• The Infractions Forum is available for public view. Please note that if you have been suspended you will need to open a private/incognito browser window to view it.

[In which I review] New anime, Winter 2014

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
It's the New Year, and you all know what this means : a batch of new anime series start airing in Japan. In this thread, I will be reviewing the first episodes of each new series as they come out. At least, that's the plan ; but hey, I've managed to do it for three years without burning out, so let's push our luck.

Be aware that new series are going to trickle out over the next couple of weeks ; so don't just dismiss the season as a wash because none of the first few shows are much good. Also, Winter seasons traditionally have way fewer new shows than Spring/Fall, so you can still find your happiness with the numerous still ongoing Fall 2013 series (such as the still-great KILL la KILL, Log Horizon and Samurai Flamenco ; or the decently-entertaining Gundam Build Fighters and Golden Time ; or the return of Silver Spoon).

As usual, note that I shall be skipping :
- Most sequel series. This means no Saki - Nationals Chapter, Chuunibyou Ren, or Seitokai Yakuindomo *star*, for example. There's no real point in reviewing them, you already know whether you're part of the audience or not (or if you don't, you probably want to check the original instead).
- The few kids' show I just can't get any access to. (However, I WILL be reviewing any kids' show I can lay my hands on.)
- Most OVAs, especially "extra episodes". Also, most movies released this Winter won't be on DVD/Blu-Ray for ages.

The big news is that I've set up a website to archive all my past reviews in an easily-searchable format. It's still a work in progress, but it's already mostly functional.



Anyway, let's first get a couple of shorts out of the way, and then have a look at the two shows that pre-aired their first episode a week early...



Double Circle is quite a bizarre project. It spends most of its short screentime introducing its cast of quirky oddballs (that aren't too interesting yet), until the reveal that they're actually a sentai hero team. This is quite a gear change, to put it mildly. Apparently this series was produced by Toshiba to promote its clean-energy and environment-friendly projects ; that it's barely visible in the final product might speak of a core problem. Anyway, it's fairly generic and the irregular release schedule makes it pretty sure to fall off my radar by the time the next episode is out.



Pupipo! is more conventional stuff. This manga adaptation tells the story of a gloomy girl who's the only one who can see the many ghosts surrounding her. Presumably they stick around her because she's the only one who can interact with them ; unfortunately, they're quite jealously demanding her attention, and she has to fend off any attempts from kids her age trying to be friends with her, lest they get attacked. This understandably puts a crimp onto her social life. This all changes one day when (1) she meets a girl too stupid and stubborn to back off like everyone else, and (2) she finds "Po", a mysterious creature that looks like a fuzzy pink ball and is scary enough to make the ghosts start behaving a bit.

It's a standard coming-of-age story, clearly aimed at young girls ; but it's decently done, and quite good at developing its atmosphere. The gloomy protagonist has a striking design, as well. And it's short enough not to overstay its welcome ; I could quite see myself sticking with it for the whole season.



(For the record, I'll look at Robot Girls Z when it airs an actual episode this weekend, instead of the same teaser we've already seen before.)

-------------------

Buddy Complex
(?? episodes)

What's it about ?

Terminator with mecha.

Characters

Aoba, our generic high-school student protagonist. He's got a generic (absence of) personality, and generic friends constantly saying how great a guy he is. He's the picture of boring normalcy.

Hina, the girl sitting next to him in class who transferred in recently. Everyone just assumes she's stalking him because she's infatuated with him (for some unfathomable reason) ; and while there might be some degree of truth to that, the real reason is that he's going to be Really Important in the future, and she's a time-traveller who's come back in time to protect him from...

Er, actually, I didn't quite catch this guy's name. (And since the credits just have him as a purposefully uncredited "pilot", I presume that's a plot point.) Anyway, he's fallen into a wormhole from the future with his mecha, and for some reason he makes a beeline to kill Aoba. Hina was in hot pursuit, but somehow ended up arriving several months earlier ; this makes me believe time-travel isn't an exact science here.

Anyway, the battle escalates enough for Hina to decide that the best course of action is to throw her mecha (with Aoba also in the cockpit) together with the other guy's into another wormhole. When Aoba wakes up after that, he's alone in a completely different mecha, at some point in the future, and the army owning that mecha is scrambling for combat...

Production Values

It's Sunrise doing mecha. Of course it looks fine.

Overall Impression

Well, that's certainly an intriguing start. I'm not too fond of the characters yet, but the premise is introduced well enough to feel interesting despite them. I certainly appreciated the way it rushed to have Aoba into the future so quickly, as there certainly wasn't anything of much interest in the present.

I'll give it a few episodes to see where it goes. (I have no clue whatsoever why it's called "Buddy Complex" yet, for example.)

------------------

Witch Craft Works
(12 episodes)

What's it about ?

You know those light novel adaptations about girls falling into a boring protagonist's lap, with a generic fantasy setting ? Well, this is one of the many ones we're getting this season.

Characters

Takamiya, our generic high-school-student male lead. You can see this is adapted from a light novel because he's constantly narrating or monologuing, when he should really just shut up and let the story happen. There's certainly absolutely nothing of interest in his commentary. To the point that it's a relief when a building drops onto him.

