So, here we are. An actually kinda bloggy blog post. The topic? Anime that's airing this season. More specifically, I have some things to say about CLANNAD ~AFTER STORY~, Kannagi: Crazy Shrine Maidens, and Xam'd: Lost Memories (also known as Bounen no Zamned and a few other variations). There's actually a lot more I'm watching besides just that, but those comments will have to come later! So, hit the jump for my more detailed meditations, and don't worry - spoilers are properly tagged as such within.
CLANNAD ~AFTER STORY~ — I'm starting to reach the point where CLANNAD, as a general property, has affected me so much that I might consider it among my all-time favorites. The problem is that I can't really say that any single version of CLANNAD is my favorite. The game moved me to tears, and a different scene from the anime's first season affected me in a possibly even stronger way, though it didn't leave me downright bawling. (Season 1 spoilers: The scenes are, respectively, the scene where Kotomi receives her parents' "thesis" in the form of their letter to her, and the scene where Akio Furukawa gives his epic speech of encouragement to Nagisa. ) AFTER STORY has the best theme of them all, and it also made me laugh the hardest. Playing the game while watching AFTER STORY has given me a lot more insight into the way the series was adapted, though. The main difference is that Nagisa gets written into a lot more scenes, since she's the main heroine. Unfortunately, some of the plots of CLANNAD directly revolve around dating one of the main girls, so in an anime with a single continuous timeline, it's impossible to include all of them without turning the main character into some sort of player and undermining the message of the show. So, instead, they took out a lot of the romantic aspects of them. In a lot of cases, this works surprisingly well, because CLANNAD is a game that's less about romance and more about family and finding one's place. In the most recent episodes, dealing with Yukine, they've changed even more than usual from the game's (rather sparse) path. That may not be a bad thing, since it means that Yukine has a slightly more complicated situation, or so it seems. But the general structure of After Story as a sequel also means that the main romance is not going to be going anywhere for probably the first half of the series.
Kannagi — This series continues to ever-so-slightly defy my expectations. The opening theme is a perfect example. It depicts Nagi and Zange as idol singers, as if the show is really about their performances and stage drama... but after 7 episodes, it still hasn't gone there. I mean, sure, there've been suggestions that they're heading that direction, but the show seems content to keep the singing part as somewhere between a metaphor and a distant future. Instead, we get these oddly-paced gag episodes that are full of references to otaku culture. That's not entirely surprising coming from the director who got fired after 4 episodes of Lucky Star, but it still makes the series hard to predict. With some unanswered questions like what happened to those kittens and why Nagi won't talk about it still open, and plenty of plot threads such as the true desires of Zange's host, Hakua underdeveloped, there are plenty of places the series could go, but that's not what it's been doing. I wonder if perhaps this odd pacing is the feature I've been trying to identify that makes Kannagi more than just a highly mediocre moe show...
Xam'd: Lost Memories — Technically this is not airing right now, since it's actually only available from the PS3 store. It'd be a lot easier to watch episodes if I actually owned a PS3, but it's kind of the only reason I'd want one right now (Little Big Planet doesn't do it for me). It's a shame that the series is so hard to get ahold of, because it really is good. The high-def episodes are really nice-looking, with some of Bones's best work, especially in the color palettes. Also, it has a pretty interesting cast, although even after 15 episodes, I still have no idea what the deal is with some of them. Which brings me to my main point. I was talking about this series with a friend, and we both had one serious concern: that they'd be unable to tie up all the loose ends within the remaining timeframe of the series. And as it turns out, we're not the only ones. It seems to be the hidden fear in the fanbase. Given Bones's track record, though, I'd say concern is not unwarranted. Scrapped Princess's rushed ending, Darker Than Black's less-than-complete ending, Wolf's Rain's (reportedly) frustrating ending... there's kind of a track record, with the only really notable exception I can think of being FMA, which is just kind of exceptional in a lot of regards. There are also a lot of plot threads running concurrently right now, not that that's necessarily a bad thing. Regardless, it doesn't matter so long as Nakiami keeps being herself. (Episode 15 spoiler: I will miss the Kayak, though, for sure. I hope it comes back eventually. )