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[In Which I Review] New anime, Spring 2014

Cruton

Retired User
#21
The idea here is that despite being a hard worker, he's been consistently been put down by society. His parents would rather him aim lower. The Magic High School puts him among the second-rank students, and he should be lucky to even have been accepted. His answer has been to put up a front of accepting it, and overcompensate by training himself even harder in his strengths. Which are many : he's an accomplished martial artist, and while he's not that good at actual magic, he can achieve a lot through quick-witted analysis. But he's careful not to let it show too much ; it's too early to reveal his hand yet, so he'll bide his time for now.
.....so he's Rock Lee?
 

ru

temporary avatar
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#22
selector infected WIXOSS
reminds me of C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control. But then I dropped that after a few episodes. I'm amused by the MC's tiny berserker, but the rest of it was kind of boring, and I've no real curiosity to see whatever torments the show has in store for the MC


Riddle Story of Devil
Okay this one's got me slightly intrigued. I share the same concerns about a gecko ending though.


Daimidaler the Sound Robot
Man what.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#23
Still working on some of my backlog, but in the meantime...


Rowdy Sumo Wrestler Matsutaro!! (Abarenbou Rikishi!! Matsutarou)
(?? episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a sumo wrestling manga that started in the 70s and ended more than 10 years ago. I have no clue why anyone would greenlight such a thing (transforming it into a de-facto period piece, set decades ago), but there you have it.

Characters

Matsutaro, our protagonist. Despite being an adult, he's still in middle school. And failing it badly. He bullies everyone else in his class, including the teachers. Let's not mince words : he's a complete asshole.

His mother is busy offscreen, working many jobs to bring some food back to her numerous children. Matsutarou bullies them too, even stealing candy from the baby's hand because the big oaf is that hungry.

Old man Nishio seems to be his only "friend" ; Matsutaro even helps him out working at his little mine, showcasing his immense strength. Unfortunately, the mountain is getting razed down, so he'll soon be out of a job.

Any amount of sympathy I might have left for the little big scamp goes right out the window after the two steal a truck, get drunk, and kidnap the pretty teacher at his school. It's quite satisfying to see them in jail at the end of the episode, because seriously.

Production Values

Barely animated and with terribly oldschool character designs, but then that's pretty much the only approach you can take with such source material.

Overall Impression

If you're wondering what any of this has to do with sumo wrestling, well, yeah. I can only presume that he's eventually going to start that career and set himself on the straight and narrow, but fuck it : this episode has made a very good job of unselling me out of following his adventures. That the teacher is somehow going to follow him to the big city and become his love interest (if the OP & ED sequences are any indication) only adds insult to the injury.

No way I'm watching any more of this.

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Haikyuu!!
(25 episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a volley-ball manga series.

Characters

Shoyo, our protagonist. He's actually quite good at volleyball, with great speed and jumping ability. Unfortunately, his middle school doesn't have much of male volleyball club. And by that, I mean he was alone in it for two years, barely got a trio of first-years in his final year, and just about managed to rope two of his friends (who know next to nothing about the sport, being in other clubs) to participate in the district tournament. That they even manage to score some points in the one match they get to play is a miracle. Especially as they're facing...

Kageyama, one of the local rising stars, very serious about everything he does, and very angry at most of his teammates for underestimating the scrappy underdogs. This is serious, guys, stop taking shortcuts ! And he's entirely aware of Shoyo's potential.

By the end of the episode, Shoyo moves to high school, giddy to be joining a proper club that'll let him have a rematch with his rival... Wait, what are you doing here, Kageyama ?

Production Values

Perfectly okay for this kind of thing.

Overall Impression

Well, it's a generic sports series, featuring hot-blooded rivals. It's got the usual message of "never give up !". It's competent on every level, with well-placed flashbacks laying out the backstory in the middle of the match, but there's no real spark or originality to it.

I'm not interested.

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Baby Steps
(25 episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a tennis manga series.

Characters

Eiichirou, our protagonist. Nicknamed "A-chan" for his consistently perfect grades. He has high-level OCD, and his cleanly-written, perfectly-designed notes are admired by the whole class. He's perfectly okay with lending them out freely (he has spares !), too. See, making all those is integral to his learning process ; that's the way he can cope with his studies.

