Winter 2012 – Check-in

Another - 02 - Large 19 [HorribleSubs] Natsume Yuujinchou Shi - 43 [1080p].mkv_snapshot_22.05_[2012.01.23_13.20.25] [CoalGuys] Ano Natsu de Matteru - 02 [8F13F2DB].mkv_snapshot_21.16_[2012.01.16_21.50.20]
[sage]_Daily_Lives_of_High_School_Boys_-_02_[720p][10bit][2030E489].mkv_snapshot_13.51_[2012.01.17_13.33.06] [gg]_Senki_Zessho_Symphogear_-_02_[D689DCD0].mkv_snapshot_05.39_[2012.01.13_20.58.13] [WhyNot] Thermae Romae - 06 [A751066D].mkv_snapshot_01.57_[2012.01.26_19.57.20]

How does the season look now that we’re about a month in?  About like most of them have lately – pretty good but not great.  And why do all four of my favorite new shows have to air on the same damn day?

There are a couple of trends I’m seeing this season, and they’ve been building for a while.  First, we’re seeing a lot of “throwback” series – shows that fundamentally could have aired during any of the last 10-15 years.  We have a lot of industry veterans dipping their toes back in the pool lately, and probably even more of them this season than any for a while.   The second trend seems to run contrary to the first, and I wonder if that retro streak may have arisen partly in response to it – and that’s the decline of the male main character.  Males have been on the decline for years in anime as a percentage of all characters, but now we’re even seeing the last bastion – the male MC surrounded by a cast of females – becoming the exception rather than the norm, even in mecha and sci-fi.

In conjunction with this is the emergence of yuri as the dominant romantic undertone in anime, and for the first time I can remember there are more series with yuri romance (implied, anyway) than boy-girl romance.  Of course, this is happening in the context that overtly romantic anime are seemingly on the decline altogether, whatever the pairing – as witness Steins;Gate receiving so much support for the various “Best Romance” awards of 2011 despite the fact that the romance – though excellent – is a tertiary part of the story.  Implied shoujo-ai is seemingly the hot trend of the moment – it’ll be interesting to see if it retains that dominance permanently, or takes it’s place alongside tropes like tsundere and moe that had explosions of dominance, then fell back to sustainable levels (though not all would agree in the case of either, I’m sure).

Top Shelf:

Episodes Watched: 3
Grade: A
Comments: It started off slowly, as a creeping psychological exercise in the mold of Ghost Hound, but the horror arrived big-time in the third episode.  Exquisite production values (especially sound), and smart writing make this one of the most exciting shows in many a season.

Natsume Yuujinchou Shi
Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: A
Comments: Beyond a doubt the best four-episode run the show has had to open any season.  For now it’s returned more to its episodic roots with a focus on Natsume’s interactions with the youkai world, and it’s firing on all cylinders

Ano Natsu de Matteru
Episodes Watched: 3
Grade: A
Comments: The third episode was a blockbuster success, hilariously funny and true to character.  This is as classic and retro as anime gets, a timeless RomCom with elements of Onegai Sensei (from the writer) and Toradora and AnoHana (from the director).  They’re making it look incredibly easy, but it’s really hard to make a show this good.

Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou
Episodes Watched: 3
Grade: A-
Comments: Finally, it’s here – the slice-of-life comedy from the male POV that gets it right.  When a comedy fires this many shots, some of them will miss – but most of them are hitting, with hilarious results.  Sugita Tomokazu and Miyu Irino are superb, as is the entire cast.

Thermae Romae
Episodes Watched: 3
Grade: B+
Comments: What, it’s over??  Well, there’s a live-action coming up, at least.  The animation is cheap, the soundtrack is public domain, but the writing is pure genius.  This was hilariously witty and full of deft social commentary.

Well Drinks:

Area no Kishi
Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: B-
Comments: My expectations were probably too high for this adaptation of the popular soccer manga.  It’s good, but it’s not the Adachi-like masterwork I dreamed it might be.  Still, I like the premise for the most part, and I see some nice relationship potential here.

Amagami SS+ plus
Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: B-
Comments: Everything is toned down from the first season – the length, the ecchi, the sex, the comedy – but it still packs a certain breezy charm.  And with so little conventional romance anime being produced, it fills a niche.

