Anime Summer Season 2014 Overview – At Least The Ones I Watch

It’s been a while since we’ve talked about anything not games on this blog, even though it was originally meant to discuss several things.

It’s also been a while since I’ve paid any real attention to a new season of anime, but I’ve ended up watching several shows from this season for whatever reason. So I figured I’d talk a little bit about them, and how I feel after four episodes.

I will go in the order I started watching them, as best I can remember. Some spoilers are likely to occur.

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Free! Eternal Summer

My boys. My perfect, perfect boys. And the lovely Gou-chan, of course. (She’s stopped insisting on Kou since the first season.)

There’s not really much of a plot here. A bunch of friends like swimming, and wear very little clothes because they prefer swim trunks, and they have impressive physiques (and muscles).

There’s the usual stuff of friendship overcoming everything, and they occasionally actually race eachother in the pool when they’re not being super-friendly and standing very close together in intense scenes. Haru has a salacious relationship with water, when I’m not dreaming about him making out w- I mean, when he’s not drea- I mean… er… water!

Hasn’t got a single flaw to it, is perfect in every way, and I won’t hear a bad word said about it. ❤

Nice mask, bro.

Tokyo Ghoul

It’s roughly now, Tokyo, except in an alternate universe where certain people called Ghouls wander about. They look human, most of the time, but they’re actually stronger in every way, can’t be hurt by most human means, and have to eat human flesh to survive. Any other type of food is basically toxic to them, except for coffee. No, it doesn’t really make sense, but as premises go, I’ve heard worse. A lot of western stories about zombies and ghouls have them only eating humans too, though they’re usually not this… sentient.

Of course the ghouls have their own secret society and stuff, there are special variants, they can sprout unique superpowers, and all that jazz.

Enter Kaneki, a human who gets targeted as the next meal for a ghoul named Rize, who is classified as a Binge Eater. Basically cursed with eternal gluttony, though she seems quite happy about it. Shit goes down, Rize is somehow killed next to a mortally wounded Kaneki, and the first responders for some reason think it’s a great idea to stuff Rize’s organs into Kaneki so he’ll live. As a half-ghoul thing. Which are of course rumoured in ghoul myth to be the strongest ghoul of all, because that’s how these stories work.

Getting a definite Bleach vibe off of this one, though it absolutely revels in the deep, dark and morbid. So you could say it has a touch of Hellsing (for some other reasons too). I am not sure where it currently sees itself going. Episode 1 was basically just set-up, episode 2 does some interesting stuff with Kaneki’s introduction to the ghoul world, dealing with other ghouls and his human friends, and the possibility of at least part of Rize’s consciousness surviving in him as a secondary voice, urging him to give in to his hunger.

Episode 3 and 4 have felt a little more… unfocused, and 4 swiftly dove deep into the unnecessarily creepy. It could still recover, but I hope it wraps up the current path quickly, and gets on with the interesting stuff.

Feel free to check it out, but you might need something cheery to pick you up afterwards. (No, I don’t know what the deal is with the gimp mask, it hasn’t come up yet.)

We are rawr!

Shirogane no Ishi: Argevollen

Mecha show!

In spite of the titular Argevollen mecha, the rest of the mechs seem more like something out of Battletech, which I will admit is what initially drew me to watch the show. I generally prefer what I’ve come to know as western-style mechs over eastern-style mecha, even though I am aware that Battletech’s original design were essentially just copy-pasted from some old Japanese show. Robotech? Gundam? I don’t care to look it up.

True to the philosophy of Evangelion, the protagonist is the most dull-looking boy in the show (on the left in the overhead picture). Doesn’t even have a special eye colour. He’s a soldier, but still so fresh that he will occasionally disobey orders to do what he thinks is right, and is thus rewarded with being the only pilot the Argevollen will accept when he rescues it and the girl in the middle up there from being captured by the other guys.

At which point it basically becomes a “what if one of them fancy mechas went up against more standard, militaristic mechs” show, though it has so far avoided showing the Argevollen as clearly overpowered.

I honestly do not remember the names of the sides. One side is being the clear aggressor, though the reasons for that are not yet shown, and the other side is on the defensive and retreating. The latter is of course the side our heroes belong too. They prefer more military shades of green and brown over the blue and red mechs and uniforms of the invaders.

It’s not an exceptional show in any way, but it is consistently interesting enough that I haven’t seen any reason to stop watching. It floats pretty comfortably in the “good, but not great” territory, and I will never not appreciate how heavy and hefty the mechs seem. Even the Argevollen itself has a noticeable weight to its step.

Couldn't be more adorable.

Futsuu no Joshikousei ga [Locodol] Yatte Mita.

Or just Locodol for short.

The average and uncute (complete lies, she is 100% adorable, but that’s how the show paints her view of herself, and how her parents see her too) Nanako, who has a tendency to introduce herself as Nanyako/Nyanako when nervous, teams up with the older and more confident Yukari to become local idols, or locodols, to promote their town. Small towns and districts have troubles with being abandoned by young people and businesses, so this is a ploy to raise the popularity of the area.

It has slightly more plot than Free!, in other words.

However, I find it equally adorable, only this is about girls and singing/performing, rather than boys and swimming. They still manage to provide quite a lot of fanservice, though. And its tones of potential yuri are a little stronger than Free!’s potential yaoi vibes.

