Naturally, I’m just dying to discuss last week’s wonderful anime. But first, we must discuss our least favorite male leads of the season.
Week 7’s Poll Results
To nobody’s surprise, the contest was a dead heat between the season’s two primary Gary Stus. Sword Art Online II‘s Kirito, however, inched out a small victory by claiming 25% of the votes. For once in his life, Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei‘s Tatsuya could not perform a miracle, and as a result, he barely lost to Kirito with just 23% of the votes. Between the two of them, I would’ve personally voted for Tatsuya. Why? ‘Cause he isn’t even human. Kirito has a lot of annoying things about him, but at least he has emotions. Even if you think his emotions aren’t authentic or compelling, then at least he pretends to have emotions. What really rubs me the wrong way about Tatsuya was that one episode he went “ape-shit” (in reality, he still showed no emotions) on the Chinese gangsters simply because they had put his sister at risk. It’s like every neckbeard’s fantasy to portray themselves as this paragon of logic and intelligence, but ah, there is nevertheless that one trigger that will make him lose control. Tatsuya is basically this pathetic sort of self-insert character, but made even worse because his trigger is his own brocon imouto. So in my book, he’s the king of shit male leads… at least for this season if you want to be conservative. But hey, he’s probably the worst male lead this year. Speaking of which, if I’m still blogging when December rolls around, I should do a year-end poll for these same questions.
Even though people have been bashing Aldnoah.Zero‘s Inaho all season, he did not take third in last week’s contest. Of course, this doesn’t mean people don’t nevertheless think he’s the third worst male lead. It’s possible that the people who would’ve voted for Inaho ended up voting for either Kirito or Tatsuya instead. As a result, Inaho only pulled in 6% of the votes. Personally, I think Inaho’s a pretty boring character, but he doesn’t offend me nearly as much as he seems to offend you guys. Hell, I don’t even think Aldnoah.Zero is that bad, but a good portion of my readers nevertheless think the anime’s just as bad as SAO and Mahouka. Oh well, let’s just say I disagree and leave it at that. As perfect as Inaho can be at times, he doesn’t ooze smugness. It’s this small distinction that separates him from the twin Gary Stus at the top of this shit heap.
Akame ga Kill‘s Tatsumi grabbed 7% of the votes, edging out Inaho by a nose. He’s not a great character, but I’m not sure there’s any one thing that makes him so unlikeable. No, no, I’m not saying he’s not unlikeable. I’m saying the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Tatsumi sucks because he is unremarkable in every way, and they all add up to this amalgamation of dullness. Even his character design screams bland. I mean, look at him; he’s just some dude in a sweater. Even when he inherits Bulat’s Incursio, Tatsumi becomes a mini-Shredder reject. He is mediocrity defined.
Tokyo Ghoul‘s Ken won as many votes as Inaho, actually, and he’s probably the most controversial male lead of the season. Yes, Kirito and Tatsuya both take this contest by a landslide, but that’s my point; everyone can agree that those two suck. On the other hand, people either love or hate Ken. I’ve discussed the matter enough, so I won’t launch into another long defense of the guy. Again, I don’t think I’d like him as a person, but he’s fine as a character within a work of fiction. I can separate the two ideas, so I have no problems with how Ken is portrayed.
— Terror in Resonance garnered 5% of the votes, but how many of those votes are simply due to people misreading last week’s question? Then again, maybe someone out there really hates Nine, Twelve, or perhaps both. Unless they speak up, however, we’ll never know…
— Tokyo ESP grabbed for itself a couple votes, but in my opinion, it should’ve gotten more. Kyotaro’s character is just flat as can be. You could call him vanilla, but that’d be an insult to vanilla. But as usual, Tokyo ESP doesn’t get much attention ’cause, well, not a whole lot of people are really watching it.
— Free! Eternal Summer also got two votes, but someone else will have to explain why either Haru or Rin rubs them the wrong way (I’m not sure you can consider anyone else in that cast a male lead). The way fans talk about this show, I’m not sure those two guys could rub anyone the wrong way.
— Ao Haru Ride did not get a single vote, which isn’t surprising in a world dominated by Gary Stus. Kou is a pretty big jackass, though.
— Captain Earth took home five votes all by its lonesome. I only bring Daichi up, because his anime fizzled hard after what a lot of people seemed to consider a solid start. I remember how at the start of series, people went on and on about how deep the show was. People also sung praises about Daichi, because he wasn’t weak and whiny. Since then, Captain Earth has been dying a slow, painful death. It’s okay, buddy. I’ll be here to document your final death throes.
