Good eye. I noticed that bit of rump-service myself.
KyoAni does do one kind of ecchi fanservice very well - Ass shots. One of the Haruhi 2009 E8 episodes had this incredible Haruhi ass-shot, lol.
Personally, I like KyoAni's more naturalistic and distinct style. You don't need to flash a female character's undies or naked breasts in order to give her sex appeal. Careful framing of certain (but normal) body movements can be arousing as well, and also in a more classy way.
You know, for all the attention those purple eyes get, I think the most amazing thing about Eru is how she moves. It's practically a fanservice in and of itself, sometimes flirting with subtle-erotic territory. The way her skirt moves as she lunges around 15:15 in the most recent episode... I think Kyoto may just have stealthily inserted one of the few truly great ass shots in anime.
Oh, and good assessment of the slow-burn nature of the foreshadowed romance in this show.
Actually, I don't doubt that JC Staff can do good visual work. Shana III usually looked pretty good to me. But still, it's encouraging to know that JC Staff is really refining its style a bit.
My concern with JC Staff (when it comes to LB!) has more to do with source material faithfulness. But who knows? Maybe they'll do Ok here as well. Shana III was pretty faithful to the LN from what I read.
Something surprising I learned from the Tari Tari thread: there were three major subcontractors doing background art for Hanasaku Iroha, one of whom was JC Staff of all studios.
Still not sure what I think about JC Staff's choice of director for Little Busters, but I'm now going to be very surprised if it doesn't look great. And I'm not longer surprised how good Ano Natsu de Matteru looked either.
Good points on Kuroneko and the Monogatari series. I also think she'd fine Bake nicely dark, different, and sophisticated. But I think she'd fine Nise overly generic and, as you say, mundane, in how it approaches the harem anime setup. It would probably be too lighthearted for Kuroneko.
As for the KyoAni brand and its "Values"... I'm going to send you a PM on that. You should have it shortly.
It would be really interesting to know what "values" people associate with the Kyoto Animation "brand".
Re: Kuroneko and Monogatari:
I kind of suspected that she wouldn't and ask him what he thought, he said he thought she'd hate if because of the fanservice. My own opinion was subtlety different but I didn't pursue that line of conversation because I was intending the discussion to be more humourous than serious.
Basically, Kuroneko likes dark, edgy, difficult to understand stuff. Sometimes I think she might well have the kinkiest imagination of them all but mere mundane fanservice would be below her. In addition to that, Nise as a whole is a lighter, more humourous entry in the Monogatari franchise, which would not be to her taste. Kind of ironic because IMO Nise's teasing bordering on trolling sense of humour actually has a lot of common with Kuroneko's personality.
I get the impression Bakemonogatari is considered fairly sophisticated series in Japan - a Japanese fan of the show who was studying English in Vancouver once told me she was surprised that Canadians watched it. I got the impression that what she meant was that she thought that the show wouldn't be accessible to a western audience. Didn't get a chance to ask what she thought about Nise, it had started airing at the time but with travelling she hadn't had a chance to see much of it.
I don't know if you're still planning to post in the thread, but I'm curious if you have an opinion on a couple of the ideas I raised. Namely, that that Hyouka's success is due to tapping into a nostalgia of sorts for some of KyoAni's older properties and that Nadeko's popularity is in fact due to how she contrasts with the series as a whole.
Somewhat related, I often feel that when it comes to KyoAni's shows, there's often a world of difference between logically grasping the elements that make the shows successful and emotionally doing so. You pretty much have to intuitively grasp the emotions involved to understand why fans love them. Tends to make explaining the appeal difficult, unfortunately.
BTW, while I was driving an anime buddy home last night we got into one of those discussions and came to the conclusion that Kuroneko is probably a fan of Bakemonogatari but not Nise. I found the whole thing somewhat amusing.