Et cetera, Summer 2014, Week 1–3: First impressions

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So now my blogging schedule will be in the sort of awkward order of Zankyou no Terror on Thursdays, Tokyo ESP on Fridays, Weekly round-ups on Saturdays, and Akame ga Kill! on Sundays. This is of course, subject to change if the commentary I have for a show ever ceases to merit weekly coverage, or if I just get tired of doing four posts a week.

For this first post I’ll exclude any shows that I’m more than an episode behind on, which would include Bakumatsu Rock, Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, Hanayamata, Sabagebu, and a few shorts.

 

14. Akame ga Kill!

13. Himegoto

Pretty much just a gag comedy using crossdressers for humor, in a rather forced and unfunny way. I don’t necessarily have an issue with using crossdressers for humor—my love of Genshiken Nidaime can testify to that, but there has to be more to it than just some girls flipping a “trap’s” skirt and revealing a bulge in his panties. The fact that each episode is only a few minutes long doesn’t help either. I do find it pretty amusing though how a fansubber group managed to trick people into thinking that this was the actual OP (see above.)

12. Free!: Eternal Summer 

(as of episode 3)

More of the same from the first series. As a slice of life I find the show amusing enough, but even with the few bits of conflict we’re seeing with Sousuke, I doubt the impending melodrama later on is going to be any better than what we got in the first season..

11. Shin Strange+

Possibly the one show that’s more weird and random than Sabagebu, or the one episode of Sabagebu that I saw. Not nearly as funny as that though. At least the ED is nice.

10. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon

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(as of episode 1)

I watched a little bit of the original series just before seeing this, so like most others I only really have its merits as an adaption to comment on. I actually quite like the art style of the show, for how “shoujo-y” and well, pretty it is. It’s arguable whether it’s worse than the original series, but I think it’s great for what it is—a remake more faithful to what the original manga was like. Not that I’ve read the manga or anything though.

9. Rail Wars!

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A solid action procedural series overall, which is unfortunately brought down by a bunch of unnecessary fanservice and a generic male protagonist. Now I don’t just consider any sort of fanservice unnecessary, but it starts to feel a little forced when you have Railway Security Force members wearing swimsuits at the beach while on duty. And even worse was when in the same episode Takayama follows the girl into a womens bath while trying to convince an idol to cancel a concert. It’s still a good show for the most part though and I have a lot of fun watching it, so I can almost overlook the more groan-worthy aspects of it. I also quite like Makoto Uno’s character designs, known for his work on Witchblade and Futa-chan.

8. Aldnoah.Zero

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I still have mixed feelings about this show. On the one hand, I quite like it as a Real Robot war drama about some kids trying to survive a war in which Earth is severely overpowered by the Martians. The conspiracy from some members of the Orbital Knights to kill the princess is fascinating, and the show does have some thrilling action sequences. Unfortunately a lot of the main characters leave much to be desired, and the ones I do find interesting don’t get as much screentime.

Inaho in particular comes off as overly stoic and blank, although through the subtle ways he interacts with the characters I can tell now that there’s certainly more to him than that. Such as in episode two when he witnesses his friend Okisuke gets killed by Trillram’s mecha, it’s clear that Inaho is going through a lot of shock and despair from it, even if he’s not bursting into tears and shouting an elongated “No!”. But still, for the most part, the lack of emotion he allows himself to express just feels unnatural. And really, the big question I have is why the writers would choose not to have Inaho express more emotions. Why not give me a character that I can sympathize with more as a human being? Yeah, I get that the guy is super analytical and is good as controlling his fear, but you don’t have to make his outward personality as flat as cardboard.

Some of the Orbital Knights also veer dangerously close towards “cartoony” levels of villainy, especially Trillram. At the moment it’s still in the realm of believability though—nothing like Akame ga Kill! or anything. I just hope the conflict of the story evolves into something more compelling than just Martians being assholes because they can.

7. Ao Haru Ride

(as of episode 2)

Apparently this is like, the quintessential shoujo series. Futaba is an interesting character for the problems she has a teenager, including her initial preference to having shitty friends over being lonely, and the growth she’s showing as a person. Kou seems like a more typical lovable jerk, but he’s cool too. Supposedly this is also one of those stories where the two love interests don’t get together until towards the end of the series, and until then the romantic conflict just gets stretched out to the point of insanity. I’ll try not to get too annoyed by that if that’s true though.

6. Momo Kyun Sword

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This show has great visuals, nice fanservice and humor, and the underlying is just well-written enough to keep it all together. This happens to be Shinsuke Yanagi’s debut as a character designer, and with something as ingenious as cleavage designed to look like a peach, you know the guy must be going places.

 

5. Tokyo ESP

4. Space☆Dandy 2

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One of the better shows of the last Winter season hath returned. The three episodes that have aired so far have gotten progressively better, too. “I Can’t Be The Only One, Baby” wasn’t too great, albeit it was funny seeing the core Space☆Dandy cast reinterpreted a hundred times in the same episode. Suicidal Dandy was funny too. “There’s Music in Darkness, Baby” had a nice, creepy atmosphere coupled with the out-there concept of the space river going back in time. And I just loved the Masaaki Yuasa visuals of “Slow and Steady Wins the Race, Baby.”

3. Tokyo Ghoul

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The first episode had some very solid horror going for it, as it actually did great at conveying the psychological horror of the situation Ken gets himself into, rather than just trying to elicit some cheap scares and splattering some blood and gore everywhere (albeit the show still has it’s fair share of blood and gore.) I really appreciate that, especially since we haven’t gotten a straight-up horror series since Another back into 2012, and that show was terrible. The succeeding episodes of Ken trying to cope with being a half-Ghoul are a bit less exciting, though it’s all set-up so I don’t really mind. I pretty much like everything about Tokyo Ghoul except for one thing: the weird, cartoony “kagune” tentacles, and the dumb as hell action scenes that accompany them. The censorship doesn’t help either.

2. Zankyou no Terror

1. Barakamon

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(as of episode 3)

It’s a great slice of life comedy which consistently makes me laugh throughout each episode, as well as give me a good dose of moe with Naru. It’s also my favorite show of the season so far due its themes on art, creativity, and talent, which I feel really nails its point on those. Handa exhibits two common issues I see with other artists: he can’t handle criticism, and he focuses so much on his fundamentals—that is, the technical aspects of an art form, that his creativity suffers as a result. He outright punches the exhibit director for calling his stuff dull and mediocre, completely missing the point of what the director was trying to say: that his stuff is too conformist and not creative enough. But how does one become more creative, you might ask? Well, you get out of house and do stuff, learn things and broaden your horizons, and just live life.  Just shutting yourself up in a house for a week and grinding isn’t going to do jack shit for your creativity, as Hands initially plans on doing. To climb the wall of mediocrity and gaze upon the sea of achievement (actual symbolism the first episode uses), you gotta do something. Like go to an island and hang out with some little kid, or something.

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This entry was posted in Aldnoah.Zero, Animation, Barakamon, Free!, Himegoto, Rail Wars!, Space☆Dandy, Tokyo Ghoul and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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