Summer 2009 Mid-Season Report Card

We’re about halfway through the Summer 2009 season, so it’s time to see where all the series that I’m watching currently stand.  Number of episodes watched are in parenthesis:

1st Tier

1. Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom (19)

Phantom has shot up to the top of my list as one of the best shows this year.  Good writing, acting, storytelling, music, animation, you name it.  It’s also been unpredictable, which is always nice for a series like this, where it can very easily fall in the trap of everyone knowing exactly what’s going to happen.  This show is finally headed into it’s final arc which will truly determine where on the scale it ultimately ends up.

2. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 (5)

Pushing Phantom for the best show I’m currently watching, however, is Tokyo Magnitude 8.0.  It’s also an extremely well told story about what might happen in Tokyo if a magnitude 8.0 earthquake were to hit the region, and so far it hasn’t disappointed.  I think the main reason why I have it at #2 is that at times it seems slightly forced, and the animation quality isn’t as good, but it’s still a very good watch.

2nd Tier

3. Sweet Blue Flowers (7)

The second tier is headed by the new show I’m blogging: Sweet Blue Flowers, aka Aoi Hana.  The storytelling in this show has been pretty solid, if rather slow going.  It’s still a good watch if you’re a yuri fan, however, and while this series hasn’t been one for doing anything particularly explosive all at once, we could be headed towards some interesting times soon.

4. Fullmetal Alchemist (18)

The new Fullmetal Alchemist series is pretty much in the same place in the Summer report card as it was in the spring report card.  Unlike in the spring, we’ve now gotten into episodes which diverge from the first series, and that has made the series more interesting and has started to pull me into this series a bit more, and I”m looking forward to see how things turn out this time.

5. CANAAN (6)

I think the past couple of episodes have helped pushed CANAAN up in the list from where it was probably at to start with.  We’ve started to delve into some very good and interesting character development episodes, while at the same time we keep getting fed bits here and pieces that which will, presumably, all come together towards the end.  Oh, and the animation is also killer in this series.

6. Taisho Yakyuu Musume (6)

Taisho has kind of turned into my guilty pleasure and surprise show of this season.  I keep expecting this show to let me down, but thus far it hasn’t.  It has continued to charge along just fine, and I’ve been fairly interested in where it’s headed.  It certainly has the potential to move up this list even more if it keeps it up as well.

7. Shangri-la (19)

Shangri-la is close to the same place it was in the spring, as far as where it is in the list, though I have bumped it up from the 3rd to 2nd tier for the summer list.  Some of my worries from the spring about it being “too complex for it’s own good” have been alleviated, though I still think it’s still a partial problem for this show.  But I think the plot line and what’s been going on has become a lot more straight forward and easier to understand, which has greatly improved this series from where it was in the spring.

8. Pandora Hearts (19)

Pandora Hearts is yet another series which gets promoted from the 3rd tier to the 2nd tier from the spring to the summer.  While the improvements aren’t as pronounced as they are in Shangri-la, the trend of the seeming improvements in the episodes that I noted in the spring has continued, allowing this show to get it’s legs under it.  While it’s still somewhat a “muddled mess of confusion,” as I put it in the spring, it’s not nearly as bad.

9. Valkyria Chronicles (19)

Valkyria is really the only show from my spring list that has taken a dive once hit got into the summer.  It still remains at the bottom of the 2nd tier as it did in the spring, but it’s much lower in the rankings relative to other shows, compared to the spring.  While I think this series is holding it’s own well enough to keep it out of the third tier (so far), it really seems to have lost a lot of what made it good to begin with.

3rd Tier

10. Sora no Manimani (4)

Sora no Manimani is right on the border of the 2nd and 3rd tiers, but right now I’m sticking it into the 3rd tier of shows.  Some of the astronomy stuff in this show is pretty interesting, but I just haven’t been able to really get into it.  The characters all seem too one-dimensional and dull and the animation hasn’t seemed to be all that great in places either.  This show definitely has the potential to move up, but if it moves more into “romance mode,” as it is threatening to, it’ll probably stay low in the rankings.

