2011 Winter Season Recommendations

It’s the new year and the new season of Anime is moving along at full speed. After watching the first few episodes of most of the current series, here is how I would rank them according to my preference.


Superb / Must See:

Fractal
Mitsudomoe Zoryochu!
Level E
GOSICK
Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Kore wa Zombie Desu ka?

Awesome / Highly Recommended:

Dragon Crisis
Hourou Mitsuko
Yumekui Merry
Beelzebub

Er… / Average:

Onii-chan no Koto Nanka Zenzen Suki Janain Dakara Ne

Meh / Don’t Bother:

So as you can see, for me, this season is turning out to be a pretty good one. Each ‘Must See’ show is great in their own right, be it the slapstick comedy of ‘Mitsudomoe’ and ‘Kore wa Zombie Desu ka?’, the mystery and suspense of ‘GOSICK’, the intriguing stories and premises of ‘Level E’ and ‘Fractal’. Not to mention, out of all the shows that I have seen so far, there isn’t one that falls under the ‘Don’t Bother’ category.

‘Puella Magi Madoka Magica’ however, deserves a special mention. Seriously, if you are not watching this show, I highly recommend you do. It basically takes the all the magical girl classics and adds a whole new level of depth, intrigue and emotional content. Kind of like the Ga-Rei of Magical Girl shows. I won’t go as far as to say that it turns the genera on its head, it’s just that this series takes it in a whole other direction. I’ll be going a little deeper into this in a later article.

Even the animation and fight choreography is beyond brilliant. SHAFT is pretty well known for skimping out on Animation (due to low budgets and the like) and performing major touch ups for the BDs/DVDs. This is usually pretty evident in their very simplistic animation + long talking scenes from their previous works like Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei, Arakawa Under the Bridge, Bakemonogatari, etc… This time however, the fight sequences are all smooth, elaborate and extraordinarily fluid and detailed. I was simply blown away just from what I’ve seen from Mami’s fighting in the first few episodes.

Some may find the animation style that SHAFT uses to depict the Witches and enemies during battle scenes jarring and out of place. However, I myself simply adore juxtaposition of the regularly animated characters and the paper-cut out realistic looking enemies and backgrounds. It honestly adds to the ‘otherworldly’ and ‘surreal’ feel of the Witch’s barrier.

This one is shaping up to be my favorite SHAFT-produced show of all time.

11 Responses to 2011 Winter Season Recommendations

  1. Metalsnakezero says:

    Puella Magi Madoka Magica is pretty impressive and it continues to be so. Also I like how you didn’t mention Rio and Freezing at all :D

  2. Matt says:

    エロイ作品はあまり好きじゃなさそうみたいですね。「リオレインボーゲート」と「フリージング」はとにかかく、「お兄ちゃんのことは全然好きじゃないだからね」は結構好きな作品で、1話から諦めるのは人それぞれだと思いますが、やっぱりちょっと残念だと思うのです。「Superb / Must See」作品に「夢喰いメリー」を追加したほうがよろしい、この作品もなかなか面白いから。っていうか、「とある魔術のインデクス」はどうしたの?

  3. garturo62 says:

    I’m watching most of your must see, except Fractale wasn’t that the one that they changed the hair color?

  4. Actar says:

    @ Metalsnakezero: Glad you think so too! For Rio Rainbow and Freezing, I actually haven’t had the time to watch them yet, though as with Infinite Stratos, they don’t seem to be too impressive.

    @ Matt: いいえ、ぜんぜんそうじゃありません。エッチの作品は凄く好きです。「そらのおとしもの」や「HIGHSHOOL OF THE DEAD」とか凄く面白い。大好きです。「お兄ちゃんのことは全然好きじゃないだからね」はなかなか普通です。ちょっとつまらないと思います。でも、まだ見ています。「リオレインボーゲート」と「フリージング」はまだ見たことがありません。「とある魔術のインデクス」と「バクマン。」はいい作品と思います。でも、WINTER 2011の作品じゃないだから、口に上せませんでした。

    @ garturo62: Yup, that’s the one. I can completely understand the fan’s frustration, but I myself don’t really mind as I never did read the original work before. (^.^;)

  5. Matt says:

    @Actar
    Actarさんの日本語能力にびっくりしたw凄いよ!僕はもう5年間以上日本語勉強してるんだけど、Actarさんやるなぁ!これからも日本語の勉強に頑張ってください、応援しますから!><

  6. KaneTheMessias says:

    I’m currently watching Gosick, kore wa zombie desu ka? and Onii-chan. Gosick and zombie are really nice. Funny that at the beginning of every zombie episode they say that you shouldn’t try this at home^^

  7. Actar says:

    @ Matt: いやだ...恥ずかしてば。>///< でも本当にありがとうございます。 あたしの日本語がまだあまり上手じゃありません。唯たくさんのアニメとドラマをみましただけです。でも真面目な日本語の授業去年から始まりました。

    はい!あたし必ずずっとがんばります!(^o^)

  8. villainhana says:

    Yo Actar, what’s up? (I’m the same guy as VillainousHanacha on Sankaku).

    As for this season, I’m watching Madoka, Kore wa Zombie, Dragon Crisis, Level E, Horou Musuko, Fractale, Freezing, Gosick, Yumekui Merry, and IS (along with continuing to watch Index 2 and Roberta’s Blood Trail).

