Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Anime-zing Race, Spring 2015 Season Edition: Weeks 1-2

Yes, my picture/text-editing skills are bad.
So here's something I'm doing to evaluate the new shows I'm watching this season. I'm taking all the shows I have some interest in this season and keeping track of how they stack up against each other. In a sort of reality-show style competition, I will eliminate the one show each week with the worst performance, and the shows that survive at the end of the season are the winners... which for this blog just means that they'll get a special post honoring the show, plus guaranteed following of any continuations or sequels.

There are two types of eliminations that can happen to a show:

A show that is out is out of the competition, but I will keep following it for the moment. Shows that are out are eligible for a special runner-up prize... which for this blog is a quick Looking Back post for the show.

A show that is dropped is just that: dropped. This will happen for the first several elimination rounds until I am down to thirteen shows, and will potentially occur from then on out if a show just gets really bad. Shows that are out could also get dropped later, which I will indicate if it happens.

So without further ado, let's introduce the competitors in this race (in alphabetical order):

Baby Steps Season 2 - The second season to a charming tennis show about a diligent note-taker who takes up the sport. Can it keep up the charm and take a top spot?

The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan - A spinoff to the popular Haruhi Suzumiya series, but one that is decidedly less supernatural. How far can it take its own strengths and what it has inherited from its parent series?

Etotama - A silly (and somewhat meta) show about a cat having to battle her way into the Chinese zodiac in 3DCG duels. It might be a silly show, but can it hold itself up long enough to reach the end?

Food Wars - Shokugeki no Soma - A shounen cooking-battle show with eating scenes that make Gourmet Girl Graffiti seem G-rated. What kind of a performance can it cook up here?

Hello! Kinmoza - The second season to the cross-cultural classic from 2013 featuring cute blond girls from Britain and their Japanese friends, plus some new faces. It's a favorite of mine, but will that be enough to take it to the top?

Mikagure School Suite - A wacky school battle series based on a series of Vocaloid songs. How will its battle spirit hold up against the other shows fighting it out this season?

My Love Story - A shoujo series about a scary-looking but kind-hearted guy and the girl he falls in love with. It's a show that breaks shoujo conventions, but will that be enough to break its competition too?

My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU TOO - The sequel to another great show from 2013, about a group of maladjusted high schoolers as they fumble their way through a high school romcom and make a mess of it along the way. Can this show keep up or improve on its first season and take a top spot as expected?

Plastic Memories - An original series about androids that are nearing the end of their lifespan, and those who have to collect them before they expire. Will this show last in my memories and in this competition to the end?

Punch Line - A show about a guy whose spirit gets separated from his body, and who destroys the world if he sees too many panties. Yeah. Will the punchline be that this is the show that ends up on top?

Re-Kan - A slice of life show about a girl who can see spirits. Will its heartwarming tone keep this show from passing on into the afterworld?

RIN-NE - A shounen show about a girl who can see spirits, from the manga by the legendary Rumiko Takahashi. Can this work by a big-name artist avoid crossing over to the other side?

Show by Rock - A cute show featuring Sanrio characters who turn into CGI chibis to rock out and defend the world against dark music demons. If that sounds out of whack, that might be what this show needs to get to the end.

Sound! Euphonium - A show about a school concert band. As a former band player, this show is right up my alley and could be a top contender for this contest.

Ultimate Otaku Teacher - An otaku teacher tries to teach students with his special otaku ways. With teacher shows gaining popularity, can this show ride that wave to a top finish?

Wish Upon the Pleiades - A classic magical girl series that eschews the depressing stuff Madoka Magica made popular for more lighthearted fare. Can it finish the race and possibly convince me to make my next car a Subaru?

Well, there are the contestants. Without further ado, let's start the race!

For this leg of the race, only the first two episodes of every show will be considered.

Coming in 1st place is Sound! Euphonium, with a pair of episodes that look beautiful and bring me back to my band days with great attention to detail to that part of school life. The characters are great and a nice story seems to be in the works as well. Close on its heels in 2nd place is Hello! Kinmoza, introducing a great new character in the teacher Kuzuhashi-sensei and working her into the show well. My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU TOO takes 3rd place with a strong opening arc that showcases everything this show does so well. Another sequel comes in 4th place: Baby Steps Season 2, showing continuing strength in its unique sports story.

Part of the authentic band experience: getting enthralled by that maze of giant brass pipes.

Arriving in 5th place is My Love Story, which is just such an adorable show, whether in its main girl Rinko or in that big, fluffy teddy bear named Takeo. And in 6th place, there's Plastic Memories, showing great emotional moments balanced carefully with comedy. The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan arrives in 7th place. Having just seen all of the Haruhi Suzumiya TV series as well as the Disappearance movie, I can really appreciate these characters and have some great fun with them.

The competition is getting harder here, but arriving in 8th place is Re-kan, which is doing a good job when it connects with the spirit world and explores relationships between the living and the dead. Close behind it in 9th place is Show by Rock, which has an energy to its ridiculousness and cuteness that is just a lot of fun. Right on its heels in 10th place is Wish Upon the Pleiades, which shows some solid promise while otherwise still being a fun magical girl show.

Another spirit world show arrives in 11th place with RIN-NE. Meanwhile, the energetic Mikagure School Suite follows in at 12th place. And in 13th place, there's the delicious Food Wars - Shokugeki no Souma.

That leaves the bottom three, Etotama, Punch Line, and Ultimate Otaku Teacher. The latter of that show unfortunately has fallen short of my expectations for a strong show about teachers and the positive influence they can have on students' lives. Instead, it ended up as a bit of a stupid-fun comedy show that has fun with its cast of characters but lacks some depth (as well as lacking in production values). Still, the show has been entertaining enough that Ultimate Otaku Teacher manages to get in at 14th place.

As for the bottom two, Etotama has a lot of cute girls and can be quite amusing but has little to speak of otherwise. Meanwhile, Punch Line has some good storylines... pretty much everywhere outside the main storyline. That, and a continual focus on panties and other bits of sexual humor slows it down a lot. Both shows are shows I kind of want to see a bit more of and that I do not really care to see any more of. But I will only remove one show this week...

...and in a close race to avoid being the show eliminated, Etotama manages to slip in at 15th place, as it's relaxed and inoffensive enough that I can find myself looking at one more episode. Still, it has an uphill battle to stay in this competition, as honestly, everything else this season is a fair amount better right now.

Unfortunately, that means Punch Line has been dropped. The show is clearly trying to do some interesting things, but I just cannot get behind that panty stuff. Or the boob jokes. It's a show that I'm sure has its audience, but that audience just isn't me.

The punch line here is that craziness and panties don't mix for me.
I'll see you all next week for the next leg of The Anime-zing Race.

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