Fall 2014 Anime – Premiere Impressions

It’s time to wipe the palette clean and begin an anime season anew! This season is undeniably massive, but the seemingly impossible amount of anime I wanted to watch turned out to give me something to look forward to every single day this past week. As the leaves fade to red outside my wall-scroll covered window, my TV is now displaying the triumphant return of several of my favorite anime. One of which, at time of writing, has yet to air, which is Mushishi. Saving the best for last, are we Japan? On top of this, a delightful mix of new anime kept me on my toes and I came away with a much more satisfactory percentage of great anime compared to the few previous seasons. Let me just tell you, I have watched over twenty different first episodes and am merely one tired morning away from having them all blend together, so before my mind spoils and turns into anime stew, let’s run down the impressive Fall 2014 anime lineup. The ones that hurt my brain are up first, then I’ll move on to the juiciest of the bunch. I pray I can type this all out in one sitting. Let’s do this.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~Dropped Anime~~~~~~~~~~

 

Gonna Be the Twintails!

These jokes don’t even work when I hear them in my native tongue. It’s not going to work coming out of a cute Japanese girl.

Synopsis: Twintails. It’s all about these damned twintails.

That exclamation mark in the title is not me being excited. It’s just part of the official title. Twintails is atrociously bad. I felt drained of all intelligence by the time I finished this episode, and sometimes that’s expected of anime, but this isn’t that kind of anime. The main character is wildly obsessed with “twintails” the hair style that you see prominently in the images below. Sure I don’t mind characters who like quirky things. Oh..wait, the ENTIRE anime is based around this? Everything from the ant looking villains, to the extravagant mecha-superpowers, to the hair-brained character motives all revolves around this not-as-amazing-as-he-makes-it-out-to-be hair style. It’s one of those anime that I’m only glad to say it exists, just to be able to single-handedly prove how weird anime can be by utilizing anime like this as an example.

I really hope those eye looking things on their helmets aren’t based on the shape of twin tails.
I…don’t even know what’s going on anymore. She activated a power by touching the ribbons on her hair?

 

Cross Ange

I mean…it’s a practical way of sitting, I guess. 

Synopsis: Angelize is a princess in an empire that places non-mana users as a lower lifeform unworthy of luxury. When Angelize is discovered to be a non-mana user, she is taken to prison. Eventually there are mechs I guess.

Cross Ange tried to cross some lines, and it didn’t really work out in it’s favor. The show that tries so valiantly to tackle social imbalance, and the trauma of a rape, ends up coming off as just a glimpse into a dirty mind with no weight whatsoever. Yep, and you read that correctly, this anime ends with a shocking scene where the main character is pretty much completely violated by her female officer in jail. It was nothing on the level of Berserk, in that it did feel necessary for the story they are trying to tell, it’s just, this “story” they are trying to tell is walking on some really weak legs. The mechs interested me, mainly in how they were designed after motorcycles. It makes more sense than bipedal mechs to me. However, what transpired after was just a bunch of tacked on “things that are wrong with the world” with little eloquence to any of it. It’s just a montage of bad things happening. This isn’t the drama I think it’s trying to be. In the end I walked away just not liking this rambunctious world at all, which is completely different from a world I wouldn’t desire to live in, that is still introduced beautifully in it’s respective anime.

Hope you’re liking this awesome, free-spirited mech action…
…CAUSE THIS IS WHAT IT ALL LEADS TO.

 

Gundam: G no Reconguista

I mean I dropped the anime, not her.

Synopsis: I don’t Gundam. I don’t understand the story at all!

I’m dropping this for two reasons, one of which isn’t necessarily the anime’s fault. The first reason, which does rely on the anime’s execution, was that it wasn’t that much of anything. I didn’t get any thrill from the action, nor any sense of attachment to any particular character. The music bored. The dialogue snored. Reconguista just wasn’t that fun. However, it’s not entirely bad. There were some pretty shots, and at least I appreciate that they are taking the world and characters seriously. It’s not a comedy by any means, and I felt like nothing was shoe-horned in. However, I am still dropping it because of my aforementioned second reason, and that is simply because I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT’S GOING ON. I am not part of the Gundam fandom and I think, for all intents and purposes, you have to be at the level of having a few models on your shelves to be ready for this one.

This was one of the more pretty shots that caught my eye.

Mecha – a genre that I feel I’ll never fully get into. It’s a shame, really. I know I’m missing some good stuff.

Laughing Under the Clouds

Synopsis: When the government implemented a ban on swords, devastating the honor and lives of samurai, crime rate increased in the country. An inescapable prison in a lake was created and the three main characters are prisoner transports who ferry people to the prison. However, they may have other motives as well…

Can I describe what truly sets the brothers apart besides their strength? Not really. And that’s just where my displeasure with this anime begins. The premise was sound, and the trailer looked fun, which led me to placing it fairly high on my anticipation list on my last blog. Therefore, this was the anime I was most disappointed in this season. Mainly for being underwhelming in almost every facet. It’s comedy was too forced. I have a small theory about how comic relief should click. It’s that flawed comic relief is apparent. It’s noticeable. It breaks away from the actual show, sticking out like a sore thumb, and does something for the pure sake of comedy. Flawless comic relief, on the other hand, blends into the story. I don’t consider if a comedy scene, but just that the world naturally had a funny moment. Like life itself. I laugh at things that happen as a consequence of things not trying to be humurous. Moving on, the stoic, bad-assery did not seem all that cool, especially when the action scenes turned out to be nothing but anticlimactic single-frame shots of the hero swinging a fan at a camera, and all the enemies just falling down. Did he waft a particularly pungent fart your way? As the credits rolled, I found myself less invested in this world than I was going in, and that’s the surefire sign of a drop for me.

