My current rankings for new anime of the Spring 2010 season. [updated June rankings]

  1. Angel Beats – moving up #4 -> #1: ep5 begins to explore more about the character of Angel/Kanade Tachibana & starts building the relationship with Otonashi…the plot takes a couple of interesting developments and Yuri does her best Haruhi impression in leading the SSS, but the real selling point of the series is the sublime and often tragic backstories of the characters – earlier ones presented were good, but you really come back to realize this is a series from Key after Otonashi’s previous life is revealed in ep9. i was also excited about the direction that the series seems to be moving in based on the end of ep9.
    (May – the first ep ends without making much sense and the series suffers from inconsistent animation at times, but individual character stories have lots of potential – ep3&4 – and feed into (what I’m guessing is, but it still isn’t clear) the plot mechanic of moving on from the afterlife after resolving some person issue; seems a little too unpolished for an offering from Key, especially with the blatant Haruhi clone [maybe she died and this is her in the afterlife? :p] but I’ll tolerate for now b/c the series has been getting better with each ep.)

  2. Arakawa Under the Bridge – this show has some strange humor, and I like it… Zetsubou was great in the beginning for me, but the lack of a continuous plot and its use of gags that at times were hard for non-Japanese to understand were limitations that dulled my enjoyment of the series after multiple seasons. Arakawa does have a continuous plot to some extent, and even more help is developments in some of the romantic interests between characters – I couldn’t stop laughing in ep8 when Hoshi and Nino walk in on Kou’s oral hygeine check. I still think Zetsubou was great, but between the shows with similar styles of comedy, Arakawa is much more accessible to be enjoyed by a broader audience.
    (May – a very unusual premise and even weirder cast of characters, the show feels a lot like Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei and even features the seiyuu for Zetsubou-sensei himself… the comedy may not appeal to everyone, but I’m liking it so far.)

  3. Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin – in an industry saturated with the moe and ecchi-centric, this kind of series is very refreshing, inspiring the viewer with the bonds between friends and GAR-filled defiance of the various forces trying to trample on your dreams…the plot has nixed the whole “each character’s backstory” direction I had anticipated and kept the plot moving with a progression of problems the group must overcome, with the focus of eps 5-8 on An-chan trying to survive in the weeks before his release date while the sadistic prison guard and homo medical director try to crush him. The violence has been in good taste, making the viewer sympthetic for all the misjustices the group must endure.
    (May – with a tagline of “The Criminal Seven of Compound Two, Cell Six” and a totally badass OP, this series about the seven guys bonding like brothers to survive the hells of prison exudes manliness… each character’s crime is only touched on in ep1, with backstories being expanded on in subsequent eps; how effectively the story elicits sympathy for the characters while avoiding repetitiveness will be key on how the series fares.)
  4. K-On S2 the overall plot of the series takes a distant backseat to each episode’s story, so the series is pretty much hit-or-miss with each episode – i liked ep6&8, could stand ep5, and struggled with ep7&9 for the most part. Its the same with the girls – at times Yui is super cute and at others I worry that she may have some kind of problem; I used to love Mio in S1, but I think some of her “moe points”, like her shyness or how she scares easily, have become kinda annoying. I’ve come to accept the show for what it is – a well animated, plotless time-waster of a series that I can enjoy more times than not.
    (May – I know there are people that love Mio/Yui/Azusa and there are also people who hate the show for the “moeblob” anime it is, I’m somewhere in the middle…fan of the high animation and voice acting quality, the epic “Don’t Say Lazy” ED theme from S1, and for the most part even the characters themselves, despite some of their annoying, “because this makes her moe” qualities, but the overall plot wasn’t always very interesting – S2 has pretty much the same good and bad points so far, which is a good start considering that the ambitiousness of trying to recreate the hit success of season ones more often leads to failed season twos (see Haruhi S1 vs S2); whether they can improve and work towards a series conclusion or simply keep the same formula of pointless moeblob for another 8ish eps remains to be seen.)
  5. Senkou no Night Raid – dropped down #1->#5: the problem itself isn’t with the series, but rather with the lack of subs available right now for the series, making it hard to stay excited when releases are irregular. Potential for awesomeness keeps it from falling off entirely, and I will definitely revisit when more subbed eps are out.
    (May – interesting episodic stories about a group of Japan’s superpowered spies, each with their own intriguing backstory that will hopefully be built upon and expanded to the main plot, set in a unique setting of 1930s Shanghai offers a lot of good elements to work with… great potential, with comparisons to samurai champloo and cowboy bebop; songwise, MUCC’s “Yakusoku” is my favorite OP of the season.)