— Despite fans’ almost universal distaste for this season’s train anime, Rail Wars!‘s Naoto slipped by mostly unnoticed with just as many votes as Daichi. To be fair, he isn’t really a character. He’s just there to fill a gap — a horrible, lonely gap in the void that is Rail Wars!
— M3 – Sono Kuroki Hagane’s Akashi cried his way to only three votes. Like Tokyo ESP but to an even greater extent, few are watching this forgotten show.
— Persona 4‘s MC got a single vote; that’s probably CSRae’s doing.
— And again, I voted for Tatsuya all the way, baby.
Week 8’s Rankings
Dropped: Rokujyoma no Shinryakusha!?
17. Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei
Still the worst anime I’m watching by far. This current arc is so boring, I’d have more fun reading a random manga. People think the re-emergence of the show’s latent xenophobia will suddenly make things more interesting, but it hasn’t. The characters are doing even less than they did in the previous arc. Maybe Madhouse is getting fed up with the story too, because they could’ve nevertheless salvaged these episodes with some tongue-in-cheek campiness. But they didn’t, so here we are. How are those Blu-Ray sales, though? Will this shitty anime actually justify a sequel? Or will ardent fans of the novels get to hope and pray that the show somehow receives a do-over (pfft)?
16. Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance
Just more tsundere girls farting around. When I first started Harem Hill, I had five amazingly dumb shows to blog about. If one show slipped up, I’d still have four other shows to provide me with material to mock. These days, I’m lucky if I can find even one show to deride… to be fair, I could’ve included shows like SAO and Mahouka into the Harem Hill, but they’re just so special in their own little way that they deserve their own posts!
15. Akame ga Kill!
This anime just held a colloquium on how to suck the fun out of shounen fights. I hope you guys took notes. It was quite a fascinating presentation in laziness.
14. Rail Wars!
The train-anime-that-isn’t-about-trains still had more action in it than Mahouka, which is quite a feat for our little anime that could. I’ll even go out on a limb and say I prefer the action here over what you’d find in last week’s episode of Akame ga Kill! I’ve seen plenty of idiots stand still and swing their swords around at super speeds, but how often do you see a 90 pound shoujo attempt to keep a small train from derailing? Game, set, match Rail Wars!
13. Captain Earth
Let me see your qualifications.
You don’t need to see my qualifications.
I don’t need to see your qualifications.
This is not the same guy who once worked on Utena and Star Driver.
This is not the same guy who once worked on Utena and Star Driver.
We can let this anime die quietly.
You can die quietly.
Move along… move along.
People really need to stop creaming their pants every time they see Enokido Yoji’s name. Star Driver wasn’t even special.
Aaaand we’re right back to nothing but weird shit happening. What was up with Yana’s random nudity in the middle of the episode? What was up with the show doing three consecutive freeze frames of her stripping her clothes off? Talk about gratuitous. Then there’s this…
Our girl has gone through the rabbit hole and ended up in Frozen. My best guess is that she’s seeing the various different ways her life can play out. Y’know, alternate realities and shit. But my best hope is that the two main characters are just slowly dying from an incurable brain disease, and this explains all the visions that they are seeing. As for the rest of the group, they are selfish anyway, so they can just cannibalize themselves for all I care. In the end, Hiro, the man with two grunts in this week’s episode, can run off into the woods and become a hermit.
11. Ao Haru Ride
The heroine stalks the love interest, who then pins her down to the ground just to prove he can totally assault her if he wanted to. Fan-fucking-tastic.
10. Sword Art Online II
It’s less boring than the shows beneath it, but someone’s going to get their panties in a twist over its placement on this list anyway. Look, every show below Tokyo ESP is shit anyway (and Tokyo ESP itself isn’t even good), so you guys are just getting mad over nothing.
9. Persona 4 — The Golden Animation
Apparently, Adachi had done his best to bond with the Dojima family, but he felt replaced and discarded when Yu came along. So even though he was already a bit screwed up in the head, this was, as they say, the straw that broke the camel’s back. Eh, I don’t know how much I buy this. It just felt so haphazard. I could maybe understand Adachi’s mindset if we had spent more time developing the guy’s character, but we basically got an episode and a bunch of wordless flashbacks from his time before Inaba. It’s the equivalent of “Oh, by the way…” I don’t have a problem with humanizing the villain. Hell, I always thought it was kind of lame that in the original story Adachi was just this guy who went nuts. His motivations then were simple and straightforward: he was just a miserable loser. As a result, giving some context to that pathos makes sense on paper. Still, what we see here was rushed and unconvincing. Plus, if he and Yu are meant to be foils, because of the MC’s nature — being a blank slate and all — he doesn’t hold up his end of the bargain. Being a foil to a blank slate is hard, man.
