[In Which I Review] New anime, Summer 2014

Bull

Professional Game Convention Drunk
Validated User
#12
Without derailing this thread too much, C3 is an interesting series and I wouldn't say to avoid it just out of hat. It has a real low point for the protagonist, but it ends on a serious high note for her. If you don't mind spoilers...
Cool. I was mostly worried that the show would end up going some weird Battle Royale direction halfway through, since it sounded like it got fairly serious. I may add this to my queue at some point.

That said, as a fan of C3, I am absolutely going to check out Survival Game Club.
Yeah, I do want to check this out, assuming it ends up streaming on one of the usual suspects.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#13
For the record, I may have sounded a bit dismissive of C3 there, but I did enjoy that show a lot. I just wanted to emphasize the contrast with Survival Game Club ; those two series are going for very different angles.


By the way, on tonight's schedule :
- Glasslip, the latest PA Works original production. I note that it's not written by Mari Okada, so there may be less melodrama than usual.
- Argevollen, which looks like bland mecha, but you never know in advance.

And maybe :
- Tokyo Ghoul, depending on when Funi streams it
- Rail Wars!, if someone picks it up quickly
 

Dawgstar

Member
RPGnet Member
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#14
I wonder if Survival Game will get pooped on by Zac Bertschy over at ANN like he did C3. For some reason he was upset by teenage girls playing survival games in proper gear and even practicing gun safety.

And don't worry, Bull. By the middle of the series they're trying to put together their club's stand for the cultural festival.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#15
Season after the season, year after year, it looks like Thursdays are designed to kill me. They feature a deluge of new shows which contrasts with the saner numbers of other weekdays. I'm not sure why Thursdays are so heavily scheduled. Are so many shows trying to ride on the coat-tails of the relative ratings successes that are noitaminA and its challenger Animeism ? (Neither of which are actually airing today ; Terror in Resonance & the Psycho-Pass reruns on one side, and Persona 4 Golden & Black Butler - Book of Circus on the other, are being fashionably late and debuting next week.) Anyway, it's four new shows I have on my plate today, with maybe a 5th one tomorrow morning if it gets picked up.

It seems PA Works have joined the fray and secured a slot on Thursdays, as their new show follows from Nagi no Asukara's schedule. To wit...


Glasslip
(13 episodes)

What's it about ?

Well, it's a PA Works original production, so it's set in a small country town and features a group of high school students. Here, the hook is... glasswork ? Some kind of future sight ? Frankly, I've got no clue.

Characters

So, there's this tight-knit group of friends :
- Touko, our ingenue protagonist, whose family works into making glass objects
- Yuki, the boy who seems to have a jealous crush on her, but does a decent job of hiding it until the episode's end
- Hiro, the goofball
- Yanagi, the slightly "wilder" girl of the group
- Sachi, who seems to have a medical condition that prevents her from going out as much as she'd want, and sometimes takes her frustrations out on her friends

Most of the episode is spent on establishing the group's dynamics, through a festival and then an epic quest to try raising chicken. Thrilling stuff.

And then there's Kakeru, the new guy, who seems to have some sort of psychic link with Touko. They hit it off quickly ; her friends (especially Yuki and Sachi) are way less welcoming.

Production Values

This studio is known for their scenery porn and lavish animation, and this is no exception. There are some weird freeze-frame instants (with non-naturalistic colouring) to indicate that there's something more going on, which is a nice effect.

Overall Impression

I went into this hoping to learn how you make an anime about glasswork. I come out none the wiser, baffled as to what this show's premise actually is. This makes the choice of focusing on its characters first, which is a shame because none of them besides Sachi are particularly interesting ; you've seen all this before, and better done, including in other PA Works series.

I nearly fell asleep watching this. And what woke me up... was a cringeworthy surge of melodrama towards the end, including laughably overwhelming music. That's not a good sign.

I'm giving it one more episode to convince me otherwise, but this looks like a dud.

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Silver Will Argevollen (Shirogane no Ishi: Argevollen)
(24 episodes)

What's it about ?

Original series about mecha. Well, "original" might be straining it.

Characters

There are two main factions in this world : Ingelmia, on their way to conquering everything, and Arandas, now with their backs to the Great Wall that's always protected their core territories. Yeah, like that'll last. (This sound you can hear is the visiting top generals fleeing at high speed from the Wall when Ingelmia starts deploying new mecha.)

Our focus is on a small Arandas mecha unit manoeuvring near the Wall. Just three mechas, their pilots, and at best a dozen support staff in their trucks. The Captain, who knows the score, welcomes the Wall Garnison's order to fall back inwards like the escape out of this death trap it is.

