First of all, thanks again to our readers for another phenomenal month. It’s nice to know someone out there is reading!
It’s been a steady but also active month, as the good shows stayed good, a few more shows were dropped (for different reasons), one show switched authors, and the site literally went dark (we’re white on black, or rather light grey on very dark grey, now).
Like last month, we’ve got a big colorful graph to show you how our selection of summer shows has panned out two-thirds into the season. See the full-size version for a closer look…and stay tuned in the next few days for a slightly belated Fall 2014 Preview.
So…Zankyou no Terror…that unassailable whiff of prestige we mentioned last month? Still there, but a bit less potent, thanks to the introduction of a pretty lame villain in Five. We still don’t know exactly what Nine did to her to deserve such unrelenting rage (he left her behind during the escape, I guess?), which makes her motivations muddled in addition to being over-the-top. One could argue every other main character in the show has had as rough and messed-up a life as she has, yet she’s the only one actively trying to murder lots of people. Regardless of the Five Problem, ZnT remains our top show this season; a testament to how much other good stuff is going on around Five.
Calling Aldnoah.Zero a Gundam clone is being a bit unfair. While there’s no disputing the influence of the mega-franchise (and I’ll be checking out Reconguista in G come October), A/Z is delivering its own brand of hero in Inaho, and we’ve fully embraced his bordering-on-bland stoicism. Crazy, messed-up stuff happens all around him, but nothing fazes the guy, nor makes him curl into a ball sobbing. His friend Inko keeps a similarly even keel, but injects more humor and spunk into her performance. It’s a small role by Komatsu Mikako, but a good one.
Sword Art Online II’s ducks are in a row now, and we’ve proceeded with the Ballet of Bullets that is the centerpiece of this first cour. But as exciting the action of the BoB is, it wisely takes a backseat to the growing but still somewhat arms-length bond between Kirito and Sinon, two souls tortured by pasts in which they ended some lives to save others. As Nurse Aki, in an awesome supporting role, says to Kirito, if he’s in this much pain, then he’s not the monster he thinks he is, had the right to make the decisions he made, and to make them again should the time come. Death Gun must be stopped. Here’s hoping he lets Sinon help him. I also wouldn’t mind these two meeting in the real world.
Even though I pride myself on carefully selecting anime of only the finest quality and watchability here at RABUJOI, sometimes something rotten gets by Quality Control. That’s a charitable description of the sixth episode of Rail Wars!. The show then decided it wanted to establish and augment the harem around the protagonist, before quickly breaking up that nonsense and geting back to its ostensible premise of traincraft. She’s a harsh mistress, but her ability to stay on the tracks, and contrasting love interests like Aoi and Mari, continue to endear it to me.
Barakamon the city-boy artist has really grown and become a member of the community, and the show has demonstrated that in a variety of ways, from bringing a fresh batch of city slickers to the island, to the fact that Naru’s near-constant presence in his home has become more of a comfort than a nuisance.
There’s still one member of Hanayamata who has yet to officially join the yosakoi club, and one member – Yaya, ended up on the verge of not only quitting the club, but tossing aside the others’ friendship. They try to get her back, fail, then try again from a different angle, and get her back into the fold. I rather enjoy when conflicts like this crop up in shows with otherwise lowish stakes, because they’re true to real life: sometimes you’re just not on the same wavelength.
The last five weeks of Space Dandy 2 have been a roller coaster, going from fine to great to good to phenomenal. The standard has been set with it’s transcendant, art-filmesque eighth episode, leaving me hungry for hopeful that we’ll get one more episode approaching its like (albeit with a completely different premise and setting) in the final four weeks.
Ao Haru Ride isn’t just about the “new” Futaba and “new” Ken growing closer together, though they seem to be progressing nicely enough. It’s also about how everyone (except, perhaps, Aya) in the new circle of friends is experiencing true, honest friendship for the first time. The Kou triangle would rend weaker friendships apart, but Futaba and Yuuri reach detente through honesty and courage, and they in turn inspire Shuuko to open up as well. Kou, unfortunately, seems to be dithering.
