Fall 2013 First Thoughts

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With leaves turning red with the colors of Autumn around us, it’s time to sit back with a nice cup of your favorite warm drink and enjoy some anime! This season, we’re watching a ton of stuff, and our opinions on the spread of shows range from poop tier to a solid A. If you’re still on the fence about a few series, we offer our take on what to watch and what not to watch for Fall 2013.
Introduction by: Kylaran

Kyoukai no Kanata

Shinmaru’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 4
Initial Impression: C

At this point, I care mostly about the battles in this series, and really only for how well-animated they are. There are some nifty powers. Some of the monsters are kind of neat. That’s basically where my interest stops. I don’t care about any of the characters, which is frustrating because there are times where I feel as if they could be interesting. Kyoukai no Kanata plays around with self-awareness to a certain extent with the literature club discussions, but it feels like a “I know about all these cliches and stuff, but I am going to do them anyway” kind of deal, which is irritating. None of the drama with Mirai is all that engaging, either. Episode four has some neat stuff, and it pulls out all the stops with what’s built up to this point. When I finished the episode and still found that I didn’t care at all about what happened onscreen beyond the visual flash, I knew I had to drop this show. Oh well.

Valvrave the Liberator Season 2

Kylaran’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 15
Initial Impression: B

While the series seems to be at a point where it’s ramping up for a second action packed arc at the moment, it’s still got some steam from the action packed episodes that keep it from tanking much in terms of interest. The series offers an excellent balance between action, romance, and political intrigue, though it doesn’t do the latter two particularly well. However, the creators have successfully brought the pacing from the latter half of season one to create a successful start to season two. The only problem is that the plot developments outside of major battles all feel so scripted.

Tokyo Ravens

Reckoner‘s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 3
Initial Impression: C

Of all the tired, action light novel premises this season, Tokyo Ravens has certainly jumped in front of the crowd. Establishing characters and setting with no bull crap involved is in short supply in the light novel world, and this show seems a lot better than its contemporaries of the season simply because it does what any reasonably enjoyable story should do. Now, the characters are not necessarily super engaging, and plot is not extremely riveting aside from a few nice twists, but it at least seems like the story is trying a little bit and that counts for a lot. Unfortunately the action scenes of the series are tainted by some ugly as sin CGI, but aside from that Tokyo Ravens is not too bad.

Non Non Biyori

TypicalIdiotFan’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 3
Initial Impression: B

Another adorable show that I can’t bring myself to hate, even though the formula kind of irritates me. This is another 4-koma type show with the character tropes are all there, and the yuri elements have shown up, but unlike most 4-koma, this one takes one joke and drags it out over a longer segment. Essentially, it is one big long brick joke, with the punchline being at the very end. This works for me because I appreciate subtle humor, but for many viewers, by the time they get around to the gag, you might have forgotten what the joke was in the first place.

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Outbreak Company

AC’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 3
Initial Impression: C

I can pretty much tell that Outbreak Company wants to be a little different as the story makes meta-references on other anime series. By that, it tries to be perhaps a little smarter than the others. But you see, for example, although it makes clever references on character archetypes, having them as its own cast is pretty much a shot in the foot, and I don’t think it’s aware of its own irony. At least the budding romance between the two main characters is quite heartwarming, but things would’ve been so much better if the story is more well-written.

Golden Time

TypicalIdiotFan’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 3
Initial Impression: B

Despite the fucking annoying spoilerific intro, I think by this point we have figured out who the main romantic couple is going to be, the only question left is “how” the main romantic couple will be. As methodical and even paced as the spiritual precursor (Toradora!), we are in for an interesting romp with a variety of characters both mundane and absurd. The college setting works really well, allowing exploration of more adult themes, though going the “cult” route was not expected and using an amnesia plot device is potentially obnoxious. I just hope that a precedent isn’t set, because I do like this show so far.

