Winter 2011 Season Preview

This is quite a remarkable turnout for a Winter season, and it will be even more noteworthy if, unlike last Winter, the interesting shows don’t tumble into the ditch of mediocrity.  There is an overabundance of J.C. Staff, with three new shows to join the three continuing from the Fall, along with SHAFT’s long awaited sequel to Bakemonogatari and intriguing offerings from some unfamiliar studios.  We’re even getting two promising mecha series to go along with the inevitable dregs of romantic and gag comedy.

Click on an image to go to the show’s AniDB page.  Shows are listed approximately by air date.  I also make hilariously inaccurate guesses about what ratings I’ll give each show; these do not indicate in any way what rating the show will ultimately get, and mainly exist for me to despair about later when I realize just how overly optimistic I was.

Natsume Yuujin-Chou Shi
Natsume Yuujin-chou was a train that I didn’t grab on to while it was leaving the station. I’ve heard some praise for it, but no matter how good it is I’m not going to watch the last three seasons in order to catch up to this one.
Predicted Rating: Absolutely no idea

New Prince of Tennis
The original Prince of Tennis manga was nearly a decade long, and the anime adaptation was 178 episodes.  After reading a few chapters of the New Prince of Tennis manga, while any hint of plot seems to have been abolished long ago in favor of endless tournament arcs, you need to know all of the dozens and dozens of characters already, or else it’s just people you don’t know or care anything about using their supernatural powers to cheat at tennis. Unless the animators decide to spend a significant amount of time introducing everyone, the adaptation is already doomed to be average at best.
Predicted Rating: 4

Tantei Opera Milky Holmes 2
Having never watched the original, I can’t predict much and probably won’t watch it anyway.
Wild Guess Rating: 5?

Recorder to Randoseru
An elementary school student is exceptionally tall, his high-school-age sister is amazingly short.  Hilarity ensues, as do heated arguments about genetics.  It would be nice if it had a solid and/or adorable plot, but I’m not expecting too much.
Predicted Rating: 4

Kill Me Baby
J.C. Staff, what is this?  Gunslinger Girl middle-school slice-of-life?  Triella Sonya doesn’t look too happy about being stuck in a gag comedy show.  I would say that the show looks like it has some potential, but the preview video used confuse ray, and it was super effective.
Predicted Rating: 4

Amagami SS Plus
I rather enjoyed the first season of Amagami SS, but the source material was thoroughly covered already.  In my experience, animation studios aren’t nearly as good at crafting compelling stories as the authors whose work they adapt (if the animators were as good at writing as the writers, then they would be the ones writing successful stories.  QED).  I do hold out some hope, however, that with the character-driven nature of the first series a sub-par plot might not be too detrimental.  Then again, that would require AIC to do the characters well.  While I’m not expecting abject failure in that regard, I doubt that they will be able to keep the charm of the original.
Predicted Rating: 5

High School DxD
The preview was censored.  Wow.  If the show can’t get through two minutes without someone being in dire need of clothing, I don’t think I can get through an entire episode.  The manga wasn’t any more promising; when the lead characters wake up naked in bed together in the first chapter, I’m not sure where they can go from there;  no number of random fight scenes would make that worth watching.  And this is from the same studio that brought us such sterling examples of the medium as R-15, MM!, and, last but certainly not least, Queens Blade.  If you’re still on the fence after all that, you should go to the show’s website, www.haremking.tv.
Predicted Rating Fanservice Shots Per Minute: 3

Senhime Zesshou Symphogear
Skintight body suits ≠ armor, and boots, no matter how high, ≠ pants.  I’d have a lot more hope for the series if the character designs focused less on fanservice and more on functionality when fighting eldritch abominations, but such is life.
Predicted Rating: 5

Area no Kishi
Sports anime don’t usually fall into my area of interest, but a quick look at the manga convinced me otherwise.  There’s some good, solid drama interwoven with all the soccer.  It would be nice if they stuck to the serious aspects of the story and cut down on the unnecessary slapstick moments, but I’m too jaded to actually hope for that.  Especially since Shin-Ei Animation has spent the past thirty years making Doraemon and Crayon Shin-chan.
Predicted Rating: 6

Zero no Tsukaima F
The Staff of Destruction was the best part of that manga, and needs an anime dedicated to it.  Then again, that would be Those Who Hunt Elves, and there’s already enough of that in the universe.  I never got around to watching the first three seasons of the adaptation, so I almost certainly won’t watch this.
Predicted Rating: 4

