Monday, October 20, 2014

Fall 2014 Anime Round-UP

It's that time again, time to talk about way more anime than is healthy! This one got pushed back a bit late since Mushi-shi: Zoku Shou started oddly late, even the noitaminA shows started a full week earlier than this (and suddenly I am already scared for the show's production schedule). And before I get to the meat of this post, I (thankfully) only have two shows carrying over from the summer, Sailor Moon Crystal and Happiness Charge Precure, I'm ridiculously behind on PreCure since I just ended up getting behind on everything this summer but when I last left it I  liked how the show felt a bit like a throwback to 90s magical girls with it's subplots and focus and I really liked the humor in it. SMC is still only every 2 weeks so staying caught up with it is easier but the show is having all kinds of ups and downs, the art varies wildly even within a single episode (which they thankfully seem to be fixing for the DVD release but it's currently competing with Samurai Flamenco for "most obviously had schedule problems in 2014") and sometimes the direction of the episode itself has been strange. But they've kept in nearly everything I wanted to see from the manga and I still have no urge to see the original tv series so I don't think I'll complain excessively about it yet.

Now for the main stuff, as I mentioned with my summer review, I haven't actually tried out every single show that sounds interesting in an effort to cut back on how much I'm watching (and, with AnimeNewsNetwork stepping into the episodic reviewing fray now, I can find reviews on just about every show to see if there's something I need to catch up with). So I'm waiting to see if there will be a legal stream of G-Reco before giving it a shot (although it sounds like I am watching the superior Gundam show right now), I've heard mixed things about Honya-san so I'm going to wait longer to see if that's worth picking up, and for Chaika I'll probably pick it up close to the end and marathoning through I did like it last time, it had some strong moments but not enough to keep my attention from week to week. And finally, I have no idea if I should even be interested in Celestial Method but ANN is doing a daily streaming of that show so I'll be sure to follow along there, honestly when they asked viewers to vote on what they wanted covered my methodology was "what am I curious about but don't want to make the effort to see and can make someone else do instead?" which seems to have worked out pretty well for me!

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works (TV series) episodes watched: 3
The fifth, bloody holy grail war begins.

Despite the fact that I saw and enjoyed Fate/Zero (enough that someday I will get a cheaper-but-still-too-bloody-expensive set from Aniplex)  this series wasn't on my to-watch list, in fact F/Z hadn't been either which is appropriate. Here it was because of the source material, I've heard good and bad things about the series over the original visual novel over the years but yet this version doesn't seem so bad and people who are familiar with the source material say it's doing a good job at adapting things too! It seems like somethings have been changed around to be a bit more tonally consistent with F/Z (for the moment I would say you could still go into this series blind but it really does expect that the viewer has seen F/Z with how it's not even hiding that a certain character is the villain again here) and apparently it's cut out a lot of sexist dialoge from Shiro, considering that he never came off as sexist to me here I think it's doing a great job there! And, being familiar with F/Z and having read a lot about Stay Night I think I really get the kind of tonal contrast they're going for this season and it's interesting. Compared to F/Z where all of the masters were adults, most with clear reasons for wanting the grail, a lot of the masters this time around are young and doing it only out of obligation, viewers have probably picked up to it but that 4th grail war is the whole reason why this 5th one is even happening so it's interesting to see how these characters are both knowingly and unknowingly burdened by tradition and outside demands. I can see all of this working out really well and even working with what's the story is strongly hinting will be Shiro's arc of heroism and defining when/how to help others and also why. He's not a likable character so far but he is moody, ie he's certainly got a personality with opinions so he's no blank, stand in audience character. So yet again, somehow I'm interested in this show and it seems like my interest is only growing every week so far.

Fate/we-need-a-better-nickname-because-there-are-too-many-versions is an Aniplex show which means it can be viewed on crunchyroll and hulu, however while the crunchyroll stream has a one week delay for free viewers the hulu stream does not, it appears that Aniplex is doing this more and more with their more popular titles but not every title in a given season. 

