So yes, I technically may have used SHELTER as an excuse to ramble about Idolm@ster again. Those may ultimately be the facts as they are presented – but is that a crime you could convict me for? Could ANYONE fault me for using this clearly valid opportunity to talk about why Megumi Kouno is extremely good? I present myself to the people: let he among you who is without moe cast the first stone.
Unsurprisingly, my journey back through Cinderella Girls’ first season was swiftly followed by a run through the second. And as it turns out, Cinderella Girls is actually a pretty great show! The show certainly lacks the easy humor and aesthetic brilliance of its predecessor, but it makes up for that with a set of dramatic conflicts that actually work. The corporate vision stuff that underlies the show’s entire second half is legitimately engaging, and even Uzuki’s final personal conflict feels very earned and dramatically effective. Cinderella Girls starts off very shaky, but it comes together quite nicely in the end. It’s not a personal favorite, but it’s a fine show.
You can check out my full review over at ANN, or my episodic notes below!
It’d be easy for the Idolmaster movie to be a strict love letter to the fans, and barely a movie at all. The Love Live movie did that, which wasn’t really a surprise – Love Live’s always been a series in direct conversation with its fandom, and so the fact that its movie was basically just the cast doing their bits and then a bunch of cute performances seemed pretty appropriate. And The Idolmaster is a series with so many good moments that it’s essentially created its own robust vocabulary of character and narrative touchstones to reference. You could have a sequence of Iori and Yayoi being an awkward couple, an extended return to the Sunday game show, a bit where Hibiki and her dog conduct an interview with some grumpy antagonist, and there you go – ninety minutes achieved, checks are in the mail.
No escaping it now, apparently. I’m stuck in idol hell, so I might as well document the whole process, to save future generations from this dire fate. This is a sprawling article, one that covers my experience at the Love Live! movie, my time spent with four separate idol anime, some thoughts on that whole Database, Database thing, and more besides. It’s a bit more of a personal reflection than the stuff I normally do, but I hope you enjoy it. This past year has definitely been quite a ride.
Yep, big surprise, I reviewed The Idolmaster. As I’m sure you know if you’ve been reading the week in review posts, I was a big fan of this show – in fact, its final score ends up approaching Flowers of Evil/Ping Pong the Animation levels, so yeah, this was definitely a favorite. I was actually a huge fan of this show in spite of the fact that neither of its final emotional arcs really worked for me. I couldn’t buy into either Chihaya or Haruka’s drama, and both of their stories struck me as kind of contrived and hollow. But the execution of those stories was remarkable, and the show overall had such an incredible sheen and understanding of quick touchstone character work that I can barely fault the show for failing in its most emotionally ambitious moments. Idolmaster nailed the small moments, the ones where characters were just coming to understand each other through proximity and time, and that stuff does great work in justifying a couple melodramatic overreaches.
Plus, and this bears repeating many, many times, Idolmaster is so friggin’ beautiful. Holy crap this animation, holy crap this direction, holy crap basically everything about this show’s visual and aural storytelling. Christ, I wish I got to complain about storytelling quibbles in shows this beautiful more often. I wish the general problem was “this show is a visual masterpiece, but sometimes it’s not so good at executing on emotional setpieces.” It’s kind of funny to me that a couple years ago, I probably wouldn’t have been able to appreciate this show, but would likely have been groaning about there being no heir of Gainax to take up the legacy of shows like Evangelion and FLCL. Well, Gainax’s children are here, and they’re doing the best they can. Hire a couple better writers and we’ll be right back in the golden age.
You can check out my extremely positive review over at ANN, or run down my pages and pages and pages of notes below!
Wednesday has come again, and with it, one more scraping collection of show reflection fragments pulled together out of my paltry watch schedule. Fortunately, this week I was able to supplement my bare-minimum weekly viewings with a big ol’ ten-inch steak of anime. This week I watched basically the entirety of The Idolmaster!
But before we get to that, let’s run down the usual suspects, whose episodes this week ended up being well…. kinda suspect. But hey, at least the bad shows had good episodes!
Dear god, it’s somehow that time again. The time when we all get together to celebrate the cartoons we love by putting them in a meaningless ranking system that denies the very purpose of storytelling altogether. The halfway point rankings feel even more meaningless than usual this season, as the current season is both very good and also full of shows that I’m enjoying all around the same level, but trifling problems like that won’t stand in the way of tradition. Let’s run ’em down!
The preview guide has come to a close, and I covered every damn show except “that Warring States Thing That’s Apparently Just A Worse Sengoku Basara,” so we’ve got plenty to talk about. We get a lot of anime every season, and none of you guys are receiving hazard pay for suffering through the worst of it, so I’m very ready to run down what demands to be watched, what you could maybe watch I guess if you feel like it, and what should be handled with lead-lined gloves and disposed of in a properly licensed waste treatment facility. I wasn’t really expecting much of this season, but the opening episodes ended up offering a stellar first and second tier of shows – yeah, first episodes are often liars, but it’s still nice to start off on the right foot. This post here will give you brief rankings and descriptions of everything I muddled through this week, along with links to the ANN pages containing my longer thoughts. Let’s run them down!
The preview guide continues! I’m happy to say this season has completely surpassed my expectations so far, with all the shows I was looking forward to and more besides coming out swinging with strong first episodes. First episodes can certainly be deceiving, but given my preseason expectations were “well, at least some great shows are continuing from the fall,” I’m very pleased to see such an initially strong crop of episodes.
Here’s the link to the preview guide, where you can once again check out all my posts as they arrive. Today’s recommendations are Death Parade, The Idolmaster – Cinderella Girls, and especially The Rolling Girls. Death Parade pretty much fulfills all the macabre promise of Death Billiards with a trashy, beautifully articulated first episode, Cinderella Girls offers understated drama and humor in the KyoAni school, and The Rolling Girls feels like a breathless combination of Kyousogiga and Yozakura Quartet. You’ll find links to all my new reviews with scores below. Hope you find something you enjoy!
Yep, I’ve finally put together a top shows list. As I hopefully made clear in part one and part two of my critical biases post, this is obviously my list – it represents the things I think are most valuable in stories in the way I think they’ve best been articulated. It’s also just a list of shows I enjoy – there’s no hard criteria here, so I wouldn’t stress the numbers too much. Also, it’s a bit front-loaded – I only started watching anime seasonally about two years ago, so the last couple years are disproportionately represented. Incidentally, I’m not including movies here either – I think direct comparisons between shows and films are a bit of a stretch, but if they were included, this list would certainly be somewhat different. And finally, I’m absolutely (and thankfully) certain this list will change over time – there are still piles of widely beloved shows I’ve never seen, so I’m sure the current rankings will be filled out in the years to come. So with that all said, let’s get to the list – Bobduh’s Top 30 Anime of All Time.
-edit- I have now created a Top Shows Addendum for shows that have either fallen off or just barely missed this list. Please enjoy these additional almost-top shows!