Like a clock running slow, the granddaddy of gimmick posts is once again upon us. That’s right– thin slicing has returned!
Thin slicing is based off of Malcom Gladwell’s Blink, a book about– OH FUCK IT. YOU’VE READ THIS SAME BOILERPLATE FOR EIGHT YEARS NOW. You either get how this works by now or not. And, yes, I’ve been writing thin slicing posts since 2005 where I ranked Nanoha A‘s over Mai Otome.
For people who want to know how this ranking is done, I suggest reading the archived explanation. If you’re like, “This show is ranked too high!” or “Too low!” then, well, you obviously don’t know how this works. For every show high, there has to be a low. Deal with it. And, again, for the sake of time, I don’t rank sequels if I never finished watching the original or if there’s nothing interesting about the sequel. And there is a bountiful harvest of sequels this season too: Phi Brain 3, Teekyuu 3, Magi 2, Yozakura Quartet 2, Oshiri Kajiri Mushi 2, Infinite Stratos 2, Pokemon XY, Valvrave 2, Kuroko no Basket 2, Downton Abby 3, Hajime no Ippo 2, Little Busters 2, and White Album 2.
Quick recap from last season: It’s not my fault that I’m not popular because I’m free as as bird to collect Shinobu PVC toys desu.
#MR. IRRELEVANT, TIE! Diabolik Lovers
Zexcs, Shinobu Tagashira
Where do I begin? The terrible writing? The terrible dialogue? The terrible animation? The terrible premise? The terrible characters? Diabolik Lovers (ディアボリックラヴァーズ) has it all. The show has nothing of substance but instead is a fantasy romp featuring a bunch of vampire/demon men who try to terrify a poor little girl with rape. Nothing is really explained, as the girl is tossed into a situation, and it’s assumed you played the game, visited their Facebook page, and drank their Diabolik Lovers special canned coffee to understand what is going on besides a bunch of men terrorizing a girl with rape. The dialogue… well… is worse than Twilight. Here’s some highlights. “I’m going to take you.” (Where? Disneyland? Petsmart? I’m in suspense!) “I’m doing this.” (I’m going to show you how serious we are by breaking your crappy flip phone and replacing it with a Galaxy S4 Vampire Rape edition.) “I’m not my father’s daughter?!” (Wait, so these vampire rapists aren’t my brothers? I can harem them now?!)
(And it’s an otome game. The best thing I can say about this show is that it is only fifteen minutes long.)
#MR. IRRELEVANT. TIE! Sekai de Ichiban Tsuyoku Naritai!
Arms, Rion Kujo, #girlongirl
The winner for this season’s worst animation goes to Wanna Be the Strongest in the World (世界でいちばん強くなりたい!). Many scenes feature little to no movement, eyes rarely blink, and backgrounds are non-existent. Sometimes the background is just black, and other times they decided to fill the fill tool from Paint. The character designers all look similar except for different skin colors and hair styles. I guess that’s all I have to say for the positives about this show… now onto the negatives. Sekai is about a glamor pop idol who decides that being a beautiful idol is too boring, so she goes into pro-wrestling. What? She could not get into MMA? It’s even more inexplicable than Michael Jordan quitting basketball for baseball. Why does it matter that she was an idol? So the anime could be filled with lines like, “A national idol’s got her legs spread wipe open! This is too good!” and “I know this is crazy, but my pride as an idol wouldn’t let me back down.” Basically, the show is nothing more than vehicle to show tit, ass, and crotch shots as much as possible while having girls moaning in pain as the soundtrack. Needless to say, I bet the BDs sell like hotcakes.
(Honestly, I was tempted to give like seven shows the Mr. Irrelevant spot, but I decided on two as seven would be too ridiculous, but there’s just a lot of bad shows this season. There’s clunkers every season, but this one… oh boy…)
#24. Freezing Vibration
A.C.G.T., Takashi Watanabe (Shana, Slayers, Lost Universe), #girlongirl
Freezing Vibration is a fanservice show designed to show the maximum amount of tit and ass shots, and it gloriously delivers. If you like poorly drawn tits and girls hitting each other and own the entire Queen’s Blade BD collection, then Freezing Vibration is for you. It has a hideously complex sci-fi plot involving girls who are “Pandoras” who fight against the aliens “Nova” with their “Limiter” male magic infusion assistants. Then there’s also artificial
iPandoraHey, it’s a show about a swim club. How easy could that be? Or do the writers and creators of these fanservice fests need to overcompensate for the amount of fanservice by making the plots needlessly complex? Is this like making sure you take some multivitamins, matcha green tea shots, and eat a pound of kale before you snort heroin?
