Summer 2014 Halfway point: Hits and Misses.

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For each new anime season, I do try to make a point to check out what’s gaining buzz in the community. Sometimes I’m a little late to the party, and sometimes it isn’t until the next season has started that I even get time to really invest in finding the gems. Usually I’ll discover one, maybe two shows, if I’m lucky. Well, this year’s summer season threw that idea right out the window. After going through the titles, I had so much on my To Watch list, that I had to put some aside to view at a much later date, because right now, I’m swamped!

We’re about six episodes in to most summer shows, and I feel that’s a good spot to post my watch or drop recommendations. I really don’t like first impressions reviews because I feel one to two episodes is not enough to judge a series by, but six? By now we should be invested in our characters and story, and if we’re not, who’s fault is that?

There are many different reason why I chose to watch the ones that I have. The first two on my list, Akame ga Kill! and Tokyo Ghoul, gained hype due to the popularity of the manga they’ve been adapted from. Both series had much buzz around them before ever airing, with excited fans hoping to see a loved series become an anime.

 

Akame ga Kill!:

I feel bad starting with this one, because I’m setting the bar high right from the beginning. Akame ga kill starts with a typical shonen feel to it, set in a fantasy world where a teenager/young man – so hard to tell with anime – adventures out to make a name for himself and bring prosperity back to his village. The colours and characters designs are what you would expect from an action adventure show: very bright, vibrant, and somewhat colour-coded. I went into this series pretty blind, the only thing I had hear was, “no one is safe”, a tag I hear way too often these days that makes me think, oh they’ll kill someone off early to show how edgy they are, well I’m not falling for another attack on titan fake out. I had also heard some were concerned with how much they would censor. So I was expecting some sort of battlefield type show, but then it starts and I’m thinking, did I click on Magi: Kingdom of Labrynth? Because that’s what it feels like! And I think that’s partly why I actually am really enjoying this show, because visually, it’s just really fun.

Story wise, this is not a kids show. This is a show about assassins, doing assassin things. These people kill. It’s a job. The hook is they’re the good guys, and only kill bad guys. That makes it alright to root for them, right? Well, that’s where the show gets interesting. Our protagonist recently joins them and obviously takes issue with some of the ways they handle things, so there is some moral questioning there, but at this point I can’t say how indepth that gets. Truthfully, I don’t expect to get much deep introspection on the nature of good and evil out of this. What I’ve gathered so far is that this is more a show about being cool. Who doesn’t love when the good guys are no longer confined by their good guy rules, and can just go to town on the villains? It’s very refreshing, but right now I’m not seeing too much deeper intelligence. The show is also going for shock value with completely over the top villains and violence. It doesn’t seem the censors their hands on this, after all.

Despite this, I am really enjoying this show, but I enjoy it for what it is, fun badassness with likeable characters. The music throughout and the opening is also noticeably good.

 

Tokyo Ghoul:

156042_10152633650099844_6106712408299222098_nWhat can I say, by episode four, I was done. I had to force myself, most painfully, to watch up to episode six for this review. It’s a vampire story, except they’re ghouls so they eat people rather than suck their blood, either way, it’s the same tired premise. Kid gets accidentally turned, has to learn to live among ghouls, as well as in a human dominated world. The first episode is notably good, I enjoyed it, but then the plot slows to a crawl. And then we’re introduced to one of the villains. This guy was so over the top (in the bad, not-in-any-way-entertaining way) and ridiculous that I could barely watch. Then the main character comes off looking like the biggest idiot in the world.

My reaction after episode four was that I feel like I’m watching Deadman Wonderland all over again, which is not a good thing. I took to the forums and learned, that yes, just like with Deadman Wonderland – a show with a strong manga based fan following, let down by it’s poor adaptation, which involves a whinny boy and lots of violence.  Also the studio is butchering the source material and rearranging things. Even though there is lots of blood, there is blatant censoring in scenes, with very odd sheets of light or shadow, strategically covering things from view. The main character, like I mentioned, comes across as not particularly bright, nor in any way charismatic. Actually that’s one thing this series lacks completely: any interesting characters. Not a one so far.

