Summer 2014: First Impressions

The seasonal battle of opening episodes returns once again~

Summer 2014 Collage

It is summer time ~~ and what better hikkikomori way to spend the day avoiding the scorching heat and the nasty glare of the sun than chilling at home with some of the hottest shows that this hottest season has to offer? That’s right, Summer 2014 is upon us and there is nothing like immersing oneself in the buffet spread that is opening fortnight. We have got an insane line-up this season with a lovely spread across so very many genres – action, comedy, drama, fan-service, horror, mecha, mystery, romance, psychological thriller, sci-fi, shounen, shoujo, slice of life, sports, super power, supernatural, thriller, and even yaoi. Yes, all of them had to be named. Surely, that is a whole lot to digest in a fortnight. Once again, with THAT many shows, it can be pretty overwhelming. And so, we at koekara present our list of first impressions for this Summer 2014.

As always, please 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 strongly urge you to watch the shows and decide whether you like them or not.

Akame ga Kill.
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There’s something vintage about Akame ga Kill from just watching the first couple of episodes. It’s an ok story, not the most original or interesting but the fact that our main protagonist Tatsumi (Saito Soma) goes from country village boy to killing in cold blood within the first episode, speaks about the tonality of the show right? Not quite. Because Tatsumi’s so bumbling this character contrast isn’t working out for me – it just doesn’t make sense. Either go all out dark or be silly. With 2-cours I’m not continuing beyond episode 3. ~Akatsuki

Two things caught my attention – the trailer (which was very cool) and the fact that Iwasaki Taku would be doing the soundtrack. That aside, I started on Akame ga Kill without much expectation for its storyline. The series follows Tatsumi, a country boy who goes to the imperial capital in the hopes of making it big. Along the way, certain events lead Tatsumi to join a group of assassins, known as the Night Raid – a group of people who eliminate the darkness that resides in the capital. With an interesting enough story, and pretty good pacing, I’d say this series is off to a pretty good start. For some odd reason, this opening episode really reminded me of Fairy Tail. ~kiseki

There’s something very oldschool shounen about this anime that struck me the first time. I do enjoy a good gang of characters doing awesome stuff and beating up people once in a while so I thought this was a pretty interesting show. I really didn’t know I’d be signing myself up for that much violence within the first episode so that was a surprise. Bear in mind I’ve only seen the first episode but I’ll keep it on my radar. ~Komorebi

Aldnoah.Zero.
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It’s Urobuchi Gen aka the butcher although he promised at a recent anime convention that his participation in Aldnoah.Zero won’t be as intimate as his previous works. While the butcher’s overall in-charge, the script is handled by others from nitroplus (Urobuchi’s apparently only writing episodes 01 – 03) and so we can expect fewer shocking deaths. That said however, thematically it’s all classic Urobuchi with politics, philosophy, genocide, challenging social norms (and tropes), conflicting morals and bringing out the worse in humanity – an original story suitable for the imaginative, thinking anime viewer. He’s done it in Suisei no Gargantia which seems like a testing ground towards his foray into mecha and so far so good. Over and above it all, I’m watching this for Hanae Natsuki’s aloof-on-the-surface but actually very emotional portrayal of main character Inaho. Also, it’s surprisingly got a strong female seiyuu cast so listen out for Oohara Sayaka, Kayano Ai, Komatsu Mikako and Kaida Yuuki~Akatsuki

In a rare occurrence, what made me watch this show was (surprise surprise) NOT the seiyuus but scriptwriter Urobuchi Gen. He is, after all, the one who bestowed upon us the masterpiece that is Psycho-pass. Having said that, there is nothing like a stellar cast to back up a very promising script. And with the likes of fresh voices like Ono KenshouHanae Natsuki, and Amamiya Sora, and veterans like Sakurai Takahiro and Kazuya Nakai, to name a few, I daresay Aldnoah looks to be in very safe hands indeed. Epic music composer extraordinaire Hiroyuki Sawano rounds up this tremendous trifecta, and with such an amazing crew, one can only expect great things for this series. Although the first half of the opening episode started off fairly slowly (lots of groundwork going on), the second half really got into the groove of things and more than made up for it with lots of action and epic music. This is probably one series to watch for your weekly mecha/sci-fi/action fix. ~kiseki

