Fall 2013 Anime Season: First Impressions

Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio Ars Nova 03  Coppelion 03  Galilei Donna - 01  Log Horizon 02  Nagi no Asukara 02  Strike the Blood 03

A little late, but here’s this season’s first impressions! It’s just a hand full of shows this time (only about half of my usual amount!)… Compared to the less than stellar summer season, I’m finding the fall season to have several enjoyable series that show plenty of promise. Some are taking longer to get going than others, but hopefully they’ll find their footing and continue progressing. But, of course only time will tell how good they will really be. Here’s hoping for a good season!

I’m following a few other shows this season, other than the ones listed here, and depending on how I like them, may end up added to my final impressions post later this year. But, until then, enjoy my first impressions of the Fall 2013 anime season!

Aoki Hagane No Arpeggio: Ars Nova

Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio Ars Nova 04Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio Ars Nova 01

Tactical battleship series merged with a harem anime? So far, that’s what Aoki Hagane is feeling like to me… with the personification of the deadly Fleet of the Fog vessels into a variety pack of cute girls with various… attributes, I can only assume that the entire series will consist of our intrepid teenaged captain, Gunzou, fighting the various girls, beating them, and consequently winning each one to his (or humanity’s) side.

While I am enjoying the story well enough, I honestly find it really awkward to hear Iona, Takao, and the other mental models/personifications of the Fog vessels describe how they want to be commanded by a captain in order to “learn tactics”, and how they exist only to take orders. There’s also some randomly placed fan service that really feels out of place in the show that I’m not really sure what to make of (such as: episode 4’s backside angles and inexplicable underwear/bra ending).

I am ultimately hoping for more exciting battles, political intrigue between the various countries and factions, and more backstory on the characters and war. However, in terms of characters, no one is really standing out to me at all. They’re all pretty generic so far, so I’m really hoping for a lot more development on all fronts. In the end, what’s keeping my interest for this series are the great battle scenes and the hope that the story and characters will be fleshed out a lot more.

As for the other parts of the anime, the animation, in a word, is awkward. While the CG in the battle scenes looks great, the decision to employ it throughout makes pretty much every scenes involving any characters talking, interacting, moving, etc. feel very stiff and distracting. It’s certainly something to get used to, but I do find that after a short transition period, I get somewhat used to looking at it in the end.

First impressions: Awkward CG animation and generic characters that barely are saved by great battle scenes and a curious overall plot.

Coppelion

Coppelion 02Coppelion 01

This post apocalyptic anime features 3 genetically engineered high school girls (uniforms and all) tasked with finding survivors in the ruins that were once Tokyo… and while Coppelion initially felt like a slice of life meets horror anime, with the creepy and mysterious ruins of Tokyo making for an appropriately eerie backdrop, after 4 episodes, I’m sad to say that it’s not.

I can’t help but feel like the atmosphere of the anime was under-utilized in this respect. And, since it still feels like we’re in the introductory stages of the story, and I’ve been apparently tricked by the setting and atmosphere to believe that it’s a horror anime, I have really no idea what direction Coppelion is going in.

I am enjoying the main characters so far, though everyone else seems pretty flat/uninteresting to me. Other than the first episode, there’s been very little suspense or tension, and I’ve been finding it hard to generate any real interest in the problems and people the girls encounter. Some of the topics and themes brought up by the anime are interesting, and I am genuinely curious about how Tokyo ended up destroyed.

I have mixed feelings about the animation, which is simultaneously quite wonderful with its scenes of ruined Tokyo, but unfortunately, I find the characters with their inconsistently heavy outlines and flat look to be far too contrasting against the backgrounds. It’s reminiscent of the animation in Attack on Titan, but while I thought it worked in AoT, it mostly fails for me in Coppelion.

Overall, I will be sticking with Coppelion for a least a little longer, mostly because I am just holding out hope that once the story actually starts moving there will be some actual surprises, as well as plot and character development. The mystery of Coppelion brings me back for yet another episode….

First impressions: Eerie and atmospheric anime with plenty of mystery, but remains bogged down by a lack of concrete direction and genre.

Galilei Donna

Galilei Donna - 03Galilei Donna - 02

All aboard the goldfish ship! Galilei Donna if off to a promising start with its story about three dissimilar sisters who are the descendants of Galileo. When they’re suddenly attacked by several factions demanding “Galileo’s Inheritance”, they must band together to discover the mysteries of their ancestor and save their family.

So far, I’m really enjoying this series, though I find that a good amount of suspension of belief is required – mostly with regards to the insane abilities/weapons of the goldfish ship 13-year-old Hozuki built. The pacing has also been pretty good, with only a slight dip in episode 4. I’m looking forward to see where the travels of the Galileo sisters take them, learning more about their backstories, and having some good old family bonding.

Animation is solid, and I really love the voice of that virtual goldfish. Characters are varied with just enough quirks to keep them from being too stereotypical or stale. The story is almost too straightforward at this point, but I am still anticipating some good, heartwarming storytelling from this anime, as well as (hopefully!) a touch of romance, a few plot twists, and maybe even a bit of backstabbing.

First impressions: This importance-of-family anime requires some suspension of belief, but starts strong.

Log Horizon

Log Horizon 03Log Horizon 01

A clone of Sword Art Online? Other than the basic premise of “players trapped in a virtual world” (and, let’s face it: it’s not like SAO was the first make that one up either!), there’s really no other comparisons to be made. With that out of the way, Log Horizon follows Shiroe, a graduate student that’s a bit of a loner who excels in strategizing. He’s joined by two friends as they explore the virtual world they have suddenly become trapped in…. and honestly that’s all I can think of to describe the plot… because so far, while there’s been plenty of exposition regarding the mechanics of the game (skills, classes, etc.), and the organization of the game’s world map, here we are 5 episodes in and it still feels like we’re in the explanatory/introductory phase of the series.

