Fall 2013 Check-in

Kyousogiga - 00 -16 Samurai Flamenco - 02 -22 Little Busters Refrain - OP1 - Large 03
Yowamushi Pedal - 02 -29 Nagi no Asukara - 01 -12 Golden Time - 03 -2

There’s a decidedly retro look to Fall 2013 – if you ignore the avalanche of bad CGI, anyway.

More so than in most seasons, Fall 2013 has played out largely as I expected – so far anyway.  There are a lot of shows that fall into the broad “good” category, maybe more than in any season for a couple of years.  But as for the top 4-5 series, I’d take Summer if this season ended right now.  Summer didn’t have the depth, but it was stronger at the top of the ladder.

In terms of themes, there’s a definite old-school quality to much of this season’s better offerings. Golden Time, Diamond no Ace, Samurai Flamenco, Kyousogiga, Yozakura Quartet, even White Album 2 – if not retro these shows are at least timeless in that they would have seemed as at home on the schedule ten years ago as today.  That dovetails with the strong Gainax feel which extends through the season, as the diaspora of that once-great studio – and their influence – resurface in places you’d expect (like Kill la Kill) and in places a little more surprising.

The other strong trend this season is a less welcome one for me – I’ve never seen this much badly-integrated CGI on an anime schedule. This trend isn’t entirely surprising – if you don’t care how it looks, 3D animation can be much cheaper to produce than 2D animation.  Some of the shows that are most egregious offenders, like Unbreakable Machine Doll and Ars Nova, didn’t do much for me generally.  But I see a lot of potential in Tokyo Ravens for example, and I find the CG really distracting.  It’s possible to use CG effectively without it being intrusive (just look at Kyoukai no Kanata’s fourth episode) but that requires a level of content and budget that’s clearly not in play for every series.

Lastly, as expected this season is to sports anime what Spring 2013 was to mecha.  It’s great to see four series getting traction, and while my two favorites don’t figure to be hits, they’re finding some fans here and there (especially Yowamushi Pedal, seemingly).  And having sports anime peppering the lineup somehow feels pretty old-school, too.

On, then, to Fall 2013:

The Elite

Kyousogiga
Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: A
Comments: A sleeper going in.  With Kyousogiga Toei has taken what was an interesting but disjointed ONA series and turned it into a potential classic.  There’s a lot of Gainax in the genes (especially FLCL and Abenobashi) but Kyousogiga is forging its own path, with elements of a family love story that remind me of its sister Kyoto series, Uchouten Kazoku.  This is the best show of the season for me, with its amazing visuals, stellar voice work and limitless imagination.  The story is coming together better than I expected it to, and if Toei can close the deal they’ll have one of the year’s best series.  So far, this show is a testament to the value of ambition when creating art.

Samurai Flamenco
Episodes Watched: 3
Grade: A-
Comments: A hero story for a modern Japan, Samurai Flamenco has impressed me from the beginning but totally won me over with the fabulously fun third episode.  This show has serious chops when it comes to social satire but doesn’t take itself too seriously – it’s very aware of its place in the anime lexicon and is already having a lot of fun with it.  I’m convinced this is a “tweener” that will continue Manglobe’s tradition of commercial debacles – it’s not the fujishi show some have dismissed it as, but ironically would be better off financially if it was.  But then, getting shows like that on the air is the best reason for NoitaminA to exist.

Little Busters! Refrain
Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: A-
Comments: I liked the first season of Little Busters! better than most, and I knew Refrain was going to be a much darker ride.  So the early success of this season both artistically and with the viewership doesn’t come as a surprise to me (though the one-cour length did).  It’s the best Key series since Kanon as far as I’m concerned, and I don’t give a rat’s ass that J.C. Staff is producing it instead of Kyoto Animation.

Yowamushi Pedal
Episodes Watched: 3
Grade: A-
Comments: This is the standout of the season’s crop of sports anime for me.  It’s quite modern and mainstream, respectful of the traditions but not beholden to them, and frames the underdog athlete story in a refreshing and interesting way.  Cycling may not be a mega-popular spectator sport but it’s universal in a way most sports aren’t, and there should be someone in the cast that everyone can identify with.  Yowapeda is funny, smart, and at heart a truly enriching and positive story about acceptance and being yourself – and it’s also incredibly fun to watch.  This is the sports anime for fans who don’t like sports anime, without leaving out those of us that do.

Outstanding

Nagi no Asukara
Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: B+
Comments: Okada Mari is back to original material with P.A. Works, and so far the results are mostly very good.  In building her story around younger children in a fantastical setting, Okada seems to have found the perfect vehicle for her exaggerated emotional palette.  There were a few troubling signs of her characteristic excess in the most recent episode but generally NnA has been fully engaging, and one of the shows I really look forward to each week.  It’s also yet more gorgeous eye candy from P.A. Works, whose series are always beautiful but in Uchouten Kazoku and NnA, has found a way to express their art as we haven’t seen it before.

Golden Time
Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: B+
Comments: It feels like NoitaminA 2005 when watching Golden Time – it even has two characters named Nana.  Why we don’t get more series based at college I don’t know, but because we so rarely do anymore Golden Time feels incredibly refreshing and different.  There are issues with the narrative flow of this series, where sometimes emotional transition seems rushed and scene transitions can be awkward.  Still, it’s one of the most interesting shows of the season and offers a genuinely engaging romantic storyline at its center.  The way it functions as a story of the college experience and how it acts as a transition to a new life is also extremely effective.

Daiya - 03 -18 WA2 - 03 -13 Valvrave - 15 -24

Very Good

Diamond no Ace
Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: B
Comments: If Yowapeda is the mainstream crossover entry, Daiya no A is very much the die-hard classic sports shounen.  There’s a major twist here in that the hero is attending the normally villainous baseball power school, and the focus is much more on the team than the individual.  It’s definitely more for fans of the genre, but as I am one that’s fine by me – and Ace of Diamond is a very solid representation of that genre.  It also features excellent art and animation from the Madhouse/Production I.G. power duo behind it.

