My Opinions on the Latest Anime (Summer 2014 Edition)


What I’m currently watching: Akame ga Kill!, Ao Haru Ride, Barakamon, Free! Eternal Summer, Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, Haikyuu!!, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, Kuroshitsuji: Book of Circus, Sword Art Online II, Tokyo Ghoul and Zankyou no Terror. (As of August 01 2014)

For a while there, pretty much the only anime I was watching this season was Sword Art Online II. But after I got some important projects out of the way, I suddenly had the time to watch more anime. So I did. And all of a sudden it hit me…

…that there are better anime than Sword Art Online out there. (INORITE?!)

And with that profound realisation out of the way, here are my opinions on the latest anime.

Akame ga Kill!

Probably the most interesting thing about Akame ga Kill! is the kind of mindset it tries to appeal to. This is a story that knows very clearly that it’s a work of fiction. Much of the humour comes from very typical anime gags (“Big boobs!” “She sucks at cooking!” “Oh, no, that gay guy is coming onto me!”) inserted at very atmosphere-breaking intervals. It’s jarring in a way that feels like sloppy, amateur storytelling but all of this is probably completely intended. Not that it stops it from being annoying, mind you.

The real head trick comes at the gory moments. Instead of having its characters indulge in lectures about basic morality, they just go ahead and kill the bad guy without any hesitation. I suppose if you’ve ever watched a movie and thought, “Man, why don’t they just kill that idiot already?” Akame ga Kill! is the sort of story that appeals to that sense of frustration.

I wouldn’t say I despise this sort of material on principle. But it does strike me as very childish and posturing. For once, I actually agree with Flawfinder about something. Whoa.


Best character: Mine. Pink hair? Check. Twin tails? Check. Tsundere? Check. Other than that, she has no real traits to speak of, but shhhhh.

(You can tell how much I’m looking forward to Ore Twin Tail ni Narimasu next season!)

Ao Haru Ride

It’s a shame when people (including myself at times – oops) talk about shojo as if it’s some inherently inferior genre that only immature teenage girls could possibly like. At its best, shojo captures a universal experience, and Ao Haru Ride is one of the rare shojo anime adaptations that manages to understand that pulse. Its themes of nostalgia and longing are expressed with simple yet expressive visual artistry.

While I haven’t read the Ao Haru Ride manga, I have read and enjoyed Strobe Edge, another one of Io Sakisaka’s series. As much as Strobe Edge was buried in cliche, I felt it was deeply earnest and that it understood something raw and fundamental about the experience of first love. So far, Ao Haru Ride is stronger than Strobe Edge – it feels firmer and more confident in its themes. I’m old enough now to understand the pain in a statement like: “We can’t go back to how we used to be.”

I’ve heard from manga readers that Ao Haru Ride takes a turn for the angsty and overly dramatic later, which makes me nervous, but for now it’s one of my top picks of the season.


Best character: Yuuri. She’s adorable. I empathised with the male love interest (Kou) more than I expected to, but Yuuri is by far the most entertaining character to watch.


Slice of life is a genre that really shines when it focuses on a slice of life outside of high school. Barakamon shows an interesting glimpse of what life is like in a Japanese country town, but its main claim to fame is that it’s consistently funny and heartwarmimg. The kids actually act like real kids, for one thing. And I also appreciate how all the villagers speak with an accent.

What gives Barakamon its power is its light touch and empathy. It frequently pokes fun at its uptight protagonist for his fragile ego, but it’s also deeply understanding of his frustrations. I think almost anyone can relate to the idea of hitting a wall or feeling insecure about your abilities. When it comes to inspiring the artistic muse, the therapy Barakamon depicts really does work. A change of scenery and meeting new people can do wonders.


Best character: Handa. I’m a big fan of the whole “making fun of pretty boys” thing. I’m also currently going through something pretty similar to Handa, so that might have something to do with it. But that’s probably a subject for another post.

