thin slicing the new season, winter 2014 edition

Please, stop it with the terrible magic shows. I much rather watch more anime about after school clubs.

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. It’s a sequel! If you watched the first season, you should know if you should watch the second as well. Sheesh.

A twist for this season: It’s a dreadful season. One of the worst in recent memory. I had a hard time ranking because everything is so equally terrible.

Quick recap from last season: Skimpy clothing is empowering.

#MR IRRELEVANT. SoniAni: Super Sonico the Animation
White Fox



Anytime you can make an anime about a mascot character whose only asset is her melonpan, you gotta do it. (Get on it, Danny Choo!) Super Sonico is probably most famous for being a model for Nitroplus that turned into a PVC line featuring her cleavage. The show is nothing but an excuse to play dress up with her and show off some fanservice. I mean, in the first episode, she gets up and is outed as a crazy cat lady, she then goes to college, and then she goes to a modeling gig where perverted guys try to get her to dress up in something skimpier than a bikini. Her manager, who also manages DMC, bails her out. She’s also the sole waitress at a busy restaurant that apparently insulted the Korean community. Then she goes to a headline a rock band. Just too much. It’s more of an ADD-riddled 14 year old boy fantasy than an actual story. The show is geared around a PVC model trying to sell more PVC models… basically, it’s Gundam Build Fighters with boobs.

(Anyohbytheway, she wears her headphone piece constantly. I think she’s a machine like Chii because those headphones are never plugged in, and I don’t know any Bluetooth sets that can last all day like that. She’s also not listening to any music, so I’m guessing she’s more machine than woman.)

(Episode 1 passes Bechdel test. Super Sonico talks to her friend about their band.)

Telecom Animation Film



Z/X IGNITION is just a terrible card game turned anime. The plot makes zero sense. Zip. Zilch. Nada. A bunch of shit happens (Wait, why are tanks, spearmen, and chimeras fighting together? It’s like a Civilization mod gone horribly wrong), and summoned card monsters might (except they aren’t summoned via cards, they are captured via cards and portals and enslaved… I guess), and the show just feels like an excuse to sell more booster packs of cards. If you’re into the card game, maybe this show would make more sense to you, but if you don’t play the card game and don’t intend to, please pretend this terrible show never existed. The animation is also quite terrible, with the battle sequences looking quite poor. The character designs also make Yu-Gi-Oh! look like a work of art.

(Episode 1 passes Bechdel test.)

#23. Witch Craft Works
JC Staff



I guess my fundamental issue with Witch Craft Works (ウィッチクラフトワークス) is that it is just not interesting. The characters are all boring, with the female lead being the most boring in a long time. They use the typical shonen setup where the guy is an average to below average guy, but circumstances occur and suddenly he is hanging around with the uber hot and attractive girl. That’s anime. But Ayaka… they explain it to us that everyone loves her and she has a following that makes Mikuru all jelly, but I don’t see it. She has zero personality. In other anime, this female lead role would at least be nice, smart, kind, and/or awesome. Ayaka is not. She doesn’t talk to the other girls, and they throw themselves at her just because she’s a solid two feet taller than every other character. Besides that, the setup of many witches targeting this poor guy, and Ayaka is the person who can protect him… well… it’s boring. I can’t even call this the homeless man’s Shakugan no Shana because that would be an insult to Shana. Sub-par material with average production values from JC Staff. That’s it. I think witch shows can work (Little Witch Academia!), but they need the witchcraft to be more than just a reason for random characters to have random superpowers.

(Seriously, do we need two witch shows the same season that have the exact same premise? Person needs to be protected by the “good” witches from the “bad” witches? Can’t we just sic Kyubey on them all and end their pathetic existence while pushing out our own entropic death? I would much rather see that.)

(I’m going to fail episode 1 for Bechdel because while a lot of girls talk at Ayaka, she never talks back. The requirement is conversation, not just being talked to. The girls in her fan club only talk amongst themselves about how shitty the male lead is when he shows up and steals Ayaka’s affections.)

#22. Buddy Complex



Dear Sunrise, I loved your classic lineup of Cowboy Bebop, Outlaw Star, Escaflowne, and Crest/Banner of the Stars. I even loved when you went to a so-bad-it’s-awesome lineup of Gundam Seed, Mai Hime/Otome, and Code Geass. Then I loved it when you tried to recreate yourself with Danshi Nichijou. This Buddy Complex— it’s just terrible. Stop it. The character designs are not appealing. The mecha– my gosh– are ugly masterpieces. The plot is a mess with the time-travel poorly done, and nothing makes sense. It’s not bad such that it’s good– it’s just bad. And watching it made me feel sad.

(Episode 1 fails Bechdel test.)

#21. Houzuki no Reitetsu
Wit Studios



Houzuki no Reitetsu (鬼灯の冷徹) is about a demon named Houzuki who is just trying to do his civil service duties in the underworld. But people and incompetent underlings make it tough for him, and he has to figure out staffing issues. Yes, the big plot that they are trying to hook you with is that he needs to hire somebody. It makes Star Wars I’s Trade Federation plot feel like the Gurren Brigade blasting off to find the Anti-Spirals. The show is supposed to be a comedy, but I didn’t find any of the jokes to be so funny… wow everything is quite flat and much serious to the point that it felt like a comedy skit was occurring in slow motion in the middle of a funeral. The main character deadpans everything, and none of the supporting characters are interesting or distinct enough to carry the show. The animation by Wit Studios is nothing special, and it looks like they spent the night before airtime finishing up the OP/ED.

