Best in Gaming 2015

I know it’s pretty late for yearly reviews, but better late than never, right?!  2015 was a year that I probably played more games than watched anime.  Well, other than One Piece, which I am still in the process of catching up on.  It was a pretty turbulent year for me on a personal level:  new job, new city, new friends and lots of traveling.  I also closed out some ties last year that were weighing me down and am, so far, happier.

Gaming last year was great, though.  Last year I discovered that I enjoy story in gaming more than any other aspect.  My choices from last year reflect that – each of these had some impact on me on an emotional level.  So here’s my picks for the year.  If you are more interested in gameplay than story, these may not apply to you as much.

5.  Pillars of Eternity

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While I never got around to beating it, Pillars of Eternity seems like an easy shoe-in for my top 5.  The storytelling was consistently witty and fun.  I was entertained.  Enough said.

4.  Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

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While there are definitely things flawed about MGSV, like, I don’t know, it not being complete, Kojima’s final Metal Gear game definitely qualifies as one of my games of the year.  As the finale in the story of Big Boss, the story ties together the Metal Gear games brilliantly.  Were things retconned?  Sure.  Was it an afterthought?  Absolutely.  But the fact that Kojima was able to construct something to tie together the Metal Gear games which honestly has a quagmire of a plotline?  Outstanding.  I’m so glad to see Kojima rid of Konami’s grasp and look forward to what he creates in the future.

3. Undertale

Credit:  http://momoppi.tumblr.com/
Credit: http://momoppi.tumblr.com/

Did I like the gameplay?  Nope.  Did I like the graphics?  Hell nope (hence why they aren’t even pictured).  But was it the best story I played on an emotional level?  100%.  Absolutely.  It’s a ten.  Definitely.  The story was outstanding.  The characters were personable, believable, and funny.  The personalities came out despite the lack of skill put into actually creating the game itself.  The only reason this game isn’t higher on the list is because it limits itself by restricting graphics and gameplay to prehistoric levels.  It’s a pet peeve of mine and I got past it.  It was well worth it.

2. Tales from the Borderlands

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So first things first, I’m not a huge fan of the Borderlands games.  They’re over-glorified FPS games with loot scavenging tendencies with very little interesting plot.  This isn’t a typical Borderlands game.  I’ve recently discovered that I’m a -huge- fan of the Telltale games and this is definitely a Telltale game before it is a Borderlands game.  Sure, there are some in-jokes that I missed since I never have finished a full Borderlands game, but overall the game was quirky, entertaining and, at times, epic.  Our heroes are of the most unbelievable sort and seeing their evolution is outstanding.

1.  Life is Strange

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While Life is Strange was definitely a journey into Hipsterville, I got attached to its characters more than any other game last year.  There were reasonable twists in the story that I didn’t expect and I was legitimately torn between several options in the game.  There was plenty of foreshadowing for the eventual spiral out of control the game presents.  So yeah – I valued the story greatly.  It could occasionally get sophomoric, but it was definitely something that kept me glued to my seat.

Honorable Mentions:

  • The Witcher 3:  I always get bogged down in these games by side-quests, but genuinely enjoy the plot.
  • Splatoon: Enjoyable gameplay…but that’s all there is to it.

Disappointments:

  • Xenoblade Chronicles X:  I bought a Wii U for this game.  I have not made it past the main menu screen because the text is moronically small.

Conventional Wisdom

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This year I went to an overwhelming number of conventions.  A lot.  A total of 12 this year, with two falling on the same weekend.  Since I am wrapping up my convention season and I learned a lot from the experience,  I figured my blog would be the best avenue for discussion.

At the beginning of the year, I set a goal to visit as many conventions as I could.  I figured it would be a fantastic endeavor considering I’ve always enjoyed the atmosphere of cosplay, being surrounded by people with like minds and having the opportunity to travel.

And travel I did.  I visited Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, Dallas, Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Kansas City – along with some common stops within Arkansas to watch my local conventions grow.  On average, I was in a different city at least once a month this year, and I couldn’t have been happier with the experience.

Company, Not Quantity

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One thing I made sure to do while traveling this year was to  visit cons both large and small.  I went to the largest North American convention, Anime Expo and likely one of the smallest, Anime Con Arkansas.  I had a blast at both.

