As the weather heats up along with the Summer 2014 shows heating up our screens, the end of the Spring 2014 anime season calls for a review of the shows that have entertained or soured us over the past 12/13 weeks. Usually, the presence of one or two of our favourite seiyuus is often the main (or only) reason for watching a show. And then a show pleasantly surprises us with its plot, art, story etc. or thoroughly turns us off so much so not even a seiyuu can be of any saving grace. Koekara’s slowly shaping up to be a proper anime + drama cd blog with most of us completing the reviews of the shows covered this Spring (do forgive us, we’re still working on balancing real life with Koekara devotion). So with much delight, we present our inaugural BEST OF SEASON post and what better way to start than with the beginning season of Spring 2014 ^_^
Disclaimer – The views shared below are purely of our own here at Koekara, based on what we’ve collectively seen this past season comprising 15 shows – Black Bullet, Captain Earth, Diamond no Ace, Fairy Tail, Haikyuu, Issukan Friends, Kamigami no Asobi, Mangaka-san, Mahouka koukou no Rettousei, Mekaku City Actors, Mushishi, M3, No Game No Life, Sidonia, Yowamushi no Pedal. The nominations are only for shows that have ended in Spring 2014 hence any anime continuing into Summer 2014 are excluded.
Favourite OP – Mekakucity Actors “Daze” by Jin ft. MARIA from GARNiDELiA (Mekakucity Actors)
The job of an OP song is to get a viewer into the mood of their weekly anime with the OP sequence giving us a condensed version of the show and maybe some foreboding of things to come. The mark of a good OP song is one that not only gets you into the hyped up or soothed mood of watching a show, it also leaves a lasting impression. You know an OP song is good when you hear it the very first time and you immediately want the full song (Shingeki’s Guren no Yumiya by Linked Horizon anyone?), never ever skipping it in anticipation of a show itself.
Akatsuki: 2 OPs really stood out for me this past Spring 2014 – Mekakucity Actors and Captain Earth. But ultimately, in spite of my love for flumpool and their debut anime OP, my vote has to go to Mekakucity for its snappy tune and well thought out OP sequence – it was like a story within a story already compared to Captain Earth’s which was gorgeous in its own right, but not as intriguing as Mekakucity.
Kiseki: It was a huge struggle trying to decide whether Daze or Believer’s High would take the spot as my favourite, but kiseki votes for Daze. Simply because this song was the overall best – just the song itself was so interesting to listen to (the effects are gorgeous) and the way it meshed so beautifully with the OP sequence made it Spring 2014’s best OP for me ^^
Komorebi: This was my #1 because it was cool and fun and just really fit with the OP sequence and the general urban-grunge theme of the show. Loved it!
Shion: If there’s gonna be a second choice, my vote would be this one just because I liked it better than the other two nominees haha.
“Believer’s High” by flumpool (Captain Earth)
Akatsuki: I still remember how when the ending credits for Captain Earth’s debut episode rolled in like a movie production, this tune felt so fitting to the overall theme of the show. And it should because flumpool wrote it after discussions with the director and scriptwriter of Captain Earth. It’s tailored to the midsummers’ knights and for that, I never skipped a single OP when Believer’s High was played.
kiseki: This song is just beautiful. If we focus on just the music, then Believer’s High wins hands down, no questions asked. However, the OP sequence was kind of lacking. It was prettiness, but did not gel too well with the song. I never skip the Captain Earth OP, oh no.. but I always just listen to the OP rather than watch the OP sequence in its entirety. And that is probably why Believer’s High does not get my vote for favourite OP.
“Imagination” by SPYAIR (Haikyuu)
tsurara: A very upbeat and optimistic song, which made it an extremely apt opening for a sports anime! Especially during the itsudatte daredatte part, the pitching gave me a very uplifting and positive feeling. Not to mention the translation for this song describes both Hinata and Kageyama. A very catchy tune, with very fitting lyrics, is why Imagination got my vote for the best OP.