Hajime no Ippo Rising

Shadowmage‘s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 3
Initial Impression: C+

In a sense, there is no need to introduce Hajime no Ippo Rising. Those who are interested in watching it will already be watching it, and those who are not really should try the original Hajime no Ippo. For the uninitiated, Rising is the continuation of the Hajime no Ippo manga about boxing. As a Madhouse production, the visuals look as good as usual, though there is a lack of the additional kick like the previous seasons. So far, the series hasn’t covered the most interesting bits of the manga and has come across as a tad clumsy, but it may be saving up its real punches when it gets to the real meat of the season.

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Galilei Donna

Shinmaru’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 2
Initial Impression: C+

Not totally sold on Galilei Donna yet, but it has been fun so far. The story seems as if it will be a load of ridiculous nonsense, with various groups gunning for whatever the hell “Galileo’s Inheritance” turns out to be; however, the tone is in service of that, with equal helpings of danger and lightheartedness. The youngest daughter saves her imprisoned family by orchestrating a jailbreak with a goldfish mecha! How dark could this series possibly be with something like that? Also, one of Galileo’s descendants inherited his mad ninja skills, so that’s something. What an odd show. I’ll be fine as long as Galilei Donna develops along this ridiculous line.

Gingitsune: Messenger Fox of the Gods

TypicalIdiotFan’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 3
Initial Impression: B

I’m still trying to get a feel for this one, as it hasn’t really done much in the first dose. I will say that I don’t hate it, and actually find it adorable and touching at times. Possibly the most inoffensive show this season, Gingitsune seems to focus mostly on the relationship between man and Gods through the pairing of the eponymous herald and our young heroine. There has been more exploration of the Gods’ perspective of things, but I expect that to flip around here fairly quickly. Otherwise, it is cute and worth a couple of looks.

Arpeggio of Blue Steel – Ars Nova

Shadowmage‘s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 3
Initial Impression: D

From the creators of My Battleship can’t be this Moe, and This is Totally Not Strike Witches, comes the CGI naval warfare extravaganza You Sunk my Waifu!… I mean Arpeggio of Blue Steel – Ars Nova.

The first and perhaps the only thing you’ll notice about the series is the obtrusive CGI, which is exceptional when it comes to the naval combat, but jarring when it comes to characters. The core problem with the series is that the characters are hard to care about and the story is rather uninspired. There is simply no good hooks for the audience in Arpeggio of Blue Steel – Ars Nova to stick around. So unless, doll like CGI is your thing, stay far away.

NouKome (My Mental Choices are Completely Interfering with my High School Romantic Comedy)

TypicalIdiotFan’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 3
Initial Impression: B+

To think, the light novel and anime trope phenomenon had grown so much that someone decided to parody it. Conveyed as a straightforward harem-comedy romp, NouKome is instead given to us as more of a parody of light novels and anime adaptations. You can expect the usual harem crap, but there’s plenty of meta comedy and table flipping. I’m not exactly enamored with everything (the Absolute Choices are used too often and have no punch), but I enjoyed episode 3 so much that it raised the grade a full letter. Also, “God” is a damned hoot.

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Ace of Diamond

Reckoner’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 3
Initial Impression: B

In most sports stories, particularly those about baseball, it is usually the strong, ultra-competitive high school team with lots of money that ends up playing the villain and it is the more down to earth, weak team that miraculously emerges victorious through guts and determination that plays the hero. Ace of Diamond, however, has the main character join the typical villain school instead. Frankly, this is far more interesting than your usual underdog story. Of course, there is a lot more going for Ace of Diamond than just that; it has enjoyable characters, decent production values, and plenty of gar to go around. All of this combined makes it a must see title if you can call yourself a fan of sports anime whatsoever.

Log Horizon

TypicalIdiotFan’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 3
Initial Impression: C

This is a really niche show. Tossed aside by a lot of fans thinking it was just a ripoff of SAO, the real issue is that Log Horizon is much more of an exploration of the gaming aspects of MMOs than dramatic, over the top, survival show. If you’re someone like me who played a number of MMOs for years, you can appreciate some of the tactical aspects and the gameplay rules being thrown around. If you’re not, you’ll probably find this boring. There really isn’t anything else here for everybody to enjoy.

