Image owned by Kadokawa Shoten
After reading numerous articles regarding the hype that was Attack on Titan, I decided to break my usual television catch up sessions and watch an anime show despite never really watching anime. After 20+ grueling episodes, I was absolutely floored with the gorgeous animation, engaging characters, and heart stopping action and story. I was compelled to write this very positive review and it appeared that I wasn’t alone in my love of the show.
Since then I’ve been thirsty for a new anime show to fill the hole of pure awesomeness Attack on Titan left when I was finished with the show. I looked through a couple of lists, namely Kotaku regarding some of the best anime of the season/2013 and I followed up on what I thought were some very good picks. Keep in mind, I’m not normally accustomed to certain levels of ridiculous when it comes to anime shows. Which meant I tried to stay away from generic ‘fantasy/medieval’ anime with knights in boob armor. Nor was I fan of generic ‘gundam’/Pacific Rim anime with typecast pilots in giant robots, where intense fighting is about half of the series. Oh I’m also not into harem anime with a single boy in a school of girls in which the show tries to service the fans at any moment with accidental boob grabs and panty shots. Maybe I’m not as familiar with anime anymore, but I’m pretty sure I’ve crossed off about 90% of contemporary anime. Some of the shows I watched fall into this category and hell, even Attack on Titan at some point falls into some of these categories, but I was truly looking for something special and engaging.
My search yielded some good time burners and quality anime watched, but I think still haven’t found anything close to the level of ‘I CAN’T STOP WATCHING’ that Attack on Titan gave me. There might be one show in this list that will do that job…Here’s a run down of the anime I watched and what I thought.
The Devil is a Part-Timer
Image owned by ASCII Media Works
What it’s about: Mao Sadao is the literally the devil. He is in command of an army of demons and has oppressed the people of an alternate universe in his kingdom. When Yusa Emi, the chosen hero, leads a heroic attack that puts Mao in a corner. He escapes in an inter-dimension wormhole that leads him to modern day Japan without his powers. Mao gets a job as a fast food cashier and deals with the issues that plague everyday people such as food, rent, and quality of life. When people from his old kingdom follow him through the wormhole, his increasingly liked normal life is turned upside down as he tries to preserve the normal citizens he has come to care for.
Why it was good: The Devil is a Part Timer is a step down in terms of the seriousness and always impending doom that Attack on Titan held constantly. Devil is funny, adorable, and filled with gooey romantic moments. The circle of characters is small for this 13 or so episode season, and each of them are hilariously developed albeit one-dimensionally. There is action despite a lot of the series being, ‘will they/won’t they’ and ‘you hurt my feelings, you baaaakaaa’. The action is unique because a huge battle between two devil like characters is just as engaging as Mao attempting to outdo a fried chicken joint across the street.
Why the hole is still there: Personally, this show is a only time-killer. Although a good time-killer. There aren’t any moments that stay with you, nor is there any serious or jaw dropping moments other then the minor cliffhangers between episodes. This anime is quite simply a different and very specific genre that doesn’t really warrant any follow up or hype, due to how tame and well…average. Devil was simply funny, simply adorable, and unfortunately simply forgettable.
Kill La Kill
Image owned by Kadokawa Shoten
What it’s about: Ryuko Matoi is a high schooler who is out for revenge after the death of her father. Her investigation leads her to Honnouji Academy, a combat caste based school (where your social class is defined by your sheer willpower and…clothing). The school is lead by Kiryuin Satsuki, an elegant and powerful class president that uses her student body for an ulterior motive. The show quickly establishes that power is measured by your clothing if it is made with a mystical fiber. When Ryuko Matoi gets ahold of a particularly powerful piece of talking clothing, Senteksu, she uses her newfound power to cleave her way through Honnouji Academy ranks to challenge Kiryuin in order to find out about the death of her father.
