MMORPGSword Art OnlineWIXOSSSilver Spoon
Anime 1st episodes 2014: S
Including: Sabagebu!, Saki: The Nationals, Sakura Trick, Seitokai Yakuindomo*, Selector Infected WIXOSS, Selector Spread WIXOSS, Sengoku Basara: End of Judgement, Shirobako, Shonen Hollywood: Holly Stage for 49, Silver Spoon (season 2), Soul Eater Not!, Space Dandy, Strange+, Sugar Soldier, Soni-Ani: Super Sonico The Animation, Strike The Blood, Sword Art Online II, The Seven Deadly Sins
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2014
Series: << Anime 1st episodes 2014 >>
Keywords: Sword Art Online, Silver Spoon, WIXOSS, SF, fantasy, anime, historical, MMORPG
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 18 episodes
Website category: Anime 2014
Review date: 3 October 2015
As usual, these aren't reviews of entire series, but just my first impressions of first episodes.
Has its own review page: (Pretty Guardian) Sailor Moon Crystal
Couldn't find: Sazae-san (non-stop since 1969, first 2014 episode is, I think, 2241)
Couldn't find: Sega Hard Girls (Hi-sCool! Seha Girls)
Couldn't find: Super Radical Gag Family (Maido! Urayasu Tekkin Kazoku)
Listed under: "A": Argevollen (Shirogane no Ishi Argevollen)
Listed under: "B": Bakumatsu Rock (Samurai Jam Bakumatsu Rock)
Listed under: "C": Celestial Method (Sora no Mesoddo)
Listed under: "D": Dragonar Academy (Seikoku no Dragonar)
Listed under: "K": Keroro (Sgt. Frog)
Listed under: "K": Knights of Sidonia (Sidonia no Kishi)
Listed under: "R": Rage of Bahamut: Genesis (Shingeki no Bahamut Genesis)
Listed under: "R": Recently, My Sister Is Unusual (Saikin, Imouto No Yousu Ga Chotto Okashiinda Ga)
Listed under: "R": Ronja the Robber's Daughter (Sanzoku no Musume Ronya)
Listed under: "W": World Conquest Zvezda Plot (Sekai Seifuku: Boryaku no Zuvizuda)
Listed under: "W": The World Is Still Beautiful (Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii)
Listed under: "Y": Your Lie in April (Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso)
Survival Game Club!
Survival Game Club!
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes + OVAs
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: girls with bad personalities in a school paintball club
I could imagine continuing with this. It's lively and has entertaining characters. However I got bored of the gun porn. (To avoid ambiguity, since I am talking about anime, I don't mean actual pornography but merely the show having a fetish for guns and thinking they're the coolest things ever.)
"Survival Game" doesn't mean actual survival, by the way. It's just schoolgirls shooting each other with pellets, like paintball.
Momoka Sonokawa is a bitch who's moving to a new school and is sort of, barely, keeping up the traditional pretence of being nervous and wanting her new classmates to like her. On the train, though, she runs into: (a) a balding molester, and (b) a purple-haired gun-toting psycho girl who takes on Mr Molester as if she's Dirty Harry. The latter is Miou Ootori and she's another student at Momoka's new school. She's also the president of the Survival Game club and such a deranged, underhanded loon that Momoka is facing serious competition for the title of Biggest Douchebag in the Show. Miou wants Momoka as a club member and she's prepared to drug her to get her way.
All this is fine. Miou vs. Momoka is amusing and the show's character dynamics are a laugh. Likeability isn't a problem since each bitch in this show has more than enough rivalry to force her to earn her right to be obnoxious. However on the downside, we also have guns. The title sequence is practically drooling over them. The fetishisation in the girls' gun-toting makes Schwarzenegger's tooling-up sequence in Commando look like Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men. It's tedious. I just got bored.
The survival game itself is shown as per the girls' delusions rather than reality, so we have blood sprays and John Woo bullet ballet. That was... okay. There's also an ugly talking duck, which the internet tells me is a platypus. Technically it's a shoujo series, coming as it does from Kodansha's Nakayoshi magazine (i.e. for girls), but I think in practice the main demographic is "gun wank".
