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[In Which I Review] New anime, Fall 2014

Ikselam

may one day be worthy of your grace
Validated User
I remember reading the first couple chapters of the manga for some reason. The fact that all I can remember about the experience is that it occurred tells how much of an impression it made.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
In case you're wondering, the first episode of KyotoAnimation's Amagi Brilliant Park seems to be delayed until Monday.


Anyway, let's first say a few words on I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying (Danna ga Nani wo Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken). It's a series of shorts adapting a 4-panel gag manga series. Basically, it's about a wife being flummoxed by her husband's ultra-otaku ways. It's mildly funny, but most of these jokes have already been done to death, and you often wonder why those two even got married in the first place. (That's actually addressed immediately, but her reasoning is more than a little evasive.) This is a perfectly inoffensive show, but I doubt it'll hold my attention for long unless it gets significantly better soon.



Gundam - Reconguista in G (G no Reconguista)
(26ish episodes ; the first two were aired together)

What's it about ?

Happy 35th anniversary, Gundam ! For the occasion, we're getting a new TV series by the franchise's original creator, Yoshiyuki Tomino. Since his last turn at the helm was 1999's brilliant Turn A Gundam, there are reasons to be excited.

This is nominally set in the far-future of the original "Universal Century" continuity, but the ties are token enough for this not to matter : it's a series that can be jumped into without any foreknowledge.

Characters

Bellri "Bell" Zenam, our protagonist, is a young prodigy among the mecha pilot trainees. Also, son of the Director of Operations, but he doesn't let that go to his head. His squad's mission is routine maintenance of the space-elevator/space-station, but of course unexpected stuff happens.

Raraiya Monday is the first unexpected factor. She's a mysterious girl who got dropped off during a skirmish with space pirates. Unfortunately, she seems to have suffered brain damage from performing atmosphere reentry in a mere skydiving suit, so she's having trouble communicating. Anyway, for some reason she's kept captive aboard the space elevator.

Aida Rayhunton, a space pirate who attacks the space-elevator aboard the titular G mecha to rescue her. After a fierce battle in which Bellri takes no small part, she's eventually subdued. (I'm amused that someone complains that the name she gives is obviously made-up, because seriously this is a Gundam series.) She boasts that she's locked the mysterious G's cockpit and only she can open it again... wait, Bellri, how did you do that ?

Rounding up the supporting cast are many pals of Bellri's, including Luin Lee, his amiable senior and best pal ; and several members of the high school cheerleading squad, who hitched a ride with the cute mecha pilot trainees to get some. Most prominently : Noredo Nug, who's clearly set her sights on Bellri ; and the gung-ho Manny Ambassada. (But Aida is still obviously the one with a made-up name.)

Production Values

There's something slightly old-fashioned in the character designs, which is compounded by the beautiful pastel watercolor-ish backgrounds. Still, the CG elements are well integrated, the animation is fluid overall, and it's a great-looking package.

The OP & ED sequences feature the entire cast dancing for some reason, which hints at a bright and fun series. That's certainly what it looks like so far.

Overall Impression

Fuck yeah ! This is as promising as I hoped for : fun characters having colourful hijinks with barely any angst around. There's a lot of exposition flying around the first episode that's a bit too dense to entirely parse, but the second episode helps it all sink in. And there's just tons of charm from watching those kids fooling around on cool tech in the middle of a battlezone. It has the same sense of innocence that Turn A had, and that's a relief from the more grim-and-gritty norm for mecha series.

This looks like one of the season's highlights. No way I'm skipping it out.
 

Ikselam

may one day be worthy of your grace
Validated User
There's something slightly old-fashioned in the character designs, which is compounded by the beautiful pastel watercolor-ish backgrounds.
I got the distinct feeling that the visual and art direction was purposefully aiming for a retro look. Whether that's the case or not, it was certainly the result; it seemed especially evident in the linework, and the way the camera moves.

Character designs are by the Eureka 7 guy, yes? The style is pretty distinctive.

