A Look Back at the 2012 Winter Anime Season

Well, since I did a preview for the winter season , I thought it’d only be fair for me to offer some closing thoughts on the winter season.  Actually, looking back at it, it’s kind of funny seeing my opinions now and my opinions then. They’ve changed less than I thought they would. While all the shows aren’t over yet, most of the shorter ones have either ended or will end this week (mostly tomorrow), so for this I’ll cover just the ones that have ended, and make a little mention of a few shows from last fall that have also ended.

This didn't air this season... Or the last, for that matter. But the last episode for Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko came out during this season, and watching it made me realize how much I liked this series, oddly enough. I'll review it sometime.

Like last time, I’ll more or less go in whatever order I have them in on my computer, which will more than likely be the same order (though be on the lookout for some mixups!), starting with… Ano Natsu de Matteru. It ended this Monday, with 12 episodes, and it was… quite the ride. I’ll belay the background details since they’re more or less covered in my preview, but instead give a mini review. Ano Natsu de Matteru was… well, it was exactly what I expected, honestly. That’s not bad or anything; in fact it’s anything but. I was really looking forward to the show, and it delivered in spades. The plot resolved itself quite nicely over the course of twelve episodes, and while I could go ahead and subtitle it Misunderstandings: the Anime for the first half or two thirds or so, I still enjoyed the show. There were enough significant developments throughout to keep me hooked, and of course the characters which initially got me in stayed as good or got better as the show went on, which also kept me watching from week to week. I will admit the plot device used at the end to kind of galvanize the whole team into action and add an element of urgency that transcended the normal human drama (which I was quite okay with) was a little contrived. It was kind of stupid to see everyone “sacrifice” themselves for Kaito and Ichika, even though we all knew how it was going to turn out at the end… Or thought we did. Actually, the very ending of the show (pre-epilogue, anyway) was interesting in that it was kind of a nonstandard romance end, which I appreciated. And of course there was the throwback to Onegai Teacher at the end which was kind of cool. Over all I think Ano Natsu de Matteru stayed consistent to how I thought it’d be and ended an above average series… Perhaps slightly better than when it started.

This is kind of where the plot went downhill. Aliens. Luckily, the characters and whatnot were still strong, so the series finished strong despite this hiccup.

And here comes the mixup! So, over the course of the anime season I managed to catch up with Natsume Yuujinchou. I had started on season one, moved my way into Zoku Natsume Yuujinchou, then Natsume Yuujinchou San, and finally onto Natsume Yuujinchou Shi, which was the current season, and it ended on Monday. Oddly enough, I managed to capture the end of Shi as the subs came out, which made it feel like I’ve been watching the series as it aired, and that felt kinda cool. Anyway, I’ll offer a little background since I hadn’t covered this in my previous preview at any length. Natsume Yuujinchou is about a Japanese boy who can see demons… That’s about it, I guess? It’s a slice of life story that’s mostly episodic in nature, kind of similar to Aria or Kamichu! so there’s no real overarching plot linking the episodes or its various seasons together except a consistent set of characters, really. Anyway, Natsume Yuujinchou… What can I say? I loved it, definitely. It’s the kind of show that’s right up my alley, and it’s done so well. There are a lot of heartfelt stories in the episodes (of course I teared up a little at the end of the fourth season!), there’s some great humor between Natsume and his cat, Nyanko-sensei (well, Madara… or Nyankichi… Nyangoro, or Ponta), the music is stellar… There isn’t much not to like. I mean, once you get over the fact that it is a slower series and it’s not really an explosion every two seconds kind of thing. Anyway, Natsume Yuujinchou Shi, the latest incarnation, is simply more of the same, which is great stuff.

Natsume Yuujinchou's ending themes are always spectacular, and this is no exception. They just make me feel melancholic and sad, but in a good way? I dunno. But look at that fat cat try to climb an igloo. What an idiot.

Moving on to Nisemonogatari, probably mine and everyone else’s most anticipated show. So how did it stack up to expectations? Surprisingly well, of course. Coming straight from Bakemonogatari, Nisemonogatari felt  like you’ve never left. Araragi Karen and Araragi Tsukihi, the two newest additions to Koyomi’s harem (so what if they have boyfriends?) are natural additions to the cast with their own quirks and of course their own supernatural issue to deal with. Though it is a little interesting to note that unlike the previous girls (Senjougahara, Mayoi, Kanbaru, Sengoku, and Hanekawa) Karen and Tsukihi aren’t really ever aware of the supernatural issues, which is a little different. Not that that detracts from the show or anything. Anyway, if you liked Bakemonogatari you’d more than likely enjoy Nisemonogatari. It was a little on the short side (sadly) at only 11 episodes, but the upside is that we’ll be getting the Kizumonogatari movie soon. On that note, another character that really makes her debut in Nisemonogatari (at least insofar as the anime viewing audience is concerned) is Shinobu, and it’s an excellent debut. Definitely the best character to join the cast… Overall, Nisemonogatari definitely rose up to and met expectations, though I can’t say it exceeded them.

I feel just a little bad at being attracted to Shinobu here, but... She's like a bajillion year old vampire, so it's legal, right? Right?

Then there’s Another. I don’t quite remember what I said about it before, but my honest feelings on Another at this point are… I really only picked it up to broaden my horizons a bit. I don’t really watch stuff like Another often, and after watching it I can see why. It’s not that it was bad or anything, but it’s definitely not my cup of tea. Horror anime doesn’t seem to work on me since it’s never really all that scary. Moreover, with how people started dying as the series went on, it seemed more funny than anything else. That’s kind of bad to say, but that’s how I saw it. Anyway, to be more objective, Another was nothing all that special. The plot was fairly engrossing throughout insofar as the mystery aspect was concerned. The horror aspect didn’t really work on me, but maybe if you watch it in a thunderstorm at night while you’re alone in the house and there are no lights on and the sound is up super loud on your computer/TV you might be scared. Though even that’s a bit of a stretch. Another just couldn’t cut it.

