I guess with Thanksgiving having come and gone and family obligations to meet it's time to figure out the things that you're thankful for, and for this blog, that means the things that I'm thankful for as far as anime goes. This year's been quite good, and some things upon reflection stand out.
I'm thankful that I don't need to watch bad anime, because there's enough good out there.
I've started watching some real stinkers this year, but fortunately there's been enough good anime that I haven't had to stick with them very long. Hen Zemi, R-15, and Horizon on the Middle of Nowhere all stand out as terrible shows that were replaced by far superior things during their seasons, and the ability to opt out of a bad anime because of the amount of good to great things out there has been one of the best parts of watching anime in 2011. There's also been enough variety out there that there's no reason to watch a bad anime because there's probably a better variant of what you're watching playing somewhere else.
I'm thankful for shows that are better than they had any right to be.
The experimental anime which hit were one thing, but there were shows that could have been terrible that ended up being surprisingly great this season. Kore wa Zombie desu ka? and Oreimo were two shows that I had little hope for being good, and both were surprisingly very good. Zombie was unbelievably absurd to start with, but then they just kept piling more absurdity on top until you realized you were watching a show about a Vampiric Ninja who had fallen in love with a Zombie being controlled by a Necromancer who had stolen a magical girl's powers (and outfit). Just let that mental image set in, or just watch the show and embrace it's special blend of lunacy. Oreimo from the description was something I started watching expecting to be repulsed, but instead it told a good story of a brother helping his princess of a sister come to grips with the fact that she was, of all things, an otaku. There's something well done in the sibling rivalry, and fortunately it swiftly stepped away from things wihch could have been distasteful as most one paragraph descriptions would lead you to believe it would be about. Yeah, she's got a thing for little sister hentai, at least that doesn't translate into her wanting to be in one.
While these two shows were better than they had any right to be, there are two others this year which went from looking like rubbish to actually being among the best shows I've watched this year. Mayo Chiki! was not just any old stupid harem anime, it seemed intent on becoming the stupid harem anime. It adhered to the formula to a fault, but for every fault the harem anime genre has, every strength it had shined through as well. In the end the best thing about the show had to be that one of the tried and true tropes of harem anime wasn't present in this one, and that's the tsundere female lead. Except for a bit of a misunderstanding in the first episode, Kinjiro didn't have to fend off an violent love interest on top of the other problems he had to deal with. Kinjiro also was shown to be a defensive match for Subaru's offensive capacity, which was used mainly in defense of Subaru and, in the end, Kinjiro as well.
It's hard not to talk about shows that are better than they have any right to be an not mention Ben-To, so I'll do it here. I still haven't heard anyone talk about not liking this show, and haven't heard any reasons why it's as good as it is. Most people seem to say that they like it but can't put their finger exactly on why. It's just good, not because it's doing anything admirably well, or that there's some obvious thing that the show is hitting strongly. It just has good characters, a silly situation, and realizes that it should just run with it. A show about fights breaking out for half price Bento boxes doesn't seem like it should be one of the most entertaining shows I've watched in a long time, but there it is, delivering good action, some laughs, and some lessons you're free to ignore if you're so inclined. It's just better than it has any right to be, and that's good enough when there are so many shows which are worse than they should be.
I'm thankful for shows I have high hopes on and deliver.
If there's one thing that I'm happy about though it's the shows that I had hoped for great things from and delivered those things from the beginning. Chihayafuru was a show that I was throttling down expectations on because there was no way it'd be as good as the factors going in would lead one to believe. It was based on an award winning manga, and the artwork being shown before release was jawdropping. Even with it being based on an ancient card game that I only have slight knowledge of, the dynamics between the players were the things that interested me the most, and those dynamics are the things that the show has focused on. Great characters with believable motivations leads each episode to flow naturally like very few shows I've seen this year.
One of the shows that did flow as well as Chihayafuru this year however was the brilliant Usagi Drop. Regardless of what might happen later in the story, the opening of this story told a great tale of what it's like to become a father to someone who's already had part of their world view formed before you meet them. It's different than when you're raising your own child from birth, and the relationship in Usagi Drop is different than most since it focuses on the adjustment that needs to be made by both Kaga Rin and her new nephew Daikichi Kawachi who takes his six year old aunt in and decides to raise her to stop her from being put in a home. The growth of that relationship is possibly one of the best in any anime this year, and anyone who likes Josei anime should be watching this if they haven't already.
The Queue is Closed:
Are there any trends or anime you're thankful for during this season? Write below and let everyone know what you think!