I thought about waiting another week to do sort of the halfway point, but I somehow imagine everything we’re seeing now from this season will be the same next week. With such a strong opening week or two, this season has kind of been a let down, predictably falling off after the second episode into a mushy paste. I suppose the summer can be one of the worst seasons for anime, like anything else summer, when it is too hot to want to bother. It also doesn’t help that I’ve been playing Firefall or entertaining the wife, so I suppose I am not paying attention as much.
Anyway, let’s try to slog our way through, ranked in order.
“Better than advice animals.”
Channeling everything we hold dear to GJ-bu, Jinsei has been the show of the season both in consistency and production. The sprinkling of rom-com does get strange in some places, but it executes it way better than most shows by keeping the premise simple without too much lingering around afterward. The introduction of CHALLENGERS that end up more like Gary Oaks than real rivals, spearheaded by the standard rich super-pervert, still manage not to crimp the show of its style and even manages to throw out a classic Double Dare episode for us. #2 Tokyo ESP
“Justice never hurt so good.”
If you recall my first week words:
I suppose where JC STAFF would suggest that a town full of espers can be a dull affair, except for those crazy religious people, XEBEC thought “We can do this, but we can put some REAL grit into it, like killing people, and discrimination, and Michael Bay explosions!” and thus Tokyo ESP was born. I guess I should have read some of the manga, because I was not quite prepared for that opening episode, at least not right away.
I read a review last night on the new Michael Bay TMNT film, and they likened the plot to a standard Batman or Spiderman plot, calling the story for the movie “recycled”. The very first issue of the 1984 TMNT comic depicts more of a story of deception, deceit, and plain murder. The origins of the Ninja Turtles have been muddled in adaptations and bad movies for thirty years. I have to imagine half of the people who reviewed the movie have no idea about the comics, or how the winter chase scene could easily be viewed as the scenes in Northampton depicted in the comics after The Shredder returns.
Tokyo ESP isn’t a unique entry in the field of humans with superpowers aiming to save or destroy the world. Where Raildex placed the dueling swords of magic and science on a rather level playing field, ESP jumps out of the gate and informs you that super-powered humans have no counter-balance but themselves, placing this story more on par with Marvel’s X-MEN. The Professor is sadly no Charles Xavier, but he is certainly fostering the Charles and Erik relationship in Kyoutarou and Minami, as one who believes in justice, and another who believes in order. Rinka, as the show’s Kitty Pryde, takes it upon herself to be the show’s center force, and it certainly shows in the prologue episodes.
I’m a pretty big X-MEN fan, so for this show to sort of pay homage to it in many ways as it attempts to fight on its own terms, I’m watching genuinely out of an interest to see what happens next. Especially since the X-MEN anime we got all those years ago was a pile of fucking garbage.#3 Shirogane no Ishi Argevollen
“The Little Robot Who Could”
If Aldnoah is to Argevollen what Transformers is to Pacific Rim, then it’s pretty obvious that we have to give Argevollen the step-up over the Michael Bay-like flash and bang Aldnoah provides. What cements this show for me are two things; One are the real robots, including Argevollen so far. I won’t go into a full explanation of why I prefer Real to Super, but the crux is when you’re in a story that features a land-war involving military armies, Supers just look silly. FMP was a great anime, but putting the magical blackbox bullshit in it killed the momentum that might’ve come from a real robot-to-robot fight of skill. The second, is the character relationship between the two main characters. They start out as Whiny McAngstBucket, and Four-Eyes NaivePants, but eventually work their ways up to their proper names of Susumu Tokimune and Jamie Hazaford, eventually coming in the recent episode to actually work together. Shows like this have to rely on good characters to move it forward, because robots are just robots. The reason I dislike the Transformers movies was that Bay seemed to be confused by the fact that he had humans in a movie about sentient robots. Eventually, all of the scenes in the movie were dominated by robots, explosions, or both. The humans were utterly useless, and I think it was the second or third movie where I concluded that you could have taken them all out of the movie, and it wouldn’t have impacted it in any way. Argevollen thankfully has no sentient robots, but if you were to take the robots away, it would affect the show rather significantly, because many of the characters are written around them pretty tightly.