Very impressed with this show. To quote someone else, I love how everything this season is either BL or about destroying Tokyo. It’s kind of cool, really. But anyway, you can’t go far wrong with Hiroyuki Sawano, whose epic soundtracks are just phenomenal even if they do tend to sound the same after a while. I really enjoyed the MC as well because rather than being some uber enthusiast with a vengeance – a la Shingeki – he’s a very deadpan, almost cold and emotionless tactician. He’s literally what you would get if Eren, Mikasa and Armin had some threeway lovechild, for lack of a better explanation. The character I’m not too fond of at the moment is the Princess because she’s just so…typical and boring so…yeah. Nevertheless, the action scenes are incredible, as are the graphics, so I’m enjoying it so far. ~Komorebi

The first half of the first episode was pretty draggy, although the whole concept of Earth and Mars interaction was pretty cool. However after missiles started flying in the second half, this show really caught my eye and I love how action packed it is. ~tsurara

Ao Haru Ride.
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So I was extremely excited about Ao Haru Ride getting an anime adaptation, and even more so considering the wonderful voice actors involved, namely Kaji Yuuki, Maaya Uchida and KENN, both of whom I adore. But even more so, this series just has this beautiful combination of sombreness and sweetness that works so perfectly in the progression of Kou and Futaba’s relationship. It is such a gem this season with wonderfully deep and flawed characters, stunning saturated watercoloured art and a very moving storyline. ~Komorebi

The warm, watercolour visuals conceal an underlying darkness that Ao Haru Ride definitely possesses. Although not very much exposed to the genre, my guess is that this isn’t your typical shoujo series. And I expect we will be in for a very emotional rollercoaster ride. One thing that felt off though, was the casting – Kaji Yuuki plays Kou, our male protagonist, and despite kaji-kun’s versatility, I have to admit, his voice just doesn’t suit the character so much. ~kiseki

Bakumatsu Rock.
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I only wish this show on my worse enemies. It’s… I don’t even know how to describe it… Uta-prince in the bakumatsu era? To be fair, I sat through the entire first episode so it’s not as though I’ve not given Bakumatsu Rock a chance. I’m not a strict purist when it comes to historical anime – Hakuoki combined the Shinsengumi and vampirism and I was ok with that; Nobunaga the Fool combined western culture and mecha with the warring feudal period and I’m mostly ok with it too; Sengoku Basara mixed modern technology and english words into the script and created an outright over-the-top cool show. Bakumatsu Rock? Made me want to throw a rock at the screen. Maybe the studios got desperate and wanted to combine the male idol genre craze (sparked by Uta-prince) with the everlasting bakumatsu craze (samurai loyalties amongst men = the fujoshi market). Even with a line-up of seiyuus (Morikawa Toshiyuki, Suzuki Tatsuhisa, Ono Kensho, Taniyama Kisho, Mitsuki Saiga, Toyonaga Toshiyuki, Morikubo Showtaro, Yasumoto Hiroki, Fujiwara Keiji, Nomura Kenji) including some of my favourites cannot make me continue with this show. But if you like the male idol genre and want to see the Shinsengumi as singing idols then please do go ahead… ~Akatsuki

Akatsuki-chan is spot on, so here’s me echoing her sentiments~ In all honesty, I watched this because I was in charge of taking screencaps. Just.. why? how? Oh goodness.. So yes, in spite of the line-up of them lovely seiyuus, I can’t bring myself to watch this anymore than I already have. No.. just, no. It was a struggle getting through the first episode. Rock and history? Golly, keep to your own era rocker wannabe. This series is so gaudy, I can’t even bring myself to appreciate the outlandish humour. This was a very desperate attempt at… well, not too sure actually *shrugs* ~kiseki

