Previous update!

Doing this a bit prematurely this week, since all I’ve caught up on so far is Yuyuyu and Log Horizon. But it’s been a while so I can catch this week’s reactions in the next one. Next will probably be the last of the cour, and a prelude to a year end wrap-up, now that I think about it.

As before, I do try to avoid BIG spoilers, or be vague about them, but if you’re more behind on a show than I am, maybe avoid the comments for that one.

Full Series
T1. Hitsugi no Chaika: Avenging Battle [▲1] – 8 ep, 9/10 – [Imported!] I’ve mentioned this before, but I am so impressed with how much Chaika herself has grown. She’s introduced as a childish character with a quirky speech pattern, but as the plot has played out she’s gained the emotional strength to continue in her quest even in the face of existential questions about her very creation and goals. She’s gone through periods of doubt but always come out stronger. She’s even able to direct poignant questions Tooru’s way to make him question his own ideas, so she’s not purely consumed by her own worries. And that’s all reflected beautifully in physical form through her increasing confidence and skill on the battlefield. She executes her ranged DPS/support role with skill and patience, being able to reload under fire, manage her spells effectively, and support her melee partner. She and Tooru have developed exceptional teamwork that’s a blast to watch in action. She’s earning herself a very high spot on my 2014 character ranking for damn sure!

Her companions have fared well this season too. Akari gets shoehorned into less bro-con jokes, Tooru has become a fairly interesting character who avoids nearly all the pitfalls of a male protagonist, and Frederica… alright she was perfect from the get-go, not much has changed for her there. And thank goodness! The plot still needs to find ways to incapacitate her because everyone knows she’d just tear the place up all on her own if she really tried, but it’s not done in a way that makes me mad at all.

Oh, it’s also nice how this show has put aside even the slight romantic stirrings of the first season. I’m okay with Tooru and Chaika ending up as a thing, but it’s been so refreshing to see that have no direct relevance on the battlefield. The mission (and survival) comes first! In this and so, so many other ways, Hitsugi no Chaika shows that there’s such strength to be had in simply Not Being Dumb. It doesn’t do anything shockingly genre-defining or novel but it also doesn’t do anything in the very stupid ways we’ve come to expect anime (even most good anime!) to do things. That shouldn’t be as rare as it is, but I deeply appreciate shows that pull it off this well.

With only two episodes left to go I can’t avoid feeling apprehensive about how well it can end. (I know there’s the OAD but I can’t imagine it’ll be plot-critical.) But everything about the show this season has been incredibly well-handled, and I have to trust the ending will be the same. I must be like Chaika, and have…
CHAIKA: NO FEAR
Because…
CHAIKA: MUST FINISH

T1. Sora no Method [▲0▼] – 9 ep, 9/10 – [99% import] Overall I’m quite satisfied with how Shione’s story is going. Yes, it involves one step forward two steps back, but it’s not happening purely to stretch things out. I can buy Shione’s reasoning for trying to push Nonoka away. Yes it’s dramatized for effect, but, well, very effectively! And damn that planetarium is providing for some very nice visuals! Unfortunately this is just the kind of show slice of life fandom won’t support due to the serious character drama, and it won’t get any traction among people who like dramas because unlike AnoHana there’s no romance, let alone the boy-girl romance that would be required for most people to care! It’s just a series with no market, which is very disappointing, because it’s really top notch. Well at least I’m buying it!

3. Amagi Brilliant Park [▲1] – 9 ep, 8/10 – [Imported!] For the most part the episodes I’ve watched since the last update have been heavy on the comedy, and DAMN it’s still exceptionally good at that. Both the visual gags and banter are tip-top notch. Of course comedy also leaves fairly little to talk about here, heh. But it’s been more than funny enough to secure an import. I know the next episode plunges us into more plotty stuff though, so that’s another reason I wanted to do the update now, before I see it. I want to evaluate the last arc in one go.

