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 NINE 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. You don’t need my permission to watch loli magical girls based on a popular Type Moon franchise or something like Hamatora.
A twist for this season: My computer decided to die, and Valve decided to host The International. This post might be the most Dota 2-filled post yet.
Bonus twist for this season: First season in a while without an entry from Shaft, Gainax, Trigger, or Sunrise. Though it has four from A-1.
Quick recap from last season: It was awesome. Ping Pong, No Game No Life, Mushishi, and Haikyuu! are excellent. Mekaku and Nanana were quite good as well. Chaika ended up being a really enjoyable surprise. Only disappointment? Captain Earth. Seriously, why do they wear the same clothes all the time? What is this? 2008?
#MR. IRRELEVANT. Nobunaga Concerto
Nobunaga Concerto is historically bad. It’s the worst show of the season with zero redeeming qualities. I don’t even understand the thought process to why this show was made… maybe Fuji TV wants to promote their upcoming live action version, but there are better ways of doing it than a no budget, bland, boring, and just plain bad “anime.” The show is entirely in bad CG. The character designs are atrocious, and the lack of animation is startling for CG. If you’re going to CG something, at least put in movement. For the most part, the show looks like a high-end Flash animation from 1998. The plot is pure trash too with some random slacker transported back in time and taking Nobunaga’s place in history. Really? We’re not going to explain how he got there except “he fell”? We’re not going to even try to address why Nobunaga wants to hand off his crown to a freak who kinda looks like him? Just a lazy, uninspired premise that not only has been done before, but done better. The main character is also a really boring and unlikeable character… he kind of reminds me of someone who could be the male friend of the male harem lead of a bad harem anime.
(This show isn’t licensed yet, and I don’t even understand why Crunchyroll would bother… maybe working on this show is a form of punishment for their staff.)
(Guess what show this season decided to break out a girly magazine as its major plot point for the first episode? Yep. This show.)
#28. Bakumatsu Rock
Always a good sign when a show is licensed by Sentai before it gets a Wikipedia page. Bakumatsu Rock is based off the otome game of the same name, and its tries to shove modern idol culture into Tokugawa Japan. The show makes absolutely no sense. It’s like the creators saw Basara and Id@lmaster, and thought, “WE CAN TOP THAT!!! EASY MONEY!!!” So that’s what we have: pretty boy samurais who rock out on TV with eating pizza. This show makes all the anime where a genderswapped loli Nobunaga travel to modern Japan seem like Charles Dickens. Everything is terrible about this show: the characters, the animation, the music, the premise, the plot, everything. I also don’t get why the samurai are fully clothed, yet during the musical sequences, they go shirtless. It’s weird. Either keep them shirtless, or have consistent animation. It’s like if K-On! had the girls naked when on performing yet otherwise clothed. Just poor anime directing. If you are a diehard lover of the otome game, and you like samurai rock manservice, then this show is for you. Everyone else, don’t waste your time. Let’s just pretend that this show does not exist.
(There’s no significant female character. There are many girly male characters though.)
#27. Momo Kyun Sword
The award for worst costume design of the season goes to Momo Kyun Sword. The show takes the peach girl folklore a bit too far. It’s like the crazy cat lady of peach girl folklore. The main heroine is named “Momoko,” or “peach kid” if things aren’t literal enough for you. Her outfit is also hideous with that terrible cleavage design that is supposed to resemble peaches, and Fashion Czar is really confused as to the placement of Momoko’s nipples. I think it’s just a botched boob job. Momoko’s outfit also features like seven more peaches on her clothes, sandals slash high heels (how does this work?), and no bra. The no bra is a key point as Momoko’s peaches like to flop around showing off the bountiful Monsanto-tainted harvest. She also has three animal familiars that aren’t explained in any way. They are just there. People are just used to a talking pheasants I guess. She can also transform into a magical ninja girl by combining with an animal familiar. If you have a fetish for magical ninja furries with a literal peach theme, then Momo Kyun Sword is the show for you. For everyone else, move along, nothing to see here.
(The animation is also terrible. The action sequences do not make any sense. One scene, Momoko was destroying boulders with a stick, and the next scene the stick snaps hitting someone. I guess the huge boulders weakened it. At one point, evil demons destroy a peach shrine, and, the next moment, the peach shrine is rebuilt… and it’s a frickin’ cave. There’s also some really unnecessary Sailor Scouts who try to help Momoko recover the sacred peach fragments, but they seem fairly useless. I feel like this show is actually a hentai series, but, nope, it’s a straight up light novel… proving once again, if you can’t draw and you can’t write, you can publish a light novel.)
#26. Love Stage!!
“Somewhere in this world, there is a door that leads to my dreams.”
Okay, one guy in Love Stage!! (officially with not one but two exclamation marks) is an anime otaku who has meido PVC models that he probably jizzes on. His family is a super celebrity family with an attention whore mom, and the family is how I envision the Wests if North West turned out to be a huge moe anime otaku. The other guy is a manipulative stalker actor who will stop at nothing to get this way, which is sexual domination of the first guy. He also keeps a picture of the first guy as his cell phone background for ten years, after meeting him for only a day, which involved public urination. “I saw him pee! Must take grainy cell phone photo and lust after for a decade!” Ten years ago from 2010 when the series first debuted is 2000… did I even have a cell phone that could take a picture and use it as a background? (The first camera phone did come out in 2000.) That basically sums up Love Stage!!. If you’re into the crossdressing yaoi genre with no regard to cell phone history, maybe this show is for you, but there’s little flavor to this show outside of the boy on boy action.
