Fall 2013 Anime Mid-Season Impressions (Part 2/2, L-V)

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. This part’s shows have some really catchy OPs/EDs, so you’ll get more of them.

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 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 (this one!) will cover: Log HorizonNagi no Asukara, Outbreak Company, Samurai Flamenco (Samumenco), Strike the Blood, Tokyo Ravens, Unbreakable Machine-Doll, and Valvrave the Liberator’s 2nd season (Kakumeiki Valvrave).

Samurai Flamenco:

 

Samurai Flamenco / Samumenco anime

Samurai Flamenco in a striking pose, telling us all we need to know.

I think this show is a classic in the making, which isn’t as surprising since the art style, the direction, they all make me think of shows from the glory days of Manglobe shows such as Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo.

Well, putting that aside, the characters have great chemistry, so the show is enjoyable to watch. The mixture of naivety and cynicism amongst the characters and within each characters helps make them interesting, both as people and as characters, and further enriches their relationships.

The comedy in this show is pure gold, in a manner similar to Genshiken Nidaime last season the comedy isn’t reliant on gags that’d work in any show, or references to outside material, but is actually built on the solid foundation of the characters’ personalities, relationships, and situations.

The exploration of growing up, ideals, and wishful thinking also lend this anime a more serious side even during moments of high hilarity, and help me in thinking it’s a great show not just for younger audiences, but older ones as well.

Episodes Watched: 5/22. I’d marathon this show right now if I only could.
Current Grade: A to A+. I think you should be watching this.

Log Horizon:

 

This show is quite slow and methodical in its pacing (unlike what the OP might be promising you), but since each episode covers a whole theme, it’s hard to fault it – the only way I can think of changing things would be to fit each actual episode into exactly one half of an episode, and that’d do a lot to take away from the methodical world and character building that we are privy to.

I say this a lot about shows I like, and it’s not surprising that they share this trait, since it’s a good trait to have – the character interaction feels real, and the characters feel like real people. We don’t have much comedy, mostly one gag that repeats and doesn’t overstay its welcome, surely the use of chibi art when it happens doesn’t hurt, and many would tell you that repeating something is one of the cornerstones of comedy.

The show also takes time to teach players about MMO conventions, in a manner that doesn’t feel forced, also a great boon is that the show doesn’t just throws useless information at you, but the action that follows is often set up by the knowledge which enables you to appreciate it, while still not spoon-feeding you information, such as the information about cooldowns and the fight that follows which would be missed by many otherwise.

In the latest episode, Shiro pulls a Lelouch where he realizes that in order to change something small and all-pervasive, that is, in order to change society so everyone could have a home, he’s going to have to essentially take over the world. The show promises much excitement from here on now, as the “introduction” phase seems to be something we’re going to transition out of, but it felt necessary, as we are introduced to a new world, and must understand its problems if we are to appreciate them being solved, and recognized as problems by the cast as well.

Episodes Watched: 6/25
Current Grade: A- with an expected rise as we enter the social and political commentary/restructuring.

Nagi no Asukara:

 

Nagi no Asukara anime

The ocean-floor is like a different planet. Very beautiful show, full of striking visuals.

A charming little show, isn’t it? We focus on the small, down-to-earth personal level where we have a bunch of kids dealing with issues of first love, the sanctity of their group, and all cast on the backdrop of going to a new school where they’re essentially the racial minority.

On the external level we have two civilizations clashing, and the fight between progress and conservatism, with gender roles mixed into it as well, as we have a bunch of men who have no jobs and thus sit and do nothing more than drink and push their noses into others’ business, something which is actually not that rare in such stories. The children can’t help but get tangled up with the culture-clash, and you can see how the small personal level creatures clashes between cultures, and how the cultural clashes create personal clashes between various characters.

The characters are well written, and the thematic threads are very strongly emphasized, perhaps a bit too much, but it makes sense – all the pieces are being set in place, and soon a big storm will come and we’ll see the characters thrust into an emotional and social turmoil. Also, the social commentary as well as the relationships are pretty spot on. I also suggest everyone who enjoys this show to give a try to the New Zealander film Whale Rider, which deals with very similar issues, and is a great film.

Episodes Watched: 6/26
Current Grade: B+ with an expected rise. Right now it’s all done well, but I don’t love it, but as we’ll reach more clashes, I think things will only improve.

Valvrave the Liberator (Kakumeiki Valvrave) Second Season:

 

Valvrave the Liberator / Kakumeiki Valvrave anime

Just what we expect to see in our Valvrave.

