Spring 2014 Anime, Final Impressions

gochuumon wa usagi desu ka

Presented here is a list of final impressions from the anime I watched in Spring 2014, randomly organized. Possible spoilers included.

Spring 2014

Brynhildr in the Darkness

gokukoku no brynhildr

So I came in not knowing anything about this anime except for a synopsis at the season previews. It sounded like a clichéd harem themed around pretend magicians looking for aliens (a mix between Love Hina and Chuunibyou). But there was one theme I did not expect to read on the genre list: “Dark,” as in really dramatic/horror stuff. I brushed it off because I thought it had a minor role. Boy was I wrong! After getting a few episodes in, things get really mysterious and dark. Getting past some physiological elements only led to more intrigue for this anime. And death is always around the corner! I was left wanting more as the season ended with some sort of continuation in the future. It was only now when writing this review that I discovered the anime’s source, Lynn Okamoto, aka the creator of Elfen Lied. Now I see why this anime was so surprising! I haven’t watched Elfen Lied but I do know of its scenes, you’ll probably know as well. I should probably watch Elfen Lied knowing how enthusiastic I was watching this anime.

Dragonar Academy

seikoku no dragonar

Wins the award for most full nudity shots this season. Bonus points for adding tentacles… But this fantasy anime falls into the norm with a school setting and a loli-tsundere female lead. Not much can be said for the story and plot as those clashed as well. Some of the character’s interests conflict with their ideology or reveal a hole in their thinking. This was really promising too, but at least the dragons looked cool.

Selector Infected WIXOSS

selector infected wixoss

The original anime that is trying its hardest to impress a hardened Madoka crowd. So WIXOSS came with a card game tie in. But nothing was really told of the game’s mechanics or finite details. The main focus was with the girls and their unique card companions. Such girls were chosen to be a candidate in becoming an “eternal girl” and getting their wish granted. How is that done is a mystery… Oh man, sound familiar? Don’t be surprised, but instead, appreciate the mystery that is the “LIRIG” cards and how they operate. Pay attention to them as they hold the secret to this first season’s plot. In the end, things do get interesting and hopefully the audience can get closure in the second season. Because nothing completes a first season like a battle cliffhanger!

Riddle Story of Devil

akuma no riddle

A class filled with assassins targets the only non-assassin. However, one assassin decides to become a protectorate, helping to make sure the targeted one survives the class. Rules are set so that it won’t be a free-for-all; each assassin pretty much gets an episode. Battles between these vixens are fun to watch. But the ending didn’t impress me as somehow everyone survives for an overall “happy ending.” Aside from that, the show was done well, even having different ending theme songs for each assassin. The character design is sharp, sometimes shōnen-like. All the better to showcase the fight scenes!

Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky

atelier escha & logy

I’ve only played one of the Atelier games and it was back in the PS2 days. The series is a JRPG with an emphasis on synthesis of items, food, weapons, clothing and other stuff. But since then the series has proliferated to multiple games spanning into the PS3, and soon the PS4, the 15th game in the series is special as it is the first to get an anime adaption. It was done pretty well, holding true to what players of these games expect. The story has quests mini-arcs leading to an all-together team push for the boss level climax end. Like with other Atelier games, character development takes a more prominent role, sometimes having more filler slice-of-life than fantasy action. Watch this if you’re a fan of the games.

If Her Flag Brakes

kanojo ga flag wo oraretara

You want a typical harem anime? Or how about a slice-of-life? And why not add in a virtual world? Not that last one? Well too bad, you get them all in this anime! Yes, “flags” are the central theme that setup how our male lead established our harem of girls (and the occasional trap). But when things begin look like they linger in the slice-of-life genre, we get pushed into an almost nonsensical plot. Take it if you like it but I sure didn’t. I like the way things were moving, hoping the flag stuff would get explained in that world. But alas, the flags concept gets pushed aside behind the true meaning of their existence. The anime does have an ending to tie things together well, but not enough to bring closure to me. I did enjoy the animation style and the detail to the characters, not sure if that’s from the artist for the light novel or new talent from a fairly young studio.

Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san

inugami-san to nekoyama-san

Comedy where a cat person is a close friend with a dog person, with heavily implied yuri tones. Any cute animals involved? Nope, just a high school setting. Some jokes are funny but overall the anime is short and meets what most would expect. In other words just a bland adaptation for a few good laughs.

One Week Friends.

isshuukan friends

Very basic romance anime that works to everyone’s favor. The anime brought out what was promised in the previews and announcements. OWF just delighted me and didn’t disappoint after concluding. It’s just that plain and simple.

Chaika, The Coffin Princess

hitsugi no chaika

Plays like a JRPG but with an involving story that is not drawn out, i.e. you don’t need to play 50 hours to get everything. Okay, that’s a bad comparison but this anime feels like a game. There are some great fight scenes accompanied by some nice  visuals. The central story is ever evolving and certainly mysterious. The cast may fall to some archetypes but their design is unique, especially the eyes of the ladies. And the multiple Chaika thing is awesome as it adds to the dynamic cast. I have enjoyed this adaptation and will defiantly be watching the second season.

Is the order a rabbit?

gochuumon wa usagi desu ka rize

No, rabbits aren’t the central theme. GochiUsa is another cute girls doing cute things slice-of-life anime, barista edition. What more to say? Oh, my favorite girl is Rize because she’s a military buff.

Ping Pong the Animation

ping pong the animation

Now I’m not a fan of the game but luckily a friend of mine is. We watched with enthusiasm getting to know the characters and story, along with knowledge of game techniques like being a “chopper.” I actually did learn some stuff! The anime was an amazing piece of work. Yes, there are no women leads and animation itself takes a while to get used to, but boy do we get the full story treatment. I enjoyed the fact that we weren’t forced to root for any one player as each of their character developments is unique and ultimately likable. The ending reinforces this, leaving everyone happy and content for their futures. For something new, or for ping pong fans, give this (not your typical) Japanese animated series a try!

The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behavior

bokura wa minna kawaisou

Apartment living comedies, it’s a small genre but can garner enormous laughs. What drives a comedy of this nature is a cast of wacky characters. The tenants of this complex certainly qualify with a live-in pervert, a hopeless romantic cougar, and a manipulating college student. Plus guests, lots of guests. Our lead heroine is a bookworm who has feelings for our male lead. Things get interesting relationship wise but comedy takes a prominent role. Lots of recurring jokes and side stuff run around each episode. Yet it doesn’t feel episodic as the story manages to slip in, no matter how small that is.

The Comic Artist and His Assistants

mangaka-san to assistant-san to

Just as the title says, this comedy follows the everyday life of a perverted manga artist and his (all-female) cast of assistants. Surprising to see how much good laughs can be have from this anime despite being only 10 minutes per episode. Though themes such as this have previously been made into anime, the original creator turned up the ecchi moments even more than his previous work. Fun times are to be had here; crazy, perverted fun times…

The World is Still Beautiful

soredemo sekai wa utsukushii

Okay, I didn’t know what I was going into when starting this anime targeted for shoujo but I did enjoy some parts. I did enjoy our heroine, being more robust and tomboy-like than I expected. But I guess that’s better since she sets the tone for character development for everyone in the series, especially the child king. The animation and voice work seem kind of low quality in my opinion. Also, having the same insert song play multiple times can get a bit annoying at times. I kind of enjoyed this show but I’ll leave it to the proper demographic for an honest review.

Blade and Soul

blade & soul

What a mess! I should’ve known better to have watched this… Alright, the anime is an adaptation of a Korean MMORPG of the same name. We follow the journey of an assassin on the hunt for her sensei’s murderer. But the journey is two-sided as we see the assassin develop into a better character away from taking revenge. And therein lays the error in this anime, way too much sentimental stuff and not enough action. So too are the story and cast that seemed contradictory at times. And what about the fan service? Minimal, especially to what fans were predicting. I’m not bashing the game because I do like MMOs, I’ll just advise to avoid this anime.

