American TV has slowly started experimenting beyond the standard “debut every series in September and see what sticks” model, but it’s still the case that fall is the season where the big ticket items are debuted. Similiarly, the big anime seasons tend to be spring and fall, with the winter and particularly the summer season left to left to flounder with continuing shows and one or two decent new offerings.
That was certainly the case last summer, as noted by our very tepid awards post for summer 2010. It was not the case in winter 2011, with some remarkably solid offerings including Madoka, which is still the most likely candidate for show of the year. It’s also not the case here, with some strong continuing series being equaled or bested by shows that debuted this season. Neither of us were prepared for how remarkably strong, on balance, this season’s offerings were.
It’s unfortunate that the strength of the best series of this season eclipsed some other gems. When the most competitive category is “Best Show We Didn’t Cover,” that’s a good sign that summer 2011 was a great three months for anime. And that remains true even though the second most competitive category was “Most Offensive Series.”
As bear didn’t have a chance to watch most of the summer shows, this post is written entirely by 3HM.
There’s a stereotype that slice of life shows are primarily aimed at the seinen audience; likewise, one expects shoujo series to be romantic comedies, doomed romantic loves, fantasy epics involving grand romance and/or reverse harems, or something else which involves romance in some way, shape, or form (or maybe BL). The reasons such stereotypes exist is because they are usually true.
Occasionally, however, you find shows that don’t fit into a typical mold. Natsume Yuujichou, based on a long-running shoujo manga series, is one such show. It features a male protagonist, Takashi Natsume, who spends his days helping youkai, the spirits/demons/Shinto gods who make up the supernatural landscape of Japan. On the surface, there’s nothing all that shoujo about it save the bishounen.
But, to indulge in another stereotype, shoujo romances usually outclass shounen or even seinen ones, to the extent what shounen or seinen series do can even be properly called romances. The reason for this is that shoujo works usually have more detail and nuance written into their characters, and that part of the pedigree, at least, clearly gets its due here.