Anime Taste Testing: Summer 2014

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Ladies and gentlemen, summer is officially upon us. RUN, DON’T WALK. (Actually, you should probably walk because it’s really damn hot out there.) But the point is, summer has finally made it and apart from the arrival of all the fun things about the season you all know and love, like gross insects and back sweat, there’s also a whooole lot of new anime I’ve got on my to-watch list. Significantly more than in any other season to date, in fact – in part because there are so many sequels/remakes that I’m actually watching for a change, and in part because there’s a far larger spread of female-targeted titles than normal.

This season, there are 17 – count, em, 17 – shows that have earned themselves a first look based on either the premise or the production team behind them. I’m almost hopeful that some of them will turn out to be shite, since it’ll be hard going if I decide to follow all of them right the way through. So, let’s take a look shall we? I usually go from bottom to top based on score, but this time I thought I’d mix things up a bit and tackle things in alphabetical order, just because.

This post is considerably longer than usual, so readers who’re after the TD;LR version can skip right to the end if they so desire.

Aldnoah.Zero
Score: 6/10

aldnoah zero

I’m not entirely sure where this series is going to go story-wise, or how much direct involvement we’ll be seeing as far as the mecha element goes. In fact, I’m not really sure of much at all yet, other than the fact that it looks fantastic (I especially like the character designs – simple, but attractive) and has an excellent soundtrack. Production values will of course never make up for a bad story or dull characters no matter how good they are, but I’d like to give Aldnoah.Zero a decent chance, and there’s nothing there yet which has put me off. I don’t the first episodes gave us anything especially original, but seeing as it also didn’t do anything I found either offensive or stupid, I’m willing to keep an open mind until I get a better feel for the series. (And yes, I do quite like Urobuchi Gen, and I don’t care who knows it.)

Ao Haru Ride
Score: 6/10

ao haru ride

Only the second title to be directed by Yoshimura Ai, Ao Haru Ride managed to both grab me and piss me off both in the same episode. I mean, this anime looks lovely; the water-colour style of artwork for those flashback scenes are beautifully done, and lends the whole piece a sense of quaint sophistication. On the other hand, I’ve no wish to emotionally invest myself in a romance/drama whose main male character is a broody jerk. I get it – something’s happened in his childhood (possibly to do with the divorce of his parents), and now he’s channeling his inner angst by being contradictory and putting a devil-may-care face over his broken heart of gold. Sorry man, that doesn’t excuse you being an asshole. I’d like to keep watching to see where things go from here, because I have a feeling I’d really like Ao Haru Ride if it weren’t for this aspect, but it depends on how the characterisation is handled from here on out.

Bakumatsu Rock
Score: 5/10

bakumatsu rock

If Sengoku Basara and Uta no Prince-sama got together and had a baby, Bakumatsu Rock would be it. Regardless of whether this is actually your thing or not, I think it deserves some credit just for having the balls to combine feudal Japan with electric guitars and government-controlled J-pop male idol groups. Yep, it’s about as ridiculous as it sounds – which is no doubt at least partially the point. I honestly can’t credit Bakumatsu Rock with anything more than its premise; while someone evidently had a lot of fun with the character and costume designs, the CG is downright awful, and the (so-called) rock music – whether purposefully or not – couldn’t be considered good by any stretch of the imagination. The scripting is also about as thoughtful as you’d expect from a show of this… calibre. I can’t in good conscience give this a higher rating, but that said, I’ll probably keep watching while the absurdist gimmicks are still fresh enough to be entertaining.

Barakamon
Score: 8/10

barakamon

D’aww. I really like what I’ve seen of this so far, and while the first episode didn’t totally blow me away, the second got the blend of humour and low-key adorableness exactly right for my tastes. Barakamon is funny but also sweet, and although it presents an obviously idealised view of very rural Japan, it doesn’t come across as overly sugar-coated (so far, at least). The premise isn’t exactly original –townie coming to grips with rural life, the warmth and wisdom of country folk, etc. etc. – but that doesn’t mean Barakamon won’t be touching, and I also dig the fact that our main character is a fully-fledged adult rather than a school kid. If you’re going to watch any single slice-of-life title this season, this is definitely the one you should be picking up.

