Second part of my review for the Spring 2013 anime roster. The previous post discussed the show that didn’t quite meet expectations. Today, I’ll show the shows that met expectations and were quite consistent in quality throughout the season.
If you haven’t seen all the anime this season had, do check it out! For all of Spring’s anime, check this chart out: http://anichart.net/spring
This review would mostly cover the shows I watched and not all the anime for this season. Minor spoiler-y stuff ahead!
THE CONSISTENTLY GOOD
The shows in this category were those that met my expectations, were consistent in terms of quality story, or didn’t reach the point were I had to punch my computer screen and flip tables. Of course, we are going for my standard of “good”. Other people’s standards would be different than mine, so it may be bad for you but good for me and vice versa. I’m quite forgiving at the shows here, so a few couple of animation quality drops or boring scenes are mostly taken in stride–as long as the overall quality of the show isn’t tarnished by it.
1) Suisei no Gargantia
Most people made the mistake that the show would all be about action and lots of PEW PEW stuff. Of course, it’s okay to assume this given that it’s a mecha sci-fi anime, and the first episode was a full-on battle between the Galactic Human Alliance, and the Hideauze (hideous looking super tough creatures). With such an action-packed pilot with lots of laser beams, explosions, and over-the-top science-y terms, one would expect that the show would be like that for the rest of the season. But it was not. The story was not about the Galactic war, it was about our main character, Ledo–stranded on a post-apocalyptic Earth, far away from his super advanced society and into Gargantia, a massive fleet populated by a surviving nomadic community of humans.
This is were the show’s main strong point comes from…the main character. It was about Ledo being exposed to the Gargantian history, language, and culture. How his strict, only the strong deserve to live, military upbringing is now conflicting with this carefree society where everybody has a purpose–and a choice. It was about him being homesick–ironically, when home is a privilege in his society–and him trying to figure what and where home exactly is.
Most people were turned off by this and criticized it for its pacing. That nothing is happening in the series, when in fact, a lot of subtle things are happening. One of the biggest props I had for this is a great character development in the physical, social, and emotional aspects.
You get to see as Ledo’s skin slowly get a tan as the episodes progress. The change is so slow that you only begin notice it at the latter episode when he actually has the tan. It was the by-product of him slowly coming in to terms of his new job roles and his new environment.
You could see him slowly adapting to the culture and the language. From using his mecha AI, Chamber, as a translator; to him slowly learning to speak the language via short phrases; to finally fluently speaking it. There is actual progress in his social interactions. He was reluctant to talk to people back then, but he soon slowly opened up.
Finally, his emotional progress. He was a cold and calm soldier who knew nothing but war and his society’s strict system. He learns to actually feel happiness, sadness, anger, and most of all, love. He finally realizes the actual value of protecting and caring for someone not because your society dictates you to, but because he actually wants to.
If you have enough patience to slowly see Ledo actually grow and reach probably the seventh episode, the plot would steadily pick up onward from it. You would get to actually see the results of his growth, and how his perspective has changed. The other characters are quite okay, you might get annoyed at the Gargantians, but some characters felt really heart-warming and real. The plot is worth waiting for, especially the particular twist (though I kinda called it early on), and there is still action here and there. Oh, and the visuals are very nice! There would be a few spotty episodes, but goddamn it’s beautiful!
*Status: One more episode to go.
*Recommendation: Watch it. Definitely worth it if you are really patient
2) Shingeki no Kyojin
Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan) has one of the most entertaining and original premise of all. Basically, humans are on the brink of extinction and have secluded themselves on a territory guarded by three huge sets of walls around it. This is all because of creatures called Titans (or Eotens for that other particular fansub), which are towering, strong, has regenerative capabilities, and eats humans–just because. Yep. Not for sustenance, they just eat them with no particular reason at all. Our main characters witness the horror first hand when they got invaded by the Titans and watch everybody around them die. They then join the military force tasked on defending the walls and eliminating the Titans.
The show has solid animation and a nice fitting soundtrack. But the most interesting aspect of this show is the plot. It’s full of mystery, for example: where did the Titans come from, or what the hell is in Eren’s basement. There are a lot of plot points that evokes curiosity, but the show does a good job of not jumbling it all up, well not yet anyway since the show is two-cours (20+ episodes). Every episode, there were some action and fighting, and a lot of people die which makes me a little depressed. There was a great deal of suspense in each episode and you can almost feel the frustration and desperation from the characters. If you were put in a situation where your chances of survival is low, your enemy is numerous and nearly unstoppable, your friends and comrades die in a gruesome way, and that you don’t even know how long it would go on is seriously agonizing.
Great care is given on the many characters, the show has a huge cast, and each one of them is given a unique personality. Nobody is getting left alone in the dark character-wise. Even if the story is focusing on the main characters, Eren, Mikasa, and Armin, the minor characters are given the spotlight via interactions and their own missions. Showing their unique quirks and mentality.
