Winter 2014 In Review (Part Two)

TWWK: Yesterday, Goldy and Japes started their review of Winter 2014’s anime. Today, our reviewing pair join together to judge shows that they both watched this past season.

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren

Love, Chunibyou & Other Delusions – Heart Throb -

Goldy – [8/10]

In the past, I’ve praised Kyoto Animation for creating love stories without going all out shoujo drama, and while they did an excellent job with season one of Chuuni, I had my worries about the second season.
Where could they possibly go with this? Thankfully, my fears were unfounded and the second season delivered a brilliant performance, including all the familiar characters facing their weaknesses and even including some new ones. I like to see characters grow in stories, moving forward despite knowing their faults.
The main story, the relationship between Yuuta and Rika progressed rather well from last season, I thought. It grew at their own pace, which in itself was a beautiful and heart warming thing. I think the two still have a long way to go in understanding each other better, but sometimes baby steps are better than nothing.
I’m a sucker for an excellent love story, though.

Japesland – [7/10]

It took me quite a while to decide what to score Chuunibyou this time around (I rated season one an 8/10), but ended up landing on the 7/10 that you can see above. While I love this series, including this season, I found it hard to rate it anything higher than a 7 considering how little it had to offer beyond what was in the first season. With the exception of a fantastic new character, Shichimiya Satone, the vast majority of the emotional buildup found in this season was also found in the first season. Don’t get me wrong, I loved both, but I was hoping to see either something new, or perhaps something at least a bit more progressive than what KyoAni had to offer us this time around.

With all of that said, however, season two has left me eagerly awaiting a (perhaps more fulfilling) season three. Like Goldy indicated above, baby steps are better than nothing, and KyoAni definitely did not give us nothing.

Inari Konkon, Koi Iroha.

Inari Konkon

Goldy – [6/10]

I watched this story for a romantic comedy and came out with endearing story about self esteem and friendship. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the unexpected surprise and the story and characters were absolutely adorable and sweet (especially Kon, the little fox!), but the story seemed to be trying to make up its mind where it wanted to go. Manga adaptations are always tough, thus this is probably just a case of failed potential. Perhaps it will get a second season and loose ends will be tied up better?
Despite my criticism, I enjoyed watching Inari Kon Kon each week with its endearing characters and silly adventures that Inari gets herself into. Don’t expect an epic, but it’s a great series to watch for its sweetness.

Japesland – [6/10]

Inari Kon Kon is probably one of the best examples of what I mentioned in my blurb on Witch Craft Works: “Anime Ending Syndrome”. With an atmosphere much like Ah! My Goddess (something I was grasping for the entire series and finally determined in the last few episodes), I thoroughly enjoyed the romantic comedy the series had to offer. With that said, however, it simply did a poor job of tying together loose ends. Much of this could be due to simply being an adaptation and existing with the implication that the viewer who wants the whole story should check the source material, but the anime on its own is simply too short. Too many characters are introduced with too many conflicts for a mere ten episodes to end it all satisfactorily.

HOWEVER, as I mentioned earlier, I still thoroughly enjoyed it. If you haven’t noticed by now in these mini-reviews, a 6/10 on my rating scale is not a negative score, as much as it is simply an indication of potential left under-used. If you are interested in a short, middle school romantic comedy that delves into Shinto and the supernatural to a minor degree, I highly recommend Inari Kon Kon.

Kill la Kill

Kill la Kill

Goldy – [7/10]

I believe I mentioned this previously, but Kill la Kill is a show I continually questioned myself on why I was watching it. Yet, week after week, I still watched it and even enjoyed it (most of the time).
It’s no secret Kill la Kill had many pros and cons and how each weighed differed from person to person, I think.
I had high hopes for the first full length series made by Trigger (who is made up of former members of Gainax who were in charge of making Gurren Lagann), yet after their mini episode of Little Witch Academia, Kill la Kill seemed like an odd turn in genre, but not in style. The wild animation style still remained and complimented the craziness of the series rather well.
The biggest flaw of Kill la Kill (besides the outfits, haaaaha) was the odd story flow. While the first 17 episodes were certainly still interesting to watch, I couldn’t help but tap my foot anxiously, wondering where the heck this all was going. Then suddenly, they drop a major bomb plot point in episode 18 and it all flies from there leaving us all to wonder what was the point of those first 17 episodes.
The biggest strength of Kill la Kill actually lies in its characters. Good characters are ones that have a goal; a drive; something that takes them forward no matter what and gives them a reason to live (or not). Every character in Kill la Kill had a reason to be where they were and act how they did.
I did enjoy watching Kill la Kill in the end, but because of the mature content, I cannot with a sound conscience recommend the series to anyone like I could for Noragami or even Space Dandy. It was a series fill with the ugly sides of human nature and only had one shining glimmer of hope hidden within.

