Spring 2014 – First Impressions (Part 4)

ping_pong_the_animation-01-tsukimoto-hoshino-smile-peco-table_tennis-paddle-cinematography-multiple_shots-split_screenThis post reviews: Ping Pong the Animation, Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin, Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka?, Knights of Sindoria, Escha & Logy no Atelier: Tasogare no Sora no Renkinjutsushi, and Mekaku City Actors.

Due to the timing in which anime aired in Japan last week, with the week being heavy on the first episodes for a number of new anime and only a handful airing their second episodes, I’ll be starting my Weekly Anime posts for Week 2 starting this week and hopefully out sometime this weekend.



Ping Pong the Animation

ping_pong_the_animation-01-hoshino-peco-table_tennis-paddle-ball-hand_eye_coordination-slow_motionPing Pong will be one of the best anime of the year. Based only on what I saw in this first episode, I can say that this anime will be among the very top, if not the top, of the new anime airing this season. Ping Pong features an immediately distinguishing and effective art style that encourages passionate movements, ideal for depicting the lightning-fast pace of the table tennis matches. The directing is exceptional, utilizing cinematography to emphasize shots with motion and emotions, bringing the characters and games to life. Tsukimoto (“Smile”) and Hoshino (“Peco”) are both ideal protagonists for this type of anime, with raw but established skills, different enthusiasms and their own unique flaws, making them the perfect characters to watch as they develop and contrast each other throughout the series. What little we saw of the story is a promising indicator of events to come and the table tennis matches were engrossing and charismatic. I don’t think I could say anything bad about this anime besides it being in a high school setting, but it’s almost necessary since this is a school club and it does break away from the rest of modern anime by focusing on table tennis and being set in the late 90s (the manga was published from 1996-1997). Ping Pong has demonstrated enough to already become one of my favorite sports anime of all-time and, if it continues to impress like I anticipate it will, Ping Pong has the opportunity to surpass Chihayafuru as my favorite of this genre.

ping_pong_the_animation-01-tsukimoto-smile-paddle-glasses-ace-star ping_pong_the_animation-01-hoshino-peco-table_tennis-paddle-ball-smash-return


Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin

ryuugajou_nanana-no_maizoukin-01-nanana-ghost-pudding-treasure_hunter-thrill_seekerWhat makes Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin a keeper is that it is an anime that promises to be lighthearted, entertaining and make sure the audience is having fun. The whole setting, scenario and story are all quite silly and unrealistic, but the characters are enjoying their current situations with smiles on their faces despite the fact that one of them was murdered and is now a ghost. But even then, the only aspect that would be considered dark is a cheery girl who loves pudding, plays video games and desperately wants to make new friends. It comes across as quite simple, which works perfectly for an anime of this style. The cast is relatively small at this point with only Juugo and Nanana being significantly introduced, but the remainder of the cast will probably range from pleasant to wonderful with Juugo at the bottom (generic, pervy male lead) and Nanana being at the top (fun, active, compassionate female lead). I can’t really tell whether the story will be good or not at this point considering that it’ll be treasure hunting, but I anticipate it will fluctuate and be episodic, which can be either good or bad. The setting isn’t terribly unique with a futuristic and isolate city where most of the population are students, but the treasure hunting aspect should be enough to differentiate it from the rest. The fanservice was a bit of a turn-off, but thankfully, the anime did not go overboard besides the whole groping scene joke. But besides that one minor flaw, the episode impressed me and certainly left me in a good mood wanting more.

ryuugajou_nanana-no_maizoukin-01-juugo-typical_high_school_boy-male_lead-ordinary-average ryuugajou_nanana-no_maizoukin-01-tensai-detective-hat-smile-excited


Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka?

