First Impressions, Fall of 2014

Ah yes, the fall season of 2014 has begun and with that, a ton of fresh new anime for us to sort through. Seriously, this season is jam-packed with shows, and Yata and Haru have sifted through the vast majority of them. And this third guy, L-K? He will appear before us one day. He’s had his hands full figuring out this podcast thing for this season’s preview, which is sort of….late. But we’re still figuring this out and not everyone checked out the same things as one another, we’ll get there when we get there! Without further ado, let’s get going.

Akatsuki no Yona / Yona of the Dawn

pv-akatsukiHarubro: [yawn] Yay, another fantastical Warring States era inspired “princess-in-exile-goes-on-journey-with-tough-guy” series. This one had sort of a boring start with a very predictable hook mid-episode, though the action scenes were pretty decent. This show probably isn’t my cup of tea, but it may suit others out there. Just don’t watch Yona expecting anime of the year, or even of the season out this one. I may give it my usual three-episode trial to see if it goes anywhere.

Yatahaze: I was more interested in this due to the possibility of it producing a good political story than anything else, and though it’s quite clear that this show is intended to be a romance, I’m glad to already see things changing. If anything, that change happened too quickly. I’ve got a solid grip on Yona’s personality (that of your average spoiled teenage girl…but in warring states-era China) and Hak’s as well, though I’m not sure what to make of Soo Won right now due to how swiftly the events transpired here. He seems to be the wild card and if the show uses him in some useful way to set up a grander plot than the love life shenanigans of a princess, I think I’ll be satisfied. The setting is pleasant and the art and animation are okay too. This will probably be a middle of the road speculative pick at best. This pilot was a little safe for a majority of its runtime and a little rushed at the end, but at least I can come out of Akatsuki no Yona without feeling like it was a waste of my time.
WATCH?: Yeah, sure, I guess.

Amagi Brilliant Park

pv-amaburiHarubro: Congrats, Kyoto Animation. When I first saw the synopsis of this series you were adapting, I seriously thought that my favorite studio, the ones behind the masterpiece that was Hyouka, had clearly had it. I thought it was all downhill after Tamako Market had wrapped up. After two seasons of Free! and the disaster that was Chuunibyou Ren, I figured this harem-looking Roller Coaster Tycoon wannabe anime was about to be my nail in the coffin for you…

…but I was wrong. Dead wrong.

Amagi Brilliant Park (or Amaburi for short) cut right to the chase, with a girl, Sento Isuzu coercing the egocentric protagonist Kanie Seiya into going to a derelict amusement park (can you guess what it’s called?) at gunpoint. Seiya’s very underwhelming tour of the park turns sour from the get-go. At the very least, I thought the grand tour was really amusing, from the brokenly difficult shooting gallery to the best roller coaster ever. Seiya even gets knocked on his ass by the park’s head mascot. The animation and scenery? Typical KyoAni fare, and by “typical”, I mean smooth and pretty, for the most part. Another bit that really sold me on this show is the fact that the main characters are all named after rap stars (pronounce Kanie a few times) , and that alone seriously amuses me to no end.

While I was really skeptical of this show at first, I’m definitely curious to see how this show goes now.

Yatahaze: BRILLIANT!

What a start, holy cow. I don’t want to waste too much time hyping this up to be the best thing KyoAni has done since Hyouka, but it’s looking that way right now. The comedic timing was spot-on here, allowing Kanie’s narcissism to take center stage only in swallowable doses, and the rest of the park was introduced to us in a drab, deadpan fashion reflective of its current state, solidifying the overall mood of the episode and driving the point home that the place needs help quick. Magic in anime, like in any medium of fiction, can be difficult to establish without resorting to the mindset of “don’t give a fuck – there are no restrictions” to let anything and everything happen. While I don’t think Amaburi will avoid this trap going forward, I think it has enough going for it to be consistently fun regardless. This pilot was extremely well done and on multiple occasions laugh-out-loud hilarious, but it’s already clear with the introduction of magic and Kanie’s inevitable cooperation with the park that this isn’t the dynamic that we’ll stick with for long. If what will replace it can be as great as this pilot we’ve yet to found out, but the cards are in Amaburi’s favor. Maybe my skepticism is too strong because of Chuunibyou Ren and Free and Beyond the Boundary, but whatever, let’s hope for the best going forward.
WATCH?: Yes.