In both cases, I enjoyed myself so thoroughly not because of the number of people attending (or lack thereof), but because I surrounded myself with quality people.  I went to Anime Con Arkansas with some of my best friends.  We sang karaoke; we hobbled around the convention hall after getting cut off of Fireball shots at the Flying Saucer –  we enjoyed ourselves despite having relatively nothing to do at the convention.

While the Arkansas convention scene was usual, expected and comfortable, I went to Anime Expo nearly blind of the territory and without really knowing the people I would be staying with.  I returned still blind, since I lost my glasses in the Pacific Ocean, but invigorated by having made new friends that share the same zeal as me.

Conversely, there were a few cons I visited this year that I observed mostly alone.  While I wouldn’t even begin to say I didn’t enjoy myself at these conventions, there is something to be said about having partners in crime.  Whether it’s helping a friend with his passion for art or simply contracting a solid crew for your convention, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to have someone to share in the experience and make it all the more memorable.

Passion For The Community

Over the years I’ve been a cosplayer, a photographer with shaky hands, a dealer’s room enthusiast and an art salesman assisting a friend.  Next year, I plan on being a panelist.

The point being – whatever your convention passion is, live it and breathe it.  As a cosplayer, I strive to be a good representation of the character I am cosplaying as, even if it is obscure.  Especially if it is obscure.  As a photographer I took pictures of moments and not just costumes – some of my favorite photos and videos are from Nan Desu Kan, where so many random gatherings happened that I was able to enjoy despite flying solo.  At several cons this year, helping a friend sell art gave me unimaginable joy.  The short interactions with people, the enthusiastic remarks (even if some become predictable) and the knowledge that I am helping a friend while enjoying myself – I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

Learn your passions and explore them.  Then find new ones and enrich your life.

The Broadening Convention Demographic

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One of the trends I’ve noticed and celebrated over the past few years, especially after having visited so many conventions this year, is the widening of the age group considered acceptable at conventions.

When I visited my first convention (A2F in 2008), I thought my group of friends was an outlier in the convention scene.  College adults who enjoyed anime and wearing costumes.  But while that still is the case to some extent at A2F – to a fault since its demographic is aging past its target audience – it is certainly not the case for the majority of conventions I attended.

Most conventions are adopting more adult activities and I’m not just talking hentai night.  Late night readings of bad fan-fiction.  Lounges to drink and talk about anime.  There’s way more (interesting) things to do as an adult at a convention these days, and most conventions are beginning to follow suit with offering the expanded content.

Onward and Outward

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I’m not sure if I will attend the same volume of conventions next year, but I’ll definitely be a serial con-goer.

My goal is a little broader for next year – both in scope and in reach.  I’d like to visit at least the top 5 largest anime conventions in the United States next year, but also revisit Japan for Comiket.

One of the things I have learned about myself over the past year  is that I love travel.  New places bring life to me like nothing else – and the experience is energizing.  I would not have discovered this if not for the pull that conventions have had on me.

So get out there and live your passion.  Anime, comics, anything.  You’ll definitely learn something about yourself in the process.

2014 Best of Anime Awards…Yet To Come

Usually at this time of the year I spend a few hours typing up a long review of the best anime of the year.  Unfortunately, this year has been taxing both on my time and on a personal level.  As such, I haven’t had the chance to watch nearly as many anime as I feel would warrant an end of the year review.

But don’t worry, I’m catching up!  I expect a wrap-up in mid to early January after I finish my shortlist.  I’m currently watching Your Lie in April – which is a fantastic series and highly recommended from me.

Even though I haven’t had the chance to watch as much anime as I usually would, I do want to end the year with something.  So instead of my usual, I’ve done a little research and put together what I believe to be the best anime openings this year.  Criteria is based on the song itself, the animation that goes along with it, and the cohesiveness of the opening.

Enjoy the songs! (some may be slightly off-key because Youtube)

15. Goya wa Machiawase – Hello Sleepwalkers (Noragami OP)

I really, really like the way this opening is colored and how well the animation goes along with the song.  Just wish the show wasn’t as mediocre (or so I’ve heard – I didn’t get through the first episode).