Nanana’s Buried Treasure

ryuugajou nanana no maizoukin

Wasn’t what I was looking for; I wanted an adventure style anime, which was what I was led to believe based on the title. But instead it’s more puzzles than adventuring, something I grew tired of after Phi Brain started a second season. But I gotta say, the fights are awesome, accompanied by rather realistic sound effects. Characters seem show-boaty yet clever when manipulating peers. Still, I think this anime could’ve done more to make an enthusiastic end rather than leaving it at a limbo knowing that a second season may not come.

Black Bullet

black bullet

Epic battles, dangerous creatures, and people considered mentally unfit to take care of little girls all reside in this alternate universe. Yes, as crazy as it may get, Black Bullet works its way to become a notable show that brings out a full range of emotion from the audience. But what was most daring in this anime is the treatment and death of the infected girls. The use of this though is what drives our main character to push his limits beyond even his mechanically-aided body. The story too has multiple factions that our main cast only touch upon, sometimes leaving holes on the plot but can still be understandable. The ending even adds onto this by adding last minute intrigue and changes in perspective. Black Bullet takes a while to digest but once you accept some facts in their world, it can be an entertaining experience.

Knights of Sidonia

sidonia no kishi

Classic sci-fi but with the computer graphics department budget turned way up! So much of the setting and plot of this anime is on par with what you’d expect in most other sci-fi. But hey, the tried and true works. So this time humanity, albeit a bit genetically modified (they can photosynthesize for food), escapes a barren Earth in an asteroid-like seed ship called Sidonia. Over the many years they encounter and fight a space creature that is as intelligent as them and bent for their destruction. To do so pilots are trained to use mechs in defending their home, in addition to an array of large scale weapons. What makes this anime so unique then? Well it’s entirely in CG. Yes, you do see it well enough to be called out. But, as with Arpeggio, it doesn’t take much time to get used to and enjoy the visuals. And yes, characters intentionally look the same because of cloning. In summary, I did enjoy this show and can’t wait for the sequel. On a side note, this anime has been picked up for localization by Netflix first. So you’ll be able to watch all episodes with an optional dub starting on July 4, 2014. Check it out!

No Game No Life

no game no life

Dedicating your life to perfecting games. That’s what best describes our main duo that get dropped into an unknown world. But instead of exploring the new world in a safe manner, our NEETs have other plans, world domination plans. They are extremely smart and can employ clever mind tricks to get their way. Really, it comes to a point where their braininess is enough to bring notoriety, yet in their old world they became hikikomoris. Why is that? That aside, the remaining cast of different races is also unique and intelligent as well. Except for Stephanie… but at least she provides good explanations, plus she’s cute! Despite being a bit ecchi, the characters have a multi-pastel look to them, especially on hair and clothing. Contrary to the potential conflicting color palette, the art turned out well and beautiful in fact. No word on a continuation but I’ll surely watch it again for comprehension’s sake.

Tonari no Seki-kun (continued from last season)

tonari no seki-kun

A great continuation from last season! The same antics you’d expect from Seki are there and turned up a notch! Still, no actual character development that most would like to see. But this short comedy delivers on the situational laughs, at the expense of our heroine…

Mid-Season

 

Magica Wars

mahou shoujo taisen

Gianax, what are you up to now? There was a project to anthropomorphize Japan’s 42 prefectures as magical girls. For being only 5 minutes, a lot of content must be pushed through. But at least this will last through the summer. The visuals are uniquely Gainax but with minimal fan service as this is a small project for a variety show not sponsored by the government. So far the anime is very colorful and showcase girls doing amazing things both with and without the magical costumes.

Sequels

 

Date a Live II

date a live 2

It was hard to follow being away from this show for about a year. But, like with Infinite Stratos, you get nice action and a turning point in the plot, but then the show gets stuck on what seems like filler that brings no development for the characters or story. Sure there are new characters, but the previews already spoiled their debuts. And then there’s the confusing list of secret organizations and their conflicts with one another. I can’t recommend watching this if you haven’t brushed up on the last season.

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Filed under Final Impressions, Mid-season Impressions, Reviews, Spring 2014

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