DRAMAtical Murder
Score: 5/10

dramatical murder

Okay, not a great start here – I imagine I’ll be dropping this one shortly, although it’s not the offensively bad show I thought it might turn out to be. Unfortunately, I also get the feeling that DRAMAtical Murder is trying its darndest to be cool and innovative even though it’s clearly struggling to be either. It’s certainly a colourful show, and I don’t necessarily dislike the general designs,but that’s about all I can say for it at this stage. The animation itself is subpar. The soundtrack is a non-event. Even the voice acting sounds weirdly off to me. Meanwhile, the story feels as though a bunch of reasonably fun and interesting individual ideas were grabbed almost at random and then smushed all together in the hopes that it would make a good overall product, when mostly it just feels kinda messy. (Also, I just fundamentally don’t understand the appeal of an anime based on a BL story that’s had all the BL content completely removed. Doesn’t that defeat the entire purpose?And if past experience is anything to go by – looking at you, Togainu no Chi – it doesn’t exactly do wonders in terms ofphysical sales, either.)

Free!: Eternal Summer
Score: 8/10

free

Either you liked the first season or you didn’t – and for better or worse depending on your point of view (and quite possibly your gender), season two is almost certainly going to operate in extremely similar fashion. Objectively speaking, the best thing about this series is still the lovely artwork and animation; it’s bright but crisp, and very smooth indeed, as is to be expected from this studio. Which isn’t to say the visuals are the only thing worth appreciating about Free! – I genuinely think the humour is well done, albeit somewhat repetitive, and despite all the general filler, I feel that the sports aspect of the story progresses at a decent enough pace. Free! panders, yes, but it panders incredibly well, and that’s all I need in a series like this.

Kuroshitsuji: Book of Circus
Score: 8/10

kuroshitsuji

Fans and non-fans alike can rest assured – this is a full remake rather than a direct sequel, so not only can we pretend that season two (and/or season one if you like) never existed, but new viewers can also jump in without fear of missing out on anything of importance. Now despite my general agreement with what Watson had to say on the matter, I still enjoyed the original series just the same – I love a healthy dose of dark fantasy, and the genre tends to mix with Victorian-era England so very well. Thankfully, Book of Circus looks like it’ll be taking just about everything season one did and do it that much better. The animation is smoother. The artwork is more or less in the same style but clearer and sharper. And if episode one is anything to go by, we’re sticking much closer to the manga version of events, which I for one am deeply appreciative of. The voice actors remain the same, so points for consistency where it counts. About the only thing I’ll probably miss from the first anime series is the gorgeous soundtrack – other than that, I’m totally on board.

Love Stage!!
Score: 6/10

love stage

I expected this to be far worse than it actually is – so while Love Stage! won’t be winning any anime of the year awards, I’m mostly pleasantly surprised; our main seme is neither a cold-as-ice asshole nor a creepy molester, which is already a huge mark in this anime’s favour. The humour is also silly yet low-key enough for it to be actually funny – something that rom-coms often don’t manage to pull off that well. I don’t much care for the character designs, which feel like a weird mix of Amnesia and Princess Princess, and there’s nothing impressive about either the animation or the music, but as far as derpy BL fluff goes, Love Stage! looks fun and is also remarkably inoffensive thus far.

Sailor Moon: Crystal
Score: 7/10

sailor moon

It’s honestly too early for me to tell if this remake is going to be ‘good’ or not, although for what it’s worth, I certainly didn’t dislike the first couple of episodes. While I’m not really a fan of this particular art style, I respect anime titles that respect their source material – so in that sense I actually approve, despite it personally not tickling my fancy. At this point, I think the only major complaint I have is the pretty terrible CG during the transformation sequences. It’s blended in very poorly and unfortunately sticks out like a sore thumb; there’s no way not to notice its awfulness. Otherwise, I’m happy enough for the time being, particularly since it looks as though the story won’t be wasting its time wading through all the filler that the original series had. This strikes me as doubly important given that Sailor Moon Crystal will only be airing once every fortnight rather than on the standard weekly basis.

Sengoku Basara – Judge End
Score: 8/10

sengoku basara

Yes, Sengoku Basara – simultaneously one of the Campest and Manliest shows ever to grace anime – has returned, and just as anticipated, it wastes no time getting straight to the point. Screamo metal OP? Check. Whole buildings exploding from the sheer force of manly willpower? Check. More fab Engrish from the six-blade-wielding, motor-horse-riding Masamune? Check and double check. If you haven’t seen the first two seasons of this then I thoroughly recommend checking them out (review here), and if you have, then you’ll know exactly what to expect from Judge End – namely, one of the most dramatic, idiotic, and epically crack-tastic action anime you’ll ever see.

