It was always going to be tough to follow the excellence of Fall (which featured four series with an 8 average or above), but this Winter so far slightly above Summer (6.968) and Spring (7.077) 2012 in ratings, and is right around the site’s all-time average, if we were to convert all of the seasons to the current rating system.
Where this Winter differs from those similarly-rated seasons is that over halfway through, it lacks a discernible “king”: a show (or shows) that camp out atop the rankings and stay there, lording over the rest. Spring had Nazo no Kanojo X and Sakamichi no Apollon. Summer had Natsuyuki Rendezvous. Fall had four kings, two of which are still running (though K, which was about kings, wasn’t one of them).
Winter, meanwhile, has no new series one could label as true kings. There’s a power struggle at the top. The second cours of Fall carryovers Zetsuen no Tempest and From the New World serving in that capacity, maintaining the high standards both shows set in their first cours. Regents, if you will. That’s not to say a king won’t emerge, but we’re eight weeks in, so we won’t hold our collective breath.
11. Zettai Karen Children: The Unlimited – Hyoubu Kyousuke – 8/12 (6.375) – Has proven easy to follow despite our having never seen the series it spun off from. It has some nice-looking setpieces, but overall the production values are underwhelming. It makes up for it with nice character work. Stopping the momentum to tell Hyoubu’s backstory irked us a little
10. Vividred Operation – 7/12 (6.571) – Unlike The Unlimited, this show has brilliant animation throughout, as any maho/techno shojo series should. Until the seventh episode, which ends in a cliffhanger, the girls’ primary challenge wasn’t the Alones at all, but trying to befriend Kuroki Rei, who has sword to destroy what they’re trying to protect
9. Amnesia – 8/12 (6.750) – Amnesia is being very deliberate in unveiling the situation the heroine is in. Yes, bumping into Orion caused her to start jumping from universe to universe, but they seem to be getting more and more threatening to her well-being
8. Tamako Market – 8/12 (7.875 ▼) – Someone from Dera’s island finally shows up and half-dropped the bombshell at the very end of episode seven: Tamako, perfectly content to live her life as a mochi-maker’s daughter, may be the fated bride for the island’s prince. But in the meantime, Choi hangs around as Dera did, and we’re left wondering: can anyone escape this lovely shopping district?
7. OreShura – 8/13 (7.250 ▲) – This continues to be far more enjoyable than it should be, giving each girl in Eita’s harem a specific personality and a specific motivation for liking him. Though intelligent from the start, Eita’s involvement with all these girls seems to have dulled his perceptiveness vis-a-vis Fuyuumi Ai. Or maybe he just trusts her when she says she has a boyfriend (when she really doesn’t)
6. Maoyuu Maou Yuusha – 8/12 (7.625 ▼) – Maou and Yuusha are changing the world, and the battle of Bright Light Island was a big step forward, but things are getting ever more complicated as Maou must return home to renew her license, while back in the world of men, the church brands her a heretic, which is never good
5. Kotoura-san – 7/12 (7.714 ▼) – A crucial tripping-point in the Kotoura-Manabe relationship is that despite the fact they both care for each other, Manabe is still a hostage to his dirty thoughts, which ruin potentially romantic moments every time, which is getting old. Though he did a good job hiding his thoughts while preparing a surprise birthday party, which we’ll admit was an awesome gesture
4. Chihayafuru 2 – 7/25 (7.857 ▲) – It’s last two weeks have been on fire, following one of the best karuta match episodes with one of the best character-focused episodes. It’s becoming clearer and clearer to Taichi that he has little chance against Arata (either in karuta or with Chihaya), but hasn’t given up, nor has Sumire given up on him
3. Sasami-san@Ganbaranai – 7/12 (8.000 ▲) – Even though we’re no experts of neither Japanese mythology nor Shinoism, we’re really enjoying the emerging power struggles between gods old and new with one unmotivated girl in the center. The latest two-parter put her in danger like never before and underlined just how reasonable her desire to live a normal life is. No one should be drugged and forced to conceive children to perpetuate some nutso cult. Whatever the risk to humanity, you can’t put that on one person’s shoulders
2. From the New World – 21/25 (8.375) – It’s official: the remaining humans on earth are royally screwed. Yakomaru is breeding human children to become mindless fiends and using them as weapons against their own kind. Maria and Itou were the parents of such a fiend, who destroys what’s left of Saki’s village. Tomiko has officially passed the torch to Saki, who has no idea what to do, but she’s narrating this whole thing so we figure she comes out of this okay
1. Zetsuen no Tempest – 19/24 (8.500) – Yoshino confessing to Mahiro that he is Aika’s boyfriend is perhaps the biggest revelation yet to befall the series (even though Hanemura called it earlier, softening the blow a bit). It’s not as big a deal as he thought it would be, and the fact remains, Aika’s killer is still unknown. Now Hakaze is going back to the past to find out, which should be interesting