Well, I’m actually watching a lot of shows airing right now, so I’ll give each one a paragraph to help everyone else navigate this season’s shows. My opinion might change – there are more than a few series which were amazing until 4-6 episodes and then went downhill, but at 4-6 episodes you also get to feel you begin to see what these shows have to offer.
Let’s begin with new series:
Valvrave the Liberator / Kokumeiki Valvrave – We have a mecha show that really reminds me of Code Geass. Considering how much I love Code Geass, this is a good thing. We have kids running their school/country, we have mecha and inhumanity, we have an oppressive military empire opposed by a jackass capitalist empire… everyone is a jackass in this world, and thus far everyone also has redeemable qualities and isn’t a caricature villain. Good job thus far.
Only complaint is Fukuyama Jun gets a minor adversary role of A-Drei when giving him L-Elf who’s bound to get more time in the show would’ve been perfect.
Watched: 5/12 episodes. Second season already slated for Fall 2013.
Current Grade: A. Worthy of your time, unless you dislike school shows, dark shows, mecha shows, and political shows. In that case, what anime are you watching?
Hataraku Maou-Sama! / The Devil is a Part-Timer – slice of life/comedy show. The plot is very Disgaea-like. The Devil of another world loses in a war after trying to occupy humanity and escapes to our world, where the hero of the other world follows as well. Due to Earth’s lack of magic-power they get stranded in modern-day Japan and have to take up part-time jobs. Hilarity ensues, obviously.
Voice actors seem taken from last season’s OreShura, a comedy. While I think taking Fukuyama Jun to be the Devil and the knight’s voice actress from Maouyu (Miyuki Sawashiro) to voice the hero would’ve given the show a much different feel, it’d have changed the show, so it’s more interesting as something to think of. I still wish the hero wasn’t given such a whiny attitude :-/
Watched: 6/13 episodes.
Current Grade: Between A and A+. Give it a shot.
Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet / Suisei no Gargantia – What a mouthful of a name in English. A space pilot gets stranded on futuristic waterworld Earth. Knowing nothing but killing aliens he has to cope with a very different lifestyle, and life-speed, on earth. This show does have a question at its core, which is “What is the meaning of human life?” The show reminds me of Eureka-7, but mostly superficially, due to some moods and the art-style, but Eureka-7 due to having over 50 episodes to work with had a lot of different stuff in it, mostly dealing with adulthood – but then again, we’re only just in the beginning.
Watched: 5/12 episodes. Really feels like it should’ve been a 26 episode series.
Current Grade: B, got weaker since episode 2. I’d wait a bit more to see how it is.
Shingeki no Kyojin / Attack on Titan – Humanity had penned themselves in walls, as the world is filled with huge human-shaped giants who eat humans. The original concept immediately made me think of the Earthdawn RPG (originally by FASA), but there aren’t really similarities. This is an anime about fighting back. Very shonen, probably the best/most hyped new show of the season. Still need to see if it’d grow to have anything more than cool art and action, and the most kick-ass OP ever – which is getting variations everywhere, similar to the treatment the 300 trailer received in the past. They’re also changing the “Attack on X” part and showing us monstrous whatever. Quite amusing.
The animation quality is superb.
Watched: 5/25 episodes.
Current Grade: A+. Lots of promise, they just have to fill it with more content to keep us watching. Based on a manga which seems to have some more depth, so we’ll see.
Red Data Girl – A girl who gets possessed by a deity, who can see other deities. Goes to a school where everyone is a psychic, shaman, mountain-monk or whatever. The problem with this show is that it doesn’t know what type of show it wants to be, seems romance is the eventual goal. Every time something begins happening they back off and leave the promise unfulfilled – let the show get somewhere! Reminds me in a sense of my review of Seitokai no Ichizon. Episodes 4+ at least show some more promise.
Watched: 6/12 episodes. They release them ahead of time as web-downloads in low quality, but I’m patient.
Current Grade: C+. Watch if you like meandering shows with serious pacing issues. Hope it’ll get somewhere.
And now for shows returning for additional seasons:
Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S (2nd season) / A Certain Scientific Railgun – The second season. It’s more of the first show – if you liked that, you’ll probably like this. The story is a lot more continuous than Index, just like in the first season. We currently seem to be covering the Sisters arc which appeared in Index S1, since this is not a “Spin-off” that happens after a certain character “leaves” like in American TV shows, but the world from the viewpoint of someone else.
Love the OP, maybe not the music, but the energy, and the animation level and composition are superb.
Watched: 5/25 episodes.
Current Grade: A. Watch if you liked the first season, pass if you didn’t?
OreImo N (Ore no Imōto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai / My Little Sister Can’t be This Cute) (season 2) – When I’ve began watching this season I’ve felt weird, it felt like someone took my friends and replaced them with look-alikes – The voices were slightly worse, the animation slightly weird, the level of sound too muted, weird music in the wrong places… so I’ve went and rewatched Oreimo S1’s Blu-Ray version and I’ve seen this is the way the show had always been! My memory had lied to me.
The production is a bit weird, but the story is still amazing. I love this show. I call it the most “Genshiken-like” show, and Genshiken is coming back next season as well!
Watched: 5/13 episodes.
Current Grade: A+. If you’ve liked the first season, watch it, if you didn’t? Pass. If you hadn’t watched the first season – go and do so now.
So, loyal readers, what shows are you watching, and what’s your take on them?
I agree with most of what you wrote, although I still retain a more positive opinion of Gargantia, being that it has a lot of little details that appeal to me as a sci-fi fanboy – stuff like the language barrier (which was basically glossed over in Maou-sama, but it isn’t that kind of show so I didn’t mind it there), and tons of little bits of dialogue and whatnot. I also think it’s pretty clever in how it relays its message (which to me is a critique of heavy reliance on technology and the lack of any true marketable skills or purpose in modern society). It really depends on what the ultimate point will be. A really weak ending could drag the good parts down, but a strong one could elevate them even further.
I think B is a pretty good score.
Right now Gargantia is “Nice concept, now deliver on it better.” I really feel this should’ve been a 26 episode series, and it may fail to deliver some things for this reason.
I think the “Return to earth” message that is very heavy in Japan, as we discussed on Twitter is indeed a way to answer and address the question, but it is still not the question itself, and as a question in and of itself in this case I feel is not as impressing or fitting the way the story was setup.
But yeah, some shows have a weak ending, or even an ending that subverts the whole point of the show, like Mai-HiME, or just an obtuse ending due to the NGE effect (see Mirai Nikki), but the route is so stellar that you just drop the ending from your memory.
But some shows are more wobbly and really have to deliver on the ending, we’ll see where Gargantia will fall :)