Mid-season write-up (Part One)

Time to pull over, look back and take stock of how some of this season’s anime series have fared so far.

As far as I’m concerned, Natsume Yuujin-chou is the biggest surprise of the summer season. I’ve always had a slight aversion to shows with supernatural themes, so this one almost didn’t make the cut when I first assembled my current watchlist – and even after it earned a place I was sceptical of its ability to hold my interest for the long haul. It’s a good thing I picked it up, because Natsume and Nyanko-sensei’s exploits are now my best antidote against stress-induced depression (an all too common malady in my work-laden week). The soothing music, soft colours, gentle humour and appealing characters are all great for putting a weary soul at his ease.

Sure, relaxation is hardly something one would expect to get from a show with ghosts, ghouls, gods, goblins, and a fat tabby that transforms into a man-eating dog-demon. But give it a try and see if it won’t exorcise your troubles.

If Natsume Yuujin-chou is a glass of warm milk then Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu is a can of cherry cola. It’s a simple recipe: Ordinary high school kid meets rich, talented, popular closet Akiba-kei. Awkward situations, tender moments and a few “minaide hazukashii” incidents ensue.

Even though romance tends to drive me away when I’m out shopping for shows to watch, I’m willing to put up with it if there’s good humour to be had. Things have been relatively formulaic so far – first date episode, home invasion episode, obligatory poolside episode, etc. – but the laughs keep coming, so I’ll keep on watching.

Plus, it has a Comiket episode. That’s reason enough to follow this show.

Here’s another comparison. If Natsume Yuujin-chou is a delightful summer surprise then Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto: Natsu no Sora is a sad summer disappointment. My interest in this show went into a downward spiral around Episode 2 (yep, it happened that quickly) and now I can’t even be bothered to finish Episode 3. I don’t think I’m ready to drop this one just yet, but it’s about to get a downgrade from the “Actively Following” group to the “Inactively Following” group.

Let’s hope Sora has a spell that can get them out of this rut.

Since Summer 2008 wasn’t exactly packed with must-sees, I reached back more than a year and dug up an older title to round off my watchlist: 2007’s Hidamari Sketch. I’ve just finished with the last episode and I’m happy to give this sweet, easygoing show a full five stars. Season two, Hidamari Sketch × 365 (which started airing last month), is now under evaluation for viewing.

We’ll check out some live-action series in Part Two of this post.

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6 Responses

  1. Finally! Another person to agree that Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto: Natsu no Sora isn’t that great… And of course, Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu is an anime that no one could hate! It’s about a school idol closet otaku. How could you go wrong with that (especially with the Shana cosplay)? 😀

  2. @ffviiknight: We’re not alone, my friend – I know at least one person who has read the MTnTnK:NnS (whew) manga and isn’t impressed with the anime adaptation. I’ll probably give it two more episodes max, and only if my schedule allows it. If things still haven’t improved by Episode 5 I’ll have to shift it off my watchlist for good.

  3. I watched 3 episodes… but barely cleared the 3rd one. I got to the 4th’s OP but my mind had enough. Once the music stopped, I moved back to my comfortable corner in manga.

  4. Oh goody! You write anime round-ups! I could never tell which one is actually worth dl-ing just by visiting random curiousity…well, I tend to make the number of comments per episode my baseline on how good it is, but this post makes my job easier. I have all the Natsume Yuujin episodes that have been aired in my HD, but never got the chance to watch them coz I thought the anime was boring. Now, I have more reason to finish the first episode. Thanks.

  5. @jaycee05: I highly recommend it. Natsume Yuujin-chou moves along at a relaxing pace and has a very laid-back atmosphere (hauntings and possessions notwithstanding). Perfect for weekend afternoons or whenever one needs to unwind.

    Let me know what you think after you see the first episode.

  6. Just finished 7 episodes of Natsume ^_^ One episode almost had me hiding underneath my covers, lol. Anyway, thanks for the recommendation, up next, I’ll check out Nogizaka Haruka. Let’s see how that works, as I am very picky with shoujo anime.

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