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Anime Review Summer 2011 Season:
A recap after watching the 1st episode of everything

Hey, I just finished up watching and reviewing the first episode of every anime series/special/OVA for the Summer 2011 season, which has been subtitled so far. So, it's now time to take a look back and rank everything from best to worst. I've done the same thing for the previous five seasons as well, and you can find the recaps here:

First, by the numbers: To put it very bluntly, it was a pretty awful three months, with a whole lot of really awful crap to wade through and very few gems. So far, I have found 37 different series/shows/specials where the first episode has been subtitled into English (through today). Out of those, 27 are continuing series with multiple episodes -- I must stress that so far I have only viewed and reviewed the first episodes only. 12 out of the 27 multi-episode shows received a "thumbs up", 15 receiving a thumbs-down. Of the remaining 10 single-episode shows/specials, only 1 received a thumbs-up and 9 received a thumbs-down. To be honest, I have been aiming for a 60-70% passing rate for the first episode, but good lord there was a pile of crap this summer! Oh well. Here's a quick look at what I consider the best, the worst, and everything in-between. To see the individual review, click on the show's name below.

Highest recommendation: MUST SEE TV!:

  • Usagi Drop Episode 1 - If I had to pick one word to describe Usagi Drop, it would be "poignant". This is a series that is specifically designed to tug at your heart-strings, make you feel all warm and melty inside. It's a dangerous route, because it is so easy to go overboard with too much sickly-sweet sentiment (and suddenly turn into a "Very Special" Lifetime movie event or some-such), but one episode in Usagi Drop is hitting all the right notes, and looks like it could be the slice-of-life drama of the season.

Strongly Recommended: - Most likely I'll watch the entire season.

  • Mawaru Penguin Drum Episode 1 - Coming completely out of nowhere is a show about supernatural helper penguins, a dead sister...and her rebirth. First off, Mawaru Penguin Drum is a visual feast, a delight to watch. The story, well, I don't know quite what to make of it yet, but the characters themselves are engaging, so I'm optimistic.
  • Kamisama no Memo-chou Episode 1 - Yeah, Kamisama no Memo-chou is somewhat "throwing a bone" to the otaku fanbase, focusing on the "NEET" community with an ultra-moe main character that everyone can fawn over. But what seems to make the series break out from the pack is the story itself is fairly decent, and may provide from some actual action/adventure/mystery that we were denied in Gosick.

Moderately recommended: - Worth watching, and there's a decent chance I'll watch the entire season.

Mildly recommended: - Watchable, not sure if I'll continue for the entire season yet or not.

  • No. 6 Episode 1 - Sci-fi future dystopia and coming-of-age adventure, the only major problem is the "shonen-ai" overtones I'm getting.
  • Nekogami Yaoyorozu Episode 1 - Stupid fun as silly cat-girl/gods running around wreaking havoc. Sorta reminds me of Hare+Guu, or Di Gi Charat.

Slightly recommended: - Not sure if I'll watch the entire series or not, but signs don't look good.

On The Fence: - Watching for now, but chances are I'll drop before the series completes.

  • Blood-C Episode 1 - Clamp at its clampiest. I don't like this version of the main character, and all the characters around her annoy me even more.
  • Nurarihyon no Mago Season 2 Episode 1 - Second verse, same as the first. Doesn't seem to be any different from the first season, which is not a good prognosis.
  • Busou Shinki: Moon Angel Episode 1 - Sure, it's entirely a marketing video for action figures, but actually done fairly well. Think Angelic Layer for boys.

Slight Thumbs-Down: - Includes shows that may be decent by not within my interests, or shows that I might be convinced to give a second shot if enough people recommend them.

Moderate Thumbs-Down: - Pretty terrible, but not the worst shows in the world.

  • Morita-san wa Mukuchi Episode 1 - Proving once again what we learned in the OVA that precluded the series: Basing an entire series on a girl who freezes up and is unable to speak every single time is not the best idea in the world.
  • Nyanpire the Animation Episode 1 - Flash cuteness...done poorly. (In fact, has there *ever* been a decent flash-based anime show?)
  • Carnival Phantasm Episode 1 - For fans of various "Type Moon" games and shows only, because it's one inside joke after another based on assorted characters I don't know or don't care about.
  • Yuruyuri Episode 1 - This is how you grind a once-popular formula for anime shows into the ground. So, how many shows have we had in the past couple of years involving a small group of high school (or junior high) girls forming a club that does basically nothing?
  • Twin Angel Twinkle Paradise Episode 1 - A parody version of transforming magical girls, with about as much nuance and ingenuity as a fifty-pound sledgehammer.
  • The World God Only Knows OVA - Basically, it's K-On...only with less interesting characters.
  • Sorette Dakara Ne! Special - 38-member girl group puts out their own anime video! Oh, how cute is that! (Answer: not very)

Solid Thumbs-Down: - Terrible, just terrible. There's no reason to be watching these.

