Friday, October 17, 2014

Fall 2014: What I'm Watching (Part 1)

It's that time again to go over all the shows I'm watching this season. Yes, I'm doing this a bit earlier than normal. That's mainly because I've decided on my final watchlist earlier this season. The shows this season that I had the most initial interest in have shown themselves to be worthy of my interest, and others that I've tried out have also show to have quite some potential. The result? A massive list of 16, possibly 17 new shows that I'll be following this season. (There's one show that only just aired that I haven't gotten to watch yet; if I decide to follow it, it'll be added to Part 2.)

So without further ado, let's get to the first eight shows that I plan to be following.

As a new feature, if you want to skip to a particular show's introduction, click on one of the links below. (Edit: They're working now.)

Amagi Brilliant Park
Celestial Method (Sora no Method)
Chaika -The Coffin Princess- Avenging Battle (Hitsugi no Chaika Avenging Battle)
Denki-gai no Honya-san
A good librarian like a good shepherd (Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai)
Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works
Le Fruit de la Grisaia (Grisaia no Kajitsu)
Girl Friend BETA (Girlfriend (Kari))




Amagi Brilliant Park

Roller Coaster Tycoon: The Animation.
Kanie Seiya is invited at gunpoint by his classmate Isuzu Cento and taken to the decrepit amusement park, Amagi Brilliant Park, or Amaburi. After seeing just how bad the situation in the park is, he learns that the park is actually run by beings from the magical world of Maple Land, who use the happiness of park visitors as their life source, and that if the park does not get 250,000 visitors in three months, the park will be closed down, threatening the very existence of these beings. Kanie must work with the various, eccentric workers of the park to bring Amaburi back to life.

Kyoto Animation's latest work is a light novel adaptation from a work penned by the author of Full Metal Panic!, Gatoh Shouji (And yes, that one guy up there does look awfully similar to Fumoffu...) There's definitely some interesting potential in this show, not just from the author, studio, or director (Takemoto Yasuhiro, who worked on Hyouka), but also from the premise, as there are criminally few stories out there that really look at what makes amusement parks successful. And as someone for whom amusement parks have definitely been a significant part of my life growing up, that alone is something that interests me. Of course, there's also the colorful cast and that ever-wonderful KyoAni animation, too. All in all, if amusement parks hold a place in your heart, you want to see what the FMP author is up to, or you are just a fan of Kyoto Animation in general, you should definitely pay a visit to Amaburi.

Amagi Brilliant Park is currently not available for legal streaming anywhere. If it does become available, this will be edited.

Celestial Method
(Japanese name: Sora no Method)

Close encounters of the moe kind.

Nonoka returns to her hometown after seven years, and finds to her surprise a giant, mysterious saucer in the sky above the town. She also meets a mysterious, blue-harked girl named Noel, who says she had been waiting for her. As she spends time with Noel and with some other girls and one guy, she might come to remember a wish they made seven years ago together, and learn more about Noel and the saucer.

Celestial Method is an original anime by a completely new anime company, 3Hz. It has the feel of a P.A.Works show, though, with its atmospheric, slice-of-life-esque drama, cute character designs, and very high-level animation. So far, the drama is working well, providing emotional connection while still providing a relaxing atmosphere to the show. One other factor to this show is the creator, Hisaya Naoki, who previously worked on the scripts for Kanon and sola, both of which were solid character-driven dramas with a hint of the supernatural. Both of those also had tragic elements, and it's unlikely this show will be all smiles and rainbows, either. But with the strong execution of the show so far, whatever lies in wait for this group of childhood friends (and I'm always interested in shows about groups of childhood friends), it should be worthwhile.

Celestial Method is streaming on Crunchyroll.

Chaika -The Coffin Princess- Avenging Battle
(Japanese name: Hitsugi no Chaika AVENGING BATTLE)


New season! More action! Shocking truths! Grateful.
Sequel Alert: This is a direct sequel to the first season of Chaika -The Coffin Princess-, so watch that first.

