Summer 2014 Viewing Guide (Part 4)

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Finally we come to Part 4 of our Summer 2014 viewing guide. This is a list of the upper crust of shows, plus our top picks for the season. These are the shows we expect the greatest things from and will sting us most deeply if they fall short!


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Aldnoah.Zero

Genres: Action, Mecha, Sci-Fi

Hannah: Could I go a whole season without a mecha series? After this show’s very strong opening salvo, I’m inclined to think not. We’ll see how the show gets the hero into that cockpit and how he fares; his un-excitable temperament should serve him well.

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Franklin: The villains are, so far, a bit simplistic but it looks good and nothing is worrisome. the question is if there is enough of a hook to care. it runs the risk of being another Rinne no Lagrange style anime that’s just ‘not bad’ as Gundam cliches go.

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Barakamon

Genres: Comedy, Slice of Life

Zane: Fun, heartfelt, often hilarious show about a stalled artist from the city exiled to a quiet island full of colorful characters, including one very cute girl who just won’t leave him alone.

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Franklin: I own a small child myself and Barakamon has me in stitches, constantly! Extra points for being an unexplored topic too!

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Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-Kun

Genres: Comedy, Romance, School, Shounen

Zane: This is a show that’s not afraid to let its hair down and get silly and ridiculous…the misunderstandings between the two leads in matters regarding romance were understandable and/or clever; never labored…they make a damn good team, and they had me laughing early and often.

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Franklin: This is a keeper, even if future eps don’t hit the same highs, if only for how much the first made us all so happy!

watch_ogk


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Hanayamata

Genres: Slice of Life, Seinen

Zane: This episode was very pretty and its characters exceedingly cute. Neither Naru or Hana are too irritating, going right up to the line at times but never crossing it. The focus on yosakoi screams CULTURE and appeals to us in the same way as Chihayafuru’s devotion to karuta another offbeat cultural phenomenon that has evolved with the times. Plus the dancing’s real purty.

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Franklin: Girls who lack confidence in their abilities shows can go horribly wrong and can be cringe fests that take forever to go anywhere but, for now, I’m willing to watch Hanayamata because it hasn’t crossed the line AND IS GORGEOUS! Very pretty. Will it survive the long cut? we’ll see…

watch_ogk


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Majimoji Rurumo

Genres: Comedy, Ecchi, Fantasy, Shounen

Franklin: Boy meets witch, gets her magic powers, but will be killed when he’s had 666 wishes fulfilled. its a bit generic, average-looking but chuckle-worthy. the dark twist to the otherwise light humor works well enough. I’ll keep watching but it’s on the “Probably Drop-By-Mid-season” list.

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Preston: Sometimes you just have a smidgen of patience and see an episode through. I did with the first episode of, and it rewarded me by getting better and better as I watched it. Sure, the lead is a horndog, and bits with panty-less or bra-less girls can get tiresome. But Majimoji Rurumo makes it all work, when given a chance. I found its art style simple yet zany.

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…That’s right: two of us are reviewing this one. Booyah!


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Space☆Dandy 2

Genres: Comedy, Sci-Fi, Space

Zane: I’ve heard all sorts of arguments for why Space Dandy has been a disappointment: It’s not Cowboy Bebop; it always hits the reset button; Space Dandy is a loser; it’s not Cowboy Bebop (whoops). Myself; I’m not particularly hung up on any of those arguments. All’s I knows is, from one week to the next, I may have no idea what I’m going to get from Space Dandy, but I know there’s a good chance I’ll enjoy it.

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Sword Art Online II

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Game, Romance, Shounen

Hannah: That’s a lot of genres, but SAO has always juggled them nicely, and its versatility continues in this sequel. It has also always excelled in its action set pieces its world-building and gorgeous vistas, and in the building of its core relationships. Where it stumbled a bit last season was in sidelining its strongest female character and introducing a campy, comically-evil nemesis to defeat. New Girl Sinon looks to make up for that first stumble; we’ll see if this season’s Big Bad has a little more dimension to him (or her).

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Zankyou no Terror

Genres: Psychological, Thriller

Hannah: This show has the immediate potential and charisma to dominate the season like Sidonia did this past Spring…at least for me. There was nothing I looked more forward to than that gritty hard sci-fi space epic, and it’s the same deal here. The elements are simple: girl joins a pair of terrorists brothers…because she has nothing better to do; but the devils are in the detail, and detail abounds in ZnT. It may have come late, and I may have even hoped it wouldn’t be any good so I didn’t have to add one more show to the list, but I officially retract that wish, effective immediately.

