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Anifile’s People Choice Award for Summer 2014

The summer anime train has almost reached its destination. Shows are wrapping up or have wrapped up as of writing. I’ve listed my TOP FIVE and WORST FIVE anime from this season and I have now turned it over to you guys for your thoughts. I included polls at the end of each list and after a week of voting and around two hundred votes, we have our people’s top five and worst five. Let’s not beat about the bush and get this list underway with the top five!


#5 – Tokyo Ghoul

The top five was a close affair this season, only five votes spreading as many shows. First off we have Tokyo Ghoul. I remember really liking the offbeat idea of zombies [or zombie-like people] having some kind of community whilst eating people’s flesh. It had a quirky charm to it which I really liked. Why didn’t it make my top five then? It was tough but it was between this or Terror in Resonance and I felt the latter had more shock value.

#4 – Barakamon

I’m very relieved to this on here. Like me, you were all entranced by the simple story and the charming characters which had an original feel and personality about them. Such a laidback show which doesn’t require too much criticial thinking, instead just kick back and enjoy the sweet narrative and gorgeous scenery.

#3 – Aldnoah.Zero

The thinking man’s Gundam. I wasn’t sure about this show in the end all because the main character, Inaho, was a little too dry for my liking. That being said, it’s a very well put together story and supremely clever in its execution; I completely understand why it’s so popular. While it was airing, I regularly saw friends of mine huddled around their tablets catching up on the latest episode; it’s got the West hooked and Aniplex has intentions on bringing it stateside…for a price.

#2 – Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun

You agree with me that this show is brilliant! It’s so adorable and the characters are genuinely funny and engaging. The execution was flawless and the comedy worked for a non-Japanese audience which is not all that common with comedy anime that don’t resort to slapstick. Everything about this production is first-rate. Buy this on DVD when Sentai Filmworks releases it – their twitter account can’t get enough of it!

#1 – Akame ga Kill!

OK. I get why this is here; the characters are colourful and the premise is pretty accessible. I’ve heard nothing but good stuff about this show from everyone I know but my misgivings with the sudden mood swings peppered about the story, it put me off enough to keep it off the top five list but it’s still up there. [If I had a top ten it would be in it.]


Next up, is the worst five as chosen by you.

#5 – Tokyo Ghoul

This is odd. Tokyo Ghoul starts off both the best and the worst. This is probably because the idea of the show is polarising to some extent. The idea of zombies lusting over human flesh and the almost fetishistic attitude about it could put some people off the idea as would the copious amounts of blood. It’s not a light hearted romp all the time and I imagine that it didn’t sit well for those that voted here.

#4 – DRAMAtical Murder

A massive flop, good and proper. When a show fails to properly adapt its original source material and completely nullifies it, you’re gonna have a bad time. A game with strong yaoi content and pretty boys is stripped off what made it sell and left with something without a sense of direction and even when it gets close, it’s all tons of awkward.

#3 – Momo Kyun Sword

We now have a jump in votes for the top three and we start off with the story of a well-endowed ninja girl with superpowers which involve getting even more scantily-clad. It’s a shame because the idea itself, minus the fanservice, is pretty decent and could’ve worked quite nicely had the amount of female anatomy on show been dialled back A LOT. It looked kind of fun but alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

#2 – Rail Wars!

Another big leap to Rail Wars. Another shameless fanservice show framed around a very baffling premise concerning trains and what if the national rail network was never privatised. The Wars in Rail Wars refers to the rail cops in the show instead of giant train robots fighting; that would’ve been a lot better. Skip this one as it’s cheap, confusing and off-putting. Do not choo-choo-choose this.

#1 – Glasslip

THANK YOU! You, like me, think that this show is one of the least competently written anime in recent memory. Glasslip received almost DOUBLE the amount of votes that #2 got. That is a clear sign that the production was a dire affair full of pointless dialogue, awkward ‘romance’, squandered plot devices, aggravating main characters AND ATROCIOUS PACING. SERIOUSLY.


So your winner is Akame ga Kill and your ‘winner’ is Glasslip. I guarantee that that will be the only time you’ll get those two anime together in the same sentence! The summer has now ended, sadly; but fear not! We have a new anime season coming up very shortly and I shall be making a preview post on the matter, stay tuned!


Anifile’s Worst 5 Anime of Summer 2014

This season was pretty tough to pick which anime were my favourites, as was picking my worst; well THE worst one wasn’t! The trend of this chart was that of disappointment, anime which failed to live up to my expectations or quickly descended into mediocrity or simply made no sense from the start! Not a lot of rage here just sadness of what might have been. Right, let’s begin!


