First Quarter Thoughts – Fall 2014

“It’s the end of the first quarter and the Great Justices have a 14-0 lead over the Rest of the Anime Blogging Community. Spectacular touchdowns by this great duo.”

Not really, but it never hurts to dream, right?
Haru and Yata run down what they’ve stuck with past the season pilots, as well as address two shows carrying over from the summer season. Here are our thoughts on fall, one-fourth in.

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 9.04.14 PM

AKAME GA KILL!:

Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 8.31.02 PMYatahaze: (episodes seen: 16)
Since I haven’t discussed it yet, my opinion on Akame ga Kill is that it is far more entertaining than it is good. I’ve argued that since episode 1 and my thoughts haven’t changed much since, minus the show’s objectively “good” quality shrinking more and more with each new episode. Akame ga Kill seems very comfortable with trying too hard to be edgy and this ironically worked better for me in its earlier portions when the cast seemed to decrease in size weekly and the overall tone of the show was a little more carefree. When the action isn’t the primary focus, (and don’t get me wrong, Akame ga Kill understands battle choreography decently enough to get by when it needs to) the show tends to fall flat. Akame ga Kill’s idea of comedy falls into that “sexually suggestive but not to the point of ecchi and with no other redeeming value” category often, so when it is the focus, it also doesn’t give the series a lot of substance to lean on. Its plot curveballs aren’t necessarily predictable in event, but they are in tone, and that tone itself is growing less interesting with each new week. The central conflict between Esdeath’s group and Night Raid is basically the only reason I’m still watching, but with a variety of other successful action series from fall proving their worth rather well, I’m not sure if I’ll force myself to trudge through this all the way ‘til the end. Fact of the matter is the series is starting to run out of steam by this point, just as I’m running out of patience.
Score as of now: 4/10
Still watching?: Yes.

AKATSUKI NO YONA:

vlcsnap-2014-10-23-22h25m35s173Yatahaze: (episodes seen: 3)
Akatsuki no Yona’s biggest enemy right now is its pacing of events. Episode 1 was hell in a handbasket, throwing the audience into the midst of the sudden coup, a great move to help establish a tone of urgency. Episode 2 saw Hak and Min-Soo fight the coup leaders and Soo-Won to help escort Yona out of the castle safely. It was an understandable follow-up to the hectic and immediate pilot. Episode 3 brought us some rather uninterestingly-portrayed but important(?) information about Hak’s feelings for Yona, his semi-friendship with Soo-Won, and his thoughts about the previous King Il and the system of nobility. Here comes the problem; Akatsuki no Yona has hinted at where it will head (a character-gathering adventure to slowly amass support and take back the kingdom that’s rightfully Yona’s), but it hasn’t actually started that whole process yet, so I’m kind of at a loss for what I can really say about the series, for anything I can offer will likely not be reflective of its main course run.

There were a lot of touches I liked throughout the first three episodes, such as the contrast of Yona’s extremely naïve attitude and subsequent post-traumatic utter helplessness. Hak is a fine counterpart to Yona and when she gets over the events that unfolded at the series’ start, I don’t think the series will have any problem letting the two bounce of each other as they travel. Soo-Won is probably the most ambigious main character still; his motivations for the coup are clear, but aside from his flashbacks, we don’t get any other real characterization of his current self. The political conflict, as I hoped, is still heavily in the forefront of what this series seems like it will aim to address, and the romantic sideplots on the way haven’t been too bubbly and idealized yet. Here’s to hoping the show can pull through when it really hits its stride. It’s doing a satisfactory job so far.
Score as of now: 6/10
Still watching?: Yes.

Harubro: (episodes seen: 3)
Well, I’m still here. Yona, despite its shortcomings, hasn’t done much wrong.. nor has it done much right. After the rather predictable first episode, I thought the sequence of events with Yona and Hak’s escape in the second episode were decent enough. Then this third episode came, a “flashback-to-backstory” episode. Yona and Hak are still on the run, so this really didn’t seem like the right time for flashbacks. Yona’s characters and story still aren’t all that compelling to me. This show is veeeeeeery beige, if you catch my drift. Despite this sort of flaccid execution, I’m still gonna keep tabs on this one, only because I’m curious to see how this story will arrive at those nice little morsels of decisive action that showed up in the previous episodes. However, my patience is already running dry with this one.
Score as of now: 5/10
Still watching?: Just barely.

