Log Horizon Anime to Get a Third Season in October 2020

NHK has announced that the Log Horizon television anime will have a third season titled Log Horizon: Entaku Hōkai (Log Horizon: Fall of the Round Table) that will premiere on NHK Educational in October 2020.

The cast and staff will return from the previous seasons of the anime.

The first season of Log Horizon premiered in October 2013, and the second season premiered in October 2014.

Source: ANN

Anime Blu-ray Review: Log Horizon Complete Collection

Log Horizon Complete Collection is a six-disc set that contains all 50 episodes for the franchise (Log Horizon and Log Horizon 2). This set includes both the original Japanese audio with English subtitles and the English dub.

Log Horizon Complete Collection
English Publisher: Sentai Filmworks
Format: Blu-ray
Release Date: October 24, 2017

Log Horizon tells the tale of what happens when players of an MMORPG game mysteriously find themselves inside the game. The game in question is called Elder Tale, and the mysterious event takes place when its 12th expansion, “Novasphere Pioneers,” is added.

The main character is Shiroe, who the audience follows from the time he discovers that he’s in the game. During the first episode, Shiroe meets with four other players: Naotsugu, Akatsuki, Marielle, and Henrietta. Marielle and Henrietta are both members of the Crescent Moon Alliance.

Shiroe and the others are asked by the Crescent Moon Alliance for help. A girl named Serara was sent to Susukino on the Day of the Apocalypse and hasn’t returned. They have heard that she was attacked by a Player Killer but was saved by a good player and is now protected by this good player. When they rescue Serara, Shiroe discovers the good player is Nyanta, an old friend of his.

The adventurers start learning how to make food in the world that has flavor. They also begin interacting with the non-player characters (known in the game as “People of the Land”) and realize that the People of the Land have interesting backstories that were never revealed while they played the game.

Shiroe and his friends learn about the trouble that’s been brewing in Akihabara, the town they have been staying at. The various guilds have fallen into ranks, with bigger guilds determining the town’s feel and rules, as well as priority for the market and hunting grounds. A guild called Hamelin has been gathering new players, claiming they want to help them. Instead, they take the new players’ EXP pots, items that slightly increase attack power and health regeneration and double the experience earned from combat. Hamelin is taking the EXP pots and selling them to the Black Sword Knights, a guild that’s trying to get to a level of 91, since the expansion upped the experience level cap from 90 to 100.

It turns out that two middle school kids that Shiroe had been mentoring before they ended up in the game were recruited by Hamelin, and Shiroe comes up with a plan to help the new players escape from the guild. The first step of his plan is to open a refreshment stand to sell the food with flavor that they have developed, and the stand becomes an instant success. The next step involves convincing the other guilds to help provide money for the mission to rescue the adventurers from Hamelin and holding a conference with several guilds. This results in the Round Table Conference being established in Akihabara and the rescue of the new players from Hamelin. Shiroe also forms his own guild called Log Horizon.

Once Shiroe’s guild is formed, the players discover other ways they can set the rules for Akihabara that weren’t already established in the game, and they gain the notice of the nobility of the People of the Land. The rest of the series focuses on training newer players, representatives of the Round Table being invited to a conference of the lords of the People of the Land, and the things the adventurers end up doing to try to protect not only Akihabara, but the People of the Land as well. The second season expands on the story of this world, as well as the struggles and obstacles our characters face.

What I really enjoy about Log Horizon is the fact that, as the series progresses, it starts delving into aspects of being trapped in a game that other similar series rarely seem to touch on. These things included the Player Killers and the questions their existence created for the main characters, the food not having any taste until the players figured out how to expand beyond using the main game controls to create food, coming up with their own alliance and rules to govern an area in the game, coming up with technology that doesn’t already exist in the game, and having in-depth interactions with the non-player characters.

Another thing that stands out to me is the fact that many of the characters don’t simply fall into the usual stereotypes associated with fantasy MMORPG games. In addition, I also appreciated that Log Horizon has several strong female characters. The females aren’t simply there to provide sex appeal or eye candy. They are just as complicated and developed as the male characters.

