Summer 2014 Anime Season Week 4 (Anime Power Ranking)

Another week. Dropped or put on hold a number of shows, so there are less shows to cover, and I also didn’t write as much on a few of the shows. Let’s get to it.

Weekly impressions for Akame ga Kill!, Aldnoah.Zero, Barakamon, Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, , Sword Art Online II,  Tokyo Ghoul, and Zankyou no Terror (Terror in Resonance) (Also, Avatar: The Legend of Korra).

The list is organized by how much I’ve enjoyed each episode, and the link in the title is to a more thorough write-up on the episode. For first impressions it means mostly more about production and presentation, but also about themes.

1) Barakamon episode 4:

Barakamon anime episode 4 overview

The greatest complaint I’ve had about this episode is also the biggest piece of praise I can give it – it was too damn short! I’ve had so much fun, and then it was over, and I wondered where it all went! Part of it is that you often can tell where a “chapter” or sequence ends, and another begins, with events not being too related to one another and the shift in locations.

Yes, the same is also true here, but the shifts were much more graceful – truly felt like Handa was going around on his day and we followed him. The characters were amusing and lovely as usual. We did gain some more understanding into Handa’s character as a perfectionist and past “Chuunibyou-sufferer” (delusions of being a dark overlord and/or hero).

Also, cats. This show knows me, and that if you show me cats I’d be a happy camper.

2) Zankyou no Terror / Terror in Resonance episode 3:

Zankyou no Terror / Terror in Resonance anime episode 3 overview

This series keeps coasting by on the strength of presentation, direction, acting, and in general just how well everything is constructed. In that sense, it’s quite like Ping-Pong the Animation, where what made it so good wasn’t the story, as most stories had been told before, but in how well it’s told. Not just the story, but the wholeexperience.

This episode focused on “the opposition”, the one who in a regular story would be the protagonist, but is too old for an anime show ;-) We have a cop who will do anything to get a case solved, his oafish friend who gives him the right clue, some backstory that gives motivations and complications… it’s all there. What will they do with it, and will it deviate from the norm? We’ll see.

Lisa I think is the key, in how she reflects the other characters, in how she represents the past they could not save, and the future they might recreate. She also refers back to the story of Oedipus, in as much as it’s a case of a child who tries to break free of the past, but is then doomed to fulfill it. The same could be said as more subtext of Japan’s history with the atom, and how even its “peaceful” atomic enterprises in the series could lead to ruin – and yes, a bit of an inference I’m making to the big earthquake a few years back.

3) Aldnoah.Zero episode 4:

Aldnoah.Zero anime episode 4 overview

I’ve enjoyed this episode, though I’m not sure exactly why. Mostly it was “more of the same”? I’m not sure. We see that Moribito is wrestling against his past, and that others are aware of it. His tension is that of a character against his past, one who survived and might wish they hadn’t.

Yes, you could describe the whole show as a series of dilemmas, pulling one to a tragedy – Slaine fights the urge to state the truth (honour) with the realization he might be betraying his honour and charge by doing so – was killing his commanding officer an honourable act, or a dishonourable act?

Count Cruhteo refers back to the show’s byline, “Let justice be done, though the heavens fall.” They invoked honour in order to launch their war, but what if they discover it’s all been a sham? Honour demands they come clean, but cover-up will allow them to maintain said honour.

Inaho continues to be mostly a non-character, there to win the war for us. It seems his role is to advance events and explain to us how humanity works (like Tsumugu in Nagi no Asukara), and everyone else gets to act. I liked the section about how humanity works here, about how they take the other to be “the enemy”, especially as what he said of Asseylum also applied to Rayet, with whom he was talking, without his knowledge. Their dilemmas of protecting themselves or coming clean is less interesting, but it’s also there.

Many conflicts, mostly internal, with Inaho acting on the external plane to make sure they must collide, and resolve, each to their own, their dilemmas. It’s well-constructed, but it’s not captivating, just yet.

4) JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders episode 17:

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders anime episode 17 overview

The Stands talking to one another with their owners’ voices (minus Steely Dan’s, which sounded nothing like him) made for some funny moments.

Jotaro continues to show us his personality, as someone who does not forgive, and who does not forget. A man of few words. How few? It’s episode 17 and only now did I realize he’s voiced by Ono Daisuke. I enjoyed this episode, overall, even if there was nothing stand-out about it. The villain was being very JoJo villain, at least.

5) Sword Art Online II episode 4:

Sword Art Online II anime episode 4 overview

What I liked the most about this episode was its pacing, as someone who read the light novels. I thought they’d take considerably longer to adapt the material here, but they didn’t. Also, they explained the whole bit about “prediction lines” and the reticle’s size. I appreciated that. I usually don’t comment on what others say of an episode, but seeing people complain about getting an actual explanation to something they understood in the past didn’t sit well with me – because many of these same people did not understand these things, and questioned them, and had been provided answers by people who were familiar with the source material.

The reticle’s size in particular matters, as it speaks to the nature of “in-game prowess” as being related to “real-world strength”, which seems to be Sinon’s theme, and is also relevant due to her being unable to remain calm when dealing with guns in real life – which wouldn’t allow her to be a sniper within the game.

I also noticed another thing or two that were explained in the light novel but were once more saved for when they’d be more relevant in the upcoming episode or two. In terms of actual plot or events in the episode, I liked the way the hub-city looked, and how Kirito and other players behaved with regards to his female appearance – not as people, but as characters within a narrative.

6) Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 2wei! episode 4:

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 2wei! anime episode 4 overview

I chuckled a few times this episode, but it was all standard anime physical gags. There were funny reaction faces, over-the-top violence, and some adorable looks, but there wasn’t really anything special going on.