So yeah. Super adorable, completely perfect, definitely recommended watch. ❤

Leeeeggggggsssssssss.

Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon: Crystal

This one is running on a bi-weekly schedule, so I’ve only seen two episodes so far.

Having never seen any Sailor Moon before this, I really wasn’t quite sure what to expect going into it.

There is a plot. The rather ditzy Usagi finds a magical talking cat from the moon, and gains the power to transform into Sailor Moon. Which she is expected to do to battle the forces of Evil, but she isn’t especially good at it so far. She doesn’t seem especially independent, but then again, I wouldn’t really know how to do all the stuff Luna instructs her to without being told to either.

I will note that I am not entirely fond of this type of art style, and for some reason the voice actors bother me a little. Aside from Luna and the newly introduced Ami, most of them start to sound grating on my ears after speaking for a few moments. I am slowly growing accustomed to it, but I don’t really understand why they bother me. It’s the first time I can specifically remember that being an issue with an anime.

Still though, I will keep watching, as the premise is interesting, and to finally get an introduction to the cultural phenomenon that the old series and manga created.

Such serious. Much gun.

Sword Art Online II

I quite liked the first season of Sword Art Online. Even parts of the second half when it went into Sword Elf Online instead, and got really, really creepy and rapey. I didn’t like those bits, or really anything to do with Asuna’s quite abrupt removal of agency. And the ending was kinda pants.

But the series had a lot more light novels to go on, so of course they’re back for another season. This time the main setting is Sword Gun Online (it’s actually Gun Gale Online, but I have a theme to stick to). Or is it? Four episodes in, and the amount of actual plot that has happened is minimal. It’s mostly been set-up, set-up, set-up.

Some bloke imaginatively calling himself Death Gun has been shooting people in Sword Gun Online, and making them die in real life. Kirito is being asked to investigate, because he basically saved two worlds in the first season. Though he seems to have forgotten what happened in the first season, because he keeps saying over and over that he doesn’t believe it’s possible to kill real people from a virtual world. Even though that was the basic premise the whole show (and book series) started on.

I’d be tempted to think that the people involved in this season didn’t actually pay attention to season 1. Though if those lines are taken from the actual books, it’s merely a case of bad writing in the source material.

There doesn’t really seem to be much point in watching this, as nothing is really happening. Sinon’s backstory feels like badly written tripe. By the time they finally get the plot off the ground, I assume most people will have lost interest. Because I’m a completionist at heart, I will probably stick with it longer than most. Also, needs more Asuna.

Is me. Is not really me. Sorry.

Aldnoah.Zero

It’s half past the future, and Martians are in orbit around Earth. There was a war 15 years ago where the Martians shattered the moon, because of course, then a truce was signed, and work is being done on a permanent peace treaty, spear-headed by the Martian princess.

Only these Martians are basically just humans, who at some point in the past left Earth (don’t ask me how), went to Mars, found super-tech, and crowned themselves gods. Now they look down upon the Terrans, believing them inherently inferior in every way, and only the princess really believes in peace.

So of course they arrange an assassination on her so they can restart the war while blaming the humans.

This one took me by surprise a bit. The first episode is very meh, and makes it seem like this show could easily go either way. But then episode 2 is really good. And 3 is even better. And in 4, where it seems like it might wind down a bit before building up to another peak, it instead somehow manages to keep things up.

I also quite identify with Inaho and his analytical mindset and approach to things, which probably helps my appreciation.

If there’s any major criticism to be had, it’s that the martians are perhaps bit too Saturday-Morning-Cartoon villains. Very over-the-top and irredeemable. Even the ‘nicest’ of them is a complete racist bastard. It doesn’t quite fit into what otherwise seems like a fairly grounded show.

Well worth a watch.

The pen is mightier.

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun

A romantic comedy about drawing shojo manga. I know, I know, I was sceptical at first too, but it came highly recommended, so I had to try.

Sakura Chiyo is hopelessly in love with Nozaki Umetarō, and is determined to ask him out. However, she bungles it up and states that she’s his fan. Which ends up with her becoming the beta (like an inker, I think?) for his manga.

Weird premise, and I remained sceptical throughout episode 1. But then episode 2 introduced Mikoshiba, and… well… first impression wasn’t great, but… he ended up single-handedly selling me on the entire show. I just adore his awkward embarrassment. And his weird antics.

Episode 3 and 4 introduces more intriguing characters, and I have to say that sometimes I am just like “what is even happening in this show”. But it’s also quite good.

I do hope Sakura manages to actually ask out Nozaki at some point though.

Very watchable.

Lotsa kids.

Barakamon

This one is ostensibly about calligraphy, but in reality seems to be about not much at all. Just some guy learning to be a better person. And he needs some lessons in that, to be sure.

I am honestly not quite sure what to think of this one, yet. It’s cute, sure. It has some decent characters in it, that appear to be growing nicely so far. It’s set in a charming little place.

I’m not really seeing a huge appeal though… but it’s nothing offensive either, and is occasionally heart-warming. Maybe that’s enough.

That’s all I’m watching. So far, at least. I’m still open to recommendations, but I can’t guarantee picking up any more shows. I’ve been told to check out Tokyo ESP, but I haven’t gotten there so far.

~Wulf

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Posted on July 28, 2014, in Cartoons and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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