This post reviews: Glasslip, Shirogane no Ishi: Argevollen, Tokyo Ghoul, and Rail Wars!
These first impressions posts will be divided into four separate entries and are organized by the date these anime aired. Hopefully all four posts will be out by this weekend since many of the shows, including everything in this post, have already debuted their second episodes.
Glasslip is the quintessential PA Works anime. Before even beginning the first episode, you could tell Glasslip would feature that bright, cheery and unquestionably distinctive PA Works character design, that it would feature dazzling and brilliant background art, both for interior and scenic shots, and that the anime would be a relaxing slice-of-life/romance that explores the lives of a tight-knit clique of high school kids in a suburban seaside community. That much was known going into Glasslip, and the first episode did well in confirming our expectations. What the first episode did beyond that was that it provided us with a taste of its own personality. Not much can be said about how the anime will differentiate itself from all the other PA Works anime, especially shows like Tari Tari and Nagi no Asukara, but the show has a bit of a quirky personality and a thing for chickens. It’s hard to say how serious, how silly or even how sophomoric the anime will be, but the calming, tranquil atmosphere of the anime, combined with the elegant visuals and the amiable personalities of the cast, leads me to believe that I’ll enjoy this anime overall. I highly doubt that Glasslip will venture into the upper-half of my favorite anime for this season, but that’s fine for a show of this caliber and style. I’m anticipating that Glasslip will be both amusing and relaxing and be respectable choice of anime for the summer.
Although I expected there to be quite a bit of action and fighting in the first episode of Tokyo Ghoul, I was surprised to see the emphasis on the character’s emotions and their thought-processes. Most of the time, anime like these only offer a glimpse into the mind of their protagonists, but Tokyo Ghoul spent a significant chunk of its first episode inside the mind of Ken as a means to explore its main character and explain his thoughts, emotions and subsequent actions. Watching these characters analyze their situations, debate with themselves and then see how this affected them, especially in regard to the food and his identity as a human or ghoul, was easily the most attractive aspect of Tokyo Ghoul. If this anime continues to be a psychological horror anime like this first episode suggests, then I can see Tokyo Ghoul being among my favorite for this season. But… then there’s the rest of the first episode. That is to say, what keeps me worried about Tokyo Ghoul is that everything outside of those psychological scenes were generally pretty mediocre. While the art and animation during Rize’s assault and during Ken’s hunger crisis were superb, the rest of the anime felt pretty tame and bland. Overall, it’s a plus since the anime did look outstanding at times and can achieve that level again, but I have to wonder how this anime will perform over the course of the season when there aren’t fights or action-sequences in every episode. And while on that subject, the conclusion to this first episode was a bit of a downer. The whole fight/rescue/knowledge of underground ghoul organization for Ken to join is very, very shounen. It’s a development I’m not too thrilled about and leaves me wondering about the direction of this series. Still, I ultimately enjoyed the first episode and am intrigued to find out more about this setting and about Ken. Even if Tokyo Ghoul doesn’t live up to these new, loftier expectations, I’m still predicting that this will be a solid anime for Summer 2014.
Nothing in this post, which means the final two anime are…
Shirogane no Ishi: Argevollen
I have nothing good to say about Argevollen. The first episode of this mecha/war anime was just one giant cliché; it’s every mecha/war anime you’ve already seen before. You had the old, arrogant and villainous military leaders from the evil country who don’t care about their personnel dying during battle. You had the young commander who clearly wanted to disobey orders and save the lives of his soldiers because he’s really a nice guy who’s just misunderstood but ultimately followed orders because he’s on the evil side and that’s what those people do. Then you had our hero, who is an up-and-coming young punk who’s new to the military and mecha piloting but has his own sense of justice that is apparently more important than anything else in the world. You also had the young, sassy female sidekick who is a better mecha pilot and berates the rookie because that’s what they always do. And let’s not forget the cute scientist/engineer girl who is transporting this super high-tech and invaluable experimental mecha through a war zone and needs to be rescued by our hero because they had no one else around who could pilot it in case of an emergency. Well, it just so happens that our hero, who almost died and should’ve died, gets to pilot this super-powerful, awesome mech because not following orders was the right decision all along and he’s totally not going to be court-martialed for this when this is all over. Then the enemies that he had trouble beating before are now… yadda yadda yadda, you know what happens next and what will happen in the next 11 episodes. What makes it worse is that the first episode had terrible pacing, substandard art, and no good or fun characters. There really is no value in continuing to watch Argevollen, so I’m dropping it after just one episode.
Rail Wars! is everything I don’t want in an anime put into an anime. The anime went right into a tailspin from the start with the scene where Aoi retrieves the balloon for the little boy. At first, you think it’s about showing how compassionate and athletic Aoi is, but the scene focuses on her breasts bouncing, then to the wind blowing up Haruka’s skirt and Aoi calling Naoto a pervert for looking. Great. Then there were the school scenes that should never have happened… especially the failure that was the “jiggle” scene. Seriously, they could’ve skipped the first half of this episode and the show would’ve been significantly better. But still, if it were the second half alone, it would’ve been dropped anyway. Just to summarize, there was even more terrible, terrible fanservice and the climax was stopping some thieves from stealing a purse. Wow. Other faults with this anime were the awful artwork, the lack of interesting characters, the fact that this anime takes itself seriously. Rail Wars! is all kinds of bad and likely to be the worst anime of the season. Save yourself the time and skip it.
