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'09 Anime & Manga I Thought Would Rock (But Sucked)

And the reverse fortunes of the last feature-- stuff I was hoping to enjoy and found myself left unfulfilled and usually broke. Very sad.

You guys have already seen my list of the series in 2009 that were better than I expected-- so let's talk about the ones that were worse. In no particular order...
  Sorry, Ed, I...I just think I moved on.
 Sorry, Ed, I...I just think I moved on.

1. Tatakau Shisho: The Book of Bantorra


Let me start out by saying first off, Bantorra has great animation, and a really cool premise. But somehow, the show never...clicked. After about four episodes it felt like little was actually happening, and even worse, I didn't care what DID happen to any of the characters I had been interested in. Sure, the lead-- Hamutz Meseta --seems like a pretty badass chick, and the best part is she's a librarian. But her coolness isn't enough to carry a whole show, and nothing else is very interesting.

It's a shame, because I feel like there's a lot of potential here. The fantasy-ish world, in which humans become books when they die, is a cool concept. I feel like David Production should have spent a bit more time establishing the world and the characters within it, and then shifted the pacing of the story to be a bit more dynamic, and it might have worked out better. As it is though...meh.
 

2. Zone-00

I've never read any of the Trinity Blood manga, but I've seen a lot of the covers and art from it by Kiyo Qjo, so I was pretty excited to snatch up the first volume of this manga from TOKYOPOP. I flipped it open and began reading...and I had no clue what was going on.

It was, if you will excuse my adding to the overuse of this phrase, a "hot mess." By that I mean the characters are all hot, even the individual panels are pretty smexy, but by and large the rest is just a mess. The plot is confusing, the page layouts are cluttered and overdone as a whole, and the characters are introducted to you rapidfire and sometimes aren't distinctive enough to tell apart ("okay, I know the two witches, but which one has the dog and which has the cat? And which buff guy is which animal's human form? And how many gorgeous blonde girlie-men will there be in this manga?!")

That's the best pull quote I can give you, TOKYOPOP. Sorry!

3. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

I tried. I really tried. You know I did. I watched through the first episodes, with their repeated footage. And then when we moved into the newer stuff from the manga that never appeared in the anime, I watched a few more. And honestly, it's probably not fair to claim that Brotherhood "sucks."

But somehow...the magic was just gone. I don't know exactly what it was; the change in voice actors for most of the characters, the novelty having worn off, maybe issues with the pacing...but somehow, I just couldn't keep the show on my to-do list. I would be ashamed, but I fell off the wagon for the manga some time ago as well (for entirely different reasons)-- but that might also be a factor, since I didn't have the anticipation of seeing my favorite manga scenes animated that might spur some to continue.

4. Fight Ippatsu! Juuden-chan

I LOVED Mahoro-Matic. Bow Ditama's manga and its anime counterpart managed to be bust-a-gut hilarious, with the cougar teacher harassing her student, the unlikely romantic heroine (an ecchi-hating flat-chested robot girl)...it was just a really fun romp.
 
 But I was pretty unimpressed with Ditama's follow-up Juuden-chan, whose characters were flat-- and not just in terms of their busts --and uninteresting. Whatever shock value the much-discussed peeing bits had was definitely not enough to make me want to watch the rest of the series. Or even the rest of the first episode, honestly. I'm all about perversion, but it's only hot if the characters are attractive-- and the characters are only attractive to me if they're interesting.
 

5. Hero Tales

Fullmetal Alchemist mangaka Hiromu Arakawa's follow-up isn't bad. The characters are decent, the art is nice, and the story has some potential. But compared to what you would expect from the creator of FMA-- a manga that grabs you by the collar from the first pages --Hero Tales is a pretty dull manga that pretty much anyone could have put together.

Still and all, this one doesn't outright "suck." It's just thoroughly disappointing if you were hoping for something as creative, endearing, and clever as FMA. I'm so sorry to have you on this list twice, Arakawa-san, but...

6. Miracle Train

I'm not especially a shoujo manga/anime fan, but I like a lot of titles and I'm always excited to see what companies decide to try and pimp to girls. Sometimes I like what I see-- Shugo Chara!'s first and second seasons, for example --but sometimes the results just make me weep for Japanese females.

Miracle Train is one of these. The men are all completely standard archetypes with no interesting backgrounds or traits-- they're train stations already! --and the stories in which they assist young ladies, at least from the two episodes I forced myself through, are completely insipid. The "messages" behind them are sappy and trite. Even the animation and design is mediocre at best, and the color that dominates my image of the show is brown (due to the trains' interior).

It's a bit misleading to say I thought this show would "rock," but I was definitely hoping for better.

7. Night Head Genesis

Ugh. I watched a little bit of the anime when it first came out a couple of years ago and was thoroughly unimpressed by the two whiney emo brothers and their problems. I had hopes, though, that character designer You Higuri-- a BL mangaka of no small fame, as well as creator of the very attractive and often-intriguing Cantarella --would be able to turn the manga version into something intelligible.

