Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spring 2014 Season Spotlights

Watching new anime as a simulcast is much like a mixed bag.  If you haven't read the manga or light novel of a series, you may not realize what is in store for you.  I, being the awesome dude that I am, don't read that much, so that leaves me being blindsided by series I thought I would enjoy not being as good and series I expected to be mediocre actually earns my interests more.  So I wanted to jot down my thoughts on various series I have seen from this season so far and whether I will be watching more.

Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara(If Her Flag Breaks)

Maybe a tiny person thought she was Everest?
The first new series I checked out was If Her Flag Breaks which I expected to be something in the style of The World God Only Knows and My Mental Choices are Completely Interfering with my School Romantic Comedy (Seriously, couldn't shorten the title a tiny bit there?) and in all actuality...that is how this series is shaping up so far.  However, unlike other series that I will be getting to that tires the genre it is going for, so far this series has captured my attention, though I am not sure if it will be something I will watch through the end or not.  The series is about a boy names Sota Hotate Hatate that has an uncanny ability to see "flags" appear above the heads of people at certain times.  For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a flag is usually an event that can trigger the flow of a game, usually meant for visual novels.  So if girl A starts to talk to you about her past, a "friendship" flag may appear which is determined by your actions.  If it is a success, she becomes your friend. If not, an angel will appear and rip off your head with the spinal cord attached. Tru fax.  Hatate can sense these flags in real life including ones for friendship, romance, and death. A girl named Nanami Bladefield, a real-life princess of an impoverished country notices Hatate's weird behavior and finds out his secret.  He does not sense any flags on here, no friendship, no romance, and no death.  He tells her that when people get close to him, then horrible fates will befall them.  Akane Mahogasawa is the first we see him interact with him that has some serious flag action.  Despite his attempts to break all of her friendship flags, she just keeps growing new ones.  I won't spoil any further, but there is also a twist at the end that I didn't expect which makes me intrigued about what will happen next.  Unfortunately, this series definitely reeks of the harem persuasion, especially with the ending of the first episode, and while all harems aren't bad, few have been done well.  Despite that, I can't wait to see the next few episodes.

Magica Wars

Yeah, purple crowds confuse me too
Oh Gainax, how I love what you do sometimes.  Unfortunately, I can't really comment much on what I've seen because this series only has 4 minute episodes and only one has been out as of this writing.  Magica Wars is a series where the prefectures of Japan are personified with Magical Girls. So think Hetalia, but with more action, more women, and way more localized Japanese stereotypes...I would imagine.  That being said, a quarter of the episode was the intro theme song.  If this is in all the episodes, then we're talking more like 3 minute episodes.  At least with Tonari no Seki Kun (which is still airing and still kicking it, in my opinion) the intro is much shorter, to accommodate with the shorter air time.  Maybe it is a one time thing, which sucks since this was our intro to the series.  Although honestly, that is my lone complaint thus far.  The animation is fantastic and stylish and the episode went from action to comedy effortlessly.  I look forward to more.

No Game No Life

Konata 2.0
With most series, I try to do the "three episode test", meaning I give the series three episodes before I decide whether I will keep watching.  Three chances to draw me in.  In the case of No Game No Life, I may not even make it to three episodes.  Like I mentioned on If Her Flag Breaks, you can tell what No Game No Life is trying to tap in to.  We get it, Sword Art Online was a great experience and was the king of anime for a season.  When companies see success with the genre, they try to go with something similar.  Remember when Haruhi Suzumiya was the big kid on the block?  What happened after that?  There was a rise in school-based comedy and series focusing on moe.  Since Sword Art Online and Accel World was a hit, others have tried to follow like Log Horizon and No Game No Life.  I'm simply not convinced that this will be a series worth investing my time.  The series is about Sora and Shiro, a brother and sister that are major gamers and basically have no life.  Seriously, every negative stereotype of gamers are highlighted in the first third of the episode.  Tired of this sucky life, they are swept into a world where everything is determined by games.  World borders, disputes over cattle, people arguing over the finale of How I Met Your Mother, all conflicts are settled with games.  Since the gaming wunderkinds are in this world, they just rock at everything, making Sora a horribly cocky, unlikable protagonist.  Oh, and you have to keep reminding yourself that Shiro is only 11, despite the adult tones, references to her breasts, panty shots, and that kind of stuff.  Actually, after writing that, I'm pretty certain I'm going to just drop this series,  It isn't worth my time, or really anyone else's.  If you want a good series about gamers in a fantasy world, check out any of the other series I mentioned in here.

