Oh no, I’m late!! Sorry folks. I’ve been excited to write about this season but with a Magic pre-release last weekend and a fiasco involving my car getting towed, my time was stretched too thin. So here I am at the tail end of week 2, which should actually give me a bit more depth and room to explore each anime than a blog covering a single week. So we’re in anime “off-season” now, which typically means the number of great anime dials back by a considerable amount. Spring and Fall are usually the two big ones, with less anime peppered between them to create our Summer and Winter lineups. This time, however, we have several continuing anime as well as a breakthrough original anime that could single-handedly make this season something to remember. Let’s get started, from worst to best as always!
Seiken Tsukai no World Break
It’s been a while since I watched an anime so full of…bad. Just bad. The protagonist? Bland, unexpressive, typical, and bad. The story, horribly presented, senseless, shallow, and bad. The writing? Unintelligent, boring, predictable, and bad. The action? Anticlimactic, crude, hollow, and bad. It’s just all bad. From the horrible rubbing of the protagonist’s face into the boobs of a character for 30 seconds straight, or the completely bonkers spell incantation that also runs for 30 seconds straight. I just can’t help but feel no genuine sense of creativity from the writer or director, nor any sense of effort from the animators or designers.
I started this anime because it had magic, and it had a main character with a cool hairdo. Usually these type of anime end up having at least a sense of style, whether or not it turns out good, but this anime had very little to make it stand out. It uses a concept where characters connect with their past reincarnated selves. A premise that a writer would have a lot of fun crafting unique character interactions, but instead, it’s a wasted concept that just gives a reason for girls to fawn over the main character because he happened to save their previous lives with his previous lives. I lost faith in the writing and story early on, but I had hope for the action.
And then the first “bad guy” took the stage and man does he take the cheese cake. He’s motivations were immature, his portrayal was horribly ineffective, and he just came off as a waste of time. The longer the fight with him carried on, the more of those precious twenty minutes you waste to introduce someone worthwhile. This anime hurt to watch. It’s repetitive back ground song that seemed to repeat even more once you notice it, it’s pointless fan-service, and completely awful characters and world. No thank you.
Gourmet Girl Graffiti
An anime about food animated by Shaft, the studio behind Madoka Magica and Monogatari? I’m in! I expected something along the lines of Silver Spoon, which is an anime about something very simple, but so full of thoughtful exposition and a strong sense of purpose. Just like food that gives off an alluring scent, only to taste like rotten fruit, this anime successfully lured me in, and put a sour taste in my mouth. Silver Spoon, this is not.
What Gourmet Girl Graffiti is, is standard-fare comedy and a weird erotic focus that I don’t quite get the point of. This is only in the fact that the main character eats food in a sexy way. Is that the selling point?! Sure, the art was very aesthetically pleasing, but it wasn’t enough to hide the train-wreck behind it. I guess I’m being harsh because my standard of enjoyment has been pretty high from all the stellar anime I’ve watched recently, but it’s still safe to say that this anime is not profound or deep in any way. Nor does it successfully fulfill the appetite I had for an anime that used food as a great tool for a good style of storytelling.
Testament of Sister New Devil
There’s just no end to the fan service this season. Testament of Sister New Devil is another anime I tried on a whim, in hopes that it was good, but it turned out as I expected. Actually, it did surprise me, just in a bad way. This is an anime that is ALL ABOUT perversion between brother’s and sisters. Oh don’t worry, it’s ok because the sisters are actually demons so they aren’t technically his sisters. But that doesn’t stop the fact that they act like little sisters and that one of them does look like a fifteen year old.
I have absolutely no idea where the story is going, and in fact, it might not be going anywhere. This anime seems like it’ll be random misadventures with random things turning out erotic in nature. In episode two, there was a spell that can only be broken by touching the girl in her sensitive places. Yeah, it’s that kind of anime. So…this is an easy pass. There’s nothing beyond that to make it unique.
The Rolling Girls
The Rolling Girls had an impressive first episode. I had doubts about the story, but it’s art was so vivid and full of energy that I though this anime could simply draw it’s way out of any bad story plot. The second episode proved me completely wrong. The art was still spectacular, but I just don’t care about anything in this anime. Just like the title implies, it’s just feels like this anime is rolling along of it’s own accord, and I’m just along for the ride.
