AO

Renton, like Eureka, has only improved with age.

Renton, like Eureka, has only improved with age.

Merits:
-Plenty of throwbacks to the original series, in the form of Renton, Eureka, and soccer.
-BONES really did some gorgeous stuff here with their animation.
-AO is still better than that horrendous excuse for a movie, even if it had no chance of living up to the original.

Demerits:
-Pretty typical BONES ending. Not much was really wrapped up or explained.
-It ultimately felt like the conclusion to a show we didn’t watch, instead of the one we did.

12. Hayate the Combat Butler

A picture of me every time Rightstuf has a sale on things I want.

A picture of me every time Rightstuf has a sale on things I want.

Merits:
-Still able to get a chuckle or two out of me every episode with some relatively low-key humor.
-Seems to be leading into an ongoing plot that has potential.
References Blazing Transfer Student. I am probably prouder than I should be that I knew what they were talking about.

Demerits:
-The reason I said “seems” above is because I forgot to watch the episode one week and decided it wasn’t worth it to finish this season, so I put the rest on hold until a less busy season.
-As has always been the case with Hayate, jokes miss as often as they hit.
-There is no Norio Wakamoto narration.
-Their hair looks strange.

11. K

Yep, K is still blue.

Yep, K is still blue.

Merits:
-Picked it back up and watched it to the end, despite dropping it earlier in the season. This was primarily due to Mira’s posts about it, but also because it was only 13 episodes.
-Once the story gets rolling there’s some decent inter-gang intrigue and things start to make more sense. The mystery revolving around what really happened with Shiro is a highlight of the series.
-The fight scenes are really good.
-It’s dumb and it’s silly and it knows it, but it doesn’t fall apart like BTOOOM did. It has a solid grasp on what it wants to do with itself.
-Kuro and his tape recorder husbando.

Demerits:
-I just… really didn’t care. About anything.
-I don’t think I’d be willing to watch the second season to see how it ends. I don’t have enough invested in it and half the reason I was watching it was because it was short.
-Neko is a character. That exists.

10. Jormungand

I'm not even going to put a joke here. Just go watch Wilee's episode. I'll wait.

I’m not even going to put a joke here. Just go watch Wilee’s episode. I’ll wait.

Merits:
-Koko and Jonah have a fascinating relationship. To quote a comment I left over on JoshSpeagle’s blog, “They share a powerful bond of some rare form of love that is neither familial nor sexual, but rather the result of each being a perfect representation of what the other does not understand about the world, and at the same time most strongly wishes to understand. They are perfect complements to fill the voids that war has torn in each others’ hearts.”
-When Jormungand focuses on the individual characters doing their own crazy thing, it is outstanding. Wilee’s episode (19) is a perfect example of this.
Best catfight of the year.
-“Her name is Koko she is loco I say oh no” still cracks me up every time. Actually, the music in general is pretty darn good.

Demerits:
-The show drags its feet too much. It has always been really hard for me to follow because of this, and this season was no exception. Much of the first half of the season was completely lost on me, except for the stuff revolving around R.
-It didn’t spend as much time on the characters as I would have liked, and the story still lacks the punch to make up for it, even if the second half was one of the stronger continuous arcs. I just want to see Koko and Co. goofing around and blowing things up.

9. Magi

Ugo's battle has easily been the best part of the show so far.

Ugo’s battle has easily been the best part of the show so far.

Merits:
-Unique setting that is starting to show the potential for some unconventional conflicts, such as the largely economic story that’s started around the end of the season.
-Ugo is a real wild card in the show, and the way the show uses his bond with Aladdin did wonders for spicing up the otherwise rather generic, by-the-books battle with Judal.
-Magi seems to be slowly finding its stride after a somewhat rocky mid-season. I’m hoping that arc was just a slight misstep on the road to something bigger.
-The show does large-scale battles well, and if that’s the main kind of fight we’re going to see, I’ll be looking forward to that.
-Smurf boobs with nipple rings.
Demerits:
-It doesn’t seem like Magi is making the most of its premise. It’s missing some kind of oomph, some degree of epic scale and grandiosity that could elevate it into something truly good, instead of just something that has potential.
-Apart from Ugo, the magic system is pretty bland and a little too vaguely-defined for my liking. If the fights mostly end up being one-on-one, that’ll be a strike against it for me.
-Smurf boobs with nipple rings.

This Here Is Some Good Stuff:

8. Space Bros.

Dude. Akihiko Hoshide dubbed his part from the ISS. He is literally talking to us FROM SPACE.