Brave 10
Episodes Watched: 3
Grade: B-
Comments: Not one that was high on my list going in, but a lot of fun and I’m always a sucker for Sengoku-era period pieces.  Fitting any realistic portion of the manga into 12 eps is a seeming impossibility.

Papa no Iu Koto wo Kikinasai!
Episodes Watched: 3
Grade: C+
I’m still not sure yet if this show wants to be Usagi Drop or Ro-Kyu-Bu!, but it damn well better not try and be both.  I don’t see it succeeding in the tightrope dance it’s trying to do, but it’s interesting in an ominous sort of why to find out.

Recorder to Randoseru
Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: C+
Comments: A terrible choice for the three-minute format, as this odd and silly premise has enough to it to sustain a full-length series.  Entertaining but in this format, a throwaway.

Inu X Boku SS
Episodes Watched: 3
Grade: C+
Comments: It’s grown on me since the first ep, and there is a certain sweetness to it I find appealing.  I also like that the tsundere heroine realizes she’s insufferable and wants to change.  But, sadly, most of the time I’m just not that interested.

Dropped: High School D x D, Kill Me Baby, Aquarion EVOL

Special Category: The New Breed of Sci-FI

Since we have three (arguably four) shows that are so similar in so many ways, and they represent such an interesting evolution in anime, I thought I’d take a special look at the sub-genre that defines science fiction in anime as of Winter, 2012.  While we still have holdouts like Gundam, this season the mecha and sci-fi niche looks very different than it once did.  With Mouretsu Pirates, Rinne no Lagrange and Senki Zesshou Symphogear we have three series that share many commonalities.  The entire central cast is female.  All the main characters attend all-girls high schools.  In each case the heroine is asked to take on a burden that pulls her away from her normal existence, in which she was quite happy.  The only romance is yuri (thus far, subtly) and what males there are fill the role of stock villains, authority figures or objects of comic relief. 

That’s interesting in itself because it’s so different from what these sort of shows have always looked like – even a recent series like Infinite Stratos seems positively quant for having a male lead surrounded by female pilots, never mind the boys’ adventure style of the Gundam series and old-chestnuts like Candidate for Goddess or the Banner/Crest of the Stars series (or even the Tenchi series).   And what’s especially interesting is that the man behind both Mouretsu and Rinne, director Satou Tatsuo, is an old hand at old school, having directed shows like Martian Successor Nadescio (and the more modern-looking Uchuu no Stellvia).

In many ways I think Aquarion: EVOL could be grouped in with these other three shows, though it’s a sequel to one of those old chestnuts – though there is a male lead he’s quite weak, and the dynamics of the genders feel very much of 2012.  But that aside, let’s take a look at how those other three shows compare – are they as similar as they appear?

First off, we have Rinne no Lagrange (my grade: B-).  It’s the most straightforward of the trio, by far.  It doesn’t aim especially high, but it does what it sets out to do – it’s fun, cute and upbeat.  There’s no emo here, and not much depth of character – Madoka is a charmer, a straight-ahead and optimistic girl for whom her new life is just another adventure.  The animation style is appropriately bright and primary colored, and there’s not much subtlety to be found anywhere in the production really.  The one element of variability is the three bishounen villains, who may in fact be sympathetic characters and seem to be pushing some shounen-ai buttons with the fans.

Next, we have Mouretsu Pirates (my grade: B-).  This is the show dog of the group.  It’s classy, dignified and looks expensive.  It doesn’t engage in lowbrow stuff like fanservice and so far, hasn’t deigned to show us any real action or really, any danger at all.  It’s appealing for what it isn’t – stupid or exploitative or clichéd.  But it’s a little bit reserved, too, and frankly not all that exciting.  It’s closer to a pure sci-fi series in its fascination with technology, and offers a lot of visual gratification of the non-sexual variety for serious sci-fi geeks.

Finally, we have Senshogear (my grade: B+).  It’s the eager, hyperactive puppy of the group – it wears its heart on its sleeve.  Symphogear swings and misses more than Rinne and MP combined, I admit – but even so, for me it packs more emotional punch than both combined, too.  I like the emotional openness here, the way the characters and their pain are laid bare for all to see.  It’s capable of greater highs and lows both visually and dramatically than either of it’s rivals I think – shocking animation lapses followed by glorious orgies of Gainax-style showmanship.  It’s my favorite of the three, although it’s also the most flawed.

