Spring 2014 Week 3 Impressions – (Anime Power Ranking)

Shows in order of my enjoyment of the latest episode, not the show as a while.

I’m actually dropping/putting on hold a few shows. Finally cutting down on some write-ups (I hope I can!) link are to relevant blog-posts, and only for shows I thought the write-up was good or lengthy enough. First impressions for M3: Sono Kuroki Hagane, extra long write-ups for Isshuukan Friends, M3, and Mekakucity Actors.

1) Ping Pong episode 2

Ping Pong the Animation episode 2 overview - Tsukimoto Makoto / Smile has a face-off with coach Koizumi Jou

From APR – Ping Pong Episode 2 takes what the first episode had done and kicks it to overdrive. The characters which were basic are actually built. The interactions are charming, the characters are all “known” and nothing is new, but they still have depth and convince you of their reality, as their quirky natures rise to the top. A loveable cast, solid acting, and solid direction. The “duel” being narrated from the sides, discussing the other’s personality, the flicks to the butterfly… this ping pong duel had been directed and narrated as a samurai show fight, straight out of a samurai manga, and it’s one of the best such duels I’ve watched or read in a long while.

Verdict: Kept, full write-ups.

2) Isshuukan Friends / One Week Friends episode 3

Isshuukan Friends Episode 3 / One Week Friends episode 3 anime overview -  Kiryuu Shogo

This episode cranked up the drama. Rather than just being “fuzzy atmosphere”, we’ve actually had drama, and growth. No, the growth I’m referring to has nothing to do with Fujimiya remembering something, that’s a plot-event. I’m talking about character changes and being forced to grow.

There’s a reason Fujimiya had been shocked when told, “You have to speak up for yourself. (You have to be the one to reach out to others, to make a bond, and maintain it.)” Hase is happy to speak up for Fujimiya, but just like last week, her past-self can’t make friends for her. Hase can’t make friends for her. Only she is in control of her own life.

“Do you not like Fujimiya either?” – “Who a person hangs out with is their own choice.” Wise Shogo, summarizing the whole philosophy of “Friends of Friends” into one sentence. Hase doesn’t need Shogo’s approval, and if he wants to spend time with Fujimiya, he should. Likewise, that Shogo is Hase’s friend doesn’t mean he should or even wants to be Fujimiya’s friend, and Hase shouldn’t bug him about it. That’s one of the infamous “geek fallacies” which I think are human fallacies – “My friends must like one another! I want to spend time with both of them, so it should be at the same time.

Shogo is an amusing audience stand-in. He’s a cooler head male, complaining about the “Fuzzy atmosphere”, noting that Hase and Fujimiya appear to exist in a slightly different reality than the rest of us. But that’s why we like it. And yes, Hase is silly, asking Shogo to come, and then getting angry at him for that very same reason. Hase is an emotional and impulsive one, but Shogo knows it, and he also knows it’ll blow over. Which is sort of funny. Fujimiya is the one with the weekly memory erasure, but it’s Hase who is as flighty and as quick to change as the wind. I guess when you lose memories every week as Fujimiya does, you tend to try and cling to what you have left.

And of course, this episode was still incredibly sweet and made me tearful as well.

Verdict: Kept. Post-episode write-ups.

3) Mushishi S2 episode 3

Another beautiful episode. Not much to add. Reminded me of the snow episode from the first season.

Verdict: Kept. No write-ups.

4) Sidonia no Kishi episode 2

From APR – At its core this is a simple mecha shounen story, of a boy with a slightly mysterious past, controlling a unique mecha better than everyone else.. but the setting actually has thought put into it. Small touches, such as a festival originating from the gravity module’s malfunction and others. The attention to detail makes this setting come to life, and as a lover of settings and sci-fi, I can appreciate it.

Verdict: Kept. Maybe post-episode write-ups for nice sci-fi moments.

5) Fairy Tail (2014) episode 3

Finally, some action! The sound is still great, the animation is wonky, with cut corners everywhere. But finally we’re getting to what we watch shounen fors, the endless fights! The heartfelt moments are a bit farther off, but damn, one moment not too far off is one of the most emotional I’ve gotten in a long-running shounen. Aye sir!

Verdict: Kept. No write-ups.

6) Black Bullet episode 3

Black Bullet Episode 3 anime overview - Aihara Enju crying

Solid stuff. Farcical and theatrical enemy, discussing the nature of humanity and how others see the girls as tools, as weapons, as monsters, and how when they try to act out their humanity they are rejected by those who fear them. And more than that, on trading away humanity to defeat the monsters.