Dude. Akihiko Hoshide dubbed his part from the ISS. He is literally talking to us FROM SPACE.

Merits:
-Keeps up its long spree of excellent character development
-When it hits, it hits strong. The rocket launch and each character’s phone call gave us some extremely powerful moments.
-Its close attention to all the little details, especially with regards to the workings of the space agencies, is interesting and continues to give the show that subtle realism that has long been one of its hallmarks.
-One of the scenes features a real astronaut dubbing the show from space! How cool is that?

Demerits:
-The rocket launch arc in particular is extremely slow and drags on for longer than it probably should. All the tension and excitement from the astronaut exam arc is gone.
-Not much happens. The slow, deliberate pacing is good for the mood of the series, but it comes at the expense of actual content, and I think it errs a bit too much on the “expense of content” side.

7. Kamisama Kiss

Tomoe is too moe.

Tomoe is too moe.

Merits:
-Charming sense of humor – silly without being too shoujo-y.
-Nanami and Tomoe are likable leads topping off a well-rounded cast.
-The show realizes early on that the romance was never meant to work out and keeps it very low-key. This is especially refreshing while watching Kaibutsu-kun.
-Overall, a very pleasant show that avoids many of shoujo’s biggest pitfalls and accomplishes everything it sets out to do.

Demerits:
-What it sets out to do is not very much, and while it’s a pleasant show, it’s not a very memorable one.
-There is one point in the series where the romantic tension between Nanami and Tomoe gets a little out of hand for an episode or two before correcting itself.

6. From the New World

I am always happy for some more Yamauchi animation.

I am always happy for some more Yamauchi animation.

Merits:
-Excellent, fleshed-out setting. There’s a lot to this world, and we’ve barely scratched the surface at the halfway point.
-This show knows how to infodump. The times when the action grinds to a halt and the characters just sit back and describe the world are some of the best parts of the series.
-Some parts in the last few episodes are demonstrating that Shinsekai knows/is learning how to build tension without withholding information, which is what it did for much of this first half.
-There is a lot of potential going forward. These last few episodes especially have gotten me really excited for what’s to come.
-Several episodes (especially Shigeyasu Yamauchi’s episode 10) are aesthetically gorgeous.
-I really dig the music. Especially the ending theme and that one chorus/guitar track they like to play a lot.
Squealer is moe.

Demerits:
-The characters are severely lacking. I completely forgot that one of them even existed at all. Again, it seems to be getting better during the latter part of the season, but there was very little meaningful development before episode 9 or 10.
-For much of this season, the show is not sure how to divide its time. Too much time is spent on superfluous details and the meaningful worldbuilding and plot points are scrunched into too small a space. This is most evident in that we got three episodes of queerat politics out of which we got only a few useful scenes.
-The animation is inconsistent. While some episodes look great, some have wonky off-model characters or are lacking in detail compared to others.

5. Chuunibyou

Chuunibutts.

Chuunibutts.

Merits:
-Expertly portrays the titular “ailment” of chuunibyou – that part of yourself from childhood to junior high that you look back on with utter humiliation.
-I was surprised at how well Chuunibutts was able to mix its messages of the importance of growing up and the importance of keeping your inner child intact. It ended up striking a good balance between the two by the end of its run.
-Being from KyoAni, the animation is, of course, superb.
-During the “fight scenes,” half the fun is in trying to figure out what was going on in the real world based on the portrayal of the fight shown from the perspective of the characters’ imaginations. The other half is gawking at the animation quality.
-The two leads have strong chemistry, and Nibutani is a great catalyst to push them together. The other characters serve their roles nicely, as well.

Demerits:
-As is common amongst KyoAni titles, there is this sense of engineered, almost mathematical cuteness present throughout the show, and I find it really offputting.
-The sudden shift from lighthearted comedy to heavyhanded drama towards the late-middle of the series is abrupt not-very-well-handled.

4. Girls und Panzer

Katyusha's in her Panzer. All's right with the world.

Katyusha’s in her Panzer. All’s right with the world.

Merits:
-Exciting tank battles with well-thought-out tactics in a wide variety of locales.
AWESOME music and sound effects. Like, seriously.
-A strong (if largely unmemorable) cast of characters. It’s impressive how well such a short series is able to juggle such a large group of girls.
-Excellent delivery on a wacky premise – that the show focuses on the Panzer as much as the Girls is key, and after an initial hump it largely steers clear of the “cute girls doing boring things” stigma.
-Katyusha. Both the song and the girl.

Demerits:
-Girls und Panzer is slow out of the gate. The first two episodes are not particularly impressive on their own; it’s not until the tank battles start that it gets good.
-While the tank animation is largely serviceable, occasionally the CG looks pretty bad.

