2014: The Year in Anime

Been dealing with a dead hard drive and no internet so I apologize for being bad with the updates. DX Luckily I didn’t lose as much as I did the last time a hard drive failed (you’d think I would’ve learned my lesson by now) but I still lost some critical files (including ones related to Looking for Miku) as well as photos and videos from more recent events (such as Anison USA).

Anyway, I never did finish my recap series for 2014, so here is the final installment: anime I watched in 2014!

First up was the second season of YuruYuri (ゆるゆり), also known as YuruYuri♪♪. It’s a show about the members of a middle school Amusement Club as well as the members of the Student Council. The cast is female, the humor is slapstick, and the yuri is strong. Toshinou Kyouuuuuuko!

Although my friend Kazumi has talked about cosplaying from this show, I don’t have any photos related to it, so here is a picture from my Back to School sale (items listed are still available, natch)!

Soon after wrapping on Looking for Miku in January, I caught two features at the Downtown Independent, the first of which was Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo. (aka Evangelion: The New Movie: Q / ヱヴァンゲリヲン新劇場版:Q). Long-time readers will know that I’m not much for the original series, but I actually rather enjoyed Evangelion 2.0 (mainly due to the addition of new waifu Mari Illustrious Makinami) so I went to check it out. While the opening battle sequence of the new film was quite impressive and I was intrigued by the new battle-hardened versions of Misato and Asuka, the story shifted back to Shinji, Rei, and Kaworu and things quickly went downhill from there. There’s still a lot of ground to cover and only one more film to do it with; we’ll see how it goes.

Image of Cherry-Jelly‘s Risa and Taka from my post covering the screenings of Eva 3.0 and the next film.

The following evening was the movie version of Anohana, which is one of my favorite series. Unfortunately, the whole thing with the letters to Menma (which you can read about in the original post) really affected my enjoyment of the viewing — so much so that my normally feelful self didn’t tear up even once during it. (I did rewatch it about a week ago and it wound up having a much more pronounced effect that time.)

I’ve only ever seen one Anohana cosplayer in person, and it was at AX13!

Next up was Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet (翠星のガルガンティア). Be honest: how many of you had never even heard that word before this series? This sci-fi adventure series, written by Madoka Magica writer Urobuchi Gen, is about a space pilot who crash lands on a water planet and eventually learns about its mysterious past. For a show from Gen the Butcher, it was surprisingly light on the angst, but still managed to say a few things about technology and blind adherence to ideology. It’ll be interesting to see where they go with season 2.

No cosplayers or loots from this series in my collection, but since it was a show with girls and robots (wait, isn’t that pretty much every anime?), here is a photo from my Girls & Robots sale!

I managed to attend the movie sequel Tiger & Bunny The Movie -The Rising- due to the invite of a fellow blogging friend. Tiger & Bunny (タイガー&バニー) is one of those shows I had no real expectations for and wound up enjoying much more than I’d anticipated. This film is no different, as it managed to hit all the right notes with its storytelling, and it was a lively viewing as the predominantly female audience was very appreciative when their favorite heroes appeared on-screen. xD

Photo of a Lunatic cosplayer from my post covering the screening.

After that, it was time to check out the ridiculously popular series Kill la Kill (キルラキル)! This over-the-top action romp is everything you’d expect from the makers of Gurren Lagann, pumped up to the Nth-degree — More humor! More fanservice! More beatdowns! More everything! … except the heart. For some reason, while I did thoroughly enjoy the show and its frenetic insanity, it didn’t resonate with me the way Gurren Lagann did. I can’t even remember if the last episode managed to wrench any tears from me, while Gurren Lagann had me bawling from, like, the last five episodes (I get teary just reading their recaps, lol). I think in the effort to top themselves, they managed to super-size everything but the feels.

This Mako cosplayer was one of the last ones I caught at FanimeCon 2014!

