Best and Worst of Last Week’s TV: 3/15/15- 3/21/15

Anne's boobs

I have been anything but devoutly faithful about doing this article.  If anything it is probably one of the bigger regrets that I have about the site—not keeping up with this.  Well let’s see how quickly we can change that by going out and doing some writing on a weekly basis and posting things on this site again!  Woo internet things!

Bob’s Burgers: Season 5, Episode 15


Where: Fox
When: 7:30 EST on Sundays
This episode had a chinchilla in it.  Not only did it have one, it basically revolved around the little guy.  Longtime fans of the site will not only know that I am a huge fan of the creatures, but I also own one and think he is just the best.  This episode also has a chinchilla, and while not nearly as central to the plot as it should have been, that was brought up almost entirely through the episode as the pivotal character it is almost worth letting slide– we all know it should have been 30 minute of a chin cam.  Who knows, maybe I am a little too fond of the concept of chinchillas and upset at their lack of presence in our society to fairly judge this episode.  On the other hand, no. I am not.

I love Bob’s Burgers, even when the show is bad it still manages to be just a little something for me to look forward to at the start of a week, like a smiling face beaming at me and reminding me that life isn’t always as terrible as I keep telling myself it is.  That said, this episode would have been wonderful if the show didn’t always seem so concerned about what was going on with the entire family during every single showing.  Take, say, this time; everything would have been perfectly fine if it had been mainly focused on the children/chinchilla escape escapades.  Instead we had a weird date that we got to watch Bob awkwardly screw up, and then save.  Thankfully there was a chinchilla.

The Flash: Season 1, Episode 15

Sadly this was the most interesting image I could find of the episode

Where: The CW
When: 8:00 PM EST on Tuesdays
I enjoy watching TV while I play video games.  There is a logic behind this that many people don’t really back me up on, understand, or think is “a good use of my time.”  My theory is that there are a ton of games that I like that there is nothing really but dead periods and repetitive actions over and over and over and over and over again, and while I enjoy those— in the same way that I am pretty sure that Pavlov’s dog loved getting that treat when he rang the stupid, delicious, bell—there is always the feeling that I kind of want the other half of my brain to be doing something that only ever requires less than the remaining portion.

Thankfully every show from the CW pretty much fully fits this bill, and The Flash just happens to be the most super hero, DC based, clearly marketed to the late teen early 20s demographic, one that I can stomach.  It is weird that the show will go from trying to explain away super villains and ultra science to the thin line of romance that must be walked when you are both a super hero AND painfully handsome.  It is odd that the moment that people are placed into a series of well-lit environments how they seem to lose so many of their interpersonal skills that most people developed around the same time that they were fumbling around in the dark at a party trying to make out with their middle school girlfriend.  Maybe that is why all sitcoms have people that just can’t seem to get together, they never had a dark enough area to let their pre-teen selves get all the angst out.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 2, Episode 13

Yeah, I get that

Where: ABC
When: 9:00 EST on Tuesdays
I think I know why people gamble.  The feeling and the rush that you get when you allow something really stupid to go on for entirely too long and it pays off in amazing and really undeservingly spectacular ways is rewarding.  Agents has been just that, borderline painfully terrible for a good chunk of the first season as you could watch it flounder around trying to find its weird fish/lizard legs while it learned to walk, now it is almost like a real show that you can proudly admit to your friends that you watch and pay attention to plotlines and everything—and not even do it sarcastically or because, you know, Marvel.

This season has even managed to be a double shocker as it started off twice as strong as the last season finished and continued to find ways to improve the show by following the less learned from last time of “people don’t like to watch boring things.”  They were even kind enough to, during the annoying mid-season break thing that all the cool shows are doing now, replace themselves with half a season of Agent Carter — which ended up being so much better than the show that it was emulating.  The worst part is that now that Carter is on break and we are back to watching S.H.I.E.L.D. I get to be reminded that, while still one of the better regular shows on TV, the show based in the 50s that is supposed to be the kid brother to it not only managed to get the actual stars (plural) to back to be main characters, they also managed to be way more watchable.

Workaholics: Season 5, Episode 10

Remember when I was in stuff?

Where: Comedy Central
When: 10:00 PM EST on Wednesdays
Workaholics is a show that grew on me in a way that I really wasn’t expecting.  At no point in my past can I look back and say when I started to enjoy it, mainly because I can’t ever seem to find an episode that I liked.  It is the sum of the episodes together that I found enjoyable, for some stupid “I enjoy watching bad movies,” kind of way.  It is the show that you watch and think was way funnier three days later when you are imagining it and your memory manages to insert better, funnier, handsomer actors into it.  It is basically every Jack Black movie that has ever been, which is odd because Nacho Libre himself had a part this season.

This episode was based around the concept of bar trivia, and mainly its focus on the 80s.  It also has to do with the repeated attempts for one member of the group to grow up and maintain a job where they do not have to constantly run scams to consume food between paychecks, but that is quickly forgotten because no one wants to deal with issues and adult thoughts.  Not only is it impressive how every single time the trio manage to hang onto their– what I am assuming are– below minimum wage job, but how Anders (Anders Holm) continually manages to brown noise just enough to land interview after interview for better jobs.  I am sure the formulaic nature of the show will never allow him to achieve that victory, but I guess one can always dream.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 2, Episode 19

You mean ice cream trucks can be fun AND murder?!

Where: Fox
When: 8:30 EST on Sundays
You know that show that you watch and snippets just keep popping in your head throughout the week making you smile?  For me that is Brooklyn Nine-Nine.  I picked up the show because one of my wife’s friends made a stupid remark about it being the funniest and smartest show that has ever been on TV (and we all know that is Community), and for some unknown reason I felt like I needed to prove her wrong by watching the entire first season in one sitting.  I think there was both logic and more to that plan, but it kind of fell apart pretty quickly as it managed to rocket up to Community levels of amazing in the first handful of episodes.  That super worries me because everyone knows we can’t have good things for long on Network TV.

The core concept is that you take an episodic cop show and make it star the guy from the “Dick in a Box” SNL skit.  I would love to say that there is more addition involved, but it is really just as simple as basically taking talented, funny people and allow them to be morons in front of a camera with lines written by funnier, more talented people who are probably less good in front of the camera.  That said, this is a terrible episode for anyone who is not already devoted to the show to jump in on; between the random in jokes and the plot this time revolving around a story arch that has been happening for the entire season (19 episodes), this is not the one to tell people that they should start with.  That said, it is a great pay off for those of us who may have picked this up around the start of the year and have been riding high as this season continued on. Also, I have learned that the first four hours of living in an ice cream truck are nothing but glamorous, even when kidnapped.

Community: Season 6, Episode 1 (and 2)

That does look amazingly fun

Where: Yahoo! Screen
When: 8:00 PM on Tuesdays

Not only do I love Community, and feel that it is awesome that it has come back in any form at all, but am kind of super excited that these aren’t even bad episodes that are airing.  The problem with this episode(s) is that you can basically tell that the people that are left are the ones that are never going to leave the show, regardless of how little funding it is given or how few episodes they are allowed to make per season.  Core members of the cast have been picked off one by one due to being a complete and total ass (Chevy Chase) or because they managed to make a surprising second non-serious career suddenly worth mentioning on The Today Show (Donald Glover dancing around with a Grammy Nomination placard, I assume).

I understand that the show is quickly approaching the point where it has been on forever (even though many people have attempt to make that otherwise) and that normal people do tend to leave a job after half a decade for green pastures or simply because they are getting bored of people loving them for no reason.  That doesn’t mean that any of the episodes where a new character is introduced directly after can ever feel like they are anything less than forced, and even though Community managed it slightly better than most shows could have—it still feels they just want you to stop noticing that Smithers was once black.

Double Special Secret Worst:
Top Gear: Season None, Episode Not Airing

James May, the only person with something nice to say!

Where: Inside our hearts
When: Maybe always now

I have spoken of Top Gear before, at length.  It is a British show about cars and adult men who do some of the stupidest things that they can possibly manage to do with a car at any given time.  It is estimated, via the Top Gear wiki, that the show gets around 750 million viewers.  That basically means that one in ten people on the planet are watching the show.  There are tons of other stats that you could throw out, but it is pretty much easier to say that the show is unobtainablly huge and as such one of the hosts has gotten in enough trouble (for the second time this season[but after a long series of times in his life]) to get the show cancelled; even though there are episodes that have been filmed and are ready to go.