Barakamon.
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Naru!!! I love the chemistry between Naru’s seiyuu Hara Suzuko and Junon Boy Handa’s seiyuu Ono Daisuke. It’s not often that child roles are voiced by actual child seiyuu actors so relish in this arrangement that Barakamon has chosen in its anime adaptation. Even if you’ve read the manga, watch the anime because the voice acting truly brings to life the perspective of a child and that of the countryside as to what’s truly important in one’s life. It’s humorous and heartwarming at the same time, truly energising a city viewer’s soul each week. ~Akatsuki

Too cute. This series is too cute. Naru (voiced to perfection by the adorable little Hara Suzuko) is such a ray of sunshine, with her beautifully bright smile, cute accent, infectious giggle-laugh and adorable antics. She just lights up the screen and is SUCH a delight to watch. There is just something so sweet and heart warming (or odd, depending on how you look at it haha) about a rather hard up city junon boy calligrapher (oh Ono Daisuke, how I have missed your voice <3) having been bogged down by life, being taught the real meaning of life by an innocent child from the country side (or island). Barakamon is cute, fun, energetic, uplifting, sweet and oh so happifying. Such a lovely start to the week. ~kiseki

I’ll be echoing everyone’s sentiments because this show is honestly one of the most adorable one I’ve ever seen and I’ll be forcing my loved ones to watch it because it is just too cute that everyone has to watch it. I loved everything, from the script to the Seiyuus (Ono Daisuke and Hara Suzuko) to the endearing way the characters interact with each other. Watching this show renews my faith in humanity and I would recommend an episode of Barakamon whenever you’re feeling down or listless. Just the first episode has me convinced that Barakamon would be one of my favourites of this season, if not of all time. This is one show that you can watch and rewatch and still fall in love with, every single time. ~Shion

SO CUTE! From OnoD’s psychotic laughter, to playful Naru, to all the sweet villagers who went over to Seishuu’s place to say hi, this anime is so heart-warming and it gives you a perspective of what countryside life is really like. ~tsurara

DRAMAtical Murder.
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It’s by the same company that gave us Togainu no Chi. Also based on a game adaptation, if the way Togainu went was any indication, I’m not following DRAMAtical because it’ll just be a disappointment as an anime aired on TV cannot go beyond certain R-rated boundaries, leading to a convoluted plot and confusing characterisation. I’ve not watched beyond the first 5 mins of the opening episode though – I just couldn’t let myself continue… ~Akatsuki

It is futuristic, high-tech and very colourful. But just what is going on?! Was left rather puzzled after the first episode. Well, this series is adapted from a visual novel after all and having not read(/played?) it, I guess it is natural to be confused. Having said that, the first episode didn’t do much for me. And if anything, I’d have to say that I watched this purely for the sake of contributing to this first impressions post.. ~kiseki

DRAMAtical Murder surprised me with its first episode because I picked it up with much skepticism (we all know how game adaptations usually go). I thought that it had a passably interesting storyline with lots of mysteries surrounding Aoba, the protagonist. Perhaps too many mysteries which might have been confusing but I’m not giving up hope on this show. The futuristic setting attracts me and as a BL fan, I can’t seem to stop watching this show just in case it turns out to be nice. ~Shion

Free!: Eternal Summer.
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KyoAni’s fan service to the girls is back! Gou-chan is back to ogle and provide a voice to our inner desires as the boys swim on and I’m just happy to watch on. Plot? Who cares! Plus our Spring 2014 favourite seiyuu Hosoya Yoshimasa‘s joined the cast so again, who cares! I’m here for Makoto’s back muscles and everyone’s sexy ankles ^^ ~Akatsuki

Surely the hottest show this season, our favourite swim team is back and as strippy as ever. With the return of familiar faces as well as the addition of new ones (in particular, characters voiced by Hosoya and Suzuken), this looks to be a very exciting season. This series is fanservice at its finest (have you seen those biceps and triceps and all them other charm points?), so what’s not to like about it? Really, don’t think, just watch. Hehehe (ノ´ヮ´)ノ*:・゚✧ ~kiseki

