There’s no question about for me, Shingeki no Kyojin is currently the best of the season. It’s popularity is evident in its blu-ray pre-orders, mass of fan art on pixiv, and plethora of internet memes. This is all to just cause, because Shingeki Kyojin is an intense and well-written story. And from the consensus, in their attempts to adapt it into an anime, Production I.G./Studio Wit have made it even better. Each episode is a twenty-minute thrill ride and simply put, if you aren’t already watching it, you need to evaluate your priorities. Speaks for itself.
Toaru Kagaku no Railgun returns with its second season and it’s the opposite of lackluster. J.C. Staff seems to have evolved as a studio as every season brings more beautifully done adaptations. Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S has set an astonishing standard in animation quality, surpassing it’s already gorgeous first season. Don’t let that be the sole reason for watching though, because since episode one J.C. Staff has made every episode completely satisfying. The pacing, especially stands out as extreme well done, so much so that the retold story still resonates are exciting and full of anticipation. Alongside Shingeki no Kyojin, Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S has had the most exhilarating scenes and episodes so far this anime season.
Contrary to the previous two, Red Data Girl works its magic in a very subtle way, yet equally enchanting no doubt. P.A. Works has always had a vibrant talent in establishing a strong ambiance in their works. Red Data Girl is no exception, perhaps even the most refined. Of the entire season, I believe Red Data Girl has the greatest depth in its characters, and so far, just that aspect is enough to make each episode an intriguing experience. Following episode two, the setting of the story limited itself to the new school grounds of the characters, something I object to as I was anticipating a broader storyline. However, with the revelation of recent events, the narrative still has much expanse to cover. So long as the series continues with the excellent presentation, it’ll definitely remain in my top five of the season.
We can give great credit to Gargantia for devoting so much time to its exposition. In that sense, I feel like Gargantia will definitely beat other series in the end, but presently I’ll have to let the other main contenders of the season beat it in the race, because that’s exactly what they’re doing. An exquisite blend of visual beauty and elaborate subtlety, Gargantia makes me think I’m watching a movie production every week. Most of all, it seems to focus on a very developed story, wrought with erudite themes. Whether we see that explicitly in the narrative is irrelevant, because we can definitely sense it. This is a Gen Urobuchi work, after all. At the same time, such thoughtful content beckons for controversial opinion in terms of material and presentation. I am no exception, so while I can appreciate the depth of Suisei no Gargantia as a literary work, I have found myself disagreeing on points of focus some weeks. The conclusion of episode one brought us the enormous revelation that our protagonist has returned to the origin of humanity, Earth. Following episodes sought to focus on Ledo settling into this civilization and its ways of life, but I couldn’t help but think some such portrayals were unnecessary. (Ledo getting blamed for killing the pirates.) For the time being, I am enjoying Suisei no Gargantia but the series demonstrates every week a potential to live up to its expectations.
Per week, Oregairu is a bit shaky of a series, but somehow it retains an overall likeability for me. It’s not uncommon for me to fall for the cast of a romantic comedy or slice-of-life series like Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru, whether it’s because of pure visual design or distinctive character personalities. Yes, Oregairu is a bit of both. A plot is supplementary when you have the fluid interaction of interesting characters as such. Most of all, as a youth series, Oregairu is relate-able. To that extent, it doesn’t have to try to hard to get a laugh or two. It’s more of a, “Haha, that’s so true,” reaction. With a lead like Hikigaya maneuvering the course of his high school life through honed strategic prowess, the series has a very consistent feel of ingenuity. It’s given a very strong appeal since episode one, and despite variations in individual episode enjoyment (unnecessary cast additions, a bit contrived dialogue), I have a very sincere opinion of this series.
#06. Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko
Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko is the cutest series of the season. But don’t let that Stoney Cat fool you, that’s not its only attribute. The seemingly perverted series is also quite brilliant in its narrative and dialogue. I find myself favoring the main cast of characters in the strangest of way. Our protagonist is much more admirable than his perverted facade lets off, our female characters exude a natural charm, and the story features just the most bizarre yet appreciable happening of events. Perhaps my favorite aspect of the show is its prominence in merging the common tropes we love and the genuine process of everyday life into a convincing portrayal of human nature. (I can’t tell you how good it felt when Azuki made up with the friends she thought had betrayed her and ruined her life.)
