My Experience with the Anime of Summer 2014

As you know, I wrote that I would try to marathon the anime which I stalled this season.  Having watched straight through episodes 8 – 12 of Aldnoah.Zero, I’ll be able to add my assessment of it to this post–making for a total of five anime.  Expect the reviews of the others to be published singly or in pairs.  Let me start with the two anime which I’m unable to rate due to their series not being finished.

One of the most beautiful images of the season of one of its most charming ladies.

One of the most beautiful images of the season with one of its most charming ladies.

1) Aldnoah.Zero – no rating

Quel finale!  If they had not promised to return for the winter season of 2015, I would have rated it 3 1/2 stars just for crushing the audience’s souls at the end!  (And before the last few minutes and finding out that it would get a second half, I thought about giving it 4 1/2 stars!)  The action sequences were truly awesome, the animation beautiful, and the plot compelling.  The characters were nothing to write home about, but Slaine and Inaho made for great protagonists and even the princess started to grow on me.

I cannot but confess that I found this takedown very cool.

I cannot but confess that I found this takedown very cool.

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As others have noted, certain parts of the anime evinced bad writing.  A few of the characters’ decisions made little sense, especially *MAJOR SPOILER* Rayet killing the princess.  But, that might play into the theme of envy and hatred being motivators for war.  I know Inaho disagreed, saying that there were always other main causes for war.  But, anger and hatred make war especially bitter and often increase the destruction of war and the willingness of nations to begin them.  Just think of Great Britain and France.

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FUTURE POST ALERT: How envy influences Martian politics lines up nicely with a book I’m reading titled Leftism by Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn.  So, the role of envy in modern politics and how envy squelches liberty and diversity will certainly feature as a post in the future.

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2) Akame ga Kiru – no rating

Akame ga Kiru got off to a slow start, but I feel that the second half of this season was much more exciting than the first–just as the case was in the manga.  I must confess that the manga does several things better; but, the way that the show handled the presentation of Esdeath’s character was rather adroit.  (I still prefer the fan translation name, Esdese.  That seems more like a girl’s name than that of an allegorical character, doesn’t it?)  Some of the fights could have been better, but episodes 6 and 11 more than made up for them.  You also need to love Akame ga Kiru‘s style.  It exudes a Renaissance setting, but a million anachronisms fill its scenes–especially the modern style of the clothing and the presence of modern firearms.

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Despite certain flaws in presentation, the adaptation made the pages of the manga come alive.  The voice actors in particular were very well chosen.  I look forward to the second season!

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FUTURE POST ALERT: Also, despite Esdeath being a unique character, I believe that I have discovered the base for her character.  Be sure to look out for my post on which character appears to have been the inspiration for Esdeath!

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3) Rail Wars! – ★★★

The likability of the characters save this show from being rated 2 1/2 stars.  In some respects, especially the tsundere, Aoi Sakurai, many of the characters fall into tried and true character types.  Yet, each character feels unique, e.g. the hoplophile ways of Aoi or Naoto’s obsession with trains.  As a matter of fact, even though Naoto feels like a the weak willed protagonist of a harem anime, he shows guts when the occasion demands them of him, which was another good point to this show.  The character relationships were also done quite well, even if those episodes which focused on this facet of the show tended to be rather fanservicey.

Rail Wars

Though the series can’t be called action-packed, episodes 10 and 11 stand out for the excellence of the fights, and who can forget the train ride from hell in the seventh and eighth episodes?  On the other hand, the final episode annoyed me quite a bit: in a 12 episode series, who needs an episode dedicated to saying good-bye to the characters?  At least, it had more to do with trains than many of the prior episodes.

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In case you were wondering, yes, I would certainly watch this again!

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4) Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun – ★★★★

A well-deserved four stars for this comedy!  I loved how closely the manga covered the process and struggles of writing good manga.  Like Rail Wars!, it boasts a great host of characters who are oddballs in one fashion or another.  As iblessall writes, this show’s ability to tag different people as tsukomi each episode stands as one of its salient features: each person has a turn at playing the straight man as others act ridiculous around them.  Though, Sakura seems to hold this position more than most of the other characters.  A truly great comedy!

Seo

I’ll also admit that I fell for Seo.  Watching her blunt honesty and inability to adjust to the feelings of others was a trip!

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5) Sabagebu! – ★★★★★

I bet you were not expecting me to grant Sabagebu! five stars and a place on my top fifty list!  Yet, it does so many things to make it the most brilliant comedy this year.  Unlike Nozaki-kun, this is a black comedy; so, I can’t recommend it to people who want nothing atrocious to happen to characters.  One needs to be able to laugh at characters who suffer everything from other characters shamelessly using them to shooting them dead in amusing ways.  (Fans of Looney Tunes are sure to love this kind of comedy.)  Our lead character, Sonokawa, in particular has no qualms about using others as stepping stones on her road to victory.  Fortunately, the violence and death only occurs in the characters’ imaginations–most of it anyway.

Sabagebu Sonokawa

But, this show could not have reached five stars had it not been for the excellence of the gun fights and its ability to parody 80’s action movies.  (The parodies of Predator and Mad Max made for some of my favorite scenarios.)  Episode twelve presents a mind-blowing finale to the show.  I must add that Miou was my favorite character; though, Sonokawa’s vengeful deeds are very fun to watch!

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Those are my thoughts for these five shows!  Stay tuned for more!  What was your favorite show this season?

9 comments on “My Experience with the Anime of Summer 2014

  1. Genki Jason says:

    I thought Aldnoah.Zero started off strongly and ended in a mess and it’s down to the writing.

