Anime 1st episodes 2014: N
Including: Nagi-Asu: A Lull in the Sea, Nanana's Buried Treasure, Naruto: Shippuden, Nandaka Veronica, No Game No Life, Narihero, Noragami, Nobunaga Concerto, Nobunaga the Fool, Nobunagun, Nisekoi, No-Rin
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2014
Series: << Anime 1st episodes 2014 >>
Keywords: Nisekoi, Naruto, anime, SF, fantasy, ninja, historical, ghost
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 14 episodes
Website category: Anime 2014
Review date: 13 June 2015
Couldn't find: Nyaa-Men -- short-form anime about a group of ramen-inspired cat girls.
Slipped past my radar: The New Prince of Tennis OVA vs Genius 10, but I reviewed an episode of it in 2015
Listed under "R": Rowdy Sumo Wrestler Matsutaro (Notari Matsutaro?) (Abarenbou Rikishi!! Matsutarou?)
Listed under "S": The Seven Deadly Sins (Nanatsu no Taizai)
Nagi Usa
Nagi-Asu: A Lull in the Sea
Nagi no Asukara
Season 1
Episode 14 out of 24
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: slow, slightly magical tale of sea folk
I respect it, but its first half had been a bit boring until our heroes raised a god in ep.13. It's about young people in two coastal communities, one on the land and the other under the sea. Both villagers' inhabitants are human, but the water-dwellers have a coating called "ena" that lets them move around, breathe and talk normally underwater.
That's a beautiful, lyrical idea... but the big, rough fishermen are boneheads and the plot's fairly gentle.
That said, though, this episode is shaking things up big time. There's weird biology, apparently impossible things happening and a girl who'd been left behind. The pot of available romances has just been turned upside down. It's a sincere, quiet show by Mari Okada (a writer worth watching) and I'll keep going.
Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin
Nanana's Buried Treasure
Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin
Season 1
Episodes: 11 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: I've already finished, actually
One-line summary: schoolboy with ghost flatmate looks for treasure
I've since finished it and... I wouldn't bother if I were you. It's okay, but it's a bit of a mess.
It looks fun. Nothing to turn your world upside-down, but I'm happy to keep watching it.
The episode begins and ends with girls having swashbuckling adventures. Indiana Jones, Sherlock Holmes, etc. It's not yet clear how that's related to anything, though. Most of the episode is about a boy called Juugo Yama transfers to a new school on a big island. (He was kicked out by his dad.) He meets his landlady and agrees to her unusual financial terms. The rent is cheap, but you have to pay it a year in advance, non-refundable. Does this sound dodgy to you?
Anyway, Juugo agrees, only to find that his room is inhabited. "No, it's not," says his landlady. "That's not a girl. That's the ghost of a girl who was murdered here ten years ago."
Juugo the Sucker has already paid his rent in advance, obviously. There's nothing he can do. Fortunately, though, that his roommate is a cute girl with a sunny disposition who only wants to play computer games and eat pudding. (It looks as if she's been doing this 24 hours a day without sleep or rest for ten years, so I'd guess she's pretty good by now.)
This probably sounds like another The Odd Couple anime comedy, but there's also backstory and worldbuilding. This island was established ten years ago by the Great 7 as a "special student zone". There's a Nanana Notebook waiting to be found by Juugo, left by one of his predecessors. (It sounds as if this person cared and worried about their dead roommate.) Plus of course there's the question of Nanana's still-unknown murderer. Ten years isn't that long. They might still be around, or even watching.
This isn't a heavyweight anime, but it's not bubblegum either. Nanana is fun, but there are clearly as yet unplumbed depths in her backstory. Ghosts are always cool. People are going to be looking for treasure. I'm expecting to be entertained.
shippuden naruto
Naruto: Shippuden
Season 16 episode 349
Season 17 episode 362
Season 18 episode 373
Episodes: 24 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: famous long-running ninja franchise
It's another of the anime mega-franchises. The manga ran for 72 volumes (1999-2014) and the anime ran for 220 episodes (series one) and 414 so far (season two: Shippuden). There are also movies. It's currently the third best-selling manga series of all time and there are over 200 million copies in print. In short, it's outrageously successful, but the impression I'd got is that it's basically another shounen fighting anime.
Seasons 16-18 all started in 2014. These season divisions are arbitrary since the show never stops churning out weekly episodes, but it gives me some starting points. What did I get from these episodes, then?
