I’ve probably put this off for a while now, but it’s finally here! I sorted the shows into groups based on my enjoyment factor and I’ll give a brief run through on my opinion on the series thus far. As a reminder, these reviews are based on my own personal preferences of the summer season thus far and feel free to disagree!
Top of the Pack
This was the surprise of the season for me! I went in, with no real expectations and was pleasantly surprised. Barakamon is one of those series that you can just kick back and watch as your worries and stress just melt away.
The Good: A fun cast of characters that are all memorable in their own way. Naru and the rest of the villagers are welcoming and adventerous, dragging Sensei into silly mishaps. Sensei himself was once an uptight city boy but learned to let things go once he was thrown into the country. Seeing them go about their daily lives as Sensei rediscovers who he is as a person is truly enlightening and enjoyable!
The Bad: I really can’t think of anything I dislike about Barakamon. I mean, the humor can be a bit hit or miss at times, but that depends on personal preference. It’s a slice of life show so it’s hard to hate on it!
Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun
Another laid back series that caught me by surprise as well! Nozaki-kun is a school based romantic comedy that focuses more on the comedy and less on the romance!
The Good: The reason I look forward to Nozaki-kun on a weekly basis has to be because of the characters! While they introduced quite a few people, Nozaki-kun properly introduces them which helps me remember who they are. The comedy also suits my style, a combination of slaptstick and dry humor usually brightens up my day.
The Bad: If you’re looking into a deep story, Nozaki-kun probably isn’t for you. While there is continuity between episodes, I don’t really see the plot or relationship between Sakura and Nozaki developing.
Akame ga Kill
There was a lot of hype surrounding this series and I’d say it lived up to my expectations. Even though we’re at the midway point, it still feels like the story is just beginning with real antagonists finally appearing.
The Good: A lot of fun action with some darker moments. I’m glad that they left it uncensored to show the brutality of their world. The entire Night Raid gang is full of quirky characters as well which makes it a fun ride.
The Bad: While there’s gore, it’s sometimes hard to take things seriously given how goofy some of the characters are at times. The story is also a bit predictable, with your typical boy meets girl. The boy is weak but ends up becoming stronger as he joins this girl’s journey.
I’ve also been doing weekly write ups for Akame ga Kill!
I had some pretty high expectations going into the season for this one. The setting and previews really got me hyped up on what a masterpiece this could be. It didn’t live up to all my expectations, but it still does manage to be a series I look forward to weekly.
The Good: The story and premise are actually pretty interesting. A somewhat underground society of flesh eating ghouls are able to co-exist with humans. Kaneki’s sort of thrown into the world unexpectedly and has to come to terms and accept what has become of his life. The anime manages to pack in a ton of action (by shifting some of the story around) which makes it entertaining to watch.
The Bad: Having seen both manga and anime, I feel like they stripped out a lot of Kaneki’s characterization. Half way in, he still feels like a whiny kid who can’t really do anything, despite being given amazing powers. They’ve also skipped over a lot of details regarding ghouls which would have added a lot more depth to the story. The Tokyo Ghoul anime focuses more on being a fast-paced action shounen.
I’ve also been doing weekly write ups for Tokyo Ghoul
Middle of the Pack
So, these shows are basically ones I’m pretty neutral about. They’re decent series but for personal reasons (or not), I can’t really get emotionally invested into them. They all have their moments of brilliance but also have moments where they completely lose my attention.
This was a must see for me, after seeing the cast/production line up. Unfortunately, I’ve never been a fan of mecha series which is exactly what Aldnoah is.
The Good: Amazing soundtrack as expected of Sawano Hiroyuki. The music, combined with some bad ass robots fighting each other makes it fun to watch.
The Bad: As I already said, I was never a fan of mechas and I’m still finding it hard to connect with A/Z. They introduced a bunch of characters and plot devices and kind of just threw them into this crisis from the get-go. Perhaps this is a series better left to marathon (at least for me) where I have less downtime so I don’t forget about the characters or story.
Sword Art Online II
Love it or hate it, you can’t deny SAO’s popularity amongst the community. I found the first season to be entertaining but it didn’t stick with me. Either way, I heard that the second season was an improvement and decided to check it out.
The Good: There’s actually some decent character development! We’ve known Kirito to be the god of video games back in S1, but he shows signs of vulnerability in this season. He actually feels more like an actual person. Being stuck in SAO really left some scars which are only just starting to resurface now. Sinon’s another interesting character as well. They gave her a decent backstory and will show how she overcomes her mental blocks over the course of the season.
The Bad: I guess it’s been a bit of a slow start to the season. There are also some cringey moments with Kirito forgetting that he’s dating Asuna and has some other girl clinging to him.
I’ve also been doing weekly write ups for Sword Art Online II
Now this might seem like an odd series to be even considered decent, but hear me out! People may have been disappointed by going into the series with expectations of a train related story. But, if you look at it as a typical harem, it can be pretty entertaining.
The Good: Well for one, I don’t think Rail Wars takes itself seriously! They know that they’re your typical fan service show and doesn’t pretend to be deep. The best part of a harem series is always the girls as well! Gotta love how Takayama interacts with his harem on an episodic basis. It’s also pretty hilarious to see how ridiculous the series can be at times (specifically episode 6).
The Bad: Like I mentioned before, there isn’t really a deep or meaningful story to Rail Wars. There are a ton of negatives, but if you go into this series with ZERO expectations, it can be pretty fun (especially if you enjoy harems). On the other hand, if you go into Rail Wars expecting trains (psh.. why would you?) then you might be disappointed.
