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Anifile’s Top 5 Anime of Spring 2014

So the Spring 2014 season has finished and with it the end of some more series of anime. Some have been good, most have been decent and some have been pretty dire. It’s been a mixed bag and some surprises have cropped up. There were shows which surprised me and others which disappointed. This top five list for the season of Spring 2014 was pretty tough as there were shows which I wanted to put on such as No Game, No Life and Captain Earth but I can only have five and I wanted to be true to my opinion instead of following the consensus. Note that there have been some anime which I didn’t get to see due to a busy convention schedule and as such I shall list the anime which I summarised initially and still think have potential at the end of this post. So let’s spring into action, shall we?


#5 – Baby Steps



I’m not much of a sports person, but when I watched this show for the first time I was curious about tennis. There was something about Eiichiro which I liked; he was a methodical individual who wanted to understand every single detail about tennis and use it in a logical manner to better his game. His drive is not from passion which has been seen many times, but through deduction. It makes the audience get behind Eiichiro and feel for him as he struggles to understand the sport both on and off the court. It’s not the most beautiful anime out there, but it’s still good. Baby Steps has a touch of realism about it and feels like a drama that could be easily made into a live-action film or special with little friction. This was probably one of the bigger surprises of the season in my eye; for that it managed to edge out No Game, No Life for the last spot on the top five. It also confirmed that slice-of-life is my favourite genre of anime.

#4 – If Her Flag Breaks



The biggest surprise from the season goes to If Her Flag Breaks. Why? Well, it made me laugh! Also it’s cute. Usually comedy anime tend to disappoint me and I rarely break out a smirk when I watch something which is meant to be funny which hails from Japan. When I watched Souta beginning to thaw and warm up to his new found friends, it was a touching moment. He had suffered a traumatic ordeal of losing his family and then was bestowed with a power to read people in the form of cutely decorated flags. He uses this power to his advantage and it makes for a cute story about Souta changing the fates of himself and his friends whilst throwing in some dorm room action and cheeky comedy for good measure. There is quite a twist later on in the show which helps the show stay fresher than most would in the second half of a run. All in all, I’d say this was a turn up for the books!

#3 – Chaika: The Coffin Princess



Chaika: The Coffin Princess was a fun ride. It had a certain something about it which made me think that this show is going to be a hit with anime fans everywhere. With the studio which brought to you Fullmetal Alchemist and Soul Eater, Chaika and her crew have the same endearment level as well as ‘cosplayability’ in the form of the leading lady. Its narrative was easy to understand and the magical ecosystem was not a complete mess which requires a masters degree to comprehend. Put simply, magical sniper rifle rules all! With the help of Tohru, Akari and Frederika the quartet feel like a true team and one that has potential to be a lasting squad going into an upcoming second season this autumn. This show has got a lot of heart and that heart will be pumping strong for years to come thanks to a English release by Sentai Filmworks! Woo!

#2 – One Week Friends



You know how I said I like shows with charm and heart? Yep, I think you know where this is going. Prepare the tissues, people! One Week Friends is about a girl who has had suffered severe mental trauma which results in weekly memory loss; she can’t make friends. Literally. She’ll forget them each and every Monday. How sad. One boy though tries to help her overcome her affliction by writing down a diary and slowly but surely it works. Yuki and Kaori are beacons in the world of anime in that nothing sexual is alluded. It’s all about one boy trying to make a friend where before it was impossible to do so. A simple story with a beautiful colour palette is something to behold and cherish. If you ever needed a good example of why anime is so special, this anime is a prime candidate.

#1 – Knights of Sidonia



Oh yeah, you knew this was going to be here. It was no contest. Knights of Sidonia is a landmark anime which marks a turning point in how anime is made. Three-dimensional, cel-shaded models aren’t new to the creative world but it has rarely been used to such an effect than in this show. Tsutomu Nihei’s art style lends itself to the clean lines of the third dimension making the non-mecha moments feel more organic, especially in the latter half of the first season. True, the animation was a little rusty at first but it improved quickly and by the end of the season it was on the mark! Then when you get to the mecha sequences; it’s gorgeous and a spectacle for my spectacles! Nagate Tanikaze’s ascendency to the world of mecha piloting was an awesome ride; the amount of plot points which impressed me were numerous [such as Nagate not being a hothead towards his ‘rival’ Kunato and the whole Izana/Hoshijiro love triangle]. The soundtrack is the icing on the cake with one of the best anime intro themes of recent memory. Its similarity to Attack of Titan should mean that lovers of Eren Jaeger’s adventures would get a kick from Knights of Sidonia but I strongly recommend it over the former. It is, in my opinion, way better. Does it beat my favourite anime of all time, Martian Successor Nadesico? Keep an eye out on my all-time top ten in the coming months. Also, there is a second season and I intend to buy the manga; I’m that stoked about this show!