There was a change in animation studios between the two seasons of the series, but Studio Deen strove to keep the character designs as similar as they possibly could to the first season. While the new designs were very close, I could still detect some minor differences. And comparing what I remembered of the backgrounds of the first season to what I saw in the second, I have to say that I thought the overall animation of the first season was better than the second season. That’s not to say that Studio Deen was producing terrible animation, though. I’m just saying that the animators for Satelight seemed to put a little more effort into the detail and look of the series in comparison to what I saw from Studio Deen.

One thing that Log Horizon 2 succeeded at was bringing back characters that had all but disappeared in the first season or bringing characters that had been hiding more in the background for most of the series out into the foreground. In both cases, the characters became integral to the story and received some needed character development.

A group of characters that includes Kanami, Coppelia, Leonardo, and Erius, was introduced in Episode 14. Unfortunately, they basically disappear from the series until right near the end of the final episode. This kind of frustrated me, because I had expected them to play a bigger role in the series than they did.

My biggest disappointment in Log Horizon 2 was the fact that Plant Hwayden and most of the characters involved in this group really weren’t very developed during this season. And for the most part, they didn’t seem to play that big of a role. But with what was seen near the end of the final episode, it appears that Plant Hwayden could play an important role later in the story. Unfortunately, as of this writing, a third season of Log Horizon has yet to be produced, so I still don’t know if Plant Hwayden has any greater purpose than what we see here.

The Blu-ray video for this set has 1080p High Definition / 16×9, and the audio includes English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. I have no complaints about either the video or the audio quality of this release.

As usual, Sentai Filmworks was very stingy when it came to bonus features. All that’s included in this set are textless openings and closings on discs three and six.

Even with the lack of bonus features, Log Horizon Complete Collection is a great addition to the anime home video library of any Log Horizon fan.

List: My Favorite Fantasy Anime

Well, for this list, I’m moving away from the animal theme. This time around, I’ll be taking a look at five of my favorite fantasy anime. However, rather than being a Top 5 list, this list will be presented in alphabetical order.

Log Horizon

While the main thrust of this series focuses on characters suddenly finding themselves inside the world of a game, the game in question happens to be in the fantasy genre. The writing of this series really captures the feel and essence of fantasy storytelling. One of the things that really attracted me to this series is seeing how our characters from the real world adapt to the fantastical elements that they find themselves having to rely on in order to make it through the world of the game; over the course of the series we see magic potions, magic spells, griffons, and other elements traditionally associated with the fantasy genre.

But this series’ ultimate strength is in its characters, and their relationships. The writing and story were also strong, and I was always left wanting more at the end of each episode. I also have to give the series some credit for including gaming elements with explanations that don’t bog down the story terribly much. The only drawback is the fact that second season of the series still had a lot of loose ends left. There was obviously an attempt to leave the door open for a future season, which still hasn’t materialized yet. But even with this drawback, I still enjoy Log Horizon for its storytelling and its fantastical elements.

The Seven Deadly Sins

The Seven Deadly Sins is set in a medieval style world, specifically in a region known as Britannia. The Seven Deadly Sins is a band of knights that disbanded after being accused of plotting to overthrow the Liones Kingdom. Ten years have passed since the disbanding of the Seven Deadly Sins, and the Holy Knights have staged a coup, captured the king, and are now tyrannical rulers of the kingdom. Elizabeth, the third princess, embarks on a journey to find the Seven Deadly Sins so she can ask for their help to take back the kingdom.

Right from the description, you can tell that this a fantasy series: royalty, knights, and a medieval style world. But it’s not a simple story being presented here; it’s got compelling storytelling with twists, turns, and surprises that keep the audience interested in what’s going to happen next. This fantasy series also has characters who the audience becomes interested in from the time they’re introduced, but many of them have character development moments that make the audience care about them even more. And the animation in this series really captures the look and feel of a medieval world.

As of this writing, I have seen both The Seven Deadly Sins and The Seven Deadly Sins: Signs of Holy War. And with the relatively recent announcement of another season of the anime, as well as an anime film, coming out in 2018, I’m looking forward to seeing what will happen to the characters and to the fantasy world that they inhabit.