Free! Eternal Summer

I wouldn’t really call myself a fan of Free! In fact, I actively disliked a good portion of the first season. That said, the second season has been alright so far since it hasn’t focused on any of the overwrought dramatics which soured the series for me. There are warning signs, though. Sousuke’s entire character seems like a walking sob story just waiting to unfold and if it’s anywhere near as bad as the first season, I won’t be sticking around for long.

Now that I have no real expectations for Free!, I feel I can enjoy the slice of life content more easily for what it is. It’s a pleasant waste of time during the best of its episodes. Even though it’s not really “for me”, I guess I can be like iblessall and make my own fanservice.

Image totally not stolen from Iblessall's blog
Image totally not stolen from Iblessall’s blog

Gou is Best Only Girl.

(A-actually, my favourite character is Rei…)

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun

This show’s pretty cute. I really enjoy the neat little subversions of shojo cliches. So far, the best episode has been episode 4. The way it approached dating sim cliches with a shojo mindset made it one of the most hilarious dating sim parodies in anime – and trust me, anime has more than its fair share of amusing dating sim parodies. For that episode alone, the show is worth watching.

Unfortunately, the rest of the anime is a bit hit and miss. It’s a 4koma adaptation, and while it manages the transitions between gags better than most of its kind, they are occasionally jarring. Still, the characters are all quite charming. I’m really enjoying the interaction between Nozaki and Sakura in particular. Oh, and the OP is great too!

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun - 02 - Large 02

Best character: Mikoshiba. The best shojo heroine ever.


I have changed my mind about Haikyuu!! after I complained about it last season. The show is getting progressively more homo. Always a good sign! But more importantly, the matches actually have stakes and consequences now. I actually care about who wins the points now! It took a while to get going, but I’m fully on board with Haikyuu!! now. The animation is still great, by the way.


Best character: Still Nishinoya. Hinata’s a close second, though.

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders

Overall, this season of Jojo’s has really dragged its feet, but the hammy theatrics still manage to be entertaining to watch. The best episodes are still the ones that focus on Joseph, but the Polnareff x Enyaba episodes were gold as well. Best couple for sure.


Kuroshitsuji: Book of Circus

I’ve only ever watched the anime of Kuroshitsuji, but it’s a franchise I have a certain degree of affection for. Maybe it’s because there is a Kuroshitsuji in my head that is a really awesome and badass Victorian horror story, and whenever I load up Kuroshitsuji I am watching this show in my head rather than what is on the screen. Because the actual Kuroshitsuji is full of weird fanservice (that corset scene, eh?) and dumb, repetitive jokes. I just do my very best to ignore it.

This season of Kuroshitsuji is apparently based off a really well-regarded arc in the manga, although so far it’s been really slow. Three episodes in and all they’ve done is introduce the characters. There will only be ten episodes in this season altogether. Hm.


Best character: …Ciel. (Froggy confirmed shotacon)

Sword Art Online II

The pacing has been all over the place with this season, but so far I’d say SAO II is much more grounded and thoughtfully put together than the first season. That doesn’t stop it from having problems, but I can say that I like SAO without any irony. It’s a fun show to make fun of, but in the end, I’ve grown a lot of genuine affection for it.

Part of the fun comes from how the author now seems to be in on the joke of how ridiculous Kirito is as a character. The best scenes have been the ones which subtly belittle Kirito’s character or show him to be an immature ass.

Sword Art Online is also a great show to watch with other people. I was watching episode 4 at uni when this guy comes up and squints at the screen and asks, “Is this a yuri anime?”



Tokyo Ghoul

Don’t take what I am about to say next as legitimate criticism about Tokyo Ghoul, since stories aren’t really supposed to work on real-life logic unless otherwise stated.

Why do the ghouls have to hang around a city? Is there some kind of rule stopping them from leaving? If they manage to integrate into society well enough to take positions of power, couldn’t they rig the system so that they can eat naturally deceased bodies, thereby eliminating the need to hunt? Or why not eat dead bodies off a battlefield or something? Humans die every day, after all, and there are plenty of ways to avoid killing innocents. (I know the real moral dilemma is the idea of eating humans at all, not just killing humans for the sake of survival. The series depicts a number of ghouls who don’t hunt and must rely on others to hunt for them. And they also eat suicide victims, apparently.)

