Autumn 2014 – First Impressions (Part 2)

gugure_kokkuri_san-01-kohina-ramen-eating-chibi-looking_upThis post reviews: Magic Kaito 1412, Cross Ange, Sora no Method, Grisaia no Kajitsu, Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis, and Gugure! Kokkuri-san.

As I expected, it looks to be another busy season with a number of shows meeting or exceeding my expectations. This post will give you an idea of the predicament I am facing, and the fact that I may need to drop decent anime to manage everything this autumn.

 

Watching:

Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis

shingeki_no_bahamut_genesis-01-amira-transformation-demon-horns-blue_fire-pink_hairShingeki no Bahamut: Genesis is an anime with an undeniably distinctive and appreciated personality. Not only does the anime look original, but it feels innovative too, in its writing, characters and setting. The picturesque fantasy backgrounds, both interiors and landscapes, are marvelous, and it’s the perfect backdrop for a story about bounty hunters, demon summoning, and the ability to turn criminals into cards for whatever reason. Favaro is a remarkable protagonist, and the other characters introduced thus far are pretty decent, too, though not on the same level as our hero right now. The story is a little thin at this point, which isn’t abnormal, and there’s certain to be more as the introduction blatantly told us there’ll be an ambitious battle at the end with a massive dragon. Call it a hunch, but I’m guessing the dragon’s name is Fluffy Hugs. Bahamut is my second guess. The mature art style, especially the character designs, are strangely appealing to me and help the anime step apart, and step above, most of the other anime this season. After one episode, my primary curiosities are about how well these characters will be developed, how interesting or engaging the story will be, and if the animation can remain this superb throughout. However, those are details for down the road and my decision right now is one of the simplest of the season. Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis will likely be one of the best anime this season, and I am thrilled to be watching it this autumn.

shingeki_no_bahamut_genesis-01-kaisar-bounty_hunter-handsome-smile-poor-unlucky shingeki_no_bahamut_genesis-01-favaro-hero-protagonist-bounty_hunter-smile-smug-looking_down-red_hair-afro

 

Gugure! Kokkuri-san

gugure_kokkuri_san-01-kohina-chibi-reaction-surprised-cute-comedy-dollYou know an anime is effective when in the middle of it, I stop and ponder the compulsory question, “when was the last time I watched a pure comedy that was this good?” The answer? Well, we’ll have to wait and see how Gugure! Kokkuri-san performs throughout the season, but if this delightful anime is anywhere near the comic genius that this episode demonstrated, Kokkuri-san will quickly be one of my favorite pure comedies of all-time. And considering that comedy is my favorite genre, that’s quite an accomplishment. What makes this anime outstanding compared to the other comedies this season is how well it presents its characters, how it manages its chemistry between Kohina and Kokkuri and how everything feels balanced. No one character dominates the humor at this point, which is often what happens in comedy anime with a manzai style. What helps is that the roles are fluid in Kokkuri-san; Kohina and Kokkuri alternate between the roles of tsukkomi and boke frequently, so the humor is not controlled by one character and each scene feels fresh and humorous. It keeps you guessing and helps prevent the show from being saturated by one character and their brand of entertainment. It also helps that the jokes are well written and that the director of the anime is bringing them to life through ideal timing and seamless delivery. Furthermore, the art is adorable and endearing, especially with Kohina as a chibi character most of the time. It kinda reminds me of Kill Me Baby which might be the best thing I can say about this anime at this point. This is a no-brainer for me this season, and I passionately recommend that everyone give this anime a chance.

gugure_kokkuri_san-01-kokkuri-fox_spirit-ghost-disappointed gugure_kokkuri_san-01-kohina-normal_artwork-sad-depressed-alone-cute-ramen

 

Undecided:

Magic Kaito 1412

magic_kaito_1412-01-kaito-kaito_kid-phantom_thief-disguise-gun-monocle-top_hat-capeOf the four anime in this category, Magic Kaito 1412 is the most likely to be dropped. The reason why it hasn’t been dropped yet is because the first episode felt unique compared to what the rest of the series will be. This episode did well in establishing the characters, introducing the story, and creating a motive for Kaito. The rest of the series, however, will likely be adventures-of-the-week where Kaito must steal something or do something as he inches closer to his mysterious father’s death (despite the fact that the shadowy figure he saw at the end is probably his father). And while this episode content works well for shows like Lupin III or Detective Conan, two shows that I’ve enjoyed, it feels like it will be hit-or-miss with this show. Sure, the first episode was fun and I am fond of the cast… but that’s about it. In fact, my least favorite part was the theft at the end since it felt very predictable and methodical. And based on my impressions of Magic Kaito 1412 thus far, that’s what I’m expecting the series to be for the majority of its duration. The reason why Magic Kaito 1412 hasn’t been dropped yet is that I want to confirm my suspicions by watching the second episode. There’s always the possibility that I’m wrong about this anime, and I believe it deserves a fair chance after having a respectable first episode. Another feeling I have with Magic Kaito 1412 is that if I had more time to watch anime this season, then I wouldn’t be having this internal debate. Unfortunately, one of the problems with watching so many anime is the necessary task of budgeting my time appropriately and dropping good anime that I don’t think I’ll enjoy as much as the others. For now, Magic Kaito 1412 is one of those anime, but it has a chance to prove itself with one more episode.

