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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spring 2014 Anime First Impressions: Part 2

Black Bullet:  This show started with a variety of really annoying tropes that tend to show up in anime -- non-sentient world menaces, a cold-blooded badass, a girl who keeps throwing herself at a guy even after being rejected, a guy who rejects a perfectly good girl even though she's throwing herself at him, a girl with absolutely no manners being put up with because she's a mad scientist, etc.  Everything was a bad trope from some previous bad series.  I was already ready to give up, but the second half of the episode was much, much better than the first.  It suddenly introduced a cute but certainly not vapid girl boss of a desultory mercenary company our main character works for, explained why our main character kept rejecting the overtures of the cute girl by his side, and gave an intriguing hint to a grand storyline involving young girls infected with demonic powers as the last trump card humanity has against the pure demons who live outside their 'barrier city.'  Suddenly the show was looking less like Robotics;Notes and more like Shingeki no Kyojin.  It was less like Mushibugyo and more like Claymore.  I'm willing to forgive this show more than many others because of its good art and music as well.  Right now this show could go either way, but it's worth giving another chance.  Pass.

No Game No Life:  Terrific.  Beautiful.  Perfect.  The art is unique and gorgeous, that's obvious to anyone.  But even better than the artwork is the comfortable dynamic between our two main characters, Sora and Shiro, a true brother-sister pair that forms the perfect combination.  In particular, when the brother describes his imouto as already flawlessly beautiful without any indication that he himself is interested in such things, you get a perfect picture of their relationship.  The two of them have the utmost trust and respect for each other, and this is so well understood between them that there's no longer any room for blushing, stammering, or facades.  It's just the way it is.  Furthermore, their relationship isn't based on lust, it's based on their personalities and mentalities, as well as mental abilities, being on par with each other while far beyond anyone else they've met in the world.  They're together because they would be alone otherwise, there doesn't need to be any impetus beyond that.  Adding lust to the factor would just be a joke, like spitting into the ocean.  If you want to see a brother-sister relationship done right, look no further than No Game No Life.  This is pretty much the ideal.  A world where God almighty has simply banned the use of force is another cool idea.  Due to that, people live by their wits, which is what humans should be doing anyway.  Like God challenges them in the first episode, beasts fight each other for dominion all the time, if you want to prove you're better than that then rely on that vaunted reason you say you have already.  No Game No Life is an obvious inclusion to my top anime rankings.  The only question now is how high it can soar.  Pass.

Hitsugi no Chaika:  Speaking of brother-sister pairs, we have another great one in this show.  The series seems a little overly focused on fighting for my tastes, but that's okay, because there's plenty of humor mixed in to balance things out.  Also, even though all three protagonists so far have shown themselves to be imperfect, they don't insult or disrespect each other as a result.  They take those flaws in stride, see through them to their virtues instead, and love each other.  That's a really heartwarming tale.  It's obvious this series is watchable, so the only question is whether it will join my rankings or not.  Pass.

Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san:  Zero characterization, zero humor, zero point.  Fail.

Gochuuman wa Usagi Desu ka?:  School girls work together at a coffee place and sweetness, humor, and fanservice abounds.  This is a very tropish show, with little going for it compared to its better equivalents, like Kiniro Mosaic or Non Non Biyori.  However, there's nothing wrong with it either.  The girls are cute.  The humor is genuinely funny.  The kindness does radiate from their smiling faces nicely.  Why not keep watching?  Pass.

Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin:  This show has a lot of unnecessary additional parts, like a murder mystery, random fanservice, a dungeon crawl, etc.  It feels like the creators didn't know what to write so they just threw in every odd idea together into a giant hotpot full of ingredients from a variety of different shows and called it a day.  The ridiculousness of the whole situation goes beyond believability, and yet the show is still attempting to be serious so it isn't funny either.  I can only give this show an A for effort.  Even so, there's nothing specifically horrendous about it.  We aren't talking Occult Academy here or anything, so there's no harm in continuing to watch and see where this crazy plot leads.  Pass.

