EquitasInvictus (Level 15)

Another is shaping up to be an excellent horror anime. I absolutely loved the buildup leading to Episode 3's conclusion - that was perfect.
followed by
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Let us take a look at: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, Level E , Freezing, Wolverine, Oniichan no Koto Nanka Zenzen Suki Janain Dakara ne!!, Beelzebub, Gosick, Infinite Stratos, Rio - Rainbow Gate! - , Starry SkyKore wa Zombie desu ka?Dragon Crisis, Yumekui Merry and Haiyoru! Nyaruani: Remember My Mr. Lovecraft. We'll learn that Nino leaves from under the Arakawa Bridge and goes through a gender flip in pursuit of bromance, that mecha is out and incest is in, and that - I can't believe I'm saying this - there is hope for the magical girl genre yet! I'll relate all my impressions to my experiences with anime-at-large for a rough sketch of the big picture. I have to say, though: this is going to be a surprisingly entertaining season!   
[01/12/2010 Update - Two New Titles and... something...] We also learn that Taiga Aisaka of Toradora fame gets reincarnated as a mythical spirit solely for the purposes of reuniting with Ryuuji and that cats are invading our dreams (and no, it's not because of Cat Girl Alliance {Don't go looking it up on me, it's not work safe!}) !  I have also found that there is an intruder in the list! Something that was advertised as an anime on the Winter 2011 actually wasn't (technically)...
Since I'm not used to long winter vacations, I've decided to be proactive about watching anime this season. I've indiscriminately watched literally half (as in 11 of the 22 new series {well now it's 14 of 22 as of 01/12/2010}) of the first episodes of all new series from this season that has been aired and subbed thus far. I'd also like to introduce something I'd like to follow-up on every season: "Pass In Review," a sort of exhaustive preview guide / anthology of quick looks on the new anime (new as in no sequels such as Mitsudomoe 2, sorry guys!) of each season to help others determine whether or not they should pick up a show.   
If you feel like her and want to find something in this season's anime, then this blog post is for you! 
(Just don't watch Rio - Rainbow Gate - from which this screencap was taken. Your heart will burst 
but for the wrong reasons.)
Picking the anime I'd want to watch for a season used to be difficult for me in the past when I had a lot less free time to check them out, so I'd like to be as informative and comprehensive as possible. I just don't find the Winter 2011 Preview Guide summaries as sufficient in what little - and sometimes even misleading - information they provide.   
As such, please enjoy this Pass In Review! 
For this Pass In Review today I will cover the following series:  
(For picky eaters, I noted what you could expect to find from the better anime of this list. If you would prefer to skip through it, use ctrl+f and use the index id I wrote in next to the corresponding title. So search for "A02" for Freezing, for example. Sorry I couldn't get anchored links to work for this.)

A00: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica *** This was an amazingly pleasant surprise for me! I feel like everyone should at least see what I have to say abut it! 
A01: Level E *For people who liked Arakawa Under the Bridge and are favorable to bromance     
A02: Freezing *For people who like militaristic and gritty sci-fi anime with girls that fight aliens.
A03: Wolverine *A Marvel-based anime you might not actually be disappointed with. 
A04: Oniichan no Koto Nanka Zenzen Suki Janain Dakara ne!! *For those who like dirty humor and little sisters. 
A05: Beelzebub *If you like anime that is over-the-top and not so self-serious.
A06: Gosick *If it picks up, it could turn out to become something like Kuroshitsuji, minus bishies and demon butlers.
A07: Infinite Stratos *I picked on this mecha anime, but it probably has everything a mecha anime fan would like (just don't expect anything amazing from it yet)
A08: Rio - Rainbow Gate! - *This is the butt of jokes this season, I'm afraid to say.
A09: Starry Sky *One of the more traditional-feeling, appealing romances.
A10: Kore wa Zombie desu ka? **If you loved Sora no Otoshimono, you might just love this too! (Even if you disliked it, there might be a reason why you'll love this anyway!)
[01/12/2010 Update - Below are also two new titles (plus something in Flash that somehow ended up on the list)]
A11: Dragon Crisis! *This can potentially become a lighthearted Elfen Lied
A12: Yumekui Merry *A shounen manga adaptation along the likes of Soul Eater aside from its unique premise
A13: Haiyoru! Nyaruani: Remember My Mr. Lovecraft *What is this I don't even -          

A00: Mahou Shoujo Magi Madoka Magica

This is NOT your typical magical girl anime!  NOTE: This title is also going by Puella Magi Madoka Magica

