Fall Start-of-Season Write-Up

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With five new anime series on my “Actively Following” list and two more under evaluation, it looks like this season’s harvest will be the biggest on record. Sure, a lot of people can follow 10 or more titles without breaking a sweat, but from the day I got out of uni I’ve only ever had the time to squeeze in two to three per season. So excuse me for a moment while I salivate over fall 2007’s bumper crop.

*salivates*

Okay, let’s take a look at what’s in the basket.

TIER 1: APPROVED AND TENTATIVELY APPROVED SHOWS

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BAMBOO BLADE
Anime News Network / Wikipedia / Official Site
Seen so far: Episodes 01 and 02
What do I think: I wasn’t expecting much from Bamboo Blade (apart from a few cheap laughs), but based on what I’ve seen so far I’m really glad I didn’t give this one a pass. Top-notch production values, a great comedic story and a Nagatoesque character mark this out as a series with loads of potential.
Dropping this soon?: No chance of that at the moment – it’s just too good. From a long-term perspective, though, the show’s prospects are less secure. The first two episodes were great (among the best of the season debuts, in my view), but I can easily imagine this series going downhill quickly. Let’s see how the next few episodes turn out first.

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CLANNAD
Anime News Network / Wikipedia / Official Site
Seen so far: Episodes 01, 02 and 03
What do I think: This show rocks. That pretty much sums up what I think. (If you want specifics, here they are: sky-high production values, excellent voice acting, great character design, fine music, a large and still-growing cast with at least one standard entry for every taste, a Kanonesque sense of mystery and what may well turn out to be the star ED of the season.)
Dropping this soon?: Not bloody likely. The first three episodes were good – perhaps even better than expected – and I have no reason to think that the production team’s performance will falter in the coming weeks. Besides, my KyoAni addiction is far too strong for me to even contemplate dropping this series.

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GENSHIKEN (second season)
Anime News Network / Wikipedia / Official Site
Seen so far: Episodes 01 and 02
What do I think: Genshiken picks up almost exactly where it left off, which doesn’t really make for the strongest of starts. Still, I’m very bullish about this show’s full-season potential. Kousaka’s voice was a little off, but I’ve got no real complaints in the acting department since the old seiyuu are reprising their roles. The animation quality has even improved somewhat. And the planned length of this season – 12 episodes – seems quite sufficient to wrap up the entire Genshiken saga in a fitting way.
Dropping this soon?: I don’t think so. On top of the stuff I said earlier, there are some very interesting manga chapters up ahead (including a juicy Ogi-centric arc) that I’d love to see in animated form.

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MINAMI-KE
Anime News Network / Wikipedia / Official Site
Seen so far: Episode 01
What do I think: A family of three sisters with no parents in sight? Check. Snappy dialogue? Check. Good production values and pleasing character design? Check. Inoue Marina-sama? Check. Okay, I think we have all the ingredients for a great fall season comedy. Let’s get cooking.
Dropping this soon?: Nah. The production team will have to screw things up on a monumental scale before I set this one aside.

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SHION NO OU
Anime News Network / Wikipedia / Official Site
Seen so far: Episode 01
What do I think: Anyone who says “Shion no Ou is to shougi what Hikaru no Go was to igo” deserves a sound thrashing. The parallels may be superficially strong, but the first episode alone should be enough to dispel the notion that this is just another sweet coming-of-age story set against a backdrop of friendly competition. Shion no Ou starts with a brutal murder, has a mute child as its main character and a . . . well, let’s just say that one of her rivals isn’t exactly what she seems to be. At any rate, Episode 01 was a strong start to the series, with both the animation quality and the manga-to-TV story adaptation going well beyond my initial expectations.
Dropping this soon?: That probably won’t happen in a hurry. Unless the production values take a nosedive, I’m willing to sit tight until the last move is played.

TIER 2: SHOWS UNDER EVALUATION

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SKETCHBOOK ~full color’S~
Anime News Network / Wikipedia / Official Site
Seen so far: About 2 minutes of Episode 01
What do I think: I haven’t seen enough of it to form a proper opinion.
Picking this up?: I’ll get back to you on that one.

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SUTEKI TANTEI LABYRINTH
Anime News Network / Official Site
Seen so far: Episode 01
What do I think: This show has a few things working in its favour: solid production values, reasonably good casting, tolerable character design, Inoue Marina-sama. On the other hand, I’m still a bit iffy about its long-term prospects, mainly because it still isn’t clear what the show is about. I’ll pass judgement after one or two additional episodes.
Picking this up?: Probably.

UPDATE (28 October 2007): Sketchbook ~full color’S~ has just been officially promoted to Tier 1.

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2 Responses

  1. Out of all of them, I’d highly recommend CLANNAD (though I doubt that needs to be mentioned), Minami-ke, and Sketchbook ~full color’S~. The latter two are (so far) pretty good and relaxing slice-of-life series. Sketchbook, in particular, wasn’t overtly funny, but rather, it evoked a feeling of peace (if that makes any sense).

  2. I’m on my second episode of Sketchbook right now and I think I agree with your assessment: it’s not LOL funny but it has a nice, cozy feel to it. I think I’m ready to promote it to Tier 1.

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