Autumn Anime Knockout – Round 1 Part 2

Continuing from before, I’ve managed to narrow down a further ten Autumn anime series to just five, which will proceed to Round 2 for a chance to become part of the Final Five shows I’m picking up this season. 😛 Much harder this time, as each of the first eps had something going for it… Here are the series in question, and the thoughts that led to my decisions.

Match 2: Robotics;Notes vs Ixion Saga DT

Robotics;Notes:


I seeded this second because it’s the anime adaptation of a game made by 5pb, the same developers that created Steins;Gate! Since the anime adaptation of Steins;Gate was my favorite series of last year, and probably one of my favorite series of all time, how could I not be excited by this!? Well… my only slight worry is that the anime adaptation of their other work, Chaos;Head, was a bit rubbish. Robotics;Notes doesn’t share its studio or staff with either adaptation, so who knows how it’ll turn out?

The premise is interesting, at least: main characters Kaito and Akiho are the sole members of the school’s robotics club, and it is their ambition (well, Akiho’s at least) to create a giant robot based on the popular game and anime character Gunvarrel! A project which has been ongoing for years, and has yet to produce many results. Because of this, the club is only going to receive funding if they can win the Robo-One tournament… which takes place in two weeks… and they don’t even have a robot to enter yet…

But although the premise is great, this first episode was a little underwhelming. Akiho, the slightly generic genki girl, pretty much carried the episode, and was the only one who really said or did anything entertaining. By comparison, male protagonist Kaito was easily the most unlikable main character of the season so far for me. I’m assuming he’ll put down his Poke-com for five minutes to do more in later episodes, but the sooner the better or I could lose interest fast. 😦

Ixion Saga DT:

I’ve always considered generic fantasy anime something of a guilty pleasure. Anything with swords and sorcery, elves, dwarves, princesses and/or saving the world from a generic villain bent on destroying it is fine by me! 😛 You can blame that preference for my decision to follow Shining Hearts weekly… at least Ixion Saga DT couldn’t be any worse than that… could it? Clearly the answer is no, because Ixion Saga did in one episode what Shining Hearts could never manage: it made me laugh. A lot.

One minute our generic protagonist is playing an online MMORPG, and the next minute he’s inside of it… not through the use of high level technology like in Sword Art Online, or in a real world survival situation like BTOOOM! – he just falls out of the sky onto some enemy swordsmen, still sitting on his computer chair and with headphones around his neck. He is rescued by a generic muscle guy, a pretty green-haired trap (because why not?), and an 8-year-old princess, and decides to travel with them.

This first episode was very entertaining… largely for the wrong reasons, but entertaining nonetheless. Normally, I’d pick the series up immediately. But if I’m only continuing with five series, I need to be very selective, and I wonder whether Ixion Saga DT would be able to remain entertaining until the end. Or, would the jokes wear thin, and the plot prove too generic to make up for it?

RESULT: Ixion Saga easily won the battle of the first episodes… which makes me feel a little bad to be putting Robotic;Notes through instead. This is purely because I see more potential for the latter to become one of the best shows of the year. It enters Round 2 at a disadvantage, however, and will need to impress me a lot.

Match 4: Bakuman 3 vs Zetsuen no Tempest

Bakuman 3:

Like Hidamari Sketch, Bakuman has the advantage of having had previous series – I already know the characters, already enjoy the plot and romance, and if I was forced to choose five series WITHOUT watching some episodes first, as 4th seeds Bakuman would be on the list. It has one advantage that Hidamari Sketch doesn’t have as well: I’ve not read the manga, so don’t already know what’s coming – and I want to find out!

With two series behind it, Bakuman didn’t need to worry about character introductions, and didn’t bother with recaps either, jumping straight in where it left off. Mashiro and Takagi’s latest manga PCP is off to a good start, but Mashiro’s fiancee Miho, a rising voice actress, has been invited to audition for the role as heroine in the anime adaptation of one of their rival’s works… which could ruin their dream of having her star in Ashirogi’s first adaptation! Drama from the get go!

Another thing I like about Bakuman is the fact that it’s an anime adaptation of a manga where the main characters create manga in the hopes of getting an anime adaptation. 😛 It’s taught me a lot about the industry, and the process that goes into making all the books and DVDs that fill my room. It’ll take a very good newcomer to knock Bakuman out at this stage.

