[In Which I Review] New anime, Fall 2014

Shay Guy

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I saw the original Fate/stay night anime years ago, then played some of the visual novel, up to... oh, mid-Fate route, I think. I stopped at some point after the Saber vs. Assassin fight, but before any sex scenes. I've been meaning to get back to it ever since. Trouble is, it's a lot of time and mental energy to invest (and I've got so much else on my list), plus I don't run Windows and the game slowed to a crawl when I tried it under Wine.

Wonder if Chrome Remote Desktop works... or I could just watch a Let's Play. How long does one of those last for F/sn?
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
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Okay, let's get a bunch of today's shows out of the way before I get to the last two...




Celestial Method (Sora no Method)
(12ish episodes ?)

What's it about ?

Pastoral and semi-fantastical slice-of-life-ish, I guess ?
(For the record, a manga adaptation has already started publishing, but this is the core series.)

Characters

Nonoka, our protagonist. She abruptly left this small town 7 years ago, and now she and her father are moving back in. (Her mother isn't. It sounds like she was already sick at the time, and that's why they went to the big town.) She has trouble remembering her former life here, which is an excuse for fragmentary flashback to be spread throughout the episode. She's a bit miffed that Dad has her do a major part of the installation, but then he's busy with his new job...

Noel, the bizarre cyan-haired girl who randomly shows up in her room. Nonoka doesn't even notice her at first, and can't recall that they met 7 years ago. She might have something to do with the weird glowing thing hanging over the town. Heck, it looks a lot like Nonoka and her friends "summoned" her somehow back then, and she's been waiting ever since. Nonoka spends much of the episode furious at her due to a stupid misunderstanding, and then they make up. So Noel's ready to grant her wish !

The previously-mentioned friends make short appearances in the present day. One's utterly furious at Nonaka (and the world in general) but won't elaborate. Another's a natural airhead. There's a token guy.

Production Values

Scenery porn, here we come !

Overall Impression

Oh, dear, my greatest nemesis : "healing" anime. Must. Not. Fall. Asleep. There's something about this kind of anime that bores me to death, and this one doesn't stray from the norm. The one-dimensional characters and slow pacing don't help.

There's nothing really wrong with this series ; I just don't care about what happens to these people. So I'll be on my way and ignore it.

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Wolf Girl & Black Prince (Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji)
(12 episodes)

What's it about ?

Our token adaptation of a romance shoujo manga for the season.

Characters

Erika, our heroine, is the titular "Wolf Girl". Meaning, the girl who cries wolf : she keeps spinning out the wildest lies as a desperate cry for attention. As you'd expect, this bites her back in the ass consistently. Heck, even the episode's title makes it clear from the start ("Liar - Caught in her own trap").

Aki & Karin are her new "friends" by default, i.e. the only girls left in her new class who weren't already in cliques by the time she arrived. So she did as she always does : try and keep up with their conversation, even if that means lying all the time. Unfortunately, they're "mature" gals who keep talking about their superficial relationships with their boyfriends, so Erika felt compelled to one-up them with this super-cool and perverted boyfriend of hers that she totally has.

Ayumi, Erika's one actual friend (but unfortunately in another class), would very much like her to give it a rest already. It's been two months, and it's obvious Aki & Marin have their doubts about the boyfriend's existence. At the very least, Ayumi making fake phone calls from him to Erika doesn't cut it anymore, and her phone bill's running off quite a lot, so she's out.

Kyoya, a random handsome dude Erika stumbles on in the street. Here, stay still while she takes your picture, and be utterly confused as she runs away. There, that'll be enough proof for the gals, right ? Wait, what do you mean he's attending the same high school, and is famous enough to have gained the "Prince" nickname ? Oh, crap.

To Erika's surprise, when she eventually comes clean to him, he's actually fine with pretending to be her boyfriend. In exchange... well, he's always wanted a dog. So spin around and bark.

Production Values

Perfectly alright for this kind of thing. It sometimes goes a bit abstract, and sometimes giving Erika random wolf ears doesn't make the metaphor any less strained, but it sells the jokes and that's what matters.

Overall Impression

In shoujo romance, there are basically two types of stories : either maladjusted shy kids take their time to get together, or the girl falls for an sadistic jerkass who blackmails her into an abusive relationship. We're firmly in the second camp here.

The good news is that this series is actually fun instead of rape-tastic. Most of Erika's troubles are self-inflicted, and Kyoya spends more time disentangling her from those messes than really pushing her boundaries. And while her misadventures are hilarious, she really needs to grow up ; if he can be the catalyst for that, then so be it.

A pleasant surprise. (Although I really shouldn't be ; shoujo romances have often been well worth my while recently.)

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Le Fruit de Grisaia (Grisaia no Kajitsu)
(12ish episodes ?)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a generic dating sim visual novel... OR IS IT ?

Characters

Kazami isn't exactly your generic dating sim protagonist. An orphan in unspecified circumstances, he's in the employ of some secret governmental agency, in what looks very much like hitman-style jobs. He's asked to be able to live a "normal school life" in his downtime, so his bosses send him to this elite academy... with only five other students.

