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.