There was a huge build up on the main character, and her secret identity being revealed. We learned in episode 1 that they were the same person, and all of episode two was focused on a plan to have her revealed. I don’t get what all that build up was about. The climactic revelation was hardly groundbreaking, and was only slightly moving as to the reason why. The whole world is in this state of chaos that makes for fun anime, but so far, the story has felt completely empty, and I really can’t get into anime like this without something that completely wins me over.
Maria the Virgin Witch
I’m not TOO sure why I’m still following this anime, but it’s definitely on a tightrope. This anime has a crude and dumb humor style wrapped up in a rather decent alternate historical timeline. This all centers around Maria the Virgin Witch. As in…EVERYTHING centers around her. The jokes all run on her being a virgin, and the ironic fact that her partners are an incubus and succubus. The incubus doesn’t even have it’s “junk” because when Maria created him, she didn’t know what one looked like. This creates tons of really awkward, and not particularly enjoyable scenes about sex.
But there are things this anime does well too. Maria herself is a solid character in my book. She is a virgin in more ways than one. She still believes in the purity of the human race and hasn’t faced any dark truths. She fights for justice, and when she tries, the angels themselves stop her. The very same angels that symbolize the justice she fights for. On top of that, there are a lot of “real” plot lines forming what with wars being wages and characters being caught up in the mix. None of it is portrayed in an engrossing way, but it’s solid, and is actually trying to sell some big points with this set up.
Yona of the Dawn
Yona of the Dawn has finally become completely enjoyable as of late. It’s one of the few anime that proved itself worthwhile after a completely atrocious first couple episodes. The first two episodes of the new season focused entirely on the second of the four dragons Yona is searching for, the Blue Dragon. Unlike the White Dragon who was eager to join, Yona had to win this character over. He is a tragedy through and through, and I was VERY glad that he wasn’t all cheesed up and full of melodrama. The characters as of late have been so fun that I’m actually excited to meet the next one.
My praise also goes towards it’s consistent sense of humor. It’s one of those types of anime that cracks a joke before anything gets too dramatic keeping things on level ground and feeling adventurous rather than gloomy. Yona is becoming a stronger character, slowly, but surely. She’s not quite where I had hoped she’d be at this point in the series, but I don’t mind a slow burner. And she did win me over a lot in the scene where she named the Blue Dragon Sinha after the moonlight. That was absolutely touching.
We’ve been a little lacking in action lately, since these last episodes were all character based, but that hasn’t necessarily been a bad thing, though I am very curious to see the blue dragon fight. The White Dragon hasn’t really brought anything to the table combat wise except brute force. Besides that, I remain steadfast in my love for the music that has continued to be a truly authentic old oriental style. It makes this world truly feel from the past, and I love that era of time. Yona of the Dawn is hopefully on it’s way to bigger and better things in the coming episodes.
And we’re back. I spent a couple minutes mentally preparing myself for the aftershock of the completely mortifying finale of last season. Deaths all around as the main cast was literally halved in the space of seconds. I wasn’t sure where Aldnoah Zero was going, but I liked that finale and how impactful it was.
So…what in the hell just happened with the premiere episode?! I liked it. I’ll say that much up front. The terrific sci-fi epicness that I have grown to expect from this anime returned in full force…but it brought nearly everyone back to life. It took away the morbidness of the finale, and that hurts in hindsight. It was awesome to see Inaho return in one respect, because he gave us another awesome battle with his keen intellect paving the way to victory, but it felt like such a slap in the face. I always loved how he fights, but I despise his lack of emotion. I was glad to have a new character take his place, so it was with a bit of regret that he made his triumphant return.
But man oh man, is Slaine awesome. I’m completely absorbed into his part of the storyline. Before, he was just pitiful, and he had my sympathy. Now, he has climbed the ranks and is now making moves for the team. He is now a bad-ass and a heart-softener. My favorite scene so far was his interaction with the new princess. He cautiously, but unabashedly did away with her self-doubt with his amazing sense of honor that I never tire of seeing. He is truly my favorite character in this anime. It’s just a shame that every other character is so far behind him.
