Here is, finally, my final report for Fall 2014. After a mostly disappointing year for anime series, the great stuff finally arrived. Fall 2014 is one of the best autumn seasons I have seen. I had a good time watching the end of some fun shows and the start of 3 well produced series that could become favorites of mine.
1. Parasyte, episodes 10-12 (Excellent) - These episodes saw the end of an intense and highly dangerous arc for the main characters, and the start of a new arc that might make the story even more intriguing. Parasyte is to me the best anime series of 2014, and the first half ended in another heart breaking episode for the main character.
2. Chaika, AVENGING BATTLE, episodes 9-10 (Good) - These last two episodes of AVENGING BATTLE concluded the story and revealed the intentions of the main villain. The conclusion was not great, but it got the job done. Ultimately I enjoyed this anime that was not spectacular but most of the time had a great vibe and fun characters.
3. Your Lie in April, episodes 9-11 (Very good) - The positive momentum from the previous episodes continued. I have been thoroughly seduced by this anime, and I am ready for more intense emotions and what appears to be and eventual bittersweet ending.
4. Fate/stay night, episodes 9-12 (Very good) - This very well produced show continues to be a great watch. I am familiar with the story and characters, but I continue being surprised by some developments. I look forward to the second part of this series that hopefully will be a great companion and conclusion for Fate/Zero.
5. Argevollen, episodes 21-24 (Good) - The series remained being good and appealing enough for me to enjoy. The show had some inconsistencies, but the main characters (especially the main duo) were usually my biggest draw. Lastly, the ending was a bit underwhelming but had enough closure (even with some loose ends that could justify and unlikely sequel).
6. CROSS ANGE: Rondo of Angel and Dragon, episodes 1-12 (So-so) - After an explosive but highly provocative and sensationalist first episode, this series struggled to find an identity. The last few episodes, though, have stabilized the premise and given a clear purpose to the story and main (and some secondary) characters.
7. Celestial Method, episodes 9-13 (Good) - Slowly but surely this show continued to improve and move to a resolution. In the end Celestial Method is a come of age story with mostly likable characters, but it has little ambition beyond the pleasant visuals.
8. Yona of the Dawn, episodes 5-12 (Good) - After the initial highly dramatic episodes, this series has settled more into an action/adventure show. The premise is still strong, but I am not as enamored with it as before.
9. Psycho-Pass 2, episodes 8-11 (Decent) - Just when it appeared that this uneven second season had turned the corner, episode 9 murks things. The final two episodes rectified some inconsistencies, but Psycho-Pass 2 ends up being a mostly pointless sequel.
10. SHIROBAKO, episodes 1-12 (Good) - An entertaining and sometimes funny series about people working in the anime industry, centered around 5 cute and charismatic young women. There is not much of an story, but I get a good vibe watching it.
11. Ace of Diamond, episodes 51-63 (Good) - The regional tournament finally ended in an emotional loss for the protagonists. In this cour the series continued to improve to become a solid anime.
12. Sword Art Online II, episodes 14-24 (So-so) - The second part focused on small arcs; the last one being kind of nice. However, this second second continues to suffer from the same narrative issues and absurd characterization from the first season.
13. Log Horizon 2, episodes 1-13 (Decent) - A largely boring season that has something probably important on mind but has not expressed it clearly yet. The only real highlight has been Akatsuki.
This season had a varied selection of shows, but they were not very remarkable. There were nice ideas behind these animes, but underwhelming and/or incomplete resolutions were a theme. Nonetheless, Summer 2014 was a good and mostly enjoyable season, and I would not be surprised if it ends up being my favorite anime season for the whole year.
1. Terror in Resonance, episodes 7-11 (Good) - In the end this is a solid, but not memorable, show. The old school vibe continued to be enjoyable, but the resolution became a bit predictable and clichéd. I am glad risky animes like Terror in Resonance continue to be made, but I am a bit disappointed that the talented staff behind it was unable to produce a better work.
2. Glasslip, episodes 7-13 (Decent) - I am still not sure how much I really liked Glasslip. The second half appeared to be ready to tie the loose ends. And to a certain extent, the series did that. But the ending was disappointing because it was cryptic and pseudo-philosophical to the point of vagueness.