 Even magical girls shouldn't play with scissors!
 Even magical girls shouldn't play with scissors!
My Original Premise Description Based On Episode 1: First, think about a magical girl anime to a style of nightmarishly gritty abstractions, the music of My-HiME and stellar animation quality. Then imagine a magical girl losing the fight between good and evil, and your seemingly average girl bearing witness to this. That average girl, our protagonist, is then told that she can change that future if she becomes a magical girl herself by entering a contract... and leaving behind the normal life she once enjoyed. While that was only a dream (and a rather traumatizing one!), it slowly starts becoming reality as that same fallen magical girl transfers into the protagonist's school and very quickly changes her life. 
Crude Impression: I have to say, the first few minutes caught me by surprise. As I've mentioned, there was an impressive abstraction to the setting I've never seen from magical girl anime before it. Unlike anime of its kind, its color palette isn't stuck at vibrant, but when it is vibrant - it is appropriate and indeed beautiful. That, however, is not the true palette of this magical girl universe. The reality of it all is a lot grittier, as foreshadowed in the opening sequence. Being a magical girl isn't as dreamy as it has been made by this anime's predecessors - it's a lot darker with consequences that are more drastic. While there is still a prevalent sense of the "average" for this anime's exposition phase, the catalyst of the magical girl's appearance gradually has everything "normal" spiral into chaos. That is when this episode shines. I'm actually very much looking forward to seeing this anime to completion.  
The music was obviously by Yuki Kajiura (which is why I mentioned the "music of My-HiME" - she practically responsible for its entire soundtrack!) and I was even able to distinguish it the first few seconds after the first track started. I wasn't surprised to look it up later to have my claim confirmed. It's amazing. I love her style of soundtrack and I feel like she did an amazing job producing tracks for this. 
Overall, I cannot stress how impressed I was with this.
 There's hope for the magical girl yet!         
 There's hope for the magical girl yet!         
Personal Opinion: I am suddenly very much into magical girl anime now... How did this show do that to me? You'll have to watch for yourself!
Who Would I Recommend To: I dare say everyone. I cannot iterate enough how this is not your typical magical girl anime experience - it's something much more worthwhile! The style is groundbreaking, the developments are engaging and it feels like they're reinvigorating this genre I personally used to joke about all the time. The music, along with the visual style, presents a very captivating and emotive magical girl experience unlike any other.
What I appreciated: 
1. The Style - You hardly see this kind of almost postmodern abstraction in anime - the last time I've ever seen anything like it was in Paprika, and that was quite the trip. Except, this can't even be called a trip - it's beautiful and there is in fact a method to the madness of such abstract designs! They're onto something, here, and I'll explain that further with:
2. Its Development - This anime's style isn't all show. They use it appropriately to set apart the order of everyday life and the reality of the magical girl world, which is outlandish, strange and even scary  (which is why I chose the first picture of this review as I did) to the average girls that are just opening up to it. They gave us a nice, foreboding taste of it in the opening dream sequence and they delivered it in its full glory as the average girls' reality is penetrated by an intruder from the magical world after an uncanny sequence of events.  
3. The Music - I can't sing enough praises for Yuki Kajiura - she does an outstanding job with music and this demonstrates it very well.        

Didn't Appreciate: That it ended. Seriously, that was all! (This is one of the rare occasions where I had nothing to pick on.)
Will I Follow It: Yes, religiously!!!

A01: Level E

Is it really just me? There must be some kind of conspiracy behind why there's such an uncanny resemblance between Prince (left, from Level E) and Nino (right, from Arakawa Under the Bridge) : 
Well the resemblance is only superficial, really, and in the fact that they're both aliens!

My Original Premise Based On Episode 1: Yukitaka Tsutsui is a high schooler who was drafted into his current institution's baseball team after being scouted from his middle school baseball team, which was the best in Japan. He moves into his new place to find that an intruder has crashed it, went through his things for clothes, and settled down. The intruder introduces himself as an alien, and Yukitaka just can't quite get rid of him. 
Crude Impression: If you haven't noticed my constant references, I'd say its a lot like  Arakawa Under the Bridge - it's a comedy between a self-proclaimed alien and a someone who cannot come to accept that reality despite all the ridiculous evidence being placed in front of his face. If you like uncanny comedies like Arakawa and the potential for a little bromance I'd say Level E is solid!
Personal Opinion: I'm looking forward to a few laughs with this!
Who Would I Recommend To: People who enjoyed Arakawa Under the Bridge and other, similar comedies in which someone's life turns upside down due to the intervention of something literally out of this world.
What I appreciated: 
1. The dynamic between Tsutsui and his alien intruder - For comedies like this, a lot of what's funny relies on the dynamic between the unlikely pair of protagonists. I feel like this show does a solid job at this! There are some honestly funny moments in that come from the ridiculous interaction between these two. As I've been suggesting, it's even lending itself to a bromance - the alien intruder isn't necessarily the most effective at doing things safely, so Tsutsui goes out of his way to look out for him. 
2. Subtle sense of tension - Despite the comedic elements, there's a little mystery as to alien's backstory, as he barely has any memories of who he really was. Not only that, but there are other people who are after the alien. In these cases the anime does get a little serious, but with this seriousness comes an intriguing sense of what we think is alien, how we perceive it (horrid, ugly) and how it makes us feel (afraid, repulsed) - I appreciate how this anime is able to evoke in me some thought on that matter.
Uncertainties: How is the alien supposed to effect Tsutsui's normal life? There is a comedic moment when the alien tries to reveal himself to the world from Tsutsui's balocny and Tsutsui goes to great lengths in order to stop him, but I suspect that Tsutsui's high school life is going to become a lot more troublesome with the alien's continued existence. They did incorporate a scene with Tsutsui's morning practices, but they seem oddly normal - too normal. Will he really be able to balance concealing the alien and going forth with his high school life and baseball commitments? 
Will I Follow It: Yes, it's entertaining and I'm interested in how they'll resolve the "uncertainties" I listed above.