Yes, we’ve got a few more hints at how things are behind the scenes with Miyu, and the Nurse gives off a strong Nasuverse vibe, but until the payoff, this episode was an amusing nothingness.

7) Tokyo Ghoul episode 4:

Tokyo Ghoul anime episode 4 overview

Miyano Mamoru is having way too much fun with himself when he plays over-the-top characters (He portrayed Okabe Rintarou in Steins;Gate, Kida Masaomi in Durarara!!, and Light Yagami in Death Note, to name a few). Now I’m really curious how things would’ve turned out had he assumed the role of Lelouch Lamperouge in Code Geass rather than Fukuyama Jun. I still like him better in his more serious roles.

What can I say? Decadent and over-the-top society. The outcasts of an outcast sub-society, who take on the appearances of those who stand at the top. The action sequences felt silly and unimpactful, and though this episode had enjoyable content, it didn’t feel much like anything altogether.

8) Akame ga Kill! episode 4:

Akame ga Kill! anime episode 4 overview

The action was solid. The stills during the action, which once more showed us the director’s love for showing the fights from the side give things a certain gravitas. I liked the action, it had weight behind the movements and stances.

Everything else was setup. Naruto has Ninjutsu, Bleach has the swords, and Fairy Tail has magic. In this show everyone who will matter will have a one-of-a-kind super-weapon, meaning each fight will be a new puzzle and challenge to solve. Nothing special.

Oh yeah, the most part fun of the episode was how the villain spouted lines straight out of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, and even looked like he stepped straight out of it. Ridiculous, and fun.

*) Avatar: The Legend of Korra Season 3 Episode 8:

Great action sequence! I actually liked this episode less overall though. I really like that the show takes time to wander about, that was always the charm of The Last Airbender, but they only have 5 episodes to go, and what’s even the real conflict of this season? I wish Korra still had 20 episode seasons, just so we wouldn’t feel “rushed” when we take detours, the best part of the story and world-exploration that is the franchise.


Summary:

Less shows! More free time! But summer laziness is upon us! I liked this week as a light popcorn-esque week, but nothing really stood out as amazing or special. Time to dive deeper into the backlog.

 Question: How do you guys feel about the season, as a whole, currently?

6 comments on “Summer 2014 Anime Season Week 4 (Anime Power Ranking)

  1. Willdo says:

    I find it interesting how you see Inaho as a non-character, especially after his ever-so-slight development this week. I think we can see that he does have emotions and goals like everyone else, he’s just really bad at showing it.

    That aside, so far I’ve found that this season has been rather standard. I’m enjoying SAO2, Aldnoah, Tokyo Ghoul, and Rail Wars (surprise of the season for me), but I’m disappointed with some shows such as Glasslip (like almost everybody else this season). Regardless, I’m still trying to catch up so hopefully I’ll find some more I enjoy.

    If you haven’t already, you should check out Yamashibai Ghost Stories. Each episode is only 5 minutes long, but they tell a concise Japanese scary folk story that just seems to irk me (in a good way) with excellent narration and art direction. I’ve been eagerly awaiting each week’s episode so far.

    • Guy says:

      I found the discussion with Rayet interesting. I didn’t see Inaho showing us he has emotions yet. That he says, “I have feelings, just like everyone else” is “telling” rather than “showing”. I also didn’t see any development. Also, as I said in the past, it does feel as if they began with him being a nearly blank-slate, so any development will be “easy” and noticeable, which is pretty meh writing, but I hadn’t really seen anything on that front yet.

      I somehow don’t care for shorts that much. If something feels like it should be an omake at the end of an episode, I’d rather watch it like that, and can neither marathon it nor care much to watch it on its own. I should probably pick some up and go the “One episode a day” route for them.

      It was the same with “Tonari no Seki-kun”. I liked it fine, but not enough to care to actually watch it.

      By the by, what do you like about Rail Wars? The little I’ve heard wasn’t encouraging.

  2. Artemis says:

    I’m really enjoying this season as a whole. Zankyou no Terror, followed by Barakamon, continue to be the main highlights of the summer line-up for me, but it’s also extremely refreshing to get so many shows in one season that are designed to appeal more to a female audience. Speaking as an anime fan who also happens to be a woman, I feel like I don’t often get pandered to as thoroughly as this.

    • Guy says:

      I hope it’s not too much in one season, in the sense that they should hopefully sell to keep getting made, and people only have so much time and money each season. Also, most of them don’t seem to actually be good, and are very pandering.

      Yes, it’s not like things are that much better this year for the “pandering to male” crowd, with LN adaptations and really stupid fanservice shows everywhere.

      But the highlights seem mostly cross-gender, cause, well, they’re good. I hope they continue to make more material aimed at girls. There’s so much good stuff in older manga, wish more would get adapted – like Ping Pong, Mushishi, and the upcoming Parasyte.

      A faithful adaptation of the entirety of Fruits Basket would be magnificent…

      • Artemis says:

        Weirdly enough, I was just thinking to myself a few days ago, “Wouldn’t it be great to see a full remake of Fruits Basket that’s more faithful to the source material?” I might do some kind of fun article sometime about all the anime I think it’d be cool to see remakes of (even though none of them will probably ever actually get remade).

        • Guy says:

          But how would we watch it? It’d need to be watched after it ends, or in arcs, and it’d take a long while – to do Fruits Basket justice, you probably need a 50-75 episode format.

          And yeah, doubt those older, longer mangas will get new anime after they already ended :(

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