Fall 2013 – Week 1 in Review

Dear lord. Alright, let’s… let’s try to do this.

Kyoukai no Kanata 1/2: Easily the strongest start to any KyoAni show I’ve seen, and I actually really like some KyoAni shows (Hyouka, Chuunibyou, Haruhi… though that one’s old enough that I’d have to revisit it). First, the visuals are beautiful as always, with lovely color palettes, great lighting, and a bunch of evocative shots that really help sell the horror movie undertones of the show. Second, the animation is fantastic as usual, being used both for KyoAni’s standard character moments as well as legitimate action scenes. Third, the world seems actively compelling, and is a welcome change from KyoAni’s usual unambitiousness. Fourth, the writing is actually kind of witty and self-aware, and they’re doing a great job of integrating the exposition naturally into the dialogue, which also helps sell the world. So far, this has been a fun, endearing, very pretty ride, and I hope it continues to improve.

Kill la Kill 1: Yeah, they did it. The visual design is fantastic, the animation is flavorful and well-spent, the show kind of mockingly plays with the 2D frame in all sorts of interesting ways… and it’s just pure adrenaline the whole way through. I love how much fun this show is having – I love how characters are announced with giant titles, I love how that first counsel member just angrily shouts exposition at everyone, I love pretty much everything about Ryuuko’s design, personality, and voice, I love its five-episodes-in-one pacing, I love its sense of humor… it’s pretty much everything I could have hoped for. Well done, Trigger.

Monogatari S2 13Fantastic episode. The Tsukihi/Nadeko conversation basically set the charges, and then the second half was the explosion. The facial animation was great, the way they tied in all the various things people have been saying about her was great, and HanaKana’s performance just killed it. Pissed Nadeko already has to be one of those classic Monogatari moments, and one more trophy on the shelf of great moments this particular season has been so effortlessly cluttering.

Nagi no Asukara 1: I enjoyed this one far more than I would have expected. The visual design is obviously great, but the story and characters actually impressed me as well. The racism/desegregation angle seems like it could go in some compelling directions, and I liked how Okada deliberately touched on such charged images related to it – the girl changing her appearance, the bus stop, the other classmates crowding around to see what makes her different. Additionally, the characters themselves just feel like adolescents – I’ve heard people complaining about the drama and the crying, and yes the female lead seems pretty blobbish, but these are young kids, and this is a pretty harrowing, isolating situation. The show treats them as actual adolescents – meaning they’re insecure, they lash out, they’re somewhat ruled by sexuality and somewhat ruled by childhood, they feel legitimate fear as the first age they can feel nostalgic for (true childhood) slips away from them… yeah. It definitely worked for me, and I’m eager to see where it goes.

White Album 2 1: Well that’s a kind of awkward title for this formatting. Anyway, I also really enjoyed this one. I’m a big music person, and so am predisposed towards stories like this, and I’m also a huge romance fan, and generally find most jokes in anime to be at best unfunny and at worst incredibly grating. So a romance/drama that completely dispenses with dumb humor and focuses on some characters who might have actual substance to them? Yeah, I’m on board. The protagonist’s actual competence and drive stuck out to me, as well as the great ending sequence. This one’s something of a wildcard, but the fact that it’s based on a highly regarded and (very importantly) linear VN gives me hope.

Log Horizon 1: I enjoyed this episode, and that’s basically all there is to it. It wasn’t hugely impressive, but the dialogue seemed pretty good. It didn’t seem too ambitious, but I liked the practical focus, and I respect this writer. Basically everything about it felt “watchable,” so I’ll be pleasantly surprised if it approaches anything like the ambition of Maoyuu Maou Yuusha.

Yozakura Quartet 1: Another “watchable” show, though this one was more uneven – its ups (solid animation, an enjoyably wacky world, good pacing) were solidly up, and its downs (hackneyed exposition, silly cackling villains, no substance yet) were pretty down. Jury’s still out on this one.

