Spring/Summer 2011 Wrap-Up

Out with the old, in with the new. This weekend RABUJOI said goodbye to the last of the Summer series and Spring carryovers, with one exception, Mawaru Penguindrum, which will continue into the Fall. In all, it was a decent season, with lots of variety. We love the sense of completeness that comes with wrapping up a season – two in this case. Here’s a list of who won what:

• Best Overall Anime: Mawaru Penguindrum. Every episode has been excellent, in our humble opinion.

• Most Gore-tastic Series: Blood-C…the censors were awfully busy.

• Best Series Dealing With Sudden Parenthood: Usagi Drop. Really down-to-earth, heartwarming stuff.

• Best NEET Detective Series: Kami-sama no Memo-cho.

• Best Life-At-An-Inn Series: Hanasaku Iroha, which finished very strong.

• Best Telepathically-Controlled Mecha Action: Kamisama Dolls.

• Best Period Mystery/Action Series: Dantalian no Shoka.

• Best Goofy Superhero Series: Tiger & Bunny.

• Best Series Set in Paris at the Turn of the Century: Ikoku Meiro no Croisée.

• Best High School Club Series: Sket Dance.

• Best Post-Apocalyptic Series with a Number for a Name: No. 6.

• Best Shounen Series Where the Characters Were More Fun to Watch Than the Action: Ao no Exorcist.

• Best Score: (tie) Kamisama Dolls and Mawaru Penguindrum.

• Best Female Seiyu, Spring 2011: Chiaki Omigawa as Minko Tsurugi/Minchi (Hanasaku Iroha)

• Best Male Seiyu, Spring 2011: Hiroaki Hirata as Kotetsu T. Kaburagi/Wild Tiger (Tiger & Bunny)

• Best Female Seiyu, Summer 2011: Marie Miyake as Ringo Oginome (Mawaru Penguindrum)

• Best Male Seiyu, Summer 2011: Hiroshi Tsuchida as Daikichi Kawachi (Usagi Drop)

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5 down, 7 to go: Current Anime Rankings as of Today

With four series completed (Ikoku Meiro no Croisee, No. 6, Tiger & Bunny, and Usagi Drop) and one dropped (Morita-san wa Mukuchi), we felt like now was a good time to put up part of the new RABUJOI Big Board and see where things stand with seven series left to wrap up for Spring/Summer 2011:

Summer 2011

Episode # : 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 AVG

Mawaru Penguindrum 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4.000
Kamisama Dolls 4 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 4 3.5 4 4 3 3.636
Usagi Drop 3.5 4 3.5 3.5 4 3.5 3.5 3.5 4 3.5 3.5 3.636
Blood-C 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 4 4 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.600
Kami-sama no Memo-cho 4 4 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3 4 3.5 3.591
Dantalian no Shoka 4 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 2.5 4 3.5 3.500
Ikoku Meiro no Croisée 3.5 3 3.5 3.5 3.5 3 3.5 3.5 3 3 3 3.5 3.292
No. 6 3.5 3.5 3.5 3 2.5 2.5 3.5 3 3 3.5 3 3.136
Morita-san wa Mukuchi 2.5 2 2 2 2.5 2 2 2 2.125

Weekly Average 3.6 3.4 3.4 3.3 3.4 3.3 3.3 3.2 3.6 3.6 3.2 3.5 0.0 3.391

Spring 2011 Carryovers

Episode # : 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 AVG

Hanasaku Iroha (second half) 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3 3.5 3.5 4 3.5 4 4 3.583
Tiger & Bunny (second half) 3.5 3.5 3.5 4 3.5 3 3.5 3.5 3 3 3 3.5 3.375
Ao no Exorcist (second half) 3 3.5 4 3.5 3.5 3 3 3 3 2.5 3.200
Sket Dance (second half) 3 3 3.5 3.5 3 3 3.5 3 3 3 3.5 3.182

Weekly Average 3.3 3.4 3.6 3.6 3.4 3 3.5 3.3 3.3 3.2 4.0 0.0 0.0 3.335

Stray Observations (many with baseball references)

• Cliff Lee is a good pitcher. Mawaru Penguindrum is a good anime. These are facts. Depending on how the first half ends, we may be compelled elevate it to Favorites.