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Franklin: There’s not much to say about ZnT. It’s fantastically rendered, well animated, well designed, mysterious, charming, well voice acted and doesn’t over do any aspect of it’s entire presentation to make us want anything more than MORE MORE MORE!

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Summer 2014 Viewing Guide (Part 3)

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Part 3 of our viewing guide includes the lower tier of shows we’re watching this season, most of which we’ll also be reviewing. We’re confident that each of these shows will be enjoyable, if not life- or game-changing, and look forward to watching them…not to say one or two won’t flounder as Summer progresses.


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Futsuu no Joshikousei ga [Locodol] Yatte Mita.

Genres: Comedy, Seinen, Music

A girl’s civil servant uncle makes her a local idol to raise the profile of their un-noteworthy backwoods town. Charming, shy singing at the public swimming pool ensues.

Franklin: At first I wasn’t sure if this was an anime with a story or a platform for indirect product placement? There are so many cars and logos everywhere: there’s even a 30% off Baskin Robbins poster right in the middle of the frame for a decent length scene! Then, an actual story started to unfold and I was charmed. Not enough to agree to review the show, mind you: FnJg[L]YM has very low stakes and, given how many shows are out this season, there’s plenty more interesting stuff out there we should be talking about.

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Himegoto

Genres: Comedy, School, Ecchi (short format)

Franklin: Not remarkable but cute enough at 4 minutes. The premise is a boy becomes a trap to hide from the mob because his folks are bad with money. When all is about to be lost, he’s taken in by a student council of yuri enthusiasts. It’s funny enough and, given the short format length, I probably wont drop it after a few eps.

watch_ogk


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Love Stage!!

Genre: Shounen Ai

Franklin: It starts with a car commercial and i swear one of the characters has a fake mustache (check out the dad 3:08 in!) and LS’s protagonist has THE CRAZIEST eyes of any anime to date (2 color marble gradient??). Good chuckles, nice premise, and I’m super happen to see a show that (probably) will touch on some homosexual topics without being gross or disrespectful about it!

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Rail Wars!

Genre: Action

Hannah (Braverade): The “action” moniker hardly does it justice, nor does the “Wars!” in the title. This is about four young Japanese starting out in their first real job, working for the still very nationalized railway system. Maybe it’s because I like trains so much, but I found this show to be effortlessly charming and quirky, while also fully committing to its premise and alternate universe where young people actually give a shit about doing a good job. The bad-ass Sakurai Aoi is a highlight of the show so far.

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Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!?

Genres: Comedy, Romance, School, Supernatural

A Boy moves into a cheap apartment to save his recently divorced dad some money. Then a ghost, a Mole person with huge boobs and familiars, 2 aliens and a magic girl invade. Battle ensues!

Franklin: It’s cute honestly and, while pretty vapid, RnS is totally harmless. Maybe even worth watching for a chuckle here and there. Otherwise, pretty generic.

watch_ogk


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Sabagebu!

Genres: Action, Comedy, Shoujo, Military

High school girls with guns take wacky, over top, slap-stick shots at humor

Franklin: At first I worried that Sabagebu was just a parody of that Gainax show about high school girls with airsoft guns, drama, and super natural elements that felt under developed and tired a few seasons back — and it kinda is just like that but without the drama or super natural elements. However, after re-watching the premier and giving it a second episode, I can report maximum fourth wall-breaking humor. Sure, it’s drawn poorly and annoyed me at first but it’s giving me a few chuckles and, to my great surprise, I’ve decide to review this show!

rev_ogk


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Sailor Moon Crystal

Genres: Demons, Magic, Romance, Shoujo

Preston: As a complete newbie to the Sailor Moon franchise, I quite liked it’s first episode, which introduced us to the charmingly lazy and clumsy Usagi Tsukino and her slightly more capable magical girl alter-ego. The show looks and sounds like nothing else on TV; very throwback, which makes sense, as this is a 20th-anniversary special. Waiting two weeks per episode will be a drag, but I’m definitely on board!

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Tokyo ESP

Genres: Action, Comedy, Sci-Fi, Shounen, Super Power, Supernatural

An anime equivalent to Magneto’s villainous mutants in the X-Men universe taking over Tokyo, killing people because it’s fun, then good mutants show up

Franklin: On the surface, it looks good and has a Darker Than Black style, grande story and population of many colorful cast members. Except I swear I’ve seen this exact anime before, down to the girl-boy duo of Japanese Defense Force supernatural soldiers wearing orange jumpsuits riding a motorcycle! Villains are pure evil, dull, and ‘cheat.’ Humans are slow witted and give needless warnings to people out to kill them. Good guys are just good guys. I’m watching it for now but I have my reservations.