Zetsuen no Tempest:

The main reason I didn’t seed this is because I heard there were going to be Shakespeare references throughout, and The Tempest isn’t one of his works that I know much about. But then again, how many Japanese anime viewers will be familiar with it? Also, the story was written by Kyo Shirodaira, who also wrote Spiral, a manga series I liked a lot. In the end I figured I might as well give it a go, as it wouldn’t be the first time that references in anime have gone completely over my head. 😛

Here we have another first episode which bounces back and forth between times and places, showing us a lot of what’s going on while leaving the explanations and finer details for later episodes. From our protagonist’s point of view, the main points are that Mahiro’s sister was killed mysteriously, and he himself disappeared soon after. The next time he appears before his friend Yoshino, he has kick-ass magical powers, and intends to use them to find his sister’s killer and avenge her.

There are mages, unemployed 28-year-old gunslingers, and psychic phenomenons that turn innocent bystanders into lumps of metal. Way too much stuff to go into detail on here, but suffice to say I’m interested to see where this series is going! The dark, mysterious feel makes Zetsuen no Tempest one of the most intriguing series so far, and the animation and music are superb as well.

RESULT: In the first real surprise result of the Autumn Anime Knockout, I’ll be putting Zetsuen no Tempest through. I’m bound to come back to Bakuman anyway since I’m already so far into the story, so may as well marathon it later and make way for a promising new show instead. 🙂

Match 5: Jormungand: Perfect Order vs Code:Breaker

Jormungand: Perfect Order

Jormungand only placed sixth in my Spring Anime Final Thoughts post, but the competition that season was tough. When I drew up the seed list for this before watching anything, Perfect Order benefited from being a direct sequel… but having watched twenty first episodes now, it’s clear the competition will be no easier this time around. Jormungand entertained me with its action and gunfights, but its short arcs didn’t allow for a great deal of plot or character development. Will the sequel fix these issues?

So far, things are looking promising. Continuing from right where it left off like Bakuman, this first episode brought characters and plot elements from various arcs of the first season together, and everything seemed to be pointing towards the start of a more major, longer running story arc, which is what Jormungand really needs. Also, they launched a rocket. What’s not to like about that? Seems as though this network of satellites Koko has launched will be the main focus of the coming episodes…

While not hugely developed, characters like Koko and her crew, Jonah and side characters like Dr. Miami are very fun to watch. The latter’s ‘recruitment’ of Karen Low was hilarious; I’d actually forgotten how funny the series could be at times. In the end, I was left feeling more confident in my decision to seed Jormungand: Perfect Order highly. This series has potential… can Code:Breaker do any better?

Code:Breaker:

In a season full of mystery, action and supernatural series, there’s always going to be one or two offerings that just aren’t as good as the others. Based on the synopsis alone, I figured Code:Breaker sounded the least promising. There’s also the fact it’s being produced by Kinema Citrus, a studio that has only ever co-produced series in the past. Still, that also worked in Code:Breaker’s favour a little, as I was curious to see how this studio’s first major solo work would turn out…

It didn’t get off to a fantastic start. The animation was below average, and nothing about the protagonists or early introductory scenes did anything to convince me that this wasn’t completely generic. However, as the episode progressed, it did get better. But what really shocked me was our first real introduction to the series’ antagonists near the end: G-Falcon, a criminal gang who consider themselves above the law. These scenes were very violent, and included (heavily censored) animal cruelty! 😮

I was left with mixed thoughts on this one, but in the end my decision came down to the fact I didn’t see anything here that hasn’t already been done better by another show this season, plot-wise, character-wise or production-wise. Code:Breaker didn’t really do anything wrong itself, it’s just very clearly outclassed. It would still probably have beaten Busou Shinki, though. 😛

RESULT: Jormungand: Perfect Order through to Round 2.

Match 8: Psycho-Pass vs Girls und Panzer

Psycho-Pass:

Seeded because it’s a noitaminA show, with a script written by Gen Urobuchi. And that’s about all I knew about Psycho-Pass before watching the first episode, or else I’d likely have rated it higher. Well, there was also the fact that it was being produced by Production I.G., which meant that if nothing else it’d look nice… but after learning that I couldn’t help but be reminded of the studio’s previous 22 ep noitaminA offering… yeah.

Psycho-Pass turned out to have the best premise of the season by a long shot. It is set in a world where people’s psychological balance can be measured using technology, and where anyone whose mind is considered to be unstable is sent for compulsory therapy. Refuse, and you get labeled a ‘latent criminal’ and taken into custody before you’ve even had the chance to commit a crime! The series focuses on the organisation in charge of rounding up these latent criminals… using latent criminals of their own!

As shown right from the start in this episode, this system presumably designed to prevent crime can in fact drive people to commit crime who might not have done so otherwise, as it places them under greater stress and fear of the consequences of failing a scan. Even the weapons used by the CID are automated, choosing whether to lock, stun, or kill those that they’re pointed at based purely on the person’s state of mind – their ‘Psycho-Pass’. I LOVE IT.