Much of the humour comes from his deadpan bafflement at this bunch of girls acting out the classic dating sim archetypes :
- Sachi, the doormat who's been tricked into wearing a maid uniform ;
- Makina, the foreign-looking kid ;
- Michiru, the tsundere who struggles under his heavy trolling ;
- Amane, who has no qualms about him walking in on her as she's half-naked (hey, that's his room !), and is vying to become a big-sister figure ;
- and Yumiko, the aloof girl that will totally cut you if you get too close.

Frankly, it's a bit embarrassing how they try to act so stereotypically, and he's not above making a bit of fun out of them (especially Michiru). But this is a thoroughly weird setup, and his paranoid constant vigilance looks more and more appropriate as time goes by.

Like, how exactly did Amane enter his room ? Did she pick the lock ? Why are several of them mumbling about having identifying him ? Are those bombs Sachi is making in her room ? And in that light, Yumiko's "I will cut you" antics take a more sinister look...

Is it still paranoia if they're really out to get you ?

Production Values

For some reason, the whole thing is shot in a widescreen aspect ratio. Well, whatever. Anyway, this seems to be drowning in budget, as the camera keeps moving around in fancy ways to stray from the cliché visual novel shot (you know the one), although it still shows up a lot anyway. (Amusingly, the girls often act out cliché "quirks" as though the camera was stuck to Kazami's viewpoint.) There's quite some scenery porn, too.

And, well, the camera also finds a way to show off repeatedly the panties of each and every girl, because dating sim adaptation. And there's Amane's half-naked scene, of course. (Ah, convenient bulbs of light...)

Overall Impression

Usually, it's a bad sign for a harem romance show if I find every possible option creepy and/or unlikeable. This show achieves the remarkable feat of turning that around and morphing into a thriller where the protagonist will need to fight for his dear life. It helps that Kazami (the always impeccable Takahiro Sakurai) does have charisma and a personality, which is more than 95% of dating sim protagonist. We do root for him, despite his being a paranoid jerk with much blood on his hand.

I have to admit I was fooled : this really looked like a generic dating sim adaptationwith crappy cliché girls who can barely read their script. I was entertaining the thought that the whole thing was a prank on him, but as a joke, not as the actual premise. Have a cookie, show, you were clever enough to get my attention.

Don't waste it, though ; you're still on a thin line for those gratuitous panty shots. So get to the point and don't try to have your cake too much while eating it.
 

Quasar

Feeling kinda smurfy
Validated User
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.
Someone told me that the scene after the hospital scene was a repeat of a previous scene with a different outcome and so we're getting a show with alternate timelines. i guess the girl crashing to earth is the catalyst for that.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Rage of Bahamut - Genesis (Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis)
(?? episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a heroic-fantasy cellphone videogame... But since it revolves around multiplayer card battles, I assume the writers took a vague look at the background flavour text and made up the plot of whole cloth.

Characters

Favaro Leone, our protagonist. He's a cocky bounty-hunter who cares more about the thrill of the chase than actually making a living out of it. Especially if the tale can earn him a good night with the ladies. Most of his bounties are spent on placating the locals for the collateral damage, anyway. But behind the smarm, there's a competent lone operative in there, who knows how to deal with powerful summons despite having little more than his short sword on hand. That's a good thing, as he often gets way over his head.

Kaisar Lidford is his "rival", insofar as the dude wants revenge on Favaro for ruining his life and reducing him to become a bounty hunter. I get the impression there's a long line of those.

Amira is a woman who randomly falls from the skies (or so it looks like) and wants to head for the semi-mythical iced fortress of Helheim (a name that should have raised alarms bells in my head way sooner than it did). Since she's heard Favaro bragging of knowing a shortcut to the place (while drunk in a tavern), he'll do as a guide. She accepts his offer of sealing it with a kiss.

The next morning, Favaro wakes up with the hell of a headache. Getting drunk ? Check. That bounty target's brother coming for vengeance and his super-big summon ? Er, he must have dealt with that somehow. That broad transforming into a scary demonwoman ? Er, must have dreamt that, surely. Why does his mouth taste like he's swallowed dragonfire ? This is a terrible hangover indeed. Let's get washed up.

Wait, why does he have a small demontail now ?

Production Values

Wow, just wow. This is by far the most impressively animated first episode of the season, and I can't see anything compete with it. It shows off one impressive action setpiece after another, from the purely gratuitous (hello, giant wheel !) to the plot-important (with Amira shifting to demon form and kicking all kinds of ass). All the characters have tons of expressive body language, and move smoothly all the time.

Overall Impression

What. The. Hell ? How come the adaptation of a friggin' cellphone cardgame is so good ? This is a feast for the eyes, and I really hope the budget keeps up in further episodes. But even if the action scenes' ambition gets toned down a bit later on, the show can still fall back on its core strength : its likeable protagonist having fun adventures. Let's be honest : how long has it been since we got a good, straight heroic-fantasy romp ? Because that's definitely what this is.

I'm flabbergasted. Don't let the videogame tie-in discourage you : this is the deeply unlikely gem of the season.

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Gugure! Kokkuri-san
(12ish episodes ?)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a comedy 4-panel manga.