Ep.349 - "A Mask That Hides The Heart"
It's set in historical times and everyone's a ninja. (Note: possibly not true if one watches more episodes.) They're divided into clans like Leaf, Sand, Stone, etc. and they take these very seriously.
Naruto himself has no personality and is being groomed to be the new head of his clan, i.e. promoted out of the ongoing plot. There's quite a lot of politics here, some of which is connected with a war having recently ended. Naruto also has a beautiful wife (?) who's the best-drawn and worst-animated character in what struck me as a slightly cheap-looking anime. Everyone looks faintly plastic. Men with lined faces will have only a token line or two, etc.
Hang on, I'm wrong. That's not Naruto but Naruto's dad, Minato. Is Kushina's pregnancy the unborn Naruto himself, then? I'm confused.
Anyway, Naruto/Minato (?) isn't the important person in this episode. Instead that's Depressed Bloke, who lost a loved one in the dying days of that just-ended war. He's carrying around a book saying "How A Ninja Should Die". He's of some interest, but overall I wasn't gripped by the episode. It seems okay. There's nothing wrong with it, but I was more impressed with Dragonball.
Ep.362 - "Kakashi's Resolve"
Fight, fight, fight! Our heroes fight. One of their friends has teamed up with the enemy, so that's theoretically the dramatic foundation of the episode. He gets called a "zombie", if that helps. Someone's upset with someone else because they let someone die, or at least they claim to believe so.
Ninja have magical powers, e.g. sucking an enemy into your head, or being able to turn into the Human Torch. The good guys have a couple of insanely huge supernatural allies: a wooden minotaur octopus and a fox spirit.
Again, it didn't grab me.
Ep.373 - "Team 7 Assemble!"
Okay, that was actually boring. It's another Big Battle Episode, except that the monstrous enemies never land a blow on our heroes and never look likely to. (This rule is broken for a few seconds around the nineteen-minute mark, shortly before the end credits.) Heroes talk a lot, have flashbacks to their training days and take it in turn to show off their special powers. Monsters obligingly cue up to be defeated one-on-one, instead of, say, jumping en masse on one of the buggers and pounding him into the dirt.
In fairness, I liked the episode's treatment of women. Action Ninja Girl wears the same clothes as her male colleagues, i.e. she's not dressed in something skimpy and impractical like a chainmail bikini. She looks like a modern soldier, in fact. You might not guess she was female if it weren't for the voice actress.
I still wasn't entertained, though. Oh, and it seems that Naruto's shown up. No idea how or why (timeslip?), but that's my fault for watching random episodes of the whole. Obviously that's no way to watch a series and I'm clearly missing lots of drama and character development, but... avoid.
nandaka velonika
Nandaka Veronica
Kinda Velonica
Season 1
Episodes: 10 x 10 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: Veronica visits Earth to sell a galactic satellite service and befriends a human boy
No real interest in this. I don't mind it being for kids, but the show's premise does nothing for me.
Ver(l)onica is the heiress of Galaxy Network, the most perfect and rational civilisation in the universe. She's kind of smug about it. Her mission is to visit the distressingly primitive, low-tech planet of Earth, to make them sign a business contract. Shocking facts and/or evidence of the foolishness of Earth include:
(a) it has no owner
(b) its inhabitants waste time on pointlessness, e.g. smiling and food that tastes good
Imagine a cartoon aimed at eight-year-olds with this premise. Congratulations, you've just visualised Nandaka Veronica.
The visuals combine a crude, flat art style with some cool CGI-assisted 3D for saucers, cars and the gravitational wave that can do to an entire city what a boulder will do to a garden pond. That CGI's been skinned to look hand-drawn, fortunately, but the Dancing Veronica closing credits are old-school plastic CGI.
It's not for me. Sorry. Watch if you think you'd get a kick from Veronica's near-orgasm on eating a croquette.
No Game No Life
No Game No Life
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: genius nerd gamer NEET siblings get sucked into fantasy world
I've since finished it and... it's great! My misgivings were proved wrong.
It's unusual. There are off-putting aspects of this first episode, but I hear other people had this reaction too and yet ended up respecting the series as a whole. There's certainly plenty of interest and potential. I'll be continuing.