  6. Kaichou wa Maid-sama – not as funny or dramatic as other shoujo or romantic comedies, but solid in its averageness… don’t expect to be blown away, but fans of the genres could probably find worse. I think the inherent problem is that it is so painfully obvious to everyone that the guy likes Misaki (he’s even told her on a couple occasions) that any dramatic climax geared for the end of the series just won’t be very convincing.
    (May – recent shoujo successes like Skip Beat! and Itazura na Kiss inspire me to give this series a chance; while the premise is pretty good, the plot hasn’t progressed much at all… the eps themselves aren’t bad and I really like Misaki’s character, but I may get bored soon if they don’t move along.)
  7. B Gata H Kei – pretty much going as expected – she wants to do it, he can’t express his feelings, she isn’t honest with her feelings, they don’t do it, there are a couple love rivals but they don’t really have a shot, some laughs along the way about how dirty minded she is and how pathetic he is, and then they’ll probably end up together by the end. enjoyable, but a little repetitious – even dragged out in the story as seasons change really quickly between episodes.
    (May – the premise that a perverted minded girl wants to nail a virgin boy to begin her goal of 100 sex partners is a unique flip in gender roles, but she actually shows how innocent she is at heart when she fails to seal the deal on a couple occasions in the first few eps; the series isn’t going to fool anyone though – she’ll end up realizing how much she actually likes the guy and take the meaningful relationship instead of the shallow one night encounter b/c this is not a hentai series… don’t expect much other than some laughs and fan service along the way.)
  8. Kiss x Siscredit is due for really pushing the envelop for ecchi content in a regular anime series, so people looking for that will be able to enjoy this, but the larger majority will probably be put off on how ridiculous and blatant some of the ecchi elements are in the show. the plot is very stupid.
    (May – this should have stayed an ecchi OAV b/c the anime will ultimately satisfy no one and frustrate all – too much ecchi-driven episode plot and an impossible for resolution love triangle to be a decent romantic comedy series and too softcore or restricted to be ecchi/hentai, though (spoiler!) this is the first anime series I’ve seen where a girl ends up peeing on a guy…)
  9. Mayoi Neko Overrun – dropped down #5->#10: so apparently each episode is done by a different director, so that explains a lot on how disorganized the whole series is, but even that is not much of an excuse for how terrible most episodes have been. other than ep8, a pretty funny saki parody, the episodes after ep3 have just been pretty poorly executed and loses sight of the overall themes – characters who were lonely until they came together as a group of friends and the love square relationship that develops. the bottomline is that there may be laughs here or there, but the episodes are too random and disconnected to lend any real overall enjoyment.
    (May – started off well, but suffers severe pacing issues throughout- ep2&3 crams too much plot too quickly so that the end of ep3 isn’t as meaningful as it could have been, it manages to fit into two eps what some series would drag out and spend the full season to resolve, and the same problem with ep5, while ep4 is a complete mess with ridiculously funny moments interspersed with just ridiculous nonsense.)
  10. Ichiban Ushiro no Dai Maothe plot becomes a complete and utter trainwreck that deeply frustrates viewers because it started with so much potential. even if we ignore the pacing issues and the slew of poorly introduced characters, alot of things just don’t make sense and are inconsistent with how you’d expect the protagonist to react. Korone somehow gets shot at the end of ep6, disappears saying a this might be the last time they meet at the beginning of ep7, and instead of following up, the series jumps to Hiroshi getting his ridiculous Brave superhero powers. Korone later reappears as if nothing happened and the details are glossed over so that everything is great. What?( >_< ) There’s just too much that they should take their time explaining and developing that the series ultimately doesn’t and it probably would have been better suited for a 24ep run.
    (May – like Mayoi Neko, eps 1-3 actually start out very well and give the show a lot of potential as a harem, fantasy action series, but ep4&5 ravaged by pacing issues with inconsistent or suddenly introduced with no explanation characters all attracted to the main protagonist, action sequences that are quickly glossed over to end the episode, and dialogue where characters talk for some overall plot that viewers have o clue about at all. shame, b/c I really liked the inital eps and korone’s character, but it seems like the series will be moving towards more ecchi fanservice and less plot quality.)

*I do not own any part of the poster presented. Thanks to the creators at chartfag.wordpress.com for their amazing work for the anime community.