Seasonal Reviews: Summer 2014 Pt.5

This is it, the last regular seasonal review for Summer 2014. This won't be the end; we will return for a final look at everything we watched this season, but we're on writing break until then. Enjoy our last regular reviews, as the staff has their final chance to use any remaining drops.

Note: Sailor Moon: Crystal will not be reviewed this entry, as an episode didn't air these past two weeks.
Jonathan Kaharl

Oh. That was fast. We now know who tried to kill the princess, the humans now know who the princess is and are receiving help from her to power Aldnoah technology, and the entire premise just got flipped upside down. I wasn't expecting Code Geass level dramatic turns already, but here we are, and the latest episode leaves on a mother of a cliffhanger. I'm honestly still trying to understand what I just saw. Both episodes are as strong as ever; the first focuses mainly on Slaine, who's life continues to be an endless series of beatings and verbal abuse. His lord suspects him of being the traitor, while the real traitor is trying to manipulate said lord. The episode ends with shit getting real and said traitor offing an entire Aldnoah castle and kidnapping Slaine.

It's the following episode that really surprised me. The motivation of the traitor is far away different then what I was expecting; he's not a war hungry imperialist dick, but someone obsessed with revenge and hiding it under imperial duty. While that was interesting, the more interesting stuff came from Rayez, who's going off the deep end from the grief of losing her father and growing some burning hatred for the princess for not her position of power in the empire she despises, but for just how easy everything has been for her and how she remains so strong from her moments of hardship. The episode does a really good job at showing just how broken Rayez is from seeing her family slaughtered in front of her and how confused, scared and lost she is because of it. She's suffering from PTSD, same as Marito, who's forced to relive the most traumatic moment of his life. Turns out it wasn't the Aldnoah that drove him into a bottle; it was shooting his best friend in an act of mercy when he failed to save said friend from a burning tank. The entire sequence is intense and horrifying, almost more so than the episode's out of nowhere ending. I really have no idea where Aldnoah is headed now, and I like that feeling of not knowing what the future holds. All I know is that things are probably going to get worse before getting better.

Strong Recommendation

Invaders of the Rokujyoma!?

Invaders is finally getting into Yurika character development! The show is now saved forever. The Blue Knight arc ended on more of a dull thud then a bang, with Tulip's rival for the throne revealing herself and losing pretty pathetically. Only three notable things came from this arc; MC is probably the actual Blue Knight or something, the joke with Tulip's assistant hating beetles with a fiery passion still makes absolutely no sense, and Yurika saved everyone again, this time by complete accident. Imagined if she had self-confidence. How can I fund this to be a thing. Seriously, please just give Yurika her own show away from all these people.

Yurika's arc introduces the evil magical girls, starting with an old rival who was defeated by Yurika's mentor Nana. She's by far the most interesting villain so far, mostly because some time is spent pinning down her character and she isn't dressed like a Blues Brother. Her thinking that Yurika actually tricked everyone into thinking she's a cosplayer is genuinely hilarious. She's also the most effective villain so far, sneaking into the apartment with ease and managing a really devious plan (for this show, at least). Yurika herself is definitely at her lowest in this arc, as the ongoing joke of nobody believing she's a magical girl becomes plot important and becomes her test of will. It's a nice touch, and what she does this episode really cements her as the best character by far. While the episode ends on a huge cliffhanger, I doubt the show has the balls to go through with it (they wrote in a pretty significant way to trick the audience), which is good in this case BECAUSE THOSE FUCKERS BETTER NOT BE DOING WHAT I THINK THEY'RE DOING.


Anyways, not a significant change in quality, just more time with Yurika, who's the constantly gleaming gold nugget in a pile of dirt and a few bits of bronze. I will say on a final note that I liked that the MC picked up on Yurika being dead serious about her "friend." Now if only he had some flaws to balance out his constant saving the day plot powers.

Weak Recommendation


Locodol has finally added the forth member to the group, completing that song at the end! Wee! With the town mascot proving to be wildly popular, the local government has hired on another person to wear the suit so the character can be in larger events and in more places. Since the wearer had to be as small as Yui, another classmate was scouted out by Yui to act as a substitute. The girl's name is Mirai, and she is crippling shy, getting some help from Nanako to get over her problems with crowds and confronting others to do her job right. The following episode also gives some insight in why Yukari became an idol, and showing just how close her and Nanako have become as friends when she comes down with a fever during an event at the town station.

Yukari might be the most obvious lesbian I've seen in anime this year, and keep in mind that I watched a yuri comedy series in the winter that had at least three gay kisses per episode, usually more. Or I'm just reading into things too much, which I have a habit of doing. That aside, Locodol keeps on keeping on with what it's doing, just as enjoyable as it always. Mirai is a solid addition to the cast, mainly for her conversations with Nanako and having her act as a genuine senior for another character, despite her constant screw ups in live performances. She's nothing too special on her own, but she definitely works in throwing some new elements in the team dynamic. Locodol will probably keep this pace up till the end, and bless it for that.