(Episode 1 fails Bechdel test.)

#20. No-Rin
Silver Link



A popular idol decides to give up the Tokyo high life and enroll in an agriculture high school because someone sent her eggplants. No-Rin is an uninspired harem school show that falls flat with most of its jokes. If you can’t make a cow rampaging through a school seem funny, you have failed. The harem is as bland as the Weather Channel with a hugely generic idol (who is also the DFC), the rich ojou-sama tsundere, and the mousy friend. It’s just missing the little sister archetype. The uninteresting loser male lead hides in a body pillow and has yet to present any redeeming qualities. The animation is not good with too many poorly done CGI sequences. There is nothing worthwhile about this show… go watch Silver Spoons S2 if you want your agricultural kick.

(There isn’t a lot of fanservice except when the teacher shows off a sexy sext that she sent. What. The. Hell. It’s more of a cry for help than fanservice.)

(Episode 1 passes Bechdel test. Haremettes arguing about if cows should be allowed in school. Though does it count as a fail if it turns out to be a male cow?)

#19. Hamatora



A detective/mystery show featuring people with supernatural powers, but the supernatural powers require an action tribute– a rumination if you will– to active? Hamatora is a homeless man’s Darker Than Black. The show also doesn’t make any logical sense. Why would the police leave tips around so random vigilante detectives can solve a case? Why do all the characters look like they should be in a Gay Pride Parade? (No, seriously, why does the main character have a nose bandage, and why does his partner have an eyepatch? They look like crappy rejects from a bad Shounen Sunday manga.) Why are people still using pr0n magazines? It was ridiculous in 2010… it’s 2014… it’s like seeing a horse-drawn carriage on the road or someone reading a newspaper.

(Though one of my favorite scenes so far has come from this show. A guy is eating fried chicken inside the car, so the other guy tells him to quit it. So what does he do? He tosses the fried chicken into the glove compartment and fetches a raw egg from it. I’m not sure what I enjoyed more… how matter-of-factly the guy defended his action with, “Hey, you told me to stop eating.” or the fact he had a raw egg ready to go. I’m not sure if I want a raw egg that’s been sitting inside a car.)

(Episode 1 passes Bechdel test. Barely. Quick scene where three female characters talk about food.)

#18. Sekai Seifuku Bouryaku no Zvezda



I feel like World Conquest Zvezda Plot is trying too hard. They brought in the director for Darker Than Black and Wolf’s Rain (Tensai Okamura) as well as writers from Type Moon and A-1’s first team, but the show just feels so lifeless and boring. A lot of cool stuff supposedly happens, but none of it is interesting. Oh, a magical girl conquered the world. Oh, a magical girl is trying to rebel. Oh, there’s a clueless male lead. I think my issues are threefold: the show doesn’t really need a clueless male lead. I feel like his only purpose is to introduce the world (which is a terrible way to do it), as well as for the show to fail the Bechdel test since the magical girls seem to talk more about him than taking over the world. Second, the battles are just not interesting. If the focus of the show is battles, they should be good battle sequences. Third, the costumes all look like rejects from Star Driver. The main female lead is like a twelve year old, but she wears super high heels. Even Toddlers in Tiaras contestants are shocked at her.

(Episode 1 passes Bechdel test. Barely. The post-credits scene passes, I guess.)

#17. Engaged to the Unidentified



Engaged to the Unidentified (未確認で進行形) is probably the worst title of an anime this season. It’s also one of the least action-packed. Hey, a country boy (Hakuya) who has never seen a stoplight is betrothed to a city girl (Kobeni)! Hey, they have terrible families! (The grandfather set it up, and none of the parents objected. “Oh well, my daughter can’t do any better than this country bumpkin… sold! For three pigs and a bushel of apples.”) The characters are mind-numbingly boring as the male lead isn’t so much a country boy as a streetlamp who follows Kobeni around and occasional saves her from stupid stuff. The older sister character tries to abduct cute little girls. The show is boring, the characters are boring, and the animation and character design are as boring as they come. This show, though, is a great sleep aid.

(I don’t understand why the new fiance and his little sister would suddenly move in with Kobeni’s family right out of the blue. Hakuya’s parents don’t even come and drop him off! Seems… suspicious. You’d think that if the two were betrothed, their parents would setup a fancy dinner or something. Also, Kobeni’s family, besides giving her the gift of an arranged marriage as her sixteenth’s birthday present– every girl’s dream– makes her cook her own birthday dinner. What? Really? And they make her eat her own birthday cake for breakfast.)