(“CRUSHERZ” is the name of an edgy underground punk band in this show. They also must have street rep since their lead singer hangs out with anime seiyuu.)
#25. DRAMAtical Murder
“What is this shit?”
Well, exactly my feelings about this show. What is it DRAMAtical Murder? Murder mystery? Yaoi? Homeless man– err destitute Charles Dickens character’s Sword Art Online? (That might still be too generous.) Collectible trading card game? I have no clue. It’s a mess. There are dudes participating in an online game, a gang conflict in real life, and a person who floats through concrete and serves as a vessel into an online world. The production values are horrible, the plot is terrible, and I almost fell asleep watching this show.
Let’s discuss the terrible character design first. The main character looks like NAZ raided Shaft’s trash bin from Mekaku. Each character has their own color scheme, but they chose bad colors. Vomit grey? 1992 cyan? Destitute purple? The rest of the characters look like generic background characters from any anime. I’m so badass, I have a tear tat as well as drink energy drinks behind a combini. The jargon for the show also does not do it for me. Mate? Bug Bomb? Ribsietz? And none of the voices work. The gang boss (who really should be in a yaoi series), the game announcer, and the main character all don’t sound right. It feels like they didn’t put any thought or effort into the seiyuu. They perform their lines with zero enthusiasm.
(Supposed to be in the future, but Aoba’s computer looks like my old 386.)
(They have robotic dog familiars that let them access this virtual world. It’s like the show has too many ideas, and the original author could not edit them down. Hey, let’s have a virtual world! Let’s add in superpowers! Oh why the fuck not? Let’s toss in a robotic magical dog that talks! Editing. Less is more… except for a 6,000 word thin slicing post… I’m terrible at taking my own advice.)
#24. Shounen Hollywood
“Idols can only live in a world of sparkles.”
Is Shounen Hollywood actually worse or better than DRAMAtical Murder? These are the questions no one should be asking. They are both terrible, terrible anime. Shounen Hollywood is the train wreckiest of the manservice shows this season. It is about a group of boys who want to start their own boy pop idol group, and it does feel a bit like Wake Up Girls plus AKB48 plus Menudo… except… they transfer almost all the female pop idol tropes over. Boys dancing around in skimpy sailor fuku? Check. Boys acting cute and giving hand signals? Check. Boys who dance like girls? Checks. Boys who sing about sparkles and rainbows? Check. Boys who cannot grow facial or leg hair? Check. Everything is just so feminine.
I do not understand who the audience is. Is it girls who demand their own version of Id@lmaster with penises? Is it gay guys who want to get into the idol scene but don’t want cute girls in their groups? Is it aliens? Does the show even know who the audience is? I think this show would have been below average kinda like a poor man’s Wake Up Girls (which is not exactly a good show) if it featured a female cast, but treating a boy pop idol group exactly like a girl one just feels weird and creepy. I am just waiting for them to wear nekomimi meido outfits by episode seven… but I am sure not sticking around to find out.
(The manager wears a nice shirt plus tie plus orange sweatpants combo. Classy.)
#23. Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance
“Enough with the pervert thing.”
It did surprise me to find out that it was not JC Staff but instead no name THK who worked on Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance (Bladedance of Elementalers) just because of the wrathful DFC loli with a fire theme and boy slave. The show is basically a homeless man’s version of Shana plus Zero no Tsukaima and is yet another terrible light novel adaptation involving magic, lone male loser pervert hero (surprise, surprise, he’s the only man with a special power), and a “diverse” harem filled with rich ojou-sama girl, tsundere girl (of course, the fire user), the “cool” one, the man-hater (who will on doubt want the male lead’s maniless before episode six), and the sexy bosomy teachers. The haremettes also have some terrible names too: Fahrengart? Laurenfrost? Est? Claire Rouge? Fashion Czar nicknamed this show, “Tropes: The Anime.” I don’t disagree with her. There’s not one bit of originality or cleverness, and even the fanservice is terrible. Tetsuya Yanagisawa and Takao Yoshioka, the duo behind Highschool DxD are masterminding this Seirei.
I also like how an anime an almost entirely female cast fails the Bechdel test for the first episode. The only discussions that occur without the male lead are about said male lead. Fantastic. Animation quality is Sailor Moon Crystal tier, though the characters all look so similar. It doesn’t help that the character designer can’t draw more than one face type, and the school uniforms are boring.
(Um, nice eyecatch…)
#22. Rokujyoma no Shinryakusha!?
“You fondled my noble breasts out of lust, didn’t you?”
Invaders of the Six-Tatami Mat Room!? feels like a JC Staff or Studio Deen show since it is just yet another terribly generic harem anime. The twist this time around is that the typical loser male lead got a cheap ($50/month?!) six mat apartment (wait this sounds familiar) only to find that it is already inhabited by a purple haired ghost in a white dress (nani sore?)… and sadly there’s no loli Sherlock with trap Watson living next door. Also living in this tiny apartment? The mole people queen, a counterfeit magical girl, and an alien. It’s a Sasami-chan away from being a destitute Charles Dickens character’s Tenchi Muyo. The show makes me miss the olden days when harem anime had better gimmicks or at least more tragic gimmicks. Remember Happy Lesson when the male loser lead had to live with his sexy hot teachers instead of his sexy hot idol sister? Or Final Approach which shacked up the loser male lead with haremttes to increase Japan’s birthrate? Or Steel Angel Kurumi where it is literally sex robots? Nowadays harem anime is more about the kitchen sink approach.