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

My HusbandYatahaze: Knowing that this would be a short in the 3-ish minute range, I figured why not, right? What’s the worst that could happen? It’s supposed to be dumb, but hey, maybe the characters could be endearing in their own stereotypical way. And they almost were, to an extent. Kaoru’s selfish desires around the time of their wedding added a silly layer to the show and Hajime’s personality wasn’t as irresponsibly childish as I anticipated. The pace of this episode was completely shot though. Nothing correlated for longer than about 10 seconds. There was no real sense of comedic timing, just cliché jokes ad nauseum. Yeah, it’s only a short so it has a much smaller timespan to get its laughs in, but the construction of this is actually puzzling. It’s hard to chuckle when you’re completely lost. Could I continue it to get the occasional laugh it probably contains? Yeah, but that would be like eating cereal for the milk. Not the point and not worth the wasted time.
WATCH?: No.

Denki-gai no Honya-san

pv-denkigaiHarubro: At first, I was actually just a tad excited for this one. I thought I was gonna get a show about everyday work life at a manga shop, with a voice cast featuring some all-star talent. The very cartoon-ish style looked like it could have been mildly refreshing. Boy, was it anything but. This show really loves poking fun at the perverts, and it constantly goes back to that. I appreciated the few working bits of the show, and a few of the pervert jokes (especially the old man in the “manga sommelier” bit) admittedly got a laugh out of me, but I really don’t see this show panning out for 12 episodes. Unless it has more working bits like when Umio assisted Sensei with her manga, it’ll be difficult for me to really stay interested in this. I’ll stick around for three episodes on this, but that will likely be it for this one.

Yatahaze: Not even sure what to say now. I was more confused than anything, really. The cutesy character designs actually detracted from the overall tone of the show, which was somehow both immature and concerned with topics for “mature audiences”. It was a chore to sit through; I think I only chuckled twice and even then it was because the scenes were so downright stupid that I had to believe it was made that dumb on purpose. Contrast this with the also-lighthearted but far more naturally entertaining Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun that aired last season and Working!!, a show with a couple seasons now that really got the most out of its 4-koma to full-length anime adaption, and if you want an airing show about otaku-related events, you’d be better off watching Shirobako this season.
WATCH?: No.

Donten ni Warau / Laughing Under the Clouds

pv-dontenHarubro: Alright, I admittedly spoiled myself on this one. The art style, the setting and the awesome voice cast had me pretty eager about this. I was so damn curious about this show that I ended up reading and finishing the manga before watching it. It was probably good that I did, because it introduced me to this series a tad better than Donten’s pilot episode did. As I tend to fear with 12/13-episode adaptations of novels or manga nowadays, the pilot was pretty rushed together and skimmed over quite a bit of important bits. As a result, a decent manga’s adaptation ends up coming off as sort of a cookie-cutter supernatural/historical action show. Though some aspects of the show are pretty, the animation and exposition are just sort of lame. It’s particularly easy to pick these main characters out of a crowd. Sort of sad, because Dogakobo can make good shows when they try. I may trudge all the way through this one, but it’s likely a waste.

Yatahaze: This too was boring. Side characters monologuing the main trio’s backstory and the setting while the brothers bitched back and forth about trivial nonsense. The fight scene was kind of shoddy. As a whole, this show looked nice, but its pilot was nothing but mediocre. I was optimistic for a slow-burning quirky period drama in the same vein as Katanagatari, but it looks like that’s not what I’m getting. Count me out.
WATCH?: No.

GARO The Animation/Honoo no Kokuin

GaroYatahaze: Gonna get this out of the way real quickly: the first couple of minutes in this thing were amazing. Errrrr, maybe it was just the background music. Either way, it seemed really cool. Then over-exuberant armor-clad suits started popping up and Garo tried to have a plot and ehhhhhhhhh…

In a weird twist, probably the best moments of this episode aside from the aforementioned opening was when one of the main characters, Germán Luis, partakes in an extremely sexually suggestive scene with barely enough censorship to make this shit airable on television, only for his mistress of the night to go and summon a dark spirit from her vagina and nipples and no, I’m not kidding, this actually happens, and believe it or not, their back-and-forth dialogue leading up to it was the only thing that helped give this show’s world any grounding. That should say a lot about what kind of clusterfuck this is; it’s got abundant amounts of uneasy CGI, action scenes so poorly choreographed that I actually got dizzy, and timeskips back and forth occurring so quickly that it became difficult to tell not just what year we were in but also whether any of these events were directly connected. Maybe the Rule of Cool could apply later on, and hell, maybe the empire featured here could have some Maoyuu Maou Yuusha thing happen since I kind of got that vibe at some points, but this was a beyond shoddy pilot and I don’t really have any motivation to continue further.
WATCH?: No.