The Wikipedia article for Freezing Vibration is far and away the longest of any franchise this season (except if you account for all the Gundam pages pre-Gundam Build Fighters), and it has some doozies, including “Baptism: A ceremony in which a Pandora officially acknowledges a Limiter as her partner, giving him her Stigmata to be implanted and creating the bond known as an Ereinbar Set. This is usually done in the form of a First Room Invitation (初部屋入り Hatsu Heya-iri?), where a Pandora invites her chosen Limiter to her room to perform it.” When a fanservice romp becomes more complicated than Lord of the Rings, you know you have problems.
#23. Yuusha ni Narenakatta Ore wa Shibushibu Shuushoku wo Ketsui Shimashita
Asread, Kinji Yoshimoto
I thought Watashi ga Motenai no wa dō Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui! had a terrible name… nope… Yuusha ni Narenakatta Ore wa Shibushibu Shuushoku wo Ketsui Shimashita (I Couldn’t Become a Hero, So I Reluctantly Decided to Get a Job) is worse. It’s like there’s so many light novels being pumped out of Japan, they have run out of names for them, so the names stopped mattering, and the authors have stopped caring. Naming your show this monstrosity is like naming your kid, “Kid,” because, well, you’re on number twenty-one, and your back hurts. Anyway, Yuushibu is a terrible, terrible mess of fanservice. The premise of a hero that has to adjust to normal life is exceedingly poorly written, especially when compared to, oh, The Devil Is A Part-Timer (another terrible name, but not as bad) that had the same premise but with actual dialogue, actual jokes, and actual character interaction that goes beyond looking up skirts. Almost every other scene in Yuushibu is a fanservice scene, and the dialogue and writing is Bioshock Infinite fanfiction bad. “If you got something on your mind, try telling Lamdimia Do Aximemor all about it!” And then this character disappears with no other scenes or lines the rest of the episode. The animation quality is also poor, and the melonpan are all comically drawn the same. You get a bad pornstar boob job! And you get a bad pornstar boob job! Everyone gets a bad pornstar boob job!
(Also, when we’re first introduced to Phino, she looks like this fairly flat design. Once it is bath time,this happens. We know she isn’t binding her boobs because there’s a scene where the loser male lead character undresses her, and, gasp, she’s not wearing anything under that jumpsuit. Pure boobage. Sigh. I’m getting too old for this shit.)
(I liked one thing and only one thing about this show: ENGAGE!.)
Studio Deen, Soubi Yamamoto
I think if Meganebu! (メガネブ！) were about pretty boys who wear glasses, and it was a Free!-type show where the main guy just loves glasses because they make him see freely, well, it could be a moneymaker. Instead, this show is a confusing clunker. The cast is pretty boys in glasses, but they do typical boy antics. It’s like the characters want to be in an otome game, yet the story wants to be a harem comedy. Ends up being just bland and boring. The characters are all almost identical to each other, save for different designer eyewear, and the gags get dragged out for too long. The anime tries too hard. Studio Deen tries to go for a Shinbo/Shaft style, but it just ends up seeming like a bad copy. The color scheme is also too neon.
(When they were trying to make X-ray specs on the roof… where the hell did they get power for their soldering iron? Also, I see like two soldering irons, a few random screwdrivers, and a hammer. How they hell did they manufacture these from nothing and that list of tools? Wouldn’t a bunch of glasses-obsessed boys have at least a lens grinder?)
#21. Strike the Blood
Silver Link, Hideyo Yamamoto
Strike the Blood (ストライク・ザ・ブラッド) is about a seemingly normal guy who is actually a super strong vampire with the power to end the world. I guess keeping him fed with donuts is a good idea. And there’s a girl who is set to dispose of him if he becomes trouble, and that’s where our oddball couple supernatural action show starts off. I’m not enamored by the concept nor by the characters, and the production values rival Applebee’s or Chili’s. The amount of lore and jargon in this world is also a bit too dense, and I’m sure you’ll understand it better if you read the original light novels, but for someone who knows nothing of the franchise, the show is a bit hard to follow.
#20. Yowamushi Pedal
TMS Entertainment, Osamu Nabeshima
Wow, has it been over five years since Overdrive, the last serious anime about bicycling? (I don’t count that one series about the girl who rides on a futuristic transforming motorbike.) Yowamushi Pedal (弱虫ペダル) has a slight anime twist in that the main character (the dorky one) is a huge anime fanboy who happens to be awesome at bicycling because he enjoys bicycling to Akihabara to buy anime and moe figurines. His only high school ambition is to join the anime club and get cute girls to join it, but he ends up getting roped into the sausage fest bicycling club. The club, of course, is a bunch of misfits with their own specialties as per standard sports anime rules. Aside from Onoda’s addition to anime, there’s not much different between this formula and something better executed like Kuroko no Basket.