I took a break from anime for a bit to focus on editing Looking for Miku, but after I returned from FanimeCon, I kind of got on a Shinkai Mikoto kick. First up was 5 Centimeters Per Second (秒速5センチメートル), a 2007 film that’s broken up into three parts. Each of the segments features a boy named Touno Takaki in different stages of his life, from adolescence to adulthood, and how his first love affects him. It’s a visually stunning film, but I don’t think it really moved me like I expected it to.

Nothing from this film in my archives, but since trains figure prominently in it, here’s a photo of one of San Jose‘s metrorails!

Voices of a Distant Star (ほしのこえ) is one I’d been meaning to watch for ages (the manga has also been sitting on my shelf for several years). This was Shinkai’s first project and it was pretty much a one-man show (he and his fiancée at the time even did the voices themselves). My interest was primarily due to the premise, which was of a literally long-distance relationship between a young couple living worlds apart who communicate by text message. If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you’ll know that one of my favorite anime series, if not my most favorite series, is Gunbuster, which also explores the effects of time dilation and interstellar travel on people and relationships. Given that, I was excited to watch this short OVA. I tried to enjoy it, but for some reason I think the execution fell short of my expectations. The ending, especially, seemed a bit too pat for my liking.

No photos related to this OVA, either, so here’s a shot of the iconic starship Enterprise from my visit to Washington, DC, several years ago.

By this point I was seriously wondering why there was so much hype around Shinkai’s works, but then again I’ve never been one to embrace popular opinion (eg, never been much of a fan of Miyazaki Hayao’s films or Star Wars). So, it was with some trepidation that I watched The Place Promised in Our Early Days (雲のむこう、約束の場所). This full-length feature about a high school trio, a mysterious tower, and alternate universes would’ve been better served as a series, I think. There were many things that could’ve used a deeper explanation and the ambitious attempt at a more complex plot only managed to yield a confusing and convoluted story. Shinkai’s go-to theme of lost love makes yet another appearance here, but this time it only feels forced.

Photo from an alternate universe in which Suzumiya Haruhi (Aoi Mizuno) gets to read manga in the middle of the street, lol.

Having made it so far, I figured I might as well finish off Shinkai’s standalone works canon with Children Who Chase Lost Voices (aka Children Who Chase Stars or Journey to Agartha / 星を追う子ども). This feature definitely felt more like a traditional Ghibli-style film, which is either good or bad depending on your preference. Even though it’s filled with strange creatures and takes place mostly in an alternate world, there’s plenty of action and adventure coupled with a solid through-line, making it a lot more mainstream than Shinkai’s other more experimental (and slower-paced) works. Once again, there is the requisite theme of lost love, and this time it resonated with me a bit more. It’s still hard to say if I really enjoyed it, but I did like it better than his other films. Whether or not I’ll take a chance on his series Garden of Words now that I’m familiar with his style is another matter entirely.

Voice Actress Cristina Vee seems to have lost her voice (and maybe even her head D: ) in this shot from Ninja-Con 2013!

There was a pretty good gap afterwards since my boy Jack Bauer was back in action and putting holes in British folks on Fox’s 24: Live Another Day, but after the ambiguous finale, I watched Yuyushiki (ゆゆ式). A light and fluffy show that’s often laugh-out-loud funny, this slice-of-life comedy is about three girls (whose names all begin with “Yu”) who join their school’s Data Processing Club.

Even though I do own a figure from the show, I haven’t done a loot post in quite a while (hmm, future update perhaps?), so here is another one of my favorite data processors, Nagato Yuki, from the Suzumiya Haruhi Race Queen photoshoot I did at AX13.

It was back to Looking for Miku for the next while as I met with cast to do ADR but I was finally able to check out anime again with imouto during my family’s vacation as we watched one of my favorites, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (aka Tokikake [Toki wo Kakeru Shōjo] / 時をかける少女). Even though my sister was frustrated by the two leads, I still found the film fun and enchanting on my third viewing.

