[In Which I Review] New anime, Spring 2014

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Honestly, for me this is a season of sure-fire sequels (JoJo, Mushishi, Kindaichi Returns, Love Live!, etc.), and anything else is a bonus.

My tally after one week :
Good chance of watching till the end : (7)
selector infected WIXOSS, Kawai Complex, Riddle story of Devil, the Irregular at High School, Captain Earth, Still the World is Beautiful, Brynhildr
On the Bubble : (3)
Baby Steps, One-Week Friends, KanojoFlag
No interest : (11)
Majin Bone, Blade & Soul, Daimidaler, Dragonar, Kamigami no Asobi, Matsutarou, Haikyuu, Hero Bank, Dragon Collection, Oreca Battle, Mangaka & Assistants

That's not too bad a ratio, honestly. And there are still about 15 shows still to air, including the (as always fashionably late) new noitaminA series.


Anyway, on to a rare show that aired this weekend and still hasn't been picked up by any simulcast outfit :



Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara
(13 episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a series of light novels parodying dating sim clichés.

(Apparently the official nickname for the series is "Gaworare", following the Haganai model of nonsensical abbreviations that avoid any of the title's keywords.)

Characters

Souta, our male lead. He's afflicted with the ability to see "flags" above people's heads : death flags, friendship flags, love flags, etc. They notify him of these people's potential futures ; he goes out of his way to break all of them. Now, that makes sense for death flags, but his self-inflicted solitude reeks of a martyr complex.

Nanami, a girl in his class (who happens to be part of the royal family of a poor kingdom, but she doesn't like to talk about it), is our actual viewpoint character throughout the episode. Because she's nosy as heck, she quickly notices his strange behaviour and demands explanations, which he eventually gives. She calls him on his bullshit for avoiding any kind of friendship or love, and obviously can't stop being fascinated by the weirdo.

Akane, a very rich girl who wants to become friends with Souta, and won't take no for an answer. Nice visual gag with the friendship flags who keep sprouting faster than he can break them. (Has Ai Kayano swallowed a helium tank for this role ? Because seriously.)

Given what we see in the OP and ED sequences, tons of other girls are going to throw themselves at him.

Production Values

Thoroughly average, although it does get some decent visual gags out of the "flag" concept.

Overall Impression

The obvious comparison point here is NouCome, another light novel adaptation that poked fun at dating sims. The good news is that it's a lot less obnoxious, letting the characters some room to breathe, and taking a relatively deadpan approach to the premise. The bad news is that it isn't that funny, and the characters can't avoid the shallowness required by the plot.

It's watchable and mildly funny, but it's going to have to step up its game if it wants to keep me.
 
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MadMac

Registered User
Validated User
Honestly, for me this is a season of sure-fire sequels (JoJo, Mushishi, Kindaichi Returns, Love Live!, etc.), and anything else is a bonus.
I guess that's the rub. There's a ton of sequels, spin-offs, ect but the only ones I'm actually invested in are Jojo and Monogatari. Oh well.

Tried Mangaka-san just because it was short and holy hell that was dreadful. Eleven minutes has never felt so long.

If the last several seasons are anything to go by, I'm assuming nothing else of note is airing until at least Thursday.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
It's almost painful to watch the slow demise of studio Gainax. With most of their key staff having gone off to the greener pastures of Khara and Trigger, it's now reduced to a shadow of its own glory, taking any bizarre project that might get them some direly-needed sponsorship money. Remember when they did a short magical girl show that was a glorified (and impenetrable) ad for Subaru ?

Well, Magica Wars (Mahou Shoujo Taisen) is a similar project : a series of 26 shorts starring magical girls who represent the various prefectures of Japan. Not that the premise is obvious from the first episode, which showcases the not-very-funny slapstick hijinks of an incompetent magical girl chasing small blobs.

It doesn't even have any kind of novelty value ; it's just boring and pointless.

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Black Bullet
(12ish episodes ?)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a light novel set in a semi-apocalyptic future where super-powered teenagers are the main defense against a virus that transforms people into monsters.