• Currently tied with the completed Usagi Drop, Kamisama Dolls will need to rally in the twelfth inning to order to claim second place.

• With some new twists that open the series wide open, Blood-C also has a chance to take second, but it will have to score 4s in its final two innings; not an easy feat.

• Memo-cho and Dantalian no Shoka are following similar paths: excellent starts, consistent standout-ness from weeks 3-7/8, and lost a little command towards the end.

• Ikoku Meiro no Croisee was a pleasant enough series, but never moving enough to score a 4. Lack of hussle?

• No. 6 suffered the same fate as Fractale, only worse: it looked good on paper: a big world, big ideas, great concepts; but not nearly enough time to realize any of it to our satisfaction. Should have been at least a 26-episode season.

• Thanks to the brief firtation with the mediocrity of the three-minute Morita-san, we have our most colorful scoreboard yet! If we remove it from the Summer watchlist, the overall season rating jumps from 3.391 to 3.549 –  a 15% rise. FYI, our average of all anime since we started rating them hovers around 3.5, ’cause if it ain’t standout, we usually won’t watch it.

• Just like its first half began, Hanasaku Iroha looks to finish strong. Just gotta wrap up the Ohana+Ko arc and a few other things.

• Ao no Exorcist…doesn’t. Apparently the anime story deviates greatly from the source manga. We don’t read source manga, so we didn’t notice, but if the manga story was better, it might have been better if they’d used that. As it is, Ao is whiffing at the off-speed stuff and late with the heat.

• We’ve stuck with Sket Dance for 26 games, but we don’t know if we’ll stay with it for all 39. Fall 2011 is a big season coming up, there may not be time. And one can’t rush a gentleman’s game. Unless you limit the amount of time a pitcher takes to come to the plate.

No. 6 11 (Fin)

Citizens of No. 6 start dying from the parasitic wasps within them. Shion and Rat have found Safu, but she’s become a medium for Elyurias, and while part of her remains to tell Shion she loves him, she isn’t quite Safu anymore. Rat sets a bomb on the main computer core and escapes with Shion, but Safu stays put. When the bomb blows, the prison begins to crumble, and is hastily evacuated. Both Nezumi and Rat are seriously wounded by gunfire from guards. Elyurias transforms into a giant wasp and spreads her power throughout No. 6, removing the infestation of wasps, tearing down the walls, and healing the guys. With eveything Shion hoped for accomplished, he and Nezumi go their separate ways, with Shion returning to a changed No. 6.

Eleven-episode runs can be killer for series with Really Big Ideas like No. 6. As the series progressed, it seemed unsure of how large a story to tell, and unsure how exactly to tell it. Episodes were spent with Nezumi and Rat just sitting around philosophizing. There’s a lot of exposition and lengthly explanation here, too. This was not a perfect ending, and I don’t think it was a great one, either. But it was pretty good.

I was disappointed that the guys came all that way to rescue Safu (though Rats primary goal was destroying the prison) only for her to say a few word and then basically die; she almost feels like a McGuffin. She’s obviously the kind of girl who knows who she loves no matter how little of him she actually sees, and Shion is a mess after Rat carries him off without her, having lost someone he had so much more to say to. But his pipe dream came true – in a deus ex machina, neat-little-package way kinda way. It had a definite ending, which is more than can be said of some 11-episode series.


Rating: 3

No. 6 10

Having gained access to the prison via capture, Shion and Nezumi must climb a mountain of dead and dying bodies in order to reach their ultimate destination. As they progress through the prison, Shion starts to hear Safu, and he becomes virtually possessed by a force that drives him towards her, making him calm, cold, and merciless to the security guards. He snaps out of the trance and the two meet up with Safu, as was planned by Elyurias.