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White Album 2

Reckoner‘s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 3
Initial Impression: A-

The greatest praise I can sing about White Album 2 is that it is a quiet series. The characters do not talk extremely loud, there is no pointless stupidity committed for the sake of drama or plot convenience, and generally nothing extreme happens just for the sake of attention. Considering that a lot of anime tend to do just the opposite, it makes White Album 2 an extremely refreshing experience. It proceeds at a very casual pace, takes care to develop multi-faceted characters, and builds a lovely atmosphere. The music is splendid, and the visuals are rather pleasant. White Album 2 is easily one of the season’s better titles, and it may end up being one of the best anime romances in years.

Samurai Flamenco

TypicalIdiotFan’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 2
Initial Impression: B

My brother brought it up first, but I can’t really shake the impression either: this is Kick-Ass, sorta. It has the same general idea of an everyday schmuck trying to be a superhero, but so far it doesn’t really want to go as ambitious as Kick-Ass did on the seriousness level. Our everyday hero appears to want to be involved with more everyday things, at least as practice until he “levels up”. In the meantime, the commentary is running thick, with the idea that allowing “minor” crimes to go unchecked leads to a greater social disorder. It is an interesting take on the idea of “eternal vigilance”, we’ll see how preachy it gets.

Unbreakable Machine Doll

Reckoner‘s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 3
Initial Impression: F

Unbreakable Machine Doll just has a totally incoherent cast and story. Things happen rapidly with little sense of direction or purpose, and little exposition is given to understand the setting or just what is going on in general. Yaya is a complete abomination of a character – her annoying voice, pesky perverted antics, and tonally deaf behavior utterly kills the atmosphere and tension of the story. Furthermore, the writing is so predictable that you could telegraph the villains the instant they are introduced. It also seems that the series is in contention for most grotesque CGI of the season and considering the tough competition around that’s quite an accomplishment. I would like to say a few more polygons and frames of animation could save this show, but it really is just trash.

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Gundam Build Fighters

Shadowmage‘s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 3
Initial Impression: C

There are two types of people who will like Gundam Build Fighters: children and Gundam enthusiasts. Unless you’re nicely situated into one of these categories, stay far away since the show is essentially a Saturday morning cartoon. (Think Yu Gi Oh! except with model kits instead of cards.) As a Gundam fan, the show is a pleasant mixture of references and some exceptionally realized fight scenes set in a hot blooded shounen kind of environment. It’s not a show that’ll leave any kind of mark on the storied franchise, but it does make me want to buy that Perfect Grade Wing Zero Custom I’ve been holding off on.

Yu-Sibu (I Couldn’t Become a Hero, so I Reluctantly Decided to Get a Job)

TypicalIdiotFan’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 3
Initial Impression: Ep 1 – A+; Ep 2 – F; Ep 3 – A-

Why the wonky initial impressions, you ask? Well, that’s because my attitude towards this show depends solely upon the brass balls shown by the creative staff. You see, this show isn’t really anything special. Oh sure, Fino is a miracle of the universe, and stuff is funny, but what really sets this show apart is the absurdity of the fanservice. The first episode contained so many sakuga moments of breast movements that I was ready to crown this as anime of the year; episode 2 ditched nearly all of it; episode 3 brought some back. I cannot stress enough how important this is. Gimme my bouncy, puni-puni tits!

Kyousougiga

Shadowmage‘s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 2
Initial Impression: A-

Kyousougiga is a visual experiment in the same vein as FLCL. It’s a quirky action/comedy/drama/mystery thing that revels in its over-the-top silliness. The quality that makes this series more than just an animation demo for an up and coming director is its rather effective story about family bonds. A sense of rather deep sentimentalism is balanced well with the show’s zaniness, and it effectively grounds the show’s otherwise colorful and offbeat insanity with something that feels substantial. If you want a series that will charm you and entertain you, Kyousougiga is the show of the season.

Yowamushi Pedal

Kylaran’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 3
Intial Impression: C-

This show is kind of funny. Some times. It has a pretty stupid premise (involving a club that no normal Japanese school would ever have), but the character interactions can bring a chuckle to my face fairly easily. At the moment, one huge problem plaguing the series is the sheer amount of exposition that is being used: Imaizumi talks way too much and the show relies too much on explaining how cool a scene is instead of simply showing it. Not too bad for a light-hearted comedy.

