Every season, we here on Ani-TAY do a list of Anime that You Should be Watching around the middle of the season, an article type that we blatantly stole from Richard Eisenbeis. While this article is an awesome collaboration and it's a great help for those people interested in the currently airing anime, it's not perfect. Welcome to the Ani-TAY Fall 2014 Seasonal Overview, the article series that is here to help those who don't watch seasonally see what's worth your time.
Shows You Should Avoid Watching
Shows: Grisaia no Kaijitsu
Description: The shows in this category are shows that have very little redeeming factors. They may do some things right, but the overall experience is just such a pain that you should stay away from them. Usually, shows in this category were either were a pain to watch, were extremely boring, or just were a waste of time. (NOTE: There are quite a bit more shows that should be here, but these at least are worth mentioning while those excluded aren't.)
Justification & Thoughts: While Grisaia no Kaijitsu is a popular and pretty solid (from what I (Rockmandash) have heard of), the anime adaptation does a lot wrong.... So much so that Fatalis, our resident Grisaia fan wrote an article saying how bad it was, and that people shouldn't watch it. Horrible pacing and messing with the plot so nothing leaves impact on the story are just a few examples of why you should avoid this show.
Obligatory Fanservice Shows of the Season
Shows: Gonna be the Twintail!!, The Lord Marksman and the Vanadis, Trinity Seven
Description: Anybody who's watched anime for an extended period of time should know these shows; the shows that the most notable parts of these shows are how much much skin they show. Sometimes, they can be decent shows that are ruined by this, other times, they are just shows that are made for it.
Justification & Thoughts: Gonna Be the Twintail!! is equal parts satire, and whole hearted embrace of every Anime Otaku fetish out there from Glasses to Girly-boys, Submission to Breasts, to yes, Twintails. It smartly intertwines its fanservice with it's plot, creating an entertaining Super Sentai/ Power Rangers spoof where enjoying and laughing at the fanservice in equal measure is the true joy of the show. However if you can't get behind it's fanservice, you probably should watch something else. (Also, the quality of the animation drops like a rock near the end of the show, so be aware of that. Other than that, it's Production IMS goodness. -Rockmandash12)
The Lord Marksman and the Vanadis, is overall a decent Medieval Action Adventure anime that just so happens to include an overpowered harem of voluptuous War maidens. It is probably the one off-putting feature of the show, as the rest is a great war action piece, which often feels more authentic, due to it's focus on field tactics, army numbers, supply lines and other mundane pieces of warfare. It also happens to have a decent plot and interesting characters which can be enjoyed, so long as you can enjoy/stomach our Young Lord stumbling upon every female in the show bathing naked at some point.
Trinity Seven is a harem show that laughs in the face of other harem shows. Not because it's clever or subtle, but because it is unapologetic in what it is. Even the main character who would usually be an awkward accidental pervert in this kind of show, is instead an upfront accidental pervert and loving it. The girls in his "harem" even get in on the massive trolling action too by mocking each other. Its typical fantasy fare with an absurdist execution style, that's entertaining as hell.
Description: These are shows that while enjoyable, have flaws that keep it from being good. Sometimes they have great moments and really bad moments making the whole thing just average, and other times they're just average overall.
Justification & Thoughts: Daishokan no Hitsujikai is your typical harem show, focusing on Generic MC #1500 and his antics with seeing the future, helping a cute girl, and being a shepherd. It's entertaining and there's nothing… bad per se about it, but it's pretty average.
HisCoool! SeHa Girls is a glorified SEGA advertisement, but it's quite a fun SEGA ad. With great references and entertaining characters, it's a pretty fun 10 minute short series, but the cringe-worthy humor really brings the show down.
Kokkuri-san is a comedy show that started off strong, then stagnated. It follows the doll-like Kohina as she summons Kokkuri, who ends up being a fox/person, then hilarity insues. It's entertaining, but it's the same type of joke and it kinda gets old.
The best thing I (Rockmandash12) can say about Sora no Method was that it's not bad, as it was pretty enjoyable the whole way through, but it's not great either. There's nothing that stands out about it, and you've seen this done better before. Unless you really want another school drama slice of life show, there's nothing really here.
Terraformars is a violent sci-fi battle anime reminiscent of the Guyver or Basilisk for its style of bloody, inevitably fatal battles between people with bizarre abilities and humanoid bugs. While the premise is bizarre, in practice the story moves along at a decent pace and employs flashbacks between battles to flesh out the characters' backstories. There is little in the way of comedy or fanservice as the anime is focused on giving the audience violent fights and character exposition, which is either fairly interesting bug/animal facts or sad backstory. Surprisingly the anime is very good at executing tense battles and delivering tragic backstories, so if that is what you are in the mood for, Terraformars can provide it for you. (Note - When Terraformars debuted on simulcast it was so heavily censored (for gore) that it was essentially unwatchable, this lead to an initial dismissal of the series by many. This has been now been corrected.)
