FTG has some more nerd coming at you guys. With a new season approaching shows end and new ones begin. Zabu and Cannonfodder are here to let you know which anime is worth your attention, to avoid wasting time with something more unsavory. Here are a list of shows from this past season that you can guarantee will satisfy your anime hunger.
Aquarion Evol (Satelight)
A series set 12,000 years after its predecessor, Aquarion EVOL is an intergalactic tale of love and existence. An alien race known to residents of Vega as Altair are kidnapping their women to help their struggling world and preserve their once strong race. The people of Vega will have no part of this, so the division Neo-DEAVE fight back with jet like vehicles called Vectors. The two teams are separated by gender and are never allowed to co-exist.
The school/base they’re all stationed on is literally split down the middle with males on one side and females on the other. They’re never allowed to see one another since it’ll throw off their previous training. It isn’t long though until this is put to the test and the men and women are soon working alongside each other thanks to our main stars.
Enter our heroes Sora Amata and Suzushiro Mikono and this whole thing changes in an instant. Like all vector pilots, they each possess elemental ability ranging from the standard energy blast, to levitation, to even digging holes (yeah). Each pilot is distinct enough, but occasionally some fall into the various tropes that plague anime. You have the overbearing general, the overly-sexual candidate, and even prude pilot. They’re all really fun together though, and with a cast of so many characters, that’s pivotal.
It’s still early in the series to really say too much about it, but the action is insane, the animation is incredibly tight, and the soundtrack is a huge standout! It IS Yoko Kanno, so that’s to be expected. It’s only reached the end of the first season so we’ve got a bevy of 13 more episodes left to figure out what Altair will do to Vega, but so far, it’s been a great journey, and I can’t wait to see where Aquarion EVOL winds up.
Guilty Crown (Production I.G.)
With Japan under militaristic control, a virus sweeping the land, and warring factions fighting to ensure the safety of others, where does Ouma Shuu fit in? Like most anime heroes, Shuu possess a unique weapon that allows him wield incredible power. Also, like most anime leads, he’s pretty insufferable; at first anyway! Shuu quickly falls into the terrorist group Funeral Parlor who are at arms with the GHQ military group about what to do with the infected.
Shuu’s leading lady in all of this is a popstar named Yuzuhira Inori who coincidentally is part of the Funeral Parlor crew. And like all those that Shuu can come in contact with, holds within her a power unlike anything else. With Inori at his side, Shuu can wield an incredible power called a Void. Every, single citizen has a void in them that is essentially their soul, and its power varies from person to person.
A rather typical setup, right down to the main character, but as Guilty Crown has shown during the lead up to the finale, there’s more to this series that what’s on the surface. In the span of 4-5 episodes, we learn more about several characters than the previous 10+ episodes bothered to show. We learn that Inori really is more than she seems, and Shuu’s involvement in the Last Christmas was WAY more involved than previously thought. It’s an incredibly gripping arc that really leaves you wanting more and more after each episode!
Shuu’s journey is explosive from the start, but he himself is weak; figurative and literal in this case! Don’t let that discourage you though, Guilty Crown has one of the more memorable stories in recent memory, albeit not the most original. It’s mainly due to the characters and overall flow of the story. It’s like you grow along with Shuu and everything that’s cast on his due to his newfound power. Unfortunately, the finale wasn’t as strong as it could have been, and was quite frankly really generic.
Guilty Crown is another series that suffers from not taking many big risks. It tends to play it safe majority of the time but the moments where it really shines is in that mid-to-late teens episode arc. I do recommend that fans of Code Geass or Full Metal Panic (or any other militaristic/mecha series) give Guilty Crown a go, it’s not an utter waste of time, but that finale will no doubt leave you slightly unsatisfied.
Persona 4 the Animation (AIC ASTA)
Based of the highly praised Persona 4 game for PS2 from 2008, Persona 4 the Animation is, from what I can tell, a STRAIGHT copy of the game. And I mean that with all due respect. Our lead Narukami Yu has recently moved to Inaba from Tokyo and naturally, the town is stricken with murders throughout. Yu quickly joins a small group that set out to investigate the murders after they discover a mysterious midnight channel that broadcasts the victims beforehand. While inside the channel, they’re able to equip “Personas” that enable them to battle the horrid demons that dwell within. As Yu’s gang grows, the plot thickens as they try and find the source of the strange doings in their small town.
As someone who has never played the PS2 title (sorry guys) for faithfulness claims I’m going off fans that are HARDCORE into the series and they’ve said it’s very faithful! That being said, this series is accessible to the uninformed, but it’ll no doubt help to get some of the inside jokes as well as other small details. The series itself is a mix of slice-of-life and action, where most episodes are one, then the other. For a while, mid-way through, it’s heavy dialogue that fleshes out the characters and the world.
The action is nicely done, and the Personas themselves are finely detailed and really exude power. The characters are highly enjoyable, with each of them bringing something different to the table. Yu’s the straight faced, occasionally comedic guy, Satonaka Chie is the loudmouth tomoboy, and Tatsumi Kanji is…well, he’s definitely a bit irregular! As someone who usually passes on slice-of-life series, Persona has pushed me to not dismiss them as quickly as I usually do. They can be grueling series, but Persona shows that if handled well, they can be some of the most entertaining things out there!