An admittedly cool character design, wasted on a flat character.

Not today, bucko. Not today.

We reached a checkpoint. So I have four anime that I’m dropping out of 4 out of 25 anime that I watched.  In last season’s premiere impressions, I dropped 3 out of the 10 anime I watched. I think that confirms it. This season is by far much better than last, and I thought last season was already terrific. What follows is the next tier of anime that gave me enough to give it one more go, but that second chance comes with the necessity to elevate the anime just a little bit.

 

~~~~~~One More Episode Club~~~~~~~

 

Terra Formars

Please don’t destroy my blog.

 

Synopsis: In an attempt to create a second home. Human scientists sent astronauts to Mars in order to change it with a plan that used mold and cockroaches. 500 years later and the after-effects of this mission’s failure left Mars inhabited by Terra Formars, which are gigantic cockroaches. The men they send to combat this have their own form of new genetic mutation to use as a weapon against the Terra Formars.

Ladies and gentlemen, Manime. This episode was just a brutal, extreme, and overall heavy-handed romp through this man’s broken life. They did some things right, like trying to add a bit of sympathy and relatability to the main character by showing flashbacks of his touching past. However, it did the “manime” thing where these flashbacks came while being mauled by a grisly bear, and his macho-ness is at such a contrast to the sweet and loving flashback that they don’t even feel like the same character. Where this anime will shine is if they can bridge that gap and show how this character went from the doting, awkward lover boy to mister gore and theatrics up there. I really hope that does pick up, because on the visual side, this anime is doing nothing for me. Everything has a grey tint that just hollows out the world. It’s not effective for building atmosphere. Kara no Kyoukai proves time and time again, that you can draw even the most grungy of back-alleys into a piece of fine art. I have enough hope for one more look. Please don’t disappoint me Attack on Titan on Mars.

Can’t we just coexist – (MANIME!!!) Oh right. Kill them suckers!

 

And we haven’t even gotten to the giant cockroaches yet.

This visual style doesn’t appeal to me at all. It’s like the bad version of Tokyo Ghouls brilliant Ghoul design.

World Trigger

This is the good part of World Trigger. Now let’s talk about the other boring 19 minutes of it.

Synopsis: When a portal mysteriously opens upon planet earth, it releases a bunch of powerful creatures that nearly wipe out humanity. The best defense Earth has is a group of heroes who can somehow use the creatures powers as their own, and use them to fight against the creatures.

Can we get a new director on this project? World Trigger is already getting it’s fair share of disappointment on the internet for being one of the most uninspired manga adaptations of the year. It has a completely flat art style that looks even worse in motion. The music is…wait was there any music at all? There were so many scenes were sound effects meant for comic relief just sounded like the guy at the surprise party who blew his noise blower after everyone went quiet. The monster animation gave us atrocious CG marshmallow demons, and the worst part of all of this is that the hero of the anime is a complete bore. So much so that I don’t even want to include a picture of him. There was only one saving grace in the entire anime, and that is the mysterious, witty, and clueless, yet brilliant Kuga. He’s the one with silver hair and red eyes. (Of course he had to be awesome with my favorite color combination.) He’s the only reason I’m giving this another episode because I like him. I like him a lot.

This has GOT to be the most unconvincing bullying scene I’ve ever seen in any medium.

Well. You’re not getting any monster of the year awards.

Kuga being such a calm bad-ass and throwing the bully’s attempts right back at his face.

Akatsuki no Yona

The soap-opera romance was almost insufferable, but by the end of the episode, I think all that is behind us.

Synopsis: Yona is a princess raised with loving care by her father and grew up with her personal guard Hak. When her cousin murders her father to claim the throne from her, she runs away with Hak to his hometown and tries to start over.

I didn’t expect my highly anticipated samurai era anime to have such an unbearable start. I guess I shouldn’t have taken the “shoujo” tag I saw attached to it’s genre descriptor too lightly. Truth be told, I’m still excited to see where this anime goes, but goodness I can’t wait for this girl to get out of this princess la-la land she’s in. She was insufferable and dragged the entire show down. However, if it all goes to serve as the character she never wants to become again, I’m all for it, because I wholeheartedly agree. There was an action scene at the end, and it was animated well. I like the character design, and the authentic feel of the world, which is brought to life by the finely executed Chinese style score. I also really liked what the opening video was teasing. There seems to be a grand story set to be unfolded, full of life-threatening adventure.

Dumb character being dumb. She saw him pull the sword out of his chest. We all did. It was animated quite nicely, even.

My expectations for this character plummeted after this scene. When does THIS…

…turn into THAT! I am very eager to get to this phase of her journey.

From here on out, it’s smooth sailing. In an ideal world, those last three anime will have a better second episode and I’ll end up being a fan, but everything left on this list impressed me enough to go in for the long haul. These are the ones that matter, and still, my favorites are at the end.

