Spring Season 2014: Not so Bad After All

Seven out of the nine shows which caught my attention have been viewed so far.  I also added one more: Blade and Soul, due to D. M. Dutcher’s first impressions of the season.  Some of the backgrounds are remarkably beautiful, and the action’s not bad.  On the other hand, the character designs and predominately female cast make this show feel like Queen’s Blade–not that I watched more than two minutes of the show!  (Yes, I ought not even have entertained any hope for Queen’s Blade being a good anime.  But, Grenadier and Freezing are examples of enjoyable fanservicey shows which have more to them than the heroine’s bosom.  So, I felt Queen’s Blade had a chance.)  All the characters in episode one appear disappointingly flat; n.b. I refer to their character, not physique.  But, I am ready to give this show one more shot.  I have yet to find episode one of Mekakucity Actors, and reading about Abarebou Rikishi!! made me more eager to watch Ashita no Joe than the sumo version of a similar story.

Black Bullet

Anyway, the first show to receive my approval was Black Bullet.  The cast of characters are pretty cool–even the frenetic Enju–and the tale seems to be a cross of Psycho-Pass and Mushi-Uta.  (If you haven’t seen Mushi-Uta, watch it when you’re in the mode for something weird and soul crushing.)  Despite the cheerful characters, there’s plenty of darkness surrounding this world, and I expect the story to become darker as the series progresses.

hitsugi_no_chaika

Hitsugi no Chaika seems to be a lighthearted fantasy.  I like the fact that unicorns are treated as baneful rather than cute.  Some have noticed that the hero’s sister is unusually possessive of her brother, perhaps even incestuous.  But, this trait is more an affectation than purposive, as one would find in Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei.  For example, she attacks her brother for dining with Chaika and says later, after Toru speaks badly of himself: “Even if you are my honored brother, I will not allow you to look down on the brother I admire so much.”  It’s comedic, not serious!!!  Then, Chaika herself is a fun character with her stilted speech and super-powered sniper rifle/magical rod.  With it’s splendid mixture of comedy, quirky characters, and action, I’m expecting good things from this show.

Multiplication troubles

TWWK made brief comments on Gokukoku no Brynhildr on Beneath the Tangles.  He claimed that the beginning of the episode indicated that the series would be dark and brooding.  It can be, but the characters are too focused on survival and making the best of their fugitive lives for these moods to last long.  From having read the manga, I can say that Lynn Okamoto, the author of Elfen Lied, has improved on his craftsmanship, as the characters are more vivacious and the killing is less–even if this series’ secret government agency is more odious and cruel.  I could barely put the manga down and expect good things from the anime adaptation–still not sure whether they will tone down the blood and gore.

 

Only anime would have a cute gamer for a ghost.

Only anime would have a cute gamer for a ghost.

Nanana’s Buried Treasure promises complex, likable characters.  The story is set on an artificial island dedicated to boarding schools where the author has decided to study.  (That’s one way to make sure parents don’t get in the way of the tale.)  Only, he discovers that he shares his room with the ghost of murdered Nanana–one of the founders of this island.  The characters are so likable that I find myself enthusiastic for this show–despite the little amount of information given by the first episode.

knights-of-sidonia-anime-pilot

Two mecha series looked like they could be fun.  Knights of Sidonia does a beautiful job of employing CG.  They focus on the backgrounds and the scenery rather than on the characters, and I find myself curious to learn more about this world.  Captain Earth has hero for whom I identify greatly.  (Letting one’s studies go in order to research more important things?  Might as well be your humble blogger piloting the mech!)  This show offers a very intriguing opening despite the traditional “Congratulations!  You’re now a mech pilot in charge of saving the world!” scenario.

captain_earth_01_2

But, the main reason I find myself a little leery of the above two shows is because my tastes do not lean toward mecha.  I thank Full Metal Panic for making me interested in the genre.  After all, I started watching anime with shows like Rurouni Kenshin, Samurai: Hunt for the Sword, Inuyasha, Peacemaker, and Samurai Deeper Kyo.  See a common theme here?

Samurai Hunt for the Sword: my introduction to harem anime and boob jokes.

Samurai Hunt for the Sword: my introduction to harem anime and boob jokes.

And let me tell you all you need to know about Dai-Shogun – Great Revolution: it’s horrible and will liquify your brain.  The first episode features a hero who’s only interest is fighting, plenty of fanservice, and a murderess who amputates her victims’ analog stick–to borrow a slang from Gintama–before finishing them off.  Yeah, a show which panders to the base desires.

But, I must retract what I said in a prior article.  I’m impressed so far and hope that this strong start will carry over to a great finish.

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19 comments on “Spring Season 2014: Not so Bad After All

  1. Genki Jason says:

    Knights of Sidonia had a really strong start and I totally agree about the CG being good.

    Like

    • Yep, I’m still not sure whether I’ll end up watching it to the end, but it shows a great deal of promise. If Arpeggio of Blue Steel and Knights of Sidonia are any indication, the Japanese are getting much better at using CG animation. I wonder if that style will win out over the next decade?

      Like

  2. MIB says:

    Interesting comments about “Black Bullet” as I had heated “discussion” with someone on Twitter who hated it because of the teased sexualisation of the irritating lolicon character Enju. I tried to assert that it wasn’t all bad outside of this but he wasn’t having it, saying he couldn’t see a single good thing about it.

    I wondered if it was just me but your comments have assured me I’m not alone and the story at least has some potential, so thanks!. 🙂

    One title I’m surprised you haven’t mentioned is “Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii” with its medieval aesthetic! 😛

    And I can recommend “Ping Pong” too! 😉

    Like

    • Some people get heated over the wrong things. It’s obvious that the hero is really interested in Kisara. Enju’s claiming him as her fiance is just a gag. To say that one cannot find a single good thing about Black Bullet makes me wonder if the person you spoke to is just jaded with anime in general.