AMAGI BRILLIANT PARK:

vlcsnap-2014-10-25-19h44m09s11Yatahaze: (episodes seen: 3)
My biggest concern regarding my first impression of Amaburi was that I didn’t know and I couldn’t tell if the pilot was going to be a one-hit wonder for the show. KyoAni are masters at worldbuilding and exceptional dialogue, and the majority of the pilot only primarily showcased three people and their thoughts on the same place. Now that Amaburi has finally gotten in gear, I can say I’m thoroughly invested, though still a little unsure of whether Amaburi will deliver all the way until series end.

I will now commence in running down the pros and cons of Amaburi with its characters’ real names. Try to keep up:

Starting with the positives, Kanye-sama’s narcissistic personality and Fitty Cent’s deadpan insightfulness remain a perfect match. The dialogue really drives a lot of this show and its verbal comedy, and its mastery of the correct timing is far more legitimately funny when applied to a conversation than it is for physical slapstick. The casual tone among the employees/residents of Yeezus Park sets up a nice conflict with Kanye’s “radical” ideas. These characters are too stubborn to change and too apathetic towards the reality of their impending demise, so while it’s great to see Kanye really try and get down to their level and coerce them to step up, it’s already evident that it might just be too much work for one guy. I don’t see Kanye making it through the rest of the series without breaking portions of the cast or breaking himself (or both). If a prolonged heated debate about change and standoffishness is where Amaburi is thematically going, I just don’t know how KyoAni will be able to drag their point out across another ten episodes when some of its most prominent gags (such as Moffle’s combativeness with Kanye and Cent then shooting the two) are already getting old. The antagonists in episode 2 are a generalized personification of Amaburi’s real threats: time and unpopularity, the former of which extends outside the fourth wall. Give me a little more consistency and variety with the comedy, and I’ll shut my damn mouth. Maybe I’m still just critical because I expect genius from KyoAni. Who knows?

Oh, and the Chief of General Affairs named Chief of General Affairs is my new favorite character.
Score as of now: 7/10
Still watching?: Yes.

Harubro: (episodes seen: 4)
I am just thanking my lucky stars that this show has been, for lack of a better word, brilliant! Watching this makes me want to pick up Roller Coaster Tycoon again. As I mentioned before, that this show started strong was just totally out of left field for me. What’s better is that this show is still strong after three episodes. I wouldn’t have believed it if you had told me even a month or two ago that this would be one of the stronger shows of the season. While some people thought that episode three stumbled a bit, I actually thought it was as competent as the first two. Yes, it was very fan-service heavy, but I think that’s something one should come to expect out of KyoAni (and frankly any studio, but especially KyoAni) these days. I mean, hell, even Hyouka had a gratuitous pool episode, or OVA, or whatever you want to call it. What I did appreciate with episode three is that it showed that Kanye has a very uphill battle ahead of him as far as the park attendance is concerned. He’s very aware of this, but is committed to whatever means will bring even one extra guest in, and he’s willing to use all of his talents and resources to achieve that goal. And boy, not only does KyoAni have mastery of comedy, but they are damn good at using the cliffhanger, too. I’m sticking with this one to the end.
Score as of now:
8/10
Still watching?:
You bet I am.

CHAIKA THE COFFIN PRINCESS: AVENGING BATTLE:

vlcsnap-2014-10-23-19h24m08s66Yatahaze: (episodes seen: 3)
The little fantasy action-adventure that could is still chugging along with all its adorable might. It’s great fun and well-written, and I think with a little more intensity from all these plot lines converging it has fantastic potential to not only surpass the quality of the first season but also end the whole franchise with a spectacular kaboom. I can’t wait and it isn’t a stretch to say this is one of the shows I look forward to most each week. If you liked Chaika’s first season, you’re also probably loving this.
Score as of now: 8/10
Still watching?: Yes.

