Summer 2013 Final Impressions (+Railgun & Kyojin)

Late on this because Commie took forever on the last Symphogear. (I’m still not sure if it’s out. Some kind Anons subbed it first 8 days after airing.)

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Unlike last season, which was probably the only season since I started this, I actually do have carry-overs this time, but only two.

To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S: Overall good. The real star of the show was the Sisters arc. Unfortunately, it didn’t really hold up super well after that. It did okay, and I’d say maybe better than the first season’s filler arcs, but the only real thing of interest is what happened to Shinobu after the Sisters arc, as that had up to that point gone completely unexplained. They brought quite a few people into it, though, and even managed to tie it into the recent Index movie. Bottom line: A good season, but there was a lot of stuff we’d already seen from the Sisters arc (though admittedly much better here than it was in Index) and the filler arc was… a filler arc. Great, but you should know by now whether or not you like this series.

Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan): I have to say, it was a fun ride. I went into this one expecting good action and great animation and it surely delivered. I don’t know how much I cared for the overall plot or the characters, though. There were some great moments and each character had a bit of time to shine, but it really was all about the action for me. Had I not been drawn in by the promo ages ago, I almost certainly would have passed this over entirely. Bottom line: You already know. Everyone already knows whether or not they like this show. Why do you even care what I think?

So to wrap up last season…

Pick for Spring 2013 Show of the Season: Date A Live. I wanted to give the other two a chance, but Date A Live has hooked me harder than just about anything else over the last several years. I’m completely addicted to it. I even imported a Japanese VN for it that I couldn’t read and forced myself to learn as I went so I could enjoy it. (And my kanji has improved quite a bit, I might add.) I’m almost tempted to start importing the light novels, just to have them in my collection. I absolutely adore this series.

And so, onward to Summer’s shows.

Tamayura ~More Aggressive~: The third entry in the series and just as good as the rest (if not a little better). This show doesn’t get nearly enough love and I spent most of the season talking only to myself about it (on forums, of course). Rarely would I ever get a bite from anyone else. I always wholeheartedly recommend this to everyone, but you can only lead a horse to water. Bottom line: Please, please, PLEASE give this series a try if you haven’t. If you have and you liked it, you know you’re in for more of what you loved. This will definitely be one of my favorite shows all year.

Servant x Service: This was surprisingly good. I have a lot of hang-ups with Working!!, the other series by this author that’s quite well known, but this show didn’t really seem to suffer from the same issues. It had some slow parts that were a little hard to get through, but overall I really enjoyed it. The cast was great and worked really well against each other. Bottom line: If you’re looking for a good slice-of-life/comedy series, this is a great choice.

Senki Zesshou Symphogear G: After the mess of highs and lows that was the first season, I didn’t know what to expect going into the second season. Fortunately, everything was great. They dropped the random mooks and monster-of-the-week format for a rivalry story against another group of Symphogear users and it really paid off. The plot was more engaging, the characters were deeper, and, thanks to strong sales of the first season, the animation budget was much better (though there were still some QUALITY moments). It’s a vast overall improvement on the first season, and it absolutely kills me to see people say they thought the first season was better (though a lot of those opinions were reversed by the end of the show). Bottom line: Honestly, it’s really good. If you didn’t like the first season, maybe the second will change your mind? They really went all out to improve the show.

Kiniro Mosaic: I don’t know if I really had any particular expectations going into them, but I feel like if I did, it most certainly blew them away. This ended up coming out of nowhere to become one of my favorite shows from the season. It’s great. The premise is cute, the characters are fun, the jokes are consistently funny, and the last episode was amazing. I certainly hope this gets another season, because I’d hate for this to be all we ever get. Bottom line: Great little slice-of-life/comedy series. Tons of fun and everyone should check it out for sure.

High School DxD NEW: I didn’t think it was actually possible, but they completely, 100% topped the first season in every way here. It was a hell of a ride. With Funi’s release of the first season coming out recently to good reviews, I’m hoping they get this one ready for release as well, and that the series continues to do well enough to get more seasons. Bottom line: You know what you’re in for if you saw the first season, but if you haven’t checked out this series yet, you should give it a shot. It’s got a bit of something for everyone. Comedy, action, ecchi fanservice, romantic subplots, you name it.

Love Lab: This one also really surprised me this season. The content didn’t so much surprise me, but the animation was incredible. I couldn’t believe how consistently well-animated the show was from week to week. And near the end, you could tell they were blowing through their animation budget as hard as they could. The show itself was also pretty decent. It fell into bad drama near the end, but it had a fun cast and some great gags. Bottom line: Check it out, especially if you love well-animated shows and visual gags.

Teekyuu S2: I dunno. What do you even say about a second season of this? What do you even say about the first season? It’s… Well, it’s Teekyuu. Bottom line: It’s Teekyuu.

Genshiken Nidaime: I was very cautious going into this as I was much less than impressed with the first two seasons of Genshiken, but this season was great. They did an excellent job at adapting everything and it stayed true to the manga. No shoehorning in random promotion at every chance (S1’s Guilty Gear Isuka) or just throwing complete filler arcs in (S2). It did what it was supposed to and adapated the manga. And it was a good, interesting show. Bottom line: Even if you didn’t like the first two seasons, check this one out. Just beware that if you haven’t read the manga, there’s a whole bunch of stuff skipped from the end of the original series that was never animated and will leave you scratching your head a bit.

Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaete mo Omaera Ga Warui! (WataMote): Not necessarily one of my favorite shows this season, but it was still amazing. I think the most joy I got out of this show was see how people who hadn’t been reading the manga reacted to it. There were a lot of people who were straight up offended by it and it amused me oh so very much. Anyway, it was a good adaptation (though they skipped around a lot) and it had some great EDs to it and my favorite OP of the season. Bottom line: Everyone should watch this. Don’t care who you are. You should.

Futari wa Milky Holmes: This is, if you ask me, exactly what Alternative should have been. It’s a more serious take on the Milky Holmes series but it still has a bit of a goofy side to it, which is especially true of the core cast of the anime. It also directly references the two TV seasons, so it exists in that continuity rather than the continuity of the games like Alternative did. The two new characters were okay, but I really liked how they sort of brought the cast around them together. It was a fun little romp through Yokohama with some cool action and a return of the goofy Milky Holmes group, as well as our favorite Gentleman Thieves. Bottom line: If you liked the first two seasons and hated Alternative, maybe this will be your happy medium.

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Ilya: Having never read the manga, I wasn’t really sure what I was in for here. Fortunately, I was blown away with what we actually got. I’m super pleased with the animation that Silver Link put together on this. The action scenes (one in particular, you know what it is if you’ve seen it) were incredible. I’d say that one of the episodes of this series was probably the best episode of anime all season. Bottom line: If you like Fate, get on it. It’s a new take on it with a lot of familiar faces and some awesome references to the main works.

Ro-Kyu-Bu! SS: It’s not exactly a secret that I’m a fan of this show. I don’t try to hide it. For what a lot of people see at first glance, there’s a whole lot more hiding underneath. This season focused a lot on development of the characters, particularly in Tomoka’s feelings for Subaru and on the team’s growth and skill. This season introduced the fifth grade team, made up of both familiar and new faces. Fortunately, the new team neither overshadows nor is overshadowed by the sixth grade team and they’re all really fun characters with equally important roles in the show. My understanding is that we’re now pretty much at the end of the novels, but they didn’t quite wrap everything up. Maybe another OVA or two could tie up the series for us if that’s the case. I’ll certainly be looking forward to more content I can get my hands on from the series. Seems there’s a new Vita game coming out next year, so I’ll probably jump on that. Bottom line: If you watched the first season, expect a little more of the same (though the second season is much better). If you haven’t checked the show out yet, give it a try. Don’t let preconceptions fool you. It’s a really solid little deal.

The World God Only Knows S3: I have to say that this is probably the best season of the show so far. I was very impressed by the level of polish it had in terms of plot, pacing, characterization, action, and romance. It just did everything right. It’s only a shame that they had to skip so much of the manga for what was probably a final hurrah for a show that has traditionally sold very poorly in Japan. Bottom line: If you’ve seen the other two seasons and OVAs, you know what you’re in for here, but I’d say it’s the best we’ve seen yet. If you haven’t checked out the show, this is far from the season to jump in on, but I do recommend checking it out. Maybe use the manga to fill in the gaps between S2 and S3, though S3 stands well enough on its own without doing so.

Hyperdimension Neptunia The Animation: Disappointment was inevitable on this one, being as big of a fan of the series as I am. I admire the series’ attempt to recreate the game plots as best as it could, but I really wish they had just gone with a gag series approach like the Megami Tsuushin manga did that wasn’t reliant on the game plots. They did a decent enough job, but trying to combine two stories that took place in completely separate worlds (mk2 and Victory) and have it make sense, as well as to condense everything into as little time as they actually had available to do it… It came off as a little messy. And it made the drama very forced as there was little build-up for any of it. I did really appreciate the episodes that didn’t try to force game plot in, like the trip to R-18 Island or whatever it was called. And hey, Linda actually got some reasonable screentime, and I don’t think they ever called her Underling even once (though they didn’t call her by name either). Also, as I’ve stated in the past, I was a little disappointed that the art style wasn’t closer to Tsunako’s art like the Date A Live anime was. Either way, I watched every episode on Funi’s site or Hulu, so hopefully Funi saw enough numbers from other like-minded people to give the show a chance with a physical release and a dub (using the game’s cast, of course). Bottom line: Not a bad adaptation, just not a very good one. It’s more fanservice for fans of the game than anything else. I’d recommend that you give it a shot if you liked the games. If you haven’t played the games, I’m not sure this is a good entry point. The show does very little to define itself as an independent work.

I do have one carry-over into the next season: Monogatari Series Second Season. Even so, I’m ready to declare my show of the season.

Pick for Show of the Season: Monogatari Series Second Season. Obviously, right? Otherwise, I’d have waited for it to finish. Believe me, I loved the shows I saw this season. There were a ton of great ones among them, especially some that don’t get much credit (Tamayura), but this season of Monogatari has completely blown away all of the stuff before it. The most recent episode at the time of writing is easily one of the best episodes the entire series has ever seen. It’s incredible and it has blown away all of the other shows from Summer (that I watched). If you haven’t jumped into the series yet, there’s no better time than the present. Watch everything in broadcast order.

So that’s that for Summer. I’ll provide a proper final impression of Monogatari when the Fall final impressions go up.

As far as Fall initial impressions go, they’ll be up when I find the time. I have to wait on BlazBlue to air today and maybe on Tesagure! Bukatsumono to get subbed. I’ll give it until Monday to show up.

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