I know I’m late with this post, as the Spring 2014 season is already well underway, but I’m going to do it anyways, including everything I’ve watched to this point. My hiatus is over and I’ve got some big things in the works, but I have to get caught up on the current season first!
Pet Show of the Season: Hitsugi no Chaika
This was my pet show even before it started airing. The title, synopsis, character designs and overall feel were right up my alley and it was coming out of my favorite studio of all time, BONES. After making my way through the first two episodes, I’m totally charmed by everything about this show: the color palate, the magic systems, Chaika’s adorable-funny way of talking, her simple motivation of wanting to bury her father, the siblings (even though the imouto is a brocon, ugh…) and the overall feel of the show. I’m not expecting brilliance from Chaika, just a pleasant fantasy adventure with a good story.
Surprise of the Season: Haikyuu!!
I watched the first episode on a whim because I had heard good things and I was bored one day. Three episodes later and I am totally invested in the characters and the budding rivalry/friendship/teamwork thing that is growing between Kageyama and Hinata. I can’t help but root for Hinata as he strives to grow and prove himself, and the team themes that are already being spun out speak truth to my own experience of playing on sports teams. The production values are fantastic and I’m really looking forward to this show going forward. The wall between me and sports anime has been broken down (heh, I referenced the show without meaning to-I’m a genius!).
Just for Fun: Captain Earth, Is the Order a Rabbit?, Fairy Tail, The World is Still Beautiful, The Irregular at Magic High School, Soul Eater NOT
Captain Earth: I still don’t really understand what’s going on, but Captain Earth is super fun to watch. I keep hearing that it is “classic BONES,” which doesn’t mean much to me, but if this is classic BONES, I really do need to keep working through my favorite studio’s backlog. Things seems to be a bit jumbled at this point in the series, but there are numerous dynamics that are working here, and I’m always a fan of in media res over the long expositional set-up. It also looks like we might get two straightforward romances (Daichi x Hana, Akari x Teppei), which would be a welcomed changed from the typical love triangle.
Is the Order a Rabbit?: If not for Chaika, Gochuisa would definitely be my pet show for the season. Right in the vein of Kiniro Mosaic and Non Non Biyori, it’s nothing more than a smile-inducing moeblob, but I happen to love that junk. It’s like candy, and some of the visuals from White Fox are beautiful. Lize gives off a Sonia (Kill Me Baby) vibe and the restaurant has a floofy mascot that turns out to be an old man (much like the manager from Servant x Service). The dynamics are sure to grow a bit as more characters are introduced, but all in all Gochiusa is a refreshing bit of fun that brings the smiles and laughs.
Fairy Tail: I’m really happy this show is back. While I miss the days when I could sit down and watch ten episodes in a sitting and not run out, just having Fairy Tail back in my queue feels right. It’s unpretentious, high-energy and truly does promote the value of friendship and family. Throw in magic battles, and you’ve got a great shounen to watch every week.
The World is Still Beautiful: The first episode felt very Disney to me. The second and third were not so much, but were instead the sort of episodes that makes me buy into a show. There are a few moments that have been slightly overstated, but The World is Still Beautiful is refreshingly genuine, a true spring rain in the midst of a season filled with skeptical, cynical shows. The dynamic between Nike and Livi is splendidly multi-faceted: are they husband and wife, brother and sister, fellow royals? Whatever it is, the give and take between them is foundational to real love growing between them (romantic or otherwise), and that’s always something I will stick around to watch.
The Irregular at Magic High School: After the first episode, I was pretty certain this was going to be a drop. Then I watched the second episode and realized…this show is freaking hilarious. I pretty much laughed my way through the entire second episode; if this keeps up, Mahouka may very well be the funniest non-comedy I watch this season. This show takes itself so incredibly seriously, and line after line is laughter inducing. So, I’m keeping it and watching it for the laughs. Plus, it look absolutely fantastic.
Soul Eater Not: Bring on the haters; I thought that was a pretty good first episode considering what this show is. It’s definitely not Soul Eater (I’m sure that joke’s already worn out); however, I’m just grateful to be back in the world. It remains to be seen if the new characters can pull their own weight without heavies like Maka, Death the Kid and Blackstar around making cameos, but I’m going to enjoy the show on its own merits. It doesn’t look like it will be totally slice-of-life, but perhaps have some action mixed in ala The Devil is a Part-Timer!
Excelling Like Few Can: One Week Friends
Every week, a girl forgets all memories of those people she called her friends during the previous week. It’s a simple hook for a simple show. Much like Silver Spoon, One Week Friends is a plain, unabashed look at real people dealing with real problems. Sure, Fujimiya’s condition is unusual, but its effects and the subsequent interactions and relationships resulting from it are not at all. That’s the real genius to this show. It’s still early, but this is definitely one of the best of the season already and I suspect it will continue to produce beautiful moments. “Will you be my friend?” That’s not a question that will ever be worn out.