(Episode 1 passes Bechdel test. For passing, it needs to pass all three points. You’re probably wondering right now why am I pointing out if a show passes Bechdel or not, and it’s simple: anime does a much better job of handling female characters than many other genres. While people like to focus on how harem shows and panty shots are misogynist, they forget that harem shows and panty shots are not the bulk of anime, even if it seems that way at times. You can compare this season’s offerings, the majority of which pass the Bechdel test, against BBC’s Sherlock, which fails for 70% of its episodes. If you think that if they swapped Watson with an Asian woman, it would make for better statistics… nope, Elementary isn’t much better at around half and still fails to beat this season’s ratio. I wonder how a show like KILL la KILL is supposed to be judged. Yes, there’s a lot of fanservice. The female characters save for maybe Jariko Jakuze all look like fetish porn with Mako being the worst offender with her excellent school girl fetish regalia Mk I. But there’s a lot of dialogue between female characters, most of which focus on plot or the other female characters. The strongest friendship is between two female characters as is the strongest rivalries. The strongest male character is a piece of clothing, and we only think of him as male because of his voice. He has no penis. Unless you count those spikes that drains Ryuko’s blood. Is KILL la KILL a net positive or negative when it comes to portraying women? If you say that clothing supersedes all, then aren’t you just feeding the sexual stereotypes? If you say that the Bechdel test is right, and KILL la KILL is a feminist show, does clothing matter at all? Or maybe all of this is Studio Trigger’s point.)

(Nope, they just want to sell a lot of toys.)

#16. Nobunaga the Fool



This re-imaging of Nobunaga has him with an actual penis. Thank goodness. I’m sure if historians from 15,532 years into the future had to reconstruct our society, they would have assumed Nobunaga to be a lady. Anyway, this show is confusing as fuck. There’s two worlds, one based on Western historical figures like Jeanne d’Arc (buxom blonde haremette), Leonardo da Vinci (crazy mad scientist), and Magellan (power hungry space fleet admiral). The other is based on Japan featuring Nobunaga and other samurai. Of course, there’s wars and craziness going on, and fighting occurs using Guymelefs. Nobunaga, thanks to da Vinci’s tampering, manage to score both Jeanne d’Arc and a Gundam. He then goes on to save the world and play baseball with Babe Ruth or something. The animation and character and mecha designs of this show can best be described as flamboyant (not Star Driver levels but a notch below). There’s too much going on, design-wise, and none of it makes any sense. Why would Nobunaga’s friends fight with bows and arrows against huge mecha? Then I realized that the creator of Nobunaga the Fool is Shouji Kawamori– the creator of Macross. The show is not exactly going to make a lot of sense.

(I like how the Western powers are so much more technological advanced than the Eastern powers. Does this harken back to the Tokugawa period and black ships? If that’s the case, wouldn’t it make more sense to make the Western powers US-centric rather than Europe-centric? Wouldn’t Perry be a better choice for fleet commander than Magellan, who is centuries off? Wouldn’t Edison or Henry Ford be a better mad scientist? Maybe I just want to hear crazy anime Henry Ford go, “You can have your Gundam in any color as long as it’s black! LIKE YOUR HEART!”)

(Episode 1 fails the Bechdel test.)

#15. Nobunagun



Why have just one terrible show this season featuring Oda Nobunaga as the main character when you can have two! Nobunagun is Oda Nobunaga re-imagined into modern Japan as a– never been done before *muffled laugh*— high school girl named Shio. Shio is a huge military otaku, and it just so happens that she shares Nobunaga’s love of cold, hard, long barrels… gun barrels. So when aliens or whatever monsters attack, she uses the power of her ancestrial Nobunaga spirit to summon him in the form of a gun, hence the wordplay series name, Nobunagun. It’s a typical action shonen series backed with magic, but it is funny how all the powers come from dead historical figures. Her team consists of Jack the Ripper, Issac Newton, and Gandhi (I really hope that Gandhi’s weapon is a nuclear bomb). I can’t wait for Abraham Lincoln, Alfred Nobel, Babe Ruth, and Galileo Galilei to show up as well. The show is like a poor man’s casting call for potential Fate/Zero heroic spirits. The action is pretty bad, the dialogue is bad, and the production values are not very good.

(The first episode takes place in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, and it looks nothing like Kaohsiung. Where are the tall buildings? And why would any Japanese high school group want to go to Kaohsiung? Wouldn’t Taipei or Hualien make more sense? Isn’t this like someone from Toronto going on a school trip to Sacramento?)

(If you are keeping track, between the two shows featuring Nobunaga, the history cast that he brings with him include Jeanne d’Arc, Magellan, Leonardo da Vinci, Julius Caesar, Gandhi, Jack the Ripper, Issac Newton, Galileo, and Babe Ruth. And Galileo had an entire series devoted to him and his Japanese grandchildren last season. So, yeah. Anime has turned, over the past two decades, from mecha to harem to moe to imoutos to Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure Bogus Journey.)

#14. D-Frag!
Brain’s Base



I don’t know what to make of D-Frag!. On one hand, it seems like a harmless school club comedy show (maybe like Sunrise’s excellent Danshi Nichijou), but on the other hand, the characters are so rigidly stereotyped (oh! the pervert! oh! the cool student council president!), I can’t see the show moving beyond just cheap jokes and thrills. The premise is that a bunch of high school girls tease, torture, and bully a supposed bully boy. Well, the guy isn’t very threatening– he’s no Onizuka (plus he hangs out with School Rumble‘s Harima and Bamboo Blade‘s Dan-kun, which does nothing for his street cred). The girls, all belonging to a game club, are all quite vicious and underhanded, and the show is basically Higurashi‘s punishment game club sequences stretched out to thirty minutes with less intent to kill. The characters are all stiff, one-dimensional stereotypes, and the humor is quite predictable. You’ve seen the characters already, and there’s little reason to see them again in the context of this show.

