We’re a bit past the middle of the season with plenty of shows heading into their home stretch, but there remains quite a few series worth picking up. No matter if you’re into drama, action, comedy or romance, this season’s got plenty of fare for everyone. Come check out what NHRV’s staff have to say about a season filled originally with so much hype that we don’t know if the popularity of these tales are a good measure or not.
Introduction by: Kylaran
AC on Sword Art Online after 7 episodes
Imagine the look on my face when I learned that SAO has not ended, because I really thought that the show ended where it should have. Any more continuation to the story would make me think that the producers are simply trying to milk its own creation. And it’s pretty funny to see that the story revolves around a new game called Alfheim when the show is entitled after the old one.
From the onset, I have always thought that the show is overrated; it’s not terrible but it’s not that amazing either. The new villain of the show is the type that tries too hard to be menacing, leaving me wanting the old villain back since his character wasn’t explored enough. And to make matters worse, protagonist Kirito’s new love interest belongs to such a clichéd archetype and I have to wonder if such a character is even needed in the first place.
Shinmaru on JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure after 8 episodes
We’re near the end of the story’s first arc, “Phantom Blood,” and my initial thoughts on JoJo haven’t changed much — it’s still my favorite show of the season. It’s everything great about battle manga (cool setting, hot-blooded characters, brutal fights) without the usual negatives of adaptations (fights and story progression aren’t dragged on into infinity). This is definitely a cheap production, but it’s one that’s executed with a great sense of style by David Production. The studio’s presentation takes the silly melodrama and the world’s bizarre oddities and makes them cut deep. Of course, the one bad part of the series continues to be the censorship. What is chosen to be censored and chosen to be shown remains baffling. However, it’s a small problem. The crazy part is that the show has been quite good so far, and this is the part of the manga that is least regarded by fans — it’ll only get better from here.
Reckoner on Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo after 8 episodes
Well if Sakurasou has convinced me of one thing at this point it is that its sexually exploitative nature holds back what otherwise could be a potentially enjoyable watch. Once you step back and look at its narrative, the frustrations of trying to chase a dream and not being able to measure up to geniuses, there is a truly down to earth story here. The problem is when a show spends a considerable amount of time devoted to trashy fanservice (There is tasteful and tasteless fanservice!), then it becomes hard to take the story seriously at all. Another problem with Sakurasou is that it sometimes relies on common tropes a bit too much, and in a recent episode even committed the cardinal sin of invoking the obnoxious brocon imouto. This show should not be this hard to like, but it continually makes it just so hard on itself.
Kylaran on Onii-chan Dakedo Ai sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne after 7 episodes
To be completely honest, there are two girls (out of 5) in this show worth paying attention to: Anastasia and Arashi. Both characters’ voice actresses are industry veterans with dozens of titles under their belt, while their character design fits well into their comedic roles in the plot. Unfortunately, all of the other members in this surprisingly un-delightful harem show might as well be remade into a cardboard cutout of a Wii U then sold on eBay for $99,999. Not to mention their names both start with ‘A’.
Despite the show supposedly centering on a younger sister’s love for her older brother, the anime adopts an episodic format that explores each girl one episode at a time, something which is unbelievably irksome but nevertheless a tried and true method for animators. In addition, most of the gags in the show miss their mark, though the ones that do land are usually bullseye. I’ve come to the conclusion that the good jokes seem to mainly come from the two named girls above; in which case, you should probably just watch this when you want to grind through your favorite video game instead of devoting your time glued to the screen.
TypicalIdiotFan on Girls and Panzer after 6 episodes
I’m not sure if the problem that resulted in a “point-five” (recap) episode being made as filler is supposed to be an indication that there’s a high amount of energy amongst the producers for Girls and Panzer or if they’re a bunch of clueless boobs. Maybe it’s both, because the show they produce is a similar mix of high quality technics and production values while still being the silliest damned thing ever conceived. Skeptical was I seeing a premise about high school girls taking up the “art” of tanking would be anything but retarded. While I’m still not totally convinced this isn’t retarded, I have to say that at the very least the tank battles themselves are interesting. There’s a lot of realism here, with the tank maneuvers being based on real strategies, and the limitations of the vehicles are exploited regularly. The non-tank related stuff has been a mixed bag of stupid, but they’ve got time to improve that.