Jeremy Clarkson does stupid things, very often.  Things come out of his mouth on such a regular basis that it is mildly amazingly that he hasn’t managed to insult enough countries to cause a war.  At the start of this season he and the entire cast almost got lynched over a license plate on a car he was driving, directly after/before (I am unclear on the exact timing of it) that he was put on –what Americans would call—a final warning for using a racist slur.  Now he has managed to get the show pulled from the air while the BBC investigates an “incident” he was involved in, and by “incident” I mean that he punched a producer in the face for their not being any hot food at the ready when they showed up at a hotel.

Keep in mind that most of the information that is known, in anyway, about what happened is so third hand at this point that it is almost worthless; but this is what appears to have happened:  After doing some kind of event that required driving across England the three stars showed up at the hotel they would be staying at rather late at night, there was no food for them at all.  Clarkson lost his collective shit and went off on the producer that was responsible, it escalated, it is rumored he punched the guy.  All that aside I am happy to report that we do know for a fact that James May was black out drunk while the entire thing was happening.

Since I started writing this the BBC has decide to not renew Clarkson’s contract, meaning he is gone.  The problem then comes in that (James) May and (Richard) Hammond have repeatedly and publicly stated that they won’t do the show without him.  The thing is, that isn’t even really a bargaining chip for them; the man literally invented the show.  Top Gear was a thing before (Jeremy) Clarkson, kind of, but he changed the format, style, and everything about it in such a way that until last year he owned all those things–at which point he sold them off to the BBC for about 75 million dollars.  Make of that what you will.

Anime of the Year 2014

It’s that time of year again, a time to make lists of awesome things and rank them in a manner that will either cause massive joy or intense butthurt.  This year I’ve decided to reduce the “clutter” of previous years by removing the sub-categories and sticking with a solid top 10 list.  Have a favorite that didn’t make the list?  Post in the comments below, everyone loves the potential for pointless debate and flamewars!  But seriously, every now and then someone comes up with a hidden gem, so post away.

Disclaimer:  Yes, I know this is a bit late.  Blame me for getting into Freedom Wars and binging on the Awesome Games Done Quick marathon when I should have been working on this.

Gillman Edit Note: I put this up over a month after I got it.  That is on me.

10) Kill la Kill
Kill_la_kill txt: The woman that reminded us we are all just pigs in human clothing.

Studio Trigger’s first major TV anime, Kill la Kill, was also one of this year’s most talked about anime.  Kill la Kill presented us with the wacky, over the top struggle of man versus super-clothing, along with tons of action, comedy, and unapologetic fanservice.  The folks at Trigger let loose with everything they had on this series, and it resulted in one of the most amusing shows of the year.  This show has been haunted by massive amounts of hype and hate from every corner of the internet, but do yourself a favor and check it out for yourself if you have not done so already.

9) JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure:  Stardust Crusaders

This is David Production’s adaptation of the JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure manga, and it has continued to prove itself as one of the best manga adaptations around.  In this part Jotaro Kujou, a rebellious Japanese high school student, discovers he has a strange power known as “Stand”, a being he can summon at will with incredible power.  Eventually he ends up on a long journey to Egypt in order to save his mother from a stand user named Dio, whom is also an old enemy of the Joestar family.  While the Stardust Crusaders arc is considered to be one of the “weaker” stories within the JoJo saga, it is hard to deny that this is still incredibly entertaining.  SC won’t wrap up until the next season concludes this year, but this show was awesome enough to make the list.

8) Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka?
(Is this order a rabbit?)

What’s this?  An AOTY ranking with slice of life in the list?  You better believe it, this isn’t Anime News Network after all.  Gochiusa, for those that don’t want to have a mouthful every time they name the show, is a comedic slice of life about cute girls working in a coffee shop, and maybe even something about an old man turned into a fuzzy bunny.  While this may not sound incredibly interesting, Gochiusa is a fun and silly romp with quirky characters and charming humor.  This type of show isn’t for everyone, but if this is something you can get into you won’t be disappointed.  For additional fun, watch for the occasional nods to Metal Gear Solid.

7) Hitsugi no Chaika: Seasons 1&2
(Chaika the Coffin Princess)

Chaika is one of those rare treats when an LN adaptation is not only concluded, but is also concluded within the same year.  This is the story of a young girl that lost her memories, and is searching for the remains of her father so she can have his funeral.  The problem is her father was the infamous Emperor Gaz, a man responsible for a massive war that almost destroyed the continent several years ago.  Chaika soon seeks the aid of a pair of mercenary “Saboteurs”, a class of fighter that uses magic to hone themselves in battle.  Chaika takes place in a unique and interesting fantasy realm, reminiscent of something one would find in a JRPG.  This show had lots of great things going for it, including an amusing cast of characters, a fascinating setting, and plenty of action and adventure.  Good fantasy anime doesn’t come around often, and Chaika fills the void nicely.  While some feel the ending has a bit of a “rushed” feeling (and it honestly does), I still loved this show and felt it came to a satisfying conclusion.

6) Knights of SidoniaKnights_of_Sidnonia

Sidonia is a “love it or hate it” sort of show.  Most of the criticism surrounding it is focused on the fact that it is entirely animated in CG.  While full CG anime does have a different “feeling” about it, especially with the way human characters move, that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth checking out.  Sidonia is a mecha anime about a war between the remnants of the human race and the Gauna, a race of aliens that drove mankind out of the Solar System.  Sidonia is full of unique designs and interesting lore, and will keep you hooked all the way to the last episode.  The story will continue later this year.

5) Selector Infected Wixoss/Selector Spread Wixoss

Wixoss is yet another show that aired two seasons in the year and came to a conclusion.  I had originally passed on this show because it was made with the intent to promote the Wixoss card game, an otaku-oriented battle card game similar to Yu-gi-oh or Pokemon.  I honestly never thought something like this could end up as one of the best anime of this year, let alone good enough to watch.  Wixoss starts off looking like a fairly cute, innocent show about friends playing a card game together.  One day Ruuko gets into the game in hopes of making some new friends, but she discovers that one of her cards can talk.  Ruuko finds out she is a “selector”, a girl who can “battle” in Wixoss against other selectors for the prize of having a wish granted upon winning enough victories.  Of course, none of this is quite as pleasant as it sounds.  Wixoss quickly becomes a grim tale full of twists and turns, and it is amazingly well done.  I never thought I would be singing the praises of a card game anime, but now I’m putting one in my top five anime of the year.  What crazy times we live in.

4) Grisaia no Kajitsu
(The Fruit of Grisaia)

Grisaia is an adaptation of one of the most popular visual novels in Japan.  It tells the story of Mihama academy, a special school for troubled youths.  A young man named Yuuji is the first male to attend this school, and the story is centered on his encounters with each of the other students and their pasts.  Oh, and did I mention that Yuuji is one badass motherfucker?  Grisaia appears to be a typical harem/ecchi anime, but you will soon find this one hits with a much more dramatic punch thanks to its cast of severely troubled characters.  If you are wondering how well the adaptation was handled compared to the game, you will find lots of varying opinions.  As someone that has actually played the game, I can say that there were many cuts here and there (the game is fairly long) and some of the character arcs were not as well done as others.  That being said, I felt they managed to do a great job of taking on the monumental task of adapting such a big game into a 13 episode anime.   This was a great watch, and the other two games of the trilogy have been announced for anime adaptations as well.  Of course the game is better, but the anime is worth checking out.

3) No Game No Life

No Game No Life was another one of this year’s more popular shows, meaning for every person that enjoyed it there is that anti-fanboy frothing at the mouth with rage over it, lurking the internet and waiting to attack anyone for praising the show.  Despite all the flamewars and nonsense surrounding this show, it still wound up in my top 3.  NGNL is about a pair of NEET siblings, Shiro and Sora, who are drawn into another world by a mischievous god named Tet.  This world is ruled by a set of commandments that allow people to take power and property from one another through wagers and games, something Sora and Shiro have a passion for.  NGNL is one of those anime that people will often label as “otaku pandering” because it displays a strong affection for, and many references to, modern otaku culture.  This may be a deal breaker for more casual fans of the medium, but it is also part of what makes this show so entertaining.  NGNL is an incredibly fun show with a goofy cast of characters, lots of intensity, unique designs, and awesome animation.