White Album 2
Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: B
Comments: This one was completely off my radar going into the season – I dropped the much-maligned first series early-on.  But it got a lot of support from viewers whose tastes I respect, and I’m glad I gave it a chance – WA2 is a clear cut above most high-school romance anime.  The visuals are some of Satelight’s best, and there’s a restraint and dignity to the story and characters that I quite like.  The music is also excellent – which is crucial given the series’ themes.  There’s also a genuine sense of mystery about who – if anyone – the protagonist will end up with in the end (though I have my suspicions).

Kakumeiki Valvrave
Episodes Watched: 3
Grade: B
Comments: Not materially different from the first cour in terms of tone, so you should know what to expect.  It’s still out where the buses don’t run and seems intent on using every cliche in sci-fi history, but Valvrave can also be a surprisingly taut, tense and gripping series when it’s at the top of its game.

Yozakura - 02 -8 Gingitsune - 02 -6 KyouKan - 04 -3


Worthwhile

Yozakura Quartet: ~Hana no Uta~
Episodes Watched: 3
Grade: B-
Comments: The main draw for me is Ryo-timo and his wildly creative visuals.  I’ve never fully embraced the story itself, but Yozakura Quartet’s breezy nonchalance despite the wild and unpredictable goings-on does have a certain charm.  This should end up being the best of the anime adaptations so far, as Ryo-timo has more time to explore the plot and characters than he did in OVA form.

Gingitsune
Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: B-
Comments: I freely confess a bias in favor of Gingitsune.  It pushes all the right buttons for me (Miki and Miko, for starters) and generally plays as a lite version of one of my all-time favorites, Natsume Yuujinchou.  It’s not in that class, but Gingitsune does have a lot of heart and Gintarou provides a dynamic heart for the series just as Nyanko-sensei does for Natsume.  With the addition of a key cast member in the most recent episode it’s my hope that the series will gain a little extra bite, and early indications are positive that it will.  This is a B- with a bullet.

Kill la Kill - 03 -23 Outbreak - 02 -9 Tokyo Ravens - 03 -7

Still Watching

Magi: The Kingdom of Magic
Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: B-
Comments: I’m pretty much waiting for Yoshino Hiroyuki to drive the bus off the cliff as he did in the first season, but so far the Magnostadt era has stayed pretty close to the manga.  Magi isn’t anything great but there’s a real charm to the characters and the bond they share, and if they behave more or less faithfully to their manga versions they’re all pretty likeable (even Alibaba, though Aladdin is my personal favorite).  No animation disasters so far yet, either.


Kyoukai no Kanata
Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: C+
Comments: Kyoukai no Kanata more or less epitomizes the Kyoto Animation conundrum.  While it’s certainly thematically different from the usual KyoAni show, like almost all their work it’s put through that lens they use that smoothes out the distinctive edges and leaves everything looking roughly the same.  Yet the more one watches anime with truly inferior visuals the more one appreciates the fact that KyoAni brings it every time – their shows always look good, if not distinctive.  Their production is always competent.  They never throw dignity completely under the bus.  And the most recent episode of KyouKan was certainly the best, giving me some hope that the series might be salvageable.  I don’t find any of the characters really engaging and I find Mirai outright irritating, but the premise is decent and picking up steam, and maybe someone from the cast will emerge as a legitimate presence.


Kill la Kill
Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: C+
Comments: This show has sparked a lot of conflicting opinion, not surprising given the hype, pedigree and content.  After a pretty good but worrying start (would the series be able to sustain that sort of tone for two cours?) I haven’t been much impressed.  The lack of budget is a problem, I don’t find the puerile schoolboy humor all that inspired, and it’s one of the most misogynistic anime in years.  The comedy has its moments but frankly I think all the principals have done far better work, and this sort of formula has been done much better by them and by others (Needless, as an example).  I had unsettling doubts about Kill la Kill before it aired, and while I don’t think “trainwreck” applies at this stage, I won’t deny I’m pessimistic that there’s anything more to the show than what we’ve seen already.  It’s only Nakashima’s presence as writer than gives me hope – nothing on his prior resume is anywhere this crude and inane.

Outbreak Company
Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: C+
Comments: I had almost no expectations of Outbreak Company, so it’s no stretch to say the series has exceeded them comfortably.  The show balances on a high-wire between satirizing otaku and fujoshi culture and pandering to it, but so far it hasn’t crashed and burned.  It’s no revelation but O.C. is a little better in every way than you expect it to be, and it’s managed to keep me pretty entertained for 4 episodes.


Tokyo Ravens
Episodes Watched: 3
Grade: C+
Comments: This is another show that’s rooted in one of my favorite themes – onmyoudo.  There are definitely things about Tokyo Ravens I like, but for me it’s hopeless entangled in wearisome light-novel cliches, not least where the female characters are concerned.  It also has way too much mediocre CGI, which has more than once been a distracting eyesore.

NouKome
Episodes Watched: 3
Grade: C+
Comments: No, I’m still not typing that whole title.  I can honestly say NouKome has made me laugh several times, more so in the first and third episodes than the second.  The “Absolute Multiple-choice” premise is incredibly dumb, but NouKome gets that, and that’s why it sort of works.  The comedy style is definitely scattergun, but with that many pellets fired some of them do hit the mark.  And this is the sort of show where fanservice doesn’t feel forced and degrading, because it’s basically the whole point.

Super Seisyun Brothers
Episodes Watched: 6
Grade: C+
Comments: Super Seisyun Brothers is modestly interesting for a 4-minute show.  This story of two college-aged girls and their high-school brothers, all close friends, has an honest charm and natural quality that I quite like.  This is one short series that I think would have been better-served to be full-length.


Log Horizon
Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: C
Comments: If you describe a show as a combination of SAO and Maoyuu Maou Yuusha you’re not exactly closing the sale for me, but I find Log Horizon to have some of the problems of both.  LH fans get very irritated when you mention SAO, but while I get the this series gets the details right to a much greater degree and I don’t miss SAO’s ponderous self-importance, this is still a show where the #1 draw seems to be the cuteness of the female lead (who calls the male lead “Master”) and the first quest out of the box is to rescue a moeblob imouto.  I really want to like Log Horizon but I’m probably no more than one episode away from calling it quits if I don’t see a compelling reason not to.

