First Impressions: Minami-ke – Okaeri

Minami-ke OkaeriAfter the first two episodes of Minami-ke Okaeri, this series is turning into more of what I feared than what I hoped, but I guess that was almost to be expected. The same people who did the 2nd season are doing this one, and despite my hopes, though not to my great surprise, the amount of humor in this series is similar to that in the 2nd season, which is to say, it’s somewhat amusing, but has very few actual real laughs. Which isn’t really a good thing for a show that’s supposed to derive most of it’s entertainment value by being funny.

This was largely my expression when watching the first two episodes

Does this show have potential? Yes, it still does. The story and the character itself presents itself for a pretty funny series, as the first season proved. However, the writers actually have to make it that way, and now after 15 episodes by the current production company, they have yet to match the magic of the first season. Having said that, at least the music and animation quality remains very good, much like the past seasons. The only thing that really tends to bug me is having the OP and ED stuck in the middle of the episode instead of, you know, the beginning and ending of it.

Winter 2009 Blog/Watch List

It’s time that I actually decide what series I’m going to watch and blog for the upcoming season.

As I decided and noted earlier, the only series I’m going to blog is the second half of CLANNAD: After Story, to give me as light a workload as possible as I go into the final semester of getting my masters (yay!).

As for series that I’ll watch.  I’ll definitely continue to watch the two other series that are carrying over from the Fall 2008 season: Toradora and A Certain Magical Index, and with Soul Eater getting licensed, that gets dropped as a show I’m watching.

As a result, my target was to add 3 or 4 shows to my watch list this season.  In my season preview, I already said that I would watch Birdy the Mighty DECODE:02, Maria Holic, and Minami-ke Okaeri, so that gets three shows out of the way right off the bat.

Black God (aka Kurokami) probably would be added to this list, but Bandai licensed it and appears as like they won’t distribute it online, so I won’t even get an opportunity to watch it.  However, if they pull through on having it online, I probably will watch it.

That leaves me torn between the Munto TV, the second Druaga series, and White Album as series to watch.  However, in the end I think my decision will be this:

I’ll watch Munto, I’ll hold off on Druaga to see if I hear good things about it, and I’ll pass on White Album for now.

That makes my slate this season thus:

Blogging
CLANNAD: After Story

Watching
A Certain Magical Index
Birdy the Mighty DECODE:02
Maria Holic
Minami-ke Okaeri
Munto
Toradora!

Pending
Kurokami (pending it being distributed online by Bandai)
Tower of DRUAGA -the Sword of URUK- (pending good word)

Winter 2009 Anime Preview

It’s that time again: It’s time to look at what anime is airing in the Winter 2009 season. Shows are listed in alphabetical order.

There are 5 possible levels of ratings that I’ll give a show:

  • Will Blog
  • May Blog (presumes Will Watch)
  • Will Watch
  • May Watch
  • Won’t Watch

As usual, I’m leaving out anything that seems to obviously be a children’s show. Like always, thanks to the Fansub Wiki for keeping a great list of upcoming shows.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way…here we go!
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Minami-ke – Anime Review

The Essentials

Name: Miname-ke
Genre: Comedy
Episodes: 26 (13 episodes in both seasons 1 and 2)
Released: October 7, 2007 – March 30, 2008
Based On: Miname-ke manga by Coharu Sakuraba
Director: Masahiko Ohta (season 1), Naoto Hosoda (season 2)
Produced By: Starchild (both seasons), Doumu (season 1), asread (season 2)
US Distribution By: N/A

Major Japanese Cast

Haruka Minami: Rina Satou
Chiaki Minami: Minori Chihara
Kana Minami: Marina Inoue
Makoto: Rika Morinaga
Toma Minami: Nana Mizuki
Fujioka: Tetsuya Kakihara
Yoshino: Aki Toyosaki
Yuka Uchida: Eri Kitamura
Keiko: Saori Goto
Maki: Reiko Takagi
Atsuko: Ryoko Ono
Hosaka: Daisuke Ono
Hayami: Saeko Chiba