Nezumi hopes beyond hope that the Shion he entered the prison will be the same one who leaves, but that grows less and less likely as he’s exposed to its visceral horrors. I can’t imagine why such unspeakably horrible measures need to be taken to preserve No. 6, and the systems in place seem to dwarf any possible human effort to oppose them. Of course, the power of Elyurias seems to be beyond the power of those who run No. 6. One would hope, that is.

This episode is full of quick, kinetic action sequences, as we finally get to see Nezumi do what he does best. But for all their efforts and good intentions, I can’t help but feel that Elyurias – whomever she/it is – may not be altogether benevolent herself, and that Shion and Safu are merely her instruments, carrying out her will without a shred of their own. If they were themselves, they certainly wouldn’t kill, and yet, here they are, killin’!


Rating: 3.5

No. 6 9

Those who run No.6 show just how evil they can be as they plow through the western district, indiscriminately killing and destroying. Nezumi begins enacting the plan to save Safu / bring No. 6 down, including luring a No. 6 official with Dogkeeper for info, then getting captured and sent to the correctional facility where Safu is. They and the others who survived and surrendered may soon wish they’d been killed back in town, from the looks of it.

Just in case you didn’t know: No. 6 is a bad, bad place run by bad, bad people. They massacre people outside the walls, scoop up whoever survived, then dump them into a big black void like garbagemen dumping trash into a landfill. It’s bleak, and it’s a scale of evil we haven’t yet seen, but here it is, with Nezumi and Shion right in the middle of it. I’d ask how they’re going to survive what seemed like a fall of, conservatively, several hundred feet, but oh well.

Between Rikiga’s side job as a pimp, dogkeeper’s ambiguous gender, Shion’s “serious” dreams for the perfect happy ending we know we’re not going to get, Safu waking up and attacking the lab techs, and the aforementioned dumping into a big cubist prison, it would seem like the buildup is just about complete. Which is good, because there are only two episodes left to wrap up all this loveliness. Oh yeah, Nezumi also sings, but I felt like it would have been more impactful without the reverb and accompaniment.


Rating: 3

No. 6 8

The hall is rented. The orchestra engaged. It’s now time to see if Sion and Nezumi can dance. This week is an overture to the big prison infiltration and Safu rescuing – if Safu is still alive by the time they get there. Men in medical masks keep talking about how excellent her “synch rate” is and how many elites died to get this result. She needs to get out of that tube, pronto.

Nezumi apparently thinks Safu can wait a bit longer…at least with their current level of information and preparedness. He leads Sion down a canyon and into a massive cathedralic cavern full of blue water like the kind Safu’s suspended in. It’s a colony for No. 6 exiles, led by a scientist who, along with Karan, helped build No. 6 (I didn’t catch his name). Like Sion, he survived being host to a parasite bee, and was rewarded with the same white hair and pink scars.

He proves to be a font of information, telling him the song Nezumi, Sion and Safu can hear is in fact the voice of Elyurias, a god-like being who watches over the world and only talks to those who listen. The song turns blue water amber (we don’t know why yet). He also reveal’s Nezumi’s past: he’s the last survivor of a tribe of “forest people” slaughtered by No. 6 with fire. His scars are from burns. He hands a Computer Chip Full ‘O’ Answers to Sion for later perusal and sends them on their way. Rikiga and Dogkeeper are waiting for them when they return home, ready to lay out a plan to save Safu.


Rating: 3

2011 So Far – in chart form

We like charts here on RABUJOI. This one plots the ratings of all the anime series we’ve reviewed so far in 2011. We’ve included Summer 2011 series, even though we’ve got 5-6 more weeks of episodes in those seasons. When the Summer season does conclude, we’ll update this chart.

