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First Look: Anime Winter 2014 – Final

28 Jan

By James Robert Shaw (The Wind up Geek)

First Look: Anime Winter 2014 – Part 1
First Look: Anime Winter 2014 – Part 2

Warning: At least one of the videos contained within this article is not suitable for children.

Thank you all for reading my reviews for the winter 2014 seaon. It took alot of typing and many hours of viewing but in the end it was all fun. Perhaps next season I will have the articles published earlier. I hope to read your comments whether you agree with me or not. But for now enjoy the article. And you can bet your last box of Pocky there will be a spring 2014 article.

D-Fragments
D-Frag!
Diifuragu
ディーふらぐ!

D-FragThe Plot: Kazama Kenji is known as a juvenile delinquent but even with this reputation in mind, the high school’s Game Development Club are desperate to recruit anyone just to keep their club status including Kazama.
The Good: There are some chuckle moments throughout the first episode.
The Bad: The chuckle moments are few. The comedy style feels forced and it is one that doesn’t appeal to me. And after watching the first episode there really isn’t enough to convince me to watch a second episode.
The Ugly: Student body vice president Ataru wanting to catch the female president’s spit. Ick and creepy at the same time.
The Verdict: The first episode feels like there is nothing to drive the show into a position to be a serious contender this season. This series is running on empty.

2 out of 5

Engaged to the Unidentified
Mikakunin de Shinkōkei
未確認で進行形

EngagedThe Plot: Kobeni Yonomori, an ordinary girl, finds out on her 16th birthday that her deceased grandfather had arranged for her betrothel to Hakuya Mitsumine, a boy of equal age. Hakuya moves into the Yonomori household and he’s brought his domineering little sister with him.
The Good: There is a lot that will go on in the series. With many of the characters introduced in the first episode, I can already see how many of the characters will interact with each other. It should make for some good comedy. But what of Hakuya, he is devoid of any real personality. Does the title of the series hint to his lack of persona, his growing up deep in the mountains or could it mean that he is actually an alien from space. But that would give the comedy a more wacky tone. Either way I’m eager to watch.
The Bad: Hakuya’s character is devoid of a personality and as such there is little reason to get involved with the character.
The Ugly: What is it with the titillating photos in the end credits?
The Verdict: Kobeni will get over the shock of being engaged and since Hakuya is a moot character, the laughs will have to come from the interaction between Kobeni’s older sister and Haukya’s younger sister. Unless more characters are introduced or Hakuya gets interesting, the series may grow stale.

3 out of 5

Everyone Gather! Falcom Academy
Minna Atsumare! Falcom Gakuen
みんな集まれ!ファルコム学園

FalcomAcademyThe Plot: Characters from various games released by the Nihon Falcom Corporation come together under one school.
The Good: Good…hmmm…thinking thinking.
The Bad: It’s not as funny as I thought it would be. The episodes are too short.
The Ugly: The fact that this is somehow related to the well-known Ys franchise of games (among others) and this was all that was produced for it.
The Verdict: I’ll play the Ys games but I’ll pass on this animated series.

1.5 out of 5

Fake Love
Nisekoi
ニセコイ

NisekoiThe Plot: As a child, Raku Ichijo made a secret promise of marriage to a girl he can’t remember, but as a teen his mind is on getting through school. But Raku still remembers the promise. For now he wants what any normal student wants and that’s a good education with the hope for a future career. But being the son of a Yakuza boss means there are certain expectations of him. One of those is being forced into a relationship with the daughter of a rival gang. That wouldn’t be so bad if the daughter wasn’t the new transfer student from the United States who kneed him in the face.
The Good: I can almost see the comedy about to burst. Being a Yakuza boss’ son and being paired with a girl he hates means the series can follow the romantic route while still remaining funny. I’m hoping they will deeply explore the day-to-day of being a member of a Yakuza family.
The Bad: This series could see greater things if the animation was better.
The Ugly: The storyline jumps around.
The Verdict: I’m a sucker for a good romance anime style.

3 out of 5

Gakkatsu! (Series 2)
ガッ活!

GakkatsuThe Plot: In a school setting, “Tender Tank” Rareko is always opening up new and sometimes weird debates, creating a more lively classroom.
The Good: The classroom debate has convinced me, If we’re not careful, the banana will go extinct. And what’s with the white rabbit and the kid wearing the motorcycle helmet in the classroom. The animation style reminds me of the series Bromwell High.
The Bad: None.
The Ugly: Nope.
The Verdict: I would like to debate that this is watchable. Oh, and that bananas are sharp if you jab your eye with one.