I’m sorry. I can’t take any bicycling anime seriously unless they address doping, either that the characters dope like Lance Armstrong, or there are anti-doping agents hiding out ready to take blood samples every ten minutes. There can be no compromise. I think the only solution for bicycling is to split the sport into the natural aspiration and the anything goes categories a la bodybuilding or Dota 2’s low priority queue. You want to dope? Sure, you get to compete with other dopers and cheaters.
(This show wins the award for most hideous school uniforms this season. The colors don’t match well, and who the hell thought plaid pants is a good idea? It looks like a failing look for week four of Project Runway.)
#19. Non Non Biyori
Silver Link, Mai Otsuka
Non Non Biyori (のんのんびより) is such a bland, low calorie slice-of-life show, it might as well be the tofu of slice-of-life. The show is suppose to highlight a transfer’s student life in ultra-rural Japan compared to her hometown of Tokyo, and she (and us!) quickly discover how ridiculously boring life in rural Japan is. There’s a candy store! There’s a newspaper stand! Did I mention that there’s a candy store? They make the area seem more desolate than the farm in >Wolf Children. I don’t think the concept is bad, just the pacing is glacier slow, and the jokes aren’t funny. There’s also not enough moe or really anything to make a compelling reason to watch this show. Too bad too as the animation quality is above average, and there are some mildly heartwarming moments.
(I don’t get why there’s a huge ass school in the middle of nowhere for five students. There’s five total students in the school, and they have a huge school for them. Why not just use a small building closer to the kids since the kids all seem to live in the same area? Wouldn’t that make more sense? I mean, that setup is used in Higarashi… and when Higarashi makes more logical sense than you, you know you’re in trouble.)
(Also, did I mention that this school has exactly one male student? And he’s the invisible man. None of the four girls talk or mention him despite the fact the school has five people, and he’s the only one there with a Y chromosome.)
#18. BlazBlue Alter Memory
teamKG, Hideki Tachibana, #boyonboy
Wait, didn’t Gonzo animate the anime sequences of BlazBlue? They got pushed out for teamKG and Hoods? Seems like… a sidegrade? In either case, BlazBlue is a great fighting game with wonderful gameplay mechanics, but as a story, like every single fighting game, it’s a terrible mess. I’ve played through Calamity Trigger and Continuum Shift, and I still can barely follow what is going on because the show just goes too damn fast. To recap, Ragna and Jin are best bros, and they would star in an anime rendition of How I Met Your Mother if not for Jin’s desire to buttsex Ragna, and Ragna’s desire to be the best that there ever was. Ragna gets trained by a furry, one of the vaunted warriors of the light who defeated a black demon years ago. Ragna wants to defeat the NOL society, and during one of his last battles, he fights Hakumen, a white knight from the warriors of the light. He defeats Hakumen, and then gets backstabbed by the destined girl, who is a clone/variant of Noel. The girl shoves Ragna into a time portal, and Ragna turns into the black monster. Jin goes after him and becomes Hakumen. That’s what I remember from memory. Anyway, it’s not great, and it’s yet another time loop thingamajig. This anime’s pacing is bad, the direction is bad, the fight scenes are bad (seriously, why do fighting anime have such terrible fight scenes?), and the art quality is bad. Everyone involved should feel bad for this show.
(Taokaka almost made the Fashion Czar leave the room because Taokaka’s voice is so annoying. She then dubbed Taokaka the worst voice in anime ever. Chiwa Saito has some serious voice acting range to say the least.)
#17. Arpeggio of Blue Steel ~Ars Nova~
Sanzigen, Seiji Kishi (Persona, Danganronpa, Devil Survivor), #girlshipongirlship
The most distinctive thing about Arpeggio of Blue Steel (蒼き鋼のアルペジオ) is that it’s all CG. Not just the battle or mecha sequences– everything, including characters. The end result is a mixed bag. I think the character CG is some of the best thus far in anime, but then again, it means it is par with a PS3 game. In a few more years, I suspect more anime would be drawn via full 3D modeling rather than frame-by-frame. Valve’s Source Filmmaker is already showing how to use game engines as a full animation studio. In any case, Arpeggio of Blue Steel takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where aliens invade the planet via WWII warships souped up with alien technology. The alien ships then lay siege to the world by controlling the oceans, shooting down aircraft/spacecraft, and segregating the landmasses like it is 2000BC. I don’t get it. At all. The aliens are vastly superior to us, and they can easily conquer land… so why don’t they? Also, the plot has Japan needing America’s help in building a weapon to combat the aliens, so they use a captured alien sub to sneak the plans to the US. I don’t get this either. Wouldn’t it be easier to sneak it to Asia, where then it could be worked all on all Asian plus European plus Middle Eastern countries? And wouldn’t it be freaking closer than going across the Pacific? Also, I highly doubt any naval battle in 2039, even against an alien fleet consisting of WWII battleships, will consist of battles at point blank range. Heck, not even many WWII naval battles occurred at point blank range… an Iowa-class battleship usually pummeled from over 10 miles away.