Grisaia no Kajitsu / Le Fruit de la Grisaia

GrisaiaYatahaze: Koyomi Araragi’s long-lost CIA-devil-agent twin brother Hikigaya Gump transfers into a school with only 6 other people. All of them follow cookie-cutter harem girl stereotypes and are supposedly more dangerous than they appear, but nonetheless, boredom ensues. It isn’t really as dark as some may have been led to believe and I’m just not up for this. Sorry.
WATCH?: No.

Gugure! Kokkuri-san

KokkuriYatahaze: The very first and very last scene with these two characters were geniunely funny and really heartwarming, and while Kohina‘s deadpan responses to everything were initially funny, the unrelenting exposure to them makes all the jokes drag, and not even Daisuke Ono‘s fitting voice acting as Kokkuri could save all the conversations in the middle from being bland where humor should have thrived. It’s a real swing and a miss here, as the conversations are actually quite decent on paper. The gag style nature of this show killed its potential and its delivery. I could see these characters, with a cast expansion, work with an episodic or overarching plot in a standard linear production, but this is not the way to go about it…and if that is where the show is going, then this pilot overall was a poor introduction to it.
WATCH?: No.

Hitsugi no Chaika – Avenging Battle / Chaika the Coffin Princess – Avenging Battle

pv-chaikaHarubro: Yes yes yes! My favorite surprise show from spring returns! The interesting-enough plot! The interesting-enough characters! The flawless use of famous automotive and manufacturing names for characters, countries, what have you! The usually tasteful comedic bits! Quality production values! Those amazingly choreographed action and fight scenes! And who could forget the unicorn meeting its gloriously graphic end in the first episode? So how would this second season top the first’s pilot?

Well, it didn’t.

But that is A-okay, because this episode did a great job of getting our footing back into the magical world of Chaika. While the fights in the opening scene lacked the zazz of the fights of the first season, they did a good enough job of grabbing my attention for the most part. After the fight, the show goes back into another aspect it excelled at in the previous season, the worldbuilding. I like that this show goes over many of the ramifications of post-war society and the building upon the use of magic and Chaika working hard on practicing its incantations. I really hope this season delves a bit into Chaika’s and the Acura siblings’ pasts a bit more. In any case, this series is great stuff, and I’m really looking forward to another wild ride.

Yatahaze: I’m more than pleased with where Avenging Battle seems to be taking this story. Chaika’s first season was fun and balanced for a fantasy shounen, with the occasional trope only barely getting in the way of an otherwise original world and natural dynamics. The pilot for this second cour had no fluff and no flops. The main quartet is staying with a woman named Claudia this time, one of the Eight Heroes responsible for defeating Emperor Gaz, and I loved the legitimately charitable nature of this whole setting. It’s nice to see the show not relying on the same techniques it used throughout the first season, and even Akari’s recurring gag-style love for Toru was played off with some reasonable comedy this time around, our beloved Eyebrow Princess adorably getting hit in the face during their little scuffle.

Meanwhile, The Gillette (the best a man can get) Corps is still coping with the loss of Alberic and a strange phenomenon that has turned Vivi into…a half-Chaika? I’ve always thought that their little entourage had more of a purpose than they were given credit for throughout the first half or so of Chaika’s first season, and since this development means we’ll likely be seeing more of them, I’m perfectly content with that. The next-episode preview revealed that Red Chaika and her gang are still around, and this episode, if I recall correctly, was also the first time we saw the previous Emperor Gaz in the flesh, something I hope we’ll get a little more of to fill out the holes of Chaika’s plot. Honestly, that’s all we need for Chaika to really take off. The world is great, the characters are balanced, and the dynamics of the show are naturally gripping without taking themselves too seriously. I’m damn excited about where we’ll end up by season’s end.
WATCH?: Yes, if you’ve seen the first season.

Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka De / When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace

pv-inoubattleHarubro: Hot damn, either language you use, this show’s titles are a mouthful. From Studio Trigger, the ones that brought the world Kill la Kill, its…Inou-Battle wa-….. When Supernatu-… Can I just refer to it as “this show” from now on? Anywho, this is Trigger’s first shot at adapting a manga/novel into an anime. Joy.

