Monday, September 30, 2013

Final Thoughts: Summer 2013

Final Thoughts: Summer 2013 Anime Season

A new anime season is upon us, and that means it is time to look back at the season we must leave. And what a season it was. There was some gold this season, some shows that I am really disappointed that we will have to leave, and some stuff I don't mind forgetting about. Next season might be a mystery, but let's first look at the shows that I will be continuing to watch into the fall anime season.

Cardfight!! Vangaurd: Link Joker- We finally finished up what I am considering the first part of the Reversed saga, and there was some great card playing in that saga. Some of the new reversed cards and their mechanics are just really awesome. And I like the little breather episode that they are giving us with the camping episodes. Of course what I am waiting for is the inevitable moment when Aichi gets dragged into this whole reversed business fully. To be honest, there are two things I really want to see in the next part of the arc. One is I want more Kamui, because he plays my deck (Nova Grapplers) and I really want to see some of the new cards for that clan. Second is that I kind of want to see Aichi reversed. I want Naoki, one of the new characters to this season, to step up and become the new main character. I know that this will probably not happen, but I think it would be cool to see Aichi take a step back and have the show basically force Naoki into a leadership role.

Hunter X Hunter- We are nearing the closing acts of the Chimera Ant Arc and I am excited. When I say nearing, I mean we still have like maybe a year, probably less, until the arc is actually over. And then I actually have no clue what the series will do. The manga has one more arc after that and then just stops. But that is a near constant worry for another day. I am really excited for the upcoming episodes, and the past few have been some of my favorite chapters from the manga. The Palm date episode was perfect, and the Phantom Troupe verses the Chimera Ants episodes are just fantastic. I feel really bad for everybody who doesn't know what is coming up, because it will hurt, and I am sorry.

Toriko- We are nearing the end of one of the biggest fights that this series probably has ever seen. They needed all four Heavenly Kings, Komatsu had to do the impossible, and there was actual blood loss. I don't think there was much blood when Toriko lost his arm, and now they are drenched in the stuff. That and poison rain. We are really getting to see how the characters have grown as warriors and how their appetites have grown also. After this, I think the next big thing for the gang is going into the Gourmet World proper, and I can't wait for that. -edit- They used demon Pac-man to defeat the giant monster. Demon Pac-man ate the giant monster. I love this show.

Space Brothers- Namba is literally working with the Ghostbusters on how to fix the moon rover. This is the best series ever. But outside of that, the revelation that Hibito is suffering from some sort of post-traumatic stress disorder whenever he is in a spacesuit is really dramatic, really well done, and honestly makes sense. He nearly died on the moon, which I am pretty sure has never happened to date, in a space suit. It can trigger a response, and it is something that he is going to have move past, to cure, in order to make it back to the moon. This is a great story and I really can't wait to see what they will do. While I am pretty sure that Hibito will get better with time, I wouldn't put it past the writers of this series to screw around with the audience and do something awful.

And those are the only shows that will continue into the next season. So let us look back at the seasons that we are leaving. These are my final thoughts on the 2013 summer anime season.

Blood Lad- This was a surprisingly fun show that was consistently keeping my interest up until it didn't have an ending. Really, we need to put a stop to the whole 10 episode anime series thing, it is just not enough time. Not having a real ending is not Blood Lad's only problem though. It is not well paced. Everything just goes past really fast, without any real time to digest what happened just moments ago. If this was a 13 episode series or preferably, a 24 episode series, I think the pace would be perfect, and we would have time to explore all the new characters that get introduced every episode. But while the pace of the story is a big negative, there is a single great positive that kept pulling me back every episode. Staz Charlie Blood. He is one of best main protagonists I've seen in a while. He is every shonen protagonist mixed with every shonen protagonist fanboy ever. He tried to use the Kamehameha against an enemy, and when he failed and the villain criticized the attack, he went into a speech about how Goku is a true hero of the universe and that the only reason the attack didn't work was because he was so second rate. This guy is the internal me. Staz stole the show, was awesome in every fight, knew which tropes to evoke and which ones to avoid, and was just a cool dude. Every time he freaked out at modern day video games or technology and stuff was just perfect. He alone made the show for me, and it didn't hurt that much of the supporting cast were great to, each in their own right. I admit, the show does resort to fan service a bit too often for my tastes, but it is a minor quibble when compared to the show as a whole. I really like this show, and would love for it to get more episodes. At least a second season to end the damn thing.