"The brutality to step over an ally's corpse without batting an eye."
Saki Zenkoku-hen
Saki: The Nationals
Saki Zenkoku-hen
Season 3 or 4
Episodes: 13 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: mahjong anime
I'm sure there's more to this show than I'm seeing here, since this is its third season (or fourth if you count the spin-off series Saki Achiga-hen episode of Side-A). My opinion of this episode will be grossly unrepresentative of the series as a whole. However, that said, nothing here made me want to keep watching. Not even a moment. Not a flicker.
There's also not enough to dislike, but that's not a recommendation. It's empty of drama. It has lots of girls who seem pleasant enough, but have no significant characterisation. It's just 25 minutes of... you know, I can't even remember.
It's a mah-jong series. If you don't know what that is, then ahahahaha. This episode isn't telling you. Occasionally you'll glimpse girls putting tiles on a board, with no attempt at making this meaningful. I'm wondering if the show's not embarrassed by its own premise. I wanted more mah-jong! I wanted to get my teeth into it! Alas, though, I might be a minority of the potential audience. I'm sure we'll be getting actual games later in the season, but this first episode seems more interested in showing girls in the bath. Oh, and what's more, this show is apparently full of magic powers. There's no suggestion of this in the real-world episode I saw, but this is a show where girls can teleport into the arena, summon living gods in mid-game, etc. If true, that's another barrier to getting immersed in mah-jong.
We do though spend quite a lot of time sitting in booths while Commentator #1 (an idiot) winds up Commentator #2 (who knows the game). This happens three times and it's always annoying.
It's about a national tournament. I think we meet four teams of five girls each. I'm being vague because I was losing track. Too many. On the upside, though, being able to distinguish the girls doesn't matter because no one's shown any real characterisation yet. Incidentally, at the halfway point you might spot two boys. (Is mah-jong really such a girl-dominated game? I bet it's not.)
The main thing the episode wants to explain is the tournament's rules, e.g. how many rounds, how many seeded teams, etc.
I'm entirely neutral on this show. I have no feelings on it, either positive or negative. I don't even know what kind of show it's going to be like. This first episode is empty. Nothing's happened yet. We meet girls who are allegedly good at mah-jong and will be competing against each other. That's the entirety of ep.1's content. I wouldn't object to watching more episodes, if only to learn what kind of show this is going to be, but unfortunately I already have a gazillion shows I actually want to watch. This one, no.
Sakura Trick
Sakura Trick
Season 2
Episodes: 13 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: to my surprise, no
One-line summary: schoolgirl lesbians, tiresome
Disappointing. I'd been looking forward to this!
Earlier this year, when browsing the internet for discussion of Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san, I found a group of anime-watching lesbians. They were interesting. That show they'd liked, but in praising it they also compared it scornfully with Sakura Trick. "Aha," I thought and took note, on the hypothesis that anything that annoys people can't be all bad.
Unfortunately they were right. They'd been annoyed because the show's annoying.
The main characters are Yuu and Haruka. Yuu will behave annoyingly, e.g. phoning up at 4 am, to which Haruka responds with "She's worried about me! She's so thoughtful!" On going to school and meeting their classmates, I guessed quite early that this show was based on an unfunny four-panel gag manga. Both the supporting cast and their conversations suggest that kind of superficiality.
I'm not being objective, I know, but this show's dialogue sets my teeth on edge. It's empty. It's trivial in a way that's basically killing time without saying anything about the characters, when it's not teasing us with unconvincing lesbians written for a male audience. The kiss lead-up, for instance, smelled to me of button-pushing for otaku. "Let's do something we'd never do with other girls!" I struggled to believe in the characters and their actions. The balcony-jumping isn't even trying not to look absurd. Haruka will overreact to a trivial situation that came from a stupid misunderstanding in the first place. There's a boob grab and Yuu decides to ask Haruka if she's a C-cup.
There's one exception to this rule, though. I was amused by the scene where another schoolgirl is foolishly waiting for Haruka and Yuu to pick up some lunch for her and is refusing alternative offers because you have to trust your friends. That was a funny bit.