The punchline?  Despite the very different face these shows present when compared to genre series of the past, I think they all have an element of the retro to them.  Mouretsu Pirates is really a geeky, intellectual sci-fi series from the 90’s with a 2012 gender identity.  Rinne is basically a boys’ adventure mecha series with a female lead instead of a male one, and two yuri love interests instead of a hetero one.  And Senshogear is a messy, bombastic take on a classic early 2000s mecha series that could have come from BONES or Gainax – except instead of teenaged boys piloting mechas we have teenaged girls using songs.  It’s emo and GAR and hormonally charged, just like those shows were.  I think it’s interesting that rather than a revolution in the sci-fi genre, these shows seem to present an evolution.  As always, it’ll be interesting to see where it goes from here.

So, to sum  up:

Definitely Blogging:
Danshi Koukousei, Another, Ano Natsu, Natsume Yuujinchou Shi, Senshogear, Amagami SS+, Area no Kishi

Probably Blogging (possibly in digest form):
 Brave 10, Mouretsu Pirates

 PapaKiki, Black Rock Shooter (premières 2/2)

Will Probably Watch, Probably Not Blog:
Rinne no Lagrange, Inu X Boku SS, Recorder to Randoseru



  1. F

    Males have been on the decline for years in anime as a percentage of all characters, but now we’re even seeing the last bastion – the male MC surrounded by a cast of females – becoming the exception rather than the norm, even in mecha and sci-fi.

    While I'll breezily state that I have no interest in male characters, thats not really true. Male characters don't have the secondary appeal to me that female characters do, so they have to live or die on actually being characters, for quite some time, most male characters, especially male leading characters, have been terrible. There are good ones, Okabe Rintarou is one of the best characters, regardless of gender, in recent memory, but your average anime male lead is horrible, and frequently drags down what could be decent female characters because they don't have anyone worthwhile to play off of. (Imagine Kurisu paired with someone with the personality of Tachibana Junichi, doesn't work, right?)

    For a long time "main character" has always meant "male", and to a great extent it still does, both in anime and in stories as a whole. Anime though seems to be moving away from that, and while I think we're going to see more and more female lead characters, the ideal would be to achieve a rough parity, perhaps still tilted slightly towards males due to the reality of bishoujo game adaptions.

    As for yuri, I think there should be more yuri and yaoi in anime, but the real issue comes back to the pathetic male leads in recent shows. Why should I want any of the girls in Amagami to get together with Junichi? Especially someone so vibrant as say Haruka? Who has 10 times the chemistry with Hibiki than she ever had with Junichi?

    The male lead character has been dominant for hundreds of years, I think its time to give him a break. Let the girls have their shot.

  2. I agree, ideal would be a rough parity – not just with lead characters, but supporting character too. The problem is that the MC has been the last bastion of the male character apart from the stock "NPC" roles we see in shows like Rinne and Senshogear – though I agree most of them haven't been very good. The difference is, I don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater – if there aren't enough good male characters, let's not just abandon male characters, but try and actually have more good ones. The more female characters dominate all types of major roles, the lower the percentage of them will be good characters.

    I think it's a false argument to say that anime is moving away from male MCs as some sort of altruistic effort to right centuries of injustice. It's the flavor of the moment and an attempt to cash in it, no more. If it happens to be true that most lead characters over the Centuries have been male (it does) that's incidental.

    Let's have more strong main characters of both gender – how about that for a plan?

  3. F

    If it happens to be true that most lead characters over the Centuries have been male (it does) that's incidental


    This is sure as fuck not a "incidental" phenomenon, and I'm flabergasted that you'd even suggest such a thing.

    Every work in every medium for the next ten years could be female dominated with female main characters and not even begin to dent the dominance that males have in fiction. Jesus christ.

  4. The dichotomy is not incidental – but it's relationship to the shifting of the numbers in anime (and thus, your point) is incidental. I ask again – do you seriously believe this is some sort of deliberate attempt to right a historical wrong? Bullshit – it's marketing 101, that's all. The historical wrong is self-evident – it's role in any changes that are happening in anime is purely coincidental.

