[Featurama] Summer 2012 Final Thoughts
Hello everyone! Sorry I wasn’t there for our mid-season review, I was in Osaka over the summer. Yes, that was a humble brag…or is that a stealth brag? Well when you really think about it, they’re both essentially the same thing. In fact, you don’t really even have to think about it. What were we here for again? Right, what the Twinfinite staff (the three of them that actually likes anime) thought about the summer 2012 season. In a season filled with laughter and tears, we’ll give you what we thought of the shows we watched. Well without further adieu, hit the jump for our final thoughts.
If you want an honest recap of Accel World, it’s a shonen Sunrise battle anime in the truest sense of the word. That’s all you really need to know. We already discussed the first half of the 24 episode season last go around, but I’m sure anybody still reading this is wondering if it got better or worse.
In my opinion it fluctuated a lot with the free usage of the science in Accel World. Its world is illogically framed and broken on a whim for the sake of propelling a plot point. Unfortunately this is typical for this genre, but the issue stems from when it’s noticeable.
Right now the characters have unlocked the ability to break the foundations of Accel World’s game universe with shiny weapons formed by willpower. It will bring repercussions at some point, but here we have the strongest characters creating these weapons while the weak sit around clueless. Already this weakens the strength of every opponent who doesn’t have this skill and forces the group of friends to fight only the shiny enemies. I’d much prefer some strategy in a battle of territories, but I don’t think we’re going to get some.
It’s still good despite these woes because the arc had a good twist to make up for the weirdness. Though the random Godzilla vs Megazord episodes were indeed very random. I like Accel World in that it’s able to pull across some really interesting things with this environment, but unfortunately it still needs to bring in some more sparks. Kuroyukihime being absent for this second arc would have been a great way of putting these characters in fights that can showcase their individual skills, but the show didn’t do that. Instead it did the opposite by having her come in at the last minute to save everyone.
Nomi was a solid villain with his sadistic attempts at controlling these characters. They could have made more of him by getting him to exploit Takumu’s past alongside showcasing more of Nomi exploiting his girlfriend, yet, they didn’t. Still, his forced removal from Accel World was just haunting enough to make up for all the bad things he did. No real forgiveness. Just a slice down the middle as he begs.
Accel World stumbles in so many places that I could make a laundry list. It’s a decent show though and as many faults that the cast has, the themes of friendship and nobility placed on Haruyuki still makes for a worthwhile show. The action is awkward and paced oddly at times, but it is still very pretty.
With another season inbound, we are left wondering if Kuroyukihime can reach level 10 by offing her fellow Kings. we have a new villainous organization that is abusing the rules of Accel World for their own gains. Nomi was the start, but there obviously will be plenty more villains after him. We still haven’t seen the team really in action and now it looks like they’ll be expanding if they want to gain any more territory. Lots of improvements need to happen, but ultimately it’ll still be an interesting show to pick up again whenever they get a second season out.
I harped on this show at the mid season round up and the issues remained throughout. Hasegawa was key to the plot, but her personality was left on the chopping block. She was a goal instead of being a part of the ensemble. So while Moyashimon Returns might not live up to it’s predecessor, it did have a solid story to round it out.
The French angle brought the show out of yet another take on sake and soy sauce and started focusing on a new element in wine which was refreshing. To bring a character like Marie in who is the polar opposite of Kei was an interesting approach and handled fairly well. Marie had the potential to liven up the story if the focus wasn’t ultimately dead set on Hasegawa.
Moyashimon in its first season was good because it fostered a hidden tone of a harem relationship system for Sawaki. This is why the final episode is so good compared to the rest of the season. In the final episode, we have rock solid segments that hints at different romantic angles, awaken characters to their roles in the group and also wrap up the dangling plot threads.
The only relationship really pushed this season was Hasegawa and Misato. That’s fine, but it just feels like such a waste for the 10 other episodes to spend so long on jumping around in the plot that when France finally started ironing everything out, the season was almost over. It’s as if the final episode had everything they wanted to get across but couldn’t.
Still a great show and well worth the watch, but it just doesn’t have the execution that the first season of Moyashimon had. That could be because they were cut an episode short from their slot, but the show really struggled to recover the feeling. I’m going to cross my fingers and hope a third season comes, but with the way this was cut down, that might not happen.
So I can’t Play H!
What an odd little show. I mean a mahou shoujo ecchi harem battle anime based around a civil war in the shinigami world, seems interesting enough on paper. The protagonist’s ability to use his perverted desires to unleash his shinigami’s potential is also interesting. This show unfortunately plays it fairly straight and that ultimately hinders it.