The show eventually lost me when it was revealed that the ships are actually little girls wearing cute outfits. Seriously? Everything else in the show is death, destruction, and despair, and there’s a girl wearing a sundress personifying the feelings of a battleship? Too much. It’s like putting butterscotch, caramel, fudge, nuts, Oreos, Fruity Pebbles, chocolate chips, strawberry jam, coconut shavings, and durian on top of rocky road ice cream. Just too fucking much. That’s this show trying to combine some of anime’s favorite things: sci-fi dystopian setting, WWII, school girls, and aliens. The only thing that’s really missing is a cute mascot creature, but I’m sure that will show up later.
(This series would have been much better if the aliens weren’t cute schoolgirls. If the aliens were some mechanical creature, and the Japanese needed to help get a weapon from Asia to America, it would have made a bit more sense. It could have been like a Blue Sub No.6 meets Attack on Titan‘s David vs. Goliath, which would have been riveting. Instead, it’s Blue Sub No.6 meets Strike Witches… I talk about Blue Sub No.6 a lot this post, don’t I? It’s a solid show, and one of the first to use a lot of CG.)
#16. Samurai Flamenco
Manglobe, Takahiro Omori (Natsume’s Book of Friends, Koi Kaze), #aniplex
Samurai Flamenco (サムライフラメンコ) has neither samurai or flamencos nor flamenco dancing. An anime series that isn’t titled what it literally is? Wow. Though if this series had a literal name, it probably would be, “Hey, Can You Be My Crimefighting Buddy?” The series follows a fairly shallow male model and his budding bromance with a street cop as they try to fight crime by appearing on YouTube videos. Yep. That’s it. There’s no gadgets, super suits, or even kung fu. The guy is literally going out and lecturing the evil-doers. What kind of nefarious evil-doers is he after? Well, he goes after jaywalkers and middle schoolers hanging out near a recycling bin. The whole show is silly, and while I applaud Manglobe for trying a more adult theme, the whole show tries to be a serious, heart-moving drama when it really should be an odd couple comedy. Another issue I have with the show is that the guy is a male model, yet he gets the tar kicked out of him repeatedly. Wouldn’t someone notice huge frickin’ bruises at a photoshoot and be a bit concerned? Or at least fire him from the photoshoot?
(The animation is a bit lacking for a Noitamina show. Then again, Manglobe has been lackluster for TWGOK, and this is pretty much the TWGOK team.)
(If Aniplex is banking on selling $50 BDs of Samurai Flamenco, they are in for a rude awakening.)
#15. Ace of Diamond
Madhouse/Production IG, Mitsuyuki Masuhara (Polar Bear Cafe)
I guess Japan loves their baseball anime. Ace of Diamond (ダイヤのA) is yet another long series of baseball manga turned anime much like H2 or Major, and I don’t see much distinguishing itself from other similar shows. It follows the typical baseball anime track: the main character is a pitcher, and he wants to be the very best. So he becomes the ace of a ragtag team that tries to make it to Koushien. He probably won’t make it his first season, but he will his second. I guess Japan eats it up, but here in America, the home of baseball, it’s just not an exciting sport. You spend three hours sitting in the sun, nursing a $11 beer, and watch out for fly balls in between staring at Twitter? Modern times, man, modern times. I rather sit in front of my big TV, watch Alliance vs. Na’Vi in Dota 2, and type “kappa” mindlessly in Twitch chat. That’s how to watch sporting events in 2013.
(If we talked to a Roman back in like the Holy Roman Empire days, they would be like, “Football isn’t a sport. No one gets decapitated at the end.” Well, then. Maybe 2,000 years from now, someone will be like, “Puppy petting ain’t no sport. There’s no keyboard or mouse involved.”)
