October 2011 Anime Season – Series ranking at 25/10/12

Okay, everything has offered at least 2 episodes now. Things are getting clearer.

And with that, some major changes on the preference order of my season viewings.

As I said in a previous post, I dropped Guilty Crown, reducing the number of titles I’m watching this season to seven. Look, it’s got potential but I’m not willing to wait ten years for something interesting to happen, for Shu to grow a spine and for a character that lights up the screen to emerge. Two seasons of this will be too much time lost to much ado about nothing, IMO.

So here is the new order for the seven shows I’ve continued with:

7.  (7) Squid Girl S2. Same old, same old but passable.

6. (6) UN-GO. The world setting is full of the tyrannical dystopian nightmare worlds I read in high school and it’s very effective in that regard. But its characters are very underdeveloped and we need to see more about them immediately or this show will have wasted its potential.

5. (3) Mirai Nikki. It’s still good but Episode 3 was rather light…Thinking Episode 4 will kick things back up a few notches, but Episode 3 was too sedate.

4. (2) Fate/Zero. It’s not that anything bad happened in Episode 4…It’s more the fact it could have been better…Lancer vs Saber should have been thrilling even if it was an introductory battle. Still, the constant cutting to a different character/scene and the sheer amount of dialogue just killed the flow within this episode and prevented it from being a thrilling fight. However, Rider stole the show in the final minutes as only this incarnation of Rider can!

3. (5) Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai. I’m amazed at how THIS show is being far more effective at developing its characters while mixing that exposition in with events/action and also has a potentially interesting plot. It’s still light and nothing fantastic, but it’s ticking the right boxes. It’s funny, it looks good, its service is steamy but not sleazy. This show really couldn’t do much better so far!

2. (4) Last Exile: Fam the Silver Wing. Truth be told, as I am a HUGE fan of the original Last Exile, I’m going to be harsher on this show more than anything else. Still, Episode 2 was the best thing I watched for the last week. Stunning CGI, the character mix is now balanced, the plot has emerged, the motivations of the heroes and villains are now apparent and some facts about EXILE and the like that we never knew from the original are finally explained! The amount of plot progression and character development that occured within this single episode while providing a good deal of action was pretty darn impressive. Keep this up, Gonzo. You may have a winner here.

1. (1) Chihayafuru. As much as Last Exile 2 and Boku wa Tomodachi have improved, Chihayafuru hasn’t put a foot wrong once yet. It’s doing everything it’s setting out to do thus far. While the subject matter isn’t the most exciting, in terms of setting up a feel-good coming of age tale and the bonds of friendship that don’t feel contrived, it’s excelling. I hope we go back to present day Chihaya in Episode 4 though.

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October 2011 Anime Season – Fate/Zero Episode 4

Saber and Lancer rant. Saber and Lancer fight. Kotohime and Tohsaka observe. Irisviel gasps. Rider intervenes. End episode.

That really is what Episode 4 is in a nutshell. Of course, there’s a lot more detail. Saber and Lancer talk a lot. Lancer’s master is around but elusive. Kotohime seems to have feigned bowing out of the game to allow himself to be a more effective observer and that Assassin being ‘taken out’ by Archer was a staged event by himself and Tohsaka. Irisviel seems rather smitten with Saber while Saber is the dashing, honourable woman we know her to be. Lancer acts incredibly FAB-ulous and even cockier. You could virtually feel the pheromones flooding from him like ravenous vultures. Rider has a much more knightly, honourable approach to the battles and decides to break up the fight between Saber and Lancer – as only Rider can! RIDING LIKE A BOSS! XD

But in all honesty, if it wasn’t for Rider’s hilarious antics in the closing minutes of that episode, I think I would have been underwhelmed by this episode. Don’t get me wrong – the battle was intriguing and better than ones in Fate/Stay Night in terms of action and bloodshed. But there’s one thing that prevents it from being exhilirating – the dialogue. There’s SO MUCH of it…Look, I like the dialogue overall. When Rider rants, he’s damn entertaining! When Saber does, she’s charming yet sharp. When Lancer does, he makes every sports player on the planet look pretty not fabulous in comparison. The problem is the amount being fired out! There’s parts where there’s half-a-minute to a minute of blazing action, then they go into rant mode once more. Maybe it’s just me, but every time someone rants I always get the ‘Can’t I have slashed you up eights ways from Sunday by the time you finished saying that?!’ urges when they flap their tongues for so long. I guess since several of the Servants are Knights, they are somewhat honourable and love to rant. But sometimes it’s overbearing…it breaks up the flow and moments that should have felt epic feel a bit sedate in comparison. Then again, what can I expect when Nasu Kinoko was one of the major writers for the Fate/Zero novels? I generally like Nasu’s ranting, but he has a tendency to not know when to quit. And it just kills some of the atmosphere/thrills to be had within this episode.

That said, good episode. Not great. I appreciate how honest and dedicated to the source material it is and that Type-Moon fans are rapt. But for the not-so-hardcore fans, they’re going to be tested at times by the sheer volume of dialogue. Fate/Zero is still at the top end of this season, either way. I just hope future battles are more gripping.