We begin with legendary super-gamers Blank. They're unstoppable. Just four of them can take down 1,200 opponents. They inspire awe and fear in the online community... but in fact they're a pair of shut-in nerd siblings with no friends. They pretend to be multiple people by playing on more than one controller simultaneously. They dismiss the world as a crappy game that punishes you if you don't follow its over-complicated rules. They're pathetic, not to mention faintly creepy with a faint hint of lolicon/sistercon.
However they also appear to be geniuses. The brother, Sora, is the psychologist while the sister, Shiro, is the analyst. They can beat the best chess computers, for instance, which in reality is beyond the ability of humans.
They then get sucked into a fantasy world where everything is decided by games. The royal succession is being decided with poker, for instance. (The difference between this and something like Sword Art Online is that that's merely set within a fantasy computer RPG, whereas this world's inhabitants are all game-crazy.) The world's rules get explained in point-by-point detail, which apparently put off some reviewers but strikes me as encouraging. It reminds me of the pedantry of Death Note, which was similarly exact about the rules of its universe in order to be able to think hard about them.
Here, already Sora's finding loopholes. Rule Eight, for instance, is about what happens if you're caught cheating, but Sora points out that it's silent on the consequences if no one notices.
Meanwhile the animation is spectacular. It's a hallucinogenic, oversaturated riot of colour, with the stylised line art rendered in red, not black. It looks exotic.
This is a hard episode to warm to. The protagonists are cold, unlikeable and possibly disturbed. When a girl wearing only a towel knocks on their door in the Next Episode preview, you'd guess that she's wasting her time. Firstly, would her nudity interest Sora? She's not his sister. Secondly, it's hard to believe that this pair would give a damn about requests for help, unless they saw something in it for them.
I've heard good things about this show, though, and I can imagine it taking interesting directions. I just hope I start warming up to the main characters. (Footnote: I did.)
Season 1
Episodes: 13 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: wooden CGI + magical girls
It's a TV series spun off from a film, apparently, although they were clearly in production alongside each other. It's also an unremarkable CGI kiddie runaround. There are three superhero sisters who fight a dude with a ram's head who talks to a man in his television. (That sentence is in itself more interesting than this show, by the way.)
Mr Ram's Head is reporting to his TV about a game centre, then later he attacks the sisters with a funky dancing robot. Meanwhile the sisters spend most of the episode sitting at home, playing a board game and discussing whether or not they're characters in a computer game. Purple-Haired Sister says they are and appears to be an existentialist.
The CGI animation is ugly. The immobile faces communicate no emotion, while the motion has velocity rather than acceleration. For those who skipped physics at school, acceleration is what you get when force is applied to a body (e.g. gravity, physical strength, etc.) Dice float down to the table at a constant speed, as if weightless. A handwave has a similar lack of interest in conveying a real object moving through space. The result is animation that looks desperately cheap and "what the hell, it'll do". It's for children. The character designs are cartoonish. The result is something that's almost aggressive in how clearly it's not being aimed at you.
Don't. Just don't. It's passable, but I'd call it a waste of time.
Stray God
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: girl meets scrounging lowlife god
I've since finished it and... Season 1 is okay, but Season 2 is really quite good.
Looks good. It didn't reduce me to jelly and make me scream "I MUST WATCH THIS!!!", but it looks amusing and interesting. Fun ideas, likeable heroine.
Yato is God. Well, ish. That's how he'll introduce himself, but more precisely he's one of the most lowest-ranked of many gods. He doesn't even have a shrine. His ambition is to have hundreds of millions of worshippers and to lead a world religion, but at the moment he's bumming around Japan and doing odd jobs. At one point he writes a plea for employment on a wall as graffiti.
Hiyori is a nice girl who helps Yato (unnecessarily, although she doesn't know that) and ends up occasionally growing an ectoplasmic tail. This is her soul, visible when she's having an out-of-body experience.
I like it. The world's quite interesting. Yato hunts phantoms, which now technically includes Hiyori although in fact she's caught between two shores. I'm amused by Yato's (low) price. I like the way the show introduces Hiyori with a thematically significant conversation between schoolgirls, playing on the different ways one might use the word "god". I'm definitely up for seeing where this is going.
