2013 was definitely a show filled with many shows of assorted variety. It probably says a lot that I can think of tons of shows of appalling quality yet struggle to come up with more than one show that I genuinely loved. Anyway, let’s rank these things and move on with out lives in 2014 because that’s truly for the better.
In January when I was still watching Space Brothers, there was an event I knew was going to happen from watching the live action movie last year. Hibito did end up crashing the lunar rover into a massive crevasse. What happened with the next few episodes was the series at its very best. The dumb light moments were gone for that span and it was replaced with a drama where the threat felt real. Hibito did get out of that situation, barely, but the scars would last. The conclusion of that arc later took a hit in my mind when I found out the inspiration for the astronaut figure left on the moon. After that, the old Space Brothers returned and I could no longer enjoy it in the same way.
Sometimes the best insight into characters can come at the most surprising times. When the Neighbors Club took a shopping trip there were the usual antics that come with a harem comedy. In the middle of this was a conversation at a coffee shop between Sena and Kodaka where we learn more about the latter than all previous episodes prior. It’s brief, but we learn that he has a massive inferiority complex. He doesn’t feel that he deserves to be loved by anyone and at that point it’s obvious that he is willfully ignoring the feelings of the girls around him. This conversation really marked the transition of the series from one about girls falling in love with Kodaka to a show about helping him find his confidence.
While this show disappointingly ended with Hero subjected to Female Knight and Demon King shoving their chests into his face, there were moments of genuine quality in Maoyuu. Having taken Crimson Scholar’s place in being subjected to public execution, Older Maid Sister gave a speech that wasn’t so much a call for her own safety as much as a call to destroy the existing order that was drawn from her own experience of being taken in by Demon King. Even as she is being beaten her will shines through and she will not have her spirit crushed.
The spring season opened with a 2nd show involving a demon king only this time they ended up in modern Japan. There wasn’t much glossing over what happened on Maou and Ashiya’s arrival though. Here were two foreigners who did not speak the language trying to figure out a way to make some money and find a place to live. Their social support network consists of just the two of them and their mysterious landlord Miki. A long struggle to survive in low-wage hell looked set to begin.
Yuyushiki is at it’s heart a show about 3 cute girls doing cute things as friends. Their club activities fittingly involve looking things up on the internet revolving around a theme of the day they come up with on their own. The moment I think that best summed this up took place in the 7th episode. When talking about Yuzuko’s unusual eye color she ended up coming across a Wikipedia article for the protein that sends information from the eyes to the brain. Yes, Pikachurin. In this show of many tangents, a discussion that begins with cat’s eyes concludes with speculation on the gender of the children a scientist has. That’s Yuyushiki research in a nutshell right there.
It’s not much of a stretch to say that Muromi-san isn’t exactly heavy in social commentary. What little there is is run through the character of Otohime the former business owner under the sea who has to work in a fishing shop. The episode is about much more than that though. There’s the convenience store worker who had dreams of his own, but with his girlfriend now pregnant those dreams may be permanently on hold. Otohime herself is looking to stand on her own terms after she lost her business, but it doesn’t look like that is happening. Her frequent fights with Muromi always seemed to be about how Otohime had fallen, but this episode revealed that they were really a frustration with how things change. Life can’t simply go back to how it was before the economy tanked. The episode ends fittingly with an all-night drinking session outside of the convenience store talking about business in an unstable economy.
C3-bu ended up turning into a sort of gunsoft version of Rambo when the protagonist Yura was questioning why gunsoft didn’t love her as much as she loved it. Early on in a quest to improve her skills the club goes to a temple and sets Yura a goal of being able to shoot a single 5-yen coin from across an archery range. After failing for the day and having left her gun at the temple, Yura returns and enters one of her vivid delusions. The next day she returns and imagines herself in the middle of an ancient battle and fires a shot through an incoming arrow. Did it really happen? Was Rento also sucked into Yura’s imagination? Or did she simply shoot into the hole of the 5-yen coin?
Having saved his friends from Kokabiel in the last episode through force of will, Issei and the rest of the Occult Research Club embarked on a more pedestrian mission; cleaning the school’s pool. The feelings of those around him had swung fully in his direction. When even Yuuto is confessing his feelings for him, you knew Issei was in the form of his life. So when he had to have more of his dragon energy sucked out of him by Akeno, the audience was in for a show.