2) Yuki Yuna wa Yusha de Aru
(Yuki Yuna is a Hero)

A surprise hit of the year, Yuki Yuna (or Yuyuyu) was described as a slice of life/magical girl show.  What they did not say was that Yuyuyu is a really damn amazing magical girl show.  This is about a group of friends that are drawn into a fight against the Vertex, beings from another realm seeking to destroy the human world.  With the power of the “Hero System”, these girls can transform and fight the Vertex with superhuman abilities.  Unfortunately not everything is a clear cut as it seems, and with great power comes great sacrifices.  A lot of people tend to compare this to Madoka because it is a magical girl show that gets darker as it progresses, but I hate making that comparison since this show stands out so much on its own.  Yuyuyu has moments of being cute and fun, moments of incredible action, and moments of gripping drama, and executes all of them to near perfection.  Add to that some cool designs and an excellent soundtrack, and you have one of the best anime 2014 had to offer.

1) Rakuen Tsuihou: Expelled From Paradise

In a decision that is likely to rustle a few jimmies, my anime of the year is a full-CG film.  Stay with me here, I’ve got good reason for it.  This is a story about an agent of Diva, a satellite nation in orbit around Earth where mankind is “digitized” for their survival, who is sent to a post-apocalyptic Earth in a physical body to hunt down a hacker capable of breaking into the “world” of Diva.  This anime takes a lot of the “old school” themes of 80s and 90s sci-fi anime, and combines it with modern style and animation techniques.  While many “purists” have a hatred for CG animation, this film demonstrates CG can be pushed to make some really incredible anime.  The “cel-shaded” look maintains the typical anime aesthetic, while at the same time unleashing incredible, fast-paced action sequences that rival some of the greatest anime of all time.  This film has a good mix of action and story that fits well within the time allotted for a movie, something that seems to be a lost art in anime films.  Rakuen delivers amazing visuals, a good story, a great voice cast, and some generous helpings of fanservice.  This is 2014s “must see” anime, don’t miss it.

Supah Anime Fun Taimu! Summer 2014

Ah summer, that wonderful time of year for fun in the sun.  A time for enjoying nature, meeting new friends, making new memories… to hell with that, there’s anime to watch.  This summer has some stuff continuing on from last season, some anime originals, long awaited sequels, and even a reboot of a cherished franchise!  Spring was a tough act to follow, but this was still a fairly decent season.  As usual, feel free to mention shows you liked that I may have missed in the comments, or just post your arguments for best girl in any given show.

Akame ga Kill

And no, we don’t provide health insurance.

This is the tale of a young warrior named Tatsumi that sets out looking to earn money to help his village.  Unfortunately his journey gets him mixed up in a battle between a corrupt kingdom and a band of assassins that fight them from the shadows, known as the “Night Raid.”  After a series of events, Tatsumi becomes recruited by the infamous Night Raid and trains to learn the ways of the assassin.

Akame ga Kill is an odd blend of action and comedy.  This show is goofy, violent, bloody, and even sexy at times.  One really cool thing is unlike a lot of TV anime, they decided to let the blood spill without the “black fog of censorship” that is usually put in place over gore to encourage BD sales.  This show isn’t going to wow anyone with a deep storyline or emotional struggles.  What AgK does do is have lots of fun with stylish, yet silly characters, and lots of action.  I enjoyed watching this quite a bit, and I think a lot of fans that crave the violent side of anime will be very happy with this, for better or for worse.

Aldnoah Zero

I’m sure they will be fine.

Aldnoah Zero is an original anime production from Aniplex, and is created by Gen Urobuchi, the man behind anime’s famous Madoka Magica.  This time you won’t get tragic magical girls, instead it is time for a serving of tragic invasion.  AZ takes place in an alternate version of Earth where the Apollo missions revealed a gateway to Mars on the surface of the Moon.  On Mars, astronauts discovered powerful relics known as Aldnoah, which can only be used by certain bloodlines.  Eventually this leads to a war between the “Martians” blessed by Aldnoah and the people of Earth.

In the beginning it feels like AZ is going to be a typical mecha anime with a huge budget behind it, but it is quickly stands out on its own, and does so very well.  AZ is a mix of pulse-pounding action and twisted schemes, brought to life with incredible animation and an amazing soundtrack.  I loved every minute of this show and it was the one I looked forward to the most each week.  Be warned, there is one hell of a cliffhanger ending that won’t be concluded until the second part airs in January of next year.

Captain Earth

These guys made the show.

Captain Earth continued on after the spring, and is now all said and done with.  If you remember from last time, my first impressions of this show were less than spectacular.   Not much has changed since then.  While the storyline and action became much more interesting over time, the glaring flaws of this show are still present and still hold it back.

Captain Earth was one strange trip.  It had a very strange storyline, and I think that was probably one of the only reasons it could keep me watching.  The bland, one-dimensional heroes never really become more interesting, even when a romance sprouts between some of them.  The villains of the show seem to have all the charm and quirks at every turn, to a point where I found myself rooting for them at times, and not in the good way.  The story and action are entertaining, yet as formulaic as they come.  In the end Captain Earth is watchable and even amusing at times, but it is entirely forgettable.

Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma☆Illya 2wei!


Just as promised, everyone’s favorite Type-Moon spinoff continues, with more magical loli goodness than ever!  This picks right up where the last season left off, but now poor Ilya’s chances of returning to a normal school life are in jeopardy thanks to the appearance of a magical girl that has devoted herself to assassinating Ilya in both person and character!

If you liked the first season of this, you will likely enjoy this one as well.  This time around a big chunk of the action is saved for the last few episodes, but in the meantime there is plenty of cute fun, comedy, and of course, fanservice.  At this point fans of this show already know what they are getting into and what they are here for, and despite a lot of niche pandering here there is quite a fan base surrounding the Ilya spinoff.  I personally had fun watching this, and I’m looking forward to the third season that has been announced for next year.

Happiness Charge Precure

Just for the record, Precures would fucking wreck Sailor Scouts.

I’m still hanging in there, and I’m in this for the long haul.  If I have any critique of this so far, I’d say this isn’t as well paced as other Precure anime I have seen.  How things will wrap up in the end I have yet to say, as this is going to continue to run into the next couple of seasons before concluding.


Wet t-shirts: the surefire way to get your attention.

Jinsei is the story of a group of friends in a school newspaper club devoted to writing a life advice column.  This is your typical slice of life/romcom, with some bits of ecchi fanservice tossed in for good measure.  It should be noted that you won’t find subtitles for this show through “official” channels.  As of the time of this article, there is only one fansub group that is doing this, and they still have yet to come up with the final three episodes.  Why?  This show is full of segments with fast speech and lots of written text, a nightmare for translators and typesetters.  Crunchyroll wouldn’t even think of touching something like this, especially considering their subtitles are typically “middling” at best in my opinion.

That being said, this show is still worth a look if you like this sort of anime.  While I feel there are better romcom anime available this season, there is still a certain unique charm found here.  Also, Fumi has some pretty great Fumiis.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders

Yes, I know, you guys can kick the shit out of me even without stands.

Jotaro’s trip to Egypt continues into the summer, and it is still full of mishaps and stand users.  Some critics of the show dislike the “stand of the week” feel this show has, but the cast always seems to keep this show feeling fresh and interesting.  The only thing I was not happy to see about this season is it ends, but don’t fret, Jotaro and company continue their quest to fight Dio this coming January!

Rail Wars!

I just saved you the time it takes to watch 12 episodes with this gif.  Enjoy!

