A belated wrap-up of the Summer 2014 anime season. Or at least the portions that I watched. Overall, this wasn’t a bad season at all, with six series I could at least tolerate enough to view to the end of the season. Of those, one was continued from Spring, three are continuing into Fall, and none get an A rating.
Irregular at Magic High: This show was the biggest disappointment, and the problem was the source material. Tatsuya is just too damn overpowered. That could have been only a minor knock, but the the strength of the novels was a weakness of the anime. The magic system and its’ complexity warred for time and attention with the action, and the action invariably suffered. Instead of sitting through tightly plotted action, EVERY single event had to be dragged down by explanations of what was going on. The climactic battle dragged even without that. Well, somewhat without it. The final cap had no tension whatsoever; it was a total curbstomp, as Tatsuya liberates all the energy contained in a single piece of matter — the mast of a ship — and annihilates an entire fleet and the port it was in. (I said that explosion in the OP wasn’t from WWIII – it was the last time the Great Asian Alliance got aggressive.) It also got negatives for having high-school kids solving many problems that adults couldn’t. Grade C-
Aldnoah Zero: This was my candidate for an A rating during the Summer season, but in the last episode, it blew that chance by going to the well once too often. Slaine kept getting the crap end of the stick until the very end, although there was one huge reveal in the last episode (he can activate Aldnoah technology). The series turned out to be a split cour, with the 2nd half coming in the Winter season. Where the series messed up was the final cliffhanger:
, a character “killed” the princess — strangled her until her heart stopped – and then Inaho revived her with CPR. This time, the Princess and Inaho are specifically listed as MIA at the end of the battle. So we’re establishing a pattern of “the character dies, but then gets better.” Fake-killing the Princess twice was too much. Even for Gen Urobochi, killing her and/or Inaho now is too early, because the story is founded on the relationship of these three. Grade B+
Sword Art Online II: It was ok, but Asuna played too little of a part in it; she had to make way for Shion. I did like her, and she won the Internet with how she ended the “Bullet of Bullets” contest. It’s logical, but I was hoping to see more of Asuna — aside from the online hijinks, the story of SAO was their relationship, and it seems to have taken a major step backwards. In the LN, they actually had a VR sex scene, and in the 2nd half (the Alfhiem Online portion) he moved heaven and earth to rescue her, but in SAO II, their real-world relationship is more like they’re platonic friends. As for the storytelling, it was decent, with some real tension, and there was good reason to fear for the characters. However, much to my surprise, SAO II also turned out to be a two-cour series, with a recap episode at the beginning of the 2nd. Haven’t watched the most recent episode yet, so I don’t know how they’re going to continue the “man vs. VR” theme. Grade: B
Blade Dance of Elementers: This is the one series that wasn’t continued or continuing. Blade Dance briefly rose to a surprising level of quality, based on its action and background music. Unfortunately, the cruddy animation of that action and cyclic nature of LN’s caused it to fall flat in the end. It did manage to entertain me despite its major problem — that it was a re-hash of Infinite Stratos, with a protagonist who wasn’t a total dumbass. Male who has a female only power, check. There’s no Chifuyu-nee (unless it’s Restia), but all the other girls from IS are here: Houki (Ellis), Ling (Claire), Cecilia (Rinslet), etc. I changed my mind about Fianna though — she’s not Charlotte, she’s the school president (Tatenshi?), and Est is her little sister. I’m not sure there is a Charlotte, after all. The middle-series antagonist, whom I mistook for the series bad buy, was just an inadequate punk. The end makes it clear that both the school’s principal and Restia are working (albeit not together) to bring out Kamito’s potential destiny as the demon lord or leader/controller of all the spirits. Grade: C
RWBY: So it’s not strictly anime, and it’s sorta straddling the line between Summer and Fall. Sue me. After the wild food fight, it had a couple of good episodes, but I think it’s suffering from extending all the episodes to the ten-twelve minute mark. It doesn’t have the “OMG, more! MORE!” snap that the first series did; plus it’s spending (filler?) episodes on the background of the world. Still pretty good; it just doesn’t seem to have the snap of the first season. Grade B-
Akame ga Kill: Enh, it’s all about the lulz. And bewbies. Seriously, the relationship between Tatsuya and Akame is at a standstill while we’re being treated to T&A courtesy of Lady Esdeath and others. Somehow, I get the feeling that’s the plan, but it sorta feels like taking Fairy Tail and making Gray the main character. Mindless entertainment, with cute girls; little or no character development going on. Grade: C