MC-kun has a secret, tam-tam-taaaaam! Honestly, it’s a solid “7/10” shounen. Even with the silly moments, it seems the show is now more serious, darker, and the theatrics are only there to accentuate it, and due to how hard it is for people to write good villains. It’s a light entertainment. Not just “with”, but perhaps due to all the grimdark.

Verdict: Kept, post-episode write-ups? Maybe?

7) No Game, No Life episode 3

No Game No Life Episode 3 anime overview - Sora and Shiro JoJo's Bizarre Adventure reference

This show is dumb fun. It’s actually a good amount of fun, when I can get my mind to ignore the, well, dumb. This show is parodying Code Geass so hard. Lelouch is the king of chess, but it works because he can and will sacrifice everything to get to the goal. But real humans do not wish to be sacrificed, and not everyone can be as convincing as Lelouch. This is part of what makes it a parody, because our protagonist has no real reason to have any charisma, he’s exclaiming because being loud is being convincing.

Cute is justice! And other stupidity. The games are more fun, at least. Even though if there’s zero strategy and though, and it’s all about the spectacles and the surprise gimmicks. Yeah, I’ve said it’s basing itself on Code Geass, right?

Verdict: Kept for now, write-ups stop. Tempted to drop and watch Mondaiji, or just drop :3

8) JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure S2 episode 3

The JoJo train is continuing to pick up steam. More ridiculous synchronized poses, more ridiculous declarations of intent! Abdul even picks up the mantle of Stroheim and Speedwagon and narrates endlessly and hilariously to us! Show’s still pretty slow right now, both the first and second arcs of the first series had a lot more going on by the third episode, and even the second. Well, it’s getting there.

Verdict: Kept. No write-ups.

9) Gokukoku no Brynhildr episode 3

Revelations, pressure, going into the lion’s den. Art continues to be solid, while things are way overblown, with all the bandages, and blood, and the rage at the loss. It’s a solid show, but it’s nothing special, and I don’t really care all that much. The underlying conflict, the “home” they’d set up, the school, and especially the protagonist? All are flimsy and stop me from caring.

Verdict: On-hold.

10) Akuma no Riddle episode 3

The game is on! Things are ridiculous, but not too ridiculous for me. The main character who should be sharp, as an assassin, is acting awfully dull. I think at some point she will awaken, and then it’d be glorious. I sure hope so, because if she keeps acting as the dullest blade in the shed, when she’s supposed to be a kickass assassin, then I might die from gratuitious facepalming. Falling for the same trick over and over again.

Sexual violence continues to be a thing, with girls getting it off by torturing others and such. There’s not much here, but it’s the sort of nothing I often enjoy.

Verdict: Kept, for now. No write-ups.

11) Captain Earth episode 3

Captain Earth anime episode 3 overview - Yomatsuri Akari is laying it on thick

We’ve set our home! We have a home with all kids, being told to think of themselves as a family. And then the episode’s second half shows us one of the kids or two are actually aliens, and the preview for next episode shows one of them may go away. Yup, can see it all coming.

The theatrical rendition of Akari’s woes was amusing. It actually didn’t feel like a lot was happening, though. I actually had to work hard to remember what actually happened in this episode, which had a lot of social setup for the next few episodes.

Verdict: On-hold, would rather marathon it in one go. I feel Bones mecha shows were made to be watched in one go.

12) Hitsugi no Chaika episode 3

Hitsugi no Chaika episode 3 / Chaika the Coffin Princess Episode 3 anime overview - Chaika Graz likes cute

Geek (otaku) culture in a nutshell.

I dunno. We’re painting a nice world, and the antagonists are definitely not villains. We spend time talking about how they’re silly, or how one subordinate has the hots for her commanding officer, and how another teases her for it. On one hand, it’s an old trick for “the antagonists are people doing their best too”, especially if/when they join forces with our three main characters.

The other reason why this is necessary is because our main characters are pretty dull. Chaika is a moeblob that barely speaks, Akari is a deadpan character who doesn’t speak, and our MC doesn’t have a lot to say, when these are the two characters to play off of. But this is a fantasy action show, it’s less about words, and more about deeds, and reveling in the world we live in, and big showdowns.

It’s unclear what this show has to offer thus far, but it’s easy on the eyes, has a good soundtrack, and I like world-building.

Verdict: Kept, for now. Maybe post-episode write-ups, but in general no write-ups. It’s another light show that’s probably more enjoyable to breeze through in 4 hours, then sigh as another season won’t be forthcoming, leaving you in the air story-wise.