Overall, this show is worth the watch, and one of the few bright spots in this season’s anime. The manga is also worth the read (I’ve read it and suggest you do too), but the character rendition in the anime is more pleasing to the eyes.
*Status: Two-cours, still watching
*Recommendation: If you can’t bear the thought of people dying every single time, you could avoid it. But you would be missing out a great anime
3) Hataraku Maou-sama!
The Demon Lord is a Part-Timer (okay there’s a lot of translation for this but I chose the one that made sense) is one of the consistently funny shows I’ve watched. Considering that the good shows I’ve watched are those with a serious tone this season, Hataraku Maou-sama! was a breath of fresh air. The premise was that the Demon Lord, after being almost defeated by the Hero (Emilia), opens up a portal and ends up in Japan. Along with his faithful subordinate, Ashiya, they try to adjust to the Japanese way of life, culture, and trying to make a living in there. He does get a job at McDonald’s–I MEAN MGRONALD’s. Anyway, hilarity ensues as Emilia also ended up in Japan and is working at a call center.
I’ve got nothing much to say about the plot, since there is nothing much going on. It’s pretty simple, but its simplicity is a drawing point. The gags, the character’s antics, and the occasional interactions between Maou (the Demon Lord) and Emilia is hilarious and funny to watch. The characters are all good visually, as well as their particular personalities. If you want a good laugh without the particular show being extravagant and out of this world, then this is the show to go.
*Status: One more episode to go!
*Recommendation: THOSE WONDERFUL CHI’S BURGERS. If you want to know what that is about, watch it *wink wink*
This show has the most amazing cast of characters this season. I’ve been a fan of it since reading the light novel and the manga, and it’s my most hyped up anime besides Aku no Hana (we know what happened to that) and this one lived up to my expectations! Yahari Ore no Seishun Rabu Kome wa Machigatteiru/My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong, As I Expected or Oregairu as it is called, looks like one of those typical rom-coms with a long name (like Oreshura, Oreimo, Haganai). But Oregairu is the genre breaker of the pack. What looked like generic characters chock-full of character tropes, a harem romantic setup, and plain ol’ high school slice of life, was all wrong, as I expected. Heh.
Anyway, the show is unique that it has a non-wimpy, actually attentive and smart main character, in the name of Hachiman. He basically channels all the collective cynicism, pessimism, introversion, and wit that most people (especially college students) are experiencing. It’s a love song for all of us who hated those normalfags back in high school by allowing us to relive it in Hachiman’s point of view. This show is basically Hyouka’s MC with maxed cynicism put in a Haganai setting, minus the harem antics and grounding it all the way down to reality.
The premise of the show is basically Hachiman being put in the Service Club with Yukino–a top-notch beauty, intelligent, and a huge loner with no friends. The Service Club takes request from the students and does all in their power to support the request. Eventually, coming in contact with the various personalities in their school (mostly in their year level). What’s interesting is that despite being both loners, their perspective and methodology are both different. For Yukino, she was isolated because of her talents, her honesty, and her unbending will and reluctance to compromise. For Hachiman, it’s the repeated rejection of society, his sensitive personality, and his eventual twisted view of the world. Yukino believes that to survive society, one must work hard to change or adapt, or suffer being left out. For Hachiman, to bend to society’s will is the act of a person running away. Yukino reflects justice, honesty, and hard-work. Hachiman reflects dishonesty, under-handed means, and practicality. They are both from the same page, but are likewise, different.
The other characters, Yui, Hayama, and the rest, complements the story well. Each of them have their own unique perspective and ways of dealing things; and Hayama’s and Yui’s interactions with Hachiman and Yukino act as foils for one another. There is much going on about the plot, it’s basically arc by arc spread on 12 (+1) episode and it’s fairly easy to follow. There are complexities with the character interactions, but it’s not exaggerated. Like I said, this series is grounded in reality. There are no pointless cringing drama (I’m looking at you Haganai) and plot points intertwine to show more depth to the characters.
It’s a light novel adaptation so a lot of great scenes were cut out and most of the side-stories were left out. ESPECIALLY THE SHIZUKA-SENSEI RAMEN DATE SCENE AND SAKI-SAKI TSUN-TSUN SCENES. But, what it did well was to adjust the pacing accordingly. That means getting what’s essential for the characters and the plot, not forcing fanservice on every episode (I’m looking at you almost all rom-com adaptations), and not adding over-the-top drama just to say that something is happening.
Besides, Hachiman mostly carried the show with his great monologues, and Yukino with her 100% ice-cold adorableness. There would be some OVA and a spin-off, too. Sadly, the show adapted six out of the current seven novels. It would take at least two years for the next season. Anyway…HACHIMAN FOR MC OF THE YEAR!
*Status: One more episode, but looks like a bonus
*Recommendation: Watch it! You just have to get past its slow start to fully enjoy it.
Anyway, that’s for the anime that were consistently good this season. Watch out for the next one, The Wildcards, for the shows that were surprisingly enjoyable.