A Little Bit Bored - Chroma's 2014 Summer Impressions
I want to thank everyone for their undying patience as I go through my final moments of post-secondary education, humble in the fact that I have come far enough to finally start working in a career I want. I'll be tackling my toughest schooling to date soon, ultimately ending my paid education in November with a guaranteed job. Without the time shackles of school binding me down to consecutively stacked assignments, I will finally be able to allocate my additional time to what I want to finish. This website is very special to me and I only wish to get it fully back on track and keep it well supported. So before I delve into the seasonal impressions, I would like to thank you all for reading, following and having the patience to put up with long wait times on occasion.
Now, how about those impressions? Remember that while I may write with my own personal criticisms and praises, be sure to weave your own opinions in by checking out anything here that sounds potentially interesting to you!
We'll start off strong! Barakamon follows the breakdown and gradual reworking of calligrapher Handa's viewpoint on his art. After reacting rather poorly to a piece of criticism at a show, he is forced to move to the countryside to discover his true self. However, this means he'll have to adapt to the absolutely zany cast of characters out of the city.
Out of everyone, little rascal Naru is easily the star. She has a fearless view of the world that you can absolutely treasure as a child, but the sad knowledge lingers that you have to lose a bit of that to grow up. The people around her are also respectively innocent, enjoying the simple life away from most technology. It's a series that reminds you of how important human bonds are, and I can't help but love every moment of it. Without doubt my favourite of the season.
“I hope Season 2 brings more to the plate”, I had said. Unfortunately, this is a case where the anime gods didn't favour me, I disliked this season much more than its predecessor. While the first season brought a tiny bit of mystery, action and character intrigue to the table, this iteration only brought exposition, filler and cheap expansion to my experience.
The special Minimum abilities that power the team are starting to overload, causing muscle atrophy and other troublesome symptoms. Art continues to wreak havoc, but he’s also now praised as a harbinger of a new age for rejected Minimum Holders. The big cliffhanger from the last season was ultimately not worth it, and even with Hajime finally getting some backstory, how does Koneko completely remain an empty job-finder? There was just no focus with this season, and I was not a fan. I should also mention that there’s a horrendously annoying and out-of-place transition system implemented. They completely took me out of any immersion in a flash second.
Hana, Naru, Yaya, Machi and Tami enter the traditional world of yosakoi dance, and it's certainly a colourful world. When exchange student Hana convinces timid protagonist Naru to join her in creating a new yosakoi club at the school, it slowly begins to grow with Naru's help. The story began with me finding Hana overly annoying and Naru a bit bland to be the centrepiece. However, this viewpoint ultimately changed with some satisfactory progression.
Hanayamata isn't a series with super amazing animation quality. However, it has a beautiful colour palette that is a great joy to look at. The character designs are rather unique as well, though it took a little bit for me to get used to. What I really love about this series is the effort put in by the characters to achieve their yosakoi goals. There are major bumps along the way, but by the end, I realize that it really was Naru that brought all of them together. It's an enjoyable series with quite a predictable, but still somehow awesome ending. It also has one of the catchiest opening themes ever, and even after the season is over, I'm replaying this damn thing without end. Someone help me.
Ao Haru Ride
While I had hoped for something on the levels of Kimi ni Todoke (one of my absolute favourite series ever), Ao Haru Ride is a slightly different creation that holds its own merits. There's a strong element of friendship, relationships and the troubles in between, and that was the heart of Kimi ni Todoke as well.
From the very beginning, lead male interest Ko was a major downer. His inability to smile and enjoy what he had around him really brought down the better times for me, and I was afraid I'd come to dislike him. No matter what, I also didn't want him to pull the tragic hero card and take that route out. However, the series handled it rather well, and I couldn't help but feel empathetic towards his issues. The series also sports other strong characters, of which Ko and friends are the best focus. It was a pretty decent watch for me, but if you like this, give Kimi ni Todoke a shot for the cream of the crop.
I really want to blow you kisses and send you my infinite love, P.A. Works, but this just wasn't a great pick up. Glasslip was a strange canvas of glass art, classical music and other random poetic themes thrown together. While very "Jackson Pollock" with its elements, the series does still scream P.A. Workswhen you see its artistic direction. The animations and sets are very pretty, but it’s really the overall presentation that suffered with me.
Okikura “David” Kakeru is a misfit protagonist that nobody liked for the entirety of the series with his bland but interruptive nature. To be fair, they pulled off a quick bit of revelation in the final episodes that made me understand him better, but it all boils down to this: "Glasslip didn’t need its future-viewing gimmick". While P.A. Works got the family and friends’ interactions down beautifully, the series loses its edge by consistently pushing the fact that Toko and Kakeru are able to see reflective shards of the future under certain circumstances. This all boiled down to a stereotypical moral that was very easily portrayed through the main characters just being together. It wasn’t a terrible series, but it really needed another look over before hitting the airwaves. Oh, and please leave out the philosophical metaphors, they sound really unnatural coming from characters like this.