Marie’s arc took over everything, and sort of came out of nowhere, but after spending a few episodes or many moments of them on build up, it was all made worth it with a very beautiful episode where the price had been paid. That’s the big message of the season thus far, which is a key message in most psychological thrillers, or psychological horror shows – there must be a price to pay. This is also the message behind Code Geass – you want something? You’re going to have to pay for it.

Oh, you made peace with the price you’ve paid? Time to increase it, time to keep the ante higher, so the characters can never rest easy, and must struggle with their resolve every step of the way.

The price here, as it often is, is about humanity, so we’re also exploring what it means to be human – to do what is right? To protect your friends? To shoulder the burden? What does it mean to lose yourself? To not do what you know you should, to not have the power to do what you wish, to not die, to lose control of your body, or perhaps to lose your memory which makes you you? But if you’ve already given up on all your ideals, does it matter?

I quite like this season, though it’s a tad slow. It almost feels like the first season of another show, rather than a 2nd season. The mystery behind everything is slowly being uncovered, at long last. Also, in case you don’t remember it, you might want to give the season 1 ending another listen, it was quite good.

Episodes Watched: 5/?
Current Grade: B+. I think you should watch it if you watched all of S1, but currently there’s not much here to convince you to give the show a whirl if you didn’t want to do so with S1, that will probably appear as the season unfolds.

Outbreak Company:

 

Outbreak Company anime

When dealing with medieval law enforcement ran by a 16 year old tsundere-wannabe (literally), one facepalm just isn’t enough.

Exactly three week ago, I listed this show as a “seasonal underdog more people should give another look[1] “, and listed it as one of my tier 1 shows of the season. It hadn’t met just the low bar I set it (a Zero no Tsukaima RomCom in a fantasy setting that’d be amusing to watch), but what I not only hoped, but suspected we’ll get – social commentary and preaching.

The show is indeed quite funny, the multiple love interests are pretty standard, but our otaku-boy is somewhat of an adult so doesn’t let the nonsense overtake him, usually. The MC is actually quite likeable in a dorky way, and the other characters actually make me laugh. That they don’t force-feed you the humor at every turn and have a nice mixture of gags, culture-based jokes, and actually make you see the ways what you, the watcher, engages in is ridiculous is a strength of the show.

Sadly, after a few episodes where social commentary was not only everywhere, but actually rich and nuanced, we’ve been in hardcore comedy, harem, would-be-romance mode for the last couple and a half of episodes. I still hope the show will pull itself together and return to the awesome content it had delivered, alongside the RomCom stuff, which is nice, don’t get me wrong, but the show not only could be so much more in potential, but actually showed it’s capable of it, so why go for the low-hanging fruit now?

Episodes Watched: 6/12
Current Grade: B+, early episodes were A, last few episodes B-ish.

Tokyo Ravens:

 

A relatively charming popcorn show, and where we note that popcorn relationship-comedy shows are also popcorn and not just the action. The CGI is a bit garish, let’s be honest, with some pieces looking so out of place.

The first arc feeling like an arc, with the final episode having music, teamwork, credits, and action sequences that many shows would appreciate for their finales, and it was just episode 3. But then we got to school. Ah, yes, animeschools, how we loathe you, how we love you, how we can never seem to get away from you.

Anyway, we don’t really understand the setting of the world, but the characters are likable, with BroToji being a real bro, and a nice character to have all around, I do wish he’d talk more, but then we might also find out more about him, and it certainly seems there’s more of him we don’t know than what we do know. The romance is as clumsy as expected, and even somewhat clumsier, with mistaken gender love stories and people in the know being caught in the middle.

Episodes Watched: 5/24
Current Grade: B+. Hardly the show of the season, but a charming little number combining alright action, solid characters, and some light harmless, albeit cliched, comedy.

Unbreakable Machine-Doll:

 

Unbreakable Machine-Doll anime

This shot is very descriptive of the show – we have the one message, and cute girls.

This show isn’t a very good show, but it tells you what it is right on the cover, and it is quite good at what it does, so one can’t truly fault it. This is a proud popcorn show, dammit!

