Monday, September 29, 2014

Best Summer anime of 2014

This summer was a very interesting season for anime! Never before have I seen a season that was filled with so much potential and hope only to be quickly flushed down the drain after a few episodes. Yeah... this was not a good season for anime in the slightest. I know there are a bunch of people that found some really great shows these past three months, but nothing stood out to me or caught my interest. When a show did catch my interest though, all of the anticipation and hope I had for it left me faster than I could watch it. It was a chore to watch several of these shows, to the point where I had to muster up all of the strength I could to watch them all to completion so I could give a full review. So here they are. The five shows that I've seen this season and how most of them suck. Cheers.

Space Dandy Season 2
When I heard that Space Dandy was getting a second season, I thought that it would be more of the first season in terms of content. Each episode would be its own little story and have its own sense of quality to it. Chances are, each episode may be good or may be bad. You never knew until you sat down and watched the whole thing through. The second season was exactly as I expected it to be, but on the whole, nearly every single episode was great. Out of the new 13 episodes, maybe only two or three didn't land for me. The rest were some of the best episodes of an anime series I've seen this season.

Space Dandy didn't really land for some people during its first season because of how bizarre some of its episodes were and that it took a large amount of time to get adjusted to the style that the series was going for. That problem does not exist in season 2, with the very first episode being a hilarious genre defying and mentally warped take on the many worlds theory. From there we've had episodes that deal with the justice system of the future, fourth dimensional love, and a philosophical look at the meaning of life and death. All from the show where the very first episode had a Dandy face first in a pair of boobs! I implore all of you to check out some of the episodes from season 2, specifically episodes 14, 21, 25, and 26 being the best in the whole series. Try each episode out to see which one you like, but season 2 was a clear hit this summer for me. Groovy...

...This piece of shit on the other hand is just plain awful. I mean, this was one of the most difficult shows I've ever had to sit through just on the sheer merit of how boring, uninteresting, and stupid this show was. Toko is a high school senior that is spending her last summer break with her closest friends Yuki, a former track athlete, Yana, an aspiring model, Sachi, a soft spoken bookworm, and Hiro, the resident Yosuke Hanamura of the group. They're having a fun summer until the appearance of a mysterious man named Kakeru, who strangely has the ability to see the future. His powers rub off on Toko somehow, and she slowly starts to see the future. Meanwhile, everyone in the group slowly starts to fall in love with others in the group until we get a confusing love hexagon that makes me throw my hands up and quit.

To say that this is a bad love story is not too far from the truth, but there's so much more than that. It's that the relationships these characters have don't make sense and half of these characters are awful, awful people. Kakeru is a broody angst filled ass that actively tries to be a jerk to everyone in the group, Sachi manipulates her kinda-sorta boyfriend Hiro into screwing up Toko's relationship with Kakeru because she loves her and doesn't feel anything for Hiro, Toko is just a dumb woman that is an amalgamation of all of the worst high school girl stereotypes, and Yuki is just a tool. All of these characters are flawed and impossible to root for... and yet we're expecting to root for them??? Look, a love story means that we should actively want these characters to fall in love and be happy, but I can't feel that if I don't like any of them.

And then there are the "fantasy" elements of the shows i.e, the visions of the future that Toko and Kakeru see. Yeah, there's no point to them. Visions of the future don't show any relation to what's going on half the time, and when there actually is some connection, the show makes a hard right turn and confuses you even more. Apparently there are alternate dimensions in this show... I think? Nothing in this show is handled well. It's told sloppily. It tries to be more artistic than it actually is and fails hardcore. Yana walks across her house naked for an entire minute for no apparent reason, but it is shot artistically beyond all belief with slow piano music. WHAT IS THIS SERIES TRYING TO EVOKE IN ME??? WHY SHOULD I CARE ABOUT A WOMAN WALKING ACROSS HER HOUSE NAKED FOR NO REASON???

I follow an anime site called, and on that site, they had reviews for every episode of Glasslip. In the comments below and in the review itself, the show was criticized royally and was called one of the most disappointing and worst shows of the season. One user named SBC summarized this show better than I could have ever done so.

"I think we can try and rationalize as much as we want… but ultimately…
…this was a really fucking terrible show."

Sailor Moon Crystal
If there was one big show that everyone was looking forward to this season, it would be the debut of Sailor Moon Crystal. The 20th anniversary of Sailor Moon was celebrated with a reboot of the original that follows the source material more closely than the 90's version did. I don't know whether that's good or bad, since I never followed the original. What I do know is that this show airs biweekly and will be continuing for an entire year, so I'll be watching this show for pretty much the next three seasons. If that's the case, I really don't know what to expect for the next 18 or so episodes.

The fact that this show is biweekly is not that big of a concern for me, but what is a concern is that we are six episodes into the series already, and I'm not committed to this show in the slightest. I don't care about the characters or the plot, and all I'm left with is just a show that I watch simply to say that I watched it. Explaining the plot of Sailor Moon is redundant because, well, it's the basis for the magical girl genre of anime. A girl gets magical powers, transforms, then uses said powers to defeat the evil monster of the day and thwart the villain's plans. It's not that the show is bad by any means, but it's the product of its time.