Rail Wars is a harem comedy about new recruits working for JNR, Japan’s public railway management and operations organization.  The purpose of this show is to deliver a heavy dose of fanservice for otaku that are into trains, and otaku that are into ecchi.  There is a story in there somewhere too, but the endless assault of bullshit situations in a show attempting to bring up “facts” about JNR and the trains they run sort of ruined all of that.  When people complain about fanservice being used to fill in for a lack of decent content, Rail Wars is one of the few examples that should be brought up.   All the trains and tits in the world aren’t enough to bring this ridiculous snooze-fest to life, and I think even the most devoted ecchi fans will have a hard time slogging through this one to the end.  Seriously, the ecchi content is very sparse and tame, so if that was your reason to keep watching you will only be left disappointed.  I can’t even use a bad pun about a train wreck here, because that would imply there may be something worth at least watching for cheap thrills.  Skip this one.

Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei
(The Irregular at Magic High School)Because Tatsuya NEEDS a magical nuke rifle.

The loveable and invincible Onee-sama returns for even more right-wing themed lessons on magical science and badassery.  All of the glaring flaws present in the first half are still here, and then some, and strangely enough some of them are what keep this show entertaining.  The best approach to watching Mahouka is realizing that Tatsuya cannot ever be defeated by anyone or anything, and knowing the only characters that deserve your pity are the villains of this anime.

The dry content and slow pace of this show are still here, especially during the almost torturous school competition arc in the middle, but in a way it all pays off when the last handful of episodes offer a brutal slugfest of magicians fighting off a massive invasion force.  Even with some “buy the BD” censorship going on, some of the most brutal fighting I have ever seen on TV anime pops up during these final episodes.  Oh, and just in case Tatsuya didn’t seem invincible enough he gets a powered suit that increases his powers, with a design improved upon by none other than himself, so you can be certain the final fight will be ridiculously unfair and one-sided.  As woefully predictable as all this is, it somehow became satisfying to watch.

Mahouka was a mess of an anime, and I’m sure the novels don’t fare much better.  Somehow it was still worth a watch for the pure insanity of it all.  I also have to admit they knew how to end this anime with a bang, and that was more than anyone could expect.  This show and the novels have a pretty big following around the world, so apparently the appeal is there.  I can’t conscionably recommend this anime to anyone for many obvious reasons, but if you really want to check this out, you will certainly be in for one of the most absurd rides anime has to offer.

Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!?
(Apartment Invaders!?)

There is sadness in knowing that your apartment will never be invaded by several cute girls.

I originally was going to pass on this show since the premise seemed a little generic for modern anime faire.  As the season rolled along I noticed a decent little fan base for this show popped up.  I finally decided to give RnS a shot, and it became one of my favorite shows of the season.

RnS starts off with the story of a student named Satomi, whom is fortunate enough to find a small apartment for the insanely low price of 5,000 yen per month.  He soon discovers his cheap apartment is also inhabited by the ghost of a young girl, and is also the target of an Invader from under the earth, a magical girl, and a traveler from a powerful interstellar empire of advanced magic and technology.  Now Satomi and this group of strange yet adorable girls are in competition for control of this tiny apartment and the hidden power it contains, bound by a “treaty” set up by the landlord (whom is also not only another cute girl but also a powerful fighter with deadly flaming fists.  Seriously.)

This all sounds really silly, and it very much is, but this show is as fun as it gets.  The wacky cast is both cute and charming, and each character is given their time to shine in little story arcs centered on them.  By the time this show is coming to a close, these invaders will have captured your heart.  If you are looking for a good harem/romcom with some bits of action and adventure from time to time, this is the show for you.

(Survival Game Club)

This is something you should never do with .50 caliber handguns.

Someone actually had the guts to do yet another anime about airsoft, after the brutal failure of Gainax’s attempt at one last year (even though I did enjoy C3-bu.)   Will this one be a bigger success?   Do we really need another anime about airsoft?  Too bad, Sabagebu is here.

Unlike Gainax’s airsoft anime, Sabagebu doesn’t take itself seriously, ever.  This one is pure comedy, paired with bloody, brutal “fight scenes” where the girls use their imagination to put 80’s action film-style blood and violence into their airsoft battles.  The bloody airsoft gunfights are honestly the best part of the show, as they are both hilarious and intentionally campy.

The rest of Sabagebu’s comedy is based around the antics of the characters and their personalities, which is typical for lots of anime comedies.  This yields mixed results, and hits a low point when a bunch of episodes in the middle of the season focus solely on this sort of comedy instead of the over-the-top “gunfights” that really make this show fun.  This isn’t a bad show by any means, and even the worst episodes will deliver some laughs.  The problem is the first couple episodes sort of “over-sell” the expectations of what is to come, and that seems to have left a lot of early fans feeling betrayed later on.  Sabagebu still comes out as a decent comedy anime, and while it won’t please everyone, it is still worth a look.

Sailor Moon Crystal

Sailor Moon is back!  Don’t get too excited though.

First off and foremost, I will come right out and say I am not exactly a huge fan of Sailor Moon.  I watched the first “season” with my sister when I was a teenager, and bits and pieces of the later story arcs.  I did have fun watching it, but I won’t sit here and tell you I was some devout fan of the franchise, nor am I an expert on the lore.  Take this into consideration before taking my thoughts on the reboot too seriously.

SMC arrived to a nostalgic set of old fans and newcomers alike, amidst some delay and a bit of controversy over whether or not the otaku is crowd is welcome to enjoy this one.  That nonsense aside, SMC is now going full steam ahead, or at least half-steam, considering it airs on a bi-weekly schedule, which is kind of odd.  This has been one of the most talked-about anime of the season, but is it worthy of all the buzz?

At the time of this article, there are only about 6 of the 26 proposed episodes of this out right now, so it is really hard for me to put my finger on a solid opinion of this.   However, so far I’m not exactly impressed.  Lousy pacing, some iffy quality issues, crumby CG transformation scenes, and yawn-inducing “battles” aren’t leaving much of a good impression.  After decades of seeing magical girl anime reach new heights in shows like Cardcaptor Sakura, the Precure franchise, and newer, otaku-oriented magical girl anime like Nanoha and Madoka, this “rebooted” Sailor Moon feels bland and tired.

The original seemed more interesting than the reboot, despite a pile of filler and other issues, but that could be nostalgia talking.  Even still, as someone that is willing to sit down and watch Precure, I’m finding SMC to be a bit of a chore to watch, and that is a bad sign.  There is some potential for things to turn around, but realistically I see myself dropping this down the road before I can find out.

Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance
(Blade Dance of the Elementalists)

You can’t spell best without Est.

Blade Dance is a low-budget adaptation of a fairly popular fantasy light novel series, with a small but respectable fan base around the world.  At a glance, Blade Dance feels like a cookie-cutter fantasy propped up by a cast of cute girls and harem hijinks.  This is the sort of anime that shouldn’t be very noteworthy, and yet it brings enough charm to the table to end up being an entertaining show.

This is the tale of Kamito, a rare male “Elementalist”, a magician (usually female) that can contract with spirits and use magic.  His talents land him in the prestigious Areishia Spirit Academy, a school where students hone their magical skills.  And of course, Kamito is surrounded by cute girls that may or may not be interested in him.  All of this stuff has been done before, and in better anime, but this show still manages to be come out with an interesting story, loveable characters, and even a handful of decent battles.  I won’t tell you this show is a must watch, but I will say it may indeed be worth a look if any of this sounds like fun.

Space Dandy:  Season 2

I also learned why I stopped atching dubbed anime years ago.

The western experiment known as Space Dandy has finally come to a conclusion.  Even though the first half of this show left me with a lot of positive things to say and nothing but hope for the second half, now that this has concluded my final verdict is in.  Have a seat, because I may dispense some rage here.

The second half of this show came out with a strong start.  The strange, goofy mix that made this show fun to watch was back, and I was delighted for more and more.  Unfortunately, as the season rolled along my opinion of this show began to falter.  Big missteps like an episode devoted to “High School Musical”, and a SECOND fishing episode began a roller-coaster of highs and lows this show never quite seemed to recover from.   Opinions on this season are as variable as the episodes themselves, but I couldn’t help but notice a chunk of fans falling out of love with this show as much as I did during the second half.  By the time everything wrapped up in a spectacular final episode all of my excitement was drained from me.

When things wrapped up with a hint that this may get a third season, I actually groaned in discontent.  Seeing as this show only seems to be “successful” in the west, a third season isn’t very likely, and if it happens it will likely end in disaster like many similar endeavors.  I have to admit all of this really is a shame, but unfortunately Space Dandy was a little too experimental for its own good, and the scattershot approach to the overall direction of the show became its Achilles heel.

