First impressions of the winter ’14 anime I’m watching

Now that 2-3 episodes of all the winter 2014 anime have aired, it’s once again time for me to post my thoughts on the ones I’ve decided to watch…


Space Dandy
Episodes 1-3 so far

Let’s start things off with the most hyped series of the season, Space Dandy, a new work by Studio Bones and famed Cowboy Bebop director Shinichiro Watanabe. As much as I respect Watanabe and the series of his that I’ve seen (which is just Bebop and Sakamichi no Apollon), I thought it was ridiculous when people were overhyping Space Dandy to be some kind of masterpiece that’s going to “save” anime before even one episodes had aired (save anime from what exactly? Moe and fan service? You can’t tell me there’s no fan service and cute girls in Space Dandy!) Just because a series has a director who’s done a few renowned works in the past doesn’t automatically make all his works masterpieces. Three episodes in and I think Space Dandy is okay…but so far I can’t see anything I’d consider masterpiece material. What’s keeping my interest is the fascinating space world with all manner of creative and colorful aliens walking around. Space Dandy’s futuristic world isn’t too unlike Cowboy Bebop’s except it emphasizes different alien races mingling together rather than different races of humans alone. But that does bring up a question that’s been bugging me since episode 1 – you have all these thousands of different aliens, along with humans, interacting together in a civilized society, so how do they all speak a common language and obey a common set of laws and ideals that allow them to live together without war breaking out every second? Some seem to have human intelligence while others just seem like blubbering space monsters, so how do they all function together without utter chaos? And then you have someone like Dandy whose job is to capture these aliens and make money off of them. So is it humans who are still running the show? Why are some aliens treated like fellow humans while others can be captured and sold like objects? So yeah, the Space Dandy setting is interesting to watch but confusing in terms of construction.

But besides finding the world fun to look at – and I find Meow adorable – I do have a few issues with the show so far. Besides what I just discussed above about how confusing it is that all the aliens and humans live together despite being so different, I find the humor, which is a big part of the show, kind of mean-spirited and repetitive. The majority of the jokes either come from Dandy and/or Meow ogling women’s butts or boobs, or Dandy being abusive to Meow. QT playing the straight man to Dandy’s antics is about the only thing that gets a laugh from me. Being lecherous and showing that you don’t care about your friends isn’t exactly the makings of an appealing hero. At the end of episode 3 I thought, “Okay, he’s finally gonna show that he actually cares about Meow.” But nope, totally abandoned him. I know it’s supposed to be played for laughs and all and not taken too seriously, but that kind of blatantly mean humor isn’t my thing.

So yeah, I can’t say I’m that impressed with Space Dandy so far, but I’ll definitely give it more time. It looks like it’s going to follow a similar format as Cowboy Bebop with consisting of mostly episodic stories with some kind of overarching plot going on in between. If later episodes give Dandy more depth and more appealing traits besides being a perverted jerkass, and shed some light on the aliens and setting, that would be great.

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Nisekoi
Episodes 1-2 so far

Like Space Dandy, Nisekoi has been kinda hyped with having a respected studio (Shaft) and respected director (Akiyuki Shinbou). So far it may have the makings of a very generic romance comedy, with the love triangle, childhood friend promise, the protagonist who start off hating each other but you know will eventually fall in love…yet despite this, I’m actually liking it quite a bit and finding it very funny! Since it has such a predictable setup, I feel the reason it’s striking a chord with me is mostly due to having a good staff and animation studio behind it. If it was made by another studio besides Shaft, like Deen or something, it would probably be pretty boring and bland. But with Shaft’s unique style of on-screen text, wacky camera angles, and humorously changing animation style to suit the mood of the scene, they’ve turned an otherwise typical story into something entertaining. I was cracking up at most of the interactions between our two protagonists Raku and Chitoge – they’re not the most likable characters around, but the situational humor with them having to act like they like each other, especially in episode 2, and then Onodera showing up and making them even more flustered…I just found the dialogue and directing very funny. Maybe it’s good that they’re not too likable so then we can laugh rather than feel bad that they have to go through this XD Anyway, with having such a generic storyline, I can’t say Nisekoi will entertain everyone. It just depends on whether the humor clicks with you, and it just happens to for me. I already know that Raku is gonna warm up to Chitoge and there’s gonna be heartbreaks when they find out that Onodera is the girl from his childhood. So what I’m interested in is the humorous antics that lead up to that rather than any kind of unpredictable twist (but if there is a twist, that’s always welcome!) Hopefully it will continue to be my good comedy anime for the season!