Ushinawareta is a mystery VN adaptation that was written fairly decently, but is a show that barely holds your attention. It's not horrible, but it's just kinda boring.
Controversial Shows of the Season
Description: When half of the community says it's shit, then the other half singing praise, we know we have a controversial show on the plate. These are shows that the opinion varies widely, and these are the shows we tend to spend our times discussing.
Justification & Thoughts: Cross Ange is one of those shows where it is hard to tell if it is being brilliant or sloppy. It's an overall competent, interesting show, that has 1 major drawback: for in the first number of episodes especially, Cross Ange likes to combine its fanservice with emotional, sexual or physical distress, which many have noted to be grossly in poor taste. Now later episodes largely are more tactful, making many (or at least me, Krakken_Unleashed) wonder if the show was being intentional in its use of fanservice and violence, making the audience feel the disturbing breakdown of Ange for themselves, or if the creators were just not cognisant of their failings to begin with.
Psycho-Pass 2 had a lot to live up to. The original season was widely praised, and enjoyed, but it's sequel had a much more diverse, and complicated reaction from viewers. The characters are a mixed bag in terms of quality, and the plot which does get interesting at times, starts off feeling kind of the same. Some didn't like some of the animation differences (I hadn't really noticed), and some of the world building aspects were equally praised and derided by fans. So if you liked Season 1, you may enjoy 2, or you may find it increasing your crime coefficient.
Ahhh… Log Horizon 2. Yes Studio DEEN got the second season, and yes it's not as good as season 1. Overall the opinions seem to range from passable to, my god this is terrible! I'm inclined to the serviceable side of things, though there are a couple of major gripes, like the Angsty Akatsuki arc overstaying its welcome and the weird art style changes (what did they do to you Nyanta!). So caution! Your mileage may vary on this one.
Shows that are not Simulcasted
Description: Anime habits have changed quite a bit in the past years. With the advent of the internet, many people rely on these Simulcast streaming services to watch anime because it's so convenient…. but not every show makes it across the pond, or these sites regardless of quality. Here's some shows you probably overlooked.
Thoughts: Amagi Brilliant Park is a return to form for KyoAni, at least for me (Rockmandash12). They are back to what they do best: making fun shows and executing it in a fun manner with great characters, solid animation which make for a good recipe in my books. It's a shame it didn't air over here though.
While I (Rockmandash12) have not personally seen Gundam Reconguista in G, I've heard quite a bit about it.. and most of that was not positive. While it was better recepted in japan, most gundam fans in the west didn't like it… but that's not just because of the lack of streaming here. They pretty much tried to cram everything about UC into one show, and from what i've heard, it failed miserably.
Nanatsu no Taizai is a hot-blooded shounen masterpiece displaying an art style only described as, "an upgrade to the beloved Dragon Ball Z." Fans of other shounen shows such as Naruto, One Piece, Fullmetal Alchemist, or Hunter x Hunter will feel right at home when this 24 episode season is released in whole on Netflix this April.
Holdouts from Summer
Description: Typically, Anime coverage usually doesn't cover the shows from last season, so it leads these holdout shows in a bit of predicament. These are the shows in the awkward position without reviews yet but are not really covered because they aren't in the season.
Thoughts: Akame Ga Kill kept on doing what it did best: Killing off it's characters in an extremely pointless manner, including comedy that didn't really fit and broke immersion yet somehow managing to be entertaining to watch (and tons of gore, if you like that stuff). If you didn't like it last season, you won't like it here, and your opinion of the show may even get worse due to a pretty meh ending at best, but if you did, it was still pretty strong throughout.
Argevollen finished up its underwhelming 24 episode run this season. The characters and their interactions were the show's bright spot, but unfortunately the series' pacing and direction was very staid, ponderous, and by-the-numbers. The story did show signs of being interesting toward the middle of its run early this season, but the momentum of the show never really changed and in the end it was a mediocre show at best.
Sword Art Online II continued being a great (and in my opinion superior) second season of everyone's favorite schizophrenic MMO anime. It followed up last seasons murder mystery with a short side story action quest, and an emotionally charged coming of age story(for Asuna who has been out of the loop for far too long). Overall they did each wonderfully, making it worth keeping up on.
Popular Shows of the Season
Shows: Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works, Parasyte, Sword Art Online II
Description: Typically, there are very few shows that are actually popular. Based on the activity of a community like Ani-TAY, you'd guess that some shows would be well known, but because something is discussed about doesn't mean it's popular. Most anime fans don't watch seasonally, and only a few shows in a season actually get watched by these anime fans. These are the shows that you could go up to a random stranger in an anime convention and talk about.