magic_kaito_1412-01-ginzo-detective-pipe_smoking-police magic_kaito_1412-01-aoko-childhood_friend-classmate-playful-tomboy-fish-mischievous

 

Cross Ange

cross_ange-01-angelize-princess-parade-wave-birthday-gown-happy-wavingSunrise employee #1: “Say, you know what… Geass is popular. Valvrave is popular. And porn is popular. You know what I’m thinking?…”

Sunrise employee #2: “…go on…”

Sunrise employee #1: “I’m thinking we should combine all three together and make the most popular anime ever! And we can call it ‘Gea Rave Porn’!”

Sunrise employee #2: “I. LOVE. IT! Not the name… but the idea. The concept. The money that we’ll be showering in. Oh, and let’s add dragons. Everyone loves dragons, right?”

Sunrise employee #1: “Oh my God, this is going to be amazing! Everyone is going to love this anime. I don’t see how anything could possibly go wrong.”

Well… there’s quite a bit wrong with Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo. For starters, the anime is over-the-top, but not in the good way. Previous Sunrise anime like Code Geass and Kakumeiki Valvrave were over-the-top in a silly and pointless way, and it helped make these shows ridiculous and fun. They added to the enjoyment of these anime and helped make those shows memorable. Cross Ange is over-the-top, too, but not in the same context. Rather than being silly with its setting and characters, Cross Ange is over-the-top in its melodrama, and this causes the anime to feel strained and uncomfortable. The anime desperately wants to be edgy and in-your-face, but it doesn’t know how. Cross Ange thinks that stripping nude and violating the former princess Angelize will build context to her story and develop her character through the harsh reality of their world. But there are hundreds of better ways of doing this through legitimate forms of drama, especially since that embarrassing scene only accomplished showing us how far she’s fallen as a character. Except it didn’t… and it didn’t add anything of value or help establish how the world is shit which was already sufficiently accomplished with the military police taking the norma baby away or the death of Angelize’s mother. In fact, this over-the-top melodrama had the opposite effect with me, as I found a number of these scenes to be hilarious… as in hilariously bad. So then why hasn’t the anime been dropped yet?

cross_ange-01-julio-prince-antagonist-villain-laughing cross_ange-01-sylvia-princess-handicap-wheelchair-blonde_hair-not_nunnally_but_close

The reason why I’m continuing Cross Ange, for now, is that I want to see where Cross Ange goes from here. This first episode was spent exclusively on establishing the setting, Ange’s great demise, and hinting that future episodes will promise gorgeous mecha battles (fanservice) against dragons (fanservice) while sexy heroines (fanservice) wear skimpy outfits that maximize their cleavage and highlight their asses (I’m not sure but that might be fanservice, too). The first episode is barely a representation of the series as a whole as we’ve only seen one character, Ange. The majority of the cast for the majority of the story was stranded on this island – probably posing nude or bathing or interlocked in sexual poses the whole time – so we really can’t critique the cast besides Ange and maybe her maid, Momoka. Currently, the story of the anime, presumptively Ange’s growth as a character and involving her experiences learning about the normas, their oppressed lives and the world in which they live, actually sounds like a pretty solid story. In fact, if this happens, Cross Ange might have one of my favorite stories of the year since I’m fond of stories like that. So with that in mind, I doubt the first episode really represents the series moving forward. It is important to note, however, that the series will still contain too much of over-the-top melodrama, which I ranted about in the above paragraph. Another concern with this anime that we saw in the first episode and is likely to persist in the series is the ecchi fanservice. Sometimes, ecchi fanservice can be a dealbreaker for me, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as some of the other anime I’ve watched or blogged. And that’s one thing I’ll give the anime credit for… it knows it wants to be ecchi and isn’t hiding it. It’s shameless in how it includes boobs and panties in every scene… and I was fine with that for the entire first episode until the princess was raped at the end. Also, I think we have enough evidence that the the art, animation and music will be well above-average for Cross Ange.

What I need to see from the second episode of Cross Ange is there to be some progress and some value to the anime. I want Cross Ange to start building up Ange’s character, to introduce the cast of other normas who pilot these mecha, and for the anime to tone down its edgy, in-your-face attitude. I can live with ecchi fanservice and can tolerate mild amounts of melodrama, but I want to see the anime move in a positive direction with episode two. I am fairly confidence and optimistic about the anime moving forward, and I anticipate picking it up for good soon, but I felt the need to voice my concerns, especially since they’ll be the foundation for my rational for dropping this anime if it fails to improve.

cross_ange-01-momoka-maid-surprised-shocked-panic-cute cross_ange-01-ange-norma-torn_clothes-strip-boobs-ecchi-fanservice-blood-prison

 