    I just didn’t get Rayet’s decision to deal with the princess like she did – more build up was necessary) and then the crew’s sudden acceptance of her was too easy. The fights were good but the characters doing the fighting weren’t the least bit interesting to me. Slaine’s actions were hard to fathom in the final episode and Inaho was essentially blank throughout the entire thing. I kinda liked that in the sense that he was extremely calm, ruthless and capable but I would have liked some impression of where he was coming from, what forged such a character. That made the fights lack the spark of excitement because you knew he would do the same routine to defeat enemies who were all one-note. The ending held little more than shock value. More depth as to things like their motivations and the effects of torture might have rectified this feeling and made things interesting.

    I guess it shows the limitations of a 12 episode run for a story that features the near extinction of Earth’s population.

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    • I have to agree with you. One has no idea what motivates certain to the characters, especially Inaho, to be they way they are. The main problem with Slaine is that he was a stronger character in the beginning, but did not seem to know what to do with himself after he got captured. And Count Saazbaum’s sob story and pretense of goodwill seem to have confused him by the end. If any of the characters were truly done well, I’d have to say that Lt. Marito, Inaho’s sister, Miss Humeray, the princess, and her attendant felt the most complete. The problem with that is that only one of them is a main character. Also, she got on my nerves with her hyper-idealism and guilt complex.

      Well, let’s hope for better writing in the next season. Though, I don’t know how they expect to continue the series with Inaho and the princess dead. I figure they have to be really dead; otherwise, the audience will be even more disgusted than they were at their demise. We’ll see!

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      • Genki Jason says:

        When Slaine saved Saazbaum I wanted to punch him. Why save the guy who has promised to kill the person he loves??? Surely nobody can be THAT confused!

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      • I know what you mean! A tragic error to top all tragic errors past or present! But, Slaine went through a lot, so it might be possible for him to have been confounded beyond all description at that moment. I suppose if Shakespeare were to comment on Slaine character, he might say: “Confusion, thy name is Slaine.” xD

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      • Genki Jason says:

        Haha

        This is where better writing that elaborates on what the characters think and feel could have worked. 12 episodes isn’t enough to show massive destruction like that.

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  2. David A says:

    *Spoilers*

    The princess… why!!!

    I hope she survives.

    Also, she is one of the most beautiful looking characters in recent series, and regarding personality she is likable too.

    I didn’t liked the anti-medieval and anti-aristocracy themes of the series, although they are mixed with other things in their depiction of martian humans. The music was good, specially the songs with lyrics, although some parts of the lyrics from Alliez have been rather disappointing.

    Why Inaho is like that?

    The fight with Count Saazbaum was very short… and Slaine… saving him. How impulsive, he doesn’t thinks too much about his actions, is like if he were at the antipodes from Inaho.

    Other details: How Eddelrittuo could drive the Humvee? Is Count Crutheo back for the next season? what about Saazbaum and Inaho? who are going to be the new protagonist and villain?

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    • In the case of the princess, I suppose the proverb “The third time pays for all” applies. Only a cat could escape death more than twice! I don’t think that she’s coming back, which makes me wonder how the writers intend to make season two a compelling story and how her death and the death of Inaho work in with their themes. Is it just going to be a simple anti-war message?

      I didn’t see them as having an anti-medieval message. After all, medieval times are characterized more by the Faith of the people and the eminent role of the Church than by monarchy. Also, power was more decentralized in medieval times than is shown on Mars. I look at the Martian state as more similar to a Renaissance nation-state–perhaps along the lines of the France of Louis XIV or the England of Henry VIII.

      I, for one, am no fan of aristocracies and monarchies. Some monarchs and aristocrats may be great people, but I would not like to live under such a government. So, that aspect of the series did not bother me. Though, the presentation of aristocrats and kings as demagogues stirring up the people with hatred in order for them to be eager for war is very inaccurate. That’s more a property of democracies than the other two forms of government. After all, if everyone is the slave of the king, how could they protest? Indeed, they would not likely think they had even the right to do so! So, kings resort more to their august authority than stirring the passions of the people.

      I will also say that I loved the music. The inclusion of German in the second ending theme was pretty cool!

      Let’s hope for better writing in the next season. One wonders if they deliberately made Inaho so hard to relate to so that killing him off would not bother the audience?

      Like

      • David A says:

        This is the second time she has been actually hurt. Maybe she is going to appear in the second season thanks to some Aldnoah curative properties. But Inaho? that’s more difficult, unless Slaine has bad aim, and he shot his ear.

        I know, but what is the popular conception?

        The presentation of them as demagogues is more along the lines of populist leaders from democracies and dictatorships. I agree about the impression of that strange portrayal.

        Yes, it was cool, but sadly, what sounded like English, were strings of seemingly random words.

        Maybe, that could be one reason. Or having him being such a triumphant character just do die like that.

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      • I suppose if one looks at it that way, the princess will survive until the second season. But, as much as I’d wish that Inaho and the princess lived, their resurrection would feel annoying. It would jar my suspension of disbelief to say the least.

        I suppose so. The terrible thing about the Middle Ages is that negative statements about it are readily lapped up while people hesitate to believe anything good about it. For example, few people would believe that capital punishment was relatively rare in the Middle Ages. But if you say that knights did not study martial arts but bashed at each other with brute force, everyone believes it.

        That’s all thanks to the Enlightenment. Who knows how long it will take for the lies propagated by those thinkers to be uprooted from the popular imagination?

        Like

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