Summer 2014 Anime Season Week 9 (Anime Power Ranking)

What a sad week for anime it’s been. Barakamon and Zankyou no Terror, the most enjoyable shows of the season took a week off, and The Legend of Korra’s season finale is also behind us, so we had to make do with what was left. Some of the entries are shorter than usual, and some longer.

Weekly impressions for Akame ga Kill!, Aldnoah.Zero, Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 2wei!, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, Sword Art Online II,  and Tokyo Ghoul.

Link in titles leads to full-episode write-ups for Aldnoah.Zero and Sword Art Online. Ordered by how much I enjoyed or thought the episodes were good.

Aldnoah.Zero episode 9:

Aldnoah.Zero anime episode 9 overview - Saazbaum explains to Slaine what Asseylum's crime is

This episode had several very good shots.

First, I want to get something small out of the way – Enough with the cliffhanger/twist endings to episode, please. First of all, in many of the episodes they were used it’s just to cover how weak the material in the rest of the episode was, most notably in episode 7, where the “Fist-fight” was a whole lot of nothing, but no one remembered how bad or non-event of an episode it was because Inaho shot down Slaine.

Also, with twenty minutes of content, finishing nearly episode with a “twist” or “cliffhanger” just feels bad, and wasteful. I’d actually appreciate these more if they happened at the beginning of an episode, so an episode could explore them, it’s a question of framing. What you start your episode with is what you actually cover, so the episode is concentrated on one issue, rather than being split in this manner, so discussion would actually be cohesive, theme-wise. Also, “twists” just come as presenting an altered reality to you, rather than actually building it up, so meh.

Now, it’s actually not the issue this episode, but it appears to be, because it seems most plot-centered viewers viewed this as a twist coming out of nowhere, and not in line with what the episode did up to this point. Saazbaum’s little chat was all about continuing Rayet’s thoughts from last episode, about how the feudal social system chosen is wrong, and leads to innocents dying, and thus it’s all the fault of those in charge.

Then Saazbaum said what he thinks of human nature, that if we’re constantly told to want something, and that we deserve it, we grow to hate those who have it and try to take it away – So it is with Martians and Earth, and so it was with Rayet and Asseylum. Rayet wanted Asseylum’s apparent ease of mind, her lack of hatred for her countrymen. Both are orphaned of their fathers, but Rayet was jealous of Asseylum’s life, so she tried to take it away.

And no, I don’t think Asseylum is really dead, please give me a break :P Also, everyone’s trying to tackle their past, but all the schoolkids on the ship, all the non-humor bits, while they might be in order to show us how people try to keep going and make light during wartime, are pretty terrible.

Tokyo Ghoul episode 9:

 anime episode 9 overview - Kaneki Ken asks Kirishima Touka the big questions

And sometimes they wish they hadn’t.

“Even monsters have those who care for them, and for whom they cared.” – That’d be the thematic thread for this week’s episode. Mr. Mado had a wife, whose death presumably led to his anti-ghoul Crusade, and he had Amon, as a young trainee who looked up to him.

There are several acts of mirroring going on in this episode: The first, Amon now has people looking up to him, that’s simple. Amon and Mr. Mado’s relationship is sort of like Ken’s and Touka’s, where Kaneki looks up to Touka, but just like Mado, she’s an alien “monster” driven by anger and vengeance.

But, just as Mr. Mado has a family, so does Touka, and her brother seems to be a monster, but he too had a loving family, taken from him, I presume, just like Mado.

So, someone has to break the chain, and if not, we just know that all these so-called “evil beings” used to be something different, just like Nishiki, just like Mado.

Wasn’t actually a terribly interesting episode.

Sword Art Online II episode 9:

Sword Art Online II anime episode 9 overview -The Harem looks on in shock

Klein, once again out of the picture.