~~~~~~~~~~Happily Following~~~~~~~~~~

 

Denki-gai no Honya-san

This shot is a perfect representation of the anime as a whole. I would love to be the security guard watching this feed.

Synopsis: Umio works at a manga shop in a nerdy area of town and this anime follows the day to day happenings of the irregular guests who stop by.

Denki-Gai is good old fashioned humor about not-so-old fashioned manga. The setting of the manga shop instantly puts me in a happy mood, ready to enjoy all the eccentric characters, and boy are they the wild bunch.  Each of these awkward manga shop associates have their own little stories that unfold in a random order. As this is a pure comedy, the humor has got to be on par, and for the most part, I was satisfied. I think I can confidently say I was smiling the entire episode. One thing to note is that this anime seems to run off of double feature episodes. Episode one consisted of two mini-episodes that were completely unrelated to each other. Moreso than the writing, which is only midly humurous, is the animation. These guys just know how to make characters look funny, adorable, and completely nuts.

It’s hard to find a single screenshot that do these hilarous, gif-worthy animations justice.

Preaching to the choir, honey.

When Supernatural Battles Become Commonplace

So there’s my favorite character. The cute, timid, teleporting, materializing esper.

Synopsis: Five members of the literature club are miraculously bestowed with superpowers, but they are disappointed that upon receiving them, there isn’t really anything to do. They aren’t thrust into an epic adventure like the stories they love. But they remain ever-hopeful that those days will finally appear.

The synopsis of this anime still has me grinning. It’s just a bunch of kids who have fascinations of super powers, finally getting them, and they act how any group of kids would act. They find out how to test them out, and have fun using them against each other. On the comedy aspect, I think the show runs extremely well. Especially the main character and his ultimate power, the “Dark and Dark.” Even though this anime is about a bunch of kids going crazy with their powers, I think the writing is a cut above dumb comedy. The characters all have their stereotypes, and only time will tell if they end up being deep characters, but as it stands now, I’d be perfectly ok with it remaining how it is and just giving me good laughs every week. My inner geek is mostly excited to see just how creative they get with exploring these powers. “Good night, Dark and Dark.”

The character interactions are fun. It’s almost running parallel to seeing their powers interact with each other.

My favorite power in the anime is easily the control of all the elements. Hello miss Avatar.

Easily one of the funniest gags amongst the premieres.

Lord Marksman and Vanadis

Make it his toe, and then you’ll be the best archer in anime.

Synopsis: Tigre is an earl of his small city, and an extremely skilled archer. On the fields of battle, he comes across his enemy, one of the seven Vanadis who are blessed with a dragon’s weapon. The Vanadis is so impressed with the archer’s skill and conviction that she takes him prisoner instead to ask him to join her army.

Are people drooling over this guy yet? I have to admit, his charisma is completely believable, and really well done. I don’t think this anime is going to be a Harem, which is where one guy attracts all the girls, but if the archer ever willed it, this anime easily could turn out that way. As it stands, Vanadis is a great introduction of a truly awesome archer character who has the same vibe that Kirito did when Sword Art Online first came out. Now, cool doesn’t equal “deep” so I hope he does amount to more than a dashing bow wielder. My hesitation comes in the fan service, but it was very light. A sprinkle of it, if you will.  I like how the tsundere war maiden is being set up by saying that she only fell for his skills on the battlefield, but not necessarily the archer himself. It’s almost believable because this girl has a serious admiration of raw combative talent. While the tone for a historical era war story is rather light. There were clips of some heavier moments that make me feel like this will dance the line of light-hearted and grim as it progresses.

Her “War is as cute as puppies” mentality is definitely entertaining.

I want this to happen, but the main character apparently has things to do, and people to save.

It was only this one scene. I didn’t like it, because I simply don’t like this unrealistic character interaction, so just keep it to a minimum Vanadis, and I’ll enjoy you completely.

 

Your Lie in April

Well that’s love at first sight, if I ever heard of it, but it’s a bit…rushed, it feels like.

Synopsis: Arima Kosei lives in a state of blandness and depression. He used to be a child prodigy pianist until his mother, who taught him piano, passed away and at his next recital he had a mental breakdown and lost sense of music. He meets a girl, Miyazono Kaori, who plays violin in an unstructured free-form and because of her, his life slowly starts shifting back to the musically colorful life it once was.

This one is a truly beautiful anime with just a hint of melodrama, which as long as moderated carefully, this anime could turn out to be a heart-warming one. I’m a sucker for anime about music, especially about piano, so you could say this was right up my alley. However, the characters are the most vital part of this anime, and luckily the main character is done very well. He’s tragic, modest, and serious, which makes this anime feel a lot more on the dramatic side. The other key aspect is the girl he meets, who I’m not as sold on as the guy. The melodrama kicked in when she started inexplicably crying after playing a song, which was played up as a big moment, but the audience has no notion of what would make her cry, and if it was just the act of playing music…it sets it a little too unrealistically compared to the incredibly grounded main character. The music wasn’t as striking as I’d hoped, but the opening piano scene was utterly beautiful. Great camera work, and fluid animation made it feel like a high-end anime production. It’s an easy follow for sure because of the enjoyability and the musical theme, but I’m not quite sold on it as a romance yet.