So what do we see? Well, while we deem a 2.5 rating to be “Average”, our actual average is closer to 3.5, which we deem “Standout”. This is because there’s a lot of anime out there, but we try to only watch the best. There are exceptions, of course: the main outlier here is Morita-san wa Mukuchi, which rates just above 2 or “Mediocre” (UPDATE: As of episode 7, we’ve dropped Morita-san :P). There are a lot more series out there we’d probably rank this low or lower, but we don’t have the time or the stomachs to sit through them.

So why do we watch Morita-san wa Mukuchi? Well, it’s only three minutes long; hardly a major investment. So it isn’t that we rate high. We just watch series that regularly deserve above-average ratings. Thus when a truly brillant series comes around – like AnoHana or Mawaru Penguindrum, you’ll see a lot of 4s. At the end of the day, it’s all subjective. We also just like charts. Did we say that already?

No. 6 7

Ah, now this is more like it! Instead of characters, relationships and motivations all essentially milling around in a holding pattern as they seem to have done the past couple episodes, Shion finally has a reason to do something, Nezumi finally takes up a position, and, with four episodes left, we may be starting to see sunshine at the end of the pseudo-utopian corridor.

As I’ve said, I really like Safu. She’s pretty, she’s very bright, and she’s very forward and to-the-point where sex is concerned. Unfortunately, last week she was captured by DHS right when she was about to go after Shion. While bright, she underestimated the level of surveillance in No.6, as Shion’s mom’s house was bugged. Safu only has one brief scene this week, but that’s all we need to see that she’s in peril and in dire need of rescue. Whenever you wake up naked and suspended in liquid-filled glass tube in a lab, things are not going well (Just ask Bill Clinton).

Nezumi keeps the knowledge that Safu is imprisoned from Shion, at least initially. But despite his outward mocking and loathing of the white-haired mother hen, he starts scheming behind his back to save Safu himself, using the dogkeeper’s prison connections. I love his interaction with the dogkeeper here: we’ve never known why the two hate each other so much they’d wish each other dead, but they seem to have reached a truce here. Meanwhile, Shion finds out anyway, when he find’s Safu’s coat in a thrift store of all places. So he’s off to save her…alone.

After exchanging a “goodnight kiss” (on the lips?) that’s really a goodbye kiss, Shion is off. But Nezumi follows, and the two exchange punches, thankfully no more kisses, and Nezumi finally voices exactly what Shion means to him, going all the way back to when he saw him screaming from his balcony in a rainstorm. Shion is his savior, the reason he draws breath today. These two clearly have feelings for each other, and they have for a long time. But Safu still needs saving. They’ll save her together.


Rating: 3.5

No. 6 6

I like how Safu is walking around a cold, windless No. 6 with a look of contempt on her place. If it weren’t for her grandmother dying, Safu would never have returned to No. 6, and learned that Shion’s no longer there, but out in the West Block. When she learns this, she immediately declares her undying love for him and vows to track him down. But the security bureau have other ideas, and promptly detain her after she leaves Shion’s mom’s bakery.

I can safely say Safu is my favorite character in this series, and so it’s good to see more of her. The black-and-white-haired lovebirds have just gotten boring. They repeat the same arguments over and over; Nezumi is a totally static dickweed, and Shion is as plain and dull as his hair color, going on about developing a serum and breaking down the wall. It would be nice to see exciting stuff like that, but instead we get more odd couple bickering.

Great things have been done in eleven episodes before. AnoHana most recently. FLCL was only six episodes; Blue Submarine No. 6 only four. All of them did an infinitely better job telling a story in a limited time than this. The main characters are totally unlikable and they’re either too waffling or too weak to do anything. The only person who tries to take action – Safu – is immediately arrested. And when Nezumi gets word of this, does he tell Shion? ‘Course not. Give me a break, No. 6!


Rating: 2.5 

No. 6 5

Okay, so Nezumi’s an actor, but because he’s so pretty, he plays female roles, of course. Against his wishes, Shion goes to see him perform Shakespeare. Meanwhile, in No. 5, Safu is visiting a museum with her classmates when both she and Nezumi are hit by a strange “wind”, start to hear singing, and then pass out into a dream state.