Nobunaga kyousoukyoku
Nobunaga Concerto
Nobunaga kyousoukyoku
Season 1
Episodes: 11 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: no way
One-line summary: time-travelling schoolboy impersonates 16th century historical figure
I have three anime loosely based on the historical figure Oda Nobunaga, although the other two are very, very loose. So, who is he? Answer: a 16th century warlord who kicked off the unification of Japan that ended in Ieyasu Tokugawa and 260 years of cultural isolation. He was one of Japan's most important rulers ever and one of the most brutal figures of the Warring States period.
In his youth, he was called The Fool of Owari for "bizarre behaviour", e.g. playing with other children without regard to his own rank in society. Sigh. He's also appeared in lots of books, manga, anime, films, etc. Sometimes he's portrayed as a demonic supervillain, while in other portrayals he's heroic.
Here, he's a sickly teenager who bumps into his own lookalike one day and immediately asks this stranger to impersonate him. What he hasn't realised is that this teenager is a 21st century schoolboy called Saburou who's fallen through a timeslip.
I hated this show, by the way.
Firstly, Saburou. He's actively hostile to his history lessons in school, he goes out of his way not to think about things and he's offhand about everything. In a dangerous historical setting where your servants might try to assassinate you if they think you're insufficiently honourable (i.e. pointlessly macho and bloodthirsty). It's his fault Nobunaga earns the title of The Fool of Owari, obviously.
In fairness the twat gets less twattish as the episode progresses and I'm sure he'll have grown into a reasonable facsimile of a human being by the end of the series. When it comes to Nobunaga's wife, he even shows signs of being perceptive. I still wanted him dead, though. In real life, by the way, Nobunaga died when one of his generals forced him to commit suicide. Let's hope that's Saburou.
Secondly, the unwatchable animation. Backgrounds, animals, birds, etc. are beautiful. Look at that kingfisher. Humans, though, look like bad Flash animation. It's as if someone's sliding around cardboard cut-outs. My best guess is that it's CGI rendered to look hand-drawn.
Oh, and all these samurai attitudes are tiresome too. They have the advantage of being historically accurate, but the disadvantage of being narrow-minded cretins.
What's good? Well, in principle I see nothing wrong with the storyline. If you can stomach the characters and the animation, I'm sure it'll have the potential to be a decent historical. There's also going to be a live-action film, incidentally. I'd still tell you not to watch this, though. Even if you have an Nobunaga itch, there's plenty of choice beyond this: Nobunaga The Fool, Akira Kurosawa's Kagemusha, The Ambition of Oda Nobuna, Sengoku Collection, Goemon, Battle Girls: Time Paradox, Samurai Deeper Kyo...
Nobunaga the Fool
Nobunaga the Fool
Season 1
Episodes: 24 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: again, no
One-line summary: historical figures with battle robots and spaceships
Better than Nobunaga Concerto, but I'm still warding it off with crucifixes and garlic. A rough outline is as follows.
When Oda Nobunaga dies in 1582, he has a psychic link with Joan of Arc getting burned at the stake in 1431. Joan is a beautiful blonde who doesn't look capable of anything except becoming a hero's love interest. At another point in time, though, the not-yet-dead Nobunaga is an arrogant cock who dreams of conquest and other Nobunaga-like things.
This appears to be a serious historical until the armoured war robots attack, while Nobunaga and his friends fly on dragons.
A ridiculous-looking bloke with a tuba around his neck then visits Joan of Arc, saying that he's Leonardo da Vinci and that he serves King Arthur. Again there's an on-screen date for this, which is indeed during Joan's lifetime, but before Leonardo was born. Right century, wrong end of it. (I think I'd have been less annoyed with a bigger and more blatantly ahistorical time gap. It's not as if King Arthur is 15th century, after all.)
We next learn that they're on a spaceship.
Nobunaga (still a cock) now swaggers off to war, which the anime appears to think is a good thing. Someone says, "Only the true saviour-king can breathe life into this armour." The end comes at last, but not really because there are 24 episodes of this.
In short, nonsense. It's more of that barbarian iconoclasm that anime loves to do from time to time, treating world history as silly putty and twisting it into shapes you might prefer not to imagine. I'm sure some will find it entertaining or a breath of fresh air, but personally I'd have been better-disposed towards it had I liked its characters.
Season 1
Episodes: 13 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: a schoolgirl fighting aliens is Oda Nobunaga's reincarnation
I've since finished it and... it's not quite everything I'd hoped for, but quite a lot of it I love.
This, on the other hand, is a must-watch.
