Halftime Review on the 2014 Winter Anime Season

SakiAfter not writing anything in my blog for a while, I decided a good way to return would be a halftime review of this season.

Before I begin, I’d like to mention that I went into this season expecting it to be horrible. I made that judgment after looking at various anime charts. Was my judgment as accurate as reality? You better believe it.

To keep you up to speed, here’s a list of anime I’m watching this season along with a general schedule I follow:

Sunday:
-Witch Craft Works
Saki: Zenkoku-hen
-Tonari no Seki-kun

Monday:

-Super Sonico the Animation

Tuesday:
-Saikin, Imouto no Yousu ga Chotto Okaishiin Da Ga.

Wednesday:
Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren
-Onee-chan ga Kita!
-Mikakunin de Shinkoukei

Thursday:
-Mahou Sensou
-Sakura Trick
-Pupa

Friday:
-Nourin
-Wake Up, Girls!

Saturday:
Seitokai Yakuindomo*
-Nisekoi

As you can see, I omitted shows that are continuing to air from last season (Kill la Kill, Golden Time, etc.), and I highlighted sequels in red. I won’t be giving opinions on the sequels because you’d already be watching it if you liked previous seasons. Now that all the introductory stuff is out of the way, let’s begin.

———-
Witch Craft WorksAnime: Witch Craft Works
Studio: J.C. Staff
Rating: Bad

Let me be honest. J.C. Staff is awful. I haven’t really liked anything they’ve made recently barring Joshiraku and Golden Time. Honestly, J.C. Staff needs to pick better material to animate, but let’s move on to Witch Craft Works (WCW). WCW is an incredibly generic show. I can’t say there is anything original about this show at all. From the premise down to the characters, everything’s generic. You can’t get more generic than a whiny, weak male protagonist and an incredibly overpowered female protagonist. Next, two opposing factions representing good and evil? Been there, done that. Don’t even get me started on the fact that the main male protagonist follows the “chosen one” trope as both factions are fighting for him. Overall, WCW brings nothing special or new to the table, and unless you can watch the show purely for the catchy ED, it’s definitely not worth watching.

———-
Tonari no Seki-kunAnime: Tonari no Seki-kun
Studio: Shin-Ei Animation
Rating: Bad-Average

Short anime will have short reviews. It’s just a bunch of comedy skits, so if you’re into this sort of thing, go for it. It’s not nearly as funny as Daily Lives of High School Boys or as interesting as Nichijou, but it’s not the worst thing I’ve seen. The OP and ED are pretty creative, but again, it’s a 5 minute show.

———-
Super SonicoAnime: Super Sonico the Animation
Studio: White Fox
Rating: Bad

When I heard that Super Sonico was getting an anime, I was excited because I thought it’d be entertaining, funny, and chalk full of fanservice. I got my fanservice all right, but it’s missing the other two things on my wishlist. To make matters worse, the only character of the show, Super Sonico, is one of the unintelligent characters of all time. Using her stupidity to make her cute and moe was the obvious goal. Unfortunately, that formula fails to work when her ditzyness just makes her stupid. And then there’s the ridiculousness of everyone calling her “Super Sonico-san.” Don’t get me started on the so called “backstory” either. If you really want to watch this show for the fanservice, go for it, but I’m warning you, scantily clad outfits is all you’re getting.

———-
ImoChoAnime: Saikin, Imouto no Yousu ga Chotto Okaishiin Da Ga. (ImoCho)
Studio: project No. 9
Rating: Bad

The imouto trend is pretty popular these days thanks to OreImo. If you have a thing for imouto shows, then by all means go for this one (Or the Blu-rays because of censoring). It’s a great addition to the imouto collection. However, if you’re not watching because you like imouto shows, then I’m telling you now that it’s bad. Why? Easy. It’s an imouto show. Every show in the whole imouto genre are just copies of each other. They all have some sort of love (one-sided or not) relationship between the older brother and the little sister, and ImoCho is no exception. ImoCho does make things a bit more interesting with the whole supernatural aspect in addition to being a large step ahead in eroticism, but it’s still an imouto show, so don’t get your hopes up.