Until a year ago, he had no interest whatsoever in tennis ; cue several-episode-long flashback. See, he was aware he needed to practice some sort of physical activity. Most sports clubs were out, as he has only little time available in his busy studying schedule, but that "free tryout!" pamphlet for the tennis club looked interesting.

Natsu, a girl in the next class over, happens to be in that club. Now, he's no good at dealing with girls, but her dedication to tennis (she secretly wants to become pro) has peeked his interest. She seems to like him too ; she does call him a weirdo all the time, but it's not mean-spirited.

The idea here (layed out in the flashforward prologue) is that Eiichirou is going to apply his meticulous approach to tennis, apparently with some success.

Production Values

Most of it is okay ; there's some good animation for the tennis bits... but the character designs are very awkward, obviously lifted from the page without too much care on how they'll look animated. In particular, the episode ends on a close shot of Natsu where I'm completely unable to discern what expression her face is supposed to be displaying.

Overall Impression

Now, that's a semi-interesting premise for a sports show : the nerd who uses maths to supplement his play. I'm sure it's been done before, but the characters are likeable enough, there's some decent comedic timing, and I'm intrigued enough not to drop it immediately.

I'll give it one more episode to feel out where it's going.

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Brynhildr in the Darkness (Gokukoku no Brynhildr)
(13 episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a seinen manga series where an ordinary dude's life is turned upside down by the apparition of a mysterious girl with superpowers.

Characters

Ryota, our protagonist. He's still deeply shaken by the death 10ish years ago of his childhood friend "Kuroneko" (real name unknown), after they both fell from a dam while she was trying to lead him to the place she'd seen aliens at. In her memory, he comes every evening to local telescope to try and find aliens, as the lone member of the school's astronomy club.

"Neko Kuroha" (LOL at the obvious pseudonym), a sudden transfer student who totally looks like Kuroneko would by now. She denies any knowledge of Ryota, though. She's very mysterious indeed : she's in contact with some people with prophecy abilities, and she herself seems to be a high-level telekinetic. (She calls herself a "witch", but then explains to Ryota that her abilities come from surgery and drugs. Hmmm...) There are also tons of holes in her background. (How could she even transfer in without knowing multiplication tables ?)

The plot here is purposefully muddled : Neko has been notified that two students in this school are to die from very improbable accidents, and she tries to "subtly" prevent their deaths. The second one's Ryota, of course, and he goes out of his way to force her to use a more hands-on approach. Because he wants to know what's going on, of course.

He stops listening halfway through her explanation, though, when he notices that Neko doesn't have Kuroneko's highly-distinctive birthmark. So they're really two different people after all ? (You know, she's just mentioned surgery...)

Production Values

This series is the demonstration of the power of a great OP sequence. Yes, it's got some nice music (if you enjoy dubstep), but the key here are the well-designed visuals implying that Neko and her friends are reanimated corpses. It's by far the best OP sequence this season, although admittedly half the shows that have aired skip it to fit more story, so there's not much competition. Anyway, it's done a great job of selling me on the premise.

The actual show can't really match up, but it does have some good animation for the action sequences, and it's got way less fanservice than you'd usually expect from studio ARMS.

Overall Impression

As stated above, the OP sequence sold me. It helps that the flashbacks are nicely paced, and some of the final twists are intriguing. The two leads have some decent chemistry, too, and the writing has got an appreciable attention to detail.

I'm cautiously optimistic about this one.

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One-Week Friends (Isshuukan Friends.)
(12 episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a (shonen) romance manga.

Characters

Hase, our male lead, is your ordinary highschool student : bumbling, awkward, but overall quite a nice guy. (And not a Nice Guy, fortunately.) The series focuses on his attempts to become "friends" (or more) with...

Fujimiya, that one loner girl in his class. Who goes out of her way not to make any friends. After a week of talking to her and getting through her shell, she finally explains herself : she has a brain disease that makes her memory partially reset every Monday. She'll definitely forget about the people she had a good time with, hence her behaviour.

Hase doesn't care, and vows to befriend her again every week.

Production Values

Decent enough, with some nice pastel tones everywhere.

Overall Impression

The question with such a gimmicky premise is obvious : how do you make it last for 12 episodes ? (Or more, considering the manga is still ongoing.) Won't it get awfully repetitive ?