My one major criticism is that the space battle in episode 1 was difficult to follow. I never had any clear sense of the robots' relative positioning, and frequently no idea which of the good guys' identical-looking mobile suits was which. When that... other guy... got shot down, I thought it was Bell until the scene cut back to Bell in his cockpit, reiterating the things he'd just said a minute ago which had led me to believe he was the one going in to attack. That whole sequence was very clumsily staged.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Lord Marksman and Vanadis (Madan no Ou to Vanadis)
(13 episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a series of fantasy light novels.

Characters

Tigrevurmud (sic) Vorn, our protagonist. Lord of the small province of Alsace (/facepalm), he leads a token battalion among the much wider forces of Brune. At least, that's his backstory, as by the time the series starts he's the last man standing, with patrols from the enemy country of Zhcted (gesundheit) scouring the battlefield for stragglers. But while he doesn't have any illusions over his survival odds, he's going to make the most of the few arrows he's got left.

Eleonora Viltaria, one of the seven war maidens ("Vanadis") of Zhcted, stumbled upon him ; she quickly overwhelms him, but she's fallen in love with his bow skills, and so takes him prisoner. Officially she's asking for ransom, but she deliberately set an unreasonable price to be sure she'll get to keep him. Refreshingly, she's NOT a tsundere ; she exudes power and self-confidence, and is charmingly frank about her motives and plans.

Her entourage, though, aren't too happy with her latest conquest, as they suspect she wants more than merely his bow skills. Some of them are already trying to undermine him.

Zaian Thenardier (sigh) was Tigre's "rival" among the Brune forces, i.e. a bully who kept provoking and insulting him. The episode closes on the announcement that he's attacking Alsace, because mwahahahah he's an evil little prick. It's obvious where this is going : Eleonara "conquering" Alsace so as to protect it and keep Tigre under her thumb.

The OP & ED threaten to turn this series into a full-blown harem series, with several more scantily clad young woman about to join in.

Production Values

As has become the norm from studio Satelight, this is much brighter and shinier series than you'd expect from the actual subject matter. The fanservice level is quite high, as the camera never lets you forget that Eleonora has boobs and legs.

Overall Impression

I had very low expectations coming into this. I've come to dread adaptations of fantasy light novels in general, as they're often the height of mediocrity ; the pervert camera is highly annoying ; and the laughable naming scheme is just distracting. It doesn't help that the script makes the questionable choice of starting off with Eleonora's claim of ownership over Tigre (which has no impact whatsoever out of context), and then delves into several nested flashbacks to explain it all. (There's even a terrible infodump from the narrator.)

And still... there's the nugget of a semi-interesting premise here. The core couple are surprisingly engaging characters, with more charisma, depth and maturity than the norm. (The supporting cast, not so much.) They've got great chemistry. I'm shocked to be thinking this might actually work and be quite watchable, if the harem elements don't overwhelm it.

Against my better judgement, I'm giving it a second episode. Make the best of it.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
As it turns out, I just can't make a proper review of Fate/stay Night - Unlimited Blade Works. Too much of my viewing experience was influenced by my foreknowledge from the DEEN series & movie, as well as Fate/Zero. It's not like I can remember exactly who's a Master (and of which Servant), especially as we're in a different route and things might change around a bit, but I still know more than a few incoming twists that make it impossible to offer a "virgin" preview. (And I do have doubts on whether the series is aimed at anyone but people who've already seen either or both of these previous shows.)

Still, this is a good start. Way less infodumpy than Fate/Zero, and with some actual impressive battles right off the bat in this opening double-length episode. It helps a lot that it features Rin as a protagonist ; as someone who actually has a clue what's going on, but not the details of who she's fighting, she offers a more interesting and proactive perspective than Shirou did the first time around.

So far, so good. I was wondering whether I had lost interest in the franchise, but this looks fun enough to be worth watching.




À la Recherche du Futur Perdu (Ushinawareta Mirai wo Motomete)
(12ish episodes ?)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a dating sim visual novel.

Characters

Sou, our dense and clueless male lead. He seems to be only interested in astronomy, to the intense frustration of the girls clustering around him. I'm with them, so much (deliberate ?) inattention to his surroundings is quite annoying.