I love any scene with this character’s thought process. It’s animated well, and has strong disposition.

Powerful shot. One of the most believable tragedies amongst the anime this season.

Despite the drama, this anime has a good sense of comedy to it, though it uses it sparingly.

Garo The Animation

Okay. No lie. He looks bad ass.

Synopsis: In a fantasy world where humans fight against demons and witches, one foe-slaying knight is resolute in betraying his comrades to save a girl tainted by demon blood from her fate.

Garo is a remake of something I’ve never seen, so this is an entirely fresh spectacle to me. I chose not to look up the original source material because I prefer not to be spoiled of stories I’m about to embark through. Anyways, what we have here is an all-around adventure set in a rather dark time of witch hunting and executing. The serious parts, are meaningful, and the comic relief is informative and funny. It’s balanced really well. Honestly, it almost has this Game of Thrones vibe going on. It’s not afraid to be sexy, and there are some truly scandalous and witty men and women introduced already. Where Garo stumbles is the animation of the armor that seems to be a central aspect of the story. This cool looking lion-armor is animated with pure CG and as such, it looks really clumsy, and unnatural to the artwork behind it. I don’t like it, and I’d rather see the main character fight with no armor at all, since he alone looks cooler than all of his armor scenes combined. I have yet to get a gist of the over-arching story, and things like that matter in this type of anime, so that’s what I’m really looking forward to getting to now. This episode merely served to set up the world and who the main character is, without showing his motivation yet.

I like this shot a lot. It paints the moral grey area of witch burning completely, as well as highlighting how inhumanely cold the town has become.

This scene was so stylistically like Game of Thrones. Let’s tell a story while having sex and see which one climaxes first. 

The armor CG animation is definitely the biggest possible turn off, and it is for me. But it’s tolerable when taking the quality of the anime into account.

The Fruit of Grasaia

A shy girl trying to act Tsundere. I love it.

Synopsis: Mihama Academy is an oppressive school where five of the main characters are enrolled, each for their own reasons. One day, Kazama Yuuji enrolls as well, becoming the first male student and starts screwing up the way things are typically run at the academy. There is something much more sinister hidden behind the girls mannerisms, as well as Kazama’s.

Are we SURE this isn’t Monogatari? Positive? But the art is so sharp. The characters are so diverse and awkwardly charming. I guess there are enough differences. The fan service is a lot less graceful. Normally I don’t tolerate fan service, but this has almost hit the same formula that Monogatari did and has such good writing that the fan service doesn’t feel as forced. Anyways, this anime was teased as having a dark story, so I was very confused when it was just a bunch of girls with interesting personalities all falling victim to the main characters boyish charm in one way or another. It wasn’t dark at all. And then I obviosly found out that I thought too soon because the ending of the first episode brought it all the edginess in full force. The anime was turned on it’s head, and showed a flash of a traumatic bus accident with blood everywhere, clips of the innocent girls secretly having deadly agendas, and the main character hiding a sniper rifle under his bed.  Ok, someone just put a ton of hot sauce on my fan service soup. I am now very excited to see where this goes.

The main character is not phased by any means of girlish charm. Maybe that’s why the fan service isn’t as bad. Because it doesn’t make the main character go bonkers.

And the dramatic shift in tone begins with then evocative clip of a bus accident.

Eyes of a sharpshooter. Just what is going on in this school? I’m intrigued. You got me, Grisaia.

Selector Spread Wixoss

Seriously, this anime has some of the best artistic shots of the season.

Synopsis: The card game Wixoss has a secret sect of players who play the game with magical properties that grant certain winners their true wish. Several of this magical system’s darkest secrets have now been revealed and it’s up to Ruko to fight against the game’s cruel system and save all the other players from the potentially life-ruining consequences of playing this game.

When this anime is serious, it’s downright beautiful. I always felt like this anime’s underlying story is a tale worthy of the best anime, but it’s just so bogged down by this card game that they have to use, because…well that’s what it’s all about. A card game that can magically change fate. The manipulation of destiny is perfect, but the card game is not. So, let’s just dismiss the card game and discuss what is still great about Wixoss, and that’s the dark, supernatural element that keeps me coming back for more. They have yet to fully reveal just what happened in the cliffhanger from last season, but the menacing unknown still feels like it’s breathing down the main character’s neck. I’m still very uneasy as to what’s going on, and that is a good thing. This anime handles thriller vibes very well. I’m glad to see this anime hasn’t lost it’s touch and I’m hoping we get more of the tragedy and less of the strategy.

The summation of last season’s reveals are still haunting, and very effective.

A truly tragic moment from first season. Again, part of a recap that just goes to show how good this anime got.

My absolute favorite thing is the constant provocation of the main character’s addiction to battling. It’s treated with all the mental cues of a drug addiction. It’s deep stuff.

 

Akame Ga Kill

Ahhh Tatsumi, the more you resist, the more you’ll display the qualities she loves about you.