Shounen Hollywood
Score: 6/10

shounen hollywood

Whaaaat? A show about an up-and-coming male idol J-pop group that actually looks halfway decent and retains a generous amount of self-awareness and realism? Somebody pinch me. Seriously though, I’m pleasantly surprised by how un-ridiculous this show seems to be. It definitely helps that Shounen Hollywood fairly grounded slice-of-life material rather than straight comedy or sparkly-eyed moe, but I’m still quite taken aback. As it happens, I don’t actually like the character designs overmuch, and the music is predictably terrible, but my lukewarm score for this show is much more reflective of my own personal taste than anything else. If I actually liked idol shows to begin with, I suspect I’d be adding at least one extra point to the above score, and maybe even two.

Space Dandy 2nd Season
Score: 7/10

space dandy

This feels like the second half of a first season rather than a sequel – and in effect, that’s exactly what it is, since Space Dandy has always been strictly episodic, rendering any continuation of any kind essentially impossible. Of course, if you were a fan of season one then that’s definitely not a bad thing, as season two brings us more of exactly the same… if anything as trippy as Space Dandy could be considered ‘same’, that is. Whatever the creative team behind the show is smoking is still as potent as ever, and although I can never seem to make my mind up about whether this anime is really smart or really stupid, I can’t deny that it’s entertaining regardless.

Sword Art Online II
Score: 7/10

sword art online

Note that I have zero interest in talking about anyone’s thoughts on the first season in this particular post – please go elsewhere for that if you’re so inclined. Anyhow, season two started off more slowly than I thought it would… not that the first season was extremely action-heavy to begin with, but I just naturally assumed there’d be less dialogue for the second season’s debut episode. However, I do realise that a certain amount of exposition always becomes necessary at some point, and all things considered, I’d rather have it out of the way sooner than later. Regardless, the second episode felt far smoother and more engaging, and imagine my surprise when I found myself becoming honestly interested in Sinon as a character. While I remain unconvinced that the best way to introduce a new main character is via a camera panning up her backside, I also remain hopeful that the creators won’t get too carried away with the fanservice.

Tokyo ESP
Score: 4/10

tokyo esp

Meh. That single word about sums up my feelings on the debut episode, which is a mostly confusing and uninspiring mess. There are a couple of good ideas here, but they feel pretty bogged down by tired scripting and cliché plot devices. Some of the characters could be interesting, but there’s absolutely nothing in the first 20 or so minutes of the show that encourages me to give a damn about any of them – I don’t know what anyone’s motivations are, I’m not instinctively drawn to any particular person, and I’m basically left emotionally cold. Honestly, my favourite thing about Tokyo ESP so far is the ED theme, and that’s only because I still quite like Yousei Teikoku.

Tokyo Ghoul
Score: 7/10

tokyo ghoul

I’ve yet to come across a single horror anime title that I like wholeheartedly and is consistently good from beginning to end. Many of them just seem to flop towards the conclusion, and since I’m a bit wary of Tokyo Ghoul doing much the same, I’m intentionally keeping my expectations a little lower than I otherwise might. That said, this does seem promising; a gorgeously vivid colour palette, solid animation, a very decent soundtrack, and most importantly of all, a great build-up of atmosphere that even the blatant censorship doesn’t detract too much from. I haven’t really seen enough character development yet that I feel able to comment on that aspect of the show, but I’m reasonably hopeful that Tokyo Ghoul will be at least passable on this front. While horror isn’t particularly my thing (you could probably safely add a point to the above score if it happens to be yours), I’m curious to see whether this one will hold up right the way through, so there’s a good chance that I’ll be sticking around to find out.

Yami Shibai 2nd Season
Score: 7/10

yami shibai

This is the only original anime short that I’ve watched and stuck with in recent memory. Yami Shibai is a bit hit and miss at times, but this episodic show actually worked oddly well in the past, and I can see no reason why it shouldn’t continue to do so. In fact, as far as supernatural horror goes, Yami Shibai is possibly one of the better anime titles out there regardless of episode length – mostly because it usually does a fantastic job of building up suspense without having to deliver any concrete conclusion other than ‘OH SHIT’. And really, is that not one factor that’s at the very heart of the genre to begin with? Not that I’m any kind of expert on that since I don’t even like horror per se, but there’s just something about this one that pulls you in. To anyone who hasn’t given Yami Shibai a try purely because of the 4-minute episode timeframes, you’re missing out on something quite good.