You know what? If you’re in the market for a harem show, let me push some Lamune on you. It’s a bit old, but it’s a classic, slow-paced yet wonderfully executed harem slice-of-life comedy. It’s also one of the first reviews I wrote. Watching it feels like drinking an Arnold Palmer on a sunny day.
“These girls who are full are flaws… are experts?!”
That basically sums up Jinsei. It’s about a club that gives life lessons (you should have known “jinsei” is “human life” and can mean “life lessons” from OreImo), and, shockingly, the club is full of haremettes and a single dude. In a twist, each haremette has her own stereotype. One is the jock, another is the brainy one, and one is the pixie manic dream girl. Basically, they debate how to solve various life issues that other students bring to them, and they can never agree on the solution so the guy has to mediate– wait no, instead they play games to see whose advice wins out. Here’s a hint: all of their solutions are terrible. The male lead is furniture: he exists to read the letters, narrate some stuff, and somehow be an object of lust for the haremettes. Girls must love guys who do nothing, are as boring as a turkey sandwich, and look like a runt. But mostly the haremettes do most of the work of the actual advice giving. Beyond that, the animation is lackluster and looks like any old harem show from the late 2000s.
(I don’t understand why so many anime clubs feature a girl and a guy mostly alone in a room. The male lead and a haremette were bored in a private room together, yet nothing sexual occurred. Only in Japan.)
(I am also really tired of the after school clubs that do nothing genre. This genre and the magic school genre are the current banes of anime. It’s like people saw
World of Warcraft Haruhi Suzumiya and Dota Index and tried to copy off their success or something… guess what guys, try something new. Maybe get dinosaurs involved.)
Hanayamata is about a girl joining the world of Magic the Gath– yosakoi dancing. She is totally reluctant to get into it, but a new ‘murican transfer student red, white, and blued her into the traditional Japanese dance style. The show tries too hard. The transfer student tries too hard at being American with her name being “Fountainstand.” I’m not kidding. Her name is Fountainstand. I wonder if the mangaka just randomly picked two words from an English dictionary. Secondly, the imagery is way too much. Almost every other scene features idyllic flower pedals or fireworks or moonlight or a combination of them. I get it; this dancing shit is supposed to be beautiful. That would like if Captain Earth was just 21 minutes of Earth Engine assembling… which it feels like at times. Anyway, the production quality is above average, but the anime itself is really bland. Hanayamata is supposed to be comedic, but the gags are all on the cutesy zero calorie side. If you like the cute girls doing cute things without a plot to get in the way or if you really like yosakoi, then this show is for you.
I think after the success of Hanasaku Iroha and True Tears, PA Works has become the studio of colorful, low calorie slice of life anime with romance elements within a group of friends: The PA Works special. Glasslip continues this tradition with yet another group of boys and girls who are romantically interested in each other because they are horny teenagers. We don’t really need any setup besides, “Hey, they are horny teenagers!” Glasslip feels quite generic and bland an inoffensive to the point of boring without the charm of earlier PA Works endeavors, and the characters feel like they could be normal kids. This isn’t an issue if you like watching boring people, but let’s face it: normal kids just are not interesting, and their relationship issues are treated on a kindergarten level. At least toss in a talking overweight bird or giant robot that consumes their souls to mix things up.
(You know it’s PA Works when you’re dealing with a group of friends plus chickens.)
(This is basically anime’s take on Friends or How I Met Your Mother without the raunchy sex jokes or interesting character fallible.)
#18. Magimoji Rurumo
“I saw her panties!”
That pretty much sums up Majimoji Rurumo (まじもじるるも). The show is a fanservice comedy with a perverted male lead (how original) who meets a witch who can grant him wishes. The hitch, of course, is that she collects his soul after 666 wishes… seems like a lot… well, anyway, the show is a battle of the main character on whether or not he wants to use the wishes for fanservice or to be a good person. You can guess how it plays out. Of course, what I don’t understand is why would a horny perverted teenager wish for something like a girl’s bra? Wouldn’t he be like… “Okay, I wish for a foursome with a brunette meido, a blonde meido, and a ginger meido, a tub of whipped cream, some GoPro cameras, plus a thousand doses of Viagra.” And then wish for a ton of money, then wish for world peace, then wish for another foursome, and then call it a day.
JC Staff’s production values aren’t bad, and I kinda like the colorful palette. The main character’s seiyuu does a good job at expressing exactly how desperately perverted the character is, but all the female characters (including the witch) seem quite generic. The jokes and gags are also quite generic as you’ve probably seem them a few dozen times by now. Hey, did you know horny teenaged boys like touching boobs?
“Don’t you just shoot at each other with toy guns? Isn’t it stupid?”
Yes. Yes it is. Sabagebu! is about the Survival Game Club, which I first assumed to be like Bear Gyllis or something like that. Nope. Just sexy anime girls shooting AirSoft guns… which isn’t exactly new. At least Gunslinger Girls had the balls to use real guns. Each haremette (there’s no male lead, but it feels like there should have been one) has their own signature gun, and they shoot each other with them. That’s about it. As you probably expect, the show is a complete and utter mess. It is driven solely by gun otaku who crossover with moe otaku. You must really love both to watch this show. The characters are all super boring, less than one dimensional (most of them feel like filler, kinda like most of the people you recruit in a Suikoden game), and are quite forgettable. The show also tosses in a talking Psyduck for whatever reason. The worst part of the show? The girls battle each other with AirSoft guns without safety equipment. Just terrible role models. They wear frilly clothes with short skirts into an AirSoft arena. They might as well fight in bikinis and stiletto heels. They don’t even wear headgear or goggles. In fact, confusingly, they do have goggles. They were them when they practice, yet take them off when they shoot at each other.