The relationships built to a head in issue 6 with all the girls displaying affection for our protagonist Ryousuke. This means you have hit your pinnacle and you have to face the drama for the remainder of the show. This is where it all begins to get weird.
Mina gets kidnapped and we have this vaguely Bleach-like story about rescues and rival shinigami factions arguing over the proper role of what a death god should be. She isn’t yet revealed to be the “great energy” they are all looking for, but after they revealed Ryousuke had the legendary sword in his chest, process of elimination left only her. We then have a great moment where Ryousuke gets his partner shinigami hurt and this in turn causes him to lose his mojo.
Great in that the fluctuation in his mindset is a great tool to use for someone that’s powers are based on his perverted will. Unfortunately, instead of thickening the character out, they throw women at him until he gets better by thinking about his partner (which he had been doing the whole time). He takes on the big bad who kidnapped Mina and uses all his energy to blast through him. He does this and also creates a rift, merging the real world with the shinigami one.
Ok, another interesting twist. The monsters that had been plaguing the shinigami world now create havoc in the real one. Meanwhile Ryousuke’s death clock which had been ignored since episode 2 finally ticks down and it’s only Mina that can save him. That’s when a purple haired shinigami randomly enters the story.
While the world is turning into chaos theoretically, it’s never really shown except in the one episode where the plane merge, the girls decide to hide this from Ryousuke and fulfill his final fantasies. This is scrapped when he finds out so Mina is the last option. While on the sidelines, the other girls cheer Mina on as they go on their first date in an undamaged fully powered abandoned mall. The moment appears when they could be a legitimate couple, but Ryousuke turns her down for Lisara. He essentially chooses suicide over reciprocating this girl’s feelings.
So he dies. The purple shinigami tries to reap his soul, but can’t with the sword lodged inside. Lisara then uses Mina’s power to kill herself and dives into rescue Ryousuke who is extremely hesitant. She convinces him to live and their coupling then creates an energy power that the shinigami world will need.
Such a weird turn of events that are never really handled with deft skill. There is a lot this series did right in regards to producing a quality ecchi anime. We just never get to see the better concepts fleshed out. It had better characters, setting and potential, but it just fell short in a lot of ways.
Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero
Aesthetica is the second ecchi harem battle anime this season and it does its job well enough to work for the 2nd season. I say that because the entire time I watched this show, I was left wondering when the more interesting plot elements would appear. Here you have a recognized hero of a fantasy world return to Earth to pick fights with student body presidents and the mysterious organization that he works under, and NONE of that was explored except for his return to Earth.
That’s why the ending battles with Phil Bennet were so uninteresting. You have so many elements that are left uncovered that truly need to be fleshed out and to end it on a giant dragon battle with what would equate to being a pawn, is just unsatisfying.
Still, what’s presented this season is worth sticking around for. The relationship between our protagonist Akatsuki and the Vice President has been pretty well handled comedy. The rest of the cast all seems to just mesh together well, she works best as both an outsider, and a girl that strives to be strong. It makes for something better than Miu’s little sister role and the rest of the team’s little quirks. While the harem is solid, having a lesbian and a little kid makes the only two real candidates sit between Miu and Vice President.
We left the characters when they all decided to raid the fantasy world, so hopefully we’ll get some answers as to how Akatsuki conquered the land and became its hero. That being said, I’d much rather see some focus on Akatsuki’s disdain for Earth’s organization of heroes known as Coccoon. The first drama was with the student council President and since then, he’s been missing.
Overall it’s a good show. We’ll see if the second season can spice things up or not, but it works as mindless ecchi animation. Akatsuki’s shamelessly perverted actions have been a nice change up to the meeker male protagonists I’ve been watching.
Show of the season by far. Here we have another after school club style anime modeled very much like K-On. What excels in this show is the interactions in the ensemble and the great changes that occur in the group regularly. We have a cast of 5 people with their own problems that have gotten together because they have no other groups they could belong to.
Taichi is the noble to a fault protagonist. Inaba is emotionally distant and Nagase is emotionally lost. Kiriyama is emotionally scarred and Yoshifumi is madly in love with her. It is an odd little harem, but it works because of what happens next.
