My Thoughts on the 2014 Summer Anime Season!

Hello, and welcome to the Fullmetal Narcissist anime blog! I’m your host, Naru the Narcissist, and today, we’re going to take a look at a chunk of the anime serials that have debuted for this season! So, for the first time in my life, I’ve decided to check out the new summer titles, and while I didn’t manage to get all of them… Time restraints on my part… I did manage to see the first episode of fourteen different shows, while avoiding anything that had a previous season. And now I’m here to tell you, my readers, what I thought of all these shows, and whether or not I’ll be watching any of them! Let’s get started.

Akame Ga Kill: Wow, I’m still recovering from this one… Okay, so a young and naive warrior named Tatsumi leaves his small village for the much more affluent capital in order to raise money for his home. He’s a skilled fighter, but he has no idea how a larger community operates, and is willing to trust people right off the bat, which works to amusing effect. After losing contact with his two childhood friends and traveling companions, his efforts to join the military go instantly wrong, which leads to him throwing all of his money at the first kind pair of breasts that offers to help him, ultimately screwing him over, leaving him broke and in need of shelter.
The series starts out funny and light-hearted at the outset, with a battle against an Earth Dragon showing us just how far the limited animation budget and inspired art design are going to work for us. Some of the jokes can be a bit on the lame side, and the expository information about how the capital is run is dumped by multiple characters with barely any set-up. It’s at the halfway point where the tone takes a sudden turn towards the grim-dark, and regardless of how you may feel about the unrelenting cruelty at play, you will not see it coming, and you will not forget about it anytime soon.
The writing’s kind of dumb and incompetent, and the way the first episode leaves off, there’s a bit of a blank slate to work with in the future… It’s really bad, but with that ending, I can tell that it’s going to be the kind of bad that I’ll want to stick with for the long haul. It’s difficult to see where this series will go, but I’m willing to see further.

Aldnoah Zero: I’ve never been a fan of mecha shows, so I’m reluctant to judge this series based on my first instinct alone, so I’ve actually watched this one twice. And yet, i still had to check Wikipedia to figure out what the hell was going on in it. Apparently in the seventies, we discovered an alien portal on the moon, and used it to colonize Mars, which led to a new civilization called the Vers empire, who seceded from Earth.
The story takes place in 2014, but the moon was blown up in an event called Angels Fall, in 1999. So yeah, it’s a story where most of the characters are teenagers, set 15 years after a mysterious disaster that’s been given a heavenly name. And that’s not it’s only allusion to Evangelion, either.
There’s a large number of characters, but it’s fairly obvious which one will become the lead. A disaster strikes while the princess of Vers is on a peace-making mission to Earth, and if you pay attention, it’s also fairly obvious who’s behind it.
I don’t know how to feel about this one… There’s a lot of potential down the road for this myriad of plot seeds and characters to intertwine and create something awesome, but I’m really more intrigued than engaged at this point. I’m going to give it a chance, because there seems to be a lot of seeds for awesomeness to take place down the road, so we’ll see how it goes from here.

Argevollen: Another mecha option, this anime drops us off into a war between two undefined countries. They fight with tanks and some decent-looking mechs. Tokimune is a hot-headed, altruistic young soldier who defies cautious orders in order to save the life of a random civillian… Because of course he is. He finds that civillian to be in possession of a revolutionary new mech that looks like every Gundam you’ve ever seen, because of course.
I’ve never been a mech fan, but at least Aldoah looked kind of interesting. It has some interesting ideas I’d like to see explored, and some characters I’d like to see further explored. It doesn’t look like everything ever made, ever. Argevollen, on the other hand… This is just flavorless and boring. I really don’t know what else to say about it. The set-up is weak, the execution is tepid, and the ending is dull. It looks like every mech anime ever made, only a lot less relatable, because it’s a soldier piloting the mech instead of an everyman. Sorry to sound harsh, but I couldn’t give a crap about this show if my life depended on it.