#14. Outbreak Company
Feel, Kei Oikawa, #europeanarchitecture
I kinda like the concept of Outbreak Company: typical anime-watching loser shut-in gets a job to export anime to a fantasy world because this fantasy loves meido, melonpan, giant mecha, and terrible names for Light Novels franchises. You’d think that this fantasy world would want Japan’s TV or tech industry before they would want anime… how the hell would a fantasy world that has no TVs, no internet, no app phones, no electricity, and no computers watch said anime? Besides this massive plot hole, it is a charming premise that quickly turns into typical anime tropes, mindless fanservice, and harem antics, complete with naive meido and wrathful tsundere DFC empress. Sigh. I’m beginning to think that the bar to write a best-selling light novel is not high.
The production values are fairly poor, and it’s well below-average when compared to other shows this season. Typical Feel. The scripting and adaptation is done by Naruhisa Arakawa, who also did Maoyuu and Spice and Wolf… so… uh… I guess at the core of it, Outbreak Company is about fantasy economics mixed with fanservice… so, yeah, I can totally see it, but the writing and premise are still terrible.
(Another thing… if Japan really wanted to export anime to this fantasy world, wouldn’t it make more sense to seek out a business person working for an anime company than randomly recruiting a poor sap because he knows what “moe” and “Shaft being Shaft” means?)
#13. Walkure Romanze
8bit, Yuusuke Yamamoto, #europeanarchitecture #girlongirl
Harem eroge turned anime based on girls jousting. My gosh, that’s one specific fetish. The main loser male character was once a prime jouster who cannot joust anymore so he helps various female characters with their jousting. I guess the twist on the typical harem formula is that most of the haremettes are rich girl ojou-sama types with horses. A few things of note… one, the horses seem comically big when compared to the horses in Silver Spoon. Two, horses love tearing mini-skirts off girls. In fact, I’m pretty sure the original scenario writer tried to sneak in an attempted rape by a horse scenario that was cut by the editor early on (thank Oharuhi-sama). Three, the armor the girls wear are hilariously anime. The top is form-fitting metal armor with a full helmet where the bottom is a mini-skirt. The area between the waist and the mid-thigh is strategically not protected. I guess it is a step up from typical RPG cleavage armor, but then I realized the armor has a functional purpose: more panty shots. Four, it’s yet another anime with European architecture. Most of the production budget seems to be spent on the CGI jousting scenes, with average to below-average production values otherwise.
#12. Golden Time
JC Staff, Chiaki Kon (Higaurashi)
I think JC Staff producing a romantic, low calorie light novel series into a two cours anime is a great example of typical modern anime. And that description fits Golden Time to a tee. There’s a group of friends with their own backstories involved in various amounts of romantic entanglements, but Banri, the dude, and Koga, the lass, seem to be at the middle of each one. Of course, Koga is a huge creepy stalker. In real life, she would end up in jail. In anime, she’s the underdog heroine with a man who just doesn’t understand her charms. There’s really nothing interesting about the setup nor any of the characters, and I found it bland and too much of a homeless man’s college-age Toradora. The animations production is also far worse than the recently finished Railgun… so much so that I joked, “Hey, isn’t this JC Staff’s unpaid interns working on this show?”
(Mitigating factor: If you’re a Horie Yui fan, you might like this show more since it is 100% a Horie Yui vehicle. When was the last time Horie Yui sung both the opening and the ending song? Seems even odd that a modestly financed show, especially if it already has Western money, would have a seiyuu singing both OP/ED in this day and age.)
Diomedea, Shin Misawa (Initial D)
As I was watching the shows this season, I got the feeling that there were fewer low calorie, low romance, slice-of-life shows than there normally are. Gingitsune (ぎんぎつね)? Low calorie, low romance, slice-of-life. It’s a story about a girl and her relationship with a fox deity who oversees the shrine that she lives at. It’s a bit slow, but it has charming (if not predictable) moments. I think it’s a change of pace anime from other shows this season, but it’s not as good as other low calorie, low romance, slice-of-life endeavors (i.e. Hanasaku Iroha, Attack on Titan) as the pacing is a bit too slow, and the drama a bit too mundane. The main girl character is also quite personality-less, and if she were a crime drama, she would be “generic CBS show at 10pm on Wednesday nights.” The fox deity is only notable because he has a horrible orange addition. Valenica, Moro, Cara Cara, Navel– this motherfudging deity snorts, injects, and smokes them all. I was once addicted to oranges too. I ate like two or three delicious California-grown navel oranges each day, but then they were out of season, and I resorted to eating oranges imported from Texas. It was a shameful time of my life I rather not discuss anymore right now.
(Kidding on Hanasaku Iroha earlier.)