13) Nisekoi episode 15

Nisekoi Episode 15 overview anime - Tachibana Marika

Another Marika episode. Less RomCom, more gags and annoying stuff. Yes, she’ll do everything for Raku, blah blah blah. I actually liked Marika early on in this episode from a narrative point of view – she was conniving alright, and abrasive, but she knew what she wanted, and she was going for it. Due to her presence, the fact they all knew Raku before, and all of them have keys, had been brought to light.

And then Raku told her something sweet and she ran away from him… we’re never getting anywhere, are we? I’m not surprised. I think harems are often the hallmark of an unsure author, an author who wants all the girls to win, an author who is trying to pick “Best Girl”, and ending the series will require him to pick a girl, which he doesn’t want to do. Also, it’s published in Shounen Jump, expect a conclusion in a decade, maybe.

Verdict: Kept. Write-ups stop.

14) Mekakucity Actors episode 2

Mekakucity Actors Episode 2 anime overview - Kisaragi Momo doesn't want to repeat a class

We don’t want to either, trust us, Momo.

Oh boy. We’re going to have to have a little talk. I already had people on tumblr (from which many of Mekakucity’s fans seem to come, and a very heavily slanted female fanbase, which is interesting) tell me how if I want to “stop embarassing myself about not understanding the anime” then I should obviously go and read the entire source material! Genius! How didn’t I think of that first? Well, I answered them.

Well, that aside, it’s time to talk about my complaints, which attracted their ire (it’s funny, they were angry I dared compare Mekakucity to Monogatari). Let’s be frank, with Shinbo at the helm, it’s hard not to compare this to Monogatari. Many of the shots or character designs seem similar. But that similarity is skin-deep. There are more venues where the series seems similar to Monogatari to me, which is interesting. The first episode was “Artificial Enemy”, where the second is “Kisaragi Attention”. The naming convention is similar to Monogatari, and some of the underlying “plot”, as it seems right now. No, not the overarching plot, but how each episode deals with a character’s issue, one which is a manifestation of their own issues and insecurities. They’re damaged people, and they need a helping hand.

Now, people pick up on Shinbo’s “shaftism” and self-indulgence, and they’re right to pick on them. We have Momo talk to her teacher, with them doing a weird choreographed dance of walking around one another, head-tilting, her posing in a pose-word combination with sexual overtones, and later when she speaks with a boy who is lost, all those still moments while she monologues ridiculously. Those things, alongside the very… heavy usage of imagery (a gramophone with a teddybear on top replacing an Idol agent?) draw attention, but they’re nothing to truly add or deduce points for. If the show’s story stands, and the dialogue stands, then what matter about the imagery? It does feel somewhat as if the artist is indulging himself, just making things pretty for his sake, rather than care for the actual story.

And that’s where people’s feeling of discontent arises from: Self-indulgence, caring for himself more than caring for us. The real issue is that it feels as if our time is wasted. I remember why I’m unwilling to watch Bakemonogatari on a weekly basis – very little happens in every single episode. It usually feels as if you need 2-4 episodes for anything to actually happen. The characters talk a lot, but very little is actually said. There are a lot of visual elements, but very few of them actually carry significance, or at least add any. When you think of Bakemonogatari’s 15 episodes, you think that aside from the experience, you could easily reduce the whole thing to 8 episodes or less. But it works, because it has all those 15 episodes, so even if each episode has 40% of a real episode’s content, over 2-4 episodes, we’d get all the content we need, even if it was tiring.

Here, we don’t get all these episodes, but one-fer, so the feeling is that a lot of our time is wasted, never to return. Ah, and here is me delving into the opposite stance, which stems from the same place – our time is wasted, and it has a lot to do with all the still-shots and the inane chatter. Each episode is 22 or so minutes, 2-4 of which are taken with stories of “The Monster”. Why is so much of our time wasted? Because they need to give us endless filler. This feels as if Mekakucity Actors should’ve been a 10 minute episode show. Momo’s story was 10 minutes long, and everything else that is annoying us? All those stylistic takes and shots? They’re only there to hide it, to obfuscate how empty most of it is. Same with Ene. Cut down on Ene’s chatter, reduce the time where nothing happens, and you’re left with a 10 minute long episode or so. I wonder if this show wouldn’t have been better not with more episodes and time, but with less, perhaps adapting 2 stories and the monster’s tale in one 30 minute episode, or cutting the monster and giving us two stories per episode.

This show is wasting our time, and trying to hide it behind a sophisticated facade, which it hadn’t earned. “You’re All Style and No Substance!” is a sentence from this episode. It feels it has substance, but it’s busy being buried in shit.

