I still plan to do a post with a top 10 ranking of anime from 2012, but I figured that I’d better get the season preview up before the shows started airing and it turned into an interview instead. Winter is usually a pretty awful season, where studios dump their stuff that isn’t even worth showing during the summer. I guess you’re just supposed to watch the shows continuing from fall, and I’m certainly having a good time with Shin Sekai Yori, but let’s see if we can’t find a few new things to pick up as well. I’ll be working from this chart, and also consulting various promos and commercials that you can probably find a torrent for if you look hard. Title translations have not been verified by a professional translator, and may be inaccurate, leading to injury or death. Sun Tzu Anime Blog accepts no liability.
Maoyuu Maou Yuusha (Maoyuu Demon Lord Hero): Does English not have a gender neutral term for a demon who is Kind Of A Big Deal? Because it looks to me like that Demon “Lord” is actually a chick. The setting looks like it hits a lot of the good “medieval fantasy” notes for me, it’s got dudes with swords, dudes with neck ruffs, evil scheming merchants, maids, and an ample-bosomed queen. In theory I like the premise too, because hey, war is bad and peace/understanding/prosperity are better. It does seem like a hard premise to get right, though, and not end up sounding too preachy about it. It would be great if the demon lord were actually, like, evil, and so there was an actual moral question at the heart of the show. Like say she eats babies, like three babies at every meal. Is peace worth the cost of appeasing her? Can we really sacrifice hundreds, thousands of fighting men to save the lives of a few babies that probably would have died in the next plague anyway? The hero has to wrestle with his choice to keep this detestable monster happy in order to protect the people. That would be a kickass premise. I’ll try not to be too disappointed when the show goes for the “demons are just like us, racism is bad” angle instead.
Cuticle Detective Inaba: More like Cutie Detective Inaba <3. Haha, no, this looks terrible. Detective show, catboys, wacky talking animal boss, show is animated by Zexcs, all of these are huge flashing signs warning me “STAY AWAY”. Crossdressing secretary is a monochrome paper flyer suggesting “Come have a look!” but I think I will still decline.
Minami-ke Tadaima (Minami Family Right Away): The first season of Minami-ke is one of my all-time favorite seasons of anime. It was classic, it was brilliant comedy, it was well-animated, well-written, well-paced. Then, for god knows what reason, they took the franchise away from the original studio (Daume) and gave it to asread, who proceeded to change the character designs, screw up the pacing, and generally make a hash of things. They also upped the fanservice level, which I thought was sort of inappropriate given that only one of the members of the Minami family is within spitting distance of the age of consent. Now the franchise is moving to another new studio, Feel, so maybe it will get better again? I have my doubts, though. I checked out the original manga on which Minami-ke is based, and it seemed a lot closer to the asread interpretation than the Daume interpretation, so my guess is the genius of the first season was in large part due to Daume mixing in their own special sauce, which I doubt Feel will be able to replicate. We’ll see.
Hakkenden: Touhou Hakken Ibun (Eight Dog Story: Strange Tales of the Eight Dogs of the East): Dang, nearly thrice the number of dogs Fallout 3 can claim! Apparently this is based on some classic Japanese novel, so I’m guessing I wouldn’t understand the appeal? It sort of seems like they’re probably butchering it, though, given the amount of magical guys sprouting tentacles because they’re angry and implanting the Eye of Vecna in their hands I saw in the previews. That doesn’t seem like something you’d get in a classic novel. Either way, doesn’t seem like my thing.
Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru (My Girlfriend and Childhood Friend Are Fighting It Out): Looks like a lot of other love-triangle romantic comedies, but there are a few points in its favor. First, the student council president has pink hair. Second, the protagonist is smart and goal-directed and maybe not as much of a pushover as often happens in this type of show. Third, if she actually becomes his girlfriend so that she can fight it out with his childhood friend, that means that the love triangle won’t just stay in horrible stasis forever as often happens in this type of show. Fourth, the childhood friend has the :3 face with a fang. And fifth, I dunno, I got a good feeling watching the preview. Looking forward to this one.
Senran Kagura (Kagura Wars): Hey, there’s nothing wrong with a show about big-titted ninjas. But I’d appreciate some delicacy about the topic, some subtlety, some discretion. You shouldn’t just come right out in your promo and say “Hey, watch our show! It’s got big titted ninjas! Their tits are really big, look! Bouncy, bouncy!” You need to wrap it in a few layers of innuendo and hypocrisy, so that I have a chance in hell of pretending I’m watching your show for the plot. One of the big-titted ninjas has pink hair, but even so, there’s no way I could survive the shame of watching this.