Anyway, I find myself thinking various questions instead of really getting engaged with the story and characters, which probably says way more about me than it does about the show. Still, I can’t help but think that I’m watching a cliff notes version of the story. I’ll probably end up dropping the anime and just reading the manga, if only to find out what’s really going on. Either way, it’s pretty B-horror movie with shonen elements (even though it’s a seinen manga). Nothing new to see here.

Tokyo Ghoul - 01 - Large 07

Best character: Hide. He doesn’t do much of anything, but whatever. He’s a bro.

Zankyou no Terror

This is the critic’s favourite – and for good reason. Zankyou no Terror is slick, purposeful and confident, and it tackles some ambitious themes.

I can’t say Zankyou no Terror really resonates with me personally, but I do admire it from a respectful distance. There’s an interesting theme at the heart of this show about not underestimating teenagers – or perhaps not to underestimate the terror people place on themselves. Because it is that terror which brings them to commit destructive acts. The teenagers in this show are psychological nutcases, but one gets the sense that it’s the lack of perception from the world around them which is even more of the problem. Interesting stuff overall – I always look forward to the next episode a lot.


Best character: This cop. I don’t even know his name, but he’s the best.

That’s it for this season’s roundup! I’ll leave this post up as a sticky until the end of the season. If you want to tell me what terrible taste I have, go ahead.


  1. Hi Froggy,
    Came across your blog a few days ago, and I enjoyed how a lot of your posts display more depth than what the majority of other anime bloggers come up with nowadays. Keep up the good work!!

    Re Akame: I’d say the problem’s definitely with the source material, based on some manga chapters I read. This is when you wonder if the story quality could be improved by doing a loose adaptation of the manga, but I also hear the Japanese otakus REALLY look out for source material fidelity.

    For example, I observed that the Mahouka anime was attempting to make its faithfulness to the source light novels its selling point. The staff even hired Mahouka’s LN illustrator, Ishida Kana, to do the anime’s character designs. And yet people have complained about the cold interactions, slow story progression, and missing info details.

    On the other hand, the anime of Chaika the Coffin Princess (have you watched that yet, Froggy?) simplifies source LN events, some character backstories and cuts down on gorier scenes, but the anime is written such that events flow smoothly, fun is maintained, and anime-only viewers can enjoy the story without feeling that important events/explanations were cut out for time constraints.

    What do you think?

    • Thanks for the compliments, zztop!

      You know, about adaptations, one of the most common things I hear is, “The manga/VN/LN/game was better!” This is a little strange when anime is usually so strictly faithful to the source material that I often think it’s worse for it. I personally prefer liberal adaptations – I want to see directors bring out something new in the story – and I tend not to accept complaints from source material fans as legitimate criticism wrt to adaptation choices. Omitting minor details is necessary to retain the narrative flow in a visual medium. Mahouka is a great example of what NOT to do: it tried to keep in the details, but by sheer necessity it needed to cut out a lot of things too, and it ended up pleasing nobody.

      Like you said, Japanese otaku are sticklers for fidelity, so the most liberal anime adaptations are the ones which draw outside of the usual pool of otaku-related media. One of my favourite anime of all time is Gankutsuou, which is an extremely loose adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo. If you want good – or at least interesting standalone adaptations, look for classic literature adaptations, both Japanese and Western.

      Oh, and no, I haven’t seen Chaika.

      • If you haven’t seen Chaika yet, I’d suggest giving Season 1 a try. It starts slow at first, but the mystery of Chaika and the truth behind the settings are the selling points.
        Season 2 starts in October, and will conclude the series in tandem with the source LN(the final vol will be released after the show ends.)

  2. “Mikoshiba. The best shojo heroine ever.”

