ef: a tale of memories (2007-08-24 start): To be honest, I probably would not have started watching the show if it wasn’t for knowing that SHAFT would be behind the adaptation of the game from minori. The genre isn’t something that I really pay attention to, but with some directorial flourishes (for example, Miyako’s emotional breakdown, the phone booth, and the end of Chihiro’s diary are some of the more stunning I’ve seen in anime), and an engaging enough story, I remained watching till the end. I still haven’t finished a tale of melodies, however, which shows how special the first series is in my mind.
Bamboo Blade (2007-10-01 to 2008-03-31): Judging from the initial responses to reviews on ANN, this was another show that people did not pay attention to because of their initial impressions, and I admit that I was going to be another one of them before actually deciding to check the show out. And I’m glad I did, as I was introduced to a fun set of characters enjoying and learning from kendo. It did not take me long to warm to the characters (Kirino definitely helped here) and become a fan of the Kuroe High School kendo team, and cheer the members on both in and out of tournaments. Hopefully the teaser at the end of the show means that a second season could come in the future, as I definitely would like to see more adventures in the future. That, and more Blade Braver.
CLANNAD (2007-10-04): I’ve only really experienced Key before this property in AIR, and if there was one thing that rubbed me the wrong way (though I liked the show), it was the tendancy of the show to give off the impression that it was deliberately trying to get me to feel (mostly cry) for their characters. I never really like that sort of thing in general, so that was the impression that stuck with me in regards to Key properties (notwithstanding that I only saw one work from the company. I need to work on that), which isn’t fair. Luckily the adventures of Tomoya Okazaki (fragment), Nagisa Furukawa and the rest of the crew never felt that way, and I enjoyed how I grew to care for the characters naturally. Still have not completed ~After Story~ yet, and I will soon.
Minami-ke (2007-10-07 to 2007-12-30): For a show where we’re told right off the bat not to expect too much from the everyday goings on of a trio of sisters, sitting back and just watching everything occur is a smart idea. The many eccentric members of the cast made every episode enjoyable to watch, and was another example in showing how living a (reasonably) normal life can still be pretty damn hilarious to watch regardless. And oh god Mako-chan.
Genshiken 2 (2007-10-09 to 2007-12-25): An excellent continuation from the first season. With Ogiue’s introduction, the show seemed to take off, as we delved more into the world of anime fans “just like us”. Better animation/art, further breathing of life into characters than before, and very well done anime-only episodes such as the hilarious “Ogiue’s fantasies” episode helped make this season an even better adaptation of the manga than the first season. My only disappointment was where the season ended, as there was still the final (and very important) end of the story left to tell. However, the stopping point was fine, since if anything, it covered life going on as well as most shows can.
Moyashimon/Tales of Agriculture (2007-10-11 to 2007-12-20): If only microbiology was as interesting as it was portrayed in this show, with cute rendering of some of the more notable bacteria abound. Besides that, the adventures of a pair of students as they started on their agriculture collegiate life was more enjoyable than expected. I only hope that more of the show could be made. More Oryzae inviting us to brew with them would definitely suffice in place of that.
Shion no Oh (2007-10-13 to 2008-03-22): Though shougi was a main focus of the show, the terrible circumstances that led to the title character’s muteness was more gripping than I thought it would be, and ended up dominating the game. Character growth and an ever-present suspense worked really well in this anime, and the climactic whodunit reveal near the end of the show was one of the more gripping moments in anime that I’ve ever experienced. At the end of the day, I’m not sad that I still don’t really know how to play shougi, since I gained satisfaction in other ways.
True Tears (2008-01-04 start): While I might have disagreed with the finish (Shinichiro should have been a chicken, dammit), I did enjoy how the story kept me guessing what would happen next as to who would end up with Shinichiro at the end. Coupling that with some engaging characters, solid music, and very awesome animation, true tears was a surprisingly appealing experience.
ARIA The ORIGINATION (2008-01-07 to 2008-03-31): As the final season of the series, seeing where Akari, Aika and Alice have come from where they were as beginners to at the end of their quest to become prima undines was a victory lap for the series. The animation budget seemed the most for the three seasons, the music felt more revitalized than before (with Akino Arai’s ED as the best OP or ED of any of the seasons), and while the stories with the cast of the characters are the same formula as before, the fact that we could realize visible progress made those stories more poignant and magical than before. That and the moments where each undine trainee became full-fledged were some of the more powerful that I’ve ever experienced in anime.