A02: Freezing   

NOTE: Apparently this airs both censored and uncensored. I managed to view the uncensored version, so I cannot vouch for how the censored equivalent is like. I'm sure their means of censoring isn't anything glaring, however. 
My Original Premise Based On Episode 1: Neon-Genesis-Evangelion-Angel-esque aliens known as the Nova attempted to invade the Earth eight (!) times, so humanity is ever vigilant. As such, their greatest defense comes from genetically-engineered female warriors known as "Pandoras." (If you're familiar with Halo, you could say they're just like the Spartans, except all female.) Since Earth has militarized everything down to academics in order to defend against the Nova threat, these Pandoras are raised and trained under a very combative environment, with their training culminating in a Battle Royale-style scenario. (minus any actual deaths; despite fatal-seeming injuries they're hard at work to keep their Pandoras intact.) In order for Pandoras to meet their full potential, however, they must each form a contract with a younger male (called a Limiter) so that their genetically-tuned powers are maximized. This is where our protagonist, the younger brother of a late, legendary Pandora hero, comes in.

Crude Impression: The misleading Winter 2011 Preview description made it sound like this was another Infinite Stratos but this actually isn't anything like it! This is a gritty, graphic and at times fanservicey science fiction anime with overtones reminiscent of some otherworldly cross between My-HiME (contracts need to be formed in order to unlock powers) and Seikon no Qwaser (in graphic nature more so than badness, because I actually found Freezing good while its graphic-nature is not necessarily gratuitous as it was in SnQ).  
Personal Opinion: Impressed, very unexpectedly
Who Would I Recommend To: Those who want to see a grittier, sci-fi show like My-HiME and those who saw potential in Seikon no Qwaser. Also, people upset with Infinite Stratos who thought that this is exactly like it. (Because it really isn't.)
 "Noli me tangere"
 "Noli me tangere"
What I appreciated:  
1. Intriguing heroine (pictured left) who does not allow anyone get in her way. Her combat prowess is elegant - and that is to say the least! She has a reputation for being the "Untouchable Queen," hence my caption, which means "touch me not" in latin. Even as she suits up for battle in the first few minutes you can tell she was all business. Let me just say: stuff went down!   
2. Hero born from tragedy - I appreciate when a male protagonist isn't just a spineless wimp. Even if he turns out to be a spineless wimp later on (he is introduced later in the episode than you'd expect), I can at least appreciate what he is doing and why. His backstory engaged me emotionally enough for me to be interested in what will happen to him in the future. 
3. Like My-HiME but grittier and more militarized: I've only actually watched My-Otome to be honest (one of my first completed anime shows ever) but I appreciated its universe. More than than, however, I like sci-fi, militarized universes. Freezing marries them and seems like it's doing an awesome job at it. I haven't seen anything like this yet.  
Didn't Appreciate: How the protagonist meets the heroine. That was a real facepalm moment, but judging by how next episode turns out, I might forgive him. 
Will I Follow It: Yes, religiously!   

A03: Wolverine 

This is the first Marvel-based anime I've bothered to watch. I feel like I've picked a good one to start with. [I'm also very unfamiliar with the actual Wolverine comics and was never really into any of the films he appeared in... Maybe I was better off that way?]
They've gone and tried swiss cheesing the wrong duder. 
They've gone and tried swiss cheesing the wrong duder. 
My Original Premise Based On Episode 1:    Wolverine finds himself in a tragic love story! His romantic interest is actually the daughter of a dangerous yakuza head and has found herself engaged to another crime lord as an "act of good will" by her father for the hopes of some sort of political alliance. This, however, won't stop Wolverine from getting what he wants. 
Crude Impression: At this point I have to say the seasonal previews need better summaries since what they say about the Wolverine anime there did little to inform me about this! This is actually pretty good, and for those who were upset about how Iron Man turned out as an anime, they may be pleasantly surprised with this from what I've seen so far. Even the Yakuza villain (who isn't afraid of bringing a sword to a gunfight) can be appreciated! I cannot say the same about the other villain, however. Ah well, you can't win everyone!
Personal Opinion: Impressed, also very unexpectedly.      
Who Would I Recommend To: People who liked previous Marvel-based anime - in fact, even those that disliked the previous ones might warm up to this! To everyone else: for those who like action (say... like Darker Than Black?) with a twist of romantic tragedy (like Kurozuka, but maybe a lot less tragic, hopefully). 
What I appreciated:  
1. The Yakuza Head - He's NOT your average, godless supervillain without morals. As a competent swordsman with values he even comes to challenge the trespassing Wolverine to an equal wooden sword fight despite Wolverine having the handicap of near-instant regeneration. The yakuza head even promises Wolverine his daughter's hand if Wolverine won. As an excellent fighter, however, he still manages to throw Wolverine around quite a bit, too! I'm sad to say the battle is inconclusive at this point for reasons I won't spoil.  
2. Wolverine is a BAMF - Okay, so maybe some of his lines aren't the best, but I can still appreciate the amount of damage he deals to his enemies without preceding it with too much hero-talk. He's also lived through a lot more bullet wounds than, say, 50 Cent. (He even receives a wound that exposes part of his skull for a moment!) No matter how badly wounded he is and no matter what odds end up going against him due to sudden turns of events, Wolverine will see a fight to the end! I appreciate that.
Didn't Appreciate: The other criminal overlord villain. He's sort of a douchebag and he is cheap. As opposed to the Yakuza Head, this is the guy that brings the gun to a sword fight
Will I Follow It: Yes, surprisingly!         