“Sidonia” by Angela (Sidonia no Kishi)
Akatsuki: I had this OP on loop as well for the first week Sidonia was aired. It just had such a marching, military, old-school beat to it and yet oddly with the para-para DDR techno beat underlying the melody, fit really well with the overall theme of Sidonia. The OP sequence is in hindsight, a condensed version of what happened in episode 01, not that I mind because it serves to remind us every week where main character Tanikaze came from. But after looping it for an hour, it does get too techno for my liking…
kiseki: This wins in the OP sequence department. However, the song just isn’t something that I would listen to on its own. In fact, if not for the OP sequence, I probably would not have been so enraptured with it. Having said that, this is one OP that definitely has to be listened to each episode, because it serves as such a good lead into the show, getting viewers hyped up for the intensity that practically every single episode of Sidonia is sure to deliver.
Komorebi: Seems like I’m following Shion-chan just the other way round, haha. This would be my second choice because it just had such an epic and anticipatory feel to it and I think it fit the whole show really well! There were parts of the song I wasn’t too impressed with, namely the part where it actually went “Knights of Sidonia” because it just sounded a little too dated and Ninja Robots theme song-esque for me, but otherwise I thought it was great! ^^
Shion: I think this is definitely my favourite OP. For someone who hasn’t watched any of these four animes, this is the only OP which caught my attention (I’m actually playing this on loop now) with its impactful opening and powerful visuals. Whoever did the visuals is a genius to have synced it so much with the rhythm of the song (i.e. the hurried footsteps in the first part to match the percussion). Loved the old japanese(?) in the lyrics too, it just fits. I actually got quite emotional watching this OP despite not having watched any part of Sidonia before.
Favourite ED – “Tenchi gaeshi” by NICO Touches the Walls (Haikyuu)
Akatsuki: This ED actually reminded me of Gin no Saji Season 2’s ED. It’s just so, friendly happy and uplifting! Perfect for the camaraderie that is Haikyuu!!
kiseki: Definitely my favourite ED for Spring 2014. There is something so beautifully old school about this song and NICO certainly did good with it – it is fun, catchy, and so happifying it gives me the fuzzies. I love Haikyuu!! and this song just makes for such a delightful way to end each episode.
Komorebi: This is #1 for me because of how feel good and happy it is. Haikyuu in general just makes me smile every time and it needs a great hopeful theme song to go with it and this ED really does it for me! ^^
tsurara: I love love, love all the songs for Haikyuu! it’s addictive and cute, just like the anime! This ending, just like the opening, is a really happy song. (not to mention, NICO Touches The Wall is such an adorable group name! :D)
“Oración” by Kayano Ai (No Game No Life)
Akatsuki: I think Shiro just brought out the inner lolicon in me so much that even her ED captured my heart making me go all gooey and ‘awwwww’, especially with the special version of ED where Sora’s existence was wiped out! Thumbs up to the production team for tweaking the ED to align with the main storyline!
#3 “Days” by Jin feat. Lia (Mekakucity Actors)
Akatsuki: I really liked the ED sequence and am voting it as my favourite. It’s simply the characters appearing one after another on a moving train but I think that figuratively, it’s them making a journey together, having joined the Mekakushi-dan one by one. The inside of the train as well as the scenery passing by outside are both actually real live videos so superimposing the characters just seem more neat. Add to that the b&w gradient effect contrast with Ayano’s red scarf and that little red cube & blue and red wave, the overall slow ballady track just soothes oh so nicely.
Shion: I vote for this one but don’t know why, probably because I liked the singer’s voice, the monochrome colour scheme and realistic background.
Kiseki: ^ @shion above, LOL
Favourite Anime – if there’s only 1 anime in Spring 2014 you should watch, or 2.
Sidonia no Kishi
Komorebi: Sidonia no Kishi or Knights of Sidonia is hands down my one Spring 2014 show. It was so fast-paced with incredible and smooth animation that reminded me of how I felt when I watched Gundam 00. While more monochrome in colour in comparison to the other shows, I felt like it just really fit with the whole sci-fi genre, which helped to maintain that tense and anticipatory undercurrent throughout the show. So many epic moments with spectacular fight scenes and intense music; loved this show!
No Game No Life
kiseki: No Game No Life is probably my Spring 2014 anime. It was brilliant from start to finish. There was never a dull moment – the lines were so sharp, the plot was complex and intriguing, the characters entertaining, the visuals stunning, the seiyuus impressive and the comedy hit a home run every single time. An absolute treat of a series.