While early on Glasslip’s supernatural elements were overshadowed by the more conventional teen drama, in the last few episodes things have gotten very trippy and unnerving indeed. Now they’re a legitimate obstacle to Touka and Kakeru’s relationship, and they know they can’t keep it their little secret. Glasslip is trying to do a lot in a little bit of time, so sometimes episodes feel overstuffed, but that’s better than being too sparse. Also, all of the characters are becoming interesting as their narratives grow richer and more complex. Sacchan remains the show’s quiet star.
Akame ga Kill!, which I’ve been likening to a darker, more morally complex Fairy Tail, keeps impressing me in spite of the fact there’s barely an original bone in its body. It’s gotten gutsier, too, killing off two Night Raid members just three quarters in to its first cour…and probably isn’t done. Foes never seem to last long, but more powerful, sadistic ones promptly crop up to take their place, to test Tatsumi, who is now in possession of his own Imperial Arm.
Majimoji Rurumo continues to be the Anti-WCW, wisely focusing on character rather than silly plot. While a few new faces, they don’t get in the way of the core couple. Rurumo continues to wreste with her feelings for Kouta, but meanwhile Kouta isn’t standing still, continuing to improve as a person out of a genuine desire to help and protect both Rurumo and, in one of the saddest episodes of the season, a litter of kittens.
With four episodes in the bag, Sailor Moon Crystal is now where the rest of the summer was this time last month. In those four episodes we’ve met Moon, Mercury, Mars, and the kings who serve Beryl. Looking forward to Jupiter and Venus and seeing the whole troupe kick some demon ass.
Tokyo Ghoul remains a dark and gory show, but not gratuitously so, and it’s been able to successfully leverage its social message by showing us the neither humans or ghouls share responsibility for the mess the world is in. Ken also seems to be gradually grown a pair as he realizes how important he could be; always encouraging.
Super-cool OPs and EDs should never determine whether one watches a show, and even though the mystery and action seemed to be starting to pick up, I was just never ever that impressed with DRAMAtical Murder. The characters act dumb, the story’s a slog, and the animation ranged between ho-hum and fugly.
Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun landed in my lap at the end of the month but absolutely dominated everything else I was currently watching. It’s clever, quirky, well drawn and funny. Oh, and it has some charming teen romance drama under the hood too. GSN-k’s only challenge will be to actually go somewhere with the plot threads (at least the central thread between Chiyo and Nozaki) without losing it’s grip on the comedy. I’m confident it can do it, but will it?
Sabagebu! continues to surprise me. For Pete’s sake, I almost dropped this show as “knock-off trash cashing in on Gainax’s ‘dreadful girls with airsoft melodrama'” when I previewed the pilot! Thankfully I gave it a second shot. Sabagebu! is deceptively smart, mercilessly funny, and a real treat each week. Only it’s cheap production values keep it away from top shelf for me — and the more I watch, the less I feel I can hold visual shine against the show.
Love Stage!! came and went this month but, happily, it passed on a high note. The drama between Izumi and Ryouma is now fully established and interesting. Izumi’s character is probably done moping and the rest of the season should bare a lot less angst. Still, Love Stage!! was hard to watch, not a genre I’m familiar with, and I feel it was much more sexually aggressive than a similarly scripted hetero show that would broadcast over the air. I can’t decide if it should be applauded for it’s boldness or avoided.
Oh Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!? what. the. hell? You were a harem comedy once and you were half way entertaining. Sure, procedural, but I got a chuckle. Now you’re a baddy of the week (every other week) show, with an intergalactic politics and trans-space/time mystery plot. You’re not funny at all, your harem filler is dull and unstimulating, and your hero is whatever perfect’ish dude mold you want to pour him into. You’ve out stayed your welcome. Good bye and good luck on some other reviewers docket. xoxo – Frankie