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[In Which I Review] New anime, Fall 2014

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
It's (nearly) October, and you all know what this means : a batch of new anime series start airing in Japan. In this thread, I will be reviewing the first episodes of each new series as they come out. At least, that's the plan ; but hey, I've managed to do it for nearly four years without burning out, so let's push our luck.

Be aware that new series are going to trickle out over the next few of weeks ; so don't just dismiss the season as a wash because none of the first few shows are much good.

As usual, note that I shall be skipping :
- Most sequel and continuation series. This means no Log Horizon 2, PSYCHO-PASS 2 or Mushishi, for example. There's no real point in reviewing them, you already know whether you're part of the audience or not (or if you don't, you probably want to check the original instead). I WILL be covering spin-offs that look distinctive enough (such as Magic Kaitou, and maybe the new iteration of Fate/stay Night)...
- The few kids' show and shorts I just can't get any access to. (However, I WILL be reviewing any kids' show and short I can lay my hands on.)
- Most OVAs, especially "extra episodes". Also, most movies released this Fall won't be on DVD/Blu-Ray for ages.

If you're interested in reading my past reviews, there's my archive website collecting all of them in an easily-searchable format.


The schedule normally has the bulk of new shows starting from October 2nd onwards, but for some reason there's the one series starting a week early. So let's dig in !



Terra Formars
(13ish episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a science-fiction manga series.

Characters

Akari Hizamaru, our protagonist. His childhood girlfriend got infected by a deadly virus, so he's participating in underground death matches to try and raise money for some sort of cure... which turns out to be completely bullshit. Oh, and by the time he realizes this, she's already dead.

Shoukichi Komachi & Michelle Davis are heading a unit who do have a clue on how to cure that virus : their plan involves going to Mars and harvesting the necessary materials there. They got to Akari slightly too late, but he can still help : you see, one needs to endure some radical surgery to be space-worthy, and he's one of the few people whose genetics mean that his survival chances aren't crap. (So were those two, by the way.)

We meet a few of the other candidates for the unit ; they're so carefree I'm pretty sure at least one will die in surgery.

Now, obviously going to Mars is more trouble than just the trip. Back in the 21st century, we tried to terraform the place by sending some algua and cockroaches. The latter have evolved drastically, and are very hostile indeed. (This is at least the third recent Mars mission, and both of the others got wiped out.)

Production Values

Dark, dark, dark. This show is very devoid of colour, and quite murky indeed. It's also got some heavy censorship for the ultraviolent scenes, making them pretty much unwatchable. It's not too bad here, as it only affects a gratuitous underground wrestling match where the details don't really matter, but this doesn't bode well for the inevitable future "slaughtered by cockroaches" scenes.

Overall Impression

The manga has quite a reputation of the cockroaches being horrible racist caricatures. Well, it's too early too tell how the anime fares on that front ; the bad news is that it's got other prominent issues already. The exposition is very clumsy (so many infodump scenes, and the narrator still needs to barge in at the end to explain the premise properly ?) ; the characters are either quite bland or already annoying ; and the overall attempt to build atmosphere just doesn't manage to raise enough anticipation for the main event.

By the end of this first episode, I still don't really care about any of the characters, or the overall premise. The series may manage to salvage this false start later on, but the signs are unpromising. I'll pass.
 

Quasar

Feeling kinda smurfy
Validated User
Overall Impression

The manga has quite a reputation of the cockroaches being horrible racist caricatures. Well, it's too early too tell how the anime fares on that front ; the bad news is that it's got other prominent issues already. The exposition is very clumsy (so many infodump scenes, and the narrator still needs to barge in at the end to explain the premise properly ?) ; the characters are either quite bland or already annoying ; and the overall attempt to build atmosphere just doesn't manage to raise enough anticipation for the main event.

By the end of this first episode, I still don't really care about any of the characters, or the overall premise. The series may manage to salvage this false start later on, but the signs are unpromising. I'll pass.
Did you see the OVA prequel thing earlier?

On this all I've really heard is people complaining about the censorship and it poorly adapting/butchering the material. Curious to see if anyone around here feels the same way.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Did you see the OVA prequel thing earlier?
I couldn't find the time to watch it beforehand ; and now I'm pretty sure I won't bother. (It's not self-contained, its own reviews haven't been kind, and I'm just not interested in this verse at this point.)


Small service announcement : the schedule is going to be very quiet for a little while. Aside from a kids' short (double-combo of "nobody will sub this !") and a bizarre thingie on Sunday, nothing of substance premieres until Thursday 2nd. (But from that point on, it's at least two new shows a day for more than a week.)
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Hmm. For some reason Karen Senki wasn't even on my checklist. I can't even find any hint it's actually airing in Japan. But hey, it's at the very least a Japanese co-production by the creators of Sakura Wars, and Crunchyroll is streaming it, so close enough for a token mention in this thread.

This is quite an odd series. For one, it's 12 half-length episodes. For two, it's full-CG. And for three, I can't tell whether the plot being so disjointed and making no sense whatsoever is intentional.