———-
Onee-chan ga KitaAnime: Onee-chan ga Kita!
Studio: C2C
Rating: Bad-Average

Switching from little sisters to big sisters, Onee-chan ga Kita revolves around comedy skits featuring Tomoya and his brocon older sister. The shorts are entertaining to a degree, but nothing to write home about. You won’t miss anything by skipping this show.

———-
MikakuninAnime: Mikakunin de Shinkoukei
Studio: Dogakobo
Rating: Bad-Average

When I talk to my friends about anime this season, Mikakunin is always one of the best shows of the season in their opinions; I fail to see why. A major premise of the show is Kobeni’s engagement to Hakuya. Going along with this already cliché premise, throw in “I saved your life when you were young, but you don’t remember,” and “I’m moving in with you,” and you have a generic romcom that’s really old news. Generally, people rave on and on about the cute characters, but characters alone aren’t enough to buy me, sorry. As for the plot, the story attempts to advance by bringing in supernatural elements and flashbacks of the past, but after all that’s said and done, nothing ultimately changes, and it’s right back where it started.

———-
Mahou SensouAnime: Mahou Sensou
Studio: Madhouse
Rating: Bad

Oh boy. I’m not sure where to begin with this show. Mahou Sensou is filled to the brim with information. If you fail to keep your attention for 30 seconds, you may just end up missing 3 new plot devices or twists. Overall, the show’s major premise is incredibly simple; however, it’s so clouded by all the surrounding terminology and subplots that it’s easy to lose focus. The overload of information is even worse when you top it off with Mahou Sensou’s atrocious pacing. The changes between the slice-of-life segments, the backstory segments, the terminology segments, and the action segments are incredibly drastic and stand out to a fault. Transitions are supposed to feel smooth, but Mahou Sensou’s are jarring and painful. I could go on and on about this show, and I will in a future article, but I’ll cut it short here. I’m only scratching the surface of Mahou Sensou here; there’s a lot more to talk about given this show’s complexity.

Extra: I’m actually jotting down some notes as I watch this show because I plan on reviewing this show more in depth when it’s over. They’re pretty rough notes, but have a look if you’re interested: https://www.dropbox.com/s/5tuftqv2ye5z1il/Anime%20Notes%20-%20Mahou%20Sensou.txt

———-
Sakura TrickAnime: Sakura Trick
Studio: Studio Deen
Rating: Average-Good

Now here’s a show I think is incredibly overrated, but don’t personally have many faults with. Some people are over-analyzing this show way to much though (don’t get them started on the white letterboxing). It’s honestly a really simple show. It’s a slice-of-life that heavily focuses on yuri. Now I don’t mean something like Yuru Yuri or Hidamari Sketch; Sakura Trick is incredibly direct about the yuri. Most episodes so far have been divided into 2-3 segments, and so far each segment has ended with a passionate kiss between two girls, usually Haruka and Yuu, the two main characters. One of my biggest complaints about the show is how much less focus the other four characters have. A slice-of-life is more entertaining with their larger casts. Yuri isn’t currently a fetish of mine, so Sakura Trick is sometimes a bit iffy at times, but when I put the yuri aside, the pure slice-of-life aspects of the show are entertaining enough for me to keep following the show. It doesn’t stand out when compared to other slife-of-life anime, but it’s the full-on yuri that keeps Sakura Trick unique. If I were looking for a yuri slice-of-life, I’d want it to be like Sakura Trick.

———-
PupaAnime: Pupa
Studio: Studio Deen
Rating: Bad

For a show that was delayed two seasons straight, you’d think that pupa would be amazing given all the extra time they had. You can only imagine my disappointment when I learned that Pupa would be a short. Unfortunately, it’s even worse than that. It’s a sad attempt at horror that uses large amounts of flesh and gore to scare its viewers. Every time I watch an episode, I wonder if Pupa would have been good if it were fully fleshed out (pun totally intended) in twenty minute episodes.

