Thursday, October 10, 2013

Fall 2013 Anime Round-up

And it’s time to start another season of anime and the one that is usually the strongest for me, autumn! As was the case last season I don’t exactly have any continuing shows, I’m starting to get back into Space Brothers but it sounds like that show is past it’s prime and Doki Doki Precure was always up and down in terms of enjoyment so I’ve semi-dropped that one as well (although I’ve thought about picking it back up to watch raw so I can practice my Japanese, after all if it’s aimed at four year old little girls then the vocabulary shouldn’t be completely and utterly outside my range of knowledge right?). In any case, I’m also moving through as much of my backlog as I can while juggling new American fall tv shows as well and there are one or two series which I don’t mention here since I didn’t finish an entire episode (Coppelion is one since I tried the manga which didn’t grab me so I just gave up a few minutes into the first episode). But for those I did get through an entire episode or more let’s talk about those!

Beyond the Boundary (Kyoukai no Kanata)
Character stabs monsters with blood sword
I was pretty excited for this show, with the budget Kyoto Animation always seems to have I thought it would be awesome to see them do a full on fantasy show but the first episode was a bit of a let down. It was slow, felt like it had been adapted from a light novel in a bad way (just a lot of the same tropes character and plot wise, boring!) but once the action picks up in the second episode it seems to flow much better. The action scenes looked as amazing as I had hoped, the character interactions went smoother, and I already had a lot of the exposition out of the way which always helps. I was a bit unsure after the first episode but having seen the second episode I’m in for the long haul here and hope it gets even better.

Beyond the Boundary is on crunchyroll

Galilei Donna
Sisters suffer attempted kidnappings simultaneously
One of the two new noitaminA shows and the one I was more excited for going in and I liked it! It was a little bit of a rough start (that cold opening was not a good idea) but I liked all the design work and, aside from that opening, the action sequences flowed well too. It's the next few episodes that will make or break this show though, the premise has been mostly established so it's time to start fleshing out our lovely leading ladies and hopefully they'll be more nuanced than they were here (and explain the setting, I know a bit about it from outside material but that's it).

Galilei can be watched on crunchyroll

Gingitsune: Messenger Fox of the Gods
Girl is an oracle in training
The commercials for this series didn’t really grab me but since I tend to like slice of life style supernatural shows I thought I would give this one a shot anyway. However I’m going to have to go with my first instinct and drop this after all since the first episode was just a bit too clumsy. Things move too fast, the characters feel too flat with their constantly changing emotions, I just didn’t like it and I’ll just go find something in my backlog if I really want to watch soft, slice of life supernatural shows anytime soon.

Gingitsune is streaming on

Kill la Kill
Students fight with power of uniforms
One of the most hyped shows to premier this season and I have mixed feelings on it. On the one hand, a lot of the time it's overly the top in an amusing fashion and it's fun to watch and the limited art (yes I'm saying it, it does have moments with wonderful animation but it's always made itself highly stylized so it can get away with tons of still frames and cheap effects that would make a 1970s show proud) looks cool. On the other hand it has our lead Ryouko in an incredibly revealing outfit (I can't think of many cons where that outfit would pass muster) and seems to take some pleasure in putting her (and one or two other female characters so far) in really sexualized positions with a ton of male gaze camera angles and I find it creepy, plain and simple. I want to like the show and I'm sticking with it for now but while I spend half the time enjoying it I'm spending the other half of my time completely skeeved out which isn't a fun combination.

KLK is an Aniplex title and can be found streaming on crunchyroll, hulu, and daisuki, although it doesn't start at the exact same time on each site and each site has it's own restrictions.

More adventures in mirror Kyoto
First off, I’m going to refer to this as the tv series, the original short that started it all as the OVA, and the mini-series from last fall as the ONA, got it? If not please refer back to these sentences as often as needed.
In any case, it’s baaaaaack, finally! I’ve been hoping for almost two years now that we’d get a full show based off of the OVA and it’s happening! Well sort of, last week was episode 0 which was just the OVA with an opening song and the show is scheduled to have 10 episodes, 2 recaps, and one special which I guess is what last week was. I’m a bit confused about the recaps though, originally I thought that was how they were going to work in materials from the ONA but since a good chunk of this week’s episode came from the ONAs I’m not sure anymore. In any case, that’s not actually a bad thing since this episode took the premise of the last ONA, added some scenes and voices to make what was going on clearer, and then expanded on it so newcomers and old fans alike are on more or less the same page for how Mirror Kyoto got started. The show also added in some interesting bits, when I think about it it didn’t actually add in a lot of new footage but by re-using the old footage and then having the characters actually confirm what fans had been speculating about (with dialogue) it feels like there was more added than there actually was yet I wasn’t bored at all. Basically what I’m saying is, you can be a complete newcomer to the story or already familiar with it and you’ll do fine, just watch episode 0 if your new and then hang on for the ride with the rest of it.