A04: Oniichan no Koto Naka Zenzen Suki Janain Dakara ne!!  

 Why incest is in. 

NOTE: This is a mouthful that can be compared to the unsurprisingly similar Ore No Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai but unfortunately lacks a convenient abbreviation such as OreImo to my knowledge. For my own purposes I'll refer it as Onii No Koto.  
Now, the little sister is a huge pervert! Why? Well, the kind of older brother she loves...

Granted, that was the older brother's dream sequence. Considering how the older brother woke up to her beside him, however, and considering her internal monologues, the above is definitely true! 
My Original Premise Based On Episode 1: This is more of an ecchi comedy than OreImo, so fans of that may not necessarily be fans of this. Imagine something between Kiss x Sis and B-gata H-kei and I think you have a good idea - it's about a dirty younger sister whose mind is set on marrying her older brother.
Crude Impression: I appreciate perverted girls in anime and I don't understand why so much of the world finds them so repulsive (I'm thinking about how much negativity B-gata H-kei received on a cultural level from what I remember) - guys in harem anime can be A LOT WORSE! (My crosshairs are on someone who I'm a big fan of, Tomoki Sakurai from Sora no Otoshimono) As such, I sympathize for heroines such as the one in this anime. On a related note, I've noticed a general revulsion by certain reviewers from other reputable anime websites towards the recent trend of incest-themed anime in Japan. Look, if you really don't like that taboo, you're free to stay away from anime that have it as a theme and I'll respect that. I will not respect, however, reviewers preaching about the incest taboo - I don't think anime reviews are the right medium for making a cultural statement. While this might seem like a little tangent of a rant, I believe this can actually double as a crude impression: If you're into ecchi comedies and don't mind themes that might be a little questionable in nature (questionable to the extent of B-gata H-kei and Yosuga no Sora) then this is definitely for you! Otherwise, just leave it alone and keep your peace. 
Personal Opinion: I liked it, and dislike reviewers bashing on this kind of stuff. The ones who reviewed this negatively based off of what they felt about Kiss x Sis do have valid points, however, so if you disliked Kiss x Sis as an anime you might dislike this as well
Who Would I Recommend To: People who liked the dirty humor of B-gata H-kei and don't mind the mere implication of incest. (Nothing explicit happens here and even the ecchi parts are censored, this is not Yosuga no Sora.)
What I appreciated:  
1. The Family Dynamic - This is probably the most original side to this comedy since I don't remember anything of this nature in anime where the parents play such a huge role aside from OreImo, except the parents there existed for a completely different purpose (advancing the plot at certain points). These parents can actually be hilarious in their trivial exchanges with their children and especially with each other. It's nice to see a mom-and-dad dynamic in an anime about teenagers like this, since parents are supposed to have some sort of role in their growing kids' lives. 
2.  Heroine's Perversion - She's dirty and she loves her older brother very much. Her thoughts are often humorous in their level of ridiculousness and she's a pretty entertaining individual. Once again, if you like dirty-minded heroines, this is definitely for you.
Didn't Appreciate: This is not what I actually disliked, although I did hear a lot of complaints about the animation. If you're not into this style of animation (the picture I had above is a screencap so it should allow for a good judgment on the drawing style) then this might not be for you.  
Will I Follow It: Yes!

A05: Beelzebub 

 To say the least... this is one electrifying demon child!
 To say the least... this is one electrifying demon child!
My Original Premise Based On Episode 1: The most notorious delinquent out of an entire school of delinquents, after being scouted by agents from hell, must raise the demon lord's spawn (who is tasked with destroying humanity.) Chaos and comedy ensues!
Crude Impression: Imagine the over-the-top action of Needless as well as its lack of self-seriousness. There are sequences of action here that are just exploding with epinephrine, and not the kind that warrants the "flight" response. These are some loud, rowdy and belligerent delinquents! Matching the worst one among them with the Demon Lord's baby creates quite the dynamic pair. It's charming, in a way. If you enjoy chaos associated with the Marui triplets of Mitsudomoe and like to think of it being amplified by the dynamic pair of a delinquent and a Pikachu-like demon baby, than this is going to be a blast!  
Personal Opinion: This can pretty entertaining, but I understand that this is not for everyone!
Who Would I Recommend To: People who enjoy over-the-top anime that aren't so self-serious such as Needless and enjoy chaotic comedies such as Mitsudomoe. 
What I appreciated:  
1. The Duo - I don't know whoever thought of pairing up a Demon Lord's baby and a really bad delinquent but it works!  
2. Over-the-top nature - That delinquent always looks so pissed to the point of murder it's ridiculously entertaining. The way he interacts with both friend and foe alike are simply hilarious! 
Didn't Appreciate: Uncensored baby's babymaker - I thought those things were supposed to be censored in Japan!
Will I Follow It: Yes, just to see more of the dynamic pair's antics. 