I was suspicious of this show from the moment I heard of it. When I first saw the cast, and even after watching the pilot, this show just screams harem-bait. However, at least for this first episode, it didn’t seem to take a step in that direction. In fact, it almost seemed like the opposite. The four or five girls of this show kind of pity the chuunibyou-afflicted singular male protag. His power to summon black flames, however cool looking, is positively useless compared to the girls’ almost god-like abilities, like controlling time, space, or the elements, etc. This show didn’t disappoint on the production values and the action scenes were pretty entertaining. Good on you, Studio Trigger. While it’s definitely not a top-tier show, it’s just entertaining enough for me to stick around for this one…. for now.

Yatahaze: So Inou-Battle pretty much did everything the opposite of what I thought it would. I was anticipating an actively funny show due to quirky characters despite probable fanservice, awkward harem aspects, and a lack of explanation about the superpowers. Granted, I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of unwarranted love for the single male protagonist and subsequent fanservice, but this somehow seemed to come at the cost of good characterization. There wouldn’t have been good characterization if there were buttloads of fanservice, but the sheer fact that that genre trap was avoided and the show still wasn’t able to capitalize on it is somewhat worrysome.

Right now the rest of the cast is rounded out by the typical tsundere, the obligatory loli, the girl too cutesy and innocent for her own good, and the girl who actually commands a bit of respect. The male, Jurai Andou didn’t particularly stick out either. He served as the show’s unnecessary narrator about the superpowers, something that would’ve worked better simply shown and not told, and his constant chuunibyou-acting sees him riding another industry trend that got old before it was even funny. It’s leveled a little bit due to the fact that no one else in the series takes him seriously either, but it’s still a wasted opportunity nonetheless. In spite of all this, I’m still a little curious, but my expectations have been dulled a lot. To be clear, I don’t see this being a season highlight or even a dark horse, but it could fill a lot of people’s watchlists as a popcorn show, one solely for your own entertainment despite not really having any noteworthy success points. Was adapting from a pre-existing work a bad call for Trigger? In my opinion, yeah. Something they can’t mend with time? Not sure yet.
WATCH?: Your call, guys. I’ll probably give it a few more episodes but I’m not sure if this will be one I’ll keep til season’s end.

Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu / Parasyte -the maxim- 

pv-parasyteHarubro: Though I’m none too big on the horror genre, from the first preview I saw of Parasyte, I was expecting a strong candidate for Anime of the Fall, and it did not disappoint. After Pupa and Tokyo Ghoul, this year has certainly been one for the very appetizing shows. But Parasyte blows those two out of the water and then some. This is how a show should start. Intense, and yet totally mystifying in a good way. All of this featuring the production quality that one should come to expect from a Madhouse show. The OP and ED for this show look to be my personal favorites of the fall season. I’m pleased to see this is a 24 episode manga adaptation, so hopefully this show has plenty of time to flesh the story and characters out. I made the mistake of watching this around dinner time, and my appetite was ruined for an hour or so. So, definitely an A+ for this one. Nicely done.

Yatahaze: Because even bloodthirsty unidentifiable alien(?)s like the titties.

Other than my immense disdain for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and that one scene which I guess could be explained by the above statement, I really have no problems with Parasyte. It’s strange, mystifying, well-animated, well-acted, well-directed, balanced with its dark blunt humor and heartpounding intensity and undeniably intriguing. Unless you freak out at the sight of blood, you really have no reason not to at least try this.
WATCH?: Does Geico save you 15% or more on car insurance?

Log Horizon 2

pv-loghorizonHarubro: Another show whose return I eagerly anticipated, Log Horizon 2 is back with a new studio at the helm, but starting out with the same old DATABASE-d OP. I was overjoyed that the sequel’s OP kept that song. The sequel does change up the character designs a bit, something to be expected with the switch to Studio Deen. However, the fresh look doesn’t help the fact that the pilot episode sort of stumbles about it business. It felt sort of weak, but then again, I felt like the first season’s first few episode were a bit of a yawn, too. I’m not all too worried, though. It’s got 25 episodes to work with, and hopefully before long, Log Horizon will start delving full-on back into the geopolitical and technical stuff that really sucked me into this show last season. Bring on the Round Table and all the ingenious guild creations, at least for a bit. The brief peek at the characters’ real-world appearance in this episode was a pretty thoughtful touch, and I really want to see them address the big “How are we gonna get back to our home world?” question that hung over the first season. I just hope that doesn’t get tossed aside.

The few qualms with the pilot I had aside, I’m sticking around for some more DATABASE.

