Spring 2014: First Impressions

It’s a fierce battle of the opening episodes~

Spring 2014 First Impressions collage

Spring – it’s when the snow melts, the flowers bloom, the birds start chirping and the clocks move forward. That’s right, it’s the beginning of a new cycle (actually, I am inclined to believe Winter is the start but meh) and the ‘happiest’ season of them all *cue some Vivaldi*. But that’s not the only beginning. The start of each new season brings with it many more beginnings, many many many first episodes. And with so many of them out there, how do you filter the good from the bad to the brilliant and the just plain nasty? It might be too soon to tell whether a series is good or not based solely on the first couple of episodes, but first impressions definitely do count. And so, here at koekara, we have decided to compile our list of first impressions for this Spring 2014. If you, like us, have way too many shows on your list and far too little time, hopefully our list will help narrow your choices. But do bear in mind that this is entirely, subjectively our opinion; so do not let reading this stop you from watching any shows. In fact, we urge you to watch the shows and form your own judgments. Okay, rambling.. Moving on.

Baby Steps.

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There’s been a revival of sports anime in the last couple of years, so much so that I now watch at least one per season. But unfortunately, Baby Steps isn’t the seishun-blood-pumping kind of sports anime or at least it’s not working for me. Doesn’t help that the cast does not comprise any of my favourite seiyuus (to which there are many) too. ~Akatsuki

Although it has been a while since the last tennis anime, the first couple of episodes were not particularly impactful. It is a good series to relax and unwind to, but not one of the must-watch-series of the season as yet. ~kiseki

A very low key (no brainer?) anime, judging from the first episode it’s not something that’ll get you excited. Side note, if you’re looking to make perfect notes, this anime will definitely help inspire you. ~tsurara

Black Bullet.

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The story and premise are not original but very few anime are anyway. It’s also based on a manga adaptation so an anime production can’t deviate too far from what’s proven to be a story that sells in a different medium. As much as Kaji Yuuki‘s fame has propelled to the galaxy, I’m actually rooting for main antagonist voiced by Koyama Riki to hold this show up. It’s not a must-watch unless you’re a fan of the manga I suppose. ~Akatsuki

Expectations definitely ruined the first couple of episodes for this show. Points are knocked off for an obscene lack of originality. To be fair though, we are only two episodes in, so here’s hoping such criticisms get proven to be grossly incorrect. ~kiseki

Captain Earth.

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Although it’s from the same production team that gave us Star Driver, I’m glad that Captain Earth is a lot more simple and easy to understand. It’s mecha on the surface but the crux of its charm is the relationship between the 4 main protagonists. Everything else is a bonus – the music, the art etc. So while it’s not big on sci-fi like Sidonia is in spite of the mecha, watch it for the feel good element Miyu Irino and Kamiya Hiroshi portray so well in just the first 3 episodes. Flumpool’s OP is great too! ~Akatsuki

The first mecha series to air this season, and right off the bat Captain Earth captivated with its stunning visuals, exquisite music, interesting array of characters and lovely cast of seiyuus. There is something about this series which gives it a very old-school atmosphere, and that simply adds to its overall charm. Also, it can’t hurt when you have the adorable seiyuu couple Suzumura Kenichi & Sakamoto Maaya playing a couple of villainous non-human characters as well as the ever lovely Kamiya Hiroshi as the conflicted main character. ~kiseki 

“What a show. Despite my initial scepticism, there’s something very old school about this show that just appeals to me in all its epic, mecha fight scenes and a ragtag group of teenagers tasked with saving the world. No biggie. I was immediately impressed with the stunning graphics and the interesting characters (this is how you do it, Gokukoku) and a good level of complexity between the various organisations whose agendas remain ambiguous. As the first mecha to premier this season, it started off brilliantly, but definitely has competition with its sister mecha shows, Sidonia no Kishi and M3: Sono Kuroki Hagane. There’s room for all three but only one will come out on top  – Komorebi

Fairy Tail.

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Natsu, Happy and the team are back after a long hiatus, continuing from the Magic Games arc with the same hi jinks as Lucy is yet again in need of rescuing. No new characters yet but there are hints that the show might take a darker turn ahead. Noto Mamiko is lovely to hear as Fairy Tail’s founder plays a bigger role this season. ~Akatsuki

Gokukoku no Brynhldr.

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Was left highly perplexed despite a deceptively simple plot of a childhood friend having turned into a technologically-induced witch who goes around saving people, and lead male character with an almost obnoxious hero-complex, as they run from the usual mysterious organisation who wants to either wipe these artificial witches out or use them for their own gain. The first episode kinda fell flat and induced one too many *yawns* ~kiseki & komorebi

It’s a re-invention of Elfen Lied, minus the gore, which means it’ll be much easier to get through. It might end up melodramatic more than solving a mystery so if you’re interested in drama (not the AnoHana kind though) then go for it because Ohsaka Ryouta is a treat. ~Akatsuki

“Underdeveloped, flat storyline, even flatter characters, Gokukoku no Brynhildr has yet to impress with any sort of excitement. Apart from the cheap and tacky attempts at an Elfen Lied level of disturbing fan service and the sheer inability to relate with any of the characters, the plot itself is weak and boring. We’ve gone from the utter shock-horror of Elfen Lied to a mediocre anime that’s C-rated at best. It’s a real shame because Ohsaka Ryouta could do so much better.” – Komorebi

Haikyuu!!.

