Monday, July 21, 2014

Lilac's Summer 2014 Impressions (Week 2)

WOW! This has been a busy week! What with summer classes and all this anime to watch. But, here we are! It’s Week 2 of my Summer Impressions! To catch you up a bit, I started with 20 new series that are airing this summer. So far, 12 have been passing with flying colors with two having already reached their episode twos. But, with the good comes the bad, as four series (Argevollen, Jinsei, Rail Wars, and Sabagebu) failed to impress. And there’s still another four shows I have yet to talk about! It’s probably a good a time as any to start there!

Blue Spring Ride
Episode 1

First and foremost, the opening scene in the series was very very pretty! All of the pastel colors and the style was just so lovely that I thought that was going to be the animation for the entire series. Turns out, I’m wrong, but I’m fine with this. The pastel animation is actually kept for the flashbacks while we have more grounded animation when dealing with present day. It’s a nice touch, really. Story and character wise, it is fairly troupey and cliched. Two people like each other but something happens to their relationship that can’t be fixed because one party has moved away. Cut to a few years later, the person who left is now back but is different than before. Not only that but the other party has changed as well, though keeping their feelings for the other intact. Honestly, it’s nothing surprising or new here. However, I do quite enjoy what I have seen and I am interested in seeing where this goes. It has a little bit of a Say I love you vibe to me, and I did enjoy that series so Blue Spring Ride may be one I end up enjoying. The only way to find out, though, is by sending it forward into next week!

Episode 1

HaNaYaMaTa is a series that I didn’t think I was going to like. I am completely serious about this. When I read the premise while picking out series to cover, my reaction to this one was “Eh, looks cute. May as well.” I’m very happy to be proven wrong and I’m even happier that I gave this series a try. Aside from the beautiful and fluid animation, the story and character dynamics have a very strong start. The growing friendship between Naru and Hana is a situation of opposites attract, so you can tell right away that they will balance each other out throughout the series. This series has the potential to really become the stand out of the season. I honestly believe that. There is the worry of how our remaining three characters, the YaMaTa if you will, are going to be able to work their way into the story successfully after such a wonderful relationship with Naru and Hana has begun. Never the less, I’ll have to see what next week brings before pulling the plug on this one. Don’t fail me now, HaNaYaMaTa, right when you’ve started to show me something special.

Love Stage!!
Episode 1

Last week, I mentioned I was going to give the BL genre a try. So far I’m a little weary with DRAMAtical Murder, but I’m hoping the second summer BL series I’m looking into may give me something fun. Love Stage hasn’t done a thing to disappoint me so far. Hell, I barely noticed that this is supposed to be a BL series and I’ve just been seeing a romance series instead! For one of the first trips into the BL genre, this is certainly a good thing! It helps that I’m not so focused on how awkward or weird this will feel and I can just keep on the actual series rather than the material. The set up has been really fun and adorable so far, and the characters are rather lovable. Of course we have our main duo and I’m curious to know how this relationship will develop. I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say this one will be headed into next week. I was a little afraid of it, at first, but since I’m treating this as a romance series it certainly makes my enjoyment a lot easier!

Now that I’ve finally started on all these shows, let’s move on to the ones headed into episode two!

Well..... S**t.....

Akame ga Kill
Episode 2

Last week, I said I was concerned that Akame ga Kill showed its hand a little too early. This week, I’m a little conflicted on that. It still gave some dark moments related to the Imperial Capital while giving us some lighter ones with Night Raid. This gave it a contrast as to who the heros and the villains are, even if Night Raid is still a group of assassins. Not only that, but we get to, at least, meet the other members of Night Raid along with their various personalities. Most of them are troupes in various forms, but we haven’t spent enough time with them in order to make a solid judgement like that. We do get to spend some time with Akame and learn about her upbringing, even if it kinda came out of no where. It seems like the story is going to take an individual approach, where Tatsumi will be training with each member of Night Raid (seeing as how he’s working with Mine next time). Akame ga Kill is at least working on keeping its consistency, however it’s still hard to say whether or not it jumped the gun too early. There’s only one way to find out! Akame ga Kill is taking on another mission next week!