Safu wakes up in hospital, while Nezumi is carried home by Shion, who then tells him about the parasite bee attacks. Nezumi teaches him how to dance for some reason, the lovebirds kill some time dancing, and then Shion touches Nezumi’s neck, surprising him, as he didn’t have time to dodge. Perhaps Shion’s new hair and tats lent him some powers?

The Safu and Nezumi connection threw me off a bit, especially when he said it had nothing to do with bees. What exactly is going on is still something that mostly escapes me, and aside from the shared dizzy spell and the suspicion next week Nezumi and Shion may be eskimo kissing, this episode felt too much like a holding pattern, even stalling.


Rating: 2.5

No. 6 4

I have to say, I just wasn’t impressed with this week’s No. 6 outing. Essentially, Nezumi sends word to Shion’s mom (via rat) that he’s alive, and she sends word back of a friend of hers who also lives in the West District. He also happens to be a pimp who dresses like Pee Wee Herman.

Shion is certainly a fish out of water here, as everyone runs their mouth in a foul, inpolite manner, which mortifies him. But even after his appearance-changing ordeal last week, he’s still a rather listless, directionless, weak kid. If this place is so horrible – and we haven’t seen anything to prove otherwise – why the hell would he want to stay?

In a word, Nezumi. But Nezumi was just one-note this week, acting like an asshole most of the time. He clearly likes/loves Shion, or else he wouldn’t have done everything he has for him to this point; saving his life for the umpteenth time. These two seme very close, both in a brotherly way, but also with undertones of romance. But that, and everyone’s motivations and goals, still seem distant and vague, despite this series being more than a third complete.


Rating: 3

No. 6 3

Shion starts reacting unfavorably to his strange dark bruises, and Nezumi must operate to remove a pupa. In the process, Shion’s hair changes color and he gets strange pink strips all around his face and body. His friend aged rapidly before dying from the bee, but Shion survives, thanks to Nezumi, who saves his life for the second time.

Now Shion must come to grips with his new reality: he’s outside No.6, looking in. He can’t have the same mentality he had before. Nezumi doesn’t like the city one bit, and will gladly laugh heartily as it burns to the ground. Furthermore, he threatens Shion not to go crawling back there, or they’ll be enemies. While Nezumi has every right to be bitter considering how he was treated, Shion can’t quite be okay with him wishing for the city where his mom and friends live meeting a horrific fate.

In the meantime, we meet another resident of the real world, the “dogkeeper.” She politely stands by in amusement while Shion lays out his plan to warn the city about the killer parasitic bees. But his plan is full of holes. He won’t be warmly recieved if he goes back, especially looking the way he does. Heck, he may have blown it with Safu, too, what with his exile and new, punkish look.


Rating: 3.5

No. 6 2

First of all, yowza, this episode contained (courtesy of Safu) probably the most forward proposal for sex I’ve heard in an anime since Mezzo Forte, which was at least part-porn. Second of all, good grief, four frikkin’ years have gone by! We never see the consequences of Shion harboring Nezumi in realtime, only his recollection of it. Basically, his life is ruined; he and his mom are kicked out of No.6 and he’s reduced to working as a park supervisor in “lost town”, far from glittering Chronos.

It was definitely gutsy to let so much time pass. Safu’s role still seems unclear to me, as Shion only sees her as a friend, and she’s leaving for No.5 to study abroad for still another two years. Meanwhile, Lost Town is just as authoritarian as No.6, and when Shion speaks out of turn regarding a mysterious and gruesome death, the government locks him up for malcontentedness.

Fortunately, Nezumi has been watching him from afar, and rescues him in the nick of time. They run into the woods and eventually make it outside the walls of the city to “the real world”, a bleak, sickly, dystopian urban growth sticking to the outside of the wall. It would seem Shion’s journey has just begun. Oh yeah, and what the heck was up with those neck bees? Rating: 3.5