Final Fall 2012 Simulcast Rankings

Well, it’s been far too long, but I have finally written my Fall 2012 final simulcast rankings. There was a lot to enjoy in the Fall season, and the best of the bunch are not over yet!

Final Fall 2012 Simulcast Rankings:

Tier 1:

1. Psycho-Pass

Episodes watched: 11 – Streaming on Funimation.

Episodes for this review: 6-11

Current Rating: 5 of 5

Psycho Pass continued to get better as the season progressed. By the end of the fall season, the show had gotten through the dirty work of introducing the world and most of the characters, though there are still a few who have yet to have their back-stories presented, and gotten to the main villain and the main story that I expect it will follow for the rest of the show. The villain is a particularly well done, suave-evil type and the main issue appears to be the Sybil System, which is the computer system that runs everyone’s lives, including reading their Psycho Pass values (also called “hues” as they are represented on a basic level as colors that are either clear or cloudy. Cloudy hues are the ones that put you in danger of becoming a latent criminal.)  It is made clear over the course of the season that the system not only judges everyone’s mental health, but also places individuals in jobs based on their capabilities, and the vast majority of people in society accept the judgement of the system without question. There is also a small amount of info about  a condition where people go into a sort of vegetative state, where they cease to respond to those around them. It is strongly suggested that this is due to overuse of chemical mood enhancers, anti-depressants, or possibly just an outgrowth of the complete lack of self-motivation brought on by the system.

The story seems to be headed toward a fantastic, nasty, dystopion shock to the system and I look forward to it with great anticipation!

2. Blast of Tempest (Zetsuen no Tempest)

Episodes watched: 12 – Streaming on Crunchyroll.

Episodes for this review: 7 – 12

Current Rating: 4.5 of 5 for each

Moving up to number 2, this show got more intense and more awesome as the season reached its climax with a bang and an event that will totally change the dynamics of the series for the second half. Through heavy use of flashbacks, we have learned a ton about Yoshino and Aika’s relationship, Mashiro and Aika’s relationship, and also a bit about Hakaze and her brother Salmon’s relationship. The story is well told, tightly plotted, and very well written, with heavy use of quotes from various works of Shakespeare, lending a classical feel to the entire enterprise.

As the series progresses, the big question of who killed Aika is still looming, but also the question of whether the Tree of Genesis, or possibly the Tree of Exodus, was responsible for her death ultimately, not to mention whether the two trees will be responsible for the end of human civilization as we know it! The concept of a “Mage of Exodus” is also introduced, and suggested as a possible suspect in Aika’s murder. (Though this may have happened in the first of the new season’s episodes, I don’t recall for sure… I am writing this a few weeks into the new season, after all…)

Blast of Tempest continues to impress, and the characters of Yoshino and Aika, in particular, are wonderful!

3. The Pet Girl of Sakurasou

Episodes watched: 12 – Streaming on Crunchyroll.

Episodes for this review: 6-12

Current Rating: 4.25 of 5

The 2nd quarter of Pet Girl had its ups and downs. On the plus side, the character of Rita, Sorata’s British equivalent as “Mashiro’s caretaker” provided a great deal of plot and character development; the school cultural festival and the interactive anime created by the Sakurasou residents, with all hands pitching in with their own unique talents, was a wonderful arc; and the relationship development between Jin and Misaki was extremely well done. On the negative, we have the continued cluelessness of our protagonist, the unchanging inability to express her feelings of Nanami, and Sorata’s little sister (though the episode with her was mostly a mixed bag, with the annoyance of the character itself being balanced by the frenetic pacing and the obvious “we’re gonna toss cliches at you so fast that you can’t help but laugh at the sheer absurdity of it” attitude.)

The relationship between Sorata and Mashiro is more of a mixed bag as well, with some aspects being very well done. The climax of the season was a very satisfying scene, with Sorata coming as close as he has yet to admitting that Mashiro means more to him than just an annoying girl who he feels obliged to take care of. The show still has a lot of promise, but it lost a step along the way, and is really in danger of dropping down another spot, because…

4. Robotics;Notes

Episodes watched: 11 – Streaming on Funimation.