Harubro: (episodes seen: 3)
As I knew would happen, after what I perceived to be a slow start to the sequel, this show spread its wings and just took off. Chaika, as it did in the first season, does such a great job of worldbuilding on the fly. Between Chaika trying her hardest to improve on her magic skills and incantations, to the Acura siblings’ true motivations as saboteurs, to all those goddamn plot twists in episode three alone. This sequel is only improving upon its prequel, and may just be a sleeper candidate for show of the year if it keeps this momentum up.
Score as of now:
8/10
Still Watching?:
Duh, of course!

DENKI-GAI NO HONYA-SAN:

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 10.28.33 AMHarubro: (episodes seen: 3)
At least I was fair and gave it a chance, in the hope Denki-gai would level out…. and it didn’t. This show is a 4-koma anime adaptation gone wrong, the complete opposite of good working 4-komas like Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun or Working!!. Unlike those two, Denki-gai failed to stay fresh, harping on the same pervert jokes time and time again, whilst simultaneously failing to make any adequate sort of development with its characters. I feel like this is the sort of show a middle schooler would find hilarious. This one is just not worth my time, and it’s not worth yours, either.
Score as of now: 2/10
Still watching?: No.

LAUGHING UNDER THE CLOUDS:

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 10.26.28 AMHarubro: (episodes seen: 4)
I’ll be short and concise on this one – if you’ve read the manga but haven’t watched the anime, then you should skip the anime. If you’re curious about this series, give the manga a shot and just leave this anime the hell alone. This anime is just swing and miss after swing and miss, and just not as engaging I thought the manga was. It still seems as though this show was rushed, lacking in decent execution from the very start. For some reason, I’ve found myself still trudging through this, and I’m really wondering why I’m doing such a terrible thing to myself. It’s not going to get better.
Score as of now: 4/10
Still watching?: I shouldn’t be.

LOG HORIZON 2:

vlcsnap-2014-10-23-22h19m39s128Yatahaze: (episodes seen: 3)
Up to this point, Log Horizon 2 has been perfectly content with reintroducing us to its old charm, and frankly, I’m fine with it too. Some people have criticized portions of the show for being exposition-heavy, but I’ll be damned if anyone can pull it off as entertainingly as Log Horizon does. My qualms with Studio Deen’s animation quality and designs are out the window now, just as I anticipated. It’s really not all that different and I can’t figure out why I got so worked up about it then. Maybe it was my general displeasure with the relatively weak pilot. We’re in motion now though and Log Horizon 2 has done a fantastic job picking up where its predecessor left off. The central story of this arc, manipulating Elder Tale’s economic functions to gain money, is interesting both in concept and execution thus far. I’m a little more hit or miss with the new character Tetra and a little annoyed by Demikas’ return since he acts like a petulant child, but it’s balanced with the return of…

…ahem…

…WILLIAM MASSACHUSETTS.

That name is best name. No further discussion necessary.
Score as of now: 8/10
Still watching?: Yes.

Harubro: (episodes seen: 3)
Log Horizon is still Log Horizon even after all the change, and that is totally fine. That same old “big flashy magic and melee battles mixed up with sitting your ass down and explaining how this stuff goes down” system that the first season did so well is still being put to excellent use here. While I’m not finding the big raid as enthralling as the Round Table conference, or the big battle event toward the end of the first season, I really appreciate how they are portraying this raid. You really get the feeling with episode three that the raid is a true battle of attrition, and I just love the depth that they get into with it. Showing the raid leadership having to worry about dwindling supplies, weapon maintenance, and even the poor taste of the food, just all that were really well thought out details.

Log Horizon, as brilliant as it ever was, still looks to be climbing even higher. Here’s hoping!
Score as of now: 8/10
Still watching?: Duh.

PARASYTE -THE MAXIM-:

Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 8.34.43 PMYatahaze: (episodes seen: 3)
Parasyte is still an obvious season standout. Foreign life forms not understanding the emotional complexities of humanity has always been a sci-fi theme I love and it’s rather prominent throughout the series. The pacing and atmosphere-building are great and Migi and Shinichi bounce off each other in a way that while comical also retains a huge feeling of intimidation and restlessness. It’s the driving force of the show and it’s absolutely nailed without a hitch. If Parasyte has any problems, it can be attributed to Shinichi’s friends that don’t add a whole lot to the show on an individual basis. Even then, their presence keeps Shinichi constantly anxious in case something goes wrong at school or when he’s out with them…as the former happens in Episode 3. And man, can we just step back from Episode 3 for a minute? That cliffhanger was sweet and definitely reaffirmed that I’m eager for more of this wonderful psychological thriller. Watch Parasyte, please.
Score as of now: 9/10
Still watching?: Yes.