Really though, I am in it just to see Samonji pull another combat trick out of his hat.#4 Aldnoah Zero
“Cool Hand Inaho”
If one of the points of ESP above was that normals couldn’t oppose superpowers, Aldnoah establishes quickly that superpowers are utterly useless when they’re science-based and not bullshit magic, when Completely Normal Kid A fucks up your fancy super robot in no time flat. It must be frustrating someone in Mars Robot Reseach and Development right now.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I can safely discard Valvrave at the door when watching this show. Not only has it avoided most of the pitfalls Valvrave made by too-closely associating with Gundam shows before it, it has mostly avoided the terrible characterizations that made Valvrave so difficult to take seriously. Apart from stoic Inaho, most of the characters here have little emotion to them, except for Marito, who is just LIKE IT WAS IN NAM all over the place, effectively becoming the show’s idea of Duck Dynasty’s Sai. Instead, we get more bang for our buck from the emotionally unstable Orbital Knights, who clearly have allowed their superior status to go to their heads. It’s a near-classic supervillain monologue at this point. Then there is Slaine. Poor, tortured Slaine. I’m not sure who he is trying to play here, the Princess’ bodyguard, or Athrun Zala, because he is failing at both.
But damn if I am not loving me some robots that aren’t Gundam this season.#5 Akame ga Kill
“Cool Bro Bulat”
When your most recent comparison to this show’s format is an over-hyped SHAFT show, it can place an artificial stigma on what Akame ga Kill hopes to achieve in a better-framed worldspace. For one, it’s based on a manga and not music, so it should damn well be putting at least two-thirds more effort in from the start. The problem is, for even being as bloodied and gritty as it opened up with, before it could really explore the depths of that hell, it snaps back to this “We’re all friendz, guyz” with emphasis on the Z, because you’re edgy and cool, like girls who spell “Claire” as “Clayr” because your parents obviously had shit taste in naming you.
The problem with AgK lies solely in Tatsumi. He clearly isn’t to be fucked with when it comes to being a swordsman, but he is simply a dimwit. He is a dimwit that happens to be good with a sword, much the way Sheele explained her backstory in the most recent episode. It’s exactly the fact that he is a Plain Jane that drags this show down several pegs from where it should be. Then they had to go and offer some strawgrasp of a thought that relics could bring his useless friends back to life. All that did was prove that he is utterly useless to this entire show. It can literally go on without him.
But unlike SHAFT’s artsy-fartsy attempt at making a Power Rangers, I quite enjoy AgK, because the meat-stuffing disgusting prime minster makes for a compelling antagonist, and may set this show up for some fun later on if they don’t go full retard on us. So I’m sticking with it.#6 Rokujouma no Shinryakusha
“You call down the thunder, and I’ll deal with it”
Truth be told, I am actually enjoying Rokujouma, but stacked against the rest of the season, it couldn’t very well be placed at the top, but definitely above Rail Wars. Rokujouma brings back a quality that only Tenchi Muyo! can easily surpass, and that is running the borderline-harem against a cast of otherworldly maidens all indirectly vying for his personal space, in this case, an apartment. That said, it’s not perfect by any means, suffering from being a bit episodic early on. I’m not sure if that was meant to feel out where they wanted to take the show, or just to allow the characters to gel together. I’m pretty sure the end goal though is for viewers to just sit around the table at Denny’s and argue who is the best girl, or whatever it is we neckbeards do these days. #7 Rail Wars
“LONG TRAIN RUNNING”
Rail Wars started out as a promising idea, kids working for the ultra-nationalized rail company, fighting terrorists trying to pick them apart and privatize. Too bad we don’t have that sort of thing here in the US…
I have a bad habit of watching this show and thinking about what it would’ve been like if all CL&P employees went around during the 2011 Week of Fuckery saying things like “The customer is the most important person!” as they continue to blame the fact they don’t have enough money to do tree-trimming around the state to prevent them from falling on wires, you know, the primary cause of our slumming it for a week like a third-world country. This show suffers from a lot of national-thumping pride without any real substance to it. Yes, we know they’re JNR employees, and yes, we know that the safety of the passengers comes first, but why? Because you actually care about them, or because their pockets are filled with disposable currency that pays your paycheck? Rail Wars instead just skirts along another track (ha) where the show is a light rom-com centered around Naoto’s train harem with little else. Does anyone even remember Shou? You know, the guy with the jacket? We should have only expected so much from a novel adaptation, in the end. The most recent episode pretty much solidified the cheesy rom-com in Haruka’s past encounter with Naoto, not that it was terribly obvious from the start.#8 Himegoto
“A four minute strip.”
Himegoto is exactly what you pay for, four minutes of crossdressing humor that only RuPaul and Tumblr would appreciate. That said, it does have some tidbits of fun in each episode that work, but given the short time span, it tends to come and go. That in itself is not a bad thing really, because if they were full episodes, the joke would have been beaten and dead four episodes ago. Because we get it, he is a guy, dressed in girl’s clothes. It’s like being told every episode that Spongebob Squarepants lives at the bottom of the sea, or web comic artists having dedicated pages for NEW READERS. Let them figure it out themselves. #9 Hanayamata
“Footloose does not come to mind here.”
