Fall 2014 Anime Season: First Impressions

Akatsuki no Yona 01  Amagi Brilliant Park 04  Bonjour Koiaji Patisserie 01Fate Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works 03  Hitsugi no Chaika Avenging Battle 01  Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de 02Kiseijuu Sei no Kakuritsu 02  Log Horizon S2 03  Madan no Ou to Vanadis 03Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji 01  Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso 04  Shingeki no Bahamut Genesis 03Yuuki Yuna wa Yuusa de Aru 02

As the year winds down, we come to our final anime season of 2014… I’ve found that there’s plenty to choose from this fall, with a good amount of fantasy oriented series airing in particular. There’s also a ton of sequels, including the much anticipated Ufotable adaptation of Fate/Stay Night.

In this edition of First Impressions, I’ll be looking at 13 series! There’s just so much to choose from this season, but they can’t all be worth watching, can they?? Let’s see what the 2014 fall anime season has to offer…

A couple notes on anime that are missing from this list:

Psycho Pass 2: No, I’m not watching this… not quite yet! I promised to watch this with my husband, but he’s so busy right now he hasn’t had time to check it out! 😦

Mushishi Zoku Shou, Season 2: Yes, I’m watching this! It’s still wonderful, and that first episode about Ginko’s past was brilliant. My feelings about this classic series hasn’t changed since last season. If you’re not already, go watch it!

And, as always, if there’s any series you think I should check out, please leave a comment below! Feel free to check out my MAL profile and my Hummingbird library to see what I’ve been watching lately!

Akatsuki no Yona

Akatsuki no Yona 02Akatsuki no Yona 03

Though the premise is pretty standard, and the suspense and surprise of the “big reveal” of the first episode was completely ruined by the series description, Akatsuki no Yona has a lot of potential to either become a sweeping drama of epic proportions, or a completely mediocre and painfully predictable series. I say this because the opening credits pretty much give away the entire story… Therefore, it goes without saying that Akatsuki no Yona has been very straight forward with no real surprises in the narrative.

The characters are standard and serviceable, but really don’t stand out in any way. Animation looks nice, and I’m liking the historic Korea-esque setting. Characters have been pretty flat so far, especially with all the flashbacks being used to try and drum up some sympathy/emotions towards Yona’s situation. That said, it’s still an enjoyable series and I can’t wait to see how Yona develops into the badass character you see in the flash forwards… For now, I’m just hoping the characters can breathe a little more life into this series, because as it stands, they’re all so one note that it’s getting a little bit dull.

First impressions: I kinda resent the fact that the opening credits give away the entire storyline.
Verdict: Please let this be a sweeping drama of epic proportions and not a completely mediocre and painfully predictable series.

Amagi Brilliant Park

Amagi Brilliant Park 03Amagi Brilliant Park 01Amagi Brilliant Park is one of those shows I want to like a lot more than I actually do. It’s by Kyoani, which means great animation, but even more importantly, it’s based on a light novel by the same person who wrote Full Metal Panic!, which means that the writing should be great as well. And, while I do like the basic set up, the characters are varied and quirky, and the humor is very tongue in cheek, nothing in the show has really resonated with me in any big way. It’s like the parts are all there, but it’s just not quite clicking.

In terms of the cast, I find Kanie pretty funny with his unabashed self-worship, and I’m happy that Moffle hasn’t turned out annoying – in fact I really enjoy all the mascot characters! Perhaps what’s missing is that so far none of the situations have really caught my attention, and I’m not feeling the urgency of… well, anything. For now, I’ll keep on watching, mostly because it has a good set up and I want to believe this anime will find its footing.

First impressions: Interesting set up, quirky set of characters, and some fun, tongue in cheek comedy.
Verdict: I need a little more substance in these episodes.

Bonjour Koiaji Patisserie

Bonjour Koiaji Patisserie 03Bonjour Koiaji Patisserie 02

Let’s be honest: this anime isn’t very good. The cast is color coded, it’s cheesy, sparkles abound, and, did I mention, each episode is only 5 minutes long? Not quite what I wanted, which was basically an updated version of Yumeiro Patissiere…  At the very least, the animation looks good, there’s plenty of delicious desserts, and the heroine seems surprisingly competent despite having very little personality thus far.  Actually, the cast reminds me of Amnesia (and we all remember that a disaster that show was)… Anyways, I guess I’ll keep watching, but not for the “pretty boys” (I find them a bit… uh, awkward and cringe worthy, especially since 3 of them are teachers!).

First impressions: It’s no Yumeiro Patissiere
Verdict: Well, 5 minutes a week isn’t going to kill me… I guess? Anyways, let’s be honest: I’m in this for the sweets.

Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works

Fate Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works 02Fate Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works 01Ever since Fate/Zero, I’ve been looking forward to seeing Fate/Stay Night receive the same treatment by Ufotable… And, so far it’s been pretty good, with some beautiful animation and a nice dose of action. The story is still in the opening phases, and we’ve gone through some pretty rough info dumps so far (much like in Fate/Zero), but I’m hoping that now that the rules of the game (so to speak) have been laid out, the story and characters will have a chance to develop and come to the forefront.

I’m also really happy that the ED was done by Kalafina (was expecting the OP to be by them, and was initially disappointed… until the ending!). Shirou and Rin are also not as annoying as I remember from the original Fate/Stay Night adaptation, which is great. Hoping for lots of exciting battles, heartbreak, and tears to be shed during this Ufotable adaptation… Not hoping for the awkward eroge part of the Fate/Stay Night visual novel to be shoehorned into the narrative.

First impressions: It’s beautiful.
Verdict: Hop on the bandwagon.

Hitsugi no Chaika: Avenging Battle

Hitsugi no Chaika Avenging Battle 03Hitsugi no Chaika Avenging Battle 02

The second season of Chaika is off to a great start, with several battles, lots of mystery set up, and a good dose of the usual humor. It feels like things are really moving along quickly, and I only hope that it’s not too rushed because, while I like fast pacing to keep things interesting, I do want the characters and story to be well fleshed out. One thing I can say about this series is that the story is certainly there, but I would love for the characters to catch up a little in terms of development.

Overall, it’s off to a great start, and with all the various factions (the Chaika’s, Gillette’s group, the heroes, the remnants of the Gaz empire, etc..) I can’t wait to see where it all goes. If you liked the first season, it goes without saying that this second season is a must watch.

First impressions: Picks up right where it left off with explosive battles and a quick moving story.
Verdict: At the pace it’s going hopefully the story won’t be too rushed.

Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de

Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de 01Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de 03

Slice of life meets the paranormal in studio Trigger’s newest anime, Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de… and while I like the overall premise of 5 students suddenly gaining supernatural powers and nothing really changing in their general lives, I’m less enthused about the characters, which all seem pretty plain. I’m also not a huge fan of chuunibyuu humor and stereotypes, mostly because I don’t find it very funny (most likely because I just can’t relate to it at all). And, since that type of humor is a huge part of the show, I’m having trouble getting into this. The harem aspect of the show is also not helping, especially since I don’t get the appeal of Andou. So, while some might find this anime funny, I’ll be passing on this one since nothing is really clicking with me…

First impressions: Interesting premise, less than interesting cast.
Verdict: The chuunibyou humor is just not very funny.

Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu

Kiseijuu Sei no Kakuritsu 01Kiseijuu Sei no Kakuritsu 03

I went into this anime not really knowing or expecting anything in particular, except for the basic premise, and thus far, I have been pleasantly surprised about how much I’m enjoying this series. So far, the two main characters of Shinichi and Migi have been great to watch, especially with how Shinichi has changed since becoming one with Migi. There’s an unsettling edge about his “newly modified” personality that everyone around him seems to pick up on except for him. While I’m not sure I really understand purpose behind the behavior of the parasytes, I do like the themes of natural instinct, the consequences of cold logic, and the difference between the survival-oriented parasytes and the emotion-driven humans.

Animation is good, though I find the CG background characters mildly distracting when they show up. The music is also a bit distracting, especially in the fight scenes…. Of course, these are minor complaints, and I can’t wait to see what happens next in this anime… Also, the fight scenes are uncensored!

First impressions: Interesting main characters, creepy and unsettling atmosphere, and a premise with lots of potential.
Verdict: It’s a far cry from Midori Days.

Log Horizon, Season 2

Log Horizon S2 02Log Horizon S2 01Diving right back into the thick of things without any preamble, the second season of Log Horizon picks up right where it left off… and it’s more the same as Shiroe continues to work his villain-in-glasses magic with plenty of strategic planning. I’m liking how this season has the main cast broken up and apart from each other, and there seems to be a particular focus on Akatsuki, which is great since I found her lack of development in the first season problematic.

The flash forward to Akatsuki and Shiroe talking after dying in the game provides an interesting direction for the narrative, and certainly has me curious about what’s about to happen… And, while I’m not totally sold on the new character designs or animation quality, at least Database returns as the OP! Like Chaika, if you liked the first season, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t check out the second.

First impressions: Shiroe is at it again… but at least it looks like Akatsuki will get some development this time around.
Verdict: And… we’re back to living in the database! (Just say wow wow wow wow)

Madan no Ou to Vanadis

Madan no Ou to Vanadis 01Madan no Ou to Vanadis 02Madan no Ou to Vanadis is off to a good start with an interesting story and a varied cast of characters… and it would be much higher in my list of favorites if not for all the fan service, which seems to grow more and more excessive every episode. It’s just so distracting when there are constant shots of well endowed chests and most girls look like they’re going to fall over or pop out due to their balloon-like breasts.

