By James Robert Shaw (The Wind up Geek)
First Look: Anime Winter 2014 – Part 1
Plot: Watase Aoba is like many high schoolers in the present day; he is good at basketball and he has exceptional friends. But a returning student named Yumihara reveals he is destined for greater things in a future where the world is locked in war.
The Good: There wasn’t much to go by in the first episode. The series fed me tidbits of what was to come but and there was enough to keep me hungry for more. Give me mechs, give me a hero and I’ll be the biggest fan you ever saw. And yes, there is even hints of a possible romance with a schoolmate. Yes, some guys watch romances. Although we don’t tell you, we watch chick flicks, but for us it’s called anime.
The Bad: A few of the character designs are too similar. So close were they that I confused the main character with a side character.
The Ugly: This series is looking good because I couldn’t find (yet) anything wrong with it.
The Verdict: This is my type of series. I’m looking forward to episode 2.
4.5 out of 5
Plot: Nanase Takeshi is a first year high schooler with a difficult home life. “I’d go anywhere to get out of this house…” Nanase tells himself, “even to hell.”
But little does he suspect Hell would be a place inside of a mirror called “The Ruined World.”
While rescuing a female magician (Aiba Mui) from her pursuers, Nanase comes into contact with her magic and that awakens the magical powers within him and his friends. To protect them all from the Ghost Trailers (Magicians who exist with spirits), Aiba takes them to the Subaru Magic Academy for protection and to learn how to deal with their newly found powers.
The Good: Magical Warfare doesn’t waste anytime in getting to the action. The thought of a magical academy in a apocalyptic world as the last bastion of good has its appeal.
The Bad: Some of the story is hard to believe. Here you have a main character who, although is dating a fellow student, has never kissed a girl. And what exactly does it take to shock and startle Nanase? He was startled when he discovered a unconcious Aiba. Yet he doesn’t even flinch when she awakens and points an oversized handgun at him.
The Ugly: Oh come on, you have some serious drama going on and the writers decide to throw in a boob joke. Just what did that accomplish?
The Verdict: This one caught me by surprise. With its limited animation, I wasn’t sure that I could get into this series, however the storyline won me over. But, if the boob jokes appear with more frequency in later episodes, consider this series dropped. It’s either you want a good action drama or you want a comedy with sexual innuendo throughout.
To be honest, it’s very hard to have both and keep either side of the fandom watching.
3.5 out of 5
Plot: Kousaku attends an agricultural high school, has dreams of becoming a farmer in Tokyo and keeps an unhealthy obsession for J-pop idol Yusa Kubakabe. But as weird as he is he has some good friends who stick by him, including his newest friend Ringo Kinoshita.
The Good: The series’ humor is wacky. It rather helps the series along by convincing me that no matter how many things appear odd and out-of-place, It feels like it’s all a part of their every day occurences. It’s not that bad.
Like another series, Silver Spoon, this show may start to make references to real life places but with a twist in place names. Kousaku’s dream of attending Furikoshi High School in Tokyo is obviously a nod to Horikoshi High School, a school famous for having a number of Japanese celebrities as graduates.
The Bad: Calling this series a “slice of life” is a stretch of the imagination. And just to enforce that concept, the writers have a few creepy moments in store for you.
The Ugly: The 40-year old female teacher who isn’t beyond taking nude photos of herself … covered in oil.
The Verdict: The laughs outweigh the skin crawling moments. And the friendship seems genuine.
3 out of 5
My Big Sister Arrived
Onee-chan ga Kita
Plot: Tomoya’s father has recently remarried and now he finds himself burdened with a step sister (Ichika). Tomoya is determined not to accept his new family but Ichika has plans of forming more than a family bond with him.
The Good: The light-hearted comedy and cute animation helps to dull the fact that this is an underlyingly creepy series. For you fans out there who have always dreamed of being closer to your step-brother/sister, this may be for you.
The Bad: Ichika’s response to her friend telling her “Size has nothing to do with love” was “You’re right. There’s no point if it’s just big.” Yeah, call it innuendo or call it what you will–it leaves me wondering just what does this girl have planned.
The Ugly: Ichika’s unhealthy obsession with Tomoya via hand-made dolls.
The Verdict: Ick! But its a cute ick.
1.5 out of 5
The Plot: Fifth-grader Wakaba can see spirits invisible to all but a handful of people. Because of her gift, the children at her school consider her cursed. But this strangeness only seems to attract Azuma Reiko, her new classmate interested in the occult. Wakaba also makes new friends with a small pink round creature whose only words are “Pupipō!”
The Good: I’ve always been interested in a series where the characters can see ghosts like Dead Last (2001) co-starring Tyler Labine. And this is no exception. Although it appears to be aimed at a younger audience, it seems to communicate with children on an even level rather than talk down to them as many North American children’s series tend to do. Teenagers and adults may find much to like here.
The Bad: Nothing bad to be found here.
The Ugly: It could get ugly quickly if the new-found creature proves annoying. Jar Jar Binks anyone?
The Verdict: I see dead people and I like it.
4 out of 5
Robot Girls Z
Plot: RGZ is a series spun from the Toei Robot Girls special of 2011. In this incarnation, there is a whole new team of Toei Robot Girls. Their job is to defend the future power source known as “Photon Energy” from the Mechanical Beast Team from Dr. Hell’s Underground Empire and to hand out leaflets to the public.
The Good: Anyone who grew up on the Mazinger Z franchise of the 1970’s will recognize most of the characters used in this series and will surely laugh at the jokes relating to those series. But fans who are unaware of such series need not fear–there is enough humor for even a newbie to enjoy.
The Bad: The usual Japanese obsession with undergarments and breasts. Fortunately these shots are minimal.
The Ugly: Nothing ugly per se but “Z” (Mazinger Z) needs to really work on her Photon Beam aim. Between her and the other two girls, the danger is posed more to food vendors in the immediate vicinity than to their enemies.
The Verdict: A great series sprinkled with a hint of nostalgia.
4 out of 5
Plot: Haruka Takayama and Yuu Sonoda were inseparable as friends in junior high but now that they are in their first year of high school, they must widen their social circles in order to adapt to senior school life. To show to each other that their friendship still means something, they do something special that neither of them will forget.
The Good: It’s a cute series which explores the possibility of two female friends discovering each other with a kiss. Is it just the innocence of youth or is it meant to become something more? It’s a hard subject to explore in any entertainment medium.
But fortunately the friction the story could cause is lessened when placed in a comedic atmosphere.
The Bad: The characters are one-sided. Perhaps as the series progresses, their personalities will shine through. Much of the first episode went on about the first kiss. If other episodes follow the same suit, expect people to grow tired of being constantly reminded of “the kiss.”
The Ugly: If you are a fan with outdated views then the only ugly you would consider is same sex kissing.
The Verdict: I like to see how this series develops. Should the series carry on talking about the kiss that happened in the first episode, I’ll walk away.
3.5 out of 5