Winter 2014 Set Menu

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!

Space Dandy
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.

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Saki: Zenkoku-hen
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.

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Noragami
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 ><

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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.

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Buddy Complex
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.

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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!

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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 ><

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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”).

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Magical Warfare
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.

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Ongoing:

  • 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

19 thoughts on “Winter 2014 Set Menu

  1. A glaring lack of World Conquest: Zvezda Plot over here, though forgivable since you seem to be preoccupied with like wow 10 carryovers from last season. If you haven’t tried it, get right to it. If you passed over it after one episode, get right back to it. Every episode gets better and better. No new show this season holds a candle to it in both cleverness and humor. We’ve yet to see if the plot will take itself seriously and go somewhere, but even as an episodic it is brilliant. Kate Hoshimiya is not to be trifled with. Watch as she conquers this anime season!

    Tonari no Seki-kun is widely agreed to be a worthwhile shorts series (~8 minutes per episode). Boy drives girl nuts by playing around in class.

    Two other series I’ve been personally enjoying are Mikakunin de Shinkoukei (2 sisters+surprise fiance with little presence+new sister-in-law) and Witch Craft Works (witch protects boy from other witches). The former is lighthearted slice-of-life comedy with romantic drama put backstage, while the latter is action/comedy with the possibility of ramping things up in intensity in a few episodes (from hearsay). At the very least, enjoy the heck out the best ED sequence of the season.

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    • Well, I’ve gone out and downloaded the first episode of World Conquest, so here’s to hoping I like it! Yes, I was happy at first thinking that I wouldn’t be so busy with anime this season, then remembered that I have a LOT of carryover from previous seasons.

      As for shorts, I don’t think I even considered Tonari no Seki-kun. The last short I watched was Miss Monochrome. The art style kinda reminds me of Nichijou, so that’s already a perk to me.

      I tried two episode of Witch Craft Works and didn’t find it as bad as some bloggers did, but I wasn’t too impressed either. However, I agree that the ED is pretty adorable! I remember Inushinde suggesting I watch it when I last tweeted about the show. I liked the ridiculous antics of the “villains” out to get him, with all those robot rabbits, but I am pretty tired of fan service. I already find Space Dandy pretty over-the-top with the ball gag ship and the Breastaurant, but the setting and characters make up for them in my opinion.

      I also downloaded the first episode of Mikakunin de Shinkoukei, so we shall see!

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  2. I’d forgotten you’re my entire source of what comes out each season until I read this. The two you mentioned that really grabbed my attention was the first one because of the Cowboy Bebop comparison and the third one because of the special ingredient.

    Nice to hear from you again as always.

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    • Haha, there are so many other bloggers out there who do season previews! (and a lot of them actually talk about all the shows, not just the ones they’re going to watch) I’m glad you always read what I have to say, though ^^

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  3. This is the most divergent our watch lists have been since I started reading your site. I’m watching almost 30 shows, but from your list, aside from Saki, which I just haven’t watched any of, I was uninterested in Hamatora after one episode (superpowers and detectives are neither interesting to me, add them together and it’s not more interesting), and I’ve effectively dropped Mahou Sensou after episode 2 was “Let’s throw every magic idea we can in.” And on top of that, Space Dandy is just kinda eh, something that I’m watching because everyone else is.

    I’m in agreement with rikuo up there, maybe in a different order. Witch Craft Works is my favorite show, by a large margin. Perhaps it’s the similarities to my favorite show, Girls und Panzer from the same director, but it’s got a wonderful mix of action, craziness, and fun to it. Plus, I really like the system they’re building with the workshop and tower witches, and the romantic aspect between Ayaka and Honoka.

    Mikakunin de Shinkoukei is another one that’s grown on me, especially since they’ve dialed Mashiro back by a lot in this latest episode. And World Conquest: Zvezda Plot just has something silly and interesting to it.

    In the area of personal tastes that I realize are probably not for everyone: ImoCho and Sakura Trick I both love. Sure, ImoCho has been a bit close to hentai (not that I mind that), but I also like the story. And with Sakura Trick, I really like the way that they’re progressing Haruka and Yuu’s relationship from a bit of a lark and a crush into something more special.

    I want Nourin to be better than it is, although this last episode showed more promise. And Inari KonKon is worth the time. Another thing that’s worth more time than it might seem, especially if you want to see just some nice people being nice, is Super Sonico (yeah I know, but it’s a lot nicer than you’d think).

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    • I guess you’re right that we’re usually more aligned on shows from season to season. I’m surprised at how few people I know are watching Hamatora. I thought the detective angle would intrigue more, but I guess not?

      I adored Girls und Panzer, but I just didn’t get the same vibe from Witch Craft Works. The most similar aspect that I guess jumps out at me is the crazy action fronted by cuteness. I also glanced at the descriptions for ImoCho and Sakura Trick, but both really grated against my interests.

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      • A lot of the similarities I see between GuP and WCW are superficial, things that the director would have a hand in: The OP having a quick review of every character, the ED being bouncy, catchy, and chibi, the madcap action and comedy pacing (I thought episode 2 of both episodes was hilarious). The story is significantly different, but I don’t mind the role reversals with Honoka being repeatedly the damsel in distress. And I really love the romance that’s developing, both from Ayaka’s past watching over him and now their closer contact. Being a little spoiled on the backstory doesn’t hurt at all, nor the history of the property (in the short story that spawned the manga, it was actually a yuri story with Honoka as an actual girl, not just a very effeminate boy with a girl’s name). But whatever the reason, the show just flips my switches.

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      • Like with Dreamr, I tend to like the shows that you like. So I might just have to now backlog all of Witch Craft Works for later viewing! A large part of the reason for why I had cut it is because of how I have such little time these days. But there’s no harm is saving it for a dry season or a rainy day ^^

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  4. I was shocked to read that you dislike the visuals for K. I’m more of the opposite. I loved the visuals for K, yet hated the extremely colourful animation whenever someone uses their Minimum powers (but I’m used to it now). Anyway, episode 4 of Noragami was hilarious! It’s the best anime of the season to me. A must watch! Oh, you might want to try Nisekoi. It’s a great romcom.

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    • Personally, I hated the way K looked, and dropped it after one shiny blue gradient filled episode. The same style of visuals didn’t bother me nearly as much in either Copellion (the story was the problem there) or SYD.

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    • Yes, episode 4 of Noragami was just too awesome. The level of humor in it way surpassed any from all the shows this season I’ve seen so far, despite the darker tone that cropped up later about Yato’s past.

      I also love romcoms, so I’ll give NiseKoi a try. Thanks for the suggestion!

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  5. Just about everything I’m watching is up here but it looks like you haven’t tried out Pilot’s Love Song and I’d recommend it if you get a chance! It’s a bit on the slower side (and, since most of the summaries seem to give away a couple of major plot twists I’ll give you one here, A boy joins a class of students training to be pilots as they live on a floating island bound for the edge of the world) but based on what you’ve liked in the past I think the tone might be a good fit for your tastes!

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