Solid Recommendation

Majimoji Rurumo

This series just can't find that sweet spot. It wants to be two very different things; a sweet romance comedy between a guy and a strange witch, and a terrible ecchi comedy. It does great at the first one when given the chance, but falls flat on its face whenever any attention is paid to any characters with breasts, because it will not be long before something stupid follows. These past two weeks are no exception, except the first of these episodes was so insanely good that I have to question what it's doing in this series. It's like the plotless country vacation episode of Super Sonico, a short little masterpiece caught in a series it doesn't really gel with. Said good episode is about Kouta finding three abandoned kittens on the side of the road and deciding to adopt them. His mom hates animals, though, so he decides the best course of action is to find them homes with classmates. It's an insanely cute episode with an ending that just ...just go watch episode six of Majomoji Rurumo right now. You really need to see this episode, that's all I'm saying.

Episode seven is back to business as usual, with a really bad first half. Kouta reaches new lows and it's so unfunny that it made me lose appreciation for several of the gags in Naked Gun. None of this stuff that lacks Rurumo's presence is funny in any way and why did this stupid beach episode have to follow the high point of the series. The second half gets better when Kouta tries finding a swimsuit for Rurumo (because she doesn't bring one due to not knowing what a swimsuit is). She ends up finding a cursed swimsuit and the show sudden;y becomes hilarious. Once again, Rurumo saves all the awful comedy around her by just being Rurumo. The good is definitely outweighing the bad, but the bad is ...pretty bad. I'm just going to stick with my weakly done thumbs up.

Weak Recommendation

Samurai Jam: Bakumatsu Rock

This series is a real shame. There's absolute gold in the premise, but it chooses to play things safe and just comes off as pointless for it. These last two episodes really cement my problems with Bakumatsu Rock; nothing interesting happens, and when it does, the execution is awful. The first of these last two episodes introduces a female idol group trying to make a name for themselves and comedically failing to kill the band, and the second has the group dawning masks to rock in public and becoming a government rock band in the process. Which makes absolutely no sense. The fact I'm not ranting about how stupid that episode is should clue you in on how pointless I find this series.

I understand a lot of shows are just ads for products, but that's not an excuse. One of my favorite shows from last season, Miss Monochrome, was mainly an advertisement for a vocaloid knock-off and managed to constantly put a smile on my face with clever, dry humor. One of my top five of the year, Selector Infector WIXOSS, is an ad for a card game. Hell, Hamatora even came from the world of videogames at first, just like this series. There is no excuse for how cheaply made this show is (2D animation got mashed up with 3D models in episode nine and it was one of the most horrible things I've ever seen) and how empty the script and plotting is. Nobody making this cared about doing anything creative with what they got, it's just a series made for a paycheck. It goes for long periods of time doing nothing before remembering it has to have some illusion of plot, then ignores most major revelations in exchange for hack comedy. This series is so lame that I can't even find the energy to hate it. I'm just done.

No Recommendation, Dropped

David O'Neil
Akame ga Kill!

As if Akame ga Kill got high on it's own success handling it's first big emotional moment surprisingly well in my eyes, it then promptly jumped the shark and tried to catch the audience off guard with another big emotional gut punch, but unlike the first one which had proper build up, strong execution, and some time given to characters afterwards to take in the drastic change and it's effects, this one came out of nowhere, was sloppy as hell, and felt almost brushed under the rug afterwards. The crazy thing is the whole time I was thinking "wow I SHOULD care that this is happening", but I didn't. It was lazy as hell, and felt incredibly unnecessary. Like, other than resulting in the main character finally getting his own super-weapon it seems to have served no purpose whatsoever, and doesn't really make sense from a narrative standpoint considering the show was just off the heels of another similar twist.

Anyway, I digress. The other big happening these past two episodes is the introduction of some new villains, who are so blatantly supposed to be the "Evil Night Raid". Yeah, they aren't exactly subtle about it, as the team consists of members that basically mirror those of Night Raid, including but not limited to, a naive but strong willed country boy, a powerful and threatening female leader, a charismatic gay guy, and Akame-but-with-a-different-haircut. It's a bit too early to tell if this idea will actually play out in an interesting way or not, hell, there's a chance they'll all be dead by the end of the next episode. It wouldn't surprise me all that much.

Akame ga Kill disappointed the past few episodes, completely losing all of the competent storytelling it had recently been showing. It's not terrible or anything, but my hopes that it was going to become more than just an edgier dumb shonen action show have certainly been lessened significantly the past few episodes, despite how much Akame ga Kill is desperately trying to prove otherwise.