Shinmaru on Shinsekai Yori after 9 episodes
I haven’t been quite as bothered by the inconsistent production values of this series as some other people, but the problem does stand out more when the show does so many other things right. The world remains interesting, and it helps that the writers give just enough exposition to give context to what happens, but not so much that the episodes feel like lectures on the world. The show knows what to explain and when to explain it so that there remains a proper sense of mystery. Maybe the one weird aspect of the show is the pacing — several years has passed in the characters’ lives in the span of a few episodes. It’s a bit jarring, though it does work to keep the viewer off balance. The more sinister aspects of the world are floating to the surface, so Shinsekai’s story is sure to explode soon.
Kylaran on Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai after 8 episodes
You can make fun of this show all you want, but if anything it’s still enjoyable to watch. The recent episodes this far into the series have taken a turn towards to dreaded developing romance between the main characters, while retaining the same brilliant comedic pacing that KyoAni is so superb with. While this may be the predictable path that some viewers will enjoy, the recent plot developments have revealed just how shallow the anime (and the original light novel) are when it comes to topics of growing up through dealing with emotional struggles.
I readily admit that this show has headed down the more mediocre path despite my hopes of it carrying some pointed commentary, yet at the same time there’s something to be said about the absolute beauty of the show and the way in which its almost inexplicable psychological themes are brought out with the most beautiful artistic flourishes. If anything, the bend of moe and comedy should make this series one of this season’s recommended shows.
TypicalIdiotFan on BTOOOM!! after 8 episodes
I don’t get this one at all. I’m not bored by it, but I don’t think it’s particularly good either. What we have been given is the perfect storm of, what Obi-Wan would call, “scum and villainy” thrown onto an island with quirky explosive devices. The result is somewhat predictable, as the opportunists take advantage of things and the rest break down into psychopaths. But, really, none of this is important. Whether it being Sakamoto himself thinking about his “gamer” mode version of himself or some other character reminding us that humans are bastards, we are constantly reminded that the only thing that is important is whether Sakamoto lets the situation overwhelm him. So what I don’t get is what BTOOOM!! wants to tell us. There seems to be a lot of social commentary here, but that isn’t relevant. So what is it? Social misfits can be driven to the brink? NEETS and hikikomoris just need to be given bombs to turn into dangerous animals? I don’t get it.
Reckoner on Psycho-Pass after 7 episodes
There is perhaps no other writer in the anime industry right now whose very presence transforms a production as much as Urobuchi Gen. It is not simply about making a dark show as Psycho-Pass would be dark with or without him, it is a cyberpunk afterall. Rather, it is his ability to mold fascinating stories and his world of the Sibyl system puts this on full display. Obviously there are flaws in the system as we even saw in episode 1, but like any good cyberpunk, Psycho-Pass showcases interesting ideas about society in a technologically more advanced world. The latest episode in particular is incredible in illustrating one issue of a society that is obsessed with limiting stress.
The cast so far has also been absolutely stellar. I am particularly interested in seeing what role the main character Akane will play in the future events since the Sibyl system must have thought she had potential for a good reason. She definitely seems like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and I cannot help but wonder what Gen has planned for her character. Suffice to say, Psycho-Pass has got me hooked and it has easily become my favorite of the season. Any self-respecting sci-fi fan should give it a chance.
Shadowmage on K after 7 episodes
Holy crap, talk about buffing a mediocre concept to a blinding mirror shine. K is a resounding anime hit– or a what should be resounding hit in the eyes of a committee of execs. It hits every marketable anime bullet point imaginable aside from outright nudity, and executes it with a television budget from God himself. Personally, I’ve stuck around for the sakuga in the shounen action fight scenes and I haven’t been disappointed. The narrative, however, is flat and the ensemble cast is likable but not strong enough drivers. At this stage, K kind of reminds me of the doldrums Baccano! found itself in before Ladd Russo started to literally crack open heads. However, given how safe the show has played everything so far, I fear that it will never find the edge it needs to break out from the safe little status quo it’s established.