    By the way – they have decaf now. Might want to give it a shot.

  5. F

    While I don't think its deliberate in the way you suggest (and I never suggested that either), I think it is in response to a general shifting of attitudes, and is on balance a Good Thing.

    And if in the process male leads get a bit shafted, well, can't make omelets etc etc.

    I think you are way to quick to call misandry on things, especially considering how frequent blatant, obvious misogyny still is. Hopefully someday both those things will be equally prevalent (or more accurately, non-prevalent), but misandry is just not a big problem, especially in Japan of all places.

  6. S

    Great points Fencedude. The problem with male leads are that the lead characters in general are rarely given any chance to act, only to react. Thus making them very boring as a character (but I would like to list Usagi Drop as a role model for good writing on a male lead). Male characters are therefore still not fully explored in the world of anime, as they are mostly written to explore female counterparts (Oh, the irony).

    Female characters have a head start here and its nice to see some very interesting and (somewhat) deep female leads coming up.

    Also, Enzo. Fencedude is totally correct in calling bullshit loudly in your face here. You made some intricate and not well explained assumptions, and I also completely disagree. It's nowhere near incidental. It's at the very least a conscious effort to do something new, which in this case is deciding not to use the all-time-most-popular-lead-character-gender.

    I couldnt care less if the male leads died for a while. It will all balance itself out after some time.

  7. d

    Feel the papa show needs a D.
    Ano natsu and nichijou needs an A-
    I don't know why, although ridiculous, high school fills my need for action. Guess the disappointing age, disappointing guilty crown and unfinished fate/zero left a gap too large to fill with rinne and brave 10.
    Brave 10 is just too cliche for me.
    Motetsu pirates. not sure why it does not work for me. Senshogear has too kiddy characters.
    I need a show with interesting personalities. I won't ask for high level Wild Tiger or Okabe, but more Misaki Mei or 7 won't hurt.

  8. d

    P.S. i must have missed something. Nisemonogatari is not for you i take?

  9. K

    I'm sticking with Nisemonogatari in hopes it gets better. I could swear it had more plot development the 1st season. It almost seems they are trying to be too hip with their banter between the characters (referencing other animes and inside jokes) and not enough effort to move the plot forward. We are three episodes into the season and what has really happened?

  10. Hai, I mentioned in the Winter Preview. The writer just rubs me the wrong way – it's not my thing.

  11. H

    Let's see, I was surprised by how much I liked Ano Natsu, romcom's normally aren't my thing, and was also happily surprised that Pirates was more like the plot summary I had read than it's, interesting, title. Ended up dropping Another since the "THISISATMOSPHERETHISISATMOSPHERE" bits were really getting on my nerves and finally dropped Guilty Crown as well. Other than that, everything else is turning out as I expected (Natsume is awesome, InuxBoku is alright, ect), although I did try out the first episode of Aquarion Evol with a friend the other day and we're currently debating if that or Star Driver is the most campy mecha anime ever.

  12. t

    I'll get this out of the way first: absolutely agree on Another (Misaki Mei is the troll of the season) and Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou (With Ano Natsu the best group seiyyu performance)

    As for some others:

    Area no kishi: Dropped,now it's not bad and my reason for doing this is a bit personal but a little while ago I just finished a shoujo manga that played the exact same card about the heart ("will you still love me with your new heart?") I was willing to go along with it once,but twice is just too much,I know it's not the show's fault but I can't help it.

    InuXBoku SS: Will keep watching but none of the following episodes have lived up to how excited after episode 1,it's been more of the same and you can only go so far with the same gags,still it looks like there's more lying under the surface.

    Ano Natsu: Will keep watching,not crazy about it as you are but I like the supporting cast,the humour works for me and I'm curious to see if this takes a tragic turn or not.

    Recorder to Randoseru: Will keep watching,the surprise,looked like lolicon bait but it's adorable,I wouldn't mind the 3 minute format if it was daily à la Azumanga Daioh.