Weak Recommendation

Bladedance of the Elementalers

It's still not good. Yup. I guess I might as well clarify again, Bladedance of Elementalers is by no means a terrible show. It rarely insults the audience's intelligence, it's decently animated, and hell, I've actually found myself chuckling at a few of the jokes. A few. It's just boring, though. There is nothing unique here. Nothing.

I will admit though, I've been almost leaning in this show's favor recently, like, I've actually been enjoying it for brief spans of time, unlike early on in which watching through an episode was like powering through 20 straight minutes of unhappiness. In the most recent episode the characters all had a pretty cool moment, as for once it wasn't the interesting-as-a-rock harem protagonist who saved all the girls as they commentated "wow you're so cool protagonist-kun" but actually worked together as a team. And in the end, protagonist-kun actually ended up getting saved by one of the girls (don't ask me to remember all of their ridiculous names, please). Now, of course, this scene was immediately preceded by a scene with two girls taking a bath and rubbing each others breasts, and was immediately followed by a scene with one of the girls getting in bed with the main character for dumb reasons. One step forward, two steps back.

I almost feel like if it'd just throw out the constant shameless fanservice and focus more on it's characters I could end up genuinely enjoying Bladedance of Elementalers, and I even got a brief glance of what that may feel like in the climax of it's most recent episode. But unfortunately, the show still insists on being about boobs, upskirts, lolis, so on and so forth, and the plot itself is still devoid of much resembling an original thought. 

No Recommendation

Blue Spring Ride

Last time I covered Blue Spring Ride, I complained about how the over two episode long arc about Futaba worrying over telling Yuuri about her also liking Kou was totally pointless because Yuuri is a kind person of an almost ridiculous magnitude and it was obvious she was going to stay friends with Futaba after learning about her feelings for Kou. I was right. But at least that parts out of the way, so the show can focus on......not much in specific.

The last two episodes have honestly been sort of aimless, or maybe that's too critical a way of putting it. There just hasn't really been a main focus like the dumb last arc to talk about, more like a bunch of little things going on but not seemingly going anywhere, but they were fairly entertaining and gave more insight into the characters so I don't feel like I can say it was a bad two episodes. It did end up leaving a bad taste in my mouth when the most recent episode ended on a note that seemed to imply that the show was headed in a direction that I have a special kind of hate for: The 'ol, romcom "Misunderstanding". Because apparently Kou and Yuuri can't find how to put into words "We dropped a potato in the other room and met eyes for a few seconds".

Blue Spring Ride has been totally alright lately, a little bit funny, a little bit interesting, but not quire exceptional at anything. For those looking for a serviceable romance or shojo series, Blue Spring Ride is a sensible option, but I can't help but wish it'd step it up and do something a little less predictable.

Solid Recommendation


Why do you have to make things so complicated Glasslip? I want to like you. I really do. You have really likable characters, for the most part your visuals look very nice, and you're from P.A. Works, as studio that gained a lot of good will for me after great shows like Hanasaku Iroha, Eccentric Family, and Nagi no Asukara. Yet as you go on, ten episodes in, you just will not get to the point. It's almost impressive.

I've talked about this before, how the unique spin on Glasslip's coming of age/young love story was seemingly that the main character, Touko, can see into the future. But then they never really did anything with that. But then it turned out maybe she wasn't seeing into the future. And then maybe she was. Or something. Glasslip's inability to not only do nothing with it's premise, but not even be clear on what exactly it's premise is, is starting to really hamper my enjoyment of the show. Which sucks, because as I said, I actually do like most of the show. I like the characters, I like the visuals (with the exception of a few iffy animation shortcuts), I like the music, I even like a lot of the themes it's focusing on. But it's so hard to fully enjoy it when a good chunk of each episode is the characters going "So what the hell is this premonition power?" "No idea".

Glasslip, early on the vagueness surrounding your premise, and not doing anything major with it was totally understandable, but we are ten episodes in now. You can't keep meandering around, being indecisive about what exactly you're trying to be. I like you, and a lot of the stuff you're doing, but you need. To get. To the point. Otherwise it just comes off as crazy nonsense, like a guy talking directly to a television show. That'd be silly.

Solid Recommendation

Monthly Girl's Nozaki-kun

Yet again I must find a way to put into as many sentences as I can "Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun is great and everyone should be watching it. And I'm not sure if I even need to at this point, the show's fan base has been growing rapidly and at this point it seems like pretty much anyone who follows even a few seasonal shows are watching it, and with good reason. 