3 out of 5

Ghost Watch
Yōkai Watch
妖怪ウォッチ

YokaiWatchThe Plot: Level-5’s adaption of their new upcoming Nintendo 3DS game. Kēta Amano releases a trapped ghost named Whisper. In return Whisper befriends Keita and gives him a watch which gives him the power to see spirits. It isn’t long before Kēta, with Whisper as his guide, starts to meet unusual and interesting ghosts, some of whom become his new friends.
The Good: I’m not a fan of Pokemon, it was never my cup of tea. Its counterpart Digimon didn’t impress me either. But I am an instant fan of Ghost Watch. It’s a fun series with some great comedy. One of my laugh out loud moments was a scene where I thought it was going to get overly sentimental but the writers rescued me by using a Looney Toons plot device. I would have watched this in either its animated form or as its computer animated counterpart at the end credits. The backgrounds for the end credits looked so colourful.
And can I mention, Tomokazu Seki was perfect casting as the ghost Whisper. His character’s little flare ups when he has been insulted are funny to listen to.
The Bad: I will safely guess that this series is already primed for the North American market with the United States specifically in mind. Why else would they have Kēta wear a shirt and boots coloured red, white and blue.
The Ugly: I was going to say it is a series for merchandising but playing the Devil’s advocate, any series a child can watch without needing a toy isn’t all that bad. Unlike Go! Go! 575.
The Verdict: Finally a product tie-in series I can enjoy. And the opening song is addicting.

3.5 out of 5

Go! Go! 575

???????????The Plot: Maccha and Azuki and polar opposites, Maccha is quiet and likes to read a good book while Azuki is loud and likes to go places. The series is a tie-in to a multimedia project created by Sega involving tanka and haiku poems.
The Good: Maccha and Azuki are polar opposites but compliment each other. You can believe in their friendship. And you don’t need the app from Sega in order to enjoy this show but it does help.
The Bad: The episodes are too short. It deserves at least 15 minutes per.
The Ugly: Its tied in to a game by Sega.
The Verdict: As much as I dislike the idea of a product tied in this deeply to a animated series, it’s still a heartwarming show to watch.

3 out of 5

Hamatora
ハマトラ

HamatoraThe Plot: A detective agency in Yokohama made-up of minimum holders, human beings who wield special inborn powers, get caught up in serial killings where minimum holders are the victims.
The Good: Hamatora tries to follow in the steps of private investigator stories of book, TV, film and radio. But with very little of the noir and lots of the hip, it has potential. The action could easily get upgraded as it appears most of the PI’s have their own special powers.
The Bad: The narrative inserts are distracting. And the psychedelic colours used when a minimum holder uses his or her powers only detracts from the action scenes.
The Ugly: A elderly maid offering to dress in a school girl uniform for her young master.
The Verdict: As annoying as it is to watch, I’ll give it a chance because I might miss out on a really good mystery series.

3 out of 5

Hōzuki no Reitetsu
鬼灯の冷徹

HozukiThe Plot: Hōzuki is the chief advisor to the lord of Hell, Lord Enma. He’s calm and sadistic. But this demon who carries an intimidating club relaxes in his spare time by watching nature programs and raising his “Goldfish Flowers”.
The Good: It’s interesting to see that hell, at least the Japanese version, is like. It isn’t the place we think it is. There are meetings, budgets, staffing shortages, and workplace inspections. Demons have to work too you know. And they even have their own cafeteria to relax in.
One of the other things that has me appreciating this series even more is the pop culture references used in the series, both modern and historical.
The Bad: Not everyone will appreciate the humour or fully realize the pop culture references, although they are common knowledge in Japan, in North America they are obscure.
The Ugly: Nothing ugly about the series, although I now see that the torture of the damned in the afterlife is all part of a demon’s nine to five job.
The Verdict: It’s a quirky series with weird opening and ending credits.

