In which one show has a troublesome fall from grace.
1. Nagi no Asukara
I found the conclusion of Nagi no Asukara to be largely satisfying with a few small issues preventing it from being a great ending. On the plus side, Miuna wasn’t simply left to be the sacrifice as I had feared but instead was saved from that fate by Hikari in one of the better scenes from the entire show. I thought the emotion of the scene was conveyed effectively and the who sequence was on theme with the show’s overall message regarding the value of love. There were a few questionable choices following that, particularly how the whole hibernation of the residents of Shioshihio was resolved. I guess it works but it wasn’t exactly a strong conclusion to what was arguably a very important plot point. Overall the finale did what it needed to but only barely.
Regarding the show as a whole, Nagi at its best is among the best anime in recent memory. The character writing was superb and the emotional potency of the show was quite strong. On the other hand, the show had a habit of getting bogged down in minutiae and a number of plot points were addressed in a questionable manner or completely left hanging. It’s certainly not Mari Okada’s best work and I would say that it’s clearly inferior to Hanasaku Iroha, her other 26-episode anime original series with PA Works, but it’s still better than almost everything else out there and is probably my favorite series from this past season.
Final Verdict: 7/10
2. Akuma no Riddle
Other than the difficulty in getting quality subtitles, Akuma no Riddle is off to a solid start. The first episode served largely as set up rather than having any real plot progression but it hit all the important points from the manga so I remain optimistic about the show as a whole. I thought the episode did a very good job of establishing Tokaku as the brooding, cynical assassin who doesn’t want anything to do with anybody else and contrasting that with Haru as the chipper, “wants to be friends with everyone” type. The dynamic between the two is probably the strongest part of the show thus far since we didn’t really get to see very much of the other characters. Visually, it’s fine although unspectacular. Diomedea doesn’t seem to be skimping here but it’s still Diomedea so expectations have to be tempered there. Still, a solid first episode from my most anticipated new show of the season.
3. Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei
One word: earsex. (Or is that two words? I don’t know what the rules are with these made-up portmanteaus) This show wasted no time getting straight to the harem-y plot points accompanied by more than a few incestuous comments and normally that would be a recipe for disaster but I find myself enjoying this show mostly because of its auditory qualities, and in particular the female VAs. Hayama Saori is quickly becoming one of my favorites with her soft, breathy voice that is very reminiscent of mid-2000s Noto Mamiko. In addition, Satou Satomi as Mizuki doing her Chitanda Eru/Tamura Manami voice gives us arguably the best two out there in terms of voicing soft-spoken characters (except maybe Hanazawa Kana, who is also in this show btw). Throw in Nakamura Yuuichi as Tatsuya and an OP by LiSA and you have a recipe for the auditory treat of the year. As for the actual show, I thought the dynamic being set up between the course 1 “blooms” and the course 2 “weeds” has some potential. I hope we get a reasonable explanation of why Tatsuya is in course 2 when he appears to be fairly talented even compared to the other students in this supposedly prestigious academy. Clearly a lot of budget went into this show and I’m hoping the story can justify the amount of effort at work here.
4. Selector Infected WIXOSS
I get the feeling that a lot of people are going to try to pigeonhole WIXOSS by comparing it to other vaguely similar shows. It might be Black Rock Shooter because it’s Mari Okada writing a story about girls in despair. Or maybe it’s Madoka because it has cute girls using magic powers with sinister undertones lurking beneath the surface. Or maybe it’s just crap because it’s a show about a card game. I don’t feel that any of this is really fair to WIXOSS (pronounced “WE-cross” apparently) which seems to be unique enough that it should be allowed to stand on its own merits. The first episode didn’t offer up much in the way of answers as to where this anime original project may be going. Most of what’s going on is left up to the imagination as the viewer (and main character) doesn’t get much in the way of explanation as to the real story behind this mysterious card game. I did think it was a little amusing that the show refers to the “ideal self” as the “eternal girl” because apparently the most perfect thing out there is an eternally youthful girl. I’m not sure if this is a clever commentary on the typical male otaku fan out there or just a coincidence but it caught my attention.
5. Kiniro no Corda: Blue Sky
Kiniro no Corda is very reminiscent of your standard (good) visual novel adaptation with all the genders flipped. The first episode serves largely to introduce the (large) cast of male characters that Kanade will be interacting with and give the viewer an idea of which archetype each will be filling. It’s pretty by the book but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’m an avid fan of the male-targeted version of this type of show and there’s certainly some novelty in seeing all of the typical visual novel tropes that I’m intimately familiar with getting flipped for a reverse harem show. Still, I can’t see that novelty lasting too long and I’m not sure how well Blue Sky can stand on its own when that runs out. For now though, I enjoyed the first episode and I’m actually looking forward to next week’s episode which is more interest than I’ve had for any otome game adaptation in the past.
