If you can’t convince, confuse.
Copy-paste preface: Even though this post should technically be more of a “season review”, I think the term “retrospective” would more suitable since this isn’t going to be the comprehensive, in-depth reviews that you might find on other sites. Instead, I’m going to
briefly talk about my overall thoughts on a show, bring up whatever is worth mentioning, as well as anything else that comes to mind. Since this post isn’t strictly a review, there won’t be any explicit recommendations, that is up to you to decide, as all I’m providing here is my humble honest opinion.
Season overview: *erhem* My memories of Spring’13 shows aren’t exactly the freshest, considering that we’re about 1/3 of the way into the current season. The one thing that kept “haunting” me is the conclusions – or the lack thereof – that a surprising number of shows suffered from. Tying up a series is just as important, if not more important than an introduction, simply because if a show did not manage to initially impress, it can be salvaged halfway through, or by having a satisfying ending. In other words, if the start of a show sucked, there can be redemption; second chances, etc.
Now let’s reverse the situation, if the finale of a show felt largely inconclusive, or otherwise lacking, is there anything that could remedy that? The short answer is: “No, not really”. No matter how well a show carries itself throughout its run, if the ending falls short, it really leaves a lot to be desired. Hence the focus of this particular retrospective would be on each shows’ conclusion and how it affected the entire show as a whole.
Moral of the story: Final impressions > initial impressions.
Suisei no Gartantia – The tale of Gargantia is a strange one. It started out epic; then got “boring” around the halfway mark; then got exciting again and finally after a climatic battle towards the end, everything became “normal” again in its epilogue. Simply put, I liked Gartantia. Maybe it has something to do with the “Urogen” factor (despite Urogen being responsible for just the first episode or something along those lines); original anime, especially well-developed ones, are hard to come by these days. I’m not just talking about the story itself, but also technicalities such as animation quality; character designs; staff and cast and so on. Gargantia is by no means a “masterpiece” (if such a term should even exist), as the pacing felt a little off – the show almost seemed like a true slice-of-life at certain points. Despite the slice-of-life moments sprinkled throughout the entire show, there was stuff to be pondered over, mainly through the male lead Ledo’s perspective – the military lifestyle that he used to lead contrasted to the freedom that he now has.
The conclusion to the series left enough room open for a sequel, because to me this isn’t a true “and they lived happily ever after” type of ending, but one that says that there is a potential for another season depending on other factors (sales; logistics; staff). So there we go, an example of a show that has tied up the loose ends well (strictly speaking it can be considered inconclusive) while also leaving the possibility of a continuation there.
Haiyore Nyaruko-san W – The only conclusive statement I could make right now about the show is that Nyrauko W isn’t as funny compared to its predecessor. For one; the number of references seems to have dropped (or maybe I suck at catching them), for two; the show just didn’t tickle my funny bone like S1 did. Maybe it was just me getting used to the antics of Nyaruko and gang, or that the quality + quantity of these gags fell sharply in the second season. In short, Nyaruko W was nowhere near the first season in terms of hilarity and sheer entertainment value. I don’t know what else should I really add, except that it felt lacking, almost as if Xebec wanted to have a sequel for the sake of having a sequel. Nyaruko W was by no means “unwatchable”, just that when you compare and contrast the two seasons together, the difference becomes as clear as night and day.
Karneval – The culprit of all culprits (speaking about inconclusive endings). For every question that Karneval answered,
two three more questions appeared. Granted, I wasn’t exactly the target audience for this show, but I felt that the plot direction of this show was a total train-wreck. Based solely on the anime, if anyone could tell me what the larger picture is without referring to the original source material, I’ll be seriously impressed, because at the end of it all I still have no idea what Karneval is about. To me, what this adaptation effectively did was to show the viewers the tip of an iceberg, without giving a slightest hint as to what the larger picture is. I do not know if the manga should be faulted for this (since sometimes adaptations follow the source material too faithfully, while failing to modify the contents to suit a one-cour format), or if someone over at Manglobe should be fired for butchering the adaptation. What I do know is that for anyone who is as confused as I am, they would be better off reading the manga instead of watching this anime (and if you do please tell me what is going on). Karneval failed to do justice to its source material and perhaps that move might trigger more people to check the manga out instead..could this be come next-level marketing tactics?
