Anime Taste Testing: Winter 2013/14 (Part II)

40. picture1I stand by what I said in my first part of this post a few weeks ago – it’s hardly the best season of the anime year, but it’s a very consistent one. I think I actually prefer this to seasons that do contain that groundbreaking title but which have me dropping over half the shows I originally sample. To me, it makes for a more satisfying viewing experience overall.

Gin no Saji 2nd season
Original score: 8/10
Current score: 8/10

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If I had to decide, I’d say the first season is better than this second one, but really they’re much of a muchness – we have all the same staff behind it and the same general tone, so for all intents and purposes, it’s exactly the same show that just happened to have a break in the middle. I say this as a compliment, but it also means I have very little to say that hasn’t already been said. Now that my estimation of Space Dandy has dropped slightly though (see below), Gin no Saji takes my top spot of the current anime season.

Space Dandy
Original score: 8/10
Current score: 7/10

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You Gotta Be Dependable, Baby. As you can see, I haven’t actually changed my mind too much from where I started with this show – personally speaking, Space Dandy’s brand of humour (usually) works for me, and since the comedy is this title’s main selling point, I really don’t have much to complain about. And of course, the visuals are just as strong now as when they started; it’s a great-looking show that obviously has plenty of money behind it. However, some episodes have been markedly better than others… or rather, there’s a bit too much of an eclectic style for my tastes. I put this down to the writing, since although Watanabe Shinichiro serves as head director for the entire production, individual episodes are written by many different people – and usually not the same person twice in a row, either. However, this is a relatively minor complaint, as I’m still very much enjoying Space Dandy as a whole.

Noragami
Original score: 7/10
Current score: 7/10

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Style over substance? Quite possibly, but since the style is one that greatly appeals to me, I find I don’t actually care all that much. Which isn’t to say that the storytelling is bad per se – just that it’s far outclassed by the gorgeous artwork and animation, not to mention the excellent soundtrack. And while it’s perhaps slightly off-topic, I’ll add that this is the first anime in a long time whose main character has been my favourite of the cast. I honestly didn’t expect this going by the synopsis back when I first read it, but Yato makes for a pretty good lead. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I also like his character design the most (and as is to be expected, Kamiya Hiroshi does a stellar job with the voice acting).

Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta/The Pilot’s Love Song
Original score: 7/10
Current score: 6/10

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Ouch. This is me being generous too, because I find I’m still a little scarred by episodes 5 and 6. Why in god’s name would you waste time with a stock-standard beach episode, immediately followed by one in which our main characters do literally nothing but make and eat ramen, when you only have 12 episodes in which to tell an ostensibly poignant drama? I forgave the clichés presented in the first couple of episodes because I genuinely liked the Kal-el/Claire romance, and still very much want to like it. The pacing was good as well – brisk, but not rushed. However, the plot currently seems to be in the process of being overtaken by lazy storytelling and poor directing decisions, and I really have no idea whether the series will be rescued or not by the end of it. I’m not on the verge of dropping it or anything, as my initial impressions were good and I’m curious to see how things are wrapped up, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed by Toaru’s most recent offerings.

Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha
Original score: 6/10
Current score: 6/10

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I’m… not sure. Again, the show is definitely one I’ll be watching through to the end, but recent episodes have me raising an eyebrow. The charm is still there, but something just seems a little off right now. Possibly it’s the recent drama between Akemi, Keiko, and Chika, which felt quite forced despite my not having anything against these characters. In fact, I’d quite like to see a genuine romance between those first two girls, but I rather doubt Inari will go beyond the usual blushing and sparkles. I’d be happy if we got more screen-time with Touka and Uka as well, which is probably the more realistic hope. But whatever, it’s a sweet series with a good heart, albeit not a hugely solid title.

Wake Up, Girls!
Original score: 5/10
Current score: Dropped

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Not gonna lie, I didn’t make it more than two episodes. I think I’ll say that the show just isn’t for me and leave it at that – I’ll give the job of actually critiquing it to people who’ve watched a larger portion of it than I ever will.