Dropped:

Galilei Donna, Walkure Romanze, Ars Nova, Unbreakable Machine Doll, Strike the Blood, Coppelion, Non Non Biyori, Diabolik Lovers, Meganebu

There are still a couple of fence-sitters, at least for one more week.  Here’s my take on the schedule as of right now:

Monday:
Definitely Blogging: Yowamushi Pedal, Kingdom Season 2

Tuesday:
Definitely Blogging: Hunter X Hunter 2011
On the Bubble: Tokyo Ravens.

Wednesday:
Definitely Blogging: Kyousogiga
On the Bubble: Kyoukai no Kanata

Thursday:
Definitely Blogging: Samurai Flamenco, Golden Time, Nagi no Asukara, Kakumeiki Valvrave Season 2
Probably Blogging: Kill la Kill
On the Bubble: Outbreak Company

Friday:
None

Saturday:
Definitely Blogging: Uchuu Kyoudai, Little Busters! Refrain, White Album 2
On the Respirator: Log Horizon

Sunday:
Definitely Blogging: Diamond no Ace, Gingitsune
Probably Blogging: Yozakura Quartet

Watching for now: Gifuu Doudou, Magi: The Kingdom of Magic, Gundam Build Fighters, NouKome, Super Seisyun Brothers

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75 comments

  1. f

    "On the Respirator: Log Horizon"

    I laughed.

  2. Z

    Looks like Non Non Biyori was a non non sleeper.

  3. S

    I still can't understand your position about Kill la Kill being the "most misogynistic anime in years". All it does is showing some skin more than the other shows dare to do, and then again, it does so in a rather childish way. How is this more misogynistic than hundreds of shows that fetishize weakness, that idealize the model of the perfect remissive "waifu", that deprive female characters of agency by default, demoting them to damsels in distress or making the bland male lead the only centre of their life and their aspirations? SAO was way more misogynistic than this. This week alone, the entire episode of NouKome was centred around the concept of the panty shot, yet you give it a free pass because fanservice is its whole point. Log Horizon has the aforementioned girl calling the main character "master", plus the useless moeblob to fuel some healthy white knight syndrome in male spectators. And let's not even touch on the subject of Diabolik Lovers. How is Kill la Kill more misogynistic of these shows, let alone of every show in years? Don't you think this is a bit biased (or if anything, measuring misogyny as if it was directly proportional to the square centimetres of exposed skin)? I'm not saying Kill la Kill is free of its sins, but I think that it does less harm to women than anime that actively encourage the male audience to expect women to conform to powerless, subservient models.

  4. A free pass? I didn't even blog NouKome, so how does that work?

  5. BTW, good work leaving out part of the "quoted" text to make your complaint look stronger.

  6. S

    Sorry, I didn't want to extrapolate. By "free pass" the only thing I mean is that, if Kill la Kill is indeed the most misogynistic show in years, then it becomes automatically more misogynistic than everything else, including NouKome – that's my point.
    In fact, I don't think you really intended it in that way either. I just wanted to point out that by using that expression you're putting it below tons of other stuff – including staff that you don't watch – and that's honestly unfair on it. It isn't nearly that bad.

  7. Not only didn't I mean it that way, I didn't say it was "the most misogynistic show in years". So the whole thing is based on a faulty premise. But whatever – your opinion is no more or less valuable than mine or anyone else's.

  8. F

    He said *one of the most* misogynist.

  9. S

    Oh, sorry about that, you're right. Well, still a bit harsh to me, but I can see your point.

  10. i

    My opinion on Kill la Kill: It's stupid. It's the anime equivalent of Jersey Shore. The end.

  11. S

    It's weird how polarizing this show has been. There are basically only two crowds, those who completely love it and those who consider it entirely stupid and unworthy, with very few people in the middle (Enzo being one of them). I am part of the first crowd, so I find it hard to relate to the latter. I can understand having more problems than I do with the fanservice (which I usually don't like but that I don't mind here, mostly because it feels to me like it's basically overshadowed by everything else happening on screen), but comparing it to the likes of Jersey Shore is borderline cruel. There is clearly a theme, some very clever visual directing, an expressiveness that is seldom seen in anime, with everything communicating something – be it the character designs, the choice of words, or the little details in the background. It's not smart in the sense that it's deep or philosophical, but it's not dumb in the sense that it's written by a band of monkeys who squabble over a keyboard (which could be a good description for the likes of Jersey Shore).

  12. p

    Kill la Kill is trying way too hard to be over the top and stupid. It also uses too much toilet/high school locker humour for my liking (ala Panty and Stocking). I'm actually more entertained by something like Valverave S2 which in a way genuinely knows it's stupid and goofy and doesn't try anywhere near as hard.

    And to all the Kill la Kill fans who are praising its animation and visual style… they haven't obviously watched Kyousogiga which is FAR more artistic and beautiful in its experimental art style.

  13. S

    Well, Kyousogiga looks good for sure, but I've been a bit put down by many people saying that it's so random you don't understand what's happening half of the time. I've thought of keeping it on hold and trying to tackle it at the end of the season in fact – right now I'm following lots of airing shows and can't keep up with yet another one.

  14. i

    @simone what theme? Please expand on that won't you? What expressiveness or details? Tell me some examples. I'm not being mean but your explanation of why klk is good is like the show itself – loud words no meaning. Very Jersey shoreish