Sidonia no Kishi:  The CG still isn't good enough.  I couldn't tell any of the characters apart.  The world and plot was boring.  I could care less if aliens kill off mankind in some hypothetical future because there didn't seem to be anyone interesting living in that fairyland anyway.  There's really nothing good to be said about this show, or the sci fi mecha genre in general.  It's always so bad.  Fail.

Atelier Escha & Logy ~ Tasogare no Sora no Renkinjutsushi:  An incredibly beautiful masterpiece.  The world is so well made it feels like you could go live in it, and the fantasy setting is so ideal that anyone who saw it would instantly want to move there and abandon all modernity in the blink of an eye.  In Atelier Escha & Logy, the world is mostly uninhabited, so there are huge job prospects for all, even children the age of 15 can have full time employment at professional careers.  In addition, even while you're at one job more job offers keep pouring in from other employers all around you, effortlessly, like rain in England.  If you have the skills, no one worries about your credentials, you're promoted immediately and given heavy responsibilities.  In this world, work is not only possible but rewarding.  You don't file papers as part of a marketing or finance job, where you don't even know what the hell the purpose of your job is.  You don't pretend to work at a job that families should ordinarily do themselves, like education or health care.  You're given real jobs to farm the land, repair valuable farm equipment, make and sell food, keep hot air balloons afloat that can transport you around the country, or some other visible good thing whose value is self-evident and directly applicable to the life of others.  Everyone in town is friendly and everyone knows and likes each other because they're part of a small community that dates back generations together.  There's no diversity, no mass immigration, and no crime.  The town has organically grown out of its roots, people have jobs that go back multiple generations in their family line.  The low population makes things like this possible.  It means everyone can be friends, everyone can be relatives, and everyone is nearby so you don't need a car just to get around town.  This world is simply paradise.  It's a dying world, a struggling world, where the desert might overtake the last regions of habitability at any moment, but it feels a thousand times more real and human than the steel and concrete labyrinths of today, where everyone hides in boxes from everyone else and hatred and disunion seethes in the air.  This show most reminds me of the first chapter of Eye of the World, the literary masterpiece that showed how life could have been organized otherwise if we lived in a different time and place, and how it was by no means inferior to the life we lead today.  Wonder and joy.  Sheer awe.  You can't do a first episode better than this.  Pass.

Mekaku City Actors:  What to say about this show?  It's currently shrouded in mystery, the plot has yet to appear.  Most of the characters haven't been introduced yet.  All we have to work with so far is a cute and humorous AI and an ironically self-aware NEET.  They're great together, and the dialogue is scintillating, and SHAFT is continuing to do its weird shafty things, but I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop.  What's this all about?  Monogatari is the show that most resembles Mekaku, but Monogatari felt more focused on each individual topic and plunged into the story more directly.  Mekaku seems to like to wander about and just see the sights.  It's obviously a good show, but like this I can't tell how good it might become.  Pass.

M3 still isn't coming out yet so I'll just ignore it for now.  Let's say this is the entire new spring lineup.  In that case, what shows am I most looking forward to coming out week-by-week?  This is my anticipation for just the single next episode, not a grade of their overall value, so that even long series like One Piece compete on even footing during the seasonal rankings -->

1.  No Game No Life
2.  Atelier Escha & Logy
3.  Fairy Tail
4.  Dragonball Kai
5.  Love Live S2
6.  Soul Eater Not
7.  Gokukoku no Brynhilder
8.  Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii
9.  Mekaku City Actors
10.  Jojo's Bizarre Adventure
11.  Hitsugi no Chaika
12.  Hunter x Hunter
13.  One Piece
14.  Happiness Charge Precure
15.  Isshukan Friends
16.  Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka?
17.  Akuma no Riddle
18.  Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei
19.  Black Bullet
20.  Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin
21.  Tonari no Seki-kun
22.  Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to
23.  Break Blade
24.  Naruto (once it gets out of filler)
25.  Hanamonogatari (once it airs)
26.  M3 (maybe?)

Now that's a season lineup.  Twenty six good shows!  That's got to be unprecedented.  I kept looking forward to this spring because I knew this would happen, but boy is it fun to experience.  This is obviously the best season of anime ever made.  With this many new shows, I should be able to get my rankings back up to 160 in no time.

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