Season Kickoff Frenzy (Fall 2014)

Last weekend, the Season Kickoff Frenzy – a quarterly, cozy event where we kick off the newest anime season by marathon-ing shiny new first episodes – took place at the RaumZeitLabor for the sixth time (if I counted correctly). The entire thing once started because I was drunk on Twitter and had a lot of anime to watch, but now it’s a regular event at the RZL. Life’s funny like that sometimes.

Anyways, as usual, we cooked semi-authentic Japanese food (usually fitting for the season) before we began. This time, I was somewhat uncreative and decided to go with Rāmen (which technically is Chinese, thus semi-authentic). Sadly, I didn’t snap any pictures this time, but rest assured that it was delicious. I also planned to make Jin Deui (Sesame Balls, also technically Chinese), but we eventually decided to do this some other time because we were already late (as usual, as I may add) with starting to actually watch anything.

Well, without further ado, here’s what we watched, in chronological order.

Ushinawareta Mirai o Motomete (#waramete_anime)

Waramete is an adaption of an adult Visual Novel of the same name (which translates to “In Search of Lost Future”), which I haven’t read/played yet, and is animated by feel. (who animated, among other shows, the great Outbreak Company last fall). It also has two manga adaptions, neither of which I have read, either.

As far as I could gather from the synopsis, the show’s about the astronomy club of the local high-school (although only the protagonist, Sou, seems to really care about the club’s topic), which has apparently attracted some of the school’s well-known students. The driving plot line is the upcoming school festival (because, as even casual watchers of anime should know, school festivals are SERIOUS BUSINESS). The episode’s end left me somewhat confused, but since it’s the first episode, I don’t mind that much. I’m curious how this will continue, it looks decent so far.

Inou Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de (#異能バトル)

The second show, which is also know as When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace, brings us the first Light Novel adaption from TRIGGER of KILL la KILL fame – and there’s at least one very obvious shout-out in the first episode already.

Basically, it’s a show about the members of the literature club, who have, through an as of yet unexplained event, acquired what amounts to reality-breaking superpowers – but there’s nothing to use them on, so they just goof around. This results in some hilarious situations, especially because pretty much all of the characters are wackos.

I’m looking forward to more of this show – my diaphragm is prepared.

Akatsuki no Yona (#暁のヨナ)

For the third show, the random generator chose a fantasy manga adaption, animated by Pierrot.

Let me first say, I’m in love with this show’s OP already. It’s actually rather rare for a show to have instrumental OPs, and this one fits the show very well.

It also makes it pretty obvious that this show is a reverse harem, centered around Yona, the princess of a kingdom reminiscent of historic Japan.

Most of the first episode is spent with exposition, as well as Yona being head over heels for her cousin, Soo-Won – who soon turns out to be plotting his own schemes, and the episode ends with a bang.

If the show keeps moving the plot forward at this pace, it’ll be pretty enjoyable.

Donten ni Warau (#donten)

Another manga adaption, this one’s done by Dogakobo. I must say off the bat that I’m not terribly impressed by it so far, and that has nothing to do with the fact that it’s a shōjo show about three bishōnen – whose task is to ferry people to an inescapable prison in the middle of a lake. While the backstory is sort of interesting, it barely gets mentioned in the first episode, and I really hope they explain more about this in the next two episodes.

Sanzoku no Musume Ronja (no hashtag)

I must admit that I haven’t actually read the Astrid Lindgren book, Ronja Rövardotter, and it’s been probably like 20 years since I’ve watched the movie, so I can’t say I have any specific feelings of nostalgia for this show. I also haven’t watched that many Ghibli works so far (I can only think of Tonari no Totoro and Mononoke Hime off the top of my head), so I don’t have a lot to compare it to.

However, I’m pretty surprised by the choice of animation style – it’s entirely computer animated. While I personally think I can get used to the CGI style (it does have a lot of attention to detail), some other people in the room were pretty disappointed – they probably looked forward to something more akin to classic Ghibli movies. Oh well.

However, all was well when we got to the next show:

Yūki Yūna wa Yūsha de Aru (#yuyuyu)

Quite honestly, this show was completely not what I was expecting – in the best way possible. It’s very probable that Studio Gokumi has delivered us (or at least me) the Anime of the Season already.

Don’t be fooled by the show’s rather meek start, disguising itself as Yet Another School Club Comedy™. About a third into the first episode, shit starts hitting the fan, and once you get to the halfway mark, the rest of the episode is basically a non-stop psychedelic Magical Girl acid trip. I’m not sure what drugs the people at Gokumi are taking, but they should never stop and probably do more.

