Winter 2014 Anime – What I’m Watching (Part 1: Newcomers)

It’s a new season of anime and with it, fans are crawling out of the woodwork to look for the next Attack on Titan, or Sword Art Online. While nothing here has the same amount of hype that those two anime do, there are actually a few respectable ones that, with enough luck, could turn into something truly memorable. This particular post is about the brand new anime that aren’t continuing from something in a previous season. The fresh newcomers that are vying to be the next astounding series. I wish I had the time to watch all of them, but the least I can do is give my input on the ones that I am following or tried to watch. Let’s get right into it.

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First off let’s quickly get the three out of the way that I dropped.

Pupa (Dropped)

This was not the horror anime I expected it to be, nor did it pleasantly surprise me in any way. It just caught me off guard in a rather bland way. At best, it’s visually interesting, and nothing more. The episodes are short, and really works against it when there’s not really a cliffhanger, or any substance of a plot to begin with. I don’t mind episodic or experimental anime, so this was tolerable. But nothing interested me more than a couple WTF moments, which was regrettable. I was excited for this one.

Wizard Barristers (Dropped)

It’s anime magic lawyers! The synopsis was unique enough for me to give it a try. Maybe this is like another Bakuman, a series with a rather simple plot, but amazing characters. Well, the first minute was certainly dazzling. Heck, it may have been one of the strongest opening action scenes of the season. It stayed rather interesting when it introduced the intriguing court room system. Okay, there’s something deep here, so let’s just roll with – oh here comes the main character who’s a completely ridiculous klutz who happens to be a junior lawyer prodigy but quotes things you learn in elementary government as her proof of genius. But the anime isn’t ruined yet! She just needs to progress as a character and then the viewers can finally get immersed in this – why is there a perverted frog in her room?! I give up. I defended you as much as I could, but even a the best lawyer in the world couldn’t defend this anime.

Nobunaga the Fool (Dropped)

This one is quite the ambitious anime. They are going for quite an epic story with a pretty imaginative fantasy setting. It’s something that seems like the inner working of a childlike fantasy. The problem is, the anime is a mess. The world is almost beautiful, but ultimately comes off as a rather confusing blend of historical fantasy and sci-fi. The main character almost had my sympathy when he was witnessing the devastation of his first war, until he jumped into a mech and went Commander Deathmatch on everyone. There are a lot of conflicting ideals and developments already within one episode that it seems like the direction is already lost. I may pick it back up if I hear it becomes better.

But now we can move on to the anime that I did enjoy. These are the ones you’ll want to pay attention to, and I loosely ordered them to lead up to my favorites of the season.

Tonari no Seki-Kun

This is the one you watch when you’re bored, because the story is this: a student that’s bored. Each of these miniscule episodes showcase a young boy in class who brings all sorts of random things to do in class. One episode, he crafts the coolest domino set ever, and in the other he roleplays a full on war drama with shogi pieces. It’s easy to laugh at, and it’s pure entertainment at the least. There’s nothing deep or dramatic about it, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with this anime.

Witchcraft Works

It’s really hard to work up the desire to start this anime because of it’s name. It just reeks of mediocrity, but I can assure that there’s something to enjoy here. What caught me completely out of left field is that the action in this anime is top notch. It’ll make any shounen fan drool out of their eyes. (Because shounen fans don’t cry.) On top of that you have a rather interesting story of the main character living his old regular life until he becomes Harry Potter and learns that an entire secret witch society is fighting over him. His protector, the fire mage that amplifies all of the aforementioned bad ass fight scenes to their highest level is the school beauty and idol that turns out to be his devoted protector.

What makes this anime work so far is, for one, the pacing. We’re already off to a brisk start of learning about this new world of witchcraft and who the good and bad guys are. There’s a lot of mystery introduced that entices you to keep going. The other big element is the spectacular use of fire magic that would make Natsu of Fairy Tail writhe in jealous agony. This anime definitely has what it takes to be a great action anime, but where I’m still unsold is if it has the depth and creativity to amount to anything more than that. But the main checklist ticks off for my basic qualifications for an action series. An endearing main character who’s willing to fight, a character that shows just how bad ass the fights can get, and villains that actually feel threatening. Can we just please get over the creepy mecha rabbits?

World Conquest Zvezda Plot

This is a comedy action anime from the same director of Blue Exorcist and Darker than Black. Knowing the popularity of those two, I went in with fairly high expectations. I was surprised that this turned out to be a comedy, but I wasn’t turned off in the slightest. The story follows the life of a little girl who somehow manages to accrue a group of superpowered grown ups that proclaim her as leader, and the events that eventually lead to her conquering the known world. A fact that is shown to actually happen because the anime opens after the world is already conquered, and then flashes back. The main character, however, is a homeless teen who ran away from home and has no powers whatsoever, but finds himself in the middle of an intense battle involving the Zvezda members. He is forced to join and becomes the newcomer to the group.