Why it was good: This show is absolutely ridiculous. Like ABSOLUTELY ridiculous. There are a lot of tropes that I mentioned above that would have normally turned me off on this show such as the ridiculous fan service, harem-esque characters, and repetitive fight scenes. But this show is almost a parody of all of those things, bordering straight insanity. The first half of this series was fairly formulaic, with Ryuoko slowly fighting her way through the ranks of people, slowly powering up at the end of each episode, but halfway through the season, a major plot twist puts everyone on their asses and turns the direction of the show entirely. This show was good and was very close to filling the hole, but there were some things to be desired.
Why the hole is still there: The writing was fairly hilarious, although I felt a lot of the puns that were apparently spread throughout the show were lost in the translation I watched. Some of the action was kind of repetitive and ridiculous in a bad way. For example, a sword attack that sliced through walls of a building in episode 2 have no effect on a character in episode 17. This kind of ridiculous scaling is well…ridiculous and kind of stupid. As much as I enjoyed the season, I still wouldn’t put it above Attack on Titan.
Beyond the Boundary
Image owned by Kyoto Animation
What it’s about: Kanbara Akihito is half ‘ghost’ and half human. He lives in a society where there are clans ‘ghost’ hunters, each clan blessed with a skill or gift that helps them defeat ‘ghosts’. These ‘ghosts’ (in the show called Youmo) are dangerous and the product of human cynicism and hate. These Youmo hunters make a living off of hunting the dangerous ones. When Kanbara helps a young Youmo hunter that is the last of her clan, Kuriyama Mirai, he gets pulled into a large conspiracy that involves the politics of Board of Youmo Hunters.
Why it was good: Beyond the Boundary was probably the most serious anime I’ve tried to follow post-Attack on Titan. The show has a similar tone as Attack on Titan, a kind of grey and somber atmosphere mixed with a bit of comedy during times of seriousness. Beyond builds its universe in an indirect and gratifying way that Attack on Titan did, letting the audience piece together the dots without burning screen time, allowing more to be shown. There are some excellent fight sequences that don’t feel too dragged out, but some of the animation feels out of place with bright colors and realism. There was a lot of good and even great about this show, but there was still something missing.
Why the hole is still there: Beyond was short. There was a lot to be desired by the time the 13 or so episode run was over. By the time the final episode aired, there was a lot of confusion and messages that I didn’t really get, which I’m sure was probably explained in some of the not as well translated moments of the show. With whatever hole Attack on Titan left was slightly filled with Beyond the Boundary with its interesting universe and attached characters, it was then pulled back out, leaving another hole, slightly bigger then before I watched Boundary. Beyond was close, it was so close, but luckily, something else started to air that began filling the hole once more.
Legend of Korra?
Image owned by Nickelodeon
What it’s about: Avatar Korra, keeper of balance to the world and master of the elements of water/fire/air/earth, is dealing with the bureaucracy of politics and hunters that want her dead while trying to save a lifestyle from extinction. With the help of her friends, she aims to restore balance to the world once again.
Why it was good: So this show isn’t a traditional anime, but it’s still an animated show. Avatar: The Last Airbender is one of the greatest western animated television shows out there. The Nickelodeon team has continued their show’s awesomeness in the first two Legend of Korras books/seasons and book 3 is shaping up to be one of their best seasons yet. Korra has it all: beautiful animation, stunning music, engaging action, and quality writing and comedy. Korra deals with heartbreak (oh teenage love), adult subjects (conscription of citizens), and incredibly animated action (those bending battles man, they’re so goddamn good).
Why the hole is still there: So far, book 3 of Korra is filling a lot of holes in terms of top tier animation, music, action, and comedy. This show is so goddamn good and so far and if book 3 is staying on the same track, it has the potential to make me forget about Attack on Titan…for now.
You’ve read some of what I’m opposed to and what I enjoyed. Please if you’re an anime watcher, take the words I said and let me know an anime (especially new ones this season) that I should watch. I know my words weren’t great for Devil, but I’m open to all genres, including sappy, large robot fighting, and harem IF the quality writing and animation is there.