Slayers

Slayers features a 16-year-old sorceress named Lina Inverse, who loves money, treasure, and food, and uses her magic in a reckless, yet comedic manner. She is accompanied on her adventures by Gourry Gabriev, a wandering swordsman with a powerful sword. Unfortunately, Gourry isn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the shed. Their party also includes Princess Amelia, a character named Zelgadis who is a mixture of human and demon, and Gourry’s friend Sylphiel.

Of the five anime that I included on this list, Slayers is definitely the most comical. Our sorceress heroine has a ridiculously powerful spell that she seems to keep forgetting just how powerful it is, Princess Amelia is a self-proclaimed Lady of Justice, and Gourry the swordsman is a brave, yet dumb, knight. But to me, the charm of this series is the fact that it’s a fantasy series that takes its tropes and exaggerates them for comic effect. While the other series I included in this list have occasional humor in them, Slayers is meant to be a comedy through and through.

Snow White with the Red Hair

The protagonist of this series is Shirayuki, a red-haired herbalist in a small medieval village. She becomes the target of Prince Raj, due to the fact that her red hair is very unusual in the world that they inhabit, and he wants to make her his concubine. Shirayuki is rightly offended and runs away. When she enters the neighboring kingdom of Clarines, she encounters Prince Zen. The two of them forge a friendship that blossoms into something more as the series continues. After Zen saves Shirayuki from Raj, she stays in Clarines and works at becoming an apprentice court herbalist.

The first thing that grabbed me about Snow White with the Red Hair was the animation, especially the lush backgrounds. The next thing that attracted me to this series was Shirayuki. I love how much agency she has. While she’s sweet, helpful, and beautiful, she’s not going to let people with sexist ideas push her around. She’s also very independent. Yes, Shirayuki ultimately finds herself dealing with potential romance, but this part of the story doesn’t dull her as a character as much as it could have.

The writing for Snow White with the Red Hair also helps to make it one of my favorite series. The characters are relatable and go through some development over the course of the series, and the story progresses in a logical way.


The World is Still Beautiful

The main character is a girl named Nike, who is the fourth sovereign daughter of the Rain Dukedom and has the power to call forth the rain. The Sun King, the ruler of the Sun Kingdom, sends a message to Nike’s father saying that he won’t invade their land if he offers the hand of one of his daughters in marriage. Nike ends up being the one chosen to become the Sun King’s bride because she loses a game of rock-paper-scissors. When she meets the Sun King, she learns he is named Livius and that he is younger than her. At first, they don’t like each other, but as they get to know each other, their feelings change. Of course, there are various obstacles that get in the way of their budding relationship.

Much like Shirayuki in Snow White with the Red Hair, Nike is another female character with agency. However, their stories are very different. The World is Still Beautiful utilizes its fantasy setting and elements effectively, and it combines these elements with strong storytelling. There were one or two spots where the story kind of stumbles a little, but for the most part, the episodes were well written.

Anime Blu-ray Review: Log Horizon Collection 1

Log Horizon Collection 1 includes the first 13 episodes of the Log Horizon television anime series. This release has both an English dub and the original Japanese audio with English subtitles; however, it should be noted that the subtitles on this release are different from the subtitles used for the Crunchyroll simulcast. The Blu-ray is 1080p High Definition with a 16×9 aspect ratio.

Log Horizon Collection 1
English Publisher: Sentai Filmworks
Format: Blu-ray
Release Date: November 25, 2014

Log Horizon tells the tale of what happens when players of an MMORPG game mysteriously find themselves actually inside the game. The game in question is called Elder Tale, and the mysterious event takes place when its 12th expansion, “Novasphere Pioneers,” is added.

The main character is Shiroe, who the audience follows from the time he discovers that he’s in the game. During the first episode, Shiroe meets with four other players from the game: Naotsugu, Akatsuki, Marielle, and Henrietta. Marielle and Henrietta are both members of the Crescent Moon Alliance.