3. Captain Earth, episodes 20-25 (Good) - I must say that I am very impressed by how exciting and emotional the ending of this series was. I had few expectations about how good Captain Earth could be. But I am glad that I hung in there, and my patience was rewarded with a satisfying, entertaining and feel good experience.
4. Argevollen, episodes 7-12 (Good) - This series began with plenty of exposition on the armed conflict, but it lacked meaningful character development. But it has started working on the latter in the last few episodes. With its first half concluded Argevollen appears to have been set up to have a second half full of revelations and resolutions. I look forward to see if this show continues to be solid.
5. M3: The Dark Metal, episodes 17-24 (So-so) - The show returned to some of its bad habits, causing its positive momentum to slow down. The conclusion was fine, but I feel that this series could have been better if instead of 24 generally inconsistent episodes, it instead had 13 more focused episodes. The premise was decent enough.
6. Ace of Diamond, episodes 44-50 (Decent) - With one game to go in the regional tournament, Ace of Diamond went into an enjoyable set up and remembrance arc before the big final begins. I hope the additional 25 episodes are enjoyable to me.
7. Sword Art Online II, episodes 7-13 (So-so) - This season continued trying to impress audiences with its pretentious, but ultimately faulty premise. Things were going smoothly by SAO standards, but the last episode seems to be going to a place that might mess the consistency displayed by this second season so far.
8. Black Butler: Book of Circus, episodes 7-10 (So-so) - Along with some welcome character development, the intensity and revelations continued to intensify in these last episodes. Unfortunately, this series as a whole feels like disjointed episodes without a clear structure. I continue to be captivated by the Black Butler anime franchise, but Book of Circus has to be the weakest entry.
9. Baby Steps, episodes 20-25 (Decent) - This anime continued to have nice characters interaction that I truly appreciate. I also continue to like the premise, but I feel that 25 episodes have somewhat exhausted me. It is a good thing to me that this series has ended, but the best thing is that another season of Baby Steps is airing next year; I should be recharged by then.
10. The Irregular at Magic High School, episodes 20-26 (So-so) - What do you know, this piece of shit became a somewhat endearing anime to me. The last arc was engaging because the action went up, and revelations started to pop up. I am not saying that I like this series now, but I will actually look forward to a second season if one is made.
Here are, finally, my final rankings for the Spring 2014 anime season. I end this season feeling still underwhelmed by the lack of quality. I was going to only follow 5 shows, but for various reason I added 5 more. Spring has been in my experience a ver strong season. I hope that Spring 2014 is an anomality and next year is better.
1. Chaika: The Coffin Princess, episodes 1-12 (Good) - I pretty much hated the first episode of this anime because I found nothing appealing about it (besides the curvaceous body of a certain female character). Fortunately, some praise online got me curious, and I have completely come around. This show has some tropes typical of fantasy anime, but it has great energy and attitude. I am looking forward to season 2 this Fall.
2. One Week Friends, episodes 7-12 (Good) - The series continued to be consistent in terms of good quality and emotional payoff. There was a chance to do something more dramatic with the introduction of another character in the second half, but ultimately the status quo was more or less kept. The ending solved some issues and ended the series in a positive note, but it feels a bit incomplete.
3. The World is Still Beautiful, episodes 7-12 (Good) - I continued to like this coming of age story with comedic undertones. Ultimately the story continued to be consistent and evolved very little. The characters continued to be likable and easy to root for. I feel comfortable where the show ended, but it was not very remarkable.
4. Baby Steps, episodes 7-13 (Decent) - Not much has changed in these last seven episodes. I am still liking its premise and characters. I hope I can keep enjoying this sports anime going forward.
5. ME: The Dark Metal, episodes 1-10 (So-so) - I was not impressed with what this anime was trying to do at first; things felt confusing and dark for the sake of it. But for some reason I decide to stick with it. This appears to be paying off because the premise seems to be going somewhere. I hope the end result is of good quality because the premise is appealing and intriguing.
6. The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behavior, episodes 7-12 (Decent) - Fortunately this series improved in the last third when it started focusing more on the two main leads. However, it was not enough to turn this anime with a wacky but attractive premise, into something very meaningful and special.
7. Captain Earth, episodes 1-13 (So-so) - This is a very nicely animated anime with an ambitious premise. Unfortunately, like some other Bones original animes, it is not very clear what is the ending goal of the production with this crazy but entertaining premise. I will keep watching, hoping for something nice.