Majestic Prince may seem like the unconventional anime series that’s pulling a questionable progression of events (After all, who does a graduation episode literally in the middle of the series?), but it has somehow achieved perhaps the best cliffhanger to end the first half of the anime season with, the introduction to the antagonist cast. About time, right? Similarly to other series of the season, Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince is an anime that you don’t necessarily need an active mind to enjoy. Its best feature is that it portrays an authenticity of emotions. The characters are brimming with personality and completely likeable. And the plot is what its needed to be to allow us to enjoy these kinds of entertaining features. Simply put, Majestic Prince is fun to watch. Now with the members of Team Fail Five graduating and officially enlisting into warfare and the antagonists revealing themselves, it seems like things are finally bound to reach climactic levels.
No doubt about it, Hataraku Maou-sama! is the comedy of the season. For me, the series started off stupendously strong, evoking some otherworldly kinds of lunatical laughter out of me. As it progressed however, content demanded for a stronger focus on plot, which, for me, took away a lot of its defining feature, the comedy. My favorite jokes were definitely the ones in which Maou was working at RgDonalds or grocery shopping with Ashiya. In fact, I’m still a bit disappointed that his local RgDonalds branch isn’t one of the common locales in the show. Nevertheless, even with the inclusion of natural disasters, demon generals, and reserves of spiritual energy plot elements, the writers have cleverly implemented comedic routines into the more serious storyline. The latest episode’s feature of the Demon Lord being ironically terrified of paranormal beings was quite a hysterical treat. We could use less addition after addition to the plot though, with all the new characters and plot twists and whatnot. With all said and done, focus or don’t focus on strong plot, hopefully the writers will keep a good portion of the humor ensuing.
What to say about Kakumeiki Valvrave, the show subject to rampant controversy every week? In essence, it is indeed very similar to Sunrise’s earlier production, Code Geass. I wouldn’t call it anywhere near as compelling but it’s a show that’s fun to watch, so long as you can tolerate its flaws. Personally, having gone this far already, I’m already too invested to stop watching. It may be completely ridiculous but it has excellent art, lively characters, and a very, very, special breed of unintentional humor.
Of course we can’t have an anime season without that mindless type of comedy series. You can’t get any more random than Yuyushiki, a series about three ridiculous friends who take over a club in which their only duty consists of processing random data off the internet and writing a one-liner of a lesson on a whiteboard for their club adviser to evaluate. I’m just not too sure what to address now because that was the entirety of the show’s premise. Coming in at number ten, Yuyushiki is certainly burdened by its genre, but I would definitely like to say that it is actually a show I look forward to and enjoy every week. Sometimes its that easy kind of watch that triumphs over others.
Photokano took a different course of action from almost every other show this season, it started off horribly and then became much better. The first two episodes served as an introduction to our main characters harem, and while it was visually pleasant, it was completely absent of any aspiring content. If you dropped the show at that point, I can’t say I blame you. But if you did not, then you discovered that it actually had potential to be much better. As of now, Photokano has evoked the most romantic backing out me, partly due to my hatred of NTR. Recent episode have verified that this adaptation can certainly portray a decent love story.
After crushing my hopes and dreams for Persona 4 The Animation, Studio Index is back to do the same with Devil Survivor 2, and I kind of wish I was joking about that. I just have to say it, Atlus games get the short end of the stick when it comes to anime adaptations. There’s simply nothing to hold in high regard, not the art, not the animation, not the direction, nothing. Any compliments will strictly be for the source material. Because of this, the first four episodes of Devil Survivor 2 The Animation were quite a bore for me. Content that should have been pretty exhilarating was not simply because of how underwhelming it was in presentation. Episode five and six was where the story delved into the more intense material, and took away all of my temptations of dropping the show. Things got intense, yeah. But that being said, I noticed the potential of the content as well as the greatness of it. So while it was portrayed well, I know for a fact that it could have been portrayed excellently in the hands of a more capable studio. And that in itself is terribly disappointing. Devil Survivor 2 The Animation is too short of a great adaptation, but hopefully by the end of it I can say that it was enjoyable in some terms. To this point, it has interested me enough to pick up the game if the anime fails in my eyes. That at least is worth some appreciation.
