Final Thoughts – Fall 2014 Anime

Unlike most of these posts I do, I’ll not only cover the shows that aired during the season, but some movies and ONAs/OVAs that were released during the past few months. All of that stuff is at the end of the post.

Enjoy!

Altogether, this has been a pretty solid season. I picked up a lot of shows, but only one (maybe two) was an absolute disaster, so that’s always nice!

Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works

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The first half of UBW has been great. My main complaint is that the tone seems to bounce around a bit too much, resulting in a lot of incongruent downtime. One day Rin and Shirou will be involved in some fight, and the next they’ll go to school, almost as if nothing happened. Where the show really shines is the action, as everything looks brilliant and sounds pretty good, and some of the results of more recent episodes have been pushing things in a good direction.

As enjoyable as this show is though, it still pales in comparison to Fate/Zero, which had cooler fights (more frequently at that), a wider focus on far more interesting characters, much better music, and a generally more interesting story. Compared to Fate/Zero, this feels more like your typical anime teenagers fighting against the odds type deal, but it’s at least been done well.

Current rating – 7/10

Recommendation – Unless you’re already familiar with the story, wait until the second half airs in the spring or just wait for the BD version, where there will apparently be a bunch of fixes.


Psycho-Pass 2

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Short of writing a review/rant, I wouldn’t be able to get all my issues with this show out of the way. The first season was one of my favorite anime from last year, but Psycho-Pass 2 managed to take a dump on just about everything the series had going for it.

When I saw someone comment “Psycho-Pass is killing puppies now?” I laughed. I laughed. Why? It’s certainly not funny, but I laughed because it didn’t even remotely surprise me. That’s the quality of writing this season, especially in the second half. It’s sickening. Unlike season one’s interesting story and antagonist, season two has a story that’s all over the place and some of the most uninteresting antagonists in anime.

Besides that, the anime adds some hand-wavy “Trust me, this is possible” sci-fi, focuses on edgy violence more than coherence and logic, looks and sounds worse than the first season, has a cast that is ridiculously underutilized, and then there’s Shimotsuki, the new inspector. There is a special place in hell for her kind. I would love to to go on and on about this sad excuse for a sequel in a scathing rant, but spoilers.

This is barely anything like the first season. Rather than a cyberpunk crime thriller, it’s a childish excuse for a follow-up that focuses on the superfluous violence more than an interesting story. To sum up this season in one word, it’s pathetic. Looking back on it now, this was obviously just intended as a bridge between the first season and movie. Let’s hope the movie’s better.

Final rating – 2/10

Recommendation – Wait to hear how the movie is. If popular opinion is that it’s better than this travesty, watch this first. Begrudgingly.


Kiseijuu / Parasyte

While Parasyte started with an interesting concept, it was never anything amazing. Fortunately, the show gained plenty of steam as it continued. Alpha male Shinichi to the rescue! Sadly, the female characters in this show are a complete joke, and besides Shinichi and Migi, everyone feels rather unimportant. There have been other interesting characters in the story, but they all seem to have vanished for the time being. Either way, the story’s pretty cool, the animation’s nice (besides the CG people in the background), and I’m looking forward to how everything turns out.

My main complaint with the show still stands – I am not a fan of most of the soundtrack. There are plenty of times where the music is used well to accompany a scene, but there are plenty of others where it distracts from what’s happening.

Current rating – 7/10

Recommendation – For a cool sci-fi show that builds steam as it moves along, definitely watch it. It might be worth waiting till the end of the winter to marathon it.


Amagi Brilliant Park

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Since I haven’t been very fond of Kyoto Animation’s more recent shows (Tamako Market, Chuunibyou Ren, Kyoukai no Kanata), I didn’t have high expectations for this. Well, thankfully, this show turned out much better than I expected. It’s absolutely ridiculous, but once the first few episodes are out of the way, it’s steadily crazy and a fun ride, mostly thanks to Kanye Kanie-sama and Sento.

Even beyond the bizarreness present in every episode, the show’s ending was a very nice conclusion to the overarching conflict. Episode 13 should have been an OVA or something though, not tacked on the end.

Final rating – 7/10

Recommendation – If you’re in the mood for a goofy show that doesn’t take itself seriously, this will work.


Grisaia no Kajitsu / The Fruit of Grisaia

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Alright, episode 6 happened, and I decided to drop it for now. That probably seems a little extreme based on how I was enjoying it until that point, but that episode ruined everything the show had going for it. They completely changed Yumiko’s route into a cop-out ending that makes no sense, resolved everything in the absolute worst way possible, all while turning her backstory into some pointless add-on that made her out to be a complete crybaby. I should have known something was up when the episode didn’t have any panty-shots.