Sora no Method

sora_no_method-01-noel-blue_hair-dirty-excited-happy-friendship-moeSora no Method had a solid first episode, but it ended up here due to one primary cause. The issue with Sora no Method at this point is that is lacks substance and purpose. Then again, just about every other anime does, but Sora no Method failed to establish what the series will eventually be about. Every other aspect of this anime is a strong positive – from the art, to the characters, to the setting. In fact, there’s already a lengthy list of reasons on why I want to continue watching this anime since I enjoyed the first episode throughout. But right now, I don’t really see any material or any meaning to what’s going on thus far, and I’m questioning whether the positive I’ve seen can carry this anime for an entire series. I know that as we continue, we’ll eventually get a substance and a story, but I can’t say that I’m entirely enthused with what’s transpired thus far and what the plot of this anime might be. I’ll likely end up keeping this anime based on the positives everywhere else, especially with the magnificent backgrounds, the charming cast of characters, the intriguing setting, and the cute art style. However, this anime could eventually be dropped if the story is uninteresting or tedious and I run into issues of budgeting my time every week, especially if there are better ‘Undecideds’ as more of these new anime debut this week.

sora_no_method-01-nonoka-noel-pout-fume-grumpy-cute-moe sora_no_method-01-koharu-smile-friendly-water-slow-clumsy-moe

 

Grisaia no Kajitsu

grisaia_no_kajitsu-01-amane-looking_down-dark_secret-mysterious-serious-red_hair-cherryI’m not a tsundere (at least, I don’t think I am), but I have conflicting and contrasting feelings about this anime after one episode. Part of me was seriously awestruck with Grisaia no Kajitsu while the other half was severely disappointed. I am extremely impressed with the visuals of this anime, especially with its cinematography, its use of soft light, and its animation. Michiru’s introduction completely blew me away with how well it was animated and how we saw her energy visually and how alive her character was. That sequence of brilliant animation and cute reactions were almost enough to convince me to keep this anime, and I’m hoping we continue to see scenes like that with her character in every episode. The cinematography was encouraging with its shot selection, keeping the visuals in many of the scenes diverse, utilizing a number of different angles and making the anime more than just talking anime faces. The ecchi fanservice wasn’t bad either, though you always wonder if it’ll increase or decreases as the series progresses. To summarize, the sights and sounds of this anime are reason enough for me to pick up this anime, but the other half of me, the one that evaluates the content and meaning of the anime, strongly disagrees. The other half was dissatisfied with the substance of this first episode and discouraged by its cast. The story of the episode failed to excite me since it was comprised entirely of clichéd character introductions. The story should improve, but the first episode failed to impress me here. The character themselves all seem very primary and flat at this point, though the final minute hinted some degree of complexity or depth with each of the girls displaying some hint to the deep, dark secrets they’re hiding. Still, it doesn’t help that each girl is just one of the five standard archetypes of almost every eroge’s harem and that the main character is devoid of any quality. Then again, this anime is based off a successful eroge, so I suppose I can’t fault the anime too much here. Still, there are a number of faults with Grisaia no Kajitsu, and I want to see how the anime improves upon these areas before committing to this anime for good. For now, Grisaia no Kajitsu is here, but it stands a decent chance of being picked up if it manages to stimulate my brain rather than my eyes and ears.

grisaia_no_kajitsu-01-yumiko-kuudere-calm-quiet-mysterious-alone-purple_hair-grape grisaia_no_kajitsu-01-michiru-tsundere-blonde-twintails-chibi-yelling-shark_teeth-cute-comedy-lemon

 

Dropped:

Nothing was dropped from this list, though that should change after I finish watching the first episodes of everything this season and decide which needs to be cut.

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  1. #1 by Dima Mayakovsky on October 8, 2014 - 5:58 PM

    Did you know that Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis is based off of a social card game? Lol

    • #2 by avvesione on October 8, 2014 - 7:33 PM

      Yup, and I mentioned it as one of my concerns in my Season Preview. I don’t know how they’re planning on incorporating all the cards, or if they even plan on doing it, but it also means the story is original and that’s usually a positive indicator of success when compared to adaptions.

      Also, it’s worth noting that Sengoku Collection is also based off a social card game and that was my favorite anime of 2012.

  2. #3 by Rocco B on October 9, 2014 - 2:20 AM

    Cross ange, I thought wasn’t that bad. It certainly deserves a chance at least – just like valvrave did. It certainly is trying to be edgy, when they did that rape scene from Valvrave, which springs to mind. Kaito I thoroughly enjoyed. As something that isn’t too heavy, it makes a nice casual watch. Ginzo is hilarious, “8 years. 7 months and 26 weeks” and he still couldn’t catch Kaito!. Getting in to Conan however is a completely different story (over 700 episodes).

    • #4 by avvesione on October 13, 2014 - 6:58 PM

      Yeah, Cross Ange reminded me a lot of Valvrave too, and the rape scene came to mind during the end of the first episode Cross Ange with Ange being violated.

      As for Kaito, I wouldn’t mind continuing it, but the second episode failed to inspire me like the first, and I am going to drop it due to a lack of time this season. I’m glad to hear you enjoy it and I hope you do so for the rest of the season!

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