Verdict: Watching for now. Write-ups continue.

15) Selector Infected WIXOSS episode 3

Selector Infected WIXOSS episode 3 overview anime - raging Aoi Akira

From APR – I have to say, this episode relieved a burden from my heart. The show put its cards on the table and revealed itself for what it is. It’s not a highly dramatic show, it’s not the next NGE or Madoka. Most of its depth is skin-deep and in the realm of design and atmosphere. The thematic core of the story? Unsurprisingly, it’s a shounen show about the power of friendship, as most TCG adaptations are. Yes, they can still turn the ship around, but the show seems to tell us what it is about right now, and it’ll take some real changes to make anything but the shounen friendship be more than skin-deep.

There are some interesting things about socialization here, but they’re not nearly enough, and seem incidental, rather than carrying a message, depicted while the show’s busy portraying some people.

Verdict: Dropped-ish. This is an interesting situation, similar to how people are sometimes with shows. I want to see where they go with this, but I can summon zero belief in them pulling it off. That’s not the real issue though. After each episode, I find myself unsatisfied. And then a week later I wonder what will happen… I might watch it without taking any notes, but I will try not to. It’s like picking at a scab.

16) Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei episode 3

Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei Episode 3 / The Irregular at Magic High School Episode 3 anime overview - Shiba Tatsuya's breasts

The best and worst part of the episode? Nope, just par the course… Oh yes, she’s talking to her brother.

I really wonder how I’d feel about this show if I hadn’t read the books. Well, I was pretty darn bored reading the books as well, so I guess it’s fair? We’ve had a whole lot of fan-service this episode, with Miyuki hitting on Tatsuya, with her getting undressed to help him calibrate her machinery (if you get what I mean :O). This had an explanation in the text, but it’s still an excuse. We’ve also had Erika’s clothes get a bit off, though I think in the books it was more pronounced. And you know the thing? This isn’t the SAO situation, where almost all fanservice was added in on the anime-front. The books are dripping with attention to the females’ bodies and sexuality.

Of course, all the horrible elevator-style VN-music during these sequences, and especially the vocals as Miyuki tried to seduce Tatsuya had the unintentional effect of me bursting out in laughter.

I’m happy with Sayaka Mibu getting a good voice actress. The main cast of this series are all flat. Almost all the emotions are displayed by tertiary characters, so they’re the ones where the voice acting will really matter.

Verdict: Kept begrudgingly (I know this arc is the weakest, and the next is the strongest), post-episode write-ups, 1-2 episodes to big rant of doom™.

17) M3 The Dark Metal episode 1


M3 The Dark Metal / M3 Sono Kuroki Hagane Episode 1 overview anime - Saginuma Akashi wants to die

Look at this gif, it’s so terrible it’s hypnotic, I call it “boobie-balls”. It’s the best worst part of this show. This Mari Okada show is a take on NGE, as the other is a take on Madoka. This isn’t to say they’re actively trying to mimic those other luminary shows, but the point is it feels tired, it feels trying too hard.

We have an annoying and dumb character. I’m sure at some point we’ll get a sob story explaining it, but that’s what it is. We have the “mysterious boy who can hear the enemy”. Our MC’s whole history and character and personal conflict had been phoned in. Seriously, in the first episode we were just handed to us, force-fed down our throats. He felt left-behind after his parents died, and blamed his brother for surviving. Then he blamed his brother for running into combat to die, because dying is much easier than facing your past, which he tells you outright, and now he hates himself for living, and hates himself for wanting to die.

Oh yeah, we also have villainous or incompetent adults, including logic holes the size of the moon, such as going on a patrol while inexperienced, but it’s fine cause nothing is expected to happen, in which case, why are we going there?

The characters are unlikeable. I almost think the MC’s personality is completely sketched in one episode so he could change it in 2 episodes and we’d all marvel at how much he “changed”, just as Mari Okada had done with Hikari in Nagi no Asukara. But I don’t care for the characters, and I don’t care for the setting, and that we’ve been told how monsters emerge from our dark feelings, or how the monsters are humans too, and how can we kill them? Just before the MC blasts them away to liberate them left a meh taste in my mouth.

This show is just so tired. The crappy Daisuki stream quality, and the not very good character designs don’t endear the show to me further.

Verdict: Dropped.

After earlier this week someone told me how WIXOSS could be dark and Madoka wasn’t dark to begin with, I thought of it some. Madoka had always been dark. WIXOSS could turn things around, but right now all of its darkness is skin deep, just in its designs. So if WIXOSS turns things around, it’d be a change, rather than a natural outgrowth.