Characters

Have you heard of Kokkuri-san ? It's a bit like Oui-ja, except you invoke a fox spirit to guide your hand. You're not supposed to do it alone, though, as he may come haunting you. And would you really want that ?

Kohina, the girl who summoned him thus, completely baffles him. Normally it's not him who's supposed to be the straight man, right ? Why is she so weird ? How come she lives alone, having interiorized she's just a doll and thus it's no biggie if she has no friends ? How does a girl live on a diet of only junk-food cup-noodles ? As much as she'd like him to please go away and leave her to her fate, he just can't let her keep going like that. Only a asshole would do that, and he's a thoroughly decent human being spirit. But the cohabitation isn't going to be easy...

Throughout the episode, we get cameos of characters bound to join the cast sooner or later : a dog spirit, and a dude who looks like a priest.

Production Values

Fine for a gag show. The biggest oddity here is how Kohina is drawn (and it's somewhat inconsistent), but then that contributes to the joke that there's something deeply wrong with her.

Overall Impression

On the one hand, this is often very funny indeed. The dynamic between the two main characters works, and they've got good comedic timing between them. It's a good joke. But on the other hand, how long can you keep it up ? The episode was already showing signs of fatigue at points, and there's only so much mileage you can get out of it. Presumably that's why more characters are due to be introduced very soon, but they'll be tricky to add without ruining this dynamic.

Oh, well, that's a worry for later episodes. I'm willing to at least watch a couple more episodes to see how they deal with it.
 

Quasar

Feeling kinda smurfy
Validated User
Okay, let's get a bunch of today's shows out of the way before I get to the last two...

Celestial Method (Sora no Method)
(12ish episodes ?)


Oh, dear, my greatest nemesis : "healing" anime. Must. Not. Fall. Asleep. There's something about this kind of anime that bores me to death, and this one doesn't stray from the norm. The one-dimensional characters and slow pacing don't help.

Heh. I have limited but mixed experience with I guess healing anime. Aria and Tamayura. The first never grabbed me whilst I simply adore Tamayura. Not sure why that is exactly. Might have to give this a shot.
 
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Dawgstar

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

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.
I think the best thing about Cross Ange, as somebody on Twitter said, is now we have a new lowest bar ever in a "at least it's not as bad as Cross Ange" way. And this is not a best thing at all. Bluh.
 

q_3

Ge.
Validated User
Wolf Girl was in fact a heck of a lot better than I had expected from the synopsis. This is one of the few areas in which I genuinely don't mind a show just going through the motions; sure, some might like the idea of a controlling sadist "boyfriend," but wouldn't it be better if we just checked off that box in the most trivial and inoffensive manner possible? While my personal favorite shoujo love interests tend more toward the 100% refreshing variety, faux jerkass is a decent enough second.

I am a little worried at how awful Erika's new friends seem to be, not just in that they're so far from her type but in that they seem to be actively (if passive-aggressively) malicious toward her. Hopefully they'll turn out to be deeper than that, or at least we can get a new crew of friends for her.
 

Bull

Professional Game Convention Drunk
Validated User
Wolf Girl was in fact a heck of a lot better than I had expected from the synopsis. This is one of the few areas in which I genuinely don't mind a show just going through the motions; sure, some might like the idea of a controlling sadist "boyfriend," but wouldn't it be better if we just checked off that box in the most trivial and inoffensive manner possible? While my personal favorite shoujo love interests tend more toward the 100% refreshing variety, faux jerkass is a decent enough second.

I am a little worried at how awful Erika's new friends seem to be, not just in that they're so far from her type but in that they seem to be actively (if passive-aggressively) malicious toward her. Hopefully they'll turn out to be deeper than that, or at least we can get a new crew of friends for her.
Yeah, as I said in my comments in the main Anime thread, I'm hoping that Erika does like the main girl in Blue Spring Ride, and ditch the crappy friends early on.

All in all I'm happy enough with this season so far. Nothing has really wowed me yet, but nothing I've watched so far has been bad either.
 

Quasar

Feeling kinda smurfy
Validated User
Rage of Bahamut - Genesis (Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis)
(?? episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a heroic-fantasy cellphone videogame... But since it revolves around multiplayer card battles, I assume the writers took a vague look at the background flavour text and made up the plot of whole cloth.


Overall Impression

What. The. Hell ? How come the adaptation of a friggin' cellphone cardgame is so good ? This is a feast for the eyes, and I really hope the budget keeps up in further episodes. But even if the action scenes' ambition gets toned down a bit later on, the show can still fall back on its core strength : its likeable protagonist having fun adventures. Let's be honest : how long has it been since we got a good, straight heroic-fantasy romp ? Because that's definitely what this is.

I'm flabbergasted. Don't let the videogame tie-in discourage you : this is the deeply unlikely gem of the season.

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Did not expect the uh spaghetti western feel this had.
 

MadMac

Registered User
Validated User
So far the only sure pick ups for me are FSN and Kokkuri-san. I'll give Celestial Method an episode or two to see where it goes, and basically everything else is a miss.

Haven't seen Rage of Bahamut yet, I'll get around to that one eventually.
 
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