Anime Taste Testing: Fall 2013 (Part II)

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Fall is moving steadily on and I feel as though I’ve been dropping shows left, right and center. Maybe it’s because I’m getting fussier and more demanding in my tender age of 26, or maybe it’s just because I’ve been so busy in RL side over the past few weeks, but having already abandoned three anime titles from my original line-up back in my first fall taste testing post (Coppelion, Meganebu!, Diabolik Lovers), I’ve gone and dropped two more.

Magi: The Kingdom of Magic
Original score: 6/10
Current score: Dropped

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Frankly, this second season of Magi got boring incredibly quickly, falling back on production qualities that were average (at best) and using up much of the screen time with fairly pointless filler. I don’t have a problem with side-stories being used to break up the tension, but when those side-stories become just as predictable as they are unnecessary to the overall plot, I tend to get impatient. While I’ll admit I’m a little disappointed, I’m not surprised – I very rarely have the patience for any anime show over 50 episodes or so in total, especially when it comes to the shounen demographic; as such, Magi would have needed to be exceptional in some way in order to keep my interest. Unfortunately, while Magi is by no means a terrible series, it’s also far from extraordinary at this stage.

Kyoukai no Kanata
Original score: 7/10
Current score: Dropped

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Honestly, I think KyoAni really dropped the ball on this one. I don’t doubt it will still be immensely popular – particularly with its Japanese fanbase (and let’s be real, that’s really the only thing that matters as far as the anime industry in Japan is concerned) – but I’ve had about enough of the repetitive glasses and sister-complex jokes. The thing is, I wouldn’t even mind those so much of KyoAni didn’t seem like it was trying so damn hard to make out that their story and its characters aren’t flimsy or shallow. Others may disagree, but Kyoukai no Kanata comes across to me like it’s pretending to be something it’s definitely not, i.e. ‘dark’ and in any way complex. I don’t mind uncomplicated shows. I don’t even mind moe when it’s presented in a way that makes me laugh (which is why episode 6, the final episode of this show I ended up watching, was by far the best as far as I’m concerned). I do mind both of these things when a show thinks it’s being far more witty or intelligent than it actually is.

Gingitsune
Original score: 6/10
Current score: 6/10

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I honestly thought I’d be dropping this one, but it’s grown on me. I still say that titles like Kamichu! and Natsume Yuujinchou have done the slice-of-life stories with supernatural backdrop far better and with a lot more charm, but that’s not to say that Gingitsune lacks its own small, special something. Gintaro and his relationship with Makoto is still the main draw card for me though, and I sincerely hope that this remains the focus of the series in the episodes to come. I’m also praying that the series avoids the terrible romance cliché with Makoto and Satoru. I have nothing against Satoru’s character – in fact, I rather like him and his personal storyline – but having those two fall in love would just feel incredibly unoriginal, not to mention forced and awkward. Come on Gingitsune, don’t let me down now!

Galilei Donna
Original score: 7/10
Current score: 6/10

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This one often skates by on thin ice for me. I suppose pretty much all anime lacks realism to a certain degree, but Galilei Donna really flaunts its absence of logic to an often ridiculously high degree. I’m not talking about the mechs or any of the science in general, just the sheer silliness with which it goes about its treasure hunting, while still wanting to maintain a serious atmosphere. That aside, my other main complaint is the characterisation, or rather shortage thereof. Hozuki’s character gets fleshed out okay, but what of everyone else. Halfway through an 11-episode series and we’re still at the ‘Kazuki is emotional but physically strong’ and ‘Hazuku is a lawyer who drinks a lot’ stage. That’s not characterisation, that’s a basic description – much like saying Mirai from Kyoukai no Kanata is clumsy, it lacks any kind of depth. (Pro tip: if you want to see female siblings done right, try the Read or Die TV series instead.) On the plus side, Galilei Donna is mostly plain action/adventure fare, and so it at least isn’t attempting to be uber-deep and meaningful with its story. Also, the artwork, animation and music are still quite excellent. I’ll most likely be watching this all the way through despite its issues.

Samurai Flamenco
Original score: 7/10
Current score 7/10

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I actually have very little to say about Samurai Flamenco other than, ‘good job.’ Everything about this anime has been consistent since episode one – the very solid but nicely understated production qualities, the usually gentle yet still quite entertaining humour, and the creativity keeping the story interesting. I do wonder if things will end up taking a much more serious route later on given that it’s slated to be 22 episodes long, but in any event I’m looking forward to seeing where things will go. My only real issue with Samurai Flamenco at this point is its completely unmemorable soundtrack (in that respect, Galilei Donna definitely has the upper hand).

Kill la Kill
Original score: 8/10
Current score: 9/10

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Oh, Kill la Kill. Just when I think you can’t possibly get any more crazy, any more camp, any more ridiculously over-the-top, you go ahead and do so. Again, I have nothing particularly to add to what I already said last time. This anime is supremely silly, absolutely shameless, and unmistakably smart. Not to mention the equal opportunity fanservice. People are saying that Kill la Kill is the spiritual successor to Gurren Lagann, and in many ways I can see that, although personally I think it has a bit more in common with FLCL than anything else. I’m saying this as neither a good thing nor a bad thing, just a quick observation. Other than that, I got nothin’ – I’m just sitting back and enjoying the ride.