The production values by Brain’s Base is slightly above average, and who would have thought to cast Chiwa Saito as the purple long-haired mastermind haremette? One thing I did like about this show is when Roka reveals that her element isn’t moe… but rather darkness. I liked that twist.

(I want to make an anime someday about a single female teacher much like Futurama’s Single Female Lawyer. Is there such a thing as a married female teacher in anime? Maybe with her own family? I guess Clannad.)

(Episode 1 passes Bechdel test. There’s a scene where the girls talk about recruiting at the beginning. After that, they only talk about the guy.)

#13. Seitokai Yakuindomo Bleep



I remember Seitokai Yakuindomo as having a few perverted jokes, but this season seems like it is nothing but girls talking dirty. It’s not even in a funny way. They’re just saying shit like, “You have time in the morning to rub one out!” or “It looks like it’d feel really good on her pussy!” It’s not even part of a conversation; it’s almost a greeting. During the scene when the huge cast congregates to take a picture, there’s even a reference to having cum on toast for breakfast. It wasn’t even as part of a joke. The characters were just killing time waiting for others to arrive. The dialogue just feels so unnatural and cringy, and the show is trying too hard to be edgy. I enjoyed the first season more where they was actually character humor and some physical humor (like when Tsuda got attacked by deer), but it just doesn’t happen this season. Tsuda only talks about pussies and dicks. This show does make me appreciate Nichijou even more– just consistently funny, charming, and heartwarming, and zero cum on toast discussions.

(The intro with the sex plane and terribad Engrish made no sense at all either. Maybe GoHands wanted to show off how awesome they could do CGI planes and CGI cities.)

(Episode 1 passes the Bechdel test thanks to the cum on toast scene.)

#12. Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha
Production IMS



Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha (いなり、こんこん、恋いろは) doesn’t suck. So it has that going for it. But it also isn’t very interesting as the characters are mostly boring with little to no personality. The male love interest is about as interesting as watching rice cook. The female lead is about as smart as a bowl of rice. There’s a lot of romantic angst that I feel can best be described as “MySpace quality,” and there’s no compelling hook to watch the show. The situation, plot, characters, and production quality are all so boring. The only thing I enjoyed from this show is how the furry fox goddess used her minions to build a game console and TV for her.

(Episode 1 passes the Bechdel test.)

#11. Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil



Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil (ウィザード・バリスターズ〜弁魔士セシル) gets this season’s worst name award. Just too much. It’s also yet another show about magic in a season full of shows about magic. Anime is about cyclical trends, and it looks like magic is replacing moe. This show is about a plucky law firm that defends people who abuse magic. They’re public defenders who are also magicians who protect those who can’t protect themselves. I feel like the show tries to do too much and gets a bit convoluted in that respect. Hey, this guy who destroyed the bank isn’t really evil! He was actually protecting his ladyfriend from the real bad guys! And now that conspiracy which hired those bad guys is targeting Single Female Lawyer Mage! I guess this is what happens a longtime animator (Yasuomi Umetsu) finally get his own project… key animation for like sixty shows, first attempt at writing is Wizard Barristers.

The character designs (also Yasuomi Umetsu) are piss poor. They look like rejects from the Gonzo era: the faces are all too similar, the eyes are all the same except different coloration, and the costumes are just way out there. Why does the owner have butterflies? Why do all the ladies wear like five layers of clothing on top but wear mini-skirts or short shorts? Why do all the male lawyers look like they were laughed off of Castro Street? I like how the 15 year old Single Female Lawyer Mage complains that she isn’t taken seriously or professional enough… when she looks like she should be shopping with her friends in Harujuku while munching on a Wendy’s burger. It sticks out because the prosecutors actually look professional and realistic. I kinda wish instead of focusing on this overproduced Single Female Lawyer Mage law firm, the show focused more on the badass cops that fight mages with bare hands. Law and Order Anti-Loli Mage Unit is a much better show idea– with better clothing to boot.

(Episode 1 aces the Bechdel test.)

#10. Magical Warfare



I don’t understand why the creator of Magical Warfare would impose two stupid rules. One, magic users are allowed to use magic on normal muggles, but they are not allowed to use it against each other. If they use it on each other, they re-enact the ending to Raiders of the Lost Arc. Two, normal people can become magicians if they get hit with magic. Magic is, of course, totally random at what they will get. One guy gets the power to evade attacks like he’s Phantom Assassin or something. One girl gets bigger melonpan. Yep, her power is that she can increase the size of her bosom. Another guy gets fire! Seems useful until you realize he can’t use it on other mages– he can only burn normal people. What kind of fucked up rules are these? They can’t fight directly so they have to fight indirectly or just use good old fashioned swords. If that’s the case, wouldn’t a gun be more effective than magic?

(In a normal season, this show would be bottom tier, but this season… there’s really not much else going on. So I apologize if this ranking seems high. At least the production values aren’t bad.)