  15. S

    There's no need to be so aggressive :P. What I mean by "theme" is that the plot is built around a concept and an internal logic/symbolism that is then elaborated upon, pretty much what happened with the dualism spiral+evolution in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. This does not mean the results are necessarily deep, as I already said. In this case, the show does not even try to hide having a main theme that is about clothing as a symbol of authority. It opens with a reference to nazism, then one to Orwell's 1984. It's openly stated that the uniforms reflect military order and they clearly are weapons used by those in power to keep the status quo. Then again, Ryuko's own power and ability to fight that status quo comes from being able to accept herself being naked – both metaphorically and quite literally – in front of that same society and crowd.
    About the expressiveness, I am talking mostly about details which you could say stay on the subliminal level. I like the ridiculously crowded shots and the way everyone moves and wears different expressions by the second, I like the highly stylized nature of the art. I get the feeling that this gives much more substance to the characters through the graphic part, whereas the dialogue itself didn't have time to do much.
    I'm not saying this needs a philosophy degree to be conceived, mind you. Many people will argue that there is good symbolism in Evangelion, but it never clicked with me and as a result I appreciate that show less than many do. But at the same time, I am not the only one feeling that the writers of Kill la Kill are thinking this a bit beyond "how are we going to show an EVEN MORE naked girl next time?", so to just decide that it's dumb because you feel like it's dumb is a bit superficial. At least appreciate the fact that there is something that someone might like into it, but the cons outweigh the pros for your personal taste. After all, for example, I love HunterXHunter and Shin Sekai Yori, for the same reasons for which many people here likes them, Enzo included: because they're smart, well written, sometimes thought provoking shows. Do you think our tastes and way of judging the quality of anime can suddenly differ so much when it comes to a different show without a valid reason?

  16. j

    I'm with you Simone. It's pretty sad that when a truly groundbreaking series arrives, everyone starts hating on it. They may have their reasons, but they sure are not seeing KlK's many, many good points. In that sense, it truly is a fun time reading Enzo's review on it, trying to point out its weak points and thematic flaws. Hell, I was a hater at the beginning, but then I realized how foolish my claims were. Simone, ~~don't lose your waaay~~!

  17. j

    *Excuse me if that sounded a bit too silly, with the "everyone starts hating on it". That's not true, I meant a 'very large number of people' or whatever.

  18. I'd be curious to hear what ground you think it's breaking, unless they changed the meaning of that term and didn't tell me.

    As for everyone hating on it, I think it's just the opposite – seems to like it's getting an irrational amount of love as compared to what it actually brings to the table.

  19. d

    Simone thanks for pointing those out. I like to think KlK as an idiot savant, low brow goals, but slips a lot beyond that within those goals. Much like the original Transformers, it was a product show, but they tried to make it more within those limits. It is obvious Kill doesn't have much budget to play with, but the use of stylization really works for me.

    Pointing out the 1984 and Nazi Uniform themes, I wish I were conscious of those myself. Some things are subtle until you talk about it and now they're in plain view. Thanks for bringing them into view. It isn't as obvious to everyone. Nay-sayers aside, I like the series and didn't pick up those aspects so quickly.

    If you see others, I'd like to read them.

  20. Miki-sensei giving the Nazi history lesson repeatedly didn't clue you in they were going for that angle?

  21. d

    I fully admit I glossed over that while taking in the atmosphere of the heavy stylized animation. Paid attention to the half-scissor fighting, and I had my brain off for this show due to the initial style of animation. Expectations were, 'this looks cool, brain off, beer on'.

    i.e. I was stupid, and I didn't pay attention in the show's class :)

    What I did pick up on was the visuals and the roles of individual characters within their framework. I find despite the exhibitionism and exploitation of nudity and sexploitation tropes for both genders, the context does matter. I think Simone is very correct that there's much worse exploitation out there, it just isn't so stylized. All them waifus and use of roles day in and out. Here it is a gag, because as soon as the joke's over, the main characters are women of agency and are out to battle for power. Other Anime shows make subservience an ideal as their entire premise (every harem anime ever, and most 'romance' animes…) KlK stands out with visual exploitation through stylization, and that's a polarizing matter (either like it or hate it), but our heroine/villainness duo don't care about boys– at all. Family yes, romance no, certainly never demeaning themselves for half baked male characters.

  22. j

    Its shameless direction is groundbreaking. The way they embrace simple XYZ transformation to move the characters with style, instead of spending holy amounts of cash in fluid animation. They way in which the don't have a problem with repeating some pans in a scene, and later on they blast all of that unused budget in one fight. Would I like this to turn into a cartoon network-like show? No. Would I prefer a KyoAni-budget show? Hell yeah, but it's incredibly entertaining to see how they get by with what they have and to what extent. It's stylish, it's bold, it's hilarious. It's genius-level editing. It's fun – just what an action/comedy show like this one needs to be.

    In a way, anime has been very stale for some viewers lately, because it's just way too repetitive. Harems, romance, weak characters. That's when KlK comes in, a show that is all about old-school fun and doesn't take itelf too seriously. Every woman in here is strong-minded, bold. Hell, when they introduce someone who looks like a weakling, they immediately make fun of him/her almost like bullies. This also goes for the rest of its characters and setting, no exceptions. It also, even if occasionally, spouts some food for thought.
    I don't like overanalyzing this show, because KlK is ironcially all about honest simpleness, and damn it's good at achieving that. It isn't free of some flaws here and there, but as a whole it just wants to deliver a simple, fun time for viewers. Why can't people just sit down and enjoy it for what it is?

    What other animes out there are this level of innovative with its style and cuts, hm? Monogatari is certainly bold in my book, but the fact that it's all about a horny kid and sortof harems automatically turns me off. Eve no Jikan was very cool but, sadly, the rest of the shows as a whole are way too monotonous.

  23. Thank you for stating the case. I don't happen to agree with it, but at least you're willing to back up your opinion.

  24. i

    I don't even have the energy to point out every little thing that's wrong in these arguments. Right now I just want to relax, watch Yowamushi Pedal and enjoy a celebratory drink for getting another co-op. I'll leave you people to enjoy you're jack animes.

  25. Z

    "Why can't people just sit down and enjoy it for what it is?"

    Because it's not living up to the expection of being the second coming of Gainax?

    "And to all the Kill la Kill fans who are praising its animation and visual style… they haven't obviously watched Kyousogiga which is FAR more artistic and beautiful in its experimental art style."

    Toei have all the money from the large Shounen/Shoujo franchises at their disposal. They could probably out-animate Kyoto Animation if they wanted.

  26. Z

    *expectation

  27. S

    Arguably, Zeta, that's a matter of what your expectations were to begin with. If you have seen Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, taking that into account the path is pretty clear. This is not just "Gainax' second coming", it's the work of a specific creative team coming out of Gainax. Of course, if they put up their own studio, they did it to have more freedom. This is truly the lovechild of TTGL and P&SwG: from the first it takes the bombast, the taste for ridiculous action and homage to old school anime, from the second the sex themes and slapstick comedy.

