Spring 2014 in Review (Part 2/3)

TWWK: Yesterday, Japesland and Kaze provided their thoughts on some of this past season’s series (Note that Japesland didn’t give any of the shows he reviewed more than a 4/10!  Tough grader.).  Today, the two start dissecting spring 2014 anime series that they both watched.  On tap today: Brynhildr in the Darkness, Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to, The Irregular at Magic High School, Is the Order a Rabbit?, The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behavior, and the Little Busters!: EX OVA. Come back tomorrow to see our bloggers complete their series reviews.

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Brynhildr in the Darkness
Gokukoku no Brynhildr

Kaze – [4/10]

I had heard Brynhildr was pretty bad, and coming from the same author as Elfen Lied, I wasn’t expecting much. I was expecting it to be bad, but oh did it manage to prove me wrong and be even worse than I imagined. It started out a little interesting, but let’s be honest, most things are best at their initial premise. It quickly became something akin to a supernatural girl harem as each new girl was introduced and subsequently joined the party after eye-rolling drama. The plot was a mess as they threw hints toward “something” and in the end, decided to add in several extra plot twists and magic coincidences that I was actually amazed at how bad it was. I was going to give it a 3, but then I watched the finale, and it got even worse, that it reached the level of true comedy. That horrible, ridiculous, nonsensical…thing… made me feel like it was actually worth my time watching just to laugh at how absurd it got so fast. 4/10. That was one amazing ending.

Japesland – [3/10]

Brynhildr was a very unfortunate addition to this anime season. Like Kaze, I’m also not a terribly huge fan of Elfen Lied, but I know so many people who love either the manga, anime, or both, that I felt another entry from the same author had the potential to be something great. The first few episodes were not fantastic, to be sure, but they were at least average and promised for some great plot twists in the future (for this reason, toward the beginning, I recommended the series to a friend of mine who absolutely adores Elfen Lied). That went downhill quickly, though, and by the last episode it was obvious that they had not received the go-ahead to produce any more seasons and they had to wrap up the series within a few episodes. Solution: Consolidate 80+ chapters of manga in about two or so episodes. Needless to say, pretty awful.

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The Comic Artist and His Assistants
Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to

Japesland – [3/10]

I like to think I have a relatively high tolerance when it comes to questionable content in anime, at least speaking in comparison to many Christian viewers. However, just because I am able to “tolerate” something does not mean, in any way, shape, or form, that I have to like it. This anime is a perfect example of that. With occasional nuggets of hilarity, and some rather engaging characters, Mangaka-san had the potential to be at least decent, but it dashes all of that when it decided to focus on some of the stranger lewd gags I’ve seen. Couple this with its short episode length, and I just felt confused after every episode. Confused, not because I didn’t understand what was happening (the story is extremely straight-forward), but confused because I was trying to figure out what the writer was smoking when he wrote the situations.

Kaze – [5/10]

Unlike Japes, I don’t like to think about how high my tolerance towards questionable content has become. I’m somewhat conflicted on how to review this “objectively” (or, as objective as one can be with inevitable subjective bias, which is how I prefer to review things), I didn’t think the anime was all that bad. The problem is that as a comedy, the jokes stem largely, or perhaps solely, from perverted situations or dialogue. I have to give credit that the jokes were executed well, in the context of what they were, and the casting of Hayamin as Ashisu really worked. But then again, this is a Christian blog so maybe I should let my spiritual bias roam freely and drop the score to a 4 or 3. I can say I would never recommend this to a Christian friend. So while it may be a comedy of lewd proportions, it still manages to maintain a level of interest that other anime of a similar vein fail to do, assuming you aren’t put off by the extremities it tends to go, which is of course a major problem for Christians.

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The Irregular at Magic High School
Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei

Kaze – [3/10]

I’m sorry for being a terrible person, but the only reason I picked this up was to laugh at how bad it is. As a story which panders to otaku even more than SAO, there’s really not anything I can like about the show. It’s not the worst thing out there – it looks nice, has decent music, and at least the story doesn’t trip over itself. But in the end, it comes down to a genius high school MC who single-handedly fights off terrorist organizations with his overpowered brocon imouto all while increasing his harem.

Japesland – [5/10]

Well. Like most anime I watch, I just picked this one out randomly, so I didn’t have Kaze’s advantage of knowing what I was getting into. Although I seem to have disliked it slightly less than he, my thoughts are essentially a more gracious (by two points) copy of his. I suppose the main difference in my opinion is that I liked many of the individual parts (e.g. the animation and music) enough to actually enjoy watching it to an extent. I would hardly call it “good” though… Since we are only actually halfway through the season, I will remain cautiously optimistic, and perhaps adjust my score later.

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Is the Order a Rabbit?
Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka?