#5 – Bladedance of the Elementalers



You might be wondering why this show is in the worst five list, it wasn’t that bad. I even said so myself! The reason is simply that it was a massive disappointment. Bladedance of the Elementalers had a lot of hype prior to release and seemed really good from what I heard from my friends; but when I came to view it though it was pretty mediocre at best. I think what got me annoyed mostly was the main character, Claire. She was so grating and ungrateful and selfish that she rubbed me up the wrong way. I didn’t want to sit through her exploits which often almost gets her friends killed. Plus the thrusting of her other lolita idol, Est, into our faces when she is first introduced in human form was so awkward that it threw me off balance despite the fact she is kind of cute; I didn’t feel comfortable! If you stick through this and accept the fact you’re not going to break new territory with this anime you can just about get through it in one piece. For me though, it’s something I cannot stomach.

#4 – Silver Will Argevollen



Argevollen is another case of disappointment for me. I was expecting a giant robot drama and all I got was a derivative of an anime which came out in the seventies. It’s a Gundam 0080 clone, straight up. The warring nations, the military mechs all looking like generic boxes and the sudden appearance of an unearthly mech all of a sudden. Coupled with unengaging characters which mostly follow convention save for the few plot twists which are scattered far and wide over the twenty-four episode run that this series has. There is potential for this anime to develop in its second half during the autumn season but it has failed to hook me in in the here and now. I, quite frankly, would rather watch Gundam because that’s more authentic than this rehash. It didn’t help that the show’s director is one of my favourites [Tatsuo Sato] and that he really dropped the ball with this one. Shame.

#3 – Momo Kyun Sword



Yep, another disappointment. This one was less of a surprise though. I knew this was going to be the show that was destined for public crucifixion. On the surface, it looks like a shameless fanservice anime with a theme around peaches and PEACHES. The detailing on Momoko’s breasts was hard to ignore and the attention they got condemned the show for most; but if you can look past the bosoms and look at the show as a whole, it’s not so bad. It’s a fun and simple story with some pretty cool powers, transformations and comedy which would fit the bill for a supernatural samurai romp. If Momoko had a normal figure, the fanservice was pushed back and the CAMERAMAN WASN’T INEPT it would be a decent show which you could have a little fun with. Instead, it’s an irritating and saddening anime which failed to be anything other than a cheap excuse to look at two dimensional boobs. I’m being generous here as it had promise. Moving on.

#2 – Rail Wars!



Oh man, this was a pretty swift about-face for me. When I reviewed this back in July I thought the show was OK, nothing special but decent. Almost three months later and near the end of its run, it’s become a nigh-on train wreck. You try and explain the concept of Rail Wars to people and you’re left clutching at straws. Is it about fighting trains? Is it about rival train operators? No, it’s rail cops. OK. It could be pretty exciting but it’s not! It’s pretty awkward over the course of the show’s run with only flickers of brightness in an otherwise complicated mess of a story about a guy who like trains. Can you really make an anime about that? No! You have to shove him into a situation he’s uncomfortable with and throw in TONS of breast and butt shots to make things even remotely interesting. Then you have the plots; they’re just random and confusing, each more ridiculous than the last. If you want to watch Rail Wars I insist you check out GiggUK’s hilarious parody here. [Strong language]

#1 – Glasslip



Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, I hate this show! That should be enough for you but I’ll elaborate a little more. When you first watch this show, you might be a little confused about the amount of vitriol I have towards this production; it looks so beautiful and first-rate. Yes, it LOOKS the business but by the time you get to episode four or five, you will understand what I’m talking about. NOTHING HAPPENS. Oh, unless you count awkward teenage romance and talking about a whole lot of nothing all day long. The characters are all as wooden as the finest mahogany and as one dimensional as cardboard. Our main characters are so dull despite their future powers which are rarely used throughout most of the show – what was the point of bringing them up other than to get the two together? Oh boy. Eventually you start to marvel at the horribly paced writing and revel in the uncomfortable feeling you’re getting deep in your stomach. It’s almost sadistic. I’ll stop here but ONLY watch this if you are OK with getting frustrated.


There we go! Both our top and bottom anime have been listed and presented to you fine people! What was your worst anime? Cast your vote for the Anifile People’s Choice Award for Summer 2014!

Rail Wars!

So today we kick off my summer 2014 anime first impressions review roster with an anime which is trying to glamourise the world of trains and the Japanese railway network had it been maintained as a fully-nationalised entity. Chronicling the exploits of a young man yearning to be an engineer, Rail Wars! is a blatant attempt to make the world of locomotive transportation seem appealing to those who might not have thought it so prior to watching. Does it succeed in doing this? Not really, but it tries.