#10. Unbreakable Machine-Doll
Lerche, Kinji Yoshimoto, #europeanarchitecture
Unbreakable Machine-Doll reminds me of an old Adventure Time episode titled “Wizard Battle” where random wizards across the land to fight to the death (not really) in a huge free-for-all wizarding melee. It was part WWE, part Harry Potter, and all sorts of crazy. That’s what Unbreakable Machine-Doll is like, only with two more elements added for fun. One, the wizards have familiars that are part Chobit sex bot, part live-sized versions of Angelic Layer dolls, part Zero no Tsukaima relationship, and part Pokemon. (And really countless other battle by proxy shows that I’m too tired to recall at this moment.) Two, there’s a lot of fanservice. So much so, it borders on that “maybe this story sucks, so we might as well fanservice it up so we can at least sell PVC toys and uncensored BDs later.” The show is basic fanservice harem with a male lead more interesting in becoming the best than scoring all the heroines (as usual), and his doll and him share a similar relationship as Mikasa and Kuroko from Railgun. The animation by Lerche is hit-or-miss. The lightly drawn border style is personal taste, but there’s too many scenes where nothing happens. Also, Yaya, the main doll, hardly blinks. I’m not sure if this is a design feature or animation budget feature. Or both!
(The show tries, poorly and unsuccessfully, to show that the students of this European academy are racist towards Raishin because he is Japanese. One character exclaims that he must be Eastern because he has dark-colored hair. What? Serious? There’s no dark-haired people in Europe?)
GoHands, Shingo Suzuki)
You know those cheesy movies or TV shows from the 70s and 80s that have absurd concepts? Like maybe a cop who can transform into an animal or a dog that travels through time? Well, Coppelion (コッペリオン) has that feel. It feels bonkers for today, but maybe not so much if we viewed it from 1980 and pre-Fukushima. Then I remembered, “Oh, the manga is only five years old.” The series is about young high school girls who are “Coppelion,” people who are genetically engineered to withstand radiation. They comb through a nuclear-devastated Tokyo for survivors. The concept isn’t bad and the mystery why Tokyo got this way might be worth watching for, but the execution is maddening. One, the girls are tasked with going through nuclear-devastated Tokyo, and they are wearing typical high school uniforms carrying normal high school bags. They’re not wearing at least military jumpers, pants, or gloves, and they have no supplies save for a first-aid kit (which looks bigger than the bag they pull the kit out of), and delicately packed bentos. They are woefully unprepared.
Second, if Japan had a supply of radiation-proof people, wouldn’t it make more sense for them to try to clean-up or contain the radiation? Why send them to find survivors? Couldn’t a drone with a sensor suite do that? Three, the show’s writer has poor knowledge of radiation and biology. There’s a mysterious dog that follows the girls around, and despite high radiation enough to nuke a human plus a gunshot wound, the dog has no issue keeping up with the girls. Also, all the survivors that they find have somehow been living miraculously in hazmat suits. Well, what the fuck do they eat and drink? All the food, fauna, and water would be super contaminated. And where do they get this mysterious clean air from? If the whole zone is irradiated, how do they get clean air? Once again, I’m fine if the concept is that these girls are hardened to radiation, but at least the rest of the logic should make sense. Seriously? They are wearing school uniforms to a nuclear-ravaged zone?
#8. Nagi no Asukara
PA Works, Toshiya Shinohara (Red Dead Girl, Gunparade Orchestra)
The basics: low-calorie, slice-of-life with romance elements by PA Works. The animation and production values are top of the chart. It is one of the, if not the best, looking show this season. PA Works poured a lot of effort and money into this project. Unfortunately, I wish they spent a bit effort on everything else. The characters are bland to a fault. Usually for a low-calorie, slice-of-life show to work, there has to be compelling characters, and all of the characters in Nagi are bland, with maybe the except of Hikari, who is an asshole. He’s a teenaged boy who doesn’t understand his role in the world yet, so I guess that’s okay, except the other teenaged boys around him act like rational adults. That’s only a small quibble.
The heart of the show is that it takes place underwater, and there’s a functioning proto-human society there. I can accept this. I can also accept that these people have a special skin that lets them live underwater. All fine and dandy. What I can’t accept is nothing else makes any fucking sense. The kids take books, paper, and pencil between the water world and the land world, and everything functions as is. It makes no sense. Then the characters use stoves, refrigerators, and microwaves underwater. How the fuck do you use a microwave underwater? Where does the electricity come from? How does any electrical circuit work in salt water? And microwaves work on the principle of water excitation… maybe this anime isn’t exactly targeting electrical engineers. It’s okay to have wacky concepts like underwater societies or giant mecha, but casually tossing in logical incongruity after logical incongruity is terrible. It’s a combo breaker. What if Paul Atreides decided to stop by for a refreshing can of Diet Pepsi at a vending machine in the middle of Arrakis? What if Jon Snow chose Amazon Prime shipping for a pack of condoms to be delivered past the wall? That’s what it felt like watching this underwater society. It just ruins the atmosphere and compromises the story. (Unless the story is meant to be ruined, then it is genius.) There was really no reason for this underwater society except to show the awkward integration of two socially distinct but not that distinct groups, and the show does a terrible job of building this world.
