2014 Autumn Anime Season Retrospective

The 2014 autumn anime season had a few excellent shows with high production values. It also had a considerable amount of low profile shows that might not be worth your time.

 

The Best

 

Parasyte – the maxim

Parasyte - the maxim

 

The biggest surprise of this season comes from a rare horror guro show; The first in many ways that does these genres justice. Parasyte is cruel, gruesome and captivating. The thought of a brain-eating parasite that crawls into your room in the middle of the night is terrifying. Thankfully the series handles its assets well. Shinichi and Migi’s gradual bonding is interesting (at time funny, at time shocking), Shinichi’s physical and psychological changes are portrayed flawlessly and the series gets better with each passing episode. The shounen formula of a man who gradually becomes stronger and stronger is well suited for Parasyte, specifically because the stronger Shinichi gets the more scarier the consequences of his fights against the parasites become.

The cruel elements of the show are gradually added bit by bit. About halfway through Parasite you discover just how horrible this story can get, but by that time you’ll already be hooked. One thing I didn’t like is that virtually all the females in this series are in love with someone. I can understand one girl having a crush on Shinichi, but three? And then every time a girl is introduced she instantly falls in love with a guy. The girls in Parasite are far from stupid. They are clever and perceptive. So why make them so unrealistically infatuated with men? And if we already opened that can of worms, how come all the guy in Shinichi’s school are either total wimps or gangsters in the making?

Status: It’s hard to believe this series is based on a late 80’s early 90’s manga. Parasyte – the maxim is a shocking experience. The first 12 episodes are almost too perfectly told to be true. I have a feeling a lot of people skipped on this show due to its niche mix of genres. These people are missing out on the most intense series of the season.

 

The Good

 

Fate/Stay Night [Unlimited Blade Works]

Fate/Stay Night [Unlimited Blade Works]

The ending of the first season of Fate/Stay Night [Unlimited Blade Works] angered many, and for good reasons. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start by saying that Ufotable’s version of Unlimited Blade Works is almost as good as the video game, which is a great compliment. It also managed to maintain the high quality standards it set in the beginning of the season. Some visual effects were outstanding, the few fights that were shown during this sesaon fantastically animated and the music really stood out. I haven’t heard such an amazing music compilation since the days of .Hack//Roots.

Now that we got the compliments out of the way let’s move on to the disappointing last two episodes. It’s here the series diverts a bit from the original game’s plot in bad ways. For exmple, Shiro’s is way too obsessed with Archer in this version and long. Fate fans will surely frown at this and other inconsistancies Ufotable unneededly appended near the season finale. The quality of the animation drops in this episodes too (very noticeable in the last episode). But most importantly, by the 14th episode it dawned on me that by trying to fit every little detail from the game they possibly could into the series Ufotable has made the first season of of Fate/Stay Night [Unlimited Blade Works] excruciatingly long and eventless. By prolonging the epilogue of the Holy Grail war Ufotable made it so that the second season will be a series of endless battles with little space in between for idle talk. In other words – this series is being made in an uneven matter. This doesn’t surprise me, considering Ufotable pulled the same trick in Fate/Zero. But Fate/Stay has a much less calculated story than Fate/Zero. It relies on action in order to become meaningful, not on words. Bereft of this action Ufotable’s first season of Fate/Unlimited Blade Works was somewhat anemic.

Verdict: The best representation of Fate/Unlimited Blade Works this far, although not as balanced as the original Visual Novel was.

 

Psycho-Pass 2

Psycho-Pass 2

Psycho Pass 2 greatly improved the Psycho Pass formula. It forced the MWPSB (Ministry of Welfare Public Security Bureau) to fight on two fronts, with the Sibyl system itself becoming its enemy at certain points. Akane proved to be much more capable and at times unpredictable with her subjective law enforcement methods. Unlike the first season she is a great main character here. Psycho Pass 2 also has a satisfying ending that tighten loose ends left over by the first season. Unfortunately some of the things that haunted the original show lingered here. One of the villains is your typical “evil for evil’s sake” person who lacks realism. In a series where both sides are grey and each has its own unique ideology this particular villain sticks like a sour thumb. Character growth is also non-existent and Akane remains the sole character to ever feature in the spotlight.

Verdict: An improvement over its predecessor and a very good show overall. I can’t wait for the upcoming movie.

 

Trinity Seven

Trinity Seven

Trinity Seven has no plot to speak of and relatively zero character growth, but it sure is a fun watch. I love it when Arata genuinely enjoys seeing the girls in the nude, even to the point of thanking them and asking them to grace him again in the future. It’s a refreshing change from the usual wimpy-boy harem shows. Arata’s natural cockiness and the superb character designs are what kept this series enjoyable every week. There was a final battle in the end and Arata kind of accomplished half of what he set out do to, but nobody cares about these stuff in a harem show. Right?

Verdict: An enjoyable little magic harem show. Nothing less, nothing more.

 

The Bad

Akatsuki no Yona

Akatsuki no Yona

Mediocrity can be a foul trait, and Akatsuki no Yona can’t seem to be able to shake its mediocrity off. Even after 12 episodes the series is going nowhere fast.  There’s no hook, no spice. Nothing that would make me anxiously await the next episode. Everything is sterile. From the boring backgrounds (a forest, a village, a village within a forest) to the mundane characters and the oversimplified background story that ties everything together. Some of the character interactions are funny, but I watch Western cartoons for skits or better yet have funny skits with my real-world friends. I’m watching anime for that something special beyond simple stories, and Akatsuki no Yona just isn’t on that level of intellect, nor is it impressive in its presentation.

Verdict: Akatsuki no Yona is a kid friendly show with little substance. It fails to differentiate itself from other shallow shoujo shows. And for that reason I have decided to drop it after 13 episodes.

 

Terra Formars

Terra Formars

I never had any misconceptions regarding Terra Formars. I knew it was trying to present itself as a bad action flick parody on purpose. Of course, even if a series deliberately tells a lousy story it still doesn’t mean it’s any good. Terra Formars is a time-killer where monotonous characters fight even more monotonous bugs. Whenever a backstory is told it only manages to heighten the levels of ridicule this series has already reached. Worse yet, nothing interesting or significant happened during this season’s span. Some people died, a lot of bugs were squashed and I was left with the terrible feeling that I wasted countless hours of my life in vain.

Verdict: If you enjoy mindless action with no plot and a straightforward progression from one fight scene to the next you can still find many shows that do that better than Terra Formars. This series will probably be all but forgotten in a year or two.

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