Winter 2014 Anime Season Overview Week 1 – Sunday through Wednesday

(Shows Covered – Chuunibyou 2nd season, Log Horizon, Nobunagun, Noragami, Space Dandy, The Pilot’s Love Song, D-frag, Tokyo Ravens, Hamatora, Witch Craft Works, Nobunaga the Fool, Tonari no Seki-kun, Pupipo!)

Ok, let’s do this. I picked up too many shows (again), so I’m going to run a reality show here, and list the shows in order of my enjoyment of their last episode, those at the bottom might get the cut. Say I need to cut two shows, then the two at the bottom are gone. Say I need two to go away from Sunday, then the two shows rating lowest from Sunday are gone. If a show is consistently 1-3 on my list, but ends at the bottom one week (Samurai Flamenco) or is the only show I watch on that day (Koiuta), then it might get temporary immunity. Anyway, let’s go. (Maybe I’ll rate them by order of enjoying the show, rather than just the latest episode?)

Ah yes, I don’t plan to write about each show each week anymore in the weekly discussion threads, but I certainly did that for the first episodes, so each show links to my episodic write-up for that show in case you want to read more. I will have the second part of this post up on Saturday, and the placement there will also include the shows below, sans-description.

1) Chuunibyou 2nd season Ren Episode 1 

Chuunibyou Ren, Chu2Koi Ren, Chuunibyou 2nd season episode 1 anime

Though it might not be obvious since I rarely rank such shows higher than 7 on MAL, I love laughing, and I love RomComs. This is actually one of my most anticipated shows of the season, because I both laughed and smiled and teared up in the previous season.

This episode made me laugh, a lot. This episode reintroduced the cast, and although for now my wishes of seeing Yuuta and Rikka’s romantic relationships continue are put on hold, though I still hold faith for more to happen on that front. (though knowing what happened in the LN I think we might, once more, only get a “forward movement” moment in the final episode). The animation was superb, and had it been longer it could’ve beaten most dedicated action films/series who look good as well. Welcome back, Chuunibyou. I even liked the social commentary moment on how Rikka has made friends without changing, but Nibutani’s change only serves to isolate her once more.

2) Log Horizon Episode 14

Log Horizon anime episode 14

Oh yeah, this episode reminded me once more of why I enjoyed the early episodes of the show, and why I had so much hope invested in it which the last ~8 episodes kept squandering, and it had also shown us once more that this is the author behind Maoyu, who understands how societies, how worlds work.

We’ve had world-building, but not only did we have an interesting discussion with ramifications about the body-mind dualism, souls, and memories, but we’ve had what this show is good at – taking a rule, a game rule, and seeing how it’d translate had it been part of our reality. The children weren’t super exciting, again, but man, that part got to my head, and I could spend episodes upon episodes just seeing this stuff condensed :)

At least if this show fails again I know I can turn to the LNs, which apparently have a lot of the intricacies actually removed for the family-time TV slot.

3) Nobunagun Episode 1

Nobanagun anime episode 1

Well, this was a lot of fun. I loved the very distinctive visual design. I actually thought it also worked well with the themes of the show, or at least made sure we saw what was what. Someone commented that the direction of the colours was clashing, and chaotic, and drew their eyes all over the place – but I can’t help but think it’s intentional – we have a statue that looks as if it’s been the victim of a paintball war, which the characters comment on how “Flashy” it is. We have Nobunaga laughing maniacally, surrounded by fires, as a harbinger of chaos and destruction, so all that chaos and the clash seem very much intended to me.

We’ve also had the fact that “school uniforms” are “uniforms”, and are in fact designed after them. We have our girls, our flowers, whose clothes and bodies are constantly overlaid by this “soft” imagery, compared to our MC, who is a serious gun-nut, and who is portrayed as if she’s wearing camouflage. She stands apart from the other girls, a very standard trope. And then she makes a friend, and immediately she is transformed, she is overcome by a flower, she isn’t deflowered, but reflowered, making for a very beautiful shot.

The voice actress felt a little weird to me, but she also was not too dissimilar to Yuki Aoi in her role as Madoka. The character design with the wide cheeks, the very Shaft-like visual direction, the bunny that had eyes like Kyubei’s and talked of giving one’s life and granting wishes? I certainly feel that this might be more than coincidence.

On the action level, we hadn’t seen much, but with how well it’s married to the visual direction, and that it seems positively over-the-top/insane, this show had come out of nowhere, and I couldn’t be happier.