(Also, I don’t understand the rationale that because their school was destroyed, they need to go to a school on land? They couldn’t have a makeshift school underwater? I mean, there’s less than a dozen students. Couldn’t they have used the old men meeting room as a makeshift school until then?)
#7. Log Horizon
Satelite, Shinji Ishihara
Log Horizon (ログ・ホライズン) is yet another show about people getting trapped as their avatars in an MMORPG called Elder Tales. And, guess what? It’s a fantasy RPG featuring mages, knights, and rogues. In fact, it features the typical MMORPG trinity of healer/tank/dps. The show isn’t that exciting or interesting as it is just MMORPG trope after trope, but it has a few twists on the classic formula: one, the characters start off as their ultrapowerful end game selves. They don’t start at level one. They start at whatever level their character was in game, so that means there are some powerful folks with rare raid gear. Two, the show is less about the characters and more about the RPG and the questing. Three, the main dude reminds me a lot of Genshiken‘s Madarame. In fact, I am not opposed to a spin-off of Genshiken where the characters are actually an MMORPG guild living in a fantasy world. Madarame would be the reluctant mage, Sasahara the noble knight, Tanaka the blacksmith, and Sue the healer who uses a hammer to heal. Of course, both Kousaka and Hato-kun would be sexy female rogues wearing typical female MMORPG armor in this world. That’s a winner. If the terrible Kujibiki Unbalance spin-off can happen, then so can this idea of Genshiken Online.
(I think the real issue with Log Horizon is that the stakes aren’t high enough. Because people can respawn, it doesn’t feel as urgent or dire as Sword Art Online. The characters also do not seem to be very concerned about getting back to the real world nor they do seem to question why this is happening.)
#6. Gundam Build Fighters
Sunrise, Kenji Nagasaki
Sunrise isn’t fooling around in thinking that they need to capture the imagination of little kids with Gundam. Gundam Build Fighters is the thirteenth series in the franchise, and the second in the row that panders to the Saturday morning cartoon crowd. If Unbreakable Machine-Doll has the scent of Angelic Layer, this show is nothing but a 2013 re-imagining of Angelic Layer except with Gundams instead of Clamp-designed dolls. But you can see that Sunrise’s main inspiration was probably not Angelic Layer but rather Skylanders or Disney Infinity, which is a shame because I would play the hell out of a well-done version of Gundam Skylanders, and Sunrise would rake in the money. $20 for a mystery booster pack of two Gundam Skylanders? I’m so in. And if they made it a Dota-like game… OMFG Sunrise, read this and call me. We have a lot of money to make together.
Sunrise’s production talents are much improved since the Destiny days, and I do like the little touches where all the Gundams looks and feel plasticy when they fight each other. The series is written by Yousuke Kuroda, who previously wrote 00. The director, Kenji Nagasaki, has only previously directed 2011’s confusing No. 6 (not to be confused with the awesome Blue Sub No. 6). And Sunrise isn’t shy about money whoring Gunpla. They have not only announced the Build Strike Gundam, the Build Strike Full Package variant, they have also announced the Mk-II after I suppose the original gets destroyed halfway through the series.
(I love how the premise of the show is that the family has a tiny Gunpla shop in the middle of nowhere. The dad travels the globe sending back Gundam– which, really, why couldn’t he do this from Japan?– and the mom is a hottie who gets hit on by all the creepy customers of the Gunpla store. In other words, it’s the plot of The Odyssey and Angelic Layer combined with Gundam elements and aimed at the 8-14 boys demographic.)
#5. Tokyo Ravens
8bit, Takaomi Kansaki
In a version of our world where magic exists, and onmyouji mages…
… uh… battle it out with supernatural powers. There’s a group of friends. There’s a reluctant male lead who may or may not be uber strong, and he also can be a typical 15 year old dickhead at times. There’s a bro-con. There’s various haremettes who may or may not be into him (and related to him). And, yeah, there’s a sensationalized DFC loli character who enjoys sucking on things too much. They also do every possible stereotype move to make her seem like an evil villain, like you know in movies the really bad guy would kill a hostage just for fun. In other words, typical shounen supernatural action with light romance elements. Maybe this show can take the edge off Railgun ending? Maybe not. Animation and production values are good, but I didn’t care for the cheap CGI effects. They’re not done well, the monsters aren’t modeled well, and there’s things like a gun on a car that is CGI’ed when it probably didn’t need to be. I feel like this show could go somewhere if the effects were improved, and the character relationships were developed past superficial levels, but something tells me that probably isn’t going to happen.