  • Copihan Episode 1 - This had a reasonable pedigree...so why did it end up so unwatchably bad?
  • The Idolmaster Episode 1 - Roll the dice and generate your own dozen Japanese idol characters. Make sure to include every possible annoying character trait, cliche and fanboy-bait possible. If you thought one squealing moe girl was annoying, multiply that by twelve. And perhaps even more surprising, there are several other shows that are *worse* than this one this season.
  • Itsuka Tenma no Kuro Usagi Episode 1 - Perhaps the most incomprehensible show of the season. It's a kaleidoscope of bright pinks and purples, unnervingly unnecessary fanservice, and a confusing plot that just makes my brain recoil in pain.
  • Rou Kyuu Bu Episode 1 - If the twelve-year-old group naked showering scene doesn't shy you away from this, then I don't know what will. I'm trying to figure out who, besides pedophiles, would watch this show.

Oh Dear God Why Does This Even Exist? - You watched it, now you can't unwatch it!

  • Mayo Chiki Episode 1 - Early in the season, I was sure this was going to end up being the worst of the worst. Little did I know that even worse shows were still in my future. The level of stupidity on display was so unrelenting that I think I accidentally my brain. An impossibly contrived story, annoying characters, and impossible situation, there's absolutely nothing worthwhile in this P.O.S.
  • Manyuu Hikenchou Episode 1 - A show involving massive mammaries is bad enough. But to make that the sole, driving theme and reason for the show's existence? And then mix in some sick, sadistic torture technique that involve stealing breast size with a magical sword? My god, whoever thought of this show needs some professional help, and fast.
  • Higurashi no Naku Koko no Kira Episode 1 - Nothing more than an endless sequence of imagining assorted girls doing embarrassing, sexually-charged actions against their will. The brain-breaking moment is watching a ten-year-old girl in maid outfit cleaning windows with nothing but her butt. Yes, you read that right.
  • Astarotte no Omocha EX OVA - This could easily be the worst show of the season based on the third act alone, except for two points: the production values are excellent, and we've seen all this before with the original series (e.g. the initial shock is over).
  • R-15 Episode 1 - An underage genius porn writer at an academy that promotes his "craft"? But the ultimate sin of this show is how ineptly they develop the plot. Awful concept done awfully.
  • Oretachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai OVA - The original series ended up at the bottom of the barrel last season for being an incomprehensible mess with obligatory fan-service. This one is equally as incomprehensible and has (proudly, I might add) 90% more fan-service. But like the above Astarotte no Omocha, we already knew that, so the shock of its terrible-ness is faded.

...And finally, the Wild Cardz Memorial Prize for the Worst Show of the Season goes to...

  • Baby Princess 3-D Paradise Love OVA - It was actually a tough choice, I switched back and forth repeatedly before ending up choosing Baby Princess as the worst possible show of the season. It was a close call, I could have made a reasonable case for any of the other shows listed immediately above, but in the end there can be only one -- and that one is Baby Princess. The concept behind the show is enough to make your right-minded anime fan run screaming for the hills, with our protagonist getting to know his new-found nineteen half-siblings (all girls, one year apart). Especially (incestuously) when some of the girls start putting the moves on him. Especially when some of said girls are woefully underage. But I guess if you have fantasies about boinking your teen or pre-teen sisters, then this would be right up your alley.

And as always, there are still a handful of shows from the Summer 2011 season that will eventually be subtitled in the upcoming months (especially some of the movies), and I'll tackle those as they become available.

So, what's next? A grand total of 13 shows moving on to "Round Two" (although one of those doesn't have a second episode that has yet been subtitled at this time), where I'll watch the second episodes and give those a thumb-up or thumbs-down. Many of those in the "On the Fence" or "Slightly Recommended" categories will likely be dropped in the second round.

Furthermore, it's now time to look "forward", at long last, to the Fall 2011 season, and I'll post my own preview and thoughts in the next week or so, and then start watching and reviewing those shows as well. And, of course, I'm still continuing with the Winter 2011 shows (where I'm still watching 5 shows after 9 episodes) and Spring 2011 shows (where I'm still watching 11 shows after 4 episodes). Slowly but surely chugging along.

Of course, it's hard to get a good handle on a long-running series after just one episode. Are there any that I graded to harshly that should get another chance? Or others that I praised but ultimately go downhill?


Matthew High

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