Spring 2013 Anime First Impressions – Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S, Red Data Girl, Shingeki no Kyojin, and Valvrave the Liberator – Cherry Picking

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Looking at the 9 new spring series I have watched and still haven’t written a first impressions post for yet, I notice two distinct camps. The first are series that don’t evoke much of a response, either positively or negatively, and include three of the series I’ve dropped. If I can muster the energy I’ll write that first impressions post next. The second group of series are ones that I’ve liked but have needed some reassurance from the anime that it won’t go south later on. It’s this group of series that I’m going to pull from the pile of new series and write about here.

Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S

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The continuing adventures of everybody’s favorite Level 5 electro-master was one of the initial bright spots for this spring season but JC Staff’s track record coupled with it’s relation to the completely horrible Index series made me a touch leery. With two episodes under it’s belt, I’m now pretty confident that I won’t have to worry about Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S. The biggest reason for this is the creators haven’t messed with the perfect chemistry the four main characters have with each other. It’s a joy just watching them interact with each other. They could completely strip down this series till it was just a slice-of-life series featuring these four characters and it would still be a very fun and excellent series to watch. So in a sense all the powers, plots, and problems are icing on an already very delicious cake. The only disappointing thing about watching Railgun is the reminder that JC Staff shows no inclination in allowing it’s animation style to grow, evolve and improve from where it was over 6 years ago.

Rating for episodes 1 and 310/12  A

Red Data Girl

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The animation studio PA Works and I have had a real rocky relationship. For all their animation prowess I disliked True Tears, Canaan, and Angel Beats but, after really liking both Hanasaku Iroha and Another, I thought they were on the path towards greatness until they animated Tari Tari last year. This leaves me hesitant for showing my support of Red Data Girl even after how PA Works situated itself right in my wheelhouse by having this be a supernatural/paranormal series – I love this genre – and watching several episodes. I want to clearly and unequivocally say Red Data Girl is one of the best series of this season but I can’t bring myself to do so. I’m now worried that the episode count will force a premature and weak ending to this series. I can say, however, that so far it has been one of the best new anime series of this season. This series has the potential to be great. Having a world where traditional Japanese supernatural traditions and practices actually work as advertised gives this series a lot of material to work with. I think I would have preferred if the series would have stayed in the isolated location of the first couple of episodes but moving it to a big city high school doesn’t necessarily rid the show of potential, especially if other students have their own types of power. I definitely recommend Red Data Girl to those reading this that haven’t watched it yet.

Rating for episodes 1 and 410.5/12  Strong A

Shingeki no Kyojin

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Better known as Attack on Titan or some other word that means a very large humanoid creature; this series probably needs no introduction now or even in the near future. (However, with people being people, in a decade it probably will.) After the first episode and how awesome it was, I surprised myself when I could not write a first impression post. After a few attempts I recognized the feeling I was feeling, it was the little niggle in the back of mind telling me to be cautious. I decided to wait a couple of episodes to see if there was some reason to justify my caution and, with three episodes watched, I think I figured out why I felt the need to be cautious about Shingeki no Kyojin. With series that aren’t serious, like Girls und Panzer, I shut portions of my brain off and don’t ask questions. Series that are to be taken seriously, however, I take more serious and there’s small details to the world of Shingeki no Kyojin that are bothering me. For example, with the physical and mental capabilities of the giants being what they are, why don’t the humans build a very deep moat around their fortified city? Or ring the city with a field of logs sunk into the ground and sharpened to jagged points? Or move to a place where the giants can’t get to like remote ocean islands, caves, the sides of cliffs and mountains, etc.? It’s like the humans want to let the giants eat them. Then there was the question of why the super giant contented himself with destroying only the outer wall. It felt awful convenient for the purposes of the story that the attack only went that far. I could go on but I think the point has been made. I give these perceived deficiencies some weight because they could portend future problems with the story. If this happens then the fall back position for Shingeki no Kyojin is to have a good cast of characters to focus on. Which if the addition of the Potatoe Girl – voiced by the ever wonderful Yuu Kobayashi – is any indication then this series might just be okay, no matter what happens. (And the lovely animation style definitely doesn’t hurt either.)

Rating for episodes 1 and 310/12  A

Valvrave the Liberator

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Speaking of not to be taken seriously, Valvrave the Liberator seems dead set on using a very interesting SF setting to create a silly and absurd mecha series, even if the characters in the show haven’t realized this fact. Before I go any further I want to point out that this series has actually staked out a very tough game plan. It is trying to make the viewer buy into the story and treat it seriously while also stuffing it with so many silly and absurd parts. If they can succeed at doing these two contradictory things for it’s entire run, like they have in these early episodes, then Valvrave the Liberator will be a hit and very much worth watching. And in the case of Valvrave the Liberator, the lovely animation quality by Sunrise definitely doesn’t hurt it’s chance of success.

Rating for episodes 1 and 39/12  A-

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6 thoughts on “Spring 2013 Anime First Impressions – Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S, Red Data Girl, Shingeki no Kyojin, and Valvrave the Liberator – Cherry Picking”

  1. Ironically, every single question. You mentioned about Shingeki is an actual major plot point of the story. And we’re still getting more questions on top of those questions.

    I’m not going to spoil anything for non manga readers, but my viewpoint is that along with “survival horror”, this is a series should really have a “mystery suspense” tag on it.

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  2. I’ve found that the more people think about an anime as they are watching it, the less objective they are. Personal biases and emotions start to interfere or interrupt their watching. Thus they spend more time thinking and arguing with non existent opponents than actually enjoying anything. This is further amplified if they read smart alecky short attention span based single episode reviews on the net.

    I don’t contribute any greater or smaller time to analyzing an anime after I’ve watched it than any other. Other people’s views also don’t sway mine much if at all.

    I added on my blog how Shingeki Kyojin feels more and more like MLA. Those who find Shingeki Kyojin surprising or painful, know that there are far higher levels of emotional entertainment even.

    Just as there are two paths to dealing with adversity in life: changing yourself or changing the world, so there also is the same when it comes to watching entertainment. Either change yourself when faced with disappoints or attempt to, and fail, to change the anime.

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