Japesland – [7/10]

With the exception of an anime we will be reviewing tomorrow, this was easily my favorite of the season. Although it’s quite rare for me to adore a shameless slife of life moe series as much as I did this one, I’ve always been at least a moderate fan of the genre. With a rather similar to feel (at least in some regards) to one of my other favorites, Aria, it was difficult for me not to like it. However, unlike Aria, Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka? did not seem to lead anywhere, some minor character developments notwithstanding. What Aria had that this lacked was, despite a distinct, peaceful, slice of life feel, any sort of overall progression. By the end, you felt as though the characters were nearly where they started, albeit better friends, but there was no sense of closure (heck, one of the biggest plot-based questions was never even explained nor truly even addressed!). I say all of this graciously, however, with the knowledge that the series was not intended to provide a deep sort of experience. Thus, while I truly loved Gochuumon, I cannot score it any higher than a seven (a good score in and of itself, and perhaps leaning toward a 7.5).

Kaze – [7/10]

Gochuumon was anything but unique: a moe slice of life using a tried and true formula of cute girls doing cute things. As such, while it might take something special to truly stand out, it’s a little hard for these types of anime to be straight up bad. It ended up being slightly above average, as far as these moe shows go. The girls each had different traits which could make them appeal to different tastes but all maintaining some moderate level of cuteness in a simple everyday lifestyle, which honestly sounds incredibly generic, and it is. But perhaps the reason I enjoyed it so much was because it doesn’t try to be anything more; it understands what the strengths of moe slice of life are and doesn’t force any extra comedy or even worse, drama. In the end, it manages to accomplish exactly what it advertises it will do, even if there are plenty of anime which do the same. In contrast to Japes, I would lean toward a 6.5, only because, as I’ve been emphasizing, there isn’t anything particularly special about it.

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The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behavior
Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou

Kaze – [5/10]

During that period of seeing 2-3 episodes of most shows, I might have been most interested in Kawaisou. Putting aside the question of why there are so many light beams, the characters all had some interesting quirks, there seemed to be a potential avenue for romance, and a book senpai voiced by Hanakana has a history of being well above average. However, it just didn’t progress very well. One major gripe is that the supporting characters were far too flat and got too much screen time. Their jokes which entertained at first grew increasingly tiresome but the anime just kept showing their repeated antics. I really enjoyed how the 2 MCs interacted and how they developed but those few great moments came at the cost of much boredom from the other scenes.

Japesland – [6/10]

I think the best word to describe Kawaisou is “normal”. This is a bit ironic, because the cast of characters is anything but, and this is constantly addressed in the anime itself. As well as I felt the characters played off each other, and as funny as many episodes were, everything still simply felt very average by the time it was all over. There were no surprising plot twists, nor developments that no other high school comedy anime have not done before. I rate is slightly above average because I truly did look forward to it every week, but at the end of the day there was simply nothing that made Kawaisou stand out among its counterparts.

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Little Busters!: EX – (OVA Series/Ongoing)
Little Busters!: EX

Japesland – [N/A]

I briefly touched on EX in our last season review, and my thoughts are essentially unchanged. At the time of writing, I have still only seen five episodes of eight to be released in the bluray volumes of Refrain, but all of it has thus far been quite enjoyable. It is obvious that they are trimming entire VN routes into a matter of a few episodes, which has seemed to harm the pacing and story progression to an extent (the first route was four episodes and felt a little bit like this, so it will be interesting to see how they tackle both other arcs with two episodes each). This aside, though, and with the knowledge that this is not a stand-alone anime but a bonus tie-in packed in with the bluray volumes, it has been a joy to watch. Although the Little Busters anime was somewhat lacking, though not bad, I adore the cast and am always up for more content featuring them!

Kaze – [N/A]

Since I haven’t actually read the VN for this, I suppose my opinion of EX will be far less biased compared to my thoughts on the main series. As Japes mentions, it is still not completely released, but at least the Saya route has finished. For those unaware, Saya is incredibly popular among the Japanese community – so popular, in fact, that the anime included the most subtle cameos of her across the entire main series yet people still managed to find that one strand of hair. Anyway, while I wouldn’t be the least surprised to be told these routes were butchered in terms of plot, I’ve been enjoying it. Saya was a fun character, more than most of the LB heroines, and while I don’t expect to enjoy Sasasasasasami as much, I do look forward to Kanata.

***********

Japesland: If someone were to only read this page of the review, they might think we both hate anime… huh, Kaze?

Kaze: We totally hate anime, but apparently we love cute girls doing cute things.

Japesland: That’s something I can get behind.

Kaze: Go watch Non Non Biyori then.

Japesland: Stop adding to my never-ending list. You’re the one telling me to read more visual novels! At least we can both agree, though, that “cuteness is justice!”. On a side note, Charles mentioned in the introduction that, based on yesterday, I was a pretty tough grader. I think that may be true, but I think I also excel at finding terrible anime.