Akatsuki: It’s a clever show and well adapted from the Light Novels, keeping up with its consistent pacing throughout the entire series from start to end. It grabs your attention and has twists within twists. At the same time though, it’s got lots of humour and plenty of fan service so it’s an all-rounder!
Favourite Seiyuu: Hosoya Yoshimasa
Akatsuki: In spite of the treat that is the Kamiya & Miyu combination in triple showings Captain Earth, Kamigami and Haikyuu this Spring and Kaji Yuuki‘s triple outing in Black Bullet, Diamond no Ace and Haikyuu, our favourite of the season has to go to Hosoya Yoshimasa for spoiling us in 5 very different roles in 5 very different shows – Black Bullet, Diamond no Ace, Haikyuu!!, Isshukan Friends and Kamigami no Asobi. Even though we’re still very mesmerised with Season Flavour Matsuoka Yoshistugu especially with that spectacular performance in the last episode of No Game No Life, we felt that if there was one seiyuu we weren’t expecting to appreciate and yet came to after all his efforts in just one season, the honour has to go to Hosoya, even if Kiseki-chan still has problems remembering his full name lol.
He’s actually been around the last few seasons (Shingeki no Kyoujin, Sakamichi no Apollon, Chihayafuru and my personal favourite, Ixion Saga DT – still can’t believe he voiced the role of Pet lol) but with such strong competition (and admittedly, an aversion to playing lead roles in drama CDs), Hosoya has admittedly been missing from our radar. He’s got a terrific captain voice that’s for sure, having played captain in basketball (Kuroko no Basketball), tennis (Prince of Tennis) and this season’s baseball (Diamond no Ace – kiseki: kyaa~ this was probably why I fell in love with him). Sport-anime wise he’s also in this season’s Haikyuu!! as their ace player Asahi who’s a real wimp off the court but a force to be reckoned with on court; next season he’ll be making a splash in Free! Eternal Summer. But he really stood out for us not as a captain/sportsman but as Norse god of mischief Loki in Kamigami no Asobi, itself one of the pleasant surprises of the season. To go from sounding cheeky to outright emotionally moving as a tortured soul with the unfortunate task of killing his best friend who’s like a real brother to him, Hosoya could not have done better than he had in breathing real life to Loki for us and that’s while acting against senpai Kamiya Hiroshi! If it weren’t for those slight quivers and sheer tone of exasperation, I doubt I’d have come to feel for that last arc in Kamigami as much as I now do and it’s precisely because of his performance that I’ve rated the show higher overall. Kiseki feels the same way – his loki-loki simply took my breath away~
Emotionally contrasting roles might just be the clincher for Hosoya but actually, his other supporting role in the little sweet token romance of the season Isshukan Friends was solid too. As the main character’s best friend and de facto wing-man, Hosoya managed to sound deadpan yet show just enough hints of concerns towards getting the cute couple to take things to the next level bit by bit. If you think about it carefully, if “scary” Kiryuu-kun weren’t there the story would not have moved at all! Then there is Black Bullet, which was an unfortunate state of affairs really… by the time Hosoya’s character Katagiri Tamaki showed up, the show was more or less a burning ship sinking ever more into the abyss of the sea. It should be mentioned that Hosoya has comedic timing as we witnessed in Tamaki, even if the show itself wasn’t making much of an effort script-wise (for his true comedic prowess just listen to Ixion Saga DT). At least we saw a reunion of him and Kaji Yuuki, both last seen together in No. 6.
Overall, it’s unanimous that Hosoya’s our favourite seiyuu for Spring 2014 and it’s about time (Akatsuki and Komorebi liked him from way back)! Hopefully by flagging him up here, more anime viewers will sit up and take notice of Hosoya – he’s continuing well into Summer 2014 so listen out for him!!
Every season we get a buffet spread of new shows that we try our very best to watch as many as we can of but some shows really just test our patience ingratingly so. The biggest disappointments are those that have great trailers but fail to deliver even after 3 episodes. Unfortunately we had 2 animes this past season that wasted our time…
Gokukoku no Brynhildr
Akatsuki: I gave this show a try because Oosaka Ryouta was in it and I thought it’ll be interesting to hear him portray a character that’s actually quiet and gentle for once. So, so, so wrong. It’s a harem show with a bizarre story that’s just literally gut wrenchingly bad. Just because Elfen Lied did well doesn’t mean the wheel should be mutated to Gokukoku but that’s exactly what happened. So spare yourself the cringing and if you are still keen, then cringe in Elfen Lied instead. At least the narrative’s stronger there.