Pupa
Original score: ??
Current score: ?????

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Still nothing. I’m pretty sure that due to delays with censorship issues (i.e. Studio Deen didn’t want to budge on the gore issue and therefore nobody wanted to air the show), this one has ended up by the roadside, possibly for good. It’s a real shame, but them’s the breaks I guess.

And now, dear readers, a poll in lieu of the usual question of the post: Given that I’ve ended up watching only watching four weekly titles this anime season, I probably now have time to pick up one additional series. What’s it to be? (No second seasons or remakes, please.)

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33 thoughts on “Anime Taste Testing: Fall 2013 (Part II)

  1. I think you should pick up Yowamushi Pedal. The character interactions are pleasant, the races are gripping and it is highly accessible to outsiders who know nothing about it. I consider this the anime of the season.

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  2. Magi – The only thing I know of this show comes from seeing some screenshots, and they had been incredibly colourful :3

    Kyoukai no Kanata – The LNs might be smarter, but apparently all the moe, all the stuttering, all the insecurities? They’re stuff KyoAni had done in their adaptation. This show is a Frankenstein, of the original material and the show KyoAni is actually trying/wanting to make, a Moe show, or a new Haruhi – that’s why episode 6 was so good – KyoAni got to do what they actually wanted, where in most of the show it absolutely brutalizes the pacing and the characters all feel fake as a result.

    Episode 6 was so good, and it only served to illustrate the core issues of this show.
    P.S., giving it 7/19 amounts to about 0.3 😀

    Gingitsune – You take it back, this show oozes charm, and small directing that trusts the readers! They use subtle camera shots and auditory cues, while the characters themselves act in a way that clearly builds on what we know of them and their past before, but without the constant overt use of flashbacks a moment before or even during a scene because the writers/directors assume we’re all brain-dead.

    As for romance, it’ll probably happen at some point, the only question is when, as the manga is still ongoing and it seems we’re getting a lot of “episodic moments”.

    Galilei Donna – Skirts dropping most weeks, I just don’t have the time and energy for this nonsense in such a busy season, and with being so busy IRL myself (I smiled at your usage of “In RL” :))

    You should definitely pick up Kyousougiga. There’s not even a competition. Make sure to watch episode 0 and 1 together though, as 0 is quite different than the rest of the show, but episode 1 is indicative of what you’ll get. Man, episode 5 was so amazing.

    I also think Log Horizon is worthy of picking up, but since you’re already watching all the other tier 1 shows for me this season and are only missing Kyousougiga, I’ll definitely suggest that.

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    • Ha. I take nothing back about Gingitsune – the show has a small amount of charm, but I honestly believe it’s nothing special. It’s cute. but not extraordinary in any way whatsoever, and I’ve seen the exact same tropes done with far more charm elsewhere.

      Cheers for the Kyousougiga vote. 🙂

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  3. At this point in the season I’ve settled into a stable viewing routine, though I haven’t quite figured out some of the shows. But I feel like I’ve made some pretty good choices so far, seeing as how must of the anibloggers I know are finding things I’ve skipped or dropped less than appealing, Beyond the boundary being the most common example. When it comes to KyoAni, I see so much potential, but the studio is like a really talented singer that only wants to do the most bubble gum pop-like songs. And when it attempts to do something deep it can’t quite put something memorable together. I think their entry for this and the response it’s getting shows that people want more from KyoAni, they just don’t quite know how to deliver, yet.

    Overall, I’d say this season has been fun, but I don’t think I’m having as much fun as I did during the Spring or the Summer seasons.

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    • I feel like Kill la Kill automatically makes this season better than the summer season, and I really am enjoying Samurai Flamenco. For that reason, I’d say the fall season is more fun for me, even if it has less shows overall that I’m currently watching;

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  4. I am a casual anime at best, but I’ve been following Kill La Kill and Hajime no Ippo: Rising as close as I can. It’s made for a very fun fall, especially since I typically binge consume anime.

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    • I tend to have one series going on my watch-list that’s already aired so I can watch at my own pace (whether I binge or space it out really depends on the anime), but I also love following each new anime season as stuff comes out. I’m not actively involved in anine forums or anything like that, so this blog plus my week-by-week watching habits is my way of feeling like I’m part of a community. 🙂

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      • Yeah. It helps having something of a community approach. The only other anime I have followed while it was on its run was Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. A friend and I would bug each other until we had seen the most recent episode, and then talk about it.

        That’s probably another reason why I love that one so much …

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        • Brotherhood is absolutely somewhere in my top 5 anime of all time – right up there with Bebop, I’d say. But yeah, it very often makes anime all the better when you’re either watching with a friend, or are at least able to fangirl/fanboy with one over it.