I’m not gonna lie, the first thing I thought of when I saw our main lead Naoto Takayama was this popular meme . To me he seems like a walking placard for the train industry as does this story of him graduating from the JNRC [Japan’s National Railway Central Academy] and finding his feet whilst traipsing the halls of Tokyo station. In this world, the rail network is run by the government and the threat of privatisation is hanging in the air like a bad smell or diesel train…you see what I did there? I’m trying to be like Naoto. I like trains. Once he graduates, he’s carted off to the Fourth Guard Squad, which is otherwise translated into the Misfits Division. Along the way he meets Aoi [the gun-nut gal], Haruka [the busty brainbox] and Sho [the Joey Wheeler of the group] who all miraculously graduate and end up in the Guard Squad initially run by Nana, a somewhat homely and mis-placed leader who treats the squad like it’s an after-school club. The team spend their days wandering around their home station acting as station security, which is mostly pointing people where to go and whatnot; exciting stuff. However there are moments when things do pick up such as a bomb scare and a theft of a woman’s purse which act as perfect chances to show off the team’s skills or a chance to get some hot angles of Aoi being cool or Haruka bumbling around with her bosom somehow and Naoto being…well, liking trains.


I appreciate that Takumi Toyoda [the writer of the light novel which this anime is based on] wanted to follow a different path or line [see what I did there?] and tell a story revolving around an often overlooked mode of transportation and yet is essential for modern travel, especially in Japan. To use the railway as a backdrop for a story is a novel idea these days and that I respect, but there’s a reason why it’s not been done before or at least not as often; it ain’t half dull sometimes. I don’t find it boring, but I can imagine most people would get tired of the characters spouting different line numbers, train sounds or the ungodly amount of information that Naoto and his childhood friend Mari [who turns up in episode three] spew forth. It feels like that the story is trying too hard to convey the train aspect of the narrative to the audience where actually you don’t need much. YOU’RE IN A STATION AND TRAINS NATURALLY APPEAR THERE – that’s all you need! So how does Toyoda and Yoshifumi Matsuda [the anime’s director] combat this potential turn-off? Well, I think it’s kind of obvious, isn’t it? Cute girls and awkward fanservice intertwined with the train porn – that should be enough to toot one’s horn!

railwars_3That’s when we get to the show’s biggest flaw – its sheer and unashamed use of fanservice to keep the audience watching it. One moment in particular is when Naoto first meets Aoi and Haruka. Naoto is helping a kid retrieve a balloon which got stuck in a tree. He is struggling but from nowhere comes Aoi who does backflips and unnecessarily acrobatic moves to denote that she’s the tough, spunky one who don’t take no crap from nobody. Immediately behind her is Haruka whose contribution is to have her skirt fly up, Marilyn Monroe style, to act as a signifier of what her role in the story will be – the pin-up. Granted Haruka is supremely intelligent and often outthinks the rest of her team but her busty figure and tendency to lean over a lot suggestively negates her intellect at the end of the day. This scene is only ninety seconds into episode one. Wow. This show doesn’t like to beat about the bush. As for Nana, the squad leader, she’s also pretty busty and has a child-like serenity to something which should be taken seriously. The whole notion that the squad meet in a small ‘storage room’ and treat proceedings like a school club [it even looks like one!] is such a glaring allusion to the show’s ultimate composition. It’s a high school show and these guys are the hall monitors.


However, I will give the show credit for something in particular; I don’t hate the characters themselves. True their makeups are completely stock, but their personalities are likeable. Sho, the other male character, is pretty funny sometimes and to see him run around after the others is pretty amusing. Haruka may be fanservice-orientated but she is a really nice person who is really clever. If she wasn’t so well-endowed and prone to clumsy antics which contradict her bright brain, she’d be a great love interest for Naoto. Aoi may be a hothead but she’s a good egg ultimately. Her love for guns and using her fists to settle arguments overshadow her genuine desire to do a good job and protect the station from thugs, that’s pretty noble; she is insecure and believes that being brash and partial to violence will mask that insecurity. I just wish that this show wouldn’t rely on tropes to keep people watching or overload the viewer with facts about trains that most people will forget in five minutes because they don’t care. Perhaps try and find a happy medium. Sadly, that doesn’t happen here.


So should you skip Rail Wars? Yes and no. If you’re looking for something which is quite clever, sophisticated and refined then you won’t find it here. It’s a very conflicted tale trying to be a weekly twenty minute commercial for trains and the world around them. Yet it also tries to appeal to moe fans and those looking for some all-too-familiar fanservice who might have to put up with some stuff about trains. Naoto is fairly forgettable as a main lead, he’s not a weakling or a jerk; just plain vanilla…except for the fact he likes trains. Despite all the negative remarks I’ve made, I still think this anime is not that bad. Sure, it’s a mess but it’s a charming mess…sort of like Kämpfer in a way. For that I will spare a bad review but neither would I recommend it. It’s OK, probably a show for when you have nothing else to watch.

Rail Wars! is available to stream on Crunchyroll.

RATING: CAUTION [A bit of a narrative mess, but the characters have potential in the long run.]

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