Synopsis: Tatsumi has joined a guild of assassins that work in secret to save the people of the world by assassinating corrupted officials. In this season, we’ll follow Tatsumi as he encounters Esdeath, one of the generals of the imperial city, and her bizarre fascination in keeping Tatsumi imprisoned as a lover.

Fairy Tail with assassins is back for it’s second half, and we are treated to a whole episode of my favorite romantically motivated cold blooded killer, Esdeath. I love how this villainous war maiden has such a recurring role as a supportive character. I like her just as much as any of the heroes, second only to Akame herself. We also got to see Tatsumi and Esdeath fight together which was terrific. I always wanted to see how they acted together in battle. While the action is still just “my power is greater so it somehow defeats you,” I can handle the tactless combat in exchange for the adventure I got in this episode. Getting teleported to an island far away was a breath of freash air from the constant mountainous region of Night Raid’s hide out.

A pretty big moment, complete with terrific animation of the monster.

Again, the combat, and shouting is classic dumb shounen, but I like how it looks, and I’m still a huge Esdeath fan.

I guess it’s lasted as long as it could. For the sake of the story, they have to reveal their true intentions now.

 

Gugure! Kokkuri-san

How the anime starts is her initial reaction to this spirit arriving. I won’t spoil it. Just go watch it.

Synopsis: Kohina lives alone, and eventually decides to play a table-top game that is rumored to call upon Kokkuri-san a fox spirit.

I think I found one of my favorite anime characters. Kohina, the anti-social, yet surprisingly witty little girl who is the most adorable thing this season. Gugure didn’t draw much expectation from me. Every season has an anime involving a wolf spirit and they have only seemed to be getting worse, but this had me laughing more than any other anime this season. Kohina is so bluntly awkward, and her pathetic living situation is made fun of in such a cruel way that you end up laughing at her as much as you start harboring sympathy for her. And just when you finally feel like this girl is terrific. The anime breaks your heart by showing her startling emotional side. I don’t care how predictable it is, her breakdown scene was the most emotional scene I’ve seen this season. However, this anime felt like a one hit wonder. Once I start episode two, everything that surprised me about Kohina will be something I expect, and I feel like they pulled out all her best gags in one episode. If this anime can keep episodes coming like this, then I will move it even higher in the rankings for sure and this could be my favorite comedy anime. I also realize after seeing initial reactions, that I’m very much in the minority about my thoughts on this show. Tell me in the comments, what is it that you didn’t like? Has this been done a lot before and I just somehow missed all the other ones? Am I alone in thinking that this girl is awesome?

Yep. I am your number one fan.

Her signature wit that hilariously pokes fun at dark truths.

And then the emotions just flooded out when she had her first “human” moment. It was truly touching.

Amagi Brilliant Park

THIS IS HOW IT STARTS?! I’M IN!

Synopsis: Seiya Kanie is a young man invited by a mysterious transfer student on a date at some amusement park. There, he meets the other few who work there, and is also asked to be a manager, leading him to slowly get involved in the lives of these people who run the “disappointing” amusement park.

Amagi Brilliant park started off as another witty comedy, except with a lot more room for Kyoto’s beautiful animation to shine. I thought this was going to be a dorky anime about a romantic theme park, but it turned out to be a hilarious jaunt through a place that clearly doesn’t know how to appeal to the kids. What especially helps, is that the main character thinks logically and reacts to things just like real people would. This isn’t a weird anime parallel universe where people enjoy run down theme parks, Amagi Brilliant Park truly is an atrocious theme park with serious problems, and the reason this girl seem so oblivious to it is explained really well. What I found captivating is that this anime takes it a step further and looks to be doing a really creative form of exploring a character who has forsaken their childhood dreams. The main character’s journey beins by having these suppressed dreams reawakened by these girls asking him to manage the park, and turn it into the brilliant spectacle they all want it to be. I felt like this was the wittiest anime of the season. It’s gorgeous, smart, and evocative all at the same time. I really like this anime, and explaining it doesn’t do it service. You have to see just what is going on in this wacky amusement park.

She says, after it punches the main character in the gut.

 

This pose is hilarious. It’s like my favorite anime still of the season.

It’s always the unexpected that ends up being the best thing about an anime, and this time it was just how personal the events of this episode were to the main character.

Hitsugi no Chaika: Avenging Battle

There’s something that just warms me up upon seeing these three. That’s just how well this anime is done.

Synopsis: After the adventures of the first season, the secret to the Chaikas is becoming clearer. Toru, his sister, and Chaika must continue their journey to discover the lost collection of Chaika’s father, the king and finish the perilous adventure they started.

My favorite adventuring crew are back for another round of gathering the kings remains. Chaika was a great adventure anime complete with rounded characters, fast action that doesn’t dabble in nonsense, and a plot that jumps between multiple characters with no one truly painted as the villain. There have been some upgrades this season, most particularly in the animation. The action moves slicker and the faces are more alive. On top of this, they have taken one aspect of the anime that I disregarded as unimportant, and turned it into Chaika’s main focus, and that is the explanation of how they use words to summon magic. Chaika is always seem shouting some gibberish and always thought that it just sounded cool so the director penciled it in. Well in this season, I really appreciated that there was someone stronger only because they were “better” at chaining these words together. Come to find out, the magic in this world works like a mixture of poetry and logic. You have to find the right words and use them in the right order to channel the best form of magic. Now I’m literally picking apart the subtitles with a tooth and comb everytime Chaika summons her magic, as she’s tasked with improving her worldplay. Ironic considering Chaika’s manner of speaking is the continual running gag of all the fans of this anime. Shocking Truth! I am very happy this anime is back, and with several improvements. Maybe it won’t be so overlooked this time!