(Main character’s name is Momoka, not to be confused with Momo‘s Momoko. Momo is a popular name. As usual, I have no point.)
(And getting pegged in the nipples seem… really, really, really, really, really, really painful.)
#16. Ao Haru Ride
“You’re pretty cheap.”
Wow! An anime with a first episode that passes Bechdel. Blue Spring Ride is standard shoujo fare. The show features a girl who is pining for a guy, and the guy treats her badly because of a misunderstanding. Because neither of them can clear the air, volumes and volumes of manga are written to deal with it. The first episode dealt with some serious issues: the guy changed his name (common in Japan for children to change names after a parent’s divorce and remarriage), and the leading lady steals melon-shaped bread. The guy, of course, swoops in and saves her, but it’s so ridiculous. She gives the money to lunchlady A, who then walks literally three feet away, and then lunchlady B accuses her of theft. Her female friends then side with lunchlady B over her. While this is going on and causing a ruckus, lunchlady A is RIGHT THERE!!! All she needed to do was spin around and clarify things (or gave her a receipt… I tried to refuse receipts in Japan and clerks looked at me if I were an undiscovered alien species… receipts are serious fucking business in Japan). Of course, lunchlady A does not intervene until the male lead jumps in to defend the female lead. None of the conflicts in the show make sense. The central conflict between the guy and girl is that he overhears her say how she does not like boys (which should not be odd or a middle school girl), he takes it completely the wrong way in thinking it is a clear indictment on him, and then he transfers school the next day. That escalated quickly. Can you even transfer schools that fast?
Production IG’s animation is average, with okay backgrounds and some depth of field usage, but animation is sparse at times. The character designs are not my cup of tea as they try to be shoujo-ish, yet anime-ish, but end up looking a bit freaky. I am also reminded of Shigeto Koyama’s panel at Fanime a few years ago when he said that hair can be used to depict character change. Well, the male lead had short hair and was a normal guy, then he turned “cold” (not really, but hey go with it) with a haircut that conceals his eyes a few years later.
(The lack of text messages and Facebook really throws me off. I’m like thinking it’s an older series or set in olden times because teenagers don’t have cell phones. How realistic is it today that interactions within a group of teens occur strictly on school grounds face to face? So I read Blue Spring Ride‘s backstory, and it is modern Japan, and the manga started in 2011. Wow. Oh fucking come on. I can suspend my disbelief for magical girls and giant robots, but horny teenagers shunning cell phones in 2014? Nope. Sorry. Too far fetched. I’m not asking for Snapchat levels of realism, but at least maybe text messaging.)
“You bought that swimsuit with taxpayer money.”
Locodol is my favorite portmanteau (local plus idol and not loco plus doll) of the season. This anime is an acceptable, low calorie moe slice-of-life comedy. There’s nothing too offensive or terrible about it, but there’s also nothing too exemplary or memorable. Two girls, one like Mugi and one like Yui, are trying to revive their town by being local idols and do local idol stuff like eat food and strut around in bathing suits. I’m sure reviving a town’s economy would entail more than two bubbly girls, but what do I know? Okay, okay, I do know. First off, the town spent a shit load of taxpayer money building a huge ass indoor swimming pool. This monument to government waste has its own circulating river, a five story water slide, and multiple Olympic-sized swimming pools. If Iwatobi swim club saw this, they would never stop jizzing into the pool. How does the dying little town afford this monument to the swimming gods? Just seems like a huge waste of taxpayer money. The girls go there on opening day, and it’s barely populated. It’s definitely not Anime Expo or The International, and I don’t even think it’s a new Chik-fil-A opening. Then, there’s the issue of the brilliant uncle who wants to revive the town with idols, but he can’t pay them except in swimsuits because too much of the town budget went to this extravagant swimming pool. He also recruits his niece, who has no business being an idol. He also tosses her on TV and in front of live audiences without prepping her. His management makes the manager of Wake Up Girls seem like Greg Popovich.
Animation by Feel is okay, just a notch or two above Sailor Moon Crystal. Directed by Munenori Nawa, whose previous two directing jobs were Da Capo SS and Otome wa Boku.
Two nations at war, one feels safe behind their giant impenetrable wall, which gets penetrated in less than fifteen minutes. So, the losing nation is running, but they do so at a leisurely pace. This one unit stops and takes a tea break during their retreat. Because they stopped for tea, they notice a mousy secretary lady guarding the world’s most advanced mecha. Of course, cocky male pilot jumps into the cockpit and lays the smackdown on the enemy who caught up to their retreat. In another unexpected turn of events, this super advanced mecha can only operate at full capacity for short periods of time. It also can only be operated by the first person who piloted it. Who would have thunk it? (Why didn’t the mecha travel with a pilot?) Argevollen is generic Xebec combat mecha and does not offering anything new or interesting to the mix. The mecha fights and designs are generic, the characters are generic, and the situation is generic. It is a very bland, low calorie show: the rice cake of combat mecha anime.