Shinmaru on Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun after 8 episodes
Monster-kun can be a frustrating series to watch. There’s a lot to love about it; in particular, I like how self-aware Shizuku is while still feeling like a character who experiences the rushes of emotion. The conflict between her desire to better herself and her desire to be lovey-dovey with Haru is also well done, and equal parts dramatic and amusing. For his part, Haru’s social cluelessness has been handled much better than the early portion of the show. It’s funny to see him getting a crash course in common sense and respecting women. However, Monster-kun has also seen fit to fall back on that old dramatic standby, the love triangle. To be fair, it’s been handled better than expected — there have been genuinely funny moments because Haru and Shizuku are so blunt. But I can’t help but wonder if the same humor and relationship advancement couldn’t have been achieved without such a cliche plot device.
Shadowmage on Little Busters! after 8 episodes
Key adaptations are exercises in psychological pain dragging the audience’s virgin hearts through glass shards and brimfire in order to gain a deep emotional reaction. If a character suffers from any malady or weakness, he or more likely she will die tragically in the most overwrought manner possible. Little Busters! is the latest adaptation of a Key visual novel, and it has been so far one of the most dull. It tries to rekindle the charm of some of the well worn concepts of wacky high school hijinks and falls far short of a home run. Though I have no real idea how well future pieces of melodrama will fare, its first attempt amidst the comedy can best be summed up with a yawn. The idea of destroying the lives of cute anime girls had its run, but seems that Key has tapped the tragedy mines one too many times.
Reckoner on Sukitte Iinayo after 8 episodes
Sukitte is a naturally controversial shojo and it is a major reason why I compared it to the also quite controversial Bogura ga Ita before. This is because shojo like these have a lot of drama about seemingly silly things: misunderstandings, jealousy, inability to communicate, etc. It is understandable that some viewers may grow frustrated, but personally I see this sort of stuff as being highly reflective of real life. It is at this time of our lives, especially in our first serious romances, that such issues become highly important and difficult to manage. The way Sukitte is able to frame both the highs and lows of a relationship here is what really makes me appreciate it.
Kylaran on Zetsuen no Tempest (Blast of Tempest) after 8 episodes
Although the show had a slightly unsettled start with its abstract designs, pretentiously dramatic framing of characters, and cryptic citations of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, it’s now running at full pace with action and drama packed at every turn. The show has a wonderful way of setting things up from the earliest episodes to connect with the most recent ones, exploring the themes that the creators established early on in the series. It is notably–and wonderfully–different from last season’s Natsuyuki Rendezvous in that Tempest does a fantastic job of having a dead character play a major role without resorting to comedic gimmicks.
I could continue to heap praise on this show for being quite entertaining, but in the end its desire to aim for artistry is a double-edged sword. Some scenes are oddly reminiscent of the famous soliloquies of Elizabethan drama, and quite frankly may not be everyone’s cup of tea. It may certainly make you sound smarter to quote literature in your anime; I also hazard to guess that it alienates a good amount of potential viewers as well.
AC on Robotic;Notes after 7 episodes
Right from the first episode, I could tell that Robotic;Notes is following the same route as Steins;Gate when it comes to pacing. The show is slow. Very slow. It’s perhaps expected from one that is basically on slice-of-life but slow pacing is fine as long as I can expect something good to come eventually. Right now, I won’t call this the most intriguing series of the season but what keeps me watching the show is the sheer sentimental value and simplicity of the characters.
Like Steins;Gate, there seems to be a scientific conspiracy or sort underneath the peaceful setting and I’m not sure what to feel about this. It worked for Steins;Gate because of the sci-fi theme but I have to ask, how is ionospheric research related to kids dreaming about building robots? I just don’t know what to think about a show with two completely unrelated themes, and the only way for me to find out if the story will be coherent in the end is to stick around and find out.