Danganronpa: The Animation- I admit, this show made me want to play the games that it is based off of. But in itself it is not that great of a show. The premise alone, of a murder game high school with a bunch of colorful characters, was enough to keep the show going, but what ended up bogging the series down was the secrets behind the school and such. The mystery of why they were there and why they had amnesia and a bunch of other stuff felt unneeded overall. I did like the plot twist of who the mastermind was, but over all I felt the show could have gone in a better direction. I would have just made her rich, and that she got off on watching people despair, being forced to kill people who you becomes friends with. Honestly, I would only change a few aspects, taking out the amnesia part and giving the villain a clearer reason to be forcing people to murder each other. Also, the ending felt a bit rushed in two ways. The first was the explanation of why no one was looking for them. There reason is that everyone is actually watching what was going on, on television, and that the world was in some sort of international anarchistic, upheaval. Both of these points sounded really fake to me though. I thought that both of those things were just ways to make the characters despair and more willing to kill each other, but there was no confirmation in the positive or the negative to this, so we only have what the show presents to us. Personally, I am pretty sure that the mastermind was lying. I did really like Naegi's completion of his character arc. I liked him as the Super Duper High School Level Hope, even though it was completely cheesy. Hopefully the second season will do better in explaining what happened to the world at large, and maybe even what the hell was up with Monobear. But as it stands this was an ok show, but I have seen slightly better murder game shows.

Free!- For a show that started out as a tech demo this little series really shined. Free was nothing like I was expecting it to be, and yet still I think hit all those expectations. I was fully prepared for the male version of the generic Kyoto Animation studios series, but instead of cute girls hanging out and acting nice to one another with some sort of thing tangentially related to them, it would be cute guys hanging out and acting nice to one another with some sort of thing tangentially related to them. And there were moments were this series lived up to that expectation. But it also created a really great story, a story essentially about finding yourself and friendship. Each character started out as a stereotype for this type of story, and then transcended that stereotype to become something more.Free is just a really fun, great series. I admit, Rei, the character that wasn't in the original tech demo, became my favorite character. He looked like the cool, intelligent, glasses wearing guy, and instead is the beauty obsessed nerdy guy who has all the best lines. And also sacrifices the most at the end of the series. He has the best character arc, starting as an outsider who wants no part in the swim team, completed when he sits out of the relay in order for their old teammate, who by the way was acting like a complete twat, to relearn why he swims. To be fair, it was a great scene, I just wanted Rei to swim because he was the best. Really, watch this show if you haven't, it is so worth the 12 episodes. And it might just get a second season next summer.

Majestic Prince- This was a surprisingly great mecha anime. From its completely twist opening, faking out the audience, at least me and my friends, on who the main character was, to its insane in scale final battle, an all-out war with the villains of the piece, not to defeat the bad guys as a whole, but to just stop them from coming to our galaxy, this show was a bit a rollercoaster. They put on a huge scale attack that led to the death of thousands, hundreds of thousands possibly, just to stop them from coming. Just the scale of the conflict and how far advanced the enemies were, and how we were putting all our hopes onto a few desperate chances was a great, if simple narrative. I loved the characters, I loved the mecha, I loved the humanistic determination, and how there was the acceptance that if at any point our heroes failed, the entire human race would follow quickly behind. The fights were not the best, they went way too fast for anyone to focus on the goings on, but it did lend itself to convey the point that these were fast paced space battles. Also all the politics that they had in the series, more so in the first half but it would creep up once in a while, was just not interesting to me. In another series, yeah it would make a great story, but in this I felt it cluttered this series, though it did make a good parallel with the enemies, as they also had their own political machinations. At its core, this is a show about someone trying to define what a hero is to him. And his answer is a hero is someone who survives and lives to see his friends and family. To me, this was a great show, and I highly recommend it. I also wouldn't be surprised if this show eventually gets another season, as there was room enough for a sequel, maybe something even set years after the events of this series.