Anyways, beyond the fact that every girl in this anime wants a piece of our male hero, I do like the politics and war side of the story, and the characters are decent when the main focus is their personalities rather than their bodies. Except for Titta, who says “Tigre-sama” too much as she throws herself at her lord and master. Animation is questionable at times and I like the epic OP. I’m just hoping this fun adventure will lay off the jiggles and concentrate more on the story and battles… But sadly I can’t really foresee that happening anytime soon.

First impressions: Action fantasy meets war and politics in this fun adventure series. And, then there’s the fan service.
Verdict: I need the plot to take precedence over the plot.

Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji

Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji 02Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji 03So, I’m really not a huge fan of the mean-but-nice-pretend boyfriend trope, where the guy is basically a huge jerk 90% of the time, but can be forgiven because he’s sometimes “nice” to the heroine and all his issues can be chalked up to some sort of past trauma… I do like how the main girl lies constantly to make herself look better (hence the “wolf girl” nickname) because it’s kinda interesting, but they really aren’t using it a lot when it comes to her relationships with anyone outside of those two girls she hangs out with at school.

In the end, it’s a pretty predictable series with characters that are either cardboard cutouts or used ineffectively. It’s not the worst thing I’ve ever seen, but it’s not exactly capturing my attention either. With so many better anime to watch this season, I’ll be putting this on hold.

First impressions: I hate this mean-but-nice-pretend boyfriend trope…
Verdict: Bad dog!

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso 03Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso 02If I can say one thing about this anime, it’s that it certainly looks beautiful. It also sounds great, with its use of classical music… and I’m enjoying the characters for the most part, especially since they all seem pretty sane, and the division of sports and music between the 4 main characters gives the cast a bit of variety. There’s also a nice glimmer of vulnerability in each character, which gives some depth to their personalities. Also, there’s that love square that seems to be taking shape nicely…

The performance in episode 2 has been the major highlight so far, and while nothing very unexpected has happened, I am enjoying how the story is progressing. That said, I find the quick switches between the physical comedy (a little too physical at times… I mean, a softball to the head twice in 3 episodes?) and more contemplative drama doesn’t often work, and instead breaks up the mood a little too much.

I also have to say that I question the way the anime is suggesting one approaches emotional trauma (Kaori tells him to just force himself to play no matter what). I feel like Kosei really just needs to see a psychiatrist or something. Or, at least talk to his friends about his obvious issues with his mother. Overall, not a bad series so far, and I foresee plenty of tears and emotional drama in future episodes.

First impressions: It looks and sounds great… though the quick switches between drama and comedy doesn’t always work.
Verdict: A decent series with a few flaws… but certainly worth a look.

Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis

Shingeki no Bahamut Genesis 02Shingeki no Bahamut Genesis 01

Surprisingly, for an anime based on a card game, Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis is turning out to be a fun little series with a nice dose of action paired with some pretty animation. I’m really enjoying the cast of characters with their diverse personalities and fair share of quirks. Though I found Favaro kinda annoying at first, he’s grown on me, and I like how he’s not always the most scrupulous of characters, but somehow he’s always the one you want to root for in the end.

With so many factions (the angels, demons, our main cast, Joan of Arc) competing against each other for various goals, I’m excited to see where this adventure goes and how it all plays out. Animation looks great (loved that dance scene in episode 2!), and the mix of comedy, drama, and action has been lots of fun to watch.

First impressions: A fun series with lots of action, silly comedy, and a great cast.
Verdict: This is too good to be based on a card game! FAVAROOOO!

Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusa de Aru

Yuuki Yuna wa Yuusa de Aru 03Yuuki Yuna wa Yuusa de Aru 01

Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusa de Aru was an unexpected win in this season’s lineup, with a surprisingly good first episode that started off as a simple slice of life and ended in a life or death battle in defense of the world. And, while the cast is uncomplicated and pretty typical, I’m really enjoying the contrast between the barrier world and the real world, both in terms of the changes in tone as well as the differences in the character’s personalities. The barrier world’s visuals are particularly beautiful and haunting, and I’m loving the bell-like meditative music that accompanies it.

I’m not sure where this series is going yet, but I will say that I got serious Madoka Magica vibes from the show, and wonder whether the series will take a turn towards the dark in future episodes. Either way, it’s been pretty fun so far, if a little predictable. I’m hoping it shakes things up in future episodes and

First impressions: That was an unexpectedly good first episode despite the uncomplicated story and cast.
Verdict: Slice of life meets life or death battles in defense of the world… but, what direction will the story go in?

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