#9. Space Dandy



Let me get it out of the way first: Space Dandy‘s (スペース☆ダンデ) first episode fails the Bechdel test. In a season with a great majority of shows passing the Bechdel test, why am I not surprised that the most Americanized one fails? It’s also the first Shinichiro Watanabe directed series that I didn’t instantly love– Macross Plus, Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, and Kids on a Slope— all fantastic shows. Space Dandy? Not so much. In fact, the only thing going for the show is that it is airing in a weak season. I tried to figure out my issue with this show, and it’s not the great animation, which Bones is doing an admirable job with, or Yasuyuki Okamura’s music, which is also enjoyable. I think there’s a few fundamental issues. One, the show tries too hard to poke fun of modern things that feel awkward in the future. Seeing Meow instagram takes me out of the fantasy a bit… or maybe I just hope by the time we have warp travel, phones still aren’t just black rectangles, and Instagram isn’t how intergalactic despots use for intel. You can make fun of these concepts, but it should have a futuristic twist and not just exactly replicate an iPhone 5S and Instagram. Secondly, Dandy, as a character, is boring. He’s both slick and clumsy and lucky and unlucky, and I can’t tell what his trait or personality is. With characters like Spike or Jin, you know what they are about. Dandy? Great, he likes boobs. Just like every other red-blooded traditional male out there. The closest I can think of a match for Dandy is Poochie from The Simpsons. Dandy just feels like too many ideas tossed together with no regards of how they will fit together (and like the 2014 Detroit Pistons).

(Despite having more shows, this season is as tragic or more so than Summer 2011, which best shows involved a guy who raised a loli to be his wife and a show that fell apart at the end and into a child broiler.)

#8. Sakura Trick
Studio Deen



Sakura Trick does not mess around. The show promises hot yuri action, and it delivers right off the bat. There is a lot of kissing, moaning, and spooning in the first episode alone… and done without panty shots or extended cleavage sequences. Basically, there’s light humor elements separating sequences where the horny teenaged girls go around making out. The main couple, Yuu and Haruka, really do behave as horny, dumb, needy, and clingy teenagers. It takes less than five minutes to go from “just friends” to, “Hey, let’s hide in this empty classroom so we can make out.” You know what? The show is not terrible. The fact that the characters are so horny, dumb, needy, and clingy do make them feel more like real attempts at people than some typical anime protagonists. It just feels more believable (okay, not 100% believable) than let’s say Rika and Yuta where they are so ready to jump each other but they can’t because… ? The comedy elements are also not bad; I got a genuine laugh out at the whole yakisoba ordeal. There’s a lot of terrible anime this season, and Sakura Trick is not one of them. You can use that as a back of the box quote for this series, Sentai (note: Sentai has not licensed this, but I’m guessing they will).

(Finally, and an anime is updated to iOS 7. Issue? It’s still wrong. No iPhone with a Lightening connector has its front camera on the side. Anyway, that’s not important. Studio Deen’s animation for Sakura Trick isn’t terrible– the backgrounds need work, but the animation is smooth and background characters are animated– gone are the days where I could make jokes about Studio Deen being consistently bad. They are improving.)

(Episode 1 passes Bechdel test. There are no male characters to talk about!)

#7. Wake Up, Girls!
Ordet, Tatsunoko Production



I am surprised by Wake Up, Girls. I expect a typical super sugary idol show, and instead I got myself sucked in by lightweight, low calorie drama. If you want to eat a steak, this show isn’t for you– it’s not a steak, it’s more like a bag of popcorn. There’s fluff, nothing epic happens, and no matter how you slice it, the show is still about idols. Still, I find the character interactions to be interesting, from the WHY IS THE 13 YEAR OLD FLASHING HER PANTIES to the rich, spoiled ojou-sama to the fallen idol to the meido to the WHY IS THERE AN OLD HAG 18 YEAR OLD IN AN IDOL GROUP. It’s an interesting mix. The show also reminds me a lot more of a typical underdog sports anime than an idol anime. Wake Up, Girls has more sports anime DNA than idol DNA, I think that’s a good thing.

(The show is by Yutaka Yamamoto of Ordet, and you probably best remember him as the guy Kyoto Animation fired after four episodes of Raki Suta. The production values are horrible, some of the worst animation of the season, but the OVA prequel production values are a lot better. If the show had the production values of the OVA, I would have ranked it higher. The first episode also reuses about six minutes of footage from the OVA. And, actually, I would suggest watching the hour long OVA before diving into this show. The first episode is really an extension of it.)

(Episode 1 passes Bechdel test. Girls only talk about Matsuda in terms of, “Where the fuck is his late ass?” But they talk to each other about non-men topics quite a bit. Though I don’t know about episode 3 which features girls in bikinis dropped into pools of scalding water. Is this really a thing for Sendai? Is Sendai Japan’s version of Alabama?)

#6. The Pilot’s Love Song



Wasn’t it like around 2009-2010 when there were a lot of shows that featured the Nobles and the Peasants? The Pilot’s Love Song (とある飛空士への恋歌/Toaru HikÅ«shi e no Koiuta) harkens back to that age. The premise is actually interesting: the world only has three large islands, and there’s a huge waterfall between them, so they must fly to each other. They discovered a floating island, and the people intend to use that to explore their world, which is huge and oceanic. This island has its own military garrison, and the story follows cadets through the military. Of course, because the prologue gives away what is coming next, there will be a lot of combat and sadness waiting for these folks. You just know that many characters in this show have tripped the death flag. It’s almost like an aviation version of Attack on Titan… which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

A few bad things about this show… the animation is piss poor. It’s one of the worst animated this season. The character designs are also boring. The nobles vs. commoners thing is silly and not done well (i.e. it just copies from every other show instead of taking it in a new angle). The worst part of this show? The names. Kal-El Airbus? Karl? Rodrigo Bandereas? Fausto Fidel? Wolfgang Baumann Ignacio Lopez? There are terrible names. They are not cutting glass.