4. Log Horizon Season 2 [▼1] – 10 ep, 8/10 – [90% import] The conclusion to Akatsuki’s character arc was spectacular. They completely made up for writing her into a really shitty role in the first season, and then some. Focus has now shifted to Shiroe, who is facing his own defining challenge, and deciding to rise to the occasion as well. I find the very intentional character design contrast (very nice transition from this to this mid-sentence to make the point) between real world and the game to be very interesting. As for episode 10, I was a bit mixed on the presentation but felt the message was quite well done. Here’s what I wrote about it just an hour or so ago after watching: “Hmm okay, so I really liked the Shiroe scene at the end. As for William’s speech… some really good bits but went on literally 2x as long as it should have. Still, I thought it struck a good balance in tone. It doesn’t overly glorify staying up all night running raids and being anti-social, but rather couches it in ‘We love what we love, even if we recognize the absurdities behind it, even if we recognize the childishness. We have flaws as people but this brings us joy in its own way.’ I guess that’s about the best you can do while still being honest about it.” It really did a good job passionately explaining how someone can come to identify so personally with something “fictional” like a videogame they play. And it wasn’t shy about mentioning the unhealthy aspects of that, it just admitted and accepted them. William’s lifestyle isn’t supposed to provide a role model we should emulate, it was just an honest recognition of why it’s important to him.

5. Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru [▲1] – 9 ep [1% import] – Finally caught up. Boy this is tough to talk about without spoiling everything! I had a few quibbles with episode 9’s execution of Fuu’s despair (a little overboard, I guess?) but man there were some outstanding moments there, especially when Itsuki arrived. What I thought was handled even better, though, was episode 8 with the reveal of details of the yuusha system. Like everyone else watching this show I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop, and so it did. And I think episode 8 did it with more subtlety than the aftermath episode 9. I mean it was extreme, but somehow presented in a way that didn’t hit you too hard over the head and say “the horror!”. There was restraint in how it was presented an awful, seemingly inevitable situation, even as Yuuna and Tougou were trying to adjust to the revelation. Tentatively excited about the finale, hopefully it strikes a good emotional balance.

6. Girlfriend (Kari) [▼1] – 7 ep, 8/10 – [1% import] Still cute, still fun. The Sunday release schedule keeps me perpetually an episode behind tho. I’ll try to watch 8-9 tomorrow. Not a whole lot to say, it does what it does, and does it well!

 

Short Series
None this season!

 

Pre-Fall Series
Yama no Susume Second Season20 eps, 9/10 – [Imported!] Been importing this all along of course, but forgot to add a note. I dunno, how do I even put into words this show’s brilliance anymore? I’ve run out of superlatives. Every goddamn week, hell we even got a Kokona episode and it was perrrrfect. Without a doubt a lock for #2 of the year now.

Fairy Tail30 eps, 7/10 – Alright I did *half* the catch-up I planned. Solid episodes, some fun one-offs between he arcs at first, and now the start of a filler arc. But a filler arc I’m quite interested in. One nice thing about FT filler is that it tends to flesh Lucy out, which I’m all for. Her relationship with her celestial spirits is a perfectly good premise for a filler arc, and I especially like the hints at her relationship with Aquarius as a kid. Good stuff!

 

Dropped Series
Shirobako5 ep
Gugure! Kokkuri-san2 ep

 

As December releases, Chaika and Amaburi (which made the cut with room to spare) lead off the imports. Sorameso and Log Horizon start in January. I’d say Yuyuyu has earned itself a non-zero chance, thanks in part to handling its twists so well but also to the character CGI all but disappearing. But the ending needs to be incredibly spectacular to win me over. My opinion of the show keeps improving but it never quiiiiiite nails things in a way that would make it a must-have.

 

Current 2014 Top 10
1. Sakura Trick (Winter)
2. Yama no Susume Second Season (Summer)
3. Akuma no Riddle (Spring)
4. Saki Zenkoku-hen (Winter)
4. Futsuu no Joshikousei ga Locodol Yatte Mita (Summer)
6. Hitsugi no Chaika (Spring / Fall)
7. Hanayamata (Summer)
7. Free! Eternal Summer (Summer)
7. Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka? (Spring)
10. No Game No Life (Spring)

Just one small change, nudging Chaika ahead, out of the clump of #6s. Still leaving off any shows that only just started in Fall.

12 Responses to “Fall 2014 viewing update #4”

  1. Small technical points – you list Akari as Akira in the Chaika bit and are talking about 9 and 10 instead of 8 and 9 in the YuYuYu bit.

  2. Avatar hpulley says:

    So I have decided on my imports for the season, one being quite last minute.