3.5 out of 5

Inari Kon Kon
Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha.
いなり、こんこん、恋いろは。

InariKonKonThe Plot: Inari Fushimi is a middle school girl who is shy, clumsy and not very bright. But Inari has constants in her life that she can depend on, her two best friends and her Shinto faith. Inari has yet to discover love but she knows she really likes Koujii, a boy at her school. But when she sees Koujii giving a letter to her classmate Akemi, she takes refuge at the Inari shrine where the goddess Uka-no-Mitama-no-Kami appears to her. Out of pity for her plight and as thanks for rescuing one of her fox pups, she grants Inari the power to shape-shift.
The Good: There is space for a lot of feel-good comedy and dramatic moments in Inari. Inari as the character has always tried to do right but the outcome does not always end up in her favour. In Inari there is a character I can sympathize with when she is down and then cheer her on when she gets right back up.
The Bad: I’m wondering what more can be told. Inari learning it is better to be herself than the girl she envies most was resolved in the first episode. There is always the romance angle but how far can they take a series on that alone.
The Ugly: Nothing ugly to trouble the series of Inari.
The Verdict: Unless they can use the shape-shifting plot device to full effect, I give the series a season before it runs out of steam. It could last longer if only because of the compelling main character.

3.5 out of 5

Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! Ren
Chūnibyō demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren
中二病でも恋がしたい 戀

ChunbyoThe Plot: In the second series of the anime, Yuuta and Rikka are now living together after various events. Yuuta wonders what a relationship with a chuuni girlfriend will bring and how he can get closer to Rikka.
The Good: I loved the first series and the second series looks equally as good. We’ve moved past Rikka’s chuuni phase in the story (although it still plays a role) and are now focusing more on the relationship side of things. It appears Riika has influenced Yuuta and he is now willing to reveal his chuuni past.
The Bad: There was a scene in the episode where it cut away prematurely to another scene. But whether that was editing from the animation company or someone else, it is still a minor issue.
The Ugly: Nadda.
The Verdict: I’m glad to have this series back. Time to get in some decent Rikka time.

4.5 out of 5

Maken-Ki! Battling Venus 2
Maken-Ki! Tsū
Maken-Ki! Two
マケン姫っ!通

MakenKiThe Plot: Takeru Ohyama, a plain yet perverted-minded guy is enrolled into a school where combat in magic is taught. Everyone there uses special magical abilities which is activated with a unique item or weapon. Takeru can’t find his unique item to trigger his magical ability. And to make matters worse he meets on his first day girls from his past who, in consensus with other female students, generally don’t like him. Series two continues with Takeru’s daily school life.
The Good: There are some laughable moments in Maken-Ki but I found them at their best when the show used dramatic undertones during trivial situations.
The Bad: Another show with bouncy breasts. Remember when the only bouncy breasts on display were those in the OVA Plastic Little.
The Ugly: Please take into account that I have not seen the first series of Maken-Ki! But in the introduction of the second series, I am led to believe that the group of students, as members of the Magical Security Organization, will fight those using element magic for illegal purposes. Imagine my surprise when they are called to deal with what appears to be a school prank involving stolen underwear. I think the MSO needs to find something better to do with their time.
The Verdict: It is funny in the vein of Porky’s. And if that kind of comedy appeals to you then you may appreciate this series more than I.

2.5 out of 3

Pupa
ピューパ

PupaThe Plot: Utsutsu’s younger sister contracts the Pupa virus and turns into a grotesque monster that feeds on the flesh of animals and humans. In order to save lives Utsutsu offers his body for Yume to feed on.
The Good: I’m not a horror fan but even this anime’s synopsis almost looks too good to pass up. One of the character’s designs even reminded me of the work of Leiji Matsumoto.
The Bad: Clocking in at just over 4 minutes, there wasn’t enough story to give me an appetite.
The Ugly: None to be found.
The Verdict: Nice idea but it has too little of screen time for me to get hooked.

3 out of 5

Silver Spoon (Series 2)
Gin no Saji Dai-2-ki
銀の匙 第2期

GinNoSajiThe Plot: Yugo Hachiken enters his second year at the agricultural school. The second series focuses more on the relationships with his newly found friends.
The Good: Hachiken and friends are back in this second series. The first series dealt with Hachiken’s coming to terms with the agricultural school but now we get opportunities for further character development and a potential romance between Hachiken and Mikage.
The Bad: Nothing bad about a second series.
The Ugly: If the second series is as well received as the first, things could get ugly if no third series is planned.
The Verdict: Welcome back Hachiken and friends. It is great to see you all.