Zankyou no Terror
Score: 9/10

zankyou no terror

And lo, Watanabe Shinichirou and Kanno Yoko team up once more – this time for a show about a pair of teenage terrorists and an unfortunate girl caught up in the middle. Also, politics n’ stuff. Probably. This is without a doubt the best looking show of the summer season, and I don’t even know whether it’s possible for Kanno to deliver a bad soundtrack, so regardless of what your opinion on Watanabe is, Zankyou no Terror will at least be a treat for the senses. Beyond that, I’m very much liking what I’m seeing so far on the story front, although most of the details of course remain a mystery at this point. The writing and direction is solid though, so about the only thing I’m mildly concerned about is pacing – at just 11 episodes, there’s no time to waste, although the plot is such that there seems an awful lot to pack in for that number, and I certainly wouldn’t want to see this one rushed. Biased fan that I am however, I have every confidence that Watanabe knows what he’s doing.

TD;LR:

Will probably/definitely drop – Bakumatsu Rock, DRAMAtical Murder, Tokyo ESP.
On the fence about – Aldnoah.Zero, Ao Haru Ride, Shounen Hollywood.
Will probably/definitely keep – Barakamon, Free!, Kuroshitsuji, Love Stage!!, Sailor Moon, Sengoku Basara, Space Dandy, Sword Art Online, Tokyo Ghoul, Yami Shibai, Zankyou no Terror.

Question of the post: Are you watching more titles than usual this season? What’s the single best and most disappointing of them for you so far?

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31 thoughts on “Anime Taste Testing: Summer 2014

  1. I’m actually watching fewer titles (12) this season than any before (although I might pick up a few to fill the GAPING hole that is Monday) because there were fewer that piqued my interest. However, there are probably at least 2 titles in my current list that I’ll drop—leaving room for a few more to come in.

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    • I think I usually only pick up around 10 titles for a first impressions watch, and then end up dropping about half of them after the first handful of episodes. This time, I’ve picked up 17 shows and will most likely keep at least 11 of them – so it’s roughly double the norm for me this season. @_@

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      • Funny how we went opposite ways (although I was deliberately holding back on picking up shows because I’ve had a FANTASTIC run of shows out of my backlog recently, and I want to keep that going).

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  2. I was originally gonna watch only a few series, but then I got bored of the old stuff I was watching and went and picked up a bunch of summer anime. Only 8 though 😛 (17 ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? W o w)

    For the ones you’ve watched, I’m a little ambivalent about Aldnoah.Zero and Tokyo Ghoul at the moment, but I’ll give them a couple more episodes at least to see where the story goes.

    Zankyou no Terror and Barakamon have been the standouts to me. I think Zankyou’s premiere has been one of the best I’ve seen – usually I don’t find the first episodes of series particularly enrapturing, but Zankyou’s was a thrilling mix of action and glimpses of damaged characters. Pretty much exactly what I look for in a story! Meanwhile, Barakamon’s charm and humour has me won over.

    SAO 2 has been better than I expected so far! Okay, so there’s also been a bunch of things I’ve thought were not as great, but generally I thought the second episode was a well-done action piece. I think I would’ve been more invested in the fight if I knew what was at stake and knew a bit more about the characters, but I’m definitely interested in Sinon’s character at the moment, and hopefully her character development will be explored in interesting ways. Not just with butt shots XD

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    • I know, right? 17 is waaay more than usual for me – scheduling is definitely gonna be tight.

      I think I feel vaguely favourable towards Aldnoah.Zero and Tokyo Ghoul, but because neither mecha nor horror is generally my thing, I’m not super excited about either of them. Both impressed me more with their first respective episodes than they did with their second, so I’ll keep watching for now but without any major expectations.

      Agreed – Zankyou no Terror, followed by Barakamon, have easily staked out the first two places for me, and I doubt that this will change. 🙂

      And same here with SAO II as well. The first episode was heavy on the exposition and quite dull, all things considered, but the second upped the ante pretty significantly, and now I’m genuinely interested to see where things go.