4th Tier

11. Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Season 2 (9)

I’m skipping to the 4th tier for this show – a special tier I have reserved for those shows that deserve to be subjected to a special amount of beating.  I think we all know why this show is here.  Nine episodes have aired, but only 4 could really be considered “real” episodes (and that’s being generous).  We wait 3 years for the sequel, and what do we get? Eight episodes of Endless Eight.  This series will almost certainly move up into at least the 3rd tier by the time it’s done, just because we’re actually going to be hitting some new content again, but it’s already fallen into such a deep hole that it’s hard to see how it will end up being seen as anything other than mediocre by the time it’s finished, unless they’re going to give us a lot more than 14 new episodes.

First Impressions: Tokyo Magnitude 8.0

Tokyo Magnitude 8.0After the first two episodes of Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, this series is so far really shaping up to be an interesting series. We’ll have to see how the rest of the series goes now that we’ve had the big quake and the rest of the series will, presumably, be about Mari trying to help Mirai and Yuki trying to get back home.  Hopefully the show will also use this time to explore all the problems that Tokyo would face post-earthquake as well, though.

The character designs in this series are pretty simple, but I think still effective, and the storytelling has been pretty good, with the portrayal of the earthquake and the aftershocks being well done so far (and done at a personal level, so we have yet to see the true extent of the devastation). I think it’s too early to tell exactly how good this series is going to be, but it certainly looks like it’s going to be one of the more promising ones of the season.

Summer 2009 Blog and Watch List

It’s finally time to make a decision about what series I want to watch and blog for the Summer 2009 anime season.  There are 5 shows carrying over from the Spring 2009 season, including one show that I’m blogging.  As a result, my target for the Summer season was to pick up a second show to blog along with about 4 other shows to watch.  Well, I’ve now picked the new show to blog, and I’m going to have 5 additional shows instead of 4, for a total of 11 shows that I’m keeping track of, 2 of which I’ll be blogging.

The new show that I’ll be blogging in the Summer season is Sweet Blue Flowers, a.k.a. Aoi Hana.  As I said in my preview, to me, this series seems to have very little on the surface for me to dislike.  The art looks good, it’s being animated by J.C. Staff, it’s being directed by Kenichi Kasai, who has directed Honey & Clover and Nodame Cantabile (the latter of which I haven’t personally seen, but it appears to be held in rather high regard).  And with an ending theme by Ceui (who also did the ending theme to Munto TV), this one seems to have “great show” written all over it.

Now, onto the shows that I’ll be watching but not blogging.  The other show I was considering blogging, Sora no Manimani, is definitely on my watch list, as is the already in progress second season of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.  Wrapping up my watch list for summer are CANAAN, Taisho Yakyuu Musume, and Tokyo Magnitude 8.0.

CANAAN was probably was close to “will watch” as a show can get without being on my “will watch” list on my preview.  The lack of a good description was the main reason I held back, but I couldn’t really find anything to displace it, so onto my final watch list it goes.  Once I read the description of Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, I was also pretty sure it would end up on my final watch list as well, and here it is.  Finally, the show I’m taking the biggest chance on this season is Taisho Yakyuu Musume.  As I said in my preview, I’m not really all that hot on sports shows, but this one seems to be a bit different, so I’m hoping for the best.

For the two other shows on my “may watch” list, Sea Story ended up being cut due to my increasing doubts about the show.  Meanwhile, Bakemonogatari got cut due to my just running out of spots (I wasn’t intending on picking up more than 5 total shows as it was).  If watching 11 shows at once isn’t suicidal and I hear some good things about this show after a couple episodes, I might go back and pick it up, but to start off with, I’m leaving it off.

That means, going into the summer, my complete schedule looks thus:

Blogging

  • Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom
  • Sweet Blue Flowers (new)

Watching

  • CANAAN (new)
  • Fullmetal Alchemist
  • Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (new)
  • Pandora Hearts
  • Shangri-La
  • Sora no Manimani (new)
  • Taisho Yakyuu Musume (new)
  • Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 (new)
  • Valkyria Chronicles