Love Live! School Idol Project: Maybe it’s my Catholic upbringing kicking in, but I don’t see the appeal of idols. There have been a couple decent anime about the phenomenon, like White Album, and, uh, … uh, White Album Season 2, but in general, shows about idols are the same sort of shallow poppy trash as the idols themselves. I’m not sure the added plot of fighting to save their school is any better than the usual idol show plot of fighting to become a star, either. At least fighting to become a star is an honestly selfish motivation.
Amnesia: The premise sounds sort of interesting, trying to reclaim your lost identity but not being sure how much you can rely on others. I’m not sure magic and the supernatural have anything to add to that premise, though. And watching the promo video I kinda got an uncomfortable rapey vibe. I’m still traumatized from noted domestic-violence anime Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun, which I had thought would be nice and fun and light, so maybe I should skip this one, but I guess I’m curious after all.
Tamako Market: The main selling point for this show seems to be, “hey, K-On may be over, but here is another show by many of the same people”! But I was never as enamored of K-On as a lot of people were. It was cute but ultimately empty, and I always grew antsy by the end of an episode, looking for something more intellectually stimulating. I have a lot of respect for the idea of mochi, it seems about as impressive a transformation of rice as bread is of wheat, but I don’t see this show doing much for me.
GJ-bu (Good Job Club): Seems like a light slice-of-life comedy, I like those. Not much information out about it, and I couldn’t tell much from the promos except that the animation quality wasn’t so hot but at least one of the girls has pink hair. The studio, Dogakobo, isn’t one I recognize as particularly good or bad – they did Yuru Yuri, which seems like something roughly in the same genre, and which I found pretty mediocre. So who knows how GJ-bu will turn out.
Sasami-san@Ganbaranai (Sasami Isn’t Trying): Well, it’s Shaft. I’ll give anything by Shaft a shot. It doesn’t look like a typical Shaft show, to the extent that Shaft has a typical look beyond “atypical”. But the show has an art style that looks twenty or thirty years out of date. It seems like it might bother me. I like the premise, though, of a hikkikomori and her hopeless enabler and the weird love triangle situations that sets up. And I laughed while watching the promo video, so that’s a good sign. With Shaft there’s always a decent chance of everything going up in pretentious flames, but it might also turn out to be really good, so this is definitely one to keep an eye on.
Kotoura-san: There is nothing in this world I find more funny than piercing people’s hypocrisies, so a comedy about a girl who gets into trouble by reading peoples’ minds sounds right up my alley. Plus, she has gradient hair! That’s the next best hair color to pink! (What if you had hair that was a gradient between two shades of pink? Chills just ran down my spine.) I’m a little concerned, though, that the promo videos didn’t seem to convey much of a sense of humor. They seemed more focused on the wacky aspects of things, about how sometimes boys think dirty thoughts and about how nerdy geeks nobody likes might be interested in the mechanism by which a schoolgirl can read minds. If that’s representative of the jokes in the series proper, the excellent premise might end up wasted.
Vividread Operation: Please put some pants on. I thought we already went through this with Strike Witches.
Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai NEXT (I Don’t Have Enough Friends NEXT): The first season of Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai was decent enough. It had some funny jokes and cool characters sometimes, but on the other hand the characters would sometimes take their sexual molestation of each other beyond “playful” and into “vindictive”, and that sort of wasn’t as cool. And sequels in general tend to be worse than the original season, as you would expect for various reasons. So I don’t hold out grand hopes for this, but heck, I’ll give it a shot. At least I won’t have to learn new characters and a new premise.
Mondai-ji Tachi ga Isekai Kara Kurusou Desu Yo (It Seems Like Problem Children Come From An Alternate Universe): The premise, of a dimension-hopping battle of bad kids versus Satan, sounds totally ridiculous, but it was meant to. That’s what people who make fun of long-ass light novel titles like “Mondai-ji Tachi ga Isekai Kara Kurusou Desu Yo” don’t understand – the titles are like that on purpose, as a joke, to show that they’re not taking themselves too seriously. Which is a good thing for an action-driven show like this seems to be! And the animation quality looks really good for a show that doesn’t take itself seriously and airs during the winter, so maybe someone cares about this show. The best bet is probably that this show isn’t any better than it sounds, but there’s enough of an upside possibility that I’ll give it a shot. Plus it has a transforming bunnygirl whose hair turns pink when she transforms!
All in all, then, there are only two shows I’m really looking forward to: Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru, and Sasami-san@Ganbaranai. I’m also going to check out Maoyuu Maou Yuusha, Minami-ke Tadaima, Amnesia, GJ-bu, Kotoura-san, Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai NEXT, and Mondai-ji Tachi ga Isekai Kara Kurusou Desu Yo, for a total of nine shows. Well, it’s winter, what can you expect. I’ll get a threshing post up in a couple weeks with my initial thoughts on these shows.