Like the girls have already said, the hottest show this season with our favourite semi nekkid boys! This is the ultimate in fanservice anime with barely a plot, a whole lot of innuendo and dynamics that go a little further than mere bromance. AND we get the delightfully deep-voiced Hosoya Yoshimasa, who is working up the ranks and making his way into some really gorgeous characters. AND Mamo-chan is back with a vengeance with his friendlier but no less ambitious demeanour. *swoons* Watch it if only for those muscles and the drama that comes with competitive swimming. ~Komorebi

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun.
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Gekkan wasn’t high on my list because it’s probably another shoujo anime adaptation and I’ve been getting my Nakamura Yuuichi fix from other shows. But I’m so thankful I took Komorebi-chan’s advice because this story about a girl’s crush on her mangaka classmate is hysterical! The deadpan delivery of lines by said girl Sakura Chiyo (Ozawa Ari) is refreshing and really induces the laughs, even if we fall into some stereotypical misunderstanding tropes. Look out also for the shoujo manga within this shoujo anime because Sakiko Yumeno sensei’s inspiration comes from the unlikeliest of places it’s downright funny! ~Akatsuki

A bunch of people who hang around in an apartment doing this and that – ain’t that a great storyline? Haha with its side-splitting humour and crazy, colourful characters (mikorin~~), Gekkan Shoujo is comedy gold! This show is so random but the humour hits it in all the right spots. A definite must watch if you are in for a good laugh. Besides, with the likes of Nakamura YuuichiOkamoto NobuhikoNakahara MaiKimura RyouheiSawashiro Miyuki, and newcomer Ozawa Ari (who is doing such an impressive job with her portrayal of the sugary sweet Sakura), how can one possibly resist? Combine all of that with a catchy&funky OP, and this series is definitely one of the front runners for me this summer~ ~kiseki

Ohhhh Gekkan. I watched it on a whim and MAN it exceeded all my expectations. I was in stitches within the first ten minutes of the first episode and all the episodes since have been this incredible amalgamation of ridiculousness, idiotic characters and hilarity. It’s such a setup with all the stereotyped characters. Think Ouran High School Host Club on steroids. It’s a series of misunderstandings but so much more it’s a series of crazy shenanigans that ALL the characters get up to where you’re just sitting there and shaking your head at how they could come up with the things they do. I wish my high school life was this crazy. Nozaki and Chiyo make the most incredible pair and you’re not dissatisfied by the side-characters too, who are such caricatures in themselves. An awesome anime to brighten up anyone’s Monday! ~Komorebi

No, this ain’t a bimbotic show with some stupid lead who goes kyakya over this guy. My initial impression of Gekkan changed, just 30 seconds into the show. It’s such a comic relief, especially from the very intense shows that we have this season, such as Aldonoah.Zero, Tokyo Ghoul, and Zankyou no Terror. It is a definite must watch in my list. So get ready for 20 minutes of pure laughter! ~tsurara

Glasslip.
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This show is like Nagi (I mean, Kayano Ai and Oosaka Ryouta are in this together again), just that the people do not live in the ocean. The art is beautiful and so is the music (classical music is always lovely and the OP is just so serene), and I guess this would be a good series to watch if you like something calm and slow. Yes, sloowww.. pretty much nothing happened in the first episode (other than an odd focus on chickens). In any case, there was nothing outstanding or spectacular to really catch my attention. Maybe when I have a lot of time on my hands and am in the mood for something slow and relaxing, I might give this another go. ~kiseki

Kuroshitsuji: Book of Circus.
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The third season picks up from halfway of season 1, following the manga storyline instead of the anime-original second half of season 1 and season 2. Having read the manga a while back, it’s nice to refresh my memory with this anime and it’s always nice to hear Ono Daisuke being the best butler around~ あくまで執事ですから ~Akatsuki

Our favourite (one heck of a) butler is back and better than ever in this third instalment of Kuroshitsuji. It has been awhile since the second season (which, in my opinion was BRILLIANT) so it is such a treat to see these familiar characters once again. The beautiful cast returns, along with new additions, in a circus-themed arc at that! The circus has always intrigued me, and seeing as the first episode definitely did not disappoint, this is one series that I will most certainly be following. ~kiseki

