Finally a break from events in Egypt! Other than the three series continuing from Fall 2010, Winter 2011 has had little to offer. However, I have to comment that all of the shows I'm watching have had excellent OP's and ED's and from comments I've seen on other series it appears to be a theme this season. So despite the lacking quality in shows at least there's one up side to this season.
To Aru Majutsu no Index Season II
Quite frankly, this has been rather disappointing. The first two arcs were excellent, but the two after were rather disappointing and dragged on. The main problem with these two seemed to be that they featured only Touma, and with his ability to negate magic it leaves very little suspense. The second arc featured and focused on Misaka and Kuruko, which I found much more interesting as they don't have the same ability as Touma. The next arc also features Misaka, along with her Sisters, and I have very high expectations for it. I guess I'm just a Railgun fanboy after all. The sheer amount of pointless fanservice in this series is also starting to get on my nerves slightly (...unless it features Misaka and her Sisters...).
Despite it's one lapse from the formulaic, repetitive and predictable episode layout, Star Driver went straight back. However, since then the story picked up for a few episodes so the Zero Time sequences didn't bother me too much. Although, considering we're approaching the end, there doesn't seem to be anything too big going on outside the usual, so hopefully something big is awaiting us. Although I hate the predictability of the Zero Time sequences I'm still quite a fan of this show, and I think that is mainly to do with the characters.
Bakuman remains the same as it has always been. Relaxed, light-hearted and without any action at all, and I love it! I'm still finding the trials and tribulations of two friends as they try to get a serialized manga immensely entertaining, especially with some of the troubles which have been cropping up during the season's second half. The only criticism I have of this show is that at times the character animation can be a bit off, but despite this it is possibly my favourite right now and much like Star Driver I think it's mainly die to the brilliant characters.
Yumekui Merry is the first of only two shows I picked up this season without dropping. Much like Bakuman and Star Driver I also developed a real liking to the characters, especially main character Merry Nightmare (DAT MIDRIFF), and this is what drew me in from the start. From what I've heard this season has a rather low budget, which explains some of the sub-par character animations. Despite my immediate liking, I'm not too sure on the story, which has failed to draw me in too much at this halfway stage, and it's mainly just the characters keeping me watching.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Well I never thought I'd watch a Magical Girl show but here it is, and it's excellent. Far from the girly, sparkly images the genre name gives off, this series has been rather dark so far with one death and one near-death in just the first 6 episodes. The story is brilliant with twists and turns that are completely unexpected yet don't seem forced in any way and despite my initial misgivings over the character animation style I've actually grown to rather like it after getting used to it. This is probably going to be one of the best shows of the year and definitely of Winter 2011. Unfortunately it's only 12 episodes long, so after the end of the season I'll have to find completely new shows to watch without any familiar ones from the season before.
Despite not watching any other .hack series' I decided to check out the first of 3 OVA's titled .hack//Quantum after seeing a thread about it on /a/ and finding it pretty interesting. The OVA itself was excellently animated (making a change after only watching shows who have top stretch the budget over 12-24 episode series' for the last few months) and both the story and characters were brilliant so I'll definitely be watching the other two when they're released and maybe get around to watching some other .hack series' in the future.
All in all, despite the rather disappointing turn out for Winter 2011 I've found two pretty good shows, Bakuman and Star Driver continue to be as great as they were before and Index II looks to be back on form after two mediocre arcs. Along with this there have been some of the greatest OP's and ED's I've heard in a long time, especially from Star Driver and Madoka Magica.
I was thinking of spicing up this post with images from each series, but quite frankly I was feeling too lazy to do that, but I may for future ones.