Shiroe and the others end up being asked by the Crescent Moon Alliance for help. A girl named Serara was sent to Susukino on the Day of the Apocalypse and hasn’t returned; they have heard that she was attacked by a Player Killer but was saved by a good player and is now protected by this good player. When they rescue Serara, Shiroe discovers the good player is Nyanta, an old friend of Shiroe’s.

The adventurers start learning how to make the food in the world that actually has flavor; they also begin interacting with the non-player characters (known in the game as “People of the Land”) and realize that the People of the Land have interesting backstories that were never revealed while they played the game.

Shiroe and his friends learn about the trouble that’s been brewing in Akihabara, the town they have been staying at. The various guilds have fallen into ranks, with bigger guilds determining the town’s feel and rules, as well as priority for the market and hunting grounds. A guild called Hamelin has been gathering new players, claiming they want to help them; instead, they take the new players’ EXP pots, items that slightly increase attack power and health regeneration and double the experience earned from combat. Hamelin is taking the EXP pots and selling them to the Black Sword Knights, a guild that’s trying to get to a level of 91, since the expansion upped the experience level cap from 90 to 100.

It turns out that two middle school kids that Shiroe had been mentoring before they ended up in the game were recruited by Hamelin, and Shiroe comes up with a plan to help the new players escape from the guild. The first step of his plan is to open a refreshment stand to sell the food with flavor that they have developed; the stand becomes an instant success. The next step involves convincing the other guilds to help provide money for the mission to rescue the adventurers from Hamelin, and holding a conference with several guilds. The end result sees the Round Table Conference being established in Akihabara and the rescue of the new players from Hamelin. Shiroe also forms his own guild called Log Horizon.

Once Shiroe’s guild is formed, the players discover other ways they can set the rules for Akihabara that weren’t already established in the game, and they gain the notice of the nobility of the People of the Land.

Log Horizon makes itself stand out from other series about characters being trapped in a game (such as Sword Art Online) because it delves into topics such as Player Killers, how to create food that actually tastes good, creating new technology that didn’t previously exist in the game, and truly interacting with the non-player characters. This series brings up a lot of moral and ethical questions, and the characters try to find ways to survive and co-inhabit the world with the non-player characters while trying to find a way back to the real world. But it’s not all serious, though, as there are plenty of humorous moments included in the series. The interplay between Akatsuki and Naotsugu is especially amusing.

Another thing that stands out to me is the fact that many of the characters don’t simply fall into the usual stereotypes associated with fantasy MMORPG games. In addition, I also appreciated that Log Horizon has several strong female characters. The females aren’t simply there to provide sex appeal or eye candy; they are just as complicated and developed as the male characters.

When it comes to the actual Blu-ray set, some of Sentai Filmworks’ choices were a little disappointing. First, it was decided to split the episodes so there would be nine episodes on the first disc, and then four episodes on the second. While the second disc also contains the set’s bonus features, the only extras included are a clean opening and a clean ending.

Even though I was a little frustrated by these choices, the Blu-ray set is still worth owning if you’re a fan of Log Horizon and have the capability to watch Blu-ray Discs. The episodes themselves make the release worth having.

The reviewer watched a copy of this release that she received as a Christmas gift from her husband

Manga Review: “Log Horizon” Volume One

Log Horizon Volume 1 tells the story of what happens when roughly 30,000 Japanese players of the Elder Tales MMORPG become trapped in the world of the game after the release of 12th expansion pack. This event has become known as “The Catastrophe.” The players don’t know how they got there, and there’s no way to escape. If someone dies in the game, they are simply respawned at a temple. The main characters seem to be located in the city of Akiba.

Log Horizon Volume 1
Written by: Kazuhiro Hara
Publisher: Kadokawa
English Publisher: Yen Press
Release Date: March 24, 2015

Volume 1 has a strong focus on Shiroe, a young man who is an Enchanter in the game who has acquired the nickname, Machiavelli with Glasses. We also get to know his two companions, the female assassin Akatsuki and a guardian named Naotsugu. This volume does an excellent job of establishing these three characters and the interactions that they have with one another.