    Chaika Avenging Battle was never in question. I was worried when they reduced it to 10 episodes but it has been an excellent second season, really enjoyable. The novel 12 + OVA seems to have been delisted however, unavailable for order at Amazon or CDJapan now so I wonder if that has been postponed or cancelled. No matter, I will order Avenging Battle anyway. All 5 volumes pre-ordered.

    Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso I have loved from the first episode and it continues to be amazing so I have decided to import it as well. I’m a real sucker for drama, music + romance series and this one has got me good. First four volumes pre-ordered.

    And one that I have absolutely loved from the first episode but which took a while to show its true colors to me is Yuki Yuna wa Yusha de Aru. I love tragic mahou shoujo series and this one has had some great slice of life, friendship, with drama but not too much. All 6 volumes pre-ordered, the first one with just 1 pre-order left at CDJapan, now gone.

    Still watching a bunch of other stuff but three is already a lot for me these days (gone are the crazy days of fall 2012) so while shows like Gugure! Kokkure-san have me thinking still… I think I shall have to cut it off at three.

    • Avatar hpulley says:

      Late, late, late breaker… the ending, the very very ending of Ookami Shoujo to Kurooji was so wonderful, overall the anime was shoujo done right and I just had to buy it. Plus, a rare thing for CDJapan, a discount. It was already super cheap as well, 5800 yen for v1 with art box and bonus CD, plus discount. Just have to reward shoujo done, ended this way. What is it about fall seasons that gets me to buy too much???

      • Avatar hpulley says:

        But looking at the numbers and the December 24th release date it seems I may be the proud owner of another **,*** shoujo adaptation, sigh…

  3. Bahamut’s still an import, but it hasn’t been as impressive in the past couple of weeks. The past 5 episodes have exposition-recap-battle-exposition-exposition, which isn’t a super-impressive stretch, but those early episodes were some of my favorite non-ShoHolly ones of the year. It’s no longer a lock for 10/10, though.

    Danna ga Nanika etc. is also getting imported. It’s just really, really cute and nice.

    I feel like the odd one out on Chaika. Second season just hasn’t impressed me that much. Hasn’t done anything wrong, but the first season, especially towards the end, had a more dynamic feel to it where the cast would bump into each other and end up teaming up in unexpected ways. In the second season, there’s still some interesting confrontations, but they feel a lot more scripted and consequently a bit less fun.

  4. something something says:

    I’ve always felt, even in its best moments, that Yuyuyu had good ideas but was always slightly clunky in its execution. Not bad, just something keeping it from being top tier. Episode 8 came really close by being subtle about it, but 9, while overall good, was back to kinda clunky/unpolished.

    But then, god damn, episode 10. That’s one of the most incredibly well executed twist/reveal episodes I’ve seen in a very long time.

    Go watch ASAP. Yuyuyu finally had, for me, That Episode that gets me thinking it could go from good to great. I’m sorta hesitant about whether the ending can live up to the climax it just hit, but if it does it could move up to #3 of the season for me.

    • Avatar hpulley says:

      Episode 10 was amazing! Very glad I decided to import it. Looking forward to the last two with great anticipation now.

      • something something says:

        If the last two are exceptionally good, I’ll drop Log Horizon for it. I don’t usually try to get so utilitarian about it, but Log Horizon isn’t driven by disc sales and thus my purchase would mean less there than it would for an original like Yuyuyu.

        • Avatar Anonymous says:

          Just buy both, geez. LH2 is also very very good so far.

          • something something says:

            I’m already buying Chaika and Sorameso and Amaburi. I want to try not to import five different shows this season, so it’s Yuyuyu or Log Horizon.

            Like yeah I “can afford it” but I really shouldn’t be spending as much as I do even if I “can”. 4 shows is already more than most people will buy in a year, let alone a season!

            Also I’d honestly rather buy another copy of Yama no Susume s2 if I were throwing another show’s worth of imports onto my plate. Nothing deserves the sales as much as that.

  5. Avatar hpulley says:

    Completely preaching to the choir here but Yama no Susume 2 episode 23 is amazing. I’m just so, so glad it got to this point. What a beautiful episode! While not the point I thought it might end at (a whole book later with an absolutely positively made for TV scene), it is still a great point to reach. There’s one more TV episode and another BD extra OVA so it won’t stop quite there but man, I’m really, really going to miss this show. I will watch again a few zillion times but I am going to miss having new episodes come out every week. I really will.

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