Autumn 2014 – First Impressions (Part 1)

fate_stay_night_unlimited_blade_works-00-archer-lancer-fight-light-spear-sword-animation-choreography-beautifulThis post reviews: Terra Formars, Gundam Reconguista in G, Denki-Gai no Honya-san, Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works, Madan no Ou to Vanadis, and World Trigger.

As of right now, I am planning for four installments of my first impressions posts for Autumn 2014. Since the anime in these posts are always grouped by the dates they are released, four separate entries seems appropriate for a season this massive.

 

Watching:

Gundam Reconguista in G

gundam_reconguista_in_g-01-aida-pirate-pilot-lady-looking_back-beautifulThe first episode of Gundam Reconguista in G failed to impress me, but it fulfilled the purpose of making it a Gundam anime by featuring in no particular order: a Gundam, a protagonist that’s an unlikely candidate to pilot said Gundam, conflict between space and Earth (presumably), mobile suits fighting, a romantic character (x2), and a mysterious character. What, no masked antagonist (or anti-hero)? Well, as the ending sequence promised, that necessary component will appear sometime soon. But really, the episode felt safe, and that the series wasn’t ready to take risks with its characters, story or setting just yet. The second episode, however, proved to be the deciding factor for my by developing those key aspects. Here, I was able to see what made this anime worthwhile and gave me a reason to continue watching. What I’ve enjoyed from Gundam anime in the past are the characters and the settings with the stories, the mecha fights and the visuals all secondary. The second episode helped me adjust to the main trio of characters, rather than focusing on the pseudo-military personnel, trainees and cheerleaders from the first episode. The world was also developed, and we saw more than just a space elevator, a couple of nuts (that’s the term they used!), space pirates and mobile suits. We began to learn more about their world, their conflict, and the politics involved. It is what I want from a Gundam anime. And while I do appreciate the distinctive art style, I can’t say I was too excited with the mecha fights or the story at this point. Still, this second episode was enough to convince me to keep watching, and that’s what I’ll do with Gundam Reconguista in G.

gundam_reconguista_in_g-01-bellri-protagonist-pilot-trainee-surprised gundam_reconguista_in_g-01-manny-raraiya-noredo-cheerleaders-pompoms-saint_flower_academy-confused-cute

 

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works

fate_stay_night_unlimited_blade_works-00-rin-master-student-tired-lying_down-prop_designEven though this was just the prologue, episode 00, there is no question about my commitment to FSN: UBW. This is one of the few times where I have nothing negative to say about an anime without resorting to nitpicking details. What blew me away, and probably the single most exceptional trait of this first episode, is the prop design. Prop design refers to the objects that are used or included in an anime, such as chairs, tea cups, weapons, books, bento boxes, and magic circles, just to name a few. In Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works, each prop had an exceptional number of details and effort, helping create environments that felt vibrant and life-life. The props each had a remarkable uniqueness to them, from the furniture in Rin’s living room to her tea set and again to Archer’s, Lancer’s, and Saber’s weapons. This is extraordinary, and it might be the best prop design I have ever seen in an anime. Oh, and the rest of the episode wasn’t bad, either. I would love to continue in that level of detail on other aspects of the anime, such as in the backgrounds, the fighting, and the characterization, but I’ll leave those topics to better writers who’ve already covered those subjects and write their posts on time (and the reason why I decided to do prop design is I doubt anyone cares about that as much as I do).

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works impressed me in every category where I evaluate anime: art, characters, entertainment, setting, sound, and story. FSN: UBW might have the best visuals of the year thanks to its mature and powerful art style and its magnificent battle animation. The characterization felt genuine and human, and I already like Rin more than from my previous experiences with the Fate universe. The first episode was wildly entertaining, and the scenes that weren’t combat or comical were still engrossing and educating. The setting and the story are currently the weakest of these six categories, but those develop with time, and if my understanding of Fate/stay night is correct, I do not foresee any issues with either moving forward. Lastly, I found myself wholly impressed with the sound, not just the music that played in this episode, but also with the voice acting and sound effects. Time will tell if FSN: UBW will be the anime of the year or not, especially since it has some solid competition with my inane obsession with KILL la KILL, but this might be the anime to do it.

fate_stay_night_unlimited_blade_works-00-lancer-gae_bolg-spear-armor-power_up-looking_back-fight-light fate_stay_night_unlimited_blade_works-00-archer-servant-serious-relaxing-broken_furniture-what_an_entrance

 

Undecided:

Nothing here, which means…

 

Dropped:

Terra Formars

terra_formars-01-censored-shadow-light-cant_see_whats_going_onWhat’s the point?