Blue Spring Ride: Three years ago, Futaba was stood up by the one and only boy in her school that she didn’t hate. Now, in high school, she’s reinvented herself as a treat guzzling, unkempt rude girl, because if she’s popular with the boys, all the other girls will hate her out of jealousy. The boy from her youth shows up again, but having suffered a divorce and an abrupt name-change, he’s grown cynical. He’s nice to her, but says cruel things… Oh, these mixed messages!
I’m going to have a lot of fun looking at this show. not watching, mind you, but looking at. Because it some really pretty, easy-on-the-eyes artwork going for it. The animation is kind of dull, which is par for the course in a shoujo anime. The characters are one note and flat, and the story just kind of meanders it’s way to a forced, idiotic conclusion. No stakes, no tension, just a somewhat pleasant tone and some pretty music to balance out the snails pace and flowery, sentimental melodrama..
Oh, and in case you haven’t picked up on this from my plot description, this could very well just be one more drop in the bottomless bucket of shows that borrow heavily from His and Her Circumstances, a show I already have trouble tolerating. It might not go that route, but at the same time, it might, so I just feel a little tentative about it for now.

Dramatical Murder:
Aoba has a junk shop, he wears all blue, and he doesn’t really care about anything. He gets drawn into some virtual game that he was avoiding, and I’m betting he’ll turn out to be awesome at it.
Man… Yaoi fans will watch anything, won’t they? As long as the BL label is splashed across it, they’ll even go crazy over this butt-ugly eyesore of an animation error. I really don’t have much to say about it… I drew what little plot information I have about it off of Wikipedia, there’s a lot of weird things that I don’t care about going on at once, and it has the animation budget of a flipbook made out of a napkin. It’s boring, confusing, and looks ugly, and yet it still interests me a bit more than Argevollen does. There’s a possibility that the story will pick up after this little game gets explored further, but I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care.

Glasslip: Touka, the daughter of a glass blower, spends time with her friends as they contemplate their adult lives. She sketches and adopts a chicken, while making friendly with the attractive boy who just transferred to the area.
Yeah, it’s a slice of life, and yeah, it’s pretty directionless. It’s like Tamako Market without the bird. There’s not much going on… At least not this early in… But I’m still enjoying it just based on tone and visuals alone. The animation is high quality, the artwork is real darn purty, and I can honestly see myself giving it a few more episodes before coming to a decision on it. I like looking at the chickens, I like looking at the main girl and her friends, and I really liked the animation of the fireworks. I’m really hoping there’s at least a K-on level of plot immersion in the future… And if you know K-on, you know that’s not asking much at all.

Hanayatama: Naru thinks of herself as average. She doesn’t realize how pretty she is, she doesn’t realize how much people love her, and she’s completely introverted, too scared to do anything that might upset her routine. She’s jealous of her friend Yaya, who she believes to be superior to herself. She makes a wish for somebody to take her away from this world, and she’s overheard by an American girl dancing in the moonlight. She assumes her to be a fairy, which leads to Naru being dragged head-first into Hana’s ambition to dance the Yosakoi.
I don’t really know where to stand with this title… I have no problem whatsoever with moe, and this show has moe coming pouring out of it’s ears. I’m not a huge fan of the whole ‘color coded characters’ idea that it’s using, but to be fair, Dramatical Murder did it a lot worse, so I’m willing to be a little forgiving. I don’t find self-proclaimed ‘average’ characters interesting, either. And of course there’s hints of derivation here and there.
But I am still really enjoying the positive aspects of this title. The animation is beautiful, very high budget stuff, with just the right kind of atmospheric artwork to back it up. It’s cute, it’s funny, it’s an altogether pleasant watch… For now. But a story that opens like this can so, so easily go sour, so I’m feeling really tentative about where it’s going. If it’s heading in the shoujo-ai direction that the art direction is leaning towards, then it had better do something interesting with it, like Yuru Yuri did. But those doe-eyed, perpetually blushing ultra-moe character designs are just going to bother me.
Then again, even if I wasn’t so intrigued by it, I’d still keep watching it just so I could see that opening over and over again.