The camera also likes ogling the girls. The title sequence is basically saying "big boobs", "jiggle" and "look at the lesbians". I did notice though that they're carefully avoiding panty shots, which is a mercy.
Internal logic doesn't appear to be a priority either. Why did Haruka and Yuu feel they had to hide from those teachers? It's also noticeable that there are no male cast members, even though the school is mixed gender. (Why not make it a girls' school, then?) It's as if I've discovered a scale for measuring dodgy anime. Consider Rail Wars! and Recently, My Sister Is Unusual, which I encountered recently under "R". Recently, My Sister Is Unusual has by far the most offensive content, but it's also the best of these three shows because of its strong characters and powerful situations. Rail Wars! is just nothing. It's old dishwater. Sakura Trick has tame content (unless you find lesbianism controversial), but I found it the worst because the characters are so thin and their scenes either empty, trivial or unconvincing.
Seitou-kai Yakuindomo
Seitokai Yakuindomo*
Season 2
Episodes: 13 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: schoolgirls talking filth
The joke is that schoolgirls like saying, doing and looking at dirty things. The show finds this so funny that it's almost non-stop. They'll pounce delightedly on S&M porn mags that they find lying in the street. There's a maid who likes drinking her mistress's used bath water. Any random line of dialogue is likely to contain a reference to genitalia, semen, masturbation, etc.
That's all. That, in itself, is meant to be funny.
There isn't room for much else beyond the filth. The show's format is that we're following the misadventures of a school student council, whose job is to enforce morality and proper behaviour. There's a small amount of tease for a possible relationship one day between the president (female) and vice-president (token male). There's lots of CGI animation. Not sure why, since this could just almost have been a radio series.
No nudity or panty shots, although the girls can be bouncy and the camera likes short skirts. Watch this show if you want on-screen text telling you how many seconds are left until the next dirty joke.
Selector Wixoss
Season 1: Selector Infected WIXOSS
Season 2: Selector Spread WIXOSS
Episodes: 12 (infected) + 12 (spread) x 24 minutes
Keep watching: still considering it... ah, what the hell. Yes.
One-line summary: trading card game show, currently cute, will get dark
I've since finished it and... I really liked it.
All the reviews I'd seen (not many) were comparing this with Puella Magi Madoka Magica. That doesn't encourage me. Madoka is an impressive show, but I'm not sure I want to watch something aiming for the same kind of darkness without being as good.
But I think I'll watch it anyway. I'm interested enough.
It's a trading card game, although the anime premiered before the real life WIXOSS card game hit the shops. Don't worry, though. The episode's not a big commercial and indeed we're not even told the game rules in any detail at all. The main character is Ruko, who lives with her cool game-designing grandmother and moved to this town recently enough that she hasn't made any friends yet. (She doesn't see the urgency, but grandma is apparently a bit worried about her.) She also has an older brother whose feet smell.
To try to help her make friends, Ruko's brother gives her some WIXOSS cards because lots of girls these days are playing it. On opening these, Ruko discovers that one of the cards contains a happy, cute girl who makes cat noises and wants to battle. She thinks battles are fun. Can you say "bloodlust"? Nonetheless this girl in a playing card is indeed lovable and Ruko will soon be naming her Tama, after a pet cat.
This gets Ruko involved in the world of WIXOSS (pronounced "wikross"), because being able to talk to playing cards means she's a Selector. No, not a "loony". Apparently being a Selector means fighting other Selectors in card battles and, if you win often enough, you'll have any wish granted. (Hellooooo, Madoka.) Lose three times, though, and you'll be locked out of WIXOSS, whatever that means. It's not yet clear whether that means "in a row" or "ever at all", but the latter would seem a bit rough. She meets a fellow Selector, Yuzuki, whose as-yet ungranted wish appears to involve being an incestuous relationship with her twin brother, Kazuki, although I hope I'm wrong about that.
The show looks pretty. I like the gentle watercolour effects, occasionally even suggesting brushstrokes. I'm well disposed towards the characters and I particularly appreciate the way this doesn't feel like a merchandise-driven "rules and duels" CCG anime, of which there are millions. I'll give it a whirl.
