Panther’s Summer Anime Season Breakdown

12 Jul , 2014,
Panther
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Leone

 

So, after my anime season preview, which anime series lived up to their expectations, and which did not? Of the ones I chose, which ones would be worth keeping? Will they even pass the 3-episode test? It is now time to find out.

Just a disclaimer – I obviously do not watch every show in a season, and I do not intend for this post to be anything other than my own opinions of how I think they went. You might like a show I dislike for example, or picked up something that you preferred over something that I wrote about here. So, this is more for those who have actually watched the shows, or those who are thinking of picking up the shows I mentioned, and seeing if they match up to what I said they would likely be. Again, that is from my own point of view, so take it as you will.

The 3-episode test, by the way, is a standard of measure for series for many. Basically, the anime has to keep you interested enough to continue watching it past 3 episodes, and I have found this to be a good gauge on most (but not all) occasions.

Series are listed in terms of tier ratings, following in a descending order, S, then A, then B and so on. An S-ranked show is quite likely to be an excellent show for me, but my tastes could very well be different from yours. Some of the shows only had 1 episode aired, while some have two. The number of episodes aired thus far will be listed beside the anime title. Screenshots are taken directly from the episodes themselves.

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S Tier

Aldnoah.ZERO

 

Aldnoah.ZERO (1)

Airing on Saturday nights in Japan, Aldnoah.ZERO is the story of the discovery of a hypergate on the Moon in 1972. Immigrants to Mars via this hypergate discovered the ancient remnants of a lost civilization 30,000 years past, and promptly used it to proclaim themselves different and superior to the Earthlings. The division led to a war that saw the destruction of the Moon and the hypergate. 15 years after that event, a princess of the Martian Vers Empire makes a goodwill visit to Earth in an attempt to repair the torn relations, but ends up being assassinated. Determined to take revenge, but even more so to take over Earth, the birthplace of their fathers, the Orbital Knights of the Martian empire begin their invasion of Earth, with little to stop them except the egos of the other Knights.

The first episode was nothing short of Urobutcher goodness. The princess died not in a hail of fire but one of pinpoint precision missiles en route to her destination on Earth. The animation was also fantastic when it came to the Orbital Knights descending upon Earth – above, you see New Orleans right before it gets decimated in a fireball reminiscent of what would happen if an asteroid dropped from space…which is not too far from the truth in this case. The plot and its background was given to us in various scenes throughout the episode, but not done in a way that seemed disjointed. In short, it was excellent.

I have great faith in Urobutcher and what I know of his works, and the first episode showed that there will be even more bloodshed and grimness to come, along with lots of possible mecha action and the like. Be prepared if you go into this show – it will not be nice, though in a good way, if you get what I mean.

 

Zankyou no Terror

 

Zankyou no Terror
Terror in Resonance (1)

Crimson has already done up a preview for this, so I will not go into further details as he has already watched an episode ahead of me. All I can say is that the first episode has left me wanting more, and this anime certainly goes down a route which few has gone in a way that might just be unimaginably large. This will likely end up being one of the definitive shows of this summer season.

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A Tier

Kuroi Kobushi

 

Tokyo ESP (1)

A girl named Urushiba Rinka follows a fish she sees to the top of a tower only to find more fishes, and when one passes through her, she discovers she has the ability to pass through objects. Meeting others like herself who have gained special powers, they cannot sit still, and form a vigilante group to keep law and order in Tokyo.

That was precisely what I was expecting out of the first episode, so color me extremely surprised when they dropped right into the action. The first episode had none of that. It was more like a Japanese version of X-men instead, with the espers going up against one another, and a move on the parliament itself. There was not just a lot of action, there were a lot of characters too. Further, there was no censorship to mar it like a series you will read about below, so it was all very well done.

The reason this goes into the A-tier category though was how the music seemed to drown out the speech at certain places, and how many things were just thrown at the viewer at once in the first episode. There were no less than 15 characters possibly introduced in various ways that might have an impact on the story in just the first episode alone, so that was hefty. Otherwise, I find this show to be a likely candidate as well to be a definitive show of the season. It will go on for 2 cours, so there is plenty of time to develop the material, and show us the good stuff.

