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Spring 2014 Anime Season

See MyAnimeList for my list of watching/completed anime.
Check out AnimeCalendar for a nifty tool to keep up-to-date with airing anime.

It’s the second week into this airing anime season. All the episode ones have been watched and all first impressions made (see here for notes and thoughts on the last season). Time to jot down the notes so we can check back three months from now and see how ridiculously wrong (or accurate) our initial thoughts were.

It’s a bit early, but I think I’m more looking forward to the summer 2014 season (Sword Art Online 2: Gun Gale Online, Prisma Illya 2wei, and Sailor Moon 20th Anniversary Remake) despite barely anything having been announced yet. And of course the ever anticipated Fate/stay night adaption by ufotable (99% sure it’ll be Heaven’s Feel) coming this fall (just in time for Comiket 86 too!). But I digress, lets take a look at this airing season:


Spring anime season chart, created by Zana at neregate.com.

Initial thoughts (EP1/2)
Based on first one/two episodes, I’m admittedly not all that excited about this season. A few I’m interested in, but overall not blowing my senses/anticipation levels (a la Kill la Kill). No Game No Life is honestly the only series I’m imagining myself waiting for the next episode for, but most of that is based on the “story premise” aspect, which has previously failed me (quite a number of times especially last season).

Blade & Soul: (info)
Very rarely do anime adaptions of video games do well (take a look at Ragnarok the Animation or even the recent BlazBlue for example). Unfortunately, Blade & Soul looks like it too is also destined for the “crappy anime adaption” bucket, with it’s low production budget and shallow characters. I’ve played the online MMORPG that the series is based on, and I loved for it’s fluid combat system and gorgeous artstyle. The game’s storyline was somewhat interesting, but it was more or less a movie, with you being the emotionless hero only watching from the sidelines and letting the NPCs handle the talking, stepping in only to kill to fight bosses here and there. A decent formula for an MMO, but definitely not one for an anime. The two selling points of the game, gorgeous graphics and cute lolis/shotas, were both missing from the anime.

Selector Infected WIXOSS: (info)
Magical secret card game, where the winner has the chance to become an “Ultimate Girl” (because having a female cast always sells) and have their wish granted. Somewhat interesting premise and a hint of a later dark twist down the line, but after watching the first two episodes, I honestly found it nothing but predictable and formulaic. Also, trying to mix dark with cute works if you do it well like Madoka did, but Selector Infected WIXOSS feels like it’ll fall quite short and ultimately fallback to surviving on cheap tricks to sell, e.g. unnecessarily trope-tastic clumsy girl with no backstory but able to win poorly-explained battles through deus ex machina. More or less a decided drop for me :/

Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to The Animation: (info)
Ever heard the phrase ”A cat is fine too”? Or maybe you’ve read the comical Fate/Zero doujinshi, ”I want to tease poor Saber More” (nsfw)? Then maybe you’re familiar with the famous TYPE-MOON doujinshi artist Hiroyuki of the Jishou Seijunha circle (my favourite TYPE-MOON circle second only to Crazy Clover Club). Anyway, I immediately recognized his artstyle and ridiculous sense of humour within the first few minutes of the series, a comedy manga adaption about a perverted mangaka and his female assistants. The humour is cheap and short of Seitokai Yakuindomo quality, but I love the Hiroyuki-style reaction faces. I’ll definitely be watching this series (for better or worse) just like how I watched Henneko purely because of Kantoku‘s art style. And yeah, I’m kinda a huge fan of Hiroyuki, and own a copy of (almost) every single TYPE-MOON doujinshi he has ever drawn:

Spoiler:

Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara: (info)
Just from the description, you can already guess it’s going to be yet another one of those fanservice animes featuring a protagonist with special powers that (comically) leads to building a harem, just like Date A Live and Noukome. As expected, it is exactly that, with dating sim “flags” being the plot device. I was hoping for something more substancial like The World God Only Knows but oh well. Next on the cutting board.

Black Bullet: (info)
This one caught my interest with it’s interesting post-apocalyptic premise, OP by fripSide of To Aru Kageku no Railgun fame, and loli+handler combo reminding me of Shakugan no Shana. Based on what I’ve seen so far, it looks like it’ll be a decent action anime (not as strong as I hoped) but slightly dampened by filler weak comedy material. Will keep watching it and see how it goes. At the least, there’s loli to make up for it.

Isshuukan Friends.: (info)
Now here’s an original premise: a slice-of-life highschool romance featuring a guy desperately trying to make friends with a lonely girl whose memories reset at the start of every week. A calm and pleasant anime, something nice to contrast the high-action/fanservice-filled trend of the current anime industry.

Soul Eater Not!: (info)
A spinoff of the popular action/supernatural series Soul Eater, which I absolutely loved. Except moe-fied, and slice-of-life-comedy’d. The new artstyle feels kinda like what they did when they took Gunslinger Girl and moe-fied all the character designs when they switched animation studios in Gunslinger Girl ~Il Teatrino~ (just take a look at the new Maka). Sometimes it’s early to judge on the plot plot flow for highschool-lead-to-action series (take Yu Yu Hakushou‘s first episode for example), but I’m not too confident Soul Eater Not! will be able to match the main story. We’ll see how it goes.

Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka?: (info)
Not going to lie, only watching this because of the cute loli artstyle and because of bunnies. Normally I wouldn’t bother, but it’s a 4-koma adaption, meaning it probably won’t even try to build plot/character development anyway and focus on the comedy, so I’m fine with that. Plus, Chino “Cappucino” Kafuu strongly reminds me of Date A Live’s Yoshino who I found overwhelmingly cute (and literally the only reason I watched Date A Live).

No Game No Life: (info)
To me, this is this season’s flagship anime. Awesome premise, extremely colourful artstyle, ballsy protagonist with a loli imouto, and plenty of expected budget-backed action animation. As a semi-hardcore gamer, the original PV immediately caught my attention when it was previewed last season and just the name of the series tells me I can’t not watch the series. The oversized forehead artstyle of the younger sister Shiro still kind of bothers me, but I’m sure it’ll quickly be gotten used to (like with Tohsaka Rin’s awkwardly thick eyelashes in the Prisma Illya anime adaption). Either way, looking forward to seeing my high expectations met.

Mekakucity Actors: (info)
I checked this out because I was told there was some relationship with VOCALOID. Turns out, the series is based on the Vocaloid song series Kagerou Project by Shizen no Teki-P, in the same way Black Rock Shooter was loosely based off the Vocaloid song of the same name by ryo of supercell. I’m usually not a fan of/have high expectations of series animated in attempt to cash in on current fads (like Black Rock Shooter was), but the production quality seems decent and it’s produced by Shaft, so I’ll give it a chance.

That’s it for now, based on just the first two episodes of the season. Like with the winter 2013 anime season, I’ll be updating this post with updated thoughts throughout various episode checkpoints of the season.

Mid-season thoughts (EP6/7)
Oops, meant to do an update earlier, but things got busy, so here’s the mid-season thoughts. By this point, the cutting block is gone and only the best remain. Dropped shows are included since I forgot to post the EP3/4 thoughts.

Blade & Soul: (info)
Dropped this on episode 3. As much as I love the game, the series just felt way too low budget and didn’t feel like going anywhere. Better drop early than repeat the same disaster that was BlazBlue

Selector Infected WIXOSS: (info)
Dropped on episode 3 as well. Didn’t feel at all distinguishing and I’m not all that much a fan of either card-games-on-motorcycles or mahou shoujo genres. Not a surprising drop, but I gave it a chance.

Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to The Animation: (info)
Exactly what I’ve been expected – ridiculous and slightly perverted cheap Hiroyuki comedy with plenty of Hiroyuki-style reaction faces. Not something I’d go out of my way to recommend to others, but definitely enjoying it myself :3

Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara: (info)
Another episode 3 drop. Just didn’t feel substantial at all, exact same analysis as earlier.

Black Bullet: (info)
So they finally finished a proper OP video for fripSide’s 「black bullet」 and I absolutely love it. Series-wise, things are more or less predictable, but definitely action-packed and thankfully minimal filler (so far at least, no beach episode just yet). And adorable lolis that I just can’t say no to :P

Isshuukan Friends.: (info)
Getting weaker and weaker as the series goes on. The original memory-loss premise was interesting at first, but they could only go so far with it as a plot device before it get’s brushed aside and the series becomes a typical highschool romance slice-of-life. Unfortunately, a pretty poor one too, with a predictable and somewhat spineless protagonist who’s arguably even worse than Golden Time‘s Tada Banri (but thankfully not as intolerable as School DaysItou Makoto). Wish I dropped the series earlier, but it’s already the half way point so might as well see it through.

Soul Eater Not!: (info)
Literally just staying for the action (or hope for it). There’s some occasional scenes of fighting from then old Soul Eater cast but everything is still unbearably moe-fied and there’s way too much filler/slice-of-life nonsense for me to even make sense of an overarching storyline. Just another wish-I-had-dropped-but-can’t-cause-it’s-related-to-a-series-I-like series… orz

Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka?: (info)
Still watching this for the same original reason: cute lolis and bunnies. It’s like just another Hidamari Sketch but cuter ^_^

No Game No Life: (info)
Absolutely best anime of the season. Amazing artwork, decent soundtrack, gorgeous character designs (more or less gotten used to the forehead-loli artstyle and
yay for no-more-Generic-kun-protagonist!), awesome storyline, and beautiful execution. Tons of anime references all over the place, and the occasional fanservice actually fits in with the series (rather than being cheap gimmicks). One thing I really, really like about the series though is it’s unpredictability. While the end result is always predictable (i.e. Blank wins the game), the process is never so clear, but always clear-witted. There are some series like this, with Code Geass coming first to mind, but I’ve found the execution to be top tier. Rather than taking the “it was all part of my master plan, which all happened off-screen, and everything succeeds perfectly because plot device” approach that Code Geass takes (which I absolutely hated), No Game No Life takes the “it was all part of my master plan, which you saw me lay out piece by piece earlier and, while seemingly crazy, is actually plausible and could actually work” approach that The World God Only Knows also executes out well (the more I think of it, I’m pretty sure there’s some inspirational connection between the two series…).

Mekakucity Actors: (info)
Dropped it after episode 4. While I really liked the character designs and Shaft art style, the series felt quite aimless and poorly executed. Not all that well thought out plot/pacing-wise, going to have write this off as yet another cash-in like Black Rock Shooter was.

~Keripo

MyFigureCollection: http://myfigurecollection.net/blog/13885

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See MyAnimeList for my list of watching/completed anime. Check out AnimeCalendar for a nifty tool …