Garo: The Animation episodes watched: 1
Dark tokusatsu series becomes a mature anime

This series actually was on my "maybe" to-watch list but with so many new shows this season I almost didn't get around to it and yet, here's yet another show I plan on watching at least a few more episodes of. I only have a little bit of experience with tokusatsu series but I doubt that will be a problem here, in fact I'm tempted to say it might make the show look better since you wouldn't be mixing a real world setting with ugly, cheap special effects. But the show has it's own design issues here, Gabriella Ekens on ANN nails it by comparing the special tokusatsu suits to the ones in Gatchaman Crowds, both of them seem overly designed (which works in live action designs but not as well in anime for some reason) but at least Crowds' colorful suits fit into their colorful setting semi-well, here they're a bit too intense/vibrant for a rather "dull" setting (I get that it's intentionally clashing here, Studio MAPPA is planning out the aesthetics for the rest of the show much too carefully for it to be unplanned, but it's overkill). Maaaaybe I can get used to it or maybe I can still enjoy the show while groaning each time it comes up on screen, who knows!

Garo is a Funimation show and can be viewed on their website or streamed free a week later on both their website and hulu.

Gundam Build Fighters-TRY episodes watched: 2
Years later, toy robot battles continue to rage on!

I don't recall even seeing any talk about this show last fall when the first show premiered but here I am, still a complete novice in everything else Gundam and I am so so happy this show is back. It's been seven years so I'm expecting nothing but a few cameos from the old cast (but I DO expect cameos Sunrise, you guys clearly know what people want to see in a show otherwise that you have to put that in!) and it seems like now all the rage is fighting gunpla battles in teams of three instead of individually which I think is a cool choice to make, even if it does mean that they can now advertise three times the number of model kits. And yet, even if this is a glorified toy commercial, even more so than other Gundam series, it's still just so fun, the story knows exactly when to toss in a joke or reference (I swear it's referencing itself now), when to make a moment more serious but not too serious in order to keep the tone even, and despite the fact that it has several attractive female cast members so far, the fanservice has been entirely PG and I respect it for that. I'm also happy that the show decided that if it was going to have three main stars that one of them should be a girl whose playing the game because she loves it and is the one explaining things to the newcomer (the show is also balancing between having the cast dynamics be similar to the first show but not the exact same), they could have easily done otherwise and I think I might have seen more female battlers in the opening than last season as well! So I'm pumped for this show and it would have to become dramatically terrible in order to change my feelings on it.

GBFT is streaming on the official GundamInfo youtube channel and should be open to all territories as is the first season.

Log Horizon 2 episodes watched: 2
MMORPG players are still stuck in a database MMORPG

Another show I only picked up right before it ended last spring and another show I'm happy to see back, all of my most anticipated shows for this season were sequels come to think of it (and Yona but again, already familiar with the source material). And it's one of the three shows I've decided to try and do episodic posts on on my tumblr so to sum those up, so far everything is business as usual for the show, there's barely any recap, and the slightly changed character designs aren't bothering me nearly as much as I feared. I am kind of interested in how the story is splitting it's focus so far and more or less bumping Akatsuki up to main character status and I'm hoping this means the show can focus on even more of it's characters this season, especially since it's cast is growing rather fast. But best of all, I speculated when I finished the first season, after some poking around online, that this second season might end up bringing in the side stories, ie the meta plot of the story, and it looks like I was exactly right since those are finally being rewritten and added into the main storyline. So that's going to be fun and I can't wait to see how it all plays out!

Sentai Filmworks has also picked up Log Horizon 2 and it can be watched on crunchyroll.

Mushi-shi Zoku Shou  episodes watched: 1
Ginko continues to interact with mushi.

