Like I said before, this season has been slow and overwhelming thanks to lack of staff. So as I promised, I’m here to mention all the shows I didn’t manage to write about, starting with the unimpressive.
Seikoku no Dragonar
Sometimes you come across a show you know is bad, but your expectations are low enough and your mood is just right for it to stick with you till the end. For me in spring 2014, this show was right at that moment. Sure it was poorly animated, utterly predictable, and took place in a fantasy world so unoriginal that it could basically be called a Zero no Tsukaima clone. But I came into this show expecting all of that, and it delivered what I came to expect in an ecchi harem fantasy. The character designs were cute (though occasionally too voluptuous to take seriously), the pacing was relatively fast, and it sticks to what the audience wants rather than try to be better than what it is. Those going in expecting a captivating fantasy will be utterly dissapointed, but those expecting nothing but tits and dragons should do fine.
Soul Eater NOT
Here’s some advice for moe spin-offs of serious shows: DON’T try to emulate your predecessor if you can’t pull it off. I initially enjoyed this show as the moe slice-of-life comedy it promised to be. The first 4 eps did a decent job with its cutesy hijinks thanks to a likable lead trio, and it even found time to develop side characters that were previously sidelined in the main show. But then this show tries to imitate the dark, intense moments of its parent story Soul Eater, and the result is a copy that not only pales in comparison to the original, but takes the joy out of everything it was good at. The connections it makes to the main story feel needlessly forced, and the progression of power for these NOT students feel extremely arbitrary when they’re facing an enemy EVEN THE MAIN LEADS ARE HAVING TROUBLE WITH. Oh, and i’m not a fan of the character designs and personality changes they gave to the Thompson sisters.
Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara
Oh the pain I had to go through to actually finish this disaster. When I go into a harem, I ask for 3 basic things: attractive character designs, likeability, and a serviceable amount of sexual tension and good humor. What did I get here? I got a show that tried to deconstruct the formula by simplifying it to its core while poking fun at it. Well here’s a big issue with that: making fun of yourself is only funny when you do something clever with it. Simplifying what’s already basic is only making the material boring and unexciting. Plus I always say character designs are the biggest priority for making a harem cute or sexy, but this show answers that with figures so doll-like and faces so unexpressive that I cringed at their slightest appearance. The only reason I didn’t drop this was thanks to the mystery involving death flags that was somehow shoved into this mess. It was executed poorly and the uninteresting characters couldn’t hold up the emotional content, but the ideas surrounding the concept of death flags and differing outcomes were nothing short of fascinating. Too bad that most of it was focused on tired harem cliches that couldn’t even bring a chuckle or boner. Don’t waste your time with this ugly-looking trash, because whatever good it can muster is shrouded by sheer frustration.
Gokukoku no Brynhildr
Sometimes you come across a show that’s so bad at what it’s trying to do that you can’t help but marvel at its failure. Written by the same mangaka that did Elfen Lied, I went into this expecting manipulative melodrama, occasionally tense scares, and a bunch of over-the-top gore scenes. While I did get the melodrama, the gore was tame and censored. Furthermore, any tension or emotional attachment it mustered was drained out by silly plot elements(wizards made by inserting alien parasites in girls?), confusion over what tone to take, and the fact that most of these characters make some of the stupidest mistakes before they either live or die. However, it’s the consistency of how bad it is and how almost every failure it made seemed intentional that had me laughing until the end of the show. It’s like seeing Improvised Slam Poetry; the result may end up shitty, but it makes the best out of what it’s got and try to entertain. So for those that want a magnificent failure at being edgy and funny, this might be your cup of tea.
Soredemo Sekai wa Utuskushii
This is one of those odd cases when I can feel the content hidden under such poor execution. The core romance of a broken soul and caretaker is heartfelt, the comedy is consistently funny, the singing is beautiful, and every character is likeable to a certain extent thanks to the generally innocent tone. However that innocence also comes with simplicity, and this aspect becomes the achilles heel for this otherwise enjoyable shoujo. Aside from a relationship between a childish king and older princess, it tries to bring political intrigue and family bonds into the mix, but both fall flat because of the show’s insistence on toning the intensity down. The villains are predictable, the stakes lack weight, and the few ideas they do succeed at bringing up don’t stick due to lenient, simplistic solutions. I also abhor the overall directing for this show, interrupting good music with dialogue during emotional scenes and pacing that ranges from too fast to too slow. Those expecting light fun and cute romance should be fine, but it’s clear that this show wants to be more and fails by focusing on the crappy bits.