Spice and Wolf (2008-01-08 to 2008-03-25): What makes this show work for me was how it seemed to master the “2 buddies and their adventures” formula that so many other shows have tried to do. Maybe it was just the constant tit-for-tat between Horo and Lawrence, but from their interactions, we saw how clearly both cared for each other, and how their relationship was slowly but strongly developing. The results in the second season seem to help emphasize that.
Kara no Kyoukai – the Garden of Sinners: Tsūkaku Zanryū (2008-01-26): The third movie in the series conveys pretty well a dark atmosphere, suspense and horror, as main character Shiki Ryougi is on the trail of Fujino Asagami, who might be the closest thing to a sympathetic serial killer that one might find, given her backstory (rendered insensitive to pain, and brutally assaulted at the beginning of the movie). The beautiful animation and direction from ufotable and awesome music from Yuki Kajiura remains constant from the first two films, but I list this film because I felt that the story was much better set up and connected, and because the climactic fight on the bridge was a jaw-dropping moment of awesome.
Eve no Jikan/Time of Eve (2008-07-31 start): A witty, thoughtful and touching story of a world where androids exist alongside humans, but aren’t treated kindly or with respect. Which seems like it’s been done repeatedly, but questions of whether androids/robots have their own wills, wants and desires were presented in very entertaining ways, especially when these questions were exhibited in an area where treating humans and robots as equals is a rule. Yasuhiro Yoshiura works magic again, as I was treated to a colorful cast of characters, quirky cinematography, and interesting situations that help demonstrate some preconceived notions that both the humans in the setting and we and the audience have and should think more deeply about.
Kara no Kyoukai – the Garden of Sinners: Mujun Rasen (2008-08-16): My favorite of the entire series of movies. This story regarding Shiki’s dealings with Enjou Tomoe and Araya Souren might not have been the best around, but the disjointed, out of order presentation that came together very well at the end was one of best mind fucks that I’ve see in anime ever. That, along with the already known interesting characters, awesome art/animation, and epic music makes the movie special. The camera usage during Shiki’s final fight scene with Souren was the best I’ve ever seen, and as the movie came to a close, if I wasn’t already in love with ufotable before, I would definitely be then.
Detroit Metal City (2008-08-08 start): An awesome adaptation of a quirky manga about a man who wants to make popish music who instead is the lead singer of the most epic and outrageous metal band ever. That isn’t a great description of the premise, but the humor and wacky hijinks that ensue are some of the best I’ve ever seen, and it’s been one of the few anime that has consistently surprised me with how far the humor will go sometimes. That and how Krauser is obviously one of the more legendary characters to ever grace anime.
Tentai Senshi Sunred (2008-10-03 to Present): A solidly consistent comedy about a superhero and supervillains living basically “normal” lives (having to go to work, hanging out with friends, etc.) while also working for their respective goals (protecting the city vs. ruling the world). The dichotomy is strong, especially because the character interactions and situations experience are pretty true to life. It makes the show in itself a nice, funny observation of modern life, and one of the better anime comedies that have come out in a while.
Ga-Rei –Zero- (2008-10-05 to 2008-12-21): With an awesome in media res start for the first two episodes (especially the ending of the first episode), the gimmick definitely hooked me on to the rest of the series. And for me, that made the rest of the series more powerful for me, as seeing what let up to the broadcast beginning help made one of the main characters into a person anyone could be very sympathetic before. The solid story/music, nice animation, fun weapons and enjoyable characters made this a show above most of it’s peers during fall 2008. It’s a shame that the manga the show’s supposed to be a preview of is very mediocre.
Michiko to Hatchin (2008-10-15 to 2009-03-18): An underrated series about the adventures of a convict and her essentially unofficially adopted daughter as they travel across a Brazil-like country to find the latter’s father. For a show that isn’t as good as (read: didn’t try to be) Samurai Champloo, the characters, action and music were top-notch. And the setting provides a pretty unique atmosphere to most of anime present today. It needs more love than it’s probably ever going to get.
Maria Holic (2008-12-30 start): This show didn’t try to be anything more than an adaptation of a manga about the wacky hijinks of a lesbian typical loser anime protagonist rooming with a crossdresser at an all-girls school, and I believe it succeeded in that. Though it’s interesting to see the controversy surrounding the show, besides a few jokes that were bad in taste, the show is not as offensive as some people want to paint it as. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve seen some of the results of Kanako’s lustful behavior occur with straight protagonists as well, so it’s not as much of a problem to me. Anyways, SHAFT x Shinbo had a field day with the show, and I think it helped enhance the source material in the anime. As a side note, the OP is something to behold.