Harubro: (episodes seen: 3)
Parasyte brings new meaning to the word “handjob,” or being a righty. I adore how this show so casually strolls along the line between horror and comedy, and how it handles these aspects convincingly so. I find myself putting off eating meals before watching this show for fear of losing my appetite, so I guess Parasyte is doing a pretty good job of being at least a bit shocking. As I said before, horror as a genre isn’t really my thing, as I usually find it as a whole more comedic than I do scary. That said, the brilliant use of suspense throughout the show has been keeping me engaged with this one from beginning to end. I’m here to stay.
Score as of now: 8/10
Still watching?: Oh yeah.

PSYCHO-PASS 2:

Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 8.44.53 PMYatahaze: (episodes seen: 3)
I’m pleased with where Psycho-Pass 2 seems to be taking the story. Most of all I’m glad Akane’s character this season doesn’t feel like a step backwards from her character at the end of the last; she’s proven her worth and commands the respect of her subordinates while also remaining the only person who knows the truth about Sibyl. This dynamic has been played carefully so far; her brief meeting with the Chief shows that they are more or less working together to combat the threat of Kamui and Akane is, as proven by her logic in Episode 1, still driven to try and change the system from the inside without taking overarching revolutionary measures. Her liberal approach with keeping Enforcers in line allows them to think more and I’m curious to see if this actually turns against her as they become more and more concerned with her mental state after the phantom break-in. I’m super pumped that Mr. Saiga is making a return this season as well – he had a lot of potential left and it would’ve sucked for him to be cruelly discarded after Kogami went rogue last season.

Kamui’s motives are a logical step forward for the tough questions Psycho-Pass wants to ask its audience. Makishima was a very cunning, sadistic, and intellectually bloated antagonist whose drive was to test people. His primary motive for bringing down Sibyl was to lash back at a system that considered him outside its jurisdiction, forcing him to be an alienated outcast. Kamui in comparison seems (but might not actually be, seeing as he does gouge out Shisui’s eyeball) like a more empathetic villain; he doesn’t want to force the system into collapse, rather he wants to force into irrelevance by freeing the public from worrying about hue, Crime Coefficient, and Sibyl’s other methods of psychological control. As was proven in season 1 and as is proven again here, when people get the chance to forget the fear Sibyl imposes on them, their primary objective is to do things they couldn’t do previously, such as rob stores, bash people’s heads in, basically any conceivable brazen illegal act of violence. Kamui’s methods are still kind of a mystery though it’s very evident he exists and that he’s the cause of the threat – something the MWPSB still has to prove. It’s smart writing and I expect nothing less from such a phenomenal crew with great material to play with. I’m looking forward to how Sibyl’s hue-clearing drug comes into the mix, as I’m sure it inevitably will at some point. Mika’s one-sided irritating character remains the only thing dragging Psycho-Pass 2 down at this point.
Score as of now: 8/10
Still watching?: Yes.

RAGE OF BAHAMUT: GENESIS:

Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 8.53.42 PMYatahaze: (episodes seen: 3)
My earliest worries of Bahamut back when we were making our season preview were that the show wouldn’t give enough personality to its characters and if it did, it wouldn’t be able to cohesively mix them into a naturally intriguing story. Right now I still feel like Bahamut is riding heavily on its high Rule of Cool factor, but it’s not a one-trick pony either. Favaro is a self-centered boisterous asshole and Amira is culturally ignorant but unrelentingly determined. Their travels thus far have established Hiroyuki Yoshina and Risa Shimizu were fantastic choices as voice actors for their respective characters, nowhere near a stretch to say their work in Bahamut is among the best voice acting this season. Episode 3 also gave us a deeper look into Kaisar and his backstory, who serves the plot well as a more sympathetically naïve hero, a great foil to Favaro’s greedy pragmatism. Better yet, Bahamut’s setting, while a little confusing, is never explicitly stated and laid out in an infodump. We are shown the world, not told about it. In these types of adventure stories, that little directorial decision can make a huge difference and so far I’d say it’s paying dividends for Bahamut. When it comes to this season’s fun action shows, you’d be a fool not to hop on board for this ride.
Score as of now: 8/10
Still watching?:Yes.