(Episode 1 fails the Bechdel test.)

#5. Recently, My Sister is Unusual
Project No.9



ImoCho (最近、妹のようすがちょっとおかしいんだが/Saikin, Imouto no Yousu ga Chotto Okashiin Da Ga) is a tricky show to review. On one hand, it’s yet another little sister show with a terrible name (just when you think the little sister fad is slowing down). The production values are also nothing special. On the other hand, it just decides to go balls to the wall in terms of sexual perversion. I mean, this show makes WataMote and Sora no Otoshimono seem like Aa! Megami-sama. Instead of a plot, we get a cornucopia of situations where the poor little sister is forced to endure unwanted sexual escapades. My gut feeling is that the show cannot rise beyond its fanservice-ladden foundation, and the degradation of poor Mitsuki will get tiresome and old. But if it develop a narrative or at least a reason to watch besides watching Mitsuki power up her chastity belt, the show might be a dark horse.

(This franchise is getting a live action movie? Is it a normal movie, or is it an AV movie?)

(Episode 1 passes the Bechdel test. Hey, two women are having a conversion while one of them is being sexually assaulted by the other. That counts.)

#4. Noragami



I enjoyed Noragami (ノラガミ/Stray God). It’s about Yato the God (Arararararagi!) as he tries to build his own shrine by doing odd jobs for 5 yen at a time. I can hire someone to clean my bathroom for 5 yen?! Sold. Anyway, a poor high school girl named Iki sacrifices her life to save him, so he now needs to figure out how to fully bring her back to life. He then randomly finds a ten year old boy and binds him into being his manservant. That was weird. The series does have a charm to it, with Yato being the worst businessman ever, Iki being genki with narcolepsy, and Yukine is kind of an asshole. The production values are above average, and the show doesn’t try to do more than it needs to do. It doesn’t like shoehorn a bunch of random concepts into the show, and I appreciate that. The show could do a feel things better though: the battle sequences are weak sauce, the head God is a bit creepy with a miko harem, and Yato seems like a complete dumbass about money. I mean, if he wanders around someone selling timeshares, he can kiss all his hard earned 5 yen coins goodbye.

(Episode 1 passes Bechdel test.)

#3. Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren
Kyoto Animation



DARK FLAME MASTER! I enjoyed the original season quite a bit, but I’m not sure about the wholesale changes that start off season two. I mean, the whole concept of both Rika’s and Yuta’s families basically moving away and abandoning them just seem like terrible anime parenting in a sea of terrible anime parenting. I also don’t like how slowly they are taking Rika’s and Yuta’s relationship. If they were real teenagers, they would be trying to bone all the time, especially if they were living together. I also don’t understand why it is suddenly okay that they live together if Yuta’s little sister lives with them too… I’m not sure how a little sister is a chaperone. Love interest maybe, but chaperone? In any case, if you enjoyed the original, it’s more of the same, except with the obligatory new second season character. The weakest part of the show still remains the delusional battles that don’t feel like they have any weight to them… all flash, no substance…

(I get Isshiki’s hair transformation, but I don’t get Nibutani’s. She changes her style for just the first episode, reverts it in the second, and no character bats an eye? Then again, Mako-cakes did the same thing in Minami-ke, and no one asks about it either…)

(Episode 1 barely passes Bechdel test. Yuta is involved in pretty much every conversation or at least creeps on the majority of them. Only when Nibutani is talking with her classmate during Dekomori’s speech is it about something other than Yuta.)

#2. Nisekoi



I think my main issue with Nisekoi is that Ichijou and Chitoge’s “hate” towards each other seems so badly manufactured and forced. It’s not like seeing Motoko drip with hatred whenever she sees Keitaro. It’s also hard to believe that they hate each other so much that she would have gone and found his pendant for him. He calls her a barbaric lady after that? A normal teenaged boy would have pushed all that aside and would be trying to peep on her in the bath. Otherwise, I am enjoying the poor man’s Love Hina x Seto no Hanayome. Though I think I would enjoy it more if Aikuro Mikisugi were the one doubting Ichijou and Chitoge’s fake relationship. Aikuro and Nudist Beach makes everything better. Everything.

(Episode 1 fails Bechdel. It’s Everybody Loves Ichijou.)

#1. Empty
Senketsu… ?


Only for the second time in thin slicing history have I decided not to rank a show #1. The trend seems to be less moe and little sister shows, which is a reversal of the past few years. There are also much fewer harem shows with most shows opting to feature a core male and female lead. Gone are the days of Tenchi Muyo or Shuffle when you can make a case for any of the haremettes. There are also fewer slice-of-life and mecha shows. Most shows this season can be described as such: magic happens, boy and girl are forced to get along and use the powers of magic to combat a sinister foe. I’m not sure if it is a good thing as a lot of the scripts of the magic shows this season just feel lazy. But as we know, everything in anime is cyclical. Maybe in 2017 when Kizumonogatari finally comes out, we have swung back to a plethora of mecha harem shows. You got burning.