The last two episodes were great as if I'm surprised at this point. The eighth features some great comedic exchanges in relation to manga backgrounds, and Nozaki's complete inability to draw them properly, along with some great humor in regards to the prince-like Kashima mistaking Hori's interest in shojo manga as him secretly wanting to be treated like a shojo romance protagonist (when he's actually researching backgrounds for assisting Nozaki). The ninth has a great spin on the classic "girl forgets her umbrella" trope from shojo and romance stories in general, and more hilarious interactions between Nozaki's fellow shojo manga author neighbor, and her tanuki loving editor. 

So everyone's watching Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun at this point right? And I'm just rambling to myself about how funny, and charming, and well animated it is while everyone ignores me because they already know and are watching it? I actually hope so. Because everyone should be watching it, and those who aren't are missing out on one of the best laugh-out-loud comedy anime in recent times. 

Strong Recommendation

Stephanie Getchell

So, I don’t know what happened but I only have one episode of Barakamon to cover this this. At least having one episode to talk about is better than having no episodes like Sailor Moon this time. Anyways! This episode is, more or less, centered around Naru. The first half of the episode is Naru’s birthday and has Handa trying his best in order to find the perfect gift. In the end, a gift he thought was going to be weird and embarrassing turned out to make Naru really happy. Meanwhile, the second half takes place during Bon Season and Handa is asked to watch over the grave of Naru’s grandmother with her while Naru’s grandfather tends to the fields. From here, I believe, we begin to ask questions about Naru’s home life since we have yet to meet her parents.

This episode is a wonderful contrast to what I’ve seen up to this point. We haven’t had a lot of time focused on Naru’s personal life and her story, but this episode, and particularly the second half, gives us that time. Handa begins to realize that even with all the smiles that Naru has, she may be, in fact, lonely as well. This may, in turn, stir something up inside Handa as the series rolls on. We also get, for the first time, the subject of Handa and his return to Tokyo once he has been forgiven for the fight in the first episode. This episode was able to set up a couple important pieces rather nicely, and may lead to what the future will hold for Handa as he keeps working hard and living life on the island. It’s rather depressing that I’m only a few weeks away from finishing the show now... Sad face.

Strong Recommendation

Shonen Hollywood -Holly Stage for 49-

Ok! So last time we saw our idols in training, they were getting Kakeru over his embarrassment over his singing by performing in public for no reason. Not only did this work, but this bring them some media attention. This causes God to put together a summer training camp to help heighten the boys’ training. Basically, we get a training montage of sorts and some fun moments. As for episode nine, the boys are tasked with putting themselves out there on some rather interesting TV programs. This causes Shun to basically second guess his decision to join Shonen Hollywood since he never expected that he would end up doing work for crazy shows like this. In other words, MORE DEVELOPMENT FOR CHARACTERS!!!

First and foremost, I’m glad Shun finally had an episode to grow. I was getting rather worried since he didn’t seem to get a whole lot of screen time. Not only that, but we head back to the pattern that Kakeru, Tomii, and Kira ended up getting and that is a member of the original Shonen Hollywood popping in and kind of giving some advice to a member of the new generation. And, although the mentor’s appearance was kinda odd, this helped Shun learn that if he’s going to really succeed as an idol he’s going to have to do some things he may not enjoy in order to really grow and gain the attention he’s looking for.

Second, I gotta admit something. There are times where some of the moments in this series make me turn my head. Maybe it’s cause it’s awkward to me or something, I don’t really know. Whatever it is, I’m still trying to figure out how to handle it. May have something to do with me not really squealing over male idols or something. Yeah, I’m a bit of a weird person. This series is also one of the up and down ones, but it’s still been fairly consistent throughout the run. I’m probably over thinking it like I tend to do sometimes. Ah well, guess we’ll see how the series plans to end. Though I have a feeling I know how already.

Solid Recommendation

Terror in Resonance

Terror in Resonance, like Barakamon, only has one episode for me to cover this week. Because of that, this may be a little shorter than normal. So, here’s what we have! After the incident at the airport, it’s now no longer safe for Nine Twelve, and Lisa to stay in their hideout. After Five sends a bomb and blows it up, the trio moves onto a new location. Nine and Twelve get into a discussion about their plans and Lisa, and, after hearing the conversation, Lisa leaves the boys behind only to get caught by Five and is now being held hostage. This leave Twelve the decision to leave and rescue her while Nine stays behind. Meanwhile, Shibasaki is placed on leave for disobeying police orders, causing him and a couple other detectives to work on their own investigation into the matter. And, basically, we’re slowly getting more information about the school that Nine, Twelve, and Five attended as kids.