I definitely enjoyed the first season of Chaika a lot. This sort of fantasy series is really quite a treat, with its combination of great characters, fascinating worldbuilding (that refrains from extensive info-dumping and allows the viewer to learn things as they go along), and exploration of some interesting themes. Of course, there's no one better for this kind of stuff than Ichiro Sakaki, who's already proven his worth with Scrapped Princess and Outbreak Company. It's definitely a show worth checking out from the beginning, especially if you like exploring the theme of "what do war-focused soldiers do when a war is over?"

Both seasons of Chaika -The Coffin Princess- are streaming on Crunchyroll.

Denki-gai no Honya-san


Working for the Comiket.
On Akihabara's "Electric Street" (Denki-gai) is the Umanohone bookstore, where a number of eccentric people, plus the normal Umio, work. They have to deal with all sorts of unique challenges, such as release-day insanity and visits from government porn inspectors. And in the process, they may develop relationships with each other.

Working!! meets Genshiken in this work-com about an anime bookstore in Akihabara (modeled off the actual Toranoana bookstore). With a mixture of work-related antics, otaku antics, and straight-up comedic elements, it's definitely a fun show, even if the humor can get a bit raunchy at times. Helping make the comedy work better is a great cast of characters; moreover, while romance definitely seems to be blossoming in this show, it eschews a harem-type setup for a format involving multiple males and females paired one-to-one, reducing the love triangles in favor of surprisingly naturally-developing relationships. It still might not be your type of show, but if it is, it's definitely quite an enjoyable one.

Denki-gai no Honya-san is streaming on Crunchyroll.

A good librarian like a good shepherd
(Japanese name: Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai)

They shall lead you beside quiet reading areas.
Kyotaro attends the massive Shiomi Academy with the goal of doing little more than just going to the school's giant library and reading as many books as he can. However, a run-in with the second-year Tsugumi gets him dragged into helping her with her "Shiomi Happy Project". And all the while, a mysterious "Shepherd" sends him and a group of others mysterious messages...

I've already talked much about this show, as I've blogged about the first two episodes and will continue to blog this show as it airs. It's one of this season's many visual novel adaptations, and in many ways the simplest and most traditional of them, relying more on cute girls and standard harem antics over dramatic and potentially tragic storylines. There is, of course, the whole mystery behind the Shepherds, as well as a "magic bookmark" from Kyotaro's past, and the girls do look to have some meaningful storylines. In the meantime, though, I'm enjoying this show's fun cast of characters, their interactions with each other, and the show's unique setting. It's not a show for everyone, but don't worry; even if it's not for you, you're welcome to keep reading my posts on the show.

A good librarian like a good shepherd is streaming on Funimation.

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works

So as I pray... please be better than the first anime.

Sequel Alert?: Compared to the first Fate/stay night anime that aired in 2006, this version is a complete reboot that adapts a different arc from the original visual novel than that earlier version did. As such, no knowledge of the first anime is necessary. It's also worth noting that Fate/Zero is a prequel to this story.

The Tohsaka family of mages has always sought to win the Holy Grail War, in which seven Masters each summon a Servant, from one of seven different classes and based around different historical heroes, and battle each other until their Servant is the last one standing. The prize is the Holy Grail, which can grant any wish. Rin Tohsaka seeks to summon the strongest Servant, Saber, but instead ends up with Archer, and decides to make the best of her new Servant. Meanwhile, Shirou Emiya finds himself in trouble when he accidentally sees a battle between Servants, and when his life is in danger, he ends up summoning Saber and finds himself thrust into the Holy Grail War.

My impressions of the first Fate/stay night were... not very favorable. It wasn't bad, per se, but it failed to really make much of an impact, and Shirou was pretty intolerable as a male lead, as he took his whole "cannot let the girl fight" attitude too far. That said, this reboot of the story does show some promise that things will turn out better. Having a focus on Rin's story, including all the awesomeness that is Archer, should make things interesting, and ufotable is bringing a much higher quality of animation this time around, so at least it looks better to watch. And the base story of the Holy Grail War is interesting enough that perhaps this fresh take will work for me. At any rate, it is technically a visual novel adaptation, and I'm watching all of those this season, so this is included in that, and so far, it's given me reason to keep watching.