There’s no real overall plot direction or ultimate goal in sight yet, and I can only assume that it will involve the new territory that has yet to be explored. There’s still plenty of things that the anime could delve into, including character backstories and finding a way to escape the game (this last one seems kinda important).

While I do wish that the pacing was a bit faster, it is going to encompass 25 episodes, so there’s still time for this thing to get going, unlike the other, shorter anime this season that still have yet to find their groove. I’m not being wowed by the animation (or anything about this anime, actually), but without knowing where it’s going, I find it hard to say whether I’ll end up dropping it or not. On the plus side, the main characters are not in high school.

First impressions: Not SAO. But, where exactly is this anime going?

Nagi no Asukara

Nagi no Asukara 03

Nagi no Asukara 04

When the middle school in the town under the sea closes, 4 friends must attend school on land. In their transition, they encounter difficulties as they learn more of the complications that come from their interactions with the surface world….

In Nagi no Asukara, it’s nice to see school-aged kids deal with problems of love, maturity, and friendship without it all seeming ultimately trivial in the grand scheme of things to the viewer. Compared to other, more traditional romance/slice-of-life anime where the plights of the main characters are all about gathering the courage to confess, fighting love rivals, and the implications of holding hands, in Nagi no Asukara, there is actual weight behind each decision made and revelation learned by each character.

Manaka’s budding love for Tsumugu, and Hikari’s reactions are more than just the makings of a simple love triangle; instead, their relationship holds some very real and life-changing repercussions that brings the entire out of the trivial. I am also loving all of the characters so far, whether it’s crybaby Manaka, who manages to show a lot of courage in the most difficult of times, fiery and impatient Hikari, who is gruffly caring, or quiet and levelheaded Tsumugu, who loves the sea. Surprisingly, only a few episodes in, and there’s already been plenty of character development.

The animation is really lovely, with plenty of colour and light that helps lend a sense of youthful summertime to the entire series. Since this is a 2 cour anime, I am hoping that we will get to see the seasons change into autumn and winter since, with the main characters gradually coming of age, it seems only appropriate that the scenery changes with them as well. In addition, I am loving how simultaneously familiar and dissimilar the setting is, with its combination of the modern day and a mysterious otherworldliness.

I’m really looking forward to seeing where Nagi no Asukara goes, especially with respects to the magical elements of the undersea world and their impact on lives of those both on land and in the ocean. I am also liking the many themes addressed in the anime, including questions of discrimination, isolation, “terminal villages“, and tradition.

First impressions: A charming and beautifully animated coming-of-age anime with a well crafted world, compelling characters, and plenty of room for growth.

Strike the Blood

Strike the Blood 02Strike the Blood 01

In another rendition of vampires in anime, Strike the Blood features high school student Kojou, whose existence as the “Fourth Progenitor” (the world’s strongest vampire) threatens to disturb the fragile power balance of the world. Just wanting to live a quiet life, his attempts at normalcy is suddenly challenged by the arrival of Yukina who has been dispatched to observe, and if necessary, kill him should he become dangerous.

Despite the interesting synopsis, honestly everything in this anime seems pretty generic, and I’m finding the characters so stereotypical that they’re sadly bland. I just can’t buy into the romance between Yukina and Kojou, the sexualization of the neck biting/Yukina is cringe-worthy, and I care little for any of the characters. Animation is fine, but I’m not finding anything too special in it.

Overall, not a bad effort, but with all the much better shows on this season, this one will be on the back burner unless I start hearing some super amazing things about it.

First impressions: Interesting plot but generic and boring delivery.

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5 thoughts on “Fall 2013 Anime Season: First Impressions

    • Let’s see… I’m still watching Aoki Hagane No Arpeggio, though the characters remain generally bland. I really just want to know what happens, so I’m watching it. The show is just okay, and other than the premise and the battles, I’m not so excited about it, sadly. I just wish the characters had a little more… anything.

      As for Coppellion, I kinda just stopped watching it…. Not on purpose, only that I never got around to watching the next episode! I guess that speaks of how disinterested in it I am – which is too bad since I really liked the post-apocalyptic setting.

      Galilei Donna has sadly been steadily declining in quality ever since episode 3… I feel like there’s not enough focus in the show. Is it trying to be cute and funny? A warm, family comedy? Violent, dark, and edgy? I have no idea, and I don’t think Galilei Donna does either.

      Still watching Log Horizon, and it still has very little focus. I really would like some sort of overarching plotline in this anime (or a hint of one?), but so far it’s just kinda chugging along. I wish there were larger stakes involved, or at least some sort of goal, if only so I might understand the actions of the characters. Anyways, it’s mostly fun to watch, though I wish the story would get going already.

      And, Nagi no Asukara remains my favourite of this season… very enjoyable.

      Like you, I’m also watching Samurai Flamenco (enjoying this one more than I thought I would!) and Kill la Kill (I’ve stalled at episode 3, however… though I do mean to continue! Better get on that…), as well as Kyoukai no Kanata. One day I’ll get around to watching Little Busters and its sequel… Kyousogiga sounds interesting! I’ll have to check it out!

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  1. I have similar feelings to you about this season. Yes, Kyousogiga’s really interesting a worth a try! Unlike many other series this season, I feel it’s got a heart and the characters have some real depth to them. Also, I find the storyline fascinating. It’s skips back and forth with time frames, and had me wondering what was going on after the first episode, but gradually it starts to unfold. I love the animation too, it’s wild and colorful with all sorts of zany things going on. Hope you’ll like it! I’m looking forward to reading more of your articles! Itadakimasu!

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