The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behavior

I hope kohai will notice me!
What happens when you have two boys and three girls share a dormitory?  Why slice-of-life hilarity of course!  The series with the name that should be shorter is about Usa, a regular high schooler that just wants a quiet, normal life while stalking a girl he has the hots for at first glance.  When he arrives at the complex, he finds out that said girl, Ritsu Kawai, lives there, he realizes that he can have a chance to date her.  In addition to him, a masochist named Shirosaki, a bitter, raunchy lady named Nishikino, and a hidden demonic girl named Watanabe also live on the premises, as well as the elderly landlord Sumiko.  Everyone has a distinct personality, but I have this feeling that the series is probably going to delve deeper into their characters.  How much you want to bet that most of these weirdos has some kind of heartbreaking past?  It just feels like a cookie cutter series so far which isn't the worst thing in the world, I'm just not sure how it is going to stick out with the other multitudes of romantic slice-of-life comedies out there.

The World is Still Beautiful

Every time I hear Nike, I think "Just Do It" 
I had no idea what to expect from this one, but after seeing the reviewers of the interwebs praising it highly, I figured that I would give it a shot, and I'm glad I did. The series centers around a young princess named Nike, who has control over wind and rain.  She is being sent to a place called the Sun Kingdom to be taken as a bride to the king, Livius, who also is very young.  Nike tries to get Livius to see the beauty of the world which will enable her to bring the rain to the Sun Kingdom which hasn't seen a shower in decades.  Livius, despite being young, is a pretty bitter and lifeless person that has had the weight of the kingdom on his shoulders, so he is a great antithesis to Nike.  The series is animated well, has a fantastic soundtrack, and tells a compelling story of a princess that is trying to get a cynical boy to see that the world is still beautiful.  See what I did there?  Hey, I never said I was original!

One Week Friends

Kaori's a crepe-er
Reading the description of the series, I knew how this series was going to present itself and that it is probably going to be one of those series that is going to be all about the feels.  That pretty much hits the nail on the head.  One Week Friends is about a boy named Yuki and a girl named Kaori and the budding friendship between the two, or so it would seem.  Kaori suffers from a mental condition after a car accident that causes her to forget about any pleasant memories or friends every Monday.  So the first episode is already pretty heart breaking to see.  Yuki is obsessed with making Kaori his friend, and while she starts off with her defenses up, she eventually warms up to him and the two share some nice conversations together.  She becomes distant again and he asks her why, and she tells him about her condition.  When Monday rolls around Yuki strikes up a conversation with her and she responds with cold, expression-less eyes that indicates that she did, in fact, forget about last week.  It has a pretty tragic feel to it, though Yuki decides that no matter what, he is going to figure out how they can be friends, even if it means asking her to he his friend every week.  It is a touching story that has promise, but also is moving.  I can see this series getting pretty tragic, though we'll have to wait and see about that.  I was excited about this series before it aired, and the first episode has me wanting more.

That concludes my Spring 2014 roundup thus far.  I haven't seen many other series that catches my attention, and I may not end up watching all of these the entire way through, but at least I found more potential with this season than I did with the winter season.  These series, minus No Game No Life, plus Tonari no Seki Kun, means that my spring will be full of all kinds of interesting stories, and given that I'm down to about two series I still watch on TV currently, it isn't a moment too soon.

What are you watching this spring?  Let me know in the comments.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Hummingbird - Another Anime Management Site

The other day I was introduced to a site called Hummingbird.  Like MyAnimeList, it is a place where you can review series you've seen, find recommendations, and discuss anime with other users.  It has a small user base, but so far I've been impressed with the user experience as far as the site and app are concerned.  I don't know if it will catch on or not, but I've enjoyed it.  You can also supposedly find more series geared to your tastes based on what you've seen and rated, so for someone like me that is a major plus.  Also, if you have used MyAnimeList for a while and don't feel like re-entering that information, Hummingbird tells you how to download your series from MyAnimeList and upload it to their site.  It will automatically add the series you marked on there which is really convenient.

