Evan Burkey

Weeaboo Wednesday: What To Watch This Season

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Now that 2011 is firmly upon us, it’s time for another new season of anime! There are many offerings to watch this winter, and I’ll be separating the wheat from the chaff by giving you (in no particular order) my top 5 picks for this season.

Kimi Ni Todoke (Reaching You) – Season 2

Kimi ni Todoke was one of my favorite anime series of 2010, and the anticipated sequel has turned out to be just as good. This is the romance anime, or at least one of the best I’ve ever seen. Kimi ni Todoke‘s second season continues to follow the life of Kuronuma Sawako, a second year high school student who pushes awkward to a new level. She has a difficult time expressing herself to her classmates, and especially to a certain boy, Kazehaya Shota. The series focuses heavily on the awkwardness of their relationship as they fall in love, and does so in a way that pulls you in and makes you hunger for the next episode. If you enjoy romance shows, this is the one to watch.

Fractale

Fractale is interesting in that so far the plot has been very vague, and yet it remains a gripping series. The story takes place on some sort of virtual world that resembles an island, and its Fractale System (don’t worry, I have no idea what that is either) is starting to break down. The main character, Clain, finds a girl named Phyrne who disappears, and he begins a journey to find her and discover her connection to the Fractale System. While the plot is still somewhat confusing, the show manages to interest by way of the world around Clain. They give enough hooks in the first episode that I am thoroughly interested not only in what this world that Clain lives in is, but also how it works. Fractale‘s animation is also very high quality, and is a real treat to look at.

Gosick

While Gosick‘s overarching premise is nothing new (boy meets weird girl who has unnatural talent, they do stuff, etc), the premise and execution of the show so far have been enough to get me hooked. Protagonist Kujo Kazuya is sent from Japan to a boarding school in Sauville, a fictionalized European country circa 1924. As he is the only eastern student, he is somewhat of a pariah. However, he meets a strange girl name Victorique de Blois, who is an eccentric bookworm and a genius. Her brother is a detective, and as he is not the brightest one around, he brings his tougher cases to Victorique. The show follows Kazuya and Victorique as she solves mysteries and he accompanies her.

The mysteries in Gosick have been, so far, interesting and thought provoking, but the real hook of the show is the character interaction between Kazuya and Victorique. He is a foreigner in a strange land where he is seen as an oddity, and Victorique spends her days in the school library, isolated from everyone else and rarely allowed outside for reasons yet unexplained. Their odd personalities clash off each other in a way that is very entertaining, and the story is more of a device that moves these interesting characters into becoming better friends.

Kore Wa Zombie Desu Ka (Is This A Zombie)

I’m a sucker for stupid humor, anyone who knows me can attest to that. Kore Wa Zombie Desu Ka is incredibly stupid, and I mean that in the most complimentary way. The first episode begins with a slow piano track as Ayumu, the main character, heads to school. He begins to bemoan life, complaining that most people just go through the motions without looking for anything interesting. Seeing a small dog about to be hit by a truck, he springs into action and dives in front of the truck pushing the dog to safety. A man yells out to stop him, and he turns and says the above “Oh, I’m a zombie”… and it just gets batshit crazy from there. Ayumu goes flying, his clothes come off… this is definitely a physical humor show. However, if you enjoy this sort of thing, and I do, then it’s right up your alley.

I could try to explain the rest of the plot, but it’s pretty insane. By the end of episode 2, Ayumu has taken Eucliwood Hellscythe, the necromancer that made him a zombie, as well as a magical girl and a vampire ninja. Where Kore Wa Zombie Desu Ka lacks in storyline, it makes up in legitimately funny humor. I found myself laughing repeatedly throughout both episodes, even at some of the more stupid physical comedy. This is dumb humor anime done right, and I love it.

Hourou Musuko (Wandering Son)

Hourou Musuko holds a special place in my heart, and I was very anxious when the first episode came out. The manga has been a favorite of mine for a long time, and with its intricate plot and serious subject matter, I was very worried that AIC would not get it just right. Did they knock it out of the park? I’m not sure yet. But so far, AIC seems to have done this fantastic story justice and made an anime well worth your time.

The anime adapatation of Hourou Musuko starts as the cast is entering middle school (the manga beings a year earlier). Shuichi is a effeminate boy who secretly wishes he had been born a girl. He enjoys crossdressing, and begins to show signs of gender identity disorder. He befriends Yoshino, a tall girl who also secretly has been harboring feelings of gender misidentity. The story then follows them as they both deal with the issues of being curious about transsexualism and how their personal relationships are strained by it. Hourou Musuko is a very serious drama, though there are a few lighthearted moments, and the subject matter is very poignant for our time. The characters of Hourou Musuko are written in a believable fashion, and the difficulties that Yoshino and Shuichi face are issues that many gender dissociative kids go through. The anime adaptation has handled this rather well so far, and I’m very excited to see how it goes forward. Also, the art style has a sort of watercolor look to it that is absolutely gorgeous, and is yet another reason to check it out.

I’ll admit, there are quite a few shows that are not worth watching this season (Madhouse’s adaptation of Marvel’s Wolverine is especially disappointing), but there are some real gems in this season that I am pumped for. A few other shows to check out that are pretty good, but not great, include Infinite Stratos, Dream Eater Merry, and Beelzebub.

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