Locodol: Nanako wants to buy a cute swimsuit to go to the pool with, but she’s short on money… so her uncle offers her a job at a pool event! And just wait, this job is… Wearing the swimsuit onstage and becoming a local idol!
Yeah, there’s an inherent creepy-factor to a show about an uncle forcing his niece to do something like this… I generally do like idol-based shows, and while this one isn’t nearly as awful as Idolmaster was, it’s still a little iffy for me. It’s pleasant, with decent animation and a pretty good sense of pace, but that creepy factor… Wow.
Well, Love Live may have been my number one favorite anime of 2013… Yes, I liked the CGI dancing show more than I liked Attack on Titan and Kotoura-san, go figure… I really don’t see this one living up to it.

Love Stage: When Izumi was a child, he dressed up like a girl to star in a wedding commercial alongside another boy who was a rising actor. Now, ten years later, that boy has blown up big time, and he wants to do a sequel to that classic commercial! But he wants the entire original cast to appear in it! Will Izumi really go through with this, just so his obsessed fan mother can meet her favorite teen idol?
Okay, full disclosure time… I’m a straight guy, but I HAVE dabbled in yaoi before. I haven’t seen much of it, but most of what I’ve seen is crap. It relies way too heavily on Love At First Sight, and seems intent on glorifying and objectifying the male/male relationships that it rushes way too quickly into, with barely any new ideas to distinguish itself. The only one I’ve kind of liked so far was Loveless, and I saw that years ago.
So I feel kind of weird saying this, but as of this writing, Love Stage is my favorite show of the season so far. It is so fiendishly clever, and has had me laughing harder than any other show on this rotation. It’s not much of a spoiler to say that Izumi accepts the job… Kind of a boring yaoi if he didn’t… But the REASON he accepts it, as well as all the little stage-fright moments that happen afterwards, are all so gut bustingly hilarious that you’ll have to go in blind and see them for yourselves.
Let’s see if future episodes keep the laughs coming! And if it gets rapey, I’ll drop it on the ground and stomp on it!

Bladedance of Elamentalers: Kamito walks in on some 16 year old loli bathing in a lake. They fight, convenient censoring ensues, she captures him, and it turns out he’s the world’s only male elemental mage. Which means he’s the only boy who’s going to be at her school. Because of course he is. And in the first episode, we see not one but four different women vying for his masochistic attention, and a next episode preview that shows the lolliest of all of them, who’s about to show up and challenge him.
Aside from the ugly and hard to spell title? Worthless. Absolutely worthless. See, I’m playing a game right now… It’s called “Does this look less interesting than Argevollen?” And so far, no winners. This one comes close, though… An obvious harem about a douchey male lead who’s somehow lamenting all of the bouncey, panty-shot female attention he’s about to get. The artwork’s decent, but the animation is cheap, and the highly derivative vibe is already making me iffy about seeing another episode. Well, at the end of the day, PG-13 sleaze beats generic giant robots in my book.

Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun:
Sakura has fallen in love with Nozaki, a tall, quiet boy in her class. After attempting to confess her love, she botches it, and winds up getting recruited to help him after school with the monthly romance manga he’s making. But it’s not entirely her fault… This guy is completely dense, and way too off in his own world to think about anything aside from his work.
I actually really like this one… It’s not as funny as Love Stage, but it’s easy on the eyes, well produced, and insanely clever. Both of the lead characters are very likeable, with distinctive personalities, and a rift between them that’s just big enough to make the will-they-won’t-they aspect a lot more compelling than it would be in similar genre entries.
The humor, design and acting are all surprisingly naturalistic, without any of the manipulative, flowery sentimentalism that Blue Spring Ride was relying on. It’s cute, it’s a pleasant watch, and aside from that, I think I’ll reserve any more comments until I’ve seen a little further.

Rail Wars: Blank Slate enlists for a job at the Japanese Railway Line. He makes a handful of friends there, including Pleasantboobs, Gunpsychochick, and Annoyingbuddy. They turn out to make an awesome team during training, and their days of working together commence!
This show may not be as derivative as Bladedance… It at least has one original idea to it… But somehow, it manages to be a lot more boring and tepid. An entire month goes by in the first episode, and while Blank and his team are somehow at the top of their class, we never see how or why they work so well. Half of the episode is told through expositional voice-over, and while we don’t see any blatant-yet-just-barely-covered-up-so-it-can-be-shown-on-tv nudity, the fanservice is somehow even more grating than Bladedance’s. There’s nothing much to say about the characters, or even the story at this point. Really, the railway setting… Which feels like more of a recruitment ad than anything else, by the way… Is the only thing keeping this from being yet another generic harem.
The title “Rail Wars” makes it sound like they’ll have some competition down the road, so I’m going to predict that hard work, team work, and the good old power of fwiendship see them through most of it.
I don’t hate it… The production values and setting have potential… But it’s not really holding my attention.

