Brief early impressions of the Summer 2014 anime season

July 23, 2014

It's time for another early impressions post, as before. This entry has been delayed mostly because I needed several episodes to make up my mind about some shows (and on top of that one important show aired a week later than everything else). I'm once again feeling like grading very harshly, so shows that might get passes in previous seasons are getting ejected this time around. Overall this is not a particularly great season; there is nothing that I'm feeling particularly deeply enthused about and a lot that is rather questionable.

Reasonably enthused by:

  • Zankyou no Terror: After two episodes this is at least a promising start, although I have no idea where it's going. It also hasn't particularly done anything that makes me roll my eyes, which puts it significantly ahead of everything else this season. Because the show is playing almost everything mysteriously so far, there isn't very much to say about the content yet. It's well directed and can do action sequences, and at least some of the characters seem interesting. But this doesn't particularly seem like a character-based series so far and it's very early in the plot, so.

Entertaining for now:

  • Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 2wei!: I didn't wind up with a high opinion of the first season but the first episode of this was just entertaining enough by the end to get me to watch some more. I may tire of it rapidly, though.

  • Space Dandy second season: It's almost exactly what the first season was, namely mostly an indulgent showcase for animation instead of anything more coherent or entertaining. But occasionally it pulls a rabbit out of the hat to manage an excellent episode, as was the case with the second episode. For now, a hope for more of these is enough to keep me watching.

    (Yes, yes, this may be optimistic, but Space Dandy has now demonstrated that it can be excellent in the right hands. Since the people involved pretty much change every episode, there's at least the potential of excellence striking again.)

  • Aldnoah.Zero: This is well produced and mostly competently written so far, with some quite interesting characters and a fair amount of potential. The downside is that the writing is periodically clumsy, predictable, and crudely emotionally manipulative (such as the slaughter at the end of the first episode and in chunks of the second). I'm not sure how much further I'll last. The princess and the daughter of the <spoilers redacted> are the most interesting two characters so far, purely on promise and the little glimpses we've had of them; at the moment the protagonist is your basic bland spud.

    (The writing here feels quite like the writing in Gargantia in some ways, which also veered between quite clever and utterly clumsy.)

Barely entertaining by being absurd:

  • Sword Art Online II: This is this season's JoJo's for me. I don't know how long I'll last, but it promises to be absurd in the best straight faced SAO manner. The problem with this (as compared to JoJo's) is that SAO is perfectly capable of terribly boring episodes because it takes itself seriously. JoJo's at least has Stand fights pretty much every episode.

    (If I'm being honest about this, a good part of why I'm bothering with SAO II is so that I can fully enjoy Bobduh's writeups over at Wrong Every Time. This motivation may not exactly sustain me over the long term.)

Not for me:

  • Tokyo Ghoul: This is horror, which I'm almost never interested in, and nothing about the first episode hooked me in the face of that.

  • Sailor Moon Crystal: What it boils down to is that I would be watching this out of something akin to a sense of loyalty or obligation instead of any expectation of seeing things that are new and interesting, given that reports so far are that the first episode is basically a complete remake of the original first episode. If it deviates significantly from the original show, maybe I'll tune in; otherwise, it's not for me.

    (There are also a number of reports that it is just not all that well executed in terms of animation, directing, and so on.)


  • Tokyo ESP: I found the second episode to be painfully boring and cliched. In retrospect the first episode was too, it was just playing with a different set of cliches. In the end an anitwitter conversation (1, 2) helped me figure out one of my big problems with the show: the characters and situations just don't seem real but instead seem calculated to aim at funny cliches.

    (I just may give this another try if I get bored and desperate, because the premise certainly could make an interesting show.)

  • Argevollen: This has pretty much everything I don't like about mecha and basically nothing that's appealing. I was grinding my teeth and rolling my eyes basically continuously through the first episode. I haven't bothered to watch further episodes; if it becomes amazing, I'm sure anitwitter will let me know.

Have not looked at due to bad initial reports or other reasons:

  • Rail Wars!

  • Akame ga Kill: Initial reports are not positive, to say the least, and apparently various unpleasant aspects get worse later on.

  • Hanayamata: This is apparently mostly a 'cute girls doing cute things' show and I have historically not enjoyed them. I don't think the sprinkling of supernatural elements is enough to offset that.

Not my thing, whether or not they are good: Glasslip, Locodol, Free sequel, Barakamon, and in general anything not mentioned here.

I may give in to temptation and watch at least some of the second season of Yama no Susume, despite my eventual unenthused views of the first season. It's the kind of show that I want to like, even if I don't in practice.

Dropped from last season:

  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventures - Stardust Crusaders: In the end this proved to be too much shonen fighting show for me, which is to say that it's dragging on and on and on. JoJo's has been vaguely entertaining in an absurdist way but I've realized that it's not so entertaining that I want to watch what is apparently going to be another 26 episodes of Stand fight after Stand fight before we even get to the main villain, and then another 13 episodes or so of fighting him.

    (I vacillated over this decision quite a lot but what really tells me that I'm making the right choice is the sense of relief I feel about not watching the next episode.)

Since I've dropped JoJo's, there's no ongoing shows that have carried over from the past season.

I suppose five shows is reasonably typical for me in a season, but this time around I'm not really enthused about almost any of them. At least I have something to watch.

(Although that's not all good. If this season had been a near-total bust I might have dug into my backlog and watched excellent series like Big O, Figure 17, or Banner of the Stars. That seems unlikely now unless I flame out on most of these shows.)

Comments on this page:

By Author at 2014-07-23 19:00:48:

I don't see what makes Yama no Susume any different from CGDCT series that you "historically did not enjoy".

By cks at 2014-07-23 19:32:25:

Basically, the idea of a show about people climbing mountains appeals to me, especially if it's geeky about the equipment and the process and so on. The problem with the first season of Yama no Susume was that it didn't have enough of this side of things and was more CGDCT. But it did have flashes of it, with a surprising amount of time spent on equipment and so on.

(This is pretty much the same impetus that made me watch some of C3-bu. To put it one way, I'm okay with 'cute girls doing something interesting'.)

Written on 23 July 2014.
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