The series slowed down a bit in this episodes, mostly so there’s a bit of relaxing after the rather action packed previous episodes. Luckily, we aren’t just sitting around twiddling our thumbs either as we are getting that background information that Shibazaki is working on getting. And we’re also getting some hesitation from Twelve after everything that has happened, which adds to his character a bit more. The build up to the finale is beginning to take shape, and more than likely things will get rather interesting in the last three episodes. I’m predicting that Twelve tries to save Lisa from Five, but almost fails until Nine pops in to help him out. And somewhere along the line, Shibazaki gives them a hand as well... It better not be THAT predictable... Please don’t let it be that predictable.

Strong Recommendation

Tokyo ESP

One thing is for sure, this series is working its way to the climax. And this entails another of Professor’s schemes in the hopes to take out both Rinka and Azuma. Now, while Azuma is kinda stuck on a remote island trying to get back to Rinka, Rinka herself has now lost her powers after a near death attack at her high school thanks to Minami and more of Professor’s espers. And now, Rinka has gone and disappeared. More than likely, we’re going to be seeing the fight during the first episode rather soon.

ESP is just slowly becoming dull for me. There are some really good moments, and some of the concepts are enjoyable. However, at the same time, those concepts are familiar and have been used with much better results than what I’ve been seeing here. The more I keep watching this show, the more I feel like I’m going to have a 50/50 chance of either enjoying the episodes I see or get the bored feeling like I am right now. I guess the question is, since I do have one, do I use my second drop on this series? There isn’t a whole lot of point to using it when there’s only three episodes left for me to watch and cover for seasonal reports. And since I already know where the series plans to go, since it is being set up quite a bit, I am curious to know how the series plans to end and how it will fill itself in after the stopping point from the first episode or so. Just give me some kind of good ending, please. That’s all I’m asking for here.

Weak Recommendation

Tokyo Ghoul

Okay. Well, once again, we’re working on the build up to the series climax with only two episodes of Tokyo Ghoul left now. Like I mentioned before, we still have Jason to deal with. However, we now have Aogiri Tree as well with a massive war in the 11th Ward. And, oddly enough, everyone wants to know where the heck Rize is. And, since her organs are transplanted into him, Kaneki finds himself kidnapped by Jason with a rescue team including Touka, Nishiki, Hinami, and even Tuskiyama getting ready to jump in and save him. We also have a kinda sudden introduction to Touka’s younger brother, Ayato as well who will probably be a bit more involved in the final episodes.

Similar to Terror in Resonance, there’s a bit of a slow build up going here.... Kinda. It’s a little bit faster than Resonance, but you get my point. Episode nine is really more of the aftermath of the Dove arc, with Amon being featured quite a bit. Plus, Kaneki also begins to look into Rize in order to prevent her taking control over him again. And then, of course, episode ten is the whole Jason going all crazy and Kaneki getting kidnapped and such. Here’s a few things I’m kinda meh about right now. First, like I mentioned before, we’re introduced to Ayato. It’s a little bit of an odd writing thing, with the only other time he’s even talked about is a flashback of Touka’s in episode nine. Kinda seems like a last minute squeeze to fit something to oppose Touka. The second thing is Kaneki’s friend Hide. Now, we haven’t seen him all that much throughout the series. Suddenly it seems like he has some obsession with ghouls. Not in a creepy, crazy way, but more like a curious and worried kind of way. He’s very much aware of what Kaneki is now, so it seems like it’s for his friend. Though the development here is kinda sidelined a bit. I just kinda feel like there’s more, but we may not get the chance to really see that.

The overall story and the arcs that have been adapted, thus far, have been pretty decent. Granted I still have some issues with writing for the Gourmet arc, but it hasn’t damaged my overall enjoyment of the overall story. My major problem is the side stories that have been set up and the lack of development for some characters. The series keeps building and adding new things like the whole Ayato and Hide parts, but I have a fear that they won’t go anywhere for the rest of the series. Then there’s Touka’s character which hasn’t had a lot of development or she somehow manages to bring in the next piece of the story like the case with Ayato. Again, if I ever get around to reading the damn manga, I’m sure everything will be much more clear to me. I’m just trying not to get my hopes up if all that’s going to happen for some of these characters is unresolved issues and stories that could have been explored. Either one of four things will happen going into the final two episodes. One: the ending will set itself up for a second season that will be announced after the series ends. Two: the ending will set itself up for a second season, but it will not happen. Three: The series will just wrap itself up, somehow, without the need for a second season. Or Four: we get a damn read the manga kind of ending. Just don’t give me number four or else there will be hell to pay....

Solid Recommendation

Joe Straatmann

To give credit where credit is due, Argevollen has been stepping up its game as of late. I don't know if the people responsible for the previous episodes were sacked or what, but episode nine actually tells a complete, satisfactory story that works as a standalone while also continuing the main storyline. It maybe time skips a bit too much to where Tokimune goes from feeble newbie to "The Demon of Arandas," and the animation remains completely budget-conscious and unimpressive (In one scene in the tenth episode, there are fifteen seconds of three characters talking fairly close to the screen and nobody's lips move), but these are extremely minor bumps in the road compared to the gigantic chasms of missing information, poor characterization that relies on cliches, and dumb story decisions that have plagued the series.