It follows the adventures of Karen, who wages an essentially single-woman war against robots, who have taken over society and killed her cute young sister. (Or so she claims ; the flashbacks show nothing of the sort.) But the robots' rule doesn't seem that drastic, as everyone else seems to be carrying on normally, aside from whenever they have to deal with the collateral damage of Karen's battles. Her being randomly attacked by killer-bots seems to be the exception, not the rule. One of her associates seems perfectly fine having a robot lover. And frankly, Karen just doesn't sound entirely sane.

Or this may just be because the series as a whole is an excuse to string along elaborate action sequences. Now, they're quite well-directed ; the problem isn't so much that they're hard to follow, but that they don't fit with their context. But the real issue here is that the actual character animation is goddarn awful. People don't move that way ! They can emote decently, but just about anything else about them is awkward. This is massively distracting, and doesn't help the series' case.

I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt, and a second episode. But I dread it's going to test my patience quickly.
 

SolomonShort

Active member
Validated User
Hmm. For some reason Karen Senki wasn't even on my checklist. I can't even find any hint it's actually airing in Japan. But hey, it's at the very least a Japanese co-production by the creators of Sakura Wars, and Crunchyroll is streaming it, so close enough for a token mention in this thread.
AniDB lists this as a "Web Series", maybe it's not "airing" per se?
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Tribe Cool Crew
(?? episodes)

What's it about ?

Hey, kids ! Dancing is KEWL !

Characters

Haneru, our middle-schooler protagonist. One does not simply walk into... wherever he goes ; the little dude just has to do crazy backflips and random wallruns as he moves from place to place. His whole life seems to revolve around dancing, and he has a nice calm spot where he can practice his moves.

Kanon looks like your average top-scoring student (aside from the crazier-than-average hair), but she's got a secret : she's really Rhythm, an up-and-coming dancer whose uploaded videos have become viral. She takes care to keep that part of her life closeted, and dances in a discreet little room... which happens to be right in front of Haneru's own spot. The window are mostly one-way because of the sun's reflection, so usually she can see him but he can't... except for today, when the jig is up.

I'm pretty sure the old dude who loans the place out set them up ; at the very least, he makes sure to chaperone them from afar until he's made sure all goes fine between the two. And they do quickly hit it off ; they've both admirative of each other's moves. Wanna team up ?

Each of them has hints of a supporting cast, and the ED sequence showcases a "rival" team that's bound to show up soon.

Production Values

Bright and shiny, with very cartoony character designs. The dance moves are certainly well-animated, with a relatively smooth shift to full-CG animation. (This is the studio that produced Love Live!, after all.) On the other hand, it's slightly worrying to see so much noticeable animation recycling already.

Overall Impression

Well, this is relatively fun and good-looking. It's got energy and style, you gotta give it that.

... On the other hand, it's also very slight in content : the extensive dancing sequences sometimes feel a bit like they're padding the episode out. Sure, they're the main attraction, but they look like they're going to quickly become a bit repetitive. The recycled animation doesn't help dispel that impression either.

I don't know. I'm giving it another episode, but I fear I'm going to get tired of it soon. Which is a shame, as this is a perfectly fun and competent kids' show.
 

MadMac

Registered User
Validated User
Terraformers is a show I'm not even going to bother watching because I'm yet to hear anything positive about it even from manga readers.

I'll check out Karen Senki and Tribe Cool Crew eventually, I'm just not in any sort of rush for obvious reasons. I'll probably do my usual thing and pop the Marathon of Death on Saturday and see how many shows I can be bothered to watch to the end of the first episode.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
The Electric Town's Bookstore (Denkigai no Honya-san)
(12ish episodes ?)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a comedy manga depicting the daily life at a doujinshi bookstore. The episode itself is split between two main skits.

Characters

Umio, our generic male lead, mostly there as a straight man and for most of the girls to fall over. Supposedly he's the naive newcomer, but that doesn't come off very strongly. Mostly that's because half his role is stolen by...

Hio-tan, his bubbly senior, and de facto female lead. More than a bit clumsy and shy, she still ends up in the straight woman role somehow a lot of the time.

Most of the staff are only known by nicknames. Of particular note so far :
- Sensei, who's always sleepy because she spends her nights drawing ; doujinshi ;
- the Director, named thus not because he's in charge (although he is) but because he's always filming stuff and being a bit creepy and manipulative ;
- Sommelier, the tall quiet dude who has the amazing talent of finding the manga best suited to any customer

Also guest-starring in the first half : an inspector from the Youth Office, making sure regulations about selling porn are followed to the letter ; her stealing every scene she's in is yet more proof that Yuu Kobayashi is one of the funniest comedy voice-actresses currently active.

Production Values

It's bright and shiny, but nothing to write home about aside from that. The title sequences are particularly cheap-looking. Still, it sells the jokes, and that's what matters.

The episode was so tame that the next-episode preview promising tons of fanservice MUST be a joke. At least, I hope it is.

Overall Impression

A fun work-com with a geeky main topic ? I was all game for it, but unfortunately it's average at best. Most of those jokes have been done better elsewhere, the characters aren't charming enough to carry the show, and there are definite pacing issues.

The bottom line is that I don't find it funny enough to be worth my time. Given how busy Thursdays always are, I'm giving it a pass.
 
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