4 out of 5

SoniAni -Super Sonico the Animation-
Super Sonico The Animation
すーぱーそに子 Sūpā Soniko

SonicoThe Plot: Super Sonico is a busy 18-year old girl, she goes to college, plays guitar in a band, models pin-ups and still manages to hold down a job at her grandmother’s restaurant. One night her band, Fastest Speed in Space are late to their own concert, forcing Sonico to perform solo. That incident will change Sonico’s life.
The Good: I really don’t get the appeal of an anime about a corporate mascot. The first episode indicates there will be no serious drama or off the wall comedy, instead we are treated more to a slice of life or the day in a life of Nitroplus’ mascot. It is mildly entertaining.
The Bad: The good can also become the bad. What may appeal to one person will not appeal to another. What we have is a double-edged sword, a cutesy series devoid of any real substance
The Ugly: It’s not great but it’s not ugly either.
The Verdict: I have no reason not to watch it. It’ll pass the time between the anime series I’m seriously following.

3 out of 5

Space Dandy
スペース☆ダンディ

SpaceDandyThe Plot: Space Dandy is a freelance space hunter, someone who searches the far reaches of the galaxy for unidentified alien species to capture. His ship’s crew who aid him in his quest for a quick buck is an outdated robot named QT and Meow, a cat-like creature from Betelguese.
The Good: There was a lot of hype surrounding Space Dandy and Funimation was banking on it to make good. And does it live up to its hype, yes it does!
Dandy will probably be the hit of the season. It has something for everyone young and old. It’s part Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, part Ralph Bakshi and part 1970’s influence all rolled up into a science fiction setting.
Dandy may seem like the perfect cool space dandy but he’s far from perfect. At least him and I see eye to eye on his viewpoint expressed in the episode’s opening.
The Bad: That there isn’t a Space Dandy animated movie already.
The Ugly: The fact that he spends more money at Boobies breastaurants than he does updating the technology in his ship. Have you seen his transporter. For once Dr. McCoy’s fears are founded (okay, besides the transporter malfunction in Star Trek: The Motion Picture).
The Verdict: A colourful feast of galactic proportions. Where do I sign up as one of the crew.

4 out of 5

Strange+
ストレンジ・プラス

Strange+The Plot: Kou is searching for his older brother Takumi who went missing from home, only to find him as the owner of the Mikuni Detective Agency. Kou tries to convince Takumi to return home but Takumi is adamant in his decision not to. Kou decides that if his brother won’t go then he must stay and watch over Takumi.
The Good: It’s funny at least.
The Bad: I’m not a fan of 3-minute mysteries. Strange+ should;ve been a half hour series.
The Ugly: The lack of an animation budget and the lack of proper vocal syncing.
The verdict: Nice story idea, wrong format.

2.5 out of 3

Tonari no Seki-kun
Tonari no Seki-kun: The Master of Killing Time
となりの関くん

TonariThe Plot: Diligent student Rumi Yokoi gets distracted in the middle of class when her next-door deskmate, Toshinari Seki, creates ingenious ways to waste time. As much of a stickler for education Yokoi is, she can’t help but watch Seki’s playtime with envy.
The Good: Watching Seki-kun turn his classmate into a nervous wreck is the comedy gold. If only I wasted time like Seki-kun and do something constructive instead of wasting time by not paying attention and doing nothing, maybe then I wouldn’t have been caught by the teacher as much.
The Bad: How many concepts can the writers come up with for Seki-kun to waste time on. I can’t see the series lasting more than one season.
The Ugly: Nothing ugly to speak of.
The Verdict: A good series to waste time with.

3 out of 5

Wake Up, Girls!

WakeUpGirlsThe Plot: Green Leaves Entertainment is a tiny production company in Sendai. Once a company that managed various entertainers like magicians and pin-up idols, they now find themselves with no clients and a growing stack of bills. Desperate to prevent a financial collapse, the president Tange hatches a plan to create their own pop idol group. Green Leaves sends out their reluctant manager Matsuda to get the job done.
The Good: If you’re not a Japanophile and you need some understanding of Japan’s obsession with Idols, then perhaps Wake Up Girls is a good start. Wake Up makes it very easy to sympathize with the seven protagonists, girls and young women, who only want to make their dreams come true. And that dream is to be recognized by the masses and make a lot of money from it. Yeah, that’s my dream too.
The Bad: The series is a sequel to a feature-length animated film. In order to fully follow along with the story, you have to watch the film.
The Ugly: Only that Japan, like the United States and Canada have their own people in the entertainment industry who do not find it beneath them to sexually exploit talent.
The Verdict: A rise-to-fame story that everyone can follow.