Komorebi: I didn’t have any preconceived expectations about this show but I thought that I’d give it a shot seeing as Oosaka Ryouta was playing the main lead. It ended up being one of the most boring shows I’d ever watched and I’m surprised I lasted as long as I did before dropping it. Plotless – or, at least, a very weak plot – and a big waste of time, not to mention the unnecessary and bad ecchi moments that just made me want to bang my head against the table. Trust me, you don’t need this show in your life.
Akatsuki: With a weak plot that had little by way of explanation, the only thing I can imagine keeping viewers coming back is if you’re a lolicon watching each week as more little girls are amassed by main protagonist Rentarou’s side. The chemistry between Enju and Rentarou is sorely lacking and then he ends up with someone else anyway… out of the blue no less. Honestly, it’s for fans of the manga/novels because without even explaining just what those giant critters Rentarou and co. are fighting against, it’s really difficult to enjoy and feel for the characters, in spite of Yuutan‘s voice acting, which by the way, was not the only thing similar in this show to Shingeki no Kyoujin.
kiseki votes Black Bullet as biggest disappointment. Seriously, I do not even understand what the point of the show is. Unless you are a lolicon, my advice is to stay far far away. Please do not waste your time watching Black Bullet. Even Kaji Yuuki couldn’t save this train wreck of a series.
Kamigami no Asobi
Akatsuki: What started out as a challenge issued by Kiseki-chan turned out into a pleasant surprise for me this season. I would’ve watched this show anyway because who can resist such a line-up of seiyuus? But the biggest surprise was to find that it’s a reverse-harem otome game adaptation that’s NOT focused on the girl per se! The animation was clumsy at times and facial expressions were wooden but I think the seiyuus did a fabulous job making up for it, especially with Hosoya Yoshimasa‘s Loki who came out of nowhere in the first half of the series to truly capture my
heart attention in the second half, even outshining veteran Kamiya Hiroshi!
kiseki: This series started off so jaw-droppingly bad, that I thought to drop it after the first episode. However, it did not seem fair to issue a challenge to Akatsuki and abandon the series she so thoughtfully picked up in fulfilment of said challenge. As such, I persevered (seriously, if you are wondering whether or not to watch this, just read Akatsuki’s reviews and I assure you they will make you want to watch it. Happened for me hehe) and somewhere along the second half, this series really picked up. It evolved from the mundane, one-guy-per-episode storyline, to a series with an ACTUAL plot. Of course, for us at Koekara, seiyuus are the main attraction and that definitely was the case for Kamigami. However, it was not just the presence of the seiyuus, but the impressive performance of the seiyuus that really kept me coming back for more. Do have a listen for Hosoya Yoshimasa, because he was SUCH a delight to listen as Loki-loki.
No Game No Life
Komorebi: This really was a surprise for me; I hadn’t planned to watch it until my fellow writers Kiseki and Akatsuki prompted me to and once I did I was very impressed. For one, it’s absolutely beautiful to watch. There’s this delightful pinky soft light that makes it so pretty to watch, and I love how everything and everyone just looks like they’re glowing. Visually stunning art is a big kudos in my books. The show is also hella fun and you’re sure to get a lot of laughs from watching. The relationship between the siblings is what I look forward to every single episode because the two of them are just too cute.
What’s continuing into Summer 2014:
Akatsuki: Kamiya Hiroshi and Irino Miyuu. Do we need to say more? :) Ok fine so it’s a slow moving anime but really, don’t think it’s hot-blooded action thumping mecha just because it’s got cool expansion sequences and space robots. Look deeper into the relationship of 4 teenagers spending their summer holiday protecting the world from other human-made immortal alien teenagers; it’s coming-of-age, disguised in mecha. Watch it for the difference this show brings to the mecha genre if not for the visual effects then.
