Spring Anime 2014 Rankings – Sink or Swim

I haven’t blogged in ages. Here’s a halfway wrap-up of the somewhat plentiful spring anime harvest.

~SWIMMING~

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders

Episodes seen: 8/24

Don’t miss this, it’s amazing. I tend to avoid ‘villain of the week’ shows on principle but this is so well executed I don’t even care. Jotaru is colossally badass and the animation quality is outstanding. Action scenes are exhilarating and the show continues to gather momentum as the group charge on to Egypt. This franchise is one of a kind and it just keeps on giving.

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I mentioned before that Part I was superior to Part II because of Dio’s inclusion, and the same applies here. Dio is just the most quintessential antagonist. The supporting characters are good too, but Jotaru could carry this show on his own if he had too. Just don’t ask about why his hat is mysteriously connected to his hair.

Selector Infected WIXOSS

Episodes seen: 8/12

Grim and intriguing, WIXOSS has made for compelling viewing so far. Yes, there is now going to be an additional cour for Mari Okada to write this show into a corner like she so often does with dramas, but to her credit this show has been an absolute ride so far. Internet speculation is buzzing over the mysteries of the WIXOSS universe and each episode is eagerly lapped up. I can’t wait for all the eerie foreshadowing in episode one to be revealed.

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A big part of what makes this card game anime so great is the fact that it doesn’t focus very much on the game itself, opting instead for a strongly character driven story. In my last post I pointed out how amazing the background art is, too. I’m not sure how I feel about the decision to stretch this show out for an additional cour, but hopefully it maintains momentum because so far it’s been excellent.

Isshuukan Friends

Episodes seen: 7/12

How does this show manage to be so calm and gentle, yet dramatic and believable at the same time? Somehow it just works. I love the art style and the character development has been handled very well so far. I have a feeling it’s going to end in tears, but I can’t wait to see how it all plays out.

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Hase is turning out to be the most tolerable romance MC to grace screens in a long time and Kaori might just be a miracle of the universe. The underlying premise could be labeled unoriginal in a flash, but the careful execution and subtle delivery of Isshuukan Friends has set it apart from most dramas already.

Ping Pong: The Animation

Episodes seen: 6/12

Sharp, competitive and unique in many ways. The art style is polarizing for a reason but I’ve found it to be quite refreshing in that it makes every other show look generic by comparison. The ping pong matches are gripping, almost as much as Smile’s intensely vivid daydreams.

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Smile and Peco feel like very inspired characters, and I’ve enjoyed Wenge’s inclusion too. The decision to actually use a Chinese voice actor for Wenge (this is very uncommon in the medium for foreign characters) was an excellent idea and makes the show feel authentic. Ping Pong hasn’t been this exciting since Forrest Gump.

Haikyuu!

Episodes seen: 7/24

Another sport anime on my list that’s swimming along comfortably. The character designs remind me of Fairy Tail, but not in a bad way. Unfortunately, Haikyuu suffers from the problem of some scenes dragging out way too long in typical shounen fashion, but it redeems itself with original dialogue and an interesting cast.

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OST is very fitting and even the mid-episode eyecatch is awesome even if it it’s an extremely minor detail. Haikyuu is very watchable and might just wake the sleeping urge to play volleyball that has secretly been lying dormant in your soul all these years. That is, if you’re not playing ping pong yet already…

Captain Earth

Episodes seen: 6/25

Need I say more? It’s motherfucking Captain Earth.

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~SINKING~

Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka?

Episodes seen: 4/12

This isn’t a bad SoL, I just don’t like the characters enough to stay interested in it. Some shows can sustain themselves on charm alone, but this one hasn’t managed it yet. I haven’t given up on this one yet but so far it’s nothing less than an awkward Kiniro Mosaic clone.

Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka - OP - Large 03

Super-average at heart, but watchable when you want something harmless and fluffy I guess.

Nobunaga The Fool

Episodes seen: 17/25

This show has sadly transformed from a likable tongue-in-cheek action series to an intergalactic psuedo-historical mess with few redeeming factors. The direction and script are all over the place and there’s nothing to sustain it anymore. Nobunaga is a great character although he is surrounded by the most uninteresting cast imaginable.

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Even Da Vinci has been boring since he stopped yelling through that tuba in episode one. Jean’s perpetual suffering is an abhorrently cheap plot device that started getting awkward 10 episodes ago. Fortunately some of the action scenes have been good.

~~~SUNK~~~

Mahou Shoujo Taisen

Episodes seen: 4/26

Hearing the words “Gainax” and “Mahou Shoujo” in the same sentence got me pretty excited and then… Well, this show happened. Whether it’s my own fault for expecting something more interesting or not, this show is bad.

Black Bullet

Episodes seen: 4/12

Manga readers have told me that this one gets good, but a completely botched exposition didn’t really help its case. It’s a shame too because masked villains are usually fun.

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I might marathon Black Bullet later if it gets good enough reviews but it managed to turn me off pretty quickly. There might be something good here, but the negatives have already outweighed the positives for me with this adaption.

Mahouka

Episodes seen: 3/26

Yet another uber-hyped LN adaption turns out to be nothing more than a trashy harem led by smug MC #63711 and his band of merry men.

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Yes, I’m sure there’s a reason Tatsuya is so unbelievably cool and collected. I’m sure there’s a reason his sister is so awkwardly close to him. I’m sure there’s a chance the show might actually get interesting by episode 20. Problem is, Mahouka was drowning in cliché from the start and there’s nothing to like about its nauseatingly dull characters.

Fuun Ishin Dai Shogun

Episodes seen: 1/I don’t know, 1 was too many

I can’t even remember seeing a show this bad. It’s beyond words and should never exist. The animation isn’t even on par with an amateur flash cartoon.

I can only assume the staff are attempting to dethrone Mars Attacks and claim the throne for ‘worst anime of all time’. Watch this show at your own peril. It will make you wish you never had eyes.

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