Brief early impressions of the Spring 2014 anime season

April 22, 2014

It's time for my early impressions of this season so that I can organize my thoughts and then later see how badly I did at predicting what would be good and what would make me throw up my hands in despair. Early in the run of first episodes I thought I was going to have real difficulty sorting out what to watch, but as time went on I realized that there was a clear dividing line poking up out of my early confusion. Unlike back in winter this was not a line of active failure but instead a line of indifference.

Shows are ranked in rough order of how much I'm enjoying them.

Clear winners:

  • Mushishi second season: It's just like the first series continued, which is great. I can't think of anything to say about Mushishi that I haven't already said in my entry on 2005.

  • Hitsugi no Chaika: This had the most interesting and enticing first episode of the season, one that demonstrated a mastery of throwing us into the middle of things and illuminating the world through actions instead of exposition lumps. Never boring, always active, this episode went places. Now I just have to hope that the rest of the show keeps delivering (which the second episode did decently).

  • Knights of Sidonia: I don't know how I'd feel about this if I hadn't read a lot of the manga but as it is the first episode works very well for me, partly because I know what's going on with a lot of the mysterious bits. But beyond that I think it did a good job of pushing the story forward, quietly setting up the world without infodumps, and so on. The CGI doesn't bother me but then I'm not picky about that stuff. The second episode did decently with the action and continuing the good work of the first episode and had some nice little touches.

Things that I'm reasonably enthused with:

  • Ping Pong: The fact that none of the protagonists are particularly likable people makes me think that this may be doing something unusual with its plot instead of being yet another standard sports story. If it has something interesting to say I'm willing to keep watching.

  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure - Stardust Crusaders: I'm taking another shot at watching JoJo's with this and so far it's going pretty well. The second episode had a surprisingly brutal bit and it remains very much the essence of action shonen. Hopefully I won't find it too over the top.

  • Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii: Again, I've read the manga so I know what's going on and a bunch of what's coming, which inevitably influences my reactions. Nike and the other major characters are as charming (and sometimes irritating) as they were in the manga and I'm on board for watching more of the antics in animated form.

  • Mekakucity Actors: The first episode was interesting but also deliberately opaque. The latter was well enough done that I want to watch more, although it could all collapse like a house of cards. I don't think its collection of standard Shaft stylistic tics either helps or hurts it, but other people may have stronger feelings about this than I do and I'll admit that not much actually happened in the first two episodes.

At least a bit marginal already:

  • Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin: I like the idea of the premise and the two episodes were decent although not spectacular, which is good enough to keep me watching for now.

  • Black Bullet: The first episode was a sodden, charm-less light novel adaptation, complete with exposition lumps and vaguely cringe-inducing fanservice. People said good things about the second episode so I gave it another chance and the result was an order of magnitude better, in that it was reasonably watchable and interesting. I may not stay with this for long but I'm at least willing to give it a third episode.

  • Captain Earth: This show is well done overall but has two strikes against it. It's a mecha show and I'm not particularly a mecha fan, and the second episode had one the most eye-rollingly cartoonish bad characters I've seen since the second half of Sword Art Online. Oh, and while it's well done there's nothing here that's really compelling.

    In short, sadly this is no Star Driver. It's much more conventional than that, to its detriment.

  • Haikyuu!!: On the good side this has production values and decent characters, but on the other side it seems to be doing a relatively standard sports story and I'm historically not too attracted to those. This may fall down into the 'not for me' category. At the moment I feel like continuing to watch until the action slows down.

Watching despite myself:

  • Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei: This isn't really a good show and it's not even good competence porn, but it is kind of fascinating to see the next way that the protagonist is going to turn out to be a special, misunderstood, and amazingly overpowered snowflake. He's already been revealed as a ninja master and special combat mage, so what will they come up with next? I expect to get bored of this at some point, probably when the show starts taking the 'plot' seriously and stops having the protagonist show off all the time. In short I'm watching this purely for the spectacle and I'm not all that engaged with the spectacle at that.

    (It's possible to do this kind of premise well but Mahouka is not even coming close.)

    Mahouka is sort of like Sword Art Online in that both clearly have a bunch of money and effort put into their production but suffer from defects in the actual core content. The result is something that's mostly quite watchable on a moment to moment level (because it looks good, scenes are decently well staged, and so on) but then you wake up and ask 'I was watching what happen?' See also Bobduh's takedown of episode 2.

The line of 'meh', where the shows are not actively repulsive but don't particularly inspire any interest in more:

  • Seikoku no Dragonar: Bland but not actively irritating. There is nothing here that we haven't seen before and the execution isn't well enough done to overcome that. It deserves special note for particularly clumsily and badly executed fanservice.

  • Akuma no Riddle (at 2 eps): This is teasing us with stuff I don't expect it to really deliver on, especially as it's adopted from an incomplete manga and we know how that one goes as far as answering mysteries and delivering satisfying conclusions.

  • Soul Eater Not!: If I strip away all of my fond memories of Soul Eater, there's just not very much novel or compelling in here. We had one nice fight scene but apparently that's going to be a rarity and the character chemistry is too over the top to be really interesting.

  • Brynhildr in the Darkness: Meh. The first episode was okay but not at all inspiring.

(Having written all that I'm feeling the temptation to give some of these another episode or two. Not so much because I think that they're better than I've rated them here but instead because I want them to be better than that and I keep hoping that maybe another episode will change things. This is a foolish hope but it tempts me.)

Outright miss:

  • Atelier Escha & Logy - Alchemists of the Dusk Sky: I want to like the quiet and low-key mood, but after two episodes it's just too slow for me. To be honest part of it is that I'm simply finding Escha to be kind of irritating; she's a bit too squeaky and immature and over-genki.

  • M3 - Sono Kuroki Hagane: Total failure to engage my interest. It's bland, absurd, and infuriating, combining an entire collection of lazy cliches with completely uninspiring production and writing that veers between clumsy and insulting.

So very clearly not my thing:

  • One Week Friends: I've heard praise for this but at the same time the praise makes it pretty clear that this is not in my area of interest.

Have not looked at due to bad initial reports:

  • No Game, No Life: I don't expect this to measure up to last year's Mondaiji (cf).

  • selector infected WIXOSS

  • Broken Blade: I've watched four out of the six movies already but have stalled out there, which I'm taking as a sign that I'm not going to be particularly enthused about the TV series version either. If I feel the urge I'll finish the movies instead of the TV series.

There are no ongoing shows that have carried over from last season, so I get to start with a clean slate this time around. I suspect that I'm going to wind up dropping at least some shows above the line of meh just because following eleven or twelve shows is a relatively lot for me.

Written on 22 April 2014.
« Looking back at the Winter 2014 anime season
Checking in on the Spring 2014 anime season midway through »

Page tools: View Source, Add Comment.
Login: Password:
Atom Syndication: Recent Comments.

Last modified: Tue Apr 22 16:31:30 2014
This dinky wiki is brought to you by the Insane Hackers Guild, Python sub-branch.