Diamond no Ace
Komorebi: This was one of the biggest surprises for me within the last two seasons. When it first came out I only watched the first episode before forgetting about it – there were just one too many second-hand embarrassment moments for my little mind to handle. But then, with the prompting of fellow writer Kiseki, I picked it up again and WHOA but did I marathon it until I caught up. It’s so addictive and exciting and funny and it’s one of those shows where you just keep cheering on the main lead (even though this show seems to have a fair few leads but Sawamura will always be #1 for me because everything just gets that much better when he’s on) and the rest of the characters are all so likeable in their own ways. I think Kuroko no Basuke really kicked off the sports anime junkie in me and Diamond no Ace has become an all-time favourite for me every week!
kiseki: As with Komorebi, I watched only the first episode when it first came out and just left it after that. Sawamura was a little too hot headed and passionate for me, and his enthusiasm got on my nerves. However, I recently picked it up and wow this series just blew me away! I take back my earlier impression of Sawamura – he just everything a main character should be and simply makes every single scene all the better with his appearance. With baseball action, the allure of good seiyuus, side-splitting comedy, entertaining characters and just the right amount of drama and suspense, this series is a win-win-win. Honestly, you know it is an amazing treat of a series if it is 3am and you are still clicking the “next episode” button. I absolutely LOVE Diamond no Ace (ノ^_^)ノ .｡.:*･*☆
tsurara: Just like Komorebi, this anime really surprised me. I still remember being bugged to watch this show by everyone, and when I finally got around to watching it, I couldn’t stop! It was a drug, an extremely addictive one at that. Although Sawamura did not really impress me at first, but his character grew with the anime and I’m really glad I started watching it. I will admit, I’m more partial to sports animes than any other anime, but this anime is not like any other sports animes that I’ve watched. The level of intensity is crazy, and so is the amount of feelings that the voice actors pour into their respective characters. They weren’t acting “cool”, in fact it was the exact opposite. And I guess that is what I love most about this show. Also, the plot development is beautiful and I can’t wait to watch more of Diamond no Ace!
Akatsuki: Considering how Fairy Tail’s a very long-haul show, not much by way of plotline has moved on for Natsu and company. We’ve got the dragons and the eclipse I and II projects seemingly under way though the Guild Games have just ended. Overall, I’m more interested in finding out whether Sting (Sakurai Takahiro) and Rogue (Suzumura Kenichi) join Fairy Tail!
kiseki: Haikyuu!! has just gotten better with each passing episode and I am honestly so fond of all the characters. The Karasuno vollyeball team consists of SUCH a loveable bunch of entertaining characters, it is difficult NOT to smile when watching their silly antics. This series is light hearted, warm and so just oh so fun to watch. With the Inter-high just around the corner, things look to be getting more serious in the episodes to come. However, Haikyuu!! still manages to slip in a few, if not several, good laughs every now and then. The seiyuus are doing a brilliant job, and special mention goes to Murase Ayumu as the ADORABLE Hinata. This is definitely the sports series to watch (well, after Diamond no Ace) if you are in for a good 24 minutes of good pure fun and laughter.
Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei
Akatsuki: It’s another slow and steady show though it really could do with more blood-pumping action. The characteristics of Mahouka itself are cool, composed and just logic above all else but given that it’s 2-cour, I do expect the second half to swing into more passion/emotional narratives. While the exposition of the science behind the magic may be off-putting to non fans of the light novels, ignore it and I reckon you can still enjoy the show. In any case, I’m sticking around for the emotionally-challenged portrayal of Tatsuya by Nakamura Yuuichi.
M3: Sono Kuroki Hagane
Komorebi: *deep breath* *long sigh* This show. It makes me want to bang my head against against a table and throw my laptop off it. Well, most of the time. It’s…such a difficult show to describe. It says it’s mecha but it’s not really mecha because their suits aren’t usually 100% functional. It’s also got the weirdest and most incomprehensible plot that I’ve no idea where it’s supposed to be going. The graphics aren’t even that good either and everything’s really dark and sometimes hard to watch. The comments on Animeultima seem to be fairly 50/50 but personally it’s not something I really look forward to week after week, as can be seen form the fact that I’ve missed about six weeks of episodes already…
Alright, that’s it from all of us here at Koekara! Thank you for reading our reviews this past season and for your patience as we finish up the last few episodes. It’s been very encouraging to know that we’ve got followers and a real audience out there, 誠にありがとうございました! Please keep reading and commenting as we continue to improve our coverage in Summer 2014~ hope to hear from you! ^_^