End-of-Month Rundown – September 2014

Click Here to see our September Chart
Click Above to see our September Chart

Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall. Thanks to an assist from Franklin, Summer was our most proliific season of RABUJOI, reviewing over 200 episodes in all. It was a bit exhausting at times, we must confess. So how did it all shake out? Let’s hear it from the staff. As you’ll see on the chart, the season can be broken up pretty cleanly into three groups: those rated 8 and above, 7.5 to 7.9, and 7.4 and below.


Hannah

Five seemed to have soured Zankyou no Terror for many, but in hindsight I never really minded her. She was the wrench Sphinx’s best laid plans needed so that things wouldn’t be so easy for them, and bad English aside the airport chess episode was one of the more thrilling outings of the entire season. That said, when it was time for her to bow out, she did, and in the very end Nine and Twelve ended up joining Five in the afterlife, but not before they made a considerably more forceful impression than she did, digging up the secrets of the Athena project before they went. I’m also happy this wasn’t spread out over eleven more episodes. Sometimes one cour is plenty. Heck, this show could have done okay with just 8-10 episodes.

Damn you, Aldnoah.Zero! Here I thought we were going to get a concise, 12-episode run, and things were drawing towards a satisfying resolution to the immediate conflict, if not the entire Terran-Martian war. When Inaho and Seylum are both killed relatively quick succession, it only reinforced my belief that this was The End. But noooo, you had to have another season, didn’t you? And what am I going to do…not watch it? And then Franklin tells me he doubts the lead couple is really dead. In any case, Slaine is a jerk.

Rail Wars! did now wow in any particular area, but it was, for me at least, a consistent source of entertainment, and offered something unique and quirky with its extensive train-lore…the show also made every one of the trains it featured characters in and of themselves. The harem was silly, but the show never took it that seriously anyway.

Sword Art Online II‘s BoB/Death Gun arc slowed to a pedestrian crawl, to the point were were considering dropping the show out of disgust. First you neuter Sinon, then you have episode after episode of nothing but exposition cut with scenes of her ass. The thirteenth episode brings the Ballet of Bullets to a satisfying enough close, but I’ll admit I’m just glad that part is over. As for Sinon/Shino’s impotence as a self-actualizing character, this is a show with Kirito in it so it was always going to be about him saving her from getting raped in the real world by her so-called friend Kyouji. What interests us is what comes after that rescue, with Shino ostensibly safe.


Zane

As shows wind down, even shows I’ve liked, I tend to get more forgiving, simply because the season is changing and I’m rearing for the new. Barakamon is a case of this, offering a finale that, as Franklin mentioned, missed the Sei-Haru interactions that were the heart and soul of the show. In my case, a little goes a long way, as Haru’s hope for Sei to return over the phone last week, and their one last scene where she tells him it’s fun when everyone is around, still moved me deeply. It was a genuinely funny and moving show that doesn’t come around often.

One of the Summer’s stronger endings belongs to Hanayamata, which brought back Hana right after taking her away without it seeming to contrived…or rather, the elation of having everyone perform on the big stage and share a moment of triumph trumped whatever plot calisthenics were required to make it happen. Every member of the club grew and learned something through the show’s run, and each had one or two loved ones see that growth for the first time. Nice finish.

Space Dandy followed up its season masterpiece with a ho-hum effort about dancing, then gave Dandy-Scarlet shippers the romance episode they’ve been hoping for (complete with a Gundam pilot stalker!), then another very bizarre story of Dandy’s seemingly impossible past relationship with a 4D being, then a surprising two-part finale, the first part was a kind of retrospective of Dandy’s adventures and relationships in courtroom drama form, followed by a part two that was almost all action, space battles, chases, rescues, and a little more metaphysics thrown in for good measure, as Dandy is the Man Who Would Be God, but wasn’t, since gods can’t frequent Boobies. In all, a great month for the show, and a better ending.

Ao Haru Ride seemed to be hinting a little too much at a second season for our tastes, but aside from that, Futaba finally succeeded in cracking open the door Kou had been stuck behind, where he feared loving anyone after his mom. The results are almost instant, with Kou making a more concerted effort to be a part of the group and studying to avoid summer courses, while also finding a way to reconnect with his brother and dad. There’s no concrete mutual confession of love with the couple, but we leave them in good shape.