Terror In Resonance- A shy young girl is about to be pushed into the school pool, fully clothed, by a pack of bullies. A new student comes wandering by, assesses the situation, and does the best possible thing to solve the situation… He jumps in first, acting like it’s the most fun thing in the world. Vash would be proud.
Unfortunately for that girl, this nice boy is one of two sociopathic terrorists who call themselves Sphynx 9 and Sphinx 12. A chance encounter drags her into their world, and presumably, her adventure is only beginning.
first of all, I was NOT expecting this show to be about terrorists. I thought from it’s title that it would be a more conventional horror story, featuring zombies, or vampires, or something of the like. I knew nothing about it, but the hype actually convinced me to subscribe to Funimation… Well, this and the next title. And I’m glad I did.
They might as well have called Love Stage UP Stage, because it just got replaced as my favorite show of the season. The animation is impeccable, the artwork is flawless, and the use of lighting is just brilliant. The pacing is also really tight, and as for the characters? We don’t learn much about them in the first episode, but we learn enough to know that they’re as compelling and likeable as two heartless terrorists and a social recluse can possibly be. There are hints here and there alluding to some very complex, very intriguing backstories between the three of them, offering just enough of a taste to keep the viewer coming back for more. It’s an exciting and so far original story that begs to be followed up on, and I am more than happy to oblige.

Tokyo Ghoul- There’s a new apex predator in human world… They’re called Ghouls, and they’re basically a cross between zombies and vampires. They don’t live in the shadows… They live among us, blending in perfectly with us. Until it’s time to feed. Luckily, they can survive on only one corpse a month each. Because of this, attacks are rare, and people are still carrying on their daily lives… In fact, Ken just scored a date with a very pretty girl at his local library! Man, it would really suck if she lured him into a dark alley and tried to eat him, wouldn’t it?
Hey, remember how I said that Terror in Resonance was my favorite show of the season? Well, it still is, but it won’t be nearly as fun to analyze as this one. The story’s not quite as good, but the animation’s way better, and I cannot wait to start analyzing it.
Right from the beginning, even if we weren’t told up front about the existence of ghouls, the character designs are such a well executed blend of realism and polished exaggeration that you’re just waiting, patiently, for something horrible to happen to them. It’s based on manga by an otherwise unknown writer named Sui Ishida, but he’s clearly drawing a line of inspiration back to the classic horror manga of yore… Back in the days before vampires and zombies became popular across the ocean, and it was far more common for managaka to draw up a bunch of realistic, palatable human characters before pulling the most depraved, inventive thing out of their darkest nightmares to either tear them apart, burst out of them, or worse.
Tokyo Ghoul looks like exactly the kind of hyper violent gore fest that any classic master of anime horror would have used as a metaphor for puberty. And this violence is very refreshingly unrestrained, yet not to the point of cheap squickiness that Pupa reveled in earlier this year. It’s much more refined, and much more sophisticated, and I’m very eager to see what else it has in store for me.

So, now that I’ve watched a good chunk of these titles, let’s take a look at their rankings.

1: Terror In Resonance
2: Love Stage
3: Tokyo Ghoul
4: Aldnoah Zero
5: Hanayatama
6: Akame Ga Kill
7: Monthly Girls Nozaki-Kun
8: Glasslip
9: Locodol
10: Blue Spring Ride
11: Bladedance of Elamentallers
12: Rail Wars
13: Drammatical Murder
14: Argevollen

So, I’ll be following the top six, and possibly following Nozaki-kun as well… Consider the rest of them dropped. But hey, enough from me… Leave a comment telling me what YOU thought of these (or other) titles!

1 comment
  1. Rufus said:

    I want to to thank you for this wonderful read!!

    I absolutely enjoyed every bit of it. I’ve got you saved as a favorite to look at
    new things you post…

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