Nisemonogatari
I am of the opinion that preview videos should give some visual information about the show, rather than telling you to watch it because SHAFT’s previous work was good.  Even so, I owe it to Bakemonogatari to watch at least a few episodes, and hopefully having new lead characters will keep the humor from just being a re-hash of the previous series’ jokes. I’d be quite content with a completely different show, as long as it’s high quality.
Predicted Optimism Rating: 6

Moretsu Pirates
Not the most bizarre anime premise I’ve ever seen.  It actually looks like it might be interesting and/or fun, but my inner cynic keeps nagging at me to be more skeptical.  This could be a wonderful space adventure show, but there’s always the possibility of a fanservice-laden mediocre comedy about space pirates in skirts.
Predicted Rating: 7

Brave 10
An anime set in the sengoku period; I’m reminded of how there are more video games about the Second World War than there were weeks in it.  I’d be up for a gorgeous, bloody, serious fighting anime, just as long as there’s a plot train to carry the show forward while everyone beats the bishonen out of each other. TMS Entertainment isn’t a name that I have any associations with, so this is all a shot in the dark.
Predicted Rating: 7

Poyopoyo Kansatsu Nikki
It is a show about a round cat.  I don’t really know what to make of this, and I’d write up a gushing, sarcasm-laden preview, but I have the nagging suspiscion that I’d wind up eating my words.  It looks adorable enough, I suppose…
Nya nya nya: 5

Rinne no Lagrange
Oh Xebec.  I want to like you, I really do, but so much of what you’ve been associated with was solidly between bad and average.  Will this be the show that changes all that?  As long as they don’t start thinking that beautiful visuals + mecha means that they don’t need a plot, this looks like it could be amazing.
Predicted Rating: 7

Aquarion Evol
I haven’t watched Aquarion, but when the trailers have such epic music I have to give this at least an episode.  Considering how low the odds are that there will be two good, visually stunning mecha series in a single season, I’d rather put my money on Rinne no Lagrange not falling into the deathdrap that is pointless combat and motivation-deficient characters.  This is by Satelight and 8bit, after all, both of whose most recent mecha-related work was Infinite Stratos.  Seeing as part of the premise is that dating is forbidden, I fear a repeat.
Predicted Rating: 5

Ano Natsu de Matteru
Wha? J.C. Staff doing an original anime was not something that I was expecting.  At the same time, they’re doing both Kill Me Baby and Zero no Tsukaima F, as well as continuing Bakuman. and Shana.  The fact that this is a high school romantic comedy doesn’t bode well for it, either; I don’t have anything in particular against them, but I tend to get bored and stop watching before the show gets very far.  I’ll watch a few episodes anyway, since I’ll take any good original series I can get, but no promises.
Predicted Rating: 5

Another
A Mary Sue gets killed, but her classmates loved her so much that they all act like she is alive, and her ghost continues to haunt the school for another few decades.  P.A. Works choice of horror-mystery is an interesting follow-up to Hanasaku Iroha, but I have faith that they can pull it off pretty well.  I just hope that it doesn’t feel as contrived as the premise sounds.
Predicted Rating: 6

Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou
After watching the first preview my brain had completely shut itself down, an effect that lasted for ten minutes afterward.  Slice-of-life gag comedies are something I generally avoid, and this one was simply inane.  While I am absolutely certain that some segments of the internet will find it to be a comedic masterpiece, I’m not going to subject myself to a show that lets me feel my neurons dying.
Predicted Rating IQ Loss Per Minute: 2

Papa no Iukoto o Kikinasai!
Guess what, girls?  Your parents are missing and probably dead.  Time for a romantic comedy with your non-blood-related uncle!  Ugh.
Predicted Rating: 3

Inu x Boku SS
An apartment full of rich people and their assigned bodyguards piques my interest, except that 90% of the first chapter of the manga is absolutely insufferable attempts at humor.  The remainder is the bodyguards revealing themselves to be demons, which makes the premise even better, but the rest of what I read was so horrendous that, unless they do away with the jokes completely, I won’t be able to watch it.
Predicted Rating: 4

Black Rock Shooter
You know, I’m not sure they could make a busier and more cluttered poster if they tried. I never got around to watching the OVA and thus don’t really have a good reference point here, but the preview looked pretty enough. I just hope that expanding the OVA into a multi-episode series doesn’t mean adding pointless school scenes and episodes of mostly filler. Even if it does, it is noitaminA, so I’m obligated to give it a shot regardless. Then again, so was Fractale…
Wild Guess Rating: 6?

Smile Precure
Nope.
Predicted Rating: Nope.

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