Spring 2014 anime review

Spring 2014 anime review

With the Summer 2014 line-up just around the corner, I thought I would take a quick look back over the animes I have reviewed this season and do a swift summary and conclusion on them all. Many of my reviews were written only a few episodes in, and some of my opinions may have changed since all those months ago. Besides, one of the things that I think makes a good anime (or book, film or game, for that matter) is how good their ending is. Here I will take a look at those very important endings and rate them, in reverse order.

10. If Her Flag Breaks

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I generally don’t know what happened here. I’ve been losing the plot here for a while when it descended into questioning reality and life being computer software. The concept of a guy seeing flags above everyone’s heads was an interesting one, but the execution was bad – and just got worse from there. What started out as a comic harem suddenly jolted into an odd matrix-type concept with a very unnecessary battle scene and a lot of explanation that made absolutely no sense. Should have just stayed an an inane harem and not tried to be something it wasn’t.

9. Black Bullet
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I didn’t expect too much from If Her Flag Breaks, but I definitely anticipated more from Black Bullet than what I actually got. I’m not sure whether there will be a second season in future, but if there isn’t then the final episode didn’t make much sense at all. There were a few subplots that weren’t really addressed, like Rentaro keeping Enju’s lifespan assessment from her. There certainly wasn’t enough about Kisara’s background to merit the gory show at the end, and I’m not even going to get into how convenient it was that Shoma and Midori turned up at the end and what happened to them. A second series could save Black Bullet, but I don’t know if it’s on the cards.

8. Nanana’s Buried Treasure

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The less said about Nanana’s Buried Treasure’s ending, the better. I wasn’t even completely convinced that what I saw actually was the final episode. I kept expecting there to be one more episode… but apparently not. Again, this is another series hoping for a second season. I couldn’t help but hope that this anime would at least reveal Nanana’s killer, even if everything wasn’t summed up nicely and tied with a bow, but nothing ultimately came of that either. The Indiana Jones-esque artefact puzzles were great, but it would have been great to get something a little more substantial at the end.

7. Blade and Soul
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Despite the sheer number of breasts (that seemed to be steadily growing as the episodes progressed), Blade and Soul’s ending wasn’t that bad. I guess my expectations weren’t as high for this anime as they were for others, which is probably the reason why I’m not as disappointed. Blade and Soul also never tried to pretend that it was something it wasn’t. First came the action, then the epic oppai, and then the plot and character development – if there was any time left. Gratuitous fanservice stranded-on-a-desert-island-in-a-leaf-bikini episode aside, I did enjoy watching this one and the way it didn’t boggle my brain with outrageous and unexplained plot jumps.

6. The World is Still Beautiful
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As well as with Blade and Soul, I’m grateful to The World is Still Beautiful for being true to itself and remaining what it was supposed to be until the very end. I touched on this point in my full review, but I’ll say it again: this one was all about the journey, and never about rushing towards a cataclysmic conclusion after realising that it only has one episode left to finish the big battle and resolve any open issues that the last ten or eleven had neglected. To me, the last episode just showed how much both Nike and Livi had grown since they started out and gave the reassurance, as all fairy tales do, that they live happily ever after. Acceptable and realistic. Every anime doesn’t have to end in fire and blood to be good, you know.

5. Brynhildr in the Darkness

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Now we’re on to the brighter side of the spectrum. There are some disagreements on how great Brynhildr’s ending was (and opinions usually boil down to whether reviewers have read the manga or not), but I thought things came together really well. Granted, the plot did start to suffer from the typical ‘one more episode to explain everything and also get in a big fight’, but I thought it was pulled back right at the end. I was getting concerned that there was just going to be one big bloodbath before the end credits, but the fact that most characters (but not all) avoided a grisly death was something I was impressed with. A few things were not properly explained i.e. the witches’ harnests – what the hell were those alien things in them?! but that was more than made up with a decent ending and magic battles. I do love me some magic battles, so I am able to overlook any other shortcomings that other reviewers might feel that Neko and chums had.

4. Is the Order a Rabbit?

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Always a joy to watch this one – it gave my brain some time off and I just enjoyed the silly antics of Cocoa-tachi as they worked and played in The Rabbit House. Is the Order a Rabbit? didn’t suffer from any delusions of grandeur or try to cover every single genre of anime in a short space of time. It focused on leisurely pace, beautiful animation and making its cast as moe as humanly possible. It reminded me very much of Non Non Biyori in this respect, and I’ve come to see this type of anime as essential viewing. It balances out all the long-standing shonen anime battle-fests I usually get immersed in. I only hope there is something similar to this in the Summer 2014 line-up that I can replace it with.

3. Chaika – The Coffin Princess

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Chaika and I – we’ve had our ups and downs, but when I begin finding myself disinterested she always finds a way to keep pulling me back in. There was intrigue and action aplenty and although many things weren’t fully explained before the timer ran out, I am willing to let this slide. Why? Because a second season was announced right at the very end, which we will see later on this year. It was also a very clear ending with the immediate threat neutralised and Chaika having learnt a few harrowing truths. And what is she going to do now? Well, continue on trying to gather the remains of her father, of course. A good thing about this anime was that there were no massive tangents. Everything our heroes encountered was a direct result of Chaika’s search and anything extra was always related back to the plot. I look forward to seeing the Coffin Princess make her return.

2. No Game No Life

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Another good example of how to end an anime. No Game No Life started off small and silly, and then just got bigger and cleverer until it had set itself up for a very impressive ending. I generally don’t know what’s going to happen next with this one, and there are so many twists and turns and trump cards that it really is a joy to watch. I’m interested to see (if NGNL gets a second season which, going by its fan-base, it probably will) what plans this anime has to keep bringing the excitement and how it will keep things fresh. Again, like Chaika, No Game No Life was in no dither about what it was going to do next – Blank made it clear that it wasn’t going to rest until it conquered the world and got to beat god. I guess you can’t go higher than that, so good luck to them (and hope to hear from them in the future).

1. Love Live! School Idol Project
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So sad to see Love Live go. Even though it’s basically about nine girls becoming school idols it does have that melancholy essence that is always hovering in the background. This series, particularly in the latter half of the episodes, it was the knowledge that the third years were leaving at the end of the year, and µ’s will have run their course. Of course, I knew that they had to win the Love Live this time around (else it wouldn’t have rated as my top ending of the season), but I found myself really getting caught up in the story. It’s difficult not to sympathise with at least one of the nine protagonists, and if you find yourself unmoved when they’re all crying together you must have the emotional countenance of a statue. The last episode was probably surplus to requirement, but it turns out this was just a build up to Love Live’s ultimate revelation – there’s going to be a film. Best. Ending. Ever.

So there you have it. I can’t believe everything has ended, but I’m really looking forward to reviewing a fresh batch of anime this Summer so I can continue to get my fix. GLASSLIP looks good, so does Locodol, the second season of Free! and, of course Sword Art Online II.