Sword Art Online 2

Sinon butt is the #1 cause of SAO2 viewers.

Did anyone out there think I would miss the potential ridiculousness of ANOTHER season of Sword Art Online?  Kirito is back, and once again he must put his epic gamer skills to the test against a man that can kill you in a video game, FOR REALS.  This time around there is a new VRMMO game that is all the rage, Gun Gale Online, an RPG/shooter hybrid.  Don’t get me wrong, the game itself seems pretty awesome.  I would play the shit out of it.  Kirito has been hired by a government agent to track down a player known as “Death Gun”, who is thought to be able to kill GGO players in both the game and real life.

All of my complaints from the second arc of the original SAO are all here, especially Kirito’s ability to power through any bad situation with the sheer power of bullshit.  That being said, the things I LIKED about SAO are also still here.  At this point I have come to terms that SAO is “low brow” entertainment, even for anime standards.  And with that line of thinking in place, SAO2 can be a lot of fun to watch.

Bringing the full might of a huge budget, SAO2 delivers an amazing and entertaining experience even if the writing is bad enough to make you bang your head against a wall at times.  Deep down in my heart I know SAO2 truly is anime for the lowest common denominator, and yet I just can’t stop watching it.  SAO2 is painfully stupid at times, but it is hard to deny it is also very fun.  My opinions of this show aren’t going to convince fans to start critiquing SAO2 for what it is, and they aren’t going to bring any new viewers into the mix.  In the end the best thing anyone can do is sit back and enjoy the ride, and that is exactly what I am doing.

Zankyou no Terror
(Terror in Resonance)

Protip:  This is probably a good time for security to come out.

ZnT has more in common with an American crime drama or Hollywood film than your typical anime, and in this case that isn’t such a bad thing.  This was featured on the Notinima block, and it was one of the best shows featured there in a while.  ZnT is a story of a couple teenagers using terrorism to tell the world their story of human experimentation and government corruption.

This is one of those shows where you can almost feel yourself rooting for both the “good guys” and the “bad guys” at the same time.  If anything the only major flaw of the show is that a good chunk of characters don’t feel like they were fleshed out properly, and because of that some of the more “emotional” scenes lose their impact.  Some critics also point out that many of the techniques used by the terrorists in the show would not be effective in eluding the police, but at the same time I think people should remember that entertainment is not supposed to give criminals hints on how to do business.  I enjoyed this show a lot, and I think it is worth a watch, even for more “casual” anime fans.  The overall reception to this show seems to be fairly mixed, but anyone interested should at least give this one a try.

Best and Worst of Last Week’s TV: 8/11/14 – 8/17/14

No shit. It's back,

Wilfred: Season 4, Episode 9&10

Who doesn't want to hang out with a surly dog?

Where: FXX
When: Over, forever
Wilfred is the story of what happens when Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) decides that his life is just, just awful and that he should kill himself.  Sadly he borks the entire thing up and instead of dying just starts to see his neighbor’s dog as a man in a dog suit (Jason Gann).  From that point forward the series is a constant back and forth with Ryan’s (Frodo Baggins) belief in Wilfred, the dog, is really only an animal or something more.  It is also one of the few examples of an episodic show that truly needs to be watched in order to have even the remotest idea of what is going on at any given time. Did I mention that it was possibly one of the funniest show on TV?  It is.

I love this show, and half of these two episodes would have made one amazingly wonderful ending to a fantastic show, the other half is kind of this middling attempt at explanation of some of the greater mysteries that found their way in with the most mundane and boring ways possible.  The problem with the ending boils down to the show runners trying to leave things open to interoperation on just what Wilfred is or is not, but that premise doesn’t ever work when you lead someone by the noise to one of the destinations, point at it, tell them what it is, and say the choice is yours.   It might feel like a stupid complaint, but yes, after four years I do kind of want what Wilfred is spelled out for me with as little mystery involved as possible.

Falling Skies: Season 4, Episode 8

Yeah, the show kind of sucks now

Where: TNT
When: Sundays at 10:00 PM
Falling Skies had one really good season when it first started.  It has now proceeded for three more seasons, each season attempting to distance itself ever further from those that came before it—it has now gotten to the point where it impressive that characters still have the same name, let alone remember interaction that took place more than 10 minutes before. It is like every character in the show is the guy from Memento, but with aliens and the guy from ER.  Seemingly at the end of every season the resistance (humans) find a way to beat back the invading aliens in such a manner that they are sure to win with one final, well placed pushed—hopefully taking place during the next series.  Then the next season starts and three throw away sentences are used to explain why that thing they had only ever worked that one time.  This is just like SeaQuest all over again, down to the fact that Stephen Spielberg was involved until halfway through he managed to make it through a script and put an end to that.

This episode was about… something.  I think the entire point was that you would normally file this under character building, but for a show that is normally so based on the action with the more plotting scenes being done when they aren’t fighting for their lives—although sometimes during—it seems out of place the more slow paced episodes they have; this season has been full of those.  It is weird because the episode before this almost felt like a return to form as a handful of main characters died in a deceive battle, and now everyone has promptly forgotten that they were cast on the show at all. If you wanted to watch of people pretending to be dirty in a torn down city that is totally a set this is the episode for you.  I would try to recount what happened, but I remember about three things and every single one of them seems to be more boring than the last one.

Adventure Time: Season 6, Episode 16

Yeah, do your thing Joshua!

Where: Cartoon Network
When: Thursday at 7:00 PM

For the last, seemingly, couple of months the series has been pretty Jake and Finn light.  Normally that is fine, but that is also normally when they only do one episode at a time without the main characters.  I won’t even go so far as to call this an entire season’s worth of that kind of episode, as we eclipsed that some time ago. Sadly it feels like it has been roughly half the season since I have seen something only centered around the boys and their much better adventures.  I understand that the show itself has grown well beyond the scope of how it originally started, but in the same breath that also doesn’t mean that I am going to enjoy Treetrunks regardless of how many times they try and make seem super interesting.

That all being said, Joshua is the man.  If they decided that entire arches of the show were just going to be devoted to him being awesome and basically a Don Draper Dog that fights demons I would be more alright with that than another episode like the week’s before “Princess Day”.  Every time people even casually reference Finn and Jake’s parents most of the “baddies” in the area just slowly walk away like they just remember they left the stove on in an enclosed area near a child.  It isn’t even the normal “more interesting stuff probably happened in the past” level like Billy, most of the time you get full on Joshua flashback of him casually returning demons to hell while he records a memento for his kids.  This episode is pretty much no different, but instead focuses on the odd series of events that led up to Jake’s birth.

The Last Ship: Season 1, Episode 8

This show... Is awful

Where: TNT
When: Sunday at 9:00 PM
The last ship is a show about a Navy vessel sent out days before the true start of the worst plague ever.  Personally I would have liked it if the show had stopped there and just forced the crew to rebuild humanity with the limited means and resources left on the boat—bonus points awarded for them knowing almost nothing about the virus and figuring it out as crew members die, adding tension to the show.  Instead they have a doctor hitching a ride from the word go attempting to create either a cure or vaccine and ruining the pace of an otherwise wonderful, and potentially riveting, end of the world experience.  Did I mention that there are also Russians, and for some reason it appears that the only training videos they ever saw were Rocky IV and the original Red Dawn edited with the Americans dialog either cut out or replaced with a snarling animal.

This episode takes every ounce of tension that has built up since episode one, with Russia V. America, and finally makes everything come to literal blows.  The problem is that instead of feeling like some kind of well thought out Tom Clancy thriller it feels more like middle a schooler’s reenactment, although they only managed to stay awake during the exciting parts of a cable edited version of the movie.  Also all main characters seem to be immune to death and bullets.  The moment that a new member works their way into a speaking part it is a safe, if not assured, bet that they will die in a couple of episodes; if not that one they first acquired a name.  The worst part is that they try to make me, in particular, feel bad about this random person’s death.  Truth be told about a quarter of the way through most episodes I start check my mail on my phone and only look up every couple of minutes.  I guess if it was intended to be the show you watch while you catch up on Facebook or play a handheld game it succeeds fabulously.