( Note: All the shows here are in other categories, and I (Rockmandash) felt that it would be more appropriate to talk about them in the respective categories, so yeah…. no Justification and thoughts here.)
Sequels/Second Seasons of the Season
Description: Every now and then, we get shows that are popular enough that they get sequels. This category is just that… shows that got a second season or are sequels to existing shows.
Thoughts: Chaika -The Coffin Princess- Avenging Battle is SHOCKING TRUTH more Chaika. If you enjoyed season 1, season 2 is more fun Goth-Loli action, magic, and intrigue. It's a great followup and conclusion, with its only downsides being a possibly rushed finale episode. But otherwise... Chaika Watch Good.
Gundam Build Fighters Try is more Build fighters, for better or worse. It's still a silly battle show that is essentially a glorified figure advertisement, but it's still a lot of fun.
Mushishi is great as it always is, so if you are watched it and loved it, you will probably still love it. If you are like most of us (including me, Rockmandash12) and haven't seen it, it's the show that you know is great, but just haven't gotten around to yet. It follows Genko and his encounters with the supernatural creatures called Mushi, with great production values and solid writing.
Selector Spread WIXOSS seized the set-up it laid out in the latter half of the first season and what followed was horrifying revelation after revelation. The character work, notably that of Ulith and Akira, was astounding, and their emotionally manipulative relationship was as enthralling as it was heart-wrenching. Spread stepped out of the shadow of Madoka and took the misery of events further than Madoka ever did. The final episodes led to a less ambitious climax than I (Nomadic Dec) had hoped for, but overall this series was an addictive joyride for those of a more masochistic disposition.
Tsukimonogatari was a nice surprise because it came out all at once on New Years, but other than that, there's nothing surprising about this dosing of the Monogatari series. It's entertaining, there's trippy art, and it has character interactions, but this maybe too much like Nisemonogatari for some people's tastes.
Shows that Were Solid Overall
Shows: Akatsuki no Yona, Amagi Brilliant Park, Danna ga Nani wo Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken, Chaika: -The Coffin Princess- Avenging Battle, Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works, Garo, Gonna Be the Twintail!!, Inou Battle, Shirobako, Sword Art Online II, Trinity Seven, Tsukimonogatari, Yuki Yuna
Description: These are enjoyable shows that stay enjoyable the whole way through, but they may have one or two issues that keep it from being truly amazing or recommendable to everyone.
Justification & Thoughts: Akatsuki no Yona is a show that I (Rockmandash12) didn't personally like, but i'm an outlier on this one. It's a really solid shoujo that also has some action in it and does it better than many shounen. It's also made by the same people who did The World is Still Beautiful from spring, so if you liked the shoujo from that, you'll like it here as well.
Danna ga Nani wo Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken is a shortform show where you got to see the life of an otaku married to a normal woman and everything that comes with that. It was a nice surprise and very entertaining due to interactions that felt realistic while being hilarious at the same time, but it's not for everyone and never will blow your mind.
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works is breathtaking to behold, a visual treat and an entertaining watch. It's action scenes are glorious, and even the smaller scenes are lovingly done. It's a great ride, though it is well, I (Krakken_Unleashed) won't say slow, but very deliberately paced in this first half, leading up to what I expect will be a much faster 2nd series. It also ends on a massive cliffhanger, so you may want to time your viewing if you don't want to be left in the dark for a couple months. (Or you can wait until spring and watch it then… - Rockmandash12)
GARO: Honoo no Kokuin, the criminally under-watched other Studio MAPPA fantasy series, emerged as one of the most entertaining series of not just the season, but the year. With distinctive characters designs and an amusing script brought together with some stunningly nuanced animation and solid voice-acting, GARO delivers on all fronts. It relates the tale of Gérman and his son León who, donning armour of legendary power as Makai Knights, purge the world of evil, human-consuming, yet imaginatively-drawn "Horrors". Their Odyssey-like journey leads to encounters with a host of memorable supporting characters, and there are equally engaging subplots throwing several twists into this tale. Episodes are sometimes not as taut as others, but in between the genuinely exciting action sequences, there is a subtlety to GARO makes for an emotionally-compelling series.
Inou Battle was Studio Trigger's attempt at making a harem, and it was pretty entertaining. I (Rockmandash12) personally enjoyed it quite a bit, but this may not be up your alley. It has a great portrayal of Chuunibyou, an amazing rant (seriously, Saori Hayami did a fantastic job with that), and solid animation, but it has some pretty stereotypical characters and the harem antics didn't really need to be there.