Dog and Scissors- Oh dear this show. The show about a bibliophile who dies and turns into dog and the women that loves him is not a good show. But it is a fun and ridiculous show. It is honestly just a stupid simple little show that at some point or another hits every fetish or taboo you have heard of. And it was pretty fun to watch. This is the type of show that you mock, for how dumb the presence is, for how dumb the relationships are, for the fact that there are actual anime fights with named weapons and chainsaws, for the fact that there was a writing fight, with secret techniques and tactics, for the fact that they coped out on one of the biggest writing fights they could have done and I felt disappointed in the fact that I didn't get to see it. This was a dumb show, but I liked to watch it. Also the opening theme is really catchy, I kind of like it.

The World God Only Knows: Goddess Arc- At first I wasn't impressed by this series. It was using too much content from outside the original two seasons of the show, and it felt slow in the middle, when he was trying to figure out who of his past conquests was hiding a goddess. But then when it was down to the last two girls, and only one of then having a goddess, the show kind of changed. The love triangle between the three felt genuine, and the fact that Katsuragi has to constantly push down his own emotions was becoming more and more evident. And then the ending. They showed a Katsuragi who has experienced his first real love, and then losing it. And it hurt. Both parties are scarred after what happened. To be honest, my only hope is that this show gets another season and they somehow become a couple, or move on in a positive way, or something. Also I am not sure if the girls with goddesses still have their goddesses and if they don't, if they still remember everything that had happened. Either way, it was a surprisingly good season for this series, and I hope we get another one soon.

Kiniro Mosaic- This was the most adorable show about lesbians I have ever seen. And that is a good description of the show, incredibly cute, and mostly about lesbians. This was just a fun, nice series that I would recommend if you want something the complete opposite of serious. There is not much to say on the series, the animation is nice, the music is nice, the characters are nice, it is just a nice little show.

Chronicles of the Going Home Club- Full disclosure, this series still has another two episodes left at the time of me writing this, so this is not a complete final look. But anyway, this is a fantastic series. It is a little meta commentary on all moe, slice of life anime. It is a conscious effort to both make fun of, and revel in everything that goes on in all of these girls acting nice to each other anime. It is both a celebration and a cynical look at an entire genre. And it is brilliant. I think my favorite episode was one where they were playing that word game, the one where you have to say a word that starts with the last letter of the previous word, except they added a taboo rule, where each person chose a word that was taboo, and if anyone said that word they would lose. It was over the top and ridiculous and as intense as any good card game anime. I would watch an entire series that is just that premise. It was great! I loved this show, and really wish it was more popular. It probably won't be getting another season in the future, so I expect this show to fade away into a hidden gem. But if you have the chance, watch it.

Love Lab- This was a surprisingly fun watch. Love Lab did have some problems, I felt it could have been paced better, and some of the side characters needed either more screen time or less. But it was fun, and funny, and just a nice watch. I did like how it looked like it was setting up a formula for a series like this to follow, every new episode being a different love based question that needed answering with ridiculous results and Riko's lies just growing ever bigger in the background, and while they had episodes that dealt with both of these, they also had legitimate challenges that the girls had to face, both in doing their love labs and in their lives. The characters relationships were really well represented, and the friendships became the core of this series, which was nice. This was a surprising show that I would fully recommend.

Makai Ouji: Devils and Realists- Let me just start by saying that the historical inaccuracy's started to physically hurt at times. And I am not speaking to anything that was wrong with the English setting, even though they did have a Japanese high school style culture festival at some point in the series. No, it was everything involving Solomon. I am almost 95% sure that there was no cake during the time of Solomon. They got Solomon's history wrong, he wasn't the son of a servant women he was the son of a women who (in one interpretation of events) tricked David into having sex with her, killed her husband by sending him off to war, and then married her. I am also almost certain that he wasn't ever imprisoned by his father. Oh, and the big one, SOLOMON NEVER HAD AN ARMY OF DEMONS. You see, as I might have mentioned before, I have a Bachelor's degree in religion, and am currently going for my Masters in the same subject. I know a bit about the Kings of Israel.But putting that aside, this was not that great of a series. It felt clichat the best of times, with the whole demons verse angels thing and demons being good while angels are evil, and at the worst of times it was just boring. What it did right, surprisingly, was comedy. This show was really funny, when it wanted to be. Any other time, however, it felt like I had to slog through it. If they made this show a straight up comedy, it would have been great, but as it is, it is just ok. Nine times out of ten I would give this show a pass.