Going to keep this short and sweet (like Hana)… It’s cute girls doing cute things. The show has some pretty artwork, and the characters are pretty fun to watch (especially Hana’s bubbly personality). There are some touching moments as the girls embrace their youth, but nothing too special. There isn’t much else to Hanayamata, but it’s a fun series to relax to.
Free! Eternal Summer
Of course, KyoAni has to make a sequel for all of their shows. Free! is pretty simple, it’s a show about guys who LOVE to swim. It has nice animation, catchy music, and well built guys.
The Good: The first season focused more on awkward teenager drama, while the second season seems to focus more on the characters. They’ve put their differences behind them and are actually swimming more because of it! Overall, the second season seems to be a lot more laid back, has some character development, and is actually focused on the swimming aspect!
The Bad: If you’re not into “cute boys doing cute things” then this probably isn’t the series for you. Haru as a main character can also be a little plain as well, since he literally only cares about swimming. Aside from that, don’t take the show too seriously, and enjoy the ride.
Another sequel to a series for the summer line up. The second season of Hamatora didn’t have me too excited, as a result of the lackluster first season. It did, end on a cliffhanger though which made it a must see for those who watched the first season.
The Good: Hamatora continues to have gorgeous artwork, vibrant colors, and improved animation, making it visual eye candy. The plot has also greatly improved (in my opinion) over the first season. Rather than have episodic stories that barely connect to the main story, we have an antagonist who constantly clashes with Hamatora.
The Bad: The writing for Hamatora is still pretty whacky at times. They’ve introduced a bunch of new issues (e.g., weakening abilities) that for some reason weren’t present or hinted towards at all in the first season. It’s still a work in progress, so I don’t want to harp on it too much, but there are still so many unresolved questions previously, but they continue to introduce even more questions. We’ll have to see if they manage to tie up the loose ends.
Fate Illya 2wei!
Once again, a sequel to another series. While it’s not directly related to the original Fate series, it brings back a lot of familiar faces.
The Good: If you’re into cute girls doing cute things, then here’s another show right up your alley! Unlike the other moe shows, Fate Illya does have quite a bit of action. The battle scenes are (in my opinion) very detailed and smooth, making it enjoyable to watch.
The Bad: The second season of Fate Illya hasn’t been as action packed as it’s predecessor. The first half of the season felt more slice of life like, with a lot of yuri moments, which isn’t really my thing. I was expecting more action, but didn’t really get any until the latest episode.
Ao Haru Ride
This seems like your typical shoujo series… and it is. I can see how Ao Haru Ride appeals to it’s target demographic (young females), but it just doesn’t suit my preferences. I’ll admit that it does have it’s moments though in which I can really feel for the characters.
The Good: What I like most about Ao Haru Ride is probably Futaba’s monologues. She’s constantly talking in her head, trying to reassure herself about her feelings. I think they really captured what it’s like to be an insecure teenager who’s just experiencing love for the first time. The characters themselves are also somewhat relatable. They all have their own problems which aren’t too uncommon from what teenagers face themselves.
The Bad: As I mentioned previously, it’s your typical shoujo series. Futaba is incredibly insecure and it’s sometimes frustrating to watch her thought process. But then again, you have to remind yourself that she’s just a teenager and teens aren’t always the most rational people. A lot of the events and issues that arise are pretty cliche, as they are common to the shoujo genre as a whole.
I’m actually a pretty big fan of harem and ecchi series, but Blade Dance has been really hit or miss for me. Sometimes it feels like they try too hard to be serious. With that said, a harem series really boils down to the characters at the end of the day. Even though I’m not really interested with the story, the characters are always fun to watch as they battle for Kamito’s loins.
Bottom of the Pack
So for the most part, these are shows that I haven’t been able to get into, and flat out did not really enjoy.
I think a lot of people were a bit biased when going into this series. Many people had just been blown away by Nagi no Asukara and were expecting another well emotionally demanding series. With that said, I personally don’t enjoy Glasslip. It has pretty artwork, but the characters are all pretty unlikeable. Maybe them being flawed makes them more realistic, but I just can’t name anyone who I don’t find annoying in the show. The romance in the show also feels incredibly forced (we just so happen to see the future so let’s fall in love!!!). The drama also seems really petty, even if they’re high school kids. Maybe I’m missing something, but a new kid shows up one day and then everyone just ends up hating him because Touko befriends him.
I’m a bit on the fence about this one. There are moments where I enjoy some of the witty dialogue, and others where I lose all interest in the series. My problem with this series is that they kind of just throw Akamatsu (who’s a plain, non-memorable MC). into a group of girls and begin some silly antics.
This show is a bit crazy and I really have no idea what is going on. From what I’ve read, the first episode was anime original which really threw me off. I’ll probably have to rewatch the previous episodes, and catch up on the series to get a better idea on how I feel about Tokyo ESP.
Zankyou no Terror
Again, this is probably a series that suffered from me not paying close enough attention. It’s highly regarded as one of (if not the best) series of the summer season. From what I can recall, Zankyou gives off a really tense atmosphere. The authorities are put in high pressure situations where their wits are tested by the main characters. I think that the series is better marathoned (personally) rather than watching on an weekly basis. Especially with so many other shows on my plate, I found it difficult to remember the events or details of the previous episode.
Well, there you have it, my summer 2014 anime mid season review! Better late than never right? You can always check out my other posts on the summer 2014 season if you’re looking for more in depth discussion on a specific series/episode.
Let me know your thoughts on the summer season so far! What shows are you enjoying the most and which ones didn’t meet your expectations?