Sengoku Basara End of Judgement
Sengoku Basara: End of Judgement
Sengoku Basara Judge End
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: bwahahahaha
One-line summary: based on demented video game Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings
I quite enjoyed it, to my astonishment, but it's still rampant macho silliness to make historians cry.
It's set in Japan in the year 1600, in the run-up to the Battle of Sekigahara. It's full of samurai. They fight. Fighting is good! Fighting is brave and righteous! Killing people proves that you're macho and is the only option for manly men! I was assuming I'd hate this show.
To my surprise, though, I didn't. This isn't a historical. It's a Ludicrously Bastardised Historical, which can't be even vaguely mapped on to reality and any seriously attempt at doing so might drive you insane. It's disco-dancing on the bleeding corpses of plausibility and historical accuracy. The samurai are teenagers with a ton of attitude and flared-collar jackets. Everything is overblown. Grown men can't have a discussion without leaping twenty feet into the air and punching each other in the face. Date Masamune (a real historical character) talks non-stop Engrish that on its own makes the anime almost unwatchable. "Are you ready, guys?" "No problem!" "Go straight!" "Party!"
Tokugawa Ieyasu (another real historical character) meanwhile looks like a Marvel superhero in his muscle-flaunting sleeveless jacket. He also has floor-punching superpowers that let him turn the ground into a crater, after which he flies away on his giant robot.
TOKUGAWA IN REALITY: warlord who conquered and unified Japan in the year 1600, thus establishing the shogunate that would keep the country isolated from the outside world for over a quarter of a millennium.
TOKUGAWA IN THIS ANIME: a humanitarian. "Brute force will not bring peace to this country. Bonds between people will."
It's not Gintama or JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, though. It's not a comedy. It's going for drama, or at least melodrama. Friends betray and kill their friends and make other friends swear impassioned mortal vengeance against them. Another friend dies tragically. This actually works quite well. I appreciated the drama of people dying and believing in each other. It's camp in its so-cool-it-hurts passion, but I thought it worked.
There are also female warlords with huge boobs. One of them's wearing a top so low-cut that you could park a motorbike in her cleavage.
(All that said, Sengoku Basara fans apparently like this series less than its predecessors. It's been said that the animation and music are worse, the action is less thrilling and the cast now includes some annoying and useless characters. I'm quoting, obviously. I'm not qualified to pass judgement, not having seen those other versions myself.)
It's magnificent in its shamelessness. There will be people who love this show unironically, although personally I think trying to watch it without irony would probably cause brain damage. It has Tokugawa Ieyasu as, more or less, Captain America. It has a guy in powered armour, making Iron Man noises. On the upside, though, the cast have personalities, which is a powerful case for abandoning historical accuracy. There are comedy bits like an entire squad of samurai getting gunned down. Treachery and dishourable behaviour, yay!
Tomoko owns two of the computer games it's based on, incidentally. They're just as ridiculous as the anime, but being a first-person fighter game makes the absurdities seem more natural. (The funniest character in them is Outomo Sourin.) They're super-popular and apparently aimed at girls, despite all the swordplay, macho posing, shirtlessness, homoeroticism... hang on, what am I saying? I should have guessed, shouldn't I? There's still no way I'm watching any more of the anime, though.
shiro bako
White Box
Season 1
Episodes: 24 x 24 minutes + two OVAs
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: life in an anime production company
I've since finished it and... it's fantastic.
I've heard this called "lovely". It's not there yet, since it's only the first episode, but it's likeable and well worth persisting with.
We begin with five girls in a high school animation club. Full of idealism and faith in the future, they... okay, actually that's not true. This isn't a show about blind optimism. It's an anime about the making of anime, fully aware of how tough this industry is and of the difficulties stacked up against anyone trying to make a success in it. Those schoolgirls have sensible, realistic worries about their chances in that world.
Skip forwards two and a half years. One of them (Aoi Miyamori) is now working at an animation studio, but reality is even less rose-tinted than before. She's in a car, about to drive like a crazy person and nearly get killed. A radio presenter is speculating about when the animation bubble is going to pop and talking about how much competition there is with so much product being produced. He then starts interviewing some voice actresses who are doing radio publicity without pay, plugging their latest anime.