This first episode doesn't really run into the problem, as it's tasked with setting up the premise. Now, that doesn't quite work either, as a good chunk of the audience is going to know what the series is about already (it's in the title !), and there's not much more than the high concept to it. Sure, there's value in spending time to build up the two leads' chemistry, but it's all a bit slight.

I'm giving it another episode to determine how it plans on going forward, but I'm very skeptical.
 

Rainfall

Registered User
Validated User
#24
There are also tons of holes in her background. (How could she even transfer in without knowing multiplication tables ?)
"O-oF course I know my multiplication tables... I just don't sit at them often." :D

She transfered into an elite school with crazy transfer exams without knowing multiplication tables. Ryota himself is more than a little suspect despite being the POV character, his flashbacks have a few holes themselves...

I'm liking it more than I thought I would!
 
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SolomonShort

Active member
Validated User
#25
"O-oF course I know my multiplication tables... I just don't sit at them often." :D

She transfered into an elite school with crazy transfer exams without knowing multiplication tables. Ryota himself is more than a little suspect despite being the POV character, his flashbacks have a few holes themselves...

I'm liking it more than I thought I would!
I missed any holes in Ryota's flashbacks, could you clarify please?
 

Rainfall

Registered User
Validated User
#26
I missed any holes in Ryota's flashbacks, could you clarify please?
Nothing too big really, but he actually knew very little of this childhood friend he supposedly spent so much time with. There's the obvious bit with the aliens she apparently told him out of nowhere of course, he didn't know her real name. He could simply not have mentioned it, but I strongly suspect he didn't know about her parents or where exactly she lived eighter.

He says he knew everything about Kuroneko, but all he seems to remember is really surface stuff. It's not huge, just a bit suspicious. Not holes exactly, just a few contradictions. Oh, and it just turns out Ryota isn't a "completely average schoolboy" eighter. I'm sure it's a total conicidence that he turns out to be a genius. :p

Now, let's say you're a group with awesome probabilistic prediction skills, subtle telekinetic abilities and a desire to manufacture the next Stephen Hawking...
 
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SolomonShort

Active member
Validated User
#27
Nothing too big really, but he actually knew very little of this childhood friend he supposedly spent so much time with. There's the obvious bit with the aliens she apparently told him out of nowhere of course, he didn't know her real name. He could simply not have mentioned it, but I strongly suspect he didn't know about her parents or where exactly she lived eighter.

He says he knew everything about Kuroneko, but all he seems to remember is really surface stuff. It's not huge, just a bit suspicious. Not holes exactly, just a few contradictions.
I dunno, I thought that was probably covered by the physiological & psychological trauma of falling off the dam.

Oh, and it just turns out Ryota isn't a "completely average schoolboy" eighter. I'm sure it's a total conicidence that he turns out to be a genius. :p
Well yes, there is that... I'll be interested to see where it goes.
Now, let's say you're a group with awesome probabilistic prediction skills, subtle telekinetic abilities and a desire to manufacture the next Stephen Hawking...
I haven't read any of the source material yet, so I don't know if you're guessing...
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#28
Captain Earth
(25 episodes)

What's it about ?

A new original mecha project, from the people who brought you Star Driver.

It's slightly less excentric.

Characters

Daichi, our teenage protagonist. He's got tons of backstory, provided by many fragmentary flashbacks. The gist of it : (1) Dad was an Astronaut, and died years ago. (2) As a kid, Daichi was lurking around the space base, and found that there were some weird kids his age living inside. They fraternized, but he eventually got caught, and he never saw them again. Then Dad died and he left the island. Now, as an angsty teenager at the crossroads of his life, he's come back. Just in time for an alien attack !

More specifically, the aliens come from the other end of the Solar System, and warp in one at a time with their mechas. With tons of sexual subtext. Daichi is "guided" to the mecha's cockpit by the less talkative of the weird kids from back then ; since he wants to do something, and has heard that his dad was a "Captain" (i.e. probably already fighting aliens at the time), he accepts to step into the cockpit.

Which leaves Teppei, the other kid from back then, and the official pilot for the mecha, completely dumbfounded. Why is it already gone ?

There's a hacker girl who finds all this stuff very interesting. As you would.