The story goes from following Tokimune's platoon to focusing on life in Ingelmia, the people our heroes have been fighting against. The nation is like if the nepotistic dictators of North Korea actually controlled a reasonably nice country, as the great leader's propaganda of "freeing" Arandas resounds through mighty skyscrapers and lovely cobblestone roads. The plot flows through their chain of command who have a distinct difference of philosophy, and most importantly, gives some much needed fleshing out to Richtofen, Tokimune's rival. Some may find this boring, but I find it absolutely necessary to know who's fighting, why they're fighting, and what essentially drives them. Richtofen's character turns especially add some larger and more personal stakes to his rivalry. It's not mind blowing or anything original, but because of it, I'm kind of more attached to the villains than I am the protagonists.

Episode ten also offers up something vital it could've used awhile ago: A MAP OF BOTH COUNTRIES! Never underestimate the comfort of knowing where the hell anything is. On the other hand, this does come after a scene where the engineers are arguing about how they're getting the wrong parts for Argevollen when I imagine these problems should've been sorted out months ago, and the chief engineer reveals he's a divorcee who doesn't really have that much respect for women  despite the fact that his crew is almost entirely women. So Argevollen is not quite done with odd logical lapses just yet. What I can say is I'm making far fewer jokes about this series because it's becoming less of one. It's still far behind as far as doling out crucial information, and its ultimate goal seems to be becoming an absolutely average show (On the level of, say, Xebec's own Fafner), but while I can't recommend slogging through the atrocious first few episodes for what it is right now, there is some hope that it might be worth it in the future.

No Recommendation


I know I say this way too much, but I am very grateful to have this show this season. As we delve into the actual public dancing experience of the yasokoi club, it's delightful to see a series that knows what's it doing start to pay off dramatically. It's properly set up the characters and now lets them go and experience the delights and disappointments of life. There are the usual plot complications in these slice-of-life shows such as the student adviser forgetting the music for their big debut performance and a sudden reveal that two of the characters are siblings, but it still lives in the charming presence of its cast. Some of the plot turns are predictable, some not as much, but the important thing is I'm emotionally engaged in all of it.

If there is one bad thing to be said for the most recent episode, it hangs on its main conflict a little too much. The future fifth member who's been dancing in the opening but pushes back at every opportunity to join the club in the actual show is Machi, the student council president. She summons up a new reason to disband the club because the student adviser Sally is not a full-time teacher, and it's revealed shortly in the episode the reason she's doing this is Sally is her sister who abandoned the family years ago. Good enough reason, but this point is brought up again and again and the conversations go in circles until somebody finally starts explaining much later than they probably should've. The series continues its effort to take care of its possible plot-derailing drama as soon as possible so it's not going to be a continuing issue, but it halts the momentum just enough to make this episode a little slower going than the rest. Still nowhere near a reason to not check this show out.

Strong Recommendation

Nobunaga Concerto

I guess I can't see eye-to-eye with the series as it is right now. The recent episodes have been fine, but they also have been focusing much more on the supporting cast who are more dynamic and seem to be more emotionally invested into what's happening to them. Much of it involves Oichi, Nobunaga's sister who was put into a political marriage and slowly realizes that her husband may not be intent on keeping the established alliance with his brother-in-law due to pressure from his family. The scenes in this household contain plenty happening to two characters in a short time, and it all feels just right with how they interact, how they feel about each other, and how they react when they find out they're working against each other's goals. It acts as a weird complement to the main characters who live in their metaphorical dome where even though years literally pass by, they essentially remain unchanged by time and progress. In comparison, Saburo's relationship with Nobunaga's wife has absolutely no substance to it whatsoever and she's treated like an audience member of her own life.  Since the series has made efforts to avoid stuff like bloody warfare to mess with the goofy humor until the latest episode, perhaps they don't want to get into the even more touchy subject of Nobunaga's concubines.

I'm happy this is the last update before the break to watch the entire series because it feels like I'm asking the same question every time: What is the ultimate goal of this series? Once again, the aspect of time traveling is brought up as Saburo meets a former yakuza member who's blended into the warring states period, and once again, it's essentially pointless. Take out the gag with the porn mag and the nonstarter plot device of the history book, and the time traveling aspect has no impact on the story. The real Nobunaga could've met a dumb but harmless peasant who looked just like him and swapped places, and it would essentially flow the same. If you're going to have a dumb high school kid who has no knowledge of historical events become one of the most important figures in Japanese history and the joke is he accidentally stumbles through events that mostly parallel the historical ones, is the irony really that good? As a diversion, Nobunaga Concerto is okay despite the Archer-meets-RWBY iffy character animation, but it feels like it should be much more and it simply doesn't want to be. Kind of weird, given the lofty goals of its main character.