Aoi sees a rival in another car. Cue crazy driving.
The show feels truthful. It's sugar-coating nothing, but it's also sincere about how deeply invested everyone is in the success of their new show. The first episode of their new show is about to go on air and everyone in the company is chewing their nails. They're a colourful bunch. I liked them. It's also interesting to see behind the scenes of the industry. Technology has moved on from the world we saw a decade earlier in Animation Runner Kuromi, but one thing that hasn't changed is the brinkmanship. They're producing thirty minutes of animation on a weekly schedule. Any delay can ripple through the whole season.
It looks good. It's honest, not cynical. I'm keen for more of this.
Shounen Hollywood Holly Stage for 49
Shonen Hollywood: Holly Stage for 49
Shonen Hollywood
Season 1
Episodes: 13 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: not a ridiculous idea
One-line summary: pin-up boys training to be idols, but it's also realistic
Surprisingly good. I'd heard bad things about season two, but this introduction impressed me. I'm close to continuing with it, actually.
It's yet another of the gazillions of idol anime. Five boys are training to be idols. They practice their dance moves and their cringeworthy poses and speeches to camera. If you had to do this, you'd die. There are so, so many reasons not to watch this show.
What's different about this show, though, is the demographic. It's not aimed at little girls. It feels realistic. The boys' rehearsal feels like a real rehearsal. Drama school can often feel like that. They're doing embarrassing things, badly, in a dull-looking room. When the director turns up, he asks them to do something beyond their abilities and explains in detail why each of them is rubbish. What's more, he's right. The boys do indeed have the deficiencies he describes and you can see that they do indeed need to fix them if they're going to make it as professionals. You're almost being invited to dissect each boy's problems before the director does it for you.
Besides, what he's asking of them is genuinely difficult. I don't know if I could do it. These boys must, somehow, find a way of delivering lines and moves that scream "I am a twat". I can respect the challenge.
The art style is realistic. The character designs are all distinct and recognisable, even without colour-coded hair or anything like that. My only question is whether it'll slip, since there's a moment near the end where the art quality loses it slightly and of course one expects first episodes to be unusually lavish. They've laid down a bold marker, though.
I understand that it's a sequel, but only to a novel. There's nothing else you need to watch before this, even if it feels like a second season given all that feting of another Shonen Hollywood idol group fifteen years earlier.
I liked it. I believed in the conversations they were having. It's a show business series, but it's portraying the reality, not the fantasy. (So far, at least. It's only ep.1.) I'm still not in a hurry to watch a show about five teenage boys trying to become something pointless and meretricious, but if I were, this would be a good place to start.
"Today I became the most embarrassing idol in the world."
Silver Spoon
Gin no Saji
Season 2
Episodes: 11 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: yes, and I'll be going back to watch Season 1 too
One-line summary: agricultural high school
I've since finished it and... it's very good indeed.
I had some expectations of this, since the manga's by Hiromu Arakawa (Fullmetal Alchemist) and Tomoko has it on our shelves. It was what I'd expected, I think. It's good.
For starters, I got into it easily even though it's a second season. That doesn't always happen. Yuugo Hachiken is a student at an agricultural high school in Hokkaido. You study farming. You look after cows, pigs, etc. There are other such shows, yes, but this is one of the good ones (e.g. Moyashimon) rather than the bad (e.g. No-Rin).
Yuugo's a bit of a loser, but not overly so since this is a realistic series. He has "cynical" reasons for studying at this school (not related in this episode), but he's completely open about that and everyone seems to regard it paradoxically as a reason to trust him. He's also bad at saying no to things, worries about his friends and seems like a fairly decent guy.
There's not a huge amount of plot here. Yuugo against his will gets made the vice-president of a school club and sees a friend crying when talking to a big baseball player. Yuugo getting gently shot down when he tries to talk to her about this is funny, as is the sushi-crazed baseball team. We see a cow's bra. (No, really. Unlucky cows can need bras. This kind of show tends to be on a mild mission to educate, which is nice and always adds interest.) That's about it for the episode, really, but it's done in a likeable way with characters who seem worth watching.