For some reason no one has licensed this show and I’m incredibly sad about it. However, I feel like it stands a good chance at being licensed eventually, much better than it’s chances of being licensed as a collection of OVAs/ONAs was just a year ago.

Log Horizon
Gamers trapped in game
This is not a new genre in anime and manga, although oddly enough it appears way more here than any other medium of fiction I can think of, and truth be told it’s not exactly like either of the two main things people are comparing it to (Sword ArtOnline or the .hack franchise in general) but rather a pretty even mixture of both of those. Heck, I’d argue it’s one third each of those and then the last third is where it becomes rather evident that the light novel’s original author was the same guy who wrote Maoyuu and I suspect that’s what the show will feel most like in the end, a show more about the mechanics about people being trapped in a game rather than trying to beat a quest or, erm, whatever .hack//SIGN was trying to do. I was okay with Maoyuu at points but honestly I still prefer the manga adaptation I read of it first (the lone time I have preferred the version of something with more boobs in it) and I just don’t think Log Horizon is going to keep my interest from what I’ve seen so far. The setting will probably be fairly standard for a game, the plot probably won’t have an overarching story like I prefer, and I didn’t really connect with any of the characters in the first episode, at this point there’s just no reason for me to come back for another episode unless I hear other people talking down the line and saying that it got really good.

Log Horizon can be viewed on

Nagi no Asukara (no idea what a good translation is)
Underwater kids attend school on land
I’m on the fence with this one, on the one hand so far it’s a story about a bunch of middle schoolers going through some major changes in life and being awkward about it and I'm not sure I want to see a show about middle schoolers falling in love with a bit of raunchiness in it  but on the other hand that’s a lot like what middle school is like so I can't exactly fault it for that. On someone else’s hand though, there are so many other good shows this season that I'm not sure I want to watch something that doesn't completely have my attention. So far I’m staying with the show because of it’s fantastical setting and because I’ve heard it’s going to be two-cour and I’ve love to see what PA Works turns the show into then, it does sound like it's building up to a larger story or at least into having some interesting overarching themes. And in a season of good looking shows it’s also quite pretty, I guess at this point I’ll keep watching and if I do lose interest I’ll be sure to check in on what other reviewers are saying at the end of it’s run to see if it’s worth picking back up.

Nagi no Asukara is being streamed on crunchyroll.

Samurai Flamenco
A "realistic" superhero
This show has big shoes to fill for me because it happens to be in the same genre as my favorite show of the year (so far, Gatchaman Crowds) but that show I think was even one of the best takes on the superhero genre in recent years and I even wrote a nearly 3000 word post comparing it to Agents of SHIELD yesterday so you can bet it's quite prominent in my mind right now. And does it work? Weeelllll, not really, no, not yet for me anyway. As summarized, the basis of this show is a "'realistic' superhero" in the completely opposite way that Tiger and Bunny did realism (there, I've named dropped all the important shows) with an ordinary guy dressing up as a superhero and trying to get people to do the right thing. My problem with the show is that I don't agree with it's philosophy at all, yes it is a problem that people jaywalk and smoke but the way you handled it wasn't right either buddy, you got into a fight with a drunk over that (and lost. And had your outfit set on fire, clearly you did this wrong). It's just, how am I supposed to take these characters seriously (or at least seriously enough to not feel secondhand embarrassment when one starts yelling at middle schoolers in a park to shape up) if it's trying to make a story based on such basic values? And speaking of values, I noticed this after I saw some other people commenting on it but compared to Galilei the coloring of this show is super basic, it's like someone chose a color, chose other colors that were all the same tonally and used them and made the show look really flat. That could be deliberate, some contrast between the real world and the colorful world of cartoon justice, and the basic values could be on purpose as well and the show intends to build them up later, it's got 22 episodes after all. But, going after just this first episode, I'm not impressed nor am I super excited by the show and that makes me rather sad.

Much like  KLK, Samumenco is licensed by Aniplex and streaming in their usual places.

Tokyo Ravens
Kid doesn’t want to become an onmyouji
In the effort of full disclosure, I’ve read some of the manga that was based on the same light novels that this anime was so I can’t really say too much about the story since I know how it’s going to go. I will say that I thought it was paced well, like most urban fantasy shows this one has a lot of general background to set up first to explain why the characters are in the positions they are (and there are a couple of key details coming next week) and I’ve heard rumors that this one will be two cour which is great since I really can’t figure out how it could end well after just 13 episodes. And as for the actual story, I get the same feeling from it that I get from Blue Exorcist actually. Not because of any particular details, they’re actually rather dissimilar in that regard and in the general premise, but they’re both supernatural shonen shows with a lot of action and a similar sized cast which has been done over and over yet they both just have a spark to them, in the setting and the visuals, that makes them interesting. Everyone is going to see a show or two at some point in their anime watching lives, it just happens, and if this show continues to be a solid show I’ll happily recommend both of them as less generic than usual supernatural shows that are fun watches (well, with the cavet that Blue Exorcists’ ending gets a bit weird, I’ve seen even non-manga readers comment on that).