Photokano – Sadly, there wasn’t a whole lot of photography elements in Photokano that I would’ve liked to see. Instead, Photokano turned out to be the most depressing show for me to watch in the entirety of the Spring season (not even Aku no Hana came close). While I’ve long taught myself to differentiate between fiction and reality, watching a generic male lead “catch’em all” just by being there (aka all the girls having interest in him for no apparent reason) and having a camera (which actually doesn’t even matter) makes it utterly disheartening for the single souls out there. Of course, I’m half-joking when I said Photokano was dejecting to watch, the truth of the matter is that Photokano can be summed up as yet another generic fan-service show that is easily forgotten (apart from having a stellar seiyuu cast and the occasional photography theme).
Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru – In light of the disappointments so far, Oregairu is one of the two shows that surpassed my expectations. Despite its title, Oregairu was never a strict RomCom in my eyes. Rather, it seemed more like a satirical jab at the mainstream RomCom genre – with the protagonist deconstructing the various types of human/social interactions and the “ugly truths” behind it. For me, what the MC said made a lot sense, and sometimes I wonder if people are truly oblivious to these facts or if they are just turning a blind eye to it. There wasn’t much comedy, let alone romance elements in Oregairu, however that did not deter me from thoroughly enjoying this show as I consider it different from the norm. Words don’t exactly describe the intricacies of Oregairu enough. That said, it might not be everyone’s cup of tea (especially if you’re expecting a typical RomCom), though I sure as hell would like to see a season 2 just for the sake of having some actual romance going on between the characters.
Hataraku Maou-sama! – The other series that ended up exceeding expectations is none other than Hataraku (or however you want to abbreviate it). Initially I ended up chopping this show for the sake of watching less, however I did decide to give the first episode a shot to give it a chance and I never looked back after that. On the exterior, Hataraku seems to be nothing more than a generic RomCom with supernatural aspects, though at heart it is “something more”. There was nothing overly special about the plot, nor its animation quality, but what won me over is the sheer comedic factor (shout-outs to the many contorted faces). To be frank, what is funny or not is subjective to every individual, and I am someone who can be hard to amuse as Nyaruko W missed the mark, whereas Hataraku manages to score. The fairly open-ended conclusion (not that I minded this particular one) made a second season a possibility, needless to say I look forward to that.
Aku no Hana – Long live rotoscoping, or not. While there are merits (namely a more realistic feel) for choosing to adopt this style of animation over the traditional norm, the drawbacks are there as well. In my
humble honest opinion, I felt that it would’ve been better for Aku no Hana to be animated like any other anime, since rotoscoping makes me feel like I’m watching a live-action drama instead of an anime. As for the story itself, I’ve went ahead and marathon-ed the manga up to where it’s currently at. Aku no Hana isn’t as dark and grimy as I thought it would be (I’ve seen worse), though it is still not for people who can’t stomach depressing stuff. In fact, the worst is yet to come as a second half is announced during the finale.
Since I’ve read the manga, I already know what to expect, so I might not even watch the second season if the rotoscoping is to continue. The main reason being the rotoscope and the other being that this adaptation is extremely slow-paced (for someone who has read the manga). To reinforce the latter point, I remember long periods of silence in some episodes, from anywhere between 3 to 7 minutes where there was no dialogue and minimal action going on, I get that this is being done for the sake of impact but come on.. MINUTES of pure silence? Again, I have nothing against the actual content of the show, I even “liked” it so to speak, I just don’t exactly appreciate how this adaptation was executed. Manga is the way to go, at least where I’m concerned.
Namiuchigiwa no Muromi-san – There are only 3 reasons why I stuck with Muromi throughout the season.
- It is 10 minutes long as opposed to the usual – Speaks for itself, if I had to sit through 20 minutes of Muromi things might have been different.
- I don’t tend to drop shows – I rarely drop shows unless it is absolutely unwatchable for some unlikely reason (which is rare because I do research and handpick every show that I watch).
- Yukarin! – Yes, I mentioned somewhere in the past before that sometimes I will watch a mediocre show if there is any well-known seiyuu on board.