Major English Cast

N/A

Scores

Animation: 8/10 (x 4 = 32 pts)
Story: 9/10 (x 4 = 36 pts)
Music: 9/10 (x 4 = 36 pts)
Coherence/Story Arc: 7/10 (x 2 = 14 pts)
English Dubs: N/A
Gut Score: 9/10 (x 5 = 45 pts)

Total: 163/190 (85.8%)

Review

Minami-ke is show about the lives of the three Minami sisters: Haruka, who attends high school and is the caretaker of the other two sisters; Kana, who attends middle school and who is rather clueless, lazy, and impulsive; and Chiaki who attends elementary school and who is intelligent and precocious, but rather rude as well.

There’s not much else I can say to describe the series since it basically is about the random things that the three girls and their friends do in life. However, one thing this series does to exceptionally well, especially in the first season, is be absolutely hilarious. The fact that the three girl’s personalities don’t mesh at all – especially Kana’s and Chikai’s – just adds to how great this series is. Add into the fix each of the girls’ friends and their own quirks, and you have a show with a rather consistent supply of hilarity.

The one thing I should note is that the first season, which consists of the first 13 episodes, is a bit funnier than the 2nd season, and that is really the only thing keeping the score down for this series, as the story and gut scores are largely an average between the first and second seasons (with the first season getting an easy 10 while the second season kind of splits between a 7/8). Even so, the second season is still a respectable watch, but may pale somewhat in comparison to the first season.

The animation and music for both seasons are pretty good, even though both seasons were handled by different production companies.

If you’re looking for a series with a lot of random laughs, and don’t care much about a central story line, then definitely check out Minami-ke.

First Watched: October 2007 – April 2008
Do I Own: No
Do I Recommend: Yes

Top Anime of 2007

I thought I would wait until 2007 was over before compiling this list. This list was drawn from all anime series that I watched that aired in 2007. This includes series aired entirely within 2007, series which started in 2007 and are carrying over to 2008, and series which started in 2006 and carried over to 2007.

By my count, this totals to 23 anime series for me, and I’ve narrowed it down to a list of 10 (actually, narrowing it down to about 8 was the easy part. Tacking on 2 more shows was the hard part). So, without further ado, here is the Top Anime of 2007 (warning – spoilers may lie ahead):

#10 Genshiken 2

This is a series that I watched most of (I think I got through episode 10 before it got licensed) and was a pretty solid 2nd-tier show I thought. It’s pretty funny from start to finish (heck, even the opening is) and I think would be enjoyable for most people who saw the first series.

#9 Mokke

Another pretty solid 2nd-tier show, Mokke is a pretty, shall we say relaxing, watch. It’s not quite as jello-inducing as sketchbook, but it has much more of a laid back feeling than most shows do. Toss on top of this a nice story about a pair of sisters who have to deal with supernatural spirits and solid storytelling and you’ve got yourself a good show.

#8 Myself; Yourself

The first of two “out of nowhere” series, Myself; Yourself is a series I almost didn’t watch, but ended up doing so since the fine people over at m33w were subbing it. This ended up being a surprisingly good show filled with twists that keept you on your toes. There may be some loose ends in this series, but it is overall pretty good.

#7 Idolmaster Xenoglossia

Idolmaster tops off a rather lackluster Spring season for me, and is the only show from that season that cracked the top 10 (granted, I only watched 4). I’m not one for mecha anime, so to see one which actually held my interest through 26 episodes is a pretty good feat. I think one reason is because this show seemed rather unique, at least to me. Yes, it’s similar to Evangelion in the sense that the machines have some sort of soul, but it’s more softer in Idolmaster than harsh like in Evangelion. Also, I think that the characters, and not the mecha, also helped drive this series forward and up.

