Autumn 2014 anime review

Autumn 2014 anime review

1With the Autumn 2014 line-up now at a close, I thought I would take a quick look back over the anime 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 the ending is. Here I will take a look at those very important endings and rate them, in reverse order. Since these are ending reviews, there will be spoilers!

14. Orenchi no Furo Jijo
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It’s a bit unfair to put Orenchi no Furo Jijo here, but whilst anime shorts are fresh and interesting, the character and plot development is minimal, focusing on the comedy elements on an episode-by-episode basis. There was some sort of ending here, meaning that when you watched the last episode you knew it was the last episode, but I do like my anime to have a bit of a climax at the end, and this was well within reach if this anime was inclined to go down that way.

13. When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace
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I had high hopes for this one, and it certainly wasn’t a bad ending, but things just didn’t pan out the way I wanted them to. For me, there was nowhere near enough superpowers and antagonist involvement. Toward the end, I was wondering where the plot was actually going. With no promise of a second series at the moment, the viewers are left wondering whether When Supernatural Battles Become Commonplace will get the chance to redeem itself. This one had really great potential, and I do hope there is a second series, but the ending didn’t really strike a chord with me like I think it could have.

12. Trinity Seven
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Again, the same problem was had here. Although the final episodes were a bit more enjoyable this time around, the supposed ‘end of series battles’ were a bit anticlimactic. They were always interrupted by long strings of explanation which, whilst I don’t mind them most of the time, become quite irritating when used to excess. I also felt that the fanservice really got in the way of the fantasy battles. The bum/boob flashes are all well and good in a harem, where there’s certainly time for that sort of shenanigans, but Trinity Seven is a fantasy/action. ‘Panty shots’ time could have been better used by showing more of the Sevens’ fascinating powers. This is another series that could be saved by a second arc.

11. Celestial Method
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Celestial Method has a bit of a bad rap, sometimes being described as the GLASSLIP of the Autumn 2014 line-up, but I got quite into it. It started off awfully slowly, but the pace sped pace and it actually has some really great character development, exploring difficult themes such as loneliness and abandonment whilst adding that supernatural element to put a new spin on a traditional anime. I was enjoying the last episode until just over halfway through. Though the ending turned out to be much happier than I was expecting, I felt that it made an unbelievable leap from realism to ‘all wrapped up with a neat little bow’. Sure, Noel was a very cute and endearing character, and not at all as ditzy and childish as she initially came across, but to completely throw all the foreshadowing of life after the saucer for the sake of the final scene left me feeling cheated.

10. Denki-Gai
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For a light-hearted coming-of-age comedy, I was pleased with how Denki-Gai handled itself throughout the whole series. Though shown as a series of small skits, it succeeded in telling a deeper story through the characters interactions with one another as well as the ‘flashback’ scenes that worked not only as comedy, but also explained the reasons for why the staff acted as they did. I really enjoyed the way their stories were seasonal – it made them seem more relevant and felt like there was an actual timeline to the story, that time was really passing and the cast was getting older. I would have liked to have seen the burgeoning relationships take that extra step before everything ended, but that might have been stepping too far out of Denki-Gai’s primarily comic scope.

9. Girl Friend BETA
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Watching Girl Friend BETA was a joy for me. It was quietly consistent and mild throughout the season, being lightly entertaining and funny. It was never a twisty-turny roller coaster of a plot, but I always looked forward to the next episode (for reasons I can’t completely explain – but that’s why I like it so much). Like some of the best slice-of-life anime I’ve seen, it took things at its own pace and found a direction to go in and it stuck with it. It was nice to see an anime in a school setting that only had girls. It showed a strong element of friendship between all the girls that shone through without any romantic interests to get in the way (I know, boring, right?). The ending was nothing groundbreaking and certainly anticipated, but it was sweet and understated.

8. Wolf Girl and Black Prince
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At first I felt like this one was one of the biggest let-downs of all, but looking back I thought that it was quite realistic. At first both Erika and Kyoya started out as stereotypical two-dimensional characters both taking their roles in a fake relationship. But as the story develops, we see that they both have deeper layers to their characters that are both convincing and compelling. They care for each other in their own twisted, yet endearing, way. Kyoya is clearly damaged, and Erika is a borderline pathological liar, but their story puts them in situations where the best of their personalities come out. Their relationship does develop in very subtle ways but, if this was a real-life relationship, they would be very significant milestones. There’s no big love declaration at the end, but that means its just more realistic. The audience know that their relationship has become real and has moved onto a completely different level, although to outsiders it would seem that there has been no real change in dynamic.

