End-of-Month Rundown – February 2014

feb

Still Winter. Still Cold. Better to conserve energy. Let’s get right down to it:

13. Pupa

The three-minute segments continue to get darker and more disturbing, as not only does the lead guy have to endure his sister eating him as a matter of course, but behind their backs Maria has used their genetic material to impregnate herself. Definitely less “Huh?” and more “OH DEAR GOD!”

Cumulative Rating: 5.429 (7 of 12 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 4.79

12. Sakura Trick

No matter what situation Haruka and Yuu find themselves in they ultimately end up making out before, during, or after said situation, as the episode calls for. This is, on the surface, admittedly one-note, but we actually like the low-stress slow burn the show is on, which realistically portrays a very affectionate relationship between two girls who know each other very well and really really like spending time with each other.

Cumulative Rating: 6.429 (7 of 12 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 7.48

11. Samuai Flamenco

(second cour, episodes 11-22)

Since the From Beyond fiasco of episode 14, Samumenco has really gotten its act together, finally addressing all the interpersonal conflicts of the characters (hell, focusing on the characters period was an improvement in and of itself) and essentially “reforming the band” when, after the Flamenger thing doesn’t work out, Masayoshi returns to his best friend Gotou, who’s more than willing to help. The Flamenco Girls’ harsh argument and subsequent reconciliation is also powerfully wrought. Here’s hoping the series finishes strong.

Cumulative Rating: 7 (6 of 11 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 6.88

10. Witch Craft Works

We still commend the flip-flop of classic male-female roles in WCW, but have been disappointed by the poor caliber of foes Ayaka and Honoka have faced. Then it dawned on us: none of the Tower Witches are really meant to be a serious threat; the true threat is inside Honoka; the White Princess whose first seal has been broken. WCW presents a clear and clever distinction between what kind of man Honoka is and the archetypal pathetic weakling. In short, Ayaka is his strength because summoning his own would have calamitous consequences.

Cumulative Rating: 7.125 (8 of 12 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 7.42

9. (tie) Nobunaga the Fool

That brings us to Nobu, who has been given every opportunity and motivation to summon his strength and grab power. Unlike Honoka, he has no qualms about using it, and those around him are eager to see what he can do. He had been hampered by his father’s stubbornness to change and his peace-loving brother’s popularity, but both of those obstacles (we know, it’s cruel to call them that, but it’s true!) are out of his way, and he’s feuled by their loss and the near(?)-loss of his betrothed. Speaking of Himiko, maybe he’ll marry her for real if she wakes up. It’s the least he can do. That aside, his battle with Shingen is great fun, all bluster and honorableness and bashing. Then the crafty Caesar throws a wrench into everything.

Cumulative Rating: 7.286 (7 of 12 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 6.91

8. Nisekoi

Onodera missed a golden chance, and now there’s a third girl interested in Raku, with a fourth on the way, if the promo art is to be believed. Meanwhile Raku and Chitoge are growing closer together and coming to understand and respect one another, even if they still tend to put on antagonistic airs around each other. They’ve gotten better at pretending to be a couple, too. While the mistaken gender issue was kind of silly, we actually liked Tsugumi Seishirou’s introduction, and she’s a fun and vibrant character thanks to Komatsu Mikako. Of course, her intro means less time for Onodera, but it’s not like she was doing much with the extra time she had, anyway.

Cumulative Rating: 7.429 (7 of 12 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 8.02

6. (tie) Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta

We have now seen two distinct Pilot’s Love Songs: the one Before they reached the Holy Spring, and the one After, when our plucky trainees get their first taste of combat. It’s a stark transition from everyone having fun running a cafe in the dorms to seasoned enemy fighters plucking their bumbling trainee planes out of the sky one by one. Some of the youngin’s buckle under the pressure, others, notably Mitsuo, Ariel, and Kal, rise to the occasion, but the fact remains a ton of damage is done to Isla and many lives are lost. It’s all very intense and harrowing, and the show doesn’t blink or sugar-coat.

Cumulative Rating: 7.5 (8 of 12 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 7.37

6. (tie) Noragami

The show has become less about whether or when Yato will ascend to his rightful place in the pantheon of…well, gods, and more about whether he (and by extension, Hiyori) will even be able to survive with the increasingly troubled Yukine as his shinki. Hiyori once aimed to shelter Yukine from Yato’s negative influence and dehumanizing nature (which to be fair is kinda apropos, as Yukine is no longer human), but now she’s realizing it’s Yukine who’s hurting Yato. Thus the show continues to balance serious dramatic issues with the lighter comedic elements, while expanding our understanding of its engrossing mythos.

Cumulative Rating: 7.5 (8 of 12 episodes + 1 of 2 OVAs watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 8.15

5. Sekai Seifuku – Bouryaku no Zvezda

It’s always a pleasure every week checking in with our favorite gloriously whimsical secret society of bad guys, and the last month of episodes has done nothing to reduce its charm factor. Asuta is becoming gradually weaned off of “normalcy”, or rather Zvezda and its feud with White Light are becoming his new normal. But the thing he seems to have run away from in the first place—namely his dad—and the political power he wields looms large as Zvezda’s next foe, which may prove less conquerable than the jungle gym.

Cumulative Rating: 7.714 (7 of 12 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 7.29

4. Golden Time

(second cour, episodes 13-24)

While we’re eager to see how Golden Time manages to clean up the terrific mess it’s made of Banri’s brain (if it even plans to do so), we’re a bit sad that the show will be over in just four short weeks. It’s been a long and at times very emotional ride full of cruel twists of fate and luck, but not without its moments of joy and levity. Ironically, Banri is perhaps the least compelling major character on the show, considering if you strip away is unique circumstances there’s not much of a personality there. But there’s so much win around him it’s hardly mattered.

Cumulative Rating: 8.143 (8 of 12 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 7.92

3. Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren

There are plenty of great shows that have never had sequels and may well be the better for it; but there was a lot more story to tell on multiple fronts, and Chuunibyou 2 is proving that those stories are worth telling and worth watching. The show has settled into a nice groove, switching between episodes that inch Yuuta and Rikka closer together, followed by episodes that focus on the other members of the club.

Cumulative Rating: 8.250 (8 of 12 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 8.05

2. Space Dandy

Chuunibyou is pretty damn good, but Space Dandy has been a little better, making it the undisputed king of the Winter two-thirds into the season. It’s done it by telling a totally different story week to week, jumping from one genre to the next, but exceling with its take on all of them. Our favorite so far was the story with Adelie, but we wouldn’t be surprised if Dandy pulls something even better out of its hat later on. All we ask is that it keep things relatively episodic; we’re enjoying the unpredictability the weekly reset button.

Cumulative Rating: 8.625 (8 of 12 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 7.6

1. (tie) Kill la Kill

(second cour, episodes 13-25)

Dandy is king of the Winter, but Kill la Kill has, in our humble opinion, already cemented its place among the best four or five anime of this decade (sure, it’s only been four-plus years, but still). Honestly, if we didn’t have a constant stream of new shows to watch every season, we’d sit down and watch it all over again almost as soon as it ends. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves: there’s still six episodes left to watch, and a world to be saved from alien clothing.

Cumulative Rating: 9.143 (7 of 12 episodes watched)
MyAnimeList Score: 8.11