We finally got a much better look at the king, including the obvious increase in facial animation quality.

They pulled out the Iron-Blood transformation episode one. I’m glad it’s back!

Again, Chaika always demonstrates how to keep the story much more than dynamic than just finding bad guys and getting the remains from them. They teach each other things, and aren’t always enemies merely because of their past.

Nanatsu no Taizai

Yeah, two thumbs up for characters who can look innocent and be bad ass at the same time.

Synopsis: The Seven Deadly sins are seven legendary warriors who were banished for trying to overthrow the kingdom. The princess of this kingdom discovers that the Seven Sins were framed, and never commited the crime, and she runs away to find them and ask for their help to return her kingdom from corruption. The first Sin she meets, however, doesn’t even have a sword and leads a simple life as an tavern-keeper, throwing the legitimacy of the rumors of their skill out the window.

While I thought World Trigger would be the Shounen Adaptation to take the high road, it turns out Nanatsu on Taizai opened up with a considerably more stellar first episode. It has everything adventure junkies are looking for. A bright new world with characters ready to set out on a whimsical journey by the end of the episode. While one of the central characters already demonstrated the typical attraction to boobs, it as done on a very small level that shouldn’t turn anyone away for what truly makes this anime stand out. Chief among them, the Seven Deadly Sins. This anime did a great job of wrapping up the identity of these characters in mystery, and since the first one turned out to be a surprisingly delightful, upbeat character, it only makes me more excited to see the rest of them. I can totally get lost in the medieval setting complete with blades that look like they are made of grass, and giant talking pigs. Nanatsu no Taizai is fun, it’s grand, and it has all the makings of a terrific fantasy anime.

The epic opening makes the Seven Sins seem pretty awesome.

Yet this one is so down to earth and cheerful. I love characters who break the archetype of a typical bad ass.

Yet I still can’t get past these kinds of things. This girl happens to be my least favorite thing about the anime so far, but that’s a tiny gripe at this point.

Sword Art Online II

A much more dramatic scene than Asuna’s fiasco with the tentacles last season. This one was harrowing, and it served the story perfectly.

Synopsis: Kirito is tasked with tracking and discovering the method of Death Gun, a player in Gun Gale Online who is capable of really killing players when he shoots them from in the game. At the start of the second half, the chase has finally reached the real world.

Is it just me, or has this Sword Art season turned completely dark? Gone are the illustrious fantasy landscapes and the inspiring motivation of Kirito trying to save his love from the evil clutches of the bad guy. Now we’re talking best friends who take sexual advantage of you, post traumatic stress disorder from killing someone, and the nearly impossible notion of seeing yourself as a good person after years of mentally belittling yourself. I also think Sinon’s character development was superb. I daresay she is the best character Sword Art has introduced. This episode marked the end of the Gun Gale Online arc, the most psychologically driven arc of the series so far, and possibly my favorite. The writer in me loves the dark direction this arc took, but the romanticist in me loves the emotion the Aincrad arc demonstrated. Either way, this arc ended extremely well and I no longer doubt that Sword Art only had it’s merit in Aincrad alone. I’m now confident and excited to see the next episode which will introduce us to the next arc.

Even back in the real world, things are not letting up for poor Sinon.

The central theme of the arc concludes with this poignant scene, executed perfectly.

Jeez, this animation studio can work wonders. Sinon is a terrific character.

 

Log Horizon

A curious, and well animated opening scene showed a scene that all viewers, as far as I know, are completely unfamiliar with.

Synopsis: After spending months calming the chaos of players getting stuck in the game world of Elder Tale, a pseudo-government has been established and the city that Shiro and his comrades reside has become something of a functioning city. Now as they decide where to travel to next, the opinions begin differing amongst his compatriots as they seek to make the world of Elder Tale their own.

Log Horizon returns and will now juggle weekly showings with it’s old competitor Sword Art Online, but honestly, they have become night and day to each other. Log Horizon clearly focuses on making the most of this single game world by delving into everything from it’s goverment to the inner networking of it’s economy. Log Horizon has built the best video game world I’ve seen in an anime, while Sword Art has gone on to craft powerful character stories that simply travel between games. Log Horizon’s return had many things I wanted, as well as giving me tons of things to start wondering about. It was an episode that had a flashback, a current event, and what seemed like a flash forward? It’s clear that the development of the story is going to be finely articulated this time around too, a trait that Log Horizon is no stranger to. Additionally, we have a new animation studio doing the artwork, and I think it’s a marginally better improvement. Most noticeably is the amount of activity on the screen in each individual second. While this episode set up a lot of mystery, I am really looking foward to seeing Shiroe’s next step in his grand plan to make this video game world his own.

Last season was government. This season it’s economy. Next season….taxes?

The adventure hook was introduced. The source of most, or all of the gold in the world.

