2014 was a really fantastic year for anime. There were plenty of great shows to choose from. The past couple of years were a bit of a drought to me, but last year was a nice oasis. 2015 is off to a strong start as well. So far, from what has aired, I have been both impressed and a little underwhelmed. Here’s a quick look at what’s been aired so far and my initial impressions thus far.
Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!
The “Magical Girl” genre has been a staple of the anime world since Sailor Moon popularized it. But what happens when you flip the gender but not the role? You get this mind breakingly weird anime. It starts with two of our five protagonists in a bath house as they discuss the importance (or lack there of) for a supplementary dish. A magic pink wombat appears and asks for the boys to help protect the planet. Things only get weirder and more stereotypical from there……Honestly…I don’t what i can say. It was colorful and the animation is well done. But this show flipped the switch way too hard way too fast. I’m sure there are some who will love this show. But I’m definitely not a part of that audience. Now if you excuse me, I need to reset my brain. (Available on Hulu and CrunchyRoll)
Life is a party….or at least that’s what the opening would lead you to believe (This one is seriously misleading!) . The show starts off with a newly married couple arriving at a bar on separate elevators and no memory of how they got there. I must say this is one of the most elegant bars I’ve ever laid eyes on. We are then greeted by a bartender of the bar “Queen Dekim”, explaining that they must now participate in a game with their lives hanging in the balance. This is Death Parade, a psychological thriller with a unique approach to things and some amazing art. Mad House Studios shows how they’ve stayed in the business for more than three decades. Without spoiling too much, I will just say this had to be one of the most painful games of “Darts” ever. By the end of the first episode I had to un-warp my brain from the crazy mental pole it crashed into. I haven’t been this planted to my seat since I fired up Metal Gear Ground Zeros for the first time. A warning to the wise: This show is NOT for the faint of heart, but if you have some resilience or a fan of psychological thrillers, please watch this show. (Available on Hulu)
DuRaRaRa 2X Shou
It’s been a fairly long time since the Original Durarara aired. I was very fond of the anime and wished there was more. Well wish granted! Season two picks up about 6 months after the end of the first season. Not much has changed, the city of Ikebukuro is still bustling and filled with interesting characters. This time we introduce a few new (also very eccentric) members to our already love able cast, what direction the narrative will take is entirely hidden, but I am very excited to see where it goes! Side Note: The new ending and opening share the style of the original but with some new, rather addictive songs. (Available on Huluand CrunchyRoll)
The Rolling Girls
This is the show that beat my expectations by a mile. Set in the near future, Japan had a civil war that divided the country into different districts. These districts are monitored by “The Best” and they’re squadrons of “The Rest”. The animation is deliberately rough, but that’s ok because the action is intense. We get our first glimpse of how crazy things are as we witness an INTENSE battle between a giant safety pin wielder and a Sentai Ranger…yeah. This is going to be a very character focused series, which is awesome because so far the leads are fantastic. There’s a scene where the protagonist(?) and the antagonist have a ramen eating contest (with flaming chopsticks even!) and it is both badass and hilarious. If you want a dose of slightly random and also something that will get your blood pumping, this is the show to watch.(Available on Hulu)
Our story begins when our protagonist Toujo Basara’s father lets him know that he will be remarrying and that he will have a pair of adorable little sisters to look after. Not soon after they all move in,we discover that his to sisters are in fact a demon and a succubus. In an almost impossible to not call, we learn that Mio is in fact, the daughter of the ultimate demon lord. While normally this would turn into a cliche, there is a nice twist. Can a man who is dedicated to eradicating demons become a family with two of his sworn enemy? I found the first episode to be a decent start at world and character building, along with some decent animation and good voice overs. I can recommend this anime pretty easily, just be aware there is a very awkward set of fan service throughout the first episode. (Available on CrunchyRoll)
Samurai Warriors The Animation
And now for something completely different….Disapointment. I have been a long time fan of the Dynasty warriors series as well as the Samurai Warriors versions of the game. The games are very repetitive, but they’re still fun. This is an anime adaptation of the Samurai Warriors series with a stronger focus on the Sanada Brothers. This show feels like it’s full of bravado, but lacks the polish to make such bravado true. I was immediately hit witht he fact that they spent a bit too much time making their characters as over detailed as possible. This would have been offset if the animation were held to a higher standard. The voice acting is decent but that was their last chance at a saving grace. I’ve honestly lost the will to watch the rest of this show. I’m sure there will be some one who will enjoy this but it’s not for me. I’ll stick to the games. (Available on Hulu and CrunchyRoll)
World Break Aria of Curse for a Holy Swordsman
Speaking of disappointments, this one is another one that failed to impress. We jump right into what appears to be the final battle. Why? To give us an idea that the end may be lack luster? You don’t start at the very end like that and back tack to a weak start. Let me back track a bit here to avoid being 100% negative. The basis of the story is solid: The world is plagued by creatures that can only be defeated by “saviors”, warriors who have been re-incarnated and have memories and abilities from their past lives. They have the ability to manipulate mana (I can’t recall the silly name they use) to manifest a weapon that allows them to defeat monsters. This part is well established. It’s ruined fairly quickly when the ecchi bits creep in as soon as we meet our protagonist Moroha. It’s a disservice to your show if you establish that the story is kind of a back burner subject in favor of lame action and fan service. I’m going to give this show a chance, though i doubt I will follow for long. (Available on CrunchyRoll)
And with that, we jump head first into the new year! I hope it’s been good for you so far. What is everyone else watching this season? Let me know in the comment section below!