    What I don't get is not that people can't "sit down and enjoy it for what it is" – that is of course a matter of taste. Is that who doesn't love it tends to actively despise it. I've been in this situation once already – in the "hater" field, back then, with Sword Art Online. I hated it because it disappointed my expectations of a good MMORPG focused action anime replacing it with an absolutely despicable crappy self-insert romance on the par of a bad fanfiction. I wonder if the problem with Kill la Kill is the same – that some people is disappointed in it because they had different expectations – but honestly, I really, really can't see how you can charge it of bad writing or execution, when it clearly is way more creative than the likes of the aforementioned SAO. If anything, the way in which it makes up for the lack of budget with style is always interesting.

  28. Z

    TTGL is not even Gainax best work (arguably). However it was considered by many to be the last show that the studio produced that was of some merit. The fact that KLK shares some of the same staff further adds to that perception/expectation/hype. It isn't entirely fair (P&SwG as you mentioned) but that's the nature of hype based around preconceived perceptions.

    My personal expectations for KLK going in were moderate. Based on that, KLK is performing admirably as far as I'm concerned.

    I never worshiped Gainax (nor any other studio for that matter) so that was never a concern. I don't put any single studio up on a pedestal. I judge a series on content rather than which studio does it, and how much money have spent on them.

  29. S

    Well, I guess Gainax' most well known and recognized work would be Evangelion. Which, however, had none of the current Trigger personnel working on it that I remember of, and was Hideaki Anno's creation inside out anyway. I mentioned TTGL not because of it being Gainax' best work (it is my personal favourite though), but because it's surely the best and most acclaimed one from the Imaishi era.

  30. b

    "Toei have all the money from the large Shounen/Shoujo franchises at their disposal. They could probably out-animate Kyoto Animation if they wanted."

    You are underestimating one of the biggest anime studio in japan. The second line should be "Toei can out-animate Kyoto animation with just their pocket money if they really wanted"

  31. C

    ๐Ÿ˜ฎ DROPPED GALILEO.

  32. Sorry, but for whatever reason GD struck me as incredibly inane. I just couldn't take it.

  33. t

    but why drop watching?
    it is worthwhile indeed

  34. E

    It has an annoying fangirl who keeps saying Galileo this and Galileo that. Galileo should have quite a lot of descendants. What's the big deal?
    >_>
    I am still watching it though, for now.

  35. t

    I agree that I expect more(after ep01) and there is too much untapped potential.
    but there isn't a conclusive argument to drop it (yet) and it seems like we are somehow in the same boat in that matter ๐Ÿ˜›

  36. i

    Your tastes roughly correspond with mine (probably why I commute here rather than elsewhere) with only StB getting the drop from you and the watch from me (the conclusion to the first arc was the weakest episode of the lot).

    Note: NANA never aired on Noitamina (the horrendously underrated and IMO much better Paradise Kiss did). But I got your point – though I feel the college animes of Noitamina's formulative years (H&C, Nodame, PK, Moyashimon) was a lot better than GT. Why can't JC adapt Sangatsu no Lion?

    There's no point trying any further to convince you on LH's good points as I've tried for three posts already but can I say that Gundam Build Fighters is thoroughly entertaining. This for me is satire/parody. The way they use character/mecha names so casually, the AGE like character designs, the Yu-Gi-Oh/Beyblade feel – it all works for me. You may think of it as just a huge commercial but I was logistically never part of the market segment so I can enjoy the anime's parody with ease. I'm not even such a big Gundam fan.

    I also really wish that Super Seisyun brothers was full-length but gag comedy works well within 4 minutes so I don't mind too much. I'll probably gather up all the episodes and marathon it less than an hour.

  37. i

    Also on Monogatari's second season I can see what made you a never-fan. This season had very little of what made Bakemonogatari great. Its spent so much time in fetishes that its lost the fun. Also with every girl wanting to jump Araragi for a while now it feels quite annoying since he has a girlfriend that is the best character in the series. Nisemonogatari managed to keep me there and there abouts but I feel lost with this season.

    Also there was always a theme to each arc and some progress in Araragi and Hitagi's romance that kept me interested but since the 2nd Nisemonogatari arc there hasn't been and that just takes away so much from the series. I think I'll just wait for Hitagi End and say bye-bye to the series as a whole.

  38. t

    monogatari 2nd season is the best monogatari so far, more than bakemono ore nekomono kuro.
    but I can understand…it's definitely not the cup of tea for Enzo.

  39. Yes, Gundam Build Fighters really isn't half-bad. It has a better sense of humor than you'd think. But every time they start the actual fighting I want to take a nap.

  40. M

    I'm with you on Monogatari.This(as well as Nisemonogatari) had me wondering why I liked Bakemonogatari so much.You already said the answer for that question though: Senjougahara Hitagi.The dynamics between her & Araragi was what got me into this series in the 1st place and while she had some fairly decent screen time at the start in Hanekawa's arc,it's really been a while since then…

    I'm afraid that the Monogatari series is just trying to appeal to it's hardcore fans that will accept any direction it chooses to go and get really hyped up at pretty much everything the girls do just because…

  41. t

    I think that this season is actually an extension of bakemonogatari.
    in bakemono the main theme was the KI for each of the girls (crab, snail. monkey, snake, cat).
    however, now, we see it gets much deeper into the characters. like Nadeko and hanekawa (and we'll see it with Shinobu and Hitagi next), and why each got her own speciality due to each one's nature.
    moreover, we see more interactions between characters and KI. it's not limited for one KI per arc and simply solve the problem. it's much deeper and includes more connections as we progress with the series.

  42. T

    All I can say is that I'm glad Kyousogiga met up to and exceeded my expectations of it.

  43. F

    Hmm. Very much a listing that has "you" stamped all over it. ๐Ÿ˜€

    As it should, eh?

    I guess for me I find consistency wise that we very often agree on the series just below the elite category, but periodically (not always) disagree on the elite category. And that consistency in "like, but yet unlike" is why I enjoy reading your blog so much. There is enough of a similarity of taste that I can happily walk alongside a good % of your observations of the same general topics, even if we have diff tastes (or perhaps things which matter to us or speak to us as individuals or that we even look for).