4) Noragami Episode 1

Noragami anime episode 1

This show was executed beautifully. It was so crisp, it truly felt like the first time one watched HD 1080p after being constrained by 360p on a curved television for their whole life. Not only is the execution amazing, the visual direction is colourful and well done.

The characters are alright, the voice actors are good and their performances more than solid. The show on the whole doesn’t seem special just yet, but it could actually go places, and I’ve been told the source material is good, so I’m letting some excitement carry through. I also like the world, and the cosmology, and want to learn more.

5) Space Dandy Episode 1

Space Dandy anime Episode 1

I’ve watched the dub version. It was ok. I actually prefer the dub, I think its hamminess is actually serving it well in the whole “homage to the cartoons and shows of our youths” vibe it has going on, because the acting/lines were just as hammy back then. The script in Japanese is a bit wittier/tighter, but I prefer it in English in this case, and even the puns were better and more plentiful.

The first episode had good energy, and was very colourful, but it was also more than a tad random. I think like many shows from bygone eras, we’re going to have a slightly more random/light first half, and a more plot-driven, somewhat more “serious” and less “episodic/monster of the week” stuff as we go along. As I said this, Bahi JD tweeted at me telling me that Watanabe is actually not planning for such a strict divide, and is planning to experiment with the mood transitions.

I’ve known this show is going to take some time to truly get going, so we’ll see.

6) The Pilot’s Love Song / Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta Episode 1

The Pilot's Love Song / Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta Anime episode 1

This was interestingly uninteresting, heh. The shaky camera in the opening aerial combat hadn’t been bad, it’s been horrible, and I sincerely hope we don’t return to it. The voice actors were all alright, and the setting was neat. Character designs were alright, and the setting had been truly beautiful, including various shots, hair-effects, and vistas that looked as if they would’ve belonged in a Studio Ghibli film, which considering this show made me think of Laputa somewhat, premise-wise, is not all too surprising.

A prince who is ousted from his position could make for a very interesting discussion on the nature of power, privilege, etc. but since we’re leaving behind the realm, where such socio-political issues are trulyrelevant, it seems such considerations will be reduced mostly to matters of revenge, or just character-motivation in general, rather than being properly discussed, but what with the newfound love-story (very generic, though usually such things are left a bit to the future), and her being a “noble”, it might be made relevant once more. Also, the love-story being realized so early makes one think something will happen to her, again, as a pretty generic motivation.

This truly feels like a school/army boot-camp story, we even have the dude he’ll clash with, and yet under fire they’ll learn to trust one another and be friends ;-) But unlike most such shows, it seems we’re going less for action here, and more for a drama, so I’m going to give them a chance here. It’s all looking so verystandard, but in the end, it’s all about execution, not innovation.

7) D-Frag Episode 1

D-Frag anime episode 1

My test for comedy shows is pretty darn simple – “Did I laugh, or did I not laugh?” – This episode had a good amount of laughs, the voice actors are all very good voice actors, and they’ve all done solid work, for the most part. The animation is very lacking, and the premise/gags sometimes failed to hit the mark, even as the comedic timing was often right on time. I’m slightly worried, because the premise isn’t too great, especially with the specific club setup they chose, which is WAY too similar to Seitokai no Ichizon. This show wasn’t even on my original “plan to watch” list, and I picked it up as part of procrastinating, so we’ll see. It might very well get axed soon.

8) Tokyo Ravens Episode 13

The RomCom train continues, and people actually realized what they know, and that they need to say it, but of course, just at this juncture we’re having action interrupt our lovebirds again. Supposedly we’re ending a book and from now on things will be much more exciting. Since the action in this show is solid if sometimes ugly (goddamit, terrible CGI ಠ_ಠ), we’ll have to see.

9) Hamatora Episode 1

Hamatora anime episode 1

I know it’s ranked pretty low, but eh. This was colourful, this was very energetic. The powers remind me of X-Men (how could it not?), but the whole setup reminded me of Get Backers, of which I’m not a huge fan. The action had a good pacing, the voice actors had all been on top of their game, but the real question will be whether it’d be nothing more than a popcorn show, or whether we’ll get some real investigative cases, and how well these will be handled. The show’s animation and character design are lacking, but a solid visual direction and smart use of stills (just like Kill la Kill) make the most out of it, and it sure as hell beats trying to animate everything and failing and it looking like crap as a result (Strike the Blood, and more than that, Unbreakable Machine-Doll, I’m looking at you).