Storage Wars: Season 5, Episode 20

You can actively see everyone confused and annoyed.

Where: A&E
When: Tuesday at 9:00 PM
Storage Wars is one of the few reality shows on Television that I have yet to decide how fake it is.  Don’t get me wrong, I know that some things that happen in it are faked, trumped up, or randomly staged so that something will happen during the episode—the problem is that I can’t really decide how much of it is a setup is up.  All of that said they do a pretty good job of hiding the production crew during the filming and kind of make you feel like a voyeur.  I have seen almost every episode, and since I have little to do to make my life interesting, I have watched to see if I could find a boom mic or random person with an ear piece in the audience or randomly stepping into show upon, oddly you almost never see it.  The one exception to this is when Barry showed up late, walked through the production crew to craft services where several were actively eating, and then grabbed an intern to help him bid his.  This was also the exact moment that Barry became, and will forever stay, the best member of the show.

This one episode managed to not only shows almost every single member of the crew, but also make me repeatedly question my stance on the realness of the show.

Dave (Hester) has been off of the show for about two years, or seemingly 500 episodes if you follow how often A&E seems to put new ones out there, after he basically decided that it would be a good idea to start spouting out accusations directed at the show that paid him, and then promptly sue the show for “wrongful” termination.  Needless to say he was taken off the cast list faster than a cheetah on Adderall trying to get out of a bad relationship.  That made him suddenly appearing back on the show less shocking and closer to appalling.  This is the man that went out to the media and said everyone he worked with was not only a liar and a cheat, but that the women on the show had fake breasts, breasts bought by the producers to get better ratings.   Even if the show dropped the charges and I was actively getting beers with the husband of the woman I said fake boobie things about, I don’t know if I could show up to work with them with that dumb smile on my face.  This is also only the drama from previous shows, he later started a screaming match with the auctioneer—something that is akin to telling a referee of a boxing match that his mother gives better blowjobs than his wife, but his sister is the real pro.  Even if he lets the match continue the other guy is getting away with stabbing you.

Not only was the screaming match awkward and possibly the least scripted thing ever produced on the show, but you could tell that it had been going on longer and longer as more and more people with ear pieces started making their way actively into the shot.  At one point the camera starts to shake and the boom falls into view and you can just tell that they are asking if they should really be shooting this or just calling the cops before actual violence breaks out.  It was wonderful and terrible and I kind of think everyone I know should totally watch this.

Supah Anime Fun Taimu! Spring 2014

After a bitter-cold winder with a fairly middling season of anime, spring came to the rescue with lots of awesome shows to watch.  This season was exceptional, delivering a wide variety of great shows.  There is something for everyone this time around, no matter how picky one’s tastes are.

I took on a lot of shows this season, ranging from very awesome to forms of torture I’m certain have broken international law.  However, even with such a big pile of anime chances are I missed out on something worthwhile.  If you have a favorite of the season or a hidden gem I may have missed, leave them in the comments!

Akuma no Riddle
(The Devil’s Riddle)
Protip: Do not date girls with shark teeth.

Akuma no Riddle was one of my “guilty pleasures” of this season.  As a yuri fan, obviously it would be hard for me to resist an anime about lesbian assassins.   Was it worth it?  Let’s find out.

This anime takes place in near future, in a world where powerful politicians and corporations are kept in check through dirty deeds.  This world has a need for a fresh supply of professional assassins, and the “Black Class” of Myojou Academy is one of the places they are trained.  The entire Black Class consists of aspiring female assassins, and the objective of the class is to successfully kill their target:  fellow classmate Haru Ichinose.  Success will allow the “winner” to have any wish they want granted.  Failure means being kicked out of the class… or worse.  When one of the members of the Black Class, Tokaku Azuma, decides she would rather protect Haru instead of targeting her, our story begins.

In the end, Akuma no Riddle isn’t the greatest show of the season, but it is far from terrible.  The show has some very cool fights and strange, but fun characters, each with their own background.  The ending will likely leave viewers scratching their heads, as the last couple episodes become very convoluted.  This show is hard to recommend overall, but the cast of odd characters and intense fight scenes are sure to draw a few fans here and there.

Black Bullet
Yandere lolis are deadly, yet somehow still adorable.

Black Bullet is a show that seems to gather a lot of criticism, but for some reason it turned out to be one of my favorite shows of the season.  Black Bullet takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting where mankind has nearly been wiped out by a mutagenic virus called Gastrea, which turns humans into deadly beasts.  The last survivors of mankind gather in cities protected by Varanium Monoliths, giant metallic pillars made of an alloy that repels the Gastrea.   Within the Cities, Civil Security Agents protect the citizens from Gastrea that slip past the monoliths.  Agents are usually paired with “cursed children”, young girls that are infected with the Gastrea virus, yet maintain human form and possess superhuman abilities.  The story is centered around and agent named Rentarou, and his partner, Enju.

What this all adds up to is a sci-fi/action show about badass fighters paired up with badass lolis.  Cheesy as this may sound, it ends up being very fun to watch.  Think something like “Gunslinger Girl” meets “A Certain Scientific Railgun.”  Black Bullet takes lots of typical anime tropes and mish-mashes them together, but it does so with excellent execution.  This show is packed with awesome action, cool characters, great villains, and some really interesting lore.  A lot of the negative criticism around this show seems to stem from the fact that even the cutest of characters can, and do, die.  If this bothers you, (and apparently it bothers a lot of people or at least a very vocal minority) you many want to pass on Black Bullet.  Not everyone will like this show as much as I did, but it is still worth checking out.

Blade and Soul
And this is why no one cares about studio Gonzo anymore.

Gonzo animation was once one of the biggest names in anime.  They brought about many modern favorites, and they were one of the few studios to flirt with western anime fans, most notably with “Afro Samurai.”  Unfortunately, ever since they dropped the Strike Witches franchise and let another studio have it, they have not been a relevant name in anime for years.  Will Blade and Soul be their triumphant return to the spotlight?  Spoiler alert:  Hell no.

Blade and Soul is an adaptation of a Korean MMORPG, and while game adaptations are seldom promising, it starts off with some decent potential.  The first few episodes gave me the impression this was going to be an action-packed oriental fantasy, with a feeling similar to the Ninja Scroll TV series.  Shortly thereafter I was treated to a disaster of terrible animation, a main character that spends almost half the season in miserable self-pity, and Saturday morning cartoon-tier villains.  The strong start this anime brings is both misleading and insulting, and the rapid downward spiral this show enters is a shameful display from a once prestigious anime studio.   It all that wasn’t bad enough, after the main story ends they still bothered to pump out of a final, out of place, poorly executed ecchi/comedy episode with animation quality so bad you will want to stab your eyes out.  I honestly don’t have an excuse for sticking with this show.  I should have dropped it as soon as it began falling apart.  Don’t repeat my mistake.  Avoid this show at all costs.

Break Blade (TV version)
Quartz robots are surprisingly awesome.

Break Blade is the TV version of a series of movies of the same name from 2010, broken up into individual episodes with some bits of new footage.  This story takes place on the continent of Cruzon, a place where most people are born with the ability to manipulate quartz crystals by will, or what they call “sorcery.”  Because of this, technology in this world is surrounded by machinery made of quartz.  The main character of this story is a young man named Rygart, an “unsorcerer”, someone born without the ability to manipulate crystals like most people.

Break Blade is a mecha anime about old friends drawn into warfare, fighting in crystal mecha called “golems.”  If you haven’t seen the original set of movies from 2010, this show features awesome action, nice designs, interesting characters, and amazing animation.  This show is sort of hard to find online, but is more than worth checking out if you are new to the franchise.  If you have already seen the movies, the new footage doesn’t quite justify another visit, and the “rushed” ending is still there as well.

Captain Earth
Don’t get too used to the Earth Engine, you won’t see much of it.

Captain Earth is a much hyped show that has left me and many other viewers with mixed feelings.  This show won’t finish up until the end of the summer season, so we will have to wait until then to form a final opinion of it.  The show came onto the scene boasting to be one of the few remaining mecha anime to feature fully hand-drawn mecha.  Most of the industry has moved onto CG, so this is an interesting concept for modern anime.