There are some continuations you just really look forward to and Kuroshitsuji is one of them. I’m just so THRILLED to be able to watch our favourite supernatural Sherlockian duo again. It’s really harked back to the feel of season 1, which is nice after the super angst – but BRILLIANT – of season 2. I have a soft spot for circus-themed shows because of the colour and the excitement and the romanticism of the Victorian era. So far it’s exceeded my expectations and with all those old faces it’s like seeing old friends again! ~Komorebi

Love Stage!!.
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Being a fan of the manga way before this anime adaptation was announced, it’s quite nice to see it in animation format. Kudos to the success of Junjou Romantica and Sekaiichi Hatsukoi for bringing Love Stage!! to our screens. It’s not outright BL since even the manga hasn’t quite gone all the way either. In any case, there is sufficient original material to cover this one-cour adaptation. Don’t be put off by the BL elements because it’s genuinely funny even without it. The only disappointment is that Sena Shougo onii-san is voiced by Love Stage!! mangaka Eiki Eiki’s brother and real-life celebrity DAIGO. He really should stay not expand into seiyuu territory… ~Akatsuki

Light, fluffy and very happy, the opening episode of Love Stage!! was indeed a pleasant surprise. Many might be put off by the fact that it is BL, so my advice is to approach with caution. However, if that does not bother you, then give this series a go because it is silly and funny and a good way to unwind after a loooong day at school/work. ~kiseki

It’s been a while since there’s been any good BL series on air, with the last memorable one being Sekaiichi Hatsukoi and Junjou Romantica before that. So Love Stage!! was highly anticipated by myself and countless other girls and it has not disappointed. It’s cute, fluffy and the MC Izumi is just adorable. My only snit is that I’m not really a fan of DAIGO‘s voice, which is a shame because his character could have been so much cooler. (Also, as fellow writer Shion-chan suggested, Mamo-chan would have been a better option for his character but, alas…). ~Komorebi

Love Stage!! is probably the cutest anime of this season, next to Barakamon. With such an adorable Izumi (played by Yonaga Tsubasa), it would be difficult for anyone to not like this show. Although the genre might be a turn off, Love Stage!! won’t exactly be BL since I don’t think there will be much action going on in the anime. Putting the BL genre aside, this show is so lively and funny that it deserves a mention as one of the better shows this season. Since complaining about DAIGO won’t make him voice act any better, I’ve decided to start appreciating the other seiyuus (Hirakawa, Yonaga, Eguchi, Okiayu) more while trying to get used to DAIGO‘s strained way of speaking. ~Shion

Nobunaga Concerto.
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Miyano Mamoru does seem to like his role as Oda Nobunaga so much as to continue with another portrayal of the historical figure this Summer 2014 after Winter’s 2-cour Nobunaga the Fool. But this is so far turning out to be more interesting than expected for a time slip show and it’s largely due to Miyano Mamoru‘s voice acting prowess as the far too laid back Saburou who takes over for the real Nobunaga (Kaji Yuuki). It’s not a must watch but I genuinely enjoy the show in spite of the cheap animation but beautiful background art. Expect the usual time slip type of humour but otherwise, what feels to be an earnest anime that is serious but doesn’t take itself seriously, or the other way around. Nakamura Yuuichi‘s a treat as well as main antagonist. Last but not least, Japanese actor Oguri Shun does the narration as he prepares for his role in the live action movie adaptation of Nobunaga Concerto – goes to show how much promise the plot has for it to be available in 3 different mediums right? ~Akatsuki 

Rail Wars.
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Just.. why? In what inebriated state would someone be induced creating such a series? If not for Junjun I am absolutely certain I wouldn’t have given this the time of day. Honestly, unless you are a train fanatic, or extremely passionate about the railway system in Japan, or a major fan of the novel, or your love for junjun knows no bounds, don’t bother. Granted, having only seen the first episode I can’t well make a fair or informed judgement. It might actually get better, but I am not inclined to find out. ~kiseki

Re:Hamatora.
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First off, I’m enjoying this sequel far more than the first installment and it’s not just because of the better OP song choice (I still adore season one’s OP singer Galileo Galilei’s Ozaki Yuuki). The pacing’s much better, the plot is tighter and the characters are more roundly fleshed out. 3 episodes in, it’s truly evolved into a better series altogether and unless a filler comes along, it looks like we’ll have a solid showing till the end. ~Akatsuki