This volume also shows and explains the chaos, lawlessness, and danger that exists in the game world because of the fear the players have about being trapped in this world. The biggest danger that’s seen in this volume is the threat of Player Killers (PK). All of the chaos and danger is seen through the eyes of Marielle, Shiroe’s friend who is the head of the Crescent Moon guild. When Shiroe learns that Serara, one of the members of Marielle’s guild ended up trapped in the city of Susukino at the time of The Catastrophe, he agrees to take on the quest of finding and rescuing her. Naotsugu and Akatsuki accompany Shiroe on the journey. Their journey takes them through part of the dungeon and leads them to a fight with creatures in the game, which helps the reader to start getting a grasp of the world that exists within the game. The volume also takes time to explain some of the concepts that are introduced, for those readers who have no background knowledge of MMORPGs.

By the end of Volume 1, the reader is also introduced to Serara and Nyanta, a player with a swashbuckling cat avatar who has connections with both Shiroe and Naotsugu. Personally, I think Nyanta is a really neat character, and is quite the gentleman as he protects Serara from a guild that’s causing problems in Susukino. This volume ends with a battle of Shiroe and his group against Demiquas and his Briganteers in Susukino.

Volume 1 has a strong emphasis on establishing the characters and the world that they inhabit. This is understandable, since this is the first volume of the series. When it comes to the art, it perfectly captures the atmosphere of the game, as well as the uncertainty that the characters are feeling at this point in the story. Although, I have to admit that there are times in the volume where the drawings of the characters can be a little on the weak side because the artist isn’t using much detail on the characters as they could be, especially on the faces. Fortunately, the weaknesses in the art are easy to overlook as a reader becomes absorbed in the story and the action that’s taking place.

Log Horizon Volume 1 has a good start going for it, and it’s a good entry into the “characters becoming trapped in a game” style of series. Personally, I think of fans of such series as Sword Art Online, and the .//hack franchise will find something to like about Log Horizon.

The reviewer checked out a copy of this manga from the King County Library System

Review: Log Horizon 2: Episode 18 – “When the Concert Ends”

Log Horizon 2 is the second season of the Log Horizon television anime series. Log Horizon tells the tale of what happens when players of the MMORPG game, Elder Tale, mysteriously find themselves actually inside the game after the 12th expansion, “Novasphere Pioneers,” is added. The main character of the series is Shiroe, and he is joined by his two companions Naotsugu and Akatsuki. As the first season progressed, Shiroe helped to establish alliances between guilds by forming the Round Table, helped to introduce commerce and new ideas to the game’s world, and he even formed his own guild called Log Horizon which included many of Shiroe’s friends as its members.

Of course, not everything went smoothly. The Round Table found itself entangled in issues involving the People of the Land and the nobles, as well as taking on goblin forces that attacked and caused chaos.

Episode 18 sees Minori, Tohya, Isuzu, Rudy, Serara, Roe 2, and Dariella arriving in the town of Safil. One of the highlights of the group’s time in Safil is a conversation that takes place between Isuzu and Rudy. Through this conversation, we find out about Isuzu’s father in the real world, and it was interesting to see Isuzu trying to explain the music industry in our world in a way that Rudy can comprehend what she’s saying to some degree.

Between this conversation and one Serara has with Minori, we learn that the language of the adventurers and the People of the Land are actually a bit different, and that they’re able to communicate through the game’s auto-translator. But sometimes, there are things the system can’t handle, which can cause translation errors. For example, the People of the Land refer to music as “forty-two” because they only know 42 songs. So hearing Isuzu sing these new songs they’ve never heard before truly makes the People of the Land happy. That’s one thing that I’ve really enjoyed about Log Horizon; it brings up ideas that I never would have thought of, but when they’re brought up and explained, they make sense when you realize that that’s how a game would have been programmed.

Rudy also mentions how more and more of the young People of the Land are coming to Akihabara to learn skills in order to potentially better their futures. This makes Isuzu sad, because she thinks that the People of the Land are thinking about their futures, yet all she’s doing is “irresponsibly singing about love and life.” Rudy tries to comfort her, but Isuzu asks Rudy to leave her alone. The interactions between Rudy and Isuzu in Episode 18 showed a gentler side to Rudy, and that there’s more to him than the arrogant kid he was when he arrived during the first season of Log Horizon. It was also a scene where I found myself rooting for the two of them to become a couple, but feeling torn because he’s one of the People of the Land while she could end up leaving if the players can find a way out of the game. I want to root for them, but at the same time, their getting together could potentially become a tragic love story.