Captain Earth still holds lots of promise.  It has a fairly interesting story and some very cool designs.  The problem is this show has some bland characters that are derivative of much more interesting characters in other anime, and much of the promised mecha action just isn’t there most of the time.  The very cool, yet very overused “Earth Engine Expand” sequence has had more screen time than the Earth Engine actually fighting, and considering this show is halfway finished, that isn’t really a great sign.  This show is still just interesting enough to keep me watching through the summer up to the end, so hopefully I have better news by then.

Date a Live: Season 2
That was QUALITY, my dear.

This is probably the saddest show I have to speak of in this article, especially considering how good the first season was.  The first season of Date a Live was great.  I held it in such high regard it ended up in last year’s anime of the year feature.  Date a Live 2 is nothing more than a spit in the face to fans of the original show.

Red flags were already up because of a change in studio, only 10 proposed episodes, and episode one officially being stated as a filler episode.  From this point on, it only goes downhill.  The first major issue viewers will notice is the dramatic drop in production quality.  I’m not going to candy coat it, this anime is downright UGLY.  Tsunako’s amazing designs are butchered by inconsistent, off-model art, and that is norm for this show.  Couple this with the fact that most of the story is focused on some of the weaker story arcs from the light novels (I’m not going to lie, I really, really HATE Miku and her story arc is half the season), and you have a recipe for disaster.  Even if you loved the first season of this, or if you are a fan of the light novels, I strongly advise you avoid this, you will only find sadness here.   As a bright spot in all this, the upcoming movie should be pretty good so long as it isn’t a dreaded TV recap.

Escha & Logy no Atelier: Tasogare no Sora no Renkinjutsushi
(Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky)
Spoiler Alert: Logy never hooks up with her.  Stop asking.

For those not in the know, this is an adaptation of one of many games in the long running Atelier games, a JRPG series known for its item crafting and cute characters.  The fact that this game was adapted into an anime is a bit of a mystery in itself, especially considering that it is over a year old in Japan and doesn’t really need much in the way of promotion from TV anime.  Nonetheless, here we are.

Like most video game adaptations, Escha & Logy is very low budget, and it won’t take long for viewers to figure that out.  However, if you are willing to overlook that, you will be treated to the magic that keeps this game series going:  cute, fun characters doing cute, fun alchemy.  This show (and the games for the most part) is basically a slice of life with some fantasy and adventure elements.  Obviously this won’t appeal to every fan, but for those it will appeal to, you will have lots of fun watching this.  I’ve only played a few games in this series, and I have not played this one, so I can’t really say how faithful this is to the source material.  I can, however, say I still enjoyed watching this despite the low production values.

Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka?
(Is this Order a Rabbit?)
This is my secret to working nights.

Gochuumon is the kind of anime that drives most casual, western anime fans into a frenzy of anger.  It’s cute, silly, and a slice of life show.  For the rest of us, this is the kind of anime some fans call “comfy as fuck.”  Gochuumon is a slice of life/comedy about a group of cute girls working at a coffee shop, and their assorted misadventures in daily life.

This anime has everything that makes for a great slice of life: cute characters, detailed background settings, character-specific humor, and a relaxing pace that warms the heart.  Things are spiced up with some fun referential humor (strangely enough, tons of Metal Gear jokes) and tidbits of fanservice.  This was a simple, yet delightful anime, and a great way to come down after a hard day at work.  A must watch for slice of life fans or anyone that can’t resist a heavy dose of moe.

Happiness Charge Precure
Phantom doesn’t have time for bullshit like friendship.

Yup, I’m still watching this.

While this isn’t my first romp with a precure anime, I won’t deny that this sort of thing is an acquired taste.  You won’t find amazing writing and production values here, but there is still plenty of fun and action in these shows.  This season things heat up with the appearance of Phantom, the Precure hunter.  Phantom is the first “serious” villain of the show to appear, and the fights that come with each episode he appears in are lots of fun.  By now we are just shy of the halfway mark for this show.

Hitsugi no Chaika
(Chaika the Coffin Princess)
Won’t you help her have her father’s funeral?

Before we even get started, I’m going to say if you watch currently airing anime and you still haven’t watched Chaika, you need to stop reading this shit and go watch Chaika.   Chaika was one of the best shows of the season, and it already has a second season on the way this fall.

Chaika is the story of a pair of “Saboteurs”, Toru and his sister Akari, who are hired by a seemingly innocent young girl to gather the remains of the magic emperor Gaz, the villain behind a recent war that ravaged the continent.  Chaika is a very unique fantasy anime, with its own lore and worldbuilding, the sort of thing one would expect from a great JRPG.  This anime has a fascinating story, great characters, interesting lore, and everything else that reminds us as to why we started watching anime in the first place.  If you haven’t seen this yet, check it out.  If you already have, see you this fall for season 2!

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders
Don’t fuck with Dio.

Okay “manime” fans.  This is it, this is what you have been waiting for.  And yes, don’t get me wrong, I love my cute girls, but I also love a good dose of badass mother fuckers in my anime.  Stardust Crusaders is the next installment in the amazing anime adaptation of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, a crowd-pleaser of both fans of the original manga and anime fans looking for something a little… tougher than the average anime.

If you aren’t familiar with the manga or you haven’t watched the first two parts in the 2012 adaptation, you need to do that right now to get a grasp on what is going on.  Don’t worry, it will be awesome.  JoJo is absurd, strange, and violent.  It is battle shonen anime at its finest, a must see if that is your thing.  Rumor has it this is expected to go on for up to four cours.  I am perfectly okay with that, because this is one of the most fun shows to watch of this season, and I can’t get enough.  If you haven’t been watching JoJo and you like a good, fun, bloody battle shonen, you need to get on this.

Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara
(What if her flag were toppled?)
Fact: Real life is garbage because harems don’t happen in high school.

This show is about a student named Souta that has the ability to see “flags.”  Flags above the heads of people can indicate if they will become friends, lovers, or even if they will die.  (“Flags” is a term used by Japanese gamers to describe the mark of certain events set by choices made in visual novel games and rpgs.)  Souta can also “break” these flags, allowing him to change the fate of others.  While Souta typically uses this ability to keep to himself as a loner, he eventually ends up living in a dorm known as “Quest Hall”, which soon becomes filled with cute girls.

While this appears to be just another harem with some references to visual novel games, there is actually a very interesting sci-fi story that begins to unfold as the show progresses.  Yes, this is very much a harem anime, and if you have an issue with that you should move on.  For those that are still interested, however, you will be pleasantly surprised.  I came into this with minimal expectations, but this turned out to be one of my favorites this season.

Kenzen Robo Daimidaler
(Daimidaler the Sound Robot)
All men should have the super-power of breast grabbing.

Do you like giant robots?  Do you like to laugh?  Do you like boobs?  If you answered yes to all three questions, you should be watching this.  Daimidaler is a robot powered by “Hi-ERO” particles, an energy source that comes from perversion and the pilot powers up the robot’s special attacks by fondling his female co-pilot.  I’m not making this up, I’m not that creative.  They fight the “Penguin Empire”, a ridiculous army of faceless men with phallic “front tails.”  Yup, I’m still being serious here.

Daimidaler is an ecchi anime loaded with the lowest of low brow humor, and if you can enjoy that sort of stuff this show will have you laughing your ass off.  Also, strangely enough this show somehow has more mecha action than Captain Earth, so I’m not really sure what that says about Captain Earth.  This show is loads of fun, so if ecchi is your thing check this out.

Knights of Sidonia
Seriously man, she’s disgusting.

Even though this show is based on a fairly popular manga, early in its run it came under a lot of criticism for being a full CG anime, and tv-anime budget CG tends to be a bit off-putting to some.  Nonetheless, Sidonia’s excellent art and designs, thrilling action, and fascinating sci-fi storyline eventually silenced critics and put this anime up as one of the biggest shows of the season.  Sidonia takes place on a massive starship that goes by the same name, one of the last holdouts for the human race, which has been on the run from an alien race known as that Gauna.