See Kokoro is all about a mysterious being named Heartseed that has decided to muck with these 5 characters lives. This “person” decides to use the group as an experiment and radically changes them. First he swaps their bodies. When that brings them all closer together he decides to bring out their inner most thoughts. The groups resiliency pulled through, so he then decided to change their age at a set time to bring their hidden memories to light.
This is all interesting because it all happens randomly. The sex change alone made for a very compelling anime. See the show is focused around the group, but the protagonist eventually appeared as Taichi. He’s the one the harem is thrown around and he’s the one that seems to be solving the problems. First he cures Kiriyama of her distrust in men. Then Nagase with her lack of identity. Rule change, and he fixes both Kiriyama and Inaba of their fears of hurting others. Rule change, now we have Yoshifumi and Kiriyama with some serious emotional issues that works itself out.
Kokoro Connect is done surprisingly well and it makes for an exceptional stand out for a season that didn’t have too many of those. Where the series goes from here, who knows? Their is plenty of drama Heratseed can create and I can’t wait to see how it all pans out.
I would like to begin my reviews with an apology. I don’t know how, I don’t know why, but the first three times that I watched Joshiraku, I couldn’t stand it.
What was wrong with me?
Eventually, I decided to just skip to episode two and see if it fared any better- long story short, I adored it. Over the course of Joshiraku’s ten (at the time of writing) fansubbed episodes, I’ve found endless amounts of laughter and joy.
You’d think that a show in which the same things happened in basically every episode (random conversation in dressing room, an excursion, and then another conversation in the dressing room) would get boring, but it really doesn’t.
From the outlandish situations to the well-placed references, Joshiraku is always able to shake things up in some very unexpected (and occasionally terrifying) ways. If you’re just looking for some good, goofy fun with no strings attatched, it’s hard to think of anything this year that could beat Joshiraku.
However, there is one caveat to this praise: Joshiraku is a very, very Japanese show. With such a strong focus on puns and Japanese culture, the occasional joke or situation will likely fly straight over your head, but it’s nothing that would come even close to ruining the show.
SWORD ART ONLINE
About once a year, a show will come along to massive amounts of hype, gaining an enormous following and ardent fans… yet it is horrible. This year, Sword Art Online was that show.
I was excited for SAO at first, yet as it progressed, my excitement slowly waned. In Sword Art Online, the only character who stays in focus for the entire show is Kirito, our brooding protagonist. For such a setup, you need a compelling main character to carry the show. Kirito is not that character. It took most of the summer anime season for Kirito to even find himself in a situation threatening to him and his amazing skills, and his main problem for quite some time was, literally, trying to hide how amazing he was.
Enough about Kirito, at least the fights are pretty cool, right? … right?
Not quite. While action in the show can actually be quite visually impressive, pivotal moments in fights are often presented as little more than “dynamic” still shots. It looks quite lazy once it’s noticed, and I doubt that A-1 was severely lacking in budget so as to make action too expensive to animate.
However, all of these issues pale in comparison to the writing of the show- it’s horrible. In episode 13, to-be-protected-even-though-she’s-one-of-the-strongest-players-in-the-game eyecandy Asuna says, after a teary speech “The reason that I tried the NerveGear that day was so that I could meet Kirito.” These are the words of one of the most powerful characters in the game, a girl who, even just a few episodes ago, could hardly stand to be around Kirito. As much as the overplayed trope of begrudging friends who will obviously fall in love irks me, it’s infinitely better than what is in the show now.
From the moment that Kirito and Asuna became a couple, their relationship lost all texture, congealing into a cloyingly and inescapably sweet and adoring partnership.
Sword Art Online is not a good series. Instead, it is by the episode becoming more and more obvious for the over-the-top escapist fantasy that it is. As it enters its second half, chances are good that I’ll drop the show- it’s becoming harder and harder to bear.
It’s a funny thing. At the midway point of this season, Kokoro Connect was by far my favorite show. Now, I’m not too sure.
While the unleashed desire and time reversal arcs of the show were definitely interesting, nothing seems to be able to match the quality that the bodyswapping arc reached.
At its heart, Kokoro Connect is about a group of friends helping each other to overcome past traumas and self-destructive worldviews. There was nothing more perfect for this than body swapping. There has not been a scene since the arc that has been half as powerful as the leadup to Iori’s “death.” That scene played with hefty concepts of sacrifice, the meaning of the self, and acceptance of the finality of death, yet the show has seldom strayed into such deep territory since.
That isn’t to say that Kokoro Connect’s second half is bad, by any means. It’s still a show both fun and dramatic, striking a fantastic balance between the two.