And here comes one zany, left-field synopsis anime that pleasantly surprised me. The whole thing is a nutshell is that the students of this class are supposed to kill the teacher. This anime is weird, and there’s no way around that. The teacher is a freakishly drawn tentacle monster, which is why I was so happy that the crazy notion of having to kill him was actually as grounded in reality as possible. It’s something unique to anime, where a completely outlandish plot is connected by all these sophisticated characteristics of reality. But, even with that…this anime is still crazy.
I was worried that, outside of the awesome introduction, the progression of the story might be a bit messy. And episode two did show signs of that, but luckily this unkillable teacher “koro-sensei” is pretty entertaining on his own. The anime is most easily described as a comedy rooted firmly in the dark action genre. When Koro-sensei dodges an attack with his hyper-speed, he uses that time to do very strange things like grooming eyebrows. He even waxed a fighter jet that was attempting to shoot him down. This doesn’t mean he’s not prone to actually becoming evil, as evidenced by his “black” mode.
This is all seen through the eyes of a student of Class-E, which is the End class. A class for delinquents who feel like they were finally given a chance in life with the proposal of killing this teacher. On top of that, there’s a lot of scenes that put the teacher in a very positive light, showing that he truly is a great teacher. One of these scenes literally makes fun of itself by showing a bird land on his shoulder as he walks away in the sunlight. Truly funny stuff. At the end of the second episode, they teased a character who seems to want to kill the teacher. He should add some serious attempts to the number of half-hearted assassinations the class has attempted.
Log Horizon 2
I don’t really get where Log Horizon is going anymore, so I’ve slowly been losing my interest. The first episode of this season threw in a whole cast of new characters who’s place in the story doesn’t quite make sense yet, and the second episode didn’t show them at all, instead focusing on the small group of young adventurer’s in Log Horizon, and their first solo adventure. The story is jumping all over the place, and I don’t like it, but I am excited to see where each of these plot points end up. I still haven’t lost faith in Log Horizon’s amazing moments where the action’s of the characters change the world in huge and realistic ways.
I do like most of the new character’s they introduced, at least on the surface. They are enjoyable, but Log Horizon doesn’t always take the time to humanize their characters, so it may be the case here. I’m just wondering why Shiroe hasn’t been shown doing anything in the last two episodes. I’m sure he has something brewing like always, but it’s strange not having the main character really doing anything. But, the taste of adventure is palpable at this point with the younger group embarking on their journey, and I think the whole point is playing off of one group heading east, while the other group heads west. I believe the world we’ve been seeing in the anime is about to expand considerably.
Nanatsu no Taizai
I’ve only seen one episode of the new season of Nanatsu no Taizai, but man was it a great start to the season. We finally got to see the often-teased dark form of the captain, and it’s definitely a complete change of character. He doesn’t speak. He doesn’t calculate. He just attacks with relentless ferocity. He’s not a mindless, crazed grunt, either. His mind is just completely hollow, looking like he’s completely unaware of what’s going on the whole time.
Seeing his dark form animated, as well as the fights in this episode in general were a great treat. I’ve had qualms with this anime in the past, mainly because it’s cast is a hit-or-miss bunch of powerhouses, but this episode definitely showed each one at their best. Though the fight played out in typical bad-ass shounen fashion, I appreciated the main character’s departure from pure good. I was waiting for the moral duality to kick in, because they all seemed a bit too “good” to me.
In the end, we got a tease of moving to something pivotal with the captain opening up some sort of passage, stating he’s going to end this war once and for all. It was a great episode. Probably the series’ best thanks to Ban and King having a terrific, emotionally charged conversation making this episode contain action and heart. The last thing that really needs to happen is the introduction of a good villain. I haven’t liked a single one yet.
Durarara x2 Shou
Durarara’s return is one of the greatest revivals of the year already. The anime is still one of the few of it’s kind full of stylish non-chronological character stories. No one was sure when the first season completed airing, if we’d ever see it again, but five years later, and it finally happened. So is the return to the city of random occurrences as great as it used to be? I already feel like it’s better, for a couple small reasons that only help it’s case.