Episode 2

Looks like more death and destruction is occurring here. We’re seeing much more of the invasion, as you would expect, but there’s a little bit more going on here. The princess is, supposedly, actually alive and is now under the care of Nao and his friends. We have a rescued civilian whose father was actually part of the planned attack on the princess, which was carried out by some jerk Mars solider in the first place. And then we have Slaine who, by the looks of it, has never been in combat before making this an interesting development for his character. Although I didn’t like Inaho’s character at the start, it really is beginning to grow on me. He may be the, so called, strong silent type, but we do get to see a little bit of a break from it. Even if you may not notice it at first. Aldnoah.Zero is turning into something intelligent and well thought out and that’s something I really have to commend the writers for. This series is doing rather well for me, so Aldnoah.Zero is heading on over into next week. Let’s see what becomes of our motley crew next!

"Death and destruction..."
DRAMAtical Murder
Episode 2

It sucks when you’re hoping for a show to be good and it kinda falls flat. That’s the case going on here with DRAMAtical Murder and I. It got rather boring for me in its second episode, as we didn’t get a whole lot more than we got in the first one. There was a point where I even paused the episode and played a game on my phone. Yeah, that’s how uninteresting the series has been for me. I do get that they can’t dive right back into the Rhyme games, and there was some amusing moments, however the pacing seems rather off to me. Because it’s taking a slower approach, it doesn’t do a lot in order to keep things interesting. You can have a slower pace, but if you’re doing this and aren’t making the story flow naturally then something isn’t going all that well. It may be having a problem that I found Hamatora had during the winter season, it doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. Regardless, I’m sad to say that DRAMAtical Murder ends its time with me here. Why are you not all that interesting to me?!

Episode 2

Glasslip suddenly had an interesting twist. We have two people capable of seeing into the future, though using different senses. First of all, I do like this idea. This brings our two characters together in order to be able to get a full picture. It’s a nice little touch, I’ll give it that. However, that bit aside, I’m beginning to see some troubling things about the series. Now, to be fair, this does resemble Nagi no Asu from last year (thanks again PA Works) but it doesn’t have to rip off parts of its own story. There are love triangles, issues with accepting a new person into the main group, and you may as well replace sea people with psychic ones. The comparison is just too noticeable to ignore, and the story hasn’t gone too much farther aside from the reveal of future seeing and a love confession. I’m getting worried that this one will end up as recycled material and it won’t have the chance to give us something unique and special. Glasslip will need to stay on its toes while I send it to the next week. One little slip up and it may not make it that far.

Episode 2

Week two always seems to be a tough week for me. The first week I can tell right away if I’ll enjoy a series or not and the third week is when I’ll know for sure that I would like to keep going once Impressions are over. But week two is never easy on me. In this case, Locodol is still rather charming and fun however it’s slowly but surely wearing out its welcome. I like the story and the characters are charming, but I still don’t know what is driving me away from this series. Maybe because it’s a little too slow for my liking or maybe it’s become rather complacent and boring. Either way, as fun as some of the moments were in this episode, they still weren’t enough to solve my growing problem with this series. Sadly, Locodol is making its exit this time. Though, I wouldn’t mind returning to it later on.

Ask me something, Sakura-chan...
Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun
Episode 2

My weekly dose of comedy has arrived!! HORRAY!! This episode of Nozaki-kun introduces us to two more character. The first half gives us Mikoshiba, a friend of Nozaki’s who’s popular with the ladies. Normally, this would be seen as your cliched character but this isn’t the case. What makes Mikoshiba rather amusing is that he actually gets embarrassed with some of his bold romantic statements. Oddly enough, we find out that he is the inspiration for Nozaki’s manga heroine. Funny how things work out. The second character we meet is Seo, a friend of Sakura’s and a potential model for Nozaki and his work. After spending time with her, we find out that she tends to offend people without ever really noticing it. Also, that she has an amazing singing voice. What I really love about the series, so far, is that it’s a parody of the romance genre. Because we have more self aware characters like Mikoshiba, along with the humor that the series brings in regards to shoujo manga this makes for a lovely combination. I have lost no interest in this series and am very excited to keep it in mind as it turns in another issue next week!