Kagari, the girl sitting next to him in class. She's ridiculously popular, with a humongous fanclub stalking her, and bullying Takamiya when he gets a bit too close to her by accident. She also looks permanently zoned out, never letting any emotion show on her blank face. Also, he learns that she's sticking close to him on purpose, so as to protect him from magical attacks. You see, he's Important ; he's to be her "Princess". (Yes, you read that right. He has no clue what the heck either.) Also, she's a Fire Witch, and quite a powerful one.

Kuraishi, the catgirl witch behind the attacks. She deals with illusion magic, so unfortunately a building didn't really drop onto Takamiya. On the other hand, she can also command armies of armoured rabbit dolls, or whatever those hordes are. Kagari makes short work of those, but they do look quite threatening until then.

The attacker wasn't actually a student in this school, but she transfers in at the end, together with four others who look just as antagonistic.

Production Values

Wow, there's quite a bit of budget here ; the fights looks very good indeed. The visuals for the hordes of rabbits are a lot of fun (and there's quite some attention to detail to give each some personality), and there are also nice visual gags for the bullying shots. The soundtrack is very good, too : the score is very atmospheric indeed.

Overall Impression

Hmm. I was planning to give this a pass, because seriously this story is the kind of generic crap we get several times over each season. But the directing is impressive enough to make me take notice ; it's a great-looking and -sounding package.

Against my better judgement, I'm going to give it a second episode.
 

Shay Guy

Registered User
Validated User
Witch Craft Works is actually adapted from a manga, not a light novel.

Has the first episode actually aired? I thought it wasn't supposed to be till Sunday.
 

Cruton

Retired User
Watched the first episode of Witch Craft Works........ You get the feeling that whoever's behind the wheel here really likes the villains more than the heroes? The transfer student introduction had more genuine personality to it than all of Kagari and Takamiya's conversations over the entire episode.
 

Quasar

Feeling kinda smurfy
Validated User
Watched the first episode of Witch Craft Works........ You get the feeling that whoever's behind the wheel here really likes the villains more than the heroes? The transfer student introduction had more genuine personality to it than all of Kagari and Takamiya's conversations over the entire episode.
The stiffness of Kagari and her interaction with Takamiya was like that in the manga.
 

Quasar

Feeling kinda smurfy
Validated User
Buddy Complex
I found it somewhat interesting. Up until he flew back to the future and the girl got killed off. Guy from the past with some special place in the future stuck in that future is a bit less interesting to me. looked great though. And I still love the look of their girls with purple/violet eyes.
 
Last edited:

Catharsis Cat

Live Action Anime Girl
Validated User
Wait this season has already started? I just looked at the charts a few minutes ago and there wasn't anything until the 4th barring double circle and pupipou. Are they on huulu/crunchyroll yet?

Anyway I am going to give Witch Craft works as chance. It sounds a bit like Zero no Trukaima which I hated, so I am confident the comparision will make it look much better at worst.
 

Kurotowa

Weird Science Nut
Validated User
I found it somewhat interesting. Up until he flew back to the future and the girl got killed off. Guy from the past with some special place in the future stuck in that future is a bit less interesting to me. looked great though. And I still love the look of their girls with purple/violet eyes.
By my read, it's one of those self-fulfilling time loop deals. Boy is set to the future, gets involved enough to makes friends and enemies, then two of them are then sent to the past and take the actions that will result in the boy being sent to the future. Also the girl is very certainly not dead, just returned to the future in the same scatter-shot way, and may not arrive until after she originally left. Which means most of the series will feature her less-friendly past self.

I'm strongly reminded of El Hazard, in some ways.
 

Jhiday

Unrepentant Froggie
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Witch Craft Works is actually adapted from a manga, not a light novel.
My bad, I should have double-checked that. The definite visual flair should have tipped me off.

... Which means we've yet to go through any of the four generic light novel adaptations premiering this season. Oh, dear.

Has the first episode actually aired? I thought it wasn't supposed to be till Sunday.
It got pre-aired on Bandai Channel on the 30th. Same with Buddy Complex, on the 29th. It seems that neither of them got licensed by Crunchyroll or any of the other usual suspects yet, so it's fansubs-only for now.

(For the record, Space Dandy is a third Sunday show that had a preview aired a few days ago, but since it's only half the first episode, I'm reserving judgement until I watch the whole thing. It's promising, though.)

By my read, it's one of those self-fulfilling time loop deals.
Hina says about as much. (It's a fun exposition scene where she actually comes clean and explain what's going on... while going out of her way to avoid mentioning any details about the future or why that dude is trying to kill the protagonist. All while ensuring the closed time-loop does happen.)
 

CaButler

Registered User
Validated User
So, because of the summary of Witch Craft Works, I'm taking a look at the manga.

I'm enjoying it so far, though it's still a bit early, there's quite a bit of mystery here, most of it being done on purpose.
 

The Yann Waters

Under Someone Else's Bed
It seems that neither of them got licensed by Crunchyroll or any of the other usual suspects yet, so it's fansubs-only for now.
Actually, CR just announced Witch Craft Works as the latest addition to their winter line-up, "available to users in the following territories: U.S.A, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, and Central and South America."
 
Top Bottom