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The Best of Spring 2014

June 29, 2014

spring ban14Well Spring ended up being fairly disappointing for me which is why things have been so very quiet round here and on Twitter to an extent, I haven’t had much to say about the season in general.  I ended up watching 15 shows, but I’m only doing a top 5 since so many shows were just meh and I’ve already forgotten a few of them – roll on Summer, I don’t care if it is full of fujoshi pandering trash, at least I’ll be entertained instead of bored!

5. Knights of Sidonia

Once you get over the CGI animation (it does take a while to get used to the uncanny valley faces) Knights of Sidonia becomes a really engrossing sci-fi series.  What stops it from becoming top flight is the insistence on inserting terrible fanservice and generic high-school hi-jinks that generally ruins the atmosphere.  However the main problem is the main character’s complete lack of personality.  Tanikaze is so perfect at everything that he may as well be a robot – his only saving grace is the fact the fella is just so overwhelmingly nice and goofy that he stops just short of being obnoxious to watch.  I guess my main issue is that the characters that populate Sidonia don’t seem to be fully belong in a dystopic sci-fi series, and that stops me from fully getting into the show – more so than the CG animation.

Still Sidonia has some very solid episodes and a pretty interesting premise, so I will definitely be watching the second season when it airs.

4. Haikyuu!!

Haikyuu!! is fecking adorable and a shipping gold-mine.  Yes I am super weak to these shounen sports shows full of cute boys, but Haikyuu!! has some genuinely endearing characters and some fantastic attention to detail.  The backgrounds, sound design and animation for when the boys are actually playing volleyball are all wonderfully detailed and show that quite a lot of effort has gone into making this show.  Another thing that is memorable about this show is the range of facial expressions and the brilliant chemistry the characters have with each other.  The script is witty and the voice acting is excellent – all over Haikyuu!! is a very high quality show.

The only criticism I really have is that it is a very standard shounen sports show and doesn’t really reach outside of that box.  Fantastically entertaining and cute as hell, it is a superb entry in the genre.

3. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders

Pre-season I fully expected Jojo’s second season to blow everything else out of the water, but the reality has been pretty different.  Some episodes genuinely struggle to hold my attention, the characters aren’t quite as flamboyantly attention grabbing as Battle Tendency and the pacing is far from snappy.  There are still stand-out episodes and moments that are pure Jojo’s brilliance, but in general the show hasn’t quite lived up to my hype, and that is really disappointing given how many good things I had heard about Stardust Crusaders.

The show is only really getting started though and the last few episodes have been more interesting (still need much more Grandpa Joseph, he continues to be the best character by a mile) so I’m still completely on board for this adventure – just hope it gets more bizarre quickly.

2. Mushishi – Zoku-shou

Mushishi somehow manages to be completely perfect in nearly every episode it produces.  There is just something completely magical about this show – there is no connecting plot line, Ginko doesn’t have a destination or a quest to fulfil in all his wanderings, and yet I find myself consistently mesmerised by the series.  This is a true achievement given my notorious inability to tolerate iyashikei and episodic shows.  I think it is the horror element that Mushishi has in a lot of its stories that holds my interest – the sickening feeling of being helpless in the face of natural disasters, the creeping uneasiness of something not being quite right with some of the people in the show, the slow burning tension that runs through a lot of the stories – it all makes for gripping viewing.

Mushishi is slow-paced, meandering and episodic, but it outclasses nearly every other show in pure quality of direction, art and writing.  Thank god we’re getting more in Autumn!

1. Ping Pong: The Animation

Without doubt the stand-out show of the season in terms of character development and direction.  Yuasa’s style isn’t to everyone’s taste and Ping Pong can hardly be called a traditionally attractive show with its shifting, loose animation style and rough character designs, however this dynamic style allowed for some striking match animation and a very interesting watch full of visual metaphors.  Yuasa’s deft touch and unique direction style allowed the stories of the boys in this show to be told in an amazingly tight, nuanced way – shows like this know how best to use the limited episode of count of the Noitamina timeslot.

We get a wonderful sense for all the characters personalities and personal struggles in a mostly non-verbal manner – we’re shown their stories in visual snippets that speak volumes, rather than spoon-fed it through endless exposition, a balance that far too many shows don’t quite get right.  Ping Pong has a way of getting under your skin and really emphasising with the characters, even though we’re not spending massive amounts of time with each of them due to the brisk pacing.  Shows like this are rare, if you haven’t checked it out, I really would recommend you give it a go.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

So that’s my picks of the season.  Honourable mentions to One Week Friends, which started out endearing but quickly became an exercise in frustration with irritating characters, and Kamigami no Asobi for being the most entertaining reverse harem in a while.

Dishonourable mentions to Captain Earth for being unforgivably dull despite its pedigree and Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii for turning into a weird shotacon creepfest.

Seriously, roll on Summer.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. June 30, 2014 12:08 am

    SO ready for summer season myself right now. Mushishi aside, it was a pretty dull spring, I think – the only other shows I watched right to the end were One Week Friends and Knights of Sidonia. (Well, okay, and Kamigami no Asobi, but that was definitely just my go-to silly series.) And I’m with you on Captain Earth – huge disappointment there. Although I did really love the OP theme.

    • July 1, 2014 7:20 pm

      Captain Earth really frustrates me since it feels so lazy and soulless – I was fully expecting the Bones / Star Driver team to ramp up the camp factor to produce something entertaining, but it just hasn’t happened. If I find enough shows to pick up this summer season I’ll probably drop it.

  2. June 30, 2014 12:17 am

    I just don’t know if anything this Summer will turn out as well as Ping Pong, so I, for one, and sorry that Spring 2014 is ending.

    • July 1, 2014 7:21 pm

      Ping Pong is the type of show that only comes around once in a while – sad to see it go

  3. July 1, 2014 1:03 am

    I dunno what you’re talking about Cara. This season was awesome for cartoons. I loved enough to make a top ten.

    10. Sidonia
    9. The Boondocks
    8. The Tom and Jerry Show
    7. Teen Titans Go
    6. Amazing Gumball
    5. Clarence
    4. Adventure Time
    3. Steven Universe
    2. Mushishi
    1. Regular Show

    …oh wait.

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