Tohya also has an interaction with Dariella, but it appears he isn’t quite as smitten with her as he appeared to be in Episode 17. Here, he actually seems to be trying hard not to look at her. When Dariella asks Tohya if he dislikes her, he says there’s a part of her that he does dislike, which he expounds on by saying that she’s always smiling and that she wouldn’t look weird without that smile. Unfortunately, we don’t receive any further clarification than that, but I’m guessing that he’s potentially starting to suspect that there’s something “off” and not quite right about her. And the reason we don’t get any clarification in this episode is that something happens near the end of the episode that forces these two characters to cut off their conversation.

We also see a brief scene of Shiroe and Akatsuki in Akihabara. While it’s primarily meant to be comic relief, Shiroe mentions not being able to get in contact with Nyanta, not even with telepathy. From here, we see Serara and Minori in Safil and they’re not able to use telepathy, either.  Minori has her suspicions as to why they can’t use telepathy, but the event that disrupts Tohya and Dariella’s scene disrupts this one as well.

Episode 18 definitely ends on a cliffhanger, even though the final character we see before the ending credits is standing at the top of a cliff rather than hanging off of it. Haha. But the event I’ve referenced twice now is a cliffhanger, because it presents danger to Safil and Minori and the others have to figure out how the situation can be dealt with and not turn the town into a battlefield.

I’m very interested in seeing how this dilemma will be tackled and dealt with when I watch Episode 19.

2014 In Review: Winter 2014 Season

Over the next few days, I’ll be publishing posts looking back at 2014. This first post takes a look back at the shows that I started watching during the Winter 2014 season. This post will also include series that I started watching in the Fall 2013 season that were still running with Winter 2014 started.

Log Horizon: This is a series that started during the Fall 2013 season and carried over into Winter 2014. This was a series that I admit to not being sure about when it first started in October 2013, but fortunately, I stuck with it and was rewarded with a series that made itself stand out from other anime series about characters who get stuck in a video game. I fell in love with this series by the time it finished airing in March 2014, and was overjoyed when the end of the final episode announced that there would be a second season that would begin airing in Fall 2014. I spent a lot of the year eagerly anticipating the second season because the first season had built such a strong foundation for the characters and their story.

Noragami: Noragami ended up being a mixed bag for me. I enjoyed the first four episodes, but then with Episode Five, I started feeling like the series wasn’t as strong as it was when it first started. My opinion improved a bit with Episode Six, and it kept improving through Episode 11. However, I was never entirely sure how I felt about Episode 12, because I couldn’t tell if it was meant to be a series finale or a season finale. As of this writing, there has been no word about a second season for Noragami, so I have to believe this was meant as a series finale. Unfortunately, there were enough loose ends that were left hanging which made it an unsatisfying note to end a series on. The manga for Noragami started being published during 2014, so I may need to start reading it at some point  and see if it might improve my opinion of the series.

Tokyo Ravens: This is a series that started during the Fall 2013 season and carried over into Winter 2014. When I first watched this series, I thought it had a slow start; however, enough elements were established in the first episode to interest me enough to come back to see more. With the second episode, I felt it was a little heavy on the “info dumping” side, but I was still willing to come back because the story that was developing showed a lot of promise. By the time I hit episode five, I found myself genuinely interested in Tokyo Ravens and decided that I’d see it through until the end. I ended up being interested in Tokyo Ravens for most of its 24 episode run; unfortunately, I started becoming a little disappointed in the series after a particular plot twist in Episode 23. I also ended up feeling rather let down and disappointed with how the final episode ended. FUNimation Entertainment, who had streamed the series as a simulcast, has recently announced that it has acquired the home video rights for Tokyo Ravens; unfortunately, I have no plans to purchase their release to add it to my anime home video library because of my disappointment with the final two episodes of the series.