A06: Gosick!  

 Do you know where this is going?I don't.
 Do you know where this is going?I don't.
My Original Premise Based On Episode 1: An intelligent heir of Japanese royalty enrolls in a prestigious pseudo-1920s European (it's really just a Japanese spin on Europe based off the borders between Italy and France - an imaginary nation state that falls around where Genoa should be, if geography is your thing) school meets a beautiful, brilliant and charmingly quirky girl named Victorique, who is always looking for a means of easing her boredom. The way they accomplish that is by solving mysteries.
Crude Impression: From the first episode, it's actually incredibly difficult to tell what is going to happen next. That's not because it's a good mystery, either, it's just because they took the most awkward means of exposition. It is rather fragmented. A lot of the exposition was "told," and what was "shown" was a garbled mess of irrelevant details. I wish they just concentrated more on establishing the Victorique x Kazuya dynamic than everything else this episode did. I will reluctantly watch more just because I feel like the pair has promise, particularly Victorique - who reminds me of Ciel from Kuroshitsuji except without the tragic backstory (at least I think) and with a bit of a childish side.  
Personal Opinion: I'd have to give it another episode before I can clearly judge it, unfortunately. So far, however, it does not look good.
Who Would I Recommend To: People who enjoy watching pairs that solve mysteries, as in some episodes of Kuroshitsuji. It may not even fall close to being as good as that example, however, and that might be a bad analogy.
What I appreciated:  
1. Victorique - She's beautiful, brilliant and has a cute childish side to her. And she solves mysteries. What else can one ask for in a heroine?!
2. Setting - Okay, I understand that people have a problem with a fictitious setting that pretends to be historical like that but I feel like it can be salvaged for the best if they set the right atmosphere for the mysteries that are to come .
Didn't Appreciate: The first episode felt a little roundabout and provided all the wrong details for the exposition. 
Will I Follow It: Reluctantly yes, because I came to this show expecting a lot and feel like they still have a chance to deliver.  

A07: Infinite Stratos

Why mecha anime is out.
   She has got the right idea: this is your chance to *headesk*!     
  She has got the right idea: this is your chance to *headesk*!    

My Original Premise Based On Episode 1: In a world where only females can pilot mecha units, the younger brother of a mecha prodigy challenges the status-quo and finds himself admitted to what should be an all-girls academy for mecha pilot training, much to interest of the other students - one of which is his childhood friend... and his roomate. Despite his natural talent for piloting, however, he is not very intelligent... that was an understatement: "What does 'airspace' mean?" - Yes, he really asked that.
Crude Impression: Anime like this is making me hang my head in shame for mecha anime in general. For me, my heightening disappointment at this genre began back in 2006 with Strain: Strategic Armored Infantry. Basically what looked like a promising title quickly descended into a fanservicey trainwreck (there was ltierally one episode that was no plot development and all fanservice!). As such, I am deeply concerned for the continuation of this anime. Considering the fact its premise lends itself to a harem, I'm especially concerned that this will throw off a lot of mecha anime fans and further damage the genre. 
Anyway, more on case and point of the anime itself, it starts in the heat of battle without there being any clue provided as to what is going on. That's the last you see of mecha combat for the entire episode. Not only was the actual combat scene disorienting, it felt very uninspired and had absolutely nothing to do with the development of the episode's plot.  
I also cannot find enough words for what is wrong about the protagonist. I appreciate his efforts to retain is manhood before girls that are actually several levels above him, but man, he is really unintelligent! His inability to understand even the basics of the mecha he is supposed to have natural talent of piloting is very disconcerting and inconsistent. When it comes down to it, you can't have a pilot who isn't technically proficient. Think about how much training it takes to become a pilot in general! How the heck did he even pass the admissions test for that school? And the fact that they couldn't find him a single room and dumped him with his female childhood friend as his roommate is the cheapest, most ridiculous development I've ever seen in exposition. At least that one character in Ladies versus Butlers had the decency to at least change her identity to that of a boy - that rooming situation made a little sense. I feel like there's totally no effort in the writing in this one. 
Personal Opinion: I admit, I'm nitpicking a bit with Infinite Stratos. That is only because I appreciate the mecha anime genre a lot and dislike seeing it succumb to predominantly fanservicey sequences that only take away from a premise that is difficult enough to appreciate on its own.
Who Would I Recommend To: People who don't mind very uninspired mecha anime like Strain: Strategic Armored Infantry (or Souko no Strain as I remember it).
What I appreciated: I'm really sorry to say that I couldn't find anything good about this.
Didn't Appreciate: The most uninspired utilization of the mecha genre. Which is a shame, because there would've been a lot of promise in it simply being strictly all-girls piloting mechas - that would have been an interesting spin and I would've possibly been kinder in judging this. 
Will I Follow It: Unfortunately, I don't even want to give this a second chance, but I don't want to turn away from it either. (I mean, I gave Rio a second chance...)

