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Sunday, March 1st, 2015 07:55 pm
 Series: Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de / 異能バトルは日常系のなかで
 Year: 2014 |
 Fall
 Episodes: 12
 Production: TV Tokyo

 Official Summary: Half a year ago, the four members of a literature club, as well as the elementary school niece of their faculty adviser, were bestowed with supernatural powers. The boy in the club, Ando Jurai, became able to produce black flames. The girls acquired a variety of powerful abilities: Tomoyo could slow, speed, or stop time, Hatoko could control the five elements (earth, water, fire, wind, light), little Chifuyu could create things, and Sayumi could repair objects or heal living things. However, since they gained these powers, nothing has really changed in their everyday life. Why have they been given these powers in the first place? Will the heroic fantasy life they imagined these powers would bring ever actually arrive? (via MAL)

Catie's Thoughts: Meh. 

Okay, that's not fair. The series has an interesting premise, which is that there's this epic magical fairy war going on in the background that these kids have no idea about despite having developed random superpowers because of it. It's a slice of life as to what they're doing now, messing around with their powers and being generally nerds. However, underneath that premise is a basically by-the-numbers harem show complete with every girl falling in love with the rather-unlikable MC whose name I've already forgotten despite having just watched it two hours ago.

(It's in the preceding paragraph and I can't even be arsed to match it up.)

There's nothing really wrong with the show. It could be fairly charming, to the right person, I'm just disillusioned and quite bored with harem shows. The girls all have some interesting personalities underneath the stock harem tropes, I just would have been more on board with it if half the show wasn't devoted to each and every girl fawning over and falling for the again-uninspired lead male character.

Watch It: Crunchyroll
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Sunday, March 1st, 2015 07:33 pm
 Series: Hitsugi no Chaika: Avenging Battle / 棺姫のチャイカ AVENGING BATTLE
 Year: 2014 | Fall
 Episodes: 10
 Production: Studio BONES

 Official Summary: The search for the remains of Emperor Gaz continuous. Chaika still in search of knowing who she really is and what her purpose is. Similarly, the Red Chaika continues the search for the rest of Emperor Gaz's remains. The Gillette corporation continues the mission to catch every last Chaika. In their adventure they give a revealing account kept secret by the Emperor, which Chaika, Fredrica, Toru, and Akari decide to uncover. (via MAL)

 Catie's Thoughts: Technically this is just the second half of the series, but as there seems to be a trend of separating the shows by a season. The story picks right up where it left off with no silly thing as a recap to remind you where we were or what was going on.

I really did enjoy the show as a whole, however. Studio BONES does some nice things with their original shows, although the "here's the twist" thing is kind of getting - not old, but perhaps a bit predictable. However all the clues to where the show was going to end up were scattered through not only this season, but from the original season as well. 

This may just be my lack of memory regarding the first season, but it felt like the "whoops surprise here's our mentor we have to fight to the death now" thing came out of left field. I have a vague memory of a flashback from the first part of the show, so it may just be the fact that there was a half-year between that and this to blame. The last two episodes felt a bit rushed and too slow all at once, which is a weird pacing issue - I'm not sure I liked how quickly Toru just threw away his identity? It felt like it came out of nowhere, although he was much more a subtle character so I probably missed the signs. 

Overall I did like the show - it doesn't stand out among BONE's best by a wide margin, but even BONE's middling series are a head and shoulders above a lot of other studios.

Watch it: on Crunchyroll, where else

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Sunday, March 1st, 2015 07:09 pm

   Series: Haikyuu!! / ハイキュー!!
   Year: 2014 | Spring
   Episodes: 25
   Production: Production IG

   Official Summary: A chance event triggered Shouyou Hinata's love for volleyball. His club had no members, but somehow persevered and finally made it into its very first and final regular match of middle school, where it was steamrolled by Tobio Kageyama, a superstar player known as "King of the Court." Vowing revenge, Hinata applied to the Karasuno High School volleyball club... only to come face-to-face with his hated rival, Kageyama!


A tale of hot-blooded youth and volleyball from the pen of Haruichi Furudate!! (via MAL)

   Catie's Thoughts: I'd been circling this series for a while because, well. Haikyuu is everywhere, really. It's super-popular, got a big cast of male characters - it's a shounen sports anime ffs. I remember how Prince of Tennis kinda ate a huge chunk of my friendslist whole (although I could never get into it myself). So I waffled, and I was finally talked into watching it - and I enjoyed the hell out of it. Mainly, because I wasn't expecting a sports anime to be cute.