Episodes for this review: 6-11

Current Rating: 4 of 5

Much like Steins;Gate before it, Robotics;Notes takes a turn toward the serious and intense with the Kimijima reports, the mysteries surrounding the Gunvarrel anime and its last episode, and revelations about the Kill-Ballad cheaters that Kona is trying to catch with Kaito’s help. There is also the “monopole”, something that both the Grand Unified and Superstring theories of physics predict the existance of, which falls from the sky at Kaito’s feet. Everything seems to be tied together, with the Kimijima reports being the major key to unravelling the mysteries. The origin of the show as a visual novel adaptation shows up here, as Kaito starts helping girls with their problems, but it isn’t overwhelming and is handled as well as the same basic plot mechanism in Steins;Gate was.

The show has really improved since the beginning and it could reach similar heights to its predecessor in the Science Adventure series, but I wouldn’t bet on it. It will still be a fun ride, even if it doesn’t achieve the same level of awesomeness as Steins;Gate. Incidentally, one of the characters introduced in this section is also a character from Steins;Gate – Nae, the daughter of “Mr. Braun” the TV repairman who rents the lab space to the Future Gadgets Lab members is introduced as an employee at Jaxa who offers to help the robotics club with their robot. It is a fun connection between the two shows. I have also heard that another Steins;Gate character is at least mentioned, if not featured, in the show, but he has yet to make an appearance.

5. Kamisama Kiss (Kamisama Hajimemashita)

Episodes watched: All – Streaming on Funimation. (Recently announced for home video release.)

Episodes for this review: 7 – end

Current Rating: 4 of 5

Barely edging the others as the best of the season’s shojo romances is this fantasy romantic comedy about a girl who becomes a god. In the middle portions of the show I had my doubts about it, as it seemed to not go anywhere in particular, but in the final few episodes it stepped up and shone like a beacon of sweetness.

The events of the final episode, where Nanami comes close to renouncing her god powers, we see the true reason why Tomoe shies away from his obvious affection for Nanami, and she fully comes into her own as a land god and Tomoe comes a step closer to admitting his feelings. The very end of the show is likely what propelled it out of a tie with the next show on the list:

6. My Little Monster (Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun)

Episodes watched: All – Streaming on Crunchyroll.

Episodes for this review: 7 – end

Current Rating: 4 of 5

The only thing that holds back My Little Monster is the length. There is just too little of it and too little resolution of the various story-lines. I expect they will make another season, at which point the story will be more complete and won’t leave that “but wait… what happens next?” feeling. The show, to its credit, does acknowledge this lack of completeness by including a reprise of the opening segment of the anime where Shizuku muses over how much more she has to tell us about all of the characters in the show. If that doesn’t mean that they plan to make more, it will make me sad.

In the long run, this sense of incomplete resolution pushed My Little Monster behind Kamisama Kiss. However, consistently good story-lines, great characters, and a whole lot of well written and acted humor pushed it above the next show:

7. Say, “I Love You” (Sukitte Il na yo)

Episodes watched: All – Streaming on Crunchyroll.

Episodes for this review: 7 – end

Current Rating: 3.75 of 5

Say “I Love You” is kind of like a piece of hard candy. It is sweet and seems to have substance when you are enjoying it, the flavor and sweetness stay with you for quite a while after you’ve finished it, but, ultimately, you realize fairly quickly that you are still hungry after you’ve finished a portion. When you factor in some of the paper thin supporting characters and tired plot lines the show used in the later portion of the show, it starts to trickle down toward the 2nd tier of shows for the season. Frankly, the final episode nearly did drop it out of tier 1, not that the episode wasn’t fairly sweet and nice, but it would have been a really good transition between story arcs episode in the middle of the season. It was decidedly not a good, satisfying, or remotely acceptable way to end the series!

At least, in a show with a name like Say “I Love You”, I would expect it to end on a high note with, perhaps, a heartfelt real confession of undying passion on the part of the shy, almost tsundere at times, lead female. Instead we get Mei waffling about the status of their relationship more than is even remotely reasonable, Yamato joining her with wild speculation that he playboy buddy is putting the moves on his girl, Yamato’s sister going back to the bratty little bro-con monster, despite the fact that she long since realized that Mei is a lot like her and a good friend, and basically any actual relationship of personal progress that the characters appeared to have made over the course of the season being wiped out. A better ending may have made this a classic, instead it just makes me think, “Maybe I’ll have Chinese… It will fill me up longer than this!”.