#6 Minami-ke

The second “out of nowhere” series, the first top-tier series, and another series which I very nearly didn’t watch, Minami-ke ended up being a good random-hilarity series. There aren’t many series that can utterly lack a plot line and be successful. Azumanga Daioh tried and succeeded. Lucky Star tried and, for the most part, failed. Now, don’t get me wrong, Minami-ke is quite a different animal from Azumanga, but it’s still a good laugh from pretty much start to finish.

#5 Blue Drop

The top 5 in the list get into the heart of the top-tier shows of the year, and Blue Drop was certainly a treat to watch. One of two Greek Tragedies on the top 10 list, Blue Drop was great to watch, seeing how the main characters, Mari and Hagino, expand their relationship (both romantic and otherwise) under the backdrop of an eminent alien invasion. Probably the big thing that separates this from the top 4 is that I think the animation is kind of lacking from Blue Drop, but the storytelling makes up for it.

#4 CLANNAD

The only show on the list which may grace the 2008 list, CLANNAD has thus far been great to watch, as we’ve gotten through the story arc of 1 girl and are well into the story arc of a 2nd girl as we continue to unwind the mystery in this series. Add on top of the great storytelling by Key the fantastic animation of KyoAni, and you have one of the best shows of the year.

#3 ef – a tale of memories

Ef was clearly the prize of the just-concluded Fall season shows as it presented a story which is somewhat unusual for anime based on visual novels: multiple stories involving multiple males. In fact, three separate couples come out of this show, which each girl having her own unique and compelling story. A mysterious and well told (and well animated!) story gives ef the third spot on the list.

#2 Kanon

Like it’s fellow Key-KyoAni show, Kanon is a cross-year show. This one started in 2006 and finished up in 2007. Kanon quite possibly embodies the perfect visual novel-turned-anime show, with nearly perfect animation and a compelling story from start to finish. This would easily be the #1 show of the year, but only if one other show hadn’t aired, and that’s…

#1 School Days

Could any other show finish in the #1 spot but School Days? This show made waves in so many ways. First off, you had the male lead in the running for lamest male lead in an anime ever. Second, it’s rare that you actually get a harem show where the guy actually scores, much less which no fewer than 8 girls. Third, they creators of the show actually went through with the bloody ending, and we didn’t just get one, but two bloody endings, and memorable ones at that (“there’s no one inside” anyone?). Finally, this show will forever be remembered with the Nice Boat incident.

Yes, School Days must be the clear top show of 2007.

Also, did anyone else notice that all the top 4 shows are all visual novel-turned anime series?

Winter 2008 Anime Preview

It’s that time again: It’s time to look at what anime is airing in the Winter 2008 season. I’m listing these in alphabetical order.

There are 6 levels of ratings that I’ll give a show this season:

  • Will definitely blog it
  • Will definitely watch it
  • May watch it
  • May watch it if I hear good things about it
  • Probably Won’t Watch it
  • Won’t watch it

I won’t include a “may blog it” category this time because I already know what I’m going to blog in this season.

As usual, I’m also going to leave out sequels to series that I haven’t seen yet, as well as anything that seems to obviously be a children’s show. As usual, thanks to the Fansub Wiki for keeping a great list of upcoming shows.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way…here we go!

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Fall 2007 Season: Quarter Post Report

We’re about 1/4 of the way through the fall season – which marks, obviously, the 1/4 mark of full season shows, the 1/2 mark of half season shows, and also the 3/4 mark of a left over summer show.

As opposed to the spring and summer seasons, it seems that none of the shows in the fall can be considered as bad. In any case, it’s time to briefly evaluate how the Fall 2007 shows are going so far. Episodes watched are in parenthesis.

1. Miname-ke (5)

The top position goes to what I would describe as my surprise for the fall season – Miname-ke. This has been a thoroughly enjoyable and hilarious series thus far. The humor in this show may be hit-or-miss for some, but it’s been pretty much all hit for me.