 

Denki-Gai no Honya-san

denki_gai_no_honya_san-01-umio-hentai-porn-erotic_manga-glasses-popsicle-boobsDenki-Gai no Honya-san is a simple anime about a normal teenage who inherits super magical powers has the love of his life fall on him from the sky discovers an ancient mecha robot that can finally defeat the aliens gets a part-time job at a manga store with a bunch of strange girls. It’s supposed to be a comedy centered around otaku or anime culture, but most of the humor was derived from the wacky character traits and not from the manga store. Sure, there were a few entertaining moments, like Sensei’s trip through the shrink wrap machine, but most of the humor was being a clumsy and shy girl, failing to meet a manga deadline and perverted or ecchi jokes. Been there, done that… and if I comedy isn’t going to entertain, what’s the point? The art style is nice, but it’s not really cute or charming since it makes these teenage girls look like their younger than the cast of Ichigo Mashimaro. Sensei was the only character to make me laugh, but she’s not strong enough to carry the show with on her own. And the manga shop setting was a distinguishing characteristic, but the first episode failed to utilize it to its advantage. Denki-Gai no Honya-san isn’t really worth it, especially with better comedies on the horizon.

denki_gai_no_honya_san-01-sensei-mangaka-deadline-crying-glasses-stressed-cute-blush denki_gai_no_honya_san-01-hio-fu_girl-cosplay-magical_girl-cameras

 

Madan no Ou to Vanadis

madan_no_ou_to_vanadis-01-ellen-silver_meteor-leader-white_hair-happyThere were some positives to Madan no Ou to Vanadis, but not enough to outweigh the negatives. The anime has a pretty appealing fantasy setting, which is what attracted me to this anime in the first place, and I enjoyed learning about the world and seeing the dynamics within Ellenora’s domain. But besides that… I think my initial thoughts on this anime would suffice, “[v]ery standard, very generic, very boring and not worth my time.” The art was substandard, the characters were one-dimensional, and the story uninteresting. At no time did I feel particularly interested, and the harem set-up and forced fanservice felt like cheap hooks as an attempt to develop an audience. Tigre was remarkably lackluster, and Ellen felt robotic, not even diplomatic, in her approach to Tigre, the man she’s supposedly in love with. And I don’t see the anime improving any time soon, especially as the harem develops and the number of ecchi scenes skyrockets over the next few episodes. If I can’t find a single reason for watching an anime, what’s the point? Dropped.

madan_no_ou_to_vanadis-01-tigre-alsace-archer-bland-boring-surprised madan_no_ou_to_vanadis-01-ellen-bathing-naked-fanservice-ecchi-white_hair-pose

 

World Trigger

world_trigger-01-yuuma-boringBack in my preview for the Autumn 2014 anime season, I originally tagged this anime as a generic shounen anime. Now, after watching the first episode, I feel the need to apologize to generic shounen anime; at least generic shounen anime have decent characters and satisfying action. World Trigger couldn’t even meet those needs, not by a long shot. The first episode was a complete waste, never getting better than tedious and unpleasant, and only telling me a story I’ve heard a thousand times before from better anime. The two main characters were unlikable and failed to exhibit anything that resembled a personality, and I would probably use the same words to describe the setting, too. I found nothing of value in this first anime, and have no plans of even finishing the first episode. Again, I ask the same question that I’ve asked the previous three anime: what’s the point? If there’s nothing there to make this anime worth watching, what’s the point?

world_trigger-01-osamu-glasses-boring world_trigger-01-yuuma-ring-unhappy-boring

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  1. #1 by Antony on October 6, 2014 - 4:43 AM

    “The art style is nice, but it’s not really cute or charming since it makes these teenage girls look like their younger than the cast of Ichigo Mashimaro”

    That was pretty much my problem with Denki-Gai. A workplace setting looked like a good change from the serried ranks of high school shows, but when the characters look far too young to have jobs that just spoils it.