I added an account as well as a non-comprehensive list of series I've seen as well as my thoughts on a majority of them.  You can view it and add me there.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Animezing Blog Is Back! For Today! + Anime I've Been Watching

I'll admit it, I suck.  Updating a blog, unlike a few years ago, is almost a tedious task for me given my current job and schedule.  I was honestly planning an audio blog type thing for here and as usual plans fell through.  I have the equipment, just not the time.  I am not going to promise anything.  No regular schedule, no promises of another entry, nothing like that.  I'll update when I can.  I hope it is more frequent than...*looks at previous entry*...about once a year, so here's to that!

The past year has been a tough one on me as far as anime is concerned.  Honestly, I'm wondering if I am slowly losing interest in the hobby.  Don't get me wrong, I love what I've seen and still think some series can rival that of American television, but my intake has slowed down significantly.  This has been partly due to, again, my busy schedule, where I barely have time for regular television let alone extra things like anime.  Last year was probably my slowest year as far as watching and obtaining new titles, though if the start of this year is any indication, I'm on a rebound.  The con circuit has also been a bit tiresome.  I still enjoy my conventions, just not the way I used to.  Also, due to some schedule changes, I may be going to fewer this year, but we'll see.  The plan right now is Visioncon in late February, which isn't a full on anime con, but has a neato anime department that I'll actually be helping out with this year, possibly Naka-kon (best con I went to last year), and if things work out, ACEN. 

One thing that has helped is a local anime club that started in my area this past fall.  I'll have to post about it later.

Rats. There I go promising future post things again.

So that has been 2013 in review.  One thing that happened was that I got a year subscription to both Crunchyroll and Funimation Elite.  I'll talk more about Funimation Elite down the road (Another future post allusion.  CRAP!), but I have been watching quite a bit on Crunchyroll.  Some may have noticed that I usually prefer dubbed to subbed anime.  This is mainly because of my lack of wanting to read actual text while watching moving pictures, but also I can multitask when I hear English explain things for me.  The transition to subbed anime hasn't been perfect, but I can handle it for what Crunchyroll offers, which is plenty of simulcasts of current series in Japan.  I've actually been impressed with the service and have been following what series I can and catching up with others.  Here is a short list of what I have been watching:

Golden Time

Am I being creepy enough yet?

As I'm about to mention in another preview, I don't like to watch series based on who wrote or direct it.  Just because the person that wrote Sgt. Frog wrote another series does not mean the next one will be as good or better.  Each series stands on its own legs.  That being said, the writer that brought us Toradora has given us Golden Time.  This is a romantic comedy drama mix that is about two people in love.  The girl is a crazy stalker and the boy lost his memory and used to love another girl that goes to the same college.  Yeah, yay, love triangles and all that garbage.  The series has actually gotten to the point where I don't root for any of the characters (except 2D Kun) or particular couples (Other than rooting against Linda...she is too socially idiotic and that's coming from ME).  It is just interesting seeing them interact with one another.  It isn't the best series I've seen, not even the best in the past couple of years, but I still set time to catch each episode as it comes out.  So for whatever reason, this series has me hooked.  If I had to guess why, it would be because of the characters and development of their personalities probably.  Definitely worth a check out!

Attack on Titan

I think this is the best representative pic of the series
Yes, the series people will not shut up about.  Honestly, I have not watched the whole series yet, only the first half...and the recap episode.  I will say this, I get why the series is as popular as it is, and I can see why it is so hyped.  The story is impressive, but I think my expectation for it was too high.  You see, the bad thing about hyping the series is when people like me get around to watching it, they leave a little disappointed.  It honestly feels more like a flavor of the season kind of show and the popularity for it will wane just like it has for series before it, like The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and Spice and Wolf.  I could be wrong and it may be the next big series like Fullmetal Alchemist or One Piece, but I weirdly doubt that.  As for my current opinion of the series, I like it, I just don't love it.  It is merely fine.  I LOVE the first opening like any breathing entity should, I really liked the art style with the black outlines for characters, but the story and atmosphere just hasn't done it for me.  This is another series where I don't like most of the characters, but that's fine.  I prefer the mythology of the Titans, but the series focuses more on humanity trying to survive and the douchebags soldiers that defend them  I call the series a mix of Spiderman, Fullmetal Alchemist, and zombie apocalypse.  I'll eventually get to the second half, just not right now.