(Emo facial distortion? Yes, please. Needless to say, Suzuka is reaching peak villainess levels.)
#4. Galilei Donna
A-1 Pictures, Yasuomi Umetsu
I lost it when the Tiger mom character scolded her three daughters with, “HOW CAN YOU CALL YOURSELVES THE DESCENDANTS OF GALILEO GALILEI?!” Just an awesome moment. Okay, the premise is simple: the three sister descendents of Galileo are remarkably similar to the three sisters of Sasami-san. There’s the lowspoken, short-haired black haired one. There’s the somewhat clueless blonde long-haired one. And then there’s the short, loli-like one that does all the work. They have a Tiger mom who seems estranged from their hippie dad. The three girls were all attempted to be abducted/raped/I don’t know by the Skypirates, led by Araragi Koyomi. I’m not kidding. It’s fucking Koyomi in a pirate outfit captaining a giant flying sea carp full of murderous rapists. The little loli daughter fights back because she is a genius inventor a la Nichijou‘s Professor, and she invented a flying goldfish capable of dealing out serious Gundam-like damage. Just an incredible amount of fun nonsense going on at the same time. I don’t get the Galileo thing as he wasn’t as much an inventor as a scientist. He invented for his science, but he was no Edison or Tesla or George Washington Carver.
(I like how the little daughter builds the goldfish mecha but doesn’t know how to pilot it properly, so the goldfish AI has to give her a tutorial. Didn’t she design and build the whole thing, including the tutorial? It feels like one of those RPG games where you’re like the noblest knight of the kingdom, but, first, a tutorial on battling with swords.)
(Mitigating factor: a few characters are totally annoying, the plot has been Swiss cheesed with plot holes even before the first episode is over, and it’s a flying fucking goldfish.)
#3. Capitol Craze (Kyousougiga, 京騒戯画)
Toei Animation, Rie Matsumoto
I have no idea what I watched. None. Zip. Zilch. Zero. Nada. But I want to watch more. This show will either be great or terrible.
#2. Kyoukai no Kanata
Kyoto Animation, Taichi Ishidate
Kyoukai no Kanata (境界の彼方) just looks and feels like a Kyoto show. It has all the typical trappings: beautiful backgrounds, great animation production values, a lot of care taken in character wardrobe, and a low key club. Oh, the female lead, Mirai, is about as ditzy and clumsy as Yui/Tamako, the male lead, Akihito, is as impassioned as Hotaru/Rei… in other words, I feel like I’m watching something made by Kyoto that is distinctively Kyoto.
Mirai is a spirit hunter who can summon weapons out of her blood, but she is a terrible spirit hunter, so Akihito helps her hunt since he is part spirit. Thus begins their pairing as they embark on a season long of supernatural adventures. There’s quite a few shows this season with similar supernatural premise: Blood the Lad, Tokyo Ravens, Gingitsune, and Unbreakable Machine-Doll all feature odd pairings of male and female characters in a supernatural environment, but there is something charming about Kyoukai no Kanata. Maybe it’s Kyoto’s touch. Maybe it’s the lighthearted approach. Maybe it’s that the show got the pacing right. It’s not as slow as Gingitsune nor is it breakneck like Machine-Doll nor is it disjointed like Blood the Lad. Maybe it’s a little of both. Kyoto just knows how to adopt anime.
(I do like the return of Kyoto action sequences. Last time we got a taste was back during the delusion sequences of Chu2, and Kyoto really needs to make an anime outside of the current time period and filled with high schoolers.)
#1. KILL la KILL
Trigger, Hiroyuki Imaishi (Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann)
Go watch this show. Now. And then read my posts about it when you’re done.
I think the crop this season is fairly week, and I think last season had a much deeper lineup (Monogatari, Free, Genshiken, Rozen Maiden, Gatchaman, WataMote, Love Lab). But KILL la KILL is a rare star much like the original Monogatari or Gurren Lagann. You just don’t know what to do with yourself after watching it. There’s shows with potential like Kyousougiga and Kyoukai no Kanata but if something like Log Horizon sniffs the top ten, it’s probably not a great season. That’s not a problem! Grab some hot apple cider and catch up with some old favorites. Maybe I suggest Blue Submarine No. 6?
Early Returns MVPs:
3. European architecture.