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10:00 AM on 07.06.2014

Final Impressions: Mekakucity Actors

To take a collection of narratively contained songs, light novels and manga and spin it into a television series makes this show a anthology about a unique group of characters connected to each other in the same (and perhaps multiple) universe(s).  

Dae Lee




Final Impressions: Is the Order a Rabbit? photo
Final Impressions: Is the Order a Rabbit?
by Dae Lee

Having completed this season, I have no reservations whatsoever when I say this is the best slice-of-life offering I've seen in years. Drama-free, happy-go-lucky, no-strings-attached episode after episode of fun characters and exceptionally great art.

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Final Impressions: One Week Friends photo
Final Impressions: One Week Friends
by Dae Lee

Our lovable cast was in some trouble the last time we checked, but luckily for everyone, Kiryu is around to knock some sense into our protagonists. One Week Friends proved to be one of the strongest shows of the season, even if it doesn't have the flash or draw as other offerings.

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Final Impressions: Selector Infected WIXOSS photo
Final Impressions: Selector Infected WIXOSS
by Dae Lee

So, Selector Infected WIXOSS: a anime about a commercial card game. Does it sound like a show you would watch? Me neither. Yet somehow, WIXOSS has become one of my biggest surprises, beating out many of what I considered to be the safe bets of this season.

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Final Impressions: Saki: The Nationals photo
Final Impressions: Saki: The Nationals
by Jeff Chuang

The final episode of Saki: The Nationals doesn't really feature much in terms of climatic wrap-up. The series end with a giant standing nod to the other half of the story: the Episode of Side A. And maybe that's for the best.

Saki is the sort of sports-like anime where intense moment-to-moment moves turn the tides of the story, from Richii, Ron and Tsumo. Mythical powers and solid statistical play are the rules of the day. But at the same time, a large contingent of us are watching Saki for the inter-character sub-plots. Who befriended who? What's this girl's story? And in that sense, Saki tells a story no different than what you might find on a sports program on TV. So in that sense, the last episode felt like a behind-the-scenes video of what happens in this world's premium sport, appropriately.

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Final Impressions: Nagi no Asukara photo
Final Impressions: Nagi no Asukara
by Karen Mead

Nagi no Asukara was a show featuring intriguing ideas and frequently beautiful imagery, but it never quite gelled into a cohesive experience for me. For the show's entire 26-episode run, I kept feeling like the story was just on the precipice of going somewhere very interesting, yet never quite went there. The final episode did offer a fair amount of emotional payoff regardless, yet by that point, I have to be honest and admit that the series had worn out its welcome.

I don't regret watching it, and some of the characters certainly grew on me -- particularly the secondary characters, who were much more interesting than our junior-high aged leads. But I am kind of saddened by it, because I'm not sure entirely what went wrong here.

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Final Impressions: Sakura Trick  photo
Final Impressions: Sakura Trick
by Brittany Vincent

Too often, romance anime is relegated to tsundere girls and beautiful bishounen. Where's the yuri representation? True, we've got plenty of harems and beautiful boys, but there's a huge dearth of relationships between women in anime. It's either always played for laughs or touched on in the briefest of manners. I found Sakura Trick refreshing in several ways for this reason. Even though it was quick to rely on humor to weave its narrative, it was also cute, refreshing, and real in several ways. Now that it's over, I'm sorely missing my Yuri Fridays.

The final episode of Sakura Trick was one that provoked a few different feelings. While it was interesting to see Mitsuki finally coming to terms with her obvious crush on Haruka, and to see Yuu and Haruka still moving forward in their relationship, it still felt extremely bittersweet. Week after week, this series felt like a small beacon of hope for the Winter 2014 anime season, as something I actually enjoyed watching for multiple reasons. With no more Sakura Trick, I'm not sure where I'm going to get my next fix.

Sakura Trick was always so sweet, and though you could take its many panty shots and gratuitous kissing/somewhat lewd scenes as fanservice, it was done in such an innocent manner that contributed to the growth of the characters themselves. It never felt sleazy or strange, and I never felt as though I was watching something that used the girls as plot devices or objectified them in ways that were out of place or uncalled for.

I particularly enjoyed the reluctance of both parties at first, where even Haruka was a little hesitant to do something that would forever bond the two together. Then there was gradual growth that allowed two likable characters to become a "true" couple, with strengths and weaknesses that aren't normally touched upon in anime or manga -- especially with yuri leads. Not only that, but the whole cast seemed to be in on it. [Editor's Note: The whole cast was shipping them SO hard, it was great.]