I’m also already pretty hooked on the soundtrack – composed by Okabe Keiichi – which manages to turn some of the already great parts of the first episode into terrific displays of pure awesome. However, see for yourself:

Yes, she just transformed while getting shot at with explosives, and because that’s not yet enough of a “fuck you” to the poor monster, she finishes her transformation by punching a gigantic hole into its abdomen. I’ve watched quite some Magical Girl shows in my time, but this already ranks up there as one of my favorite first-time transformations period.

I’ve already watched the second episode on Sunday, and it continues to be awesome – and I’ll be severely disappointed if this doesn’t keep up.

Kiseijū (#kiseiju_anime)

Quite honestly, I can’t sum this up better than a friend in the room did:

Kiseijū is an adaption of a manga from the early 90s (it’s quite uncommon for older source material to get adapted into an anime) done by MADHOUSE, and weird is probably still an understatement.

The story is about aliens called Parasytes, which take over human bodies to devour other humans. The protagonist, Shinichi, is also attacked by one of the larvae, but due to lucky circumstances, it only manages to take over his right arm, and the two have to learn to coexist, and fight other Parasytes.

Kiseijū also has a great OP, performed by Fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas – if you’re into Screamo, that is.

World Trigger (#ワールドトリガー)

Another manga adaption, this time a battle shōnen, done by Toei. To be honest, the first episode was rather lackluster, and I don’t really know what to say about it. Maybe it’ll get better over the next few episodes.

Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryū no Rondo (#クロスアンジュ)

Well, another show I’m seriously not sure about. It’s an original story produced by Sunrise, and is about a world where everyone can use magic – except rare humans called “Normas”, who can simply destroy Mana, and are thus seen as abominations and are hunted and quarantined. On the other hand, Normas pilot Mechas to fight some weird dragons from another dimension. Oh, and for as of yet unexplained reasons™, only girls can be Normas.

The first episode is somewhat all over the place, but I really like the Mecha designs, and the setting as a whole. I do suspect this show will devolve into random ecchi shenanigans, though. We’ll see.

Magic Kaito (#kaito1412)

This show is based on a manga by Aoyama Gōshō, creator of the widely known Detective Conan – which is very obvious, considering his pretty unique style.

It’s animated by A-1 Pictures, and will be running for 24 episodes total. There’s not a lot to say about the show so far, except that it’s rather fun so far and that I’m looking forward to more of it.

Denkigai no Honya-san (#denkigai)

Shin-Ei Animation brings us a pretty light-hearted comedy about a bookstore in “Electric Town”, or in other words, Akihabara, where manga, dōjinshi, and magazines are sold. It focuses on the staff of said store, full of wacky weirdos, and their daily shenanigans. The show is full of otaku-related jokes and shout-outs (there’s a JoJo reference right in the first episode, for instance), and celebrates the (sub)culture surrounding Akiba in a tongue-in-cheek fashion.

The show managed to constantly make me smile with its sympathetic wackiness, and some laughs were had, as well. If it keeps up the pace from the first episode, this will be a very decent comedy anime.

Trinity Seven (#トリニティセブン)

From the creators of Dog Days (for which I’m pretty hype for the third season) and Mahō Shōjo Lyrical Nanoha (for which I’m pretty hype for the third movie), Seven Arcs, or technically Seven Arcs Pictures, brings us a manga adaption this season. I haven’t read the source material for this either, but the synopsis makes it painfully obvious that this is a harem show with fantasy elements – the latter of which are actually quite interesting, as is the entire setting.

On the other hand, the episode is already full of random ecchi comedy, so if that’s not your thing, don’t watch this.

Let’s see where this goes, and whether they manage to do anything cool with the setting.

Hi☆sCoool! SeHa Girl (#セハガール)

This truly was another of the gems of the evening – if you’re into Retro gaming, that is. The plot – if we may call it that – revolves around anthropomorphized Sega consoles, three of which already appear in the first episode (Dreamcast, Sega Saturn, and Megadrive). They are attending the “SeHaGaga Academy”, and to graduate, they must apparently enter classic Sega games. It’s made by TMS Entertainment (who are a direct subsidiary Sega Sammy Inc).

Oh. Did I mention that they have transformation sequences? Because they have transformation sequences. There’s also a 56k modem sound used in a gag in the first episode. Yep. And that’s just beginning. I’m sure more hardcore Sega nerds than me – I used to be in the Nintendo camp when I was younger – will find a lot more lulzy shout-outs, references, and homages in this show.