I’m also confused at the lack of air power in this show. Wouldn’t making attack aircraft be the answer to fighting against slow, lumbering mecha? Wouldn’t a F-15 firing GPS or laser-guided anti-ground missiles from fifty miles away be a much better weapon system choice? I feel like that would be simpler and cheaper than building a mecha with a neural interface that allows it to punch another mecha faster. And I love the solution for breaching the impenetrable wall: “General, sir! I have a plan to toss a bunch of guided missiles and artillery at the wall until it breaks. Static defenses are a waste in this age of weaponry.” “That’s a terrible plan, Major. See, this is why I’m the general. We need to charge into the enemy lines with infantry and slow, lumbering mecha. When our opponents are distracted, we will use these super fast cat mecha to sneak behind their walls and open the gates. Your plan just sucks. Missiles and artillery? LOL.” It’s like Zapp Brannigan is leading both sides of the war. Dear Anime Generals, please stop watching Attack on Titan. They are not exactly Lee and Napoleon levels of military genius on that show.
(Interesting camera angle, Xebec.)
#13. Persona 4 The Golden
When I was at the A-1 panel at AX, they described Persona 4 The Golden as NewGame+, and it shows as, one, they are speeding through the original plot points as assuming you already know them. It won’t take seven episodes for Kenji to join the crew as he mysterious just shows up part of the crew by the second episode. It’s going blazing fast, and only Marie is focused on. While I am glad they aren’t retreading plot points that I’ve already seen in the game and in the original anime series, the plot now has become impenetrable to newcomers. It is like taking someone who has never heard of Dota and tossing them into the middle of TI4. I’m also totally confused as to what has happened by when since they don’t even acknowledge main events from the base game. If I need to consult a Persona 4 calender to figure out where they are in the plot, the show has failed. This show is not a remake. This show is not a sequel. It is a NewGame+ fanservice mode for the devout.
Animation and production values from A-1 are quite good. Not SAO II or Aldnoah Zero levels but still quite good. Characters move okay, there’s only a few derpy faces, and expressions are expressive. Just look at Chie here. Slurp.
(Failed Bechdel because you assume that the character Elizabeth and Marie are talking to is Yu.)
#12. Akame ga Kill!
“There is no justice in murder.” I almost fell out of my chair when I heard this line in the second episode of Akame ga Kiru, as it is one of Tyrael’s signature lines from Diablo. He casts the deciding vote to spare humanity because he is the aspect of justice, and “there is no justice in murder.” Unfortunately, another anime this season doesn’t get the hint and thinks there is justice in genocide. Anywho, Akame ga Kiru is a gory, fanservice action anime featuring a country bumpkin turned assassin for Night Raid (which sounds like a Steam Early Access game or 1980’s pr0n). The central conflict is the class warfare between the haves and have-nots, and, seriously, anime, can we come up with better human antagonists than bored rich people? I feel like this series is going to be a country bumpkin’s version of Chiaki, The Coffin Princess.
Silver Fox is competent on animation, but their character design of Tatsumi bugs the heck out of me. All the other characters have costumes or historical garb, yet he’s wearing a Carlton Banks sweater with Obama jeans. The sweater also never gets dirty or gets any blood on it, despite his Mortal Kombat fatalities that he inflicts on his opponents. This production level is Sailor Moon Crystal levels of quality animation. Maybe okay for 2004 but seems really cheap and lazy in 2014.
(How does Night Raid have a huge “hidden” fortress and not be discovered? Like no one notices this huge house carved into the mountain side just a bit out of town?)
#11. Rail Wars
Rail Wars? We had Library Wars… now Rail Wars… what next? Burger Wars? Combini Wars? Rail Wars is by no stretch a good show: the characters are all one dimensional. There’s a haremette with ample melonpan! There’s a guy who is Mr. Sports! There’s a girl who is a dead-eye! The premise is also silly and simple. This team of four people are assigned to railroad security for JNR… which is amazing considering that there’s like half a dozen security people at every major Tokyo platform (or maybe this was the case when I went since Obama was visiting Japan too). There were policemen everywhere, except in Rail Wars, where there’s basically these four people. The plot of the first episode had them try to catch a purse snatcher at the next station… in real life, they would have phoned the next station or at least called a cop on that train. Nope. In anime, it requires a convoluted scheme plus guns. Yep. Guns. I can’t imagine random high school student security guards discharging pistols at Ueno or Shibuya stations. For this show? Common occurrence.
So why isn’t this show down with DRAMAtical Murder? Well, it is a literal train wreck. One scene involved the male lead along with the haremette with ample melonpan in a bedroom train car by themselves… and they’re not humping like rabbits? Even when he stuck his head up her skirt? Only in anime. Now why were they in the bedroom train? They were looking for a dog. Someone left a dog in the train. Also, there’s a scene where they are engineering a train through a snow storm (in Tokyo?!)… plenty of Snowpiercer jokes. It is bad enough that it might be watchable, but it is certainly better than Momo Kyun Sword.