Yatahaze: All right, I’m not gonna lie. I was rather underwhelmed by this return. Sure, “Database” returns as the opening, and sure, the brief look into our protagonists’ real world appearances was a neat and much-needed touch on the elephant in Log Horizon’s plot’s room, but I didn’t feel the same love I felt while watching Log Horizon’s first season, and there are a couple reasons for this. Yes, little time is wasted getting right back into the thick of the Round Table’s economic needs the end of season 1 introduced us to, and I’d be more than happy to see how the show handles Elder Tale’s mechanics in the their attempt to develop a more varied MMO economy. We already know the politics of Log Horizon can and likely will be pulled off excellently.

My concerns, however, lie on the animation side of things. I’m admittedly somewhat offput by Studio Deen’s slight changes towards the character design. I liked the rougher edges on characters and more blended color palette implemented in the backgrounds that Satelight used in season 1. While Deen makes a pretty spectacular effort to capture the general appearance of Log Horizon’s first season, the little “fixes” they’ve made here and there just don’t sit well with me. The animation, while never a standout aspect of Log Horizon is notably shoddy here. Granted this was a dialogue-heavy episode, but it’s still very poor for a pilot. It’s quite probable that Deen’s control of the visuals, like the plot of this season, will grow on me and invest me more as it goes, but at the moment, I’ve found this to be a lame start to Log Horizon’s much anticipated sequel that will hopefully gain momentum sooner rather than later.

WATCH?: Yes, if you’ve seen the first season.

Nanatsu no Taizai / The Seven Deadly Sins

Seven Deadly SinsYatahaze: That pig is fucking adorable. I want one.

The story is a tad cliché, but I can see why people might be interested. The rounded art style is both “soooo anime” yet unlike anything currently airing. I don’t mind another silly adventure show as long as it can create a good world. We didn’t get too much of a glimpse at that world here, and though there are already a few factions involved, the antagonists have already fallen into generic Big Bad “bwahaha am evil because of fuckings yuo, hero” territory, and with a couple other great action/adventure fantasy shounen airing this season, I don’t think I can waste my time on this one. It’s sort of fun but it’s certainly not a season highlight, within its genre or outside of it. If this show is your style, by all means, go for it, but I’d rather watch Bahamut and Chaika.
WATCH?: No.

Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji / Wolf Girl and Black Prince

pv-ookamiHarubro: Fun fact – I really appreciate a good shoujo manga or anime, it’s a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine. This show did not come off as good shoujo. I don’t dig this “derpy-girl-lies-herself-into-semi-abusive-relationship” thing, so I’d rather not stick around for this one.

Ore, Twintail ni Narimasu / Gonna Be the Twin-Tails!!

pv-twintailHarubro: I’m just at a loss for words for this one. God, what even. This was so damned silly, and not even in a good way. I couldn’t help but laugh at this one, for reasons I can’t even describe. Just….. what the fuck did I just waste 24 minutes of my life on that I’ll never, ever get back? This was probably the dumbest show I’ve watched in a few years.

Yatahaze: I don’t know why Funimation thought it would be a good idea to pick this up. This show is the very reason we cannot have nice things. In the 24 minutes and 16 seconds it took me to watch this show’s pilot, an estimated 2552 people on this planet died. I wish I was one of them so that I wouldn’t have had to watch Ore, Twintails ni Narimasu. It was that bad. Really.
WATCH?: Do you hate yourself or something?

Psycho-Pass 2

Psycho-Pass 2Yatahaze: (Haven’t seen Psycho-Pass? Skip this post. Spoilers abound.)

Marathon-rewatched the first season as the New Edit Version last season so I’m all caught up again and familiar with Psycho-Pass’ style and goals. It’s such a great show I actually enjoyed it more as a rewatch, bumping my MAL rating of it up from a light 8 to a strong 9. Thankfully, although Gen Urobuchi isn’t responsible for the series composition this time around and Production I.G. isn’t the producer, Tow Ubukata has led us off on a great start and Tatsunoko Production’s little character design fixes here and there are a welcome improvement. Sigure and EGOIST return as the OP and ED artists respectively and long story short nothing has changed for the worse since Psycho-Pass’ first season ended.

I was curious where we would go, considering about half of the main cast died in season 1 one way or another. I still don’t have a firm grip on the personalities of our new recruits, but one thing is clear; Akane is still administering justice on her own terms, manipulating the manipulator that is the Sibyl System, and very few of her peers agree with her more sympathetic methods towards the criminals they chase. (Granted, Ginoza knows her ideology and has begun to follow it himself, but he doesn’t really have a choice now). Introduced in the closing moments of last season to book-end the series, new inspector Mika isn’t really new anymore, revealing in a brief line of dialogue that she’s been around over a year now, giving us a taste of just how much time has passed since Makishima was killed. She’s certainly no Kogami yet either; her resistance and hesitance to follow Akane’s orders sets her up as a foil to her senior inspector, but this episode didn’t really give us any deeper look into their relationship, and as some have noted across the internet already, her brattiness seems to be her most prominent attribute at the moment. We get zilch from all the other new cast members in this regard as well.