As it stands, Tokyo Ghoul is my biggest disappointment, and I can’t recommend it at all.

 

The next two shows, I guess I’ll group them together under Boy Love! After two shows that wallow in their violence, how about something a little lighter? Or at least I thought…

 

Love Stage!!:

I have nothing to add that can’t be seen in the many episode reviews already up about this wonderful show. My personal opinion is that I’m absolutely loving it, and that the main character is the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen. After two episodes, I couldn’t take the wait and had to read the entire manga, missing hours of sleep before work. If you enjoy romantic comedies, this one is for you.

 

DRAMAtical Murder:

1908056_10152633650259844_4195843718527732640_nSo I first heard of DRAMAtical murder on cosplay forums, it seemed to be fairly popular this past spring, so I looked it up. I didn’t find a show, but rather learned that it was a BL visual novel, so I shrugged and put it from my mind. When I saw that it was getting an anime adaption, I made a point to check it out, not sure what to expect, except great character designs given it’s cosplay popularity.

Well, great character designs is what I got, and nothing else. It’s set in a sort of cyberpunk future, with many gangs who participate and compete in an illegal virtual reality type game, or at least I think that’s the gist of it. The characters look great, they really do. They’re extremely vibrant and unique, and of course, incredibly sexy, with a type for everyone. But the plot moves a snails pace. I still barely understand anything about this world.  After six episodes I’m just frustrated. I think this may be a case of a poor adaptation. I’m guessing if visual novels are dialogue heavy, perhaps they needed to tighten up that stuff some more with the anime version. The quality of animation is also fairly poor, which says something if I can notice it. I’m not sure whether to drop it or not. I’m not upset by it, but I’m still waiting for something interesting to happen.

 

Next on my list, two shows which I never would have initially watched except for the names attached to them. First is Aldnoah.Zero. The story is by Gen Urobuchi (known for Fate.Zero, Psycho Pass, Madoka Magica) and the music’s by Hiroyuki Sawano (known for Kill la Kill, Attack on Titan, and Blue Exorcist). The second is Zankyou no Terror, which has Shinichiro Watanabe and Yoko Kanno directing and composing respectively, the duo most well known for bringing us Cowboy Bebop. The fact that this is the reason I decided to check them out has me convinced I’ve reached a new level of nerd.

 

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Okay, I’ve got to admit, this show is not for me. I’ve never been overly fond of Mechs, and I don’t have much to go on when comparing this to other shows of it’s calibre. The premise is a Mars colony was formed thirty years ago. The colony discovered advanced alien tech and decided to go independent, forming an empire and then going to war with Earth. Peace was eventually reached but, without giving out spoilers, war breaks out again.

I wish I could blame my dislike on the Mechs, and that I just don’t get the genre, but I really can’t. This story has so many plot holes just with it’s premise, that I can’t take anything seriously.

Assuming I’m reading the correct timeline, they have barely been removed one generation from earth.  In fact, most of them would have had to have been born on earth, and suddenly they hate all earthlings and think they’re the chosen people? This makes no sense to me what so ever. Unless there’s some sort of mass mind alteration on Mars, there is no way an entire colony of people would just turn like that. Maybe this will be the case, but it’s not my only issue. Those in charge do not consider all the many potential scenarios that could have led to certain events, they make assumptions and stick with those assumption without even considering alternatives. No one asks, “why?”.

And then there’s the fighting. Apparently everyone in the military is a moron, except for one genius boy. And this is where I facepalm. Yes, they’re fighting extremely advanced technology, so why is the only person who thinks to pull back and come up with a plan a high-schooler? Every. Single. Time. They just keep sending in canon fodder, over and over again. And they keep getting mowed down, over and over again. That’s what I call changing logic to fit the story you want to tell. I know, it’s anime, of course it’s a high school kid, but damn it, Code Geass managed it well enough, and they didn’t make the entire military look like fools either.

