Fall 2012 Simulcast Rankings – (11/13/12)

Well, it’s been a couple of weeks and it is time to rank the season’s simulcast anime again. Not a lot of movement, but we do have a new Tier 1 series, and it has moved ahead of some of the others. Without further ado…

Fall 2012 Simulcast Ranking:

Tier 1:

1. Psycho-Pass

Episodes watched: 5 – Streaming on Funimation.

Episodes for this review: 4 & 5

Current Rating: 5 of 5

Still the strongest one of the bunch, Psycho-Pass continues to push on with its distopian cyber-punk sensibilities. The recent arc with on-line avatars being taken over by a murderer was an excellent story, introduced the main antagonist (assuming the main antagonist is not actually, Kougami, the main male character himself… as in he is his own worst enemy…) and gave us a peek into Kougami’s past and a bit of explanation of the animosity between he and the male inspector.

There were a couple of plot issues with the arc, as in why the 2nd victim of the murderer didn’t get some protection, given her role in attempting to trap the guy, but that doesn’t really matter that much. The mood and pacing of the show are right on target, and the story is solid enough that it can withstand a few, “but wait? Wasn’t that a bonehead move?” moments.

2. The Pet Girl of Sakurasou

Episodes watched: 5 – Streaming on Crunchyroll.

Episodes for this review: 4 & 5

Current Rating: 4.75 of 5

Edging closer to the top, but retaining the number 2 spot is Pet Girl. The end of the first arc, which I have been told corresponds to the end of the first novel, was satisfying despite the obviousness of the conclusion. (Of course he was going to stay at Sakuraou! How else does the story continue!) It wasn’t where they were going that mattered, but how they got there. The revelations about Mashiro’s manga story line, the Tanabata wishes, the romantic tension for both of the potential couples in the dorm, and the way things resolved were sweet, charming, and very satisfying.

The next episode brings in the next complication: Nanami, the normal girl who is crushing hard on Sorata, moving to Sakurasou, bringing our main cast together in the den of insanity. The growth of her understanding of Sorata and Mashiro’s relationship and Sorata’s steps toward trying to realize his own dreams amid the insanity were well done and set up the tension for the next arc well.

3. Blast of Tempest (Zetsuen no Tempest)

Episodes watched: 6 – Streaming on Crunchyroll.

Episodes for this review: 5 & 6

Current Rating: 4.5 of 5 for each

Cruising along at number 3, this show delivered some major plot advancement, a mystery to solve, a new character, a ton of back story, and some seriously great moments over these two episodes. We now know more about Aika and her relationship to both Yoshino and Mahiro, we know a bit about the mage clan, and have had hints that our mage in a barrel is not exactly what she seems. Is it possible that she is really the danger to the world and her brother is acting in the world’s best interest in thwarting her?

There were so many things revealed in these episodes that would be massive spoilers, that I cannot in good faith go into details, but suffice it to say that Yoshino may not be the nice guy he appears to be, Aika may have been considerably more of a manipulator that it had appeared, and Hakaze may be something entirely different, and tremendously more dangerous, than she appears. Yoshino is the real enigma here… What are his motivations? Why did he do the things he did in these episodes? And why doesn’t he like celery?

4. Robotics;Notes

Episodes watched: 5 – Streaming on Funimation.

Episodes for this review: 4 & 5

Current Rating: 4 of 5

OK, with episode 5, this story leapfrogged some shojo romances and landed itself in the midst of the Tier 1 ranking! The resolution of the initial storyline and the introduction of characters is just about over it seems, and now the group is forming together and bringing on the weird! The game-designer girl, known as “Frau”, appears to be a bit of a broken bird. Her social skills are amazingly humorous, and her speech patterns are fantastically eccentric. The silver haired girl from the ED, Airi, has been introduced, and she is a really great piece of the giant collection of weirdness that is Kai.

Some of the relationship dynamics were on display in these episodes as well, with Aki showing obvious signs of jealousy over Kai and Junna, the karate club girl, going on a “date”. (Even though it was nothing of the sort…) The back stories of our main protagonists, the involvement of other characters, like the shop owner who uses robotic leg braces to walk and Aki’s older sister, and the dark conspiracy threatening the world were all on display in this set of episodes. I have some issues with timeline in terms of what happened when, but I hope it all becomes more clear as we go on…

Suffice it to say that Robotics;Notes took a giant leap forward with these two episodes, the most recent one in particular.

5. TIE
Kamisama Kiss (Kamisama Hajimemashita)
My Little Monster (Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun)
Say, “I Love You” (Sukitte Il na yo)

Episodes watched: 6 – Streaming on Funimation, Crunchyroll, and Crunchyroll respectively.

Episodes for this review: 5 & 6

Current Rating: 4 of 5

Remaining tied, but moving behind the fast charging science adventure series, is our trio of shojo romance stories. Astute readers might notice that the order I put them in is different this week. that indicates the trending that each has shown and the potential direction they may head after the tie is eventually broken. In short, Kamisama Kiss, with its light hearted, sweet natured, fluffy and pleasant fantasy setting, with just enough of an edge to prevent sweetness overload, is poised to move ahead of the other two.