I don’t know if there is any redeeming traits about Muromi, apart from Yukarin voicing Muromi, which is the main reason why I even bothered to give this show a shot. Expectations were low, and they remained low. The comedy wasn’t exactly funny and the plot is kinda non-existent so..yeah.
Date A Live – If I could sum DAL up in a single word, it would be “generic”. If I could sum DAL in three words, it would be “generic romance comedy”. While there is nothing wrong with “generic” shows in itself, there isn’t any outstanding attributes to it either. DAL does what its 314259 predecessors have done before it. If you’re looking for something special or must absolutely watch the best of the best, DAL isn’t exactly a good pick. Otherwise, if you’re like me and have no qualms watching “generic romance comedy” as long as it is remotely watchable, then congrats and welcome to the club.
Hentai Ouji to Waranai Neko – (Apologies for having to drop Henneko as I’m still flooded by backlogs) Another culprit when it comes down to having an inconclusive ending, Henneko is a strange show that started out strongly (imo) then started dropping the ball towards the end. To put what I said earlier into perspective, the episode/arcs were either hits or misses. It was such a pity too, as I had semi-high expectations coming into Henneko. Nonetheless, it was still a decent watch on the overall, despite the ending that left me extremely baffled because it totally felt like it wasn’t one at all. Great voice cast; bumpy ride throughout the show; terrible closure.
Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai. – Despite the first few “filler” episodes that focused on a specific side character, most of it was still enjoyable (especially lovely angel Ayase). If anything, I felt that there was more progression between the 3 Ks (Kyousuke, Kirino, Kuroneko) compared to the first season. From what I’ve read/heard, Ayase’s arc was crammed into a single episode, which is a total shame. In light of that, I still think Oreimo is one of the few adaptations that can be considered a success. How success is defined is another topic on its own, but key thing to look out for is the overall execution of the anime as a whole – whether it felt complete or not. Unfortunately, Oreimo also suffered from the inconclusive ending syndrome, as the final episode was easily the weakest link. This show definitely needs a final season, if not we – the followers – will not be able to rest in peace. Alternatively one could also check out the light novels, although I prefer having my characters voiced and animated without having to rely on imagination.
Zettai Bouei Leviathan – If a game scores 7 for game-play, 6 for music, would it be considered a decent game? If a game scores 3 for game-play, 10 for music, would it be considered a decent game? The same analogy applies for Leviathan here. The seiyuu cast earns full marks, but everything else is just mediocre, can it be considered a decent anime? The answer is of course: subjective to each individual. A friendly reminder that this adaptation is actually based off a social/mobile game, making Leviathan ultimately no more than a marketing tactic, hence the sub-par production values. To even hire the biggest names in the industry to voice the characters is something I’m still wondering about, because it really felt a little mismatched.
Psycho-Pass – Surprise! After stalling on PP forever, I decided that I have to drop coverage on this one or I would never get to finish this show. Don’t get me wrong, it is not that I don’t have anything to say about PP, rather I have too much to say about PP to the point that it is actually detrimental and overly time-consuming. As I finished up episodes 9-22 in a single sitting, I found myself having tons to say about each single episode as there were many topics brought up that were worth exploring (such as the definition of charisma). Philosophical shows like PP are a double-edged sword, because I will probably go off on a tangent easily (see the irony), making the post more bloated than it should actually be. Trust me, I hate reading/writing walls of text, so I actually make a conscious effort not to write redundant sentences. Going back to the show, guess what.. the ending was also pretty much inconclusive! This show definitely needs a second season. Make it happen. I’ll probably cover it and then get overwhelmed since I have too much to say again though.. Life is tough.
Originally, I’m really not very picky about specifics, like endings; animation quality; music etc. But so many shows this season had such atrocious endings that I can’t help but notice and point it out. Granted, sometimes these endings are actually meant to leave enough room for a possible second season, so those are actually forgivable. As for the rest that clearly have no followup, or the likelihood of a sequel is very unlikely, it really makes 0 sense for it to end like that.
Once again, I probably blabbered on for more than I would’ve liked, (I blame the amount of shows that I have to mention for that..13) so I’ll end this post with the usual advertisement plug.
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