Summer 2014 Anime – Premiere Impressions

Despite my best effort, I can never contain the fervorous excitement within me for a new anime season and Summer has finally arrived. Rather than deal with the sweltering heat blasting down on the touristy town of Orlando, I’m choosing to get lost, once again, into the world of anime. This season is a keeper guys, and most of all, it’s bringing a lot of “new” anime to the scene. Surprisingly, I didn’t watch nearly as many premiere episodes as the last couple seasons, yet I found more impressive episodes this season than last. There are two more premieres coming out tomorrow, but I feel I’ve watched the most important ones to me already and I have to write about them now. So here’s what I tried to watch, which ones I dropped, and which ones hooked me in. From worst to best, here’s the anime season of Summer 2014!

Dramatical Murder (Dropped)

Synopsis: Aoba is a peaceful resident in a modern style city tangled up in a territorial battle between a bunch of rival gangs. There is an extremely popular virtual game that takes place in a virtual world called Rhyme, and when Aoba is unwillingly thrown into a fight within this game, we learn that there’s more to Aoba than meets the eye.

I couldn’t make it through this one easily. Immediately, the character designs stuck out to me in the wrong way. Flashy, and fashionably bizarre, the characters just went from one face palm to another. The virtual world of Rhyme was about the coolest thing in this anime, and even then, Rhyme was rather boring to me. I felt no sense of desire to continue this one at all, even with the teased “bad-ass-ness” of the main character. The gang war felt like child’s play, Rhyme felt very unfounded, and the humor was oh so frail. Insta-drop unfortunately for this one.

Jinsei (Dropped)

Synopsis: Yuki joins his school’s newspaper group and is assigned the “life advice” column Together, with the other three girls in the club, they answer the requests of students in their school.

This one sounded right up my alley, because I thought it would be an intelligent look at realistic problems kids may have in school, and observe them from multiple points of view. Instead, I found out it’s a perverted comedy that devolved into water balloon fights and the worst conclusions to these student requests I could think of. There was an ounce of cleverness stemming from the witty remarks of the science column author, but even her highly intelligent quips couldn’t save this show from being a mediocre disaster. I dropped this one out of disappointment, but hope a similar anime appears that actually takes this scenario seriously.

Glasslip

Synopsis: Toko Fukami is a glassblower for her family’s glass-works store. Her and her school friends meet a mysterious boy who seems to know an unnatural amount about everyone. A change of fate is in store for all of these students upon meeting this boy.

A rather broad scenario had me going in blind as to what this anime would be about. From what I gathered…it’s about chickens. Okay, actually its just strange subfocus they have going on that has no importance. The most apparent thing, and the only reason I’m continuing this anime is the wonderful art style. This studio has remained constant in delivering quality animation and beautiful environments every season, but unfortunately their story quality is typically all over the place. Will this anime be one of their hits, or another pretty, but dim misfire? My curiosity will carry me through a couple episodes, then I’ll reevaluate from there. But you MUST watch it’s ending video here.

Barakamon

Synopsis: A calligraphy artist moves to a rural island where a bunch of old-style people live and form a jovial society. His new home is constantly invaded by a rambunctious kid who constantly thwarts his comfort zone. He’s here to meditate for his art, but all of this rowdiness may bring out the worst in him, or the best in him.

As soon as I saw the word “calligraphy” I figured I’d give it a shot. I love anime that will focus on a very specific thing so that I may gain some unique insight into it. This is why I love Chihayafuru so much, an anime about a card game called Karuta. To my surprise, this anime isn’t too extensive with it’s calligraphy exploration, but this turned out to not be a loss. It’s focus is much more on a clash of two very different personalities. One of a reserved artist, and one of a hyper-active kid. The charm is undeniably high with this anime as every member of this village seems so content in their little paradise. I’m excited to see all the cute little interactions between the artist and everyone else. I can’t quite tell if this is going for an emotional route or a more philosophical one, but either way, they set up the characters really well and has a fresh feel and well-placed comedic moments. An easy follow for sure!

Sword Art Online 2

Synopsis: Kirito is back and this time he’s called in to investigate a potential virtual murderer in a new video game called Gun Gale Online.

This is it, the big return of the wildly popular anime that opened up all of our hearts to the wonderful relationship of Kirito and Asuna. Many were worried, myself included, that the sense of urgency from the first season would be gone, but that’s luckily not the case. The new villain has already revealed himself and is proving to be a lethal force. In the end, it still feels like Sword Art. I love the art more than anything. It looks superb, and I’m excited to see Kirito’s character put through his paces again because his voice actor is brilliant. We got a tease of the world of Gun Gale Online at the end of the episode, but not enough to gain any familiarity yet. Most of this episode was in the real world, developing the plot a bit. It fell short of what I hoped for, but didn’t really disappoint me. Kirito and Asuna had screen time together and that’s all I really wanted to see.

Psycho-Pass (Re-Edit)

Synopsis: Akane is an inspector newly recruited to a team of Inspectors. In this futuristic world, the Sibyl system can scan a persons brain to find out if people are criminals without even commiting the act. A string of murder cases is leading to a perplexing mystery that ultimately challenges the Sibyl system and the foundation the world has.