    I wonder what Mikoshiba Momotarou the swimmer would think of Mikoshiba ‘Mikorin’ Mikoto!!

  3. I was going to argue for Akame ga Kill as a manga reader, but then I read Flawfinder’s post and the ensuing comments and realized they were spot-on, more or less. Still love the manga, and it’s always fun to watch death flags pile up like mushrooms.

    JoJo will probably feel slow for the majority of Part 3, given that they decided to 4-cour it and not cut *anything* out (there are moments when I go back and check the manga/wiki because I can’t recall scenes actually having happened).
    Still, there are a few villains I’m super-excited to see adapted like this.

    (Not watching Aldnoah?)

    • Yeah, I can see the appeal of Akame ga Kill as a cerebral gore fest. When you don’t really care about the characters as people, it’s fun to count death flags and look forward to whatever crazy thing happens next.

      I’m not watching Aldnoah right now. I got it into my head that I’d marathon it later since that’s how I best appreciate these grandiose mecha series. But it does look very interesting!

  4. Bravo on Zankyou’s best character pick. Chuckled heartily. But I must disagree with you about Haikyuu because Tanaka is the best character! From every single objective standpoint it can be inferred that he is the best because he has a funny face.

    I’m enjoying Barakamon as well. I really like how it does the whole ‘peaceful countryside healing anime’ thing, but it never forgets that living away from civilisation is often awful. Good luck with your calligraphy!

    Now, I’m sure many people are going to suggest you watch Aldnoah Zero. Probably by talking about the great action, music, animation, the Code Geass elements and so forth. What you really need to know is that the character designs are lovely, and that Slaine and Esselyum are kawaii uguu~ when they’re together. I’m shipping them hard.

    • I must concede to your objective and empirical observations! Tanaka has the best faces. It was wrong of me not to take that into account.

      I’m not into calligraphy like Handa is and would probably fail miserably if I tried it. But in general I do relate to his ridiculous ego issues, haha.

      You’ve sold me on Aldnoah Zero. I’m just waiting to marathon it. Also, I’m a bit cautious that it might turn out crappy after a very promising start. Suisei no Gargantia was like that.

      • Marathoning it would probably be a better way to watch it. It’d lend itself very well to blitzing through episodes. Ignore the hype though! It’s not ‘excellent’ (for whatever definition people use) but it’s very enjoyable. And if it does turn crappy, we’ll just tell you where to stop watching!

        I really liked Gargantia though…

  5. No Aldnoah? I’m back on that, still at episode 2 (due to holidays and crappy internet connection) but I’m eager to get back into it. What I saw really captured me, even more than Zankyou (which is good but elicit less emotional response from me. While there’s always a chord of my heart ready to be touched by GIANT ROBOTS!).

    And Nozaki-kun is how you said it: funny but occasionally has a bit of a WTF? pacing due to its 4-koma heritage. Not all shows can do that well evidently (I remember ServantXService being pretty great in that respect. And wasn’t actually Isshukan Friends a 4 koma for some of its chapters?).

    • Man, why is everyone asking me about Aldnoah? Am I missing out on some modern anime masterpiece or something? :P (I also have a special place in my heart for GIANT ROBOTS so I can’t blame you though)

      • Well, I wouldn’t say masterpiece YET, I’d wait for the whole season to end for that. But it’s really good! Very competent, excellent music, designs and writing – episode 3 had me completely hooked, it was extremely clever and well thought out. It’s at the very least greatly entertaining, ESPECIALLY if you love giant robots. It also has a very epic scope of the story (just the first episode has a body count of several hundred thousands, after all).

  6. Nooo froggy! It’s a trap!
    -A. Ackbar

    Heh. Also Akame ga kill or Ao haru ride… Which one should I go for?

      • Thank you. Your reccomendations really help. (You even got my bro hooked on Little Busters… And he was just peeking). Also Yurri sounds hilarious.