And the last thing I’m going to rant about is the characters. I don’t actually have too much of a problem with the good guys, other than none really stand out. I’ve heard people complain about the main kid, that he’s too emotionless, but I actually kind of like that. Sure, he’s not charismatic, but I think there’s probably more going on there, of course if we see no development by the end of the season, then I’ll agree he needs work. The villains, or Martians, however, I swear the entire basis of all of their characters is to see who can out-prick the other. They are all just giant pricks. and that’s it. they probably have tea parties where they get together and see who can who can hold their noes highest in the air while able to maintain eye contact and sip from their cups with a pinky raised.

Alright, enough ranting. there is one good part to all this, well two actually. The music, good god, that music! I’m falling more and more in love with this composer because he is brilliant. And the opening credits is also preformed by Kalafina, an amazing group featuring three female vocalist that are hands down amazing. So at lease I have a soundtrack to look forward to.

 

Zankyou no Terror:

10603779_10152633650424844_8100681954195006469_nInitially described as ‘teenagers do 9/11’ this is my favourite show of the season. After seeing the first six episodes, I think that description is sensationalist to say the least, but it certainly caught a lot of people’s attention. The first episode has two teenagers blow up one of a two tower style building. There are also a lot of little references to 9/11 to push home the comparison, but the thing is, that’s where the similarities end. So far, the teenagers have been responsible for a number of bombings, but miraculously, no one’s ever been killed from any of these attacks. Admittedly, this is the one thing the bugs me the most. Even if the buildings are evacuated, the chances of debris, rubble, shrapnel, whatever, seriously injuring someone is just too likely. But the point is, these kids are not killers, and I suppose we’re supposed to like them because of that. When I heard the description, I thought we might get some sort of introspective look into what drives a person to kill indiscriminately, but it looks like something else all together. This is not a bad thing, it just makes me annoyed at the 9/11 comparisons.

So far this show is the only one that’s really kept me interested, making me wonder what’s going to happen next, and eagerly waiting for the next episode. It’s the only one with any real sense of mystery going on, and characters I want to learn more about and understand. It actually reminds me a lot of Death Note, as there is a massive police investigation, and the protagonists seem to be playing a cat and mouse game with them. To be honest, it actually reminds me the most of Another Note, the Death Note light novel. Now I’m just speculating, but I feel the two teenagers are committing these crimes to draw someone out, someone that would recognize their work, similar to the light novel. Everything going on in the series is still very much up in the air. I eagerly await the next episode, and only hope the final pay off is worth the anticipation I’ve built.

 

So there you have it, six shows I’ve been watching this past month. Some hits and some misses, but I’ve only seen a handful of the shows that are airing right now. A few others of note are Sailor Moon Crystal. I have been watching this, but as it’s releasing biweekly, I’ve only seen three episodes. To be honest, It’s only worth watching for nostalgic purposes. Free! Eternal Summer was one I intended to watch but didn’t have time to. I saw the first season and was just meh about it, so I’m in no rush. Kuroshitsuji I’m reviewing already and I recommend to anyone who likes gothic themes. Space Dandy 2 is something I probably won’t watch. It’s a fun show, but with so much out there, it’s just not a priority, and I find it really hit and miss with it’s humour. Sword Art Online II is the other really big show of the year, and I will not touch that with a ten foot pole. People seem to either love or hate SAO, I am firmly in the hate category. I can only take so much Gary Stu and his waifu, sorry. I’m eagerly awaiting Hanamonogatari though.   The Monogatari series is something that surprised me by how much I’ve enjoyed it. It’s not a show I can easily describe or recommend, as an entire episode could be two characters sitting on a bench, talking. But it’s also a harem and plays with many of the more controversial tropes. Yet the art is amazing. But it still has a lot of crazy fan service. It’s weird. Kanbaru for best girl.

And with that, I believe I am done. Now back to watching anime.

 

Author: Ashley Dawn



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