Weak Recommendation

Persona 4 the Golden Animation

Another throwaway story with shenanigans that feel like they come from an episode of Full House. Oh joy. In episode eight, Yu invites all the main ladies of Persona 4 for a Christmas Eve supper which gets misinterpreted as a date request by all of them. Misunderstandings lead to misunderstandings, and I think it's safe to say things don't go as planned in a completely eye-rolling manner. Also, I know I don't try not to hammer on openings or closings too harshly, but there's an opening that seems to be made just for this episode that falls flat on its face with stale looking-through-glasses imagery and a song in which the only memorable note is the lyrics are by Persona 3's Engrish rapper Lotus Juice. Sadly, Lotus Juice's verbal punch was more dearly needed. It's a complete waste of time and resources. But I'm getting distracted talking openings here because this episode's a tired idiot plot comedy and should be skipped even if you're mostly liking the show. There is a funny thread from all this canned laughter horse hockey that comes from Naoto, who goes into full Sherlock mode and deduces Yu's motivations as something far more sinister than a date. It's not enough to save the episode, but I appreciate its presence regardless.

The second episode of this update doesn't fare much better. It covers the ski trip part of the game which struggles to combine a complete goof-off segment with a serious, plot-relevant event. The TV show makes the transition a little more tolerable as the cast forgets about Marie after she disappears without notice and deletes her presence from all of their photographs. The missing hole in the photographs connects to the telling of ghosts stories bit that kind of came out of nowhere in the game.  The transition is still completely clunky and whiplash inducing, but at least the plot is streamlined much better, especially nixing a snowstorm from the game where all the characters magically find themselves at the same cabin.

I'm leaving a faint nod to the series since there exists episodes worth watching if you're a big Persona fan. These, however, can be skipped completely with no regrets.

Weak Recommendation

Sabagebu! Survival Game Club!

This isn't so much of a review as it is an intervention, Sabagebu. Your preference for humor that relies on sexual humiliation is starting to worry me. In three vignettes of the past few episodes, the punchline has been one of the women of the club being naked or exposed while various perverts take advantage of the circumstances. I can understand the plot about Momoko confronting upskirt photo ninjas because she gets reeled in by a sob story and gets her just desserts trying to redeem irredeemable people, but that episode with Maya.... I know you want to get the least-featured club member involved in something, but creating an all-female survival team that obsesses over her out of nowhere who stalk her and shoot her clothes off is not the answer. I know it's women-on-women and that's supposed to make it okay, but it's not. It's still creepy, and it's hard to turn the corner from creepy to funny. The difference between you and the pony stalker episode of Full Metal Panic FUMOFFU! where there is genuine ickiness? That episode didn't end with Chidori naked and fondled.

I know you have much better things in you. While your latest episode is mostly a lukewarm affair, literally in the portion where most of the club is locked in a pool and start to experience mental instability from hypothermia, the Mad Max showdown with the senior citizens in Australia is inspired and entertaining. It's a great concept done exceptionally well. And I get it. Edgy comedy is hard and when you fail, you fail hard. But you have to understand that sexual assault is one of the most difficult things to make comedy and this hand waving through every instance is simply not doing the trick. Making it a motif is also really odd. I think I've said my peace in the matter. I know it's a comedy and it's not supposed to be taken seriously, but this pushes some weird buttons and I had to say something. I hope to see you at the end of your run and I have much different things to talk about.

Weak Recommendation

Thom "Tama" Langley
Love Stage!!

Ah. That's better. You know, it's oddly nice to be just reviewing Love Stage!!; up until now, what with DMMD alongside, it's felt like alternately eating slices the most sugar-y, colourful, full fat chocolate cake imaginable, and the diet, lo-fat, lo-sugar is unashamedly unhealthy (or in this case, unashamedly full-on shonen ai), whilst the other mumbles some excuse about being on a diet, and then goes back to being bland and forgettable. One way or the other, Love Stage is the shonen ai of the season. And, honestly, it's getting to be a pretty damned good example of the genre, period.