D-Frag!: This is an anime I watched because the previews made it look like it’d be really hilarious. While there was humor in the first episode, there wasn’t as much as I had expected. And from humor I did see in the episode, I saw the potential for the series to rely on the same gags every week; unfortunately, I ended up being right with that assumption. And the gags that the series relied so heavily upon weren’t terribly funny the first time they showed up, and they wore out their welcome rather quickly. With episode two, I saw that maybe D-Frag! had potential with its story, but sadly, that potential never materialized. It also didn’t help that the series already started feeling stagnant by Episode Four. When I reached the halfway point, I decided I’d stick it out, but that the second half of the series really couldn’t go fast enough for my taste. The final episode didn’t feel like an episode to end a series on. Nothing has been resolved at all, and little to no progress had been made on the loose threads that were out there. I found this to be an unsatisfying ending for a series that had worn out its welcome for me several episodes earlier. And the final episode was the worst of the drudgery that I saw for that show. After that episode ended, all I could think was, “Thank God D-Frag! is over!”

Yowamushi Pedal: This is a series that started during the Fall 2013 season and carried over into Winter 2014. After watching the first episode, I thought I could see some potential in the series. Even though I’m not a fan of cycling, I found myself getting hooked on Yowamushi Pedal the more I watched of it. I especially found myself being riveted to the action that takes place during the racing scenes. I also liked how the characters developed over the course of the series. The main focus of the first half was on developing the members of the Sohoku team, with occasional development on members of the other two teams. However, the development for the other two teams tended to take place during the Inter-High race. The main selling point of this series to me ended up being the characters and the development they go through. While the pacing of Yowamushi Pedal was pretty typical for a shonen sports anime, it’s something I got used to with each race that appeared in the series. I was happy to hear that there would be a second season for the series in Fall 2014, especially since this season ended before the winner of the second day of the Inter-High was determined.

Hamatora: After watching the first episode of Hamatora, I felt that the series showed a bit of promise; however, I was little turned off by the character of Hajime, because it appeared her gluttony was going to be a major source of humor for the series. It turns out we learn later on why Hajime is such a glutton, and it also turned out that there was more in the way of humor than just Hajime’s gluttony. It was ultimately the second episode that sold me on Hamatora. I enjoyed seeing the various mysteries that came Hamatora’s way, and how several of the episodes were able to take what appeared to be two unrelated plots and find a way to weave the two together rather successfully by the end. Overall, I enjoyed the series except for Episode Five and Episode Eight. But when I saw that there was a cliffhanger ending and that there would be another season of Hamatora coming in the future, I was looking forward to seeing more episodes in order to find out how the story continued from the cliffhanger.

Nagi no Asukara: This is a series that started during the Fall 2013 season and carried over into Winter 2014. I have to admit that after watching the first episode, I had some mixed feelings. On the one hand, I kind of liked the story, although I was finding Hikari to be a bit on the annoying side. However, I was having problems with using my willing suspension of disbelief about people being able to live underwater; it turns out that the concept of Ena, which allows them to breathe underwater, hadn’t been properly introduced by the end of the first episode. I decided to continue watching the series, and went into the second episode using my willing suspension of disbelief and focusing on the storytelling. It’s a decision I’m glad I made, because I found myself being more impressed with the series and becoming genuinely interested in the characters and their stories. I’d become so riveted with the series that when the first half reached its climax with the Ofunehiki, I was a little frustrated that I had to wait two weeks in order to find out what happened. When the second half of the series started, I have to admit that it was a bit of an adjustment to get used to the fact that a five-year timeskip had happened between the two episodes and that some of the cast members were noticeably older. I appreciated how there was a focus on the confusion for both those who returned from the surface after a five-year hibernation and those who stayed on the surface and aged five years. There’s a lot of raw emotion that’s prevalent in the second half of the series, but I found these emotions and reactions to be believable. I have to admit that for the most part, I had basically predicted what directions the various relationships would go in. However, I still found the conclusion of the series to be satisfying and enjoyable.

