Yeah, I’m almost caught up! Except this is when I started watching a TON of anime because all this amazing stuff came out! I can barely keep up now! Fall is insane. I’m pretty sure Winter 2014 will return to normal levels of 3 or 4 shows though because so far, all I’m looking forward to is Sailor Moon, Space Dandy, and Silver Spoon 2.
All of the following anime are streamed at Crunchyroll, except Blood Lad, which is Hulu.
2013 seemed to be the year of the fangirl. Attack on Titan was a huge hit with both men and women (this continued from Spring into Summer season), and the fangirls glommed onto the stoic Levi creating thousands of fanart pictures making him actually look better than his anime/manga character. And then came Free!
Free! was actually created as a sort of ad for the animation studio Kyoto Animation (KyoAni) to show off their animation skills. However, once fangirls saw these absolutely gorgeous boys with their muscular abs, calves, and droplet covered bodies, they went completely berserk. Just called the “Swimming Anime” from one 30 second promo, fanart and cosplay started springing up everywhere. Fortunately for them (and me!), KyoAni went on to announce this as a full anime series soon after. (This also led to a bunch of ridiculous manchild whining that their favorite anime studio was creating gross stuff for stupid women and to get back to making cute little girl stuff for them. Really.)
Anyway, Free! is essentially a pretty straightforward friendship anime. Haruka and Rin were childhood friends until Rin went away to Australia to train to be a better swimmer. When he returned, he was a bitter emo teenager with a burning rage for Haruka. The level of his anger is really a mystery and sorta unjustified, but I really wasn’t watching it for him, but more for the ridiculous fanservicey scenes. Every boob bounce and panty shot that are extremely prevalent in regular anime was absent here (the ladies in the anime remained fairly covered up at all times), but the men were free game and we got lingering camera shots over biceps, butts (Rei was a favorite in his Speedo), and abs. It was utterly delightful and hysterical to be finally catered to in this manner.
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With a completely confusing title, Genshiken: Second Season, is actually the third season of Genshiken (the second being called Genshiken 2). In this iteration, the guys have graduated, leaving Ogiue and Ono to run the club. Somehow they end up with a bunch of yaoi fangirls (i.e. fujoshi, or girls who are into drawing and reading about pretty-boy gay relationships), which completely changed the tone of the show. I really liked the change in cast. It was a fairly realistic look into the fujoshi life, and also had a very interesting character Hato, who is a cross-dressing boy. The problem though is whether he is just a cross-dresser, or a full on transwoman. The anime kinda went back and forth on that, which made it somewhat confusing, but I liked the way the girls in the club treated him. Some accepted him; some treated him as a fetish object; others were kind of uncomfortable with him, but we got to see them come to terms with him. A lot of people were turned off by the sudden gender emphasis change in the club, but I enjoyed it.
Kuchiki is still gross (the one remaining guy from previous Genshiken), but he did have one of the best scenes in the anime with an homage to Attack on Titan. I should probably add Kuchiki to my list of most hated anime characters.
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A complete 180 from her previous epic action series, Fullmetal Alchemist, Arakawa takes us into the quiet world of an agricultural high school. Hachiken, a city boy, enrolls into Oezo Agricultural High School to escape his family (for reasons that aren’t really clear yet). There he meets and befriends a bunch of kids from farmer families and learns to appreciate their hard-working lives and life choices (or lack of) that they face.
With a sort of suspicious start (Hachiken totally overreacts to discovering where eggs come from), this show rapidly developed into a really sweet anime as Hachiken learns the basics of farming and adopts a runty pig who is destined for the slaughterhouse. I loved the characters and the touching, inevitable journey of Pork Bowl, and the respect that Hachiken gives him. A good look at responsible farming. A second season has been greenlit for winter, which I’m really looking forward to.
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The Eccentric Family, or Uchouten Kazoku:
I was so, so glad that NIS America was the one who picked this up. This will be a gorgeous BD released by them. A lovely bittersweet anime about a family of tanuki who lost their father to a horrible tradition where a tanuki is caught and eaten in a hotpot by a group of men every year. The problem is nobody knows exactly how he got caught, as he is a crafty tanuki, which troubles the four sons and wife he left behind. A magical otherworld of tanuki, tengu, family betrayal, and loss.
There are two characters that are particularly interesting: Benten (the purple haired lady) is complex and charismatic. She’s cast as human, but she can fly somehow as a student of the tengu. Yasuburou (the 3rd tanuki son and main character) has a crush on her, as does the old man tengu. She seems to have her own agenda as both friend and foe to the tanuki. Yajirou is the 2nd eldest son, and for some reason transformed himself into a frog and forgot how to change back, and lives apart from the family in a well. The family frequently visits him to chat with him and ask his advice. He has an especially powerful episode that left me in tears.
This was a fan favorite for summer in anitwitter.
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Ok, I have to confess, I need to rewatch this anime. I tend to halfass watch things sometimes due to attention focusing issues and this was an anime I really can’t do that with. Another fan favorite by certain people in anitwitter with a really crazy main character, Hajime. For me, Hajime was a very difficult character to watch and relate to. She is EXTREMELY genki–hyperactive and boisterous and positive. She is chaotic and overly enthusiastic, and somehow everything still works out ok. She is chosen to be a Gatchaman, which is a type of superhero (complete with super awesome alternate form), to protect the city from an insane alien.
There is also a girl who wears an incredibly skimpy bikini and a totally-not-panda thing (he gets mad if you call him that). And a very intriguing (and attractive) genius cross-dresser.
I definitely do want to rewatch this very soon to get a firmer grasp on it. One of my friends plans on cosplaying as superhero Hajime, which will be awesome.
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Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaete mo Omaera ga Warui! – It’s Not My Fault That I’m Not Popular! (Watamote, for sanity’s sake)
(YES, this is it’s real title. I hate this bizarre tendency for some anime to get out of hand with their titles. There are some DOOZIES this fall. See: I Couldn’t Become a Hero, So I Reluctantly Decided to Get a Job and My Mental Choices are Completely Interfering with my School Romantic Comedy)
PAINFUL. Omg so painful. Not painful to watch because it’s so bad. But this girl is so socially awkward and she claims she hates everyone, but so desperately wants to be liked. I can identify with her enough that it’s cringeworthy to watch. I made it through eight episodes before throwing in the towel; I couldn’t take it anymore. Especially because it didn’t seem like she was getting anywhere, and I wanted SOMETHING good to happen to her.
I did like her relationship with her brother. A totally non-creepy, realistic sibling relationship for a change. He’s not a doting brother at all, but you can tell he’s embarrassed for her and feels bad for her awkwardness.
I may go back and finish this someday, but I just needed a break from the sheer uncomfortableness.
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Servant x Service:
Goddammit. I wanted to like this anime. I really did. It’s workplace anime instead of a high school anime, and I thought the main character looked interesting with her short hair and glasses. Then it turned out to be a high school anime set in a workplace, with the same old big boob jokes, sexual harassment, and brother complex incest tones. Gross. Dropped after 3 episodes.
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Blah blah, vampire, blah, big boobie jiggly girl, dropped after 1 episode. I might not have even finished the episode.