But anyways, with the creative liberties taken with this “adaptation” of her route, I really can’t imagine the rest of the series being any better (especially with Sachi’s route and Amane’s backstory). I recommend reading the visual novel – you can wait for the “official” English release from Sekai Project next year-ish or just go with the fan-translated version out now – but don’t waste your time with the anime.

Dropped until I finish the VN (or forever).

Recommendation – Read the VN instead.


Danna ga Nani wo Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken / I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying

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From beginning to end, this was a funny and charming short. It took advantage of its short runtime well, overloading it with jokes, references, and the unique relationship of the main couple. I’m definitely looking forward to the next season, which will be airing in the spring.

Final rating – 7/10

Recommendation – Since it’s really short (13 3.5-minute episodes), give it a shot if you’re in the mood for rapid-fire and bizarre jokes.


Ore, Twintails ni Narimasu. / Gonna be the Twin-Tails!!

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Quite simply, this show was half fun and half stupid. The main character obsesses over the twintail hairstyle and transforms into a twintailed girl, so they obviously weren’t aiming for anything serious, but even then some of it is a bit too far out there. Anyways, it was still worth the watch. Probably.

Final rating – Not ponytails/10

Recommendation – Spite whoever decided that a show about twintails would be better than a show about ponytails.


Denki-gai no Honya-san

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Similarly to Danna ga…, Denki-gai has an unusual sense of humor. The art style is a bit misleading, but the setting should make everything obvious – it’s set in an Akihabara book store that sells manga, light novels, and doujinshi, so the sexual nature of the jokes is understandable. The cast is thoroughly strange, the jokes are always weird, but it’s still lacking.

The show can get boring very easily, the romance goes absolutely nowhere, and the general impression I’m left with is that it was only sometimes funny. The show was enjoyable, but could have certainly been a lot better.

Final rating – 6/10

Recommendation – For a fairly funny show with a weird cast and topical setting, this will work.


Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso / Your Lie in April

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The drama in this show is a complete mess. I don’t know what they were aiming for, but stuff is all over the place. First off, Kaori and co. basically bully Kousei into playing the piano again by berating him, forcing him into positions he wants no part with, and then blaming him for the resulting shortcomings. And along with this are the flashbacks to Kousei’s abusive mother. All 500 of them. Besides showing his reluctance to return to the piano, these feel like a very redundant way to drag out the drama and reinforce exactly why he’s struggling so much. It’s annoying.

And then, there are the other two pianists, Takeshi and Emi, whose raison d’etre is to overcome Kousei. If they were constantly competing, this could make sense, but two years passed since the last time he even played in a competition, and they still aim to defeat him and feel betrayed when they think he isn’t worth topping anymore. And then, the comedy. It’s not even funny, but the jokes interrupt serious situations nearly every time.

The music side of things is pretty good, but hearing people comment on the playing is like reading some pretentious review for a performance – they read into things more than makes any sense, leaving a plethora of roundabout phrases, flowery words, and pointless rambling that tells you nothing substantial about the performance.

Everyone commenting on the performances don’t seem to make distinctions between the original music and how it’s actually played. Or, when the performer starts playing something, they’re taken by surprise when… they play the song correctly? It’s weird. They make a big deal out of playing note-for-note = good, so why are they surprised?

Besides the visuals (which are nice in moderation) and the actual music, this show has some problems. I’m hoping the second half improves upon all of this. I’m not expecting much though.

Current rating – too early to judge

Recommendation – If you’re interested in a drama/music anime, this should fit the bill.


Shirobako

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With its large cast and focus on creating anime, Shirobako is very reminiscent of Bakuman (although Bakuman was about manga). And it’s always nice to have a slice-of-life show that isn’t set in high school. The characters are a nice combination of charming, funny, and interesting, coming together for plenty of consistently humorous situations and interesting developments. The show doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s steady, enjoyable, and I’ll definitely be following the show next season.

Aoi is definitely best girl.

Current rating – 8/10

Recommendation – For a generally lighthearted anime, it’s worth the watch. If you don’t mind watching weekly, jump in now, otherwise wait for the show to wrap up at the end of the winter.


Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru / Yuuki Yuuna is a Hero

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Subtlety 101 (Oddly enough, they all interpreted the Death tarot as “ominous,” even though its meaning is more metaphorical than literal)

I don’t have much to say about this. I only watched the first three episodes, and it was very boring. The school side of things had nothing special going on, and the magical girl side of things seemed to have too much “Hooray for friendship!” and otherwise felt like an Evangelion/Madoka Magica hybrid. And would it have killed them to let the crippled girl actually use her legs when she transforms instead of turning her into Doc Ock?

I might come back to this show later, but I’ll probably just end up dropping it if the next episode or so isn’t a marked improvement.