This episode was, much like the first season’s pilot, focused on introducing us to the world of Psycho-Pass with a single-episode “catch the perp” conflict, and the warring ideals between members of the Police Bureau on how to perform their duty most effectively. Whether or not there were already hints at this season’s grand storyline is unclear for now – not a surprise considering I didn’t notice Makishima’s involvement in everything until several episodes later than I should have when I first watched Psycho-Pass. Bottom line, this was a predictable but not poor start for the sequel. I’m looking forward for more.
WATCH?: Yes, if you’ve seen the first season.

Sanzoku no Musume Ronja

Still waiting for subs. CG vs. Ghibli. One of the two will prevail. Which one? We’ll let you know as soon as we find out.

Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis / Rage of Bahamut

BahamutYatahaze: I’m not totally sure what I just watched but it was surprisingly really fun. I’m glad MAPPA didn’t totally tank this season considering how poor Garo turned out. Bahamut is a different beast entirely; it’s got some magic and it’s got some fightin’ guys with big mouths and inflated egos and a lot of trash talk. It’s backed up though; that ginger fella just rode a mill wheel bigger than three-story buildings around town like a hamster. These guys just steered their horses across the rooftops of said buildings. These guys just…man, these guys are so fun.

I find it hard to be critical with a show like this because it played the rule of cool so well that any shit I could dish out at it would be at the expense of what made it so entertaining. I don’t know if Bahamut will continue to be good per se, but it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down at the moment. I was more than content with a second season of Chaika to fill my “fun fantasy adventure” fix for the next couple of months, but now it has some worthy competition in that field.
WATCH?: Yes.

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso / Your Lie in April

pv-shigatsuHarubro: This show was sort of a last-minute addition to my watch list, but from what I saw in this pilot, I’m glad I didn’t skip this one. A-1 Pictures – sometimes their stories can be a bit lacking, but I’ll be damned, they can make some pretty shows. Everything in sight just pops in this show. The only things that did put me off were when the show tried a tad too hard to be funny. That said though, this show looks really promising. The interaction between the characters feels pretty natural for the most part, which is a big plus in my book. This show also didn’t hesitate to show off its flair for the dramatic, with the first meeting between Kousei and Kaori pulling out all the stops. Hopefully this show will navigate the teenage drama thing gracefully (I’m looking at you, Glasslip.) and not get too distracted with it, because I really want to see this music thing play out. Naturally, with this being a music-themed show, the OP, ED and BGM were pretty good, especially in comparison to the rest of this season’s rather average offerings. I’m digging this show. [jazz hands]

Yatahaze: It’s kind of a shame that I haven’t yet seen Nodame Cantabile because it seems it and Your Lie in April are going to be compared and contrasted a lot over the next couple of months. And that’s probably a good a thing – after all, the two do look quite similar from their synopses and immediate comparison to a highly regarded work is usually a great thing for publicity. The first episode didn’t disappoint me, though it didn’t really astound me either.

This is a very comfortable show. It’s comfortable with its level of comedy and its level of drama and it’s comfortable to watch. That much is already apparent. Kaori and Tsubaki are both instantly charming female leads and Kousei is a relateable disillusioned character with a strict upbringing and confused, dreary feelings about adolescence. As a musician myself, let me confirm for you all that depression kind of comes as a part of the job description, though whereas it’s something to be explored and embraced in the realm of rock and underground music, the classical scene doesn’t take kindly to it. I was worried that the synopses for Your Lie in April would place Kousei’s hearing issue with an awkward prominence above the rest of its merits, but it wasn’t even stated directly once in this pilot, a move I think works for the better. We didn’t get exposed to too much music yet; the two most prominent scenes being one where Kaori plays with some kids and a flashback of Kousei’s elementary-school performance meltdown, but in both instances, the animation flowed perfectly in sync with the sound and there was plenty of emotion in both the audio and visuals, so much so that you could almost reach out into the screen and grab it like a tangible object.