What I like about the anime is that the Zvezda group, at least as of now, is entirely unprofessional. They live in a hastily made clubhouse in the outskirts of the city and clearly do not have the intellectual capacity to take over the world. At least, from what the main character has seen. The anime will either showcase just how bad ass these characters can be, or the main character is going to use the one power he has, his grasp of reality, and help steer them toward conquest. The characters are what really makes this anime shine, though. Each one is hilarious, interesting, and powerful in their own way. It feels fresh, and the pacing has been pretty decent considering only two episodes have passed and we’ve already met the whole crew.

Noragami

Now we’re at the final three anime that I have a lot of confidence will remain decent or only get better until the end of the season. Noragami is one that is rapidly becoming the favorite of the newcomers among other anime fans, and if it keeps up this pace, I’ll be inclined to agree. Noragami takes an interesting look at the lives of Kami. Generally we view Kami as the representations of the most powerful and famous ones, but what of the millions of gods that live in the shadow of the select famous few. What if we saw the life of a bottom of the barrel god trying to make his way up the spiritual ladder of society. That is Noragami’s creative setup for what has so far been a very interesting action/supernatural anime. Each episode has introduced a character or two, either living or dead, that have greatly improved the show as it progresses.

The greatest standout point is the artwork. The show looks beautiful, especially in the action sequences, but I’m still not sold on the spirits walking around. It was a similar problem that I had with Natsume Yuujinchou in that they all look rather…uninspired and grotesque. They snap me out of my immersion of the show. Luckily the intrigue on just how adept of a god this bottom-feeder is, and ultimately will become, has me ready to watch this show for the long haul.

Also, this anime takes the honor of having my favorite intro of the season! Check it out here!

The Pilot’s Love Song

Bear with me here for a minute. When I first read about this show, all I read was “love” and “a flying city in the sky” and I was sold. I’m a sucker for romance, and have a desire for anything in the great boundless reaches of the sky. The first episode delievered just that. It introduced a wonderful setting and it already kicked the romantic interest into high gear with the two lovers already finishing their first meeting and having feelings for each other. I might have lost a few of you readers here, so let me move on to what made this show even better.

This show packs well written drama. This is definitely aiming to be an all encompassing anime because the next two episodes introduced many more aspects of this world, including an utterly heartbreaking story of cruel vengeance that one of the characters happens to be on. Now this anime has romance, adventure, political turmoil, a focus on social imbalance, and a quest for reaching the fabled edge of the world. The Pilot’s Love Song has a lot going for it, and so far it’s been heaping on more and more to the story in a fascinating way.

Hamatora: The Animation

I’m a huge fan of style, and this anime has it in spades. I already rave about this show for having the coolest power of the season, which is a yet-to-be-fully-detailed ability that has to do with sound, and the way the anime portrays it has looked amazing so far. (Pictured at the top of the blog) Hamatora is the often-told story of a world where some people wield powers and others do not, but this show still feels fresh thanks to it’s vibrant art style and introduction of several fun characters that I feel will elevate the show later on. The main characters are all part of a poorly organized private investigation group and the episodes have followed random cases they take. They have already gone pretty far with the first villain arc, so it looks like we’ll be getting a few of them throughout the season, but I could be wrong.

The characters are, like with a lot of anime, the true highlight that draws you in. Nice, the main character has the uncaring, yet noble gallantry to only accept cases that “feel” right and never be bribed by a price. A reason that I fully believe is the cause of their current poor working conditions. The first villain has established all the predictable groundwork of showing that there is inequality in this world because of the people with power having an unfair edge in life over the ones who don’t. Hopefully they’ll move on from that and start having more unique villains within the next few episodes. This anime is currently my favorite, yet I do foresee Noragami or Pilot’s Love Song eventually surpassing this one, simply because they are driving a far more intriguing storyline. Since we’re only at episode 3, however, Hamatora has hit the ground running as my favorite so far while the others have been slow but progressive development.

Finally, Hamatora has the prize of having the best outro of the season! Take a look!

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Thanks again, as always for reading my thoughts on anime. It always honors me that anyone takes the time to read these. I’l have my Part 2 which will focus on anime that have continued into this season such as Magi and Hunter X Hunter! Until then, if you are following any of these, I’d like to hear your thoughts as well as suggestions on others I could potentially watch! Thanks for reading!

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5 thoughts on “Winter 2014 Anime – What I’m Watching (Part 1: Newcomers)

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