gochuumon_wa_usagi_desu_ka-01-chino-kokoa-bath-bunny-blush-happy-friendship-moeGochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka? is a delightful and relaxing anime, with some amusing comedy and nothing more. If you’re looking for something with dynamic characters, a thought-provoking story, some stimulating commentary or an insightful message, then this anime is certain to disappoint. Fortunately for Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka?, all I want from it is a cute and calming comedy that makes me smile for 24 minutes and that is exactly what I saw with this first episode. The characters are incredibly moe in terms of their designs and personalities, but each has their own charming attributes and the chemistry was unexpectedly good for something so shallow. The comedy never really produced laughs or anything remarkable, but the humor ranged from ‘they’re trying’ to big smiles with nothing producing a negative reaction. The style is very serene and the setting is picturesque, two aspects that help improve the soothing atmosphere and nature of the anime. The anime was surprisingly ecchi in that we had a character in only her bra and panties for an entire scene, the entire cast changing in the locker room and a bath scene at the end, so it’s clear that there will be mild and innocent fanservice throughout. I do wonder if the anime will ever become stale or stagnate once the entire cast is introduced, but I enjoyed the characters and comedy enough in the first episode to guess that it won’t become a major problem later on. I could be wrong, but I still predict that Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka? will be a pleasant and comforting anime to watch this Spring.

gochuumon_wa_usagi_desu_ka-01-kokoa-exchange_student-thinking-good_idea-perverted-comedy-smile-moe gochuumon_wa_usagi_desu_ka-01-chino-waitress-server-comedy-cute-moe



Knights of Sindoria

knights_of_sidonia-01-honoka_clones-en-ren-hou-ro-all_voiced_by_eri_kitamuraI’m a sucker for sci-fi, space and giant robots, so it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to see me try Knights of Sindoria to see if it matches my interests. As for its compatibility with me… that remains to be seen after just one episode. The biggest drawback before watching the anime is that I don’t really care all that much for 3D animation for anime characters (I’ll get into the mecha and environment later), and that really doesn’t change after watching one episode. I will add though, that I did adjust to the character designs rather quickly, but it is still my least favorite visual style for an anime this season. The 3D style does, however, match very well with the setting and the mecha, though I’ll have to see a real battle first before knowing whether it’s merely nice or something more. I don’t really know much about or care for any of the characters at this point, but that’s largely because this first episode installed the setting. Still, I find the main character to be very standard and stereotypical for a male lead in a mecha anime, so hopefully he’ll prove his worth in the second episode. What fascinates me about the setting is the amount of detail and description we’ve seen in this universe, especially in regards to their history, the biology and social structure of humanity and the technology. It actually has one of the better settings this season and the setting is the main reason why I want to give this anime another episode. However, with the characters lacking, the story being nothing impressive and an animation style that I don’t like, I don’t see a bright future for Knights of Sindoria in terms of me keeping it or not this season. What needs to happen in the next episode is that there will need to be some meaningful improve on the characters or the story or for the anime to feature a kick-ass battle with giant robots in space. Or better yet, let’s just hope it can accomplish both.

knights_of_sidonia-01-nagate-protagonist-spacesuit-surprised-scared knights_of_sidonia-01-izana-honoka_clones-third_gender-guardian_pilots-space_clothes


Escha & Logy no Atelier: Tasogare no Sora no Renkinjutsushi

escha_&_logy_no_atelier_tasogare_no_sora_no_renkinjutsushi-01-escha-alchemist-wind_in_hair-happy-moeAnother anime I am undecided on, Escha & Logy no Atelier: Tasogare no Sora no Renkinjutsushi is a show that had a decent and delightful first episode but lacks potential to significantly improve and shows signs of potentially growing boring or stagnant rather quickly. Although I am in love with the setting, I do not anticipate significant development for the characters or the story at this point. The anime just doesn’t present itself as one that will show the characters grow and mature over time or feature stories that challenge the characters and force them to make decisions while under stress. There was just very little to find exciting or dramatic about the anime with the episode teetering around boring and mildly entertaining throughout. I suppose there are some issues when adapting a JRPG into an anime, especially in terms of dialogue and exposition and when creating scenes which were intended for gameplay, but the anime was fairly successful overall in terms of its pacing and content. And while I still do enjoy aspects of the anime, I’m not sure whether this JRPG-adaptation will allow for the anime to develop or progress in a way that shows meaningful or remarkable difference and contrasts in its characters. So while I do still appreciate Escha & Logy as an anime, I think I might be better suited to pick up the game it’s based on and play that instead. I’ll give the anime another episode to see if it improves, but this one is likely to be dropped.