The show is really really pretty too. The backgrounds and shoujo character designs -the faces especially – give off a nostalgic aura that I found myself wrapped up in the second the episode started. I was almost worried at points that it might become too idyllic for its own good and lose some grounding in reality, but on second thought, I probably wouldn’t even mind that. I’m just a sucker for slice-of-lifes revolving around music I guess. If the drama and the fact that these characters are middle-schoolers and should have middle-school mindsets don’t obscure the other fantastic elements this show has going for it, it could very well be a standout of the season. This pilot was a satisfying start.
WATCH?: Yes.

Shirobako

pv-shirobakoHarubro: To be honest, I really didn’t want to check this one out. From first glance, I thought P.A. Works was about to crank out another flop with Shirobako. At Yata’s suggestion, I picked this one up as what would likely be the last new show I check out this season. I’m glad I did, because what looked like another “cute girls doing cute things” show ended up looking like a promising show about working as an animator at an anime studio. As per usual, P.A. Works makes a relatively pretty show out of it, throwing a fun amount of detail into many shots. The fact they bothered to do such a damn good job with the street racing scene amused the hell out of me. After watching how crazy busy this studio is, you really start to appreciate how hectic these animators’ lives can get making these shows that they don’t know whether people will love or hate. Unlike Denki-gai, this one’s a properly good working show, and I hope it stays this good. So P.A. Works, I forgive you for that abomination that was Glasslip…for now.

Yatahaze: Of all my season preview ideas about these show’s, I think I was the most off the mark and unfair to Shirobako. Initially I wasn’t planning to watch it at all. P.A. Works has been inconsistent to extreme measures over the past year or so, with spectacular works like Uchouten Kazoku and impossible to salvage messes like Glasslip, and coming off the latter last season, I couldn’t say with any certainty that I’d be on board for what seemed like another “cute girls doing cute things” show revolving around otaku with wanna-be-famous dreams. I really couldn’t have been more wrong though.

The jarring and sudden timeskip from protagonist Aoi Miyamori’s carefree and naïve high school animation club days to her current job as a relative newbie and merely a cog in a machine at a major animation studio in panic mode was wonderful. Any reason for worry I might have had about the realisticness of the processes involved was dispelled early and the characters acting like responsible adults instead of blindly euphoric children really topped that off. The cast is humongous too, which might actually be cause for concern. There are too many people for us to keep track of right now, but that added to the stressful tone and rush to the episode. The animation itself was smooth and the art was pleasant or better. This is one of the stronger pilots this season and it succeeded in part because its goal was to throw us into its own dizzying madness and throw out the notion that it would be blindly optimistic happy-go-lucky fluff. If Shirobako keeps this madness up without giving us room to breathe, then though I’d have to admire its willingness to put plausibility before entertainment value, I’m not sure how much of my interest it will maintain, but as an introduction, it worked very well. Keep your eyes peeled for where this goes.
WATCH?: Yes.

Sora no Method / Celestial Method

Celestial MethodYatahaze: Didn’t have high hopes for this going into it but after two episodes (yeah, I accidentally watched the second episode first. Could’ve fooled me) it wasn’t really bad (especially not in the art aspect cause damn is this pretty) but I certainly wasn’t gripped. I like the general setting and the supernatural mystery at its core, both of which gave the series a vibe similar to AnoHana, but whereas a similarly feelsy show such as AnoHana got by because of how strong and intense its character interactions were, I don’t think Celestial Method can pull that off with a cast primarily comprised of young carefree children. If it can, it hasn’t yet. In a weaker season, maybe I’d stick with this, but there’s too much on my plate already and too little on this show’s to give it my further attention.
WATCH?: No.

Terra Formars

pv-terraformarsHarubro: This show actually may have potential, but it just didn’t click with me. One second, this show is trying to be 2edgy with the bear wrestling, then the melodrama after the bear wrestling, then the Martian cockroach thing happens and I’m just wondering if this whole damn thing is tongue-in-cheek. I’m probably just gonna cut my losses here. P.S. Can we get a bear-wrestling anime sometime?

Yatahaze: That guy just literally wrestled a bear and figuratively took out the garbage. He’s like the poster boy for One A Day Vitacraves.