Missing In Action 

Due to my hectic schedule in June and July of this year, it meant that there were some shows which I didn’t get around to seeing after previewing them. There were shows which appealed to me and would suggest checking out despite my lack of review for them. They are as follows:

Ping Pong: The Animation , Even So The World is Beautiful , Nanana Ryugajo’s Buried Treasure & The Kawai Complex Guide To Manors and Hostel Behaviour


That’s it for the prime beef of this season! Next time, we check out the off-cuts and tripe in my worst five anime of spring 2014.

What did you guys think? Cast your vote now for your favourite from this season!


No Game, No Life

We all think it. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to rid ourselves of the shackles of real life and become fully immersed in the world of video games where rules are clearly defined and yet free. A world where things are clear, imagination is nurtured and where you don’t have to do taxes. No Game, No Life begins Anifile’s main reviews for the Spring 2014 season and already states its intent for being the top of the leaderboard come the season end.


Despite the poor grammar akin to Big Rigs: Over The Road Racing , the story set here is in a whole other league. It is about the life of shut-ins Sora and Shiro who live their lives vicariously through video games. These two work together to triumph over all gamers under the name “[    ]” (blank) and clearly have supernatural skill and genius when it comes to strategy, logic and dexterity. It is clear that these two siblings are in the wrong place; they know that. It turns out they’re right! After beating a supposed AI in a game of chess, the pair are transported to the world of Elkia by a mischievous god named Tet who sets about the rules of the world whilst also free-falling to certain death…or not. From the second Sora and Shiro not-crash into the ground, this world is strange and unfamiliar but they quickly adapt to the rules of the world. These rules boil down to essentially not committing crimes and honouring challenges, wagers or arguments no matter how small. It’s a powerful system which is illustrated later on by some characters acting beyond their will just for the sake of adhering to the rules. It’s both funny and unsettling. The inner narrative is quite compelling without being too heavy. However, the idea that a guy who is proud to be a hermit suddenly becoming the greatest being who ever lived thanks to a scene change is a little bit Gary Stu-esque. It’s like Sora’s living out the fantasies of like-minded individuals. Whilst it IS shoved in our faces a whole lot, it doesn’t detract from the story at large; his execution and expositions are skillfully explained albeit a little elongated but anime can be cerebral like that so it’s to be expected or at least speculated.


My main problem with the initial story is that Sora and Shiro somehow gain the ability to understand the world of Elkia off-screen. We don’t get an awkward or amusing first encounter akin to most anime; they just seem to instantly know what’s going on and how to manipulate other players. However it can be argued that the show wants to get to the good stuff quickly and skip over the trivial matters of comedy so as to keep the viewer interested. We know these two are hyper-intelligent and treat life like a game so it’s natural for them to do the same in this new world. They’re not like most main protagonists in that they’re already masters and the show is all about them thriving in the world they truly belong in. It’s also about restoring the honour of Stephanie Dola, the granddaughter of Elkia’s ‘foolish king’ who gambled most of the kingdom’s assets away in games. She recently lost the chance to gain back the throne in a card game and winds up in the company of Sora and Shiro with the former then relishing the chance of becoming king in a game of chance and skill. He’s not got anything better to do so why not? It’s like the story is offering the pair a chance of achieving something great in a world that embraces their skills as opposed to living in isolation in the real world otherwise considered to be a ‘crappy game’. There’s potential in all of us to do something great and the siblings are grasping that potential tightly.

nogamenolife_6There is some urgency though to proceedings. It’s not simply about Sora becoming king. The world is broken up into sixteen races where Imanity [humans as we know them] are the weakest with no magic skill or awareness whatsoever. Kinda rough considering every other nation can use magic, EVEN THE WORLD’S ORC EQUIVALENTS. Ouch! This is the overarching theme; the world of Elkia [humanity/Imanity’s last stronghold] is under threat and it’s up to Sora and Shiro to save it. Simple premise, effectively executed. The visuals here are probably some of the most beautiful I’ve seen in years. The off-black lineart, the over-saturated colours plus the sheer bizarreness of Elkia are a wonder for the eyes, a blatant signifier to the viewer that this world is unlike our own. This is a world to get lost in and be mesmerised in. Madhouse have once again demonstrated their skill in creating rich and vibrant worlds where fantasy is its pen and the colour palette is jammed up to one hundred percent saturation! It reminds me of the live-action Speed Racer adaptation in its sheer indulgence in colour. You can’t fault this show being boring! Yet you could wish it saved some exposition for later on and instead focus on introducing more of the world around us, not just spout off minutes of plot. A picture says a thousand words after all.