#10. Tokyo Ghoul
I hope you aren’t hungry when you watch Tokyo Ghoul because there’s plenty of delicious human flesh. This show is an action show mixed in personal discovery as the main character, Kaneki, has to deal with his transformation from a normal human and into a ghoul, which sounds a lot like a sentient zombie vampire thing. There’s a lot of gory and blood as, well, people get eaten. A lot of the people eating is blacked out or censored (buy the BD and see people get eaten!) though. I have more of an issue with the concept of the show as it explains that normal human food (except coffee) tastes bad to ghouls, ghouls need to eat human flesh, and implies that ghouls have been around for a long time (hence an anti-ghoul police force). Yet the show doesn’t really explain anything else. Why are there ghouls? How come no one is treating ghoulism as a medical disorder? How is it spread? What nutrients are in human flesh that you can’t find in steak, broccoli, or a plate of delicious carnitas nachos? The show also doesn’t explain why ghouls have these huge ass back claws that come out. There are also plot points that the show completely forgets about… they are minor, but they add up, like when the friend Hide orders a cappuccino… and then immediately leaves the cafe. The female lead also shows up at always the right time. Kaneki is in trouble in a random alleyway in Tokyo? She shows up. She is Tuxedo Ghoul Mask. The show has some promise, but the premise is poorly executed.
Animation from Pierrot is above average. They do carryover bloodied clothes (pay attention, Akame ga Kill) and don’t overuse CG. Production-wise, they are competent, but I can live with fewer traumatic eating montages, thankyouverymuchsir.
#9. Sailor Moon Crystal
I can sum up most of Sailor Moon.
Bad Guy: “༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ GIFF ME CRYSTAL”
Sailor Scout(s): “No!”
Bad Guy: “Haha! You have sprung my trap card!”
Tuxedo Mask: “I’m here to toss a rose!”
Sailor Moon: “Moon Tiara/Boomerang/Hitachi Magic Wand/Oberyn Martell Prism Power!”
The good: Bumps look cool. Follows manga better. Will make Toei stockholders happy. They updated technology from a floppy disc to a CD-ROM (Oharuhi-sama forbid they jumped ahead to a website or USB key). Passes Bechdel test! Rare to see a shoujo show passing.
The bad: The “How do I feminist” vibe with OP lyrics “We are not helpless girls / who need men’s protection” except… uh… Tuxedo Mask doing a lot of protecting. Also “I want to be a princess, so I don’t need to go to school.” Great reasoning there Usagi. Feels like the staff of Sailor Moon is mostly men whereas watching Tamako Market you can tell there’s a lot of women working on it. Why didn’t Kodansha tap Kyoto (seriously, Tamako Market team would have done a great job) or A-1 for this show is beyond me. The terrible CG. The money grab aspect: Rosterbating Sailor Moon Crystal.
The unknown: Why does the Sailor V game look like South Park? Why do the stores keep million dollar necklaces in their window display cases when there has been a rash of robberies in the area? Why go with CG for the transformation sequences? Why does the intro segment look like a worse version of TNG’s opening? And NDT would have a hemorrhage at how bad the astronomy is.
#8. Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun
“All the seats got stolen.”
Monthly Girl’s Nozaki-kun is a low calorie oddball comedy about a totally clueless guy, the titular Nozaki, who somehow manages to be the mangaka of one of the most popular shoujo manga series and the poor, poor girl, Chiyo, in love with him, except he has no clue. There is not much exemplary about show except for the core premise: the poor girl’s dreams are slowly turned mundane by her attempts to woo Nozaki. She dreams of a romantic bike ride; he delivers the least romantic bike ride ever… and because she is so desperate for senpai to notice her, she accepts it. To be fair, it did deliver one of the season’s funniest moments when poor Chiyo decides that “BIKING IS AWESOME!” Nozaki-kun is far from a bad show, but it is not top tier either… but Nozaki-kun is fun and watchable. The show is a delicious perversion of the shoujo “I hope senpai notices me” trope.
(Production values are mediocre at best. I failed this show for Bechdel because the only female-only conversation in the first episode was about Nozaki’s manga, which I interpret as talking about him… since that’s what Chiyo was after.)
#7. Space Dandy
“It says so on Wikipedia.”
I got Space Dandy wrong the first time around… quoting myself, “Dandy just feels like too many ideas tossed together with no regards of how they will fit together (and like the 2014 Detroit Pistons).” I totally missed the point– Space Dandy is totally about telling nonsensical stories featuring incongruent ideas. The premise is Pani Poni Dash in space, except from Watanabe and Bones instead of Shinbo and Shaft. The show ended up growing on me the more I watched it (the episode with the junkyard dog… *sniff*), and it looks like the new season picks up exactly where the first one ended: Dandy aimless, poor, and hopeless. I do kinda like having a show in 2014 where every episode seems to reset the show; it feels very 1980-ish. You don’t see that often anymore in anime or in Hollywood. While not all jokes and references work in Dandy, it has a higher hitrate than the latter seasons of Futurama.
I feel like the show could be better, but any attempt to improve it will change it from being a wacky comedic show slash performance art to something different. And I do mean performance art: each episode makes me shake my head wondering what I just saw. Some good, some bad, never boring.
(Bones’ animation is incredible. They would have been an excellent studio for Sailor Moon as well.)
#6. Tokyo ESP
“Shit, that white woman.”
I was a bit confused with Tokyo ESP (since I haven’t read past the second volume) as to why they would jump ahead and show the future for a whole episode before jumping to the start of the story. It doesn’t make any sense to me. Maybe the animation team was… “Mmmm… maybe having a completely nakkid Rinka lead off the show is a bad idea. Let’s instead start off with a totally incomprehensible battle between X-Men instead.” Or maybe this way they could fit in Ga-Rei characters to remind us… “Hey, if you liked Ga-Rei, you might like this!” What I’m not confused about? Xebec deciding that the amount of fanservice in the manga wasn’t enough.