That photo from PMX 2012 isn’t really a spoiler anymore, is it?

One more lengthy gap followed until the end of the year for my now annual marathon viewings. First was an encore of Yuyushiki, which imouto enjoyed, before subjecting her to the bawlfest known as Angel Beats! (エンジェルビーツ!), one of my favorites from last year. Imouto enjoyed this comedy/drama/thriller/mystery series (which you can read more about in last year’s post) and even kept the episodes for later viewing (with, I expect, drier eyes).

Photo of Nobuhiro Kikuchi, one of the masterminds behind the series, taken at AX13.

Even though I wasn’t able to watch very many anime (and even though some of what I did watch were repeats/recaps/redos), it was good to finally check out some that I’d heard so much about! I’m sure there were others (could’ve sworn I watched the Highschool of the Dead and Kill la Kill OVAs also at some point) but since my memory is terrible, I’ll prolly have to revise this post eventually. Feel free to make your recommendations on what I should watch next or to tell me why I have bad taste for hating on Mikoto Shinkai in the comments below, and check out my Fan Page on Facebook as well as The Vault on Facebook for more of my adventures!

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5 Responses to 2014: The Year in Anime

  1. Cassandra says:

    Yes. You have bad taste for hating on Makoto Shinkai 🙂 Though I have heard great things from other anime fans about his anime films. Things like he might be the next Hayao Miyazaki except with more visually appealing anime backdrops. Interestingly, you mentioned your not an appreciator of Hayao Miyazaki either so that could explain it. I have not seen Makoto Shinkai’s films but I am actually planning to this Summer. But, hey, you like Mamoru Hosoda’s anime films so you don’t exactly have bad taste.

    An extra tidbit: I am not sure there will ever be a Season 2 of Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet. The second season was scrapped in favor of a novel. I heard about it from Anime News Network which was a little sad to hear since the 12 episodes were pretty enjoy-worthy.

    Anime News Network Source: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2015-04-04/bandai-visual-planned-gargantia-2nd-season-scrapped-in-favor-of-novel/.86734

    • Cassandra says:

      The Gargantia anime series had 13 episodes. Correction.

      • agcpictures says:

        Wow, thanks for actually reading through all that! I didn’t realize how long this post actually was until I published it. ^^; No wonder it took forever to write, lol. Anyway, I’m sure I do have bad taste; most of the stuff I tend to like isn’t very popular or gets hated on by other fans, haha. But I do agree that Shinkai’s work is rather pretty to look at, especially 5cm/sec. After you’ve checked them out, I would love to hear your thoughts! And I’ve only seen Summer Wars and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, but I do love them both (I actually paid a girl $5 at AX once for her Tokikake poster b/c she needed money for a print in Artists Alley and I was never at the Bandai booth when they were handing out them out, lol). I’m reminded that I need to watch Wolf Children….

        Thank you for sending that link! I’ll have to watch the new OVAs. Tbh, I think the series was fine as it ended; I would actually be much more interested in whether the people fighting the war ever find out about their past and what effect it has on them.

      • Cassandra says:

        No worries. I did enjoy reading. You don’t say. Sure with Makoto Shinkai we’ll see how it goes.

        Like you the only anime film I need to now watch from Mamoru Hosoda would be Wolf Children. What a coincidence! I find most of his films really heart-warming, so I am sure Wolf Children should turn out rather spectacular once I get on it.

        Well that is good. With Gargantia it might have been for the best. I mean there will always be more anime. More to enjoy.

      • agcpictures says:

        Hopefully you can find a good source for Shinkai’s works. Crunchyroll had them for a bit last year but then they disappeared; not sure why or if they ever made it back. And yup, I really enjoy that Hosoda manages to be uplifting and hopeful without being cloying or overly saccharine. He has another film coming out this summer, so let’s do our best to get caught up! 🙂

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