27 Responses to “thin slicing the new season, winter 2014 edition”

  1. P.S. All those you attribute to Tsuda (the only guy in the student council in Seitokai and resident tsukkomi) are SUPPOSED to be attributed to Shino instead.

  2. Mitigating factor for Witch Craft Works: the enemy witches are a wacky, bizarre bunch that keep me watching despite the boring leads.

    I also would have rated Engaged to the Unidentified and Nobunaga the Fool higher; the former because it got more interesting once the main POV shifted to the little sister, and the latter because I half-expect Monkey to install high-heels on the mecha to complete the Star Driver vibe.

    Totally agree on Mr. Irrelevant; I dropped Sonico after one episode. And I nearly always give shows a couple eps at least…

  3. Oh, and the number 1 slot for me would be Tonari no Seki-kun. Funniest 8 minutes of my week.

  4. Aww no ranking for Seki-kun? It’s easily in my top three for this season…I loved the Shougi episode.

  5. Glad to see the thin slicing continuing to chug along like a vintage grandfather clock. Not a particularly great season, but I do find myself enjoying Tonari no Seki-kun and Noragami a great amount. Maybe it’s the one-eyed man in the land of the blind effect, but I really look forward to them every week.

    Otherwise, thank Yato for the continuing 2-cour shows from last season.

  6. Agreed about Seki-kun. Simplistic but expressive animation, great HanaKana monologues, and a talented and creative male lead. No situations have arisen to determine its Bechdel Test status though.

  7. Turns out the Bechdel test is a bad test. Just like every other test that tries to boil down an entire medium into something that can answer three questions. Look at Pacific Rim. Mako was shockingly competent, important to the plot, had one of the best character arcs in the movie, and was a ‘big gadamn hero’. Yet Pacific Rim failed the Bechdel test because she didn’t have another woman to talk to. So fucking what?

    To be honest, the Mako Mori test is probably a lot better than the Bechdel test…

  8. If I wasn’t already balls deep in the Witch Craft Works manga, I’d most likely skip the anime based on the first few episodes. But I believe the series can surprise you. The first act lulls you into thinking it’s the same bland trope-driven dime-a-dozen type of story, but then the second act sucker punches you in the nads with not an epic twist of sorts but simply pure escalation. Just when you think that shit has hit the fan, they bring out an even bigger fan. A fan so large and pristine it’s just begging to have turds flung in its general direction. Nevertheless I am tentatively checking my enthusiasm, as anime adaptations have been known to fall short of the source material, to put it mildly. I do like how the author makes some tongue-in-cheek references to herbivorous male leads which have been the bane of so many series as of late.

    Also, let us never speak of Edison again. Thomas Edison was no scientist. Thomas Edison was a douchebag.
    The name you’re looking for is Nikola Tesla. Tesla was the original mad scientist because, sad to say, he was literally kind of crazy. A genius yes, but also crazy. Regardless, a new golden era of science was upon us and Thomas Edison almost single-handedly managed to ruin it for everyone.

  9. Seki-kun’s first episode fails to meet the first Bechdel condition, as there is only one female character.

  10. Would have sworn you’d compare Wizard Barristers to Ally McBeal but you didn’t.

  11. Silver Spoon is the obvious missing returning #1. Guess you don’t like well done smart, funny anime that explores both growing up and livestock morality in a direct but interesting fashion? Different strokes I guess.
    Also, another Seki-kun fan here. It’s a simple comedy, sure, but it hits the target every time (so far).

  12. Yamakan beat Watanabe, huh? I second your complaints about both though.

  13. Futurama’s “Single Female Lawyer” was a parody of Ally McBeal.

  14. It has been a boring season so far. Must be the studios decompressing. At least we can go through our backlog of the past seasons easier now.

  15. It is a very weak season indeed. The best shows are carry-overs from the Fall season. However I strongly disagree on Zvezda’s ranking. IMHO it’s the most hilarious show of the season. Did you watch past episode 1?

  16. I for one am having a lot of fun with Zvezda and Mikakunin.

  17. Am I the only one that noticed the teacher in No-Rin was a blonde name ‘Becky?’. A grown-up version of PaniPoni Dash’s genius sensei, doing a Sharon Stone/ Basic Instinct imitation in the first clasroom scene?

  18. Who the f cares about the Bechdel test? I want less gimmick in my gimmick post.

  19. – Agree that Seitokai Yakuindomo is NOT aging well this season, double entendre’s have indeed given way to sophomoric dick talk.

    – As a big fan of the D-frag manga, I’m finding the adaptation lacking somewhat… but just what’s missing, I don’t know. Hopefully that’ll change as the season progresses.

    – Chunnibyou is still Chuunibyou. Not Kyoani’s best work, but it’s fun.

    – Shaky first episode for Wizard Barristers, but I’m enjoying it now. Character designs feel nostalgic.

    – Noragami’s solid and as long as they stay faithful to the manga, will continue to be solid. Not the greatest story ever, but still, enjoyable, engaging and definitely worth watching.

    – I was surprised by Wake Up Girls too. A very different feel than any other idol story I’ve seen before. I don’t know if I’m enjoying it, but I’m hooked.