At first glance, the CG animation seems to have a bit of a slow frame rate and somewhat “artificial” looking movement in its characters.  However, just as I learned when passing up on other CG shows like Ars Nova, this sort of animation will grow on you, and the story alone makes it all worth it.  The benefits of using this animation are displayed during the shows many, blazing-fast mecha fights.  Once you give this show a chance, you’ll be hooked, and the only bad thing most people have to say about this anime is that it ends.  Even then, a second season has already been officially announced due to the swelling popularity of the show.

Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei
(The Irregular at Magic High School)
Seriously man, she’s disgusting.

Mahouka is one of the most popular, and most infamous, shows of the season.  This takes place in a post-World War 3 future, in an alternate world where magic and science are one and the same.  The main protagonist is Tatsuya Shiba, a talented and reserved young man with hidden ties to military, now undercover as a lower-ranking student at a National Magic School.  This show receives equal heaps of adoration and pure hate for its overly-perfect main character, obsessive-compulsive exposition, and some odd bits of right-wing politics here and there.

Mahouka is an unusual and interesting show, at least at first.  Word-building seems to be much of the focus for this show, and it is packed with heavy handed explanations of how this world works and the “science” behind the magic used in the show.  Unfortunately, this is done so exhaustively it feels like some episodes are lessons in fictional physics with some cute girls tossed about here and there.  Along with this, the main character is the type that can do anything and everything perfectly, to a point of absurdity.  This is no exaggeration, just when you think Tetsuya is already a bit too perfect at all things magic and fighting bad guys, there is a scene where a girl is seriously injured and it is later explained she was saved  when Tetsuya jumped in and told the paramedics how to do their jobs.  Tetsuya is so perfect he’s better than everyone at everything, even though a major plot point is Tetsuya is “holding back” so people don’t discover his true abilities.  And his sister is really, really, hot.  And she wants to fuck.

The real knock against this show, however, is that despite everything going on, Mahouka still manages to be very bland.  The combination of very average character designs, long-winded “magical science” lessons, and a literal guarantee that Tetsuya is going to make everything better, all the time, can make this show a chore to watch.  I’m still curious to see how this turns out during the second half this summer, but as of now I’d say you can ignore the hype and pass on this.

No Game No Life
In the end, NEETs are the last saviors of humanity.

NGNL was one of the bigger shows of the season, based on a popular light novel series.  The story is about a pair of NEET siblings, Sora and Shiro, an unbeatable team at online games going by the name “Blank.”  One day a mysterious god draws them into a magical realm where all conflict is replaced by games and wagers.  Sora and Shiro then decide to put their gaming skills to the test and set out to conquer this realm, one step at a time.

This show is beautifully (and very colorfully) animated, and features a fun cast of characters in an interesting setting.  This anime has a bit of everything that makes anime fun to watch, and it was thoroughly entertaining from beginning to end.  Also, unlike Mahouka, this show takes the idea of strong main characters and executes it properly.  Each game is full of thrills and suspense, leaving viewers wondering if Shiro and Sora can pull through even though they seem to “know what they are doing.”  This was my number one favorite of the season, and definitely worth checking out.

Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin
(Nanana’s Buried Treasure)
And they are all total dicks to each other.

Nanana is based on an award winning light novel series, and the animated adaptation came out with much fanfare this season.  Nanana is about a group of genius students led by a girl named Nanana that started a project to challenge modern students, building an artificial island where students can hunt for treasures with mysterious powers.  Years later, the island took on a sizeable student population and a small handful of ambitious students search for treasures from the “Nanana Collection.”

Nanana has a fairly unique and intriguing storyline and a cast of odd, yet amusing characters.  For the first half I fell in love with this show, but towards the end some elements of it began to bother me.  A lot of the interactions between the characters change quickly and then revert back to normal with little explanation, but the worst thing about Nanana is how it finishes.  This show is full of mystery and intrigue, and it will leave viewers asking many questions.  By the time it is all said and done, nothing is answered, and nothing is resolved.  While many adaptations of ongoing works leave loose threads, they almost always conclude a major conflict or finish out an important story arc.  Nanana just… ends.  While I’d like to say Nanana is at least worth a look, I personally fell out of love with the show as fast I fell into it.  Unless you are planning on hunting down and translating the LN series, you should pass on this, because the anime will just leave you high and dry.

Seikoku no Dragonar
(Dragonar Academy)
You’ll know it’s anime when she starts groping the blonde’s tits.

Not content with allowing “Game of Thrones” to be the only fantasy show with dragons and lewd acts, Japan brings us the lovely ecchi/fantasy, Sekoku no Dragonar.  Dragonar is the story of Ash Blake, a student at an academy for dragon riders.  Unlike the rest of his classmates, however, Ash has yet to be paired with his “Pal”, the dragon that riders will be bound to through a lifelong spiritual link.  Despite this, he also has the gift of being able to tame and ride almost any dragon.  His luck continues when his Pal finally appears, and she takes the form of an adorable tsundere girl with rounded horns.

Like any good ecchi anime, Dragonar is packed with all of the nudity and sexy situations one could want.  If that wasn’t enough to keep you watching, Dragonar also has a pretty good fantasy storyline to tie all the lewdness together, making for a very entertaining total package.  If you were to somehow pull out all the ecchi bits you would actually be left with one of the better fantasy anime in recent times, though this still wouldn’t hold a candle to Chaika.  As far as ecchi shows go, I liked this more than Daimidaler, even though the comedy in Daimidaler was fantastic.  The only bummer about the TV version is that even the “uncut” broadcast is sans nipples in many scenes, because nipples are for BD buyers.  (Yes, that was important enough to mention)  Other than that, this is worth watching for anyone that has a thing for fantasy and ecchi.

Selector Infected WIXOSS
It’s just a card game, it’s not like anyone can get hurt… right?

Early in the season I passed on Wixoss, since the anime is intended to promote the real life card game of the same name.  I just assumed this was another Yu Gi Oh-type show.  Wow, I was really, really wrong.  I couldn’t help but notice mid-season that this show was getting lots of acclaim from fans, so when it wrapped up with a second season announced for fall, I decided to check it out.  I was treated to the biggest surprise of the season, and of the best shows of the spring.

Wixoss starts off seeming very innocent.  A girl named Ruuko is given a Wixoss card set from her brother, in hopes that playing the popular game will get her to meet new friends.  Ruuko notices one of her cards can speak to her, and discovers she is a “Selector,” a girl who can play Wixoss against other Selectors.  Continued victories against other selectors gives the victor the possibility of having her wish granted when she becomes an “eternal girl.”  However, a loss of three games against other selectors will result in the loser losing her selector abilities.  Sounds simple enough, right?

Unfortunately for Ruuko and the other selectors she meets, there is much more than meets the eye to this seemingly cute card game and its promise of magical wishes.  Nothing is quite what it seems to be, and the game comes with hidden, dangerous consequences.  That is where this show takes a surprisingly dark turn, and that is what makes Wixoss so good.  Many views say this show has a similar vibe to “Madoka Magica”, and in some ways they aren’t far off the mark.   In the end Wixoss doesn’t really seem like a glorified ad for the game at all, but instead tells a story about a twisted game that lures in and manipulates innocent people; and that in itself is a remarkable accomplishment.    Don’t let the card game theme turn you off; if you do you will be missing out on a very unique and awesome show.  Another one of my picks for the best shows of the season, Wixoss is totally worth a watch.

Soul Eater NOT!
I watch Soul Eater for the plot.

Soul Eater NOT, as the name seems to imply, is not quite the same thing as Soul Eater.  Not is essentially a slice of life story that takes place at the DWMA, and serves as a side story to Soul Eater.  While this has battle shonen oriented fans of Soul Eater raging with anger, this is actually a very worthwhile show.  If you are the kind of anime fan that can enjoy a wide variety of shows, you are in for a treat.  Not is about a girl named Tsugumi that goes to DWMA upon discovering she is a weapon, and the story of both her misadventures AND actual adventures at DWMA.

Not starts off like most slice of life shows, with the exception of its setting and the occasional appearance of characters from the main Soul Eater story.  However, don’t let the easygoing pace of the show fool you, this still takes place in the Soul Eater universe, so the “peace” won’t last for too long.  Soul Eater NOT is fairly average as far as slice of life shows go, but it is spiced up a lot thanks to its setting.  If you happen to be a fan of Soul Eater that also enjoys slice of life, you will likely enjoy this show.