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    • Yes – I watched the first handful of episodes of Black Bullet when it came out last season before finally giving it up. Way too much annoyingly obvious fanservice for my taste, and while I didn’t absolutely loathe the series, I certainly won’t be going back for more. I gave it a 4 out of 10, I think.

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  3. Yeah, I’m definitely watching a lot more titles this season and it looks like it’ll stay that way due to the great impressions I’ve had from most of the first and second episodes. Hard to pinpoint a single best as it would be a tie between Zankyou no Terror and SAO II for first place.

    The most disappointing title so far has been Ao Haru Ride – mainly because I didn’t feel absorbed in the potential romance between Futaba and Kou. This could be as you’ve mentioned, because of Kou’s attitude or just a sense of grasping at straws. Perhaps it’ll improve drastically next episode…

    I’m interested in giving Love Stage! a try after reading your article, it sounds like a decent romcom and there aren’t many this season. Thanks! I always enjoy your reviews 😀

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    • Interesting tie there!

      I’m with you on Ao Haru Ride being the most disappointing title so far. There are other shows that are far worse, but I had no expectations for them to begin with, whereas I guess I did for Ao Haru Ride. But I’ll give the show another couple of episodes before I decide whether to drop it or not.

      I guess Love Stage!! is the only romcom I’m watching this season (since I’m assuming that Ao Haru Ride will be leaning more towards drama than comedy). I mean, if you don’t like BL then chances are you won’t like Love Stage!!, but the first episode left a largely good impression on me despite its obvious weaknesses.

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  4. I’m going to try and keep track of Free!, Book of Circus and Fate/Kalied Liner Prisma Ilya this season, all of which, my viewing buddy and I noted, were surprisingly good for what they were. I’ve been kind of swept off my feet and back into my Kuroshitsuji phase. And even if Free! flops, we’ll still have the gift that is the adorable ending credits.

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    • I don’t think Free! will flop – it knows its niche far too well for that – but you’re right, that ED sequence is gold. One of the many things I really appreciate about the show is that it’s not in the least afraid of mocking itself.

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  5. I haven’t watched a lot of new shows thanks to my commitment to my preparation for my novel, but here’s my impressions on the anime that I watch:

    Pripara: The character designs are really cute. The songs and performances are good, but the plot is quite slow, despite the drama at the moment. Then again, most anime for kids rely on slow and steady buildup which means I’ll watch it to the end.

    Aldonah Zero: The background is well explained and the visuals are stunning to watch, but everything else has yet to be properly assessed.

    Shirogane no Ishi Argevollen: It starts up slow and is rather cliched, but at least the tropes are twisted somewhat the battles are well choreographed.

    I plan to watch Hanamayata and Psycho-Pass New Edit later on, though. Hopefully this season is an enjoyable season for us.

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    • I expect I’d be able to appreciate shows like Pripara and Shirogane no Ishi Argevollen much more if I actually liked cutesy music stuff and mecha respectively, but I just don’t. Not that I think there’s anything wrong with those genres – they’re just not for me. If Aldonah Zero gets too heavy on the mecha element then I’ll probably drop it for that reason alone, although I definitely agree with you that the show is visually fantastic.

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  6. This is the best season of anime I have seen in a long time but I’m still sticking to my six shows. I think our opinions are running along the same lines. Barakamon is sweet and funny, Aldnoah.Zero is gorgeous and has great potential. I’m more confident about Tokyo Ghoul due to the director. The way he circumvented censoring by going all arty in the second episode was a stroke of genius. I also rate Space Dandy pretty highly.

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    • I also think it’s a really strong season – it’s got a great sense of variety this time around, whereas normally the spread feels more limited to me.

      Tokyo Ghoul is actually my first experience with this director in action, but I agree that it’s nice to see the censorship being used as an advantage. (Of course, I’d rather just not have any censorship to begin with, but that choice doesn’t lie with the director so I won’t blame him for that.) Space Dandy’s good too, although the episodes can be a bit hit-and-miss. That’s just the comedy aspect though – I certainly can’t find fault with the production values.

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  7. So many titles worth checking out this season! I’ve run into a similar problem as you, with a ton of shows to watch that have the potential to be good. Zankyou no Terror and Barakamon are among my favourites so far, with Free! not far behind. My main disappointment right now is Glasslip, which I find lovely to look at but overall generally dull.