Having wrapped up the series proper, Kiniro Mosaic started a take on chuunibyou and ended up turning it into a short musical number. Going completely off-script in the adaptation happened to yield the best of this series. The musical number relied on being interested in these characters and their idiosyncrasies, but the case could be made that the musical number could stand on its own. I’d be interested to see if anyone who did not watch any of Kinmoza would understand the musical bit.
For a high-concept harem comedy about a character who is forced into making ridiculous choices, the opening scene is one of the most ambitious narratives of the year. They try to tell history as a series of choices made by people who would go on to be famous for those decisions. Unfortunately, it’s hardly a successful story as it drags on for far too long and it is followed up by Furano, Ouka and Kanade being involved in dirty jokes. Failed ambition is better than not even trying.
There were hints of this in the opening episode that the relationship between Setsuna, Kazusa and Haruki would hit its peak. The concert’s three songs sum up the series perfectly. The first was the song that brought them together, the second was a dialogue between Kazusa and Setsuna about romantic conflict and the third was about love lost. The performance captures everything that made this series the surprise of 2013.
Outbreak Company was one of the better shows this year with its attempts to portray a divided society and in the final episodes the attention turned to the Japanese government and the place of otaku in society. Imports of anime and manga were restricted early on in the 11th episode. It became clear that this was the dark side of trying to spread culture. Matoba revealed that it was all a plot to have the people learn Japanese and to become more interested in anime and manga than developing their own culture. When Shinichi learns of this he and Minori become expendable because they do live on their own. Ultimately, he uses the ties that he has forged in his new land to get protection after he tells Petrarca they should make their own anime, manga and light novels. That was a potentially dangerous thing to do.
This isn’t a post intended to raise debate. The answers have already been settled. These are the best, acceptable and worst girls from harem anime this year, objectively.
This may be the last installment of this feature for a few weeks. I’m not sure whether I should pursue a policy of continuing this in the spring as normal, or if I should do the typical thing done by aniblogs with a readership in 2 figures and write on each first episode. My most popular post (with 0 comments until I mentioned 18 months later) was from writing this way, and it also allowed me to briefly have the top Google search for a term. Damn you ABC News, damn you.
Going for an ending filled with reconciliation and the like is clearly not Haganai‘s thing judging by this final episode of the season. The episode focuses early on with Kodaka helping the Student Council members Aoi and president Hinata do ordinary jobs around the school as he took a week-long sabbatical from the Neighbors Club. That ends when Yukimura confronts him to give her reasons why she still helps him. Then, Rika forces Kodaka on to the rooftop where they engage in a final battle. Yes, that’s what happens, really. Finally, Yozora creates the inevitable sequel hook at the end.
As this second season of Haganai approaches a close, it’s clearly narrowed its focus down to one thing, Kodaka’s fear of change. The episode begins with Rika being discovered lying on the floor of her production room ill. That leads the screening of the movie to be cancelled for the reason that the group would not be able to see it together first. They eventually do watch it as a group later. The second half of the episode is a battle with Aoi over the club’s right to exist. It’s a match of knowledge of the rules as Aoi tries to get the club shut down as Yozora shows knowledge of the various loopholes that allow it to exist. When Aoi does find that sticks (Maria not actually being a sister), Sena uses her influence to get Maria hired as a special part-time teacher. With that battle over, Sena shocks everyone with a request of Kodaka.
I’m not going to humor you much with tales of how my week went. Needless to say, this post will go up on St. Patrick’s Day. Most of you will know what kind of activity typically happens on that day. I will undoubtedly be engaging in a much sadder version of that, without people. That’s what I would normally say but for the fact that I’m actually feeling a bit under the weather. Sober St. Pat’s for me. In the meantime, I can still pass the time playing Pokemon LeafGreen while doing the Nuzlocke Challenge. Eleven hours in, and I’ve only killed one of the anibloggers I’m using as names for different roosters in Japanese Legal Video Game Cockfighting.
As for the anime this week, the season is beginning to wind down. Or in the case of the Noitamina block, it just comes to an end which feels like the series director was only told they had 22 episodes last week. The terribad viewing actually did happen this week as the group finally decided that hard drive space needed to be cleared after watching Anno attempt to direct real actors. And as a side note, I’m out of town attending a small gaming convention, so won’t be doing a recap. I’ll try to throw something up on next week’s conclusion of Robotics;Notes in 2 weeks.