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Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil
Episodes 1-2 so far

While Space Dandy and Nisekoi are well known titles of the season, Wizard Barristers seems to be one that few people are talking about or watching. Two episodes in, and that’s too bad because I think it’s pretty good! It has an interesting premise revolving around wizard barristers who defend magic users in various lawsuits as they try to coexist with normal humans. The first two episodes covered one such trial while also introducing us to the characters and the world, and it all definitely had my interest. Our main character Cecil seems like a typical genki girl protagonist but not terribly bland at least. The other characters at the company she works for have fun personalities and good chemistry, and there’s some interesting subplots going on too, like Cecil trying to save her mom from a death sentence and the disgruntled police officer Quinn who seems to have her own agenda against magic users. Oh, and Cecil’s frog familiar Nanajiinyi is voiced by Norio Wakamoto – that’s a nice bonus :3 The character designs kinda look like they’re from the late 90s/early 2000s, but maybe that’s just me. It’s hard to say much else about Wizard Barristers yet but I certainly think it has potential to be a sleeper hit this season. If there are more suspenseful trials for Cecil to win and more development for the characters and subplots, I’m sure I’ll continue to enjoy it.

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Chuunibyou Ren
Episodes 1-3 so far

When the first season of Chuunibyou aired I remember there being a divide between people who liked the comedy elements in the early episodes but not the shift to drama in the later episodes, and people who felt the opposite way. This second season of Chuunibyou is starting off similarly to the first, with emphasis on the humorous chuunibyou antics of the characters in addition to some sweet romance development for Yuuta and Rikka. While I don’t find all the chuunibyou interactions that entertaining, I do get a laugh here and there (Yuuta’s cross-dressing scene in episode 3 had me cracking up) and the “innocent young lovers” thing between Yuuta and Rikka is kinda cute. We also get a new main character this season, Shichimiya, and so far she seems likable and a good foil for Yuuta and Rikka as far as moving their relationship along. I actually liked the dramatic shift in the first season of Chuunibyou, so I’m hoping there will be more serious and emotionally gripping moments in the later episodes of this season too.

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Silver Spoon 2nd season
Episodes 1-3 so far

The second season of Silver Spoon continues where the first left off and so far it’s basically more of the same. Since we already know about the characters, their relationships, and the college from last season, the first three episodes of season 2 throw us right back into the agricultural misadventures of our main man Hachiken. So far it seems like this season is focusing a bit more on character drama rather than Hachiken’s comedic haplessness adjusting to farm life, which was a big focus of the first season. So far we’ve seen some of Hachiken’s emotional baggage in episode 3 and we still don’t know what that drama was going on between Komaba and Mikage in episode 1. But despite these more character-focused moments, there’s still plenty of cute animals, like the new puppy “Vice President,” and plenty of learning new things about the agricultural world, like the equestrian competition in episode 3. If you liked the first season of Silver Spoon, the second season should continue to deliver =)

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Inari, Kon Kon, Koi Iroha
Episodes 1-2 so far