The animation is even better. That’s the easiest thing to throw on the table. Celty, one of the most visually striking characters of the series, now looks incredible. We got to see her motorcycle fully transform into the black horse in one fluid scene, as well as several other bits of awesome smoke animation. Secondly, since we already know most of these characters, this anime was quick to dive right into the events of the city, making it harder to lose interest. Finally, there seems to be a bit of a “narrator” this time like we had in Baccano. Basically it’s someone who’s telling us when we’re about to go back in time or forward in time. I have no idea if this will be in every episode, but it definitely helps stay on top of things without losing your grasp of the when everything took place.
Then there are the new characters, which is what Durarara’s all about. Every character has something interesting about them, whether psychological, or supernatural. This time, it’s the twins, Kururi and Mairu. They are opposite paradoxes in the sense that one wears what matches the other’s personality. The outspoken, boisterous one wears the shy nerdy apparel, and the quiet, awkward one wears shameless gym clothes. It’s explained that they flipped a coin on what personalities they’d use in grade school, and that they view each other as one, so as long as they are complete opposites, they are a perfect whole when put together. I love crap like that, and I loved their scenes in high school, and their unorthodox ways of dealing with bullies. I’m very happy that Durarara is back, and I hope the otaku group keep name-dropping anime because I love those moments.
Your Lie in April
First it seemed to be taking too long, and now the moment happened faster than I anticipated. I thought that the moment Arima got over his mother would be the series finale…but we’re getting that right now, and I was not emotionally ready for what happened at the end of the latest episode.
This anime has always been one of the most beautiful, yet self-indulgent anime airing right now. It takes it’s time to fully express the complete range of emotions and thoughts invoked by beautiful music, but it does it seemingly to no end. I still really like it, but whenever it’s not an especially well developed scene, it just comes off as melodramatic or over exaggerated. These moments are far and few in between, and when this anime shines, it absolutely glistens. And that’s not to forget about the truly funny comedic bits in the last two episodes.
Now that we finally concluded one “arc” in a way, the change of pace is probably the best thing that could have happened to this anime. If it would have coasted on Kousei’s motherly drama the whole time, it would have lost steam. It already was, honestly, recycling the same clips multiple times in different episodes. But this was all worth getting to Arima’s long-awaited return to form. A beautiful performance with all the write monologues and musical scoring. Candid imagery and poetic narration make every scene in this anime evocative, but this scene was on the level of his rival’s performance scenes in season one. I won’t spoil what happened at the end…but I can’t even anticipate how Arima will act from now on.
Tokyo Ghoul Root A
Sparing not even a second, the opening episode or Root A throws us right back into the fray that escalated to it’s climax in the finale of last season. White-haired Kaneki is finally a real thing, and I was very excited to see him in action. I think…anticlimactic would be an appropriate word to sum up the events of this episode. Every battle that escalated to it’s biggest moment, suddenly deviated from an actual conclusion and was delayed for some reason or another. In this sense, the first episode threw me for a loop, but I still loved other things that were happening. Most favorably, the stunning stylistic art direction was still back in full force.
Episode one had all the action, and for the most part, I liked it. Kaneki truly fought like a bad-ass, but I wanted something that eclipsed his fight in the finale, last season. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen yet. We saw a new development with the detectives using the Kagune as body armor which was a thoughtful, but poorly executed concept, I feel like. I’ve heard some people say they looked bad-ass, but I just thought they looked like mindless hulks. They seem less and less like “detectives” every episode. Speaking of detectives, we are seeing their side of the story unfold too. I must state that I already love Mado’s daughter. Her completely exaggerated genius level of thinking is something that’s so “anime,” but it’s one of my favorite stereotypes anime has.
My favorite part of both episodes so far were the endings of each episode. They both took an extremely somber approach to wrapping things up. Kaneki’s farewell to Touka seemed as if time was at a beautiful standstill. The scenery and art design really were top notch here. In episode two, they played a very haunting song with gloomy vocals that gave a strong sense of atmosphere to everything happening. The way it contrasted with Anteiku’s celebratory re-opening scene was amazing. I hope every episode has scenes like that. So far, it isn’t what I expected, but it’s surprising me on a consistent basis, and if it keeps it up, I’ll easily like it more than season one. So far, however, nothing has surpassed the beautiful finale of the first season.