14. Kimi ja Nakya Dame Mitai – Masayoshi Ooishi (Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun OP)

This is an incredibly fun song – I love how they’ve done the manga illustrations.  When it picks up with the tanuki explosions…well it’s just great.

13. Enigmatic Feeling – Ling Tosite Sigure (Psycho-Pass 2 OP)

I feel like this song really captures the cerebral nature of Psycho-Pass.  I’ve heard the second series is even darker than the first and it’s way up on my list for shows to watch since I enjoyed the first season.

12. Rashisa – SUPER BEAVER (Barakamon OP)

This is my first entry in the “beautiful” category (this will be a large category).  Once again, tying in the calligraphy here is great.  Another series that I definitely want to watch.

11. This Game – Konomi Suzuki (No Game, No Life OP)

So, yeah – this song is pretty much generic J-Pop.  I’m not denying that.  But its animation really goes well with it…also No Game, No Life’s animation is just great anyway.  Looking forward to the next season.

10. FLAT – livetune ft. Yuuki Ozaki (Hamatora OP)

Gawd, I love Galileo Galilei (Yuuki Ozaki is the singer in the band).  I’ve always really liked the crazy colors in this opening and would like to think that I -might- like Hamatora if I got around to watching it.

9. Unravel – TK from Ling Toshite Sigure (Tokyo Ghoul OP)

I think this is the first song that really invokes some big feels.  I didn’t get around to watching this series, but this opening is…haunting.  Also, the part where it picks up is phenomenal.

8. Trigger – Yuuki Ozaki (Zankyou no Terror OP)

Ahhhh, more Yuuki Ozaki.  This opening really captures Zankyou no Terror’s feeling so well.  I watched 3 episodes but don’t have a Funimation subscription so I keep putting it down.  I WILL be finishing this series.

7. EXiSTENCE – SiM (Shingeki no Bahamut : Genesis OP)

Don’t know how I feel about the weird CG dragon thing, but otherwise this song rocks and makes me want to watch this series.  I like the controlled chaos of its animation and when the song gets cleaner it’s just great.

6. Shiver – Lucy Rose (Mushishi Zoku Shou OP)

This kind of song is a great spiritual successor to Sore Feet Song.  The minimalism is perfect for Mushishi.

5. STAND PROUD – Jin Hashimoto (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders OP)

Not as good as Bloody Stream by Coda, but super anthemic.

4. ambiguous – GARDiNELiA (Kill la Kill OP 2)

If the blood-spray from Satsuki and Ryuko painting Kill la Kill doesn’t get you pumped, you’re wrong.

3. Let Me Hear – Fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas (Parasyte OP)

I’m a little biased because Fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas is one of my favorite bands, but this opening really is done well.  The clean vocal parts correspond well to the animation as do the screamed vocals.

2. Daze – Jin ft. MARiA aka GARDiNELiA (Mekakucity Actors OP)

This song is just great.  I will admit that until about halfway the animation is a bit lacking.  But it’s good where it’s good.  I really need to watch the Bluray version of the show where they’ve done all the changes.

1. Hikarunara – Goose House (Your Lie in April OP)

This song feels nostalgic, and it’s new, so you know you’re in instant classic territory. The show is great and this opening – the song, the animation, the way it is so cohesive – really just captures a tiny fragment of the greatness.

Moe, Bro, Moe or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Watch the Show

Moe-bro shit.

I’ve said those words time and time again to dismiss a series prior to watching it because it seems to fall into the moe “genre”.  I’ve written at great length about moe and its invasion into anime norms.  And, definitively, moe has entrenched itself into anime.

But I’ve been wrong.  For one, moe is not a genre – it’s more a method of depicting characters –  and, as such, does not dictate plot, subject matter or character development.  That means that even though a show might look like mindless drivel…

chuunibyou-demo-koi-ga-shitai-1-takanashi-rikka-finger-twirl1…it might be something with much more substance.

A little over a year ago I challenged my readers to start forming constructive opinions about anime.  Today I can finally say that I’ve dissolved my own opinions about moe in anime and believe I have substantive evidence that it’s not that I have hated moe-bro shit this entire time – I’ve just hated shit, in general.