 

Leone

 

Akame ga KILL! (1)

Barely making it into A-tier is Akame ga KILL!. The series follows a country boy, adept at fighting, who goes to the capital in search of fame and glory, that he might earn enough money to save his village from taxation and ruin. While there, he gets scammed of his money, and learns that the capital is actually a very corrupt place. He is “saved” by a girl of nobility, only to discover through the invasion of a group of assassins that she has actually killed his best friends who were supposed to meet up with him, torturing them slowly to death. He kills her, and subsequently gets forced to join the assassin group.

There was more humor than I thought there would be in the show, but they do not mince words, nor do they stop with the gore and the blood. The assassin group is like a group of vigilantes – where justice is unable to punish evil, evil shall punish evil instead. They kill those who are guilty, and that certainly sounds like something that has been done quite a few times. Still, the series’ humor, combined with its corrupt setting, makes for some good watching, and the only girl with nekomimi (猫耳; cat ears) this season is in it.

Akame ga KILL! is planned for 2 cours, and according to those who have read the manga, the first episode lived up to expectations, so it will likely be good enough to keep watching throughout. All is not fun and games in this show, but neither is it all blood and dark either.

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B Tier

Shirogane no Ishi: Argevollen

 

Shirogane no Ishi: Argevollen (2)
Silver Will: Argevollen

Argevollen, as it is better known by, has a rather generic plot. I liken it to a combination of Valkyria Chronicles‘ story, and the mecha action of Break Blade. They all have something in common – a war begins between a great power intent on conquering the smaller country for its resources and wealth, disguising it as a war of liberation. A young pilot disobeys orders from his commander while their unit starts retreating from the frontline in order to try and save civilians from being chased by enemy units. He fails spectacularly, but while trying to get the remaining civilian alive away from the battle, she unleashes a new type of mech that he is asked to pilot, one that might just change the tide of the battle in their favor.

While all too generic, they did show how Tokimune, our protagonist, failed to hit the enemy on his first try in Argevollen. The main reason was because he was trying to compensate for the slowness and the lag in his older mech type, but Argevollen moves just as you want it to. The creator of this series, as someone put it, “gets mechs”. The second episode also introduced a little variable that disallowed anyone but Tokimune to pilot the mech, dampening the series because of a rather cliche plot development, but otherwise, the mecha action has indeed been great. Tokimune is also definitively not good at piloting Argevollen – while he may be superior in technology, his inexperience as well as fighting ability makes him rely on teammates as well, which is a good thing for the series.

The third episode’s preview has its title as “One Man Army”. I am hoping it is not a reference to Tokimune becoming just like a one-man army, but I highly doubt he will get to that point because no war is won and fought alone by one man or mech, and Argevollen, despite its generic elements, does not seem to be going down that path. I will most likely finish this both for the mech action as well as the strategies and tactics used to fight the war. Oh, and the girls, all in all, probably have the best looks this season in every show I have watched so far. I mean, look at Suzushiro! None of the others are shabby either. That is some nice character design.

 

Fukami Touko

 

Glasslip (2)

There is something about slow, slice-of-life series that make or break them for me. Individual variations exist, but Glasslip seems to fall at the lower end of that spectrum. Fukami Touko (above) dreams of becoming a glass artisan, and has a group of close friends with a no-dating policy. A newcomer, Okikura Kakeru, appears before her and tells her that he came to meet her. Both apparently have the power to see or hear into the future.

Little else is really shown in the show thus far, but there are a lot of shots of scenery and the like, making it one of the more aesthetically pleasing shows of the season. P.A. Works is at least not disappointing in that area, and I must say, this would likely be quite golden as a show for people who love ones like these. There are a lot of romance problems involved, especially with the lifting of the no-dating policy in the second episode, so we will likely get to see just how the relationships between the tangled mess of folks here develop, and in what manner.

