ANIME (FIRST PLACE VOTES)
Kill la Kill (11)
Samurai Flamenco (2)
Galilei Donna (2)
Little Busters! Refrain (3)
On the cusp: White Album 2, Nagi no Asukara, Kyoukai no Kanata, Log Horizon, Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta
This week, something happened in Anime Power Rankings that has not happened since the very early weeks of APR: two shows have tied for first place. The last time this happened was in 2011 in 4th ever edition of APR. Usagi Drop and Steins;Gate tied for first place at 13 points each, with Ikoku Meiro no Croisee in third. APR was different then, with only a few voters at the early days of polling anibloggers. It's good to see how far we've come since then, as Kill la Kill and Kyousougiga tie at 106 points each, the first time two different shows scored 100 points in a single week.
Kyousogiga is on another level compared to other series this season. The confidence in the direction of that series is wonderful, with both the visuals and musical score giving it a grander scope than anything I've seen in a while. It almost seems more suited to be a feature film than a television series. Director Rie Matsumoto's prior experiences came from episode direction and story-boarding of various Precure series, as well as Saint Seiya, so this series, and the ONAs that preceded it make quite the directorial debut. Nothing else this season comes close to comparing to Kyousogiga for me personally.
Kyousogiga easily took the crown this week, with its combination of beautiful worldbuilding, understated, naturalistic writing, and an incredibly well-directed night sequence that brought home the very personal loneliness of our protagonist while also deepening the mystery of the greater world. But that's the obvious "you should be watching" choice - my SECOND choice is Nagi no Asukara, which I think is very successfully grounding all its complexities of racism, cultural heritage, and adolescence in the conflicted desires and emotions of its protagonist Hikari. He's easily my favorite character so far this season, and the show overall is thoughtful, beautiful, and solidly directed. Definitely worth a look.
Kill la Kill featured an epic fight scene this week, and really established the "monster of the week" format for the rest of the season. The fight scene kicked absolute ass and I laughed my ass off at the corny campiness that the writers jammed into the dialogue. I am still stunned visually by the animation style, and I really look forward to what Trigger is going to do with the format of the show. I guarantee that Kill la Kill is going to be anything but plain and predictable. Unfortunately, not everyone sees this show the same way.
I am not seeing the reason for all the hype for Kill la Kill, all I see is bad animation, idiotic attempts at fan service, and I basically can't give a shit about what the heck is going on in that show.
Now, I understand that not everyone has good taste is attracted to the style of Kill la Kill but calling the animation "bad" is straight ignorant. Kill la Kill might be a bit rough around the edges in terms of a narrative aspect, but the quality of animation is not even close to a point of contention. It's as absurd as criticizing the animation in Hyouka, or Kyousogiga. The throwback, hard ink visual style and fluid animation makes Kill la Kill a treat like no other. I cannot let this ig'nance go unaddressed.
There are just too many shows I'm liking this season to the point that I can't vote for them all. When was the last time I ever felt this way about anime? I'm usually the guy who only enjoys about two or three a season at max. Kill la Kill is just giving me everything I could ever want from an anime. Samurai Flamenco is tapping into my love for satirical comedies very well. Refrain's arc-ending episode this week wasn't anything I haven't seen before in a Key anime, but the visuals used in that episode were pretty damn brilliant and I'm shallow like that. I finally managed to get into Kyousogiga after understanding just what's going on. Yeah, it requires some attention, but that's not a bad thing in of itself. Was deciding whether to put either Kyoukai no Kanata or Galilei Donna on my APR. Gave the vote to the former because whilst the latter had a fish mecha and a rocket launcher, KnK has cool creatures and a chainsaw gun-spear.
Mr. Flawfinder ()
Samurai Flamenco returns to the APR this week. Along with Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai: Megami-hen, they are the only two Manglobe shows to ever make APR.
Samurai Flamenco takes my top spot this week thanks to it's wonderfully immersive writing and interesting characters. This show is off to a really great start.
Kyousogiga impressed me on every level - fantastic animation, dynamic interesting direction and a really colourful cast of characters. I really appreciate how the show is taking time to properly flesh out the background before getting stuck into the meat of the story - makes it much more satisfying to watch rather than being drip-fed bits & pieces via flashback throughout the show.
Galilei Donna is really taking the goldfish theme to its limit - and I really like that. Sure there is quite a lot of suspension of disbelief required, but it is still a fun show to watch with lots of interesting elements. That twist ending really got my attention this week.
Kill la Kill continues to impress and this week showed that it does have some interesting commentary to make underneath all the flash and fanservice. It's still trying to have its cake & eat it too, but I appreciate the point it is trying to make.
Yowamushi Pedal rounds out my ballot - I am surprised by just how solid this series has been so far. It ticks all the usual sports anime boxes and does it with superb pacing, direction and acting. Sure it doesn't have the biggest budget or the most attractive character designs, but the show has lots of heart and I'm really enjoying it.
A surprise this week was Little Busters! Refrain in 5th place. After the disastrous first season, I've been hesitant to touch anything related to Little Busters!, but what people have to say about it really has me curious.
Little Busters! has really stepped it up this season in every possible way: the writing, the direction and the imagery come together with laser-like focus. More than that, though, it's the themes in this story that gets to me. There's this pathos that comes at the end of childhood, as sweet as it is heartbreaking, and I think Refrain expresses it as eloquently as poetry. I predict with a completely straight face that this can top Clannad After Story by the end of its run. I hope others are tuning in to this show and giving it the chance it deserves. Whoever said J.C. Staff is a crap studio?
Little Busters Refrain has been quite rewarding so far. The first three episodes have done much to further the plot, but more significantly this story arc for Riki and Kurugaya has managed to resonate strongly on both an emotional and a thematic level. At this point I feel we're beginning to step back from the individual pieces of the puzzle and see the whole picture. It's still hazy at the moment, but I think that with the proper perspective everything that has gone in this series will fall into place. If you hated the first season you probably won't like this one either, but if you at least felt there was something going for it, you may find the second season tying together a story worth much more than the sum of its parts.
We shall see.