Fall 2014 Final Impressions (+Yama no Susume S2)

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Okay, finally finished up the season yesterday, so I’m going to try and not put this one off like I usually do. Let’s roll.

First up is the one carry-over from last season.

Yama no Susume S2: I loved every bit of this. Extended length episodes compared to the first season (though still only half-length), a higher animation budget (which was already impressive for the 3-4 minute show that the first season was), and some fun new character. An overall improvement on the first season and incredibly enjoyable. I’d love for it to see a third season, maybe one cour with full-length episodes. This being two-cour with half-length was basically that much content already. Bottom line: If you liked the first season, you’ll love this one. If the first season wasn’t meaty enough for you to bother with, it’s probably time to check it out since there’s a lot of content in this season. Absolutely recommended. One of my favorite slice of life series.

And with that out of the way, we move on to the new stuff.

Karen Senki: Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeh. This was… not great. Not terrible, at least. It had its moments and the animation was impressive enough, but the storytelling was disjointed and awful. So much went unexplained in favor of another flashy scene of Karen versus some random mook robots or something. Honestly, I forgot that it even existed every week until I went to Crunchyroll to watch Fate and saw that there was a new episode. Bottom line: I wouldn’t even bother.

Danna ga Nani wo Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken: This was a lot of fun. Full of references to games and anime and generally both silly and heartwarming, this was an enjoyable watch. It also got picked up for a second season, so there’s more to look forward to. It also had an impressive voice cast. Bottom line: As short as it is, it couldn’t hurt to check it out. I rather liked it and am looking forward to the next season. Don’t bother if you don’t like humor based on references, though.

Amagi Brilliant Park: KyoAni knocked it out of the park with this one. Taking their now-usual stance of manipulating a source material into an entirely new story because screw what the author wrote, they managed to do a pretty good job with it. It was a blast, with a huge cast of memorable characters and one of the two best MCs this season. The animation, as is always the case with KyoAni, is top-notch. Bottom line: One of the must-watch shows from this season. Definitely check it out.

Grisaia no Kajitsu: I haven’t read the VN for this yet, though it was on my to-do list at one point (and now I’m waiting to see what Shit Project does with the official English versions). I’d like to see what the differences are, as they’re apparently numerous and better in the VN, but this was still a really good show. Definitely had the best MC this season, and in quite some time. I also liked the cast of girls that acted as the story’s romantic interests. There weren’t really any bad ones, though some were much less interesting than others. Makina was a standout as one of my favorite characters this season, though we didn’t get to see a lot of what makes her great from the VN. (I knew about some of her scenes before this aired, like that magical Engrish conversation.) The pacing was a little sloppy, with some arcs condensed down to just one episode, but everything still felt well-told for someone who doesn’t know any better. I’m at least looking forward to all of the skipped content from the VN. Additionally, a second season has been announced featuring both the prequel and sequel VNs. Sekai Project will be localizing this VN, the prequel and sequel, and the magical girl spin-off featuring Michiru. Bottom line: One of my favorite shows this season with some of the best characters this season. Definitely check it out.

Sora no Method: This wasn’t bad, but I have a lot of problems with it. The characters are all obstinate, to a completely unrealistic degree meant only to foster additional conflict pretty much whenever possible. The plot’s not really that interesting or involved on its own and relies on said conflict to pad out the series. The ending was kind of weird and inconclusive about exactly what happened due to some plot events in the last two episodes. But it was an interesting watch and Noel was super duper cute. The animation was decent, too. Bottom line: Eh, I could take it or leave it. Go with your gut on this one and if you think you want to watch do, but if you don’t, don’t.

Hi*sCoool! SeHa Girls: Muh childhood. I was a Sega kid for sure, so this was a flashback through my life in gaming. So many iconic series revisited, so many references made. I miss them for sure. The characters were fun, too. Saturn was my favorite, but she always got the short end of the stick in the series, even up to the end, and that never really sat well with me. They also didn’t leave any room for any more adventures with the crew. And this is on top of isolating an entire line of like twenty girls down to just three, with most of my favorite designs left to a single cameo in one episode. Disappointing, to say the least. Bottom line: If you want the references and love Sega properties, go for it. It’s absolutely worth your time. If you’re not a Sega fan, though, don’t bother. There’s nothing here for you.

Ore, Twintail ni Narimasu.: Jeez, where do I even start with this one? This one had a stupid premise. Really stupid. And ridiculous execution. It was basically a super sentai show in anime form. But you know what? It was fun. It was interesting. It was engaging. I got invested. I loved it. And I really hope there’s more. (They did leave it open to a second season.) There was something special about the ridiculous premise being taken so seriously by the characters that you couldn’t help but get swept up in the mood. But I have to say that it suffered from a lot of issues in the animation department. Really bad ones. It seems like some of the later broadcasts had these fixed, but Funimation’s version was the early broadcast and looked terrible. It really did take away a lot from the show. I’m sure sales will suffer as a result and the show probably won’t see a second season… Bottom line: If you watch it late enough to catch the touched up versions or can stomach the animation issues plaguing the early versions, then try it out. It’s stupid fun.