    I agree with your assessment of Aldnoah.Zero, as well. I really want to like it more, for the reasons you state, but I’m not finding a lot in terms of story or characters quite yet. I have hopes this will improve, especially with all the big names attached to it.

    One title that I would like to suggest you check out is Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-Kun… It’s a silly comedy about a girl who confesses to her crush, only be be mistaken as a fan (her crush happens to be a mangaka!). It’s light and easy, and so far pretty entertaining.

    Thanks for your thoughts on the season! Stay cool this summer!

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    • I agree – Zankyou no Terror, followed by Barakamon, are definitely my top shows of the season, and I have a feeling that won’t be changing.

      Thanks for the rec! I may well end up checking out Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-Kun at some point – although I think it’s safe to say that it won’t be this season. Too many shows already! 🙂

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  8. I’m planning on Sailor Moon and Free! (to be on board with friends mostly, but also because I think I can genuinely enjoy them), but otherwise I need to catch up on stuff I haven’t watched yet from years past!

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  9. I’ve resolved (for the most part) to let this season pile up a bit and then binge rather than watching week to week (except Space Dandy, because I need that in my life the very second it is available). That said, this is a pretty strong crop! Since I was a fan of previous incarnations, both Free! and Book of Circus will end up getting watched, as well as Crystal (…that one may be just a little so that I can complain. Nostalgic attachment to Zoisite is strong, and…well, you read the post).
    OF COURSE Terror is going to be a thing – I’ve not yet been disappointed by a Watanabe production, and this looks downright fascinating. Love Stage might be a fun guilty pleasure watch, and Barakamon looks surprisingly up my aisle as far as a good, quiet slice of life goes. I’m also curious but skeptical about Tokyo Ghoul, the finish line implosion of Another still fairly fresh in my mind.

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    • I definitely feel that this is the strongest season I’ve seen in some time – I’m just not used to having such a variety to choose from.

      Yeah, I’m likewise curious about Tokyo Ghoull, as I’ve yet to see any horror anime I’ve felt completely satisfied with from beginning to end. The conclusion has always let me down in the past (as it did, in spectacular fashion, with Another), so while I’m not holding my breath, I’d like to see Tokyo Ghoul really succeed on this front.

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  10. Well you visit my blog, so you probably have a good idea of what I’m favoring. But I’ll state it for anyone else, Zankyou no Terror and Tokyo Ghoul are by far the top series on my list. I didn’t even know who worked on Zanyou no Terror until I read this post. I went into it THAT blind. The worst I’ve watched so far is probably Argevollen. It’s pretty boring. Though if not for my schedule I would have checked out Tokyo ESP by now. Though it looks like I may not have watched it for long.

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    • Zankyou no Terror, followed by Barakamon, are definitely my top 2 of the season – although I’m certainly not starved for other good shows. On the other hand, I watched the second episode of Tokyo ESP this morning and promptly dropped it; it comes across as nothing but messy and in general poorly executed to me.

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  11. 17 shows.

    You know what’s funny? That’s more than I am watching this season. But after a couple of seasons where I started with or checked out roughly 20 shows, and I always have a hard time dropping shows, only to end with 10-12 shows I finish, of which I feel roughly 8 had been worth my time, I decided to cut back this season.

    I also identified a couple of shows I’d probably enjoy if I were to marathon them, rather than watch weekly, and did so. Especially for Shoujo Romances, but also for shounen action shows, which I am watching weekly, alas.

    Of course, there are plenty of the manservice shows this season, which appeal to you, but not me, which probably also played a part this time around 🙂

    From your tl;dr, you’re almost certainly keeping 11, and we now know you’ll likely keep 12. There’s also the double-episode of Korra every week to balance out that Sailor Moon only airs once every fortnight. Busy times.

    Images and Episode Count.

    You centered the first image, but not the following ones. I think centered images look cleaner, myself.

    I’d also suggest listing how many episodes you’ve seen, so it’d be easier to read these in context, especially if we happen upon these posts later. Just my two cents.

    Aldnoah.Zero

    Will this be a drama? A thriller? An action show? I suspect mostly a drama-thriller. I really don’t think of it as a “mecha show”, even if its story follows plenty of so-called “mecha shows”, which are political dramas with mechas in them. But yup, considering it’s going to have 24 episodes (apparently a split-cour), it’s really hard to make much of a call on this show, and especially about where it is going.