8. Ace of Diamond, episodes 26-37 (Decent) - This series is still in the tournament arc doing a good job at keeping it appealing. I hope I can keep motivated to continue watching this anime in a weekly basis.
9. Blade & Soul, episodes 1-13 (So-so) - A weird fantasy/action/adventure with pretty women warriors that is mediocre, but has enough heart and conviction to earn a passing grade. I enjoyed some episodes, but I would not recommend it to anyone, unless they are interested in looking at pretty, fearless women.
10. The Irregular at Magic High School, episodes 1-13 (Not really good) - I intended to watch this anime when this season started, but dropped it when I saw how mediocre it looked. I decided to pick it up again essentially because I want to be in the loop and see how much of a train wreck it can be. So far I have been bored and dumbfounded with how crappy an anime, produced by industry giants, can turn out.
I continued to watch a lot of simulcasts this Winter season. Most of the animes I followed in this season were second cours of series that began in Fall 2013. Interestingly, my top 2 animes for Winter 2014 actually debuted this year. I had a pretty good time watching Chuunibyou REN, Noragami, Kill la Kill, Nagi no Asukara and Strike the Blood, but the rest of my simulcasts often felt like a shore to follow each week. Here is my final ranking for the Winter 2014 anime season (with ANN ratings).
1. Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai! REN, episodes 7-12 (Good) - It rebounded nicely after a pretty uneventful first half. When this second season was announced I considered it unnecessary because the first season ended in a very high note and was very satisfactory. Thankfully, this second season was not a waste of time because it actually did some nice things. Chuunibyou REN is ultimately my favorite show from this season because of my love of the franchise, and the fact that Winter 2014 was not very strong.
2. Noragami, episodes 7-12 (Good) - This is the only series that premiered in Winter that I looked forward to a new episode each week. I like the premise because it is appealing with its aura of mystery and darkness. The characters were amusing but also had the potential of being more complex and deeper. I am content with what this season of Noragami offered, but I would like to see more anime of it in the near future.
3. Kill la Kill, episodes 19-24 (Very good) - The upward momentum continued, and Kill la Kill ended up being a very satisfying anime. I do not have much else to say other than that I had a blast watching this very entertaining work. Despite not being as strong in terms of story and characterization, I found myself feeling a lot of sympathy for the good guys and rooting for them.
4. Nagi no Asukara, episodes 20-26 (Very good) - The producers took a bit of a roundabout approach to conclude this anime, but I am pleased with how it turned out. This pretty-looking anime started in a very poignant fashion and maintained a very positive momentum all the way to the last third. I thought that Nagi no Asukara had the potential to be an excellent work, but I enjoyed most of it despite losing some momentum towards the end.
5. Strike the Blood, episodes 19-24 (So-so) - I continued to like my clear guilty pleasure of 2013; I dig the cliche set up and its cliche characters. Like I have said before, I never imagined how much I was going to like Strike the Blood. I am giving this series a low rating because it is unoriginal, misogynistic and silly, but it is very re-watchable. I hope it is licensed for a physical release in North America soon.
6. Wake Up, Girls!, episodes 7-12 (Decent) - My other surprise of the season continued to be a pleasant experience. I enjoyed a lot watching seven teen girls struggling to accomplish their dreams and becoming friends. I would not mind seeing another season of Wake Up, Girls!; hopefully the animation would be better. I know this anime is about singing idols, but I found plenty of honesty and freshness in it.
7. Magi, episodes 20-25 (Decent) - Once this series focused on a single arc for more than two episodes, and the action escalated, it improved a lot. Like the first season, Magi: The Kingdom of Magic is frustrating to watch. Frequent weak and uneven episodes continued to hurt what seems like an appealing anime franchise. Although, the last episodes of season two were very strong.
8. Silver Spoon, episodes 7-11 (Decent) - My disappointment of the season improved in the last episodes, but it rarely had the charm, story building and character development present in the first season.
Perhaps another season could fix the things that season two did wrong, but I doubt more Silver Spoon anime will be made.
