Oh dear, I’d forgotten a big problem I used to have with these monthly roundups. I can never think of what to write for the intro. Hmmmmm….Ah, I know! Want to listen to a hopelessly drunk Inushinde at Anime Boston?
Scamp: Attack on Titan
Boring choice, but sometimes what’s the most popular also happens to be the best. I really love the presentation of Attack on Titan, with its incredibly bombastic approach that manages that right balance of being kinda silly, so I laugh at some of the stuff it does, and yet I can still take its whole-hearted dramatics completely seriously. While it does still-frame filter shots that scream “we spent too long animating the other bits so forgot about this bit”, I can forgive that when it nails the important scenes. Particularly any scene with the Rogue Titan. I was a bit wary when they introduced the Rogue Titan, but the reveal was so well shot and its pure seething anger so well-realised that I’m willing to roll with anything this anime does from now on. Don’t let me tell you how you should do your own anime Attack on Titan, because you’ve been doing your own thing much better and proving me wrong so far.
Shinmaru: Valvrave the Liberator
I have no idea whether I think Valvrave is good or not. All I know is that each episode piles on more nonsense, and that I’m loving it more and more. I’d also argue that it’s doing so purposefully; the tone of absurdity is so assured, and the way every character acts so silly, that I find it difficult to believe that the creative team stumbled into it all out of sheer ignorance. Is there any purpose to it all other than, “This really amuses us”? I’m not sure. Perhaps there will be some grand plan revealed when it’s all over. For now, it is enough for me to sit back and appreciate Saki gleefully rejecting her humanity and soaring through the ship as a vampiric mecha pilot, Shouko’s endearingly corny pep talks and leadership, and L-Elf Karlstein (Karlstein!) executing bizarrely intricate, convoluted plans that he somehow has the resources to cobble together even though it’s been well-established that this ship is in a bad way. Never change, Valvrave. Never change.
Inushinde: To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S
It’s amazing what a fresh perspective can do for a story. The first season of Railgun proved this by taking the interesting universe of the boring-as-grey-shit Index and imbuing it with a sense of weight, giving the actions of the characters greater interconnectivity and purpose. It’s hardly perfection, but it proved that by focusing on other elements of a particular work and by dispensing with horrid writing, something fresh can be found amidst tedium and incessant monologuing.
Fast forward to season two, and things are looking even better, with the potentially interesting clone arc of Index being fleshed out from Misaka’s perspective. Just like the first season, there’s greater involvement here on the part of the protagonist, even constituting the closest thing that the series has had to a character arc. So once again Railgun, thanks for making the Raildex universe what it was always meant to be: Cool, fun, and without Touma punching shit being the end to every conflict.
What’s not so hot
Scamp: Majestic Prince
I don’t really have any broad criticism of Majestic Prince that can be summed up in a simple fashion. It’s more that it keeps having boring or badly done scenes and episodes. The whole graduation episode was very weird because it made this big deal about how emotional it was to be graduating, even though we saw about 5 minutes of them in school for the entire show. They didn’t earn the right to do this melodramatic graduation scene. The giant pitched battle was really boring because the choreography was so bad. It was just a load of incomprehensible beamspam, the worst kind of mecha battle. Then there was the really bizarre shift to the alien’s civilization where suddenly I was transported into an early 90’s terrible fantasy OVA where the main villain is voiced by Norio Wakamoto in Japanese and a drunk intern in the English dub. The jiggle physics are distracting. The main character’s ‘hero’ shtick got old very quick and he has very little beyond that. I guess the biggest criticism is that, while I’ve got lots of little niggling problems, I also don’t have anything big I can praise it for. I’m only watching it because I’m a sucker for giant robots.
Shinmaru: Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet
Honestly, I haven’t outright hated anything I’ve watched this month. Even Space Brothers, which I lambasted last month, did exactly what I predicted and immediately pumped out a stretch of episodes that were quite good. So it falls to me to write about the series I connected with least. I do love Gargantia’s setting dearly; it’s so bright, colourful and beautiful. The idea of it — a character who knows how to do just one thing entering a world where that talent barely has any use — is something I can dig, as well. The main problem for me, though, is that I can’t connect with any one character all that much because I don’t find them all that interesting. Likable, sure. Amy is a pleasant person. Bellows is cool. Ridget might get more interesting with her newfound responsibility. Chamber … OK, Chamber is awesome. Ledo? Eh. Stirring up stuff with the giant squids is more interesting than his pallid romance with Amy, at least. Other than that, I feel like I’m watching a group of good people carve out a nice existence for themselves, and that’s about it. That said, I bet the rest of the series will be really good to prove me wrong.
Inushinde: Uta no☆Prince-sama♪ Maji Love 2000%
Where’s the fucking episode dedicated entirely to Wakamoto? Why isn’t he the main character yet? Nobody cares about music drama or the lead’s creepy, hypnotizing eyes. Everybody watches this show for their Weekly Wakamoto Wackiness. Just give us what we want already so I can rate you a 10/10 and christen you the second best anime of the year next to Senki Zesshou Symphogear: In the Distance, That Day, When the Star Became Music…