Samurai Flamenco: This is a series that started during the Fall 2013 season and carried over into Winter 2014. At the end of the first episode, I thought that between the animation and the storytelling, there seemed to be enough there to keep my interest and make me want to come back week after week to watch more of Samurai Flamenco. I have to admit that when the King Torture arc was introduced and caused the major tonal shift for the series, I wasn’t entirely sure that I liked it. It didn’t help that it was also at that point that the animation quality went down noticeably, and that “off model” shots started becoming more prevalent and noticeable. By the end of the King Torture, arc, though, I had become so accustomed to the change in tone that I started enjoying the series a bit more again. Overall, though, I did enjoy Samurai Flamenco when all was said and done.

Magical Warfare: After watching the first episode, I thought the series had some potential. After the second episode, I thought it plodded a bit due all of the exposition included, but I still thought that the overall concept still showed promise. At the end of episode three, I said that while Magical Warfare wasn’t one of my favorite series of Winter 2014, I couldn’t say that it was the worst one I was watching, either. By the end of episode four, I was already at a point where I wasn’t looking forward to watching the series week after week. As the series continued to progress, I became frustrated with how the series was paced, the fact that the villains weren’t very well defined by the halfway point of the series, and how the character development wasn’t where it needed to be for me to truly care about these characters. The final episode was a major letdown, due to how little was explained for what was happening throughout it. The ending of the final episode was so vague that the viewer was left having to make a lot of assumptions just to figure out what the heck was going on. Honestly, the way Magical Warfare ended was just so vague and bizarre that it makes the ending of Neon Genesis Evangelion seem like it makes sense. And considering the reputation the ending of Neon Genesis Evangelion has, it’s really saying something. All in all, I have to say that Magical Warfare ended up being a steaming pile of poo and I think it was easily one of the worst series I watched during 2014.

Strike the Blood: This is a series that started during the Fall 2013 season and carried over into Winter 2014. I have to admit that I wasn’t entirely sure about Strike the Blood after watching the first episode, but I decided to give it a chance and continue watching it. After watching the second episode, though, I was more impressed with the series than I thought I’d be. The cliffhanger ending for episode three ultimately sold me on the series. As the series progressed through the various story arcs, more characters were introduced. Most of them seemed to have an importance to the series, although there were a couple of characters who were only truly important for one or two story arcs, and then basically all but vanished from the series. After making it through all 24 episodes of Strike the Blood, I have to say that overall, I was satisfied with how the series progressed and ultimately came to its conclusion. It was a series I came to look forward to watching.

Wizard Barristers: At the end of the first episode, I thought that Wizard Barristers showed a lot of promise. As the series went on, the story kept me interested in what was going on and made me want to come back and watch week after week. My least favorite part of the series was the animal familiars, because for the most part, they didn’t seem to truly add anything to the series. By the time I reached the final episode, I was overall rather satisfied with how the series progressed. My biggest disappointment with the series was the fact that we don’t learn what happened to Cecil’s mother. The viewer was left with the responsibility of assuming what happens.

Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha: I have to admit that at the end of the first episode, I wasn’t entirely sure if I was going to like Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha. However, I decided to keep watching to see if the story would improve. After finishing episode two, my opinion of the series started becoming more favorable. As the episodes went on, I continued to enjoy the series more and more; I’m so glad I didn’t let my initial unsure impression keep me away from this series. Overall, I thought the series was good, although the last couple of episodes felt a bit rushed compared to the other episodes; I have to say that Episode 10 had more issues with being rushed than Episode Nine did.  The action in the first half of Episode 10 felt stretched out, and then the story in the second half ended up feeling rushed. In the final episode, I appreciated the fact that it demonstrated just how much Inari has grown as a character over the course of the series. In a lot of ways, when Inari returned Uka’s divine power at the end of Episode 10, it symbolizes that Inari had grown up and no longer needs the “crutch” that she thought the power was giving her. In a lot of respects, though, there is some vagueness at the end of the final episode. Do Inari and Koji ever end up together? Is Touka still able to see Uka even though Inari no longer can? It appears that the manga series is still ongoing in Japan, so that might explain why the ending of the anime is a bit ambiguous.