Tier 2:

8. Sword Art Online

Episodes watched: All – Streaming on Crunchyroll.

Episodes for this review: 19-End

Current Rating: overall 3.5 of 5

Sword Art Online never quite recovered from the combination blow of 1) the loss of urgency with the defeat of the original game; 2) the loss of Asuna as a strong independent force who happened to be in love with Kirito and her relegation to “Damsel in distress” status; and 3) the icky factor of the whole bro-con thing. (Yes, I know she is really his cousin, but that doesn’t change the fact that they were raised as siblings. You just don’t stop being siblings one day because you find out that your brother is really your mom’s sister’s kid. It doesn’t change the fact that you have been raised believing he is your brother.) On the positive side, the character of Suguha at least recognizes that it is wrong to have the feelings she does, but it doesn’t change the fact that they could have done the story with better comic effect and emotional impact if they would have left out the actual brocon content and had her fall head over heals for Kirito in the game, only to find out that he is… EWWWWW! MY BROTHER? OMG! GROSS!!!! (Of course, the fact that their voices sound the same in and out of the game, Kirito looks identical to in and out of the game, and Kirito’s fighting style, after practicing Kendo with her brother, should have all made her realize who it was in an instant doesn’t help things at all.)

The end of the story has it’s ups and downs, with Kirito and Asuna being reunited, first in game, then in person, but somehow still aren’t allowed to show affection for one another, despite the fact that they appear to now be in a real life long term relationship. In addition, the amount of expostulation at the end left a fairly large gap between how I would want an action series to end and reality. (I won’t get into the incredulity of the actions of all of the SAO veterans at the end. Let’s just say that, if it were food we were talking about, and you ate something that made you violently ill and nearly killed you, you wouldn’t go to a banquet where that dish was the main course for a good long time.)

9. K

Episodes watched: All- Streaming on Hulu (from Viz Anime).

Episodes for this review: 6-End

Current Rating: 3.5 of 5

If there was ever a show that redeemed itself over the course of a season more than K did, I don’t recall it. This show went from a train wreck of a series, to a cleverly constructed and gorgeously drawn work, to a show that fell just shy of greatness, with an earnest amount of pathos and tragedy in the end. The revelations of episode 5 about the nature of the events that had occurred up to that point cleared up much of the WTF factor of the show. As it continued, we found more about the Kings, their origin, and the complicated unraveling of who, exactly, Yashiro Isana is, why he is important, and how he came to be at the exclusive school where most of the action takes place. The brief back-story portion about the first king and the advent of this magical system of the world folds nicely into the eventual resolution of the big questions about Yashiro, the Colorless King, The Silver King, and what is to be done to make everyone happy, or at least not mad enough to threaten the existence of the human race over the whole affair.

Suffice it to say282d5a4fc9a1454e6412e353fba388ba1336727450_full that I thought the story they told was a good one. There were some aspects of the story that seemed like they needed a bit more to hold them together than a 13 episode series could afford. However, on the whole, the story mixed humor, action, and drama in a good amount, tossed in a fairly large portion of gorgeous visuals of both the sublime and prurient variety, and was, from start to finish, entertaining, which, after all, is the point of the whole venture in the first place. And, it had Neko… Neko is Neko, and Neko is sufficient to make a show enjoyable to watch, all by her self!

Code: Breaker

Episodes watched: 8 – Streaming on Funimation.

Episodes for this review: 5 – 8

Current Rating: 2.5 of 5

Given that I have yet to finish this, you can do the math from there to figure out that it was not high on my priority list from last season. I intend to actually finish it some day, but not right now.

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 above 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 ended up at the bottom of the pile of shows from the Fall 2012 season, not due to quality, I’m sure, but just because it failed to draw me in in the first two episodes and got lost in the shuffle of a busy life. My son has watched all of it, continuing on into the Winter 2013 season and he assures me that I would like it, but the same can be said for several shows that he watches that I haven’t kept up with. For now, it is what it is. Maybe in a year or two…

Well, that’s a wrap for the Fall 2012 season. There were several very good shows and my favorites are continuing into the Winter 2013 season, which is a great thing, since they are a lot of fun and some very good stories. I encourage all of you to check out the shows on this list and chime in with your opinions!