A08: Rio -Rainbow Gate!- 

  She may be in this wedding dress to be "one with the game," but I would not suggest committing to this anime!
  She may be in this wedding dress to be "one with the game," but I would not suggest committing to this anime!
My Original Premise Based On Episode 1: The Goddess of Victory does not only instill unbelievable luck to casino-goers she encounters - she's pretty damn good at poker. According to the summary, she apparently trying to be best dealer ever. I felt like they didn't explain that at all in the first episode. (Unless I really wasn't in the right state to actually pay attention, as I am about to confess might have been a possibility.)
Crude Impression: For the comments in the 2011 Crunchyroll Winter Anime Schedule, we joked about watching Rio while drunk. Well, I actually ended up doing that (it was right after my New Years' partying when I decided to watch it) and it was not one bit more entertaining. I'm afraid to say that this is another uninspired show - I cannot even place what its genre is supposed to be! That Crunchyroll summary called it a "supreme comedy." At the same time, they also went so far to say that " these cute and sexy girls will explode off your screen!" - I'm glad to say that I was not that drunk to have that become my distorted reality. But, with that summary: What were they thinking?!
I'll admit that the characters do appear "cute" and "sexy," but they're not animated as if they "explode off" my screen. In terms of plot - the situations they find themselves in aren't very engaging at all. The exposition seems so uninspired that one could easily think that there's just no plot to this show.
Personal Opinion: Not for me and probably not for anyone interested in anime.
Who Would I Recommend To: People who have absolutely nothing else to watch. 
What I appreciated: The girls, if nothing else. They're kind of nice, but not worth watching over 20-minutes of nothing. 
Didn't Appreciate: They did not "explode off my screen" as advertised. At this point I'd crack a joke like - "Crunchyroll! I want my money back!" except the fact that this is probably more so the fault of the animation studio more than Crunchyroll. Therefore I'll more seriously state: "Japan! Don't buy this when it comes out on BluRay or DVD!" On a similar vein, I hope to God this never has its licensing rights turn up in the U.S. beyond Crunchyroll. 
Will I Follow It: I actually watched the 2nd episode, and while they finally started developing things into the skeleton of a plot, it is still very uninspired.

A09: Starry Sky

This is airing in 11:30-minute episodes so the premise of this won't be as elaborate: 

 What eyes you have!
 What eyes you have!
My Original Premise Based On Episode 1: In a former all-boys high school that recently went co-ed, a girl with an interest in astronomy  transfers in as the first school's female - Yahisa Tsukiko. A reverse harem ensues. (The first episode actually predominantly covers one of her male love interests with whom she has a shared childhood memory with. His boy-self is pictured to the left. He used to be made fun of for his eyes, but she complimented them as beautiful.)
Crude Impression: It looks like it has the potential for being a meaningful and highly appealing romance anime, if you find its animation style favorable and if you're into the reverse harem. I can't quite tell if it'll reach the storytelling level of Key-based works such as Clannad, but I can say that it looks like it might turn out being cutely heartwarming if nothing else. Its animation style is reminiscent of Kimi ni Todoke
Personal Opinion: This is solid and probably one for the ladies more so than the gentlemen. 
Who Would I Recommend To: Ladies who like bishonen and/or fans of Ouran High School Host Club (for the slice-of-life romance more than the comedy). 
What I appreciated: It's told as a very appealing romance - something I haven't seen the likes of since Aoi Hana, so I'm actually looking forward to how this will unfold. 
Didn't Appreciate: It's webcast, so the episodes are shorter than normal. This will be different than normal anime in terms of pacing but I'm sure its creators have it figured out.
Will I Follow It: Yes, with mild interest.      

A10: Kore wa Zombie desu ka?

 He's (left) a very human zombie! And she (right) is the necromancer that respawned him.  Either he's an exceptional zombie or she's an exceptional necromancer. Only by watching this anime can one find out the truth!
 He's (left) a very human zombie! And she (right) is the necromancer that respawned him.  Either he's an exceptional zombie or she's an exceptional necromancer. Only by watching this anime can one find out the truth!

My Original Premise Based On Episode 1: Ayumu Aikawa is convinced his High School life will go on forever. This is because it will - since he is a zombie. He is supposed to be dead after being fatally stabbed in the back by an unknown assailant; however, Necromancer of the underworld Eucliwood Hellscythe was there to resurrect him as a zombie. Grateful to her, he has been living with her for a month since.  
News of a murderer that was possibly responsible for what was supposed to be his death begins to spread and every night he is on the lookout for that person. His nightly escapades, however, introduce him to more than he ever could have bargained for - such as a chainsaw-wielding, self-proclaimed "Masou-shoujo" (their version of magical girl), who ends up staying with him as well after a fated encounter. 
You know, this is looking a lot like Sora no Otoshimono, except this guy is not perverted like Tomo Sakurai, he's a superhuman zombie and instead of Angeloids he encounters and settles with otherworldly beings. His house even resembles Tomo's a bit.
Crude Impression: I loved Sora no Otoshimono and finding an undead spin on it is thoroughly satisfying. Also, it's nice to see a protagonist in this kind of show that can actually utilize powers to help out his otherworldly friends - I've rarely seen this!  
This is a fantasy comedy lending itself to a harem, so I expect a lot of people to be pleased by this! There are honestly hilarious moments comparable that to the ridiculousness of Sora no Otoshimono (minus the perversion, even!) and I'm definitely looking forward to more!
Personal Opinion: Rarely do fantasies, comedies and harems go hand-in-hand like this!
Who Would I Recommend To: People who enjoy Sora no Otoshimono (the Necromancer even reminds me of Ikaros except instead of a soft-spoken voice she is apparently mute and must communicate via notepad) and comedies with a flavor of fantasy and the potential for a harem.
What I appreciated:   
1. The scenario - At first I shuddered to think about an anime where a zombie would be the protagonist, but this actually pulls it off quite well! Even as a zombie he retains much of his humanity - he''s hilarious, not spineless and isn't afraid of taking advantage of his zombie abilities in times of trouble. As comedy leads go he is a dime in a dozen!  
2. The girls - The designs are really cute - as if they came out of an EasyGameStation RPG like Recettear or something! The Necromancer's warrior getup accompanied with her stoic nature make her especially charming. Not to mention - a chainsaw-wielding magical girl - does it get any better than that? 

