Checking in on the Summer 2014 anime season midway through
It's time for the usual midway check in on my early impressions of this season. This 'midway' check has been delayed in large part because this season has turned out to be pretty much a bust for me, which has not left me with enthusiasm for writing this.
Things I'm still watching:
- Aldnoah.Zero: This has quietly turned into the one show that I
actively look forward to watching this season. It's not great and
the writing is periodically clumsy, but it's generally well done
and interesting. The secondary characters really make the show
for me; Inaho is so far mostly interesting as a cryptic mystery
instead of a character to be engaged with.
- Zankyou no Terror: This has plenty of beautiful cinematography and animation, but the characters are and remain fairly much ciphers, the actual events are getting increasingly absurd, and I'm not entranced by the plotting. Still it's good enough that I keep watching, although often after some delay (I'm an episode behind right now, for example).
- Space Dandy second season: Theoretically this is just suspended, but I don't think I've ever continued a suspended series. I wrote an entire entry about why this failed for me, but I can boil it down to a tweet: pure artistry in a show isn't enough for me.
- Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 2wei!: As I thought I might, I got
tired of this. I decided that the conclusion of the first story was
far enough, especially as it apparently shifted to comedy hijinks
for at least the episode after that. To put it one way, comedy hijinks
is not what I was watching Prisma Illya for.
- Sword Art Online II: I came to my senses. SAO II has good production values and some ideas that could be really interesting stories if well handled, but it also has the usual generally terrible and overdone writing, a slavish adaptation process that hurts the anime-only part of the audience, and overhanging it all the long absurd shadow of Kirito poisoning everything he's involved with. I won't say that SAO II would be a good show if it starred someone other than Kirito, but at least it would have a chance.
So far I haven't used my free time to dig into my backlog of anime. I've just been taking it as downtime and fiddling around with other things (mostly other diversions on the Internet). It's been kind of nice as a break but I sure hope that the fall season is better than this.
What Space Dandy has just taught me about my tastes in anime
Despite what I said in my early impressions of this season, I've effectively suspended Space Dandy because I just felt no particular motivation to watch the fourth episode. As before, this has brought me around to a realization about my tastes.
Put simply, interesting animation turns out to not be enough by itself to get me to watch a show. Space Dandy is clearly a showcase (of both animation and storytelling) and this season it has been doing quite a good job of that, but as I mulled over it on Twitter the problem for me is that there is nothing more there than that. I clearly want my shows to be doing something and going somewhere, or at a minimum to be really funny (cf Seitokai Yakuindomo, and even that has ongoing developments that build on themselves).
(This may also be one of the reasons that the 'cute girls doing cute things' genre doesn't resonate with me. There's a part of me that watches and goes 'yes, and?'. There's also season 2 of Dog Days', where I articulated basically the same issue. Apparently things take a while to get through my skull.)
The short way of putting this is that Space Dandy is the anime equivalent of empty calories, even if they're pretty tasty empty calories. I've evidently had my fill of those and as a result Space Dandy is not for me.
(There's an irrational bit of me that regrets this and really wants to be able to fully enjoy the skilled artistry on display in Space Dandy, and an even more irrational bit that thinks it's necessary to that to be an anime fan with good taste. And it's not like I haven't enjoyed the episodes when I watch them. It's just that every time I think about watching episode four of S2 I decide that I have other things I'd rather do.)