Strike the Blood

TypicalIdiotFan’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 3
Initial Impression: C+

Pretty by-the-numbers shounen fare so far, with nothing really setting it apart from other supernatural contemporaries like Index. Well, there is one. The main hero doesn’t annoy me like Touma does, and that’s a big thing to me. Otherwise, I find the setting interesting, I find the characters kind of flat so far, and would prefer a bit more exposition, but I expect that to be coming. It isn’t bad, but it isn’t great either. Big props for our main heroine wearing plaid panties. PLAID PANTIES. I could never get tired of that.

Yozakura Quartet

Reckoner‘s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 3
Initial Impression: C-

This series reminds me of Kill-La-Kill this season because of its seemingly random nature. Things happen for no particular reason other than its cool and fun. While on one hand it is part of its charm, it does little to offer anything more cerebral. And unfortunately, Yozakura Quartet does not have a high enough budget and energy level to really make it an engaging and fun as hell experience like Kill-L- Kill. I do not want to just compare this to another show, it deserves better than that, but frankly I find it hard to stay engaged in this show.

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Little Busters ~ Refrain

AC’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 3
Initial Impression: C+

Let me say one thing about the first season: I never liked it. What I thought would be a coming of age high school drama series with comedic bits, turned out to be just a group of kids being occasionally over-dramatic and playing house and baseball. So far, I’m seeing the same things here but judging from the preview trailer, I should be seeing something serious later on. I certainly hope so; I would really like to see something more intriguing or at least interesting from the motley crew. I really can’t take another season on them continuing to being kids; I think it’s about time already.

Megane-Bu!

TypicalIdiotFan’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 3
Initial Impression: The fuck?

I’m going to pro and con the shit out of this.
Pro: You’re better than Wanna Be the Strongest In the World. Con: So is Infinite Stratos 2.
Pro: You’re colorful. Con: Pastels!
Pro: I found episode 3’s story plot to be touching. Con: I found episode 1’s story plot to be pain.
Pro: This is fujoshi bait without being standard fujoshi bait fare. Con: If you don’t knock this off you’ll be fujoshi bait that DOESN’T sell.
Pro: The level of absurd is high enough that I find it amusing. Con: Someone seriously thought this was a good idea.
Pro: I haven’t dropped you. Con: Yet.

Wanna Be the Strongest in the World

Shinmaru’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 3
Initial Impression: Randy Orton shitting in your gym bag

My god. Why in the hell am I watching this? My interest in wrestling from many moons ago can’t even carry me through this. This show is a terrifying combination of sleazy, embarrassing and dull. The third episode features the main character, Sakura, stuck in various forms of the Boston Crab submission maneuver for probably three-fourths of the running time. It’s just various wrestlers sitting around and trying to break her back/hips while the camera thrusts at her chest, between her legs and anywhere else it can go. I am loathe to judge people’s sexual hangups, but who in the hell would find this erotic? Ironically, it’s the show’s habit of closing in on all the characters as much as possible that makes it such a boring visual experience.

Kill-la-Kill

TypicalIdiotFan’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 3
Initial Impression: A

Original? Oh hell no. The creators know it, too, and they don’t care. In fact, they’re trying to throw every established, adored, and nostalgia inducing trope into this thing that they can. Utterly ridiculous on every level, I can’t help but be taken in by the frenetic animation, the warped stylistic choices, and Mako. I am not going to call this a deconstruction of all the old shounen tropes, because it isn’t doing that yet, but it sure is self aware, and won’t let you dismiss it so easily. We’ll see where this goes, but for now it is damned entertaining.

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Nagi no Asukara

AC’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 3
Initial Impression: B

Mari Okada certainly has a knack for writing drama stories that involve angsty adolescent characters. Nagi no Asukara is no different with its share of characters and their emotional problems, but I hope as a coming of age series they will gradually grow up to be more likable. Also, the two-world setting is certainly unique and makes for a visually beautiful show, as expected from PA Works. There are so many directions this series can go into and my interest is piqued enough to see where it goes from here. Hopefully, the story doesn’t trip on common plot holes and overdoes the melodrama like most of such series I’ve seen before.