Steins;Gate: Soumei Eichi no Cognitive Computing

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This is actually a short 4 part ONA that was released during the season. It’s basically just short little antics between members of the Future Gadget Lab, and exists as some quick fanservice for those interested. It’s short, funny, and another chance to see the characters in action.

Final rating – 7/10

Recommendation – If you enjoyed the SOL side of Steins;Gate, definitely watch it.


Tamako Love Story

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Here we have yet another pointless movie sequel. The follow-up to last year’s Tamako Market (which was quite a disappointment), Tamako Love Story picks up as Tamako and co. start nearing the end of their high school careers, but Mochizuki still hasn’t confessed his feelings to Tamako.

If there’s anything good that I can say about this movie, it’s that the stupid bird and token foreigners are absent. As someone who didn’t care for the show, this felt like it was simply dragging out an already uninteresting story, bringing romance into what was a fairly simple slice-of-life without any substantial payoff. It was similarly boring, without many redeeming qualities. It’s meh through and through.

Final rating – 4/10, with an extra point for Atom Heart Mother

Recommendation – If you want to see a somewhat proper conclusion to Tamako’s story, or if you thought the show would have been far better without the stupid bird, watch it. Otherwise, don’t bother.


The iDOLM@STER Movie

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At its best, this movie is similar to the best parts of the TV series – the characters are doing their things, having fun, and coming together as a group to put on a huge performance. At its worst, it shifts its attention away from the girls of 765 Pro to focus on a new and uninteresting character who mopes around for half of the movie.

The first half is great, focusing on the characters we’re already familiar within their lives as idols, but it loses steam halfway through, moving in a dramatic direction rooted in a character the viewers have no reason to care about. It’s not a deal-breaker, but this movie could have easily been better if the second half was handled differently.

Final rating – 6/10

Recommendation – If you enjoyed the show, watch the movie for a nice conclusion to the group’s story.


Expelled from Paradise

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This movie uses 100% CG animation. As far as CG in anime goes, this is definitely some of the best, but it’s still far from looking good. The mechs and robots and stuff look fine, but the people have the same problems they always do with CG – they move awkwardly, clash with the backgrounds, have weird facial expressions, have jilted animation, and are distractingly CG-esque. But at least we are rewarded with boob physics.

Even ignoring the superficial details, this movie is nothing noteworthy. The story and characters are uninteresting (not to mention Angela’s voice is obnoxious), the setting is hardly explored adequately, and it’s a generally forgettable experience.

Final rating – 3/10

Recommendation – If the look of blatantly CG anime doesn’t bother you and you’re interested in the story, watch it (with low expectations).


ME!ME!ME!

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As part of the “Japan Anima(tor)’s Exhibition,” which consists of an ongoing series of unrelated ONAs, ME!ME!ME! is the one that’s caught everyone’s attention, and it’s easy to see why. With a heavy focus on the electronic music, trippy visuals, and incomprehensible “story,” it is a bizarre experience, to say the least. Sometimes fascinating, sometimes nauseating, this video accomplishes a lot in only a few minutes. It’s weird.

Over a month later, I’m still not sure how to effectively convey my thoughts on this. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to put my jumbled thoughts into adequate words.

Final rating – ???/!_#)&-$]{

Recommendation – If you’re not opposed to a lot of highly suggestive female nudity and weird gore, enjoy!


Once again, the shows I’ve dropped up until this point are Cross Ange, Ushinawareta Mirai wo Mitomete / In Search of Lost Future, Girlfriend (Kari) / Girl Friend BETA, Trinity Seven, and Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de / When Supernatural Battles Become Commonplace.

Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis / Rage of Bahamut: Genesis, Sora no Method / Celestial Method, and Magic Kaito 1412 are still on hold. Gugure! Kokkuri-san is on hold simply because I haven’t gotten to it yet.

I’m only eyeing about 5-10 shows from the winter season, so it’ll be a much lighter load than this.

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5 thoughts on “Final Thoughts – Fall 2014 Anime

    • You may end up enjoying PP2 (popular opinion is that it’s good), but there were so many problems that I couldn’t simply ignore.

      There was actually going to be a Steins;Gate sequel novel too, but it ended up scrapped for some reason. Oh well.

  1. Rai says:

    Grisaia no Kajitsui is getting two sequels. You got to catch up.

    Are Parasyte’s girls really that bad? Seriously?

    • Yeah, I heard about the sequels… I’m honestly hoping the VN translations come along sooner, because I’d rather read those than watch the anime.

      The girls in Parasyte feel useless, like they can’t do anything on their own and they always end up in sticky situations because of their own stupidity. I guess it wasn’t that big of a deal through the entire show, but the last few episodes were problematic.

      • Rai says:

        Every girl isn’t going to be independent. That just isn’t how life works. Most anime are filled with rifle or dual blade wielding females taking down armies or battling behemoths. This exception to the norm isn’t that bad.

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