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C Tier

Magoichi Saika

 

Sengoku BASARA Judge End (1)

I really have nothing to say. The first episode left me more shocked than anything. The series was damned by the change in studio – the pacing and the art direction was seriously lacking compared to the first two seasons and the movie done by Madhouse. I have no idea why they changed studios, or why they even bothered to continue the series. Oh wait, money. Sengoku BASARA is pretty hot in various forms in Japan, owing much to its possible yaoi aspects and the overwhelmingly ridiculous action in the anime series thus far. Unfortunately, it has just gone down the drain.

Aside from bad pacing and art, the story is also different from the previous iteration, or rather, the story that led up to this point is different from the previous storyline. That was a bad move right from the start – I was coming into this wholly expecting them to continue after a recap of the end of movie. They also introduced two new characters, both women, one of whom is Magoichi Saika (above). I am fine with the introduction of new characters, but give me back my previously good action, art, and development please. This could easily be one of the worst upsets of the season; I am now unsure if I can even bring myself to finish it if it continues like this.

 

Kaneki Ken & Rize

 

Tokyo Ghoul (2)

Ghouls look like humans, but cannot survive without feasting on human flesh at least once a month. The appearance of a binge eater, Rize (mirror above), causes problems for both ghouls and humans alike, as she shatters the fragile fabric of co-existence between ghouls and humans. A freak accident kills her and leaves Kaneki Ken (also above) almost dead, and the surgeon in charge of the operation makes the decision to transfer Rize’s organs into him in order to save his life. It turns him into a ghoul instead. Now neither human nor ghoul, Kaneki must confront the horror of his new world, and find out more about the ghouls and humans if he is to continue his existence.

The story seems all well and good, but there were people already harping on the lack of quality in the first episode. I thought it was fine, but then I watched the second episode and I was like, “What are they doing?” The primary reason for this was the censorship. They had no real reason to keep censoring gore, blood, and the like, what with other shows mentioned above already doing it. Further, there was an entire scene in episode 2 where all the blood was changed to a different color, painting the entire scene in a way that Bakemonogatari once did. In that series though, it worked very well, and was a great artistic move for the show. Here? It was just gaudy eye candy that simply took away from the experience of the show. I am pretty sure a lot of people came for the blood and gore, and they would have been left feeling worse than disappointed at where this seems to be going.

In any case, whether or not I continue watching this boils down to the plot. With good material but bad execution, even a show can become little more than an existence denied by the diehard fans of the manga series, and Tokyo Ghoul might just go that way real soon, if it has not already done so.

 

Kasagi Shizuka

 

Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!? (1)
Invaders of the 6-Tatami-Mat Room!?

Invaders of the Rokujouma, as it is likely more known by, is supposed to be the gag comedy of the season. None of the humor in it has not been used before though. Satomi Koutarou moves into a new apartment with a floor size that of 6 tatami mats, which is a common way of measurement in Japan. He got it cheap for just 5,000 Yen a month, and he plans on keeping things cheap, so imagine all the ruckus that comes when a ghost, then a magical girl, an underground person, and an alien all show up and try to drive him out of his apartment! Invaders indeed.

Unfortunately the humor was a little forced at times, and really, none of it having not been done before meant that you would likely chuckle at the jokes, but nothing more than that. Some fanservice might be expected, but this is not really a fanservice show. The four invaders are voiced by new talent who are backed up by some stronger talent, and that is about it. Unless you seriously find the jokes funny, this one is likely to be dropped not long after you start it.

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F Tier

Momoko

 

Momo Kyun Sword (1)

That picture says it all. Incidentally, I have never seen a post on my Tumblr go beyond 1,000 notes before, but as of this writing, the post I made with this screenshot (warning: NSFW language) has garnered over 1,600 notes. Really, why would you start on it? I expected this, and I got it full-on. I wonder if I can even keep past the next episode, in fact.

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And there you have it, the results of my picks for the summer season. I would like to say that I did well, but really? Not really. At least, I am only following 10 shows this season, with 2 more continuing from the last season, for a total of 12. Most of them also air during the weekends too, which is helpful.