Shirobako is the show about anime, made by anime producers for anime fans. It follows the lives of 5 girls who are working in the anime industry, and all the things that come with it. If you have an inkling of interest in anime production, or the anime industry in general, you will really enjoy the show, and I'll wholeheartedly recommend this to you. (Fun Fact: Shirobako translated means White Box, a reference to both something in the industry, and the animation studio White Fox)
Yuki Yuna is a Hero (commonly abreviated to YuYuYu), is a contemporary take on the classic "Magical Girl" show and will undoubtedly draw comparisons to Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Though far more conventional in presentation, YuYuYu story holds its own in terms of impact. On the production front, visuals, music, and overall execution are top notch and are comparable to the season's biggest budget shows. The writing and direction are excellent, with even the smallest details or scenes serving a purpose in the greater story. Well rounded characters and voice actors capable of delivering both hilarious or heart wrenching dialog top off its list of merits. The excellence of this series came as a surprise and it is an undeniably solid pick, even for those not normally interested in the magical girl genre.
Must Watch Shows of the Season
Description: Sometimes, there are shows that just blow you away. They are always entertaining, have great writing, and they execute their goals extremely well. These are must watches of the season, and these are the shows that will be remembered by fans long after the season passes.
Justification & Thoughts: Rage of Bahamut: Genesis astounded audiences by presenting a rollicking adventure that mashed dispirit elements and crossed genres—from horror and a zombie apocalypse to swashbuckling adventures on the high seas within a week—to create a story that literally took viewers to hell and back. The whole affair was tied together by following the escapades of the most incongruous band of characters in recent anime history: the conniving yet loveable outlaw Favaro; his pursuer, the fallen knight Kaiser; Amira, the beautiful and gluttonous devil; and Rita, the undead loli mage. Might I mention that the series was adapted from an online social card battling game? A card game. Incredible.
From the brilliant pacing, to the interesting premise and the awesome characters (Migi = best hand), I (Rockmandash12) am really having a blast with Parasyte, and it's so well executed that I can't help but watch it. It's extremely engaging, it's consistently entertaining, and the situations that the characters get themselves into are great. Watching Shinichi grow, develop and change throughout the show is phenomenal, the events and action in this show is great, and it's just a blast. Really, you have no excuse to not watch it.
Anime series often forget the importance of crafting well-structured individual episodes in their pursuit of conveying the full story—this is not the case with Your Lie in April. It is a rare series in where there actually is a benefit in taking a week's break in order fully appreciate—and, more importantly, recover—from the emotional wringer it puts one through. The beauty of the animation, imagery, voice-acting and the music play together to guide the audience through each crescendo and calmando of this touching and often poignant score. Every episode thus far has hit a resonant note. At the very least, one is privy to Goose House's masterful "Hikaru Nara" eleven times over, which is surely worth the price of a seat in the concert hall alone.
Thoughts on the Season Overall
This season was an enjoyable ride. Plenty of entertaining moments, action, comedy, drama and more. Even if some of the sequels I really wanted weren't as good as I hoped, I didn't leave this season disappointed. No, by far I was entertained week to week, and as my first true "season" of anime… it was great fun. Can't wait for next season. - Krakken_Unleashed
I really enjoyed this season. There were no relatively bad shows, and tons of great ones (and a few letdowns, but still…). While my favorite genres (Romance, Sci-Fi) weren't really prevalent, I still had a blast with this season and I wish all seasons of anime were as great as this one. A great way to end a great year in anime. - Rockmandash12
As a fan of psychological thrillers, romances and fantasy series, I was rather well-served this season. The high calibre of the season overall has led to the substantial expansion of my backlogue, even with the multitude of series that I was watching weekly. Furthermore, several of my favourite series have second cours or even full second seasons to look forward to in the future. The Autumn season was a marvelous cap to what has been a pretty excellent year for anime and sets the bar high for 2015. Bring it on. - Nomadic Dec
This article was written by Members of the Ani-TAY community. Here's a full list of the contributors, and what they've done:
Rockmandash12 - SeHa, Grisaia, Amagi, Parasyte, Sora no Method, Tsukimonogatari, Ushinawareta, Kokkuri-san, Danna ga Nani wo Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken, Inou Battle, Mushishi, G-reco, Akatsuki no Yona, Shirobako, Gundam Build Fighters Try, Formatting, Editing and Descriptions
Jonuiuc - Argevollen, Yuki Yuna is a Hero, Terraformers
Krakken_Unleashed - Cross Ange, Psycho Pass 2, Lord Marksman and the Vanadis, Gonna be the Twintail!!, Trinity Seven, Chaika -The Coffin Princess- Avenging Battle, Sword Art Online II, Log Horizon 2, Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works
Nomadic Dec - Rage of Bahamut: Genesis, GARO: Honoo no Kokuin, Selector Spread WIXOSS, Your Lie in April
SeanStan - Nanatsu no Taizai