Fall 2013 Anime Mid-Season Impressions (Part 1/2, B-K)

So, another season of anime reached its half-point and it’s time to watch my mid-season impressions, where I talk a bit of the show and rate it.

Due to how many shows I have to cover (15), I’ve cut them into two halves, sorted alphabetically. The shows within each episode are sorted roughly by excitement generated within me or how good they are. I’ve also bolded in the following lines what shows I’ll recommend people without reservations.
The first post (this one!) will cover: BlazBlue: Alter Memory, Coppelion, Galilei Donna, Gingitsune (Silver Fox), Kill la Kill, Kyoukai no Kanata (Beyond the Boundary), and Kyousougiga (Capital Craze).
The second post will cover: Log Horizon, Nagi no Asukara, Outbreak Company, Samurai Flamenco (Samumenco), Strike the Blood, Tokyo Ravens, Unbreakable Machine-Doll, and Valvrave the Liberator’s 2nd season (Kakumeiki Valvrave).

Kill la Kill:

 

To those who don’t know, I avoid reading most online discussion of this show, so the hype and anti-hype and plain old disappointment won’t affect me too much (I try). So, what do I think of it? I think it’s a very interesting show. The clothings as an external power source that runs counter to normal shounen sensibilities where true power must originate from within, and clothing as dignity/humanity had been very real thematic threads in the show’s early episodes, until it came time to shed them as second-hand skin, and to proudly don one’s clothes, and be proud of not wearing one’s clothes… I feel the yarn had got a bit tangled for the writers in that segment, but since it’s early, not every reversed thread must truly find its way into the final tapestry.

The source of power still seems a very relevant thread in this tale, and I’ve noticed that not only are the antagonists in this show potential shounen-show characters/allies, but a few of them could even be the stars of a shounen action show in their own right, especially considering what happened in episode 6, where Sanageyama had to show his will for power was greater than everything else, his desire to win, to fight a strong opponent, and maintain his dignity. I’m still curious about all the “Balance of power” talk we’ve had, and hopefully the lessons of Nazi Germany and the George Orwell references in episode 1 (both 1984 and The Animal Farm) wouldn’t just be discarded from here on out.

I really wonder what the show could do with more money. The artistic direction and use of stills is brilliant, but it’d be nice to still see it augmented with more money. The musical direction and the choice of classic pieces throughout the episodes greatly enhance the experience of watching this show.

Episodes Watched: 6/25
Current Grade: A? Some episodes are amazing, some episodes are really good, a couple didn’t hit the mark, and within each episode there are also moments of greatness within an ok episode and weak moments in a good episode. So I’ll give it an A? for now.

Kyousougiga (Capital Craze):

 

Kyousougiga / Capital Craze Anime

Aside from a rare level of family drama and a superb use of imagery, this show also has a manic sense of movement that is reminiscent of FLCL

It’s hard for me to describe this show, but let’s try. This is a magical story about a magical family. In so many ways it reminds me of Uchouten Kazoku from last season, in that both shows revolve around an event in the past, and keep circling about it. While the story is supposedly told “now”, much of the story actually happens in the past, and in both shows the event has to do with a parent going away.
Unlike Uchouten Kazoku, we do get content in the past all the time, and it’s done exceedingly well – we learn of the characters’ past when we see them talking in the present amongst themselves, and we learn of their present and future when we have scenes happening in the show’s past.

People, and the show itself, reference Alice in Wonderland, but I myself find it to draw similarities to the show that I think is more resembling of Alice in Wonderland – Mawaru Penguindrum.
The show has rich imagery and symbolism, heart-tugging moments, and subtle direction. I suggest it to everyone.

Episodes Watched: 5(+1)/10. Accounting for Episode 0, whose role/place in the story is yet unclear. If you watched episode 0 and didn’t like it, give episode 1 a try as well, much more indicative of the show’s mood, but I like the puzzle that episode 0 presents which you then try to piece as you watch the show – not solve, but even piece together what the puzzle is.
Current Grade: A+. You should be watching this.

Gingitsune (Silver Fox):

 

Gingitsune / Silver Fox anime

Makoto and Gintaro, rare character chemistry, and a gruff old fox-spirit.

I absolutely love this show. This show is full of perfectly crafted moments which make me tear up and smile alternately, and I often find myself smiling after watching the show with a warm fuzzy feeling within me – which is interesting since it does have quite a few moments that can make me tear up, and the first episode really reminded me of Kotoura-san‘s first arc (and not just due to sharing the same MC).

The show trusts us to understand how past actions and events led to what occurred this episode, rather than feeding us endless flashbacks and hammering at us, which is appreciated; using small visual cues at times, or a subtle tonal shift to make us realize what’s up, but often it just trusts us to piece things together.

The show does keep alternating between episodic episodes where we get to meet new characters, and a slightly more structured episodes often involving her school friends. The characters feel great together, especially the two MCs, Gintaro and Makoto, whose chemistry is absolutely palpable, and Gintaro’s gruff uncle act is very nice to watch.

Episodes Watched: 6/12
Current Grade: A-. A small little gem of a show.

