Spring 2014 in Review (Part 1/3)

TWWK: Maybe because Japanese anime seasons are like nature’s seasons, four per year, they seem to fly by, with current ones ending before we know it and new ones beginning almost too soon.  It was the same with this spring season, which is quickly coming to a close.  As with the winter anime, two of our writers are ruminating on the season that was and giving their thoughts on it.  Today, Kaze and Japesland reflect back and review on series that only one or the other watched.  In parts two and three of their spring 2014 anime review, our anime aficionados will discuss and debate the series that they both watched.

So without further to do…

Kaze:

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JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders – [7/10]
JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken Stardust Crusaders

I marathoned the first season (parts 1+2) shortly before spring season began in anticipation for Stardust Crusaders. I was well aware of the series for years but never got into it as the length was intimidating. Having greatly enjoyed it so far, I was excited to see how part 3 would progress. While at the moment, it hasn’t been as exciting as previous parts as it has basically been “monster of the week” type progression, the fight scenes are still interesting as they are more tactical based than power based, and the animation has been superb. And since the season has been confirmed as 4 cours, there is still plenty of time for it to really get rolling.

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Knights of Sidonia – [6/10]
Sidonia no Kishi

Knights of Sidonia ended up being one of the better shows this season. Its sci-fi, from photosynthesizing humans to the mysterious aliens Gauna, was quite brilliant, as one would expect from Nihei, the author of Biomega and Blame. The CG was annoying and difficult to get used to, however. Also, while I enjoyed the show, the series suffered from being 1 cour in length – it was too short for any major developments to happen and also avoided jumping ahead to any exciting or plot-driven points, leaving viewers feeling like nothing really happened. But it seems that complaint may be unfair as a second season is already in the works, and I suspect the show will improve with a more overarching plot.

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Nanana’s Buried Treasure – [5/10]
Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin

Nanana is perhaps the show the I knew least about going in, so I’d like to believe I watched it with a fairly unbiased view. The show started out alright with some interesting characters but as soon as the “plot” began to develop, it took a nosedive toward mediocrity and worse. The “puzzles” were largely brute forced or solved in an instant by the self-proclaimed detective (fun fact: while one would expect her name Tensai to be written as 天才, meaning genius, it is written as 天災, meaning calamity or disaster). I later learned the anime cut out about 5 volumes worth of information, so without a doubt, the adaptation was a failure that leaves you with only vague references as to what is happening while throwing random excerpts from the novels at you. I would give this a lower score if it weren’t for Tensai and Nanana keeping me entertained.

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No Game No Life – [4/10]
No Game No Life

As it is one of the most popular shows of the season, I may get a lot of flak for this, but I found No Game No Life to be fairly terrible. No, I get it’s supposed to be dumb fun, but there are other ways to go about that than pretending everything is just as planned when really it comes down to things just short of dues ex machina developments. There is dumb fun where authors throw entertaining things at you without cares and then there is this where the author pretends he and his characters are smart. Basically, I would like it more if it was actually dumb fun instead of dumb fun hiding behind a facade of intelligence. It doesn’t help that I only found one character interesting – Jibril, who also happened to be voiced by best voice actress Yukarin. Thank you, Yukarin, saving anime since Kill la Kill. Finally, uncounted bonus points for giving birth to No Radio No Life, which was one very entertaining radio program.

 

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Japesland:

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Captain Earth – [4/10]
Captain Earth

I picked up Captain Earth almost halfway through the season at the behest of a good friend of mine whose tastes I trust more than any other. I am hardly a fan of mecha (eith the exception of Suisei no Gargantia and the Gunbuster series), so without that recommendation I likely would have never even considered starting it. Sadly, this is probably the one time I’ve felt this friend’s recommendation to be completely wrong (though, to be fair, he recommended it at episode two and would probably agree with me now). Though it’s not awful, it’s far from good. A convoluted story, poorly developed cast, and general lack of explanation or cohesion culminates in an icky mess of pretty pictures. GIANT ROBOTS AND MELODRAMATIC TEENS PILOTING THEM TO SAVE THE WORLD. Yup, that’s never happened in an anime before…

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Kamigami no Asobi – [3/10]
Kamigami no Asobi

Blah. Just BLAH! Otome (dating sims geared toward girls) rarely make good anime, and this was no exception. The characters were all poorly-written male (bishounen) archetypes, with very little personality beyond the generic exterior. Seeing high school versions of different mythologies’ gods just isn’t my thing, I suppose. Do yourself a favor and skip this one. Oh, but the Celtic-inspired soundtrack is sometimes pretty nice!

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Kiniro no Corda: Blue Sky – [4/10]
Kiniro no Corda: Blue Sky

Another otome adaptation I decided to pick up for no apparent reason at all. Seriously, I have no idea why I started this anime, much less finished it. Everything about it screams “generic” and “mediocre”. It’s main saving grace, and what keeps it from scoring as low as Kamigami no Asobi, is that much of the instrumental music featured in the anime as performances by the characters is actually quite good. This may be the only time I’ve ever watched an anime for the music alone, with all other aspects being quite obviously subpar.

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Kaze: I clearly have superior choices in anime viewing.

Japesland: Sadly, I can’t deny that… Really. Why did I even finish these?

Kaze: The real question is why did you even pick them up?

Japesland: Well there’s a good answer for that! You see, well… umm… it’s just that… yeah- uhh… nope, can’t think of anything. And two otome adaptations to boot! Honestly, what was I thinking…

Kaze: I actually have no response to that. *shakes head*

Japesland: …On that note, look forward to part two of our reviews tomorrow! I might actually sort of like something!