And now Papa no Iukoto wo Kikinasai! This one didn’t quite meet expectations. I was expecting some generic romantic comedy/family/harem stuff, and while that’s definitely what I got, it wasn’t quite there in terms of quality. More than anything else, it was just boring. I mean, Hina’s gimmick of talking like a toddler (okay, it’s not really a gimmick because she IS a toddler) stops being cute about 3 episodes in, and the rest of the characters aren’t too great. The only interesting/fun characters were Nimura and Miu, and while they did get their own episode together (the best episode, I may add) that was about it. Moreover, compared to the light novel, the ending felt really lackluster. It was mostly the same, but there were some key differences that really changed things for the worst. At the end of the day, Papakiki turned out to be generic drivel, which was just slightly less than what I was expecting.

This is the face of pretty much everyone by the end of Another. Angry and insane. It got kind of tired to me, honestly.

But there’s light at the end of the tunnel! Daily Lives of Highschool Boys was excellent. Much, much better than I was expecting, and I’m glad for it. I can’t say much for the plot, because who cares, but the show itself was uproariously funny. It felt different than a lot of the other shows that come out nowadays… maybe because there are a bunch of guys involved? It’s not as if I can relate to any of them, considering they did a lot of lame/stupid/impossible stuff, but it was still funny as hell. Not much more to say, but if you’re going to watch anything from the list, I’d say this.

Rinne no Lagrange on the other hand fell a little bit short. I really really enjoyed the beginning, and still enjoyed up ’till the end, but it certainly was not as good as it was when it started. I think the major reason for that is that there were a few odd shifts in tone throughout the series. While at first it was alright and kind of neat to be struck by this grim and dark flashback, near the end Lagrange threw away a little of the lighthearted charm it was full of in favor of some halfass plot that was poorly explained. Now, I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt since apparently the first twelve episodes this season are only half of the series, and it’s slated to continue again in the Summer anime season, but… It still felt kind of lame. I was disappointed, even though at the end I enjoyed the series.

I love this flower motif in Rinne no Lagrange. It just seems really awesome.

The last two series I’ll talk about aren’t technically done, but with only one episode remaining (to air tomorrow) I can’t imagine them changing my opinion so much. If it does, of course, I’ll edit this in really obvious fashion. Anyway, those two series are Amagami SS Plus and Kill Me Baby. Starting with Amagami… Another show that wasn’t as good as I’d hoped it’d be. It went through all the heroines again, with anime original plots that for the most part were not all that interesting. The only girls that had good arcs were Kaoru and Rihoko, and that’s saying something, since none of them were all that great (well, I guess Kaoru’s was actually pretty good). I think overall Amagami definitely did not perform as well as its prequel. As for Kill Me Baby… It was disappointing when I covered it for my preview, and somehow it got even MORE disappointing as I kept watching. It got so bad that I just stopped watching for about four or five episodes, until I eventually forced myself to marathon all of them (while playing Megaman X1-3… might as well do something productive, no?). And to my slight happiness… It got better. Not much, but just a little bit. A few scenes were actually pretty funny. While Kill Me baby was still a huge disappointment to me, it could’ve been worse, so I guess I have that at least.

You thought I was gonna post another picture here? Hell no. Enjoy some kickass MMX1 music for reading this far.

 Now a small bit for all the other series I just want to mention. There were a few series I was watching leftover from the fall season, particularly Guilty Crown, that ended. Guilty Crown had all the hallmarks of being totally awesome right up ’till it aired. Great music/art pedigree, an interesting plot, and what looked to be cool characters. And while the music and art stayed fairly solid, the last half of that, the more important half, really fell flat. The plot and characters were awful right up to the end, and it was just a little sad. Unfortunately for Guilty Crown, I will forever remember it as “terrible”. And now a quick status update on the shows I’m watching from the Winter season. Aquarion EVOL is surprisingly better than I thought it’d be. The art is spectacular and it’s actually pretty funny. I expect it to go south as soon as some major plot kicks in, but so far it’s a fun ride. Recorder to Randsell is ultra disappointing in that it’s not a full 22 minute episode, but I can see why it’s not. There’s simply not that much material to it. It started well, but is falling into tired cliches as it goes on. InuXBoku SS was a kind of sleeper hit to me, like Daily Lives of High School boys, but I love it. It’s not for everyone. It has that whole pretty boy dynamic that a lot of people I’m sure don’t like, but it’s actually really cute, heartwarming, and funny all at the same time. Plus, you may not believe me, but there’s just as much fanservice for the guys as there is for the ladies. And then there’s Mouretsu Pirates. I’ll be honest, it’s kind of boring. There’s so much technobabble and exposition and world-building, it’s kind of getting in the way for stuff to just happen. When you think something might happen… It doesn’t. I don’t hate it, but it’s not as good as I was hoping, unfortunately. I still think there’s a lot of potential there, if only it’d be tapped. Hopefully it’ll get better as we go along.

And that’s more or less my farewell to the Winter Anime season. It had its ups and downs. There were some successes and some disappointments. I hope you can look at both this and my preview and maybe find something you’ll enjoy.

You know what else ended this week? Forever? At least in anime form? Bleach. And as Ichigo said to top off the series... See you again.

 

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Kaushik

I write about anime and stuff. Giant robots are pretty cool, too.

Kaushik

I write about anime and stuff. Giant robots are pretty cool, too.

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