It began with Chuunibyou.  I’ve recently been interested in broadening my perspective on anime – watching mostly cerebral series can be tiring – so I picked up Chuunibyou as what I thought would be a light, guilty pleasure.  Suffice it to say, Chuunibyou was not that kind of show.  Sure, it didn’t have the intricate plot I usually look for in anime, but it did have something I’ve been missing:  a depth of character interaction that I rarely had experienced in anime, romance.  The series was covered with moe, but didn’t allow it to color its development.  I developed an attachment to the characters that I found nowhere else in anime.

And that’s what moe can do when used correctly.  Though moe has no strict definition, most would agree that it has roots in describing the affinity one has for a specific character.  Speaking from experience, it definitely can create that kind of character attachment.  Used solely for a financial grab, the utilization of moe in anime typically churns out plotless atrocities like K-On.  But what if it could be used for a more innocent purpose?

That thought in mind, I still mostly dismissed Chuunibyou as a rarity and resumed my normal watching habits.  However, a show piqued my interest:  Nisekoi.  It was produced by my favorite studio, SHAFT, and directed by Akiyuki Shinbo so I thought I’d give it a shot.

Nisekoi-The-Best-Romantic-Comedy-Series-EverImmediately, elements of moe – but the show was presented in a way that kept me watching (and smiling constantly).  Despite the anti-climax of an ending (of which I hear we are getting another season), the show was legitimately good with an interesting plot – though Raku needs to fix his memory.  I liked the characters in the show so much that I really can’t and don’t want to decide who Raku should end up with – and I can only admit that this is probably because the show used moe aspects to make the characters seem more appealing.

All of this is to say that I made my final, probably irrevocable, step into moe and finished Toradora today – solidifying my new-found opinion that has been developing over the last several months.

Toradora!.full.651090

Toradora tackled so many distinct and often complex emotions and situations that I must admit that moe is no longer a problem for me.  On the one hand, the comedy in the series (otherwise known as anything Minori says) is top notch and fun to watch.  However, Toradora also explores the isolation of being separated from two divorced parents who are both physically and emotionally absent, the responsibilities associated with taking care of both a childish train-wreck of a single mother and oneself, unrequited love, the use of facades to mask ones true emotions, and so many more complex scenarios.  It made me laugh at times and then cry 10 seconds later when I realized that the comedy wasn’t always for fun, but it was sometimes to cover deep emotions that can’t always be expressed in front of others.

And all of this in spite (or probably as a result) of the moe.  The thing I claimed to hate ultimately added to the endearment of the characters in a way that I’m convinced is not possible otherwise.  All of the characters (besides Kitamura, he was relatively boring) were just so complex, so incredibly well-developed and so…moe…you just couldn’t help but love them.

Now that I’ve changed my mind about moe when used as an enhancement, not as a sole attraction, what shows have you seen that I may like?

2013 Best of Anime Awards

Hi everyone!  It’s been a while since I’ve posted (more about the direction I plan on taking the blog at the end of this post), but my yearly anime awards are something that have to happen.  I feel a little under-qualified this year to be posting one of these best-of’s because, frankly, I’ve developed a bad habit of watching the first 2 episodes of series and then stopping.  Despite that, I can definitely make some judgement (desu no) calls based on what I have seen.  I am only posting winners instead of runner-ups this year, except for in the overall series.  In addition, only shows that have been completed this year will be considered (notable omission is Kill La Kill).

  • Overall Series
  • Action Series
  • Comedy Series
  • Drama Series
  • Fantasy Series
  • Sci-Fi/Mecha Series
  • Adult (Seinen/Jousei) Series
  • Movie
  • OVA
  • Character
  • Artwork
  • Opening Theme
  • Ending Theme
  • Biggest Surprise
  • Biggest Disappointment
  • Most Cliche
  • Scene
  • Voice Actor
  • Potential Bests, The Anime I Didn’t Get to this Year.

Action Series:

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Attack on Titan

While I definitely believe that Attack on Titan, on the whole, is extremely overhyped and predictable, I think that it would probably be a sin not to concede that it is the best action series of the year.  Attack on Titan began with the workings of a great series with phenomenal action scenes (potentially some of the best anime action I have ever seen).  Its weakness lies only in the fact that its plot and plot devices are a lot more shallow than they potentially could have been.  Bleach syndrome (obtaining the powers of your enemy) is a problem for me, especially when not done elegantly.