      I’ll take a look at both Ping Pong and the fantasy anime. I do like fantasy and medieval settings, but prefer that the characters are either not royalty or at least taken out of their plush environment. From the preview, Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii has most of the action take place within the castle walls. And it is essentially a romance. I usually avoid those unless the main character is a knight errant out to make a name for himself. But, you’ve gotten me curious!

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      • MIB says:

        Well I don’t like all the incest/lolicon stuff that the Japanese are disturbingly obsessed with but as you say, it’s not the primary concern of this show so it’s just an annoying distraction rather than anything to get upset about, especially after one episode.

        Soredemo… sees the princess of the Rain Kingdom forced to marry the prince of the Sun Kingdom but she is more a tomboy than a princess so you kind of get your wish with the character! 😉

        I will also second Isshuukan Friends and if you liked Soul Eater, Soul Eater Not! looks like it will be lots of fun! 🙂

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  3. David A says:

    You haven’t watched Ishuukan Friends?

    Like

    • Nope. I’ve had my fill of the anterograde amnesia trope with Seishuun For-get and Soldier of Arete by Gene Wolf, which I’m currently reading. And I still have one novel in that series to go: Soldier of Sidon. Maybe I’ll pick up Isshukan Friends if it starts getting rave reviews.

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      • David A says:

        This is the first anime I watch with that premise. I didn’t knew about the manga you mentioned.

        I’m going to check the other series I wanted to see in Easter.

        Like

      • Good! The premise that a person has their memory reset after a certain time period makes for interesting stories. In particular, I imagine that it must be painful for that person to essentially not know themselves. Latro, the main character of Soldier in the Mist, feels as though he lives in a fog, because memories become fuzzy until they no longer exist. He almost feels as if the person he reads about in his scroll is not himself–even questioning whether he made up fables to write there.

        As far as I know, the best anime with this trope is “Ef – A Tale of Memories.” It’s beautifully done, and I highly recommend it if you like Isshukan Friends. It’s based on a game, which actually targeted Japanese Catholics–or minorities as they refer to Catholics over there.

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  4. David A says:

    Watched the first ep of Black Bullet…

    I though the little girl was a typical 15+ y.o. with a small body (like Taiga), but it seems that she is 10 y.o. … disturbing considering the dinner scenes (if she was older these wouldn’t be that better, but still… being a little girl makes these creepy).

    The rest of the episode was a bit strange… it didn’t had a good pacing or order, and it feels like they tried to compress too much stuff.

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  5. japesland says:

    A surprisingly small overlap in what the two of us are interested in even within the same season. Cool to see what you’re up to, though!

    Like

    • I bet there’s more overlap than you think. You see, I picked up a few other shows since this article: Comic Artist and his Assistants and Soredemo Sekai ga Utsukushii, for example. I ought to give an update.

      So much for my original feeling that this would be a poor season!

      Like

  6. David A says:

    Does Ef Tale of memories has any objectionable content?

    Thanks!

    Like

    • In my opinion, no. The thing which comes closest is that we know two characters have sex, and they engage in pillow talk afterwards–actually, their conversation is rather serious. Otherwise, you might disagree with the way a certain character views God; but, his bitterness has roots in certain misfortunes which are explained in the next Ef – A Tale of Melodies. That one has more objectionable content, yet a powerful story nevertheless.

      Like

      • David A says:

        Thanks!

        Then, I guess some form of nudity appears on it.

        You said it was targeted to “minorities”, what Catholic themes it has?

        P.S. I was reading it was adapted from an adult game, lol, how strange that they targeted such a game for Catholics.

        Like

      • A bit of nudity. I remember no more than partial nudity.

        It is funny how they target a galge at Catholics. Honestly though, the anime is rather tame, and I believe it is one of the first times, if not the first, SHAFT employed the quirky animation style made famous by Bakemonogatari. But, my memory of the show is fuzzy. (I should watch it again!) As for Catholic themes, the most prominent is the matter of faith, particularly faith in God despite the problem of evil.

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  7. David A says:

    I was checking one of these blog posts that have screnshots alongside episodic reviews. You are right about the quirky Shaft animation style. Sudden changes of color, silhouette-like (or better said, in flat colors) characters in some scenes… and a image depicting a lesbian fantasy a girl was having (with nudity)… wow, what is the thing with schoolgirls and these things in some anime? (I know… the reason is obvious. Fanservice -or normalization of such behaviors, too-).

    The style seems a bit strange, is like a transition from the 2000’s one to the current styles. Color is like more recent anime, but the eyes and hair, is like the older style.

    Like

    • Yep, I’ve become used to most of the weirdness that the Japanese add to cartoons. Ah, Japan! The world would be so much more mundane without that country!

      I love the animation of the 90’s and early 2000’s, so that part of the aesthetics of ef – A Tale of Memories delighted me. To give a more recent example, one of the reasons I liked Arpeggio of Blue Steel was because the animation style borrowed from the 90’s–even if in a CG fashion.

      Like

      • David A says:

        I wonder about the motives behind these things… I guess most of them are for fanservice, but I get the impression that things like Gen Urobuchi’s works (Madoka) could be driven by certain stances, -according to one interview he gave-. But, fanservice or not, the nocive effect on the fandom is big… again, the power of images.

        I like it too.

        About Arpeggio, I was wondering about that style, something certainly looks different, and it was that!

        Like

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