Spring 2014 Anime Season: First Impressions, Including Haikyuu, Black Bullet, and Captain Earth

Who says this season won’t be any good?

After a lackluster winter season (though Japes and Goldy found some bright spots in it), the spring is offering some really enjoyable series of it’s own.  Usually, I’m able to cull out all but 3-4 series immediately, focusing on just those, but this season promises to make it hard on me to decide which shows to watch!

Captain Earth

Earth Engine Impacter
Art by 狐憑き (Pixiv ID 42730014)

Well, I have to say – my curiosity is definitely piqued.  The first episode of this sci-fi series from BONES (and the creators of Star Driver) was thick with content, so much so that I swore I was watching something an hour long.  And yet, the episode never lost me.  I was almost beside myself with how much this series seemed to rely on excellent ones from the past, like Eureka 7 and RahXephon, but by the time it ended, Captain Earth had taken a host of familiar elements and offered something compelling – the feelings of adventure, which I find so rare in anime.

Verdict: I’m in!

Isshuukan Friends

One Week Friends
Art by coma (Pixiv ID 42777163)

Boy tries to make friends with girl.  Girl says no.  Boy works hard to become friends.  Girl befriends boy.  Girl forgets boy.  On Mondays, repeat.

With a storyline similar to 50 First Dates, Isshuukan Friends looks like it’s going to be a very emotional series.  It’s the only one I was really looking forward to this semester, and based on the first episode, I don’t expect to be disappointed.  I really enjoyed the art style, the characters, and the way the series is already hitting the right emotional notes.  I can’t wait to see episode two!

Verdict: I’m in!

Baby Steps

Eiichirō Maruo
Art by アガハリ (Pixiv ID 30281964)

Sports anime.  Check.  Romantic element.  Check.  Relateable protagonist.  Check.

Baby Steps starts us a year after the events of the series, showing our hero playing well in a tennis match.  Then the episodes moves back in time to show him as the overachiever who does his best at school without passion or meaning, only with discipline.  But meeting a beautiful girl and trying out her passion, tennis, is seemingly going to change him.  The first episode was a lot of fun – it hit all the right strokes (har har) without going overboard in any of the ways that would turn me off (see my discussion of the steely bodies in Haikyuu!!).

Verdict: Will be watching episode 2

Black Bullet

Enju Aihara
Art by ジョン (Pixiv ID 42804916)

The opening episode of this futuristic action-thriller was almost jarring as it jumped between an almost epic story to a silly romcom.  But it all kind of worked together well, matching the demeanor of the main character, who seems to be trying to develop in his own right, out of bitterness toward a more normal life.  That normal life, of course, includes an underage girl whom he protects (and who is in love with him).  This is anime, after all…

Verdict: Will be watching episode 2

Haikyuu!!

Art by 豚カツ (Pixiv ID 29958530)
Art by 豚カツ (Pixiv ID 29958530)

I did not expect a whole lot lot from this series, but found myself really enjoying the opening episode.  I haven’t watched more than maybe half a dozen sports series, so I don’t have a great feel for the conventions of such shows, but it looks like they’re in full force here, with volleyball taking the place of baseball.  The twist at the end of the episode feels Cross Game-ish (not to worry – it’s not that twist), and the main character is similar to Mihashi, but with far more confidence (and a little more gas).  Also, there was a really lovely montage showing our protagonist training and gaining his teammates.  I don’t like how the characters go crashing all over the court and rise like they’re DBZ characters, but otherwise, color me intrigued.

Verdict: Will be watching episode 2

Gokukoku no Brynhildr

A boy haunted by guilt from an event that led to the death of his childhood friend, Gokukoku no Brynhildr focuses on the mystery of a similar-looking girl, with her own strange past, coming into his life years later.  I can see this moody and dark series becoming something compelling and interesting, but it’s not up my alley.  As I’m want to do when I know I won’t be completing the series, I didn’t even finish the first episode.

Verdict: Nope

Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei

Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei
Art by SBS (Pixiv ID 33196796)

Also known as The Irregular at Magic High School, the concept of the series, featuring a brother and sister that attend Hogwarts a school for budding magicians, seemed fun to me.  But the first episode wasn’t so compelling – I didn’t find myself attached to any of the characters that were introduced.  And beyond that, it’s just hard to sell me on a series where the sister has romantic feelings for the brothers.

Verdict: Nope

Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii

Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii
Art by おおかわ (Pixiv ID 41839826)

I was really looking forward to a shoujo series, as I haven’t watched one in ages, and this one, also called The World is Still Beautiful, has a nice setup: a magical and spunky princess travels from one kingdom to a larger one to marry a prince, who she finds out is younger than her.  There should have been a sense of wonder to this show as it showed off the world of princes and princesses, but all I found was boredom.  Again, I didn’t complete the episode.

Verdict: Nope

Those are the opening episodes I’ve seen thus far.  I also have three more shows on my “To Watch” list for the season: Ping Pong, Mekakucity Actors, and Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin.

Of course, I’m not the only member of the team watching the new episodes – most of us have jumped right in, including R86.  Here are some of his recent tweets:

 

 

twitter 1d

twitter 1a

 

twitter 1b

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What about you?  What series have you enjoyed so far this season?  Which opening episode did you like best?

TWWK

Husband. Dad. Occasionally Korean. Enjoys Star Wars, ASOIAF, and Meg Ryan movies. Tweets before proofreading. Ghibli. Oregairuuuuu. Jesus is King.

4 thoughts on “Spring 2014 Anime Season: First Impressions, Including Haikyuu, Black Bullet, and Captain Earth

  1. So far, I think I’ve enjoyed Isshuukan Friends the most! I’m really looking forward to Ping Pong, though – I’ve watched the movie and it was great.

  2. I will say that after watching some of the premier episodes for this season, it’s not as bad as I thought. Well, the Japanese have no idea how to advertise their shows: if I had needed to decide whether or not to watch Rurouni Kenshin based solely on the preview, I would never have watched what is my all-time favorite show.

    It’s almost a shame that you won’t be watching Gokukoku no Brynhildr. From reading the manga, I’d say that Lynn Okamoto’s technique is leaps and bounds better than when he wrote Elfen Lied. Though it certainly can be dark, brooding, and gory, the anime’s first episode gives the impression that it will be an excellent adaptation of this sci-fi thriller.

    Besides the creepy relationship between brother and sister in Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei, the story is precisely mediocre. It’s something that one new to anime would enjoy, but someone who’s seen several scores of them would find trite. Though, I hear that the animation is gorgeous.

  3. I’ve been resisting this season’s anime for now, but I’m excited to start Baby Steps and Haikyuu!!. I haven’t seen a tennis anime since Prince of Tennis, and I haven’t seen any volleyball anime. These two look fairly different from one another, and I’m sure they’ll be good additions to my watching list. Hopefully they won’t disappoint. They look more interesting than Yowapeda, at least, and some of my favorite sports anime have come from the same studio as Haikyuu!! – Production I.G. Obviously, these are the hardest two anime to resist… especially after stopping by to read your first impressions.

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