Haremettes, and most importantly, Klein! You still live! Woohoo! More seriously, this episode had two big parts to it, the first was the spectacle. Death Gun is sort of ridiculous, but he’s ridiculous in a similar manner to how I viewed Lelouch in Code Geass originally – he’s playing to a crowd. He knows that many thousands are watching him, so the ceremony of the execution, the mask, they’re all there for that purpose.

Kirito too, or at least the show – two episodes ago he ran at someone and only flicked his wrist, which is the way to go, but this episode he kept flipping around in the air, waving a sword whose blade has no mass or inertia. Well, at least it looked good, which it certainly did.

The other bit was the “uncomfortable bit”, just like the end to the Madoka: Rebellion film, when something stands out like a sore thumb I try to make sense of it. Kirito kept touching Sinon as he spoke with her, and the show kept emphasizing it, while we know she wasn’t entirely comfortable with it. This is because of the little chat Kirito and Asuna had in the first episode – the real difference between the real world and the virtual world is amount of information, but not content.

Kirito keeps touching Sinon, a grounding act. He’s showing her that this is a real world, with real interactions, and he’s pouring “more data” as it were into their interactions. This isn’t a world separate from the offline one, but an extension of it, and he and Sinon are actually comrades.

Akame ga Kill! episode 9:

Akame ga Kill! anime episode 9 overview - The Minister and the King

Does it matter? Well, it is weird.

“Sweet Esdeath” continues, not interested until they actually do something with it.

We finally see the new group, and Wave seems to be very similar to Tatsumi, including how he’s a strong hick who comes to the capital and has no clue how to do things. We also have the girl who’s probably Akame’s sister, but whom she’ll kill without remorse, as we saw with Zank the Executioner.

But they’re building them up, guess so we’d find the future fights more interesting, and so we’d care about the characters that have to die to meet this show’s quota of “GrimDark and Mature for willing to kill off named characters™.”

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 2wei! Episode 8:

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 2wei! anime episode 8 overview - Tohsaka Rin knows it's bad

Was hard to use just one picture to summarize where the show’s currently at. Had four good options.

(Last week’s episode)

The first half of the episode was the usual Moe Slice of Life that isn’t even good compared to the average standard of the show. There’s something about Ohara Sayaka’s voice and acting as well, as Irisviel, which makes her scene seem completely immaterial when she’s not imbuing them with more strength. It was tepid, and completely forgettable.

The second half had solid action, but even if the action from here on out is amazing, season 1-levels, it wouldn’t excuse the first 7.5 episodes of the show being so…. meh. There’s also something that keeps weirding me out a bit about the action, the dynamic-camera is so over-the-top, it looks stylish, but also slightly off. I wonder if it’s CGI that’s throwing me off here.

Also, the action doesn’t feel like it matters, at this point. We get good shot-to-shot action, but the scenes don’t feel more meaningful, and the characters fighting and the stakes they’re fighting for haven’t been discussed, so it feels immaterial, and we can’t get invested. The spectacle isn’t there yet either, but next episode’s preview seemed promising.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders episode 22:

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders anime episode 22 overview - Jean Paul Polnareff and Mohammed Avdol bonding

Abdul, just one of the (dumb) guys. What a waste.

I know this is hard to hear, and it is also hard for me to say, as it was hard for me to watch – but this episode of JoJo was really bad.

It wasn’t the bad of terribly-written content, it wasn’t the bad of facepalming at the stupid, or sighing at the annoying (though there was some of that), but it was the bad of taking what work you’ve done, and throwing it into the trashbin.

Episode 22 wasn’t a good episode because you can’t simply take Polnareff’s supposed guilt, which had been shelved ever since Abdul died, and bring it back. It wasn’t a good episode because the show, and Polnareff, just can’t handle that sort of deep introspection, this sort of personal drama. But it was well-written, and the issues felt good, if not for the characters they involved.

Abdul is back, but he’s immature, and is a punk – exactly what he spoke against in the past, with all those annoying, “Tsk, tsk” and the fight was the regular Stardust Adventure fights thus far – no real posing, no real skill, just one side standing there and taking a beating, before beating up the other side.