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  5. Hi again and thanks for the update. Most of what you’ve said I heartily agree with, especially on Kyokai. When I watched the most recent episode I could see how it was trying its best to appeal to a younger audience with the idol cosplay/ cute monster stuff. I didn’t think it was a bad episode, I was really amused each time the creature exploded, but I’ve filed the series under “not to be taken seriously”. I agree wholly about Samurai Flamenco and it’s the one show apart from Kill la Kill I’m honestly looking forward to each week. I voted for Kyousougiga in your poll for a few reasons. It’s pretty whacky too, but takes itself more seriously and has the tone of a show with a deeper message to tell. I’m also fond of the whole multi dimensional family tale that they have going on. The score is pretty good too. 🙂

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    • Thank you for the comment and vote. 🙂 Yeah, at the moment I’m leaning mostly towards Kyousougiga myself – I feel like even if I don’t end up subjectively loving it, I’ll at least be able to appreciate it on an objective level. Of course, hopefully both.

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  6. I’m still enjoying both Gingitsune & Beyond the Boundary, and I’m slightly surprised you dropped the latter. I’ll grant that neither of them is a great show, but they are certainly amusing time wasters.

    Arpeggio of Blue Steel is a definite guilty pleasure – neither I nor a housemate can work out exactly why we’re still watching this thing.

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    • Amusing time wasters is one thing, and if I had more time to spare then perhaps I wouldn’t mind carrying on watching. As it currently stands though, I’d rather spend what little free time I have left for anime to watch something with a bit more substance.

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  7. While I can certainly see your issues with Kyoukai as warranted, it’s still the series I look forward to the most each week.
    Galilei Donna was a pleasant surprise to me, as I hadn’t heard much about it at all prior to it being broadcast (that OP is great!). There have been a number of questionable moments in the past few episodes, but I’m pretty happy with it.
    (As for the poll, I’d recommend Nagi no Asukara, and mostly because it is very pretty to look at [also: Hanazawa Kana], but if you’re over the whole highschool-age inter-relationship drama thing I’d say it might wear out its welcome pretty quickly. That and the physics within the world it establishes underwater boggles ones mind. Beverages under water?)
    I’m liking Non Non Biyori quite a bit as well. Great background art. Mostly all of the characters are females though, and it trades on 萌え trappings, so I don’t know if you’d be into that either.

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  8. Hmm, looks like it’s going to be Kyousougiga so far. I really should catch up on that, given the support for it everywhere. Nevertheless, I shall recommend Ace of Diamond. It’s a solid baseball anime that I’m enjoying at lot at the moment. It is quite shounen though, which may not be your thing. Nagi no Asukara is also nice, but frustrating at times (though the art is divine :-)).

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    • Also, did you watch episode 6 of KnK before you dropped it? I thought it was pretty funy. I dropped KnK at episode 3, then just watched 6, and I don’t really think I missed anything.

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      • Yup, I had already decided to drop KnK after episode 5, but then watched 6 after seeing everyone’s reactions to it. If all of KnK were like that then I’d probably watch the whole thing – I feel like KyoAni does it’s humour far better than its actual plot.

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  9. Gonna have to be boring and recommend Kyousogiga too, since it really is that good. But I’ll also echo the other commenters in saying White Album 2 is a solid romance with some very sharp dialogue. Those two, Kill la Kill, and Samurai Flamenco are generally my favorite episodes each week.

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    • Cheers for the input. The votes for White Album 2 are surprising (and for that reason alone I may well check it out at some point), but for the moment I too am leaning towards Kyousogiga.

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  10. Afraid I can’t offer a solid recommendation – Red Jacket and NaNo are eating a lot of time, so the only new thing I’m following week to week is Samurai Flamenco. It seems like I find it easier to curb expectations watching everything in a chunk (learned after the first week-to-week viewing of Kuroshitsuji II nearly ended in wanton cruelty to inanimate objects), particularly if I’m not sold on the concept straight off. But I’ve heard some intriguing things about Nagi No Asukara?
    It’s rather a shame about Pupa. I was chomping at the bit for some new horror, if extremely uncomfortable with the sister complex vibes. Course it’s Studio DEEN, so it would’ve likely been a rather unfortunate looking affair anyway. Ah, well. The world may never know.
    Oh, and a general note of applause on these posts – I usually find incredibly bite sized reviews offputting, but there’s something pleasingly concise and yet descriptive about these.

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    • Cheers for the recs.

      Yeah – I’m not a huge fan of horror, be it anime or otherwise, but every now and again I like something with a really solid atmosphere and a bit of gore to it. At this point I think Pupa will probably never get a full anime series, which is a shame, but you never know.

      Thank you for saying so. I do write full reviews sometimes for shows that have finished airing, but I tend to like keeping the ‘mini reviews’ of ongoing anime titles short and sweet.

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  11. Pingback: Musical Details in White Album 2 | Tsukiyo no Hikari

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