You will open up to that chainsaw-wielding magical girl - literally!
You will open up to that chainsaw-wielding magical girl - literally!
 3. Chopin's Revolutionary Étude - Interesting soundtrack choice! After they threw that in during a moment of the protagonist's self-reflection I came to realize a lot of the musical cues in this anime are really on spot! 
Didn't Appreciate: They sort of brushed over his resurrection story. It would've been nice to start out with him getting killed and resurrected, I'd say - but I'm sure they had a reason for this and will be thorough about it later, as his murderer is still on the loose!
Will I Follow It: Yes, religiously!  

A11: Dragon Crisis!

If you're looking for a toned-down Elfen Lied, this may be it! 
It appears that Taiga Aisaka has reincarnated into a "red dragon" (pictured left and no, she never literally transforms into a dragon despite the anime's title - although she does have red scales on the back of one of her hands and I'm guessing she has the potential to transform into one...) and is looking for Ryuuji. She does find a Ryuuji (pictured right), but not the one I just linked to!
 "Ryuuji! Ryuuji! Ryuuji!" - I guess Taiga reincarnated at the cost of her ability to be tsundere...
 "Ryuuji! Ryuuji! Ryuuji!" - I guess Taiga reincarnated at the cost of her ability to be tsundere...
My Original Premise Based On Episode 1: There's a world of magical treasures out there, and they're known as"Lost Preciouses" (Can someone fish out Gollum from the bottom of Mt. Doom, please?) The tall and attractive second cousin of our protagonist, Ryuuji, has created a new organization called "Seven Tails" to recover them. Unfortunately, the market for already recovered Lost Preciouses is filled with other heavily armed organizations that have been hoarding and exchanging the most valuable of these treasures amongst themselves. It seems that Ryuuji's second cousin has spent too much time in America, however, and she does not mind meddling in this market to start out her new organization even if it means her (or Ryuuji) getting in someone else's cross-hairs.  
Since bad guys can't aim, the duo is able to recover a very valuable box out of one of these black-market organizations while they were conducting a trade. Out of the box comes out our fire-conjuring titular Dragon in human form. (Is there a loli-in-a-box concept page, by the way? Granted, we don't know her actual age. I bet the fact that she's a dragon makes her actually a very old person, however...) 
And so... Taiga reunites with Ryuuji and they lived happily ever after... Okay so he's not really the right Ryuuji... And they actually end up naming her Rose, not Taiga... (This paragraph actually has nothing to do with the plot, so don't take this face value! My jokes about Taiga only come from the fact that our titular Dragon, Rose, is voiced by Rie Kugimiya, the same seiyuu as Taiga Aisaka. Any similarities between Rose and Taiga are superficial at best.)
Crude Impression: I need to stop judging series by their titles, because this actually has some promise! The first few minutes of your seemingly average school life scenes were crashed quickly enough (thanks, busty second cousin) and our protagonist finds himself very quickly thrown into what is actually quite an interesting amount of exposition. It appears that the overarching plot of this anime will have to do with Ryuuji protecting Rose from her black-market handlers - this lends itself to some ridiculous developments, which I am personally looking forward to! 
Personal Opinion: I'd call this a simplified, lighthearted Elfen Lied, just because, like Lucy/Nyu, Rose doesn't seem very familiar with the world-at-large (she can't even speak Japanese) and gets very fixated on our protagonist. Also, this is definitely not as much of an explicitly violent anime as Elfen Lied was. It's pretty nice and has the potential to be a fun ride! 
Who Would I Recommend To: Because of my analogy, I'd say fans of Elfen Lied who don't mind seeing a softer spin on it. Also, people who like hearing Rie Kugimiya may be pleasantly surprised to find her in this anime. 