So, what has Izumi Sena been up to? Well, fresh from being pretty much told that he'll never make it as a manga-ka, he's turned up at love interest Ryouma's house, nearly dozed off in the bath...and promptly offered himself to Ryouma. Here, Love Stage...does something quite unexpected. Where a lesser show (and, heck even some of the greats (looking at you, Gravitation/Junjou) would have promptly thrown us into a sex scene ...Love Stage takes a step back, direction artfully suggesting rather than showing (although how much of this is due to this being the broadcast version is anyone's guess) Ryouma undressing Izumi, and having second thoughts. Ryouma takes a time out, Rei worries more (as usual) and once again, we get a kickass LaLa-LuLu sequence, complete with Sailor Moon-esque corrupted Izumi (reminder, this ain't in the manga, so the fact that these sequences add more to the already great Love Stage, as well as capturing the style and nuances of magical girl anime is serious kudos to animating studio JC Staff).. In a later sequence, complete with your typical Sakura petals, we get a continuation of this sequence, (via a message from Izumi's idol, LaLa-LuLu's manga-ka, via Ryouma), and a reminder that everyone starts somewhere, and that you should never lose sight of dreams. Taking this on board, Izumi...surprisingly agrees to go into showbusiness to expand his horizons. Oh, and Izumi and Ryouma kiss, and, of course, Izumi, ditz that he is, realises he may just be in love! Yaaaay! *polite, restrained fangirling*

Episode 8 begins, of course, with Izumi's showbusiness debut. Yay, crossdressing! Yay, recap! Yay-Izumi's in love, and worryingly trope-conscious again; and once again, this proves to be something close to the lynch-pin of Love Stage-Izumi is somewhat aware he's in the same position as the protagonist of a BL series, despite his denials. In fact, his denial is part of the humour. Oh, and we have two days till Izumi's debut. Ah. Love Stage seems to be in full-on recap mode this week, although the narration makes it so this isn't mindless re-treading, with these recaps done in a faux-documentary or lifestyle program style. Unsurprisingly, Izumi's having second thoughts, Izumi's family still think he's cute, and...apparently Izumi's brother's doting is the reason forIzmi's slightly odd nature. Something Rei also seems to do. In fact, the changing media, from in-car camera, documentary style, and other styles give this show more of a daytime television style, a perfect reflection of its celebrity family subject matter. Oh, and Rei is a badass. Which terrifies Ryouma. Meanwhile, hehind the scenes, Rei and Ryouma's manager play power politics, Rei of course declining his offer. We get a brief flash-back with Rei and Izumi's father, explaining his devotion to the Sena family, and, bouyed up by his father's belief, Izumi agrees to debut. Or maybe not. Or...actually, he is. Cue yet another Ryouma and Shugo head to head, more Izumi crossdressing, and...It's debut time! Oh, Izumi has nerves, solved once again by another kiss! *more restrained fangirling*. Izumi is revealed to the public as a boy, and....well, people are surprised. Obviously.

And there you have it. Love Stage, not only surprise of the season, but perhaps a surprise in BL in general. Few shows pull off the nuance of realizing you might be in love with another guy with such humor, such style, and most of all, such unabashedness, whilst still remaining paletable for the typical anime watcher. Watch out, Gravitation. Love Stage may just be the new yard-stick of Boy's Love anime.

Strong Recommendation

Second Opinions

Aldnoah Zero

Stephanie: Dude. Slaine just goes through way too much crap. That guys deserves a vacation or something! Also, Inaho and Slaine need to get along since they’re both really after the same exact thing and it’s all just a misunderstanding. At least Inaho and his group have something new that will help them survive this whole ordeal.... Yeah that’s all I got. This is what happens when you try to write something coherent while sick. Strong Recommendation

Blue Spring Ride

Stephanie: Cliches and troupes. Troupes and cliches. I swear this series has quite a few. I’m still ok with it though. It may be that I’m just a sap for romance every once in a while, but it at least isn’t trying anything new or out of the box when it comes to high school romance and friendship. I can give it that much. Solid Recommendation


Jonathan: A few years ago, if you told me that a show about teenage girls having personal problems and being cute would manage to make me feel more fear and dread than any given horror anime, I would have called you insane. Time makes fools of us all. HaNaYaMaTa is far too good for what it is, and I adore it. Strong Recommendation

Love Stage!!

Jonathan: This is still pretty smutty for my tastes in two different moments, but it's thankfully only two moments. BL isn't exactly a subtle genre. Otherwise, I really like this series, it has a couple with great chemistry and a really likable supporting cast, plus some great gags to boot. As far as romantic comedies go, this is definitely one of the better ones I've seen. Solid Recommendation

Stephanie: I was a little confused with that TV segment thing that was going on in episode eight, but I suppose that’s ok cause we finally got the lead up to Izumi’s big debut. As well as Izumi finally developing feelings for Ryoma. I think we can call this one a successful day. Solid Recommendation

Monthly Girl's Nozaki-kun

Stephanie: Still funny no matter what goes on. It’s also very much a good show to watch while sick. A nice laugh certainly helped me out! Though maybe my sore throat disagrees with that statement... Strong Recommendation


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