 Non Non Biyori

Definitely not a mascot character
Where do I begin?  Ok, maybe I have no right to judge this series just yet since I've only seen one episode, but I just don't get it.  I'll try my best to give it the benefit of the doubt but so far it is one of the worst series I've seen the past couple of years.  Not to paint with a broad brush, but the series is balls-tastically boring.  I spent most of the episode watching the timer, wondering when it would end.  The series focuses on four girls that live in the sparsely populated country, to the point where they and a nondescript male are the only ones at the local school.  They are all in different grades, they walk through the country, quiet happens....and....they talk.  Honestly, this series so far seems like the supermodel of anime.  It looks shiny and pretty, but it lacks substance.  The episode was sprinkled with forgettable jokes, and layered with quiet contemplation.  I get that maybe they are trying to convey a quiet countryside, but I live in the middle of nowhere.  It is boring here.  It was boring watching this.  I'll try it again when I recover from my experience, but it isn't looking good at all.

Engaged to the Unidentified

Hey, I was wondering if you have directions to the emo convention?
So far I have enjoyed this series.  Much like Golden Time, it isn't spectacular in any stretch of the imagination, but at least it tries to be entertaining, and it actually is at times.  The series follows a girl who just turns 16, and the same day a boy and his sister move into her house, the former being picked as her future husband by her deceased grandfather.  He basically has no presence.  I don't mean that in a "he is a ghoooooost" kind of way, but in a "wow, I totally forgot he was there" kind of way.  He sits in the background, no one notices him, not even his fiance, and the few moments he does do something, it is hilariously awkward.  His sister clearly steals the show by being the bratty "I will not let my big brother marry this wench!" stereotype.  It has all be done before, but that isn't a bad thing.  The first episode got my attention, and now I await more.  Hilarious, cute, and slice of life in parts which for me is pretty much a slam dunk.

Tonari no Seki-kun: The Master of Killing Time 

This isn't even my final form!
Evidently there is a trend in anime to have shorter series.  Instead of the traditional half hour series, more are adapting a more Hetalia-like approach and offering episodes of less than 10 minutes of length.  While I'm not fond of the trend, if there was going to be an argument for this, Tonari no Seki-kun would be a good argument for it.  The series is simple.  It is about Seki, a boy that likes to waste time during class lectures with odd hobbies and his foil, Yokoi.  She seems to be the only one that notices that he is not paying attention and ends up distracting her with his exploits.  The first two episodes have been good, with one about falling dominoes and the other about Shogi turning into a samurai period piece.  The series so far has a defined pattern.  Seki starts with a regular object or hobby, it goes out of proportion, Yokoi notices and either gets in trouble from the teacher or gets sucked in to Seki's nonsense.  The series doesn't seem like it will go much beyond that, but it is the simplicity of the set up that I enjoy.  You know where it will end up, you just end up enjoying the journey more.  This probably wouldn't work as a full fledged series as three of these in a row would be tiresome, so the 7 minute episodes are actually perfect for what it offers.  I look forward to more in the weeks to come.

Hozuki no Reitetsu

He isn't staring at an aquarium.  Trust me on this.
This has been the surprise of the season so far.  The series is essentially about a demon supervisor that works in Japanese hell.  You see, there are different kinds of hell, some specific to Europe, some to animal torturers, and some for perverts.  Hozuki, the supervisor, is a dead-pan, unimpressed, unable to have his jimmies rustled kind of demon, and he has to put up with all the characters in hell, including the King Enma who seems like a demonic King Dedede.  The series is probably not for newbies to anime or Japanese culture, but it still manages to get laughs out, if you are in to the deadpan kind of humor.  The first half of the first episode involves Peach boy and his animal companions.  Do you not know who Peach boy is?  Well, the humor may be lost on you some.  Did you know that Ayer's rock is referred to as the bellybutton of the Earth?  That is how demons describe it.  Hozuki may end up being one of the toughest characters to come out in a while.  Satan, the European hell leader give Japanese hell a visit, planning on overruling it when he gets a chance, is completely scared witless by Hozuki just because of his collected nature and the fact that he mispelled Santa as Satan in his recipe.  Satan runs away yelling for God to save him.  That is the kind of power Hozuki has.  He made Satan himself screaming for God's help.  That alone makes this series worth watching for a while.

The emo convention is right here!

That is it for now.  I'm also hoping to catch Watamote and see if I can stand that series or not.  It is next on my list.

So that has been the past couple of months for me.  It feels great to be back in to the hobby like this again.  I hope there will be more to report on in the near future.  As for now, this is my lot, and I'm fine with that.  What recent series have you been watching?

There, I think that oughta do it for the year.

The Allengator