After Gingitsune from last season, I was surprised to find yet another new slice-of-life anime revolving around Shintoism and fox spirits. But despite having a similar setup, Inari Kon Kon is different from Gingitsune and I think I’m liking it better =D While I can’t say a lot of the things that have happened in these first two episodes aren’t things we’ve seen before…I was actually correctly predicting things that were gonna happen in episode 2, including Sumizome’s letter to Tanbabashi not being a love letter and Inari getting let off the hook by Amaterasu in the end. But despite having a lot of typical slice-of-life school antics going on, I’m finding the characters likable and the Shintoism elements are a lot of fun. Making some of the gods like Uka-sama and Amaterasu actual characters, showing the celestial plain where the gods live, and having all the cute transforming fox spirits definitely makes Inari Kon Kon more interesting than it would be without the supernatural elements. One of my favorite seiyuu whom I haven’t heard in a long time, Houko Kuwashima, does the voice of Uka-sama so I’ll always enjoy listening to her :3 And are all the characters speaking in Kansai dialect? It’s kind of refreshing to hear but a little odd-sounding at the same time ^^,,, I don’t think Inari Kon Kon is gonna be anything amazing but it’s been my type of anime so far. I’m finding the characters and situations cute, finding the Shinto stuff fascinating, and laughing at the jokes (the part in episode 2 where Inari went to Tanbabashi’s home transformed as his male friend had me cracking up XD) Here’s hoping the show will continue to be my dose of entertaining “light” anime for the season.

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Tonari no Seki-kun
Episodes 1-3 so far

Each episode of Seki-kun is just 7 and 1/2 minutes long and involves schoolgirl Yokoi’s exasperation at the classmate sitting beside her, Seki-kun, who does all manner of weird and wondrous activities at his desk during class, which ironically results in Yokoi getting in trouble in the end. Like other short slice-of-life series, Seki-kun has been a great way to break up my viewing of more brain or emotion straining anime like Wizard Barristers and Golden Time. Episode 2 with the epic battle of shogi pieces was particularly brilliant and I hope more episodes are like that. I can’t give Seki-kun any kind of praise in terms of animation, since it does look pretty low-budget, but it’s such a short and simple anime that it doesn’t matter. With such a short run-time, Seki-kun’s no big commitment to watch if you find its silly slice-of-life premise a relaxing breather in between more complex anime.

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In addition to these, I’m continuing Nagi no Asukara and Golden Time from last season. Both of them have been growing on me a lot as the episodes go by :3

I also watched the first episodes of Noragami and Sekai Seifuku. Unfortunately I found Noragami’s fantasy premise and characters too generic to give me any motivation to watch more. For Sekai Seifuku, I found it potentially good if I knew what the actual heck was going on (how is a little girl in charge of all this weaponry and military machines, and who are these weirdos she’s fighting with and against, and how can they do all this crazy magical and/or high tech stuff, and how is this all taking place in the middle of an otherwise normal city…? I’m so confused!) I’m assuming things will be explained later but I read a synopsis of episode 2 and it doesn’t seem like it explains much more of what’s actually going on…so I don’t know if I’ll have the patience to continue it at this time, plus my list of anime is already a couple more than I wanted, so Sekai Seifuku will be the first one I drop since it’s the one I’m least motivated to continue. If I find out it gets understandable later on I’ll pick it up again at some point.

Anyway, I hope you’re all enjoying whatever winter shows you’re watching =)

10 Comments… read them or add your own.

  1. Kal says:

    This season looks pretty good so far. I did see the 1st episode of Space Dandy, but it’s not my type of show. So I’ll be skipping that one. I guess it’s just too much over the top for me I guess. I find Nisekoi to be pretty funny as well, and the main girl; being a “badass” with the guy avoiding being labeled as a “badass” is pretty funny. Looks good so far. Wizard Barristers is ok so far, but I get what you mean about the art. There is something that does not quite click with me, but it looks good in general. Hope it grows on me I guess. I’m liking Chuunibyou a lot! Well, I liked both the funny and serious aspects of the 1st season, so this one is great so far! Lots of fun. I agree with Silver spoon, it kind if keeps the same track, but that is not bad at all. Good show over all.Inari Kon Kon is pretty funny. The main protagonist is pretty sweet and funny, so it’s good so far.

