Looking back – Summer 2014

Just for fun, each season I’m going to look back four years to see what I was watching back then and talk about what I thought of it then and now.  Since its Summer 2018, that means it’s time to look at Summer 2014 and cringe (or not) at what I watching back in my larval days.

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Hit the jump and let’s travel back in time to Summer 2014!

Quick notes:

The shows that I watched are in bold, shows my wife and I watched together are in bold italics.

A reminder on my rankings… they’re on a five point scale to coincide with my rankings on Anime Planet. But one 2.5 can often be different from another 2.5, so where needed I supplement them here with verbal comments to clarify.  These rankings reflect what I thought at the time, and may or may not reflect how I’d rank them today.

I did some research, but this is written mostly from memory…  It wasn’t until Winter 2015 that I started regularly writing on a weekly basis, so I have no material to review.  My main interaction with the rest of fandom was the Crunchyroll forums.

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Twelve shows!  Today, I’d regard that as a pretty heavy load…  But that’s more from the perspective of a blogger than of a watcher.  In terms of most shows per season, it’s tied for third place with multiple other seasons.  It is above the average number of shows per season (10).

The curious can see my running tallies here.  I’m not really a numbers addict like some, but I still find it interesting to keep track.

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Aldnoah.Zero

Aldnoah started out decently enough…  But eventually went to hell when the politics became too convoluted and the MC too massively OP.  He stopped winning because he was smart and his opponents too wrapped up in their belief they were invincible…  and starting winning just because he was on the scene.

It toyed with exploring what it meant for kids to be thrown into hopeless battle, but ultimately declined to be serious about doing so.

Never rewatched any of it.  Never intend to either.

The biggest thing to the show’s credit: a rockin’ OP tune from Kalafina.

Final Ranking: 3  Knowing now what I didn’t know when I originally rated it, I’d probably rate it more in the neighborhood of 2.0-2.5.

Barakamon

Oh man.  What can I say about Barakamon?  By turns funny, heartwarming, serious, and silly…  I love this series to absolute pieces.  For a show with a (mostly) episodic plot line, there’s not a single stinker in the bunch.  (Though I admit to a fondness for eps 8 and 9.)

Perhaps it’s fitting that the first face you see in the OP isn’t Handa, the protagonist.  It’s Naru, the village scamp and Handa’s constant foil.  Her character was enhanced BIG time because she was voiced by Hara Suzuko, who was eight years old at the time.  Hina, the other very young character, was also voiced by a child – Endou Rina, who would go on to voice Tsumugi in Sweetness & Lightning.

According to my page on Anime-Planet, it seems that I’ve only re-watched it once.  It seems to me to be more than that, but maybe that’s because I’ve re-watched so many individual episodes so many time.  It’s know of my go-to anime when I need something relaxing and heartwarming.

Final Ranking: 4

Blue Spring Ride

A romantic drama and not a bad one, just a forgettable and never re-watched one.

Final Ranking: 4  Today, I’d probably rate it 3 at best or more likely a 2.5.

Encouragement of Climb 2

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, especially this season, you already probably know this – but I am stone cold fanboy of Encouragement of Climb.  And this is the season that made me so.  (This is also the show/season that caused me to coin the term “CGHAA” Cute Girls Having An Adventure.)

We’d watched the first season, which was a short, and enjoyed it…  But left us absolutely unprepared for the how wonderful the second was.  Not to downgrade or denigrate the rest of the series – the Mt Fuji arc was a thing of sheer beauty.  (Before Crunchy dropped the series I’d rewatch that arc on its own every few months.)  I have to say though that my favorite single episode from the season is episode 20 – “Kokona’s Big Hanno Adventure”.

According to Anime-Planet, I’ve rewatched the series (end-to-end) only three times.  But I know I’ve watched individual episodes and arcs many more time than that.

Crunchy announced they’d be streaming this season in early July…  But then, nothing for almost four months.  It wouldn’t be until the last week of October that everything to date popped up, and they streamed weekly thereafter.

I’d originally intended to link to a video of the season’s first OP (my absolute favorite), I came across this AMV…  Which juxtaposes the Mt Fuji climb (eps 9-11) with the finale of the Mt Tanigawa climb (ep 23).  It’s lovely, give it a watch.