Obviously Terra Formers is the tryhard violent show of the season that thinks it’s better than it actually is, not unlike Titan last year or Tokyo Ghoul and Akame ga Kill last season. This pilot was probably intended to be intense but it really didn’t come off that way at all. Akari’s one-dimensional “I MUST SAVE HER BECAUSE SHE WAS NICE TO ME” motives are poor, but at least they’re there and they didn’t occupy the space of a whole episode. The conversations between the reservists in the lobby should have given us a greater grip on the world Terra Formars is working with, but the show’s exposition remained sloppy. All that said, there are some plot possibilities to work with here, and I’m curious to see if anything else in this scenario might be good enough to warrant continuing on with the series. I do hate cockroaches with a burning passion, so the dumbed-down premise, as silly as it is, is something I could probably get behind for the luls. Not sure how long I’ll continue this, but it didn’t completely turn me off yet.
WATCH?: Haha, sure. Don’t expect gold though.

Trinity Seven

pv-trinityHarubro: Oh man, right off the bat you can tell this one is only gonna go one direction. Protag with sudden untapped power goes to a mostly-girls academy where he has to earn favor with the seven most powerful girls in the school…. yeah. Trinity Seven, you could have at least tried. Seriously. It’s sort of a waste, too. There were a couple of cool scenes in this, but it’s all wasted on what’ll obviously go the harem route. Oh well.

Yatahaze: At least the OP was pretty damn good. Seriously, it’s one of the better ones this season. The general premise here was alright too; I got a Witchcraft Works and Magical Warfare vibe from it and the former of those was a sort of alright time-killer a couple of seasons ago. The boob jokes were unnecessary and offputting but I guess this is just one of those shows, and in spite of them, the plot here, while generic, wasn’t insufferable. It’s reaffirming for Arata to have a clear character motivation, even if it is a little too straightforward for its own good. Something I’ll stick with? Nah. But hey, maybe you’ll find it a little more balanced than I did. If you’re into shows that treat their female characters like tools to be sexually mocked by an unremarkable and beyond trite male lead, this was the genre frontrunner this season, but that’s obviously not saying much.
WATCH?: No.

Ushinawareta Mirai wo Motomete / In Search of Lost Future

pv-ushinawaretaHarubro: It took me half an episode to notice that like half this stale harem-bait show is animated with really, really shoddy CG. I would’ve noticed sooner, but jeez, this show was boring. I honestly stopped paying attention to this one only a few minutes in.

Yatahaze: This was dull. Some sexual jokes. Some poor animation. Some really bland conversations. The pacing was totally shot and no scene held any weight, blurring the entire episode into a lifeless mush that felt like it should’ve been over far before it actually was. The death scene at the end should have been cathartic – instead it was barely more memorable in retrospect than any other scene in the episode. The last-minute idea that the series will throw time-travel into the mix doesn’t pique my interest at all. This show had so little to tackle in its exposition and it still failed that I can’t see it playing a concept as grandiose and tricky as time travel well or with even a smidge of clarity. It definitely doesn’t deserve to be compared to works of brilliance like Steins;Gate and The Tatami Galaxy. It’d be a dishonor to those two shows and many others that at least try to make an entertaining story. “ARSHQWECK?” Yeah, Kenny. This show was an earthquake, and I don’t feel like sticking around for the aftershocks. You might want to try and find a plot before you look for the “lost future”, guys.
WATCH?: No.

World Trigger

pv-worldtriggerHarubro: Dull. Lifeless. Stale. A been there, done that show, with cookie cutter characters. Even the voice actors didn’t really seem all that into this one. Nope. Nope a thousand times.

Yatahaze: Well that was utterly and completely unspectacular. This was a show that for reasons I still don’t quite know, caught my attention and looked like it would provide an entertaining ride even if it wasn’t particularly good. Unfortunately, it couldn’t even manage entertainment value. The pilot starts out with a couple minutes of exposition, which, while unnecessary for this particular narrative, at least had some decent art to accompany it. The plot here is pretty standard for a shounen with high school students; new kid shows up in class, he’s weird, he befriends the protagonist who sits in the Seat of the Gods, and then they fight bullies and monsters and whatever. It’s predictable and unoriginal, and the childish tone and god-awful pacing of this episode didn’t help matters. There were several instances of awkward delayed reactions, and not for comedic effect. Barring one scene where Kuga (the white-haired fellow) fights a “Neighbor”, the show’s breed of monster and current antagonist, the animation quality itself is also downright bad, and that’s not even mentioning the Neighbors’ strange CGI. It’s a shame that the admittedly interesting last-second plot revelation at the end of this episode wasn’t enough to outweigh how mediocre the rest of the episode was, because generic introduction aside, I could probably stick around to see where World Trigger actually wants to go. Right now, there’s just too little substance here and too many flawed areas to deem the show worthy of my further interest. Unfortunate that the last three consecutive shows on this list were all bad, but hey, it is what it is.
WATCH?: No.

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