    – Space Dandy isn’t as good as I expected. I mean it’s alright… but c’mon… it’s Shinichiro Watanabe, I expected more than this.

    _ I’ve liked the Houzuki no Reitetsu manga for some time. A slice of life set in a surprisingly pleasant Buddhist hell. It’s not top 5, but it’s… a pleasant watch.

    – Finally, as a manga reader I know Witch Craft Works will be the Anime of the Season, if not the year. Although it has conventional substrate, it’s one of the funnest stories out there. Even if they rotoscoped it and it was voiced by illiterate yakuza, it would still be worth watching.

    The first couple of episodes, while necessary, gives the viewer a completely different idea about what is about to commence, and what some of the characters (and the scenarios) actual natures are. I agree with all your impressions of the first few eps, because that’s how it actually seems it’ll go. But fortunately most of what you expect is way off base. The show will be glorious.

    The sad thing is though, first impressions do count. And there’ll be a lot of people who are going to give this gem a miss, because they developed the impression it was going to be about some poor beta loser who inexplicably gets chosen by the school goddess.

    If there’s anybody who can’t stomach watching another Witch Craft Works episode, download episode 7 or 8 when it comes out and watch about ten minutes or so. I guarantee you’ll marathon the whole thing right from the beginning soon after.

  20. I dunno what that guy’s problem is, but I think the little gimmicks you squeeze into these Thin Slices are entertaining, at the very least it gives me something to think back on about the series.
    I’m glad most of my picks are in the “upper division” although I’m kinda sad that Nourin was so low, but I can see your case for it, I’m just a Shin Oonuma fanboy since ef so I’ll blindly follow his work.

  21. I think this is the season to catch up on other anime you might have missed.sadly kill la kill is still my main go to for anime this season

  22. Opinions on this season really are all over the place.

    The only things that English-speaking fans seem to agree on are that Noragami is at least good, that if you liked Chuunibyo S1, you’ll like Chuunibyo Ren, though maybe a little less, and that Super Sonico is irrelevant. (And the Japanese don’t even seem to agree with that — the first Super Sonico BD seems to have good pre-orders.)

    But ImoCho has one of the most reviled first episodes in a while, and yet here it is at #5 (or #4 really). And a fair number of people seem to like Witch Craft Works, yet here it is in the basement. For the fall 2013 “thin slicing” post I could follow most of the rankings. This time, not so much. Was there any other recent season where there was just no consensus on what is quality and what is trash?

  23. @Fancypantsu

    As a big fan of the D-frag manga, I’m finding the adaptation lacking somewhat… but just what’s missing, I don’t know.

    I agree completely. The problem is that comic timing doesn’t translate as easily from manga to anime as timing in drama or action. The D-Frag manga depends on lots of quick, clever, juxtapositions of absurdities from frame to frame. All that gets slowed way down by the necessity to actually animate the transitions between those frames, and to voice silly gag lines and “tsukkomi” responses. The “Binbougami ga!” adaptation has the same problem. Heck, the “Nichijou” anime sometimes has the same flaw: it gets bogged down sometimes by KyoAni’s beautiful animation.

    Rather than simply adapting the manga’s comic timing to animation, an anime director needs to add his/her own sense of timing, stretching out some moments and compressing others. Nabeshin does it consistently, as does Akitaro Daichi. Yamakan did it with Kannagi. But Seiki SUGAWARA (director of D-Frag) doesn’t seem to have the trick of it.

    I also think there’s a bit of a problem with the direction of the voice acting. If the script has lots of “tsukkomi” lines, the director needs to resist the urge to tell the seiyuu to shout all the lines — and Katsuyuki KONISHI (Kazama) is shouting way too much. I also feel that HanaKana is playing Roka as too sympathetic and insufficiently insouciant, which dampens the comedy a bit.

    In comparison, the “Noragami” anime has excellent timing. Of course, it’s mostly drama, but the comic bits and other “exploratory” vignettes of Hiyori wandering around as a spirit work incredibly well, especially with the background music chosen.

  24. @dbm

    Now that I think about it, you’re probably right about comic timing being the issue for D-frag. Hopefully that changes as the manga deserves a decent adaptation.

    I also agree that the Noragami anime’s comic timing is excellent. The manga was good, and this is a rare case of the anime being even better.

    After a shaky start, episodes 2, 3 and 4 of Witch Craft Works also did a great job of translating the manga’s humor onto the screen.

  25. I agree about this season being really rather lackluster.

    I’m surprised that Wizard Barristers rates so high. After seeing the first episode it went firmly to the bottom of my list, and was bad enough for me to have zero desire to check the second, and I usually try to give everything I start at least the three-episode rule… And same goes for Magical Warfare (Magic War?); first episode so bad I can’t bring myself to grab the second.

    Also, is Nisekoi: the animated version really that much an improvement over the manga? Way back when some group started translating it I checked out something like five, six chapters and decided it was really, really bad and dropped it, never to look back. has it been made better?

    Seki-kun is probably my season’s pick at the moment. I’ve really enjoyed the manga ever since I found out about it at /TG/.

  26. What happened to Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei?

  27. I think it would be a good idea to revisit the previous season’s Thin-slicing and assess the ‘blink’ in light of what the season revealed about the shows. I know my own first reactions to shows change by the end of the season.

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