Final Ranking 3.5

Glasslip

What a friggin’ mess.  It started off interesting enough…  and it kept looking like it was going to start bringing its ideas together.  But in the end, it never did.  What made it even worse was the crappy ending.  It seemed pretty plain to me that they went “oh crap, we only have two episodes left, let’s wrap it up quickly”.

Without checking my previous Looking Back features, I think I’d categorize this as the first series I’d have wished I could travel back in time and tell myself not to watch.

Final ranking: 1.5

Hanayamata

I know folks have heard me speak of “the show I watched because of the OP” – and this is it.  Pretty much a bog standard school club dramedy with stock characters and an utterly predictable ending.  Worth watching in a slow season, but otherwise skippable.  Completely forgettable either way.

Honestly I kept meaning to drop it…  But each week, after we’d watch our shows, my wife would start cleaning the guinea pig cage (which was right behind the couch) and I’d start watching.  That damn bouncy OP would start and leave me in a good mood, and I’d end up watching the whole episode.  Before I knew it, I’d watched the whole damn season.

There’s also a hopelessly cute video of the full OP featuring the seiyuu dancing and performing at the various real-life locations used as settings for the anime.

I watch both of these now and again, but I’ve never rewatched any of the series itself.

Final Ranking: 2.5 Average, forgettable.

Invaders of the Rokujyouma!?

Forgettable harem comedy…  I do remember being annoyed at the rather abrupt ending.  Nowadays I know it for what it was, but back then I didn’t recognize a “go read the manga” ending.

I sometimes re-watch Yukari’s “wait, I’m actually a magical girl, I’ve GOT this” scene from ep 3(?) though.

Final Ranking: 2.5

Locodol

A bit of a different spin on idol anime.  Nanako and Yukari are the “Nagarekawa Girls” –
“local idols” (locodols), an idol unit formed to promote their town/region much like mascot characters.  (The town also has a mascot, Uogokoro-kun, whose costume actor also plays a role in the show.)  On the flip side, pretty much all if its main cast are high school girls so there’s a lot of CGDCT going on as well.

It’s fun, cute, and well worth checking out if you have any interest in the idol or CGDCT genres.  I rewatch parts every now and again.   I especially love the last half of the finale (ep 12).  Crunchyroll lists ep 13 as the final ep, but even though it was released the week after the finale it’s actually an OVA.

I was very annoyed when I found out that Nagarekawa wasn’t a real place as I definitely wanted to put it on my anime pilgrimage bucket list.

Final Ranking: 3

Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun

Hmm…  I remember that this is (was) a kind of romantic dramedy…  And I loved several of the characters…  I can’t actually remember much else about the show.  Nor have I ever been tempted to rewatch it.

Final Ranking: 3.5

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal

As I watched PGSMC, all I could do was weep for lost possibilities.  Originally slated to be a celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the seminal series, it ended up being two years late.  Given the massive animation problems and the sterility of the script, I’m not at all sure what they did with the extra time.

But their worst sin was plotting and pacing.  The original series was widely panned for the incredible amount of filler…  Crystal went the opposite direction and shed almost all character development and interaction in favor of emphasising action and fitting the plot into the limits of a single cour series.

I’ve never re-watched so much as a minute of it.

The OP song by Momiro Clover Z absolutely rocked…  From the romantic theme of the 1992 original, through the superhero anthems of the DiC version and BSSM, to a rockin’ Grrrl power shout-out, the Dark Kingdom arc theme has undergone a fascinating evolution.  I keep meaning to write a feature exploring that.

When the two were showing, PGSMC and Sword Art Online II dropped within an hour of each other – and thus every Saturday morning Crunchyroll would basically crash.  This went on for pretty much both cour.  It got to the point where we wouldn’t even try to watch them and our other Saturday shows until late afternoon or early evening.

Final Ranking: 2.5

Sabagebu!

Mio saves Momoka from being bullied – and then browbeats her into joining the Survival Game Club.  Sabagebu! then upends expectation because Momoka turns out to be a sadistic bitch who is more skilled and enthusiastic at survival games than the other club members.