    • #2 by avvesione on October 6, 2014 - 11:16 AM

      The art style would’ve been ideal for a school anime or something, but it just doesn’t work here in this setting. Just look at this and compare it to Servant x Service or Working which both had great art styles for a workplace comedy.

  2. #3 by Flawfinder on October 6, 2014 - 7:57 AM

    I think this is the most anime I’ve ever seen you drop in one of these posts.

    • #4 by avvesione on October 6, 2014 - 11:18 AM

      Are we counting Terra Formars as a real one? Because it kinda feels like cheating when I only wrote 3 words for it.

      • #5 by Flawfinder on October 6, 2014 - 11:34 AM

        I am. If you’re not going to count it, why bother writing anything for it?

        • #6 by avvesione on October 6, 2014 - 11:40 AM

          Well, it was originally intended to be a joke more than anything, but there is some truth to it, especially if all the good parts of the anime are going to be heavily censored like that.

          I suppose you’re right; it should count since it does sum up everything I have to say about Terra Formars.

  3. #7 by Zammael on October 8, 2014 - 4:50 PM

    FSN UBW may be the first anime I’ll watch this year after Kill la Kill ended its run, but I’m afraid a few things will prevent me from really enjoying it on its terms:
    Tohsaka Rin is a classic pandering character. There weren’t any in F/Z. Moreover since the main characters in this show are high school students this slots the franchise in the Shounen genre, as opposed to the adult protagonists of F/Z, which forced it into mature themes, and slotting the prequel in the seinen genre.

    Hopefully the personalities among the servants and masters will be just as distinct as those in F/Z.

    I can deal with the moe fetishizing and the GAR, as long it’s executed properly.

    • #8 by avvesione on October 8, 2014 - 7:31 PM

      Really? FSN UBW is the first anime you’ll have watched all year besides KLK? Did you try Ping Pong at the very least?

      As for your concerns, I can’t really comment on them too much since I still haven’t seen F/Z. Rather, I’ve heard from fans of the franchise that UBW is a solid route and should affect the characters differently. I’m not sure exactly how that will reflect in Rin’s character, but she’ll be different than from the original FSN. As for the shounen/seinen comment, there’s not much I can add, though I would expect that given the budget of Ufotable, that your concerns over its demographics will be somewhat muted given its team of writers, directors and animators.

      Then again, it’s hard for me to say because I don’t know where you’re coming from, but it still should be one of the best anime of the year.

      • #9 by Zammael on October 17, 2014 - 11:22 PM

        I have Ping Pong on my portable, but haven’t watched it yet. Heard a lot of positive things about it, but I guess I was burned out in a bad way and didn’t want to make another investment.

        I’m still shocked that you haven’t seen Fate Zero. It’s practically Urobuchi’s best work, and it doesn’t seem like we will see any of that for a long time (given the dreck Gargantia and Aldnoah Zero ended up).

        Also, being the best in a weak year is just low hanging fruit. :(

        • #10 by avvesione on October 18, 2014 - 12:31 PM

          You should definitely watch Ping Pong. You’ll absolutely love it.

          The reason why I never watched F/Z when it aired is that I wanted to play FSN first or watch the original anime, but…. yeah, I never got around to doing either. I’ll likely go back and watch F/Z after finishing FSN: UBW.

          Also, regarding Gargantia and Aldnoah… I wouldn’t necessarily call them dreck, though I believe both shows could’ve been better. I think Urobuchi’s contribution to both shows are more than enough, especially with him establishing the setting and scenario (both of which are outstanding). I believe there were deficiencies elsewhere that get placed on Urobuchi because he’s the only name we know in those shows. To put it simply… I think Urobuchi gets too much credit and too much blame for his shows. He’s one of the best writers in anime right now, and his name carries significant weight, but I think the opinions of him are too extreme at this point, especially when most fans don’t know even a fraction of what’s going on with each of these anime.

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