Don't deny it, Cindy!
Samurai Jam-Bakumatsu Rock
Episode 2

Time to go back to the oddly awesome series that is Bakumatsu Rock! Or.... at least that’s what I was thinking before starting the episode. Since I got the initial first episode done and out of the way, I kinda need to take this a little more seriously or else I’ll be stuck with way too many series to watch over the summer while taking on a million other things. Bakumatsu has been fun so far, but it’s not without some problems. In the episode, we learn what a Peace Soul is, a little more about Cindy, and our samurai idol friends who seem to play a major part in all this. They did mention there were five Peace Souls, and, more than likely, three of them belong to our rocker boys so..... those two idols probably have the last two (also, featuring them heavily in the theme songs makes it a little bit obvious). Bakumatsu is having the problem that I had with Tokyo ESP last week. There seems to be a little too much crammed into the episode, with majority of it being exposition. Remember, I understand that this series isn’t supposed to be taken seriously, but for some reason the weird awesome I felt last week is slowly going away. Does that mean it’s too late to turn back? Well, I’m going to give it one more chance and let it rock out next week. Maybe it’ll pick up again. Maybe it won’t. Only one way to find out.

I bet people will get it right... And then totally wrong!
Terror in Resonance
Episode 2

After the explosive episode I saw last week, I do have to say that Terror in Resonance did slow down a little bit. But this was more for the purpose in seeing the side of the police force rather than Nine and Twelve. Personally, I think it’s a nice touch. Not only that, but the reference to Oedipus Rex got the theatre nerd in me going. Overall, I say the episode is pretty good. There were a decent amount of little twists that kept me interested, and, although there are still some questions, I get the feeling that things will still unravel at a decent pace. But, my biggest question of all is, how is Lisa really going to be involved in all this? The boys rope her in as an accomplice and yet she hasn’t done anything to help them since then. The only thing we know is a bit of her home life and that she suddenly gets threatened by Twelve in regards to the whole bombing she got dragged into. Now that I know that the series will have 11 episodes, this series better figure out what Lisa’s role will be because I’m getting a little tired of her doing nothing. Either way, next week will certainly be interesting as Terror in Resonance will have another chance to impress.... Though it would take something really stupid to fail right now.

Tokyo ESP
Episode 2

When I looked at this series last week, I had a problem with there being a little too much thrown into the series and no character focus. This week, it feels like we basically went and backtracked, making it feel like a completely different series. Was it nice to get more information on the ESPers and Rinka? Yes it was. Did it need to take up about 90% of the episode? No, it did not. This is showing signs of bad writing, and the complete story 180 is giving me whiplash! But, then again, that’s actually kind of the point. After talking with a couple people they mentioned to me that the first episode was actually from the middle of a major arc that happens later on in the manga. Knowing this, now it makes a bit more sense because it wanted to draw in new viewers. Honestly, I don’t think it really needed to do that. I think it would have been fine starting from the beginning, but it needs to get viewers somehow. Using this method just feels kinda cheap to me, and potentially confusing for those, like myself, who haven’t read the manga. With that being said, when I originally wrote this I planned to drop ESP. Now that I know the reasoning behind the odd writing, I’m going to give it one more try. I want to like this series, I really do, but we’ll have to see how next week pans out.

We’re down to the episode three series. Both Tokyo Ghoul and Shonen Hollywood will receive a grade from me today. It will either be a Fail, Tentative Fail (On-Hold), Tentative Pass, Pass, or a BIG FREAKING PASS!!! But those two aren’t the only ones getting a grade, because I have one more series that’s been on my list, but I have yet to touch.

Episodes 1-3

Wanna know something I really hate? When someone licenses a series and then doesn’t put up the episodes on their site for streaming. That’s the reason why I haven’t been able to touch Barakamon. FUNimation announced the license for this series, and yet they haven’t done a thing since announcing it at Anime Expo. A few days ago, they did announce that there will be news today in regards to the series, so hopefully I’ll finally get to watch it legally rather than resort to drastic measures...