2. CLANNAD (6)

Kyoto Animation’s latest Key/Visual Arts anime adaptation hasn’t disappointed so far with a lot of story mixed in with a healthy amount of humor as well. I’m not sure any show this season has made me literally laugh out loud as much as this one, but CLANNAD also has it’s share of mystery and drama as well.

3. Blue Drop (6)

Thanks to a speed-subbing group picking this series up for the time being, I’ve been able to catch up watching it. And I’m glad as both the story and action seem to be ramping up in this series now. Blue Drop seems to have a very interesting mix of romance, sci-fi, with slice-of-life in a way, and I’ve liked how it’s come together so far.

4. ef – a tale of memories (6)

ef – a tale of memories rounds out the top of the class series of the fall season. All four top shows are really close, and like the other 3, ef is impressive so far. Unlike the other visual novel-turned anime series in this group, ef focuses more on the romance and drama than the comedy. ef still has some areas where i still needs to come together I think, but the story so far is good, and it looks like it’s going to get a lot better really soon.

5. Mokke (6)

Next, the first show in the 2nd-tier shows in the fall is Mokke. This has been a mysterious yet sweet (for lack of a better word) series, much as I expected it. It’s about as slice-of-life as slice-of-life can get, but with the twist of the sisters being able to see/easily get possessed by various spirits in the world, both good and bad. However, Mokke appears to be, above all, really a coming of age story.

6. Myself; Yourself (6)

This series ended up higher in the rankings than I was expecting it. The fact that the 10 year old girl likes hanging out with a bunch of high schoolers or whatever seems a little odd, and, almost halfway through the series, we haven’t even gotten into much romance for the main character, yet, but the story is still going on relatively well I think so far.

7. Genshiken 2 (5)

This may be the the first and last time Genshiken 2 is ranked since it has apparently been licensed by Media Blasters (no shock there) per a forum post by MB’s CEO, but it hasn’t really been “officially” announced. I’m still deciding what threshold my “no downloading licensed anime” policy kicks in – in comments made in forums or “official” announcements only. I’m leaning towards the latter since not even ANN has listed Genshiken 2 as being licensed in their database yet, despite their story.

In any case, Genshiken 2 seems to be much more Otaku-centric than the first series (and that’s saying something), but the slice-of-life part is still there too. I think this series could swing either good or bad, but it’s more good at this point.

8. Sketchbook ~full colors~ (5)

Sketchbook rounds out the 2nd-tier shows for this season. Watching sketchbook is kind of like watching jello coalesc, but I mean that in a good way. The entire show is basically one relaxing adventure of a group of art club members to this point. There isn’t much of a plot (or much of anything necessarily), but it still seems like a good show.

9. Shion no Ō (4)

Now it’s on to the third-tier of shows which are shows which have been disappointing, but can still redeem themselves. The first is Shion no Ō. I was kind of expecting more from this show. My impression was that Shion would use her shogi playing to somehow search for her parent’s murderer. Maybe she still will, eventually, but Shion still just seems like a person involved in the events around her rather than someone actually causing events.

While shogi may be an interesting game, I’m not sure it’s interesting enough to hold up a series on it’s own. Yes, there is still the mystery of who the murderer is, but that plot line seems to be spinning it’s wheels for the time being.

10. Sky Girls (18)

Sky Girls, a series which I had grand hopes for at one time, seems to fallen flat on it’s face. Interestingly enough, previously my main concern about this series would be whether it would revert to pandering to a loli fanbase, but that hasn’t happened – at least not to an extent which has bothered me.

Instead, it’s the action part of it which has faltered. Using the same method to destroy the W.O.R.M.s over and over gets rather boring after a while, and makes the Sky Girl’s work seems not really all that challenging in the end. Luckily, the latest episode looks like the series is about to take a turn for the better.