Raishin, our hero, belongs to the Kirito (Sword Art Online), Drizzt D’Urden (R.A. Salvatore’s novels), and Alucard (Hellsing) school of determinator badasses (see break-down here), and though the series makes sounds about how he actually is weak, he usually mops the floor with everyone, and looks sarcastic and smirks when he does so, as opposed to the Natsu (Fairy Tail) and Naruto (Naruto…) school where they’re light and friendly. You can say it’s often the difference between characters aimed at younger shounen viewers, and older teens, though I think after a while many people switch back to preferring the friendly type, because the “I’m so mature” school of thought just shows its immaturity in that manner and comes off as fake to boot.

And yet, everyone becomes his friend through his fighting, and the show clearly tells us who is a real villain and who’s an antagonist who will become ally – anyone who shares Raishin’s sole main characteristic, of treating automatons as people will end up being a friend, but those who use automatons as tools can be villains, and dispatched.

The romance is beyond unbearable as anything other than jokes, but the jokes are ok, the fan-service is extremelyheavy handed at times (see gif  – that pause), and the CGI isn’t terrible, but it’s actually distracting in a few places. This show though, it gives me exactly what I want, which is a protagonist who’s an unapologetic god-moder, who is sarcastic and smug, and who will win his fights. The show could work a bit harder, but I can’t fault it for giving me what I wanted, even if it’s not much.

Also, this show’s ED is hypnotizing, albeit slightly NSFW. Blame me later (check here for SFW version with lyrics)

Episodes Watched: 6/12
Current Grade: B-. Honestly, this is another show I’d probably enjoy more marathoning, and with BD cleanup, as the quality of its streams is… terrible.

Strike the Blood:

 

Strike the Blood - anime

Just a boy and a girl; just a vampire and the hunter sent to kill him. What could go wrong?

I watched this show thinking it will bea popcorn show, with nothing really special about it, but that it’d be fun to watch. Also, looking at the artistic direction and the synopsis, I felt it’d be a clone of Toaru Majutsu no Index (A Certain Magical Index) – both were more or less true, the protagonist’s behaviour, the city, the magical world, they all give very big vibes of Index. The show is indeed nothing special, but I hoped it’d be a tad more fun, I guess.

This anime like most popcorn shows this season is sadly quite lacking in funds, and this means we have at times horrible CGI (but thankfully little), not the best fluidity of movement, washed out backgrounds, scenes with very few background characters, washed out colour palettes, etc. But this is a popcorn show, so it doesn’t matter as much, but it does matter since there’s so very little plot to begin with.

We have a powerful vampire, the girl who is sent to kill/protect him, some ecchi/harem and would be romance, but the real problem is the show is going through the motion in quite a few places, going with specific plot-lines just because that’s what all LNs do, which is lazy, and exactly what I expected the show to do, but one can still hope to be surprised or that it’d be executed better, even within the confines. It’s not terrible though, it could’ve been done much worse. The romance stuff is executed alright, even if it’s also uninspiring.

Episodes Watched: 4/24 – on hold. I actually don’t hate such shows, and knew going in more or less what I’d get. I do prefer marathoning such shows, so it’s on hold rather than dropped. I think more money would’ve buoyed my enjoyment of the show, as the fights are alright, and more money to have more fights and have them look better. The light novel origins are all but unmistakable.
Current Grade: B– (Yes, that’s double minus, it’s still slightly above C+).

Log Horizon anime

So, what are you guys watching?

Question: So, which shows are you watching this seasons, and what do you think of them?

8 comments on “Fall 2013 Anime Mid-Season Impressions (Part 2/2, L-V)

  1. […] 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 […]

  2. 123 says:

    15 shows. Wow.

    I’m currently watching Kyousougiga, Nagi no Asukara, Kill la Kill, Samurai Flamenco, Valvrave S2, Ace of Diamond and Monogatari SS, and I’ve recently started White Album 2. My favourite would have to be Kill la Kill haha, and least favourite is probably Monogatari SS, but I’m mostly watching that because I’ve watched all the other -gataris.

    I’m also really enjoying Valvrave. Again. Although I can’t say I was so keen on episode 6. Lovin’ the music though, especially the ED. It’s a pretty crazy space-anison-gothic blend :-). One thing I do wonder, are they ever going to give a legitimate reason why Haruto raped Saki, or have they just forgotten about it? I don’t really think talking about Runes answers anything.

    I also started Coppelion, Kyoukai no Kanata, Galilei Donna and Log Horizon, but ended up dropping them. The first three were because various things pissed me off, Log Horizon for no particular reason except that I actively look to drop shows so I can attempt to watch older stuff too. However since you’ve given it such a good grade, maybe I’ll take it up again a bit later! Some great write-ups here ^^

    • Guy says:

      I said before this season started that I’ll limit myself to 10 shows, so much for that…Shows in these two posts I’ve dropped/put on hold are BlazBlue, Coppelion, Strike the Blood. I should probably drop/put on hold are also Galilei Donna, Kyoukai no Kanata, and Unbreakable Machine-Doll, and maybe even Tokyo Ravens/Outbreak Company, but they give me fun.