This is an example of a show that simply starts off so strongly that it doesn't change much which, while nice to watch, means that there's not a lot to talk about. So, Mushi-shi is still good, it has always been good, and I think that since we're coming up on Halloween in the US this is a great time to try it out if you want something quietly scary. After I reviewed the first cour I had some people tell me that Mushi-shi isn't adapting the stories in the exact same order they appear in the manga so I find it interesting that the show decided to start off here with an episode involving Ginko's past (which practically never comes up). I think it was a great choice and it had a good message, sometimes I'm a little too harsh on stories that have an obvious message to them (kid and adult shows alike) but the way that it was done here, a combination of character actions and outside events, made it come together without feeling like the show was proselytizing. The show still looks pretty great too, stunning backgrounds and some moments when the characters in a scene aren't quite as detailed as they should be but thankfully I never found it jarring enough to be a large or even frustrating flaw. At this point very little could take away from my enjoyment of the show, I'm happy with what it's done in the past and as long as it keeps trucking away I'll be satisfied with it.

Mushi-shi Zoku Shou is still an Aniplex title and can be found streaming on crunchyroll (while the first half can be found on hulu, neither the two parter from August nor this episode have appeared yet).

Psycho Pass 2 episodes watched: 1
Society and the Sibyl System remain corrupted.

Another series I was excited about but with reservations, Gen Urobotchi is doing barely any work on the series this season and since he was a main part of the first season, and I've now seen a couple of shows where he's only done some of the creative work on it, I'm a bit worried that the series just won't remain consistent with the first part. So far it's doing okay, I was one of the people who wanted a second season so we could see the rest of Akane's growth and here, a year and a half after the first season ended (both in the real world and in-universe), she's the calm, badass member leader of her team but there's certainly still room for her to mature even more and the series outright says that's what this season will be about so on that level I'm happy so far (although, as this video points out, the visuals of the series have gotten much less interesting and I wonder if this is from switching from Production IG to Studio Tatsunoko). However, this season clearly isn't for newcomers, there's barely even a reintroduction, and yet so many of the new characters are just rehashing the same arguments we had in the first season, I'm particularly confused why Mika, the new Inspector, is so outright rude to Akane and the others considering she's been there for a year and a half by that point, although she does seem to have a modicum of respect for Yayoi whom she probably remembers was the one who helped to save her from becoming a latent criminal back in the murderous school girl arc. The other new characters aren't nearly as confusing but some people have pointed out that one of them is heavily hinted at to be a new villain in the opening (or at least a literal agent of the sybil system) and the other has the same voice actor as Makishima so forgive me if I don't have high hopes for them. And I've also heard rumors that the series will "end" with the movie that comes out in January, which also makes me worried, especially since going from the premise it's set two years after this season. While it could be pulled off, how can you make a plot that both fits into 11 episodes with a satisfactory ending and also play into a movie with a considerable time gap?

Funimation has once again picked up Pyscho-Pass and the show can be watched on their website or on hulu, funimation subscribers and hulu plus members can see the episodes the day they air and everyone else on both sites gets them free one week later.

Rage of Bahamut: Genesis episodes watched 1
2000 years ago there was evil in the world and it may be returning

This show wasn't on my to-watch list at all because come on guys, a show based off of a game, that's usually not a good indicator! But it appears that Studio MAPPA has been given enough freedom with this project that they can take all the money for it, make the show look nice, and then put together a story from it so on that level it's way better than expected (even if the art style just isn't to my taste, it's hard to explain why but some of the designs are a tad too cartoony for me). And yet, I'm not sold on the story yet since I'm not even sure what the story is! The first episode was great at "show don't tell" and while it did explain every action taken by the characters in this episode it barely starts to set up the larger story (which appears to be a guide-quest, at least to start with, and that just doesn't sound terribly exciting). At this point I do intend to watch the second episode, especially since I keep hearing good things about that episode as well, but with as many shows as I have on my plate this season I will end up dropping it at least temporarily if this second episode doesn't grab me, I don't have time to watch boring anime!