    I’m also watching Engaged to the Unidentified which is quite cute so far. Buddy Complex is pretty good so far as well, but I know you are not much into mecha series :P It’s by Sunrise so has a Gundam-like atmosphere to it. Also Sakura Trick, which seems to be quite controversial… Not sure what to think if the series so far, it’s actually a pretty normal slice-of-life if you remove the girls kissing part… Ok, it’s still weird… Sekai Seifuku is also a bit too much over the top for me. Too many things that do not make sense, so will probably drop it.

    That’s about it. It does look like a good season, and I’m still entranced by Nagi no Asakura. So either way, it will be a good season :)

    • Yumeka says:

      Seems like we’re watching a lot of the same stuff =D (and feel the same way about them, LOL)

      I was at one time considering Buddy Complex and Sakura Trick, but the things you mentioned about them (the former being a mecha series and the latter being a bit too yuri-ish) eventually made me decide against them. I just don’t have time to watching more than 8-10 seasonal anime at a time right now XD

      I didn’t think Nagi no Asukara would turn out as good as it is – can’t wait to see how it ends and write my review :3

  2. chikorita157 says:

    To me, the winter season is great so far… but still, I think the 2nd season of Chuunibyou so far is far more enjoyable than any of the shows Kyoani made last year, which is pretty ironic. I have also watched Nisekoi which is also enjoyable thus far.

    But aside from that, I have limit my list to 4 (also watching Sakura Trick and Nagi no Asukara (from lastseason) as I need to focus on my grad studies… but hopefully this season won’t disappoint.

    • Yumeka says:

      Chuunibyou has also been my favorite KyoAni show of the past couple of years…though I haven’t liked any of their stuff as much as I did in the days of Haruhi, Lucky Star, and Key adaptations =P

      I can certainly understand limiting anime when you need to focus on studies. I don’t know about Sakura Trick but I think the other three you’re watching won’t disappoint.

  3. Brianna says:

    You should definitely definitely DEFINITELY be watching Wake Up, Girls! It is by far the best show this season. Make sure you watch the (short) movie beforehand which focuses on the formation of the group. This show is just fantastic. Watch the movie. I promise you will fall in love!

    • Yumeka says:

      I’ve tended to avoid anime revolving around girl idols for some reason, but if you think Wake Up Girls is that good then I’ll definitely consider it for future viewing :3

  4. Muse says:

    I’m enjoying Space Dandy since it’s pretty much what I expected, but I do agree that the boob/butt jokes are dead on arrival. I do like that they’re letting the designers/animators go crazy with each episode though.

    I liked both the comedy and the drama in the first season of Chuunibyou, so it’s all good for me! And Tonari no Seki-kun makes great use of the short anime format. Not too short, not too long… Perfect for setting up one good joke!

    • Yumeka says:

      Yeah, I do like the animation style and setting design of Space Dandy. Helps balance out my exasperation at the boob/butt jokes XD

      I guess it’s because I already know the characters well enough, but I’m finding the humor in this season of Chuunibyou a bit funnier than the first season. Hope it brings good drama eventually too~

  5. Cirris says:

    You should definitely should check out “Noragami” it’s been my favorite show of this season.

    You are correct “Chuunibyou Ren” is starting a lot like last season. I also feel like Shichimiya is going to play the antagonist on purpose to spice up Rikka and Yuuta’s relationship. She’s already thrown the first punch with her nose “Eskimo” kissing Yuuta.

    “Inari, Kon Kon, Koi Iroha” seems interesting so far. I wonder what history Inari’s brother had with Uka-sama. There seemed to be a lot of hate there at the end of episode 2.

    I may check out “Wizard Barrister” later on since you seem to like it so.

    • Yumeka says:

      Like I said in the post, I did check out the first episode of Noragami but found the characters and setup too typical of an anime fantasy – it just felt generic to me and nothing had me motivated to see more. If I hear good things about it later on maybe I’ll watch it some other time.

      I’ve spoiled myself a bit with the Chuunibyou novels so I kind of know what role Shichimiya is going to play. It’s similar to what you described and I look forward to seeing it :3

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