Everything about Tokyo ESP screams X-Men, minus Professor X, and with more cleavage and less underwear. I mean, they have characters who control magnetism, who can teleport, who can get in your mind, and who can phase through walls… even have the villain who decides to start a war on humans because he is now the superior race… let’s hope Marvel/Disney doesn’t see this show. The main white woman’s (they need to translate that better) dad has the power of magnetism yet looks like Wolverine. He has a scene where he picks up some sticks, and it looks like Wolverine’s claw. Call in the lawyers! What Tokyo ESP doesn’t have from X-Men? An actual sense of being outcast and wanting to belong that is the core of mutant racism. Tokyo ESP is a lot of melonpan and explosions. I’m strangely okay with that. Those X-Men can be a bit too serious at times.
(The Ghostbusters cameo moved this show up a few spots for me. Ghostbusters vs. anime X-Men? Sign me up. Oh there’s also a really bad Steven Seagal rip-off as a bartender. So there is melonpan fanservice, old 1980 Hollywood fanservice, X-Men fanservice, and Ga-Rei fanservice… maybe this show is actually Fanservice: The Anime.)
(Passes Bechdel just because of the Ga-Rei fanservice scene at the very beginning involving Yomi and Kagura.)
#5. Free! Eternal Summer
“I’m going to make cold face of yours heat up.”
OH MY FUCKING RIN-SAMA!!! FUTURE FISH belongs in the pantheon of great Kyoto Animation EDs… who am I kidding? Move over Hare Hare Yukai, make some room Don’t Say Lazy, get lost Zzz, we have the greatest Kyoto Animation ED possible. I’m almost convinced (Fashion Czar is 100% convinced) that some animators at Kyoto doodled Policeman Rei thrusting, and then they built an entire music video off of that idea. (Hey! Let’s put all the Free! characters as their Village People counterparts!) And then they looked at their work, seem pleased, and then decided to throw some shit together for a second season of Free!. It’s basically more free manservice, and the plot is almost the same with new water pounder Sousuke taking up Rin’s antagonistic yet not so antagonistic role from the previous season. I get the feeling that Rin and Rei were the most popular characters from last season as they have expanded roles. Haruka and Makoto are basically cardboard cutouts (with abs) at this point. The show does do manservice well, and as Go likes to point out, “My brother has captain-class muscles.” Go is actually fantastic. I like her a lot more than the manager of the Karasuno volleyball squad. One day we need an anime manager tournament… oh who would I be kidding? Chidori would win.
Kyoto’s animation is still really good, but other studios, especially Bones and A-1, have caught up. They are still #1 though in the ridiculous ED music video department. I didn’t know Pharaoh Rin could be topped, but he was by Policeman Rin. I just hope one day Beyonce (or Weird Al) and Kyoto team up for a music video.
(in terms of necessary second seasons for Kyoto Animation franchises, from most needed to least, I would ranked them… Tomoyo After then Haruhi then Full Metal Panic then Nichijou then Hyouka then Tamako Market then Free! then in 15,531st place, Munto… with Chu2 bringing up the rear.)
“The power of childhood is terrifying!”
I am pleasantly surprised by Barakamon. At first, I thought it was about Barack Obama Pokemon, but it’s really a poor man’s Yotsuba! mixed in with some Dennis the Menace. That’s not a bad thing as Yotsuba! is fucking awesome, and anyone should be glad to be a poor man’s version of it. The little girl troublemaker, Naru, has the same free-spirited will, innocence, and curiosity of Yotsuba but mixed in with Dennis the Menace’s naughtiness and ability to stalk Mr. Wilson. Mr. Wilson in this case is Handa, the main character, who tries to hide on a remote rural island to rediscover his calligraphy, but he ends up instead the target of Naru. Mischief happens. Life occurs. The show is actually sweet, funny, and well-produced. The pacing is really superb as well as it’s not fast yet doesn’t slow to a crawl where you’re wondering, “Mmm, maybe I should check my Twitter.” I’m really liking it.
(The show starts off with Handa physically harming someone who can directly harm his career. Hey, it’s the same start as Space Bros and GTO! Punching a supervisor or customer might be the male self rediscovery genre’s version of the toast collision for harem anime.)
#3. Sword Art Online II
“What’s the difference between the virtual and real world?”
I haven’t read up to Gun Gale Online yet in Sword Art Online, so this is all new to me, and I’m enjoying it. If you enjoyed the first season or the books, then this show is for you. If you haven’t seen the first season, my gosh, what are you waiting for? Aincrad awaits. Though I’m mixed on Sinon as I know there’s a mandate to introduce a new haremette with every VRMMO that Kirito plays, but it’s getting ridiculous. He is approach Keima-levels of haremette hording. I also feel like the show has two sides, with the serious murder mystery VRMMO phase and the school life romantic comedy real life phase. Kinda like Persona 4. If another gaming studio wants to take a stab at making a SAO-based game, they should make it like Persona where there’s a dungeon crawling phase as well as a school phase. I think that format fits the show well. Other options: fighting game (though Asuna and Kirito are already in one) or Monument Valley-type puzzler staring Yui. Please no more crappy attempts at a budget MMO, creepy Oculus Rift demos where you stare at a sleeping Asuna, and trading card games. Please, stop it with the trading card games.