Girl Friend (Kari): Boy, what a disaster this was. It wasn’t good. Very mediocre honestly. But, as mentioned in my initial impressions, this was sort of compared to an anime version of The Expendables. It’s an all-star cast of seiyuu doing what they’re best at and it’s mindless fanservice. As far as that’s concerned, if it’s all you’re looking for, there’s a lot to work with. I can’t remember if I mentioned it then, but Yui Horie even makes several appearances as her original character, Miss Monochrome. It’s fun if you want to just watch and go “It’s Yui Ogura! Oh! Asami Imai! IT’S KUGYU!” But it’s not worth diddly squat other than that. It’s not terribly interesting or well-executed. Bottom line: Only watch it if you know a lot of seiyuu and want be dunked head-first into some voice fanservice. There’s nothing here for anyone else (unless you think that the Chloe meme is the funniest thing in the whole world).

Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru: Man, what a surprise this was. Masterfully executed (except the ending, which was just kinda okay) with a plot that kept you on the edge of your seat. Some of the best animation this season and excellent voice work. Just a joy to watch. And I almost skipped it. Man. I’m so glad I didn’t. This was definitely one of the best shows I watched this season. Bottom line: Watch. Go watch now. Don’t skip this. And don’t drop it early. Follow through.

Fate/stay night Unlimited Blade Works and Shirobako are ongoing series, so I’ll cover them in the next season’s impressions.

So as for this season’s Show of the Season… What’s that? Picking when Fate is still ongoing? Fate by ufotable? Yep. It’s Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru. God, this show was so good. I looked forward to it significantly more than anything else this season. I know UBW. I know what happens from here on and there are going to be some amazing moments, but I know that nothing will bring it over Yuuki Yuuna. That ended up being one of my new favorites for sure. I’m super thrilled for the Vita game at this point (I pre-ordered it already) and I keep seeing new things that keep making it more and more interesting (yuri scenes and appearances by the prequel/LN cast). I’m totally absorbed in this world now and so this show gets my pick for Show of the Season.

So with that out of the way, it’s time to pick the Show of the Year! The nominees are…

Winter 2014: Saki: Zenkoku-hen/Sekai Seifuku ~Bouryaku no Zvezda~ (Tie)
Spring 2014: Love Live S2
Summer 2014: Aldnoah.Zero
Fall 2014: Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru

And the winner is…

Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru

Like last year’s pick, Date A Live, this series just sucked me in. Not quite to the level that Date A Live has (OH GOD VITA RE-RELEASE OF RINNE UTOPIA WITH THE YAMAI TWINS AND MIKU), but still significantly more than anything else has this season. The only real competitor was Love Live S2 as far as what I’ve really been hooked on, but the results fell in YY’s favor because Love Live was a sequel series and YY had the benefit of being an original. I honestly would have felt just fine picking LL, too, as it was an incredible season and easily the second best show I saw this year. A very, very close second. In fact, you know what? We’ve already broken tradition once this year, so…

It’s also Live Live S2!

Yep, we’ll just go with two picks for Show of the Year this year. Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru and Love Live S2 both win Show of the Year! I have to admit that I’ve fallen into some deep appreciation for Love Live. It doesn’t sit right with me to call it “second best” when I’m still reeling emotionally from it. When I can still see the name of a song and think back to everything surrounding it in vivid detail. When I walked into work this morning and was singing Shocking Party (in my head, of course). It’s an infection that’s not going away and it’s been half a year since it was over. I think I’d only feel right calling both shows the best thing I’ve seen this year, so congratulations to both. Love Live has taken several steps in the right direction as a franchise with the second season. And Yuuki Yuuna was an amazing series. But fuck you, Takahiro. Fuck you. And also I love you. But still fuck you.

M’kay, gonna try to write up a planned watch list for Winter 2015 and then I’ll probably let this blog sit for a bit until I get initial impressions for the season out of the way. I also still want to do that review for Fairy Fencer F. I beat it, but only got one ending (Alyn ending, best girl, etc.) and I’ve got saves prepped for the other two, plus I’d like to see the story changes for some things I didn’t do as I roll through NG+. I’ll get to it after that. I’d also like to review Girlish Grimoire Littlewitch Romanesque, a VN with art by Oyari Ashito (whose art I absolutely adore, probably more than anyone else), which I’m currently playing through. The damn thing is like nine or ten years old at this point, but we just got it in English. Oh, and on that note, please do vote for the all-ages version on Steam Greenlight. It’s super enjoyable and the art is lovely. Also, if you bought the current version, physical or digital, JAST has stated that you’ll get a Steam copy for free if the all-ages version gets greenlit. I might make a post just for that later tonight when I can actually access the resources for it.

EDIT: Scratch that, looks like it was greenlit. Yay!

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