    Aquarion Evol: Will keep watching. This makes no sense,and it doesn't even really make any much more even after reading up on season 1,but that's ok,it doesn't need to.Enjoyed episode 3 and 4 a lot more than the first 2 that aired as the premiere.The "symbolism" is so outragious (especialy the berlin wall) that it's beyond insulting.
    And as a bonus I get to assist to a fan shipping war over a show written by Okada (who I guess was brought in because this looks like it will feature romance in a prominent way),there's bound to be as much drama in the fandom as there is on screen.

  13. t

    And now for or trio of girl sci fi shows that I'll keep watching.

    Symphogear:Yes it swings and misses a lot,but that's because it just swings a lot more than the other two period.I can understand why you like it,and in a way,it's the underdog of the 3 when it comes to the staff (wouldn't say the same about the cast though),it's kind of like the little train that could I guess.

    Now while I admit there's plenty of hits to go with the misses there aren't any home runs to me,plenty of stuff where I think "that's nice" (notably,I 've always been a sucker for non linear storytelling) but nothing that blows me away.

    There's also no real buildup,everything gets thrown out at you,what makes me love the Sayaka scene in PMMM isn't just the scene itself but the fact it's the climax of what has happened in the previous 3 episodes.As for the gainax comparaisons,sure,I guess I can see an influence,but that's like comparing Knight in the area to an Adachi story.

    Again,there are plenty of things I enjoy about it,the visual style,the seiyuu performances (though not hearing Takagaki Ayahi sing in the last episode when she comes from a music school where she majored in opera singing is kind of disapointing) and again I love the way it's telling its story non linearly.My enjoyement of the show would be greater if I somewhat enjoye the OST too.

    Despite that,I just think that when all is said and done I'll enjoy Moretsu Pirates and Lagrange more than symphogear,sure they swing a lot less but I just get the feeling that when they do finaly swing they'll hit the ball out of the park….or maybe they'll just strike out swinging,we'll see.

    The advantage they have now to me is that I just enjoy watching Marika and Madoka on screen a lot more than Hibiki.

    As for Lagrange it might and up being more one of those early 2000s bones shows,the GAR is already there to me and I fully expect the emo level to rise at some point. (though wouldn't be disapointed if it didn't),hell a good portion of the writing staff of eureka 7 is working on it,though true there's no Dai Sato.

    As for this whole sci fi renaissance (if you include EVOL) I think it's more of a case of satelight being busy than anything else,add in AKB0048 from this spring and that's 5/6 of those shows done by them,Lagrange is the exception.

    Doesn't seem like other studios are interested,of course if some of those sell then this might change I guess.

  14. H

    Males have been on the decline for years in anime as a percentage of all characters, but now we’re even seeing the last bastion – the male MC surrounded by a cast of females – becoming the exception rather than the norm, even in mecha and sci-fi.

    Since males always have and still do make up the vast majority of leads in *everything*, and anime is far from an exception in that, this is a good thing.

    You also need to look at *which* shows in the past decade tended to have those large numbers of girls. That's inherent in (male-oriented) eroge adaptations, harem and romance shows which have made up a rather significant portion of anime created in recent years.

    But for adventure shows like Last Exile, or action shows or sci-fi/mecha shows? Females have almost always been the minority of the cast and have very rarely been the leads. There have always been exceptions (Divergence Eve, for example) but its certainly highly unusual to have so many at once.

    I'd hesitate to call two seasons a trend, but if it is, I sure hope it continues.

    In conjunction with this is the emergence of yuri as the dominant romantic undertone in anime, and for the first time I can remember there are more series with yuri romance (implied, anyway) than boy-girl romance.

    Huh? Other than Symphogear, what shows this season have any yuri subtext or undertones what-so-ever? Maybe you could include Last Exile if you are talking everything currently airing, and really stretch what counts as "subtext". And that "implied" part is pretty damn huge qualifier. Heterosexual relationships are everywhere and they are not "implied". Suggesting yuri is anything close to "dominant" is a joke.

    When is the last time a show had an explicitly lesbian couple/romantic relationship? Sasameki Koto?

    When is the last time we had an explicitly heterosexual couple/romantic relationship? Oh, right, we have at least several of those every season. Just this season we have AnoNatsu, Nisemonogatari, PapaKiki, Aquarion Evol, Zero no Tsukaima F, Amagami, and High School DxD. It's probably safe to say Inu x Boku SS will go that way too, though relationship between the main two characters so far is entirely non-romantic so I won't count it.