Moving past that, this series is certainly the most heartwarming that I have seen this season. We have a calligraphy artist who is trying to find himself again, so he moves to a remote island where every day is pretty much an adventure thanks to the residents and a bunch of kids that live there. Handa is a rather interesting main character because he is very flawed. He gets easily angered because his work isn’t considered original and he wants to work and improve himself. But it’s more than that because he wants to become a better person since it seems he has kind of lost his way while becoming so wrapped up in his work. Add the little adorable Naru into the mix and you have the groundwork for a really amazing series. There’s just so much tender, love, and care being put into this series and it’s something I can’t ignore. It’s also one of the most fun energy filled series I have seen in a while, aside from Space Dandy, and that’s saying something. Therefore, Barakamon will be getting a BIG FREAKING PASS from me for the season. Even though I just marathoned all three episodes the night before posting this and it was the last piece to write up, this series suddenly shot up to become one of my favorites of the summer season!


Shonen Hollywood -Holly Stage for 49-
Episode 3

Back to the world of male idols! AWAY!!!!! This episode actually gave a couple little surprises that I didn’t expect to see. The first being that Mii, or should I say the new Tommy, is an orphan. The episode decided to give Mii more focus, and his home life is something we learn from it. Not only that, but that one of the original members of Shonen Hollywood came from the exact same orphanage as Mii. This actually gave Mii a chance to see his idol once again as a simple letter brings a visitor to Hollywood Stage. The other little secret is that another one of the original members of Shonen Hollywood, God, is the current President. That was more surprising than anything, but I can now see the resemblance. I do wonder if the new Shonen Hollywood will realize that later on down the line. Ah well. It seems that the series is currently giving focus on individual members in order to give some amount of character development. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s a common writing tactic. It all just depends on how this is handled, and it’s been doing rather well as of right now. Now as for where Shonen Hollywood stands, there’s no question that I will keep watching it throughout the season. However, it’s still rather slow at times so because of that, Shonen Hollywood is getting a Tentative Pass. It’ll be interesting to see where the series goes from here. And I’m going to have some random fun making up a dub cast while I’m at it, because why not?

Final Grade: Tentative Pass

Tokyo Ghoul
Episode 3

Things are starting to slow down a bit in Tokyo Ghoul. Kaneki is learning to act human and, at the same time, he wants to be a bit more involved in the ghoul world and do something. In this case, he befriends little Hinami. It’s a nice break from what has been happening so far, but we don’t lose any dark moments either. We learn about the Doves this time around, who are the investigators that are after ghouls. This helps give it a good mix of calm peaceful times at the 20th Ward along with the coming dangers the Doves provide. Not only that, but something else is at work here thanks to the opening scene of the episode where we see Hinami and her father being threatened by someone that we don’t know quite yet. There are quite a few pieces in play here, and I think it’s slowly shaping itself into what kind of series it wants to be. But where does that leave the series with me? Well, I’m really enjoying it and do wish to see what’s in store for Kaneki, Toka, and everyone in the 20th Ward. Because of that, I’m going to keep watching the series and give Tokyo Ghoul a Passing grade. Something is taking form and the world building is rather interesting not to pass up.

Final Grade: Pass

So, where are we now with all these grades and things?


Tokyo Ghoul

Tentative Pass
Shonen Hollywood -Holly Stage for 49-

Currently Watching (Ep.):
Akame ga Kill! (2)
Aldnoah.Zero (2)
Blue Spring Ride (1)
Glasslip (2)
HaNaYaMaTa (1)
Love Stage!! (1)
Majimoji Rurumo (1) (Note* due to last minute licensing, Majimoji ep. 2 will be covered next week)
Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun (2)
Samurai Jam-Bakumatsu Rock (2)
Terror in Resonance (2)
Tokyo ESP (2)

Dropped (Ep.):
Argevollen (1)
DRAMAtical Murder (2)
Jinsei (1)
Locodol (2)
Rail Wars! (1)
Sabagebu! -Survival Game Club- (1)

Series Not Covered/Season Leftovers (Ep.):
Ace of the Diamond (39)
Black Butler: Book of Circus (2)
Captain Earth (15)
Fairy Tail (2014) (16)
Free! Eternal Summer (3)
Haikyu! (15)
Re: Hamatora (1)
Sailor Moon Crystal (2)
Space Dandy s2 (2)
Sword Art Online II (2)

Next week, seven shows get their grades and the other four head into episode two! Things are certainly getting interesting this season. But if you’re in the need for more seasonal goodness, head on over to Infinite Rainy Day right now and check out our first seasonal report! The second report comes out this Saturday, so make sure you check it out when it does! Until next week, otaku on my friends!

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