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.

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.