Odd, but Interesting: Mekaku City Actors, Brynhildr in the Darkness
Mekaku City Actors: After only two episodes, it’s kind of hard to make sense of the show at this point. It looks like we’re still in character introduction mode, which is fine by me as I have found it fairly interesting. I’m not sure at this point if it’s all style, or if there is substance behind the music and the pretty, pretty, pretty colors, but the show gives off good vibes and I think it has explosive potential to look at some truly compelling stuff. The big question is if SHAFT and whoever is writing this show chose to engage with themes. If they do, this could end up a very good show. If not, this could wind up dropped later.
Brynhildr in the Darkness: Brynhildr is a bit easier to understand than Mekaku, and it’s also probably the better show. It’s dark, violent and gripping, right from the first note of the lyric-less OP song. I’m definitely hooked three episodes in, and seeing where they can take this in 13 episodes is going to be a fascinating journey. I’m preparing to be disturbed, because it seems like things are just getting started. So far, there don’t seem to be any direct connections between the show and the Brynhildr of Norse mythology, but I’m interested to see if any of those references come into play.
Late Addition: Ping Pong
Pretty much unlike anything I’ve ever watched before, the cinematography, art style and story are all in a kind of impressive unity that makes this show a joy to watch. It brims with energy and every part of the show works to form a unified whole. I have big expectations for this show going forward, because it seems utterly unconcerned with maintaining the status quo or trying to be like anything else before it. It’s an impressive work so far, and I’m excited to see where it goes from here.
On the Bubble: Black Bullet, Selector Infected WIXOSS
Black Bullet: More lolis scampering about with super powers. This feels like Psycho-Pass (the partners) mixed with Attack on Titan (humanity boxed in) mixed with Yozakura Quartet (magic pillars preserving the peace) mixed with Guilty Crown (the epidemic). Of all those, I like YQ the best, but Black Bullet doesn’t really have any sort of charm to it. It just is what it is, and that’s kind of bland right now. Episode 3 was a step in a good direction, but I’m not sure it will pull me all the way through. The four episode test will be the way to go with this one, but I’m leaning more towards keeping than not right now.
Selector Infected WIXOSS: Three episodes in and, just like in Madoka, I don’t give a crap about the main character. All the characters so far have been pretty bland (and Hitoe is flat out annoying), but something in the show is working a bit. There were times WIXOSS felt like it was going off the rails, mostly when it tried to work in emotions. But there are still some interesting dynamics at play here still, like the relationship between LRIGs and Selectors, which aren’t as unified as they originally seemed, enough to keep me interested in the show as it goes forward.
Don’t Really Like, But Still Watching (For Now): No Game No Life
The color palate is harsh to my eyes, and Sora is such a raging jerk that he makes me physically ill at times. The whole show is pretty much devoid of anything I value in an anime, but I’m at least invested enough in the plot of humanity winning back a territory against other races that I’ll keep watching until I can’t stomach any more. The more Shiro the loli is allowed to do, the happier I’ll be, and if the show can stay away from the juvenile sex jokes that pervaded the second episode, I might actually end up somewhat enjoying this. But I’ll be annoyed at myself for doing so.
Carry Overs: Tonari no Seki-kun, Nisekoi
Tonari no Seki-kun: It’s the same every week in the best way possible: laughter abounds and Seki-kun still reigns as the best pure comedy I have ever seen come out of the anime medium. I’m not sure what Seki-kun is doing could really work as anything but anime, and I’m ever so glad that I’ve had the privilege to see this show. Should be on everyone’s list of anime comedies to show non-anime watchers.
Nisekoi: Like Seki-kun, Nisekoi is a well-oiled formula and I’m totally on board. I won’t say it’s everything I hope for in an anime, but it’s certainly everything I hope for from this sort of anime. It looks pretty, it’s more funny than not and Chitoge is best girl. It’s proof that presentation can do a lot for source material that is slightly above average and proof that good facial expressions can really enhance a show. Marika has not been a good addition thus far, keeping with the slightly inconsistent trend of the show.
Kamigami no Asobi: (1 episode) While I found the first episode hilarious for obvious reasons, reverse harems (and most harems in general) aren’t my thing, so it’s a drop.
Nanana’s Buried Treasure: (1.5 episodes) I thought there were enough twists to the formula to lift the show above the fanservice, but then episode two turned into another deluge of unlikable tropes. I actually did want to like this show, but I just couldn’t handle anymore maid fetishes with stupid punch lines. Also, WHY IS HANA KANAZAWA PLAYING A TRAP???
Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou: (1 episode) Despite the fantastic art, I just couldn’t motivate myself to come back to the show after the first episode. Might end up checking it out sometime when I’m bored, but I doubt it.
It may seem odd in a season as strong as this, but I’m following fewer simulcasts this spring than I have in any other season prior. Hopefully this will clear up some time for me to get around to clearing out at least a few shows from my backlog.