I’m actually a few episodes behind on this, but the show is doing a masterful job of teetering on the edge of my watch list. Its premise is nothing particularly useful, but it does spark a certain cuteness to it. I’m not sure if this show is because Golden Time’s whole dance thing was popular, or they’re just spinning anything into a show at this point. I’ll give the other episodes a watch before I determine this one’s future eligibility.
And now we come to the two shows that will not be joining me for tea next week.#10 Sabagebu
“Not in my state.”
The point of a show like Chunnibiyou is that the delusion is wrought with a sense of irony, that she isn’t actually delusional on purpose, she is delusional because she has chosen to reject reality. Sabagebu on the other hand trivializes delusion and tries to make a cheap comedy of it, off the back of something that most people in my state would find morally reprehensible, that being guns. Now I don’t give a shit what hippie liberals who live here think about guns, but rather I am disappointed by the fact that this show is obviously trying to rip off Stella C3 without at least being serious about the craft. Where C3 depicts serious airsoft players and how super cereal they are about their hobby, Sabagebu thought “Well these girls like airsoft too, so they just run around all day showing them off like fashion accessories, that’s what die-hard fans are like, right?”
Now I am not an airsoft player, but where this fits for me was playing the Star Wars RPG game sixteen years ago in the Scouts, when I still lived in the Midwest. Our troop was largely divided by age, the older kids being a unit and the younger kids being a unit. Our thing to do on camping trips was play tabletop roleplaying, introduced to us by older guys when we were the younger units. We ran our own games, either pre-fab from books, or written beforehand. We adhered to all of the rules, but we relaxed the ammo rules a bit for weapons that required them, because it took too long to reconcile that shit often. Most of us played characters that were not Jedi, like bounty hunters, monsters, or droids. Our adventures always started in bars, and always ended with someone blowing up a parked vehicle, or in one guy’s character, eating a parked vehicle. It always promised to be a good time. I had a pretty good ship-building business going with one character by the end of my time with that troop.
But the younger kids we tried to invite a few of to games started to just fuck it up for everyone else. With Episode One having come out not that long before, every kid wanted to be Anakin Skywalker, or have some kind of crazy powers that made him invincible and able to win everything. We’d end up with one kid being upset because he got creamed by a Stormtrooper, or another upset because they can’t forcechoke the entire room for the fun of it. It was like having your five-year-old brother in the room kicking and screaming because you didn’t let him win at Mario Kart, despite the fact that he spent the entire race in the wall next to the start line. Eventually we made them all run their own games on their own side of camp, and by our observations, it was like playing a game where every kid had the golden gun from Goldeneye and they never got through a single campaign. Or, in modern terms, World of Fucking Warcraft.
That is Sabagebu for me. Fucking 1998 all over again. But man, I do miss those days. I have not seriously tabletop roleplayed since.#11 Glasslip
There aren’t many words to put down for this. It was a vapid attempt to be like AnoHana, and it plays like AnoHana with maybe a third-less drama. I thought maybe I could just appreciate the slower pace and assortment of characters, but no one really jumps out as an exciting character to keep watching for, they’re all devoid of anything interesting because by themselves, they are nothing. Only together are they something, but not something worth batting home over. At least Sabagebu had some character heft to it, even if the plot was full of holes.
Also, I started to write a full post about this, but instead figured I’d slap it in here. I imagine a number of you folks have seen this article floating around about the Japanese government launching a new initiative to crack down on anime piracy. I have no idea which sites are being targeted, but I have to imagine Nyaa, TT, and Piratebay are probably among them. How much of an impact will it have? No idea. I don’t dwell on MAL or any other popular anime forum. I doubt it will curtail much, because their efforts to give a shit about dirty gaijin are about as fruitful as their attempts to remind their male population that procreation sustains a working population. I personally have determined that if modern fansubbing and acquisition methods were to disappear tomorrow, I am exiting the anime fandom and this blog. For me, it’s not because I condone the act of being a dirty pirate, or suggest the industry is full of greedy money-grubbers, it’s the fact that I believe the western anime scene came to be thanks to the efforts of thousands of people over the past thirty years or so who have brought anime over and released it for free just to get it out there. I don’t want to go to a restrictive service like CR where all I can do is watch, I prefer full unaltered access to shows, RAWs if I need them, and extras if I want them. I want to be able to save the shows I like to watch again. I’ll pay for these things, but no one offers a service like this. I am not interested in physical media, I want something like Steam and Netflix married together, allowing me to watch new shows, and purchase the ability to watch archived content by title in the future. I know virtual libraries can be taken away, but considering how often I watch what DVDs I still own, I think I won’t care by that point, or I find a means to watch it again somehow.