Some other random tidbits… the like nine hour standoff against Behemoth? And I thought WoW arenas were boring. Is GGO what a first person EVE should be? Who would play a shooter MMO that only has servers in the US? Wouldn’t pings be terrible? And wouldn’t it be overrun by US players spamming “༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ GIFF DESU GUN” and “GGO DISBAND KAPPA”? Why can’t you respec in GGO? That’s like a basic RPG thing… what is this, Path of Exile? Somy… Sany… RX100? Why wouldn’t the mom put Shinon in therapy after she heroically saves her life instead of shunning her like a leper?
(Also, when I read a rumor about “Is it wrong to try to pick up girls in a dungeon?” possibly getting an anime, I thought it was an article about SAO. I can’t wait for “I wiped our raid because I tried to sext raid leader-senpai when I should have been avoiding the lava on the floor instead” to be adapted into anime in 2018.)
#2. Terror in Resonance
Zankyou no Terror is the newest high production value show from Watanabe’s Mappa studio with music from Yoko Kanno. Kind of amazing that Watanabe went from years without making a show to having two airing right now, and Terror is on the opposite side of the spectrum as Dandy as you can get. And, yep, the show delivers. The plot is gripping, with seemingly competent players on both sides. It is interesting to have the high school boys be YouTube terrorists, and I have high hope for the reveal of their goal. The production values are very high (A-1, Mappa, and Kyoto sieging high ground for the production value throne), and Yoko Kanno’s music is excellent (she smartly avoided Space Dandy) as always. My only concern about the show is how Lisa fits into the show. She seems like an extraneous cog right now and just to have a “normal” person in the cast list of super terrorists and super cops. She could very well be the next Marina Ismail at this rate. But if she brings more to the show much like Saki in Eden of the East, Terror in Resonance will be one of the shows to watch for the year.
(I really like the accurate depiction of Tokyo. They got most the Met building right– I was like, “Hey! I remember visiting that gift shop!” The only slip-up really is that there’s a huge restaurant in the middle of the Met’s observation deck, and it is usually filled with Chinese and European tourists. Seeing school boys and girls inside it should have been a tip off that something is not right. I also don’t think you can jump from that part of the building where Lisa jumped and survive.)
(App phones, YouTube, and other modern technology used to good effect? What is this? 2014? I do like how most of the policemen have boring flip phones while the high school terrorists carry iPhones.)
A-1 Pictures, TROYCA
LET JUSTICE BE DONE, THOUGH THE HEAVENS FALL.
Everything about Aldnoah.Zero screams Code Geass. Let’s start with using a Latin legal phrase, “Fiat justitia ruat caelum” as the byline. Two, there’s this Mars nobility with their ultrapowerful mecha conquering Earth with their puny mecha (Britannia vs. everyone else). Three, there’s a misplaced princess. Four, there’s an Earthling trying to be a Martian knight, but he gets constant shit for being an Earthling (Spinzaku). Five, the mecha roller blade around. At least the Earthling ones do. The ultrapowerful gamebreaking Orlandu Cid Martian mecha just violate time and space. It’s worse than Gundam Wing and the beginning of Gundam 00. Six, the male protagonist is supposedly a combat genius who loves making omelets. Seven, the OP/ED gives away plot points. Now I’m just waiting for the thin plot to fall apart for point eight.
It’s weird to think that we discovered an alien artifact on Mars, and then fifteen years later, the Martians are invading Earth with ultrapowerful mecha. The math doesn’t seem right. The top cell phone in 1999 was one of those boring slab Nokia phones. The RAZR would seem futuristic in 1999. Yet, we’re somehow on Mars? And then in 15 years with warring with Mars, Windows Phone 8 develops? Would an iPhone let alone Windows Phone 8 have developed in this scenario? I don’t think Urobuchi or Takayama put enough thought into it. They were probably loading up on beer and chicken karage joking with A-1 about how they need to finally do a combat mecha series… and Aldnoah.Zero happens. I also don’t understand how the moon is destroyed, yet the earth is still liveable. If the moon is even partially destroyed, there will be enough debris raining down that we would find it tough to have a civilization on earth let alone LTE networks. The consequences of a moon explosion is probably better depicted in Cowboy Bebop.
To be fair, the series isn’t all on Urobuchi (getting flashbacks on how bad the space future part of Gargantia was). Katsuhiko Takayama is supposedly going to be the main scriptwriter (though Urobuchi has written the first two episodes thus far). This is Takayama’s resume: Baka to Test, ef, Mirai Nikki, Ga-Rei Zero & Tokyo ESP, Love Hina, Pani Poni Dash, and Boku no Piko. Not one combat mecha show. I don’t think we are getting the next great combat mecha anime. We may get the next Code Geass, which we desperately need. (Though I now am looking forward to Boku no Piko showing up on my MAL recommendations because of this show.)
That’s what I thought. But, damn, the show is superb. Animation and effects are suburb. A-1 is really bringing their A-game this season. It’s amazing how they are producing multiple high quality shows this season placing two in the top three.The pacing is fantastic, making you wish for the next episode. The world building, while it has flaws, seems to be a direct commentary on the ridiculousness of something like Code Geass. It almost seems like Urobuchi wants Aldnoah.Zero to be a twist on the traditional ultrapowerful combat mecha genre, much like how Kyubey is a twist on the typical magical girl familiar. He wants little guys beating up on the ultrapowerful mecha. He wants a non-useless princess. He wants characters to behave like they should. Can he and Takayama pull it off? We’ll see. Best case? We will end up with a highly entertaining sci-fi combat mecha show, something that has been lacking for a few seasons. Worst case? We get the next Code Geass. That’s a win-win scenario in my book.