Fall 2014 Anime Preview: The Essential

Now that Mushishi Zoku Shou S2 has FINALLY premiered, I can get on with my previews of the Fall 2014 anime season. I watched at least 10 minutes of the first episode of almost all of the series listed over at Stargazed Charts, and while some were QUITE a disappointment, the season as a whole looks promising. I’ll start with those series which I think are essential viewing.


Image of Akane and Mika, the new girl, prepped for action

Psycho-Pass S2

When deciding between Parasyte and Psycho-Pass S2 for the most promising Fall series, it was a difficult decision. I ended up going with Psycho-Pass S2 for all the wrong reasons. For starters, the first episode was enjoyable but nothing to write home about. It digs into the familiar “twisted police procedural” theme that the first season employed so often in the first half of that series. Several of the best characters from the first season of the show are ostensibly missing here, although all logic points to them popping back up in time, but it’s a disappointment to be sure. All that said, this episode is still better than the premiere of the first season of Psycho-Pass. While that episode clearly illuminated the type of dystopian future our characters would be traversing through, it ended up being considerably more over-the-top than the rest of the series–I often find myself suggesting Psycho-Pass as a series for non-anime fans to pick up, but quickly warn them to push past the first episode. Clearly, the first season went on to grossly out-achieve its meager beginnings, so I have hope that Psycho-Pass S2 is itself, still getting its sea-legs. If it’s half as philosophically probing as the first season of Psycho-Pass, this follow-up I will welcome with open arms.


Image of Shinichi and Migi peeking around the corner

Parasyte

Parasyte plays in the same realm of body horror that the first few episodes of Tokyo Ghoul did, except Parasyte portrays the Kafka-esque notion of body transformation in a much more interesting way, with less soap-operatic drama clogging up the storyline. In that same direction, Parasyte plays much more like a Cronenbergian horror film than Tokyo Ghoul, since the latter morphed into a straight-up action/fighting series with some sci-fi elements, after the first arc. Basically, if Ghoul pumped you up for a horror anime only to let you down, Parasyte picks up the pieces. It’s part The Thing, part Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and even Evil Dead II gives a hand to elements of the storyline. Best pun ever.


Image of Andou stuck in a bubble

Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de

It’s gotten to the point in my anime fandom, that any series with a single male protagonist surrounded by cute girls immediately sounds warnings sirens in my head. Imagine my concern when I noticed that Trigger–the studio behind Kill la Kill who have proven themselves, in just a few projects, to be some of the more creative producers in the industry–had a new series with one male lead and four female leads. Luckily, Inou-Battle quickly proves that its female dominance in number of characters permeates through to the script. While the audience may be meant to root for Ando–our male lead–it is out of pity rather than admiration, as we learn that each of the girls have god-like powers in comparison to Ando’s ability to create a useless black flame with his hands. Add to that a thoughtful representation of the more mundane moments of a super-heroic life, and Inou-Battle feels like another Trigger success. Let’s just hope that Ando doesn’t have some sort of power upgrade before the end of the series. Knowing anime though… *sigh*.


Image of Ginko talking with another mushishi

Mushishi Zoku Shou S2

This second installment in the Mushishi series really did it for me back in the Spring season. Now comes its second season–the second installment’s second season, that is–which has every reason to be just as good as the first, although the hour long mini-movie that starts the new season out is one of the slowest pieces of fiction I’ve ever seen. Mind you, I’m used to the usual pacing of an episode of Mushishi; slow and steady wins the race, to the point where we are really lounging around in this week’s setting. This unique pacing works about 95% of the time–letting us really sink into the characters and situations of each episode–but sometimes Mushishi overstays its welcome. All that said, I’m going to chalk it up to this episode being longer than most, and thus stretching the story out even more than usual. The issue could also be that this season opener went much further into the world of a mushishi, something that I think is better served as a sort of unexplained mysticism.

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