Bahamut has been picked up by Funimation and their distribution model is the same as with Pyscho-Pass 2.

When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace (aka the series with too many alternative translations) episodes watched: 2
Literature club? More like Magic Users Club.

Yet another show that wasn't on my list since, in my own personal experience the length of a light novel's title is inversely proportional to how good the show ends up being. But every now and then a series bucks the trend and so far this series has been actually fun. I always have a hard time believing that chuuynibyo characters are 100% serious in their delusions so here the fact that our chyuuni plays it up more often than not to try and annoy his club mates (or as a distraction which backfires magnificently) is much more funny to be along with the girl's reactions, you get the impression that they all do get along and aren't just tolerating him for some reason! I expect at some point the series is going to have more action sequences and fewer talking head parts which I would like and I hope that Studio Trigger's house style starts to show through more, there was barely any of it in the first episode but you can start seeing bits and pieces in the second episode, hopefully by the last episode we're up to Kill la Kill level of ridiculous fights then!

Too Many Titles is streaming on crunchyroll

Yona of the Dawn (Akatsuki no Yona, Yona The Girl Standing in the Blush of Dawn) episodes watched: 2
A pampered princess's life is upturned.

This was my number one, so unbelievably excited for, show this season because I really love this manga, it's popped up in my November Month of Manga before, and yet so far the show has only been okay so far. It's another one of the shows I've decided to do weekly posts on (since I wanted to see how much I had to say about a show where I was already familiar with the source material) and I really do have mixed feelings on it, the manga itself is a slow burn to start with but where that feels deliberate this feels awkward, sometimes the pacing is fine and other times it feels way too drawn out to me, although I've seen opinions on the show ranging all over the place for every detail of it. Episode 2 was stronger than the 1st one so hopefully it continues to get better and it does seem like Studio Perriot is aware that it has a slow start and is trying to make things engaging for the viewers by showing all of the flash-forwards, although it really makes me wonder just how much they plan to adapt in two cours....

Yona has been licensed by Funimation so it can be found streaming on their website, hulu, and crunchyroll.

Your Lie in April (Shingetsu wa Kimi no Uso, April is Your Lie) episodes watched: 2
Vibrant girl makes sensitive boy see the beauty in life and music again.

And this is the third show I decided to try reviewing and for this one I'm afraid I made a mistake, I was hoping that a noitaminA anime based off of an award winning manga would be fantastic but somehow I missed the part where it said that all of our characters are middle schoolers and frankly these kids don't act like middle schoolers. They're mature in a weird way that few 13 year olds are, Wandering Son is much better at capturing how kids react to situations with a nod to the audience saying "they're young, they'll grow" but here we're supposed to take Kousei's thoughts rather dramatic thoughts 100% seriously and Kaori is a tad too close to a manic pixie dream girl for my taste. I am curious in how the story will tackle making Kousei enjoy music truly for the first time since it does seem like that will be a major point but, even though I was going to try and stick with the shows I picked (and picked ones I was sure I would like for that reason) I might just have to drop this show and instead focus on everything else that completely has my attention.

Your Lie is an Aniplex show and can be found streaming on crunchyroll and hulu, like Fate/ this show does not have a one week delay on hulu but does on crunchyroll.

And geeze, when I first looked at the fall season I thought this would be a quieter season for me again but apparently that's not the case, I'm looking at potentially two Monday shows, a Tuesday one, a Wednesday show, two on Thursday, none on Friday (or Sunday), and three on Saturday (also making it one of the weirdest schedules I've had recently). I'm sure I'll drop some of these shows for a few weeks and then pick them up again later as I get busier (especially with integrating in those weekly reviews AND NaNoWriMo in a couple of weeks, sweet Jesus I'm crazy), maybe this season I'll even remember to do a general retrospective and talk about which of these shows, if any, I ended up dropping before January....

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