Mushibugyou- This was a really fun, action packed show, that didn't exactly know what to do with its world. Mushibugyou sets up this fantastic world with otherworldly insect monsters and later Insect Men, in a time with samurai and ninja and crazy schools of techniques and even a little magic, and then doesn't do much with it. To be fair, if this show does get a second season, I know it will fully explore the world, and maybe even solve their little infestation. But as it is right now, well let's just say the series last boss was more of a mid-game boss overall. Seriously, his objective was to kidnap the princess, the head of an evil organization does not do that himself. But in what they had, it was good. There was some fun characters, some really great fights, and even a few moments of real comedy and drama. I liked how they finally explained Jinbie's random as all hell fox demon powers, though it barely made any sense in the few lines of exposition they gave it. Again, this is a series that needs a second season, to explore all the loose ends that the left dangling in this season and to just finish off the head boss over all. But for what it is, it isn't bad, I would recommend it.

Recorder and Ransel Mi- Another season filled with jokes about how the main character is a pedophile, even though he is 12. To be honest they did do more with the characters this season. They added to the internal conflict of some of the characters, they had jokes other than misjudged pedophilia and jokes about a girl how is in love with a 12 year old. They even introduced a few new characters, like a guy who is the same height as the sister, and his friend who is an actual lolicon. Yeah, this still isn't a great show, but if it ever has another season I will probably end up watching it, as it is my curse to do so.

Senyuu 2-Do you know how much I would pay for a full length, 24 or more episode series, with each episode being 24 minutes? There is so much potential within this little gag anime that it hurts. In all seriousness, it was an ok second season. It stumbled around for much of the time, but it did introduce some really fun characters while stumbling. And it even had some really dramatic moments, I mean hell the main character got cut in half. I mean he got better, but it wasn't played for laughs or anything. The actual murder I should say, his revival was played for a few laughs. And the second to last episode is nearly perfect. And then the last episode kind of makes it stupid. But there is a possibility of a third season in the future, as they call the ending of this season the ending to part one. I just hope it is better than this season overall.

Servent X Service- This show was just brilliant. The chronicles of the goings on in a civil servants office in Japan made for one of the most enjoyably shows this season. I really liked all the characters, the relationships that grew and changed over the season, watching how all the characters grew and changed by the end of the season, and just every little thing. I cannot sing this shows praises loud enough. It is a completely original idea that succeeds in every front. Go watch it if you have the chance to.

Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S- Say what you will about this franchise, they know how to have a finale. The second season of Railgun is a great addiction to this series, and hits some real highpoints. The entire Sisters Arc retold from Misaka's point of view was great, though it did feel a bit side tracked when they introduced the mercenary group that kept poking its head up throughout the rest of the season. Touma of course was amazing, though I am disappointed he didn't have a role to play in the finally. It would have been nice to just see him punching something one more time. The second main arc was a good way of showing how Misaka had grown and changed from the events of the Sisters arc, but it did feel like it was retreading old ground, both from that arc ad the previous season. And I was really disappointed in the use of the character they introduced in the early part of the first half of this show, who could control people's minds with a remote control. They were setting her up to be this big villain who would eventually have to fight Misaka, but then never appeared again until the final episode where she helped Misaka. I don't know, I was just expecting more from her. Maybe they will use her in Index one day, who knows. But over all this was a good season, but it does make me want more Index in the future. Misaka is awesome, but there is just something special about Touma punching someone in the face.

And that was my summer of 2013 anime season look. There was some really great shows this summer, and some that I just had to drop. I regret dropping Watomote, which I dropped because I just couldn't care about the main character any more, and the one show about airsoft games because I think it went too far in the other direction of what most girls doing X anime usually go. It was too dramatic, and I just couldn't care about the main character anymore. But enough of the past, let us look to the future of anime, with the fall 2013 season. So until next time, have fun watching.
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