And the moment that threw everyone for a loop. What seemed like flash forward, is probably a scene this entire season will eventually lead to. I like this change of pace. Well done Log Horizon.

 

Psycho Pass 2

That gun is sexy no matter how many times they show it.

Synopsis: Upon a world-changing revelation, the second season starts off a year and a half later following Akane as she re-adjusts to the world with her newfound knowledge. An even more formidable foe than before is about to introduce itself.

Ghost in the Shell with pretty art and bad ass guns returns! There is a lot of reservation this time because despite the cliffhanger, many felt a sequel would be a tad difficult to do because the original covered so many themes that it’s world could demonstrate. So, without the original writer, and new animation studio, how did this doomed-to-fail sequel turn out? GREAT! However, let me bottleneck that by saying that the first season still had a much better first episode than this one did, nor do I expect this season to perform as well as the original. I can already feel the void that Gen Urobuchi, the writer, left behind. The philosophical banter between equals has diminished into cops scolding criminals. It just didn’t feel near as poetic as the writing in Psycho Pass was. However, the art is still fantastic, and so too is the feel of this cyberpunk city. There is still a lot to love, and maybe this season will still surprise us, but as of yet, it hasn’t done anything the original series couldn’t do better. The most curious revelation was the introduction of the villain in episode one. Perhaps he’s just a player to an even higher villain, but in any case, it didn’t have near as much impact as the intense build up to the villain of the original series. Even with these shortcomings, Psycho-Pass’s return is still fantastic and offers plenty to enjoy for anyone looking for a well-developed sci-fi world.

It’s tough to make a bleak, sci-fi world look warm and pretty, but Psycho-Pass can make it happen.

And again, these epic pans of the city are doing my eyes wonders right now.

The dialogue can still be smart. It’s just not quite at the level of the original Psycho-Pass.

 

Shingeki no Bahamut

My inner fantasy geek is completely satiated.

Synopsis: In the world of Mistarcia, there is a current era of peace established thanks to the world’s demons, humans, and gods uniting against Bahamut, the world-threatening dragon. They locked Bahamut away and split the key into two halves, one each for the gods and the demons. The story begins when a human woman steals the gods’ half of the key.

Oh what a pleasant surprise this anime was. Shingeki no Bahamut is based on a card game in Japan, that for all intents and purposes I’ll just compare to Magic: The Gathering. It’s high fantasy with dragons, demons, gods, and more. I will no longer compare this to Attack on Titan, as it’s tone, setting and story have proven to be completely different, despite the trailer not really demonstrating as such. For one, Favaro is a completely surprising main character who finds fun in danger and constantly teases his pursuers. He’s a breath of fresh air in a long line of way-too-serious epic fantasy anime. However, let’s not dial down the epicness this anime brought. It is clearly on the highest proportions of fantasy this season. It’s a privilege to have such a rich fantasy world seen through the eyes of an intrepid and spirited character. My only tiny fear is that Favaro will keep this aloof demeanor throughout the entire anime. I would like to see him have his deep moments as well. Otherwise, this anime is off to a brilliant start. It’s a spectacle, full of amazing creature designs and colorful artwork, as well as a bold and adventurous atmosphere. This is one of the most movie-like adventure anime I’ve seen.

Classic character intro frame, and it fits so well with the music in the anime.

This sums up how our hero acts in most cases. It’s entertaining, and fun. I only hope that’s not the only side to him.

A look at another amazing creature design: a demoness.

 

Parasyte

That hand is actually a rather cute character. Some of it’s mentality is of a developing toddler.

Synopsis: The world has secretly fallen victim to small aliens, simply called parasites. They infect a human body, and after doing so, are able to morph it into whatever deadly creation they choose. They can remain hidden behind the untransformed human body. Shinji is nearly infected by the parasite when he manages to stop it from entering his brain. Shinji and the alien make an agreement in which the parasite will grant Shinji power and protection, if Shinji promises to keep the parasite alive within him.

Parasyte is a keeper folks. It’s careful balance of horror, drama, and action, combined with a captivating plotline makes this my favorite original anime premiere of the season. It’s much more that just surviving creepy crawlies in the dark. It’s about the humanistic nature coexisting with a completely alien conscious in one’s own body. It’s not just being super strong because you have alien powers, it’s about the give and take, and sacrifices they will make for each other. This is gong to be one extremely interesting character pairing to witness. I also have to drivel a bit about the animation which absolutely shines when the transformations start happening. They are drawn so fluidly that it creates an unnerving sense of realism that can almost hit you with a bad case or revulsion. I also am a fan of the main character. He is a very expressive character, and the animation helps bring that out. I don’t think I’ve seen him make the same face twice yet. I don’t really see where Parasyte can go wrong as long as they have the story mapped out in front of them from the original manga. I’m onboard for as long as they take to complete this amazing premise.

A really well done scene. I reminds me of the panicked and intense nature of Tokyo Ghoul’s similar scene in it’s first episode.

The intellectual exploration of the dynamic between these two characters is limitless. I can’t wait to see them butt heads on their ideals.

And yes guys, this anime does get freaky.

Fate/Stay Night

The summoning ritual of a servant is like poetry to me. It’s truly beautiful.