It’s always strange to find a show you personally didn’t enjoy, but couldn’t find it in yourself to bash it. In this show’s case, it all goes back to a lack of ambition and a whole lot of naivete. The concept of long-term memory loss playing a part in romance could have been a great set-up for exploring pure trust for those who’re barely acquainted, all while pointing out the irony of them being together for quite a while. Yet it constantly tries to dodge such questions in favor of happy smiles and friendship tears, and the few times it’s actually brought up feel more like annoyances that could easily be solved rather than actual problems. And if it weren’t for the fact that those smiles felt genuine, this would be enough to make me abhor this show. It’s weakness is the lack of confidence for taking chances, but it’s strength lies in its innocence involving romance. It’s definitely cute, but another Brain’s Base romance this season also had me engaged. I will mention that in the 2nd unblogged post.
Screw “style over substance”, because this is NOTHING but style. No other anime this season has boggled, angered, and bored my mind at the same time. I know that it’s based off a series of music videos inspired off of Vocaloids, and I do prefer this over Black Rock Shooter. The individual situations that are set-up during the early eps were creatively thought out and stylish. But this is trying to tell a unified story involving all these characters, and it’s at that point where the show collapses. Simply put, there are way too many characters to allocate time to that none of them get enough development to have me care. The main plot is not only predictable, but completely nonsensical. It uses themes of friendship and death as a crutch for its logic rather than actual themes, and each connection it makes to the other stories is held by threads that occasionally rip apart, leaving a handful of unresolved plot threads and about a dozen plot holes. Even Shinbo’s directing isn’t up to par, with a lack of crazy imagery and a budget so low you think that SHAFT literally farted it out. F#CK this complete waste of time!
With a premise that seems like the bastard child of Mushibugyou and Unbreakable Machine Doll, this was on my shit list for quite some time, and for a while it was true. The first arc was one of the worst excuses for setting up a post-apocalypse and executing an action title, with exposition shoved down our throats, forced dramatic conflict, having every character be a run-of-the-mill harem stereotype(particularly lolis), tonal inconsistency, and draining any tension the show can muster through the silliness of the premise and uncreative fights. But while those first 3 problems were never fixed, the last 2 were drastically improved later on. The Tina Sprout arc and Tokyo arc manage to point out how brutal the show can be at points and ratchets up the intensity until it’s shockingly emotional end, all while using its loli harem hijinks when it’s needed and delivering one amazing duel in a collapsing building. I would call this a guilty pleasure, but there’s something admirable about a show that drastically improves as the show goes on. It’s too bad it started off so shitty that the end result is mediocre, but it’s enough for me to wish for a 2nd season.
Break Blade TV
Of all the show listed on this section, this is probably the one i’m most disappointed with. My initial introduction into the Break Blade movies started off extremely bland, but gradually got better as characters became more involved and a satisfying line-up of grounded action scenes took place. So after the lackluster anti-climax at the end of movie 6, I didn’t mind if this show reused the pretty footage from the movies as long as it improved the ending and had new animation. I didn’t expect it to COMPLETELY be a re-edit of the movies, with the only noticeable addition being an extra fight in ep 10 and Rygart having a bitter smile after the same goddamn ending. If anything, they cut essential narrative set-ups due to the 12 ep limit. I admit that I had fun re-watching this story again, but my god does it leave a sour taste at the end.
Love Live School Idol Project 2
No anime this season fits the words “peer pressure” as much as Love Live. I watched the first season last winter with an overall opinion of “meh”, but was drowned in a sea of fans raving about it till the very end. It didn’t matter if the drama was forced, the songs were generic, the characters were cardboard cutouts, or even if the CG dances were UGLY AS F#CK, because it sold higher than almost any anime that season. So out of spite, I refused to watch the sequel and hoped that its popularity would wane. Then I came to the shocking news that on its first week, the first volume had become one of the highest selling Blu-ray volumes in japan. Needless to say, I came into this angry that better shows were left incomplete and this became the blockbuster for SUNRISE.
…But somehow, I can’t be mad about this one. Maybe it’s because the CG is properly rendered and seamlessly mixed with lots of traditional animation. Maybe it’s because the songs were actually fun to listen to this time. Maybe it’s because the drama focused more on friendship than lack of confidence, or that the comedy wasn’t as annoying. Heck, maybe it’s because there’s a stronger feeling of teamwork in these idols now that they aren’t constantly out-of-sync. Whatever the reason, I thoroughly enjoyed Love Live S2. Along with another sequel i’m going to mention, this was a sequel I desperately wanted to fail, but pleasantly surprised me with improvements and highlighting its strong points. Congratulations Love Live. You’ve now made me a fan, and I can’t wait for a season 3.