    Overall, it makes it a pleasure to continue to get to know you. ^^

  44. Very kindly said, and I feel likewise. Even if you are way too gung-ho for Tamayura. ;-P

  45. t

    as I said once in this very blog (and in many other places which I can't remember) – the 2013 fall season definitely met my expectations.
    there are animes from variety of genres. some are good, some bad, some were dropped, some managed to surprise. there is sports anime and there is drama, mecha, romcom, action, fantasy.. and a mixture of them as well.
    did I forget something?oh there is a crazy one too (kyousogiga)

    for me the highlights are sports and refrain <3
    too bad you're not watching Ippo :(
    but the others I watch are good (or very good) too and enjoyable (:

    I am surprised you abandoned GD's ship (the goldfish!)…what's wrong?it's not horrible enough to be dropped IMHO.
    plus coppelion was dropped too. though it's more understandable

    leftovers: kingdom and monogatari for sure.
    I am still watching Gifuu..though it has become less and less good. until the recap it was mostly fine, but after that..things are..less smooth IMHO

    well it seems like you have quite a lot to blog this season, especially on thursdays :S
    so keep doing your best and thanks for blogging (:

    BTW
    hanasaku movie? ๐Ÿ˜›
    also yamato2199 has ended this week. even though I am not familiar with the old-franchise I enojoyed it pretty much. for the record, it's a remake, so anyone can enjoy.

  46. J

    I'm guessing Non Non Byori was dropped because it's hard to blog about slice-of-lifes in general because there's nothing to talk about. I think it's still one of the more enjoyable shows to watch. Galilei Donna is a head-scratcher to me. To each his own, I guess.

  47. F

    Breezy, s.o.l. cgdct series are not so much Enzo' cup of tea, if I can speak for him. It's not that he thinks they are "bad" per se, but moreso monotonal with not a lot happening. Tho perhaps MinsmiKe may be the closest exception to this general trend.

    Of course they are hard to blog in general, but harder if you are not really interested in the subject matter in general, broad strokes.

    That being said, while I am a fan of the s.o.l. cgdct angle, even Non Non does not have the (dare I say it?) depth of engagement for me either in the charas or the overall plot/setting/charas. It is "lite watching" for me, which means afaict that it's a no for Enzo. ^^

  48. I do like some pure S.O,L. series, like Sketch Book (and YKK may be my favorite manga ever). But NonNon just didn't click for me after the first episode. I need more than CGBC, and I wasn't getting it.

    See above for Galileo. Found the sheer vapidity of that show especially irritating for some reason.

  49. F

    Enzo, you might give ep 4 a watch. It stands nicely by itself, and may remind you of the Yotsuba manga a little. Ep 2 and 3 are not like ep 4 at all, and my guess is that you'd find them boring, though.

  50. J

    Ah well… I guess we have different tastes. Maybe I need to raise my expectations more. It seems I'm a bit more tolerant than most when it comes to taste.

  51. J

    On Kyousogiga, do you have to watch the previous content in order to watch the series?

  52. t

    nope.
    you can watch ep 00 which is a recap to the OVA. though a better one. and then move on to ep01.
    pay attention that ep00 will confuse you a bit, but once you finish ep01 you'll understand(partly of course) the main course of events. so dont give up after ep00. and remember – the series is about the experience. you should enjoy and experience it, not just watching and understaning the plot.
    you''ll get that saying don't worry (:

    there are the ONAs, which are pretty short( 5 ONA, 7-10 min each if I remember) but it will help to grasp the story, but definitely not a "must".

  53. E

    Samurai Flamenco is really an unexpected find. I watched it since it out of curiosity and got hooked from the start. Yeah, the author was probably inspired from Kick-Ass movie, but it was super hard to come up with a totally original idea so I am fine with it.

    The rest of the anime on the list is quite different from mine, though. I certainly don't like Refrain that much, and I can't stand another Mari Okada's over the top drama.

  54. s

    If kyosougiga continues to pick up and truly starting meshing the character development with the story more seamlessly it could really turn into something wonderful; im certainly glad im watching such a good show. Im surprised a fall 2013 check in came in so quickly; I thought you usually do it half way through the season (though technically we are almost there).

    By the way, you mentioned kyokai no kanata being two-cours; i was under the impression that it was only going to be one-cour, especially since i saw on a winter 2014 preview list that chunnibyou season 2 was slated to appear which i figured was going to take over the KNK slot…unless im mistaken and misinterpreted things.

  55. t

    no, I think you're right.
    it is listed as 1cour with 13 episodes.
    besides, KyoAni won't make anime parallel. but it's a good thing they are making anime for each season for a whole year.

  56. s

    that's what i figured; it's shocking enough that they have released a series every season for the past year (although i think they skipped spring 2013) but to air two series' in one season…that's definitely not the kyoani i know. I would have rather preferred KNK to have two-cours though because it would have a better chance of making the series great rather than just good.

  57. M

    At first,I really didn't expect there would be many shows I'd really like this fall when compared to last one where I had my favorites in Psycho Pass,Zetsuen no Tempest & Shin Sekai Yori,and will just have to do with a lot of mediocre shows.The fact that I only saw a few episodes of the 1st Little Busters(somehow it didn't really do much for me,I guess I was looking for something more "amped up" at the time,if you may) doesn't allow me to watch Refrain(I'll watch the 1st season & this some day though…or just play the VN) and that I'm not a sports fan so I literally don't watch ANY sports animes,further enforced that though.

    I had like,half of Monogatari left as a favorite because I'm been very patient with it but now I consider it just above average and Valvrare S2 which I'm pleased to say that it's still right up there with my favorites.Besides that,I was a little hyped up about Golden time,which ended up being another favorite,and that's it.What surprised me was Nagi which I only had medium expectations of but I've really liked it so far(even if I didn't like Hikari) and what really surprised me was WA2,which not only surpassed my likewise medium expectations but rose right to the top of my list,to share my favorite show of fall spot with Valvrare.