    Ao Haru Ride

    “On the other hand, I’ve no wish to emotionally invest myself in a romance/drama whose main male character is a broody jerk.”

    Honestly, it feels shoujo romances go either for “Brooding jerk” or “chivalrous hero”. Heck, they often go for both at the same time, or have the character transition from one to the other – Kaichou Wa-Maid Sama!, Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun, and Fruits Basket all fit the bill. It seems to be a genre trope.

    DRAMAtical Murder

    “Also, I just fundamentally don’t understand the appeal of an anime based on a BL story that’s had all the BL content completely removed. Doesn’t that defeat the entire purpose?”

    That’s true for a lot of VNs that are eroge, and have the erotic content or even most romance removed. Heck, see Fate/Stay Night. Dunno what to tell you.

    Kuroshitsuji

    You know. I liked the 2nd season considerably more than the first. It had fun, things were grand, and crazy, but at least it had fun rather than going nowhere, and being stolid and dull and full of uninteresting characters. I still didn’t like it enough to watch this season, as I have no idea in retrospect how I even watched all of Kuroshitsuji to begin with.

    SHounen Hollywood

    Interesting, because your description of this show reminds me of how people often described “Wake Up, Girls!” which you’ve dropped in the 2nd episode. Might be that you’ve got boys here instead of girls there? The smaller cast probably helps.

    Tokyo ESP

    Speaking of the ED. It lacks oomph, like all the sound in the series. I actually obtained two different raw versions of the episodes to check if it’s only in the version brought over, and it’s not. That ED really makes me imagine it’s what ALI Project would come up with if they made an actual rock song. But its lack of any impact is reflective of my thoughts of the show as a whole :<

    Questions

    Well, I’m watching about half of what I normally watch, but by end-season I’ll be at about the same point as I usually am, it just means I’ll waste less time getting there.

    Most enjoyable thus far are Legend of Korra (yes, yes, not anime), Barakamon, and Zankyou no Terror. Least enjoyable are Tokyo ESP, Glasslip, Sailor Moon, and Argevollen which is taking its “standard mecha show” through the paces.

    Surprises? I’m surprised by how much I’m enjoying the light camp of Akame ga Kill! – I see many people dislike it, but it seems they’re taking it seriously, while I’m having fun with the manga gags. Nothing had been much of a surprise thus far, except perhaps just how terrible of a mess Glasslip is. Didn’t expect anything this blatant.

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    • I think the smaller cast definitely helps for Shounen Hollywood – and the fact of the matter is, I do prefer a cast of bishounen as opposed to cutesy girls, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. Regardless though, I’ve just now dropped the series; I just don’t like the character designs, or the music, or the voice acting. It’s also really slow-moving in terms of story.

      I’m glad I didn’t pick up Glasslip. Most bloggers on my roll have been talking about how dull and insipid the series is, even though I’ve also seen a lot of people saying that P.A. Works is currently churning out the best anime. (Which I disagree with, incidentally. In fact, the only two shows from P.A. Works to date that I’ve loved from beginning to end are Angel Beats and Eccentric Family.)

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  12. I usually pick up maybe 4-5 shows per season to test drive before dropping 1-2 (as you can see, I’m not a very avid watcher! I do admit that this season’s looking particularly good to me so I’ve picked up about double the number of shows that I usually do. I don’t look at season offerings as a whole just because there are so many shows airing and I don’t want to drive myself crazy trying to follow them but I feel that this season’s presented at the very least, a very diverse menu.

    Cautiously hopeful about Tokyo Ghoul as well (I haven’t watched Zankyou or Aldnoah.Zero yet). Most of the other ones I tried out (Akame ga Kill, DRAMAtical Murder, Bakumatsu Rock) have induced a lukewarm interest at best. Besides Tokyo Ghoul, the only other anime I’ve watched so that that’s managed to genuinely surprise me is Nobunaga Concerto, an understated show with a very stylized animation technique but actually has some potential.

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    • I agree that it feels like a more diverse anime season than usual. I usually pick up about 10 shows and drop roughly half of them, so I’ve basically doubled what I’d normally watch this time around.

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  13. Pingback: Anime Taste Testing: Summer 2014 (Part II) | OTAKU LOUNGE

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