Anime Taste Testing: Fall 2014 (Part II)

69. picture
It’s finally started to cool down in my neck of the woods, and while I don’t exactly welcome the colder weather, I’ll take just about any excuse to bunker down with a mug of hot chocolate and some anime – though I’m clearly nowhere near as enamoured with the current season as some others appear to be. Having already quickly dropped Ai Tenchi Muyo!, Donten ni Warau, and Amagi Brilliant Park last time around, eight other titles remained in the line-up… two more of which have now been dropped. See what made the final cut and what ultimately failed to tickle my fancy below.

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso/Your Lie in April
Original score: 5/10
Current score: 4/10

67. picture5

I just can’t do this. I don’t mind a decent romance every now and again, but aside from feeling incredibly unrealistic to me, the ‘comedic’ moments of Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso feel more suited to a poorly scripted shounen action/adventure series than a heartfelt drama. While I might have been able to overlook this had the rest of the series lined up with my personal tastes, I unfortunately also think very little of most of the characters. I assume that Kaori is probably meant to come off as charmingly eccentric – a free-spirited genius with the pure heart of a child beneath all the contradictions and chaos – but frankly I can only see her as rudely arrogant, emotionally manipulative, and most likely psychologically fragile. The anime certainly looks pretty (fantastic OP, too), and I could have really gotten into Kousei’s backstory despite the improbability of the whole setup, but nearly everything else about this title puts me off. Dropped (finally).

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works
Original score: 6/10
Current score: 6/10

67. picture6

Sorry, but the Fate franchise just doesn’t do it for me. I honestly wish it did so I get in on the fun, but for whatever reason I just can’t seem to sum up much enthusiasm for it. I will reiterate though, this series likely deserves a higher score than I’m personally willing to give it. If nothing else, Unlimited Blade Works is easily one of the best-looking titles of the entire season; the vivid colour palette is absolutely gorgeous and the animation is beautifully fluid – especially great to witness in a fantasy-action series. Dropped, but definitely not scorned.

Orenchi no Furo Jijou/The Circumstances in My Home’s Bathtub
Original score: 6/10
Current score: 6/10

67. picture7

Orefuro continues to be a largely unambitious but easily digestible title, with a good dose of light sweetness to it and not much else. And there’s nothing wrong with that – it’s just a nice, mostly humorous series of shorts that makes me smile, doesn’t require much thought, and provides just the barest hint of BL under the general silliness. (I doubt things will progress further on the BL front, and given the episode length, I’m also okay with that.)

Sanzoku no Musume Ronja/Ronia the Robber’s Daughter
Original score: 6/10
Current score: 7/10

67. picture8

I find it disappointing that so few people in the community seem to be blogging about this show. The terrible CG is still doing its thing, and the music is a total non-event, but Sanzoku no Musume Ronja continues to grow on me nonetheless. I can certainly see the Ghibli influence, mostly in the way that the show handles its dialogue (or lack thereof) so well. For me, one of the measures of a great anime is when a show doesn’t shy away from the silence, and it does Ronia great credit that the creators don’t scramble to fill the quiet with pointless chatter, instead allowing the landscape and the experiences of the characters in it to speak for themselves. Jerky animation aside, the other vaguely irritating factor of the series for me is the narration, which seems not only pointless but also rather childish in tone. However, as the narrator’s voice is usually only heard for several seconds at the beginning/end of each episode, this doesn’t bother me overmuch.

Akatsuki no Yona/Yona of the Dawn
Original score: 6/10
Current score: 7/10

67. picture9

Fair warning, my own enjoyment of Akatsuki no Yona is probably greater than any kind of objective scoring here. It’s not a show that really stands out in any particular way – the visuals are fine but in no way special, ditto with the music. The storytelling, while by no means terrible, can’t compare with the likes of Twelve Kingdoms or even Saiunkoku Monogatari, both of which have at least surface similarities to Yona. At the same time, this is most definitely a cut above Fushigi Yuugi, the other title that’s been thrown around a lot in relation to Yona. We’ve yet to find out how many episodes Yona is slated for but I find myself hoping that it gets a full two cours, because it has enough heart and an interesting enough cast that I feel I can actually take this reverse-harem seriously, despite it being… well, a reverse-harem. The fact that a show like this is taking its time with the harem aspect for once in order to offer solid character grounding is a distinct mark in its favour.

Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu/Parasyte -the maxim-
Original score: 7/10
Current score: 8/10

67. picture10

While I may not enjoy Kiseijuu on quite the same level as I do the below couple of titles (again, just not a big horror fan), I can’t deny that it’s an excellent series – one of the very best of the fall line-up. The horror aspects themselves demand attention without becoming campy, and although none of the characters (aside from the obvious choice) particularly stand out to me, the atmosphere is wonderfully crafted. I stand by my comment about this being the best anime of its genre to come out since [insert your favourite horror anime here]… and even then, Kiseijuu is probably better quality.

Psycho-Pass 2
Original score: 8/10
Current score: 8/10

67. picture11

My main concern with Psycho-Pass is that it won’t make any move to resolve the biggest issue I had with the first season – namely, giving some much-needed attention to those characters who may not be in the center of things as far as the action goes, but are still more than interesting enough in their own right to warrant a lot more screen time. Yayoi was given one, or was it two episodes mostly to herself in the original series, while her relationship with Shion remained completely unexplored. Meanwhile, Shion (likewise classified as a latent criminal, don’t forget) seems to provide much of the unit’s support yet got not a single episode to herself last season. I’d love to see these aspects of Psycho-Pass given more consideration this time around.

Mushishi Zoku Shou 2nd Season
Score: 10/10

67. picture12

It’s Mushishi. Need I say more?

Question of the post: How’s the fall season shaping up for you? Have any of your opinions dramatically changed from when you first started watching?

Advertisements

11 thoughts on “Anime Taste Testing: Fall 2014 (Part II)

  1. Still enjoying Akatsuki no Yona, and I can appreciate the time they’re taking to develop the characters (because I’d really, really like a solid cast of characters to fall in love with as opposed to choose-your-type style of Otome game reverse harems—this is better viewed as a shoujo adventure that happens to have an unbalanced gender ratio). However, what makes it really, really unlike Fushigi Yuugi (besides almost everything else) is the tone and pace. It can’t rely on gags to carry it while the plot is still so heavy, and has been trying to make do with things like flashbacks to brighten the mood and carry the pace.
    Which is to say, I have high hopes for it but I’m really, really eager for them to introduce another major character soon to keep it interesting.

    Like

    • I agree, while Yona technically falls into reverse-harem territory, it has much more of a shoujo adventure tone to it. Agreed also with your comment about Fushigi Yuugi, which had a lot of running gags amidst all that drama. Yona seems to be a very different breed, for which I’m grateful in that respect. The pacing does strike me as a little slow – a new character right about now would be grand – but I can forgive the show it’s deliberateness if it means better and more long-term character development overall.

      Like

  2. I have been so busy that I just now have been jumping into the fall season and I must say… I hear crickets. Honestly, I think I have, at most, three titles I’m looking into. That’s it. I mean, it’s not like I have time to go into too many shows anyway, but still. Only three looked interesting to me. Often I find at least five or more to initially check out (even if I only end up keeping up with three or so). But not this time. This season seems preeetty dead. Then again there are a few continuations of shows, so there’s less to start out with, I guess. It’s just weird.
    I aaam kinda impressed with Yona of the Dawn though. I was expecting it to be far more bland due to the set up (I’ve seen far too many shoujo stuff based on this kind of thing to find it interesting most of the time), but I give it serious props for actually, well, doing something. Especially with having our heroine actually fire an arrow competently in episode 2. It’s sad that such a thing gives a show a star in my book, but such is the sorry state of shoujo heroines these days. I certainly hope we get a strong female character here with legit development. Cause the shoujo section needs a bit more of those.
    But, heck, I’ll settle for her not ending up a whining mess the whole show. Which is often how “princesses” end up.

    Like

    • I agree. So many other bloggers are apparently loving this season, but to me it feels rather bland. But hey, summer had way more titles that fit my own demographic, so perhaps this current season is simply a shift away from that. In any case, I’ve likewise been keeping so busy lately don’t really mind a slower couple of months.

      If the OP for Yona is anything to go by then I expect far more than a whiny mess out of our main character. Early days yet I suppose, but at this point I have a lot of faith that this will be a keeper.

      Like

      • I certainly hope so. Set ups like this have the potential to be amazing stories, but few and far in between are the shows that actually use that potential.
        Here’s hoping!