Maria-sama ga Miteru: 4th Season (2009-01-03 start): The further developing relationships between the members of the Rose Council as present here, as the main focus is on Yumi’s search for a petit souer. Though the conclusion is basically given early on, the story remained entertaining to watch. My only complaint is that I wanted to see more Sei in this season.
Melancholy of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya (2009-02-13 start): What I thought would be Haruhi season 2 before Haruhi season 2 showed up. And I wouldn’t have minded anyway. These short episodes of gags with the Haruhi cast of characters in SD form were hilarious and very entertaining. It was also entertaining to see the initial response of others looking at this show in a negative light because it wasn’t what they wanted it to be. But that sort of thing died down quickly, as others recognized that this was good in its own right. It might not have been as good as the original source material, but it was still a hilarious endeavor. I only hope that the DVD of adventures can come out here in the US.
Saki (2009-04-05 to 2009-09-27): Came for the yuri mahjong, stayed for the awesome cast of characters and epic mahjong. Rarely have so many characters hold my interest (and no, not in that way) in one show for me, and rarely have the possibilities for pairing been bestowed so much evidence as well. 😛 That being said, the over the top mahjong was definitely a treat as well, as well as characters having fun playing the game, enough so that it got me to start playing the game myself. And it’s a reminder that I need to start watching Akagi for another approach on the game.
Aoi Hana/Sweet Blue Flowers (2009-07-01 to 2009-09-09): What makes this show special is how it tells the story of someone struggling to come to terms with falling in love again very well. That this someone is lesbian helps add another layer of complexity to the matter, but it compliments, rather than distracts from the story. The adaptation of the manga was done well, with the realistic emotions, actions and relationships between characters vividly shown with good music on the side. I’m hoping that in the future, the rest of the manga can be animated, as it gets better, in my opinion.
Taishou Yakyuu Musume (2009-07-02 to 2009-09-24): There might not have been more sudden musical segments than the cute one in the first episode, but the events leading to a girls baseball team coming together where more than enough in entertainment value. What helped was the fact that we see Koume and co learning from scratch, showing that the team doesn’t get good suddenly, or easily. While it might not have been serious as other sports shows that follow this pattern, I was fine with the light-hearted hijinks that happened while the team was learning how to work together. And there were several characters that was fun to watch as the show went along. I still stand that this show’s Tamaki is the better one. 😛
Bakemonogatari (2009-07-03 to present): The execution of SHAFT x Shinbo, Nisioisin, and Akio Watanabe’s partnership has gone well so far, despite some hiccups with time constraints. While others might have been bored by episodes of essentially characters talking, I enjoyed how SHAFT x Shinbo adapted Nisioisin’s quirky, wordy conversations into a more palatable form, distractions or no. The characters themselves are unusually designed (in a way), and the situations that they deal with are entertaining enough as well. And while episode 12 was not as powerful for me as it was for other people, it was still an exceptional episode.
CANAAN (2009-07-04 to 2009-09-26): I’m still very surprised at how people focus so much about the fact that Nasu wrote the scenario rather than the fact that the scenario is part of another game that focuses on something else different from typical TYPE-MOON fair. For what it’s worth, I enjoyed the silliness injected into this apparently “dark” action piece, and while the story wasn’t as well tied up as it could have been (miffed especially by how the Maria and Canaan was reconciled), it was still solid stuff. That, and the characters, animation and music were great as well. I can’t wait to watch the movies, as I feel like the story will be more cohesive that way.
Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 (2009-07-09 to 2009-09-17): In the end, it felt like the show tried to wring too much out of me with the revelation that had been hinted at near the end, and so any impact was lost. However, the set up to that revelation was very good, and the focus on Mari, Mirai, and Yuuki trying to survive the aftermath of the earthquake instead of the earthquake itself was one that I appreciate. While the set up of Mirai being a less than sympathetic character as a normal teenager at the start more or less decided where things would probably go as a whole, I was surprised at how emotionally involved I was seeing the main trio trying to get back home. Probably because I could imagine myself going through the same thing myself, and I feel like that was what the creators aimed to do in the first place.
As for fall 2009, I’m still only just trying to start watching shows from that period, which goes to show that anime waits for no one. That being said, there’s still a lot of series notable to others that I still haven’t watched, much less more anime that I haven’t watched in general. But I figure that might be what this next decade might be for. If I have the time.