This week’s episode of Haganai sees the club scrambling to make an entirely new film before the school festival begins. With Rika’s help and Sena’s spare script, they manage to get it done. Then, at the festival the rest of the group watches the silent film Kobato’s class made. Afterwards, they discover that she is in fact popular among her peers, but she struggles to make friends with them. Later, after a speech from the student council president, who is hated by Yozora for being popular, Kodaka spots Rika on the roof of the school. What starts as a friendly conversation would turn into an intervention.
I never thought this recap series would make it to 30 installments. I was due for a week of shows so bad that I would be embarrassed to write about it and then I would eventually stop as it would seem like I hated anime. This was very nearly that week.
So what exactly set the stage for this. First, Maoyuu didn’t air a new episode this week, just some recap special episode 9.5 or something like that. It’s probably a compilation of Female Knight and Demon King in various states of undress trying to seduce Hero. Second, there was epic bed-shitting when it came to shows that were even mildly okay. Third, the prospect of watching live-action Anno-directed terribad was so bad that the time was spent talking about the silliness of societies based entirely around one staple food, deconstructing deconstruction and some sort of music quiz. On the plus side, you get a new show cracking my top 5 this week for the first time. I hadn’t even written more than a comment on it prior to now.
The latest installment of the Haganai epic centers almost entirely on the Sena-Kodaka relationship, as seen by others. The episode kicks off with the beginning of filming, which would later have it’s own issues. Kodaka then runs into one of Sena’s classmates named Yusa Aoi. She assumes he is dating Sena, spouts a bunch of stuff about how the two of them are perfect while she is second best, then storms off. Kodaka later runs into Pegasus and shatters his illusion that he was dating his daughter. The next day, Sena grabs Kodaka and reveals that their fathers had arranged a marriage between the two of them and had a picture of the two of them playing together as toddlers. As Pegasus had run his mouth to numerous people, Maria ends up revealing this to Yozora and Rika, whose morale is totally shot. Finally, Kate and Kodaka talk about the movie the club is making and how she says it is similar to a cult classic. Kodaka watches that movie and finds a creepy similarity…
The mundane is something that I’ve had to deal with a lot recently. It has reached the point where late night grocery shopping can now be considered adventurous. I don’t really live in an area where that would truly be the case though, although I could give one of those places near work a shot. At least with it being near the start of baseball season, it means that spring is just around the corner.
This week there was not a wide spread of episodes. There was an epic monologue, romantic comedy centering around films and a swimsuit episode that never ventured outside among other things. As for terribad, it had as catastrophic an ending as any in recent memory.
This week’s Haganai episode is yet another character study of one of the girls vying for Kodaka’s attention as the club decide to make a movie for the school festival. After making that decision, Yozora forces Kodaka to go watch a random movie with her at the cinema, which happens to be an erotic French romantic drama. After visiting a cat cafe, they recall a childhood experience taking care of a stray cat. In the second half, Yozora creates the script and begins making casting and writing decisions to try to get closer to Kodaka. Eventually it leads to a clash with Sena that looks bad, but Yozora finds a way to create something positive out of it.
So I find myself with a little bit more spare time this week. Unfortunately, I happen to live in a place that is little more than a frozen wasteland which basically means I get to sit inside for most of the time. At least winter seems to be coming close to an end since the days are getting noticeably longer now. Or to some it up briefly, it’s cold outside, I want it to be warmer.
This week, there’s not much in the groundbreaking animation front. It’s about as midseason a week as there possibly can be. Though I would not be surprised if there was a magnificent episode of a show I’m not watching. But that thought happens every week.
This week’s episode of Haganai was centered around Kobato’s birthday, but actually had very little to do with her at all. Instead, I would say Kodaka is the main focus this week. Due to her birthday, Sena, Rika, Yukimura and Yozora want to buy Kobato a birthday gift. They all end up going together with Kodaka. Fashion dominates the rest of that day’s trip. Then comes the club’s birthday part for Kobato and a dinner where Kate and Maria spend the night at Kodaka’s house.
I was doing some cleaning this week post-Valentine’s Day and all, when I came across one of them myself. I can’t say it was entirely meaningless, but rather it ends up feeling more like a sign that I still haven’t paid this person back. That’s probably a personality flaw on my part that I keep a running tally on debts or favors owed even if the other person was not expecting anything back. I also found some other strange items along the way, but the most tragic were the Canadian pennies. RIP.