Even Polnareff was amazed at Abdul who suggested they literally pee onto their fallen opponent. This was… bad. Even shit-eating baby? It was a gag that somehow worked, but now we’re deep in 3rd-grader humor level, and I’m disappointed.


Summary:

Cliffhangers and mediocre shows for everyone! Yeah, it’s a good thing I’ve had Usagi Drop to stand in for Barakamon, and watched 8 more episodes of Hunter x Hunter, as well as started Ouran High School Host Club. What do you do when a season fails you or you end up with “Free anime time”?

10 comments on “Summer 2014 Anime Season Week 9 (Anime Power Ranking)

  1. Tyrant Frost says:

    To answer your question I usually just take a short break from anime. Also, do you have any plans of doing a season preview? ;)

    • Guy says:

      I almost always do a season preview, but usually 1-2 weeks before the new season begins. I found the best way for me to look at things is going by days of the week, and that information takes a tad longer to come out in an organized fashion.

      I also don’t really discuss what the shows are, you can just head to wikipedia or the other sites for that, I focus on why they interest me, or don’t.

      Your answer is the “obvious” answer, and too much common sense for me ;-)

  2. Artemis says:

    I occasionally take breaks from anime for a few days to go with something else instead, since there are usually one or two live-action TV shows that I follow each season. But when it comes to watching anime outside of what’s airing weekly, I like to have some older shows that I watch alongside the new. A couple of months ago I watched all of Rose of Versailles, for example, and after that I decided I wanted to give Gungrave a try. I guess it’s just my way of balancing things out a bit.

    • Would one of those live-action TV shows possibly be Game of Thrones?

      • Guy says:

        I know not asked for me, but I’ve been stalled on like episode 4 of season 2 twice, but having read the first four novels, I’m just not in a rush to watch the series, though I do want to watch some more western television shows that I know should be great rather than lackluster anime series, and because it’s always important to keep one’s horizons open to all sorts of media.

      • Artemis says:

        Oh yes, definitely. (Also Downton Abbey, Sherlock, Mad Men, Homeland, The Musketeers, The Daily Show…)

    • Guy says:

      Yeah, I saw your Rose of Versailles review, but didn’t read it cause I didn’t watch the series yet, though I plan to at some point.

      As someone who likes marathoning series, you know I like watching older shows :) And yes, I miss watching more live-action series, but I mostly watched them as they aired. Though considering my nature that loves to marathon, maybe I should take a break from anime for a month or so beyond currently airing seasons and sink myself into countless seasons of live-action. Been years since I’ve watched all of Buffy in a straight marathon, for instance.

      Hmmmm. Summer vacation’s over though :<

  3. “GrimDark and Mature for willing to kill off named characters™”
    After reading that I’m just imagining the author of Akame monitoring his anime’s weekly episode reddit thread and when an episode doesn’t fulfill its weekly karma quota, he kills off a main character then introduces 2 new ones. Could be just me :P

    For Aldnoah Zero I personally enjoyed this week’s episode. While it did inevitably end off on yet another cliffhanger (one of the most valid flaws, in my eyes, in SnK), it fully introduced us to the very interesting character of Count Saazbaum. I’m interested to see how he plans to carry out his vengeance on the Vers royal family.

    As for what I do when an anime or an entire season depraves my faith in the medium, I watch Code Geass and become a believer once more. :)

    • Guy says:

      I think this might have been the best episode of Aldnoah.Zero, yes. As I said, it was a mostly general complaint, and of the show in general, less about this episode. In my eyes, the biggest issue of Shingeki no Kyojin, which this show also shares, is too much padding.

      Heh, I think Code Geass is my most or 2nd most rewatched anime series, definitely for its length. Shigofumi likely wins by 1-2 rewatches, but it’s a quarter of the episode-count.

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