In all, I recommend No Game, No Life. It lived up to my expectations in terms of presentation and direction as well as its underlying message which left me thinking. I was disappointed somewhat by the stop-start exposition express and wished that Sora showed some sign of infallibility to make him an actual human being but perhaps that’s to come and it might in term have more impact then. Tet’s wishes for a peaceful world are laudable but his rules can be bent to exploit some players’ desire to stick to the rules. Steph’s actions in episode two confirm my worries in that she seems to have no free will even though she does put up a fight; is that down to programming or a fear of breaking the rules and suffering the wrath of Tet? Either way, the show is a fun ride and one which I will be keeping an eye on.

No Game, No Life is available to stream on Crunchyroll.

RATING: CONTINUE [A dash of colour in an otherwise drab world.]

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Spring 2014: Preview Summary

The Spring 2014 preview has been completed and we have had thirty-six brand new series presented before us. Based on their review priority rating [RPR], I have come up with a basic order in which I will review the shows in question based on my initial impressions. You may think that this is prejudging these shows before they’ve even aired but we could easily have some of these shows pull a surprise out from under their metaphorical, you never know until the first few episodes have aired what you’re going to get!

If you missed any of the individual genre videos, click the following links to catch up!
Action / Fantasy & Magic / Comedy / Slice Of Life /
Sports / Sci-fi & Mecha / Game Adaptations

So what have we deduced from these first glimpses? Going from my RPR ratings, rated high to low, we have got this little chart:

High 4
Medium-High 8
Medium 13
Medium-Low 8
Low 3

The outlook is good based on this reviewer’s first impressions. Most of these shows look good with some either being above or below average with only a few being considered lacklustre. Below is a list of shows indexed in order of review priority:

High Priority: Devil’s Riddle Story, No Game No Life, Soul Eater Not! & Captain Earth.

These shows have managed to catch my interest down to their innovative art styles, compelling plot and different spin on previously established archetypes. Reviews will be more forthcoming for these titles.

Medium-High Priority: Haikyuu!!, Brynhildr in the Darkness, Selector Infected WIXOSS, Chaika: The Coffin Princess, One Week Friends, Knights of Sidonia, The Irregular at Magic High School & Ping Pong The Animation.

The medium-high list are the shows which are still very good but didn’t quite fill me with rapture at first sight or seemed to play it a little to safe for my liking. Reviews will be posted slightly later.

Medium Priority: Atelier Escha & Logy, Black Bullet, Majin Bone, Dai Shogun – Great Revolution, If She Were To Raise The Flag, Mekaku City Actors, M3: That Black Steel, Even So The World Is Beautiful, Mischief of the Gods, Break Blade, Baby Steps, The Kawai Complex… & Roughneck Wrestler Matsutarou!!

The medium list comprises those productions which have either been considered good or inconclusive based on little or no information. This third premise is for shows that have either had no trailer or minimal content surrounding it published. Instead of labelling it bad, medium is a temporary default for such titles.

Medium-Low Priority: The Comic Artists and His Assistants, Dragonar Academy, Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers, The Buried Treasure of Nanana Ryugajo, Hero Bank, Blade & Soul, Daimidaler – The Sound Robot & Magica Wars.

The medium-low priority list is populated with shows that seem to either be OK or slightly disappointing based on its promotional presentation. Some of these shows DO have sparks of potential and I’m hoping to see them shimmer and generate a better review score.

Low Priority: Locodol, Is The Order A Rabbit? & Sudden Death.

The low priority list. The shows which seem to have no hope for being good or original. The shows whose existence is questionable, depressing or bemusing. Two of these titles are here because there’s no trailer or supporting content to go with it other than one poster and a small blurb surrounding its plot. Their outlooks aren’t good but you never know. What I do know is that these will be reviewed with less of a priority than the other shows listed.


One important to remember is that things can change. Shows can go up or down in estimation, we cannot speculate too much in terms of quality or ‘goodness’ until we actually get some episodes under our figurative belts. These ratings are merely for ordering my review roster. I’ll be sure to change things up a little bit and throw in a low or medium-low anime further up just so it becomes a teensy less predictable though; keep you on your toes!

So what anime are you looking forward to? Now’s your chance to vote for as many shows as you like so we can get a gauge on what the Anifile audience is excited about. If the results for one show in particular are high enough but the show is further down the review list, I will respond by pushing it up a little bit. ;)

Right – the stage is set. Let’s watch some anime!