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This is the one sports anime to watch this season because its narrative is so compelling! You know you’re into the show when you root for the main characters subconsciously. ~Akatsuki

This season’s Kuroko, except replace basketball with volleyball, remove the unbelievable basketball super powers and throw in a couple of bickering teammates, and there you have it! ~kiseki

“This is such a fun and cheery sort of show that it’s impossible not to get pulled along for the ride as the two main characters battle with their difficulties on the court and the tension between each other. Little chibi Hinata is adorable, and something akin to a chihuahua in all his excitement and jumpiness, and Kageyama is the perfectionist, arrogant King of the Court with his own, hidden insecurities. It’s one of those feel-good shows with just the right amount of suspense to keep you waiting for each episode!” – Komorebi

Isshuukan Friends.

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It’s so… aww… Not quite of the standard of other high school romance shows Sukitte ii na yo or Kimi ni Todoke but still subtlety romance at its sweetest. Also watch for Yoshitaka Yamaya‘s first major role as the gentlest boy in love Hase Yuuki. ~Akatsuki

This series just screams whispers aww. There is something so sweet about the interaction between the main characters, and it is beyond heartwarming the way Hase perseveres to reach out to Fujimiya. The watercolour art and the beautiful ost add to the warm and fuzzy feel and just draw you further into the show. Definitely the sweetest series this season. ~kiseki

“There’s such a softness and a gentleness to this show, stemming both from the bittwersweet puppy love the sugary-voiced Hase Yuuki has for the tragic yet intrinsically kind Fujimiya Kaori. The pastel, watercolour art and the warm, slice of life feel to the show gives you the warm and fuzzies, as well as making you hope everything turns out well for these two lovely characters.” – Komorebi

The constant blush Fujimiya and Hase both have, just makes everything so much sweeter. It evokes a very calming aura, and the whole world seems very peaceful – that is until you remember she remains friends with others for just one week. Definitely a must watch anime if you’re looking for something to relax to. ~tsurara

Kamigami no Asobi.

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One of 2 reverse harem shows of the season is turning out to be not as bad as one would normally associate the genre with, no doubt due to series composer and script writer Konparu Tomoko (Kimi ni TodokeNanaNodame) doing her best to weave the narratives from the otome game it’s based on. If you could sit through Diabolik Lovers and Starry Sky, you most definitely can sit through Kamigami no Asobi, especially when you look at that cast! ~Akatsuki

A reverse harem about bishie gods.. Enough said. Definitely following this for the sake of hearing the seiyuus. ~kiseki

M3: Sono Kuroki Hagane.

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An interesting combination of horror, drama and the season’s genre, mecha, with a big cast of main characters who, so far, seem to identify with the usual stereotypes: angsty arrogant genius, angsty arrogant genius’ best friend, whiny drama queen and the weirdo who may or may not be part of a demon cult, are among the few we’ve met so far. Seems like it’ll be a keeper but only the next few episodes will tell! ~Akatsuki

It’s dark, it’s mysterious and it revolves around really pretty teenagers with varying personalities as well as abilities. Can’t say that I was as drawn into this mecha series as I was with the other two, but it was a fairly interesting first episode and here’s waiting to see how the series progresses. ~kiseki

“The first episode has been quite enjoyable with a familiar theme of a group of gifted teenagers brought together by a crisis and all assigned to power some cool fighting robots against a dark and formidable foe. While the main characters are all the usual caricatures, their team dynamic once they’ve all gathered should be interesting to watch, but it’s their abilities and each of their functions as part of this team that’s going to be the clincher for me for this series.” – Komorebi

Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei.

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It’s one of the most hyped anime of Spring 2014 with both a stellar staff and cast. From what I’ve gathered reading comments elsewhere online, the light novel hasn’t been as faithfully adapted as it should although it has been touted as one of the tougher stories to transit from text to animation. That said, it’s got magic, fight action, stunning visuals and… brocon imouto. I’m trying to not let that last factor put me off from what is otherwise a so-far-so-good show because its grander themes of discrimination and story of the underdog is lends the plot a lot of weight. ~Akatsuki

Initially put off by the whole brocon aspect, I was surprised to find that the first couple of episodes managed to keep those scepticisms at bay. Of course, it is always quite difficult to avoid any series with such a stellar cast. ~kiseki

“One of the shows I didn’t think I’d like but am really beginning to enjoy. From the awesome cast to the beautiful art and music – as well as a super cool lead male – this show has exceeded my expectations, especially considering I’m the type to stay far, far, far away from any sort of sibling complex. Surprisingly, the brother-complex the main female character displays is almost amusing – though still a little discomfiting at times. So far, though, I’m really rooting for the main male because I’m a sucker for shows where the underdog completely subverts everybody’s expectations.” – Komorebi

Mangaka-san to Assistant-san.