Tokimune, our protagonist, is the greener out of the three mecha pilots. Still a bit of an idealist, he's starting to see how war's not all he thought it was. It's no real surprise he breaks ranks to save a bunch of "civilians" from an Ingelmia patrol instead of quietly passing by as the plan was ; and of course he gets his mecha half-destroyed for his trouble.

Jamie is the one survivor from those "civilians" ; their trailer was transporting a new top-secret mecha, and she's doing whatever she can to avoid it falling into the enemy's hands. She's got the authorization codes to boot it up and a user manual, so... she's just going to let Tokimune handle it, as he's a pilot and she's not. Good luck ! He's initially baffled by this new technology, but quickly gets the hang of it : it's one of those super-prototypes that are very intuitive to pilot, and move like humans.

As they get there, his whole squad are, like, "WTF !?"

Production Values

This is a very good-looking series, with more than a little scenery porn, and some very good animation for the mecha. It conveys perfectly the difference between "normal", somewhat plodding mecha units, and the unreal fluidity of the Argevollen.

Surprisingly for a XEBEC production, there's no fanservice whatsoever. This is one of their more serious projects.

Overall Impression

Well, it's nothing you haven't seen before ; the characters are the usual archetypes of military fiction, and the politics are particularly hamfisted. There's not a single plot development here that will surprise you.

But there's nothing wrong with following a classic formula, especially as it's mainly window dressing for the real star of the show : the mecha fights. They're just a joy to watch, and worth seeing on their own.

I'm not sure whether I'm in for the long run, but this is a perfectly adequate starting point.

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Tokyo Ghoul
(12ish episodes ?)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a seinen horror manga. There are Ghouls roaming in Tokyo : inhuman monsters who feed on people. Once a month or so is enough for survival, but there are some "binge eaters"...

Characters

Kaneki, our protagonist, used to be a totally average high-school boy before he had an unfortunate encounter with a Ghoul, which he barely survived at all. For some reason the surgeon attending him thought it was a good idea to put him back together by sewing in some of the Ghoul's organs ; which I hope is a plot point, because seriously. Anyway, he's now half-Ghoul, which means he has all the cravings for human meat of the real thing, but has no wish whatsoever to lose his humanity. That's tough, dude.

While the police seems to stand clear of all this, there's some masked dude going around killing Ghouls. He may be behind the "accident" that killed the Ghoul assaulting Kaneki, since he was already on her trail early on.

With that Ghoul removed from the picture, already some others are crawling in to take other her territory. Lots of factions and infighting at play here, it looks like.

Production Values

This is a very striking production, from the distinctive designs to the colour work, to the non-obvious direction. It's got budget, if only at least for the first episode.

This is not a series for the faint of heart, although the goriest shots are obscured by heavy censorship on the TV version.

Overall Impression

Impressive. This succeeds on every level : a toxic atmosphere, the quick descent of the protagonist into the deep end, striking visuals... The very good use of Kana Hanazawa helps, too. It's creepy, paranoid, and quite disturbing.

Now, do I want to keep watching it ? Probably, yes. I have some niggling doubts about where it's going, but it's an auspicious start. There are many ways for it to fall apart quickly, but so far, so good.

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Futsuu no Joshikousei ga (Locodol) Yattemita. ("Ordinary Schoolgirls Tried to Be Local Idols")
(12 episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a 4-panel gag manga about... well, you know how some recent anime series feel like they're a collaboration with some town's tourism board ? Well, it's about this kind of thing.

Characters

Nanako, our protagonist, is an ordinary high school girl : she has a generic circle of friends, nags her mother for pocket money, and wonders whether she should join a club. Her gi character quirk is that she's a bit of a perfectionist : once she commits to something, she wants to do it properly.

Her uncle is a civil servant in a town with no attractive feature whatsoever, and badly bleeding inhabitants to its neighbours. He tries his best to counter the tide, though ; his latest idea : "Locodol", i.e. local idols. He ropes his niece into putting a show at the newly refurbished swimming-pool. Chaotic disaster ensues.

Fortunately, Yukari, the other girl he hired, has an actual clue on how to do this, and manages to salvage the situation. She and Nanako quickly become friends ; why not keep doing this ?

Production Values

Perfectly okay. Bright and shiny, as you'd expect this to be.

Overall Impression

There's an interesting idea at the core of this : some towns are desperate to attract (or at least retain) young adults, and seizing on any fad for this purpose. This bleak reality gives an edge to an otherwise very fluffy gag series. Actually, I was kinda surprised Uncle's plan somehow worked out, as it feels slightly undeserved.

But hey, this is funny. That's a decent start for a comedy. Can it keep up among the deluge of Thursday shows ? We'll see. I'm willing to give it a bit of rope.
 