6. Space Dandy
It’s probably trite at this point to say that a finale was a microcosm of the entire show but I feel obligated to state that here with Space Dandy. The final episode sometimes made me laugh (Meow the otaku forsaking all 3D love) sometimes moved me with its storyline (QT’s love affair with the coffee machine) and sometimes threw out some head-scratching storyline/animation decisions (QT becoming enormous and throwing down with a giant robot). The episode wasn’t a stand out compared to the rest of the show for sure but it wasn’t the weakest by any means either. Overall, Space Dandy is a hard show to evaluate as a whole because of how varied its content was over the course of its run. The entirety of the show was well written and directed and its failings were almost entirely due to my personal taste rather than any objective technical flaws with the show. Despite this, it’s hard for me to give a high score to something with such a meandering plot (if you can even call it that) and such inconsistent style since the unevenness prevents me from developing any sort of attachment to Space Dandy as a whole. It struck me as a group of animators and writers that just wanted to try some things out more than anything which I can respect on a professional level but on a personal level the product bores me as often as it entertains me.
Final Verdict: 6/10
7. Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii
For a show whose title translates roughly as “The World is Still Beautiful” SoreSekai (I’m calling it this until told otherwise) sure seems to take place in a fairly grim world filled with subterfuge and criminal activity. Then again, that’s might be kind of the point here. I liked the first episode well enough although I did get more of a children’s show vibe from it than I’m used to from late night series. In particular, the villains just felt (pardon the word) cartoon-y. That, on its own, doesn’t doom a show but it isn’t exactly a good sign. The other bad news is that the first anime that came to mind to compare SoreSekai to was Fractale and we all know how that turned out. Still, I did say above in my WIXOSS recap that I wanted to avoid pigeonholing the show by comparing it directly to other shows and assuming it will play out the same way so I should probably extend SoreSekai the same courtesy and not judge it too harshly at this point.
8. Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou
I had previously read the first few chapters of the Kawaisou manga so I pretty much knew what to expect from this episode. The biggest new thing for me was I hadn’t realized how freaking creepy the main character comes off as while he’s effectively stalking Ritsu. It’s hard to get a sense of time in the manga but in the anime the amount of time he spends staring at her from secluded locations is kind of off-putting. The rest of the episode was as expected: mildly amusing but nothing spectacular. I could see this being worth watching if it finds its comedic legs in the next episode or two but I wouldn’t hold my breath.
9. Kenzen Robo Daimidaler
Subtle this show is not. Daimidaler isn’t going to be a particularly classy show and perversion for perversion’s sake isn’t often a recipe for success. Still, I have to give a little respect to this show simply for how audacious it is. Daiimdaler manages to do what I really wanted Hidan no Aria to do by having its main character actually take advantage of his arousal-based superpower rather than just avoiding activating it. The show owns its perversion and I’ll take that over a show that pretends it’s classy but throws fanservice in anyway. That said, audacity can only get you so far and to be honest I don’t think Daimidaler is going to be long for my watching list. First episode was fun though.
10. Kamigami no Asobi
Speaking of fun, the first episode of Kamigami no Asobi was a lot more fun than I expected. It was readily apparent from the premise that Kamigami had a sense of humor about itself and was never going to be a particularly serious show. However, I expected it to be silly in a way that I would find largely unappealing simply based on the gender balance of the show. Surprisingly, the show actually kind of works. As I said in my quick first impressions, I enjoyed the familiar feeling I got from all the harem tropes. Kamigami no Asobi comes as a pleasant surprise and I hope it can keep this up.
11. The Pilot’s Love Song
I really have no idea what the people who made The Pilot’s Love Song were thinking with this final episode. It’s never a good idea to throw an infodump in your final episode and the sheer amount of time skipped in the last two episodes was very problematic. I also simply don’t get why the townsfolk were so ready to go to war because the supposedly dead prince is in love with the kidnapped queen or whatever. Karl’s motivation makes sense, but it isn’t clear why everybody else is on board with it. The rest of the episode was similarly garbage with Ari’s character taking an inexplicable turn that barely registers at this point given how uneven the entire show has been. The conclusion was a mediocre non-ending that resolved almost nothing and left things open with a sequel hook for a second season nobody wants. Overall, Love Song was a muddled mess that seemed to have no idea what it wanted to do or where it wanted to go with its story. The pacing was all over the place and the central conflict took place against an effectively faceless enemy with no indication of their motivation. This end result is a colossal failure given the potential displayed by this show at the start.
Final Verdict: 3/10
12. Seikoku no Dragonar
And here’s the light novel garbage we all know and love(?). Dragonar was actually less objectionable than its manga would have you believe but it’s still a generic LN through and through. I have a hard time expecting much from a show with such an uninspired plot and such an obviously tiny animation budget. It’ll get a second episode but probably nothing more.
13. Saki: Zenkoku Hen
And clocking in with the largest single week drop in the (admittedly short) history of these power rankings is Saki. It’s admittedly not particularly fair of me to dock the show so much for turning things against my personal favorite team but these are my power rankings and the final result of that match made me so mad that I couldn’t even finish the episode. Dropped.
As an aside: the official anime power rankings have made their triumphant return here. The top two this week are both sequels that I’m not watching. Jojo, because Kelloggs doesn’t like action and Mushishi because I haven’t seen the first season which, I know, shame on me. Whatever. I was amused to see that Nagi no Asukara’s five total votes were all first place votes and enough to get it fourth place. Glad to know I played a role there.