9. Golden Time, episodes 19-24 (Decent) - This series finally ended, leaving me with the feeling that it could have been better. The premise of Golden Time was interesting from the beginning, but a third or so of series was plagued by unimaginative writing. It is definitely a nice drama and romantic comedy, but it did not leave a memorable impression. I will keep looking for a good romantic dramas/comedies in the world of anime.
10. Samurai Flamenco, episodes 18-22 (So-so) - The chaotic and nonsensical plot in this anime finally ended in this last quarter, and things returned to the relative normalcy of the first quarter of the series. The thing is that it was a little too late to make the inventive, initial premise appealing again. I will remember Samurai Flamenco as an anime series that had a chance to do something really cool, but the creators decided to go nuts and go in a very wrong direction.
11. Ace of Diamond, episodes 20-25 (So-so) - I continued to be dissatisfied with this series because the story and characterization have pretty much stopped developing. This should not be surprising because sports anime are monotonous by nature. I rather see Ace of Diamond end this season, but it is continuing into Spring. I suppose I will keep following this anime and hope that it can recapture some of the positive
qualities the first 12 episodes had.
By my standards I watched a lot of anime this season. I usually follow (watching the episodes as they air) 7 series per season, but this trimester I went with 15. Watching this many shows also increases the chance of running into more mediocre offerings, which is precisely what happened. Despite this, I found several enjoyable, quality series. I present here my rankings for the Fall 2013 anime season. I am using the ratings from Anime News Network to grade the series.
1. Gingitsune (Very good) - I initially dismissed this series because it did not seem attractive based on the little information I had. The apathy went away after watching the first episode. I am a fan of slice of life anime, and Gingitsune happened to have most of the things I look in this genre: likable characters, an enjoyable atmosphere, drama, heart warming moments and a light dose of comedy. I wish more of the source material were animated, but as it stands Gingitsune is a very nice work close to my heart.
2. Monogatari Second Season (Very good) - Ever since this series was announced I have been looking forward to it because Monogatari is one of my favorite anime franchises. The first arc was superb and very close to the greatness of Bakemonogatari. In general the series has been strong, and the producers have done a very good job expanding the narrative of this imaginative franchise. The fifth arc concludes later this week, but this second season will most likely be completed after Hanamonogatari airs.
3. Nagi no Asukara (Very good) - The new original anime series from P.A. Works has not disappointed after 13 episodes. Like other original series from P.A. Works, Nagi no Asukara is another light drama with young teens. But this new show is different because it has a supernatural angle. So far I have enjoyed Nagi no Asukara, and I am looking forward to the rest of the episodes, especially after a terrific episode 13 that seems to have drastically reshaped the direction of the series.
4. Non Non Biyori (Good) - This is another anime that I also initially dismissed. When I learned that this anime was going to be about little girls, I was convinced that it was going to either be stupid or perverted. But I was completely wrong. I had a great time watching four charming and odd girls essentially doing cute things but this time in a rural setting. Personally, I would not mind seeing more Non Non Biyori anime in the future.
5. Valvrave the Liberator (Decent) - This has to be one of the craziest animes I have ever watched. It has school teens, robots, conspirations, supernatural beings, great choreographed battles and even singing idols. I had a great time watching both seasons of Valvrave the Liberator, and even if its story and characters were not very well written, the ride was intense. This anime is also one of the best looking I saw this year. Sunrise did a superb job with the production values.
6. Galilei Donna (Good) - I had high hopes that this could be a great series because the premise was interesting, and the first episode laid a solid foundation. The next few episodes were not as good, but I had faith that it was going to eventually breakthrough and become truly special. Unfortunately the series ended, and it never reached that special place I hoped to see. I enjoyed some moments of this anime, but I will most likely remember Galilei Donna as a good but not very special series.
7. Golden Time (Decent) - I was almost immediately drawn to this title when I learned that it was going to be a romantic comedy; I am kind of a fan of those. Halfway through it (12 episodes), Golden Time has been pretty much all I expected: a predictable story with funny moments, the occasional drama and mediocre production values. At times it has surprised me a bit with some twists, but Golden Time is consistent and good enough to keep watching.
8. Strike the Blood (So-so) - I initially ignored this title because it looked like another stupid and juvenile anime with vampires. However, I decided to check it out and was captivated by the two leads. It is a dumb show with a cliched story, formulaic characters and pretty and well-endowed female teenagers in frequent situations of sexual nature. The series is divided into arcs of four episodes each. After 3 arcs I keep liking Strike the Blood. I only ask that the harem elements do not get too out of hand.