Japesland – [3/10]

 

I’m going to steal Goldy’s wording here for a moment. Kill la Kill is a show I continually questioned myself on why I was watching it. Yet, week after week, I still watched it. Notice I omitted that last bit. As both a fan of Guren Lagann (7/10) and Little Witch Academia (8/10), I had rather high expectations for Kill la Kill. Perhaps that is why I hated it so much.

For the entire first two thirds of the series, I constantly found myself checking my watch, anticipating the end of the current episode. So much was happening on screen with so little rhyme or reason to it (gosh, I began to hate the use of the “sliding sprite” animation by the end) that I think I went into a state of action-overdose-driven-apathy. It wasn’t until about the two thirds mark that I actually started to care a little bit about what was happening on screen, but by then the show had already lost me. Although some creative writing and plot twists began to redeem the show in its final hour, the finale just reminded me of how many episodes in the first two thirds were, in my view, wastes of time. In a final confession, I must admit that Kill la Kill‘s style is simply not my cup of tea, so please don’t be offended by my negative opinion of it and, conversely, I won’t be offended if you enjoy it. Taste is subjective. With that in mind, I am of the staunch opinion that Kill la Kill was simply awful.

Mikakunin de Shinkoukei

Engaged to the Unidentified

Goldy – [8/10]

I remember thinking the premise of this show being kind of dumb, but what the hey, I’ll watch any first episode once! Mikakunin ended up being my favorite show of the season somehow. Firstly, each character (yes, even the somewhat creepy older sister) could stand alone quite well by themselves and while most of them were stereotypical character types, they didn’t seem overdone or even remind me of any other characters in other anime. Secondly, the story was not what I expected. Granted, I didn’t know what to expect, but the way they handled the situation of arranged marriage was good, I thought.
And this is just a really small thing, but the character of Hakuya was portrayed in a very interesting and cool way. He seemed like an emotionless dude with an emo haircut, but over time, we start seeing him as Kobeni learns to see him; with moments of happiness, gloom, and actually being capable of smiling!
The ending was slightly rushed, but after the outcome, I personally didn’t mind too much.
Mikakunin was a solid romantic comedy that expanded beyond the usual stereotypes in a creative and fun way. Despite its supernatural elements, I found the love story to be more realistic than most high school romcoms.

Japesland – [7/10]

Yet another show that I picked up for no real reason beside I simply wanted something to watch… but this one completely paid off! Unlike Goldy, once I start a series I am in it for the long haul (of the several hundred anime I’ve watched, the number I’ve dropped is in the single digits, and most are purely due to length). Thus, finding this rose in the thorn bush was that much more satisfying.

My rating of 7/10 might seem a bit low for something I just admitted to loving, but I rate it at that for only two reasons: the writing makes use of quite a number of overused anime romcom tropes, and it also suffered from “Anime Ending Syndrome”. However, I think if it had done a better job with the latter, I could have easily overlooked the former. With not much new to offer in a sea of anime romantic comedies, it is a little strange to see an anime like this actually succeeding, but that’s just what it did. With a captivating art style and stellar animation, each episode was a joy to watch simply from a visual standpoint. More than that, though, I absolutely adored the characters. Each character had a planned out personality that added something distinct to the dynamics present throughout, and the voice work did a wonderful job of complementing what was written for each of them. Stated simply, Engaged to the Unidentified is a prime example of anime utilizing what has been long considered “generic” to provide entertainment that is anything but.

Also, the OP and ED are absolutely adorable. They’ve been on my iPod Shuffle (yes, I use one of those) and I sometimes switch it over to repeat when one of them comes up.

Nisekoi (Still Airing…)

Nisekoi

Goldy – [?/10]

I’d probably still be watching Nisekoi even if it wasn’t made by Shaft, but man, they make it so great. Ever since discovering the manga in weekly JUMP, I’ve been wanting to see a Nisekoi anime and so far, it has lived up to my expectations. And while the love triangle plot is a super common one in romcoms, the canon couple still seems a mystery. That’s one of the charms of the show, though. Anything seems possible, for better or for worse.
I’ll hold off on any other thoughts I have and a rating until the end of the series. Look forward to that at the end of next season!

Japesland – [?/10]

Since Nisekoi is still airing, I will not be rating it and I will also be keeping my comments to a minimum. To be to the point, thus far, Nisekoi is wonderful. As Charles has pointed out on occasion, it is far from original, but it takes its cues from great romantic comedies to a new degree by combining them into something truly entertaining. One word of caution, though, is that if you do not like Shaft’s (the studio) very unique take on animation, you will absolutely not enjoy Nisekoi at all. Considering the fact that the Monogatari series is one of my favorite anime series of all-time, I am both quite used to and enamored with Shaft’s style of animation, so this was no issue to me (in fact, I probably have been enjoying it more than I would had it been done by a more conventional studio). Combining this unique animation with a solid story and cast has created a fulfilling first half to what will hopefully be something great by its end.