Ogura is a schoolgirl going on a school trip to Taiwan. She's spacey and a bit weird. She's a nerd for military hardware, she's bad with people and she even rejects someone who's making an effort to be nice to her. "One of the class's most popular girls shouldn't be caught talking to an outcast like me."
That said, though, she's cheerful and knowledgeable about stuff. She gets excited easily. (Later we'll see her run into a warzone at ground zero to save that girl who was nice to her, so she's clearly a good person.) It's just that everything she's super-enthusiastic about isn't what the other girls are into.
So far, it's all fairly normal.
Then aliens invade Taiwan and mankind's only defender is the reincarnation of Jack the Ripper. If he can hold out for long enough, though, his reinforcements will be Newton and Gandhi. (Gandhi fighting aliens. Goodness me.) Ogura then discovers that she's the reincarnation of one of Japan's most brilliant mass-murdering warlords and turns into a grinning red-eyed demon with a really big gun. (Hence the show's punning title. In Japanese, you see, the English word "gun" is transliterated as "gan". This is also historically accurate, since the real Nobunaga was indeed a fan of firearms.)
Obviously this is fantastic, but one might reasonably ask what's the difference between this and Nobunaga the Fool? They're both totally batshit, mixing up unlikely historical characters with a ton of goofy SF. For me, personally, I think the answer is that this show made me laugh and has cool, likeable characters.
More specifically, though, I appear to have little patience for attempts to turn Nobunaga into the hero of a show, whereas what we have here is much more entertaining. This Nobunaga isn't meant to be likeable. He's not even young and handsome. He's a craggy-faced, evil-eyed old hawk with all the human warmth of a great white shark that hasn't eaten for a month. I'll be watching the hell out of this.
Fake Love
Season 1, with a second season in 2015
Episodes: 20 x 24 minutes + a 3-episode OVA
Keep watching: I can't decide
One-line summary: yakuza heir in romantic comedy
I've since finished it and... Season 1 is genuinely very good, but I wouldn't recommend Season 2.
I don't have a clue whether or not to continue with this. I like romance and I enjoyed the episode quite a lot, but I could really live without the yakuza.
I'll get the bad out of the way first. Our hero, Raku Ichijo, is the heir to a yakuza family. His home life involves criminals bowing to him and shouting to express their respect. This has no sense of threat or weight, being basically comedy gangsters, and I disliked it strongly.
On the upside, though, Raku doesn't want to be a yakuza and keeps telling his family that. He just wants to go to school like ordinary people. There's a girl he likes, who may or may not be someone he promised to marry. (It was a decade ago. They were five.) However as it happens this is the day when a half-American girl, Chitoge Kirisaki, is about to transfer into his school and nearly kill him just with increased blood pressure. She kicks him in the head as an introduction, beats him up, insults his masculinity and bites his head off on the (one and only) occasion when he tries to be nice. They're at each other's throats non-stop.
Then something happens that you've probably already guessed. There's nothing particularly original here, but it's being delivered with lots of energy and fun. The character interactions are entertaining. I liked it. It made me laugh. I'd definitely be continuing if it weren't for the yakuza.
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: I can't decide about this one either... ummm, yes.
One-line summary: ex-idol in romantic comedy at farming school
I've since finished it and... don't watch this.
Another tough decision, but in a different way.
In principle, I'm happy with the show. Kousaku Hata is a farmer at farming school. He's the world's biggest fan of a Japanese idol called Yuka Kusakabe, to a degree that you slightly worry about his readiness to share with anyone nearby. His ambition is to become a "trendy farmer" in Tokyo, apparently under the impression that Akihabara is a rice paddy. He and his friends study and have farmers' squabbles, with the Animal Husbandry department getting on badly with Agriculture.
Then, one day, Kusakabe retires from show business. She's going to go to school. Guess which one?
This show is a lot of fun, with lively characters and some good jokes. I enjoyed it. My problem with it is that it appears to be underpinned by the same unhealthy assumptions you get in harem anime. All male characters (so far) are either oblivious to women or pathetic nerds, yet all the female characters (so far) either have a crush on one of the male characters or is a desperate man-obsessed forty-year-old who creeps out her students with over-sharing. (The latter is either annoying or funny, depending on whether or not she's currently in near-suicidal depression.)
I think I'll... oh, okay. I'll watch it. Lots of shows improve after their first episode. Besides, apart from the basic set-up, I did enjoy it.