3. Psycho Pass

All those people who say Psycho Pass isn't moe are clearly lying. Just look at this guy!

All those people who say Psycho Pass isn’t moe are clearly lying. Just look at this guy!

Merits:
-Slick futuristic setting offers ample space for exploration of sci-fi themes such as transhumanism and criminality, as well as space for some cool gadgets.
-A varied cast that plays off each other very well. The investigator/enforcer dynamic lends itself to some strong bonds between the police force, and the criminals they’re hunting have interesting and at times haunting ways of expressing themselves.
-Brisk pacing keeps the tension high and enhances the impact when it does slow down for an important moment.
-Great animation and excellent OP and ED themes.
-TOTALLY NOT MOE YOU GUYS.

Demerits:
-The ideas it presents, even if they are good food for thought, are not the most original, nor are they put forward with much subtlety.
-Sometimes comes across as silly when it tries to take itself too seriously, or when some aspects of the setting cross into the realm of straining believability.

THIS IS AMAZING HOLY CRAP:

2. Hunter x Hunter

This has got to be one of the most metal things I have ever seen.

This has got to be one of the most metal things I have ever seen.

Merits:
-The Phantom Troupe is one of the best evil organizations in any anime, especially shounen. You know you’ve got a well-developed cast of bad guys when you would be equally willing to watch a show in which they are the protagonists.
-Nen powers feel very natural and fair. Their strengths and limitations are well-defined, and with each power being specific to its own user, each character’s power affects and is affected by that character’s personality. Couple that with the incredible variety of powers presented, and Nen is an amazing superpower system.
-The Yorkshin arc is absolutely fantastic, and Madhouse brought forth their A-game to show it off. Production values are much improved over the earlier arcs, both in terms of animation and sound.
-Greed Island is a video game arc that looks ready to kick the pants off of SAO and BTOOOM in the coming year.
-Hunter x Hunter is pretty much just an awesome show in general. It’s pretty telling that it is actually able to make our usually-chatty watch group shut up and watch it in stunned silence.

Demerits:
-Umm… Hunterpedia is kind of dumb sometimes? I got nothin’.

1. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

How could they see through his clever disguise?

How could they see through his clever disguise?

Merits:
I already wrote over 2000 words on why JoJos is awesome, and it is far and away the most popular post on this site, with over 3.5 times as many views as the next most popular post (Girls und Panzer). I don’t think I need to repeat myself.
-Dio Brando and Joseph Joestar are among the greatest villains and heroes (respectively) in all of anime.
-Stunning use of visual effects and great BGM (especially in Battle Tendency).
-SONO CHI NO SADAME! JOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO JO!
-Roundabout ED of the year all years.
-Part 1 is overflowing with gentlemanly honor, and Part 2 oozes stylish bodacity (take note, Mini-Skirt Space Pirates).

Demerits:
-Some of the middle episodes of Part 1 are less awesome than the rest of the episodes, I guess. They’re still awesome, though, so that’s not really much of a demerit.

In Conclusion:

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About BokuSatchii

Yoroshiku ne!
This entry was posted in BTOOOM!, Chuunibyou, Eureka Seven AO, From the New World, Girls und Panzer, Hayate the Combat Butler, Hunter x Hunter, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Jormungand, K, Kamisama Kiss, Little Busters, Magi, Psycho Pass, Robotics;Notes, Season Review, Space Bros, Sword Art Online, Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Fall 2012 Season Review

  1. joshspeagle says:

    “Apart from Aki’s dad (and Pleiades before his dad made him go full drama queen), I do not like a single one of the characters.”
    But…but…Frau Bow! *guehuehue*
    In all honesty though, her antics are literally half the reason I watch the show (the other half being S;G, which you’ve already mentioned). Hopefully the second half will blow the first half to shreds.

    “Roundabout ED of the year all years.”
    God yes.

    Also enjoyed the tags :)

    • shiizumi says:

      I agree, the best tags I’ve ever seen so far :)

    • BokuSatchii says:

      Frau is clearly the best of the main characters, but I still have a hard time really liking her. Or feeling much of anything for that matter. I bet it would help if she actually had someone interesting to bounce off of instead of talking to the brick wall that is our MC. I’ve been getting gradually more interested in the show towards the end of the season, so I’m willing to raise my hopes a little for the second half and bank on it being more exciting once the actual plot starts.

      When they announced that Roundabout was going to be the ED for JoJo, that was when I knew I was going to love it. It’s basically perfect.

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