  7. Critics are dumb. Terror of Resonance is shit. Fucking boring characters and their self-important riddle crafting with their oh look at me I read a Greek myth once and I also read all the appendix for Lord of the Rings because I’m an insufferable bell end and…

    …I should just write my own post

    • That whole Oedipus riddle thing struck me as something a pretentious teenager would come up with, so it fit the scenario. I won’t deny that by the third time it came up it was getting very tiring though.

    • Thank you for saying this!

      I’m exhausted from reading all of the unwarranted praise for what has got to be one of the most cliched thrillers I’ve ever seen.

  8. Ok I’m so happy that you picked the shows that you did and I just don’t even know where to start, haha. I agree with most of the stuff you’ve already said, haha.

    I wasn’t a big fan of Free! either, but the second season so far is pretty good imo. I’ve said before I thought the anime takes itself too seriously, but the second season feels more genuine and have proper depth to it. Still a bit over the top with its drama, but definitely enjoyable.

    Mikorin IS adorable! I’m loving the scenes with him and Sakura interacting. It’s rare for me to laugh from watching something. Agree that ep 4 was the best! I just hope there will be some actual story progress, and not just a slice of life, comedy anime (am I asking too much?)

    I like Zankyou no Terror but I feel like it’s kind of slow in that we don’t really learn much about the characters each episode.

    Lastly, I’ll let you know that Aldnoah so far hasn’t proven itself as some modern anime masterpiece just yet :P It’s interesting, yes, but has weird CG animation and tbh I don’t think you’re missing out on too much. As far as I can tell, it’s as good as any mech show (although my experience in that department isn’t the greatest, hehe.. but I do have a growing interest in the genre!)

  9. Akame ga Kill!’s mood-killing gags and appeal to “Just kill them!”

    It really reminds me of early Fullmetal Alchemist, Naruto, and other shounen manga. The humor is exactly the same. If you feel it’s going for “serious”, then it completely kills it for you, I guess. But I treat nothing in this series seriously.

    And that includes the “Kill them already!” – I get really tired when I see people on reddit cheer the MC for “killing that bitch!” and not feeling regret and shit. Same as when people cheer Tatsuya for not having feelings and being OP… it’s now become a phase where lack of good traits and writing is to be commended. We keep seeing things mostly be the same for good reason :-/

    But yeah, both the “no mercy!” and the gags appeal to the same sort of crowd. I enjoy it, because I treat it as light entertainment and nothing else.

    Barakamon screenshot

    Not using one of the fujoshi screenshots? I am disappoint :<

    Also, you should stop punching people, if you don't want to end in the same situation as Handa :o

    Nozaki-kun being hit or miss

    I really didn’t care for it, and couldn’t wait for episodes to end. Watched 1-3 at one go. I downloaded 4-5 earlier this week, and I can already tell I’ll watch them and then hate myself when I don’t enjoy them either ;_;

    JoJo dragging its feet:

    I know, right? It’s going on break when this cour ends, and it feels nothing really happened! :-/

    Except we got a lot of licking-action going on >.>

    Zankyou no Terror Is Well Made:

    Yes. I liken it to Ping-Pong. It’s a really well structured and directed take on a genre that by itself adds nothing new. Now it just needs to add into the mix what Ping-Pong had in bundles – heart.

    And I’m not going to judge you for being a Shota-con >.> <..> But Sebastian will!

    • I haven’t started watching Aldnoah.Zero yet because I wanted to watch it when it was finished, but judging from the all the comments I’ve been getting, people really want to discuss the show. So I may pick it up sooner.

      I’m not entirely sure what makes a show “bloggable” or not. Perhaps Aldnoah is not the kind of anime which inspires further analysis because the events are straightforward enough. I would not know for sure since I have not seen it.

      • Maybe you’re right. It certainly is a throwback to the early Gundam UC series – Zeta Gundam, for example. Certainly not an eye candy like Akame ga Kill or Sword Art Online II, but its crisp, clean appearance and straightforward plot line is certainly a fresh breeze after so many mecha disappointment (Valvrave, Buddy Complex,…) You just don’t know how many people argue on just about one small detail of the show.

