Summer 2014 update ~ back for another taste
July 27, 2014
A quick post about how I think the season is going. In my first post on the Summer 2014 anime season, I listed several shows that had caught my eye based essentially on the first episode. We are now up to the third episode of most shows, and that gives a better sense of how what a show is like, so I am revisiting that list to see how it has changed. Most shows are holding up well, one is not performing as well as I had hoped, and a couple of other shows have managed to impress me.
Zankyou no Terror
First up, Zankyou no Terror (“Terror in Resonance”) continues to impress. One interesting thing is that the “heroes” are unclear at this point. There are two protagonists, but they seem to be evil. Not only are they engaging in acts of terrorism, but they are shown acting very cold towards an innocent victim (Lisa). I don’t know how they are going to resolve this in a satisfying way, but the story and characters are much more challenging and mysterious than most anime. I also really enjoy the ED, Dareka Umiwo, which seems to feature Lisa committing suicide.
Barakamon is just great as a light Iyashikei or “healing” anime. Each episode so far has made a point, and the main character, Seishuu Handa, is not the only character that has an opportunity to learn something. The show is fun, and so far they have kept the setting interesting by introducing new characters. The most recent episode, number 4, included lessons about jumping in, and how we won’t learn if we don’t try.
Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun
We are also adding characters in Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun. The latest episode, number 3, played off of misunderstandings for comedic effect. As I said before, this show has been very good at using the shoujo manga conventions as a source of humor. Still lots of fun.
This show is interesting because they started out with what seemed a completely hopeless situation, where the martians utterly dominated the battlefield in the first couple of episodes, but have assembled a credible path forward for the main characters. And yet the pressure is still on, as the humans are decidedly out-gunned. This one isn’t my favorite of the season, but it is a pretty good watch.
Starting to have my doubts
There are a couple of shows I mentioned last time that have been underperforming.
This one isn’t quite bad enough to drop, but I’m not really hooked on the romantic drama, and the glass-blowing angle is under-utilized. I’m still watching this one, as of episode 4), but I can’t really justify that decision at this point. The setting feels like a generic village in rural Japan, it just doesn’t have a strong sense of place (like, say, Hanasaku Iroha did). The fantastical element (“I want to see the future.”) has so far been little more than a tease. I would have an easier time overlooking all of this, if a lot more attention was paid to the glass-blowing scenes. The show looks fine, but frankly I was expecting P.A. Works to really impress me with some cool glass-blowing scenes, and they haven’t.
I am most disappointed in this show. It seems to be heading towards an ecchi fan service show, with some harem overtones and railway otaku pandering on the side. I fully expected the railway otaku stuff, in fact I expected it, but the story, as of yet is completely fragmented. We have people who disrupt the peace for the nice folk who ride trains, and the security squad who catch the criminals. I honestly expected some sort of deeper plot to have emerged. Another thing that worries me is that one of the four main characters (Shou) is a complete empty vessel. He did little more than sleep his way through episode 4. If they can’t even develop the main characters, what are they trying to accomplish? This show is dropped.
New to the list
A couple of shows were not included last time.
The first episode of this show was little more than fantastical battle sequences. I’m not a big fan of battle anime, so I probably would not have given this show a second shot if it wasn’t for Caraniel (who is much too young to be my onee-san). She said she thought the show would change abruptly and it did. As of episode 3 it is actually a pretty interesting story. The cast we saw in the first episode is being assembled, and it doesn’t have an episodic quality; we are gradually seeing how the world we caught a glimpse of in the first episode came into being. I’m looking forward to seeing more of this.
I toyed with the idea of mentioning this title last time, but I was very unsure, based upon a single episode, what was going to happen. I actually like shows in which people have interests that I don’t particularly share, if they pursue them with a passion. I watch sports anime in part because I like the adrenalin rush, and in part because I learn about something. Hanayamata had the potential to do that with Yosakoi. I think the animation looks pretty good, so there is a chance the dances could look decent, and at least one of the characters is passionate about the subject, so the show had potential, but I just wasn’t sure this was going to hit the mark. Lucretia seemed to believe this show could deliver, and, as of episode 3, I feel better about it! I really like the fact that they went into the shop and got a lecture about Yosakoi from the scary looking guy who runs it. I also like the fact that they have a performance coming up, and that we have some conflict regarding the setting up of the club at school. My biggest concern was that it would be more “cute girls doing cute things”, and less about really doing Yosakoi. Hopefully there will be more emphasis on what it is like to participate in Yosakoi in the future.
This series seems to have been the last show to premiere this season, so the first episode was not out when I wrote my last post. As a result there are only two episodes out even now, and thus it is a bit unfair to compare it to other shows that have had more time to establish their setting, characters, etc. Nobunaga Concerto seems to have a more serious tone than most series that have featured this period, and I do appreciate that. The artwork comes off poorly at times; I think they are using a different approach that doesn’t completely work, but actually that doesn’t bother me that much. Frankly I like to see people try out new techniques. Even if the effect isn’t quite successful, the animation company will grow by attempting it. And seriously, do we want all anime to look like copy-pastes from other anime series? The next episode will hopefully make clear whether there was a good reason for them to adopt the high-schooler goes back in time trope.
Video is animation’s new sensory fusion rotoscoping techniques to trace live-action footage actually played by an actor with the latest CG technology. Turn off this very large project Vanguard anime produced CG technology accumulated by television, various mausoleums Nobunaga Concerto, add flowers to the success of the project.
I hope you all are enjoying your Summer, and if if your Summer plans include anime, I hope you are enjoying that as well. Whatever you are doing, thanks for reading, and stay well.