Kuroko’s should be at the top of list, as it’s one of the few five-star series I’ve ever seen, but I can’t place it quite that high, mainly because I’m not entirely happy with how things are starting. First off, I expected to jump right into a focus on Akashi, and that is being delayed by this insolent, overly-violent “extra” generation member who came out of nowhere, and he needs to go back to that “nowhere” asap. He’s the worst character I’ve seen in the series, and I hope his game is over with quickly. Plus, they have GOT to explain how his hair went from white spikes to black corn rows.
I’m torn because, while he’s the worst thing to happen to the anime, everything else happening is the same standard I love. The animation is jaw-droppingly awesome, and we finally get to see how the generation of miracles acted when they were students together. With episode 2, we’re already well into our first game, and even on the court, I don’t like the current “villain” at all. His skillset is a superior version of Kise’s which significantly takes away several unique aspects of Kise. I do feel like Kise will become someone even better as a result of this, but having two move-stealers in one game isn’t exactly an ideal match-up in my mind. I only hope the anime surprises me, as it has so many times before.
The true anticipation of this series is to see the actual generation of miracles play. Kise is already in action, but has yet to hit his stride, and at the end of it all stands Akashi, the most enigmatic character of the whole series. I only hope this game ends up being memorable, despite this unlikeable character.
Parasyte was both intense, and surprisingly funny with it’s latest couple episodes. The continual downward spiral of Shinichi is being perfectly conveyed, and even hit a new point in the very last moment. The seemingly pointless scene of laughing like a psycho turned out to be foreshadowing to Shinichi’s own turn towards the psychotic. It’s absolutely enthralling, and all written flawlessly.
These two episodes also gave us a new focal point in the form of one of the parasite’s babies. She carries him and treats him like a dog-trainer would one of their prized show dogs. This creates some humorous scenes when she carries her baby in extremely bizarre ways, but these scenes cross-over into blood-curdling territory when she thinks of using her baby for genetic experiments. We also see Shinichi break even further as he loses another precious friend.
As always, the intellectual debates about the correct way to conduct one’s existence and the emotional observations on the characters caught in the crossfire interweave perfectly making Parasyte one of the most finely balanced drama’s I’ve seen. The humor, I mentioned before was a nice surprise, with the two parasites talking and making unintentional jokes with each other. Parayste is weird, but it’s done so well, that it doesn’t matter.
Oh god, yes. Give me more anime like this, please. Every once in a while, an anime comes along that has something to say, or something to show, and does so with perfect execution. Death Parade is an anime, that definitely has something to say, and it’s first two episodes were absolutely stellar. What we have here is a concept, a very innovative and well-designed one, that stand out from all the other anime this year. It’s called Quindecim, and I’m going to spoil what it is in the next paragraph.
Quindecim is a supernatural place, formed to look like a classy bar, where particular souls go to be judged. The way they are judges is by using arbiters, the bartender being one, to have the dead play a game. The dead do not know that they are, in fact, dead, so the arbiters say the game has their lives at stake. What happens thereafter is a full on emotionally driven contest that brings out the best and worst in people so that the arbiter’s can judge their worthiness to go to heaven or hell.
This wonderful premise is brought to life with phenomenal directing. The dark tone escalates naturally, and when you don’t expect it. The emotional turbulence builds realistically and hits a breaking point in a completely believable manner. And thanks to the second episode, any possible shortcomings it could have had were done away with. I thought that maybe the arbiter would be a completely neutral character, but when he learns that he did something wrong, he actually expressed regret. Good move. I also thought the bar was amazing, but would eventually make a rather restrictive setting, and so the second episode showed us more of this world, and it looks beautiful.
Death Parade is fresh. While some would say the concept at it’s very basics has been done before, there really isn’t anything that’s been done quite like this. Not with the same dark flair, or the same complex character revelations, and definitely not this well produced. If this quality continues, it’s sure to transcend the typical “good” anime and become something of a must-watch to the anime community. Thanks to this, I can confidently say that Winter 2014 brought something to remember it by.
That’s a hefty 16 anime, with 4 being dropped, leaving me with 12 anime that I’ll happily follow. You can expect weekly updates for this season, as I promised myself I would. I may miss a week here and there, but I’ll always catch up. Thank you to anyone who reads these blogs, and please comment if you have anything to say about these anime!