Brief early impressions of the Summer 2013 anime season
As before this is my (slow, delayed) impressions of the summer's crop of new shows, or at least those that I've watched so far. I will skip trying to explain why these 'early impressions' are in fact rather late.
Things I am enthused about (so far):
- Uchouten Kazoku (aka Eccentric Family): If this was a western work
I'd call it urban fantasy (of the old fashioned Charles de Lint sort,
not the new variety with vampire romance) and as it happens I'm quite
fond of that (sub-)genre. Other people have lots of interesting things
to say about the show's themes and stuff. I'm too distracted enjoying
all of the characters bouncing off each other and the setting.
(A resigned frog down a well. How could I not love it?)
- Gatchaman Crowds: So far this is fast-moving, weird, and decidedly
playing against cliche and genre expectations in all sorts of nice ways.
Hajime is an excellent character in a cast of good ones and I can't
wait to see what happens next. Oh, by fast-moving I mean that this show
gets stuff done; more happened in the first three episodes than some
shows manage in a season (although mostly in the second and especially
(GC is a show that probably can be analyzed a lot but I'm not going to attempt that right now. I'd rather watch and enjoy cheerfully.)
By the way, as a general rule the more I'm enjoying a show the less I have to say about it in the beginning. Like many people I find it easier to write useful criticism than interesting and coherent praise.
Okay (so far) but not enthused:
- Monogatari Series Second Season: I think that the appeal of the
Monogatari series is fading for me (the love story of Bakemonogatari
was my personal highlight). It's okay, but I keep kind of thinking
that it's too clever for its own good and that it could be more tightly
edited. Still I'm invested in it so I'm going to keep watching for now.
The absence of Araragi improves the show.
On the edge:
- Stella Jogakuin Koutouka C3-bu: This is not Girls und Panzer by
any stretch of the imagination but it's decently okay. I'm not sure
it's going to sustain my interest over its entire run if it stays with
just the themes of the first three episodes. One of the ways that it's
not Garupan is that so far there is a lot less of a focus on the action
and tactics and much more on character issues (which I find less
(The climax of the fourth episode could be the start of a significant pivot that would make the show much more interesting. On the other hand it could equally be a one-time 'ghost story' with the show returning to standard form. My usual use of Occam's razor here biases me towards the latter view.)
- Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya: This is a perfectly decent modern self aware magical girl series aimed primarily at adult fans. But I don't think there's going to be anything substantial here and I'm not enough of a Type-Moon fan to enjoy it for the injokes. I don't know if the show will have a good enough execution to keep me amused and watching for much longer.
Not watched yet but hopefully soon:
- Rozen Maiden Zurückspulen: Although I enjoyed the first two seasons of
Rozen Maiden, I wasn't initially planning to watch this for various fuzzy
reasons. I've been hearing quite good things about it, though, and I'm
now going to watch at least enough of it to form an opinion. But I haven't
yet and I'm four episodes behind and if I wait to watch it, these 'early'
impressions will be even less early.
Check back later.
Shows where I'm going to try the manga instead:
- Silver Spoon and Watamote.
While widely praised, both of these shows are in settings and genres that almost never click with me regardless of how good the show is. After thinking about it for a while I think I'm much more likely to enjoy their manga versions so I'm going to try those; among other things, I'm much more tolerant of several of their elements in manga form. I also find that manga generally goes by faster.
(I tried to watch the first episode of SS but slammed to a halt less than a minute in. Having skimmed the whole episode, I think there's a bunch of things that would work in manga but that are too time-wasting or annoying for me to watch animated. Also, I've actually read a bit of the Silver Spoon manga in passing and found it decently interesting.)
Possibly excellent but I can't watch:
- Senki Zesshou Symphogear G: People say good things about this season of Symphogear but I never finished watching the first season so I'd have to do that first.
- Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi (aka Sunday Without God): As I basically put it on Twitter, the first episode was only interesting because it was mysterious and then the second episode was rather a letdown. The show is also based on an as-yet-unfinished light novel series which suggests that we are extremely unlikely to have any major aspects of the story resolved in a satisfying way. All in all, no.