9. Samurai Flamenco (Good) - I did not like this anime much when I starting watching it. But over the next 5 or so episodes I started to appreciate its weird premise, and the commentary about the meaning of being heroes. After episode 7 the show changed as it went from a theoretical take on heroism to a more practical one. Thankfully, I also came to appreciate that twist. However, I fear that the changes introduced in episode 11 might ruin the series, and thus, decrease my enjoyment of Samurai Flamenco.
10. Outbreak Company (Decent) - This anime is probably my biggest surprise of the Fall 2013 season. Outbreak Company seemed like another otaku-pandering show, but it quickly became evident that the writers had some clever ideas. It also helped that most of the main characters were likable and had something worthy to add to the mix. I enjoyed the 12 episodes of this anime. I do not know if we will see more seasons, but I will make sure to check them out if it happens.
11. Ace of Diamond (Good) - I am fan of team sports, and baseball is one of my most favorites. To be honest, I began watching Ace of Diamond because I was looking for another show that could be watchable, and I was curious about this new baseball anime. And after 12 episodes it has been a nice experience. Ace of Diamond started kind of slow, but it has become good and very enjoyable. I hope it at least keeps up with the current pace and quality.
12. Magi: The Kingdom of Magic (Decent) - I decided to watch this series because I watched the first season. Magi: The Kingdom of Magic can be both an entertaining and emotionally touching experience. The problem is that it can also be inconsistent with pace issues and occasional silly and shallow episodes.
I continue to like the premise of this franchise, but it can get frustrating. For the moment I feel inclined to keep watching more, especially after a very strong episode 12.
13. Kyoukai no Kanata (So-so) - I had a bit of high expectations for this anime because it was to be animated by fan favorite studio, Kyoto Animation. Those expectations quickly died down with the slow and unfocused beginning that Kyoukai no Kanata had. Sure, the show is pretty to look at, but it was hard to figure out what exactly the producers were trying to do. The second half was somewhat better and more intense, but its weak conclusion cemented Kyoukai no Kanata as a mediocre anime.
14. Kill la Kill (Good) - This is the hip show of the season; I was not going to watch it because of that reason, but I ended up watching it. Kill la Kill is undoubtedly a fun, entertaining and well animated show, but its story and character development are very predictable. After its first 12 episodes, it continues to be a fun show, but I might have to put it in the back burner if I find another series more appealing, which is very likely because I am not a big fan of watching crazy shit.
15. Coppelion (So-so) - This science fiction series seemed to have a great premise, and the first episode was indeed promising enough to expect a competent anime. The problem is that the first half of Coppelion kept mostly going in circles by rehashing the premise and not building up over it. The last third of the series was somewhat better but was not enough to save this work from mediocrity. I am disappointed in Coppelion because it has a good premise, but the producers squandered it.
Fall 2012 was, in general, a good season to me. It had several weird but interesting shows. I ended up following more shows than I anticipated. I wish I had blogged about more series, but not all of them fit my criteria and time was limited. My highlights of Fall 2012 were From the New World, Robotics;Notes, My Little Monster, and Magi.
For Winter 2013 I plan on continuing blogging about From the New World. As far as new shows, Winter 2013 does not look very strong, but I have a couple of possibilities to blog about. The blogging schedule will be as follows: from the New World on Tuesdays, Kotoura-san on Thursdays, and a possible and still undecided third series on Saturdays.
I am glad to be back and blogging but for now, happy anime viewing.
Spring anime season has concluded. I had an interesting time reporting on Dusk Maiden of Amnesia, Hyouka and Natsuiro Kiseki. I had a good time most of the time, but at times Natsuiro Kiseki felt so dry. Because of that, the series I have chosen to watch for Summer are more appealing to me.
For summer season I will continue blogging about Hyouka; I will post on Tuesdays about this series. On Thursdays I will blog about Natsuyuki Rendezvous. This is a romance, slice of life series with a supernatural twist. Finally, on Saturdays I will blog about Kokoro Connnect, which is a school anime with
some mysterious occurrences.
I hope to have a fun time blogging and look forward to reading comments from you.