———-
NourinAnime: Nourin
Studio: Silver Link
Rating: Bad-Average

I initially started watching Nouring expecting some sort of romcom with a dramatic backstory on the idol. Boy, was I mistaken. Unlike the other shows, I’ve only seen 3 episodes of Nourin, so my judgment might be a little bit off, but Nourin is nothing like a romcom drama and more like a “wtf is going on” type of show. While watching, I often wonder what in the world is going on in Nourin. It reminds me of NouCome from last season in terms of craziness. It’s not a good show by any means, but it’s at least somewhat entertaining compared to a lot of the other shows this season. Ultimately, it’s not worth watching, but if you’re looking for something stupid to watch, try Nourin along with ImoCho this season. They’re both bad but stupidly entertaining to a degree.

———-
Wake Up, GirlsAnime: Wake Up, Girls!
Studio: Ordet / Tatsunoko Productions
Rating: Average

Along with imoutos and Nobunagas, idol shows have been on the rise in popularity. The iDOLM@STER, Love Live!, AKB0048, Aikatsu, and even Nourin are some recent examples. Unlike all the other idol shows I’ve mentioned, however, Wake Up, Girls! (WUG) is leaps ahead in terms of realism. Comparatively, the other idol shows are more focused on bright colors, flashy songs, and cute characters than realism. Now I’m not saying that WUG doesn’t have these aspects (because it does), I’m saying that WUG isn’t using these as its central focus. For example, the idols in WUG all have incredibly boring hair colors when you compare them to the other idol shows. Next, idol shows and drama go hand in hand. What would a story about rising stars be without a little bit of drama? The drama in WUG feels a lot less forced than in other idol shows; it’s not perfect, but it feels a bit more natural. While I’ve noted several times that it’s more realistic, I like to note that I’m saying it’s more realistic not just realistic. There are certainly aspects of WUG that are unrealistic like the I-ONE Club dictatorship. There are a lot more things about WUG I’d love to talk about, but I’ve already said a lot here. The final verdict is that WUG takes an interesting spin on the idol genre and is something I’d recommend to give a try if you like idols. Otherwise, WUG is just another idol/drama show, and you won’t miss anything by skipping out on it.

———-
NisekoiAnime: Nisekoi
Studio: Shaft
Rating: Bad

It’s always exciting to watch Shaft shows because, well, it’s Shaft! Their animation never fails to impress, and after watching shows like Madoka and Monogatari, I thought a romcom from Shaft would be a nice change of pace. Despite how much I love Shaft though, their efforts weren’t enough for Nisekoi. Looking at the source, I found that Nisekoi is a manga serialized in Shounen Jump. It’s an odd place to be in for sure, and it doesn’t help that a romcom is there. I won’t spoil the manga, but much like other Shounen Jump material, Nisekoi has a tendency to just introduce new characters when they hit a wall. The anime follows the manga quite closely, so expect it coming. Based on the plot so far, we aren’t getting anything special out of Nisekoi. Two people pretending to date has become pretty popular recently, so the main premise isn’t anything new, but when you dig a little deeper into Nisekoi, you’ll find the heart of another premise: a childhood promise the main character made but can’t remember. Sound familiar? Shaft does a great job as always, but generic shows are still going to be generic.

———-

That concludes my midseason review. I hope you enjoyed reading my opinions. I’m seriously considering more in-depth analyses on Wake Up, Girls! and maybe Sakura Trick, but I’m not sure yet. Mahou Sensou is a definite though. I also have a small list of shows I haven’t started but am on the fence about:

-Sekai Seifuku ~Bouryaku no Zvezda~
-Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha
-Wizzard Barristers ~ Benmashi Cecil
-Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta

If you can give me some decent reasons to watch any of these, I’ll be sure to give it a try. See you in the next post.

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