Shingeki no Bahamut GENESIS (#バハジェネ #bahamut_genesis)

Based on a virtual Trading Card Game for iOS and Android, and animated by MAPPA, Shingeki no Bahamut begins with a flashback to 2000 years before the story, then skips back to the present, where two hot-headed bounty hunters named Favaro and Kaisar are fighting with each other while destroying half the city. Nobody, however, seems to really care, and soon the plot begins to move when a woman appears before Favaro and wants him to lead her to a place called Helheim.

The premise promises a pretty cool action adventure story with refreshing character designs, and already has some pretty decent fight scenes. I seriously hope it keeps up the pace of the first episode, then this will be a very enjoyable show.

Garo: Honoo no Kokuin (#anime_garo)

Another show by MAPPA, Garo is based on a Tokusatsu franchise of the same name, but has nothing to do with it in terms of continuity. The story takes place in a fictional country resembling Spain during the Spanish Inquisition (and the first episode contains quite a few witch hunt executions). It revolves around the two protagonists, León Louis and Germán Louis, who are able to transform into powerful forms called Makai Knights, which they use to seal “Horrors”.

To be perfectly honest, I’m pretty neutral toward the show so far, though it has a cool style and some very decent CGI. I’ve been meaning to get into Tokusatsu since a while, but so far have been too lazy to start somewhere. Maybe this show will give me the needed incentive.

Log Horizon S2 (#loghorizon #Eテレ)

The long awaited second season of Log Horizon, which started airing about a year ago in 2013’s Fall Season (and was obviously included in the Kickoff Frenzy for that season). Produced and animated by Satelight (known for a broad variety of shows, among them Hellsing Ultimate, Shugo Chara, several entries in the Macross franchise, and quite a lot more), it tells the story of an MMORPG in which several thousand players become trapped one day without knowing how or why.

If you thought of Sword Art Online now and that this might be a cheap ripoff trying to ride on SAO‘s popularity, rest assured that these two shows have barely anything in common beyond the basic premise – which is exactly why I love both of them. I can seriously recommend watching the first season, it’s a brilliant anime with some great characters, and a very cool story.

The first episode of the second season was, for the most part, rather slow and uneventful, but was obviously busy with setting up the further plot, giving hints of where the story will move, and generally showing what some of the characters were/are up to since the end of the last season. All in all, this was already one of my highlights for this season before it even began, so I’m gonna enjoy the fuck out of this anime, and so should you.

Madan no Ou to Vanadis (#madan_anime)

The seasonal dose of Hiryuu subbed goodness comes in the form of Madan no Ou to Vanadis, a fantasy show set in medieval world where seven Vanadis exist, maidens who have received powerful dragon weapons. One of them takes interest in a young lord she takes prisoner during a large battle, and the story supposedly will resolve around the relationship they develop, as well as the wars in the fictional world.

The show has some elements of fan-service, but it’s comparably tame compared to other stuff. Like Log Horizon, it’s animated by Satelight.

Nanatsu no Taizai (#七つの大罪)

The Seven Deadly Sins – as the name translates to in English – is another adventure show, animated, like Magic Kaito 1412, by A-1 Pictures. It’s about a group of legendary warriors, the eponymous Seven Deadly Sins, who disappeared ten years before the start of the story after (supposedly) trying to overthrow the king. What exactly happened on that day appears to be the major driving force behind most of the plot.

I’ve already watched a few more episodes, and so far it has been a very enjoyable experience.

Kaitou Joker (no hashtag)

To make things short, I basically threw in this show merely because I already decided I’d watch Magic Kaito, and I wanted to compare the two shows. I didn’t expect much of this show, but it’s a surprisingly funny, if somewhat silly, comedy show.

Ore, Twintail ni Narimasu (#ore_twi)

Somehow, the random generator always manages to put something at the end which is a worthy final episode for the Kickoff Frenzy. This time, the honor went to Ore, Twintail ni Narimasu – which is about a guy with a twintail fetish who gets caught up in the completely crazy battle to save all twintails on earth from being stolen by alien invaders, and that’s really just the beginning of utter absurdity – wait until the transformations start to completely lose your shit.

All in all, this show is nuts enough to be awesome. It really doesn’t seem to take itself seriously, and seems to want to go the way of the gleeful parody – and I’m completely okay with this.

In Conclusion

While definitely not outstanding so far in terms of titles, this year’s Fall is a very solid season, and I’ll definitely not be short of good stuff to watch. At least as far as I’m concerned, this Kickoff Frenzy was a great night, and I hope to see everyone who was there again – and anyone who’s now interested, too.

See you next time!