    KnK,Machine Doll,Strike the Blood,Tokyo Ravens,NouKome and *cough,here goes nothing* Yuusha ni Narenakatta Ore wa Shibushibu Shuushoku o Ketsui Shimashita(I don't know a short version for this…) are enough mediocre shows for me for a season so I'm definitely fine in that department.

    What I really wish I'd like but I'm not watching is Kyousugaia,as it's not really my type of show although I might want to try just for the sake of experimenting,if anything,since I really haven't watched any animes of this type(which makes Uchouten Kazoku another one that I might want to try…).Geh,my tastes be damned!I'm probably missing out on some good stuff there.

    Samurai Flamenco is one show that I've been wanting to try more & more each week after reading your,as well as Cherrie's,posts about it but was still hesitating since I was content with the number of shows I had already.But I'm just gonna give in and let my curiosity the better of me.Looks pretty fun!

  58. R

    Your Thursdays man, your Thursdays XD

    That being said, each season, I find your picks almost mirroring mine exactly (minus romance shows since I just can never get into those). The only differences are when you like a show I haven't heard of, in which case I run off to watch it and then it goes back to being a mirror match. Kyousogiga and YowaPedal are good examples. I said this before, but I blame my recent binge on sports manga/anime on you. I'm still not sure if I'd call myself a "sports" sports anime fan, since my favorites are series more like YowaPedal, Oofuri or Eyeshield than Diamond no Ace, Giant Killing or Tubasa. But I loved Ginga to bits and pieces.

    I think the parts of sports series I like best are those that overlap with what I consider true shounen manga spirit. It's the sense of excitement and wanting to just jump and scream YES when the characters succeed and just hug every one of them. It's also the sense of excitement and accomplishment that's hard to pin down. And that reaction isn't limited to just sports or shounen series, although I find it most common in those genres XD

    Also, a big reason why I enjoy your blog is due to the fact that you're just knowledgeable about things I'm not. I don't think I ever would have caught the specific references to Buddhism in Kyousogiga without your posts (I could see the influence, but the original scroll the name might be derived from? Or the monkey, tortoise and hare? No way on my own). I'm reminded of your posts on Psycho-Pass where you knew of the books being quoted or branches of philosophy that I didn't. It was just a much more significant review since I learned something new. And this one is personal bias, but your…what I would very loosely call 'political' views often coincide with mine (the representation of women in anime, the unfortunate social views Japan sometimes takes, the shifting demographic of anime fans or rather DVD buyers and the effects it has on the industry, really bad cliches) OK that last one isn't quite the same, but you get the idea.

    And this post has gone horrendously off track but I've been meaning to make a post about this somewhere and I really didn't want to clutter up one of your nice episode posts XD So here it is.

  59. Yeah Rita, Thursdays… It's traditionally been a loaded day (Spring 2012 was the best-worst) but hadn't been so much so over the last year,

  60. R

    I enjoy reading your check-in post — it reaffirms some of the reasons for why I gravitate to LiA. For one, I do find myself sharing similar tastes as yours — maybe I'm influenced by you while trying to shape my preferences.

    Like you, Kyousogiga and Samurai Flamenco are my two favourites of the season. As for the rest of the shows, it's still very episodic for my enjoyment that I can't decide what comes next on my list of favourites. I'm still trying to cut down on the number of shows to watch, but I'm happy to see that most of those that I'm definitely watching are covered here — Yowamushi Pedal, Nagi no Asukara, Golden Time, Diamond no Ace, Gingitsune, Kingdom 2, Hunter X Hunter, and Uchuu Kyoudai — and it's only Super Seisyun Brothers and Koroko no Basuke that you're not blogging. There are 3 shows that I'm watching but undecided — White Album 2, Tokyo Ravens, and Strike the Blood — so hopefully after this week I will know which to drop. This season is so big and comes with choke-full of varieties. I wish I could have more time to take on more, but I can only manage 13 shows a week.

    By the way, how's the weather in Tokyo? Has it become much cooler? Is Halloween big in Japan? We just had our first snow yesterday, and everywhere — in the neighbourhoods and the malls — is very Halloween-ish.

  61. Very nice at the moment, though last week was rain-crazy. 18-20 degrees.

  62. R

    >Log Horizon
    >this is still a show where the #1 draw seems to be the cuteness of the female lead (who calls the male lead "Master") and the first quest out of the box is to rescue a moeblob imouto.

    As part of the LH audience, you are wrong on this one.
    #1 reason why YOU are not liking the show is not the #1 reason why it clicks so well for others.

  63. R

    I can't really say much about LH — I only watched the premiere — but why do you like it, Richard?

  64. S

    I think that you're right in saying that the moe is not the central element in LH – but I also think that it's just not helping when everything else about the show feels very generic. I like the MMORPG mechanics, but the characters and events feel rather dull (like they did in Maoyuu Maou Yuusha).

  65. R

    Here are some comments I did in the log horizon posts here. Both are spoiler free.

    EP3: http://www.lostinanime.com/2013/10/weekly-digest-102013-outbreak-company.html?showComment=1382279066498#c6428753094413602446

    EP4: http://www.lostinanime.com/2013/10/weekly-digest-102713-outbreak-company.html?showComment=1382891552466#c1928806593502136392

    I don't think I'm a "AKATSUKI NNGHHHH" kind of viewer as Enzo is implying the audience goes like when they are watching the show…

    In any case, Akatsuki had like a few seconds of screen time in last week's episode. And Serara was mostly shown having an important role in the MC's battle strategy. This show is not handling its female characters like SAO did (and will, in the inevitable second season). Neither like in MAOYU, where in an intentionally cliched environment you get an even more cliched love triangle that does get in the way.

  66. d

    I'm of like mind with Richard, as I'm not a 'akatsuki hnngh' moeblob ftw as there may be the audience portrays.

    I think it is like an issue of taste, and being accustomed and able to detect and appreciate tastes. For some salt is their main stay, but may not always like salt. For others we add hotsauce, and like hotsauce, but not everyone is even aware hotsauce is an option and those flavors go unappreciated or not to their tastes.

    For me the hotsauce is the tactical execution and details maybe only a gamer or team player can understand.

