The Fall 2013 anime season has been in full swing for a few weeks now, but I’m only just wrapping up (most) of my shows from the summer. In my Spring 2013 review I talked about how different seasons have a sort of “feel” to them, and this summer felt a bit contemporary-artsy for lack of a better vocabulary. While there were certainly some typical shounen, shoujo, or game-based series, there were also quite a few series that felt different without feeling DIFFERENT.
Gatchaman Crowds - This is the one show that toed the line of DIFFERENT with its unique artistic choices and the lead character. However, at its heart it was a pretty classic anime and it was wonderfully done. Hajime could feel a bit overblown at times, and yet she was such a sincere protagonist that I found myself loving her even when I normally wouldn’t. The final moments of the series, if they meant what I think they meant, added yet another layer to her. I really loved the idea of using social media to get people active and saving the world. It’s a bit of a naive view, but it is intriguing to consider the power at our fingertips if we would only just use it rather than climbing deeper into our shells. Overall, it was probably my favorite show of the season. I do wish it had been a bit longer, I wouldn’t have minded a bit more development of the characters and plot.
Eccentric Family - Probably my second favorite show of the season, Eccentric Family was the most DIFFERENT story-wise. Tanuki and tengu living in the real world, bits of magic and mischief about…and then there were the Friday Fellows. Benten was such an intriguing character and we learn nothing about her! It was frustrating and yet, she was supposed to be a mystery so it was perfect in a way. The voice acting in this one was especially notable, all of the performances felt pretty spot on. The sound effects and background music really worked well with it. I’m really looking forward to watching it again with Paradox this time.
Silver Spoon - From the first episode to the last, the quality never changed. It started good and it stayed at exactly that same level of good throughout. Honestly, it’s not a show for everyone. It’s very true to life and if you’re not interested in farming or the plot of a fish out of water series (particularly one that isn’t particularly heavy on the comedy–it’s gently amusing) then it’s probably not for you. In fact, if you didn’t enjoy episode 1, there’s no reason to suspect you’d enjoy any of the others. But if you did, then stick with it because that’s the same pacing, emotion, humor, and education that you get throughout the entire series. For me, it was a total nostalgia trip and I think I’ll watch it again when I start longing for memories of my adolescence.
Free! - This one took awhile to grow on me, but after a rocky first episode or so, the boys’ personalities came out and I found myself feeling like a 15-year-old picking out a favorite and squeeing a lot. It really is a show that makes you feel like a kid again, and it’s so good-natured that I can’t knock it. It lacks much in the way of depth, but it’s pretty to look at (no, not just the fanservice) and the characters are very likeable. I wouldn’t mind a second season, but only after a nice long break. It’s kind of like overeating a decadent dessert: after that last bite it’ll be a year before you’ll want to try that one again. But it sure was delicious while it lasted. I think I’m going to get Paradox to watch it at some point so we can discuss how each male character corresponds with a female character in a typical Kyoto Animation show and how twisting the genders on those archetypes leads to interesting results.
Yamishibai - Sometimes the limited animation drove me nuts, but this series was so creepy and terrifying! I loved its subtlety and how it always surprised me. I spent more than a few episodes peering between my fingers because I wanted to be able to cover my eyes quickly if necessary. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’d be great to queue up for Halloween next week. And with the episodes clocking in at 4.5 minutes, it’s not even a time sink.
WATAMOTE - This just barely clears the “okay” barrier. I wanted it to be more than it was, something with a bit more of an overarching story and instead it’s just the daily life of a socially broken girl. Paradox gave up on it halfway through and I can’t say he really missed anything. It’s not that it wasn’t a compelling idea, I just don’t think we needed quite so many episodes of the same thing again and again. There were moments of brilliance though, although they didn’t always outweigh the repetitive bits.
Servant x Service – I would classify this one as bad since it always fell flat whenever it attempted to be funny or serious or endearing. And yet, I couldn’t leave it dropped either. I figure if it got into me enough that I picked it back up on two separate occasions that it was at least okay. I really liked Hasebe and when Chihaya took over the series later on I enjoyed that as well. That said, I could have done without Miyoshi entirely (she seemed to serve no purpose) and Lucy was the reason I dropped the show so many times. Also, it really felt like all of the voice actors just phoned in their performances. It was very flat, which was too bad. A bit more effort in the acting might have made up for the writing. It certainly seemed to work for Hasebe’s character which I think I liked as much for his voice actor’s performance as anything else.
Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA ILLYA - The latest entry into the Fate franchise just scraped itself out of the “bad” list. Perhaps it should be there, but I got enough enjoyment out of the first couple of episodes and a few minutes throughout that I couldn’t totally dismiss it. Paradox already pretty much covered the good and the bad in his review, but I will just agree with the fact that it felt like it was put together by people with completely opposing ideas that didn’t know how to make them work together. It was all over the place in terms of quality, but when it was good it was very good. Unfortunately, when it was bad it was uncomfortably dreadful. For some reason, we’re still planning on checking out season 2.
Teekyuu 2 - I thought I remembered this showing being vaguely amusing the first time around, but if it was, it wasn’t this time. Unfunny, frantic, waste of time.
Additionally I dropped Kiniro Mosaic, Fantasista Doll, and Stella Women’s Academy due to lack of interest, but I don’t think I can really say if they were okay or just bad since I only saw 3 episodes at most. They were what they were and that was of no interest to me.
I still have a few shows from the summer that I plan to restart and finish, but that might not be for several months. The fall season is already underway, and I will probably not be writing much about it. I only had about 5 shows I was interested in, and none of them seem to have set the anime world on fire. I think I’ll instead focus on working on my backlog this season and hope for some good entries this winter. Any fall shows with good reviews I’ll just check out later.