        Like

  3. Yeah, it’s not that great a season, is it? Apart from Mushishi there’s not a single memorable show. A shame because the rest of 2014 has been overall solid, and this will hurt the average. As for your picks, I like Shigatsu’s Kaori for many of the reasons you dislike her, and I’m looking forward to her and the main character banging heads at one point.

    And apart from Mushishi, the show I look forward to watching every week is, of all things, Gugure! Kokkuri-san, though Shirobako is right behind it.

    Like

    • This season does indeed feel a bit flat. I think there are definitely some memorable shows besides Mushishi, however – it’s just that they’re unfortunately not as memorable as many of the other shows we’ve had come out this year.

      Like

  4. I’m with you on Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso, especially about the out of place comedy. Despite the great visuals, my love of a good music anime, and all the praise it’s been getting, I just can’t seem to get into it. Not dropped, but definitely not my pick of the season.

    One show I’ve slowly come to like more and more each week is Akatsuki no Yona… I still have my doubts about it, mostly because the opening reveals so much about the story and the series synopsis basically ruined the “twist” in the first episode, but I do think it’s been gradually getting better as the characters and story find their footing. Like you say, it’s definitely no 12 Kingdoms (but, what is?), and I also hope it has 2 cours so that it has time to flesh out the epic story the opening promises.

    Other than Mushishi, Fate/Stay Night, and Parasyte, I’m also really enjoying Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru. I didn’t expect anything from this little series, but have been pleasantly surprised so far.

    Like

    • I honestly see Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso as more of a romance than a music anime. Music is obviously one of the primary themes, but I have a feeling that I’d like the series much more if it happened to focus more on the music itself and less on the (I’m assuming eventual romantic) relationship between the two main characters.

      I agree – Akatsuki no Yona may still be finding its feet but has in general become a stronger series as time has gone by. While drawn in but a little underwhelmed by that first episode, I think the storytelling has gotten noticeably stronger since then.

      Like

  5. Okada Mari continues to take a dump on smart writing in Wixxos, KimiUso is written by someone who hasn’t scored a big title yet. Unsurprising, given that the show can’t seem to find the correct atmosphere and pacing for its intricate nature. Denki-gai no Honya-san is a silly comedy, worth checking out if you want a laugh and have a weekly 20 minutes to spare but not worth making time for I think. And then there’s Trigger with it’s LN adaptation that really is just boring and below expectations.

    I’m still on the fence about Amagi Brilliant Park, which started out as contender for AoTS but has dipped in its last two episodes, showing that despite its serious premise KyoAni tries to pander to every audience by showing some “nude” scenes but following it up with mostly comedy rather than the much needed serious story development this show needs if it wants to be considered at the same level as Hyouka for example. Although I’m still crossing my fingers this one steps it up a notch again, because the idea and concept are fantastic, and E1 was the best opening episode of fall 2014, and short of Haikyuu’s E1 perhaps the year.

    And while Psycho Pass is my title of the season thus far, Shirobako is a surprisingly refreshing show that took not necessarily the community but definitely me by surprise. It’s not “girls making anime”, it’s “girls and their colleagues working in the anime industry” – and that’s a much more interesting and enjoyable concept and point of view. It hasn’t managed to make me care whether or not an episode is finished due airing date yet, but it has managed to suck me in every week despite its slice of life atmosphere, which isn’t badly paced or boring, but hardly describable as exciting or intriguing. I’d say that this is the one show clearing up a 20min spot in your week is worth the effort for, because it’s attention to detail and ambition to be as clear while remaining interesting is a joy to watch.

    Overall I’d say Psycho Pass (8) and Shirobako (8) on 1 and 2, followed by Log Horizon 2 (7) on 3 with a small margin, and closing the top five at a considerable distance are Fate/SN (6) and Amagi Brilliant Park (6).

    And I should really get started on Mushishi …

    Like

    • I tried the first episode of Shirobako but just didn’t have the time or patience to keep up with it. I liked it, but not enough to make room for it elsewhere in my schedule. In a way I’m quite glad of this current rather bland season, since I don’t have the spare time to be watching as many titles as I was in the summer. But who knows, I may come back to Shirobako someday when I have a bit more time up my sleeve.

      Like

LEAVE A COMMENT

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s