Girls und Panzer:

A series which places cute girls in tanks. The latest in a series of moe meets military shows, though at least this time the girls aren’t tanks themselves, nor do they walk around in just their underwear. 😛 After finishing the masterpiece that was Psycho-Pass’ first episode, I went into Girls und Panzer happy in the knowledge that I wouldn’t be forced to sacrifice a better show to put it through.

Not for the first time, I was surprised at just how much I enjoyed this episode. Girls und Panzer knows how ridiculous its premise is, and uses that to brilliant comedic effect. In this world, tanks are seen as a feminine pursuit – the idea of men in tanks is laughed at! ‘Panzerfahren’ has just been reintroduced as an elective subject at the school our protagonist attends, and is sold to prospective students using blatant propaganda – apparently it makes you a good wife and mother, and grants you success in business!

As well as being one of (if not THE) funniest first episodes of the season, Girls und Panzer looked great – nice character designs, and very well animated, even the background characters! It almost rises above guilty pleasure territory! Almost, because at the end of the day they’re still school girls driving around in tanks, one of which is pink… I have to wonder what a real soldier would make of it. 😛

RESULT: Psycho-Pass obviously through; shame Girls und Panzer got such an unlucky draw though, otherwise it’d likely be there too.

Match 10: Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! vs Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!:

Chuunibyou was lucky to get seeded at all, only getting the position when it turned out that Seitokai no Ichizon Lv.2 (originally seeded 5th) was to be a webcast with rubbish file quality. While that’d actually be less of a strain on my broadband, it’d be more than enough strain on my eyes, so I’ll pick it up when a HD version becomes available. Instead, I went with KyoAni’s latest offering, despite having no idea what “Middle School 2nd Year Syndrome” was meant to be. 😛

As the intro to the episode stated, this ‘syndrome’ turned out to be adorable… and embarrassing. Main character Yuuta styled himself as the ‘Dark Flame Master’ while in middle school, wearing a huge sword and cloak, and claiming to have magical powers. He thought it was cool; his classmates found it creepy, and avoided him for the rest of his time there. Now about to enroll in a far away high school deliberately picked to avoid his old classmates, Yuuta hopes to spend the next few years as a regular schoolboy.

Unfortunately for him, his classmate Rikka finds out about his secret… and as someone who is very much a ‘sufferer’ of ‘chuunibyou’ herself, decides to befriend the Dark Flame Master! And so Yuuta’s dreams of a normal life are shattered, as is so often the case in these kinds of series. 😛 With a fun concept that’s far less complicated than the title of the series suggests, and likable characters, Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! is off to a good start!

Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo:

In a similar way to Chuunibyou’s seeding, Sakurasou only made the lineup when another series (Aoi Sekai no Chuushin de) turned out not to have a weekly airing schedule. This was one of the few anime this season that I wasn’t even going to sample, as I thought they sounded TOO generic… but I had to make up the numbers, and Sakurasou got lucky. The similarities to Chuunibyou extend to the actual premise too: this series is also about a (relatively) normal protagonist forced to put up with a bunch of weirdos!

All poor Sorata did was adopt a stray kitten (or two, or three…), but the rules of the school dormitories all state that pets are not allowed – all except for Sakurasou, a dumping ground for students with… problems. Even the dorm supervisor, a teacher at the school, sees the entrance ceremony only as an opportunity to pick up single fathers! But despite their issues, these eccentric pupils are all super talented.

The dorm’s newest resident Mashiro is no exception: she’s a great manga artist (though her plots could use some work)! Unfortunately, she has absolutely no idea how to take care of herself – she can’t even get dressed on her own! And so Sorata is given the task of looking after her full time, and she pretty much becomes his ‘pet’. A little crude, and about the only show I’ve watched this season to feature any real fanservice, Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo seems like a fun enough series if you’re into that… but generic.

RESULT: Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! takes the final Round 2 spot as expected, but Sakurasou turned out to be worth sampling at least.

Twenty series have finally been narrowed down to ten, but I need to take things one step further, and the sooner the better so that I can catch up with the weekly releases! The anime through to Round 2 will line up as follows, with matches decided at 100% random this time, and my predictions in bold:

Match 1: Magi vs Jormungand: Perfect Order

Match 2: Zetsuen no Tempest vs BTOOOM!

Match 3: Psycho-Pass vs Robotics;Notes

Match 4: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure vs Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!

Match 5: Hidamari Sketch x Honeycomb vs Shin Sekai Yori

I stress that those in bold are only my predictions based on one episode, and that everything could still change. For all that some awesome looking series are already out, I’m happy with the Round 2 lineup overall, and am looking forward to their second eps! 🙂

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