Characters

Rentaro, our male lead. A badass fighter, his guns are loaded with bullets made of the rare metal that harms monsters. (Hence the title. How can he afford these ?) He's part of one of the many small private companies that sell their anti-monster service to the authorities (who are otherwise complete redshirts).

Enju, his partner, looks 10 at best. The idea here is that she's one of the "cursed children", who got partially infected by the virus but resisted it enough (thanks to a heavy drug administration) that they can live a relatively normal life, and then more : they've got super-strength and are able to destroy the monsters at hand-to-hand combat. Aside from that, she's an annoying brat with a crush on Rentaro.

Kisara, the head of the company, and his obvious love interest. Have I mentioned yet they're both still attending high school ? (This is a very relaxed apocalypse indeed.)

The cast is rounded out by a creepy professor doing lab work in the basement. I don't want to know what she's cooking.

Oh, and then there's Mysterious Masked Dude, who lurks around being ominously amoral.

Production Values

This is an action show, and the fights have some good animation indeed.

Overall Impression

This is quite competent on a scene-by-scene basis, but as a whole it doesn't quite click for me. Is is the bizarre juxtaposition of the horror-style virus apocalypse and the mundane lifestyle of the protagonists ? Some of the characters being very annoying ? The clumsy exposition that's often completely out of place ?

It hasn't managed to make me care about these people. I'm not giving it another episode to change my mind.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Soul Eater Not!
(12 episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a spin-off manga from Soul Eater. Not that the original series is required reading/watching : the premise is reintroduced from scratch, it focuses on new characters, and this seems to be set around the start of the main story anyway.

Characters

Tsugumi, a girl who discovers she's a weapon. So she goes to the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning Death Weapon Meister Academy, where she can learn to control her newfound abilities and save the world. Sure, Death City and the academy are quite overwhelming as places, but she'll be fine, eh ?

Meme, a weird girl who seems to have memory issues. She's on track to become a "meister" (the people who wield the weapon-people, with totally no sexual subtext whatsoever to their teaming-up, no siree). She's nearly immediately assaulted in the corridors by a couple of sleazy assholes ; Tsugumi, who had befriended her a bit, finds her resolve and runs back to help her.

Anya, a rich/noble girl who's come to study as a meister and mingle with the plebeians. She can't overlook the attack against Meme, so she offers to wield Tsugumi and get rid of the two jerks. They make a pretty good combo... which is a bit awkward, as Meme wants to partner up with Tsugumi too. That's not the kind of triangle she was expecting to be in the middle of...

A good chunk of the original series' cast drop in to make cameos. Of most significance : Maka, as the experienced upperclassman Tsugumi takes for a role model, and Pr Sid, who presides over the welcome course.

Production Values

It's studio Bones, so of course it looks nice and the action sequences are impeccable, but as a whole it looks much more generic and ordinary than the Burton-esque original series. The jerk sun is still around, but it looks a bit alone. It's especially weird as the plot still calls for demented designs - there's a dude who can turn anything but his head into a knife !

Also, no more Taku Iwasaki music. The replacement's not bad, but it's just not the same.

Overall Impression

This is a nice angle for a spin-off ; the original series never really bothered with world-building, rarely giving any sense of how DWMA was supposed to work and fit into the world. Here it's front and center, free from the constraints of any wider plot. I already get a much better understanding of DWMA than I ever did before ! (Like, that Death City is supposed to be in America.) And the new main characters form a good framework to explore all of this.

I'm on board.

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No Game No Life
(12 episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a series of light novels starring a pair of NEETs being transported to a world where everything's a game. Yay !

Characters

Sora, one of the two players behind "Blank", a team of characters overpowering everyone in MMORPGs. Are they cheating ? Well, yeah, probably. Also, they're NEETs who never leave their room, and stay in a constant state of sleep deprivation. He's the face of the pair, and does have some charisma as a sarcastic bastard.