Synopsis: The holy grail war is a recurring ritual war centered around the Holy Grail that phases in and out of existence every few decades. Several powerful magical families spend their entire lives preparing them and their children for future generations of war. This time taking place ten years after the events of Fate/Zero another war begins.

And here we are. The return of one of my all time favorite action franchises finally happened, and don’t think that it’s history is what earned it my number one spot. This anime shot past my carefully reserved expectations and delivered a blowout first episode that literally showcased everything I love about the Fate series, and then some. See, Fate/Zero, along with it’s sister series, Kara No Kyoukai, are fantasy anime that are taken COMPLETELY seriously. I mean literally zero fan service. If it’s illogical or “dumb” them it just doesn’t happen. That’s why I love them so much. They are among the most professionally directed, and handled anime in the industry. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. They are very atypical to standard anime, meaning you may end up missing the fan service, or the crazy words shouted before throwing a magic attack without any tactical thought. I agree, in that I do too, but if I were to ever direct my own anime, this is the style I’d do it, therefore I admire these anime like almost none other. You understand that, being a logical thinker, nothing great lasts. I assumed this Fate would just suck, and that Fate/Zero was just a lucky shot in the dark. I was wrong. Very, very wrong. Thanks to his double-length premiere that completely shut me up.

Fate/Stay is amazing, in every respect that I care about. It’s writing is sharp, intelligent, sensible, and purposeful. Whether it builds the world, the character, or fits in the fiction, each line seems like a carefully thought out expression of the character. I’m used to this, because Fate/Zero and Kara no Kyoukai have that in spades. It’s animation is absurdly good. It’s almost unfair that other anime have to compete with the quality of this studio, but luckily art is so free-form that as long as the passion is there, true art will still shine through with the best of them. But still, this animation is lavish, colorful, and well-framed in literally every shot. Alleyways, streets, the roofs of buildings, every scene has something pretty about it. I’m also used to this because, again, Kara no Kyoukai and Fate/Zero are animated by the same studio, and they are my personal favorite studio.

What this anime did differently, and at the same time escalated are two things. The most important thing, and I think the thing that everyone agrees the Fate series needed, was the introduction of a character who’s truly revealed from the ground up. This episode opted to give us a huge chunk of time of seeing Rin simply interacting with people at school. It sounds boring, but the execution and guidance was so well that no time was wasted and that every line opened me up to a part of her mannerisms and demeanor. And now I can better appreciate who she will become when the war starts waging rather than seeing everyone after they are cold-hearted warriors. The second thing this anime changed from Fate/Zero is the pace of the action. And this is where the animation also hits a new level, even for Ufotable. The fight between the first two revealed servants was a fight scene I have been waiting for since The King and Netero fought in Hunter X Hunter. It was jaw-dropping and exemplified the absolute pinnacle of animation in this day and age, combined with the serious approach that the Fate series has to combat. This meant that no time was wasted on characters channeling energy or shouting out magic words. It was just frantic, and beautifully choreographed dancing. Fate is back. A serious, and extremely developed premise, filled with an entire cast of intelligent characters with meaningful dialogue, lined with beautiful, heart-pounding music, and coated with the best polish of paint anime can give. Fate is here to Stay.

From the moment she wakes up in her first appearance, she’s already more relatable than half of the characters in anime.

Proud, yet meek. Dignified, but surrounded by gloom. The art speaks words even when the dialogue already eloquently does so.

I’ve never had a scene like this in Fate. I’m loving it. It’s not boring, it’s simply a facet of life we haven’t seen explored in fate, but it’s what makes the school-base anime’s characters so popular. Their personality.

The first servant we see, and as always, Fate’s character design is impressive.

The banter between these two was probably the best character interplay I’ve seen this season.

And the fight begins. Cue the dazzling display of Ufotable’s signature red and blue shimmers and shines.

Seeing this in motion is like watching water flow and fireworks burst at the same time.

Brilliant close-ups as well that you just can’t appreciate fully in the midst of the intense action.

And we end the episode with the anticipated appearance of Saber. Fate’s most famous character.

 

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25 anime later and we are at a wrap. My oh my, this season is a tour de force, is it not? In fact, even with all of these, my favorite, and most anticipated anime has yet to begin, and that is the final season of Mushishi. I think with that special anime, and all these ones considered, this will be the best season of anime I’ve seen since I started following current anime. However, I give my respect and best wishes to the mangaka of Hunter X Hunter. There is a serious void without that anime here, and I hope you at least get to finish the story in manga form.  Again, thank you for reading and geeking out with me over Fate/Stay. I will have a separate post, or maybe just an update to this one when Mushishi comes out. I may not be back till midseason as I can’t really manage weekly updates with my schedule, but I’ll do my best. Please comment and discuss any current anime in the comments below!

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One thought on “Fall 2014 Anime – Premiere Impressions

  1. That twin tails show sounds so daft that it makes me want to watch it (deep down though I know it will be horrible.) After reading your description of Cross Ange all I can say is wow. Talk about scaring off viewers. Even someone who seems to like darker stuff like yourself was put off by the finale.

    I finally got round to watching the first 14 episodes of Sword Art Online II. I enjoyed it so I am not sure why so many people are bashing it. Glad to hear that Psycho-Pass is still okay despite the unwelcome changes behind the scenes.

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