Spring 2014: Fantasy/Magic

Welcome back everyone to Anifile’s look at the Spring 2014 lineup of anime. Yesterday we began with the action anime. Today’s post is about the fantasy/magic genre. We like to be dazzled with tales that transcend the walls of reality and stimulate our imagination; we like that especially in our anime. So what do we on offer this time? Let’s find out!



The Irregular at Magic High School
[Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei]

Genre: Magic/School
Animation Studio: Madhouse
Origin: Light Novel [Sato/Ishida]
Airing Date: April 6 2014

In this world, magic has been demystified and made just as ubiquitous as technology. The whole mystique has been lost and now wizards are redubbed technicians and so there are places of education in which to produce these “Magic Technicians”. Brother and sister, Tatsuya and Miyuki enroll in one particular school where their skills are completely poles apart. Tatsuya is a low achiever who punches above his weight whereas his sister is one of the best in class. This tale is about how these two function in such an establishment.

Initial Thoughts
The whole nullifying of magic’s charm and etherealness is sad to witness but it makes for a curious debate. Magic and technology; slowly fusing together to become one and the same. Technology can do magical stuff and as such magic can be a very technical discipline. It therefore seems inevitable that these overlap. Tatsuya isn’t a poor student, he’s just not good at implementing his knowledge. His mental skill is notable and therefore makes him destined for great things on his course. This twist is quite plausible as there are people out there who may not be as good at the practical part of learning than they are at the writing part. I like that and I like where this anime could go.

Review Priority Rating [RPR]: Medium-High



No Game, No Life

Genre: Fantasy/Comedy
Animation Studio: Madhouse
Origin: Light Novel [Kamiya]
Airing Date: April 9 2014

Sora and Shiro are one of the internet’s best game developers going under the name of “__” [blank]. Their skills have caught the attention of a boy named Teto who transports the duo into another world where humanity is about to be wiped out. It’s up to two geeks to save the human race from annihilation using their brains to outwit their enemies.

Initial Thoughts
This is a really cool looking show. The colours on show, the off-black lineart, the epic visuals; everything just screams beauty and wonder, pure Madhouse. I find it funny that our world is also referred to as a “s****y game” too. The whole gaming twist to demonstrate Sora and Shiro’s brilliance is a nice touch too; shows that gaming is good for your noggin! The whole humanity being weak underdogs angle has been done before but this twist on the formula seems more polished than others I’ve seen and I want to see this show so bad.

Review Priority Rating [RPR]: High



Dragonar Academy
[Seikoku no Dragonar]

Genre: Fantasy/Action
Animation Studio: C-Station
Origin: Light Novel [Mizuchi/Shimesaba]
Airing Date: April 5 2014

Dragonar Academy is about the coming of age of a boy named Ash who has yet to find his true calling when it comes to finding a dragon to partner up with. One day though, his search comes to a close and the dragon buried within his soul is unleashed…but it’s not what you think. Instead of a scaly reptile, we are presented with a dragon girl named Eco; who calls the shots instead of Ash.

Initial Thoughts
In my eyes this whole shebang is a mish-mash of other shows. I see a little bit of Pokemon [Ash dealing with a rebellious entity at first], the TV series of How To Train Your Dragon [Dragons being used in a school/learning environment] and High School DxD [The guy being dominated by tons of well-endowed girls]. I understand that this is meant to be a more mature series but from what I have seen, it seems to cater more towards pandering towards fanservice rather than telling a proper rites of passage story. The whole dragon girl gimmick seems unusual though, so I am somewhat interested to see where that goes. Don’t expect deep and meaningful plot devices here.

Review Priority Rating [RPR]: Medium-Low


Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii

Even So, The World is Beautiful
[Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii]

Genre: Fantasy/Shoujo
Animation Studio: Studio Pierrot
Origin: Manga [Shiina]
Airing Date: April 6 2014

This tale is about Nike, a princess with a fiery temperament who has the ability to command rainfall. A royal of the Rain Dukedom, she is betrothed to the king of the Sun Kingdom, Livius I, who is seen to be a tyrant having conquered the realm in a little over three years. At first, their relationship is cagey [she is thrown in jail to begin with] but over time, their connection begins to glow.

Initial Thoughts
Based on the initial preview, there’s not much to go on. What you do gleam is that Livius is in fact a boy king and younger than Nike so your initial perception is that this will be a tasteless tale. However, it seems to be about the boy king’s pacification and how Nike is able to get Livius to be more caring. I can imagine that people will hate Livius at first because he seems like a snobbish brat but because of his youth, he has room to mature and maybe that’s why Nike is there. It’s a very grown-up narrative and something curious.

Review Priority Rating [RPR]: Medium


That wraps up today’s batch of previews, if you missed the action batch, you can find it here. Tomorrow we look at the comedy shows to grace our screens this coming season!