This is a classic 90's anime that has a modern coat of paint on it. Key phrase being "90's anime". When you think of 90's anime, some people have fond memories come into their minds. I will fully admit that there were a ton of great shows that came out in the 90's, but they were products of their time. Sailor Moon could succeed BECAUSE it was released in a time where the magical girl genre wasn't that big or successful, so it became a huge hit when it was released. Now 20 years later, when the show has a new animation style to it, the flaws of the original become more apparent. I plan on sticking with the show, especially now that all of the main Sailors have been introduced, so we'll see where the show goes from here.

Akame ga Kill!
I don't really know how I can properly describe this series other than "Attack on Titan lite". I know that it might seem unfair to judge Akame ga Kill! like that, but I mean it in a nice, endearing kind of way. Tatsumi is a young man from the countryside that goes to his nation's capitol in search of wealth and a way to help his village make end's meet. However, once he gets there, he realizes the every single person in the capitol is rotten to the core and are absolute monsters, torturing innocent people for their own amusement. That's when Tatsumi is unwittingly thrown into a group called Night Raid, a group of assassins that want to overthrown the government for a large revolutionary army. So Tatsumi joins them and begins his fight against the tyranny of the capitol, all the while fighting against psychopaths and murderers that the capitol throws at them.
This is the one show this season that I have watched on a weekly basis, if only so I can see what kind of crazy enemies Night Raid will fight off against. One week they fought a man that turned himself into a giant mechanical monster, the other week they fight a psychotic girl that was driven insane by her ideas of justice and purging all evil in the world. The fights in this show are absolutely great, and there's always suspense as to who will die. Yes, the reason why I call this AoT lite is because everyone can die at any moment, and Night Raid has had several members die in its first season. Even main antagonists died relatively quickly, and this series firmly establishes that it will throw curve balls at you all the time.
I don't want to spoil anything about this show since its plot is one of the best things about it, but there is a very interesting dynamic between Tatsumi and one of the central antagonists, Esdeath. Not only is she a powerhouse of a villain, but her own assassin group called the Jaegers (AoT LITE) are mostly very developed and likeable characters, even if they're psychotic and potential monsters. The member of Night Raid though don't have that same level of likeability, which is sad. I want to love these characters since they are our protagonists, but I just can't find myself doing that, which sucks. All that being said, the second cour is coming up next week, so now's the time to hop on the Akame ga Kill! train.
Persona 4 Golden the Animation
I don't want to talk about this anime at all. This show confuses me on so many levels and just comes across as a waste of time. At the same time though, I feel like I should like it because it's an adaptation of one of my favorite video games of all time. Here's the thing though, this really isn't a complete adaptation of Persona 4. Instead, it's an adaptation of all of the new extras featured in Persona 4 Golden. In other words, this anime is an expansion pack of the original Persona 4 the Animation.
I know that may sound confusing... which it is, but the anime revolves around the new character introduced in Persona 4 Golden, Marie. The entire anime is centered around her and Yu's friendship and they're misadventures with the rest of their friends. They go to the beach, go skiing, shopping, and do everything that friends would do in their off time. Now, if you're familiar with the video game, this may sound... off to you. The game wasn't just about hanging out with your friends and having fun. It was about discovering a serial killer, saving each other from their own dark thoughts made manifest, and coming to grips with who they actually are as human beings. P4GA though expects you to enter this anime already knowing the plot of Persona 4 inside out and back, and will only show you new scenes where everyone is hanging out. There are barely any fights, little venturing into the Television World, and even less time spent with the main cast.
This is an anime for diehard Persona 4 fans, but even then it fails to cater to them. If you weren't a fan of Marie in Persona 4 Golden, then you're out of luck. You'll see most of the main cast hanging out with each other, but in some episodes they just pop into the story without any introduction. Hell, months will leap by in P4GA to tell certain side stories, but completely eclipse and ignore the actual main plot of the game. It's mind boggling how this series is expected to work, and the finale assumes that you know everything about the series, or you'll be completely lost.
You'll like this anime if you can answer yes to these three questions. 1) Do you like Marie? 2) Are you 100% familiar with the Persona 4 universe? 3) Would you watch a show that was 60% filler? If you answered yes to those questions, then this show is for you! If not, move along. I think that we've finally hit the limit to Persona 4 exposure, so please don't beat a dead horse anymore Atlus, please!
Space Dandy 2. Let's not even joke about it. It was the one show that had a consistent level of quality throughout and left me wanting more after each week. The second season legitimately knocked it out of the park for me.
The rest of the shows left me with bitter disappointment half of the time. Properties that I loved were butchered, classic shows were man handled, and one show was abhorrently bad. It was just a bad season on my part in nearly every single regard. I was originally going to look at Sword Art Online II this season, but I feel that SAOII still has a lot going for it, especially since the first arc didn't end yet and the show is supposed to be two cour, so screw that. Even then, I highly doubt that SAOII could have redeemed this season for me. The only show that I will give credit to for being legitimately good is Akame ga Kill!, which is doing its best to be Attack on Titan, yet succeeding at doing its own thing strangely enough. Still, props where they are deserved, and hopefully next season could be better than this abysmal one...
****SPACE DANDY 2****
I have no hopes for next season, so hopefully the shows next season can genuinely surprise and astonish me!

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