3.5 out of 5

Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil
ウィザード・バリスターズ~弁魔士セシル

WizardBarristerThe Plot: In 2018 Japan, wizards and humans coexist but when it comes to the police upholding the law in this future society, wizards are arrested like humans but they are judged in a magical court of law. To defend their innocence they are appointed wizard barristers. At age 17 Sudo Cecil is employed at the Butterfly Law Offices and has become the youngest wizard barrister. Although she may lack experience, unbeknownst to her she has tremendous magical potential.
The Good: I thought this was either going to be a serious involved courtroom drama or, if the script was bad, one long boring series. I’m glad I was wrong on both counts. Our heroine Sudo Cecil has a heart of gold but don’t let her age fool you, she, like her fellows barristers are more than able to defend their clients and themselves…with a little magic of course.
And with Tokyo’s finest included as the menagerie of characters to watch for, Wizard Barristers looks like it’s ready to take on any competitors this season.
The Bad: Believability. How does someone accomplish becoming a barrister at 17?
The Ugly: Looks beautiful to me.
The Verdict: This anime is guilty of being a hit, court is adjourned.

4 out of 5

Wooser’s Hand-to-Mouth Life: Awakening Arc
Wooser no Sono Higurashi Kakusei-hen
うーさーのその日暮らし 覚醒編

WooserThe Plot: Wooser appears to be a cute and sweet animal but inside he has a wicked heart.
The Good: The animation is bright and cheerful.
The Bad: A character resembling a floppy dog who oogles over teenage girls. That appears to be all this series is really offering.
The Ugly: The female robot character’s voice is highly annoying.
The Verdict: A little too wicked for my liking.

2.5 out of 5

World Conquest Zvezda Plot
Sekai Seifuku ~ Bōryaku no Zvezda
世界征服~謀略のズヴィズダー~

WorldConquestThe Plot: Teenager Jimon Asuta doesn’t see eye-to-eye with his father, he believes his father’s work is designed to make people’s lives miserable and as such he wants nothing to do with the family business. Reluctant to go home, he wanders the streets after the city’s curfew. There he meets a little girl on a tricycle named Hoshimiya Kate. He learns she wants to conquer the world and it appears she has some surprisingly powerful soldiers to help her.
The Good: This has to be the most refreshing anime of the winter season. I have not seen the like of it before. It feels so original and yet it appears to draw influence from science fiction B-films. Want to know how I can tell, just listen to the first episode’s musical score.
The characters themselves are a marvel to look at and I’m hoping they are released in vinyl figure format. Roboko has to be my favourite, she’s as silent as a ninja. But when it comes to personality, I still haven’t decided who I like the best.
The Bad: Are you crazy!
The Ugly: It would only get ugly if someone doesn’t properly merchandise this series. I can see Sekai cosplayers as early as summer 2014.
The Verdict: Anime gold!

4.5 out of 5

Z/X Ignition

ZXIgnitionThe Plot: Five black points appear on the Earth creating gateways to five parallel worlds in different time frames. Amazing creatures appear from the gates and begin their invasion of the planet. In order for each race to survive they must destroy the other four races.
The Good: The Z/X characters are really well done. My favourites thus far is the Black Blade Sieger and Ultimate Dinosaur Orichalcum Tyranno.
The Bad: I have no feelings for the human characters of this series and I couldn’t care if they live or die. This is entirely due to the fact that the humans do no amount of fighting themselves in the first episode. They use their Z/X fighters to do it for them. You can’t respect or cheer on a character who doesn’t have a backbone.
The Ugly: From what was offered as the origin story, I’m still lost and confused as to who is fighting whom and who started what. I know what I wrote for the plot above but I had to visit a website to get that much information. There really is very little explanation offered in the first episode.
The Verdict: If I’m not able to grasp what is going on in the first episode, there is no reason to watch a second in hopes that things will be explained.

2.5 out of 5

First Look: Anime Winter 2014 – Part 1
First Look: Anime Winter 2014 – Part 2

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