Glasslip got pretty weird there in the end, but I think it came down to Kakeru and Touka figuring out what kind of futures they want to have, with the possibilities coming in the form of those “fragments”, some of which they shared, including the first, which was likely the most important. Kakeru goes off with his mom rather than joining Touka, but there’s every indication they’ll be back together before long. As for the other couples, they also seemed to have come out of the summer in better shape than they went in, which is to say they matured, and their relationships matured with them. This wasn’t anywhere near as good as Nagi-Asu, but I still enjoyed it.


Preston

Akame ga Kill! has gone from weekly bad guys who are simply evil and awful to an “evil” equivalent of Night Raid itself, the Esdeath-led Jaegers; a no less colorful collection of characters than our good guys. The death NR members have been replaced by Susanoo and Chelsea, both with interesting backgrounds, while we continue to learn more about the others. Finally, the thirteenth episode marks the unexpected reunion of Esdeath with her beloved Tatsumi, a pairing that’s always welcome, considering the combination of dread, danger, and romance it entails.

Majimoji Rurumo‘s finale was a great culmination of the show as a whole: it was never about the magical mumbo-jumbo, but the humanity of the characters, and how Rurumo and Kouta were a couple that made each other better. It pulls a “world without Rurumo” scenario for much of the finale, but it’s revealed as a temporary magical review for Rurumo and not explained any further than that. Kouta’s life had gotten to the point where even with his memories of her blocked for a day, her absence was very much noted, with the effect of him missing her even though he wasn’t sure who he was missing.

Six episodes in and Sailor Moon Crystal still doesn’t have a complete set of sailor scouts, but Jupiter was a welcome addition, and despite all the new recruits, Usagi learns that she can contribute to battles with her power to bring people together. Still no sign of the titular crystal, the princess, or Queen Beryl’s boss, but the romance, such as it is, between Usagi and Tuxedo Mask is proceeding apace.

Like Hannah with Aldnoah, Tokyo Ghoul is a show I enjoyed but a second season wasn’t on my radar, nor did I consider it a necessity. However, with Ken just turning into “Rize-Ken” at the very end and a lot of manga left to draw from, I wouldn’t be surprised if this gets a second season too at some point, in which case I’ll probably give it a good look.


Franklin

Final words on Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun , Sabagebu! and other shows in the comments below.

One thought on “End-of-Month Rundown – September 2014”

  1. Goodness! I made it into 2 of my fellow reviewer’s write ups this month! Flattery aside, September was a great month, at least for the shows I was watching!

    Sabagebu! continued to grow from this quirky show I almost didn’t see, to a regularly funny show I still thought was a little rough around the edges and not exactly great looking, to a show that was so unabashedly funny — so absurdly packed with charm and chuckled — that I have to reassess all my previous ratings to it. Sabagebu may well cracked the ‘perfect final episode’ code, leaving us with a long-arc over the top battle featuring every single character from the show (even the ones we may have forgotten) and even gave character growth to its central, presumably ungrowthable character Momoka. And her voice distortion was fantastic!

    Oh Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun! You have been pretty consistent this month and all season, honestly. You’re funny, unpredictable and have compassion for your silly characters. I may go so far as to think you were secretly making a point about Japanese culture and people with Autism… but maybe that’s too much? In any event, you didn’t give us character development (unless we consider Chiyo’s acceptance of the lack of development… development) but you stayed true to yourself all the way through. Warm chuckles and good vibes.

    As to the rest of this season’s shows that I’ve been watching but obviously not reviewing: good grief! What the heck happened to you?? I feel especially bad for Hannah, who got what should have been 3 of the season’s best shows, only to watch several of them stumble and deteriorate along the way. SAO2 in particular reminded me of the movie Sideways, which features a joke towards the end that is so funny you will roll on the floor and soil yourself… only because the rest of the movie is such dull, eye clawingly artless tedium.

    At least SAO2 telegraphed its terrible for long enough though that it wasn’t that big a disappointment. Sadly, I can not say the same for ZnT or A/Z. In A/Z’s case, I feel one of our comments hits it best: For a show that works because it is a solid procedural genre piece, and that it has provided no real surprises along the way no breaks from that genre, tossing a sudden bleak, out of character for Slaine ending just to bait us for a second season isn’t bold, it’s cheap. Worse, as Hannah notes, because A/Z is a genre piece, there’s no way they will actually kill all their characters (if any of them at all), which puts the second season in an unwinable position: keep them dead for reals and turn off the viewers with your out-of-genre bleakness OR what a twist them alive and turn off the viewers for giving them an utterly fake season 1 finale, a pointless new villain (Slaine). Just… Blah!

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