Instead I got the opposite. Giant gaping holes about the boys' upbringing and their modern lives-- like how the hell they get the money to buy leather gloves, much less pay their rent --along with conclusions that feel too quick for the first story arc in spite of it being a full volume long leave the manga completely unfulfilling. If you're a die-hard bishounen fan, I'd recommend the manga equivalent of "watching on mute": buy it in Japanese and just look at the pretty pictures.
 

The End!

So now you know all of the series that surprised me, whether by their high level of quality or lack thereof, in 2009. I'm betting that all of you could name series that surprised you in 2009, so let's hear it!
Zeouterlimitson Dec. 15, 2009 at 8:38 a.m.
Whhhhhhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaatt? 
Brotherhood hatin'. Son (daughter), I am disappiont. 
I'd admit the first 10-12 episodes weren't fantastic, but it's been really engaging since.  
If you're willing to give it a shot, watch episode 19. Not even the best episode, but a good example of the awesomeness,
DocHauson Dec. 15, 2009 at 8:44 a.m.
Personally, I think that the Armed Librarians show is actually kinda cool. Though I do admit the way they explain the world seems to assume you've already read the light novels (which I have not), at least they are trying, and they actually let you figure some of it out for yourself instead of cramming the exposition down your throat.
 
I could name several series that sucked this year, but one that I thought would be good initially would have to be Asura Cryin'. The first season drowned itself in subplots without really answering any of them, but the action was cool enough that I stuck with it. However, the second season threw in much more crazy stuff and even more unexplained subplots to the point where I just stopped bothering to keep up.
Dethfishon Dec. 15, 2009 at 8:45 a.m.
Well I'm liking Brotherhood. You're crazy!
Konandaon Dec. 15, 2009 at 8:48 a.m.
Dude in the bowler hat in Tatakau Shisho: The book of Bantorra reminds me of Isaac Dian and that makes me smile. 
 
Dream moderator on Dec. 15, 2009 at 9:13 a.m.

Never found myself getting the interest to look into FMA: Brotherhood. Having read the manga and my personal preference to the first anime series for being better in hooking me with plot and characters, I just can't bring myself to watching Brotherhood.
FLCL1on Dec. 15, 2009 at 9:14 a.m.

brotherhood is alright tho its not wat i expected
okandon Dec. 15, 2009 at 9:42 a.m.
You better feel bad because Brotherhood's gotten pretty damn awesome lately.
OtakuValon Dec. 15, 2009 at 10 a.m.
I totally agree with you for FMA: Brotherhood, I don't really like it either...and I'm a fan of the original manga, I still follow the chapter releases on a monthly basis. For me, what really killed the show, and  this may sound shallow or whatever, was the massive change in voice actors. I just don't get why they did it, it's like they ripped off the major players from the Bleach cast and stuck them in the FMA thinking it would work...but it really doesn't. Also, the animation is of lower quality. I've read comments about the show saying that the animation now is better than the first anime and I can't believe some people would even think that. The character design is ugly, I love Arakawa's original style but why is so damn hard to animate it..They improved her designs in the first animated attempt, but now, the characters heads are way too square and why the hell do the Elrics have colored outlines for their hair...they're not the only blond characters in the series. Also, the backgrounds are ugly, they look like poorly produced water paintings and sometimes, they are so badly drawn that they look like they we're wipped up by kids. Finally, the music isn't that grand either. The soundtrack for the first anime was EPIC, now, it's just...ok. I used to hate the first anime because of how the storyline diverged from the original manga, now, with the release of Brotherhood, I have a whole new respect for the first anime. It had a better director, better production quality and I'm guessing, a bigger budget...it was just better.
JJOR64on Dec. 15, 2009 at 10:09 a.m.
Look at all the FMA:B fanboys.  Haha.
metalsnakezeroon Dec. 15, 2009 at 10:26 a.m.
Most people are judging Brotherhood too quickly and are missing out on the parts that are good.
The real question is what made you think  Fight Ippatsu! Juuden-chan was going to be good!?
GodLen staff on Dec. 15, 2009 at 10:38 a.m.
I have to agree with the others here, Brotherhood is perhaps one of my favorite shows to watch this season.  Also I enjoy Bantorra, but I haven't watched it in awhile. Though I agree after that first arc, it does sort of slow down for a little. I have to jump back on it.  
 
and I quote  Zeouterlimits

Sigueon Dec. 15, 2009 at 11:17 a.m.
The first bit of Brotherhood was admittedly slow, but once it got into new content I found it to be much more enjoyable. A friend of mine with no prior experience reading the manga is also enjoying it. It's not a top pick for 2009, but it certainly isn't bad. The only anime I can think of that I've seen that was so much worse than what I expected was Fairy Tail.
FoxxFireArt moderator on Dec. 15, 2009 at 11:33 a.m.
I never started watching the new Fullmetal Alchemist. I was so disappointed with the ending of both the anime and the movie. I didn't want to get involved again only to have the disappointment in the ending return if the ending was bad yet again.
mediarighton Dec. 15, 2009 at 11:49 a.m.
Sadly, I kinda fell off FMA: Brotherhood too (and I mean REALLY sadly). I think this was just a poor choice in director. Most of the decisions about this show seem to fall on his shoulders, from the voice actor shake-up, to the pacing, to getting a composer that isn't making stuff that's all that inspiring. The scripts also just aren't hitting the right beats. Jokes are being played during serious moments and things that should be light and fun in the manga are being played flat and serious in the show. 
 