Of course, as a slice-of-life series comes to a close, tears must be shed, and without spoiling anything, I shed a few man tears near the end. Although I understood the full motives of the main villain, I still didn’t buy it as a viable option. It made sense after the evidence was presented, but it still seemed like an outside option will VERY little buildup. Persona’s ending might seem a bit intense, but it was pretty typical for a JRPG/anime series. The “true” ending will be released later via the Blu-ray/DVD release, so you’ll need to wait a few months to get it!
Rinne no Lagrange (Lagrange -The Flower of Rin-ne) (XEBEC)
Kyouno Madoka is a strong-willed, hard-headed, tenacious girl who’s to always do the right thing. After saving a drowning girl, she’s quickly found in front of a mech (Vox) that is capable of destroying the very planet she loves so very much. The Vox and their capture are the solitary goal of Villagiulio as he has own army of mechs (Ovids) set on doing just that.
Rinne no Lagrange is a fickle flower (no pun intended) to talk about. It’s pretty straightforward and it’s got an entertaining enough flow to keep you going from the start. The characters are likable, especially Madoka; her warm-heartedness is too infectious. The side-characters aren’t anything too interesting but they’re fleshed out just enough for you to understand what Madoka is truly fighting for.
While it’s not doing anything new or exciting so far, Rinne no Langrange is a nice addition to your list if you enjoy fluid action and fun characters. It’ll be nice to see this mech series do something different from the norm, and I believe it can. If there’s one thing XEBEC know, it’s mech series! I can’t wait for the second season to start in the summer later this year!
Anime about tabletop games, while not unheard of, is a very small class of show. This particular series introduces you to Chihaya Ayase, a high school girl, with an extreme obsession to the traditional card game of Karuta. Karuta is game played in Japan where the players arrange cards on the floor that have poems on them. A reader recites a poem and the players must be the first to touch the card with the poem read. First player to have no cards left on their side wins.
Chihayafuru is a slice of life anime done right in every sense. With a very unique art style that makes each character unique and a story that never seems to drag, watching Ayase interact with all of the characters in the show keeps you involved and wondering how it will turn out for all of them. Each character manages to have their own experiences and motivations in Chihayafuru that breathes life into them and makes you root and hope for them as much as you do the main character.
Animation and use of camera angles were quite well done, showcasing the speed and accuracy needed to play. Fluid movements during matches and funny stylized faces at proper moments in conversation show a great attention to detail between the script and the artists. And with director Morio Asaka, the man behind shows like Chobits, Chi’s Sweet Home, and Cardcaptor Sakura, the pedigree payed off.
Not all anime is cutesy and has a happy story. This horror mystery show revolves around a high school student named Koichi Sakakibara. After having a physical ailment that caused him to miss a great deal of school he transfers to a town out in the country for fresh air and an easier life. Unfortunately for him, the class he is enrolled to seems to be under a curse, or phenomenon of some kind that leads to the death of not just students, but those around them as well.
A horror anime is all about the suspense; being able to reveal story elements, without making the plot and story development excruciatingly obvious. Another does a wonderful job of showing you what you need to know to continue the story and what to hide to keep you questioning what could happen next. Sakakibara and his classmates show an extreme sense of humanity throughout the show that gives you a connection to the characters and a sense of respect for their plight.
With director Tsutomo Mizushima (Genshiken, Squid Girl, and Big Windup) and music done by Kô Ôtani (Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, Zatch Bell, and Outlaw Star) this production cast had a big following to impress. Though character design was nothing new or special effects and animation was spot on. Characters were defined well enough to tell them apart, but not memorable enough to bother trying to remember all of their names. Events leading up to the climax of the show are spectacular and a movement is never wasted. Even the obligatory beach episode revealed relevant information to the plot that would change characters and how they react later in the show.
Recorder and Randsell
A boy in 5th grade who lives with his parents and sister, who is in high school have a rough life. No, not because of their living situation, but because of their bodies and stature. The 5th grade boy, Atsushi, has the body of a fully grown man, while Atsumi, the high school sister, has the build of an elementary school child. This show is about all the troubles and misunderstandings that come with their ironic body sizes.
Commendations to director Hiroshi Kimura and script wright Ryou Karasuma for taking up a task like airing a three minute short and managing to keep the characters interesting enough to want to keep coming back. Character design is spot on and the story situations are believable, with just a bit of over the top hijinks mixed in. With a mix of supporting characters to round out the show watching Recorder and Randsell can always be expected to give a quick chuckle if you don’t have the time to watch a full episode of anime.
Unfortunately the situations that Atsushi manages to land himself in is more often than not being chased by police for talking to grade school kids in the body of a fully grown man. While this is probably reasonable in the sense of it happening quite often, having him being dragged off by cops in half the episodes gets a little tiring. Thankfully the means to him getting the police sicked on him are usually funny enough to watch by themselves. And you really can’t help but feel sorry for the kid, given his situation.