Rainfall

Registered User
Validated User
#16
Our focus is on a small Arandas mecha unit manoeuvring near the Wall. Just three mechas, their pilots, and at best a dozen support staff in their trucks. The Captain, who knows the score, welcomes the Wall Garnison's order to fall back inwards like the escape out of this death trap it is.
It would have been sooo much better if it had stayed like that.

I really liked the first two-thirds of the episode, with the bulky military mechs and the almost quiet war drama. A lot of the episode happens with no music and uderlying tension as the first line of defense colapses in the distance. There's a sense of this conflict not haveing a clear good guy and war being this messy business.

Then the generic protagonist shows up and takes control ofthe generic supermachine and all the interest drins away. Well, at least I like Jamie. She's got that mad scientist air about her...
 

bv728

Was he a violent man?
Validated User
#17
Tokyo Ghoul
Overall Impression

Impressive. This succeeds on every level : a toxic atmosphere, the quick descent of the protagonist into the deep end, striking visuals... The very good use of Kana Hanazawa helps, too. It's creepy, paranoid, and quite disturbing.

Now, do I want to keep watching it ? Probably, yes. I have some niggling doubts about where it's going, but it's an auspicious start. There are many ways for it to fall apart quickly, but so far, so good.

It spends a good chunk of Manga (multiple volumes) on creepy slice of life stuff and world building, then starts to shift mode a bit. I doubt it's going to linger on the slice of life, but I've been wrong before.
 

Rabbit

Registered User
Validated User
#18
Jhiday, can I ask a favor? In those cases where a show has a legal US streamer could you put the company in your summary? Last season and this one will have time crunches for me that mean I will probably only watch 3 shows a week. Being able to go back to this guide in a month or so and see not only the writeup but also who streams the show would be very useful for catching up with shows later in the year.
 
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Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
#19
Jhiday, can I ask a favor? In those cases where a show has a legal US streamer could you put the company in your summary?
Unfortunately, it's often the case when I don't have this information at hand when writing the reviews (and I'm out of my editing window by the time I get it). I think the best compromise is to do a simulcast recap at the thread's end, when the dust will have settled down a bit.


Anyway, here's the last Thursday show, which for some reason Crunchyroll won't stream until late Saturday. (There are no new Friday shows this week, by the way.)



Rail Wars!
(12 episodes)

What's it about ?

Adaptation of a light novel series about trains. (I'm slightly surprised there's not more of these.) The "hook" is that this is an alternate reality where the Japanese National Railways were kept an united public agency, as opposed to the privatised mess of many companies it is currently.

Characters

Naoto, our generic protagonist, just enrolled into the JNR's training program. For some reason this year every trainee has to go through the security division, but the script never bothers to explain why. Anyway, he's your usual spineless male lead who keeps getting into compromising positions (yes, it's that kind of show). The one thing he's good at is strategizing and leading a small team.

Haruka, the trainee in dire need of a bra. His obvious love interest, and as such the victim of many panty shots. Shy and soft-spoken, she's very good at memorizing all kinds of data, from schedules to technical specifications. Academically, she's top of the class. Athletically, it's another matter.

Shou, the perverted best friend, because you always need one. A bit dumb and something of a slacker, he compensates by being quite strong... except he's entirely useless in the one chase scene because he has no sense of direction.

Aoi, the man-hater. The kind who wants to shoot all molesters. And she's a pretty good shot. Takes an immediate dislike to Naoto, which makes one wonder why she stays in this trainee group. Well, aside from the fact that nobody else in this class besides the hardass instructor has a name, dialogue, or screentime.

The episode zooms past their training, from driving a steam train just because, to a way off-script arrest of purse-snatchers for their one day in the field.

Production Values

Crap. Generic character designs, ugly animation that makes all people look rubbery... it's obvious all the budget went to the CG trains (which are okay). Also, heaps of fanservice.

The ending sequence's quite catchy, though.

Overall Impression

I have nothing against the premise, but the show struggles to make it interesting. That it's already resorting to terrible fanservice clichés that don't do the characters any favours is a very bad sign. The writing is pretty bad across the board, and the dismal visuals don't help.

Frankly, I have no patience for this kind of crap. Next show, please.
 

Bull

Professional Game Convention Drunk
Validated User
#20
Jhiday, can I ask a favor? In those cases where a show has a legal US streamer could you put the company in your summary? Last season and this one will have time crunches for me that mean I will probably only watch 3 shows a week. Being able to go back to this guide in a month or so and see not only the writeup but also who streams the show would be very useful for catching up with shows later in the year.
I have been posting regularly over in the main anime thread with a compiled update of all legal streaming for the new season's shows. Lots of stuff is still not announced (or isn't being streamed yet), but that's a place to start.
 
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