10) Witch Craft Works Episode 1

Witch Craft Works anime episode 1

The animation isn’t spectacular, the character design isn’t spectacular, and the acting isn’t spectacular. I get that Fire-Witch keeps her voice pretty dead lest her anger consume her, but just like in HenNeko, it can easily come to bite the show in the ass. We don’t really know what the setup is, we’re left with a lot of questions, with all the questions.

It actually wasn’t a terrible first episode for a popcorn show, but it really feels like it’d have benefited greatly from us watching the first 2-3 episodes together, especially with how the first episode ended. It’s just, it doesn’t feel like this is going anywhere special, and it’s coming out on Sunday which is already overflowing with popcorn shows, with much more well-done action shows, including Noragami and Nobunagun, you know? It might very well get put on hold, where it might have survived longer had it not come out on Sunday.

11) Nobunaga the Fool Episode 1

Nobunaga the Fool anime episode 1

This show really felt like it’s been designed for the sake of slash fanfic writers, and considering the show the original creator is most well known for is Visions of Escaflowne, perhaps that is not too surprising. Also, we have tarot as a motif, seeing the other world hanging in the sky, and fantasy mecha. Unlike the beautifully hand-drawn mecha-fights of Escaflowne, it seems we’re going to have to make do with sub-par CGI mecha in this show, which is a great disappointment. The director of this show is most well-known I guess for his direction of Basquash! which I hadn’t watched yet.

While I liked some of the moves, and especially just how bloodthirsty, how domineering Nobunaga is when he takes his place, how you can feel the charnel winds blowing in his wake, how he’s a catalyst for change (see also my entry for Nobunagun), I can’t get over how mishy-mashy this show feels. The people of the various timelines feels so very random here, unlike Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere, Read or Die, or any other number of shows/movies/books. It just feels awfully lampooned here. Also, it doesn’t help that not only do most characters look pretty terrible, the voice acting is… bad. The voice actors are capable, but I can’t help but get pulled out of the show by how much the actors just fail in their roles, or how their voices sort of grate on me.

I think this show might be better 5 episodes in, or at least at that point one could give up on it completely. I don’t think it’s terrible, as much as it’s somewhat of a mess right now. I’ll probably put it on hold and see what people think of it around episode 4-5, and if it sounds promising, marathon it. I’ll likely give it one more episode first.

Ah, yes, Magellan who went all “Bring them back, dead or alive!” moments after saying how they’re allies and friends was just… weird. Why not bring them back alive? :-/

Summary: I’d say episodes 1-4 had been strong, 5-7 had been “ok”, and the rest had been average to weak.

Shorts, which aren’t part of this merciless death-game:

PuPiPo Episode 3 – I liked it again, but damn, this show actually makes me wonder what will happen, it makes me want a continuous story, rather than just give me a short where future development, and metaphysical truths that hold true matter. I really wish this had been a long form show, even if it’d only been a 2-3 episode thing, where each episode is 15-20 minutes long.

Tonari no Seki-kun Episode 1 – I don’t care much for skits or shorts, so that I was willing to watch two episodes of this in a row, had it been available, is telling. I actually was fairly entertained. Sure, it was a tad dry, but it was an enjoyable experience.

Hadn’t watched yet:

Buddy Complex – From what I’ve heard it sounds bog-standard, so hard to motivate myself. Maybe will await week 4-5 to hear how it’s doing, unless I watch it and shove it into Saturday’s post.

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4 comments on “Winter 2014 Anime Season Overview Week 1 – Sunday through Wednesday

  1. lifesongsoa says:

    I need to watch Nobanagun Episode 1 over again. You make a lot of sense out of the directing that I didn’t get on my first watch.

    • Guy says:

      Well, watch it, and feel free to tell me I’m still full of crap ;-)

      It’s very easy after you see a write-up, “Oh damn, I totally missed that!” as people are wont to do with my Gatchaman Crowds write-ups, but even in such write-ups, I’m the first to say I’m interpreting and injecting sense, and sometimes I create symbolism out of nowhere, so people are more than free to reject that.

      But also, watch again, because if your fun will be enhanced, then I’ve done a good job :)

  2. lifesongsoa says:

    I am able to appreciate it a bit more now, but it still feels busy to me. I did enjoy it more though. My hopes for the second episode have been raised a bit.

    Gatachman Crowds is a funny thing to talk about. It all makes sense thematically, but many things are just never explained. The people who want it all written out for them won’t accept it. I wonder what season 2 will be about. I sure hope it doesn’t exist purely to explain season 1.

  3. […] my episodic write-up of the relevant show. You will notice half the shows do not have descriptions, these appear in this post, covering the Sunday-Wednesday shows, while this post describes the episodes that aired during the latter […]

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