I haven't yet seen enough to feel up to giving the show a recommendation, but I'm more than happy to keep going. There's also a live-action movie, incidentally.
Soul Eater Not
Soul Eater Not!
Soul Eater Not!
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: toss a coin
One-line summary: school at Death City for people who can turn into weapons
I've since finished it and... it's nothing special.
Everyone says it's not as good as its parent series, Soul Eater (51 episodes). It's certainly not brilliant. It's okay, though, and it'll probably pass by harmlessly.
All the characters are joining Death Weapon Meister Academy (DWMA) in Death City, USA. This is a place that looks like a Disney castle with a skull fetish, while the sun in the sky has a big smile and is covered in spikes like a medieval morning star. The main character, Tsugumi, discovered while tripping over the family dog that her leg could turn into a halberd all by itself. Learning how to control this sounded like a good idea, so she's off to DWMA. I imagine the dog agrees.
Tsugumi's a nice enough girl and she's going to make two friends. One of these is such a good-natured airhead that she has trouble even remembering her own name. The other is a haughty princess who's been looking for commoners and thinks Tsugumi is the perfect example of one. The most important thing everyone has to do in this episode is team up in weapon-meister partners. Meisters don't transform into weapons, but instead use them. Obviously you need both if you're going to fight anyone.
There's surrealism in the designs and I like throwaway details like the school nurse being Medusa-sensei. Apparently the art's more generic than Soul Eater, but I haven't watched that. (Also apparently this is technically a prequel to that show, so I don't need to catch up on 51 episodes before diving into this.) Tsugumi's habit of saying "gagantous" (whatever that means) will probably get old fast, but the show looks okay. I'll give it a whirl.
Space Dandy
Space Dandy
Season 1
Episodes: 26 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: frivolous SF extravaganza
It's an important anime that got the industry excited. It's the director of Cowboy Bebop getting back in the saddle with an explosion of creativity and stunningly inventive animation. All 26 episodes are helmed by different directors, some of whom might go on to become industry-reshaping names. Each has its own style. It's cool. It's a delight to look at.
Personally, though, I was never wild about Cowboy Bebop and I'll be skipping this. It's visual jazz, basically, with only a thin skin of storytelling. The show's continuity is a handwave, officially. The main cast can get blown up in one episode and return in the next. I also don't find the cast particularly interesting, although I'm sure they'll develop over the course of the series.
We first meet Space Dandy while he's explaining why girls' bottoms are more important than their boobs. He has a robot sidekick called QT and he's an alien hunter. He doesn't kill them. He registers them. Finding unknown alien species is worth money. In this episode, he hangs out at Boobies (the SF equivalent of Hooters), picks up a cat-alien from Betelgeuse, goes to another planet and has all-action misadventures with monsters. That's it. It's light-hearted enough that you know not to take it seriously, but it didn't make me laugh because the characters were too thin to support much comedy.
I wouldn't even call him a dandy. That quiff and those clothes suggest a hooligan from somewhere between the 1950s and 1970s. There's nothing of the beau or the gallant about him, but then again "dandyism" became a Japanese fashion subculture in the 1990s and so I shouldn't be judging by Western standards.
I should probably keep going. So many people rate this anime so, so highly. Everyone says it's the most creative anime of 2014 and its best episodes are supposedly great in all kinds of different ways. But what the hell. No one ever said I had to watch everything.
Strange Plus
Season 1: Strange+
Season 2: Shin Strange+
Episodes: 12 + 12 x 3 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: gag comedy
It's a gag anime about four detectives, I think. It's jam-packed, but I won't be continuing because I personally didn't find its joke hit rate good enough. I'm impressed by its pace, though, which covered a complete story in three minutes. Beginning, middle and end. I even checked the timer afterwards because I was sure the episode must have taken longer than I thought.
The regulars are a big guy in dreadlocks, a small blue-haired boy, some other guy and a girl with silly cleavage. The first thing that happens is that our heroes visit a mansion and Dreadlock Dude catches fire and bellows, "I'm going to be rich one day", to which Other Guy replies, "You're not allowed to scream from the bottom of your heart on someone's doorstep." Um. Right. The gang then get the job of protecting a precious treasure, to which they respond by saying that this gag might be too subtle for the audience. It was too subtle, because I didn't get it. Maybe it's a Japanese pun or something.