Golden Time 1: The first legitimate disappointment. I had pretty high hopes for this given how much I liked Toradora, but this first episode was pretty awful. The male characters were wishy-washy and bland, the female characters were alternately unbelievably anime-ish (the lead) or just nonexistent (the rest), the writing was banal, the jokes were generally unjokes, the visual design was wholly uninspired. I’m not dropping it yet, but it’ll be pretty disappointing if the followup to Toradora doesn’t survive the three episode test.

BlazBlue 1: Total nonsense if you haven’t played the games, quirky and kind of pleasingly pandering if you have. I never actually played that much of the game’s storyline, so I might actually be at the perfect level to find this enjoyable – informed enough to appreciate how they’re adapting such an unadaptable thing, but ignorant enough to get caught up in the plot as it happens. We’ll see.

Gingitsune 1: Alright for what it was. I can actually get behind slice of life with some actual character to it, but this all just felt too routine to grab me. Dropped for now, but I could be brought back.

Coppelion 1: I made it three minutes into this! Call me back if the premise somehow sells itself down the line, because I literally cannot suspend my disbelief far enough to encompass post-apocalyptic schoolgirls.

Outbreak Company 1: I made it FOUR minutes into this! Through the OP, even! Then it cut right into a scene with the maid and that was that.

Hataraku Boob-sama 1: I made it fifty seconds into this!

And that was the week. I was actually incredibly impressed, overall – almost everything I hoped would be good turned out well, and a couple of my maybes (White Album, Nagi no Asukara) really surpassed my expectations. And we haven’t even seen the Noitamina shows yet…

12 thoughts on “Fall 2013 – Week 1 in Review

        • Nope. The genre just doesn’t really do anything for me – I prefer my slice of life to be stuff more like Uchouten Kazoku, which depicts the joy of living but also has some narrative thrust and thematic/character goals.

      • Different folks have different tastes, as they say. (And I appreciate the wisdom of seeing only high-probability shows because, God knows, I should be rationing my time better than watching all the new shows of the season.) Keeping in mind that many people saw this and found it boring, and also keeping in mind that humour is a nebulous, personal thing, I must say that I found it to be the funniest episode of the season so far. (But then again, word of warning, I find Jane Austen’s Emma to be side-splittingly hilarious.) It was deadpan humour, kinda in the vein of Azumanga, Yotsubato and Minami-ke, except more deadpan.

        • Actually, I also find Emma hilarious – Emma herself is a great character, and Austen has that true gift for banter that most writers can only vaguely simulate. I also like Yotsuba and Azumanga… but like with Genshiken, I generally prefer the manga. There’s something about the way many shows linger on jokes that just doesn’t work for me, so for humor I prefer the medium where the pacing is more within my control.

        • Actually, I also find Emma hilarious – Emma herself is a great character, and Austen has that true gift for banter that most writers can only vaguely simulate. I also like Yotsuba and Azumanga… but like with Genshiken, I generally prefer the manga. There’s something about the way many shows linger on jokes that just doesn’t work for me, so for humor I prefer the medium where the pacing is more within my control.

      • Ah ok. I guess after some of the dark shows last season, SoLs have became something I watch now haha. I didnt think I would like Kirino Mosaic, but it provided some really good laughs last season after Shingeki…

        So far I guess ill see how it does. Man though there are some shows this season that I thought I would like, but ended up not after only the first episode…

  1. OK. What about Kyōsōgiga? Great art direction. Good animation. Good music. Wacky characters full of life. Gorgeous pictures of a mirror-Kyoto. Insane action. Theatrical set pieces. Story about a family, of sorts. Wall-to-wall symbolism including a big one about art as creation. References to Lewis Carrol, Buddhism, Onmyōdō and God-knows-what-else. I would have thought it would have been just your thing. Or were you waiting for the real episode 1 that aired yesterday?

  2. After catching the second episode, you might want to give Outbreak Company a chance. It may not be the pinnacle of writing right now, but from the looks of it, it has the potential to pull a C3-bu bait and switch with the story.

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