#1 by LGM on July 12, 2014 - 7:23 PM
About Tokyo Ghoul:
Good News & Bad News(?);
1st the good, it is very clear the Manga-ka wants to show how the MC deals with being a human fresh eating monster. & how various human & ghouls deal with this world.
Then the bad(?),
Oh, from how they’re adapting the manga, I’m pretty sure there’ll be at least 1 fight scene every episode. But the worst part is how they censor those said scenes, watch the 2nd episode you’ll know what I mean.
“…the rest of the anime felt pretty tame and bland…”
Honestly? I can’t see it but I’m pretty sure you’re right. As an manga fan I know I’m pretty much used to the blandness of the series. The 1st time I read the manga I noticed everything that can be consider normal (ie clothes, people, building, scenery, etc.) is so “normal” its boring.
At 1st I thought that maybe this is purposely done, to show how out of place the MCs are in the world. But then I remember Yotsubato! & realize the Manga-ka might just didn’t have the chops for the art department.
Either those two, I like to think is the former.
About Shirogane no Ishi: Argevollen:
Seriously it is a little sad for the producers of this anime, any other time this anime might still work but there’s just so many mecha anime last & this season that at least add something new to the table or downright steamroll this anime in terms of budget & quality.
#2 by avvesione on July 14, 2014 - 3:24 AM
I am really enjoying the dichotomy in Tokyo Ghoul between being a human and a ghoul with Ken’s character. I agree with you that the way this is handled in the manga is very, very good. And I’m saddened to hear that there will likely be fights in every episode since the censorship absolutely sucks. I really hate censorship in anime and it really detracts from the emotion and severity of these situations in TG. Oh well. It’s not like I’m gonna wait for the uncensored BD just to see some blood and guts.
And to defend my comment on the art/animation being ‘tame and bland’ in TG, it was mainly related to the cafe scene and the lame fight at the end. The anime just looked very normal and average in the cafe and the fight was a huge disappointing, not only in terms of what we saw but how it paled in comparison to Rize’s attack in the middle of the episode. After Rize’s attack, I was expecting the fights to be exciting and to feature a lot of activity and excitement, but the fight at the end of the episode was… well, tame and bland.
For Argevollen, I’m not sure it’s an issue of too many mecha as it is just poor quality. Argevollen was very basic and unimaginative in its setting, characters and story. And let’s not forget that this is produced by Xebec, a studio who is known primarily for its ecchi comedies. It just didn’t have the right stuff to be one of the better anime this season.
#3 by Marina on July 16, 2014 - 4:27 PM
I also picked up Glasslip and have yet to watch Tokyo Ghoul, though it is on my queue. Another thing I like about Glasslip is its strange visuals whenever “David” appears and the scenes to all…glassy. I’m not sure how to describe it, but it feels like déjà vu or something. I haven’t seen the second episode yet so maybe that explains it.
I wanted to like Rail Wars since the concept sounded interesting and I like trains, but like you was put off by the fan service and characters. I’m holding on to it now, unfortunately, since my boyfriend seems to enjoy it.
#4 by avvesione on July 20, 2014 - 6:59 PM
I echo your feelings on the beautiful visuals whenever Kakeru appears. The visual effects are gorgeous and they do serve a deeper meaning than just looking pretty (covered in the second episode).
Well, sorry to hear about your crushed expectations with Rail Wars, but I hope you enjoy the anime. It helps that you have someone to watch it with you but the anime is nonetheless a big disappointment.
#5 by donkangoljones on July 19, 2014 - 2:58 AM
I watched everything in this post aside from Rail Wars, which I don’t know if I feel motivated enough to even try. I’ve never seriously watched any of the P.A. Works series that Glasslip so closely resembled. Though I was on the fence if I’d like that show. It seems way too fluffy and bland for me. I guess I keep watching because I like chickens and want to raise them one day. More likely though, I think I’ll drop this show in a few episodes because I’m bored. I can only imagine how boring it may be to someone who has already seen this sort of material before.
Argevollen is likely trash, but because mecha is one of my core anime genres, I’ll probably give it five good episodes. But I agree with everything you said. It’s a conveyor belt of cliches, and I’m none too keen on the characters either. It’s Tokyo Ghoul that is my favorite so far. I don’t look at something being shounen as bad, until it gets vapid and too wrapped up in its own fights (see Bleach). I really am interested in the world and characters so far, and actually don’t care much if I do see a big flashy fight – though that would be nice!
#6 by avvesione on July 20, 2014 - 7:04 PM
Based on reading your comment, it sounds like we have the exact same taste for most of the anime this season.
You don’t need to give Rail Wars a try if you don’t think you’ll like it. Unless you’re really passionate about trains or have a high tolerance to bad fanservice and awful writing, then just skip it.
And if the main interest in Glasslip is the chickens, it’s probably best to drop it now. Knowing PA Works, it’ll quickly go into romance mode soon and get away from the pleasant slife aspects.
Glad to hear you’re enjoying Tokyo Ghoul as it is one of the better anime this season. Like you, I am more curious about the world itself than the characters, and I hope the anime continues to develop its setting after these introductions.