First Impressions: Summer 2014 Anime

Summer 2014 anime are rolling in, which means it’s time to decide how right I was about some shows and realize how miserably wrong I was about others. Fortunately, I don’t pollute my blog with those abominable season previews (I recently wrote a post that tackles more generally why you can’t judge a show’s quality without having seen it), so you’ll never know exactly what I was expecting. Instead, you get my generally unfiltered thoughts on the new shows of the season, based on what’s actually aired.

That’s the way I like it, and that’s the way I’m gonna keep it. And anyone who doesn’t like it—you can talk with my new best girl Sakurai.

Not included, but will be watching: Terror in Tokyo, Tokyo ESP.

Rail Wars!

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First Impressions: Spring 2014 Anime

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.

poster6979

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A Guide to Introducing First Timers to Anime

I’ve seen this question, or variations of it pop up multiple times over in the Crunchyroll forums and elsewhere on the internet:

I like anime but my [mom, dad, girlfriend, friend, etc.] has never watched anime before. What should I show them?

Should You Show Them SAO?

Should You Show Them SAO?

My goal in this post is to lay out a number of anime in different genres in order to provide a two-wave guide on how to introduce someone new to the anime genre.

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Winter 2014 Midseason Report

While I’ve only been watching simulcasted anime for three seasons, the Winter 2014 season is probably the weakest I’ve seen. This is mostly due to a number of very inconsistent shows. I’ve seen batches of shows that were consistently excellent or consistently mediocre or consistently bad, but Winter 2014 has brought many shows that just can’t make up their mind if they want to be good, bad or just run-of-the-mill. It’s a frustrating phenomenon, which makes those shows that are consistently good much more valuable to us viewers. So, which shows are falling more on the good side than on the bad? Read on to find out. Here’s a hint:

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Top Anime of Summer 2013: What (and why) to Watch

This is a more detailed look at the best anime the summer 2013 season has to offer and why you should watch them. To see a brief summary of all the shows I previewed (the first 3 episodes), go here.

To see the midseason report on every show I’ve been watching during the summer 2013 seasons, go here.

#1. A Certain Scientific Railgun S (continuing from Spring 2013)

  • That’s right, Railgun S is the number one anime to watch this season, even passing the much adored AoT. Focusing on the Sister’s Arc from Misaka’s perspective, Railgun S holds a few advantages over the aforementioned Attack on Titan. Misaka HotelFirstly, Railgun S is building off a previous season, one that focused mainly on character building, rather than plot. That is not to say the first season was boring, for it certainly was not, but having that groundwork to stand on allows the show to connect you better to the characters. Railgun S, thus far, has done characters better than Attack on Titan, mixing in excellently animated action scenes with potent moments of human pain. Furthermore, the thematic discussion that the series engages on human cloning is one that is relevant to today’s world, a trait that can be hard to find in the midst of a fantasy setting. Misaka is a fantastic protagonist, who runs through the full gauntlet of human emotions as she struggles to bring an end to the inhumane experiment that oppresses her conscience. Combined with a lack of annoying fanservice and excellent OPs and EDs, A Certain Scientific Railgun S is the best anime of the season.

#2. Attack on Titan (continuing from Spring 2013)

  • Miku TitanNo surprise here, Attack on Titan is the obvious choice for the number two anime of the summer 2013 season. If you want quality production, Attack on Titan has it in spades. The animation, music and voice acting are all top notch. More importantly and more impressively, Attack on Titan spectacularly engages the human emotions and passions awakened in a desperate struggle for survival. Death is everywhere in this show, but unlike your typical shounen, Attack on Titan makes it clear that each of those lives was valuable. People aren’t thrown away in this show to die for the sake of the plot. When they die, whether it is in battle or because the government has sacrificed them to sustain itself and the upper classes, the tragedy is not dismissed. You will think after this show. It’s impossible to avoid. And it’s not for everyone. The Titans are terrifying, the animation doesn’t shy away from displaying blood, but none of it is overdone to the point of being gratuitous. I rank Attack on Titan behind Railgun S mainly for the characters. I’m not sure if it is due to the pacing (which can, incredibly, seem absurdly slow and blinding fast at the same time), but I still struggle to relate and connect with Eren, Mikasa and Armin. Perhaps that is simply because I am so detached from their circumstances that I cannot understand them. Regardless, if you can stomach the violence and bloodshed, watch Attack on Titan.