11. Shakugan no Shana II (6)

Finally, we have what has been the fall-solidly-flat-on-your-face series of the fall, which is the second season of Shakugan no Shana. The first two episodes started out well enough, but then we followed that up with 4 episodes of Shana and Yoshida being all stubburn and filled with teen romance angst. Through episodes 3 through 5, I can’t tell that a single plot line has progressed even an inch – which is rather a waste of 3 episode’s time.

Finally in the latest episode it looks like we may finally be headed towards a resolution of this story arc. Hopefully Shana II will soon head back to the story’s roots: Shana kicking Denizen ass. I just hope that this story arc hasn’t permanently damaged the series as a whole.

To round up, just to show how much better I’ve liked this season over the spring/summer season, just look at the tier breakdowns for the Spring/Summer:

Spring/Summer:
1st Tier – 1 show (School Days)
2nd Tier – 1 show (Idolmaster Xenoglossia)
3rd Tier – 5 shows (Lucky Star, Nagasarete Airantou, Sky Girls, Doujin Work, Nanatsuiro Drops)
4th Tier – 2 shows (Umisho, Seto no Hanayome)
5th Tier – 1 show (Moetan – I felt compelled to create it’s own special super-low tier)

I’ve also watched Mushi-uta and Baccano from the summer, but haven’t finished them. That shouldn’t necessarily be a notice of my like or dislike of them. I just haven’t gotten around to finishing them yet.

Compare that to the Fall Season:

1st Tier – 4 shows (Miname-ke, CLANNAD, Blue Drop, ef)
2nd Tier – 4 shows (Mokke, Genshiken 2, Myself; Yourself, Sketchbook)
3rd Tier – 3 shows (Shion, Sky Girls, Shana II)
4th Teir – 0 shows

And all the current 3rd tier shows have shown signs of perhaps getting better soon. Oh, and as a reference if you haven’t figured out already, by definition for the tiers are roughly this:

1st tier – great shows
2nd tier – good shows
3rd tier – disappointing, but has potential [Fair]
4th tier – disappointing, and has little potential [Poor]

First Impressions: Minami-ke

Minami-keMinami-ke is a series about three sisters – one in high school, one in middle school, and one in elementary school. However, despite (or because of?) being sisters, each of the three have quite different personalities.

The oldest sister, Haruka, seems to be a hard working, yet somewhat clueless girl. The middle sister, Kana, appears to be very headstrong and, as a result, tends to act without thinking. She’s also a terrible cook. Meanwhile, the youngest sister, Chiaki, is very, shall we say precocious?

Of course, these sisters enjoy harassing each other whenever they get the chance (especially Kana and Chiaki), taking advantage of the other’s weaknesses (or perhaps, exploiting their own). For example, Chiaki gets at Kana by twisting a love letter that Kana got from a boy at school and convincing Kana that it was actually a call to fight her. Meanwhile, Kana is able to get Chiaki to help her cook based on Kana’s apparently horrible history of cooking.

I laughed quite a bit watching this, and I think this series has a lot of potential to be pretty good, and the first episode certainly went a ways in that direction. I also have a feeling that this is going to kind of be Azumanga Daioh x 4 with each of the 3 girls at their respective schools plus them together at home. Oh, and while I didn’t think the character designs were the greatest, I was rather impressed with the animation quality in the first episode. I’m looking forward to seeing how the rest of this series turns out.

Fall 2007 Anime Preview

It’s that time again: It’s time to look at what anime is airing in the Fall 2007 season. I’m listing these in alphabetical order.

There are 7 levels of ratings that I’ll give a show:

  • Will definitely blog it
  • May blog it (implies that I will definitely watch it)
  • Will definitely watch it
  • May watch it
  • May watch it if I hear good things about it
  • Probably Won’t Watch it
  • Won’t watch it

This time around I’m also just going to leave out sequels to series that I haven’t seen yet. I’m not going to watch a sequel before the original, so there isn’t even any point in my writing about it. Also, thanks to PukiWiki for keeping a great list of upcoming shows. Oh yeah, and thanks to THAT Anime Blog for reminding me to do this lol.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way…here we go!

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