I'm hoping there will be some additional episodes in the form of OVAs, or at least another season to get to know the girls more, because watching Sakura Trick was a lot like slipping into a warm blanket and snuggling up with a great, fluffy read. In many ways,  I wish we had more series like this one to curl up with. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to go check out the manga. 

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Final Impressions: Soni-Ani: SUPER SONICO the Animation photo
Final Impressions: Soni-Ani: SUPER SONICO the Animation
by Karen Mead

It was patently obvious we didn't expect much from Soni-Ani: no one on Japanator even bothered to write up a First Impressions for it at the start of the season. We figured it would be a vapid, 12-episode long commercial for super-curvy Nitroplus mascot Super Sonico, and all the merchandise that goes along with that.

While it did serve as a commercial for the pink-haired mascot, where we were wrong (DEAD wrong) was the "vapid" part. Instead of feeling like an empty shell of a show designed to sell PVC figures, Soni-Ani proved itself to be a consistently entertaining, and often even heartwarming, slice-of-life show. With Sonico herself, the show provided the kind of sweet-yet-not-saccharine young girl character that so many shows try to present and fail. Even more wisely, the writers knew when to take the focus off Sonico and let the quirky supporting cast shine instead.

Naturally, the show isn't going to be knocking Akira or Grave of the Fireflies off of anyone's "Best Anime Ever," list, but the fact remains: given the premise, it's shocking that it was this good. Shocking, and kind of inspiring, really.

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Final Impressions: Engaged to the Unidentified photo
Final Impressions: Engaged to the Unidentified
by Karen Mead

As much as I enjoyed watching Engaged to the Unidentified, the end of the series left me feeling more than a little conflicted. Seriously, I haven't felt this conflicted at a series conclusion since, er...Golden Time. Which was maybe a week ago. But for the sake of this article, let's pretend it's been a long time since I've been this conflicted, okay?

Basically, the things I wanted to happen never quite happened, and I'm not sure if that's a sign that the series didn't deliver on its promise, or I just got too many ideas in my head that were destined to go nowhere. I feel like the opening episodes wrote a lot of checks that the second half of the series couldn't cash, but is that just falling into the trap of saying "The story didn't go exactly where I wanted, therefore it's bad?"

I'm going to try to puzzle this out, one way or another.

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Final Impressions: World Conquest Zvezda Plot photo
Final Impressions: World Conquest Zvezda Plot
by Jeff Chuang

I don't have a good grasp as to how to truly enjoy enjoy an anime like World Conquest Zvezda Plot, where clever writing and smart world building paint an internally consistent story, but what happens in this story about a little girl who tries to conquer the world comes together like a fistful of sand. It slips through my grasp of mental faculties like Venera's statue, just made of sand, on the beach, right before the rising tide. When I try to make sense of it, it hurts my head. 

At the same time, because it is so smartly executed and in general, A-1 Production is at the top of their game -- and since World Conquest Zvezda Plot is a pet project from one of the studio's more interesting collaborators, Tensai Okamura, there is still a lot to like. I like many elements of the show, so much that I can't help but to think well of it. It just hurts to try to come up with a reason why I would recommend it to anyone.

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Final Impressions: Kill la Kill photo
Final Impressions: Kill la Kill
by Elliot Gay

The final episode of Kill la Kill has come and gone, with the story of the lone transfer student seeking revenge for her father's death having come to its conclusion. 

Things exploded, Gainax references were made, people were cut into tiny pieces, and dramatic speeches were given.

The curtain has finally fell on TRIGGER's first TV anime production since its founding, which means it's time to look back on the whole shebang. Did it deliver? Did director Hiroyuki Imaishi make something worth talking about?

Am I extremely sad that I no longer have Kill la Kill to look forward to every Friday? 

None of these answers and more, after the break!

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Final Impressions: Wizard Barristers photo
Final Impressions: Wizard Barristers
by Karen Mead

In the final episode of everyone's favorite poorly-written supernatural law procedural, Cecil agrees to defend her worst enemy in court, because no one in this world has ever heard the phrase "conflict of interest." However, since it's all a big conspiracy and the prosecution is actually in her client's pocket anyway, she ends up prosecuting Makusu from the defense podium while opposing council somehow defends him from the prosecutor's stand. I think we're supposed to think that this defense/prosecution switch is clever, but like everything else on this show the lack of logic makes it all just seem disjointed and silly.

Let's do this crazy Wizard Barristers thing one more time, guys.

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