Kaze: Maybe you only have such a long backlog because you pick out all those terrible anime! I joke…sorta.

Japesland: ;-; <— *Crying Face*

Kaze: As Japes is busy contemplating the value of his anime viewing decisions, look forward to the final part of our harsh and critical review of Spring 2014!

13 thoughts on “Spring 2014 in Review (Part 2/3)

  1. I liked Kawai complex more than you guys. It’s funny you mention how normal it is, because that was one of its strongest points. I liked the side characters a bit more, but yeah some like Shiro and the grandmother were underdeveloped.

    Is the order a rabbit? I had the same issue with Kirino Mosaic and One Week Friends. It felt like it wanted to be too cute, and with me it kind of crossed the threshold of cute/saccharine.

    1. I thought Kawai complex was 8/10 quality early on, but ended up being a waste of potential. I liked Gochiusa considerably more, and had it at an 8/10 up until the last couple episodes when I felt that it did the same thing. However, I’m more partial to cute girls doing cute things than high school romcom. 😛

  2. The only show here that I liked was Gochiusa. While all the girls are just a rehash of past cute girls from cute girl shows they were still adorable and it was a nice comfy watch. It got kind of boring for me though, so it’s really only a 6/10 for me. I refused to touch Mahouka though. Really not into that whole wish-fulfillment otaku stuff. Anything else didn’t really catch my interest so eh.

      1. I actually thought it was a pretty good season, I usually watch maybe 1 show a season, but spring I found 4. Summer is way better though. Anyway, I’m interested to see what you guys enjoyed this past season!

  3. I hope the summer season is better… and that it could include a moé slice of life without shoujo-ai!

  4. I thought Gochiusa was actually pretty good with its developments; I was afraid that Syaro’s true financial status would remain a secret from the other girls all season, for one, and the growing sisterly bond between Chino and Cocoa was a big highlight of the show. (It’s definitely no Aria, but then again, Aria is perfection in anime form, so…)

    Of course, all this is to say that I think you have demonstrated quite well why I like these cute girls shows so much; when there’s so many anime out there of questionable and inconsistent quality, having a type of show that is consistently enjoyable is a very important thing indeed. 😛

    I have various reasons for liking Kawaisou a lot. Annalyn gave one of the big reasons for that in her recent blog post: http://annalynspot.blogspot.com/2014/07/an-introverts-guide-to-boundaries-and.html

    And Japes, I do think your grading is a bit on the harsh side, in that if I felt the same way you felt about these shows, the score I would have given would be one point higher across the board. But then again, they’re really just numbers, so as long as the reasonings are there, they don’t matter as much. Can’t really help you with your tendency to find bad anime, though. 😛

    1. I’ve been told that about my scoring before. My issue is that I used to have what I consider to be an “inflated” rating system, but I discovered that many anime ended up sharing a score that I felt deserved slightly different scores. After that I did a complete reset and re-scored all couple hundred anime I had watched up until that point.

      I now use 5/10 as a baseline, all around average anime. Some of my 5/10s I actually liked, I just felt were mediocre. That said, I only consider something truly poor if it is scored below 5/10, and the 6/10 that many people consider poor, is actually slightly above average (e.g. Kawaisou). I thought about raising the scores on some of my 6s and 7s, but then realized that my 9s would need to go up to 10s, and I’m not quite willing to give up that empty 10 spot on my list. I know there is some anime out there that I will find some day and give a 10/10, but I haven’t found it yet, and I don’t feel that any of my 9s quite deserve it.

      Yeah, what usually ends up happening is I just pick a bunch of random anime airing on Crunchyroll (I try to make the most of my subscription and support the industry as best I can by boosting view counts, which is what funds the publishers, and it is also the most convenient source of watching anime without ads while at university). Once I pick out a bunch, unlike most people, I stick through them. I don’t watch a couple episodes as a preview to check whether it’s worth finishing. Most of the time this means I watch a lot of crap, but every once in a while it means I finish something that started slow but ended with wonderful execution.

      That said, that also means that when people recommend anime, they get added to my list as an addition instead of replacing a poorer anime that I’m already watching. By the end of the season, I may have started at 6-7 anime, but I’ll end up watching 12-16.

  5. Just saw the first episode of Kawai complex, pretty good, but yeah, if it’s like that for 12 episodes…might get a little boring. Thanks for the reviews, you guys are tough!

    1. I liked watching through it as it aired, but it’s not something I would come back and revisit. There are plenty of other finished anime much more worth your time, though I wouldn’t consider watching it a waste.

  6. Yeah, the difference between in quality between the manga of Gokukoku no Brynhildr and its anime is staggering. I Could not help rating it 4/10 myself. The amusing thing is that this is the second Lynn Okamoto work to get an inferior anime adaptation.

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