7. Karen Senki
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For an anime short lasting only ten minutes per episode, Karen Senki was packed with action and adventure. Surprisingly, it was almost able to ‘take it up another notch’ every episode with explosive fighting scenes both on and off the ground. The last episode ends fantastically with Karen falling out of the sky after defeating a robot antagonist. Pure post-apocalyptic futuristic fun.

6. Chaika the Coffin Princess
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Chaika certainly didn’t end badly, but it lost valuable points with me because of the pacing towards the end. For a second series, you would think this would be given some more consideration. The arrival of Emperor Gaz was very exciting and I was expecting some brilliantly long, arduous fight against a terrifying enemy, and it was certainly looking to go that way, but – oh, wait, we’re coming toward the end of the last episode and running out of time, so let’s cut this all short, shall we? It was satisfying to see the saboteurs thriving in the realm of peace that they so feared back at the beginning, but I was still reeling from the abrupt final battle to really appreciate what was meant to be a beautiful scene. After all that remain-collecting, and those life-changing revelations, it didn’t really matter in the end, did it?

5. The Fruit of Grisaia
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The Fruit of Grisaia was just ticking along for me, and I was kicking back, enjoying the visuals, and then the Angelic Howl story came along and just completely launched everything to another level with a fantastic transformation. They certainly saved the best until last, revealing Amane’s horrifying story last and having an unexpected revelation about Yuuji’s sister and her potential whereabouts. I loved it because, in some scenes, I didn’t want to watch – but I couldn’t stop. The final episode was suspense-filled and frightening and everything I could want from a finale. What’s more is that it has been revealed that we will be seeing more of the group later this year. I look forward to it.

4. Yuki Yuna is a Hero
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No surprise here that this is in my top five. Cute magical girl anime with dark undertones with consistent action, friendship and drama. It’s often been compared to Puella Magi Madoka Magica, but I say compare away. It’s such a great genre that I hope they can make more so I can watch it. All of it. Yuki Yuna is a Hero, I felt, stood on its own and had a very compelling storyline and real teenage girls with real teenage problems – but they also had tough problems as heroes, having to make hard decisions such as choosing to continually lower their own quality of life for the sake of the rest of the world. It was an interesting concept that had some very moving scenes in it. I felt that I could identify with all five of the heroes, which is not something that I often do. Whilst people can definitely criticise the similarities in Yuna/Madoka and Mimori/Homura, I still found this anime to be fun, original and, at some times, quite sad.

3. Sword Art Online II
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You either love it or hate it, and I love SAO. I just don’t understand why people take an active dislike to something so clearly well-produced. This particular arc ended on quite a sad note, continuing to show that, whilst MMORPG games are fun and escapist, you can never truly separate them from real life. It’s quite a poignant message. What I enjoy most about SAO is that it plays to its strengths. It doesn’t try to conquer new ground, but merely opens up new perspectives and angles on common themes. They did really well to develop Asuna’s character as well as exploring the realm of Alfheim Online. It was a nice change to look at the game through someone else’s eyes other than Kirito – very refreshing. I hope this isn’t the last I see of the gang.

2. Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Bladeworks
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I was reluctant to watch this at first. I was quite disappointed by the original Fate/Stay Night and didn’t want to sit through a similar story for a second time, but wow. This story was truly given a make-over which made it darker, edgier and more interesting to watch. There was less Shiro and more Rin, which is a big win in my books, and the ending didn’t change this perspective. The final episode showed that, whilst Shiro may have Saber, Rin is clearly in control and is doing her best to keep him alive in a mage battle royale. The ending scene was near-perfect, with Rin and Archer flying into the night, making Unlimited Bladeworks one of my dark horses of the season.

1. Akame ga Kill!
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I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the top of many lists this season. After two arcs I can’t remember Akame ga Kill ever putting a foot wrong. It gave me all I wanted from the story and more: action, battles, magic, drama, great characters, great weapons, moving story and plot twists everywhere. There was never time to relax with this one. What I most enjoyed was having that ‘Game of Thrones’ feeling about the characters – namely wondering which of them would manage to survive to the very end. It felt like every character was on the hit list, even the main ones that would often be otherwise untouchable. Esdeath was a fantastic antagonist: powerful, beautiful and terrifyingly unhinged. The relationship between Akame and her younger sister Kurome was done to perfection, as were the last few episodes. The battles were perfectly executed and always had me gripped. You really felt for Night Raid and wanted them to liberate the capital, but you also saw things from their enemies’ point of view, and saw that they were just people trying to fight for what they believed in too, which made things deliciously complex. I expected big things, and wasn’t disappointed. A very satisfying evening to one of the most enjoyable animes I’ve seen in a while.

Ongoing series

Log Horizon
Tribe Cool Crew
Yona of the Dawn
Shirobako
Your lie in April
Bonjour Sweet Love Patisserie