Shiro, his little sister, is the other half of the team. She's an analytical genius, who can do stuff like memorize all possible chess board patterns and casually beat any computer program at the game. They work best as a pair, though ; he knows better how to handle actual players.

Tet, a "god" who suddenly transports them to his game world. They're in no hurry to leave, as it's much better than that shitty game called reality.

Stephanie, the heir of the local kingdom... Oh, wait, the late king willed the crown to be given out in a tournament, so she has to win to claim her inheritance. It doesn't help that she's terrible at playing games, and her opponent is a first-class cheater. Sora gives her a piece of advice out of pity ; it seems like she didn't act on it, as she's left naked by the end of the episode.

Production Values

There's a nice effect at play for the game world : all the outlines are now red, and the colours have become oversaturated. That's a good way to sell the otherworldly setting.

Overall Impression

It took a while to get the hang of the main duo, but by the episode's end it turned out that I quite liked them. They're obviously close (but thankfully not in the wrong way), they have some decent banter, and the way the con their way up the social ladder within minutes of getting into the gameworld is quite fun.

I'll give it another episode to see if it goes anywhere.

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Chaika –The Coffin Princess- (Hitsugi no Chaika)
(12 episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of series of fantasy light novels.

Characters

Toru, our teenage protagonist. There's a bit of dissonance here as everyone believes he's a lazy good-for-nothing despite not doing much to deserve that reputation. Except he suddenly turns into such a character halfway through the episode, but only when the story's in "comedy" mode. As a result of this terrible writing, I have no clue what he's really supposed to be like. He's otherwise a decent fighter, especially when he shifts into super-mode.

Akari, his sister. Overbearing and constantly belittling him, although they do seem quite close. She can also shift into super-mode. (There's no explanation whatsoever about how and why they can do this.)

Chaika, a mysterious girl who shows up carrying a coffin. There's a super-magic-gun inside, and she knows how to use it. After Toru helps her out fighting off a pursuing beast, she hires the pair to "acquire" an item from the local prince. (It's a severed hand.) Also, she's utterly unable to form complete sentences, which is bloody annoying.

There's another group who are after the item, and sent that beast after Chaika. Their motives are utterly opaque.

Production Values

Very bland, with a noticeable level of fanservice.

Overall Impression

This might have been more watchable if it wasn't going out of its way to annoy me every few minutes. The writing is atrocious, with characters who are either inconsistent in their behaviour, or just impenetrable ; and I never get the sense the mysteries will have answers of any interest.

I just don't care, and that's the final nail on its coffin.
 

ShanG

青铜时代的中&#
Validated User
No Game No Life
Shiro, his little sister, is the other half of the team. She's an analytical genius, who can do stuff like memorize all possible chess board patterns and casually beat any computer program at the game. They work best as a pair, though ; he knows better how to handle actual players.
The feats of fictional super-geniuses are rarely realistic, obviously, but 'memorize every possible board state in chess' is the sort of thing that sounds plausible until you find out just how many possible positions there actually are.
 

Kinni

Writer of Ten Thousand Ideas
Validated User
I'll give it another episode to see if it goes anywhere.
Having read the first two LNs, I can confidently say that it goes somewhere, but the real fun stuff hasn't started yet.
 

Bull

Professional Game Convention Drunk
Validated User
In other news, finally replaced my smartphone. Which means I'll be able to start reading my ebooks more regularly. Yay! I have a nice backlog of Light Novels to go through.
 

Ikselam

now featuring transbearency
Validated User
The feats of fictional super-geniuses are rarely realistic, obviously, but 'memorize every possible board state in chess' is the sort of thing that sounds plausible until you find out just how many possible positions there actually are.
On the other hand, it's not dissimilar to something chessmasters actually do (by studying book openings).
 

Korror

Storyteller
Validated User
Yeah I am fairly sure that would mean he was storing more then one position per subatomic particle.
Quick napkin math puts an upper bound of possible board positions at 13^64 or 1.9 * 10^71 which is pretty close to the number of atoms in the universe. You probably could reduce this by eliminating illegal positions.
 
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