    I like MMO's, tactical and strategy rpgs. This is where players come together in a brilliant execution. Its actually really hard to pull off and I appreciate when it does. That is one of the main appeals for me.

    Sure there's some moe-ness in LH, but that salt is not the main appeal for me. It is the worldbuilding, the teambuilding, and execution of a lot of dedication that went into that teambuilding and exploration.

  67. S

    I agree with you, I don't think the moe is there for any other reason than "everyone does it and I don't want to think too hard about how to write this character anyway". I felt like the battle in the last episode was a bit forced (seriously, they only won because the villain agreed to a stupid one-on-one duel despite having superior numbers on his side. I don't think that's a thing in real PvP MMORPG. The closest thing I have ever played is League of Legends, and there seeing one enemy in front of you usually means you have another two hidden in the jungle ready to gank the fuck out of your group).

    I like the idea that the real curse of being trapped in this game is being forced into a repetitive, dull and possibly eternal life – even gamers actually have full appreciation for the real world and miss it. I just can't feel very enthralled by the non existent plot, that's all. This level of detail in tactics would fare much better in service of an actual compelling story. As things are now, I still feel that the best MMORPG anime out there by far is HXH's Greed Island arc.

  68. R

    >I don't think that's a thing in real PvP MMORPG.

    That Shiroe would boldly ask for a 1vs1 fight among their best soldiers was speculated before the episode, as it's a very common thing in MMORPGs. It's part of the psychological warfare between group of players. Public shaming is one of the most effective ways to deal with guilds that have greater numbers. Attack their morale and the group dies from inside out. So, 1 on 1 challenges are very VERY common.

    Shiroe's party placed themselves as the underdog challengers that moved boldly. They just walked out of the safe zone not giving a fuck about anyone and challenged the guild leader to a 1 on 1 duel. This pushed their target to either look like a big coward or accept the duel and fight on his own. The need for the leader to "look strong" in the eyes of his followers plays a giant role in this situation. And that's why he accepts to fight himself.

    Nyata is a debuffer class, an had 0 chances against a high HP Monk by himself. But Shiroe knew that Nyanta was good enough to make the last longer than normal. The cat fought skillfully and pushed him into asking for help. The healing starts from both parties and that makes the fight last way longer than it should have.
    The second stage of Shiroe's plan started when the leader asked for full backup. Shiroe had to win fast now. Take down their leader and take a leave. For this, Naotsugu used his "Area Agression" and "Ultimate Defense" skill to hold the weaker DPSs back while Serara healed him long enough for Shiroe and Nyanta to take down their leader. Akatsuki did a quick job with the mages and that was it. Public Shaming happened, their leader is now a pathetic fucktard and I doubt his numbers will stay the same after this fight.

    They could have left with the griffons from the start, but they stayed a bit to fragment this guild.

    What's awesome about this is that this fight is not something "you only see in anime" at all. I'm sure that anyone who ever played a MMORPG with similar rules* went through a similar experience.

    *rules:
    – Open World: No instances or channels. No loading screens.
    – Open PvP: Unrestricted pvp, Player Killing, no need to ask for duels to fight.

  69. S

    Thanks for the clarification. I guess having never played a subscription MMORPG counts here (most f2p games have more restricted mechanics that I know of).

  70. e

    I cant believe that you droped ars nova and galillei. They are so much good to be droped like that.
    Afortunatedly we have random c. to follow them.

  71. M

    'The Elite' are to be expected. Golden Time looks like it's been bit overrated. Surprised you're still keeping up with Gifuu Doudou, your time would probably be better spent watching HnK.

    If a show isn't your slice of cheese you don't have to always justify your distaste with defamation. Accept it isn't for you and move on, I say.

  72. K

    Of the shows this season, many of the shows I had somewhat high expectations for didn't really follow through. For me, the surprises this season are Kyousogiga, Samurai Flamenco, Gingitsune, OC, and Yowamushi Pedal.

    The first ep of Kyousogiga didn't really work for me initially, and I didn't pick it back up until recently. It was only after watching the ONAs for Kyousogiga that I started buying into the characters and the overarching world. It's surprisingly sentimental and relaxing to watch, which is a stark contrast to the craziness of the 1st ep.

    The hot topic seems to be Kill la Kill this season, and this show didn't work for me. I'm not particularly interested in the bombastic nature of the show, as it closely resembles american cartoons. With all the comparisons to TTGL, I think it's important to keep in mind that it aired 6-7 years ago. The standards and expectations we apply to shows have changed, and for many viewers, 6 years is a long time.

    I don't think Enzo has had a more difficult blogging schedule since Spring 2012.

  73. If you'd followed my preview, Kentai, those surprises wouldn't have been so surprising!

  74. K

    Well, I do like to be surprised ๐Ÿ˜‰ For me, characterization is THE most important factor. Great characters can easily carry a mediocre plot, but the opposite generally does not hold true (at least for me). The premise of the surprise shows were mildly interesting, but it was the characters that were much better than I had expected, and that's what drew me in.

    I tend to pay more attention to the premise of the show over its pedigree. The writer/ studio/etc. is usually a good indicator of quality, but I prefer not to be burdened by my artificially inflated expectations. Otherwise, what usually happens is something along the lines of "I should be liking this show, but I'm not". And that ruins the experience for me. By ignoring legitimate indicators/ hints, it's a bit of self deception, but it ultimately maximizes my enjoyment of anime, and that's what matters most.

  75. S

    omgwtfbbq! I can't believe we're watching the same series. Kyousogiga completely failed to appeal to me in the first episode, and I only bothered watching the rest because of your ratings. Before I compared screenshots, I was fairly certain you made some spelling error or that I had downloaded the wrong file.

    Out of your top 4 I'd rate them C+,C+ (is there some reference I'm not getting in Samurai Flamengo?) ,(didn't watch LB) ,B+
    The absolute top for me is Kill la Kill (A) followed by Golden Time (A-) , Yowamushi Pedal (B+). White Album and Nagi is pretty close to making the list, but nothing touches the masterpiece that is Kill la Kill. It's absolutely hilarious!

    Anyway, I rarely disagree much with your tastes, so this is mildly interesting

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