    Wow, yeah, yuri sure is dominating.

  15. Yes, there are exceptions. But a cold day doesn't mean there's no climate change.

  16. F

    And that is a hilarious non-answer to his point.

    Now granted, the best anime kiss of 2011 was between two girls, but that says more to anime's general lack of such things.

  17. H

    Wait, you say that you're seeing an INCREASE in yuri…. and then act like this season is an exception and actually does NOT have much yuri? Your non-answer just completely contradicted your initial claim!

    So I guess you're admitting that you were making things up when you said yuri was dominating hetero romances.

    And yes, when I mentioned Sasameki Koto, Horizon somehow completely slipped my mind.

  18. And you seem to be reading someone else's post, as you're certainly not responding to mine. I never said there isn't a lot of yuri this season – I said the fact that you can name shows that don't have it doesn't prove (or even suggest) the point is invalid. Anime is a big medium – no matter what the larger trend, there are always going to be exceptions.

  19. F

    In conjunction with this is the emergence of yuri as the dominant romantic undertone in anime,

    While its almost certainly more prevalent now, saying its "dominant" is hilariously overstating the situation.

  20. Honestly, whatever you want to believe is your business. But you've won the battle – why not claim victory already?

  21. H

    I wasn't listing shows that didn't have yuri in them (that would be a much bigger list because I didn't include shows that had no romance at all, such as Another, High School Boys or Kill Me, Baby), I was listing shows that had heterosexual romantic relationships in them. Because you're claim was not that there are more shows that have yuri in them than not, but that yuri romances OUTNUMBER heterosexual romances.

    And I didn't just list those shows. I was comparing it to how many yuri shows had the same thing. You have to go back to last season to find even one show with explicit yuri. And yeah, that does prove your "point" invalid.

    You claim that the seven shows I listed are the exceptions. An exception would mean something is in the distinct minority, not slightly less than 50%, so clearly there must be at least 20 or so yuri shows this season. Come on, lets see them.

    And since you're probably going to try to get out of this by saying "Oh, but I said 'implied, at least'", well, fine, include those in your list if it makes you happy, not that it will help your case much at all.

  22. F

    Honestly, whatever you want to believe is your business. But you've won the battle – why not claim victory already?

    Seriously? You think we've won? We get one kiss from a beta-couple in a show who's plot can be boiled down to "Boy wants to ask a girl to be his girlfriend, accidentally declares war on the entire world in the process", a comedy show more interested in jokes than actual romance, and a smattering of subtext-at-best relationships, and you think we've WON?!

    Yuri fans don't joke about "Yuri Goggles" for no reason, and there is a reason you never hear anyone talk seriously about "Het Goggles".

    Is it too much to ask for homosexual romance (of either gender! There should be more yaoi couplings in anime too!) to not be treated as a joke, and for people to not just brush off things that if one of the characters were of the opposite gender, would be considered romantic overtures? (Fam is a great example here, there would be constant crowing from a certain segment about boy-Fam's harem)

    Purely objectively, the only show this season that actually counts as "yuri" is Symphogear. Rinne and Mouretsu are pure subtext, though more obvious than is normal. Plus I'm sure Black Rock Shooter will be hilariously gay since everything involving her is.

    But that pales before the list of shows this season that explicitly involve het-Romance, of which there are precisely zero Yuri romance shows this season, or last season, or the season before.

  23. Yuri goggles are as passe' as the male lead, as vestigial as the hand crank to start a car. No longer necessary with today's reality.

    This has become inexpressibly tedious and repetitive, and if I feel that way I can only imagine how bored everyone else is. Thread hijack over. My last word on the matter is that we need more decent on-screen romance of all types than we're getting at the moment, and I don't really care what type that is (and yes that means yaoi pairings too). If you have to reach for High School D x D as an example of a hetero romance anime really is in sad shape as a medium, at least as far as romance is concerned.

  24. F

    Yes, single out DxD, and ignore AnoNatsu, Nisemono and Amagami.

    Name the last yuri romance anime. I know what it was, and when it was, do you?

    This isn't a "thread hijack", you raised this point in your post, and thus it is fair game.

  25. H

    Responding to something you said in the blog post is thread hijacking?

