Tōko Fukami’s family runs a glass-working business in a small seaside town. She hangs out with her four best friends at a cafe called “Kazemichi.” During the summer break of their senior year in high school, they meet a transfer student named Kakeru Okikura, who claims that a voice from the future talks to him, and that it’s led him to Tōko. His arrival sets off a series of events that will make their final summer together one full of hope and heartache.
Original Air Date: July 3, 2014
As a rule, I avoid high school anime in the vein of Glasslip, but there was enough slice-of-life fluff in the description to motivate me to give it a try. While I can’t say I loved the first episode, I liked it enough to check out the next one.
In the initial portion of a series like this, dialogue is the primary vehicle for advancing the plot. Thus, conversations between the characters set the pace of the show. And I do like the pace right now, even though little happened in the first episode beyond character introductions. That, and enough awkward looks to set up the show’s various love triangles.
I fully expect a lot of scenes of the main cast sitting around a table talking. That said, Glasslip is beautifully animated, and an enjoyable experience even if you’re only passively following the subs.
Sailor Moon Crystal
Usagi Tsukino was a normal second-year middle school girl whose own life changes one day when she encounters a black cat. The cat’s name is Luna who can talk and bears a cresent moon on her forehead. Luna tells Usagi that she is the chosen guardian of justice with the power to transform into Sailor Moon. Usagi now has a new responsiblity which is a mission to find the Illusionary Silver Crystal as well as the other chosen guardians to protect the Moon Princess. During her mission, she must deal with various enemies sent by Queen Beryl who is also after the Illusionary Silver Crystal.
Original Air Date: July 5, 2014
I’m rather disappointed by the first episode, but perhaps that was inevitable. I’ve stated before that as a kid, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon was a special, private indulgence, primarily because I thought that no one would understand what a straight, 12-year old boy would find so riveting about a romantic drama involving magical girls. While my friends were getting up early to watch Dragonball Z, I was rushing home from school to catch Sailor Moon. I was an adult before I met anyone else who enjoyed the first series on its own merits.
All that said, as well as I know the manga and the first anime, I don’t believe I can give Sailor Moon Crystal a fair assessment. It may very well be a first-class show in a vacuum, but at every beat I’m comparing it to what came before. That comparison does not result favorably.
Visually, Sailor Moon Crystal is an inferior product, in almost every way. The OP looks expensively produced, but the CG backgrounds are awkward and unnatural on screen. While I didn’t have the negative reaction to the character designs that many others experienced initially, I will now parrot a criticism I’ve seen elsewhere — the characters lack the expressiveness of their 90’s counterparts.
Take a look at the following screenshots. What emotion is Serena exhibiting here? Would you be able to tell without knowing the episode’s plot?
Again, the point has been made better elsewhere, but the result of this is that I’ve moved into the camp that dislikes the look of Sailor Moon Crystal. Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon was, after all, the show that introduced me to super-deformed and the visual, emotional language of anime, but this is markedly scaled back in the updated version.
Plot-wise, the first episode felt rushed.
I’m surprised to say that I may drop this. Unless things pick up (or maybe I bump my head and forget the original), it’s going to be difficult to stick around for 26 episodes.
The slice-of-life comedy manga centers around the ikemen (handsome) 23-year-old calligrapher Seishū Handa, who moves to the remote Gotō Islands off the western coast of Kyushu. Seishū grew up in the city, and the manga chronicles his interactions with the people of the island, who drive tractors on public roads and don’t enter through his front door when they visit. On top of that, Seishū’s house becomes a hangout for the island’s children.
Original Air Date: July 5, 2014
When I was coming up with my watch list for this season, I almost skipped Barakamon. I’m so very glad I didn’t. As a fan of slow-paced, slice-of-life shows, this is everything I look for. The feel of the series is perfect and the comedy is spot on. Thus far, the characters are unique and interesting enough, and I can feel the effort that has been put into the selection and performance of the voice actors.
The setting is a rural, small community, again something that’s solidly in my wheelhouse. To name-check disparate obsession of mine, Middlemarch, I’m always interested in spending time in small settings with a sizable cast.
In Handa’s interaction with young Naru, I’m reminded of Usagi Drop, another anime I enjoyed.1 A number of young characters were introduced in the first episode, and while I assume that future installments will involve Handa’s interactions with them, I hope that this won’t just be a show about his relationships with children. Perhaps I show my Western biases, but series like that can get uncomfortable quick.
For now however, Barakamon is a solid watch title, and probably the one I’m most likely to see all the way through.
In the real world, there are coteries of wealthy people who will spend their money on anything, but I have to wonder about the premise of this series. Is calligraphy really that huge in Japan, that one man can make enough money that he can afford to move to an island just to perfect his art?
Ordinary in looks, ordinary in brains, ordinary in arts and athletics … 14-year-old Naru Sekiya is just ordinary in every way. Naru leads an ordinary day-to-day life even as she adores “heroines.” She embarks on a path to an unordinary world called “Yosakoi” dance, guided by an exotic fairylike girl she met one moonlit evening.
Original Air Date: July 7, 2014
Much like Glasslip, I checked out this anime based on the description, which mentions fairies. Everything about the first episode was good, but it’s nothing I haven’t seen before. Naru (a popular name this season?) is a sympathetic protagonist. I always like it when we’re given a perfectly ordinary main character who doesn’t have some kind of concealed superpower or hidden heritage placing them over and above the rest.
Had I less to follow this season, I might have watched this HaNaYMaTa casually, as I did No Game, No Life in the spring. Perhaps I’m showing my age, but I just don’t find this kind of story that compelling anymore.
Zankyou no Terror
One summer day, a terrorist attack strikes Tokyo. The perpetrators are two boys who call themselves “Sphinx.” The attack was just the beginning of the grandiose game they are playing that will envelop all of Japan.
Original Air Date: July 10, 2014
When I’m deciding which series to investigate at the start of a season, I automatically check out the Noitamina block. Ever since 2005’s Honey and Clover, I’ve always found at least one gem a year on Noitamina, including many perennial favorites.
Zankyou no Terror is, first of all, not a show that could have been made in the United States. The fact that domestic terrorists are its protagonists will give pause to many thoughtful would-be watchers, though the show goes to great lengths to suggest that their acts of destruction are bloodless.
In its animation and soundtrack, especially those of the OP, the show could easily be confused with a Ghost In the Shell sequel. Consistent with that, the audience for this show is clearly the late high school, early college set.
With its carefully constructed anti-heroes, Zankyou no Terror will appeal to the subversive impulses of intelligent, adolescent males, similar to other series that straddle the seinen/shounen line, like Death Note.
As in many anime with a similar target demographic, beyond the protagonists’ juvenile amorality, the most grating aspect of this show is its treatment of the female lead. Throughout the first episode, Lisa Mishima is defined, exclusively, by her lack of agency. She wanders from scene to scene like a brain-damaged kitten and is treated like a piece of property, to be used and discarded by her classmates as they will.
Again, I suppose I’m showing my age here, because were I ten years younger, I know I would be all over this series. Instead, I doubt I will follow it much longer, if I even bother to catch the second episode.
- Excepting the final episode mind you. ↩