It’s been quite a while seen I’ve been able to prune down a season like I have this Winter, which speaks of both my overall feelings about the quality about this season, as well as of the little down time I have these days. We’re already about a quarter of the way through, with most shows having released around 3-4 episodes. If you think I’m missing out on anything good, be sure to let me know!
With all the hype circling around this show, it’s amazing how I went into this completely oblivious to the English dub and the smattering of discussion regarding its release. I took one glance at the promo art and figured I’d be getting a louder and updated Cowboy Bebop, which isn’t too far off the mark. Watching this show with my SO was amusing to say the least given the Breastaraunt and hailing of the ass. This show’s goal of a boisterous entrance and memorable first episode succeeded with a smash, and I’m hoping the rest of the season follows through on the promising four episodes that I’ve seen so far. The focus on ramen across the universe in the second episode suited my tastes perfectly, and I would have probably been right there with them, sipping on broth and running penniless from stall to stall.
Surprise ingredient: There’s a noticeable lack of CGI and I’m loving it. The blur of colors and motion lends the scenes a psychedelic scheme that complements the characters and their inane search for new alien species.
Fiiiinally! What we’ve all been waiting for (at least the smart of us) is finally here: the national tournament coverage of our favorite high school mahjong team. Forget Achiga and all those other silly rival teams; this show has always been about Saki and her luscious flat chest aching to press against Nodoka’s bountiful selection. Fields meet mountains; plateaus reach for the sky! *Ahem*
In all seriousness, it’s been forever since we last saw our girls ready for action, and despite the distinct lack of action in the opening, I’m more than ready to dive into extended episodes of single rounds and entire sections devoted to moves that are nothing less than magical.
Surprise ingredient: I was frustrated, like many others, with the Achiga-hen arc, but now can appreciate that head-to-head meeting between the monsters of the tiles. There. I said it.
Dysfunctional gods and magical girls: not too original, yeah? We see this almost every season when Shintoism pops up in anime, like last season’s Gingitsune and another 2013 show, Kamisama Kiss. There’s this romanticized notion of beautiful, sweet girls being “touched” by god, so to speak. And I’m a sucker for these shows, easily slipping into the protagonist’s role and considering myself a friend of the spirits.
What Noragami does differently is approach the girl with a comical fate reminiscent of Blood Lad. Instead of dangling a hope of romance right from the start, the girl finds herself battling a new reality of death and life. Hiyori stupidly throws herself into death’s path to save a complete stranger, and ends up with a soul lost between the near and far shores. Step in Yato, a shrine-less god desperate enough to give aid with a mere 5 yen, and a newly born, thought dead, Shinki with the face of a little boy and the attitude of a delinquent. I’m hoping the end brings Yato and Yukine a shrine of their own!
Surprise ingredient: EPISODE 4. Episode 4 and that infinite fall! You’ll thank me later after watching it and laughing until you can’t breathe ><
Hamatora the Animation
Stylistic in art and tone, Hamatora pulls together a string of familiar elements–minority group magic-wielders, detective agencies run by the less than reputable, wise-cracking leads, and a color palette comparable with Durarara!!. While Hamatora gives off less of a naturally cool air, I still can’t help but want to hang with these guys. I want to know what it is that compels them to offer their services when the possibility of injury is so high and the rewards so little. Unlike military service, a large part of what these guys do is kept largely under wraps, and there are no medals or discounts at eating establishments.
What makes this show even more intriguing to me is the idea that Hamatora consists of students of the highly esteemed Facultas Academy. They are successful graduates who have turned down the perks that their accomplishments could bring. Not only that, but two of the members hold the records of being the academy’s highest ranking minimum-holders. There’s plenty here kept under wraps that holds me in thrall.
Surprise ingredient: There are moments of action where minimum-holders use their powers and the screen suddenly looks like an oil slick of rainbow colors. This color palette reminds me of how much I disliked the visuals of the 2012 show, K–yet strangely enough, I don’t mind it here. Maybe I just did give K enough of a chance–I think I dropped it after one episode–but the switches in color in Hamatora serve a clear purpose of indicating when our characters are in their element.