    If you don't like having to deal with your complete lack of evidence to back your delusional assertions about yuri "dominating", maybe you shouldn't be making them in the first place.

    No one said High School DxD is good. I couldn't stand the show in large part because I despised the male lead. It's quality is also entirely irrelevant to the yuri issue.

    And your "last word on the matter"…. has absolutely nothing to do with the issues we had been discussing. You certainly aren't going to get any disagreement from Fencedude and myself that male leads usually fall somewhere between lousy and abysmal. Kaito in AnoNatsu really should be *average* not one of the best male leads in past year. Horrible male leads are the the biggest problem with hetero romance anime of any type.

    But the sorry state of male leads is an entirely separate issue from the equally sad state of yuri anime.

  26. S

    Yeah I don't agree with that emergence of yuri as the dominant romantic undertone in anime, as so far, NONE of the series I'm watching have any yuri undertones at all. The only one remotely close to having any is probably Symphogear (I don't watch that show so…), and Langrange and Mouretsu Pirates are both guaranteed to not have any as per the director's direct words. Nobara from InuBoku doesn't count as she's just a comic relief character.

    The next season also has no potential yuri at all from the looks of things.

    In fact, the only thing that might remotely have yuri I can think of is BRS. O.o

  27. On my phone so only a brief reply for now… I would argue that both MP and Rinne already have shoujo-ai undertones – Rinne for damn sure. But it's implied, just as almost all romance seems to be these days.

    More later.

  28. S

    While I enjoy my fair share of Yuri, I gotta admit it's getting a bit out of hand. Let's hope this is not a permanent trend and the good old GARRRR will make a return soon.
    Having that said, Winter has been a great season for mecha fans and I'm having a blast to say the least. Aquarion EVOL and Rinne no Lagrange are my favorites by far and if this is the new hot trend, I'm definitely on board 🙂

  29. M

    As Spinarakk said, the director assured there would be no romance in Rinne nor Mouretsu Pirates. So far I can't see any yuri undertones in them either, although I have yet to catch up with Mouretsu Pirates. Symphogear does have them, though.

    I wouldn't call it a trend just yet. I'm also willing to bet that the decline of the male MC is more of a particularity of this season rather than a trend. There will be at least four shows in the spring season that I know for a fact will feature the usual male MC & female romantic interest pattern and several more look like they'll go that way as well.

    Ano Natsu: I had high expectations for this show and it still managed to surpass them. It deserves all the praise it's getting.

  30. Murkel – as I understand it, Satou-sensei was apparently misquoted and what he actually said was (in effect) "There isn't going to be any traditional romance in those shows." As in, girl-boy pairings – the fans seem to be taking it to mean that yuri is very much in the cards.

    As for the change in the gender mix for MCs, I don't think it's a one-season fad because the trend has been moving that way for a couple of years – this season is just a little more obvious. Look at it this way – we're currently in an eras when sequels/spinoffs to Rurouni Kenshin and Aquarion are written by the very talented but hilariously misandrist Okada Mari, and I certainly don't think that would have happened five or even two years ago. And when we get a new anime of RK after all this time, who do they make the MC? Misao.

  31. l

    Aquarion EVOL is awesome, I can't believe you are not blogging it. Also, you seem to hate sci-fi, since Rinne have been excellently received.

    Despite that, I agree with your A-ranked animes. And the spring season will have EXCELLENT animes. It's one to look foward to!

  32. Yes, I hate sci-fi because I don't have your favorite show as the best of the season. Makese sense. FTR, it's not like I trashed Rinne – I gave it a pretty good review. And I've seen plenty of mixed reviews on that show, believe me.

    As for Aquarion, I get the appeal – but more than any of the other sci-fi/mecha shows of this season, it feels to me as if it's really for hardcore fans of the property. I also think the writing is a bad match for the material – though there's a curiosity factor, like driving by an accident and wanting to stop. I certainly don't hate it, but I just don't find the characters very interesting and the premise feels a bit off. Just not my bag.

  33. t

    Though the thing about aquarion evol is that I'm sure it provoqued the car crash on purpose to attract attention lol

  34. l

    I got carried away there actually, since I was hoping you would blog Aquarion EVOL haha =x.