The treasure they have to guard is a golden statuette of an old man in a suggestive pose, then later bottoms on springs jump out of doors. No reason. They just do. I have no objection to dubious humour, but it helps if it's funny.
However I liked the joke with the giant ball rolling down the stairs, while the finale of blowing everything up was okay. One last breaking of the fourth wall, then it's the end! Of all the various jokes or humorous situations (which admittedly did come at a furious pace), personally I'd say about a quarter worked and another quarter were annoying. Not for me, then.
Sugar Soldier
Sugar Soldier
Season 1
Episodes: 3 x 40 seconds
Keep watching: well, yes, but...
One-line summary: formulaic shoujo fluff
This isn't a review of just the first episode of Sugar Soldier, but instead of the entire thing. Having started, it seemed silly not to watch all three 40-second episodes, even though I'd been unimpressed with ep.1. Fortunately it improves.
What is this bizarre series format, by the way? My best guess is that they're TV commercials for the manga, although it seems unlikely to me that manga would get such a lavish marketing campaign. It's a perfectly normal shoujo manga, by the way. The storytelling's hardly dense and the whole thing feels formulaic, but there's nothing wrong with it. Here's a breakdown:
Episode 1 = first half of manga chapter one (21 pages)
Episode 2 = second half of manga chapter one (23 pages)
Episode 3 = an edited version of manga chapter two (32 pages)
I make that 1.57 seconds per page. Yow. Episode 1 is almost worthless. It feels like shoujo cliches and no substance, with the main addition being an attractively lurid pink-and-purple colour scheme and the fact that the theme music's playing throughout the whole episode, underneath the dialogue. The main character, Makoto, is a girl whose older sister is a famous model. She's just starting high school and she's about to meet a hot boy, Iriya! It's wall-to-wall fluff, except for the fact that Iriya appears to be playing football in the school corridors and no one shouts at him for it, even when the ball hits Makoto in the head. You'd think at least Makoto would have something to say on the matter.
Episode 2 improves, but ends in some incomprehensible and possibly brain-damaged dialogue. "I have to be cuter." "When girls think about becoming cute, they become stronger!" She's saying all this to Iriya, by the way.
Episode 3 is then actually good. They've ditched half of the original manga chapter to get there, but I laughed at Makoto's email address dilemmas. She's being an idiot, but she's a funny idiot.
Would I recommend it? Not except as some kind of mad exercise in How Not To Adapt Manga. It's less substantial than a Tesco Value facial tissue. However it's a surprisingly faithful representation of the original and I enjoyed ep.3. I suppose it's only 120 seconds of your life...
Soni Ani Super Sonico
Soni-Ani: Super Sonico The Animation
Super Sonico: the animation
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: day-to-day life of a student + bikini model + guitarist
Super Sonico is a mascot character, created in 2006 for the computer and video game software company Nitroplus. She's since become a media franchise, including music, manga, games, figurines and now an anime series. She has big boobs, pink hair and Cyberman-like headphones that she never takes off, even in bed. She's a nice girl, but there's not a lot to this anime beyond that.
1. She gets up belatedly, surrounded by alarm clocks and five poorly drawn cats. 2. She goes to college, where she's actually quite a good student except for her timekeeping. She tells us about dolphins. 3. She does a modelling job in a bikini that's too small for her. 4. She helps out as a waitress at her grandmother's bar. 5. She meets up with the other two members of her band, in which she plays the electric guitar.
And that's it. 24 minutes. It's amiable enough, but I don't really see the point.
Strike Blood
Strike The Blood
Season 1
Episode 13 of 24: "Labyrinth of the Blue Witch I"
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: action harem show
I'm posting this from 2020, having only discovered this show recently. It's had new episodes every year for the last eight years and counting. That's a success story.