Three episodes in, and I still haven’t a clue exactly where we’re going. But that’s okay, because this show isn’t the type to reveal its cards too quickly. At first I expected to remain in the school setting, where an overly nice guy has to figure out the agenda of a mysterious girl.
While the players remain the same, the setting did not, and a full time travel sequence later, we’re fighting in technology that makes no sense. Now usually mecha are a feat of impossibility anyways, but the revolutionary system kept secret in Buddy Complex thrives off of the combined mentality and abilities of two people. Usually I find shows like Gundam and Macross to glorify the power of one, but here, our protagonist relies on compatibility. It’s an interesting method I’m excited to see this show develop.
Wake up, Girls!
It’s been a bit since I last watched an idol show, with The iDOLM@STER being the last and best. I don’t really count Natsuiro Kiseki since that show more centered on magic and coming of age. Unlike those other two, Wake Up, Girls! actually hints at the uglier side of the idol industry. Jobs are often un-glamorous and sometimes downright shady. Cheeriness can only go so far in the face of people who are less interested in the music and the idol identity, and more about the sexual image. The show doesn’t go as far as I had hoped it would in showcasing just how painful of an existence these girls can lead, but hey, at least it’s a step in the right direction.
Realities of the idol industry set aside, the art and animation of this show are well smooth and shiny plastic–the perfect illusion. While I might now find the characters or setting as delightful as The iDOLM@STER, I still admire the energy of their one routine and can’t help but cheer them on to more jobs and publicity. Perhaps that’s a testament to the allure of the limelight and voyeurism of those who stand in it.
Surprise ingredient: I’m already a huge fan of Minami-chan and her love of food and those close to her. I can see why she’s already become popular to her viewers!
Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha
This show is quickly becoming one of my favorites of this season, and it’s more than just because of the several traits that are usually my temptation. Yes, I am fascinated by Shintoism, and yes, crafty foxes are among my favorite, but I also love the idea of a young girl who’s captured the affections of a goddess and who has been gifted with her powers. Inari is nothing special, as many of these types of stories’ protagonists are, and she is painfully young and unaware of the responsibilities power requires. All that’s on her mind are a boy’s feelings and her love for the local shrine.
An additional perk of this anime is its window into the world of the gods. We not only see Uka-sama in her down time playing dating sims, but we also get to visit the spirit realm and see where they make their godly decisions. With the introduction of Uka-sama’s brother, I’m hoping to continue exploring their relationships and abilities.
Surprise ingredient: Draggle tweeted his ship of Uka-sama and Inari’s brother, and I must say that I agree! Their chemistry is just too good to ignore ><
Silver Spoon 2
Ahh! How did I almost forget to include this one? There was no way I was going to miss this second season airing, and there was no way I was going to put this on my backlog like I did with so many shows from last fall. The first season completely won me over with its unashamed portrayal of the sacrifices those in agriculture have to make in exchange for some of the most bodily satisfying rewards. This second season started out strongly as well; there’s a marked increased focus on Hachiken and Mikage’s friendship, and who doesn’t like puppies and horses (I’m reminded of this year’s too cute Budweiser commercial, “Best Buds”).
At the bottom of my list and having just barely scraped by my dropped shows, Magical Warfare grabs a whole lot of familiar and somehow manages to keep my attention through its ridiculous notion of magic acquired through contact. I can’t say I was a fan of the girl lead at the start of the series, who I almost expected to be voiced by Kugimiya Rie, but she does get points for her willingness to take responsibility by dropping several classes down. By the third episode I found her much more warm and likable.
Another route this show decided to take that I approve is its portrayal of the protected non-magic world and the high school students who actually notice the absence of their peers. I half expected this show to whisk away our characters into this new world without any feeling of loss or consequence. There have been several glances back to the original world, particularly in regards to Takeshi’s home environment. Now if only we can get Kurumi to stop placing the blame in the wrong places. I want her to be more of that relaxed girl she is when interacting with Takeshi.
- Diamond no Ace
- Golden Time
- Hunter x Hunter (2011)
- Kuroko no Basket 2nd Season
- Log Horizon
- Magi: The Kingdom of Magic
- Nagi no Asukara
- Strike the Blood
- Uchuu Kyoudai
- Yowamushi Pedal