NGE had also painted a lot of Shinji’s character to us in the first episode, and dumped quite a bit of information on us, but it didn’t drop “Reveals”, and Shinji’s character clearly had more to give, rather than “change”.

Ping Pong the Animation episode 2 overview - Tsukimoto Makoto / Smile doesn't care for life

Summary: I still enjoy this season too much. A lot of the “eh” shows are still better, or have more energy than the Winter shows, and could easily stand in the top half of most seasons, but not when taken in a vacuum, and my time is still precious. Not enough shows dropped, not enough notes no longer taken. Still working on it.

Also, I could watch all my continuing/returning shows, Isshuukan Friends and Ping Pong, and be happy. Everything else is icing on the cake, that just might kill me ;-)

Question: Week 3, anything that is surprising you, for better or for worse? How many shows did you guys drop?

11 comments on “Spring 2014 Week 3 Impressions – (Anime Power Ranking)

  1. ChazzU says:

    Haven’t dropped anything so far, which is a good sign considering I did drop shows in both fall and winter, meaning that this spring season must be doing something good.

    Sidonia no Kishi will become a topper this season, at least I hope so. It doesn’t look good, but if they can build further on the social hierarchy and its classes (which goes hand in hand with the discrimination we’ve seen so far) and the classic newbie vs respected rookie fight without it overtaking the show presenting us a trapped society then I will be more than impressed.

    More or less the same for Black Bullet, but I don’t think it will do it as well as Sidonia could do it. Black Bullet feels a bit forced dark, as if it’s trying to be edgy just to stick out. It touched upon some very interesting subjects, so I’m interested if it wants to be more than action, as it certainly can and from what I’ve seen also tries to be.

    For the rest nothing has really changed. I’m still hyped for Haikyuu as it might become the best show to introduce people to the sport genre with and WIXOSS is still dissapointing while I want it to be good.

    So far my top 5 looks like: Isshuukan Friends – Ping Pong – Sidonia no Kishi – Haikyuu – Black Bullet. And the rest is still entertaining to watch, so nothing to complain about really.

    Although I still have to give “The World Is Still Beautiful” a run with all the positive things I’ve been hearing.

    • Guy says:

      Sidonia’s society seems its less interesting and dealt with aspect, thus far, but maybe once we’re done with “Pilot Nagate” and have him moving into the halls of power… maybe.

      Black Bullet definitely wants to be edgy. Latest episode was very Index in its action, and it was solid.

      And where’s Mushishi? :P

      • ChazzU says:

        I haven’t seen the first season yet and I’m currently even putting Hyouka on hold in order to plow through One Piece (its so addicting, 80 episodes this week …). I’ll get around to it eventually.

  2. pyckles says:

    I enjoy the books/anime for it’s spectacle, so I’m waiting for the first arc to end too. But oh man, I can’t wait for your Mahouka rant.

  3. Artemis says:

    I think I’ll probably continue to watch Captain Earth week by week, but I also think you’re right in that it’s a show that would probably be better enjoyed at a faster pace. I remember watching Eureka Seven week by week back when that first came out and eventually dropping it – and yet when I came back to it a couple of years later and marathoned it, it turned into one of my favourite anime titles. While I doubt that Captain Earth will ever become a top favourite anime of mine, I can feasibly see something similar happening.

    • Guy says:

      I keep putting off my Eureka 7 rewatch cause I want to truly marathon it, but seems these days 4-6 episodes at a time for a mini-marathon is more my speed, or 12-13 episodes every so often.

      I might watch Star Driver instead. Same people.

      Dunno, there’s something about these Bones shows that want you to immerse yourself in them, and also where a single episode’s content doesn’t feel significant enough.

  4. Derrick says:

    If you have enough room for another popcorn show, I think Nanana’s Buried Treasure would surprise you. I don’t think of it as a Slice of Life, like you said in your spring expectations post. More about adventure, treasure-hunting, and mystery solving. Just a suggestion.

    • Guy says:

      I prefer picking shows up at around week 5. I’ll also be better able to see what my time is like around then, so I’ll keep it in mind :)

      Soredemo Sekai wa Utskuushi (The World is Still Beautiful) came highly recommended week 1, but had been dropping off in opinions since. So some patience doesn’t hurt :)

  5. dylan says:

    I dropped Daimidaler, Dragonrar, Bokura wa Kawiaso and maybe Wixoss so far. Blade and soul is on the fence

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