The primary reason for this is the continuing issues with misogynous-seeming content in both of the “realistic” romances. It is just enough to start them dropping behind the less realistic story of Kamisama Kiss.

The main relationship in Kamisama Kiss is a large portion of why it is such a joy to watch. The ups and downs of these past two episodes, the fantastically bizarre circumstances that continue to make our young land-god’s life a constant trial, and the wonderfully sweet budding romance story keep the show high on my priority list in terms of what to watch first each week.

My Little Monster also appears to be getting stronger, with a love rival appearing, a great deal of back story for Haru, and a bit of a better understanding of what makes Shizuku tick has kept me enthralled with this show. The bits of “I can’t believe he just said that” that crop up periodically are not that big of a deal with this show, and in fact, they have been used with flair, showing that some of the people around understand Haru’s lack of understanding of the finer points of social graces.

Say “I Love You” continues to be one of the sweetest stories around. New complications in the relationship between our two mismatched lovers crop up in these episodes, in the persons of a little sister, who may just be a bit of a soul sister of her brother’s girlfriend, despite her initial dislike of her, and a pushy model who appears to have transferred into their school specifically to bring the hyper attractive Yamato into her agencies clutches as a model that can stand up to her amazingness in front of the camera. The impact on Mei’s self-esteem is palpable, and hopefully short lived, as Yamato should be too attentive and sensitive a boyfriend to let his love feel unworthy of dating him. If they don’t handle it right, it could lead the show down the path to Tier 2.

Speaking of Tier 2… Their is no need for a 2nd article for those this week, as I haven’t seen enough of most of them to make further comments. What I have to say is as follows:

Tier 2:

8. Sword Art Online

Episodes watched: 19 – Streaming on Crunchyroll.

Episodes for this review: 18 & 19

Current Rating: overall 4 of 5 – recent episodes – 3.5 of 5

Sword Art Online continues on its path to questionable-love-interest-ville, but has some very nice action. The smarmy, squicky, smug villain is a bit over the top, and the story suffers greatly from Asuna being a game piece instead of a player. Leafa is an OK character, but the queasy feeling I get when the implications of the Leafa’s player’s real feelings doesn’t allow me to fully enjoy the story. Perhaps that is my problem and not the stories, but I don’t feel that it is.

9. Code: Breaker

Episodes watched: 4 – Streamig on Funimation.

Episodes for this review: 3 & 4

Current Rating: 2.5 of 5

The mixed-message style of this anime, with its inability to decide whether it wants to be gritty and real or funny and light, only got worse with these episodes. The blond haired, socially inappropriate sempai, with her pet names for and fondling of certain portions of Sakura’s anatomy, is a step beyond in terms of believable characters. It is as if she is a special needs kid who Sakura feels sorry for and allows to violate her personal space and basically molest her because she just feels like it would be mean to stop her. But the character is an upperclassmen at a fairly competitive high school and the daughter of a major political figure, so one would think that she would not be allowed to be so entirely inappropriate. However, reality holds no sway with this show, so it is just a recurring gag and a reason for the male characters to get in a little friendly sexual innuendo/harassment of our leading lady. Nothing to see here… move along…

10. Shin Sekai Yori (From the New World)

Episodes watched: 2 – Streaming on Crunchyroll.

Current Rating: 3 of 5

It may seem odd to have a show rated 2.5 about one rated 3, but the sad truth is that I have yet to watch any more of this show, so I can’t in good faith move it up. It almost moved down, becuase…

11. K

Episodes watched: 5 – Streaming on Hulu (from Viz Anime).

Episodes for this review: 5

Current Rating: 2.5 of 5

The plot line for K almost made an attempt to make sense in episode 5. There was a bit of expostulation about the color kingdoms and how the world is organized, a small amount of back story for a couple of the pretty boy magic wielders, and a bit of light frivolous cosplay while our protagonist agonizes over whether he is, in deed, the murderer from the video regardless of the impossibility of his being on campus when he was documented as being there and the time and location of the murder. If only the show showed signs that it was going to actually go to the trouble of fleshing out the myriad of minor characters and competing color legions it might actually become a quality story. As it is, it has potential when it focuses on comedy, with some of the finest slapstick comedy of the year occurring between our white haired protagonist, his black haired executioner turned assistant, and the lovable, lovely, and wonderfully created Neko.

Yep! Neko is worth the price of admission!

Other simulcasts that I haven’t watched yet, but plan to:

Busou Shinki
Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!
Girls und Panzer
Ixion Saga DT
Onii-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne
Litchi DE Hikari Club

Simulcasts that I don’t intend to try:

Aoi Sekai no Chuushin de
Gintama’ Enchousen
Hayate no Gotoku! Can’t Take My Eyes Off You
Hidamari Sketch x Honeycomb
Jormungand: Perfect Order
Medaka Box Abnormal
To LOVE-Ru Darkness
Hiiro no Kakera 2nd Season

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