SANZOKU NO MUSUME RONJA:

Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 8.56.34 PMYatahaze: (episodes seen: 3)
In the battle of CG vs. Ghibli, Ghibli won…but that still wasn’t enough to save poor Ronja.

The show definitely has a very Ghibli quality to its writing and it’s certainly family-friendly. The dialogue is basic but okay, the animation quality basic…but okay, the premise basic…but okay. Notice a trend here? It has a very adult nature in attempting to depict childlike wonder, and I rather admire their attempt, but it isn’t pulled off well enough of the time for me to call it a success. Episode 3, which was essentially Ronja running around the forest in complete awe was the killer for me; it’s just hard to connect with considering I’m not seven years old. Ronja’s old source material is supposedly good, and I wouldn’t say Ghibli have failed at recreating it in the animated medium, but it’s playing it too safe right now. Maybe that’s the point, but even so, its lighthearted tone could use some more variety. I’m not invested enough to keep going, though by all means, check it out and see if it’s more your thing. If word gets around that it changes tone later, I might even pick it back up, but for now, the season is just too stacked to stay with this poor little odd one out.
Score as of now: 6/10
Still watching?: No.

SHIROBAKO:

vlcsnap-2014-10-23-21h15m57s39Yatahaze: (episodes seen: 3)
It may not be the show the anime community wants, but it’s the show the anime community needs. If you don’t have a newfound respect for the people that pour all their time and energy into making these shows (50% of which are mostly junk but that’s besides the point), you might just be a completely callous and heartless individual.

Back in my first impression, I mentioned I was worried that Shirobako wouldn’t be able to keep viewers interested if it didn’t expand its scope outside the workplace environment more. I take that back now. Unlike other work shows that can only thrive on their setting for so long before rushing to develop characters on a more personal level (Servant x Service, Working, etc.), Shirobako’s pull on its audience is the chaos of the job itself. The series isn’t really a comedy by my standards; its crowning moments of hilarity occur when its characters are at their most stressed, beyond their wits end. I’m really thankful for the constant reminders of what everyone’s names are too; the cast is too large to expect everyone to remember them after being shown them once. The dialogue and pacing are top notch and contribute the most to the quality of the series. There are no awkward pauses in conversations – hell, most of the time, people are actually talking over each other. It’s realistically portrayed far beyond what it needs to be, and nearly everyone is competent enough to hold their position even if they don’t exert themselves enough…or early enough. If a team is only as strong as its weakest link, Musashino Animation is really fucking weak right now. P.A. Works on the other hand are as strong with Shirobako as they’ve ever been. Even if it loses steam later on, as of now I can confidently say without any reservations that Shirobako is another season highlight that you owe it to yourself to check out.
Score as of now: 8/10
Still watching?: Yes.

Harubro: (episodes seen: 3)
The little on-the-job anime that could just keeps on delivering. Talk about a show that a studio puts its heart and soul into, P.A. Works delivers, and so do our friends in Shirobako’s Musashino Animation. Any devoted anime fan really, really needs to watch this show. Shirobako, in just three episodes, has given me a totally new perspective on anime and anime studios in general. I can just tell, from having once worked in a chaotic industry myself, that the chaos in the mad rush for MusaAni to finish the revision to their episode before it airs was based on actual experience. I’ve lost count of how many folks we’ve been introduced to at this point, but there are a few standouts, and the reminders of people’s names and job titles is a nice touch. I also found the actual voice actor cameos in episode two pretty neat. This show helps one see just how staggering of an operation it is for a studio to crank out episode after episode for us, the viewers, not even sure if it’ll be received well by said viewers. Personally, I adore working shows like this that not only show us the process, but the people and the passion behind it all. I’m comfortable saying that Shirobako is probably my front-runner so far this season.
Score as of now: 8/10
Still watching?: Yes, and you should be, too.