I was really bitter towards this show initially, because of its art style. And when it premiere, my impression didn’t change. But somehow, it grew on me without necessarily getting better. I warmed up to the art style, even started admiring it a bit. The humor may not hit me as hard as some other comedies this season, but I commend the way its executed, in terms of animation. What really caught my eye a few episodes in was the premise and referential characterization. I always love me some basis of history and mythology, so perhaps that is the main thing keeping me hooked onto this show.
I have my troubles with Karneval. Beyond its bishounen overindulgence (seriously, I don’t think I’ve seen a series in which so many character have the same hairstyle), it reeks a bit of overdone material. But of course, this is the shounen genre, which prospers from overdone tropes, themes, archetypes, and stories. Undoubtedly true, so I guess I have to say that I wouldn’t be criticizing Karneval as much if it did these things again but did them right. For every aspect of Karneval, I couldn’t stop comparing it to another shounen series that did the same thing but better. From the beginning, Nai constant remembrance of Karoku reminded me of Allen’s (from D.Gray-man) complex with Mana. Except D.Gray-man did it better. The presence of antagonists that turned into demons reminded me of, once again, D.Gray-man. Except D-Gray-man did it better. A few episodes more and the only defining features I see in Karneval are some vibrant characters (Yogi being my favorite of the whole cast) and an a charming theatrical circus motif. Beyond that, I’m just not too sure. Even when the story does attempt to get deeper with the revelation of mysterious organizations such as Circus and Kafka, I just can’t help but think, “Oh, that’s a bit lame, resorting to that from the start. Naruto didn’t do that with Akatsuki until after it defined itself as a well-established shounen.” All I can say at this point is: we’ll see how far this can take me. I have respect for Studio Manglobe, but even with them at the helm, this adaptation seems a bit poor.
Dansai started quite intriguing for me. The first episode demonstrated a uniqueness in direction and execution. (I still can’t forget that out of this world transition it used.) But it quickly went from different to tolerably familiar to unbearably generic. I feel like what ruined Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge was its devotion to its premise. In short, the conceptual story behind Crime Edge is that there are numerous pairs of Authors and Insteads participating in a historical game, aiming to assassinate the Hair Queen with the use of deadly Killing Goods. Our two leads, Iwai and Kiri, are of course, respectively, the Hair Queen and her protector, which makes their story one of survival. With this formula, the need for special personalities, character relationships, and weapons seems so overbearing that the series comes off as generic and overall corny. (One such character’s ability to nearly crush Kiri’s skull with the strength of his bare hands is explained by his body gradually hardening after a routine life of receiving whippings. Another character’s Killing Goods ability is explained as being able to deal punishment to those whom he witnesses committing a crime. A judge witnessing things from the “front row of a court room” is used as a descriptive analogy to this power.) Additionally, or should I say negatively, the focus is detracted from the show’s greatest feature. While Iwai and Kiri’s relationship felt genuine and admirable in episode one because of their completely normal interaction, it becomes indigestible as it becomes dependent on the “enemy of the week” plot progressions and unconvincing conflicts that transpire. I was really debating whether to include Dansai in the “dropped” section or not. And even though I didn’t, I don’t think there’s any avoiding it coming weeks.
Yondemasu yo, Azazel-san
It truly has been a struggle with Aku no Hana. The director has stated that he chose the rotoscope art style in order to “shock” and “disgust” viewers, and I’ve been trying to keep that in mind as I patiently kept up with the adaptation. But it has come to the point where the art is consistently ruining the delivery of the series. “Maybe you should have been more concerned about portraying things other than the visual presentation better,” are the words that come to my mind every week. After week four, I decided to give the manga a preview just for comparison. I was astonished at how much better it was. The first thing I noticed was the art being nowhere near as horrifying. It seemed like the original artist was attempting for a more charming style, in fact. I thought to myself, “If this was my art that they subsequently adapted into that, I would be completely insulted.” At week five, I altogether decided to drop the anime and pick up the manga series at another time. I couldn’t deal with the “creative license” any longer, when in one episode they animated an atrociously generic shot of Saeki’s face on the moon and in another episode, they animated her as as an angelic figure showing Kasuga salvation. In its needless approach, the anime adaptation of Aku no Hana sacrifices the source material’s appeal and ends up as something that leaves you uncomfortable every week, in all the wrong ways.