I've seen three of its episodes to date and they've all been perfectly good. Solid adventure, exciting level of danger, etc. The cast are lively and nice. I could easily have gone back and watched it all. It's about a teenage vampire hero and lots of girls on a civilised, high-tech island of humans and demons.
However, the show's not really about anything. The action feels like supervillains and anime nonsense. Quite well done, but I don't sense depth. Meanwhile, the character interaction isn't as harem-ish as in later years, but it's still in no way challenging its shallow, wish-fulfilment formula. The show's fine. I'd probably enjoy it if I watched it, but I wouldn't be expecting to get anything I hadn't seen before.
Sword Art Online
Sword Art Online II
Sword Art Online II
Season 2
Episodes: 24 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: no, despite its reputation
One-line summary: people talking about virtual reality a lot
I've since finished it and... yes, I'd misjudged this one too. It is indeed a strong show that deserves its success.
Sword Art Online is supposed to be really good. Even my little brother was encouraging me to watch it and he's not really an anime fan. Personally, though, I found this first episode of season two really boring.
It's about virtual reality. Season one had a virtual reality online RPG that you had to beat or die. I think there are different virtual game worlds, e.g. medieval, Norse mythology, post-apocalyptic with lots of guns, etc. Of course there's also a real world, which is set in the year 2025 and contains nothing of interest.
We begin with an online talk show about the best way to boost your stats. One of the guests is being a particularly smug cock. Someone shoots and kills him. Good.
We then switch to the real world, which involves more people sitting around and talking to each other. The hero of season one talks to someone in a park, then to someone else in a restaurant. "What's the difference between the virtual and real worlds?" he's asked at some point, to which he incorrectly fails to respond "virtual reality is inherently more boring". We're also told that what we saw at the beginning was impossible. The characters agree on this, even though the audience knows that every iteration of this franchise (and indeed this genre) will depend on the principle of "if you die online, you die in the real world".
We also learn that this story arc is about the "Gun Gale Online" virtual world. Lots of guns. Gee. We then return to virtual reality just before the closing credits, since even this franchise's fans might perhaps have been getting itchy at an entire episode of talking heads. Someone fires a gun. The end. Be still my beating heart.
Characters I don't care about in a world I don't care about, plus virtual reality? So far it looks like complete and utter shit, frankly. That said, though, I'm clearly wrong and everyone says it's an excellent show, or at least Season 1 was anyway. (That had swords rather than guns, which is a plus point already.) I might yet watch Season 1 anyway, despite first impressions here, but that won't be any time soon.
nanatsu no taizai
The Seven Deadly Sins
Nanatsu no Taizai
Season 1
Episodes: 24 x 24 minutes + two OVAs + a second season announced
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: kiddie fantasy adventures
I think half of what puts me off this series is the art style. It looks like an American Saturday morning cartoon, not anime. The "ten-year-old but secretly mega-badass" protagonist has an amiably empty face with only one facial expression. The implausibly curvy girl in a spray-on leotard is specifically kiddie-cartoon curvy, in a way that's faintly annoying. The smart-alec talking pig isn't just a pig, but a comedy cartoon pig.
Yeah, call me shallow.
It begins promisingly, in a ruined town where lots of knights were massacred. After that, though, we jump forward ten years to a pub run by that ten-year-old I mentioned. The pub's food is inedible. This is approximately the 10000000000000th time I've seen that joke in anime. Everyone's talking about some legendary baddies from ten years earlier, called the Seven Deadly Sins, but then Implausibly Curvy Girl shows up looking for them. (At first she's in full plate armour, so she gets mistaken for one of them.)
Her name's Queen Elizabeth and that boy acquires a habit of groping her boobs. Neither of them seems to think anything of this.
Baddies show up to fight them, in the kind of battles where a sword attack will blast you through the air in a big explosion and one assumes that falling off a 100-foot cliff won't even hurt. There's a Big Boss Baddie, Lord Twigo, who's fully twice the height of some of his soldiers and can cut down all the trees in a wood in a single attack.
It's boisterous, empty-headed fun for small boys. The show's selling point will be the fights against over-the-top baddies, which do admittedly look as if they're going to be fun. I'm sure this show's quite good at what it does, but I personally have no interest in continuing.