What I Appreciated: 
1. Fast Paced - I don't mind school life being implemented in anime, but not when it freezes the plot. This anime, thankfully, quickly dragged our protagonist out of school and threw him into his first adventure. I was engaged throughout the entire episode. 
2. This is a lighthearted Elfen Lied - I loved Elfen Lied for how groundbreaking it was, but I always wondered if there was a similar anime that wasn't as self-serious  - it appears that I've found it in Dragon Crisis! So if you want to see how a softer Elfen Lied might feel like, try this out! 
3. The Queen of Tsundere isn't Voicing a Tsundere - Rie Kugimiya is the typecast tsundere (as the heroines she voices in Toradora, Shakugan no Shana, The Familiar of Zero and Hayate the Combat Butler - all animes of hers I adore!) and while I love her in those roles, it's nice to hear her expanding her portfolio. She's doing an awesome job playing a Nyu-like role, for those familiar with Elfen Lied.  
Didn't Appreciate: For those who are familiar with Elfen Lied, our heroine in this episode is 99.9% Nyu and .1% Lucy (she really likes Ryuuji). What was interesting, however, was how she was very strangely belligerent with Ryuuji's second cousin trying to separate them. I suspect our titular dragon girl has the potential to have a much more traumatized (this is entitled Dragon Crisis) and violent side - that will be interesting! 
Will I Follow It: Yes.

A12: Yumekui Merry

 I hope cats don't dream of themselves like this...
 These are some pretty edgy cats you've got there! Too bad they want to kill us.
 These are some pretty edgy cats you've got there! Too bad they want to kill us.
My Original Premise Based On Episode 1: Our heroine is a dream demon who happened to slip out of her world and fall into ours... literally. 

 Is there a concept page for Girls Who Fall From the Sky? I swear it happens a lot in "fated encounters."
 Is there a concept page for Girls Who Fall From the Sky? I swear it happens a lot in "fated encounters."
She falls on our hero, your seemingly average high school student who actually has the ability to interpret dreams via the aura he sees from others. While they attempt to part ways and go on with their normal lives after the awkward encounter, their respective worlds have already collided. Our hero runs into denizens of our heroine's world, which she is trying to return to but cannot find a means for. These denizens, however, are not as friendly as she is - they're an army of freestanding cats looking to kill our hero!  
Crude Impression: This is a unique manga adaptation by J.C. Staff and it looks promising. The premise is unique and the characters are likable. The heroine in particular isn't just cute, either, she has an elegant style of combat that is animated exceptionally during the second half of the first episode. It's worth a look if you're into shounen manga adaptations; however, that fact can potentially be its downfall as well.
Personal Opinion: It might appear to be a unique experience for now, but it risks becoming a typical shounen manga adaptation as well. If that is the case, it'll likely lend itself to formulaic action sequences with a little humor, a little fanservice and a lot of friendship - this risks alienating people who have seen enough uninspired shounen adaptations. Yumekui Merry needs to maintain its unique vibe in order to draw viewers in and keep them. The first half of the episode did feature some uninspiring, typical school life scenes, but I feel like that second half was able to redeem it with its engaging action scene involving our heroine. It seems like my interest on this show will lean on her, especially - she's mighty cute.
Who Would I Recommend To: People who are preferable to unique shounen manga heroines and people who enjoy shounen manga adaptations in general. 

What I Appreciated: 
1. The Heroine - She has an outstanding design and backstory one can sympathize with: she has been displaced from home without a known means of getting back. 
In addition to her cuteness, she is especially dangerous! That's my favorite combination in heroines for shows like these. 
2. The Cats - They're a pretty interesting bunch of antagonists. I'm wondering what their story is and am looking for this anime to deliver on that.
Didn't Appreciate: The pacing wasn't favorable - I'm afraid to say that I wasn't very engaged with the school life in this, and I usually don't mind school life at all! Maybe I've seen so much of it that it's starting to wear me down... 
Will I Follow It: Yes, but I'm on the fence. 

A13: Haiyoru! Nyaruani: Remember My Mr. Lovecraft

 Well, this is awkward...
 Well, this is awkward...
No, this has nothing to do with H.P. Lovecraft... This barely actually has anything to do with anime to the likes of what the rest of this article covers, but since it was in the Winter 2011 previews I'll write up something on it, it just won't be as formal:
I don't know how or why this ended up in the Winter 2011 Previews - because this technically isn't even anime. It's basically something whipped up in 4-minute Flash episodes. At the very least one can consider it to be an omake - a short intended to be humorous and isn't meant to be looked at the way I've been looking at everything else.  
This show is also hard to find - because it isn't a conventional anime, there aren't any conventional means of finding this. I had to dig through a lot of sites loaded with trashy and potentially harmful ads to catch a glimpse of it, and it sort of isn't worth it. It is plain silly and if you wanted something like this I dare say you could even find something on Newgrounds comparable in quality to this (or better, even) for less trouble. I'm serious, too - there are actually some work-safe Flash anime shorts on Newgrounds that are exceptional! (If you can't take my word for it, look up Shoo Fly - that short is probably worth more than all episodes of these shorts combined.) Even if you're a fan of Lovecraft and even if you don't mind silly flash shorts - this is too much trouble to look for.  


What I've learned: don't judge a series by its preview summary (or its title) - most of the anime I preferred from these eleven I did not even expect to like!  
Another thing I've learned is why large websites commit entire teams into covering each season's new releases: watching ten first episodes isn't so bad. Writing about them, however, can take up some time, several cups of coffee and a little bit of rewatching.  
As such, I hope you enjoyed this exhaustive review, I hope you found a show or multiple that you liked, and I hope you enjoy the anime of Winter 2011 as much as - if not, even more so - than I do! Thanks for reading!
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