Coppelion

Kylaran’s First Thoughts
Episodes Seen: 3
Intial Impression: C

Terrible production quality paired with originally terrible character design creates a woefully mediocre anime. The main characters feel woefully one dimensional, andthe manga admittedly does a far better job of conveying atmosphere to viewers. Despite having an interesting story somewhat relevant to modern day Japan, the horrible mismatch in aesthetics between character design and detailed backgrounds ultimately ruins any form of immersion.

Walkure Romanze

TypicalIdiotFan’s First Thoughts
Episodes seen: 3
Initial Impression: D+

Do you know what made Girls und Panzer work? It was the ridiculously high levels of serious business that went into the tank battles. The rest of the show was pretty tame and mild, with a few snippets of fanservice and drama, but really nothing heavy. As such, it worked because it had no weaknesses. Walkure Romanze wants to do a similar approach, by making jousting the most serious fucking thing in the world, and it does that well. What it doesn’t do well is everything else. Gaudy, unfunny fanservice and repetitive sex humor drive the value of this way down.

7 Responses to “Fall 2013 First Thoughts”

  1. As I have said in the forum, Kyousougiga is my favourite show of the season by a comfortable margin, although I am also a fan of the sequels airing like Ippo and Kuroko no Basket.

    There’s enough to make this season passable but I don’t think it’s particularly good.

  2. Okay.. so what got left out this time… what, nothing? Well, I’ll be…

    At this stage, I can’t help but think that Samurai Flamenco’s premise shoves it into a kind of corner, where the only ways out are go nowhere(mediocrity route), moralize like it’s life depends on it(Touma route), go the retarded dark route(Quick shortcut to being as awful as Kick-ass), or be character-driven and go with the MC growing up/conforming(the route which would sadden me, even though it would be the most stable one). I guess there is still the off-chance that it veers away from it’s hijinks setup and becomes properly, intelligently serious, but there’s no way that’s going to happen, unless R.D.Laing’s ghost is writing this show.

    Other than that, I cannot believe Kyoukai no Kanata and Coppelion got a higher rating than Yozkura Quartet, and I’m on the “I don’t get Kill la Kill’s appeal”-wagon with Fumoffu!!.

  3. @Pebble

    Yeah, even though I am personally really enjoying Samurai Flamenco thus far, I’m not entirely sure where it’s going. That’s not inherently a bad thing, but there are a million ways it could peter out. I hope it doesn’t!

  4. Okay.. so what got left out this time… what, nothing? Well, I’ll be…

    That was a combination of my writing more blurbs than I was assigned and Kylaran forgetting to edit them out.

  5. @Pebble

    Well I like Kill La Kill, but as for Coppelion… If I were the one to do that show, I would’ve given it probably a D-. If I did Kyoukai no Kanata, I would give that one a D.

    As for Samurai Flamenco… It is a 2 cour show, so got to keep in mind there’s still a lot of time to tell its story. To me I get the impression it will go to somewhat dark places eventually with more general social commentary.

  6. Well I like Kill La Kill, but as for Coppelion… If I were the one to do that show, I would’ve given it probably a D-. If I did Kyoukai no Kanata, I would give that one a D.

    The problem with doing grades like this is that the context is required within the blurb. If you were to just say something like this, I would find it hard to defend that grading. However, I know what your feelings on KnK are from the forums, Reckoner, so I get you.

    However, by all accounts, I would still say that there is a profound difference between a show that is just utterly shitty and too silly for any kind of defense in Coppelion and a show that is just underwhelming or disappointing like Kyoukai no Kanata. I think the former is just terrible while the latter is a letdown based on expectations. Not sure which is worse, even if both are bad things, but for me disappointment is more about my own personal biases and, therefore, harder for me to use to judge a show.

  7. Really, am I the only one that likes Coppelions’ look? yeah, it’s kinda stupid, but I’m still mildly entertained. As for Kyousogiga – it worked well in episode 1, then introduced like 20 characters in 20 minutes in episode 2, then spends an entire episode on a side character who still gets no real introduction in episode 3…

    I’m still not sold on that one.

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