One of the best parts is how they slip into showing the game as being played inside their heads…  And of course the deadpan narrator (an unheralded star in his own right) has to pop up and tell us this.  Somehow that was always funny.

Absurdly good, at least for a single watch.  There are a couple of bits I do rewatch at great intervals…

Final Ranking: 3

Sword Art Online II

SAO II consists of two VERY different stories and a short filler arc.  Even though I’m doing shorter blurb type reviews, I’m going to give each arc their own review blurb.

The first arc takes place in Gun Gale Online (as did the recently completed spin off series).  The less said of this mess, the better.  Kirito “wins” through a combination of ass pulls, deus ex machina, and generally being monstrously overpowered.  Everything that SAO haters love to hate on is abundantly displayed in this arc.  When folks who’ve seen the first season ask me if they should watch the second, I always advise them that this arc is skippable.

I only mention Calibur, the filler arc, so I can dismiss it.

And that brings us to…  Mother’s Rosario.  When I think of this arc, I’m always filled with sadness.  First, and obvious to those that have been it, because it’s such a sad story.  Second, because so many people have dropped SAO II by this point that they never get to this wonderful arc in the first place.

On top of enjoying it for the general goodness of the storyline…  I also enjoy it because we finally get Asuna’s backstory, adding a great deal of depth to her character.  I’ve always found the last scenes fascinating, because the last line causes you to rethink everything you thought you knew about Kayaba Akihiko.

I’ve often said, if this was a standalone anime – we’d still be talking about it today.  I’ve rewatched this arc multiple times over the years.  I’ve only re-watched the GGO arc once – and that was only to get ready for SAOA:GGO last season.

Episode 19 features the second most awesome and intense sword fight in the series.  The first is the fight against Gleam Eyes in the first season.

The OP song (“Courage”, sung by Tomatsu Haruka who voices Asuna) is probably the second best in the series.  (Coming in behind LiSA’s “Crossing Field”.)  Taken as an OP sequence (song+animation), its hands down the best in the series to date.

Final Ranking: 3.5  (Pulled down what it could have been by the presence of the GGO arc.)

Dropped: Nobunaga Concerto (0.5 eps)• Rail Wars! (2 eps)

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Can’t believe this ended up being 2,000 words!

2014 Summer Season – full season chart

So, click on that season chart, then drop a comment and share what shows you watched during the Summer 2014 season – what do you remember?  How have they held up?

12 thoughts on “Looking back – Summer 2014”

  1. Other than SAO2, I watched all those shows. The highlights for me were definitely Locodol (charming and cute, and captures the small-town feel perfectly – that semi-professional excitement), Sabagebu (which was hilarious with a splendid main character, who gets to be petty and vain and not very nice), and Nozaki-kun (it’s a straightforward comedy; I don’t remember much drama).

    I liked the Invaders of the Rokujouma enough to buy a boxed DVD set (but that merely means I bought everything I liked that came out, because I was mostly watching fansubs back then). The ghost-girl arc early on is easily my favourite. I only realised years later (and after I bought it) that the show was directed by Shin Oonuma, who is hit-and-miss with me, sometimes both in the same show.

    I also quite liked Barakamon, and I heartily encourage more anime to have children voiced by children. That may not be practical in long running shounen shows, or if you expect a sequel (a year can make a difference, and 3 definitely will), but for shows like Barakamon it’s perfect.

    I actually liked Glasslip, though not all that much. It sits around the middle of all PA Works shows I watched. I recall iblessall liking it even more than me.

    The only show of note I found that you didn’t watch was Majimoji Rurumo, a sweet show about a not very competent witch. It’s got annoying ecchi shinnenigans, with the boy main being a the pervert-with-a-heart-of-gold type, but if you (can) look past that, it’s actually pretty sweet.

    I was also watching Francesca, where a zombie idol, William Smith Clark (he of “boys be ambitious”) and his statue were fighting undead shinsengumi. It was a short. It was strange, and obviously cheaply made, and it never got fansubbed beyond episode 5 or so. I’d finish it.