This was just a confluence of poor decisions that I think just land on the director (and I respect Bones for wanting to try new talent, but bad call here). This is deff. one where I'm actually looking forward to the Funi dub. Might actually make it more palatable.
Zeouterlimitson Dec. 15, 2009 at 12:51 p.m.
@GodLen: *highfives* 
Nikoon Dec. 15, 2009 at 1:46 p.m.
I think the problem with FMA Brotherhood is that the audience doesn't really need it. Fans of the original anime series had a complete series, and more likely, they would rather have a continuation than what to them is nothing more than a re-imagining. Fans of the manga already know the story. Honestly, I think simply re-airing the original series would have done just as well.
Nerxon Dec. 15, 2009 at 2:07 p.m.
The characters in the new FMA are slightly chubbier and they screwed Scar
sunfloweron Dec. 15, 2009 at 2:07 p.m.
I found with FMA Brotherhood that you just need to jump to the new stuff.  It's boring watching what we've seen already.
 
Book of Bantorra, I stopped the exact same place you did.  *YAWNNNNNN*
 
I watch Miracle Train off and on.  It's so freakin' stupid that it makes me feel superior, and who doesn't need that on occasion? XD
AmandaBeeon Dec. 15, 2009 at 2:10 p.m.
I feel let down by Bantorra as well. It's very stylish and I do like some of the characters like Matt and the Grandma with Leia buns whose name escapes me, but the pacing is a mess. Also it may be a minor quibble, but I think the librarians should more rightly be called archivists. 
 
I also feel sort of meh about Letter Bee. When I saw some of the early artwork and trailer with that pretty, dreamy quality I thought it would be more Mushishi-ish. I thought it would be more quiet and contemplative, and maybe have a similar story structure where we would follow Lag delivering a new letter and meeting a new client and/or recipient each week. That said, Letter Bee is not a bad show, just not the show I was hoping for.

The real surprise for me in 2009 was Tokyo Magnitude 8.0. (Dear NA anime companies, this series needs to be licensed ASAP. Thanks.) I started watching the first episode and disliked the main character so much I nearly didn't finish. But I stuck it out and Tokyo Magnitude now has the honour of being the only anime series to have made me cry. (Twice actually!)
Charred_Knighton Dec. 15, 2009 at 4:07 p.m.


I don't know whose more blind you or Roy Mustang! 
 
You liked that plot hole filled mess that was the first series?  Are you honestly telling me that a series that reduced Alphonse from a compassionate but strong to a moronic child who was gay for his own brother. is better.
  
You like the fact that Dante's plan makes no sense (TO CREATE PHILOSOPHER"S STONES WE WILL USE PHILOSOPHER'S STONES!), or that the battle flat out sucked.  
 
OH NO!  SLOTH HAS BECAME WATER!   Quick someone get a sponge! 
 
They changed the Ishval massacre probably the most tragic, and painful scene in the entire series, into a video game!  The deaths of the Rockbell changed from an incredibly important moment in the development of Scar and Winry into one scene where Roy thinks about suicide, and a scene where Winry makes a sad face.
 
Don't even get me started on how they neutered King Bradley.  You know how long the battle between King Bradley and Mustang lasted in the manga.  2 seconds.  King Bradley is just to fast for Roy, that Roy can't seperate himself.  
  
How about how they turned Kimblee into nothing more than a generic bomber removing everything that made Kimblee unique.  Hell they even toned down his alchemy into just causing people to explode because it makes Kimblee even eviler.  His already evil enough he doesn't need his alchemy toned down to do it.
 
How about how they removed Roy Mustang's goal of being Fuhrer except for that one scene which they took from an omake!  They reduced Roy's entire reason for being into that show into a comedic scene!  Where was Roy's vision for the future of Amestris?  Gone!   Instead it was replaced with bad comedy until they remembered Roy Mustang was supposed to be the third most important character on the show.
 
Riza??  You honestly want me to compare the  flat cardboard cutout that was the first anime's version of Riza Hawkeye to manga/Brotherhood Riza?  GOOD LORD!  What was Riza in the first anime other than Roy Mustang's nanny?  They removed Riza's connections to Roy, they removed Riza and Roy's romantic scenes, they sure as hell don't show her inner strength that we saw in the manga. 

WAIT!  What about that abomination known as Conquerers of Shamballa!.  They forced an idiotic theme of  science vs. Alchemy when ALCHEMY IS SCIENCE!  The idiotic "HEY LOOK REMEMBER THESE CHARACTERS!" cameos, and the fact that they turned FMA into a yaoi incest series.   The idiotic look they gave Gluttony, the fact that they reduced Envy into nothing more than a plot point.
     

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