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Summer 2013 Anime Recommendations

The summer season of anime is upon us, and there are a lot of new shows to watch. But just because there is a glut of new, shiny things to observe doesn’t mean every show is worth your time to watch. Out of the spring season, I only ended up watching 4 shows all the way through, which honestly is probably a pretty good number. I want to share here a list of the new shows of which I intend to watch at least the first couple episodes, and my thoughts on which are worth your time to watch.

I feel like this show understands my life...

I feel like this show understands my life…

You may notice the omission of Free!, Watamoe, Recorder and Randsell, The Eccentric Family and a few other shows. Time is valuable, and none of those piqued my interest enough to make me want to watch an episode. I may take a look at R&R or TEF if I hear good things, but right now, this is my official testing list. (EDIT: I did pick up TEF, and added my first impression below.) It’s times like these that I curse myself for being too stingy to pay for the Crunchyroll premium membership. I’m a week behind with every show, but it’s cheaper this way. And cheaper is better.

I plan to post final yes/no verdicts after the 3rd episode of each show. 3 episodes is usually about 1/4 of the way through, and if a show hasn’t shown itself to be worth my time through the first quarter, I won’t have high hopes for it turning things around going forward.

Continuing from Spring 2013

  • Attack on Titan
    • To Watch, or Not to Watch: I plan to eventually write a review on episodes 7-13, but if you can tolerate the violence and blood, Attack on Titan is definitely a show you should be watching. It has great potential going into the next half of the show, and it will be interesting to see if the writers can capitalize on the thematic and emotional gold that I saw glimpses of in the first episode. Verdict: Watch.
  • A Certain Scientific Railgun S
    • To Watch, or Not to Watch: I’ve never divulged by thoughts on Railgun in this blog, but I really like the show, and it continues to impress with strong writing. Plus, with fripSide continuing to do the OPs, you could watch the show for those alone. Has less to prove to me than Attack on Titan; does characters a little better and it’s better paced. Verdict: Watch.misaka

New in Summer 2013

  • Servant x Service
    • To Watch, or Not to Watch: Easily a top contender for OP of the season. A fourth of the way through the show, and it’s still entertaining and some of the dynamics between characters are coming out. The third episode strayed a little bit, getting bogged down in the same stupid joke, but the character development was really nice. Should be a fun watch through the rest of the season. Final Verdict: Watch. Continue reading

What Anime Should I Watch? Anime Rankings by an Anime Newcomer

Updated rankings can be found here: https://reallifeanime.wordpress.com/ongoing-anime-rankings/

What anime should I watch next? This is a difficult question for anyone who has just finished an anime they really enjoyed, or for anyone who wants to try out anime for the first time. There are many anime reviews drifting around online, but it can be tough to wade through all of them. To help answer this question, I have created a list of anime, ranking them into three tiers. Consider them a list of anime recommendations, if you wish. I plan to eventually elaborate on my rankings, but for now, I hope that my qualifications and rankings will help you cut through the many anime reviews online and address the question: what anime should I watch?

Tier I Qualifications: Great characters, top-notch storytelling, compelling character relations, a potent human element and transcending themes. angel-beatsAll of these are uplifting in nature, at least by the end of the story. Furthermore, they all possess the ability to create an emotional reaction in the viewer, while simultaneously providing room for deep though. In short, they are anime that I would recommend to anyone solely on their virtues, although some I might give caution about for certain elements (such as blood, sexuality, etc.). Among the top 4 in the tier, I have no set ranking; they are essentially interchangeable depending on my mood at the time. The fifth is solidly set as the fifth-place show on the list.

TIER I

T1: Angel Beats! (2010)

T1: Sword Art Online (2012)

T1: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (2009-2010)

T1: Blast of Tempest (2012-2013)

2: A Certain Scientific Railgun (2009-ongoing)

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