I wanted to talk about the shows that I've been watching recently, and I figured this was the best place to do it. I'm gonna rate these all out of 5. So, let's get to it, in mostly no order:
Kill La Kill
KLK was full of gross shit which has been discussed at length in a lot of places, and I know a lot of people were put off by the early gross stuff such that they didn't see the frankly inexcusable depths to which it sank. Some of the stuff they did was seriously unacceptable.
The show itself was little more than a rollercoaster of people getting angrier and angrier, with like 2 or 3 twists every single episode in the latter half, basically all of which were unearned. It very nearly lost me a number of times until it started to gain a bit more focus in the last 3 or so episodes.
Anyway, I don't really feel strongly about much that went on in the show, and I would have given it I think a 2, were it not for, let's say, six members of the (sizable) cast. This handful of characters made the show really fun to watch when they were the focus, and they elevated my opinion on it to some degree. At the end of the day, you could probably spend your time better by watching something else, but I suppose it would scratch a Gurren Lagann itch if you had one.
TamaMa was really cute, quaint, and pleasant. They nailed the 'small town with tight community' atmosphere they went for. There was almost no tension or stress, and whilst that made it a little slow when it came to the pace, it resulted in a zero-effort watch.
I loved the background art and the locations in general; Kyoto Animation always reference real places when they draw locations, and it shows. TamaMa is an example of their more recent way of doing it, where they've based the whole thing around one town, rather than taking bits and pieces from all over (another recent example where they based it on one place is Free!). The character art is the now-typical K-ON-derived KyoAni cute girl style, since it's not based on an outside source material that might have its own art style. My favourite character is Shiori because I wish I was her, Kanna the carpenter's daughter is a great character though and I could see her being a favourite for many people.
Another important thing to note, I think, is that I was incredibly impressed for the vast majority of the show with their Actually Good depiction of PoC characters; they avoided caricatures and stereotypes for all but the last episode, at which point there's bodyguards who are a pretty typical racist caricature, which was incredibly frustrating as I had hoped that they might have actually managed to pull off the whole thing without falling back on racism. That left a slightly bitter taste in my mouth on that front.
Overall though I really liked this show, but I'm a sucker for the style, too, so you should probably take my score with a grain of salt.
Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai (aka Haganai)
Gross on a lot of levels, badly animated, laughable story. Honestly I shouldn't have expected any different from a light novel adaptation by the same studio who did Oreimo. Do not watch this show.
Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai NEXT (aka Haganai NEXT)
I had heard that this was better than the first series and like. Yeah, sure, it vaguely was. The art was significantly improved (which I'll attribute to them now having a ton of Oreimo money), the animation style felt different in a good way, the tone was less serious (to its benefit), and a couple of the less-likable characters were, well, a bit more likable.
The show was still unrepentantly gross though, maybe even more so than it was in the first series. They still laid on the fanservice incredibly thick, the nasty and unacceptable jokes were still around, and it got into some fucked-up gender essentialist bullshit, too. If you somehow managed to enjoy the first season on any level then like, maybe you might enjoy this, too, and I do think it was mostly better. But you still should not watch this show, either.
Kyoukai no Kanata (AKA Beyond the Boundary)
There's honestly not much to say about this show. It looked pretty good thanks, again, to KyoAni. The characters were mostly likable and distinct, but the story as a whole was pretty generic; solid enough, but generic.
Fairly early into the series there were some notably gross things they did, and they lingered on some stuff in a very male gaze-y way throughout, which was really unfortunate, but it never came close to Haganai-level.
Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! (aka Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions)
My biggest fear going into Chuunibyou was that it would get 'too happy', in a sense; based on the subject matter and the fact that it was a light novel adaptation, I was worried that it was going to be blindly optimistic/idealistic. As it happened, whilst my fear was not entirely allayed, it ended pretty damn well as far as I was concerned, without going too far one way or another. Most of the characters were likable, KyoAni's artwork and animation were top-notch as usual, and the soundtrack, whilst not particularly memorable, fit well enough.
My fear now is that the just-concluded second season might mess with the closure the first gives, but I've been told that it's a less 'serious' series too, so I'm not overly concerned.
Hyouka scratched nearly all of my anime itches and I couldn't believe it. It rocketed itself straight up to put itself amongst my favourite shows ever. I've put this part at the bottom of the post because I want to talk at length about everything I love in this show.
Firstly, I absolutely adored the show visually. The locations were all beautifully depicted, another example of KyoAni referencing a real town (you may have noticed a recurring thing amongst a lot of these shows and you should know that I really love KyoAni okay). The backdrop art was as high quality as it always is from KyoAni, and I think they captured and conveyed the small city feel perfectly. In the final sequence they employed a visual element to silently reference a recurring thing from early in the series and frankly I considered it a masterstroke.
The soundtrack is wonderful; I'm bad at describing music because I lack the understanding and vocabulary to do it well, but in Hyouka the soundtrack is a huge contributor to the quiet, tranquil atmosphere they built. It set the tone just right.
The story was one of mysteries and the solving thereof, and one of my favourite parts about it was that it wasn't crimes being solved. I enjoy mystery fiction, but things get tedious when it's always a matter of life and death, and/or the solving of a murder or etc. The relatively mundane nature of the mysteries was in keeping with the down-to-earth tone of the whole show, and I enjoyed experiencing the thoughtful nature of this kind of story without the looming threat of human mortality lurking around every corner for once. The pace of the show was slow and deliberate, a factor, I imagine, of the series being adapted from a series of novels. That may, understandably, have put a lot of people off, but it was right up my alley.
The characters were some of the most realistic portrayals I've known in anime; their development was handled wonderfully and believably (which is to say subtly and gradually, rather than the sudden and ham-fisted changes so common in the form), and their relationships with each other felt, above all, natural.
All-in-all, I can't speak highly enough of this show, and I'm certain I'll be singing its praises for years to come. It left me at once wishing there was more of it, and at the same time supremely satisfied with where it closed. If you think you could go for a show with a more measured pace, then there's nothing I would recommend more highly than this.