Oh yeah, Marie recovered her memories and thus had to leave the real world, but I stopped caring about her character a long time ago anyway.
8. Shirogane no Ishi: Argevollen
I dozed off during the extended rematch between Tokimune and Schlein. It just wasn’t fun to watch.
For me, there are two primary ways to go if you want to make a battle scene compelling to watch. First, and perhaps the simplest way, you could just make the combat look cool. I didn’t see the artistry here, though. I just see two hunks of metal going at it. And in general, this is not necessarily a problem. Clearly, Argevollen wants to show off this sort of gritty, down-to-earth mecha combat. The problem here, however, is that gritty usually entails attrition. Even in a show like Captain Earth, the Impacters would come away from a battle somewhat worse for wear. As gritty as the battles in Argevollen may seem, however, Tokimune never comes away from them sustaining anything more than a scratch. So even in this supposedly “raw” presentation, these mecha battles don’t seem life-threatening; they lack weight. I don’t feel as though the hero could lose something valuable every time he fights.
What’s the second way, then? Well, you could portray the battle in a way that the internal conflicts within the characters come forth. What we’re supposed to take away from this rematch is that Tokimune has rededicated himself to being a soldier. Yes, he wants to find out what had happened to his sister, but he’s going to do what he needs to do first, then worry about uncovering the past later. As a result, his “Link Level” with the Argevollen deepens or whatever, and he’s able to repel and defeat Schlein. Well, that’s what you’re supposed to take away from the episode. I just didn’t feel it. It just looked like our hero screamed louder, then all of a sudden, his mecha could dodge Schlein’s attack. Also, it’s really lame that his synergy with the Argevollen is literally represented by a number. There’s this stupid need in anime to bog everything down with “power levels.”
Anyway, I wonder how Samonji felt to see the trampled sunflower field…
Finally, the story delves into Hajime’s past. Apparently, she’s the reason why everyone’s losing their powers; she has the Nihilist Minimum. And because Murasaki spent some time working with her, he suffered the worst. Still, Hajime’s story is nothing special. She used to be a test subject, had no hope, didn’t even have a name, blah blah blah. Naturally, Nice comes along, names her, and gives her a burger. Finally, she has learned what it means to be alive! That’s all it takes, fellas! I hate these stories, because they’re everywhere. Hell, you don’t even need to look very far to find something similar. Hana from Captain Earth, for instance, was a test subject who knew nothing about the world until the special shounen came along and literally saved her from her prison… twice! Basically, these stories are played out and no longer interesting to watch. They’re a dime a dozen. We’ve been waiting for more than a season for the show to finally tell us Hajime’s story, and this is what we get. Pass.
The only interesting thing about this week’s episode was how Koneko and Master knew where to find Hajime. In fact, Koneko wasn’t even sure she should send that information to Nice… what are their true roles in this story?
6. M3 – Sono Kuroki Hagane
I’ll have more on M3 in tomorrow’s post, but for now, I’ll just say this: it’s ranked sixth this week just for this screenshot and this screenshot alone:
5. Tokyo ESP
This show is basically anime’s Mendoza Line. Sometimes, Tokyo ESP can’t help but take a dip below the line too!
Last week’s episode was really heavy-handed with its execution. Inaho and Slaine are foils, you guys! In fact, let me play this hopeful piano piece as a grown man whips the shit out of a skinny boy, because technology can’t beat a good, ol’ BSDM session.
3. Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun
The only screenshot you need.
2. Tokyo Ghoul
Only held back by its fight scenes. At best, they’re simply adequate. At worst, they’re just as lame as every other shounen mess we’ve seen this season. As a little cherry on top, the battles are often ridiculously censored anyway.
1. Terror in Resonance
Fun fact: I’m only calling this show by its English name, because some people are annoyed if you don’t use an anime’s Japanese name, which, in this case, is Zankyou no Terror. It’s just a name, people. Who gives a shit what you call it if everyone knows what you’re talking about?
Week 8’s Poll
I repeat, “Which are your three most disappointing shows of the season?” In other words, don’t just vote for SAO and Mahouka just because they’re bad. Don’t pretend as though you are disappointed by them when you had no expectations for them to begin with. Now, if you really are disappointed by those two Gary Stu shows, then by all means, vote for them. I’m just asking you to be honest with yourself.