With a catchy new OP, Re:␣Hamatora’s opening episode was already off to a good start. And the rest of the opening episode sure did keep up with that trend. One the whole, this second season’s opening episode was far more impressive than the first. The pacing is good so far; and seeing the first season asked so many questions, here’s hoping that there aren’t many dull fillers taking away from the execution of the storytelling. With the return of all the lovely-voiced seiyuus, it looks to be an exciting season of Re:␣Hamatora~kiseki

Sengoku Basara: Judge End.
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Let’s party!! The third sequel to the Sengoku franchise is back with more liberties taken on the sengoku feudal era. Compared to the first 2 seasons, things start off and have so far stayed very strong. The plot is clearer – we know who’s forming an alliance with whom to fight who. The characters are as usual out of whack and over the top but that’s where the entertainment value truly lies. It may be because a different studio and production team have taken on this season 3 that the animation is noticeably different. I’m here for the glorious line-up of veteran seiyuus anyway (Morikawa Toshiyuki, Seki Tomokazu, Nakai Kazuya, lengendary Ookawa Tohru, Park Romi etc.). ~Akatsuki

Are you ready? Then let’s party~ the hot-blooded boys are back in this third season of Sengoku Basara and it is action action and more action as they face off against one another in their quest to conquer goodness knows which territory in the land of the rising sun. Despite having not finished the first two seasons, I was so drawn in to the battle scenes; it felt like I actually knew what was going on. Of course, I do not and evidently, I can’t be bothered with the plot. But it doesn’t matter in the slightest! Am in this for the fighting, the ‘whacky comedy’ and the melodramatics as well as the seiyuus (particularly let’s party~ pro Nakai Kazuya aka mayonnaise guy, as well as the lovely Ishida Akira *swoons*). ~kiseki

Shounen Hollywood: Holly Stage for 49.
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I gave it one episode and honestly, with such a good line-up of shows this Summer 2014, just could not be bothered to continue. There’s a revived trend towards idols in both real Jpop and anime of which male idol stories are seen as money-churning vehicles (Uta-prince) so it’s not surprising that the story of Shounen Hollywood joins the fray, especially considering the novel it continues its storyline from, did relatively well all those years ago. But fill things up with angst and I feel that this show’s trying too hard because like Akame ga Kill, if you’re going to go with a particular genre, go all the way with it instead of being half-hearted about things. ~Akatsuki

This is like a look into the life of an aspiring Johnny’s boy.. I saw the first episode and well, one episode was all it took to convince me not to watch this. It was just, quite dull *yawns* and it is a pity considering the line-up of seiyuus in this. But not even Namikawa Daisuke, Kakihara Tetsuya and Oosaka Ryouta can save this show, not for me at least. ~kiseki

This is a sort of bastardised version of Utapri, just with less of the craziness and no irritating lead female. And also no romance, at least not yet. It’s…meh. Nothing special and nothing too interesting. I’ll say that it’s a lot deeper and intense than I thought it’d be but unless you’re committed to doing weekly reviews on it – as is my own job for this season – then I’d give it a pass. ~Komorebi

Sword Art Online II.
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Things are undoubtedly moving much slower this season of SAO II and I take comfort in it meaning that we won’t get a repeat of season one, which was itself comprised of an amazing first half and a wtf second half. Shino’s an interesting character and one can only hope that more of her light novel persona comes through in the anime – hope is the key word here. ~Akatsuki

The first few episodes of this show didn’t leave me feeling too hopeful about this sequel to its popular predecessor, but the third episode convinced me that we will be in for a good season. I still have doubts about the pacing of this show, but as the pace is starting to pick up by the third episode, I find myself looking forward to the coming episodes more. It would be hard to outshine its predecessor but SAO II will do just fine. ~Shion