Kyoukai no Kanata (Beyond the Boundary):

 

Kuriyama Mirai, Kyoukai no Kanata / Beyond the Boundary anime

This “bespectacled beauty” just wants money to make ends meet. Oh yes, this is supposedly a dark fantasy show.

Earlier in the season I began noticing something being “wrong” with this show. That thing was that though it was very pretty, and so clever as to be liable to cut itself, it was missing heart. It was like a shiny bauble, but empty within. I actually think the two things are closely related – it’s using the glitter, which includes characters talking oh-so-quickly and having these so-called “witty-banter”, is actually there to draw your attention away from how dead-inside the characters are.

Thing is, the witty-banter and all the stammering, aside from attempting to cover the lack of heart I think are part of the reason it actually exists – so much attention is spent on the small mannerisms, small affectations, that no time is spent on actually making us care for the characters. Furthermore, by trying to make us believe the characters are shy, or have proper relationships only draws attention to the fact that they aren’t, and they don’t.

Apparently a lot of it stems from KyoAni changing the source material to inject moe, resulting in an unholy Franken-show. Episode 6 was the best one by far, and it’s sad because it was so unlike the rest of the show, and felt like the show KyoAni’s people do actually want to be making – another Haruhi (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya). KyoAni should either do the shows they actually want to do, or at least respect the source material a tad more, this mish-mash of authors and author-goals is only giving us a brew that isn’t great at anything it does.

Episodes Watched: 6/13.
Current Grade: B. It’s an average of the good and the bad.

Galilei Donna:

 

Galilei Donna Anime

Cute girls and technology, what else do you need, huh? Because this is all you’re getting.

The J.J. Abrams Alias Show, the Michael Bay meets Dan Brown show. Kick reason to the curb, but unlike TTGL, B-movies or pulp fiction in books/comics, it seems to actually take itself seriously, which is removing a lot of the charm. The characters are acting as if the world they are in makes sense, and as if their problems are real problems, including all the emotional switcheroo of 3 adolescent girls caught in a life-threatening situation, as they embark on a grand adventure on a big flying goldfish mecha…

It’s good looking, but you know all these shows people tell you to turn your brain off because they’re dumb? This show isn’t dumb as much as it’s plain illogical and isn’t even seemingly trying to make sense. I’m watching it because it’s good looking, and some of the characters are amusing, even if 4 episodes in all we have is characterization instead of actual characters, and the characters are like walking cliches – but then again, I think some of them are aware of their cliche nature, and are actually adopting cliched masks because it’s easier than showing one’s true face, of actually being a fully developed person.

Fun? Eh. If it didn’t take itself seriously it could be a lot more fun. But don’t worry, no one else takes it seriously, and if you treat this show as a drinking game, it can only enhance the viewing.

Episodes Watched: 4/11
Current Grade: B.

Coppelion:

 

Coppelion Anime

Big guns, small girls, no sense.

When this season started I likened Coppelion to Kamisama no Inai from last season – intriguing concept, will either be amazing or fall flat. It didn’t take it long to fall flat, alas.
We have girls whom I thought were just going to get to the edge and take some photos, especially as they are seemingly dressed for a light stroll, go into the ruins of Tokyo, and stay there time and time again, even though they have multiple opportunities to I dunno, wear kevlar vests, get weapons? There are multiple moments where no amount of suspension of disbelief could stand the onslaught of this show, and again, unlike B-movies, the show taking itself seriously means you can’t just kick back and enjoy it, because what is there to enjoy exactly?

The show had some nice ideas about one’s purpose in life, and what makes us humans, since the protagonists are artificially created humans for the purpose of cleaning up a radioactive area, the show’s theme of humanity making mistakes and then potentially making more mistakes and committing more sins to try to clean up the previous mistake, ala Pandora’s Box is interesting, but these themes seem either to only get paid lip service (humanism) or to take a long ass time to unfold in the background (mistakes), while the show is all too busy focusing on random-seeming and intelligence-insulting action.

Episodes Watched: 3/13 – on hold. I just couldn’t make myself watch episode 4. If I hear it gets better towards the end, I might marathon it once it’s done.
Current Grade: C+. I actually like the artistic style, by the by.

BlazBlue: Alter Memory:

 

BlazBlue: Alter Memory Anime

Too many characters we aren’t made to care for, no plot, shoddy animation, great soundtrack.

The plot is a thin excuse to string together random-feeling battles, in a manner that makes you think of the worst fighting game adaptation to films, and the campiness here is only in how non-amazing the fights look. We’ve got walking cliches and some minor characterization, but none of the characters are actually characters, and we don’t care for any of them one whit.

I actually played Continuum Shift Extend a fair bit, and wanted to care for the characters, but sometimes when you make an adaptation it means you also have to know what to drop, what to change, and to have the courage to do so. The soundtrack is one ray of light, since the show’s soundtrack draws from the games’ tracks, which are great.

Episodes Watched: 3/12.
Current Grade: D, a towering disappointment.

One comment on “Fall 2013 Anime Mid-Season Impressions (Part 1/2, B-K)

  1. […] I’ve also bolded in the following lines what shows I’ll recommend people without reservations. The first post will cover: BlazBlue: Alter Memory, Coppelion, Galilei Donna,Gingitsune (Silver Fox), Kill la […]

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