    I do agree and I think that this is a pretty strong season, only 2 things are “Er…/Average” for me, and that’s IS and Freezing (although I think the Freezing Manhwa is awesome), and at least IS has awesome Mecha Musume (or should I say, Mecha Musuko) battles to make you forget that everything else is rather average and that the girls in the series can be quite spiteful and nasty to the protag, Ichika.

    But unfortunately I can’t bring myself to love Gosick as much as you. It kinda straddles the “Er…/Average” and “Awesome/Highly Recommended” for me, but that’s really only because of Kujo. Everything else I really like about it, even Victorique’s highly anacronistic but still cute goth loli attire.

    Everything else I really enjoy, from the serious dramatic tone of Horou Musuko, to the comedy of Kore wa Zombie and Level E, to the action-romp/popcorn fest of Dragon Crisis and Yumekui Merry. I also like the intensely interesting premise of Fractal, which I’m just hopping doesn’t turn out to be a one-sided and biased “Technology is bad” message. But, there is still a whole series left, and if I’m proven wrong, I’ll be very happy. Not to mention, I didn’t know Kana Hanazawa was able to do Genki characters like Nessa. Who knew!

    But yeah, My favorite of this Cour is most definitely Madoka. Would you believe that stupid-old me though it would be something of a Negima ripoff!? That was mainly because of the Latin title, and the fact it was being made by SHAFT, which as you know makes all animated adaptions of Negima ever since Xebec dropped the ball. Well I was so happy to find out I was wrong! I love the idea of a Magical Girl premise of hopes, dreams, and wishes combined with the idea of “the Deal With The Devil”. It adds a whole new angle to it which I love.

    And to anyone who wants to watch it, PLEASE DO SO! But one word of warning: You will NOT be ready for episode 3. Ever.

    But personally, I can forgive the Animation tricks SHAFT pulls during things like Bakemonogatari and Zetsubou-Sensei, because they are primarily dialogue-driven shows, and the visual tricks they pull are well placed and interesting in many cases, at least to me. To me at least, the best Anime SHAFT has put out is Bakemonogatari (which is one of my favorite Anime of all time). BUT, from what I’ve seen so far of Madoka, it is a close 2nd of their works.

  9. Actar says:

    @ villainhana: Hey there! Sorry for the late reply. (^.^;) Indeed, the one thing that I despise about GOSICK is indeed Kujo. He is one of those characters that find it necessary to ‘protect’ those around him (whether or not they need protection or not). Not to mention, his complete inability to read the mood and atmosphere. I was actually surprised that no one reacted to his outbursts at the dining table on the ship…

    Other than that though, I think the mysteries and Victorica’s absolute ‘bad-assery’ makes the show worth a watch. (^.^)

  10. villainhana says:

    @Actar

    no problem. A responce is always apreciated!

    you said you have a problem with characters who feel they have to protect those around them. How do you feel about more prominant examples like Touma of To Aru and Shirou of Fate/Stay Night?

    I as well have a problem with the “Martyr without a cause/ always save the girl” characters. They almost always annoy me, being rather prone to hypocrasy and also being rather naive (and in Shirou’s case a tendancy to be quite the Mysoginist. I know it’s only in the Fate route of the games and in the Anime, but still…). The only one I really like is Koyomi Araragi, because he eventually learns this mindset isn’t healthy.

    My dislike of Touma is one of the bigger reasons I like Railgun more than Index (there are others, but that would take too long). And Shirou’s behavior in the Anime is one of it’s detracting factors (although Rin, Saber and Archer are still awesome). I did notice though that Shirou’s Martyrdom is not as pronounced in the UBW movie than it is in the Anime (one of the reasons I prefer it).

    So yeah, If you don’t like the “protect eveyone” type of character, how do you feel about Touma and Shirou, 2 really big examples of it?

    (on a separate note, feel free to use my Moe “essay/dissertation” of sorts I wrote as a comment on SanCom. I only ask you credit my name as the one who wrote it. Either VillainousHanacha or VillainHana is fine. But otherwise, feel free to use it!)

  11. Actar says:

    @ villainhana: Hm… Alright, out of those two characters, I disliked Shirou (for the first half of the series) but don’t really hate Touma as much… and I have a reason for this. Shirou, at the beginning of the series, had practically zero experience with magic and had no way of defending himself or fighting back. Yet, he finds it necessary to ‘protect’ Saber and ask of her not to fight. Come on! She has an invisible sword and freaking Excalibur! She is more than capable of fending for herself. This need to be a ‘meat shield’ or ‘worthless sacrifice’ when they themselves should be the ones who are protected just rubs me the wrong way. 

    Similarly, Kujo stands in the way of a gun to shield Victorica. Seriously, is he even thinking at all? Not only could the bullet have passed right through him and struck Victorica anyway, the gunman could have easily finished her off once Kujo was out of the picture. 

    As for Touma, yes he jumps head first into fights, but he does so with the intention of actually doing something other than standing in front of the girl. With his Imagine Breaker and street fighting skills, he is more than a match for most foes and he CAN make a difference. Not to mention, he doesn’t stop others from fighting alongside him. 

    So as you can see, it’s not so much the ‘wanting to protect everyone’ attitude that I have a problem with. It’s when a character doesn’t know his own limitations. 

    Also, thanks for your permission. I’m pretty much going to post it on here and on some other places from time to time in the hopes of dispelling the incorrect meaning and negative connotation of the word ‘moe’.

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