  35. No worries, leo. I kind of have a pet peeve about people being accused of trashing a show when they make a criticism about some aspect of it.

    Sorry about Aquarion – I just have too much on my plate to cover a show that I'm not enthusiastic about. I can see the charm, and as totoum says I think the "trainwreck" aspect is probably intentional. Turn Okada Mari loose on Aquarion and see how many fans she can piss off? Sounds like a plan to me!

  36. h

    Another isn't really interesting me at all (grade-wise a C+). The main character is really annoying with his persistent questions, the quick cut to dolls doesn't phase me at all and it'll take more than Final Destination-like deaths for me to have some vested interest. I don't see the appeal here.

    Natsume, Nichibros, Mouretsu Pirates and Inu x Boku are my favorites so far.

  37. t

    Another makes itself look like some kind of final destination type scenario but there's small details all over the place that point to it being more than that.And if you ask me the MC isn't persistent at all with his questions,he gives up pretty easily,especialy when Mei shows up.

  38. A

    Interesting as always to read your summaries Enzo.

    Oddly enough I found myself most heartily agreeing with a note you made in the comments – that the writer of Nisemonogatari just rubs you the wrong way. Me too.

    New series wise, for me the top tier this season is: Natsume, Space Pirates (unexpectedly enjoyable – guess this one of your trio is just my sorta thing), Daily Lives of High School Boys and the over-all-too-soon Thermae Romae, which almost caused me to go unconscious from lack of air die to laughing too hard.

    Middle Tier? Amagami SS+, Ano Natsu, Poyopoyo (I can't believe you ignored the feline silliness that is Poyopoyo!), InuBoku (serious d'awww material here) and Rinne – which imo should be named "the Madoka show" … and I am NOT a mecha fan.

    Still wondering about it tier: Recorder and Papa Iu Koto.

    The others failed to capture my interest, with the exception of Another. Obviously a brilliant and carefully done work, but not my style at all. Oh well.

    – Flower

  39. Actually I'm watching Poyopoyo, and it is cute in a very silly way. Probably better suited to the three-minute plan than Recorder to Randoseru.

  40. A

    are you serious bro?

    you dump High School D x D & Kill Me Baby yet i watching those 2 along with papa.

    give 4eps of them yea dxd big wham cliffhanger & me baby yea usual give ninja need her own spin-off series.

  41. K

    I'm wondering if Hibiki's friend is the girl that Tsubasa fought with? Or maybe her friend is also working with the bad guys?

  42. I definitely got the feeling that Miku was talking about more than the meteor shower video when she was talking about how hard it was to "keep it secret". But the thought of her breaking Hibiki's heart is pretty damn painful.

  43. S

    Currently I've seen the first episodes of Another, Brave 10, and Recorder to Randoseru. I liked them all, but not enough to watch them weekly, especially RtR since it's too short, so I'll likely watch them all when most episodes have aired.

    Thermae Romae was definitely a surprise hit, glad I decided to watch it. Lucius is already looking like a possible favorite male lead for this year. Though I do wish Un-Go was still carrying over from Fall season with new episodes. The first episode of Black Rock Shooter was alright, but I feel the OVA was better. I'm not sure if I'll keep watching it or put it on hold and wait for more episodes to come out.

    I haven't watched Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou or Ano Natsu de Matteru yet, though I am interested in watching them possibly later this month.

    As for the series that have caught my interest in watching on a weekly basis, Inu x Boku SS and Senki Zesshou Symphogear are the main series I'll be following this season.

    I read some of the manga of IxB and it reminded me of Kuroshitsuji, which is one of my favorite ongoing manga series. Though I'm not sure if 12 episodes will be enough, since the first four episodes have only been covering a single chapter each, and from the preview for the next episode it looks like a whole chapter will be cut. But I am liking the characters and the storyline does interest me, so I'll be watching it till it ends.

    I wasn't planning on watching Senki, but Tsubasa, Kanade, Hibiki, and Miku are all pretty interesting female characters. Kanade in particular, is looking like a potential favorite female character for 2012, as well as to me, she looked like the main protagonist of the series. Kanade reminds me of Shiro Fujimoto, in the sense she may act as a mentor to the main characters. Definitely looking forward to watching more episodes.

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