Fall 2014 Season - First Impressions

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I am watching a lot of anime this season. 2014 has had some good anime, but has been kinda light on great anime. However, fall season is set to end this year on a high note, with plenty of potential on top of several sequels to popular shows.

So, without further ado, here are some remarks on the (way too many) shows I am currently watching. Considering there are so many, I will probably be quick to drop shows in the next few weeks (there are already two casualties that aren't discussed below: World Trigger and Trinity Seven).

 

Amagi Brilliant Park

In one word: KyoAni

In more than one word: Somehow Kyoto Animation gets a pass on doing things that other studios wouldn't - things like harem tropes or ass shots, for instance. However, I'll be fair here and say that it did manage to keep me at least marginally interested, and I want to see where they are going with this and despite my rocky relationship with this studio, they definitely put out quality products that have their fan bases.

Verdict: On the theme park fence.

 

Cross Ange

In one word: EVIL!!!

In more than one word: Every season there is a show you aren't allowed to like. Sword Art Online, Valvrave, and Mahouka all once held this title, but Cross Ange is shaping up to be the most taboo show in a quite a while. If you like this one, prepare to lose your friends, family, and job, and end up on the street selling your body to buy Ange figmas. Seriously, though – it's not that bad, just really trashy. I just don't think edgy content mixes well with ecchi sexualization in anime, and it can often feel exploitative and creepy. At least there was some narrative purpose to the sexual humiliation of Angelise, which was to depict her utter fall from grace to being worth less than nothing, and to create a violent contrast between the prosperous and idyllic lives of the "regular people" and the cruel, inhuman, abusive lives of the Normas. I just found the execution too titillating, which contradicted the supposed emotional content of those scenes. Plus then it just got silly in episode 2. But that also made me curious to see what else they will do.

Verdict: I have to keep watching to see what they do next. I just hope it is heavy on the Dragon vs. mecha action and light on the sexual assault scenes.

 

Fate/Stay Night – Unlimited Blade Works

In one word: ufotable

In more than one word: Finally ufotable gets around to making F/SN, supposedly serving as a proper sequel to Fate/Zero. I've seen some discussion on whether or not they will retcon the VNs, but since I haven't played them and only know the Deen anime show and UBW movie, I don't really care. The show launched with two 1-hour episodes dealing with the different perspectives of Rin and Shiro. The look is amazing and the small amount of action we have seen so far has been epic. Really excited to finally have this franchise in such capable hands. I know people wanted the Heaven's Feel route, but apparently we are getting that too in a form of a movie (movies?). It's all still pretty mysterious, and I have a feeling that as this show rolls on, what they did might clue us in.

Verdict: Trace on.

 

Garo

In one word: MAPPA

In more than one word: While the CG Samurai suits are a bit at odds with the rest of the show, the look and vibe are interesting enough to keep me engaged. I know nothing about the Garo franchise, but the atmosphere and action are intriguing. But with so much competition, it will have to actively stand out. This season is too stacked for shows to be able to coast, but something about this feels encouraging. Perhaps it is the involvement of MAPPA, which has become a name that I love to see attached to shows (more on that later).

Verdict: Tentative keeper.

 

Grisaia no Kajitsu

In one word: Tropes!

In more than one word: This one is a real mystery. Initially I was really put off by the abundance of tropes – seriously, this is like an anime tropes grocery list. However, it seems to be trolling. First off, the VN it is based on is incredibly popular and rates higher than ones that I know to be superb; and second, there are hints that the façade of a very (very) standard school setting is just a cover for something else. Kind of like Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, for instance. Thus far, the sense that this is all misdirection is keeping me interested, but that probably won't last long if this isn't going anywhere.

Verdict: Enough with the panty shots already.

 

Gundam Build Fighters Try

In one word: Gunpla!

In more than one word: More kids fighting with Gunpla. What's not to like? This offshoot of the Gundam franchise is very well animated and just fun. I really like how everything revolves around the notion that Gunpla is serious business. They pursue this idea to the nth degree, and the results are actually really fun.

Verdict: If you liked the first season, then definitely check it out.


Histugi no Chaika: Avenging Battle

In one word: Chaika!

In more than one word: More of the same Chaika goodness. I just wish this second season wasn't so woefully short. But the combination of Bones production values and one of the most memorable characters in recent memory definitely came together to make something a lot of people seem to like.

Verdict: Watch! Enjoy!

 

Gundam Reconguista in G

In one word: Classic.

In more than one word: One of the most interesting shows thus far this season. A new iteration of the Gundam franchise taking place hundreds of years after the Universal Century. As a Gundam novice myself, I obviously miss many of the subtle references, but the designs (same character designer as Eureka Seven) and animation are stellar, and they really went all-out trying to make it feel old school (down to things like sound design, musical choices, and voice over work). Sometimes I forget I am not watching a show from the 1980s. Despite the setting still being a little confusing after three episodes, it has been so good that I don't care.

