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.