        Oh, And remember to catch Cross Ange and Gundam Reconguista in G this fall! Looking forward to your opinion!

  10. You are not watching Aldnoah Zero. OoO, you are missing a lot. Great mecha series and the Ost is eargasmic.

  11. Your post on analyzing our tastes got me thinking about how I decide if an anime season is “good” or “bad.”

    I ask myself these questions I thought up by myself:

    1) How many shows did I watch from beginning to end?

    2) Of the shows I completed, how many did I like?

    3) Of the shows I completed, how many did I not like/hate, so I watched out of a sense of obligation (i wanted to see the resolution of a storyline, or there were only three episodes left)?

    4) Of the shows I liked, how many would I feel confident recommending?

    5) Of the shows that didn’t click with me, how many would click with others? (In other words: I could tell something was good, but it wasn’t my thing.)

    6) Of the shows I expected to be good based on the source material/people involved, how many met my expectations?

    Most of the bloggers I follow have not been impressed with this season. Perhaps there weren’t enough shows that interested them. Perhaps they dropped a lot of the shows that did interest them. Perhaps the few shows they didn’t drop didn’t meet their expectations. Perhaps their most anticipated show turned out to be their greatest disappointment. I’m petty enough that hating the anime I’d been most excited about would be enough to sour me on an entire season. How would you label this season?

    You could also ask yourself these questions I thought up based on stuff other people have said:

    1) How many shows am I hate-watching? (This doesn’t apply to me because I wouldn’t spend time on something I knew I hated.)

    2) How many shows am I watching because everyone else is?

    3) How well-balanced is the season in terms of genre representation? (If I care about the characters and the story, the genre doesn’t matter, but some people are critical of seasons with a lot of LN adaptations.)

    4) How many shows will become classics? (Mushishi 2 will, and Space Dandy could, for example.)

    I’d consider this a good season, because I’ve completed more shows than the last two seasons, I’ve liked most of the shows, and I would recommend over ten shows. I guess the obvious follow-up question to how you would rate this season is why you would rate the season the way you would rate the season. Would you rate based on the number of shows watched? The number of shows liked? The number of shows recommended? What’s your thought process for judging a season? I think I’ve enjoyed the summer season more than the winter season, but, even though I watched fewer shows in winter, I would recommend everything I saw. I would only recommend half of what I watched in summer. Of course, if everything boils down to taste, is there such a thing as a good season or a bad season? Man, thinking about cartoons is hard.

    • What makes a good season, huh…? I haven’t thought about this too hard, because I think comparing the small selection of unrelated anime you’re currently watching is going to lead to a lot of recency and confirmation bias, which means you’re never going to get anything more than vague approximations. Of course, that’s what criticism generally is, but once the season is over, those things aren’t going to matter much at all.

      People definitely do experience anime seasons differently, depending on how many titles they pick up and what sort of generalisations they’re willing to make about the titles they didn’t watch. And the shows themselves tend to fluctuate in quality as you’re watching them. I have vastly different impressions of many of the shows I’ve written about in this post now that I’ve almost finished most of them, which is pretty interesting when I think about it. I tend to pick up shows that get a high rating on MAL or receive a lot of general hoo-hah on Twitter, so that definitely influences my expectations going on.

      I have noticed that my interest in most of the anime this season has declined as time went on. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that my schedule has gotten busier lately. But I think, most of all, it has to do with me not really having the capacity to be highly invested in more than one series at a time, regardless of how good I think the series I’m watching are. Most of the shows I watched this season are the types where the individual episodes were decent and well-constructed, but I would forget about them entirely when I’m not watching them. I also picked shows of different genres, and I think this season had a good variety to pick from. But the only shows which got me fanboying were Barakamon and Aldnoah.Zero. Had I watched them out of the context of this season, would I have had a different impression of them? I’m not sure. Probably.

      So yeah, it’s pretty hard to work out your own feelings about an anime season!

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