Anime First Impressions: Spring 2014 Part One

Spring is here, and with it we have another new anime season, packed with new series.  No, seriously.  This may just have the most anime in a single season ever.  Even for someone with my completely random and incredibly picky tastes, over twenty different anime piqued my interest.   Of course, not all of them are modern day classics.  Some won't even pass the five episode check. Let's get into which ones have potential and which ones were duds.  Note: Since there are a crapload of these, I've decided to split this up into five series at a time, updated (hopefully) daily.

Black Bullet
Basically, as you'll see it described all over the internet, this is Attack on Titan with lolis.  And while the kid in question is adorable (and far, far more of a bad-ass than her older male partner), I'm really not sure what Japan's obsession is with sexually amorous little girls.  Don't get me wrong, it was actually pretty funny seeing the main character stiff arm the fuck out of her advances, but these are exactly the kind of series people point to when they talk shit about anime.

Even without that though, Black Bullet wasn't for me.  The fight scenes were decent, but holy SHIT that opening was bleak.  It was like someone took a course in Post-Apocalyptic Tropes 101 and tried to shove them all into a one minute scene.  And even though the rest of the episode is semi-light hearted, preliminary information I've gathered leads me to believe the status quo is more like the opening.  That's the kind of pointless nihilism that I just can't engage in as recreation, so I'm out.   If you're following, be sure to update me on the doubtless excess carnage that will occur over the series' run.

Cardfight Vanguard: Legion Mate Chapter

Cardfight Vanguard returns for it's fourth season, introducing a brand-new card mechanic with it: Legion, the ability for two level 3 cards to share the soul, gaining an effect neither card would have on its own.  I tried following this series back in 2011 when it was but a twinkle in the eyes of some exec at Bushiroad, but I was pre-occupied with...oh, who remembers?  But when I saw this series was doing another jump on point, I figured it's not like I don't already have more than enough to do, and went for it because I'm a glutton for punishment. 

Anyway, the hook for me with this season was that the series' normal protagonist, Sendou Aichi, has actually been retconned from existence.  His friends, his family, everything he's ever done (which apparently includes saving the world) has been completely forgotten by all but one person: his former rival and the person who taught him the game, Kai Toshiki.  It's like if they suddenly decided Seto Kaiba would be the main character of Yu-Gi-Oh for a year.  

Five episodes in (this series started in March), this series has settled into a typical routine of Kai having matches against Aichi's former friends, and getting them to regain their memories when he defeats them.  There's also a shadowy group in another realm that's already made their first move to stop Kai from succeeding at his task, and as the story seems to have assembled most of Aichi's best friends, I imagine they will start to come into play more soon.  It's all very basic kids' television, but it's decently done and well-animated, and I love the crack designs of the cards, so hopefully this will be the year I keep up with the least, if Kai lays off using the word "mate" so much to refer to Aichi. 

(Also, I know usually I do openings for first impressions, but that ending is just too catchy.)

Soul Eater Not!
A spin-off of the popuar shonen anime/manga series Soul Eater, Soul Eater Not takes an interesting tack to expand on it's universe. Whereas Soul Eater is about nothing but a bunch of "ace of aces", Soul Eater Not shows us the lives of normal meisters and weapons.

Soul Eater Not is centered around Tsugumi Harudori, a completely normal girl who one day partially transforms into a weapon, and is then promptly sent to the familiar DWMA, but rather than be involved in the EAT courses that the original series' charaters are, she is enrolled into the far less illustrious NOT (Normally Overcome Target) in order to learn to control her abilities. While there, she has dreams of getting involved in a romantic love triangle with two beautiful guys...but instead gets stuck with two other girls, a twintailed tsundere princess and a ditzy girl, both vying to be her meister. (And, no, the fantasy versus reality comparison is certainly not lost on her.)

For me Soul Eater Not was pretty decent, with cameos from the original series' characters that serve as both fanservice and a reminder of the enormous gap between our new protagonists and the older ones, even in this prequel side story. Soul Eater Not is clearly not geared towards the shonen battle crowd, but that's okay--the lighter tone is a welcome change of pace for the more slice-of-life/yuri genre, along with a switch of characters that makes the earlier chronological setting tolerable. Even the art is immensely different, something that might be a turn off to Soul Eater fans...but I was never terribly impressed by the original series' art to begin with. This lighter, more traditional art style is visually superior to my personal sense of aesthetics...even though they kept that goofy-ass sun in the sky. I'm definitely sticking with this.

Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers

I've got a bet going that this series will end up being better than all four "Marvel Anime" projects from 2011/2012.  So far, so good.  Marvel Disk Wars is definitely geared towards younger audiences, with all of the characters inexplicably wearing cumbersome armor reminiscent of the original Avengers cartoon in the late 90's, but that doesn't make it bad.  Surprisingly, the characterizations for everyone are still accurate, and I really can't knock any series that puts Cyclops, Beast, Iron Fist, Doctor Strange, and the Avengers in the first episode.

If the rest of the series focuses on finding different Marvel heroes that aren't necessarily the Avengers, it'll actually be superior to...whatever that series is Marvel calls themselves airing on Disney XD.  The animation is slightly lacking, but aside from that I'm actually hyped for the next episode of Avengersmon.

Uhhhh.....I'm already watching a series that involves giant robots in an ancient Japanese setting.  (Sort of.) Fuuin Dai Shogun is basically Nobunaga the Fool but from a far less inspired mind.  To "make up" for that, they tried pushing the ecchi angle, but they failed miserably there as well.   It's not all that great at tittilation, and the comedic element to it is basically non-existent.   Also, speaking of tittilation, I'm pretty much incapable of forgiving the series for making this monstrosity an artistic reality:

"Granma tits" was something I could've gone my entire life without seeing, thank you very much. 

So, for those reasons, and the fact that the entire thing is as sparsely animated as possible, and that it's another mecha anime series in a year that's 20% mecha anime series, means I won't be returning for the next episode. 

Okay, that's it for this entry.   With approximately 25 series for me to check out, it's probably a good thing that these first five ended in me dropping 40% of them.  But can I keep my overall series count at only a dozen by the end of this?  Tune in next time to find out.


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