I was up until *bleep* o' clock last night/this morning celebrating New Year's Eve with about 15-20 of my friends. Because I'm not the biggest social butterfly, I retreated to the quiet of my office for some peace and ended up finishing up a couple of anime that I had been watching. While actual reviews of them are forthcoming, I thought that I'd share a few immediate thoughts I had on them.
I first finally got around to watching the last episode of Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru. I'd started it once already, but late at night when I was already tired, so I ended up nodding off part way into it (which isn't so much a comment on how interesting it was, but more on how exhausted I was). The series overall sort of surprised me, crashing into the season with a silly premise about a dysfunctional maid caf� that promised to be amusing (or at least distracting enough to be mildly entertaining for a while) and then took a left turn somewhere around episode 4 or 5, delving more into supernatural comedy, some school hijinks, some musings on young love (a middle episode where the main character, Hotori, accidentally ends up skipping school with the boy who has a crush on her was unexpectedly touching in a way and one high point of the show for me) and some fun comedy centered on Hotori's love of mystery stories. It wasn't really what I expected going into it, but what I got out of it was much more fulfilling in the end, I think.
I also finally got around to finishing Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt, which was appropriately and gleefully action-packed, flashy, and ultimately very trollish on Gainax's part (which I had expected based on the comments of others who'd already watched it). It's really not in my nature to watch and enjoy shows which bank on mindlessness, goofy action and fanservice, but while I feel like most series in the ecchi genre feature a lot of "peeping" (catching glimpses of the female characters' breasts and underthings in sort of a passive, voyeuristic way), the fanservice elements (if you can really call them that) of Panty and Stocking are very in-your-face and delivered along with a middle-finger and a "fuck you," and I can really appreciate that. There's also a lot of male nudity and dick jokes (and not of the "boy accidentally walks into the girls' bath area variety) which I found to be unusual and, despite being very lowbrow like everything else in the show, honestly a little bit refreshing. More on that later.
Finally, I've reached the halfway point in Star Driver: Kagayaki no Takuto, and I feel like I'm finally "getting" what the show is trying to do. Much of the first half seemed to be building towards something that wasn't really clear, and while mysterious plot elements and unclear trajectory aren't black marks by any means, I came out of many episodes feeling like they had been resolved too quickly (and come on, who wouldn't like an extension on some of those fight scenes?). Now that some of the characters are being revisited and provided with a bit more depth, I get the impression that the puzzle pieces are going to begin to fall into place a bit more. I only wish that the show were planned out to be a bit longer. It's almost clich� at this point to keep comparing it to Revolutionary Girl Utena, but Utena started off, let's admit it, kind of goofy and unassuming too, and though its ritualistic battles and the ceremony around them often took up a big chunk of each episode, the character moments that were able to shine through over the show's 39 episodes really gave the story its depth. I'm hoping something similar is happening right now, I'm just disappointed that there isn't as much time to delve into those things.
Now that 2010 is officially over, I'm thinking of making like EVERY OTHER ANIME BLOGGER I KNOW and compiling some sort of "best-of" lists. While I'm not really one to "rank" series that I enjoy (I get different types of enjoyment from different shows, and I also don't give letter grades or scores in my reviews, so I don't have any sort of concrete frame of reference from which to compare), I would like to highlight some of the great shows that came out this year and poke a little more fun at some of the stinkers. I've got a week off starting now, so there should be plenty of time to get around to these things.
Thank you to everyone who takes time out of their day to come over to my little corner of the internet and read my thoughts. Anime bloggers really are a dime-a-dozen and I feel really thankful that there are people who find this site worth visiting. I'll aim to make 2011 even better.