Kaori, his longtime childhood friend. Why she's leaving in the same house is left completely unexplained at this point. Anyway, she's effectively been friendzoned, and she responds in pure tsundere fashion, alternating between pouty passive-aggressiveness and hopeful wishful-thinking.

Airi, the president of the astronomy club, also has a thing for Sou, and does have better chemistry with him to the point that Kaori feels threatened... But Airi is intent on playing matchmaker so that she can move on. Also, she's not entirely defined by her relationship with him ; her main thing is to play "mediator" between any troublemakers at school by beating the crap out of them. (For some reason, the Student Council even encourage her.)

Nagisa, the senior in the club, has the uncanny ability to show up out of nowhere ("I was here from the start"), which has obviously helped us gather blackmail material on just about everyone. Which helps a lot to smooth things over after Airi's bursts of violence.

Kenny, the foreign exchange student who seems to have no real purpose in the story beyond being weird and randomly funny. Maybe he's a figleaf so that the Astronomy Club isn't just Sou's harem ?

Now, things get weird towards the end, as Kaori finally finds the nerve to confess to Sou, only to be hit by a truck. No, seriously. Except everything's back to normal in the next scene, as we seem to have slided back in time slightly... and then a naked girl shows up in the next room over from the Astronomy Club's. The heck ?

Production Values

Perfectly decent. I could do without Airi flashing her panties whenever she kicks people, but it's a blip in an otherwise fairly tame series.

Overall Impression

Well, that was weird. This looked like an utterly forgettable and generic romance series until the episode's bizarre conclusion. That definitely got my attention. It does help that it wasn't actually bad until then ; the characters had some likeability and were better written than average for this type of thing.

On the other hand, I'm wary of the gratuitous Proust reference in the title, which feels more than a bit pretentious. (Especially as the subtitle is complete gibberish.) Can the series really follow up on such a start without messing the landing up ? That remains to be seen.

Still, it bought itself a second episode, which is more than I thought going in. Don't waste it.
 

Quasar

Feeling kinda smurfy
Validated User
Now, things get weird towards the end, as Kaori finally finds the nerve to confess to Sou, only to be hit by a truck. No, seriously. Except everything's back to normal in the next scene, as we seem to have slided back in time slightly... and then a naked girl shows up in the next room over from the Astronomy Club's. The heck ?
That last bit was weird. And way to ruin what I guess was a cliffhanger guys.
 

Unseenlibrarian

Definitely NOT a Monkey.
Validated User
If it helps, Thenardier is possibly a deliberate Victor Hugo reference- Save for Tigre, a lot of the people in Brune seemed to be from named after French myth and literature, with Ganelon (the betrayer of Roland from Carolingian folklore) getting namechecked as one of the other nobles.
 

CarpeGuitarrem

Blogger and gamer
Validated User
Still, this is a good start. Way less infodumpy than Fate/Zero, and with some actual impressive battles right off the bat in this opening double-length episode. It helps a lot that it features Rin as a protagonist ; as someone who actually has a clue what's going on, but not the details of who she's fighting, she offers a more interesting and proactive perspective than Shirou did the first time around.

So far, so good. I was wondering whether I had lost interest in the franchise, but this looks fun enough to be worth watching.
I've only seen Fate/Zero, but I thoroughly enjoyed this opener.

Spoiler: Show
I really like Rin, and her dynamic with Archer is hilarious and great. I love that she blew a Command Spell right off the bat just to show him that she means serious business. Given what I already know from Fate/Zero, I love how well that jives with his character.

Total LOL at Rin being upset that she failed to summon Saber. No, Rin, I think you got the better end of the deal.

Also, seeing Sakura up, about, and not getting molested by mage bugs is positive, but I can only imagine what she's like at this point in the series.
 

Mejiro

I think I'm a Drow now
Validated User
I've only seen Fate/Zero, but I thoroughly enjoyed this opener.

Spoiler: Show
I really like Rin, and her dynamic with Archer is hilarious and great. I love that she blew a Command Spell right off the bat just to show him that she means serious business. Given what I already know from Fate/Zero, I love how well that jives with his character.

Total LOL at Rin being upset that she failed to summon Saber. No, Rin, I think you got the better end of the deal.