Anyway, Attack on Titan still had the best action this year, despite its other glaring flaws.

Comedy Series:

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Oreimo 2

Frankly, I’m very much unqualified to be judging comedy in anime.  It’s just not my thing.  However, I’ve always liked the comedy in the Oreimo series and what I’ve seen of Oreimo 2 has been great (I do plan on finishing it, but more on that later).  Also, Holy Angel Kamineko.  From what I’ve heard from other reviewers (and people in general), the best comedy of the year is probably The Devil is a Part-timer, but I didn’t give that show a chance.

Drama Series:

flowers-of-evil-animeFlowers of Evil

Even though I haven’t finished this series either, I’ve seen enough to know that this is absolutely drama city.  That and it’s probably one of the darkest dramas I’ve ever seen.  Don’t start watching this when you want to be happy or want to feel normal 1-2 days after.

Fantasy Series:

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Blast of Tempest

Starting in 2012, this show finished up in 2013 and counts.  Honestly, Blast of Tempest is a really close contender for best show I’ve seen this year, period.  I could go on and on (https://nixnao.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/zetsuen-no-tempest-blast-from-the-past/) about how great this show is, but the link pretty much sums up my thoughts.  We’ll just say that I felt like this show was a roller-coaster worth riding.

Sci-Fi/Mecha Series:

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Psycho-Pass

While Psycho-Pass didn’t necessarily end the way I wanted it to (good thing there is a second season in the works), I believe that conceptually it was a great show.  Sometimes it got a little far-fetched, but the dystopia presented is well-realized and very self aware.

Adult (Seinen/Jousei) Series:

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Monogatari Series Second Season

Monogatari counts as a Seinen.  I haven’t finished it.  It still counts.  Get over it – there will be a Monogatari series on each one of these year end reviews, regardless.

Overall Series:

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Gatchaman CROWDS

Runner-up:  Blast of Tempest

Curveball!  While I don’t think that the individual aspects of Gatchaman CROWDS are superior to the other series this year, I think that overall it is a better series than all of the rest.  The plot is simple; the action isn’t always phenomenal; the science is fantasy.  But what really makes this show outstanding is that it is just the definition of fun.  Hajime is probably the most refreshing lead character in an anime for quite some time and she helps the show take off like the rocket it is.  Watch this show if you are looking for something new and different – this show is pretty much the definition of what I look for in anime (and you should, too, you trope lover).

As I’ve previously mentioned, Blast of Tempest was great and one of the best shows I’ve seen this year.

Movie:

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Madoka Movie 3

I haven’t seen it, but it came out in October and it’s Madoka – so probably a safe bet.

OVA:

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Mirai Nikki Redial

I hear that this is the ending the series needed (and deserved, Batman).  I haven’t seen it yet, but it looks promising.

Character:

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Hajime – Gatchaman CROWDS

Not even close.  Hajime’s odd speech, energy and animation make her the best character this year.

Artwork:

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Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure

While very inconsistent, the artwork in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure was fabulous.  The stuff (like above) was great, and who knew you could make shooting the top off of a coke bottle look cool?

Opening Theme:

Coda – Bloody Stream – Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure OP 2

Okay, two Jojo back to back.  Get over it, this song is awesome.

Ending Theme:

Aku no Hana’s Ending (Please don’t tell me who it is by.  I never, ever want to know)

Most ending themes for me are forgettable.  This one…is not.

Scene:

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Bird, Go? – Gatchaman CROWDS

The first scene in which Hajime does her Gatchaman thing is what hooked me on the show.

Voice Actor:

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Maaya Uchida

For her work in Railgun S, Vividred Operation and Mangirl…Who am I kidding?  She is Hajime in Gatchaman Crowds.  That is all that is required for this.

Biggest Surprise:

Surprise!!!!!
Surprise!!!!!

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure

Honestly, I don’t know what initially drove me to watch Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure.  I’ve always thought it looked goofy (and it is), but I’m a huge fan now and can’t wait for them to potentially release the next season of the anime.

Biggest Disappointment:

suisei-no-gargantia-anime-wallpaper-ledo-amy-chamber

Suisei no Gargantia

Man did this show have potential.  It was extremely disappointing to see that potential squandered and turned into a slice of life show with no powerful plot.