This is a remaster of the 2012 anime, Psycho-Pass, which is one of my all time favorites. This season they are re-airing it with extra footage and in two-episode-length episodes. I watched out of curiosity to see how much actually changed. Basically it’s a small amount, mainly equating to two additional scenes and some music changes. There is a new opening scene of the main villain speaking aloud of his philosophy on humanity which is a great opening, in my opinion. I expect this to ultimately be better, but we’ll see in the end if the additional scenes raise the bar, or weigh it down. I won’t be writing about this one as often as the others, rather, I’ll just write about it once more once it’s finished airing.

Tokyo Ghoul

Synopsis: Kaneki is in college, and during this time, his city is plagued by Ghouls, a type of cannibalistic zombie. His luck runs short when he encounters a ghoul, after which, his life is changed forever.

It’s hard to say what’s unique about this anime off of the story alone. It’s not a basic zombie story, that’s for sure. The “hook” of this anime is the in-your-face psychotic tone of the anime. This isn’t a story about being scared of the Ghouls. It’s a story about dealing with being a ghoul. It’s a fight between the humanity that remains within you, and the monster that’s fighting to take over. The animation of the eyes, chilling sound design, and brilliant art style makes this a beautifully unsettling anime. It’s not scary, nor does it try to be. It’s simply dark, gripping, and focused on the psychological aspects of the main character. Also, my new anime crush comes in the form of Toka, the bad-ass barrista with a hidden past time.

Zankyou no Terror

Synopsis: A terrorist attack begins a large scale operation to open the eyes of society. The terrorists behind the attack are merely two school boys who eventually become known as Sphinx.

It’s not that often that an anime as smart and intense as this one comes along. This could be the harshly realistic side to No Game No Life, taking on the role of a dramatic and serious psychological thriller. The first episode already threw me for a loop as to who the culprits of the terrorist attack were. It’s writing, and directing style were astounding. The animation alone should impress fans of any type of anime, and the music is done by the renowned Yoko Kanno and she pulled all the stops this time. The main characters have a contrasting dynamic that just simply clicks. One of them is aloof and funny which sets him apart from the bleak, desolate world and brings a breath of fresh air to this type of anime reigned over by the super-serious Ghost in the Shell, Psycho-Pass and Monster. This first episode was incredible, and I hope it can continue to elevate, because if it does, this could be a classic.

Akame ga Kill

Synopsis: Tatsumi travels from his village to the imperial city where he hears about a group of assassins called Night Raid, who target high-level royalty.

The most surprising anime of the lineup was the one that I thought would be the darkest and goriest. (That actually went to Tokyo Ghoul) Instead, this anime is surprisingly interspersed with all kinds of moments making this something more all-encompassing that should have you laughing, gasping, and exclaiming in delight. Make no mistake, this anime still seems to live up to how gory it was hyped to be, but it’s done in an action sense that doesn’t focus on the blood too much, despite there being a lot of it. The assassins all seem ridiculously cool, and they even managed to have them act as comic relief characters while also being the most bad-ass characters this season. The music is a tribal, bombastic affair that kicks all the scenes into overdrive. It’s the most popular new anime this season, and for good reason.

Aldnoah Zero

Synopsis: Set in an alternate history of earth, there are two types of humanity. The ones who have ascended and essentially became godly martians, and the ones left on earth below. A war breaks out when a disastrous event causes the martians to invade wielding the power of the Aldnoah

I might be a bit against the tide of popular opinion, but I loved this first episode. Many have been saying there was way too much time spent on exposition. Everyone does agree that the final scene of the first episode is among one of the best scenes this season already, they found everything before it boring. This was simply not the case for me. All of the writing, dialogue, and character scenes built the world at an incredibly deep and fluid level of directing. We focused on multiple main characters in completely different societies and learned the history of everything that led up to this moment. It was immersive, and I felt like I knew this anime world more than any other this season.

It definitely has a Fate/Zero vibe going, because of this anime having the same director, in that this first episode is just the precursor that lays the foundation for everything to kick off in stellar fashion. The music is loud, orchestric, and intensifies every moment. I really hope this anime becomes the mech version of Fate/Zero, but that’s a very, VERY tall statement. I have a lot of faith because I felt like this first episode made no mishaps whatsoever. Well okay, maybe the main character who’s incapable of emotion even as a missile is flying right over them COULD be a mistake, but as it was so ludicrously funny, I’ll forgive him this episode.

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I am very impressed with the amount and quality of the new anime this season. In my next write up, I’ll include the ones that continued from last season, which are Hunter X Hunter and Fairy Tail. I thank anyone who reads this, and I am very curious to hear what you’ve watched or have become a fan of this season as well! Until next time!

 

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Summer 2014 Anime – Premiere Impressions

  1. Tokyo Ghoul and Aldnoa Zero sound like the titles that everyone will be watching, and fortunately, they sound pretty great. Based on your synopses, I’d say I’m most interested in Akame ga Kill; I love a serious show that is able to (successfully) break away from it’s own seriousness from time to time. And the art looks great!

    • The first episode indeed was slow, comapred to season 1. But..pacing and methodical storytelling has never bothered me as long as it leads to an interesting story!

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