The main problem here is that Kokoro Connect is not complete. The end of the “final” episode seemed somewhat rushed, and for good reason: four BD-exclusive episodes remain to finish the story. Thankfully, not many loose ends remain, but the ultimate fate of the Taichi love triangle and the truth behind Heartseed still seem quite far off.
Though it may be incomplete, though it may have peaked early, Kokoro Connect is still an excellent show, one that I recommend to any fans of the more emotional side of the slice of life genre.
Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita
My standout show of the summer by far (though I haven’t watched Kokoro Connect as my two coworkers keep telling me to. I’ll get around to it eventually). I don’t need to bore you with summaries so instead here is exactly what I thought about the series.
Chronologically, the show is out of order but it does it to get rid of the purely gag and comedic episodes out of the way first while hinting at a much darker thematic element that builds later on. That’s not to say the series just suddenly gets dark and moody halfway into the series. No, it’s a black comedy through and through led by our porcelain faced heroine whom I’ve dubbed Realpolitik-san. But the series raises a question that wasn’t asked in the first episode: “What is it like to live at the dawn of humanity’s extinction?”
In the first episode it was taken for granted that the world is ending, that fairies are prancing about, and that skinned and headless chickens can suddenly become conscious. Suddenly seeing the Pioneer and Voyager becoming human like robots doesn’t seem so crazy in comparison. But it takes these absurd scenarios and asks questions about loneliness, friendship, and desperation. These aren’t uncommon questions, especially in anime, but I like how it coats it in a vibrant candy shell that makes the pill easier to swallow.
The last two episodes especially plays around with duplicity especially well. We know the heroine has a tendency to withhold her true self, but this isn’t just a special ability reserved for particularly clever main characters. Everyone in the world is hiding something underneath that thin layer of skin and it may not always be a calculative mind or manipulative intentions. Sometimes what simmers underneath could be terrifying, obsessive, poisonous and it’s a fool who thinks only themselves capable of hiding their true face.
And there’s more of these ideas that run just underneath the laugh out loud, WTF comedy of the series. The themes of identity and how it forms when there isn’t anyone around to reinforce them. The constant marching of human ambitions and scientific pursuits with complete disregard for (ironically) humanity. In the end Humanity Has Declined was very enjoyable. It was funny, it was absurd, it was dark, it was insightful, and it was original. And that’s really all I could’ve asked for.
Yuru Yuri S2
I said in my initial impressions that this was a 4 girl ensemble comedy with yuri undertones. Eleven episodes later and I can’t say that the show deviated too much from that formula except for one thing. It was absolutely adorable and funny.
Unlike the long breakdown I did on my previous series I can’t really do the same thing here because this is simply a fluffy series that’s clever enough that it can get away with cute girls doing cute things and the whole thing will come off as…well cute.
I dropped it near the end but not for lack of interest. This is a very funny comedy with some very funny characters (Momiji has the best character of summer 2012 potential). No the reason I dropped this show is sort of a problem I have with some other series and it’s all completely my fault. I read the manga and everything sort of became redundant. Some series have staying power for me to enjoy the anime despite reading the manga but others don’t have that weight. Also, the main heroine is someone I’m not a huge fan of so I didn’t really tend to stick around. I mean she just kept complaining about how she didn’t want to stop taking everybody’s good fortune. Still if you are new to the series then I absolutely recommend this show for a good laugh or seven.
I loved Joshiraku. I loved it so much it hurt a little. On paper, Joshiraku was about five girls who spend most of their time in a room and talk about mundane things. I know what you’re thinking. It sounds too good to be true. Well it was everything I ever wanted and I’m so glad that it lived up to my expectations. The pedigree here is that it was written by Kōji Kumeta (Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei) and I’m glad that his machine-gun wit was on full display. Now I don’t know if you remember, but I love anything slice-of-life, and comedic variations are the best ones.
Yes some references flew over my head but as a whole the show was completely enjoyable and tied for my favorite show of the season. Seriously, I cannot understate how much I loved this show. While Jintai was a show I watched and examined critically, Joshiraku was the show that I could sit back and relax with, all while laughing my ass off. Also, and I know this is a weird point to end with, but I loved how these girls were adults. I mean there’s only so much fun you can have with high school girls…wait that came out so bad. Point is, it was refreshing change of pace and you don’t see a lot of girls in anime who are drinking age.
Well there you have it, our thoughts on what we watched this summer. Join us again soon as we venture off into the unknown that is the Fall 2012 season.