Also, seeing Sakura up, about, and not getting molested by mage bugs is positive, but I can only imagine what she's like at this point in the series.
I did notice that Sakura had the 'creepy blank eyes' thing going on when she showed up, so I guess her life is still pretty fucked up, but I didn't think that was something that got covered in this arc, except for a certain dick getting some deserved comuppence. It's interesting how less perfect Rin comes across in this version - in Emiya's path, she's the school queen, a talented mage and generally awesome. here, she sleeps in late, and summons the wrong servant because she forgot the clocks were wrong. Interesting to see her mundane friends get screen-time as well - I can't see them being useful in the Grail War itself, so unless we get a 'Rin being normal' episode I'd be surprised if they appear much more.

Gundam was interesting - the retro look is wierd, if I didn't know it was a new series I'd assume it was 15-20 years old. I'm not sure what's going on (the main guy can open/operate any mech? For some reason?) and the world building seems odd (there's a space-pope, but a bunch of schoolgirls feel fine talking to him, and the army(?) capture someone, but then just hand them over to some schoolgirls to look after. What?) but I'm going to stick with it for a while.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
That last bit was weird. And way to ruin what I guess was a cliffhanger guys.
My view is that this was abrupt Bad End that triggers Nagisa's plot device and forces the narrative back to a workable divergence point.
So the cliffhanger isn't the death, but the possibility of starting over and switching to a different route. In-universe. (Instead of just a game mechanic.)

That's intriguing in its own right, and I hope the series manages to deliver a good followup.

If it helps, Thenardier is possibly a deliberate Victor Hugo reference-
It's a very clumsy one, though ; a gigantic "this character is an evil twat" postsign that doesn't seem to care about the original character's significance. It reflects a "let's randomly pick names from French culture" attitude that rubs me the wrong way and reminds me of terrible fanfics.

I've only seen Fate/Zero, but I thoroughly enjoyed this opener.
There's certainly a lot to enjoy there, even without the foreknowledge of stuff like Archer's true identity.
The banter between Rin and Archer is a lot of fun, and I appreciate they're getting more focus in this iteration of the story. (Although it seems that next episode is about Shirou & Saber, both of whom are kinda dull either together and separately. But then, the script is notably stronger than with the original FSN TV series, so maybe they'll be okay ?)






World Trigger
(?? episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a sentai-ish shonen manga series.

The plot involves invaders from another dimension (mostly giant monsters) wreaking havoc in town until the Border organization shows up out of nowhere to contain the threat, through their "Trigger" powers.

Characters

Mikumo, our point-of-view character, is an ordinary and slightly nerdish middle-school kid. He does have enough charisma (or so the script claims) to intimidate the bullies, and he makes a point of going out of his way to help the weak out. (Not that this always works out well for him.) Anyway, he's on the lookout for any Border activity.

Kuga is a weird transfer student (who even transfers into such a disaster zone ?) who barely makes any attempt to hide his Trigger powers. (They're linked to his "ring" helper who offers constant discreet help.) The big obvious twist is that he has no direct link to Border ; he comes from the other dimension !

The OP sequence heavily features two other kids : an older dude and Border agent who briefly shows up early on and leaves a big impression on Mikumo, and a girl in another class. Presumably the four of them are going to team up.

Production Values

Quite good-looking indeed ; the battle scenes are clear and fun to look at. Also, the constant succession of Kuga's funny faces is a hoot.

The Kenji Kawai scores does a lot to give the show some well-needed atmosphere.

Overall Impression

That's much better than I expected. It's got some clever writing, as well as a rare narrative infodump that actually works and doesn't overstay its welcome. The characters' interplay is already fun, despite half of them barely being around.

I'm not sure how long it can keep the momentum up, but so far, so good. Looks like a fun ride.

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Magic Kaitou 1412
(24 episodes)

What's it about ?

Spin-off of Detective Conan about a kid Gentleman Thief. This already got a few TV movies over the years, but here it seems we're getting a fresh start from the ground up.

Characters

Kaito, our protagonist, is your average lecherous high-schooler... scratch that, he's an incredible illusionist who constantly enacts pranks and can still solve complex math problems (as well as look up the teacher's panties) in the middle of them. One of his signature tricks involves putting on a fake head as he's standing upside down, and his others are similarly impossible-looking.