Tonari no Seki-kun

Tonari no Seki-kun: The Master of Killing Time

Goldy – [9/10]

Short episode series are usually fun and I try to ad them into my watching schedule when possible. Tonari no Seki-kun was no exception, especially since the PV for it looked brilliant. What I didn’t expect from this series was character development, yet it sneaked up on me and I somehow became quite endeared to the main characters (and the gundam family as well!). I feel like I would be exactly like Ruri if I had a Seki-kun sitting next to me during class; being both frustrated at Seki-kun for not taking school serious and being sucked into the distraction easily as well. It’s too easy to get distracted when you have a creative thinker sitting next to you!
Tonari no Seki-kun is definitely the most fun I’ve had watching a short episode series since Senyuu.

 

Japesland – [7/10]

Tonari no Seki-Kun was a surprise hit for me this season. When it comes to sub 20-minute anime, I am quite a skeptic. Even in terms of comedies, I have found the shorter the anime, the lower the quality (Ishida to Asakura and Wooser are two of my all-time least favorite anime). However, Tonari no Seki-Kun utilized its short length for its benefit. With only one consistently voiced character (Seki-Kun never actually says any coherent words or phrases, communicating solely with grunts and other noises, which adds to the humor), the cast is kept small, fitting the nature of the episode structure. While the gags are never anything deep or necessitating some deep knowledge of Japanese culture or other aspects of society, as with most referential comedies, the jokes fit their purpose quite well. In effect, Tonari no Seki-Kun is the perfect anime for taking a break. Whether you simply have a few minutes between classes, after work, or between anime, even, I can think of few better ways to chill and recharge than putting on an episode of this.

It’s also worth mentioning that its original 13-episode run got extended to 26 episodes. I’m not really sure when that happened, but I am all for it! I heartily recommend it and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

***********

Goldy: Thanks for reading the conclusion to my and Japesland’s winter season anime reviews! Onward towards spring and more warm weather and great anime!

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Posted on 04.04.2014, in Anime, Christianity and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Clinesterton Beademung

    Thank you both for your hard work! Gonna have to disagree with you about Kill La Kill, as I felt it pretty much redlined my Awesomeness Meter (patent pending) every episode. Still, to each his or her own! Enjoying this site immensely.

    Like

    • Thanks for reading!

      Like

    • What’s this? Someone who loved Kill la Kill! A rare bred!
      I enjoyed it more than Japes did for sure, but probably not for the awesomeness reason that you did (aside from the finale, which was pretty awesome). XD
      Thanks for reading! Glad you enjoyed our reviews. ^_^

      Like

      • What rare breed? Don’t you know we’re many? Long Live COVERS! Nyahaha :D

        To me Kill la Kill is probably like potent energy drink – sugary caffeinated liquid consumed for power boost, or the sensation of it. And it tastes a little bit awful, unlike Pina Colada. Also lacks delicacy unlike … Vodka Martini? But I don’t drink Red Bull looking for those stuffs, or fibers or other nutrients. :D

        I believe that many were confused because Kill la Kill seemed to include something more than sugar & caffeine in its formula. Say, ‘Avocado Extract Red Bull’. Once you realize that the extra bits are just there to make things fancier and not to be taken as reliable source of Vitamin C/ fibers/ Omega 3, you’ll start to look it as energy drink (Red Bull) instead expecting the properties of fresh juice (Avocado Extract).

        I might not have worded it good enough, but I hope you get what I’m trying to say. :)

        Btw, any of you guys watched Pupipo?

        Like

  2. I just watched Gundam Build Fighters’ Finale. Two thumbs up. It’s kind of sad to see it’s way under everyone’s radar due to being perceived as ‘kids’ show’.

    You guys might want to check it out – a ‘clean’ show with high production value. Oooh! Beam sabers! lol

    Like

    • It was hardly under the radar of its target audience. Considering how the gunpla are selling, I’d say they couldn’t be happier with its reception.

      Anyway, my opinion was it certainly had good production values, but they really shot themselves in the foot with all the unnecessary drama. I’m really scratching my head at why they felt the need to add in such poorly written drama when they already have a tried and true formula in the form of the OVAs. Aside from 2 or 3 of them, the battles were very cookie cutter and plain, especially once they start just winning every fight with a build knuckle >_> And then they throw in Master Gundam + Gouf combo attack in the last episode and it’s like why didn’t you give us more of this stuff earlier??? Sigh.

      Like

  1. Pingback: Spring 2014 Anime Season: First Impressions, Including Haikyuu, Black Bullet, and Captain Earth |

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