    I did finish Blade Dance of the Elementalers. I have a hard time figuring out if it was better or worse than Dragonar Academy. This season I’m probably going to finish Isekai Maou, which is equally bad, but airs on an otherwise empty day… Ah, the things you watch sometimes. No-one to blame but myself.

    I’m not currently watching Yama no Susume 3 (even though I started), because I haven’t caught up with the second half of season 2 yet, and while it’s subtle, I feel you just can’t skip what’s come between. One day I’ll find the time and motivation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. IIRC the drama in Nozaki-kun was like that in Comic Girls – lightweight, mostly played for laughs, and definitely over within the confines of a single episode. Maybe calling the show a dramedy was a bit much.

      I’m not currently watching Yama no Susume 3 (even though I started), because I haven’t caught up with the second half of season 2 yet, and while it’s subtle, I feel you just can’t skip what’s come between.

      I have to agree with you there. If you’ve made it past the Fuji-san arc in S2, you can pick up S3 and not miss much in terms of plot beats… But you’d be definitely shorting yourself (big time) in terms of character beats. The best parts of Aoi’s character arc come in the latter half of the season.

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  2. SAO 2 was the only one I watched as it was airing, though that was on Toonami at the time. I’ve seen a couple of the ones you mention though like Barakamon and Aldnoah.Zero. I liked both but Barakamon is way better.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Getting closer. For as long as I’d been watching anime (since 1998), this was the first season where I dipped my toes into following a simulcast series as it aired, before I plunged all the way in and subscribed to Crunchyroll for the fall season. And the series that broke my streaming maiden was Sailor Moon Crystal.

    My SMC experience was…interesting. I never watched the original or read the manga, so I had no expectations for it and was enjoying it just fine through the first 5 or 6 episodes. Then I made the mistake of starting to read episode reviews and forum discussions, and got exposed to the flood of negativity about it from reviewers and from fans of the old series, and the constant criticism wore down my enthusiasm, so that by the end of the season I was ready to be done with it. Nowadays I’d probably just stop reading any reviews or discussions and watch the show in my own bubble, but back then I was still relatively new to the broader internet anime fandom outside the Naruto sites I had frequented in the distant past, so it was all fresh and I was still trying to consume as much content as I could (I’d only joined MAL just a few months prior to this, and it would still be a few more months yet before I found Isaac’s blog).

    As for the shows I went back and watched later:

    YnS of course, and you already know my thoughts there.

    Hanayamata I watched after I’d already seen Love Live, and it kind of felt to me like a low-budget knockoff. What I really remember from that show was the coloring and the stills, which were often quite gorgeous (as expected from an Atsuko Ishizuka anime; I remember telling Isaac that I wouldn’t mind buying an artbook for that series), but there was so little animation in the dancing scenes that I never felt like I got a real sense of what a proper yosakoi dance actually looks like from the show – I had to go look it up on YouTube later.

    I read the first two volumes of the Nozaki-kun manga, but never got around to the anime.

    I’ve thought about trying Glasslip at some point just to find out for myself if I come down more on the “love it” or “hate it” side of the divide, but that’s the only other show that’s even on my radar. Nothing else that aired in this season remotely interests me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. PGSMC was certainly a… polarizing show. We’d watched the DiC dub on Toonami, and tracked down and watched the live action BSSM, and loved both. Hoping to be able to watch the Twentieth Anniversary show was the whole reason we’d bought a Roku in the first place! So it was bitterly disappointing for it to be so badly done.

      But on the balance, considering all we’ve gotten out of the Roku in terms of anime… I’d say we’re well to the good.

      Of the other shows from that season… I’d say you might try and get around to Barakamon eventually. I suspect you’d enjoy it.

      Like

  4. I’ve never thought about tracking my re-watches. Just because I usually put it on as a loop for background noise. ..but maybe I should consider tracking it..hmm…

    Yay Barakamon! :D There’s a few on here I’ve neither heard of nor seen. I’m afraid to add more to the ever-growing list.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For me, background loops wouldn’t count as a re-watch. Watching implies butt-in-seat paying attention to the show. (I can’t use TV for background anyhow, anything more than music and it pulls my attention away.)

      Yeah, I could easily spend a season or two just working my through my backlist.

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