On continuing series, I'm actively watching Majestic Prince and still theoretically watching Railgun S (but I don't expect to watch the last arc of the latter, which is apparently going to be an anime-original segment of basically fanservice to increase Blu-ray sales).
Looking back at the Spring 2013 anime season
It's time and past time for another one of these post-season looks back, to go with my early impressions. I didn't do a midterm view this season because, frankly, my anime viewing flagged a lot in the middle of this season (that's also why this retrospective is delayed).
For this season, in order:
- Space Battleship Yamato 2199 (2012): This is so good that
paradoxically I only watch it sporadically (partly because I spent
a bunch of the season hammered by my usual spring allergies). It
continues to be excellent. I don't really have anything coherent
to say about it apart from that.
Oh wait, yes I do: this is epic in an excellent way. This is (lovingly produced) space opera and I cannot help but love it for that.
- Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince: The show has gone from strength
to strength, having a heart and being quietly serious without losing
its goofy charm and weirdness. Chunks of the story are kind of silly
and over the top but MJP makes them work by taking them seriously but
not too seriously. I'm really enjoying it as it continues.
Let me summarize it this way: MJP paints in broad strokes and then quietly goes back to fill in little subtle details here and there.
- Valvrave the Liberator: The show spent most of the season
being utterly crazy, dipped into unpleasant territory at the end of the
infamous episode ten (see Evirus),
and in the end did manage to convince me to sort of care about some
of the characters. I've wound up looking forward to when it resumes
in the fall season.
(I actually think that this show is crazier than Aquarion EVOL, which is quite an accomplishment. In EVOL most of the stuff sort of makes sense within the context of the show, where Valvrave comes across as simply piling escalation on escalation.)
- To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S: I stalled on this for most of
the season (and I'm still behind). I've found this very erratic
because I'm not really interested in anything except the action
and action-related bits. The character interaction, goofing around,
and much of the angst isn't terribly exciting but the Mikoto fights
have been good. When the show focuses on action it's nice; when
people are standing around talking we get into the Railgun cycle.
Despite stalling out on it much more than I did on Gargantia, I'm more fond of Railgun S because I like it more on the whole. Our cast of characters continues to be great, I just wish that most of them had more substantial things to do with the story (as opposed to either being excluded entirely or nattering away on side things).
- Suisei no Gargantia: My feelings on Gargantia aren't amenable to
easy summaries. On the whole I think the show was emotionally satisfying
and well made at a technical level (some of the battle sequences were
great and the animation always felt decent). Unlike a lot of shows
it's willing to shut up and let things speak for themselves, which
lends it a certain air of subtlety; sadly, that air is misleading
because the overall plot often uses a sledgehammer. And while the show
is emotionally satisfying, any number of things don't actually make
much sense if you look at them at all closely. The plot sledgehammer
meant that I felt very unenthused about the low points of the show
(the latter parts of episode 9 through much of episode 11) and stalled
out on it for a significant amount of time.
(But those low bits are actually a great illustration of how it's hard to call this show: with a few exceptions, Ledo's emotional turmoil and ultimate decision was handled subtly and much more gracefully than, say, Mikoto's angst in Railgun S. The overall plot used a sledgehammer but the execution had a light touch.)
I believe that I've seen Gargantia called a well-executed collection of cliches designed to appeal to the fans. This is not a bad way to put it and goes well with how almost all of the female characters are designed to be (overly) fanservice-y. Unlike Evirus I have no desire to see more. This story is done and nothing about the show makes me interested in seeing the same sort of execution of any others.
I'm not convinced that Gargantia was ultimately worth my time. I don't really think I would have missed anything I'd regret much if I hadn't watched it and if I'm being honest I only finished it out of some sense of completeness given that people were saying that the last few episodes were quite good (which they mostly are).
- Hataraku Maou-sama!: I stalled out on this immediately after writing my early impressions for fuzzy reasons. I theoretically intend to try picking this up again because people praise it but I just haven't had the energy.
Excluding Yamato as a special case I genuinely enjoyed MJP and Valvrave and sort of slogged my way through Railgun S and Gargantia. At my low and slow points in the season I was watching only MJP and Valvrave; only after the end of the season am I catching up on the other two.