      Dropping these shows would allow me to try out White Album 2, Yowamushi Pedal, and/or Yozakura Quartet, and much more importantly, allow me more time to write blog-posts, work on my backlog, do non-anime hobbies which I’ve been neglecting since Summer’s season, and of course, work/study… I really should drop some more shows. I also watch The Legend of Korra weekly :3

      They hadn’t forgotten about it, as they referred to it, it has to do with Runes, and stealing Runes from people/feeding Pino, but it was a bad move for me, show wise, I even wrote a full blog-post on Valvrave episode 10.

      Log Horizon is slow and methodical, if you don’t have patience for world-building, it is either not the show for you, or you should wait for it to end so you could marathon it :3

      And thank you, another thing that dropping shows helps with is these write-ups – writing all 15 write-ups took several hours and was mentally exhausting >.> 7-8 is a nice number before burn-out. That’s another option, only do write-ups for the show I care for, then 1-2 lines for each other show.

  3. charlotte says:

    i think you should definitely make room for kyousougiga if you do end up dropping any.

    • Guy says:

      I am watching Kyousougiga. I covered it in the first part, where the letter “K” is :3 I even bolded its name, to show that it’s one of the shows I’m recommending for everyone.

      The shows I might yet pick up are White Album 2, Yowamushi Pedal, and Yozakura Quartet.

  4. I think you’re being overly critical of Unbreakable Machine Doll, especially if your using animes like SAO, Fairy Tail, Naruto and Hellsing as comparisons(at least I think that’s what you were doing). It’s not a bad show, I’m not saying it’s a great show. Like if someone asked “What’s the best anime of 2013 at the moment?” someone will answer with SNK before that question’s finished.

    You’re probably right in that UMD is probably more suited for marathoning, I actually watch each episode that’s been aired before the new one every week. I have also seen some people say they don’t like the action sequences of it, but I’m certainly not with them on that, as I think it’s got some of the best action of the anime series I’ve watched this year. Not to mention those cliffhangers at the end of the episodes are good enough if you’re not marathoning them.

    And that ending is indeed as catchy as the plague(but this one in a good way) but I enjoy the opening even more, I’ve gone as far as to say it’s better than SNK’s 2 ops(I know I’m crazy saying that).

    I feel like UMD has a good story mixed into a amazing and stunning setting and I’m enjoying it fully.

    • Guy says:

      I’m not really comparing UMD to these shows, just comparing Raishin to the heroes of these shows to describe his type of determinator-archetype. The shows also share so many things, regarding fights make friends, etc. I do wish the show’s graphics were on par with those shows.

      Also, I don’t think Shingeki no Kyojin is even close to my top 10 list of shows from the past year. I don’t think it was bad, but too much wasted potential and horrible pacing in order to pad the episode count (the curse of shonen, but usually you don’t see it in 26 episode releases…)

      Well, I’m glad you enjoy the show, I truly do, but not only am I not enjoying the show that much, I think that even if I enjoyed it a bunch, I’d be hard pressed to defend this show as more than mediocre – the story is threadbare, the characterization is lazy, the fights’ direction, not just their execution is uninspired, and the character interaction don’t even reach the average cliche level. There is next to no setting, actually – we have a school which is often used to limit the “setting”, but compare to Harry Potter where the school is brought to life, or Gormenghast where the castle is its own world.

      This is a type of show I actually enjoy a bunch, but this show is mediocre in almost every single way, when it’s not even underneath that.

      But hey, if you have fun, more power to you :)

      • I think we can all agree that for certain anime genre’s(especially Harem and Shonen) it’s impossible to be 100% original, story and characters. There will always be similarities between series, like you could have someone say One Piece and Dragon Ball Z are different, but then have glaring similarities pointed out.

        What has got me to watch UMD was the steampunk elements, and the fact I’ve never actually seen an anime in which puppetry is a key part of the story. The animation seems to be either loved or hated by people as far as I’ve seen.

        As for Attack on Titan, I can see why you’d not put it in your top 10. While I said I’d put it Top 10, the middle part of the season kinda ruined it’s chances to take the top spot.

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