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A question I’ve seen pop up quite a few times is “why are there no magical boy series?”. Ignoring that the male equivalent to mahou shoujo is superhero tokusatsu à la Kamen Rider or Super Sentai, I guess it’s because there’s no real way to do it without it coming across as self-parody? Especially if you try to stick to standard mahou shoujo conventions – I mean, could you imagine a male Precure? Ok, scratch that, I just remembered the episode of DokiDoki Precure! where Sebastian becomes a Precure. Could you imagine a male Precure done seriously??

Given that, the obvious solution to doing “mahou shoujo but with boys” is to go full-on parody. Enter Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu LOVE!, which I’ll just be shortening to Bouei-bu from here on out. While it wasn’t clear before airing – I picked it up for the absurd novelty of the premise – Bouei-bu is a straight up deconstruction parody of the mahou shoujo genre, with a heaping dose of bishounen anime thrown in for good measure. As a budding fan of mahou shoujo, this was right up my alley! What’s more, it’s directed by Shinji Takamatsu, director of Gintama and Daily Lives of High School Boys, noted funny shows with parodic elements. Can’t complain about that.

"Love is over!"

“Love is over!”

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Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso

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For those of us who have watched Nodame Cantabile there’s a shared sense of despair that there will never be more, despite the existence of as-yet unadapted manga content. We fell in love with Noda and Chiaki as their unconventional, classical-music backed relationship grew over the years, so it’s understandable that Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso would draw our attention come the autumn 2014 season.

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso – or Your Lie in April – positions itself similarly to Nodame Cantabile, being broadly about romance between classical musicians, with key differences. The characters are substantially younger – middle-school aged, as opposed to being university freshmen – and tragedy and drama play a central role in the narrative. Indeed, the initial premise is that Arima Kousei – a young piano prodigy – had a mental breakdown during a recital after his mother passed away that left him unable to hear his own playing. By the time the series begins, he hasn’t played for two years. He’s depressed and numb – albeit comfortable, in a quiet sort of way with his friends – and this threatened to remain the case had he not met Miyazono Kaori, a free-spirited violinist who takes it upon herself to pull him back into music.

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BLOODBORNE HYPE.

I am so mad that the UK gets it last. I won’t be able to play it until tomorrow, as of writing ;_;

Red is not Bloodborne, Orange is not Bloodborne, Green is not Bloodborne

Red is not Bloodborne, Orange is not Bloodborne, Green is not Bloodborne

Anyway, damn has the winter season been spectacular! Between Parasyte, Death Parade, Yuri Kuma Arashi, Durarara!!x2, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and, of course, Shirobako we have been spoiled for high quality, extremely entertaining anime. And that’s only the more-or-less universally acclaimed shows that I’m watching! Things like Maria the Virgin Witch have been getting a stupid amount of love, and there’s still a clutch of decent shows that haven’t been getting as much love, like Rolling Girls or Your Lie in April.

Best season of anime in a long while? Yeah. You know what, yeah. That’s not implausible. It’s downright probable. When people look at past “best seasons”, they’re usually dominated by one major show that goes on to become a classic backed up by a handful of decent shows; I can’t recall a season that was this consistently excellent across its series. It’s unreal, and so, so good.

The upcoming spring season pales in comparison. Still, there’s some stuff to be pretty excited for.

  • Arslan Senki
  • Denpa Kyoushi
  • Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic
  • Hibike! Euphonium
  • Kekkai Sensen
  • Lupin III
  • The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan
  • Ore Monogatari!!
  • Owari no Seraph
  • Plastic Memories

I don’t know why I’m watching any of them when I can just be playing Bloodborne instead, but whatever. Here’s wot I think about them.

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Happy New Year! Did you have a good one? That’s nice. Mine was alright.

So how about that autumn season, eh? There was some alright anime in there. Parasyte has been excellent. Mushishi Zoku Shou was predictably breathtaking. Happiness Charge Precure! had some great episodes. Shirobako has been equal parts informative and surprisingly engaging/fuck Tarou. Garo has been unexpectedly great. Shingeki no Bahamut is pretty good – I’ve fallen behind on it though, and hear the ending is insane. Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso keeps being powerful. All in all – pretty solid. Some disappointments, some utter crap, but I’ve avoided the worst of it.