Tokyo ESP.
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I have a feeling Tokyo ESP is going to be this season’s Black Bullet. It’s a manga adaptation apparently and it does feel so because 3 episodes in and we’ve got increasingly huge plot holes revealing itself. The storyline’s not spectacular but it could well have been if more was invested in building the characters or the Tokyo ESP world – and we got neither. There are better shows to watch this Summer 2014 and unfortunately, for all the hype the trailer provided, I’m dropping Tokyo ESP~Akatsuki

For all the hype that it got, the first episode was quite the let down. Despite the sequence of action-packed scenes, I caught myself trying to stifle one too many yawns. At best, I’d say this were a half-baked attempt at a marginally more futuristic Zettai Karen Children. The snow in the background was really pretty though. ~kiseki

I was very interested during the first episode but the second episode kind of let me down and I haven’t watched it since. It’s your typical action series for this season but it’s also kind of boring. I expected a little bit more and was initially drawn in because of how pretty the art looked. The goldfish were especially pretty, though, but I doubt I’ll continue unless someone convinces me otherwise. ~Komorebi

Tokyo Ghoul.
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I’ve just caught up to all 136 manga chapters of Tokyo Ghoul over the weekend because this story is just that compelling. The manga is good but this anime adaptation is superb. First time anime director and first time anime series composition/screenplay is doing a fantastic job of adapting Ishida Sui’s horror manga about the ghouls, beings who look and behave like humans but who feed on humans, as they live against humans in modern day Tokyo. The story itself is intriguing and has many layers of psychological and emotional factors to lend itself a thick plot over and above the thick air of fear and insanity that pervades the Tokyo Ghoul world. How does the adaptation top it? By having much better art and with everything in colour, horror has never looked more… delicious. Parts of the manga storyline aren’t included but that’s highly forgiveable considering this is a one-cour anime. The censorship might annoy some horror fans though I’m ok with it since it highlights other none-red graphics. Main character Kaneki Ken is amazingly interpretated by Hanae Natsuki who remarked in an interview that the main thing about Kaneki is that he’s an ordinary university student, on the crux of adulthood but yet also a child being 19 years old and to have this happen to him – that’s what Hanae tried to capture and boy did he nail it perfectly. ~Akatsuki

Gore isn’t exactly my go-to genre. However, there is just something so intriguing about Tokyo Ghoul that I could not resist watching the first episode. And wow, am I glad I did, because it was stunning from start to finish. I love the dark atmosphere, the colourful characters, and the themes that this show addresses. The OP and ED add to the hypnotic effect, really drawing viewers in all the way. This series is voice acting at its very best – do listen out for Hanae Natsuki, who is doing brilliantly as our conflicted human-ghoul main character. Definitely one of the shows not to be missed this Summer 2014. ~kiseki

Man, Tokyo Ghoul was NOT what I was expecting when I finally got around to watching the first episode. It was SO MUCH BETTER. I’m not usually a fan of gratuitous gore – ugh Elfen Leid – but I could totally get on board the blood and the violence of this show because it doesn’t completely take over the really cool plot. It’s very dark and tense but you’ve got a couple of lighthearted moments to undercut the heaviness. I love everything from the atmosphere to the art, which is stunning, to the soundtrack. It’s definitely one of the best shows this season. ~Komorebi

The first few moments were a little shocking, as I wasn’t expecting anything as gory as that but the tension throughout the first two episodes kept my eyes glued to the screen. There’s just something about Tokyo Ghoul that keeps you sitting at the edge of your chair worrying and anticipating what’s coming next. This is one of the must-watch shows of this season but for people who prefer marathoning the entire season of a good action/thriller show like me, I would suggest saving the best till the end of its season. ~Shion

Cannibalistic? Definitely. But this show has not failed to impress me thus far, with each episode getting better and better. Amamiya Sora has done a fantastic job as Kirishima Touka, and her voice completely different from her role as Vers Allusia Asseylum. ~tsurara