SWORD ART ONLINE II:

Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 8.59.55 PMYatahaze: (episodes seen: 16)
I’ve come to the conclusion that the only consistent thing the SAO franchise wants to do is lead everyone on just to disappoint them.

You brought back the fairies. Nobody liked the fairies. People liked the guns, as far as I know. People liked Sinon’s articulated backstory. People liked the threat that existed outside of the game. People liked…well, no one liked the rape scene again, because it’s a shallow writing cop-out for actual villainy, but people in general enjoyed the first half of SAO II, myself included.

But now we’re back to LethargyHeim and I just can’t fathom why people thought this was a good decision. It’s for the money, I know, it’s obvious, but the GGO arc could have stood on its own as maybe a 5/10. At times I had even considered it a 6. SAO in general has serious problems with good characterization, often resorting to clichés where the only choices are to hate Kirito because you’re needed as an antagonist or to circlejerk him because he’s (somehow) the best thing since sliced bread…cut with dual swords. At many points, Sinon seemed like she could avoid this completely, and while she was inevitably almost sexually assaulted (typical, SAO), the show has still managed to rob her of any significant input in this return to discord. The gang’s all here, which really just turns into a contest to see who can get saved by Kirito more. I’m not pleased and I’m far from impressed.

I will continue to see SAO II through to the end, but my expectations have been dramatically lowered. Should’ve expected it though. Silly me.
Score as of now: 4/10
Still watching?: Yes.

Harubro: (episodes seen: too many)
I hate you.

Alright, alright, here’s my actual two cents on this show, this franchise. To tell you the truth, I was mildly entertained by SAO’s first halves, despite a ton of inherently flawed writing peppered throughout the whole series. The virtual rape and “ASADA-SAN” really didn’t help, either. But then everything changed when whoever-the-hell-SAO’s-author-is decided fairies was the way to go. Twice.

God damnit, SAO.

GGO was my favorite arc of the series by a long shot. (Unintentional pun there) With a few alterations, it might have been really passable as a stand-alone series. Alf-lame, though? Alf-lame really killed the series for me, and I’m really unhappy that we’ve been shoved back in there just so Kirito can get himself a pretty new sword. I mean, it looks like he’s got two nice ones already, damnit. I want to just ditch this series, but I’m in too deep already, and I’m curious to see how this show will figure out another way to shoot itself in the foot.
Score as of now: 4/10
Still watching?: Unfortunately.

TERRA FORMARS:

Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 9.04.54 PMYatahaze: (episodes seen: 4)
This show is trash and I want the cockroaches to win. I want them to utterly destroy this terrible collection of human characters, the stupid, poorly-written premise, and any shred of hope they’re clinging to. I want them to eliminate everything.

And to put things in perspective, I really really really hate cockroaches.

But hey, here I am sticking with it to release my frustration from whatever alongside my fictional worst nightmare insect enemies. Good Lord, why do I even bother?
Score as of now: 4/10
Still watching?: Yeah, somehow.

WHEN SUPERNATURAL BATTLES BECAME COMMONPLACE:

vlcsnap-2014-10-23-22h18m34s58Yatahaze: (episodes seen: 3)
Inou-Battle has been rather consistent with its approach to carefree superpowers and quasi-harem tropes since day one and I’m at the very least glad that it isn’t darting back and forth looking for answers. However, I don’t find the superpower aspect all that interesting (kind of hard to with how little screentime it gets and how dorkily it gets used when it does), and with what I still consider rather bare-bones characters filling out the rest of the cast, I’m not finding a whole lot to connect with. The show treats its characters well: they aren’t only used for slapstick humor or objects for sexual attention (almost none of the latter, quite honestly), but Inou-Battle hasn’t really hit any stride yet and that’s making all of these character exchanges kind of dull. I’m on board for a while longer, but I want more, and I feel like it can deliver. It’s really just a question of whether or not it will.
Score as of now: 5/10
Still watching?: Yes.