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Preston: I haven’t seen this show yet, but if Tokyo Ghoul continues to underwhelm, I may take a look. Who knows, maybe Franklin is just plain WRONG about it! (Also, I have no idea what show with orange jumpsuits he’s talking about…)

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Summer 2014 Viewing Guide (Part 2)

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Part 2 of our viewing guide includes shows we planned on reviewing but are now either dropping or thinking about dropping because they didn’t meet expectations, were too similar to other, superior programs in the same genre, or other reasons. Not all of these shows are doomed, but they’re on the edge. If Part 1 was anime “hell”, this is anime “limbo”.


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Ao Haru Ride

Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance, School, Shoujo, Slice of Life

Franklin: AHR is kinda terrible looking, with its giant eyed, awkwardly rendered figures and generic, unlikable high schoolers with zero at stake. I can’t see it scoring above a 7 on our scale and, thus, it’s not worth reviewing.

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Zane (sesameacrylic): Yikes, Frank, that’s laying it on a bit thick! Perhaps it’s because I’m used to this kind of bug-eyed character from two seasons of Kimi ni Todoke, but I didn’t really think the show was particularly terrible looking. Generic, perhaps. I’d also go so far as to call it the most straightforward guy-girl romance show on our list, and while the first episode painted both the guy and girl as bland and unlikable, the strong second episode reversed some of our initial coolness towards them.

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DRAMAtical Murder

Franklin: I don’t think this show has much potential, as it spent more time on it’s over the top silly character design than its world. Think Mezzo Forte weird world building without an interesting world or a coherent story.

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Preston (MagicalChurlSukui): I’m definitely more in love with the idea of the show than the show itself, or rather, I’m enamored by its sights and sounds, shallow though they may be. The OP is hands-down the best of the season, IMO, but a great OP does not a great anime make. I’ve been burned before by slow-burn mystery (Amnesia), watching an entire season of meh; and I’m not going to do the same here just because I like the show’s looks.

tbd_mag


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Free!: Eternal Summer

Genres: Comedy, School, Sports, Slice of Life

Zane: So…I may have overstated my enthusiasm in watching a whole other season of these guys swimming and having manly emotional dilemmas. I say that because despite having a couple opportunities here and there, I still haven’t gotten around to watching the first episode, and it’s already two episodes in going on three. That’s not to say it’s bad or that I’ll never watch it, I just that I can’t guarantee I’ll do so regularly, or that I’ll be reviewing it.

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Glasslip

Genre: Slice of Life

Zane: Absent any other good slice-of-life or romantic comedies, Glasslip would probably  be a lock on my list. But after watching its first episode, and then watching Barakamon, Nozaki-kun, and Hanayamata, I’ve concluded that those three are better than Glasslip, at least so far. Granted, I’ve only watched one episode of Glasslip, and it was pretty, but like Preston said, in a season this full pretty isn’t enough.

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Franklin: I fell asleep during the first ep. It’s slow, bland, and defaults to using ‘stills’ on several occasions instead of, you know, animating anything. It’s not terrible but boring. Slightly pretty when frozen but…blegh.

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Jinsei

Genres: Comedy, Drama, Ecchi, Romance, School, Slice of Life

Zane: While it’s a promising vehicle for discourse on a diverse array of topics, nothing about Jinsei particularly wowed me, and at times, it bored me. Life (jinsei) may be full of surprises, but there weren’t any here. That being said, SKET Dance also had a slow first episode, so we’ll watch the next one before dropping it for good. May watch, but not may not review.

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Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei

Genres: Magic, Romance, School, Sci-Fi, Shounen, Supernatural

Preston: Just as Hannah simply lost her enthusiasm for Nobunaga the Fool when the second cour came around, so too do I find myself in a similar situation. It can be such a slow, tentative, talky, introspective show, that it’s gotten a bit lost in the rush of new Summer shows, and I always seem to find myself watching something new and fresh rather than checking in to see what has become of the Nine Schools Competition. My timing on this may be terrible, as things may finally start to be picking up in that arena, but there it is.

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Tokyo Ghoul

Genres: Action, Mystery, Drama, Horror, Supernatural, Psychological

Preston: Tokyo Ghoul started with a bang, but it’s problem has been whimpering…from its weeny protagonist whose only connection to the living world seems to be his goofy friend, who will probably become a ghoul himself at some point. The fact that this is a gory show that isn’t allowed to show any extreme gore due to network censors does not help matters, nor does the fact that the titular ghouls’ magical abilities (something involving glowing tendrils that come out of their backs/butts) aren’t very impressive. I’ll give it one or two more episodes, but it has a hill to climb.