Most Cliched:

crossover_bleach_attack_on_titan_by_yochiru_29-d66fe8zAttack on Titan

Okay, really, this should read “Most Cliched Despite Its Fandom Claiming It Isn’t”.  The main problem I had with Attack on Titan is that it followed far too many tropes and, as such, was waaaaaay too predictable.  Also, credits on the image go to the signature on the image.  Google image search just gave me exactly what I was looking for here (with a search of only “Attack on Titan”), so I had to use it.

Potential Bests:

I will likely finish up the following this coming year (along with whatever episodes I have left of any of the above series):

  • The Devil is a Part-timer
  • Beyond the Boundary
  • The Eccentric Family

Main thing is that all of these have too many comedy elements for me, but they have all been highly acclaimed.

Announcement!

As the new year starts, I plan on making several changes around the blog.

  1. I will no longer be doing waved first episode reviews.  These are way too time-consuming and require me to write a bunch of stuff about shows I probably won’t continue watching.  Instead, I plan on doing seasonal roundups after I have committed to one or more shows.  Hopefully, it keeps me from feeling burdened by feeling the need to watch every anime in a season.
  2. As previously mentioned, (https://nixnao.wordpress.com/2013/07/20/summer-2013-anime-top-starters/) I will begin reviewing games shortly.  This is going to take some time to set up a model and template for this, so I’m not sure when you should expect this.  Maybe some time in the Spring?
  3. I plan on doing a full rework of the layout on the site (and potentially a name change to coincide with the broadening of the blog subject matter).  That should happen sooner rather than later.

I hope everyone has a great new year, and hopefully now you have a few recommendations to work with!  Also, why can’t we get a WYSIWYG editor on WordPress?

Summer 2013 Anime Top Starters

Summer is here.  It’s hot and time for some refreshing anime.  While this season doesn’t necessarily quench my thirst with each show individually, the overall spread of excellence is enough to keep me hydrated until the, usually better, fall season.  Unless otherwise noted, I will be using the names used on Crunchyroll for the series.  In addition to today’s feature, I’ll be announcing a new column at the end of the blog – so read on!

Rather than posting my usual first impressions, I’m going to be going with a top 5 format to cut to the chase and provide you with what you’re looking for:  “What anime should I watch this season?”

#5:  The Eccentric Family

The Eccentric FamilyNotably, I didn’t expect much out of this series.  But what was on the surface (both in imagery and title) a slice-of-life series without any drive, hid underneath a bit of a gem.  The basic premise is that the world contains tengu, tanuki and humans – all of which are an integral part of the world’s shifts in balance.  The tengu may fly wherever they please and seem to be hierarchically superior to the other two where the tanuki are afraid of being boiled in a hot pot by the humans despite their ability to transform into (apparently) whatever they desire.  The struggle between these cultures is obvious, even after the first two episodes.  The pacing and content of the show is in itself quirky (eccentric?) – and this helps the storytelling to not be dire.  If you’re looking for something a little different than usual, give it a shot – the original story is written by the same person who wrote The Tatami Galaxy, which is one of my favorite series of all-time.  There aren’t too many parallels between the two, but the writing style similarities are definitely evident.

#4:  Day Break Illusion

Day Break Illusion“It’s basically a happier Madoka” is what I’ve been telling people about this show.  Girls are given powers by tarot cards (read “soul gems”) that causes them to transform so that they can fight Daemonia (read “witches”) that have become Daemonia because magical girls’ tarot cards have become corrupted (read “turned into grief seeds”.)  While there are definitely parallels between the series, it doesn’t necessarily detract from what makes an, ultimately, decent series.  Stylistically, the series is very well-done, though I would have liked a bit more extravagance in their transformations (especially Seira’s and Ginka’s) but there’s a draw here that is worth continuing the trip.  There is the occasional unnecessary fanservice and slice-of-life’isms in this series that could potentially interrupt immersion, and I think that may be the ultimate deciding factor for the show on the whole.