Zankyo no Terror
"I'm trembling with excitement", I stated on multiple occasions. Zankyo no Terror was a roller-coaster ride from start to finish, tracking the movements of two mysterious terrorists set on causing explosive destruction. While the Tokyo terrors may seem like a mindless act of rage against the country, the story underneath it all may not be so simple. To get their message across, the terrorists will personally turn to an ex-detective for answers.
Let's get the obvious out of the way. Both Watanabe Shinichiro and Yoko Kanno are involved with the production. The soundtrack has such a chilling atmosphere that simply hearing it raises the goosebumps on your skin. The main bomber pair are quite interesting as well, and when one of them begins to develop a liking for a girl they "recruited", the character development evolves further. With the Japanese police failing to stop the bomber pair Sphinx, FBI operative codename "Five" arrives to act as oppression. This lady has a chilling smile, appropriately supported by her no-nonsense attitude and her absolute lust for taking down Sphinx herself. Needless to say, the confrontation between Sphinx and the law is very exciting to watch. It may only be 11 episodes, but it really gets you into its world and keeps you there.
Yet another series that flopped for me, but boy did this one flop early in retrospect. The premise of psychic powers clashing together in a good VS. evil war had potential, but it never gets any better in any aspect. The characters you're supposed to root for and follow are not only "one trick bland", but even their interactions with each other are empty and tired. The lead girl Rinka is fabled to be the legendary "White Girl", and from the get-go she's given an image of a powerful being with extraordinary powers. Then you spend the remainder of the series watching her get beat to a pulp by everyone she runs across without a good fight. Her main attachment Azuma is also wasted, spending half of the series captured with his power rendered useless.
Oh, it gets even better. This series is extremely corny, and wow, is it ugly. The animations lack any structure, the colour palette is depressing at every turn, and the character designs are generally quite discomforting to look at. As for the corniness, let's just say there's a combat Sensei in a panda bear suit. There's also a girl who can look into the history of a corporeal object by touching it; of which she touches nunchakus and transforms into Bruce Lee (yellow suit, battle cries and all). But the icing on the cake is the explanation of how everyone received their powers. Hey, did you know? The Ark of the Covenant contain two perfectly rectangular slabs known as the Ten Commandments. Those slabs happen to contain magical glowing fish that give people ESP powers. No, I'm not kidding. As you can tell, I really didn't like this one. Sound off in the comments if you did, I'd be interested to see it in a different light.
Sword Art Online II
I'm kinda liking it so far! After a really depressing end to the first Sword Art Online with incest, sidetracking and even disgustingly portrayed rape, I'm glad to know that we're back to a bit of the old ass-kicking vibe from the first half of SAO. What sort of bothered me at the start was that Kirito really had little reason to enter this new game of bullets called Gun Gale Online. However, I sat there and I thought: "Why can't Kirito go into the game in the goodness of his heart to stop a psychotic murderer?", then I felt kind of foolish. Gun Gale Online is a pretty fun setting, utilizing a lot of what online shooters have, including focus targeting, UAV scanning and squad-based combat. As "RPG" as an MMO shooter game sounds on paper, it makes for some pretty over-the-top exciting battles. I know everyone bashes Sword Art Online, but I dunno, I guess I'm just someone who can sit back and just let some action have its fun. Not every show has to be a Shakespearean masterpiece in its writing, I believe.
The most interesting part of the series so far is definitely Sinon. With her crystalline teal hair and hypnotic eyes, she lights up the many scenes she appears in. On top of her alluring appearance, she actually has a pretty compelling issue and backstory to give it some context. It's an interesting tactic to face your worst fears and most traumatic experiences head on by committing the same act day-by-day to grow stronger. Sinon in the real world is ironically quite weak, easily sickened by the sight of a gun, whilst her video game counterpart can hunt players without a second thought. There's a great focus on the fights with Sinon and Kirito, kind of establishing the series as something new entirely. Only time will tell if I like the second half less, like what happened last season.
Yama no Susume: Second Season
It's certainly a continued "Encouragement of Climb", complete with a full length second season with longer episodes. The cute but small series left a tiny imprint in its first run, but I've only seen it get even better and better as it goes on. If you missed the first season, this charming little series is about a group of friends who tackle the underappreciated hobby of mountain climbing. Well, let's call it what it really is, "trekking"- there's not really any climbing on the sides of a cliff wall or something like that, but more of following trails up to experience the view at the top.
After a series of rather small mountain paths, protagonist Aoi seems to have improved against her fear of heights. As promised in the first season, they're now in the midst of tackling Mt. Fuji, Japan's tallest mountain filled with rest stations and freezing temperatures. Most people tackle the mountain, reside overnight in a rest cabin, then wake up early to reach the top for the sunrise. There's a similar idea implemented in this arc, and it's really exhilarating to see the challenges and rewards of climbing such a mountain. It's an experience I wish to have at least once in my life, and after watching this series, I hope you will come to the same realization.
There wasn't a whole ton I really enjoyed this season. With potential prior apologies, I do hope some of you check these shows out and let me know how you liked/disliked them, as my opinion is only one piece of the puzzle. On my end, I hope next season holds more little joys for me.