I almost called it quits during the first episode though, but it's certainly worth it to stick it out. Every single character in this show is amazing, and adorable in their own right. The relationships between the characters, Hinata's boundless enthusiasm, and the way that they grow and change certainly makes up for any bits lacking. Even the way the games are staged is nice, although near the end we certainly fell into the "people in the stands explaining everything" trope that makes me go ehhh. 

The animation is very much on point, and I can only hope that IG gets to do season 2 as well. I will be there for that, certainly.

Watch It: Crunchyroll

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Friday, February 6th, 2015 09:31 am
  Title: Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun! / 月刊少女野崎くん
  Year: 2014 | Summer
  Episodes: 12
  Production: TV Tokyo

  Official Summary: High school student Chiyo Sakura has a crush on schoolmate Umetarou Nozaki, but when she confesses her love to him, he mistakes her for a fan and gives her an autograph. When she says that she always wants to be with him, he invites her to his house and has her help on some drawings. Chiyo discovers that Nozaki is actually a renowned shoujo manga artist named Sakiko Yumeno. She then agrees to be his assistant in order to get closer to him. As they work on his manga, they encounter other schoolmates who assist them or serve as inspirations for characters in the stories. (via MAL)

  Catie's Thoughts: I have no idea what I expected with this show, even with everything I'd seen on tumblr. I cackled a lot, to the point where I had to pause or even rewind because I missed things. It is genuinely hilarious - and while Nozaki's obliviousness does get a little old, the supporting cast is fantastic. I want to see more of all of them.

  Watch It: Crunchyroll
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Friday, February 6th, 2015 09:25 am
  Title: Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]
  Year: 2014 | Fall
  Episodes: 12
  Production: ufotable

  Official Summary: New anime adaptation of Fate/stay night, following the Unlimited Blade Works route. (via MAL)

  Catie's Thoughts: All I really remember of the original Fate/Stay Night anime was that it was fairly disappointing after a promising start, and that it went into harem territory quickly. Also I seem to remember an onsen episode, but I might be mixing that up in my head with a different series. UBW, on the other hand, eschews all of that nonsense and gets right to business.

Having watched Fate/Zero helps quite a bit, and while it's not super fresh in my memory it's enough that I know what's going on without the exposition. The animation in this show is insane, it's gorgeous - and I'm waiting on pins and needles for the second season, because I want to know what happens next because I genuinely don't know.

  Watch It: Crunchyroll, the land of anime
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Friday, February 6th, 2015 09:03 am
  Title: Donten ni Warau / 曇天に笑う
  Year: 2014 | Fall
  Episodes: 12
  Production: VAP 

  Official Summary: When swords were outlawed in the eleventh year of the Meiji Era, the mighty samurai population began to dwindle. Those who rejected the ban on blades rebelled, causing violent unrest to erupt throughout the countryside. To combat the rise in criminal activity, an inescapable lake prison was constructed. Three young men, born of the Kumoh line, were given the duty of delivering criminals to their place of confinement—but could there be more to their mission than meets the eye? (via MAL)

  Catie's Thoughts: So I started this because - anime set during a very specific era of Japan's recent past that I'm very interested in, plus a story about brothers, which is my jam. I did not expect: to get slammed in the face with this show and leave me for dead on the side of the road. That official summary up there makes the show seem a lot less heavy than it ends up being, and when a Certain Occurrence happens at episode six, well ....

I really did like this show a whole lot more than I thought I would. The show does suffer a bit from strange pacing, but by the time you reach the end you understand what the intention of the pacing is. Also, nearly all the characters are touched upon and their stories are all integral to the final bit of the show - and while a lot of tertiary characters aren't really introduced, or others have small bits clearly hinting at a larger story, it's still enough to get the gist of the show across. 

On a personal note, I kept cracking myself up because certain characters are expies of Ed and Masayoshi, and, well - that's just hilarious.