This week’s episode of Haganai is centered almost entirely around the upcoming school festival. For unpopular people such as the members of the Neighbors Club, that means tragedy and exclusion. That doesn’t mean they can’t dream of participating as a club, however. They try out 2 ideas, a maid cafe and fortune telling. They both result in more cruel jokes on Sena as can be expected. After last week, this episode proved to be disappointing from a character development standpoint.
As is typical of this time of year, it was a completely uneventful sort of week. There was a bit of snow around here, but it wasn’t anything like feet of snow. I also made another one of my absurd twitter promises during the week in a desperate attempt to take my mind off of certain things this coming Thursday. At least this one won’t cost me a bunch of money like one of them last year. Although, that one did end up being a pretty nice experience.
So what do we have on store for this week’s recap post? Space Bros begins to revert back to the mean, there’s several holiday-themed episodes and an historically bad terribad anime from the team behind Ice. That one got licensed and dubbed, so that screams quality, doesn’t it?
In this week’s installment of Haganai, Yozora gets to play an otome game which is the gender reversed version of the game played early in the first season. After that comes to a bad, but satisfying end, the plot resumes in the final third. After having her inventions called plain by Kodaka, Rika creates what she says is a time machine, but really only creates vivid dreams. Unfortunately, it doesn’t prevent Kodaka from talking in his sleep.
After last week, I have to admit the knee is feeling a bit better. Not well enough to do anything strenuous on it, but I’m no longer like certain immobile Welshmen. Elsewhere, I’ve also been watching that new Netflix remake of House of Cards. Kevin Spacey is a delight to watch when he is playing asshole characters, and a member of the US House of Representatives would definitely fulfill that role. I just wish the writers would have put some thought into having the policy positions of the respective parties make sense unlike the comical mess they seem to be in that series. However, I digress in taking away from the usual Japanese animation that this blog takes up.
If I’m perfectly honest, it was a fairly tedious week, but it wasn’t entirely uneventful. Psycho-Pass finally drove me over the edge in the first minutes this week, so it will no longer merit a place in these recaps. I can only take so much hack writing before it becomes entirely without merit after all.
Trying to be spoiler free as possible when crafting these posts does prove to be a bit of a challenge. Anyone whose done even the slightest amount of research on Haganai would know the biggest revelation in this episode, but I’ll get to that later. This was another 2-parter. The first was a trip to an amusement park with the whole gang which was centered around Kobato participating in a live-action show of her favorite anime. The second half was in a bath house due to the end of the first part, whereupon Yukimura’s big secret is exposed in a criminally obvious way.
Lately I’ve been struggling with a couple of things. The first is this little injury to one of my knees. Well, it probably wasn’t little as I couldn’t extend it for about a week. However, it’s effectively killed one of my non-anime hobbies for at least a few more weeks. Then to top all things off, there is no terribad here this week as a 2 hour project at work turned to a 10 hour failure with all of the addressing failure that will come with in in the next few days. At least I’d get a couple of life-affirming episodes from this week. Also, next week will see the return of the average chart, that I’m going to try to make a bit more accurate.
So again Haganai goes with a two-part setup this week with a not so subtle twist at the end. The first half involves Maria showing up at Kodaka and Kobato’s place to run away from Kate, though it turns out to be nothing of the sort. The second half is lengthy take on the classic of a game played by Japanese youth in anime, the King’s Game. As I said last week, I thought it would result in nothing progressing in intra-group relationships, but Kodaka’s father had to say something.
If I were to describe this week in a single word, it would be bland. I think it’s just the very nature of life in this part of the world having to stay indoors most of the time because of the weather conditions. It’s not the oppressively hot conditions of Australia though. After the two weeks of trimming the waste from my winter watching schedule, I should have been able to have some proper enjoyment, right?
In this week’s episode of Haganai, the club watches a classic of its genre as a new-look Rika looks confidently on. Kodaka meets Maria’s older sister and comes away extremely unimpressed. Finally, Yozora desperately wants to compare answers to the recent tests with Kodaka. Because that’s what friends do, and that she doesn’t want to do it because they are friends or anything. So for the most part this is a pretty ordinary episode of Haganai, with a fart joke thrown in and ridiculous BL and galge titles on top.
The 2nd week of the new season pretty much finished off most of what new shows were airing this season. The last one remaining is next month’s start to the new PreCure series, but I defer to others in hyping that one up. It was also another week where I happened to continue to pull the trigger on some shows too quickly. It’s become a little cliche out in the community to say that this season is terrible, but for whatever reason it does seem like it’s a little worse. At least there was a returning group of shows to make everything seem better, right?