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works is streaming on Crunchyroll. You can also find Fate/Zero there, as well as the spinoff Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya. If you're curious about the first Fate/stay night anime, it is available on Hulu.

Le Fruit de la Grisaia
(Japanese name: Grisaia no Kajitsu)

Pretty much the exact opposite school class size from Good Shepherd.
Yuuji had just one request: be able to live an ordinary school life. Unfortunately, because of his circumstances, the only place that can fulfill his request is Mihama Academy, a secluded institute where five girls with their own circumstances try to live out their own normal lives. And when Yuuji enters the previously all-girls academy, he will inevitably shake things up for both those girls and himself.

Three visual novel adaptations in a row! Le Fruit de la Grisaia is actually the first in a trilogy of visual novels, and it definitely has its own style to it. It also has a rather unique setting and a fun cast of characters... that are a little off their rockers. And, as the first episode hints at, not necessarily in a good way. But thankfully, Yuuji is no ordinary male lead; he clearly has his way of dealing with dangerous girls, and in all of this plays off the girls quite well. It's a show that so far is blending its comedy with its hints of darker things to come quite well. Be warned that there are some fanservice shots (mainly panty shots, plus some fog-obscured nudity), but it's still relatively light and the story is compelling enough that it's not really a big deal for me.

Le Fruit de la Grisaia is streaming on Crunchyroll.

Girl Friend BETA
(Japanese name: Girlfriend (Kari))

Girls do their best now and are preparing.
Based on a mobile dating-sim-esque social game, the anime of this game features a multitude of girls going about their daily lives and interacting with each other. It focuses mainly on a group of five girls, while many other girls make cameos. Despite the show's origins, no male characters play any significant role in this show (as of now).

In other words, this looks to be this season's cute-girls-doing-cute-things show. It's not quite at the high level of such shows attained by, say, Is the order a rabbit?, but if the show can focus more on the girls' friendships with each other, it should at least be a nice, relaxing watch like these shows usually are. And if nothing else, the girls are cute, and I am pretty much contractually obliged to watch at least one CGDCT show every season, so why not one with an overly-affectionate French girl?

Girl Friend BETA is streaming on Crunchyroll.

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Next time: foxes, music, bikes, and mysterious girls, powers, and bug-like creatures! Plus, anime anime and perhaps some heroes.

2 comments:

  1. Amagi Brilliant Park, it had some fanservice in the first ep (non-obscured nudity form a back view, plus the outfits of some girls) that was uncommon for a kyoani show. Is described as ecchi at Baka-Updates, so possibly more is going to appear.

    Chaika, I saw the first season months ago. Is interesting, and I like most of the character designs. And surprisingly, doens't has many fanservice, save from certain bits of scenes from red Chaika and Vivi.

    Denki-gai no Honya-san, I'm avoiding that one. From what I've read looks like a vulgar otaku-pandering show.

    FS/N, I wrote in the Beneath the Tangles's first ep. article comment section about what I didn't liked from the series. Basically, some stuff from the setting, and the portrayal of Rin Tohsaka in certain scenes carried from the +18 VN but in a tame manner (in the 2006 adaptation), I'm speaking of mana transfer. There was a hint of a yuri scene with Rin, in the 2006 anime.

    Girl Friend BETA, I saw the first ep. I noticed certain focus on gymnastic girl body via the clothing design, something strange considering that it looks like a fluffy slice of life, and these don't go for fanservice usually. What worries me is that it can turn into a yuri.

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  2. I was reading about ep. 3 of Grisaia... they showed a character doing certain sexual things (but censored). It seems that they are adding more stuff from the original +18 VN.

    Girl Friend BETA, I saw half of the third episode... it seems that they are including some yuri elements, but from what I've watched, nothing confirmed though, I hope they don't go that route.

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