  Watch It: Funimation
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Sunday, January 18th, 2015 07:46 pm
 Title: Amagi Brilliant Park / 甘城ブリリアントパーク
 
Year: 2014 | Fall
 Episodes: 13
 Production: KyoAni

 Official Summary: Seiya was forced to accept an invitation to an amusement park by the mysterious and beautiful girl Isuzu. What he didn't know was that she would bring him to the decrepit Amagi Brilliant Park, Japan's most disappointing amusement park. Seiya is introduced to the leader of the Park, the "real princess" Latifah, who suddenly entrusts him with saving the park, which is in danger of shutting down. Amagi Brilliant Park, it turns out, is not just any amusement park, but rather one populated by fairies. (via MAL)

 Catie's Thoughts: Brilliant, light-hearted piece of fluff that makes good use of KyoAni's gorgeous visuals. It's silly and absurd in the best ways, from mascots who are really real (and lecherous dicks) to elemental fairies who sit on social media and pretty much everything in between. One mascot in particular might look a little familiar to anyone who's seen Full Metal Panic!, and yes, they make an aside (walking copyright violation, lol). 

The characters are all likable even when they're dicks, the only thing I had issues with was that Sento pulled her magic rifle from under her skirt, but you never actually got flashed her panties so okay. Also there are so many characters who deserved more time and exploration, but. Enjoyable fluff and a great way to spend a weekend, although I did spend an inordinate amount of time chuckling that Seiya looks pretty much exactly like Haru with brown eyes and actual emotions, but that's KyoAni for you.

Watch It: Not available for streaming that I could find, Funimation has the rights.
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Sunday, January 18th, 2015 07:34 pm
 Title: Akame ga Kill! / アカメが斬る!
 Year: 2014 | Summer
 Episodes: 24
 Production: Square Enix

 Official Summary: In a fantasy world, fighter Tatsumi sets out for the Capitol to earn money for his starving village, and finds a world of unimaginable corruption, all spreading from the depraved Prime Minister who controls the child Emperor's ear. After nearly becoming a victim of this corruption himself, Tatsumi is recruited by Night Raid, a group of assassins dedicated to eliminating the corruption plaguing the Capitol by mercilessly killing those responsible. (via MAL)

 Catie's Thoughts: I went back and forth on this show a lot. It feels familiar while still keeping it fresh - it reminds me a great deal of how I felt when I first got into anime, and this brand new fantasy world opened up, full of characters with a quest to follow. The difference here is that the quest is assassination, and when Tatsumi got all starry-eyed about doing it FOR JUSTICE, he got smacked down immediately with "no, we're murderers."

And while this again feels like a late 90's, early 00's series, there are a lot of earmarks that it is not. The casual violence, for once - and the fact that characters die, and stay dead, and there's often not a lot of warning at all. In fact, if you embark on this show, I wouldn't get too attached to anyone, it'll save you some heartbreak later.

I really, really enjoyed the series and the character dynamics a lot more than I thought I would. I don't know if I would want to watch it again (see: heartbreak) but I would buy a release and keep it on my shelf. 

Watch it: Crunchyroll, of course.

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Sunday, January 18th, 2015 07:14 pm

 Title: Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru! / 結城友奈は勇者である
 Year: 2014 |
 Fall
 Episodes: 12
 Production: Dentsu

 Official Summary: The story takes place in the era of the gods, year 300. Yuuna Yuuki lives an ordinary life as a second year middle school student, but she's also a member of the "Hero Club," where club activities involve dealing with a mysterious being called "Vertex." (via MAL)

 Catie's Thoughts: There are two types of magical girl shows: ones where everything is as cute and up-front as it seems, and ones where everything is FUCKED and everyone is going to SUFFER. We seem to be suffering from an excess of the latter, and I firmly blame Madoka for that, but that's neither here nor there. Guess which side of the fence Yuuki Yuuna falls?

There are a lot of things to like about this show. While there is an excess of MAGICAL GIRL = SUFFERING, it does a lot of interesting things. Firstly is Togou, who is wheel-chair bound after an accident had her lose the use of her legs. Even while as a magical girl her legs are not restored, and her costume takes this into account and it's really cool. Yuuki Yuuna herself is an awesome, bubbly protagonist, pretty standard but I liked her. There was also the way the cell phones and smart phone apps tied in to their ability to transform, and the fact that they could force the transformations (which was pretty freaking awesome).

Overall I enjoyed it, even if I'm getting tired of the whole "something bad's going on under the surface" genre in my magical girl shenanigans. I don't really have any desire to see it again though.

Watch it: On Crunchyroll, of course.