Red, orange, green, I'm sure you know what they mean

Red, orange, green, I’m sure you know what they mean

I’ve seen some people pegging the upcoming winter season as “the season of sequels”, because holy crap there are a ton. Some people knew were coming. Some that people wanted to happen. Some no-one ever thought would happen. Some that no-one knows why they’re coming. But: a lot. Helps make deciding what to pick up a lot simpler.

Without further ado, here’s what I’ll be picking up for the first season of 2015!

  • Ansatsu Kyoushitsu
  • Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love!
  • Death Parade
  • Durarara!!x2 Shou
  • Go! Princess Precure
  • JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders 2nd Season
  • Junketsu no Maria
  • Kamisama Hajimemashita◎
  • Koufuku Graffiti
  • Rolling☆Girls
  • Yuri Kuma Arashi

And as ever, some thoughts on them going in:

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Amagi Brilliant Park

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KyoAni! But there was something a bit different from my usual KyoAni excitement for Amagi Brilliant Park – the author of the light novel that this is adapted from also wrote Full Metal Panic!, and the director of KyoAni’s Full Metal Panic! adaptations also directed this! Now, Full Metal Panic! is one of the very few KyoAni series I haven’t watched, but I’ve heard a lot of good things even from people who don’t particularly enjoy KyoAni’s regular output – hell, they ended up quite excited for Amagi Brilliant Park as well! Naturally, this got looking forward to it too.

Amagi Brilliant Park revolves around the failing eponymous theme park, and the efforts of one Seiya Kanie to reinvigorate the public’s interest and draw in 500,000 visitors before July 31st, lest the park be closed down. Also fairies and magic are involved.

I keep wanting to call this series "Amazing Brilliant Park" for some reason

I keep wanting to call this series “Amazing Brilliant Park” for some reason

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TRIGGER comfortably proved themselves with their inaugural TV series, Kill la Kill, easing concerns that they may not be able to live up to the legacy they were taking from GAINAX as well as setting up a lot of anticipation for any of their future work. And didn’t we feel surprised – and a little blessed – when it was announced they had another show in the works for the end of 2014! It seemed so soon, although in retrospect expecting a greater than year-long gap between shows was kind of silly from a business perspective, but we were all grateful regardless.

Even more so when you consider that their follow up to Kill la Kill is an adaptation of Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-Kei no Nake de (When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace) a high school romantic… comedy… light novel.

Hrrmm.

Going from an incredibly distinctive and original action/nonsense epic to adapting a light novel – one of the most trashy, banal and derivative aspects of otaku fiction – sure is… bold, I guess?

I’m not going to lie, I pretty much had no intention of even picking Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-Kei no Nake de up, but some reasonably positive early reactions combined with TRIGGER led me to biting the bullet. And here we are.

asd

This probably wasn’t meant to happen

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Top 10 Anime of 2014

2014! It’s been quite the year for me, pretty much entirely because I graduated university. I’m like, an adult or something now, it’s horrifying, but it hasn’t stopped me watched my foreign children’s cartoons!

And it’s not been a bad year for anime. Masaaki Yuasa and Shinichiro Watanabe directing TV series, the start of the most popular part of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Mushishi returning after 9 years without the slightest dip in quality, there’s been some pretty notable stuff going on. I can’t say there were any major surprises or new franchises that I feel are going to stand out as classics beyond Kill la Kill and Space Dandy, and the latter is chiefly because of how hard it was pushed on western audiences (not a knock on its quality, of course), but there were still a good clutch of series and films that I enjoyed greatly.

Before I indulge in a stunning display of originality and discuss my top 10 anime of the year, a quick reminder: a series counts as being from 2014 if it ended this year, even if it’s a long runner. Split cours – a single series that has seasonal gaps between chunks of the series – count as whatever year the last cours ended in (hence the exclusion of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, because it technically hasn’t finished yet). Neither of these are strict, but it’s a good enough guide. The edge cases don’t matter because they were never going to be on the list.

With that out of the way, here’s my top 10 anime of 2014!

Happy new year!

Happy new year!

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