Pupa
Original score: 3/10
Current score: Dropped

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Well, I made it to episode 6. Never say I didn’t give this a decent run, but I just can’t go any further. Is there anyone out there who believes this to be a good series? (This isn’t a sarcastic or rhetorical question – I genuinely want to know.)

Natsume Yuujinchou: Itsuka Yuki no Hi ni
Score: 7/10

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This single-episode OVA shouldn’t disappoint any fans of the franchise. The stand-alone story doesn’t add any new characters, or indeed lend anything original to the series overall, but since that’s generally not the purpose of OVAs, I don’t think anyone expected it to. It fits in well with everything else we’ve seen of Natsume Yuujinchou and is of the same good quality, so I’m happy enough.

Question of the post: Have you stuck with most of the shows you originally picked out this season? How do you feel about the winter in comparison to the spring, summer and fall anime seasons?

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9 thoughts on “Anime Taste Testing: Winter 2013/14 (Part II)

  1. I dropped most of the ones you dropped, but mostly out of indifference. They didn’t strike me of being particularly bad, but they didn’t do anything to raise my interest. Sometimes I feel like dropping Nobunaga the Fool, Pilot’s Love Song, and Space Dandy because they aren’t panning out the way I had hoped. (something something) Zvezda is the surprise of the season, I think.

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    • Yeah, I’d say the only outright bad show I dropped has been Pupa. Despite what I’ve seen a lot of other bloggers say, I really think this winter season has had a fairly solid line-up. (That said, I’m very much looking forward to spring – some great-looking titles there.)

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  2. I’ve stuck with most of the shows that I picked after the initial try out at the beginning of the season. Recently I dropped Nobunagun and Nobunaga the Fool as they weren’t doing it for me. The rest are still there – most notably Noragami, Space Dandy and Nisekoi. Comparing this season and last year’s I’d agree with what you said, most of those seasons had at least one exceptional series that had me waiting in anticitation each week. This season doesn’t really have any like that but I’m still enjoying the ones I’ve kept watching nonetheless. I’m curious about Gin no Saji; I didn’t pick that one up when S1 came out. What do you feel is the draw of the series? Thanks! 🙂

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    • Yeah, I think this season is probably a record for me as far as how few shows I dropped after my initial viewings goes. And of course, although it’s an ongoing autumn series, Kill la Kill continues to be excellent, so there’s at least one exceptional title I’m currently watching.

      I can’t speak for other viewers, but for me personally, I enjoy the gentle humour in Gin no Saji a lot. It’s a slice-of-life series, but one with a lot of heart, which I feel comes across in the often humorous situations that our main character finds himself in. But unlike many other comedy shows, it doesn’t rely either on fanservice or any barbed kind of humour – it’s very down-to-earth, but also optomistic. I usually finish most episodes feeling not just amused but also light-hearted. 🙂

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  3. I didn’t watch a lot as of yet, only Gin no Saji S2, some random shorts and a few 20+ episodes shows continuing from the previous season.

    Speaking of shorts, I wonder why are there so many of them this season, lol. For the ones that I know of, Pupa (which sadly I was actually looking forward to, but I honestly don’t think a heavy-content series like that with only minutes per episodes would work) and Strange+, which I watched a few episodes, and also Onee-chan ga Kita! and Robot Girls Z if I’m not wrong, though I didn’t watch the latter two. I wonder if anime shorts will become another common thing to come in the future, lol.

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    • Anime shorts do indeed seem to be coming more popular – I imagine this often has something to do with financial issues. I don’t think shorts will become as popular as the other current anime formats, though; from what I can tell, the majority of shorts are based on yonkoma and/or gag manga, and there simply aren’t many of these that have gained enough popularity to warrant getting their own anime show, at least in comparison to the other manga types.

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