#3: Danganronpa

DanganronpaI won’t lie.  The first episode of Danganronpa wasn’t that great.  The introductions were awkward and lacking substance (potentially because we were force-fed 16 character’s introductions in 5 minutes) but once the series started on the murder mystery case (i.e. some bastard killed someone in an attempt to escape the school), the tone and content changed greatly.  I’m 3 episodes into the series now and I don’t think I can put it down.  What is so enticing about this series is that it pulls you into the mystery (which any good mystery should do) and, to add to the suspense, always threatens killing a character simply out of each character’s desire to “graduate” from the school.  Give it a watch – oh, and also, I suspect that Chihiro is a trap…but the voice acting kind of gives it away.

#2:  Monogatari Series:  Second Season

Monogatari Series:  Second SeasonAdmittedly, this series is what I’ve been waiting for and what I look forward to most each week.  You can’t pick it up here if you haven’t seen the other series.  Where Nisemonogatari, frankly, derails the series a bit toward the…awkward, this series seems to return back to the normalcy (no…that’s definitely not the right word) of Senjougahara – and now Hanekawa.  The first two episodes have consisted, nearly entirely, of conversations between Senjougahara and Hanekawa and it is great.  Clever dialogue is what made Bakemonogatari, and this series comes very close to its predecessor.  If you haven’t seen Bakemonogatari, what’s stopping you?  Start and finish it.  Then begrudgingly watch Nisemonogatari, simply because you love the characters who entrapped you in the original series.  Then watch Nekomogatari Black, with my stamp of approval on it.  The Monogatari Series hit a significant low in its second series, but it seems to be on the rise again.

#1:  GATCHAMAAAAAAAAAN Crowds

Gatchaman CrowdsIt’s silly.  It’s odd.  It’s colorful.  It’s unique.  It has splendiferous transformation sequences.  This show is something.  While I know that this won’t appeal to everyone, I absolutely cannot get enough of this series.  It’s not comparable to anything in recent years, and really a breath of fresh air.  Honestly, if you’re trying to watch the same plot every time you watch an anime, why are you even watching anime in the first place.  Do I think the show will have a huge impact on the anime world?  No, I honestly think it’s going to be overlooked by a lot of people.  But, if you’re looking for something new and quirky, look no further.  This is basically the definition of what I look for in anime, and it takes the crown for my favorite series of the season so far.

Runners-up

Even though I’m reviewing the top 5 series this season, there are still some series that are noteworthy enough to give mention to:

  • Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3:  This show is great and nearly made the list.  Girls with guns meets GAINAX seems to work well.  Think of it like the scene with the air guns in FLCL, but in every episode.  I am still watching this until it reaches a point where I don’t feel like it is worth it any more.
  • Sunday Without God: I’m not sure about this show yet.  It has some potential and seems to want to present a story of moral ambiguity, but I’m not sold on it one way or another.  I’m still watching this, though.
  • Silver Spoon: This show is potentially one of this season’s greats – and it is definitely entertaining.  Despite that, the subject matter pulls me away from it and I’m not actively watching it.  By Fullmetal Alchemist’s mangaka, so it’s worth checking out for yourself, either way.

Not Worth Watching

I tend to be pretty picky when I even start choosing what I’m going to begin watching, but the below shows either received high rating for others or I watched on a whim…needless to say…they didn’t make the cut.

  • Blood Lad: Despite this one being on this list, the series does have potential.  However, it seems like alot of that potential is ill-placed and I don’t expect much from the series at all.  I’ve only seen the first episode of this one, so I may be wrong?
  • Watamote:  This was pretty awful.  There are some relatively funny scenes, but it doesn’t make up for it not really being anything new.
  • Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya: Alright…I like Fate series.  This is…not that bad.  But it’s not worth watching simply because it’s not going to go anywhere worthwhile.  I’m 2 episodes in and need to stop before I get too far.
  • Makai Ouji: For the fujoshi in you.  Not in me.

 

Column Announcement

I’ll be starting a new column soon and potentially changing up some of the appeal on the site!  So from now on, in addition to reviewing anime, I will be expanding my repertoire to JRPGs!  I hope this brings in new readers, while not alienating existing ones.  I have the following games in line for review:  Xenoblade Chronicles, Persona 4, Tales of Graces f, and Final Fantasy XIV:  A Realm Reborn.  Likely, the first one you will see is Xenoblade (as soon as I finish it).

I hope that reading the new column will be as enjoyable for you as it will be for me writing it!