escha_&_logy_no_atelier_tasogare_no_sora_no_renkinjutsushi-01-logix-alchemist-male_lead escha_&_logy_no_atelier_tasogare_no_sora_no_renkinjutsushi-01-escha-alchemist-circle_eyes-comedy-reaction-panic-cute



Mekaku City Actors

mekaku_city_actors-01-takane-virtual-digital-twintails-smileSomething must be wrong with Shaft if since they’ve failed to impress me with their two latest anime, Nisekoi and now Mekaku City Actors. Perhaps repetition and a lack of significant change has caused me to develop tolerance and expectation to Shaft’s classic art and animation style, but there must be more to it than that. After all, Shaft continues to thrive as one of my favorite anime studios and I do adore their visual presentation and cinematography. Still, there was nothing innovative or distinct about the way Mekaku City Actors looked. Or rather, it seemed to be a medley of elements from previous Shaft anime, with bits of Monogatari Series, Sasami-san@Ganbaranai, and Hidamari Sketch blended nicely together (with a reference to Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei thrown in for good measure, too). Then again, if I were being fair (and when am I ever fair?), I could say the same thing about a number of other studios with P.A. Works being a worse culprit than Shaft. However, I’m already off on a tangent about aesthetic similarities within anime studios, so let’s end this here and refocus on why I’ve dropped Mekaku City Actors.

Besides the aforementioned point about the artistic style being nice but uninspired, Mekaku City Actors had a number of other faults that doomed it before episode one concluded. One of the biggest motives for dropping this anime is that it failed to inspire me or fascinate me in a way to make me care about its characters or its story. Virtually the entire episode was watching a loner talk to a shockingly intelligent and friendly bot (like a futuristic version of Siri or SmarterChild or something) and then venturing outside for the first time in 2 years to buy a keyboard. Thankfully, some terrorists showed and tried to make the anime interesting, but by that point, I didn’t care what would happen and, unfortunately, nothing interesting followed. I don’t really relate to or care about hikikomoris, so there’s almost nothing for me to like about Shintaro. The rest of the cast didn’t do much besides Ene, who’s best character element is that she is voiced by Kana Asumi. The setting and story were underdeveloped in the first episode, but I figure those elements will be introduced and implemented later, so I can’t really comment on them at this point. However, without finding anything likable about the main character, being indifferent with the visuals and finding myself bored from the content of the first episode, I think there’s more than enough to say that Mekaku City Actors is not for me.

mekaku_city_actors-01-shintaro-hikikomori-neet-loner-shadow-eye mekaku_city_actors-01-takane-chibi-hidamari_sketch_style-shaft-comedy

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  1. #1 by Joojoobees on April 19, 2014 - 8:29 AM

    Glad you enjoyed Ping Pong. It certainly is off to a promising start!

    • #2 by avvesione on April 23, 2014 - 11:27 PM

      Ping Pong is my favorite new anime of the season (so not counting the JoJo’s sequel or the Mushishi sequel) and I’m excited to see that it’s popular among many anime fans. I literally cannot say anything bad about it at this point, so I’ll continue to sing its praises every week until something changes.

  2. #3 by LGM on April 19, 2014 - 6:16 PM

    Well, since Avvesione “No 3D” is giving 3D a chance this season I think I can try out Ping Pong, especially the fact that you say: “Ping Pong will be one of the best anime of the year.”

    Really? From YOU? Now that’s promising.

    • #4 by avvesione on April 23, 2014 - 11:29 PM

      Great, you won’t regret watching Ping Pong, unless you have tastes that are wildly different than mine. I am confident that anyone who watched Ping Pong will be hooked (or interested with it at the very least).

  3. #5 by Detetiv on April 21, 2014 - 5:28 PM

    Well city actors is suppose to be related to Vocaliod music.

    • #6 by avvesione on April 23, 2014 - 11:32 PM

      Yup, I remember reading about that when researching Mekakucity Actors before the start of the season. In regard to Vocaloid and Vocaloid-related projects, I’m often indifferent. I do like many songs, MADs and the characters of Vocaloid but that doesn’t mean I find everything about it favorable or negative when finding something new related to it. I came into Mekakucity Actors with no tangible opinion and left unimpressed.

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