21 thoughts on “Spring 2014 in Review (Part 1/3)

  1. And I have the completely opposite view of No Game No Life: it’s a highly intelligent show hiding behind a facade of dumb fun. I don’t gather anywhere where the games came down to deus ex machinas; everything worked out in a meaningful way, based not only on the main characters’ plans, but also their trust in each other.

    It also has one of the best brother-sister pairs in anime, which is worth a lot in my book.

    1. I mean sure, everything went “as planned,” but the solutions are far fetched and generally rely on a number of factors outside the rules of the games, or lack thereof. The chess game was the worst – with essentially no actual rules, the author can basically write anything and it would “work.” The Othello match conveniently dodges showing what the game board actually is and just chalks it up to trust = win (for the record, I’m fine with the trust aspect). The fps game pretty much ignored most of the rules of the game that were initially explained (limited ammo, npcs chasing you, physical limitations of hikkis, etc.) and apparently they can dodge and run from someone who can break the laws of physics just as planned? I know that always happens in anime, which is why I don’t have a problem with it by itself, but I would hardly call that intelligent writing.

      Best pair in anime sounds like a stretch, but I admit the average is pretty down there if we’re limiting to main characters. Most of the good pairs I can think of are stuck in novels rather than anime or don’t get much focus in the anime.

    2. I pretty much agree with you, stardf29, although with less enthusiastic words. I felt like the “dumb fun” part often got in the way of an otherwise intelligent anime. Even if it’s faked intelligence, as Kaze suggests, it’s fun to watch the characters win and reveal their master plans.

      The sibling pair were what made this anime so enjoyable, mostly because of their skills as Blank, but also because they just… lived life well together. And by “well,” I mean as well as two game-addicted, codependent hikikomori can, of course.

      1. Oh, No Game No Life is icky in every way possible – the main two characters are a brother and sister who tried, but failed, to get along with society. And once they gave up, they fell completely – they are lazy bums, perverts, assholes, basically the very definition of human trash despite their great potential and talents.

        But in terms of brother-sister relationships, it’s a refreshing change in that the two are equals. They are both equally broken and equally dependent on each other, but each with complementary skills so that together they make one invincible whole. And they have unlimited trust in each other. There are plenty of series out there who slip in brother-sister fanservice through misunderstandings and ambiguous situations, but with the level of connection between Sora and Shiro, no misunderstanding is at all possible. If they end up in an ambiguous situation, you may be quite sure that it’s just one step in some grand scheme those two cooked up together.

  2. I’ve heard the complete opposite about Kamigami from just about everyone, lol. Quite a few of my male friends even liked it cause they thought it was different than the average reverse harem. I’m not into harems, even if the boys are pretty, so I wouldn’t know if it’s actually good or not everyone just says it is, lol.

    1. Well, I have seen a few reverse harems, and I can tell you that Kamigami does absolutely nothing out of the ordinary. If you like reverse harems, then I can understand enjoying Kamigami for what it is, but I am of the strong opinion that it was very weak even in comparison to its brethren.

    2. I LOVE a good harem series (or reverse harem). The problem is that I haven’t seen a good one in about a decade. -_-‘

  3. I enjoyed No Game no Life… or at least, I enjoyed the parts that weren’t ecchi (so about 1/3 of the show, it feels like). If it weren’t for all those parts, I’d probably give it 4/5 stars (maybe 3.5). I like intelligent characters… though that was probably the only thing I liked about any of the characters in this show.

    I tried an episode of Kamigami no Asobi, with a vague hope that I might get excited about it. I’m pretty sure I made it through the first episode, because I think I remember getting to the ED. So much for getting excited about it… I keep hoping for a good reverse harem to come out… or even another good, lighthearted shoujo anime.

    Eventually, I’ll try Kiniro no Corda: Blue Sky. I watched the prequel series a few years ago, and I liked that… granted, my tastes have evolved even in that short time. But I do still love classical music, so I’ll enjoy at least some of this anime, I’m sure.

    1. I mentioned this to Japes as well, but have you tried Hanasakeru Seishounen? The drama can get serious so I wouldn’t call it lighthearted, but it starts with a very cliched reverse harem premise and kind of utilizes that to progress what is actually good plot/political drama.

  4. I couldn’t really get into no game no life. It felt way too much like otaku wish fulfillment in the first few episodes, and I have had enough of super-gamester NEETS or hikkis.

    Nanana lost me with the twist to Juugo. I literally looked up and all of a sudden everything changed. I think then I knew that it would suck, and the way people complained about later episodes seems to have borne me out.

    Kami and Cordo weren’t bad, but otome game. You have to admit they were better than things like Amnesia.

    I tried captain earth, but honestly the penetration imagery with that brother and sister enemy team was like nope nope nope.

    It’s bad that I really didn’t get motivated to follow a lot of series to the end. Seemed like way too many of them pandered to a specific otaku type this season.

  5. NGNL… that show looks so awful (not only the annoying coloring, I’m speaking of the fanservice… and for what I have read and seen in articles, it seems to involve the little girl protagonist) that I didn’t watched it.

    Captain Earth, a good mecha design, and looked interesting but I dropped it because the fanservice and the two enemies,

    JoJo, I have read the first six parts of the manga. I was reading JoJolion (part 8), but dropped it, since they picked again a blasphemous plot element from part 7 (a part I’m not reading).

    The animation and overall quality improved a lot compared to the past adaptation of parts 1 and 2.

    I didn’t watched many series this season, too many otaku pandering shows.

      1. No, that0s part 6.

        But now that you mention it, that priest character was disturbing and unnecessary.

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