Harubro: (episodes seen: 3)
Man, I figured that with the world “battle” being in the title (and just the title in general), this show would have its fair share of action scenes and battles a la its Studio Trigger predecessor, Kill la Kill. With that cast, I thought for sure at some point Andou would be Mr. Stereotypical Harem Anime Protag, but what we got instead is a rather quaint semi-slice-of-life about some school kids that just so happen to have superpowers doing things at school. The singular male protagonist is a total dork, but so are his female counterparts in his club. I’m actually enjoying this show….but I really don’t know why I’m enjoying it. None of the characters are particularly striking, even now. There haven’t been many noteworthy moments in this show aside from some very well thought out conversations between Andou and the others. I expect before too long there’s gonna be a big battle, but I think we’re all ready for it.
Score as of now: 6/10
Still watching?: Yeah, but who knows where this will go?

YOUR LIE IN APRIL:

vlcsnap-2014-10-23-19h07m15s223Yatahaze: (episodes seen: 3)
I can say rather confidently that Your Lie In April is my favorite show this season.

I should preface this by again reiterating that this is my opinion and not objective fact, as I’m heavily biased to support music shows that aren’t idol nonsense whenever they crop up. That said, I think I have high enough standards to not let shows unworthy of their genre-tagged hype interfere with my judgment. Your Lie In April really understands music and adolescence and how the two mix. The balance between our two leads is very carefully maintained right now. Kousei’s depression makes him use his “hearing disorder” as an excuse to not return to playing in fear of failure. As shown in Episode 3, Kousei can still play. He’s not actually physically incapable of it and this whole “I can’t hear my own playing” thing is portrayed more like a psychological problem and less like an instance of bizarre over-specific supernatural phenomena. (Good on you, A-1!).

Child prodigies have a lot of shit to deal with and their time in the spotlight tends to be short. Kousei’s possibly abusive mother and her death probably led the kid into a spiral of guilt and confusion and I don’t blame him for not wanting to re-enter the world that tossed him aside after one breakdown. For him to willingly do so would require persistent pushing from a new external source. Kaori quite emotionally lays it all on the table in Episode 3; her faith in his ability to stop worrying and accept the idea that it doesn’t have to be perfect contradicts all Kousei’s ever known. Since the incident, he’s spent time transcribing sheet music instead of playing it. He was taught by the books and is expected to stay in the lines, but now Kaori’s trying to drag him out into the margins. I’m really glad that Kaori isn’t represented as a pure savior with no character flaws too. She’s stubborn and her mood can flail from frustrated to playful and back again rapidly, so while she happens to be the kind of person that can provide Kousei with what he needs at this point in his life, she also isn’t solely reliant on him to function as a character in an analytical sense. If any romance does bud between them, I can envision it being a bumpy road with natural give-and-take weight and not a tacked-on subplot. Tsubaki and Watari continue to assist where they can and despite receiving much less screentime also feel like natural components to the story.

The animation and art continue to be fantastic and the little scattered bits of humor seem to get better each week too. Your Lie In April is my current candidate for anime of the season, and I feel no shame bestowing it with such a high title in a period of such worthy competition.
Score as of now: 9/10
Still watching?: Duh.

Harubro: (episodes seen: 3)
Yeah, this show is amazing. Your Lie in April may just be the most visually stunning show this year has offered up. God, this show is gorgeous! Between the cherry blossom petals fluttering about in the spring breezes to the bright lights of the big stage in the performance hall. A-1 Pictures has put a lot of heart and soul into a series that already had a lot of heart.

That said, I’m still just a tad nitpicky about the comedic scenes in this show. They sort of stick out like sore thumbs with this show, though it’s getting better as it goes along. I love how natural the conversations are between characters here, between the prodigy Kousei, the childhood friend Tsubaki, the ultimate bro Watari, and the new girl, Kaori. Another aspect of the show I dig are the depiction of the musical performances. You really get a sense of the passion these kids perform with, especially Kaori’s bit. The computer animation used for some of the fine movements of the performers’ hands were a tad lolsy, but I can appreciate that they’re going for accuracy with that. That they bother to even accurately depict some of the performers’ mistakes, even with the actual sounds of the violins, was another welcome addition. Now that Kousei has reluctantly taken up being her accompanist, I’m really curious to see how Kaori and company will address his piano-playing yips. Bring on the musics! [more jazz hands]
Score as of now: 8/10
Still watching?: Definitely.

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