Tokyo Ravens has been licensed by Funimation and is streaming on their new site (which be forewarned seems to still have some bugs, I haven’t been able to get a video to load in Chrome yet).

Unbreakable Machine Doll (Machine-doll wa Kizutsukanai)
Puppeter and raunchy doll start school
Every season there is a show I start against my better judgement, this the show this time around where despite the ecchi tag attached to it I was curious. However, while I didn't like those moments what really made me regret it was the CGI and oh ye gods, everything else this season looks perfectly, completely fine by comparison. Holy cow you’re supposed to bring your A-game the first episode and then have the budget vanish, I don’t want to know what this show is going to look like by the end. And the large amounts of exposition were handled almost as clumsily as the show tries to introduce you to a lot of background all at once yet everything still feels rather flat (the characters) and generic (the setting) so in the end I just couldn’t care more than one iota about the show and have dropped it.

Machine Doll is streaming on Funimation’s website who has also licensed it.

Valvrave the Liberator (part two)
We still have vampires piloting mechs
So, not much to say about this show so far since it picks up exactly where the previous season leftoff and doesn’t look to be deviating from the tone and characterization at all. So, if you liked the first season go ahead and keep watching this, alternatively if you watched the first season for it’s WTF value keep watching as well, that’s more or less why I’m here. As usual with sequels this is a terrible place to jump in so if you’re curious I recommend you check out my earlier review (especially since this show crosses the line at least once in a major fashion) and if that doesn’t have you running away as quickly as you can then you might enjoy the show. Also, while a lot of shows look great this season I swear that with the amount of action sequences in Valvrave (the first five minutes are almost solid action IIRC) I think this first episode had the equivalent budget of three Machine Dolls.

Just like last time, Aniplex is distributing the show in the US/Canada and has it streaming on multiple outlets, the same as Samumenco and KLK.

Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta
Humans and yokai live in a town
So I’ve never seen the original anime for this show or read much of the manga (I started reading some and then felt guilty when I realized it had been licensed at one point in the US, given that I never see people talking about a license rescue for it here I guess that means it has next to no fans) but this reboot of sorts is supposed to be newcomer friendly so I decided to give it a shot. From what I can gather though, this show isn’t going to just retell the early part of the story and then follow the manga after the original anime diverged (a la Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood) but is somehow doing side stories to sort of introduce new fans before joining up with the manga material that wasn't previously cover, is that right? I know that it’s connected to a series of OVAs that came out recently, (those two have similar art styles which are also closer to the look of the original manga than the first series, no idea if any of the voice actors have changed) although those are set farther down the line, regardless of all of that this first episode was just plain fun. It has some whackiness to it that I adore in supernatural series and after the way it gleefully barreled through the first episode I felt like I was starting to get a grasp on the characters and the basic politics of the town they lived in (although remembering everyone’s names might be beyond me at this point), loved the music during the more action-y scenes, and I’m certainly interested in what it’s going to do next!

While the first anime was licensed by Sentai no one has picked up this iteration for legal streaming, however I’m hoping we’ll have an announcement from them before the season is done.

So it's a bit of an odd season, it's jam packed with good shows but just about everything airs on Thursday for some bizarre reason. I also have a problem that I haven't had since the summer of 2011, fansubs. I have a one-or-none rule for fansubs (which I sometimes toe the line with Precure/older shows which I know will never be licensed at this point) yet there are two shows I really liked but are both fansubbed, Kyousogiga and Quartet. As it stands however, Kyousogiga is my baby practically with how I've dreamed of this full show for two years and it's even better than I could have hoped so far which means that, unless one of those two gets licensed, Quartet is going to have to go onto the back burner (at least that way I'll be able to hear from other fans how accessible it really is and what, if any, episodes I need to see from the original show to get my bearing). Otherwise this is what my schedule looks like:
Tuesday: Tokyo Ravens
Wednesday: BtB, Kyousogiga (which since it's fansubbed will probably be out Thursday instead)
Thursday: KLK, Galilei, Samumenco, Nagi, Valvrave

8 shows and a completely unbalanced week especially since my American tv shows also air on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Well, at least at this rate I'll have plenty of time to catch up with older shows as well! What's everyone else watching? Also, is it just me or does Nagi remind everyone a little bit of From the New World and KLK a tiny bit of Utena? Could just be the character designs for both of them but I know i'm not the only person for Nagi in any case....

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