Production Values

Studio Bones always deliver impeccable work, but they went the extra mile for this one. There's some impressive detail to the body language and visual slapstick that gives tons of personality to the kids in flashbacks.

Overall Impression

Well, this is certainly a very busy first episode, dropping tons of hints of what's going on, and trusting the audience to follow along. That's fine by me : there's obviously been tons of thought put into the small details of the setting, so I have no problem with giving most of the screentime to the character-building, and leaving plot explanations for later on.

Now, the key question here is whether all this self-confident and well-executed storytelling is in service of a theme more complex than "he's Captain Earth and he fight aliens". Surely there's more to it ? But it's hard to tell yet.

There's so much talent at play here that I'm willing to give it some rope, though.

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Still, the World is Beautiful (Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii)
(12ish episodes ?)

What's it about ?

An adaptation of a shojo manga about fantasy politics, or something like that.

Characters

Nike, our female protagonist. As the fourth princess of the Rain kingdom (and the one who lost rock-paper-scissors), she's been packed off to marry the Sun King, and thus broker peace between the two countries. She's not very enthusiastic at the prospect, but it's her duty so she's damn well going to do it. She makes a point to arrive early and meet the people incognito to get a better handle of her new home. This might not have been the best-planned idea, as all the inns are full of soldiers (the Sun Kingdom has been expanding aggressively, and it shows), her Rain-money is worth next to nothing here, and port cities are full of traps for suckers.

Such as Those Two Morons, who quickly rob her in the night. Normally she'd have no problems dealing with them quickly (she's got powerful control over winds, hence how her ship could arrive two days early), but she hasn't eaten for a while and is out of stamina. Urgh. Well, at least it takes a while for TTM to get wind that there's a hit on her from those sections of the Sun Kingdom who are unhappy with the marriage, so it takes them a while to get back on her trail.

She'd been rescued by the daughters of a relatively nice innkeeper, who offer her some (basic) food and (cramped) roof out of charity. When TTM show up and kidnap the elder daughter by mistake, she's quick to find them and beat them up. (Apparently she manages to tame them enough to force them to give her a ride to the capital city, three days away.)

The Sun King, whom she eventually manages to get to, turns out to be a good-looking young man, instead of the bloodthirsty barbarian she was expecting. And he has made the kingdom a better place to live (irrigation systems, etc.) during the three years he's been in charge. Anyway, this political marriage does have a greater purpose : it never rains over here, so could Nike please do something about it ?

Production Values

Perfectly alright.

There's not much fanservice, mostly confined to a bizarre fourth-wall-breaking scene with Nike's sisters.

Overall Impression

While I do have so mild interest in where the fantasy politics are going (it looks a bit too black & white so far, but let's give it some time), the selling point here is Nike, who's a very engaging protagonist. She carries the show here, and has the shoulders for it. She's got agency (despite the premise), heart, and the bouts of selfishness and violence that round her out as a person. The show as a whole features some decent slapstick, although the occasional fourth-wall breaking feels a bit forced at times.

Still, there aren't many shows featuring such a good female protagonist. That alone makes me want to stick with it at least for a while.
 

Rainfall

Registered User
Validated User
#29
I dunno, I thought that was probably covered by the physiological & psychological trauma of falling off the dam.
Could be, he could also just be misremembering events that transpired when he was six or seven. They'd still be holes and contradictions, just mundane ones. ;)

Still, that's a lot to forget. Especially for information he'd have easy access to long after the accident. No mention of a grave or funerals. I think there's more to it, but of course we'll have to wait and see.

Well yes, there is that... I'll be interested to see where it goes.
I love that Ryota is actually a smart and reasonable human being instead of the kind of freak anime tends to pass as "geniuses". Oh sure he does some dump things like freaking out when a ghost of his past shows up, but it makes sense when it happens and he's willing to admit when he's been unreasonable.

I haven't read any of the source material yet, so I don't know if you're guessing...
I assure you it is complete guesswork. Never even heard of the manga before now. I just think it makes sense from what we saw. :)
 
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Solarn

Registered User
Validated User
#30
Just as a warning for anyone who got interested in Brynhildr after that episode summary: if the show follows the manga at all, it's going to get very dark. Like Elfen Lied levels of dark. Don't get into it if that's not your thing or you might get traumatised.
 
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