Aoko, his long-suffering childhood friend and neighbour, isn't a slouch in the smarts department either, and she would very much like him to cut the crap. Her father happens to be the kind of caricaturally incompetent police inspector you often see in those series. Kaitou often eats out at their home, as his mother is always on the move (sometimes abroad), and his father...

Well, his father was a stunt artist who "died" 8 years ago in an "accident". But he was really "Kaito Kid", a genius Gentleman Thief who also stopped making waves 8 years ago (for obvious reasons). Kaito's just learned about his legacy, just as a Kaito Kid copycat has started showing up. Obviously, he's going to investigate the fake and retake his legacy ! (And also follow up on the hints that Dad was murdered.) And as it turns out, Kaito Kid was Aoko's father's white whale...

Production Values

Perfectly okay, although there's no way to make Kaito's stunts look even remotely credible. The show does try its best, though.

Taku Iwasaki produces the score, and while it's less wild than most of his recent production, it's still very good.

Overall Impression

On the one hand, this is a deeply silly show. (Why the heck would Kaito's dad choose such a revealing stagename ?) And Kaito's panty-watching antics are quite aggrievating indeed for anyone above the age of 12.

... Still, it does have its charm ; it starts finding its feet towards the second half as the plot kicks in and Kaito gets to be something other than a jerk. And, well, I'm a sucker for mysteries, which are rather thin on the ground in anime ; together with Iwasaki on board, there's a good chance I'm going to stick with this.

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Cross Ange : Rondo of Angel and Dragon (Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo)
(25 episodes)

What's it about ?

Mecha vs dragons... well, at least that's the pitch ; the actual series' content is way more trashy and exploitative than you'd expect. We're talking Freezing levels of bait-and-switch.

Characters

Angelize, our protagonist, is the First Princess of the Mizurugi Empire. She's basically the MVP of the Imperial Family : wildly popular among the people, star player of her school's sports team, and admired by all. She's also completely drunk the official Kool-Aid : she's in favour of a zero-tolerance policy against the Norma, the rare mutant girls who not only can't use Mana (magitek telekinesis) like everyone else, but are actively destructive of it. Imperial policy involves snatching them as young as possible from their families, and detaining them in special facilities where they're thoroughly dehumanized.

Julio, her older brother, resents her fame... because he knows it's all a lie : she's actually (unknowingly) a Norma. He exposes her in the most spectacular fashion possible during her coming-of-age ceremony. Obviously, it's a huge scandal. I'm sure he's terribly broken up that their parents get thoroughly discredited for covering it up for 16 years, and he thus has no choice than taking over as the new Emperor. (That his most prominent potential political rival gets summarily gitmo'd is a terrible shame, too.)

Angelize, now renamed "Ange" and stripped of any rights as a human being, is sent to the Norma detention facility where she's to be trained as a soldier, presumably to pilot mecha against dragons like shown in the opening fast-forward. But because this is a classy series, let's first spend way much more time than necessary on a gratuitous cavity search.

The OP & ED sequences showcase, among various future members of Ange's team, a baffingly-prominent male character. Since there's little chance he's a Norma (described as a female-only phenomenon), I presume we're due for some creepy Stockholm-Syndrome-type relationship.

Production Values

Just in case the above synopsis had you confused over what kind of series this is, the opening flashfoward proudly asks the question : how many different angles can we show Ange's cleavage from as she's piloting her mecha ? (Six under three minutes, plus three for her buttcrack and a couple more for her crotch.) And to dispel any doubt, the OP features exploding clothes, because of course it does.

Which is a bit of a shame, as Sunrise's mecha battles are as impressive as ever, and the main segment of the series is perfectly alright and non-fanservicey.

Overall Impression

This is a truly infuriating show, as it wastes a decent premise by applying it to a creepy fanservice series. It really feels like two completely different shows welded together ; unfortunately, I have little doubt which one is going to win out.

I almost gave the series the benefit of the doubt until I got to the gratuitous prison rape scene, immediately followed by obviously-traumatized girls fondling each other. Fuck this crap, I'm out.
 
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