Verdict: Kick line.

 

Inou Battle

In one word: Trigger

In more than one word: Studio Trigger's follow-up to fan favorite Kill la Kill. I am kind of surprised Trigger went for a Light Novel adaptation, but it pays the bills. Not much to say about this one yet. Feels kinda standard, but I am hoping Trigger can inject a little of their joie de vivre into it. There have already been a couple of hints of that, but time will tell.

Verdict: Trigger warning.

 

Kiseijuu (Parasyte)

In one word: Eeewww...

In more than one word: This show creeped me out in the best way possible. Certainly inspired by The Thing (one of my all-time favorite horror movies) and the idea of shapeshifting parasitic aliens (or something of that sort) and featuring the great voice work of Aya Hirano, as well as some nice production values and a great initial presentation. One thing that stood out immediately is the superb sound design. Migi's squirming and twisting and shifting all sound appropriately gross, but not so bad that it is off-putting. Certainly curious to see what they do with this concept.

Verdict: This show is weird as hell, and that's definitely a good thing.

 

Log Horizon 2

In one word: Akatsuki.

In more than one word: Currently in the capable hands of Studio Deen (I threw up in my mouth a little just typing that), Log Horizon is back for season 2 and has two main hurdles to overcome: 1. The aforementioned "capable" studio; and 2. The fact that it has half as much material to cover in as many episodes. However, the first season was so strong that I will be extremely surprised if it crashes and burns.

Verdict: Database, database, still living in the database, wo oh!

 

Nanatsu no Taizai (Seven Deadly Sins)

In one word: Shounen.

In more than one word: Another surprising show this season. An action-adventure shounen fantasy show that appears to be full of insane displays of power, nice colorful art and animation, and could be really fun. I'd definitely give this a peek if you liked such shows as Pandora Hearts, FMA, or Hunter x Hunter.

Verdict: Something about this really grabbed me. And yes, that's a double entendre joke because he's always grabbing her boobs. Please don't tweet my boss and ask him to fire me.

 

Psycho-Pass 2

In one word: Shinya?

In more than one word: Initially I didn't fall in love with Psycho-Pass, but I rewatched it before this season started and I think I was a bit hard on it the first time. Despite not being genius, it definitely established an interesting world and did some cool things with it. It remains to be seen how this franchise will be handled in different hands and by a different studio, but the first episode already established a new dynamic and reality that felt promising. Akane continues to be a really interesting and layered character, and she appears to have developed and matured a lot in the 18 months that have passed (in world) since season 1 ended.

Verdict: Shinya?

 

Selector Spread WIXOSS

In one word: Madokada.

In more than one word: The second cour of the dark card game anime written by Mari Okada. I have always been a fan of the stark contrast between cutesy moe and disturbing content, and Okada definitely delivers that here. Again, since this is another sequel, there isn't much to say to those who didn't watch or didn't enjoy season 1.

Verdict: BATTORU!

 

Shingeki no Bahamut – Genesis (Rage of Bahamut)

In one word: AWESOME.

In more than one word: This is the mack daddy, folks. The one nobody saw coming. Based on a card game that nobody knows, Bahamut Genesis explodes out of the gate with perhaps the best presentation I have seen in a few years. The epic scale of adventure, the cinematic production values, the interesting and unique characters and art – it's all here and in spades. The fact that no one was expecting it makes this a real treat. Compared to something like the ufotable Fate/Stay Night, which everyone assumed would be a slick, professional adaptation, Bahamut Genesis is the dark horse that came out of nowhere. I seriously cannot recommend this enough and I sincerely hope it maintains this level of awesome throughout.

Verdict: Provisional AOTS. I really can't think of a single bad thing about it thus far. Even the OP and ED are both amazing.

 

Sora no Method

In one word: Feels.

In more than one word: Sora no Method looks to be the spiritual successor of Nagi no Asukara, after the crushing disappointment that was Glasslip failed to deliver. The first two episodes were very nicely executed and hint at some good drama to come. This isn't the type of show I could recommend to anyone, but if this is your thing, I think you'll probably enjoy it.

Verdict: If you enjoyed Nagi no Asukara and its ilk, definitely check it out.

 

Terra Formars

In one word: Censorship.

In more than one word: If it wasn't for Cross Ange, this is the show you wouldn't have been allowed to like. I guess it's racist or something (it isn't). My one huge problem with this show thus far is that it is heavily censored but appears to hang its hat on the graphic violence, so what we get feels like a fairly bland product. I hear tell that it will run uncensored on Crunchyroll at some point. Perhaps it would be better to wait until then. Overall it feels very ham-fisted in a way that only anime can (German guy named Adolf? That's so Westaboo), but at least uncensored it could probably be a fun splatterfest. Also I am told it gets better later.

Verdict: Somebody get me a can of roach spray.