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Every week I look forward to this because it’s the only comedy around this Spring 2014. And it delivers! At just 14 minutes, it’s perverted humour doesn’t end up being too long-drawn to be counter productive. ~Akatsuki

It is brainless and overtly suggestive in the funniest of ways. As the sukebe mangaka Aito, Matsuoka Yoshitsugu shows off his ability to pull off comedy, delivering his lines with impeccable comedic timing. Give it a go if you are in to lengthy discussions on oppai and pantsu~kiseki

Mekakucity Actors.

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If you’re not familiar with the Kagerou Project then just beware that we’re talking Shaft here. If you’re not familiar with Shaft either I think you’re more than likely to scratch your head and wonder just what is going on. Don’t bother thinking, just watch. ~Akatsuki

Look out for the head tilts and psychedelic colours in this Shaft production. It’s fun, it’s quirky and totally trippy. There is no real plot as of yet, but the overarching storyline is expected to come into play very soon. The first couple of episodes have left me confused, but also very intrigued. Listen out for Kaida Yuko‘s beautifully calming voice as Kido and Tachibana Shinnosuke‘s playful take on Kano ~kiseki

“Akatsuki-chan is right; don’t bother thinking, just watch. Really, while the plot has yet to reveal itself in any capacity, with Shaft productions (Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, anyone?) one just has to bask in the abstraction, appreciate and enjoy the conceptual art and just feast one’s eyes on the colours and the unique graphics and the cool style. While some might appreciate this show more if they have the background of the manga, the novels, and the songs, I think Mekakucity Actors is a real artistic piece in itself and can be enjoyed without any of the plotty background.” – Komorebi

Mushishi Zoku Shou.

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The prodigal son returns after 8 very long years and it says something when afer such a time gap, it’s the most looked forward to show of Spring 2014. It’s episodic and very atmospheric. You can just hop on board this season without watching the first. It’s so different from the other anime (of all time) and so refreshing you’ll feel your soul being cleansed after every episode. It’s as deep a show as you make it to be. ~Akatsuki

No Game No Life.

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It’s witty AND fun, with wonderfully well-rounded characters and an intriguing fantasy plot. Script writing has never been sharper than the lines the 「        」siblings deliver through the brilliant combination of Matsuoka Yoshitsugu and Kayano Ai~Akatsuki

It’s fun, it’s colourful it’s wickedly hilarious and pure entertainment. What is not to love about such a show? Every episode has been such a treat so far and here’s hoping it can only get better. Definitely a great choice if you are in the mood for whacky comedy. ~kiseki

“So much cuteness and hilarity in this show and lovers of video games will get so much satisfaction from all the popular references. An adorable sibling duo and glowy, watercoloured hues, No Game No Life is a keeper!” – Komorebi

Super awestruck by the brilliance of the siblings, how quick they are. Exceptionally impressed by Shiro, she is not only smart, but also extremely cute. And Sora, the strategic methods that he’s able to work out in his mind, a very devious person indeed. ~tsurara

Sidonia no Kishi.

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Hands down the sci-fi show of the season, with crisp CGI animation to boot. Its fast pace and high energy only makes you want more than what is packed into each 23 min episode each week. ~Akatsuki

Mecha is the genre expected to wow this season and it’s definitely a win-win with Sidonia. It might not be the most appropriate use of the word, but this series is unbelievably real. The story might be out of this world (literally), but the emotions that this series evokes, from the atmosphere of the show, right down to the artistic gritty detailing just makes this series all the more raw and believable in the best way imaginable. So far, everything has been brilliantly executed and intricately woven together so seamlessly. Combine all that with that addictively killer OP and this is definitely one of the front-runners of Spring 2014. ~kiseki

“Ultimately my favourite show this season. From the beautiful graphics to the ridiculously smooth fight sequences and a unique yet believable futuristic society, it’s one of those shows where you’re aching for the next episode. This show is a masterpiece of suspense, drama and a really intriguing take on a post-apocalyptic population trying to survive the vastness of space with a deadly enemy. This show is an all-rounded winner in my books.” – Komorebi

The Verdict. We have put it to a vote and our three favourites are:

Sidonia no Kishi ☆ シドニアの騎士

No Game No Life  ノーゲーム・のーライフ

Haikyuu!! ☆ ハイキュー!!

Opening fortnight 万歳!We wish you happy watching~ *・゜゚・*:.。..。.:*・’\(*^。^)/‘・*:.。. .。.:*・゜゚・*

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