Zankyou no Terror.
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One of my most anticipated shows for Summer 2014 has truly delivered. You’d expect it to deliver anyway because it’s by the same director and music composer team who gave us Cowboy Bebop and most recently Sakamichi no Apollon. But one can never overestimate things so when teenagers Nine (Ishikawa Kaito) and Twelve (Saito Soma) exploded onto the scene (literally) with a conspiracy-laden terrorism plot, you know you’re in for a great ride. It’s a psychological thriller that’s intelligent but as plot-driven as this stage is, it doesn’t forget it’s characters. 3 episodes so far and we know enough about the main actors Nine, Twelve, Risa and Shibazaki to be invested into Zankyou‘s terror filled world. I do hope more is done to heighten the atmosphere of threat, fear and insecurity but so far I’m thoroughly happy. While Tokyo Ghouls is a main-character driven story unfolding the world along the way, Zankyou is a plot-driven device igniting its characters little by little. It’s subtle (the Japanese really do this best) but impactful and being an original anime, just keeps you guessing. Newbie Saito Soma is doing one helluva job voicing happy-go-lucky psychopath Twelve. If you like thrillers then you’re in for a spectacle with the trio Thursday line-up of Psycho Pass, Tokyo Ghoul and Zankyou no Terror. And Zankyou‘s OST is just so ethereal, so unlike any of Kanno Yoko‘s previous works but still distinctly hers. Everything comes together nicely in Zankyou so watch it twice – once for the big picture and then again for the detailed subtleties. You won’t regret it. ~Akatsuki

Words cannot properly express how thoroughly impressed and utterly blown away I was with the opening episodes of Zankyou. This was my most anticipated show for Summer 2014 and the first episode definitely did not disappoint. In fact, it exceeded expectations far and beyond. There is a refined subtlety to the way the storytelling went about in just the first episode itself, so much so that I was captivated from the very beginning. Together with a breathtakingly beautiful soundtrack by the accomplished Kanno Yoko, Zankyou no Terror could very well be the anime of the year. As it currently stands, this series is a definite masterpiece. ~kiseki

WOW WOW WOW this show is incredible. Every week it’s always like a tag team between Tokyo Ghoul and Zankyo no Terror, in terms of which is better. Zankyo is very unique in terms of plot for me because I don’t think I’ve ever been so impressed with a terrorist story as I have with this show. It’s got a similar kind of feel as Death Note, a magnificent OST – Kanno Yoko’s work in this is wonderful! – and the art is gorgeous. There’s a very ethereal quality to the show, which has sucked me in. It’s very clever, quick and and sharp and each episode so far has been en pointe. Definitely a must-watch show this season. ~Komorebi

Zankyou‘s PV was amazing enough but its first episode just blew me away. It might be just me, but I would refuse to watch a good show episode by episode. Zankyou is definitely the one show that I would leave till the end of its season before I marathon the entire show; it’s probably the type of show which will leave me wondering what to do with my life after it has ended but that’s fine. Everything about the first episode was beautiful; how the scenes were animated, how the music creeps into the scenes and how the depth of the characters were slowly revealed. I love dystopian worlds and this one in Zankyou is just breathtaking. It’s right on the top of my list for this season and it should be on yours too. ~Shion

Out of all that I’ve watched, this is my favourite so far. The first episode completely captivated me, and I could not tear my eyes away from the screen. It has action, suspense, and just the right amount of destruction scenes. Just like Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, this anime is a must watch. Prepare to be awed by just how amazing terrorists are (no, I do not support terrorism, but their portrayal in this show is just way too cool). ~tsurara

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

Zankyou no Terror ☆ 残響のテロル

Tokyo Ghoul ☆ 東京喰種・トーキョーグール

Barakamon ☆ ばらかもん

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

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2 thoughts on “Summer 2014: First Impressions

  1. I don’t think that Bakumatsu Rock was that bad in fact I actually like it because of the songs and voice actors. Whenever they start to sing I feel like passion is coming out of my heart and it’s so nice to feel what the anime characters are feeling

    • hello there~ glad to know that you like it. to each his own after all ^^ and to be fair, that short review was my first impression of bakumatsu rock, and i didn’t follow it after the first episode, so my views are definitely not conclusive of the entire series. ooh btw, since you liked the series, why not give uta prince, shounen hollywood or kiniro no corda a go if you haven’t already seen them. they seem to fall under the similar genre. and personally, i quite enjoyed kiniro no corda (:

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