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Franklin: After two episodes the protagonist is still a whiny mess and the fighting and effects are bland. (glowy death tentacles?) Nothing that interesting to see here!

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Summer 2014 Viewing Guide (Part 1)

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Before each season begins, three of us gather at the top-secret RABUJOI HQ and hammer out a review schedule covering all the shows we each want to watch. A week or two passes, and then Oigakko-san shows up with a bunch of shows he’s watched separately, throwing our sensible schedule into CHAOS.

While this is actually a good thing (Sidonia, NGNL, and One Week Friends were all his picks last season), it can cause us to drop shows abruptly or feel stuck, reviewing shows that turn out weaker in comparison.

This Summer is particularly busy, featuring no fewer than 44 new shows. To maintain some degree of quality (and sanity), we’ll only follow a fraction of that. However, since we’ve collectively already reviewed the premieres of nearly 30, we’re presenting our thoughts on all of them in one big guide, divided into four parts.


This is Part 1 of our viewing guide, made up of the shows that haven’t made the cut. They aren’t all necessarily terrible shows per se; just not good enough to stand out among the crowd.


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Akame ga Kill!

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy

Franklin (Oigakkosan): Blandly animated, generic looking gore lacks shock value and the unoriginal fantasy settings doesn’t help. The cast too is been there done that, with a distinctly Danganronpa style to it, including silly weapons. (giant scissors? really?)

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Bakumatsu Rock

Genre: Music (juxtaposition, knowingly bizarre)

Samurai idols in feudal japan, a hero with a guitar that none of the ladies want to hear, and a fat white blond lady that owns a hotel…

Franklin: This show is barely animated, totally nonsensical and much more fun to watch than most of the generic fluff this season. It’s still so goofy I think I have to drop it but thumbs up for something half way original!

skip_ogk


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Momo Kyun Sword

Genres: Fantasy, Ecchi

Boobs, mythology, katana-waving: A fantasy tail about a girl born from a peach who needs protection from demons… by color-coded celestial maidens

Franklin: The show’s budget was spent entirely on boob bounce. There’s nothing else here, except bland character designs, below average animation and a dull fantasy world. And boobs!

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Persona 4 The Golden Animation

Genres: Adventure, Mystery, School, Sci-Fi, Super Power, Supernatural

Franklin: The Persona game series has always had wonderfully rendered characters, with great color and detail and reasonably entertaining high schoolers discover something super natural plot. Sadly, Persona the anime, is cheaply animated, awkwardly framed, and lacks the wondrously colored style of the game. Worse, makes no pretext of being for anyone other than people who’ve played the game. The cast isn’t introduced outside of the opening titles, nor are they introduced to each other in the opening episode, despite being the first time they meet the protagonist.

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Preston (MagicalChurlSukui): I watched the first fourteen (of 25) episodes of the first Persona 4 (you can read the reviews here), and I never had any problems with the character design, and quite liked the Chie character’s spunkiness. I never got around to finishing it, but it would seem in the meantime they made another Persona 4 game and decided to make another anime about it.


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Re:␣Hamatora

Genres: Comedy, Mystery, Shounen, Super Power

Franklin: I honestly liked the way Hamatora’s first season looked. It had great color and quirky (but not over bearing) characters and special abilities. Unfortunately, the show wasn’t especially engaging beyond that and I lost interest. So, despite still being a hair above average, I have near zero incentive to keep watching this second season.

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Shirogane no Ishi: Argevollen

Genres: Aciton, Mecha

Gundam mixed with Valkyria Chronicles and a whiff of Eva

Franklin: Every aspect of this show is lifted from another show. Worse, the core concept makes no sense: the war has been fought to a stand still because of a wall… because a world full of complex mecha, including mind-controlled suits, hasn’t developed aircraft of any sort, for some reason! Stupid! Also, below average animation.

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Shounen Hollywood: Holly Stage for 49

Genres: Slice of Life (Boy Band / Idols / Sports)

They own an owl named ‘cat’

Franklin: This was hard to wrap my head around but, at it’s core, SHHSf49 is basically just a sports anime… without a sport being played. Group dynamics and positions, the ‘can we make it’ questions, the coach’s guidance about the profession, and the boys’ slices of life outside the group are all standard for that genre and, unfortunately, not very interesting by the genre’s standards either. Nothing really happens in the opening episode, which didn’t help to sell me on watching more of it.

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