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January 18, 2013 / Bradley

Go Show: What I’m Watching in Winter 2013

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In no particular order, and for no other reason than this is an especially easy slice of content to produce in a short period of time, here’s what I’m watching that’s currently airing and what I think about it:

Puchim@s

I enjoyed Idolmaster, but not enough that I ever thought that I wanted a second season. But here’s something fresh: a chibi series of shorts with a much more impish sense of humor than the original series. It riffs off of the original’s in-jokes and character humor, so I don’t folks who haven’t seen the 2011 series will enjoy it, but it feels fresh enough that I’m beginning to think I wouldn’t mind another, fully fleshed-out season.

Boku-no-imoutowa “Osaka-okan” 

This is something I couldn’t see myself watching if it lasted a minute longer, since nearly all of its jokes can be summed up as, “He’s from the city! She’s the country! Ain’t that a gas?!!” But in two minutes or so, you get a really interesting summation of what is stereotyped as being “country” and “Osakan” in Japan.

Inferno Cop

Hiroyuki Imaishi’s studio dicks around in Flash, or at least, it looks like that’s what they’re doing. Not very funny or clever, but so unapologetically juvenile that I enjoy it anyway.

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gdgd Fairies 

Speaking of juvenile, it’s great that the guda guda fairies are back. And this time, there’s definitely a larger fandom watching new episodes, which is awesome. Most anime comedies seem to primarily rely on character humor, and while that’s fine- I watch a lot of them!- it’s great that gdgd Fairies is doing almost every other type of joke you can think of to make up for everyone else. Elaborate puns, gross out humor, parody with actual bite, and some stuff that’s really hard to categorize, it’s a refreshing variety show. In fifteen minute chunks. The Magic Dubbing Lake sections are still lame, though.

Roman

The Lupin vibes I get it from it come from more than just the Monkey Punch character designs- one of the primary appeals of the Lupin series was its well defined cast of characters and how they interacted with each other. The Roman gang has a few parallels between themselves and the Gentleman Thief’s cast, but they’re distinct enough that I think I like them for who they are and as its own ensemble adventure series, instead of because I’m a big Lupin fanboy. Or at least, I think I do.

Polar Bear Cafe 

Still good, but after episode 40, I have a theory: the series is only good when all these cute animals are being complete dicks to each other. But even its lame episodes still manage to entertain me.

Pretty Cure Whatever

Magical girls will punch giant monsters. It helps make the world a better place to live in.

AKB0048 Next Stage

I propose we stop starting all write-ups about this series with, “Guys, I can’t believe this is such a good series.” This is from a fandom that takes Macross seriously, after all. The series certainly wants to be taken seriously, because it looks like this season is really going to crank up the drama factor.

Psycho-Pass 

Continues to be a mediocre series. I think the reason I keep watching this is because, despite its fairly generic cyberpunk trappings, it’s one of the most fully realized totalitarian dystopias I’ve seen, and is largely written from the point of view of the enforcers of maintaining that status quo. The system is also oppressive in fairly novel ways, even though it’s pretty clearly the result of Urobuchi thinking too long and hard about Equilibrium. It helps that it realizes that the citizens of a totalitarian regime will have more complicated emotional states than either ignorant happiness or abject misery. I can’t care about the characters and the story doesn’t do much to move me, but I’m still interested in where it goes next.

Robotics;Notes 

Still an enjoyable mix of conspiracy theories, mecha-infused near-future sci-fi, and an extremely fun cast of characters. This, JoJo‘s and Polar Bear Cafe are the three ongoing series from last season I look forward to the most every week.

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JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure 

Phantom Blood was a good, but uneven, story. Battle Tendency is goddamn amazing- every episode is a thrill, and usually leaves me pumped with adrenaline. Some of it is that Joeseph Joestar is much more fun to watch than his noble, naive grandfather, but mostly it’s because the series really seems to come into its own here, instead of being a slightly weirder fighting show. And I love how it appropriates vogue and Fist of the North Star for an aesthetic that looks like nothing else around.

Chihiyafuru 2

Still one of the best josei series I’ve ever seen. Has the kind of highly intelligent empathy for its characters that’s the hallmark of great storytelling.

Tamako Market

KyoAni is consistently able to make its characters feel more human than any other studio attempting a similar “cutesy” aesthetic just through the power of animation. No character moves or talks like another, and it’s thoughtful characterization like that that makes them one of my favorite studios. Their new series has (almost) left school behind for a much more interesting and colorful strip mall, and doing that plays to their strengths of strong characterization, a great sense of setting, and a good sense of comedic timing. And the bird is great- I love his impenetrable ego and Urusei Yatsura-esque cultural misunderstandings, and I also love that everyone accepts that a talking bird, while strange, is just a thing this bird can do. And he can also act as an impromptu projector. This is such an endearing anime that keeps going in directions I don’t expect, and that always enrich the experience of watching it. This might be Kyoto Animation’s best TV series yet. It’s certainly my favorite from this season.

I feel like I might be forgetting one or two series here, but oh well. This is actually a light load to keep up with compared to last season. People have been pretty hard on this new season, and while I didn’t find many new series all that interesting either, I keep finding more than enough new delights each season to stay happy. Anime: still not dead yet.

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